Yeshe D. wrote:
We therefore need to account for the dependent arising of form.
We don't need to establish anything. We only need to eliminate realist and idealist views. Nāgārjuna's Vigrahavyāvartanīvṛtti:
30. If I apprehended something with the help of perception, etc., then I would either affirm or deny. [But] since that thing does not exist, there is no criticism applicable to me.
If I apprehended any object with the help of the four pramāṇas, viz., perception, inference, identification and verbal testimony, or with the help of one of these, then only would I either affirm or deny. [But] since I do not even apprehend an object of any kind, I neither affirm nor deny.
Yes, form is an illusory appearance, precisely between the extremes of existence and non-existence.
There is no abiding in the middle either. The Samādhirāja Sūtra:
The wise do not even abide in the middle.
All the best,
The wise may not abide in the middle, but form does.
Are you asserting that form does not abide?
I suppose that's my point here: When we're talking about emptiness in terms of dependent designation, then all of those verses and points relating to perception, the mind, the wise, the pramanas etc are relevant.....because we are talking about the subjective side of emptiness: mental imputation; the mind which apprehends phenomena to be what it is (or as the case may be, what it is not).
But unless we want to assert that there is only
a subjective side, and that there is never form without a mind to apprehend it, then we must acknowledge a metaphysics of form. The Buddha teaches this clearly via the twelve links, and Nagarjuna clearly retains that. The Vig, which you just cited is a prolonged (and unusually affirmative) defence of dependent origination.
Otherwise, it is
idealism: no form apart from what is conceived by mind. Certainly some Yogacaran thinkers held this.....although I'm not convinced that Kamalashila, who you mentioned before, holds such a view.
A 300 million year old rock was there before humans, be they ordinary or enlightened, were around to apprehend it. It does not depend upon an apprehension to be what is.
What is it? Form that has arisen due to causes and conditions, and is abiding in dependence upon causes and conditions and will cease when causes and conditions no longer support it.
When we encounter that rock, then, and only then, is dependent designation relevant.