maybay wrote:Who are you quoting? Dreyfus translates 'vastu' as 'things', which is not what I meant. Can we agree on the importance of nomenclature at least? I don't know maybe its just because I'm Capricorn I need all this structure.
How about this:
Reality = Dharma
Unreality / Imaginary = Adharma / Atma
Now you know how the Yogacarins speak of the triple division of the imaginary, the dependent, and the absolute.
So by this, reality is the dependent and the absolute, or conventional truth and absolute truth, or samsara and nirvana.
First of all, I was not quoting anyone, but taking your statement about "Emptiness behind the appearance" and running with it. You did say there was "emptiness" behind the appearances....right?
I don't know that we need to bring Yogacara into this, but I understand your point--your assertion is that the dependent is "samsara," or "things," or the dependently-arisen phenomena. Let's just stick with the latter term, as it's most specific, I think? Also, not sure of the need to make things more complicated by bringing Yogacara into this discussion about the "reality of dependently-arisen phenomena," in my view, but since you have, I'll try to comment from my limited understanding.
In the Diamond Sutra again, Buddha says to see 'this fleeting world'. So he means samsara. He cannot mean nirvana because nirvana does not change. So he didn't say to see reality as an illusion, only to see what changes as an illusion. See the dependent as an illusion.
Right. All dependently-arisen phenomena, in other words, as illusion. Not "like" an illusion. Those who directly perceive reality perceive the Truth of the Illusory nature of Samsara, this "fleeting world," whereas those who do not directly perceive reality can only conceptually understand the illusory nature of Samsara. So, to say dependently-arisen phenomena are "like" an illusion, implies a subtle clinging to some sort of "reality" of dependently-arisen phenomena. In Madhyamika, the "existence" of phenomena on the conventional level is only spoken of on the level of the "seeming," the level of no analysis. Mere Appearance. At any level of analysis, there is no "existence" that can by posited on dependently-arisen phenomena. From a Yogacara POV, as I understand it these days, we could say "existence" is a function of the Imaginary ("existence" as a concept imputed on the Dependent), and the Absolute is the Dependent purged of the Imaginary. Where does that leave the Dependent? Why, as sheer mere appearance, I think, which is all that can be said from our POV, as anything else we say about it is conceptualization, proliferation, and therefore of the Imaginary. But again, perhaps best to leave Yogacara out of this?
So there're two things going on here. The one is the difference between Dharma and self. This is the bigger issue.
The other is the difference, within Dharma, between the dependent and the absolute.
The Hinayana teaching came first. These emphasised the bigger issue. Its only in the Diamond Sutra, which is a Mahayana Sutra, that a finer distinction is made, and we start talking about the dream-like quality of things. But this dreamy, illusory, psychedelia doesn't feature in the Pali Canon. Why? Because the self doesn't appear. It doesn't even appear, nor is it empty. Why? Because it isn't real. It is pure imagination.
Agreed, the focus of the Pali Canon, as I understand it, is on the fundamental nonfindability of the Self. Mahayana expanded the analysis, if you will, to include so-called "external phenomena," which are equivalent to dependently-arisen phenomena.
Forgetting this, these fundamental teachings of the Hinayana, we dance into Mahayana scriptures and Madhyamika and whatever else and start substituting words like 'real' with 'exists'.
2500 years later some technocrat race is using this vague word: Illusory. And what do we think it means, from our own side? Its our word after all. Do we think it means
1. Imaginary? In this case we cannot say reality is illusion because clearly Dharma is not Atma.
2. Unimportant? In this case Dharma is worth our attention and Atma not. Reality cannot be illusion.
3. Apparent? If emptiness is the inner nature, then appearance is the outer display. The show. In this case I concede to 'reality is illusory'. It appears.
4. Deceptive? In this case something is illusory when it defies analysis, inspection etc. This is how it was used in the Diamond sutra, since nirvana is not deceptive and was not implied. (Perhaps the reason we often find 'like an illusion' is to protect against the nihilism of option 2, that illusions have no meaning and don't matter) You could contest that since reality includes both deceptive and non-deceptive elements (eg nirvana), it is surely still deceptive and therefore 'reality is illusory'. I don't believe this. When a Bodhisattva enters on the 1st bhumi he has captured the essence of the Dharma. Surely there are objects of knowledge beyond the 1st level Bodhisattva, but they cannot deceive him. As they appear he immediately understands them. Therefore 'Reality is illusory' cannot apply for the Bodhisattva much less the Buddha.
I don't see the value or the precedence for option 3. It seems utterly redundant to say that appearances are apparent. When I hear the word illusion I think option 4. The scriptures are the authority on language since it is their meanings we wish to acquire, but in the end its really up to you.
Okay, here's where we get to to crux of this whole "Illusion vs. Illusion-like" issue. No one is saying "REALITY is ILLUSORY." What people are saying is that dependently-arisen phenomena are illusory," or, in other words, that which we posit as phenomenal reality, things, objects, and even sentient beings, truly have no reality upon analysis. But Reality, qua reality, is not merely illusory appearance. However, the Mind of the Buddha is the sole realm of understanding Reality. We, unfortunately, have only appearance and conceptual proliferation about it.
To briefly address your four points: First, Dependently-arisen phenomena are not "imaginary," in the sense I take for your first point--they appear externally, as do illusions. Yogacara posits the "Dependent" and, as far as I can tell, the Dependent appears, even when "purged" of the Imaginary. (How, and from whence it appears, is another thing entirely--but let's leave that out, eh?--Yogacara might say "they APPEAR to appear externally"-
) From the Madhyamika POV, Appearance is unquestioned, unanalyzed, the realm of normal sentient beings-but Madhyamika does not deny Appearance, at the level of the Seeming.
Taking "Illusion" to be unimportant is not appropriate, either. This is because we, as illusory Sentient Beings, ignorant and mired in Samsara, must abide by the Law of Karma, and Dependent Origination. Conceptual understanding of the emptiness of dependently-arisen phenomena, the fact that they are illusions, is not sufficient to banish the illusion--you may understand that a movie is a projection of light and color onto a two-dimensional screen, but while experiencing the movie you will likely be moved, emotionally, and will conceptualize the plot, characters, etc. The Movie Still Appears, and causes reactions and results.
Now, with regard to "reality" being "apparent," well--only dependently-arisen phenomena "appear" to us, as sentient beings. Emptiness does not. Therefore, we cannot say that "reality is (merely) apparent." Appearances, which are dependently-arisen phenomena, are not the sum total of "reality," if we are to believe the Buddha, Nagarjuna, etc. Correct? We can, however, say that Appearances are Illusions, and not write off reality entirely, because Buddhism teaches that there is "something" (for lack of a better word, and because of the limitations of language,) beside that which appears. This does not negate appearance. Neither does it ascribe "reality" to appearance. Buddhism asserts a direct experience of Reality, beyond mere appearance of things.
Finally, with regard to "reality" being deceptive, this absolutely cannot be the case, following from my points above. Reality is Truth. Truth is the realm of the Buddha Mind. Appearances, however, of themselves, are ultimately deceptive, if they are viewed as the total of reality, as sentient beings habitually view them. However, if one has a conceptual understanding of the illusory nature of appearances, this is a step forward toward the Truth, and Reality. Ultimately, though, direct experience of Truth, Reality, transcends conceptuality and appearances--but it never negates them, per se.