Appearances without an underlying reality

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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Dexing » Sun Jul 11, 2010 6:02 pm

Huseng wrote:
However, you admit that the atman is imagined and definitely non-existent. Otherwise if you say the atman is not inherently existent, then it exists through Causes & Conditions. Which is still a view of selfhood, albeit temporary and dependent. And we know that this is a wrong view.


There is a relative conventionally existent self. The Buddha himself used the personal first person reflexive pronoun. There is nothing wrong with saying "I" as it does refer to a person who may not possess inherit existence, but has a provisional and conventional relative existence.

This is not a wrong view because there is no assertion that either the aggregates are or based on an absolute atman.


The wrong view is not to conventionally refer to the aggregates together as an atman, but to assume that the aggregates themselves are real which contradicts both scripture and reason. As I will clarify:

So if you agree that the atman is not even a temporarily existing thing, that it is completely false and imagined, then why do you consider dharmas to likewise lack inherent existence, yet exist impermanently and dependently (upon other dharmas)?


You are moving in the direction of nihilism. Emptiness is dependent origination which means that the mode of existence of dharmas is through causes and conditions ergo things exist relatively and not absolutely. When we say that dharmas lack inherit existence, that is not to say they do not exist at all.


Because you don't see the full picture, does not make it nihilism. Allow me to explain.

Your definition of Dependent Origination and Causes & Conditions is a Hinayana understanding, which traces dharmas back to other dharmas, but does not realize that all such dharmas are unreal and cannot be attributed to such Causes & Conditions nor to spontaneity, as clearly stated in scripture.

Real Dependent Origination and the true Cause & Condition of everything appearing in the three times (past, present, and future) as taught in Mahayana Sutras is the "wonderful nature of True Suchness, the Treasury of the Tathagata", in other words the "wonderfully enlightened bright mind".

It is the defiled consciousness of Ordinary Beings which evolves in such a way to resemble external dharmas existing independently of mind. Nihilism would be to deny even mind which creates such illusions. But while these illusory flowers in the sky (form-skandha) are unreal, the mind which dreams of them is obviously real. Otherwise how could such things appear and how would there be perception of them?

To deny both would not stand to reason, but to affirm dharmas existing independently of mind, albeit temporary and dependent (on other dharmas), would not be in accord with scripture.

Yet your interpretation is Hinayana style, conceding that the atman is completely false and non-existent, but still affirming the existence of dharmas on account of other dharmas ("pot= clay + kiln + fire + mental perception") as Cause & Condition.


I have not posited that dharmas possess inherit existence. Therefore your charge here is dismissed.


Where did I say "inherent existence", and where is that taught in Hinayana? I said "on account of other dharmas as Cause & Condition", which is the Hinayana definition of Dependent Origination, and the way that you apply to your study of Mahayana.

Basic Mahayana doctrine? Is there really such a thing?


If there is not the least thing that the various schools agree on, how can they all be considered Mahayana? What groups them together as Mahayana and distinguishes their doctrines from the Hinayana? The answer in simple terms is the unreality of not only atman, but also all dharmas.

You have critically misunderstood emptiness as taught by Nagarjuna as you have adopted a view of nihilism.

Do you understand what svabhava means?


I understand. But if something has no inherent existence, what else can it have?

Therefore in many Sutras the Buddha teaches that that which can be returned somewhere is false and unreal (skandhas, dharmas). While that which can be returned to nowhere is ultimately true (bodhi-mind).

If that is so, how can it be reduced to nihilism?

So as Bodhidharma states in his Bloodstream Discourse;

"You can't know your real mind as long as you deceive yourself. As long as you're enthralled by a lifeless form, you're not free. If you don't believe me, deceiving yourself won't help. It's not the Buddha's fault."

As long as you are enthralled by the skandhas as real and external dharmas as independent of mind, even if not attached to them as inherently existing "self", you're not free.

It is explicated in many a Sutra. Not seeing mind and skewing it into materialism or nihilism is not the Buddha's fault.

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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby BFS » Sun Jul 11, 2010 6:27 pm

White Lotus wrote::namaste: to quote BFS/14th Dalai...
"According to the explanation of the highest Buddhist philosophical school, Madhyamaka-Prasangika, external phenomena are not mere projections or creations of the mind. External phenomena have a distinct nature, which is different from the mind.


i agree that external phenomena are not mere projections... they are however still Mind... Mind matter.

external phenomena are one with mind though in appearance initially discrete individualities, however fundamentally all things are of the same nature which is Mind/Tathata.

to say that there are two natures is wrong... ultimately there is only one nature... dharmakaya/buddha nature.

emptiness is the mist that hides the holy grail... Mind. through studying the teachinigs on emptiness one approaches to the hidden realm of mind, which really is not hidden at all but is directly experienced in what is right before your eyes right now and in what is in your heart right now, however normal that may seem.

