Emptiness and the two truths

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Emptiness and the two truths

Postby rachmiel » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:03 am

Could someone please explain to me, in clear simple words, the Nagarjuna/Madhyamaka meaning of emptiness and the two truths?

Here's my current understanding:

At the level of relative truth, there is a real concrete world, filled with real concrete objects, in which real concrete things happen. It's the world most people believe is the only world, the real world.

At the level of absolute truth, there is only emptiness: phenomena with no inherent existence, intrinsic nature, ultimate essence. Absolute truth doesn't deny the existence of the world of objects, doesn't say it's all a grand illusion produced by mind; it only denies that these objects have inherent existence (i.e., that they are not subject to dependent origination).
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby rachmiel » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:06 am

One more:

Per Nagarjuna/Madhyamaka is there anything that DOES have intrinsic existence?

For example, emptiness. Or Buddha nature?
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:22 am

rachmiel wrote:One more:

Per Nagarjuna/Madhyamaka is there anything that DOES have intrinsic existence?

For example, emptiness. Or Buddha nature?



My understanding is that Prasangika Madhymaka refutes the entire concept of svabhava. Shentong states that buddha nature/nirvana/whatever is svabhava, empty of other, not empty of itself. I'm sure there's a ton missing there, but on a basic level I think that's the dichotomy.

One thing seems to be though, alot of times criticism of this position seems to be centered on the mistaken idea that Nagarjuna was somehow a nihilist, who was saying "nothing exists"..there is no statement there advocating inherent non existence either..which would actually just be another kind of inherent existence.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Pali Sutta obviously, but i've always found this short one to sum up nicely the idea that polarities of existence and non existence actually simply are not truth.

Paging Malcolm to bring the knowledge.
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:39 am

if you want i can send you the mulamadhyamakakarika by Nagarjuna to you via email or Skype. the Garfields version. it ought to be a good commentary also.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:40 am

i dont think you will get a really satisfying answer to the two truths via Dharmawheel. you need to study and experience it yourself.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby jeeprs » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:46 am

I think your description is an accurate summary on the level of a general description of the topic. In other words, it explains the concept clearly enough. Where I think your issue is, revolves around the use of the word 'concrete'. Perhaps what you're trying to find is something to conceptualize as fundamental, something which can provide a foundation for one's sense of what exists.

I think what is at issue is finding that which is always so, which really is 'self-existent', that is, doesn't rely on anything else for its existence, the one 'true substance'. In the theistic traditions that might be Deity as the eternal ground of existence. I think the Buddhist approach is not to provide such resting place for the conceptual mind - not to provide a 'master concept' in terms of which everything else can be explained. It doesn't deny that there is one, but it does deny that it can be conceived as any particular entity or object of thought. Instead the task is always to understand how thought seeks to find some refuge in the notion of an absolute or something self-existent. That is why the Madhyamika employs the dialectical method to demonstrate that any such formulation is self-contradictory.

But at the same time, this doesn't deny the reality of karma and suffering. Even if we understand on the intellectual level that these things are ultimately non-existent, while they are still real for us, then we have to deal with them. That is the nature of the conventional reality which we're all part of.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby rachmiel » Sat Oct 12, 2013 1:57 pm

KonchokZoepa wrote:if you want i can send you the mulamadhyamakakarika by Nagarjuna to you via email or Skype. the Garfields version. it ought to be a good commentary also.

Yes, please. (If it's legally sharable.) rachmiel at rachmiel dot org

Thanks! :-)
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby rachmiel » Sat Oct 12, 2013 2:10 pm

jeeprs wrote:I think what is at issue is finding that which is always so, which really is 'self-existent', that is, doesn't rely on anything else for its existence, the one 'true substance'. In the theistic traditions that might be Deity as the eternal ground of existence. I think the Buddhist approach is not to provide such resting place for the conceptual mind - not to provide a 'master concept' in terms of which everything else can be explained. It doesn't deny that there is one, but it does deny that it can be conceived as any particular entity or object of thought.

So is the prevalent conclusion among Buddhists that (Buddha thought that) there IS in fact an eternal ground, but that it's too dangerous for the mind to believe that, so the entire issue is deemed moot? Or that there is no eternal ground? Or that no one can ever know with certainty if there is or isn't?

