the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

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the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby mudra » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:49 am

Wasn't sure where to post this so if mods find a better place for it, thank you!

I came across this list by D Seyfort Ruegg from his "The Literature of the Madhyamaka School" which enumerates the various early opinions of Western scholars regarding Madhyamaka and Nagarjuna in particular:

"...nihilism, monism, irrationalism, misology, agnosticism, scepticism, criticism, dialectic, mysticism, acosmism, absolutism, relativism, nominalism, and linguistic analysis with therapeutic value."

What a loads of 'ism's!!! Of course today the debate continues, as it has ever since Arya Nagarjuna, as to what the Madhyamaka he set forth actually is. Even amongst practicing Buddhists we debate so much about it, I wonder if non-Buddhist scholars using intellect alone can possibly ever really get it?
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:11 am

I always thought madhyamaka was that little cap worn by Jewish men.
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby mudra » Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:55 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:I always thought madhyamaka was that little cap worn by Jewish men.


I appreciate your contribution but I am afraid you are wrong.

You are talking about a 'yarmot' - it is made with marmot fur soaked in yoghurt, to be worn with caution because it can induce foaming at the mouth.
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby ronnewmexico » Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:10 am

My appologies to OP..ah sophisticated humor....ya gotta love it :smile: .
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby LastLegend » Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:23 am

What is Madhyamaka?
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:36 am

Mandhyamaka is the end of madhyamaka.

:tongue:
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby mudra » Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:28 am

:focus:

But to come back to my question, it seems to me fruitless to discuss Madhyamaka with intellectuals who do not practice Buddhism, if even when we discuss amongst Buddhists it's sometimes hard to ascertain if we are talking about the same 'thing'.
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby ronnewmexico » Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:23 am

Well there is one way to resolve this issue...

what do you mean by it and then I will tell you if I agree :smile:

but being not necessarily a buddhist that may mean...nothing, or something. Seems related somehow that I would say such a thing, but maybe not.

Academics I think they mean well, but like scientists sometimes miss the forest for the trees.
If all could be answered by studying a thing in a academic way I think we would all be academics.
But it seems experientially is how we may learn things, and then as they say...even a cowheard may attain that thing they speak of most oftenly.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby tobes » Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:32 am

mudra wrote::focus:

But to come back to my question, it seems to me fruitless to discuss Madhyamaka with intellectuals who do not practice Buddhism, if even when we discuss amongst Buddhists it's sometimes hard to ascertain if we are talking about the same 'thing'.


Whilst this may be true, it can be a lot more fruitless discussing Madhyamaka with people who do practice Buddhism. It is ironic that something so disruptive of dogma and ideology can be so subject to dogma and ideology.

My school says x, therefore, x must be true. It is amazing how many discussions simply follow the orthodox interpretations of the school one follows.

:anjali:
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby LastLegend » Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:44 am

tobes wrote:
mudra wrote::focus:

But to come back to my question, it seems to me fruitless to discuss Madhyamaka with intellectuals who do not practice Buddhism, if even when we discuss amongst Buddhists it's sometimes hard to ascertain if we are talking about the same 'thing'.


Whilst this may be true, it can be a lot more fruitless discussing Madhyamaka with people who do practice Buddhism. It is ironic that something so disruptive of dogma and ideology can be so subject to dogma and ideology.

My school says x, therefore, x must be true. It is amazing how many discussions simply follow the orthodox interpretations of the school one follows.

:anjali:



The way you think is not a dogma?
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby mudra » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:50 am

tobes wrote:
mudra wrote::focus:

But to come back to my question, it seems to me fruitless to discuss Madhyamaka with intellectuals who do not practice Buddhism, if even when we discuss amongst Buddhists it's sometimes hard to ascertain if we are talking about the same 'thing'.


Whilst this may be true, it can be a lot more fruitless discussing Madhyamaka with people who do practice Buddhism. It is ironic that something so disruptive of dogma and ideology can be so subject to dogma and ideology.

My school says x, therefore, x must be true. It is amazing how many discussions simply follow the orthodox interpretations of the school one follows.

:anjali:


Well, yes there is always that blind doctrinal approach. But it can be that both (or more) sides have valid points, so as I said, sometimes the issue is as simple as determining whether we are talking about the same thing. Even for example the dispute over whether there is a need for qualifiers in the tetralemma or not might seem to leave simple common sense far behind - until we discover it's often a question of terminology.

But if you are not practicing and not interested in the aspect of liberating qualities, then there seems to be even less exigence to making madhyamaka a workable principle. While this may be a priority for me for example, for some others it is not, consequently (forgive pun) the persons who have no real interest in making it work for them feel it sufficient to provide spurious arguments etc and not care if it makes the Middle Way looking like some of those things on Ruegg's list.
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby tobes » Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:36 am

LastLegend wrote:
tobes wrote:
mudra wrote::focus:

But to come back to my question, it seems to me fruitless to discuss Madhyamaka with intellectuals who do not practice Buddhism, if even when we discuss amongst Buddhists it's sometimes hard to ascertain if we are talking about the same 'thing'.


Whilst this may be true, it can be a lot more fruitless discussing Madhyamaka with people who do practice Buddhism. It is ironic that something so disruptive of dogma and ideology can be so subject to dogma and ideology.

My school says x, therefore, x must be true. It is amazing how many discussions simply follow the orthodox interpretations of the school one follows.

:anjali:



The way you think is not a dogma?


I did not say or suggest this. I am personally constantly trying to find my way out of dogma, and the passage of time constantly illustrates that views I have previously held to be undogmatic were in fact profoundly dogmatic.