Mind is the basis. emptiness is a function. its function is to lead to direct congnisance of Mind.

madhymaka complements yogacara, the two are mutually of the same family, however Mind is the heart, emptiness the body that surrounds the heart.

best wishes, White Lotus.

two ways of seeing,
really ony one supreme.
emptiness will do for a while.
but sooner or later a goal must be scored.
when you see the mist, you know that
the treasure is near.
emptiness will guide you.
Mind will be found.


Hi Whitelotus,

Really friend, whatever bakes your cake is fine by me. If you look at the very introduction to the links, my post reads: The Truth -- according to Prasangikas. That is how His Holiness starts off.

You are welcome to your views of what is right and what is wrong. Your view seems to reify mind, to me. As for Emptiness - Geshe Jampa Tegchok explained Emptiness so beautifully: "Emptiness is regarded as the "ultimate" object, not because it is some sort of absolute truth that is independent of everything else. Rather, emptiness of inherent existence is the ultimate or deepest way in which all phenomena exist."
Sure we can debate until the cows come home, but that is not really why I posted. I just wanted to give JD some links to explore.

I remember what His Holiness also said in an interview with Robert Thurman in MotherJones years ago:

“In Buddhism we have the concept of "interpretable truths," teachings that are reasonable and logical for certain people in certain situations. Buddha himself taught different teachings to different people under different circumstances. The only "definitive truth" for Buddhism is the absolute negation of any one truth as the Definitive Truth.
Thurman: Isn't that because it is dangerous for one religion to consider it has the only truth?
Dalai Lama: Yes. I always say there should be pluralism -- the concept of many religions, many truths. But we must also be careful not to become nihilistic.”

I also like Shunryu Suzuki's view on "value".

We are normally involved in standards of evaluation: exchange value, material value, spiritual value, and moral value. The mountain is not more valuable because it is high; the river is not less valuable because it is low. On the other hand, because a mountain is high, it is a mountain, and it has absolute value; because water runs low in the valley, water is water and has absolute value. The quality of the mountain and the quality of the river are completely different; because they are different they have equal value; equal value means absolute value.
The usual understanding is that differentiation is the opposite of equality, but our understanding is that they are the same thing. One is many are the same. If you only see from the perspective that says one is different from many, your understanding is too materialistic and superficial.”

So when it comes to right or wrong, high vs low - I would say: The right teaching, the highest teaching is the one that works for that particular individual at that particular time, there is no problem. May everyone find that which works for them, that which cuts through their delusions and mental afflictions.
:)
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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Jack Dawkins » Sun Jul 11, 2010 7:48 pm

Dexing wrote:Since no one believes in an "inherent" existence of a pot in the first place, that of course is not the point of Mahayana teachings. As long as one still grasps external objects existing independently of mind, albeit temporary and dependently originated, the delusion of external phenomena is still present, and one cannot move beyond the false and perceive truth. Unable to see truth, one cannot help themselves, much less other equally or less equally confused sentient beings, and therefore the Bodhisattva vows cannot be fulfilled.

Hmmm. Mipham says:

The thing to be dispelled is a misconception: the belief that the pot that undeniably appears exists inherently as it is perceived. The refutation of this conceived object is precisely the purpose of Madhyamika.
(Commentary on the Madhyamakvatara, p. 172)

What other purpose could it serve to negate the inherent existence of all phenomena? You say:

Dexing wrote:Since no one believes in an "inherent" existence of a pot in the first place, that of course is not the point of Mahayana teachings. As long as one still grasps external objects existing independently of mind, albeit temporary and dependently originated, the delusion of external phenomena is still present, and one cannot move beyond the false and perceive truth. Unable to see truth, one cannot help themselves, much less other equally or less equally confused sentient beings, and therefore the Bodhisattva vows cannot be fulfilled.

So I take it this is the purpose as far as you are concerned. But how does refuting the ultimate existence of phenomena refute the "delusion" you refer to in the underlined passage? I don't believe it does, and neither do the Prasangikas, because (again according to Mipham) they don't regard it as a delusion at all:
... the Prasangika tradition does not say that phenomena are validly established by the force of mental imputation. When, on the conventional level, conceptual imputation corresponds to the object, the phenomenon in question is necessarily regarded as validly established (or established through valid cognition). When the imputation does not correspond with the object, the phenomenon is not validly established. But there is absolutely no way to distinguish between "correspondence" and "noncorrespondence"without reference to the relative thing in itself...
If there is no ground of imputation on the conventional level and if things are no more than conceptual imputations, they are like a rabbit's horns, nonexistent. How, therefore, can they be validly established? On the other hand, if there is a ground or basis of imputation, namely, phenomena arising in interdependence, the latter do exist conventionally; they are not mere imputations.
(ibid p. 197)

