The so-called emptiness of objects

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Dexing » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:34 am

tobes wrote:If things depend upon other things than they cannot be truly existing. The fact of their dependent origination and impermanence precludes this possibility: that is precisely what Nagarjuna establishes.


"If things depend upon other things then they cannot be truly existing."

However, you stated earlier:

    "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."

So you believe there is a rock independent of anyone's apprehension of it.

    "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."

If you still assert a form that has arisen, is abiding, and will later cease you should call it an impermanent existence.

If it actually did not exist, there would be no arising, abiding, or ceasing of it.

Moreover, you cannot just extrapolate all of the earlier teachings on D.O and make them conform to Sarvastivadan realism. Are you asserting that the Buddha was a realist?


I have not done that, and I do not assert that the Buddha was a realist. Rather, what I am saying is that the Buddha in his early (classical) teachings, temporarily allowed what you are currently taking for granted, i.e. that some form is there, albeit dependently originated thus impermanent.

To call that "not truly existing" is just bad terminology. If you assert a form passing through such stages of D.O., you should call it impermanent existence.

When Nāgārjuna says "not truly existing" because of D.O., it is because of what phenomena depend upon to appear to pass through such stages, which is not other external causes and conditions. In reality there is no such arising and passing away of any such form.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Dexing » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:48 am

tobes wrote:Nagarjuna clearly establishes that mind and external phenomena are empty.


Yes, but what I'm trying to convey here is that this usage of emptiness and dependent origination differs from the way you are interpreting it, in the classical sense.

tobes wrote:Yes, existence is not given.

But existence is not given in the earlier teachings on D.O either: that is an absolutely seminal component of the twelve links.


I explained in my previous post, how your use of "existence" is bad terminology. What you are speaking of is impermanent existence wherein form passes through stages of arising, abiding, and ceasing. If something doesn't truly exist there cannot even be such stages.

What do you mean by Classical Buddhist? Perhaps it is time to provide some evidence from the Pali Sutta's where D.O. grants existence.


By classical I mean the Buddha's early teaching to the śrāvakas, where D.O. grants the kind of impermanent existence you are postulating without realizing it.

When Nāgārjuna states that such a phenomena is "not truly existing" it is because in reality there is no such arising, abiding, and ceasing of any such form in a material realm- like the 300 million year old rock you suggested.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:50 am

Dexing wrote:
tobes wrote:If things depend upon other things than they cannot be truly existing. The fact of their dependent origination and impermanence precludes this possibility: that is precisely what Nagarjuna establishes.


"If things depend upon other things then they cannot be truly existing."

However, you stated earlier:

    "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."

So you believe there is a rock independent of anyone's apprehension of it.

:namaste:


Yes.

Nagarjuna does not do all that brilliant work simply to establish a crude subjective idealism.

When a rock is apprehended, it is signified "rock" and exists as a dependently designated "rock" in conventional reality. Conventionally, it depends upon this designation + causes + conditions.

Take away the designation what do you have left?

Nothing? So the rock disappears??

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:59 am

Dexing wrote:
    "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."

If you still assert a form that has arisen, is abiding, and will later cease you should call it an impermanent existence.

If it actually did not exist, there would be no arising, abiding, or ceasing of it.

Moreover, you cannot just extrapolate all of the earlier teachings on D.O and make them conform to Sarvastivadan realism. Are you asserting that the Buddha was a realist?


I have not done that, and I do not assert that the Buddha was a realist. Rather, what I am saying is that the Buddha in his early (classical) teachings, temporarily allowed what you are currently taking for granted, i.e. that some form is there, albeit dependently originated thus impermanent.

To call that "not truly existing" is just bad terminology. If you assert a form passing through such stages of D.O., you should call it impermanent existence.

When Nāgārjuna says "not truly existing" because of D.O., it is because of what phenomena depend upon to appear to pass through such stages, which is not other external causes and conditions. In reality there is no such arising and passing away of any such form.

:namaste:


Yes, from the ultimate perspective there is no such arising and passing away of any such form.

But Nagarjuna does not merely assert that; the ultimate is always enmeshed and embedded with the conventional. Form on the conventional level always arises, abides and passes away.

xxiv
36
If dependent arising is denied,
Emptiness itself is rejected.
This would contradict
All of the worldly conventions.

38
If there is essence, the whole world
Will be unarising, unceasing,
And static. The entire phenomenal world
Would be immutable.


It seems you want to deny the dependent arising of form.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:07 am

Dexing wrote:
Moreover, you cannot just extrapolate all of the earlier teachings on D.O and make them conform to Sarvastivadan realism. Are you asserting that the Buddha was a realist?


