Epistemes wrote:When Nagarjuna says that there is no existence, is he claiming that the Earth, universe, and multi-verses do not exist in the sense that they cannot be sensually experienced? Or, is he, in a spirit of recognizing the universality of pratītyasamutpāda and sūnyatā, saying that the Earth, universe, and multi-verses do not intrinsically exist as such?
Sense perception is equally subject to causality. The eye that sees is an object in the world, and what is perceived is dependent upon that eye (and brain which interprets the sense perception). We tend to think of red as being a property of the thing, but in fact it is dependent upon a number of things, (spectral light, that light bouncing off the object and entering the eye, the eye itself, and the interpretation of this sensory input by the brain... etc.) all of which are themselves dependent on something else.
What colour is red in total darkness? We tend to think that it would still be red if only we had some light, but then what if that light was itself coloured? we tend to take our "normal" perceptions as some sort of baseline truth when in fact all the elements are contingent and dependently related to each other - if our eyes were built differently then our colour perception would also vary - so where then is the baseline truth? Any perception or attempt to measure is itself part of the chain of dependent interrelations. (So we have a process of standardisation for measurement - we all accept what an inch is even though its an arbitrary measurement)
Epistemes wrote:Furthermore, is Nagarjuna claiming the seed of a thing does not intrinsically exist either in itself or through another thing? By this I mean, we cannot find any trace of an iPod in sunlight. This is because sunlight does not instrinsically exist, right, and not because we are not currently able to handle an iPod which, through pratītyasamutpāda, has been manifested?
Lastly, to say that the Earth, universe, multi-verses, sunlight and iPods do not exist is equally a misnomer due to the nature of their apparent manifestation?
Say for example the i-Pod was crushed into dust, it would no longer be an iPod, but it would not simply cease to be. Matter cannot be created or destroyed, it can neither go out of existence nor have come into existence out of nothing. Science has tended to say that the smallest part of matter is the molecule, but quantum theory seems to be catching up with Buddhist ideas which state that there is no smallest unit of matter - there is nothing, no matter how small that we can't imagine removing a tiny sliver of an making it smaller.
So we have a notion of everything in flux and in a dependent relationship - the iPod was once made of other stuff, and can return to a state of "stuffness", but if we try to discover what the smallest part of that stuff is, we find no baseline of truth.
That would suggest then that everything is totally relative, but one thing rescues it from that because without mind it would not be possible to perceive anything at all, the question then becomes how is it then possible to know mind itself when at no point can we step outside?
Mind itself is subject to this same “emptiness”, but this is not to say that emptiness is another view of “reality”, it is the very ground itself. If we take mind as an object for consciousness then we distort it by conceptualisation - emptiness cannot be adequately conceived and must be experienced to be “known”.
(I should probably put a disclaimer that this is my current (limited) understanding and that I am painting with very broad brushstrokes here)