Here it is being argued that what you describe as a delusion is in fact exactly how things are. Dependently originated phenomena exist independently of mind. It is not fruitful to try to reinterpret this passage from a Yogacara perspective in an attempt to make it consistent with your original claim. In any event, this possibility just brings me to my final point: why are you so determined to insist that Yogacara and Madhyamaka are the same thing? I see you have made this claim in another thread. In this thread you have denied that anything has inherent existence, whereas:
The Chittamatra doctrine states that dependent reality has three particular features (1) It manifests from the mind's own latent tendencies, in the absence of outer objects. (2) It exists inherently. (3) On the ultimate level, as understood by the Chittamatrins, it is inconceivable and inexpressible.
(ibid p. 229)

Since the two schools are clearly different, why argue that the point of Madhyamaka teachings is to establish a proposition which is clearly inspired by Yogacara? If you try to ride two horses at the same time, you are bound to fall off.

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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Dexing » Sun Jul 11, 2010 9:21 pm

Here it is being argued that what you describe as a delusion is in fact exactly how things are. Dependently originated phenomena exist independently of mind.


This runs contrary to both scripture and reason.

It is not fruitful to try to reinterpret this passage from a Yogacara perspective in an attempt to make it consistent with your original claim.


The perspective I am speaking of is based on the Mahayana teachings of Shakyamuni, unless you don't accept that Mahayana Sutras were spoken by the Buddha.

why are you so determined to insist that Yogacara and Madhyamaka are the same thing? I see you have made this claim in another thread.


I didn't say they are the same thing, but that their doctrines are not in conflict, even though Yogacara then takes on the question of; "If everything Ordinary Beings know is unreal, what then is true reality? What is the state verified by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas?", which cannot be merely that dharmas lack inherent existence, otherwise we'd all be Buddhas. But after that realization the question arises; "then what is real?"

That is something only realized at the level of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

In this thread you have denied that anything has inherent existence, whereas:
The Chittamatra doctrine states that dependent reality has three particular features (1) It manifests from the mind's own latent tendencies, in the absence of outer objects. (2) It exists inherently. (3) On the ultimate level, as understood by the Chittamatrins, it is inconceivable and inexpressible.
(ibid p. 229)


And what is the "dependent reality"?

It is not talking about dharmas (so-called "outer objects") known by Ordinary Beings depending on other dharmas to arise independently of mind. Because that would make it not inherently existent- violating feature #2.

It is that those dharmas are transformations of consciousness resembling "outer objects", when there is just consciousness without the duality of internal consciousness and external object.

You missed feature #1 "manifests from the mind's own latent tendencies, in the absence of outer objects". Mind is the true dependent reality.

This mind is realized by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, which is why it is inconceivable and inexpressible (by Ordinary Beings).

The wonderfully enlightened original bright mind, the wonderful nature of true suchness, the Treasury of the Tathagata- as stated by Shakyamuni Buddha, cannot be returned to a prior cause. It is therefore referred to as "inherently existent" (feature #2).

This is not to be confused with simply the names or concept of such a mind, as that is always the language of Ordinary Beings and is not inherently existent. Hence, it is inconceivable and inexpressible by Ordinary Beings, but is the reality verified only by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (feature #3).

The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas nonetheless must use Ordinary Beings' language to point to it.

Since the two schools are clearly different, why argue that the point of Madhyamaka teachings is to establish a proposition which is clearly inspired by Yogacara?


The "proposition" is taught all over Mahayana Sutras by Shakyamuni Buddha. The main points of both Madhyamaka and Yogacara are taught by Shakyamuni in succession. He can be considered the greatest Madhyamika and Yogacarin, as he thoroughly understands both stages and teaches them in fine detail.

What makes them appear as "clearly different" is approaching Madhyamaka doctrine with a Hinayana definition of Dependent Origination, and then contrasting that with Yogacara.

Rather it should be seen in three stages. Hinayana first (cutting atman), then the two stages of Mahayana, i.e. what became Madhyamaka (cutting atman and dharmas) and Yogacara (revealing bodhi-mind).

Of course you'll call this a "Yogacarin" theory of three stages if you approach this as a scholar rather than a practitioner, but it is clearly taught by Shakyamuni in Mahayana Sutras, which predate Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, etc..

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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Anders » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:20 am

dexing wrote:Does it?? I challenge you to find one person in a million who believes there is a pot that exists permanently, possessing its own self-sustaining substance.

Who believes such a ridiculous thing? So why would Mahayana doctrine spend so much time tearing up a strawman argument?

I think this is the major misinterpretation of Mahayana in the West. Because people come to it after having first learned Hinayana style teachings and apply it to their study of Mahayana scripture. Big mistake.


This is actually very easy to demonstrate. Find an object, perhaps a pot for the sake of relevance, that is dear to you. Maybe a family heirloom, or your pc or whatever.

Then break it.

