Johnny Dangerous wrote:
It strikes me that it is one thing to say things do not exist as we see them - pretty much fundamental to any Buddhism, but then a different thing to make the assertion that things simply don't exist at all except when perceived. Is it an assertion of actual non-existence of phenomena which are not perceived, or is it simply a non-affrimation of their existence outside of mind?
As an example with the tree, it makes sense to say that the tree has no independent, inherent existence..not only makes sense, but is actually provable by examining the component parts of the tree, but saying that the parts that make up the tree are non-existent unless perceived by mind is really solipsism isn't it? It seems like a non-affrimation of existence outside of mind is more sensible than an affirmation of non-existence.
The point is that there is nothing which achieves total and absolute existing, and equally nothing which can totally cease to exist either (Nagarjuna's argument from the 4 extremes).
This means that all experience is dream like, so we can ask the same question about a dream - If you dream about a tree and then dream about something else, where did the tree go?
Did it cease to exist when you stopped dreaming about it? Can it be said to ever have truly "existed"?
The concept we have named "existing" imples that there is some degree of permanence to external objects, but we know they are in constant flux. If it was possible for an object to be the same in two consecutive moments of time, then it could be a permanently unchanging truly existent thing, and such a thing cannot be found anywhere - there is no self/identity to be found.
Just as there is no existence, so also is there no non-existence either.