Sunyata and dependent origination

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Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Jun 16, 2011 4:50 pm

Hi:

Mahayanists sometimes get accused of misinterpreting paticcasamuppada (dependent origination). My experience has been that those making the accusations are often not aware of the Mahayana emphasis on sunyata.

But what is the relationship between sunyata and paticcasamuppada? Is understanding emptiness the same thing as understanding dependent origination? Or is sunyata broader in scope?

Looking at the Heart Sutra, sunyata would seem to be an all-encompassing term that includes anatta and dependent origination, while expanding the scope of these teachings to include all phenomena. Since the sutra applies sunyata to the twelve links, it would seem to transcend/supersede paticcasamuppada, as though the latter were just a manifestation. Both, though, arise out of the general principle:

when this is this comes to be, with the arising of this that arises
.

Your thoughts? Clarifications? Corrections?
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby mudra » Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:04 pm

IMHO Nagarjuna deals with this in the most succinct, to the point manner in the Mulamadhyamakakarika/Foundation of the Middle Way.
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:36 pm

mudra wrote:IMHO Nagarjuna deals with this in the most succinct, to the point manner in the Mulamadhyamakakarika/Foundation of the Middle Way.



Even more succinctly here:


What are the twelve different limbs
the Muni taught as dependent origination?

Those are exhaustively included in three,
defilement, action and suffering.
The first, eighth and ninth are defilement;
the second and tenth are action;
also the remaining seven are suffering;
twelve dharmas are gathered into three.

Two are produced from three;
seven are produced from two;
three are produced from seven;
that is the wheel of existence,
it is turned again and again,
all living beings are causes and results.

There are no sentient beings at all,
empty dharmas are entirely produced
from dharmas strictly empty,
dharmas without a self and [not] of a self.

Words, butter lamps, mirrors, seals,
fire crystals, seeds, sourness and echoes.
Although the aggregates are serially joined,
the wise are to comprehend nothing has migrated.

Someone, having conceived of annihilation,
even in extremely subtle existents,
he is not wise,
and will never see the meaning ‘arisen from conditions’.

Here, nothing at all is to be removed,
nor is anything to be added;
having truly seen reality,
when reality is perceived, liberation.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:38 pm

See Nāgārjuna:

《中論》卷4〈24 觀四諦品〉:「 眾因緣生法、我說即是無、亦為是假名、亦是中道義」

yaḥ pratītyasamutpādaḥ śūnyatāṁ tāṁ pracakṣmahe|
sā prajñaptirupādāya pratipatsaiva madhyamā||18|| 3


That which is dependently originated is said to be empty and that in itself being a provisional designation is the middle way.
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby ground » Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:59 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:the Mahayana emphasis on sunyata.


Only a thought that caused and causes so much obsession. Philosophy is deviation.


Kind regards
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby PMTF » Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:47 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Mahayanists sometimes get accused of misinterpreting paticcasamuppada (dependent origination).

Hello Lazy Eye

What specifically is the basis for Mahayanists sometimes get accused of misinterpreting paticcasamuppada (dependent origination)?

:thanks:
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:08 pm

PMTF wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Mahayanists sometimes get accused of misinterpreting paticcasamuppada (dependent origination).

Hello Lazy Eye

What specifically is the basis for Mahayanists sometimes get accused of misinterpreting paticcasamuppada (dependent origination)?

:thanks:


The complaints seem to center around the idea that Mahayana turns paticcasamuppada into some kind of cosmic principle -- interconnectedness of all phenomena, etc. Kumbayah!
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:16 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
PMTF wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Mahayanists sometimes get accused of misinterpreting paticcasamuppada (dependent origination).

Hello Lazy Eye

What specifically is the basis for Mahayanists sometimes get accused of misinterpreting paticcasamuppada (dependent origination)?

:thanks:


The complaints seem to center around the idea that Mahayana turns paticcasamuppada into some kind of cosmic principle -- interconnectedness of all phenomena, etc. Kumbayah!



That is not a Mahāyāna idea. That is also present in the karana hetu/adipati pratyaya principle of the Sarvastivadins i.e. all phenomena are the cause and condition of all phenomena but themselves.
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Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:20 pm

Are there any scholarly types here who might be able to say something about the context in which Nagarjuna was teaching? When I read some of the texts related to emptiness, I can't help feeling that the repeated insistence

empty of eternal and unchanging nature


...is in response to some school or another that argued in favor of an eternal and unchanging nature. Forgive my ignorance here, but did the Sarvastivadins or another sect play a role here? In other words, did Mahayana sunyata evolve out of a dialectical process involving contrasting arguments among sects?
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:25 pm

Namdrol wrote:That is not a Mahāyāna idea. That is also present in the karana hetu/adipati pratyaya principle of the Sarvastivadins i.e. all phenomena are the cause and condition of all phenomena but themselves.