You will then quickly have a demonstration of how the mind apprended that object as existing as it now turns to non-existence in the mind, with all the dhukkha that comes with it.

It may be rudimentary to intellectually grasp the fact that a pot does not have self-existence. But the question of ignorance in regards to existence and non-existence does not take place on the intellectual level of *understanding* as much as it does on a *cognitive* level.

There are pre-intellectual conceptualisations happening that filter your perception of reality into existence and non-existence well before your thoughts and understanding about it come into play. Hence, any intellectual understanding of the pot's existence or lack of same is already bound within this cognitive error.

Filtering through and letting go of our intellectual views is fairly rudimentary as far as practise goes in a Madhyamika framework. You have to go a level below the grosser shankaras and work with the cognitive samjnas filtering your experience before we can start talking about the actual middle way between extremes that Madhyamika is pointing to.
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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Anders » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:48 am

Dexing wrote:Where did I say "inherent existence", and where is that taught in Hinayana? I said "on account of other dharmas as Cause & Condition", which is the Hinayana definition of Dependent Origination, and the way that you apply to your study of Mahayana.


Inherent existence is taught by a couple of Hinayana schools. Sarvastivada (the 'all exists' school) posited the inherent existence of the three times. Theravadin abidhamma, although held by a few to not do so (personally, I think this is more of a post-nagarjunian justification), can be generally classified as holding that certain ultimate dhammas truly exist.

If there is not the least thing that the various schools agree on, how can they all be considered Mahayana? What groups them together as Mahayana and distinguishes their doctrines from the Hinayana? The answer in simple terms is the unreality of not only atman, but also all dharmas.


Not necessarily. Certain streams of Tathagatagarbha will hold the dharmakaya is being genuinely existing (and as being Atman), Madhyamika will not.

What groups them together is the bodhisattva vow to become a Buddha for the sake of all living beings. Most else is fair game really.

Dexing wrote:The perspective I am speaking of is based on the Mahayana teachings of Shakyamuni, unless you don't accept that Mahayana Sutras were spoken by the Buddha.


And if one doesn't, yet accepts the Mahayana as buddhavacana nevertheless?

I didn't say they are the same thing, but that their doctrines are not in conflict, even though Yogacara then takes on the question of; "If everything Ordinary Beings know is unreal, what then is true reality? What is the state verified by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas?", which cannot be merely that dharmas lack inherent existence, otherwise we'd all be Buddhas. But after that realization the question arises; "then what is real?"

That is something only realized at the level of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.


I am having a trouble reading you here: Are you saying there is an ultimately existing state of ultimate reality?

The "proposition" is taught all over Mahayana Sutras by Shakyamuni Buddha. The main points of both Madhyamaka and Yogacara are taught by Shakyamuni in succession.


This is one hermeneutical classification, but it is not agreed upon by all schools.

Your assumption here really misses out on one major point: It is not a question of whether one accepts the mahayana sutras as taught by the Buddha or not, but rather which sutras one accepts as definitive and which ones one accepts as provisional.

For example, the tathagatagarbha sutras clearly state themselves as the definitive meaning of the Buddhadharma. Nevertheless, the lankavatara sutra clearly states the Tathagatagarbha teaching as provisional.

It boils down to what you take as definitive. If you're madhyamikan, you will take the prajnaparamita sutra as definitive, if yogacarin the Saṃdhinirmocana (depending on what kind of yogacara, also the lankavatara). If of tathagatagarbha bent, probably the Nirvana sutra. These all have different takes on what is of defnitive meaning and what is provisional.

Of course you'll call this a "Yogacarin" theory of three stages if you approach this as a scholar rather than a practitioner, but it is clearly taught by Shakyamuni in Mahayana Sutras, which predate Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, etc..

:namaste:


Please stop this disingenuous debating technique. 'if you were really enlightened and not just a scholar, you'd see things as I and the Buddha do' is not only insulting, but isn't even a real argument.
Last edited by Anders on Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Dexing » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:17 am

Anders Honore wrote:But the question of ignorance in regards to existence and non-existence does not take place on the intellectual level of *understanding* as much as it does on a *cognitive* level.

There are pre-intellectual conceptualisations happening that filter your perception of reality into existence and non-existence well before your thoughts and understanding about it come into play. Hence, any intellectual understanding of the pot's existence or lack of same is already bound within this cognitive error.

Filtering through and letting go of our intellectual views is fairly rudimentary as far as practise goes in a Madhyamika framework. You have to go a level below the grosser shankaras and work with the cognitive samjnas filtering your experience before we can start talking about the actual middle way between extremes that Madhyamika is pointing to.


The problem is, Hinayana teachings already do a well enough job establishing that so-called external dharmas lack inherent existence through their definition of Dependent Origination.

Why does Madhyamaka need to restate what has already been established? What sets it apart from Hinayana teachings?

