What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Sherab » Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:37 am

Dependent origination has at least two dimensions – horizontal and vertical.

Seed -> sprout -> seed -> sprout type of D.O is of the horizontal variety and can and do appear to be unending.

Table -> Top and legs -> pieces of wood -> molecules -> atoms -> etc. type of D.O. is of the vertical variety and appear to require an ultimate source.

I once asked a Geshe what is the ultimate basis of a table since table depends on top and legs, etc. I was alluding to the vertical type of DO. His reply was the table is the ultimate basis of the table. In other words, he was alluding to the horizontal type of DO. ( Table -> Mental image of table <-> mind )

I found most Buddhists are not comfortable with the vertical type of D.O. for fear of ultimately reifying an ultimate basis, or for fear of becoming some sort of monist. So they generally stop somewhere along the vertical or they turn to the horizontal type of D.O.

But in my view, it is the vertical type D.O. that will allow one to consider that possibility that all phenomena are indeed purely illusions - that ultimately, the source of all phenomena is some sort of consciousness. That in the final analysis, there is no real distinction between the physical and the mental. There are passages in the suttas and sutras that point/allude to this, in my view at least.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby asunthatneversets » Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:47 am

Sherab wrote:I once asked a Geshe what is the ultimate basis of a table since table depends on top and legs, etc. I was alluding to the vertical type of DO. His reply was the table is the ultimate basis of the table. In other words, he was alluding to the horizontal type of DO. ( Table -> Mental image of table <-> mind )


He may have been alluding to the fact that the ultimate basis of the table is the imputation "the table" itself, but that doesn't necessarily need to backtrack into "mental image" or "mind" being that those designations are just as imputed. I'd argue that the vertical is just as unending as the horizontal, but the vertical should eventually begin to circle around back into the horizontal if one is applying dependent origination correctly... it's just where does one take it from there. How do the strands which form the web of dependent origination string together to create this weaving interdependency, and where are the foundational strands that (if severed) topple the whole web? Imputation is the weight bearing strand in this web of illusion. The Geshe may have been attempting to convey that beyond the name "table" there is no table to be found.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:59 am

Greetings Greg,

gregkavarnos wrote:Just to throw things a little off track here, don't Theravadrans consider the mahabhuta to be actually existing elements and the screen onto which we project the inherent existence of compounded (ie composed of mahabhuta) phenomena? At least that is what I have understood from my readings on Theravadran Abhidhamma.
:namaste:

Ha, ha. I think it's fair to say there are Theravadins who subscribe to naive realism, but Theravada comes in many flavours... including those who recognise that the Abhidhamma was not the teaching of the Buddha, and needn't be retrofitted back into the suttas.

Maitri,
Retro. :)
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Sherab » Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:03 am

asunthatneversets wrote:He may have been alluding to the fact that the ultimate basis of the table is the imputation "the table" itself, but that doesn't necessarily need to backtrack into "mental image" or "mind" being that those designations are just as imputed.

I asked specifically about the ultimate basis of every phenomona using only the table as an example. I believed he heard me correctly. So he either interpreted my question wrongly or side-stepped my question. I believed he interpreted my question wrongly and so answered as if it was a question on horizontal D.O. Reason for this? That was how he was taught. He probably never thought about the possibility of vertical D.O.

asunthatneversets wrote:I'd argue that the vertical is just as unending as the horizontal, but the vertical should eventually begin to circle around back into the horizontal if one is applying dependent origination correctly... it's just where does one take it from there.

This looks suspiciously like a specie of circular reasoning. http://www.atheistnexus.org/photo/circu ... ning-works
Worse, it keeps you firmly in realm of phenomena.

asunthatneversets wrote:How do the strands which form the web of dependent origination string together to create this weaving interdependency, and where are the foundational strands that (if severed) topple the whole web? Imputation is the weight bearing strand in this web of illusion. The Geshe may have been attempting to convey that beyond the name "table" there is no table to be found.

