In the prasnnapadā Candrakirti preposes that these verses give Nagarjuna's definition of inherent existence (svabhāva). He gives the definition of svabhāva then as not fabricated and not dependent on anything else.
For Tsongkhapa it is a little more tricky because he interprets Chandra as posting this type of svabhāva as emptiness rather than the object of negation. This is a massive distinction!!!
Wow, I have not yet taken this into consideration. I might be mistaken, but this sounds like that Chandra's reference to (svabhava) as emptiness as "not fabricated and not dependent as anything else"
is positing dependent arising and/or emptiness as substantial? Personally, I have had the opposite impression, but this might be due to the vast number of
secondary sources I have been using as support while studying the Madhyamakavatara. My own impression is that to posit dependent arising and/or emptiness as having substance leaves us with yet
something else that could lead to grasping. So, even emptiness itself should be empty of any essence/substance.
Amazing! Just after Tom’s last post I walked into my local university library picked a book up off the shelf and literally opened it to a whole section on svabhava and some of the issues contained in the subsequent post. I have spent the past few days trying to digest this and a discussion surrounding the vast differing contextualizations and usage of svabhava as a concept would take up more than another thread. So, here a few points that I think are relevant to the discussion:
First Chandra is interpreted as positing 2, 3, and 4 types of svabhava depending on which contemporary scholar’s work one is following. I have only read Westerhoff’s opinions contained in Nagajuna’s Madhyamaka; a philosophical introduction
, but he acknowledges the views of many of his contemporaries. His opinion is that Chandra distinguishes between essence svabhava, substance svabhava, and absolute svabhava.
According to Westerhoff, Chandra is interpreted in 6:28 of the Madhyamakavatara as positing an absolute or ultimate svabhava explaining the final mode of reality that the Buddhas perceive. This is seen as contradictory while this “ultimate” svabhava possess the same criteria as Substance svabhava, which is in turn the object of negation that the Five Great Madhyamaka Reasonings aim to refute in order to reveal emptiness. The conflict is explained as
, “ …that Chandrakirti’s attributes as well as Tsong Kh pa’s triple characterization are supposed to be applicable to both substance svabhava as well as to emptiness, that is, the absence of substance svabhava. But taking into account that substance svabhava is argued not to exist while emptiness does exist, this view faces an obvious difficulty. The lack of svabhava seems to have exactly the properties of substance svabhava, so the absence of svabhava should both exist (since svabhava does not) and not exist (since it has the same properties as the non-existing svabhava). Emptiness (that is, the absence of svabhava) appears to be a contradictory concept. ( Westerhoff, Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka, 41-42).Tsong Kha pa’s solution
“…substance svabhava is to be distinguished form emptiness by its having additional characteristics.”
In addition to the triple characterization (Westerhoff lists these as; Not produced from causes and conditions, unchangeable, set forth without depending upon another object) Tsongkhapa adds;
4. established form its own side
5. a natural, not learned notion (43)My questions:
Is this contradiction really apparent or not, was this Chandra’s intent, and subsequently was it necessary for Tsongkhapa to make these additions? In other words, I would like to think Chandra to clever to have made such a mistake and could this have been explained or reconciled without the addition of other qualifications distinguishing emptiness from substance-svabhava?