We can see that even if many understand the simple teachings of Dependent Origination that traces all dharmas back to other dharmas for their temporary dependent existence, they are still confused about the true nature of dharmas, assuming there are still external dharmas existing independently of mind. Even on an intellectual level, this is still not broken.

This type of confusion is what Mahayana teachings break. But approaching it with a Hinayana definition of Dependent Origination, and a fear of nihilism, keeps one from understanding what's being said.

But that leap from the hundred foot pole is what needs to be taken, trusting in the Buddha's teachings up to this point. We know it is not a nihilist teaching. So if we understand it that way, it is our fault, not the Buddha's.

In order to see truth however, the leap must be taken. Most are far too afraid.

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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Anders » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:31 am

Dexing wrote:The problem is, Hinayana teachings already do a well enough job establishing that so-called external dharmas lack inherent existence through their definition of Dependent Origination.

Why does Madhyamaka need to restate what has already been established? What sets it apart from Hinayana teachings?


I think some history of early Buddhism and the doctrinal positions being developed might serve you well here.

Hinayana does not already do a good job of establishing that external dharmas lack inherent existence. This is why Nagarjuna wrote the MMK in the first place and used non-Mahayana sources to prove this, so that he could debate this on level with them. In fact, it is a common Maahayana generalisation that although Hinayana understands the emptiness of self, it does not understand the emptiness of phenomena.

Many of the Hinayana schools simply did not interpret dependent origination in the ways that showed dharmas to lack existence and non-existence. The Sarvastivada developed an intricate system to prove that past dharmas, present and future dharmas really do exist in all the three times, as a way of explaining the continuity of causality. The Theravadin abidhamma reduced reality to a number of irreducible ultimate dharmas (which has clear implications of them having self-existence).

This is the kind of Hinayana view Nagarjuna set out to refute by showing that the meaning of dependent origination is the middle way betyond existence and non-existence. Prior to him, this had not been properly shown, although it can be inferred from it (as Nagarjuna does).
Last edited by Anders on Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:36 am

Dexing wrote:Your definition of Dependent Origination and Causes & Conditions is a Hinayana understanding, which traces dharmas back to other dharmas, but does not realize that all such dharmas are unreal and cannot be attributed to such Causes & Conditions nor to spontaneity, as clearly stated in scripture.


My understanding comes straight from Nagarjuna, one of the early founders of the Mahayana:


Chapter XXIV: 18
Whatever is dependently co-arisen
That is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation,
Is itself the middle way.


In no uncertain terms emptiness and dependent origination are equated to one another.

Again, we're talking about Madhyamika here, not whatever you've been alluding to.

It is the defiled consciousness of Ordinary Beings which evolves in such a way to resemble external dharmas existing independently of mind. Nihilism would be to deny even mind which creates such illusions. But while these illusory flowers in the sky (form-skandha) are unreal, the mind which dreams of them is obviously real. Otherwise how could such things appear and how would there be perception of them?



The mind is just as illusory as any of our perceptions. That is not to say it cannot have causal efficacy, but merely that it is as much as "reflection of the moon in the water" as any other phenomenon.



Where did I say "inherent existence", and where is that taught in Hinayana? I said "on account of other dharmas as Cause & Condition", which is the Hinayana definition of Dependent Origination, and the way that you apply to your study of Mahayana.


You are not talking about Madhyamika thought here, which is what the discussion was originally directed at.

In Madhyamika thought the key thing to be refuted is svabhava. Whether you can appreciate that or not is another thing. If no dharma or thing can be found to possess svabhava, then there is no ultimate absolute base for phenomena in reality.

This is the teaching of Madhyamika as taught by Nagarjuna.


I understand. But if something has no inherent existence, what else can it have?


Relative, conventional existence. Ultimately there are no phenomena, conventionally there are. There are two truths: conventionally things exist in a relative inter-dependent sense, ultimately they do not.



Therefore in many Sutras the Buddha teaches that that which can be returned somewhere is false and unreal (skandhas, dharmas). While that which can be returned to nowhere is ultimately true (bodhi-mind).

If that is so, how can it be reduced to nihilism?


If you deny the existence of the world in a conventional sense, you deny the conventional truth. In which case you can abide in some distorted vision ultimate reality and never have to worry about non-existent sentient beings and their non-existent sufferings in a non-existent world.



As long as you are enthralled by the skandhas as real and external dharmas as independent of mind, even if not attached to them as inherently existing "self", you're not free.


This charge here is easily dismissed because I've proposed no such thing.
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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Dexing » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:05 am

Anders Honore wrote:Not necessarily. Certain streams of Tathagatagarbha will hold the dharmakaya is being genuinely existing (and as being Atman), Madhyamika will not.


As I understand it, Madhyamaka is cautioning one to not become attached to those names and concepts, as they are always the language of Ordinary Beings and not what Buddhas and Bodhisattvas realize directly.