This sort of argument reminds of the popular chariot argument which is not valid as argued by Ven Nanavira:

Let us first consider the validity of the argument. If a chariot is taken to pieces, and a man is then shown the pieces one by one, each time with the question 'Is this a chariot?', it is obvious that he will always say no. And if these pieces are gathered together in a heap, and he is shown the heap, then also he will say that there is no chariot. If, finally, he is asked whether apart from these pieces he sees any chariot, he will still say no. But suppose now that he is shown these pieces assembled together in such a way that the assemblage can be used for conveying a man from place to place; when he is asked he will undoubtedly assert that there is a chariot, that the chariot exists. According to the argument, the man was speaking in the conventional sense when he asserted the existence of the chariot, and in the highest sense when he denied it. But, clearly enough, the man (who has had no training in such subtleties) is using ordinary conventional language throughout; and the reason for the difference between his two statements is to be found in the fact that on one occasion he was shown a chariot and on the others he was not. If a chariot is taken to pieces (even in imagination) it ceases to be a chariot; for a chariot is, precisely, a vehicle, and a heap of components is not a vehicle—it is a heap of components. (If the man is shown the heap of components and asked 'Is this a heap of components?', he will say yes.) In other words, a chariot is most certainly an assemblage of parts, but it is an assemblage of parts in a particular functional arrangement, and to alter this arrangement is to destroy the chariot. It is no great wonder that a chariot cannot be found if we have taken the precaution of destroying it before starting to look for it. If a man sees a chariot in working order and says 'In the highest sense there is no chariot; for it is a mere assemblage of parts', all he is saying is 'It is possible to take this chariot to pieces and to gather them in a heap; and when this is done there will no longer be a chariot'. The argument, then, does not show the non-existence of the chariot; at best it merely asserts that an existing chariot can be destroyed. And when it is applied to an individual (i.e. a set of pañcakkhandhā) it is even less valid; for not only does it not show the non-existence of the individual, but since the functional arrangement of the pañcakkhandhā cannot be altered, even in imagination, it asserts an impossibility, that an existing individual can be destroyed. As applied to an individual (or a creature) the argument runs into contradiction; and to say of an individual 'In the highest sense there is no individual; for it is a mere asemblage of khandhā' is to be unintelligible.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby conebeckham » Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:00 am

Cloudburst-

With regard to your question about my "terms," I think it's pretty clear---reality=existence.

All the discussion regarding valid cognition, firebrands vs. rings of fire, etc., is firmly in the realm of conventional truth. But, as you pointed out, the minute we begin to analyze "existence" we are no longer dealing with the conventional truth, but with ultimate truth. To talk of various modes of "Existence" or "Reality" on the level of convention is misleading, at best. This is why we talk about appearances, on the level of the seeming, without positing any sort of existence or "reality" on the level of conventions. Appearances do function according to D.O., and the law of Karma, but there is nothing "real" or "existent" about any of this.

We do not deny appearances, but Indian Madhyamika, and the majority of subsequent Tibetan interpreters, don't posit any sort of qualified "existence" at the conventional level. They do not deny conventions, worldly seeming, appearances. But to assert a sort of "existence" apart from the so-called "inherent existence" is needless conceptualization, proliferation, and as you note, once one starts analysing for Existence one leaves the conventional behind.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby asunthatneversets » Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:51 am

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:He may have been alluding to the fact that the ultimate basis of the table is the imputation "the table" itself, but that doesn't necessarily need to backtrack into "mental image" or "mind" being that those designations are just as imputed.

I asked specifically about the ultimate basis of every phenomona using only the table as an example. I believed he heard me correctly. So he either interpreted my question wrongly or side-stepped my question.


Or perhaps you misunderstood what he was attempting to convey.

Sherab wrote:I believed he interpreted my question wrongly and so answered as if it was a question on horizontal D.O. Reason for this? That was how he was taught. He probably never thought about the possibility of vertical D.O.


Or he knew that vertical D.O. is ultimately evaluating and deconstructing misnomers even more so than horizontal D.O. is.

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:I'd argue that the vertical is just as unending as the horizontal, but the vertical should eventually begin to circle around back into the horizontal if one is applying dependent origination correctly... it's just where does one take it from there.

This looks suspiciously like a specie of circular reasoning. http://www.atheistnexus.org/photo/circu ... ning-works
Worse, it keeps you firmly in realm of phenomena.