I have not done that, and I do not assert that the Buddha was a realist. Rather, what I am saying is that the Buddha in his early (classical) teachings, temporarily allowed what you are currently taking for granted, i.e. that some form is there, albeit dependently originated thus impermanent.

:namaste:


Where is anyone denying that there is some form there?

Probably the most famous of all statements in the Mahayana is very explicit: Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Form is not other than emptiness; emptiness is not other that form.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:15 am

Dexing wrote:
tobes wrote:Yes, existence is not given.

But existence is not given in the earlier teachings on D.O either: that is an absolutely seminal component of the twelve links.


I explained in my previous post, how your use of "existence" is bad terminology. What you are speaking of is impermanent existence wherein form passes through stages of arising, abiding, and ceasing. If something doesn't truly exist there cannot even be such stages.

:namaste:


It's not just impermanent existence. It's also dependent existence.

True existence is that which does not depend upon anything.

This is not asserted in the twelve links.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Jnana » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:42 am

tobes wrote:Yes, from the ultimate perspective there is no such arising and passing away of any such form.

But Nagarjuna does not merely assert that; the ultimate is always enmeshed and embedded with the conventional. Form on the conventional level always arises, abides and passes away.

All conventions are illusory. Otherwise the full realization of dependent arising, which eliminates all reification (samāropa), would not be the realization of utter non-referential peace (i.e. unestablished nirvāṇa). There can be no realization of nirvāṇa as long as there is any superimposition whatsoever of arising, abiding, and dissolution. This is why conventional truth is likened to a mirage and an illusion, and so on. For mādhyamikas there can be no objective basis to ground anything (or any "subjective" basis either). Causation isn't ultimately established, therefore nothing is ultimately established.

Candrakīrti's Prasannapadā:

    These teachings of arising in the sense of dependent origination and so on are not meant in terms of the nature of the object of the uncontaminated wisdom of those who are free from the blurred vision of basic ignorance. "To what do they refer then?" They are meant in terms of the objects of the consciousnesses of those whose eyes of insight are impaired by the blurred vision of basic ignorance.

And again, from the same text:

    Since they do not have a nature as they [seem], all conditioned phenomena are delusive, because they have the property of being deceiving, just like the water of a mirage. Whatever is real is not something that has the property of being deceiving, for example, nirvāṇa.

Śāntideva:

    Once neither entities nor nonentities
    Remain before the mind,
    There is no other mental flux [either].
    Therefore, it is utter non-referential peace.

All the best,

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:10 am

Yeshe D. wrote:
tobes wrote:Yes, from the ultimate perspective there is no such arising and passing away of any such form.

But Nagarjuna does not merely assert that; the ultimate is always enmeshed and embedded with the conventional. Form on the conventional level always arises, abides and passes away.

All conventions are illusory. Otherwise the full realization of dependent arising, which eliminates all reification (samāropa), would not be the realization of utter non-referential peace (i.e. unestablished nirvāṇa). There can be no realization of nirvāṇa as long as there is any superimposition whatsoever of arising, abiding, and dissolution. This is why conventional truth is likened to a mirage and an illusion, and so on. For mādhyamikas there can be no objective basis to ground anything (or any "subjective" basis either). Causation isn't ultimately established, therefore nothing is ultimately established.

Candrakīrti's Prasannapadā:

    These teachings of arising in the sense of dependent origination and so on are not meant in terms of the nature of the object of the uncontaminated wisdom of those who are free from the blurred vision of basic ignorance. "To what do they refer then?" They are meant in terms of the objects of the consciousnesses of those whose eyes of insight are impaired by the blurred vision of basic ignorance.

And again, from the same text:

    Since they do not have a nature as they [seem], all conditioned phenomena are delusive, because they have the property of being deceiving, just like the water of a mirage. Whatever is real is not something that has the property of being deceiving, for example, nirvāṇa.

Śāntideva:

    Once neither entities nor nonentities
    Remain before the mind,
    There is no other mental flux [either].
    Therefore, it is utter non-referential peace.

All the best,

Geoff


Yes, this debate really boils down to the question of whether conventional reality is merely a deluded (unenlightened) perception which disappears upon apprehension of the ultimate, or whether it is the ultimate itself which disappears (the emptiness of emptiness) leaving only the immanence of conventional reality as the 'site' of emptiness (i.e. the dependent arising of phenomena is emptiness - there is no emptiness as such, only things which are empty).

I agree that it's difficult to read Chandrakirti as asserting anything other than the former.