Dexing wrote:The perspective I am speaking of is based on the Mahayana teachings of Shakyamuni, unless you don't accept that Mahayana Sutras were spoken by the Buddha.


And if one doesn't, yet accepts the Mahayana as buddhavacana nevertheless?


Then there is a problem, because you will view Madhyamaka and Yogacara teachings as appearing on a distant timeline and likely in opposition to one another. But if you simply study the Sutras spoken by Shakyamuni, you will see how he clearly teaches both in succession, which derails attempts to reduce the teachings to argument and speculation by those who came after Shakyamuni.

I didn't say they are the same thing, but that their doctrines are not in conflict, even though Yogacara then takes on the question of; "If everything Ordinary Beings know is unreal, what then is true reality? What is the state verified by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas?", which cannot be merely that dharmas lack inherent existence, otherwise we'd all be Buddhas. But after that realization the question arises; "then what is real?"

That is something only realized at the level of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.


I am having a trouble reading you here: Are you saying there is an ultimately existing state of ultimate reality?


I'm saying breaking through the false reality of both atman and dharmas does not leave one in nihilism, because that is only breaking what Ordinary Beings are attached to. It is not negating that which is realized by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. However, to speak of that using the language of Ordinary Beings will always fall short.

Your assumption here really misses out on one major point: It is not a question of whether one accepts the mahayana sutras as taught by the Buddha or not, but rather which sutras one accepts as definitive and which ones one accepts as provisional.


They are all provisional, because they all use the language of Ordinary Beings which will always fall short. So that is not the point.

For example, the tathagatagarbha sutras clearly state themselves as the definitive meaning of the Buddhadharma. Nevertheless, the lankavatara sutra clearly states the Tathagatagarbha teaching as provisional.


Stating Tathagatagarbha as definitive is not incorrect, but as the Lankavatara Sutra stresses non-reliance on words, it is cautioning us that any name or formula using Ordinary Beings' language will never be the same as direct realization, of for example what the name Tathagatagarbha points to.

Of course you'll call this a "Yogacarin" theory of three stages if you approach this as a scholar rather than a practitioner, but it is clearly taught by Shakyamuni in Mahayana Sutras, which predate Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, etc..

:namaste:


Please stop this disingenuous debating technique. 'if you were really enlightened and not just a scholar, you'd see things as I and the Buddha do' is not only insulting, but isn't even a real argument.


I was merely making an observation- that those who are attached to timelines and what person/school argues what is missing the entire point of the Sutras.

It is not about debating, but if you put all of that down and just study and practice there is really no conflict to be found between the various Mahayana Sutras.

You may carry on feeling insulted if you want, but that's not my intention. I'm merely stating my experience, and that it is backed by reason and scripture- no matter what people argued about after Shakyamuni's time.

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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Anders » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:19 am

Dexing wrote:As I understand it, Madhyamaka is cautioning one to not become attached to those names and concepts, as they are always the language of Ordinary Beings and not what Buddhas and Bodhisattvas realize directly.


No, this is not an adequate interpretation of Madhyamika. It is not simply a matter of the words and concepts but of direct apprehension (again, madhyamika does not address this simply on the grosser level of understanding, but at the deeper level of cognition).

If you perceive an absolute reality, then that in itself is within the erroneous cognition of existence and non-existence and a fundamentally deluded cognition.

The 'absolute' in Madhyamika is no perception of any absolute or conventional, which culminates in not excluding either category (as conventional realities) either.

Then there is a problem, because you will view Madhyamaka and Yogacara teachings as appearing on a distant timeline and likely in opposition to one another.


A problem for accepting your interpretation, perhaps. For me, there is no problem. And fwiw, I do not perceive a fundamental opposition between yogacara and madhyamika. But then, I do not agree with your interpretation of either school, which strikes me as fundamentially substantialist.

But if you simply study the Sutras spoken by Shakyamuni, you will see how he clearly teaches both in succession, which derails attempts to reduce the teachings to argument and speculation by those who came after Shakyamuni.


I have studied them and am quite capable of compartmentalising later interpretations from the contents of the sutras themselves. The problem here is that you do not, but inadvertedly apply the hermeneutics applied by certain classical scholars that classify the sutras according to the succession you describe.

I'm saying breaking through the false reality of both atman and dharmas does not leave one in nihilism, because that is only breaking what Ordinary Beings are attached to. It is not negating that which is realized by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. However, to speak of that using the language of Ordinary Beings will always fall short.


That which is realised by the Buddhas and bodhisattvas is also not fundamentally real. It is not just a case of 'what ordinary beings imagine about this reality is not real'.

I was merely making an observation- that those who are attached to timelines and what person/school argues what is missing the entire point of the Sutras.


And yet you fail to realise you are perpetuating the same, by arguing from a different classical hermeutic yourself.