In implementing vertical D.O. one is surely confined to the alleged realm of phenomena, breaking an object down into constituent particles etc... at least in horizontal there's a chance of one taking it back to the realm of the senses and consciousness which is somewhat closer to the mark. That is why I said it's appropriate to eventually venture into horizontal D.O. if one is going to move further down the rabbit hole, otherwise one just reifies and evaluates conventional misconceptions.

And this is actually a species of circular reasoning looking suspicious ----> :spy:

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:How do the strands which form the web of dependent origination string together to create this weaving interdependency, and where are the foundational strands that (if severed) topple the whole web? Imputation is the weight bearing strand in this web of illusion. The Geshe may have been attempting to convey that beyond the name "table" there is no table to be found.

This sort of argument reminds of the popular chariot argument which is not valid as argued by Ven Nanavira:

Let us first consider the validity of the argument. If a chariot is taken to pieces, and a man is then shown the pieces one by one, each time with the question 'Is this a chariot?', it is obvious that he will always say no. And if these pieces are gathered together in a heap, and he is shown the heap, then also he will say that there is no chariot. If, finally, he is asked whether apart from these pieces he sees any chariot, he will still say no. But suppose now that he is shown these pieces assembled together in such a way that the assemblage can be used for conveying a man from place to place; when he is asked he will undoubtedly assert that there is a chariot, that the chariot exists. According to the argument, the man was speaking in the conventional sense when he asserted the existence of the chariot, and in the highest sense when he denied it. But, clearly enough, the man (who has had no training in such subtleties) is using ordinary conventional language throughout; and the reason for the difference between his two statements is to be found in the fact that on one occasion he was shown a chariot and on the others he was not. If a chariot is taken to pieces (even in imagination) it ceases to be a chariot; for a chariot is, precisely, a vehicle, and a heap of components is not a vehicle—it is a heap of components. (If the man is shown the heap of components and asked 'Is this a heap of components?', he will say yes.) In other words, a chariot is most certainly an assemblage of parts, but it is an assemblage of parts in a particular functional arrangement, and to alter this arrangement is to destroy the chariot. It is no great wonder that a chariot cannot be found if we have taken the precaution of destroying it before starting to look for it. If a man sees a chariot in working order and says 'In the highest sense there is no chariot; for it is a mere assemblage of parts', all he is saying is 'It is possible to take this chariot to pieces and to gather them in a heap; and when this is done there will no longer be a chariot'. The argument, then, does not show the non-existence of the chariot; at best it merely asserts that an existing chariot can be destroyed. And when it is applied to an individual (i.e. a set of pañcakkhandhā) it is even less valid; for not only does it not show the non-existence of the individual, but since the functional arrangement of the pañcakkhandhā cannot be altered, even in imagination, it asserts an impossibility, that an existing individual can be destroyed. As applied to an individual (or a creature) the argument runs into contradiction; and to say of an individual 'In the highest sense there is no individual; for it is a mere asemblage of khandhā' is to be unintelligible.


Exercises like Candrakīrti's Chariot are all well and good, and can be effective tools when properly implemented, but surely not what I was pointing towards. And I wasn't making an argument, just a suggestion.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Sherab » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:49 am

asunthatneversets wrote:Or perhaps you misunderstood what he was attempting to convey.

What does it imply to say that the ultimate basis of a table is the imputation of a table?

That
(1) the table as an object is merely a subjective imputation of the mind, and that there is really no physical table out there? If so, then there is really no physical things and that all things are mental phenomena. You would therefore be subscribing to the tenet of Mind Only School.

Or, that
(2) there is a physical table out there but that is not important. What is important is the mental image of the table (the imputed table) and its relation to the mind that imputes it? If so, then the path to enlightenment is purely a psychological process and not connected at all with the physical realm. The physical realm that we inhibit does not have any karmic relation with its inhabitants. It would also mean that the stories we hear about siddhas exercising control over physical matter such as multiplying of food, conversion of one thing to another are only that – stories, and not to be taken literally.

asunthatneversets wrote:Or he knew that vertical D.O. is ultimately evaluating and deconstructing misnomers even more so than horizontal D.O. is.