But I do not really find this in Nagarjuna, and that is why I personally favour the Chinese interpretation of Kumarajiva and Tibetan interpretation of Tsong Khapa, both of whom assert two senses of samvriti-satya - one a deluded perception, the other a valid recognition that the dependent arising of phenomena is the emptiness of phenomena.

But I think it becomes pretty clear on a thread such as this where people stand on that question. Peaceful disagreement is probably warranted at this point.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby muni » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:19 am

tobes wrote:
muni wrote:"Without a foundation in the conventional truth
The significance of the Ultimate cannot be taught.
Without understanding the significance of the ultimate,
Liberation is not achieved."

Yes we need good foundation. :thumbsup:

Is how phenomena conventionally appear and how phenomena ultimately nature is separate?


Well there are fairly major disputes about that, which I think we have been implicitly revolving around on this thread. Certainly it's a big issue in the Tibetan dialectics around the two truths.

I personally favour the classic analogy: they are two sides of the same coin, and thus, inseparable.

:namaste:


Inseparable. Thank you.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Jnana » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:42 am

tobes wrote:there is no emptiness as such, only things which are empty

For what it's worth, what I've been taught is that "emptiness" as well as "things which are empty" are both conceptual designations which are to be abandoned. What remains is the inseparable union of emptiness and luminous-clarity beyond conceptual extremes.

Anyway, it's always a pleasure to talk to you Tobes. :namaste:

All the best,

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby norman » Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:46 pm

Agreed, that sounds about it.
What is needed is perhaps a new definition of the meaning and purpose of practice.
Obviously we are all pretty clear as to what the purpose may be, but maybe that is why all of us ends up with such poor results? "Enlightenment" seems to be our own private mirror that we all polish with such dedication that we all hope to see anyone but ourselves in it. Maybe if I hold it in another angle...?

Sherab wrote:Here's what I was trying to say in my earlier post:
When one is still in the deluded state, one has no choice but to apply various practices to thin down the delusions. When the delusions are sufficiently thin, then there can be a breakthrough of the veil of delusions. When that breakthrough is achieved, practices to create the conditions for the breakthrough are no longer relevant. One then practise according to the new state that one is in.
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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Rael » Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:41 pm

I think the main point about teachings on Sunyata and Emptiness is to crush ego centric views about oneself.

Once one realizes that we are not islands unto ourselves and every aspect of being is relying on some other factor to exist one should start to feel a communion , a very deep union to all that is around you.

On some level a loving kindness towards our existence is developed. How can you hate your arm or your eye or the water that is needed to exist. Slowly even for the most ego centric person an awareness of relying on other aspects to exists is woven into the individual.
Any decay in ego centric selfishness leads to loving kindness.
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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby muni » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:18 pm

Rael wrote:I think the main point about teachings on Sunyata and Emptiness is to crush ego centric views about oneself.

Once one realizes that we are not islands unto ourselves and every aspect of being is relying on some other factor to exist one should start to feel a communion , a very deep union to all that is around you.

On some level a loving kindness towards our existence is developed. How can you hate your arm or your eye or the water that is needed to exist. Slowly even for the most ego centric person an awareness of relying on other aspects to exists is woven into the individual.
Any decay in ego centric selfishness leads to loving kindness.


You are right! Opening heart-mind in simplicity. As we dont only percieve so called outer objects, there are also the objects in mind we percieve and easely call "me" and so we chase behind thoughts and collect memories and emotions like turning water flow into ice.
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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Sherab » Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:36 am

norman wrote:What is needed is perhaps a new definition of the meaning and purpose of practice.
Obviously we are all pretty clear as to what the purpose may be, but maybe that is why all of us ends up with such poor results? "Enlightenment" seems to be our own private mirror that we all polish with such dedication that we all hope to see anyone but ourselves in it. Maybe if I hold it in another angle...?

I don't get what you are saying. I have to trouble you to elaborate.
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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Dexing » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:57 am

tobes wrote:Nagarjuna does not do all that brilliant work simply to establish a crude subjective idealism.


You didn't see where I explained how this should not lead to idealism? Idealism is what you prematurely jump to when you don't have a full understanding of the teaching.

When a rock is apprehended, it is signified "rock" and exists as a dependently designated "rock" in conventional reality. Conventionally, it depends upon this designation + causes + conditions.

Take away the designation what do you have left?

Nothing? So the rock disappears??


"Take away the designation what do you have left" is a bad question. Stop before your assumed "rock is apprehended", not after. That statement is the initial mistake. Your apparent causes and conditions are also just as illusory. The true cause and condition is no external element whatsoever.

tobes wrote:xxiv
36
If dependent arising is denied,
Emptiness itself is rejected.
This would contradict
All of the worldly conventions.