All the while, most unflatteringly really, implying that you speak from a place of realisation and therefore your opponent necessarily speaks from a place of attachment.

This is the kind of rethoric that really ban-worthy in my opinion if it is kept up. If I were to adopt a similar one, discussions like these would quickly devolve into pointless 'I am more enlightened than you are' debates.

It is not about debating, but if you put all of that down and just study and practice there is really no conflict to be found between the various Mahayana Sutras.


I don't perceive a necessary conflict. But I do perceive a gradation of definitive and provisional.

You may carry on feeling insulted if you want, but that's not my intention. I'm merely stating my experience, and that it is backed by reason and scripture- no matter what people argued about after Shakyamuni's time.

:namaste:


I am not insulted. But I am saying that your behaviour is bad netiquette and that if persistent, is basically akin to Buddhist trolling.
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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Dexing » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:29 am

Huseng wrote:
Dexing wrote:Your definition of Dependent Origination and Causes & Conditions is a Hinayana understanding, which traces dharmas back to other dharmas, but does not realize that all such dharmas are unreal and cannot be attributed to such Causes & Conditions nor to spontaneity, as clearly stated in scripture.


My understanding comes straight from Nagarjuna, one of the early founders of the Mahayana:


Chapter XXIV: 18
Whatever is dependently co-arisen
That is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation,
Is itself the middle way.


In no uncertain terms emptiness and dependent origination are equated to one another.


The problem is that that "Dependent Origination" is not defined here, so you may apply a Hinayana definition to it and make the mistake of taking dharmas as external to the mind.

The mind is just as illusory as any of our perceptions. That is not to say it cannot have causal efficacy, but merely that it is as much as "reflection of the moon in the water" as any other phenomenon.


This sounds opposite to what you have previously stated, that dharmas do exist relatively based on other external dharmas for Causes & Conditions to arise independently from mind.

I understand. But if something has no inherent existence, what else can it have?


Relative, conventional existence. Ultimately there are no phenomena, conventionally there are. There are two truths: conventionally things exist in a relative inter-dependent sense, ultimately they do not.


Relative existence means there is an appearance, while there is no underlying reality. That means there are no inter-dependent dharmas arising outside of mind. But consciousness evolves to resemble internal and external.

If you deny the existence of the world in a conventional sense, you deny the conventional truth. In which case you can abide in some distorted vision ultimate reality and never have to worry about non-existent sentient beings and their non-existent sufferings in a non-existent world.


I don't deny a world in the conventional sense, but apparently have a different definition of that conventional sense from what you hold.

What I understand you to be saying is that dharmas appear to be inherently existent, but are actually dependent upon other dharmas for Causes & Conditions for their temporary existence. So they have no solid existence, yet we conventionally speak of them as if they do.

What I am saying, and what is taught in many Mahayana Sutras, is that dharmas cannot be attributed to Causes & Conditions nor to spontaneity, because no such external matter exists. It is merely the consciousness changing in such a way as to resemble external matter that is co-arising along with other dharmas that are also independent of mind.

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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Anders » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:47 am

Dexing wrote:This sounds opposite to what you have previously stated, that dharmas do exist relatively based on other external dharmas for Causes & Conditions to arise independently from mind.


you seem to have cooked up a nice strawman for yourself here. That dharmas arises dependent on causes and conditions (the most fundamental of all Buddhist teachings. It's really quite extraordinary that you reject this) does not necessarily imply any kind of external dharma independent of the mind. The mind too, is dependedly arisen and illusory. There is no external process necessarily implied and no dharma of 'cause & effect' that need be posited apart from the processes demonstrating this themselves (which are of course fundamentally not existing dharmas themselves and hence carry no characteristic of 'cause and effect' either).
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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Dexing » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:48 am

Anders Honore wrote:I do not perceive a fundamental opposition between yogacara and madhyamika.


Then you are already in a different boat from the majority of people who study them and say they are definitely in opposition. It's a rather widespread opinion, but I don't see why.

That which is realised by the Buddhas and bodhisattvas is also not fundamentally real. It is not just a case of 'what ordinary beings imagine about this reality is not real'.


Then that is complete nihilism, unless you affirm dharmas external to mind, which would then be materialism. Both of which Buddhism is not.

All the while, most unflatteringly really, implying that you speak from a place of realisation and therefore your opponent necessarily speaks from a place of attachment.

This is the kind of rethoric that really ban-worthy in my opinion if it is kept up. If I were to adopt a similar one, discussions like these would quickly devolve into pointless 'I am more enlightened than you are' debates.


Don't taze me, bro. If you misinterpret such a simple statement I've made into some ridiculousness like this, you are welcome to ignore it next time rather than troll on me.

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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Dexing » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:51 am

Anders Honore wrote:That dharmas arises dependent on causes and conditions (the most fundamental of all Buddhist teachings. It's really quite extraordinary that you reject this)


It is explicitly taught in Mahayana Sutras spoken by Shakyamuni, such as the Shurangama. That sort of Hinayana understanding of Causes & Conditions is to be relinquished.