I have no idea what you are saying. Please explain.
asunthatneversets wrote:In implementing vertical D.O. one is surely confined to the alleged realm of phenomena, breaking an object down into constituent particles etc... at least in horizontal there's a chance of one taking it back to the realm of the senses and consciousness which is somewhat closer to the mark. That is why I said it's appropriate to eventually venture into horizontal D.O. if one is going to move further down the rabbit hole, otherwise one just reifies and evaluates conventional misconceptions.


You are exhibiting exactly the fear that I mentioned earlier. There is no need for vertical D.O. to lead to reification or monism.

asunthatneversets wrote:Exercises like Candrakīrti's Chariot are all well and good, and can be effective tools when properly implemented, but surely not what I was pointing towards. And I wasn't making an argument, just a suggestion.

I am merely saying that “beyond the name "table" there is no table to be found” is plain wrong. There is a dependently arisen table to be found (and of course that dependently arisen table in the final analysis is merely an illusion.)
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby maybay » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:54 am

conebeckham wrote:With regard to your question about my "terms," I think it's pretty clear---reality=existence.

Would you say existence = samsara?
Because then since nirvana transcends samsara you would be saying that nirvana is not Dharma.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby maybay » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:55 am

Here's a famous one:

“We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.” - Kalu Rinpoche
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby asunthatneversets » Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:02 am

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:Or perhaps you misunderstood what he was attempting to convey.

What does it imply to say that the ultimate basis of a table is the imputation of a table?

That
(1) the table as an object is merely a subjective imputation of the mind, and that there is really no physical table out there? If so, then there is really no physical things and that all things are mental phenomena. You would therefore be subscribing to the tenet of Mind Only School.


The table as an object being a subjective imputation of mind would be just as much an imputation as considering it to be an actual object. What do you mean "out there?", there's no physical table out where? So if these alleged things aren't physical then they're automatically reduced to being mental? Why mental? Why physical? I surely do not subscribe to yogācāra.

Sherab wrote:Or, that
(2) there is a physical table out there but that is not important. What is important is the mental image of the table (the imputed table) and its relation to the mind that imputes it? If so, then the path to enlightenment is purely a psychological process and not connected at all with the physical realm. The physical realm that we inhibit does not have any karmic relation with its inhabitants. It would also mean that the stories we hear about siddhas exercising control over physical matter such as multiplying of food, conversion of one thing to another are only that – stories, and not to be taken literally.


Again one would allow presuppositions of external physicality to govern their view, both of which are misnomers. Why is the image mental? Are you implying there is a separately existent noumenal table-suchness which is inaccessible due to residing beyond the limits of one's allegedly conditioned perception? And this alleged noumena is then translated by the mind? You again assume that there is a psychological realm existing in relation to a physical realm, internal and external, subjective and objective... skillfully applied emptiness decimates these notions. And as for these siddhas, they would certainly have a rough time exercising control over anything in this proposed schematic you've laid out.

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:Or he knew that vertical D.O. is ultimately evaluating and deconstructing misnomers even more so than horizontal D.O. is.

I have no idea what you are saying. Please explain.


In this vertical D.O. you speak of, deconstructing 'objective things' into constituent parts, elements, particles and so on and so forth... by being enveloped and unwittingly overtaken by such a process one again allows their activity to be governed by the assumption that they as a subject are indeed deconstructing an objective thing. If one isn't careful they may allow their perception to be governed and deceived by assumed designations which are in truth empty, and in doing so they unknowingly construct an imprisoned and constricted view which severs them from seeing the true nature of reality. Dependent origination has to go all the way, annihilating all designations, or else one will fall short and remain in ignorance.

37. Since the Buddhas have stated
That the world is conditioned by ignorance,
So why is it not reasonable [to assert]
That this world is [a result of] conceptualization?


10. When the perfect gnosis sees
That things come from ignorance as condition,
Nothing will be objectified,
Either in terms of arising or destruction.


12. And even with respect to subtle things
One imputes originations,
Such an utterly unskilled person does not see
The meaning of conditioned origination.