38
If there is essence, the whole world
Will be unarising, unceasing,
And static. The entire phenomenal world
Would be immutable.


It seems you want to deny the dependent arising of form.


Not deny, but simply point out that dependent arising in Mahāyāna teachings is not the same as classical teachings which state the causes and conditions of phenomena arising and ceasing are an interdependence of other external elements. That's a very elementary understanding.

Mahāyāna teachings should not be read in the classical sense. Mahāyāna teachings state that such causes and conditions of an external material realm are just as illusory as the apparent forms which appear within it.

The point of classical teachings of dependent origination is to deconstruct wholes into parts to show there is no eternal element or self within them, in order to cut grasping. The point of Mahāyāna teachings of dependent origination is to show how even those apparent parts are illusory, which lead you back to a deeper cause; into consciousness, which is later also relinquished, and one arrives at the wonderfully enlightened bright mind.

tobes wrote:Where is anyone denying that there is some form there?


Not denying there is an appearance of form, but form as an actual external element, that is denied all over Mahāyāna teachings.

Take the Buddha in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, Chapter 9 for example:

    "Contemplating the cause of the form skandha, one sees that false thoughts of solidity are its source."

Or Chapter 3:

    "Whatever manifests does so in compliance with karma. Ignorant of that fact, people of the world are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity."

Whatever manifests.. karma is consciousness.. external causes & conditions are illusory.

Probably the most famous of all statements in the Mahayana is very explicit: Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Form is not other than emptiness; emptiness is not other that form.


Yet, how amazing it is that people still make that statement say what they want.

Simply put,

"Form is emptiness"- there's nothing there.

"Emptiness is form"- yet there is an appearance nonetheless.

To repeat the Śūraṅgama Sūtra;

    "Ananda, suppose a person with clear vision were to gaze at clear bright space. His gaze would perceive only clear emptiness devoid of anything else. Then if that person for no particular reason fixed his gaze, the staring would cause fatigue. Thus in empty space he would see illusory flowers and other illusory and disordered unreal appearances. You should be aware that the form skandha is like that. Ananda, those illusory flowers did not originate from space nor did they come from the eyes. In fact....

    ....From this you should understand that the form skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity."

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:17 am

Dexing wrote:
tobes wrote:Nagarjuna does not do all that brilliant work simply to establish a crude subjective idealism.


You didn't see where I explained how this should not lead to idealism? Idealism is what you prematurely jump to when you don't have a full understanding of the teaching.

When a rock is apprehended, it is signified "rock" and exists as a dependently designated "rock" in conventional reality. Conventionally, it depends upon this designation + causes + conditions.

Take away the designation what do you have left?

Nothing? So the rock disappears??


"Take away the designation what do you have left" is a bad question. Stop before your assumed "rock is apprehended", not after. That statement is the initial mistake. Your apparent causes and conditions are also just as illusory. The true cause and condition is no external element whatsoever.

tobes wrote:xxiv
36
If dependent arising is denied,
Emptiness itself is rejected.
This would contradict
All of the worldly conventions.

38
If there is essence, the whole world
Will be unarising, unceasing,
And static. The entire phenomenal world
Would be immutable.


It seems you want to deny the dependent arising of form.


Not deny, but simply point out that dependent arising in Mahāyāna teachings is not the same as classical teachings which state the causes and conditions of phenomena arising and ceasing are an interdependence of other external elements. That's a very elementary understanding.

Mahāyāna teachings should not be read in the classical sense. Mahāyāna teachings state that such causes and conditions of an external material realm are just as illusory as the apparent forms which appear within it.

The point of classical teachings of dependent origination is to deconstruct wholes into parts to show there is no eternal element or self within them, in order to cut grasping. The point of Mahāyāna teachings of dependent origination is to show how even those apparent parts are illusory, which lead you back to a deeper cause; into consciousness, which is later also relinquished, and one arrives at the wonderfully enlightened bright mind.

tobes wrote:Where is anyone denying that there is some form there?


Not denying there is an appearance of form, but form as an actual external element, that is denied all over Mahāyāna teachings.

Take the Buddha in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, Chapter 9 for example:

    "Contemplating the cause of the form skandha, one sees that false thoughts of solidity are its source."

Or Chapter 3:

    "Whatever manifests does so in compliance with karma. Ignorant of that fact, people of the world are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity."

Whatever manifests.. karma is consciousness.. external causes & conditions are illusory.

Probably the most famous of all statements in the Mahayana is very explicit: Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Form is not other than emptiness; emptiness is not other that form.


Yet, how amazing it is that people still make that statement say what they want.

Simply put,

"Form is emptiness"- there's nothing there.

"Emptiness is form"- yet there is an appearance nonetheless.