It sounds a bit like this to me:

There's this guy who's been to the other side of the hill outside his village. He meets with a bunch of villagers who have not been to the other side of the hill. The village, btw, is in dire need of fresh water. They ask him: "Is there a fresh-water lake on the other side of the hill?" Rather than saying yes or no to them, he spends all his time trying to get them to understand why they are asking the question in the first place.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby rachmiel » Sat Oct 12, 2013 2:12 pm

Does this stand up in court?

-------------------------

One of the main assertions of Buddhism is impermanence: everything is constantly changing.

To try to observe the impermanence of the seemingly concrete, enduring objects in the world (of relative truth) is futile. Our sensorium is not sensitive enough to detect the micro-changes going on in a rock moment to moment.

But there is something whose constant change we *can* observe: the goings on in our mind. So, to observe impermanence in action, look no further than at your own mind.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby futerko » Sat Oct 12, 2013 2:18 pm

rachmiel wrote:Does this stand up in court?

-------------------------

One of the main assertions of Buddhism is impermanence: everything is constantly changing.

To try to observe the impermanence of the seemingly concrete, enduring objects in the world (of relative truth) is futile. Our sensorium is not sensitive enough to detect the micro-changes going on in a rock moment to moment.

But there is something whose constant change we *can* observe: the goings on in our mind. So, to observe impermanence in action, look no further than at your own mind.


Isn't one of the issues for Buddhism that concepts tend to aim at permanence, so the universal idea, e.g. "cat", remains the same despite any actual experience of a particular cat?

(btw, nice site you have there)
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sat Oct 12, 2013 2:36 pm

i tried to send it via email but it was too big file to be able to send it. skype is an option if you have skype.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby rachmiel » Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:17 pm

KonchokZoepa wrote:i tried to send it via email but it was too big file to be able to send it. skype is an option if you have skype.

Try emailing it to my gmail account: rachmiel7@gmail.com

Thanks.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:24 pm

no i cant send the file, its too big to send via email. sorry
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:44 pm

Anohter option is Hotmail skydrive, it allows up to 7gb sharing for free. Another option is to upload it scribd. Another option is to open a dropbox account. Another option is...
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:51 pm

i have dropbox but its full, skype is the easiest way since i dont want to create a hotmail account. actually i think i have it in dropbox. let me see. ill try to send it to you via dropbox.
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:53 pm

i sent the dropbox link to your gmail. let me know in this thread if you succeeded to download it.

thanks sherab dorje for opening up a door :thanks:
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby rachmiel » Sat Oct 12, 2013 4:02 pm

Got it, thanks. :-)
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sat Oct 12, 2013 4:05 pm

no problem. happy to be of benefit :smile: :namaste:
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby Son of Buddha » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:54 pm

"rachmiel"]
So is the prevalent conclusion among Buddhists that (Buddha thought that) there IS in fact an eternal ground, but that it's too dangerous for the mind to believe that, so the entire issue is deemed moot? Or that there is no eternal ground? Or that no one can ever know with certainty if there is or isn't?

it is the conclusion that is taught in the Thrid Turning Sutras.
Since this eternal ground is inconceivable to the ordinary there is no way of knowing if there is or isn't something "beyond"
we just have to take the Buddha's word on it.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nypo.html
36. "When a monk's mind is thus freed, O monks, neither the gods with Indra, nor the gods with Brahma, nor the gods with the Lord of Creatures (Pajaapati), when searching will find[36] on what the consciousness of one thus gone (tathaagata) is based. Why is that? One who has thus gone is no longer traceable here and now, so I say."
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Re: Emptiness and the two truths

Postby Son of Buddha » Sat Oct 12, 2013 8:04 pm

rachmiel wrote:Does this stand up in court?

-------------------------

One of the main assertions of Buddhism is impermanence: everything is constantly changing.

To try to observe the impermanence of the seemingly concrete, enduring objects in the world (of relative truth) is futile. Our sensorium is not sensitive enough to detect the micro-changes going on in a rock moment to moment.

But there is something whose constant change we *can* observe: the goings on in our mind. So, to observe impermanence in action, look no further than at your own mind.

Impermanence is not a good thing.
SN 22.46 Impermanent (2) pg 885 Ven Bodhi translation
At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, form is impermanent.... Feeling is impermanent.... Preception is impermanent.... Volitional formations are impermanent.... Consciousness is impermanent. What is Impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self."
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