18. Those who impute arising and disintegration
With relation to conditioned things,
They do not understand the movement
Of the wheel of dependent origination.


26. Devoid of locus, there is nothing to objectify;
Rootless, they have no fixed abode;
They arise totally from the cause of ignorance,
Utterly devoid of beginning, middle and end.


33. Just as the Buddhas have spoken of
"I" and "mine" for a practical purpose;
Likewise they spoke too of "aggregates,"
"Elements" and "sense-fields" for practical reasons.


35. Inasmuch as the Conquerors have stated
Nirvana is the sole truth,
What learned person would imagine
That the rest is not false?

- excerpts from Nāgārjuna's 60 Stanzas of Reasoning



Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:In implementing vertical D.O. one is surely confined to the alleged realm of phenomena, breaking an object down into constituent particles etc... at least in horizontal there's a chance of one taking it back to the realm of the senses and consciousness which is somewhat closer to the mark. That is why I said it's appropriate to eventually venture into horizontal D.O. if one is going to move further down the rabbit hole, otherwise one just reifies and evaluates conventional misconceptions.


You are exhibiting exactly the fear that I mentioned earlier. There is no need for vertical D.O. to lead to reification or monism.


Vertical D.O. begins under the umbrella of reification. It is reification by nature, it doesn't need to lead to reification, it is wrought with it(that isn't to say it's not effective and an excellent method). So beginning under the umbrella of reification, it then seeks to dismantle said reification, for those who are unskilled it certainly may lead to wrong view.

Sherab wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:Exercises like Candrakīrti's Chariot are all well and good, and can be effective tools when properly implemented, but surely not what I was pointing towards. And I wasn't making an argument, just a suggestion.

I am merely saying that “beyond the name "table" there is no table to be found” is plain wrong. There is a dependently arisen table to be found (and of course that dependently arisen table in the final analysis is merely an illusion.)


For purposes of conventional discussion, employing the concept of a table, and then following through with the subsequent declaration that said table is undoubtably dependently arisen is more than acceptable, and yes upon final analysis it's found to be merely an illusion, I agree. So how is my stating "beyond the name 'table' there is no table to be found" plain wrong? If we're both agreeing that beyond the convention there is merely illusion? Do these dependently arisen causes and conditions actually create a table to be deconstructed and analyzed in the first place? I think not, if you disagree you are welcome to.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Anders » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:19 am

cloudburst wrote:
Anders Honore wrote:
cloudburst wrote:Of course by analyzing, you have already left the conventional.


I.... what?


Tibetan Madhyamika is weird sometimes.



ha ha !

A.H., you have the smoothest profile pic of all!

I just meant that when we analyze something, we are seeking something that can be found upon investigation, something intrinsic or ultimate, so this is no longer in the realm of the conventional. Chandrakirti repeatedly warned against analyzing conventions, but rather accepting the valid perceptions of the world as the world does. So it is Indian Madhayamaka, really, although the Tibetans take something weird (but fabulous) and make it weirder still.


As someone whose Madhyamika studies are primarily centered around Indian -> Chinese sources moreso than Indian -> Tibetan ones (there are significant differences. Chinese Madhyamika is centered around Arydadeva's 100 verses, the madhyamakakārikās and two works attributed to Nagarjuna which never made it to Tibet. And someone like Candrakirti, owing to his obscurity in Indian Buddhism, was never translated to Chinese. But then again by Candrakirti's time, Madhyamika had flourished in China for over 200 years and produced its own masters in the school), reading a thread like this looks weird in more than one way.

Having simmered in the likes of Jizang and Sengzhao, the Two truths thing seems fairly straightforward to me - is it knowable or cognisable? If so, it is illusory and conventional. To analyse is also to pursue illusion. Ergo, lay your machinations and ideas to rest asap and the rest will naturally clarify of its own accord. This stuff is only confusing to those who do not follow the inevitable conclusion of Madhyamika and lay their conceptualisation to rest and instead continue to proliferate about "the two truths", "ultimate truth" and "reality beyond concepts."