To repeat the Śūraṅgama Sūtra;

    "Ananda, suppose a person with clear vision were to gaze at clear bright space. His gaze would perceive only clear emptiness devoid of anything else. Then if that person for no particular reason fixed his gaze, the staring would cause fatigue. Thus in empty space he would see illusory flowers and other illusory and disordered unreal appearances. You should be aware that the form skandha is like that. Ananda, those illusory flowers did not originate from space nor did they come from the eyes. In fact....

    ....From this you should understand that the form skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity."

:namaste:


Well I don't intend any disrespect here Dexing, but you are asserting here that 'the whole Mahayana' is in agreement on these questions, when in fact, there is intense debate and a multiplicity of viewpoints throughout its long dialectical history.

Some of these views accord with what you are saying, some of them do not.

That infamous phrase in the Heart Sutra, for instance, has many interpretations.....it actually isn't that simple!

Where have I asserted that form is an actual element? Be careful not to assume that the rupaskandha represents all that form is.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby ground » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:35 am

tobes wrote:Be careful not to assume that the rupaskandha represents all that form is.

Where there are vedana, sanna, vinnana and sankhara there is rupa. This is all there is.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Dexing » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:40 am

tobes wrote:Well I don't intend any disrespect here Dexing, but you are asserting here that 'the whole Mahayana' is in agreement on these questions, when in fact, there is intense debate and a multiplicity of viewpoints throughout its long dialectical history.

Some of these views accord with what you are saying, some of them do not.


This was discussed in the "Mādyamaka/Yogācāra Confusion" thread. Sixth-century followers of the two schools engaged in academic controversy, but fighting for posts and recognition creates a lot of disagreement where there really isn't any.

I've not seen any place in the actual scriptures where there is such a disagreement on what I have presented thus far in this thread. Academic debates don't change that fact.

That infamous phrase in the Heart Sutra, for instance, has many interpretations.....it actually isn't that simple!


It has many interpretations because it's pulled out and taken as a statement individually, which people can basically make say whatever they want. But studying the rest of the Prajñāpāramitā makes its true meaning quite clear.

Where have I asserted that form is an actual element?


Unless you now wish to change your position, you have been talking about external causes & conditions, denying idealism.

However, that is not to say that the position I'm presenting through such texts as the Śūraṅgama Sūtra are asserting idealism. That would be a premature conclusion due to not having a full understanding of the teaching. But indeed any sort of external manifestation is denied as a false appearance, as previous shown in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:44 am

Dexing wrote:
tobes wrote:Nagarjuna does not do all that brilliant work simply to establish a crude subjective idealism.


You didn't see where I explained how this should not lead to idealism? Idealism is what you prematurely jump to when you don't have a full understanding of the teaching.

When a rock is apprehended, it is signified "rock" and exists as a dependently designated "rock" in conventional reality. Conventionally, it depends upon this designation + causes + conditions.

Take away the designation what do you have left?

Nothing? So the rock disappears??


"Take away the designation what do you have left" is a bad question. Stop before your assumed "rock is apprehended", not after. That statement is the initial mistake. Your apparent causes and conditions are also just as illusory. The true cause and condition is no external element whatsoever.

tobes wrote:xxiv
36
If dependent arising is denied,
Emptiness itself is rejected.
This would contradict
All of the worldly conventions.

38
If there is essence, the whole world
Will be unarising, unceasing,
And static. The entire phenomenal world
Would be immutable.


It seems you want to deny the dependent arising of form.


Not deny, but simply point out that dependent arising in Mahāyāna teachings is not the same as classical teachings which state the causes and conditions of phenomena arising and ceasing are an interdependence of other external elements. That's a very elementary understanding.

Mahāyāna teachings should not be read in the classical sense. Mahāyāna teachings state that such causes and conditions of an external material realm are just as illusory as the apparent forms which appear within it.

:namaste:


Yes, but you need to ask why causes and conditions are considered illusory.

It is because one cannot establish the event of a cause with its effect, not because causality does not exist.

Why can one not establish this?

Because causes presuppose other causes, in an infinite regression, and entities presuppose other entities in an infinite chain of relation. Neither a single cause nor a single entity can be established. Hence causes and entities are empty of intrinsic existence.

But this is in no way a denial of causality. It is the precise assertion of a particular kind of causality: Dependent Origination.

This why Nagarjuna asserts at the end of the Vig: I adore that incomparable Buddha who taught that voidness, Dependent Origination and the Middle Way as equivalent.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Dexing » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:45 am

tobes wrote:Be careful not to assume that the rupaskandha represents all that form is.


What else might form be?
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