It looks like we posted at around the same time. So the Sarvastivadins did play a role here, then? Would Nagarjuna have been opposing them, agreeing with them, partially opposing them, or using them as a framework for his own thinking?
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:28 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Namdrol wrote:That is not a Mahāyāna idea. That is also present in the karana hetu/adipati pratyaya principle of the Sarvastivadins i.e. all phenomena are the cause and condition of all phenomena but themselves.


It looks like we posted at around the same time. So the Sarvastivadins did play a role here, then? Would Nagarjuna have been opposing them, agreeing with them, partially opposing them, or using them as a framework for his own thinking?


Nagarjuna would have agreed with Sarstivadans conventionally, but would have rejected their notions ultimately.
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby adinatha » Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:11 pm

The only thing that matters here is that Sunyata and DO are the same thing.
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby PMTF » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:52 am

adinatha wrote:The only thing that matters here is that Sunyata and DO are the same thing.

Hello Adinatha

In my studies, I have found the Hinayana often explain DO as the arising of suffering and explain Sunyata as liberation from suffering.

Can you share your opinion on this distinction?

The Hinayana scholar Buddhaghosa explained Sunyata and DO are the same thing but I have not studied any Hinayana sutta alluding the same.

:thanks:

Becoming's Wheel reveals no known beginning;
No maker, no experiencer there;
Void with a twelvefold voidness, and nowhere
It ever halts; for ever it is spinning.

The Path of Purification, p. 666 (Part III, Chap. XVII, sec. 273). Buddhaghosa
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby adinatha » Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:16 am

PMTF wrote:In my studies, I have found the Hinayana often explain DO as the arising of suffering and explain Sunyata as liberation from suffering.


The Hinayana explains all conditions things are suffering. DO is conditioned things. DO means non-self nature of conditioned things. Non-self is the door to awakening. Just realizing the non-self nature of DO'd things is shunyata.
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:33 am

adinatha wrote:The only thing that matters here is that Sunyata and DO are the same thing.


If that's the case, though, why not just call it paticcasamuppada and leave it at that? Why use another term for it?
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:24 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
adinatha wrote:The only thing that matters here is that Sunyata and DO are the same thing.


If that's the case, though, why not just call it paticcasamuppada and leave it at that? Why use another term for it?


Dependent origination is correct relative truth; by understanding that, one is lead to correct understanding of ultimate truth, emptiness.
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-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:41 am

Lazy_eye wrote:The complaints seem to center around the idea that Mahayana turns paticcasamuppada into some kind of cosmic principle -- interconnectedness of all phenomena, etc. Kumbayah!


I have run into this accusation on another web forum. As far as I can tell some people cannot grasp the mahayana concept of emptiness and conclude that sunyata is therefore regarded by mahayanists as a type of independently existing force.

The difference between sunyata and interdependent origination, as I understand it has to do with which aspect of an appearance (of phenomena) is being discussed, and in this way it can be likened to the discussion of a what appears in a mirror, as well as a mirror's reflective activity. The two are of course related, and can be regarded separately, but still refer to different aspects of the same overall result. Sunyata is a way of referring to interdependency and interdependency is a way of referring to sunyata but they are not the same exact thing.

Things are said to be empty of any intrinsically self-arising characteristic. This is describing phenomena in terms of sunyata.

But, now, I can't say "due to this sunyata, appearances arise interdependently" because we aren't really talking about a cause-and effect sequence of events here, of one thing following another, of interdependency following sunyata. This is what those who complain do not understand. This is why they think mahayanists regard sunyata as a cosmic force.

You can't really say, "due to the reflective activity of a mirror, something appears in it" because the reflective activity IS what appears in it. If there is no reflective activity, then it was not a mirror to begin with. But you can say 'a mirror is reflective" even without mentioning what is being reflected.

So, we can say that phenomena are empty of any intrinsically self-arising characteristics.
This is describing phenomena in terms of sunyata,
and we can say that appearances arise interdependently,
This is describing phenomena in terms of Interdependency.


(note from the grammar control-freak realm: things center on a topic, or revolve around a topic but they don't center around a topic. you may slap me now :tongue: )
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby adinatha » Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:53 am

Re interconnectedness. This is also the case. In a sense, everything give rise to everything. The causal complex is so complex that it cannot be sorted out and discrete boundaries are not known.
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby Enochian » Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:56 am

adinatha wrote:Re interconnectedness. This is also the case. In a sense, everything give rise to everything. The causal complex is so complex that it cannot be sorted out and discrete boundaries are not known.



Even causality itself is "empty" :thumbsup:
There is an ever-present freedom from grasping the mind.

Mind being defined as the thing always on the Three Times.
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Re: Sunyata and dependent origination

Postby adinatha » Sat Jun 18, 2011 5:10 am

Enochian wrote:
adinatha wrote:Re interconnectedness. This is also the case. In a sense, everything give rise to everything. The causal complex is so complex that it cannot be sorted out and discrete boundaries are not known.



Even causality itself is "empty" :thumbsup:


With this knowledge engaging in action is paramita.
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