This may be a gross generalisation, but it seems to me that there is a fundamental difference of emphasis between the divergent traditions of Tibetan and Chinese Madhyamika. I see a lot of talk here about the status of phenomena, whether they lack essence, can be accurately cognised, and so forth, which to me looks like a kind of pseudo-ontology. As I see it, Madhyamika is eminently simple - Have a preliminary think about dependent origination until you are satisfied conceptually that the mind interpolates 'existence' and non'-existence' upon your experience which is the source of all your problems and that all views are fundamentally absurd and illusory. Henceforth, solve this root problem by emptying the mind of all views and ideas and abiding nowhere. Emergence of Prajna will resolve the rest.

Madhyamika is at heart therapeutic. It doesn't actually care about all the implications that can be philosophically extrapolated from its deconstructive presentation. Or, to use a phrasing from Jizang: Madhyamika does not present a correct teaching (and does not care to). It present a corrective one that refutes what is misleading. No more or less.

Perhaps a reason for the difference between Tibetan and Chinese Madhyamika (and probably Indian too) is that in China, Madhyamika was seen and used as a whole and self-contained path to awakening, whereas in Tibet it has been mostly a dialectic tradition used to establish right view and justify doctrinal positions, but taking a distinct backseat to tantrayana in the realm of practical application (even if these tantric practises are based on the 'view' of Madhyamika). Used for different purposes.
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I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Sherab » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:40 am

@asunthatneversets
Looks like we are both in agreement that the table is nothing more than an illusion.

So how did our debate arose? It arose from your suggestion that the reply of the Geshe that "the ultimate basis of the table is the table" is to convey that beyond the name table, there is no table to be found. I disagreed because if indeed beyond the name table, there is no table to be found, then the Geshe could have simply replied that the ultimate basis is that there is no basis as the table is merely an illusion.

I have tried to show that Geshe's reply that the ultimate basis of the table is the (imputation of the) table leaves too much ambiguity. (I’ve put the words “imputation of the” in brackets because these were not in the original reply given by the Geshe.) It begs the question why the Geshe could not have given a more straight forward answer.

I started off my study of the Dharma with Gelugpas and noticed that they tended to make a distinction between something that is an illusion versus something that is LIKE an illusion. I therefore could not help but felt that they in general were implicitly assuming that dependent origination is truly existing. Hence, I took that as the context in which the Geshe gave his reply. In other words, Geshe’s reply could be understood as that there is (truly existing) DO that gives rise to illusory-like table that can then take the label "table". I was never comfortable with this as I felt that DO was being reified.

As to the so call “deconstruction” by vertical DO, if that “deconstruction” is pushed to the limit, one would reach a point where there is no basis whatsoever. That is not possible with horizontal DO. Horizontal DO is needed to understand the beginningless cycling of beings through various existences. Vertical DO is needed to break through an intellectual reification of DO itself. That is just my view and you are free to disagree of course.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Malcolm » Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:21 pm

Anders Honore wrote: I see a lot of talk here about the status of phenomena, whether they lack essence, can be accurately cognised, and so forth, which to me looks like a kind of pseudo-ontology.


This is primarily a result of Tsongkhapa's over-intellectualization of Madhyamaka and his inability to differentiate between Candrakirti's POV and Bhavaviveka's, and his ideological commitment to the superiority of Candrakiriti's presentation.

The idea that Candra's presentation is superior to Bhava's is not unique, but what is unique is Tsongkhapa's simulataneous commitment to the language of logic as a tool to explain Madhyamaka, and as a result we see strange formulations such as "Prasangikas" do not refute valid cognizers and so on, when in fact they clearly do. In point of fact, that Prasangikas who do not reject valid cognizers are only the followers of Tsongkhapa. The rest, from Candrakirti, to Jayananda, and so on, do refute them.

Also, Buddhist logic never made significant inroads into Chinese philosophy, so much of this talk about valid cognition and so on would sound foreign to a Chinese Buddhist. But because of the trenchant polemics in India between Buddhists and non-Buddhists, there was much discussion of valid cognition and what entailed, since the whole field of pramana was adopted by the Buddhists defensively.