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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby Jnana » Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:49 am

tobes wrote:Whilst this may be true, it can be a lot more fruitless discussing Madhyamaka with people who do practice Buddhism.

I don't think that debate should be considered fruitless. It's a way to clarify and refine one's own understanding.

tobes wrote:It is amazing how many discussions simply follow the orthodox interpretations of the school one follows.

This isn't a problem either. At least ppl are attempting to learn a tradition.

tobes wrote:My school says x, therefore, x must be true.

This can be a problem.

All the best,

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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby tobes » Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:52 am

mudra wrote:
tobes wrote:
mudra wrote::focus:

But to come back to my question, it seems to me fruitless to discuss Madhyamaka with intellectuals who do not practice Buddhism, if even when we discuss amongst Buddhists it's sometimes hard to ascertain if we are talking about the same 'thing'.


Whilst this may be true, it can be a lot more fruitless discussing Madhyamaka with people who do practice Buddhism. It is ironic that something so disruptive of dogma and ideology can be so subject to dogma and ideology.

My school says x, therefore, x must be true. It is amazing how many discussions simply follow the orthodox interpretations of the school one follows.

:anjali:


Well, yes there is always that blind doctrinal approach. But it can be that both (or more) sides have valid points, so as I said, sometimes the issue is as simple as determining whether we are talking about the same thing. Even for example the dispute over whether there is a need for qualifiers in the tetralemma or not might seem to leave simple common sense far behind - until we discover it's often a question of terminology.

But if you are not practicing and not interested in the aspect of liberating qualities, then there seems to be even less exigence to making madhyamaka a workable principle. While this may be a priority for me for example, for some others it is not, consequently (forgive pun) the persons who have no real interest in making it work for them feel it sufficient to provide spurious arguments etc and not care if it makes the Middle Way looking like some of those things on Ruegg's list.


I'm not so sure about this. I have found that there is reasonable amount of genuine interest in Madhyamaka from people who are simply committed to the task of metaphysics itself (i.e. genuinely inquiring into the nature of reality)....and who genuinely think through the arguments with a degree of depth and consistently which is very admirable. I don't think a personal soteriological commitment is necessary to appreciate the arguments and 'view' found in Madhyamaka: Nagarjuna wants to convince via the force and cogency of his arguments.

But yes, there have been some scandalous interpretations over the years.

Incidentally, there's also another great little analysis of the different western trends in Madhyamaka scholarship....Richard Tuck, "Comparative Philosophy..."and something, I forget the full title...

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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby mudra » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:06 am

Tobes, I do concede it was a bit of sweeping statement, but I think there is a real danger of taking it a lot more lightly.

It's also quite a different proposition being a modern scholar studying texts etc, than it was to be a early Indian non-Buddhist or a non-Madhyamakin involved directly in a debate with Nagarjuna/Aryadeva etc that carried with it the consequence of having to convert if you lost etc..
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby mudra » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:16 am

Jnana wrote:
tobes wrote:Whilst this may be true, it can be a lot more fruitless discussing Madhyamaka with people who do practice Buddhism.

I don't think that debate should be considered fruitless. It's a way to clarify and refine one's own understanding.

tobes wrote:It is amazing how many discussions simply follow the orthodox interpretations of the school one follows.

This isn't a problem either. At least ppl are attempting to learn a tradition.


Agreed. I think it is ideally what we do here on DW with a number of different subjects, at the least getting more clarity and understanding of other traditions as well. At least that seems to be the main value of DW to me.

Jnana wrote:
tobes wrote: wrote:My school says x, therefore, x must be true.

This can be a problem.

This is the point where the learning stops...
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby Jnana » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:21 am

mudra wrote:Tobes, I do concede it was a bit of sweeping statement, but I think there is a real danger of taking it a lot more lightly.

It's also quite a different proposition being a modern scholar studying texts etc, than it was to be a early Indian non-Buddhist or a non-Madhyamakin involved directly in a debate with Nagarjuna/Aryadeva etc that carried with it the consequence of having to convert if you lost etc..

One of the problems is academics who attempt to understand and/or criticize Nāgārjuna (usually the MMK) without thoroughly situating what he is saying in the proper context of the Śrāvakayāna Āgamas, Mahāyāna sūtras, and other Indian Mādhyamaka & Yogācāra commentators. Nāgārjuna's texts were written as part of an ongoing Buddhist discussion. This needs to be acknowledged and appreciated. Also, the MMK (and most of Nāgārjuna's other works) really need to be approached through the commentaries written on it.

All the best,

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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby Jnana » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:24 am

tobes wrote:
Jnana wrote:
tobes wrote:My school says x, therefore, x must be true.

This can be a problem.

This is the point where the learning stops...

Yes.
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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby Malcolm » Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:22 pm

mudra wrote:Wasn't sure where to post this so if mods find a better place for it, thank you!

I came across this list by D Seyfort Ruegg from his "The Literature of the Madhyamaka School" which enumerates the various early opinions of Western scholars regarding Madhyamaka and Nagarjuna in particular:

"...nihilism, monism, irrationalism, misology, agnosticism, scepticism, criticism, dialectic, mysticism, acosmism, absolutism, relativism, nominalism, and linguistic analysis with therapeutic value."

What a loads of 'ism's!!! Of course today the debate continues, as it has ever since Arya Nagarjuna, as to what the Madhyamaka he set forth actually is. Even amongst practicing Buddhists we debate so much about it, I wonder if non-Buddhist scholars using intellect alone can possibly ever really get it?



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Re: the ever-changing Western view of Madhyamaka

Postby ronnewmexico » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:16 pm

...If I had a position, I would be at fault,
Since I alone have no position, I alone am without fault"
...

go figure... :smile:
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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