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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Anders » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:57 am

Dexing wrote:Then that is complete nihilism, unless you affirm dharmas external to mind, which would then be materialism. Both of which Buddhism is not.


It is not nihilism, but simple the middle way between the extremess of existence and non-existence. That even Nirvana is not truly existent does nothing to undermine the liberating consequences of its realisation. What Madhyamika is saying is that to effect true liberation, even Nirvana must not be apprehended as real. This is in fact echoed by Yogacara, as seen here by Vasubandhu:

As long as one places something before himself and, taking it as an object,
Declares that it is the nature of Mere-consciousness,
He is really not residing in the state of Mere-consciousness,
Because he is in possession of something.


Thus we can see Vasubandhu too acknowledged the problem of taking the ultimate as real, as it inevitably entails possession and is hence a fetter. This is the kind of subtle afflictions Bodhisattvas labour on that Buddhas do not. And incidentally, why even many moderate madhyamikas tend not to like Yogacara. Although they may acknowledge that yogacara does not fundamentally abide by the fault of realism, the language of it nevertheless encourages it. A case in point being, it seems, your arguments here.

All the while, most unflatteringly really, implying that you speak from a place of realisation and therefore your opponent necessarily speaks from a place of attachment.

Don't taze me, bro. If you misinterpret such a simple statement I've made into some ridiculousness like this, you are welcome to ignore it next time rather than troll on me.

:namaste:


Or you can take responsibility for your own speech and tone it down.
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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:59 am

Dexing wrote:The problem is that that "Dependent Origination" is not defined here, so you may apply a Hinayana definition to it and make the mistake of taking dharmas as external to the mind.


Again, I'm talking about how Nagarjuna defined it and not how Dexing does. I'm basically arguing for Nagarjuna and you seem to be arguing against his fundamental assertions. So are you in opposition to Nagarjuna? If you are that is fine, but you would be hard pressed to talk about a kind of pan-Mahayana while ignoring Nagarjuna.

Have you ever read Nagarjuna?



This sounds opposite to what you have previously stated, that dharmas do exist relatively based on other external dharmas for Causes & Conditions to arise independently from mind.


You are talking about something entirely else from what Nagarjuna discusses.

That dharmas depend on other dharmas is a fine, but taking the analysis further we can see how all the requisite dharmas are likewise dependent on infinite more causes and conditions for their existence. It is thus we can say on one hand they appear to exist, but through reason we can determine that all the dharmas, both the immediately perceived and the requisite, are empty and non-arisen.

There need not be any discussion of dharmas arising independently of the mind. In fact the analysis Nagarjuna provides us with negates the mind as an absolute basis because it too is conditional and arises dependent on causes and conditions.


Relative existence means there is an appearance, while there is no underlying reality. That means there are no inter-dependent dharmas arising outside of mind. But consciousness evolves to resemble internal and external.


So are you asserting that the mind is not subject to causes and conditions for its existence?

What I am saying, and what is taught in many Mahayana Sutras, is that dharmas cannot be attributed to Causes & Conditions nor to spontaneity, because no such external matter exists. It is merely the consciousness changing in such a way as to resemble external matter that is co-arising along with other dharmas that are also independent of mind.


Okay, so you deny the process of dependent origination -- that things arise from causes and conditions?
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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:01 am

Dexing wrote:Then you are already in a different boat from the majority of people who study them and say they are definitely in opposition. It's a rather widespread opinion, but I don't see why.


It is because the early Indian thinkers from such schools debated amongst themselves and were in disagreement.
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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Anders » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:02 am

Dexing wrote:
Anders Honore wrote:That dharmas arises dependent on causes and conditions (the most fundamental of all Buddhist teachings. It's really quite extraordinary that you reject this)


It is explicitly taught in Mahayana Sutras spoken by Shakyamuni, such as the Shurangama. That sort of Hinayana understanding of Causes & Conditions is to be relinquished.

:namaste:


Please do provide a quotation for this. I've never ever come across any Buddhist teaching that relegates causation to the level of a mere deluded appearance on par with spontaneous arising.

The surangama too describes the mind and the arising of ignorance in terms of causation. So I really don't know where you are getting this from.
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Re: Appearances without an underlying reality

Postby Sherab » Mon Jul 12, 2010 8:08 am

Hi Jack,

In brief, what you are asking as I understand it is whether there is an underlying reality to a quark and whether there is an underlying reality to a mental moment.

The underlying reality you seek is not to be found in the world of phenomena that all observable physical and mental phenomena inhabit. The observable phenomena are all ephiphenomena of an underlying reality that cannot be known by any means (physical or mental) that are part of the world of phenomena.

Hope this helps.
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