However, during the time of Nagarjuna there was no well developed school of Buddhist logic, and so we see in texts like Vigrahavyavartani a thorough rejection of the whole notion of valid cognizers since in the end the notion of a valid cognition depends on notions of inherency. So naturally the Chinese were not that interested.

However, in response to non-Buddhsits,Vasubandhu began to articulate the first epistemological responses to non-Buddhist criticism, his disciple,Dignaga, forumulized the foundations and Buddhist pramana, Dharmakirit elaborated it, and the rest is history. Pramana came to be regarded as one of the Panca Vidya, the five sciences with its understandable impact on Tibetan Buddhism.

Of course in Dzogchen, the principle is not the two truths, but simple vidyā and avidyā. By comparison, there is only one truth in Dzogchen teachings, vidyā. The rest, falling under the heading of avidyā (ignorance) is fundamentally false —— for example, in the same way that a jaundiced man sees everything as yellow, those who suffering from the jaundice of ignorance never see things as they truly are.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby cloudburst » Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:49 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:Then you're proposing that the sentient being/firebrand lack essence (but are truly existent) and the circle exists in no way whatsoever?


no, nothing is truly existent.


cloudburst wrote:I mean the same as you see in the writings of the great Indian Madhyamikas, like Nagarjuna, Buddhapalita, Aryadeva, and Chandrakirti. All phenomena are empty of, or lack, a nature of their own.
asunthatneversets wrote:I understand that, I was inquiring about your own interpretation of the great Indian Mādhyamakas, because your assertions seem to contradict the view Mādhyamaka conveys and generates (or at least it conflicts with my own interpretation).


I see, sorry. In what way do you find it contradictory?

asunthatneversets wrote:So in what manner does this essenceless manifestation truly exist?


It does not "truly" exist." It is a mere appearance, and as such, it exists. Just take the inherence or intrinsic nature out of appearance, and you're there.

asunthatneversets wrote:To arrive at your conclusion of essencelessness, (in the case of the sentient being and firebrand) are you approaching the deconstruction of these alleged "objects" from the standpoint of initially accepting their objecthood as genuinely valid, and then proceeding (under the influence of that presupposition) with the application of emptiness? In granting the sentient being and/or firebrand the title of "existent" it seems that dependent origination is either being applied incorrectly or is falling short of it's intended mark... this could simply be a difference in views though. I'm failing to understand how emptiness allows what you're suggesting(even under the guise of the conventional/absolute dichotomy).


When investigated, the true appearance of things falls apart, and as such we can say that it is empty, totally dependent. Granting the status of existent, we make a distinction between an existent, something correctly known by mind, and aomething which exists by way of a nature, which is an impossibility.

asunthatneversets wrote:If the firebrand and sentient being both exist but lack essence.


yes

asunthatneversets wrote: And the lacked essence in turn naturally lacks existence.


sure

asunthatneversets wrote:How then are the firebrand and sentient being acquiring existence?


Mental imputation

asunthatneversets wrote:For something to exist, isn't essential being required?


Not at all. The problem with this approach, or so it seems to me, is that one fails to make a clear distinction between mere existence and existence by way of a nature or essence. My bicycle does not exist by way of it's essence, and when we search fro that essentially exitent Bike, it disappears like a rainbow. That's the ultimate level. NO bike. Conventionally speaking, you will make a fool of yourself if you say there is no bike, or the bike does not exist at all. Becasue it obviously does, and I ride it around all the time while ringing it's little bell. Sometimes Madhyamikas say "it does not exist" but if you analyze the context, what you discover is that they are using the term "exist" in a specialized sense, and the meaning of this usage is "exist by way of a nature or essence."

If one fails to make this critical distinction, as many have done, is to render one's presentation otiose, and internally contradictory. It becomes impossible to establish the path to liberation and those clear thinking people who are not impressed by you recitation of paradox cannot be gradually brought into the path.

asunthatneversets wrote:Since they both lack essence (and are found to be empty when meticulously investigated), wouldn't it seem they are misconceptions? And are therefore the same as the illusory fire circle?

for as long as you believe something exists inherently, the object that you perceive IS in one sense a misconception, yes. But generally speaking, no, my bike is not a misconception, it is a bike. And it is recognized as such by the world, and we follow Chandrakiriti's dictum not to argue with the world.

Thanks. Probably no internet for me for a week or so, so if you answer, I would be happy to try to reply next week!
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby cloudburst » Fri Apr 27, 2012 3:13 pm

Namdrol wrote:
cloudburst wrote:
is an image of you savaging a straw man. Prasnagikas never refute valid cognition, although they do strongly and continuously refute intrinsic existence.


Nagārajuna refutes valid cognition in the Vigrahavyavartani. Since he does not accept it, ergo, neither does Madhyamaka in general.


Let's look at the context of whatever citation you would like to provide. I'm sure we will discover something remarkable. Over to you.


Namdrol wrote:
This is sloppy reasoning. In this case we may define one type of valid cognition as the cognition of the unreality of phenomena. There may be other valid cognitions that apprehend conventions whose ultimate nature is unreality.


Then you must admit that valid objects exist. Then you must explain their existence. This can only be done of you accept independent existence.


and so I do. And I can explain their existence. They exist by way of mental imputation, as becasue of this, there is no need to assert independence.


Namdrol wrote:I have not read her book. But I have read Rongzom.


Shall we assume that since you have nothing to add here, other than your oft-repeated assertion that you read Tibetan texts in the original?

"Since the jinas have stated nirvana is the sole truth, at that time, what wise person would think "the rest is not the opposite".
-- Yuktiṣaṣṭika

N


Context is everything.

Nagarjuna is lamenting those who do not understand emptiness, and explains actions, effects, and the states they produce, but he also explains that these are empty. Between these two, only one truth exists in the way that it appears, and that is the ultimate. As a result, we can say nirvana is true and conventions are false.

Elsewhere the Madhyamikas present two truths.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby Malcolm » Fri Apr 27, 2012 3:38 pm

cloudburst wrote:
and so I do. And I can explain their existence. They exist by way of mental imputation, as becasue of this, there is no need to assert independence.


Then there is no difference between fire circles and firebrands since they both depend on mental imputation.

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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby cloudburst » Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:06 pm

Namdrol wrote:
cloudburst wrote:
and so I do. And I can explain their existence. They exist by way of mental imputation, as becasue of this, there is no need to assert independence.


Then there is no difference between fire circles and firebrands since they both depend on mental imputation.

Mate in one move.


correct, no difference in terms of the ultimate.
Conventionally, big big difference.

mustn't advise sentient beings that drinking mirage water and actual water are same
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby White Lotus » Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:16 pm

water is just water.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby conebeckham » Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:33 pm

maybay wrote:
conebeckham wrote:With regard to your question about my "terms," I think it's pretty clear---reality=existence.

Would you say existence = samsara?
Because then since nirvana transcends samsara you would be saying that nirvana is not Dharma.


No, Samsara does not equal existence. Samsara is illusion. Mere appearance.

However, I did say reality=existence, and that's not truly correct, I think, now that I ponder it.

In my conceptual understanding, Nirvana is abiding in the Ultimate, which transcends existence, nonexistence, both and neither--in that sense, Nirvana equals reality, but in that sense we can see reality and existence are not equivalent, really. Perhaps better to say Nirvana is abiding in Truth, and Truth transcends existence, etc.

Then again, Milarepa sang that there was no Samsara there, and also no Nirvana....so, such dualisms don't apply to reality, ultimately. Nirvana and Samsara are both mere conventions for sentient beings.
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Re: What is the concept of "reality" in Buddhism?

Postby conebeckham » Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:42 pm

Cloudburst said:
When investigated, the true appearance of things falls apart, and as such we can say that it is empty, totally dependent. Granting the status of existent, we make a distinction between an existent, something correctly known by mind, and aomething which exists by way of a nature, which is an impossibility.


Actually, appearances don't fall apart when one investigates them. Appearances continue to appear, but our conceptions of them may change, and ultimately may fall apart. Appearances, however, continue to appear--at least until the meditative equipoise of those on the first Bhumi.

"Something correctly known by mind" is an interesting phrase, as well.
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