Buddha Nature

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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby Huifeng » Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:29 am

Dharmakid wrote:A question I currently have concerns Buddha nature. What is the difference between Buddha-datu, Tathagatagarba, and Buddha nature? Are they all the same thing? Do different Mahayana schools teach them differently?


Keep in mind that there are quite a few different texts - sutras and sastras, esp. - on this topic, and they don't always agree.

Some may equate them together, some will make distinctions, etc. etc.

The scope of "Mahayana" is very, very broad - probably the only thing they agree on is becoming a Budddha - and almost any generalization will mean either ignoring, or explaining away, those teachings which do not agree.

Being a bit more specific, or limited in scope, eg. "In Kagyu school ...", or "According to Dogen ...", etc. will be very helpful, and one may be able to get some clearer answers and perspectives.
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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby catmoon » Sat Feb 06, 2010 7:38 pm

H i Meindzai


The view from here looks like this:

There is Buddha Nature. It is a conventional reality. Conventionally speaking, all things have natures, which are composed of individual characteristics.

Ultimately they are all probably empty, but remember that does not mean they are totally nonexistent.

Buddha had characters of compassion, wisdom, and many others. The composite of those is what I see as conventional Buddha Nature. A nice conventional concept and quite useful, even inspiring.

In ultimate terms I think it would be a mistake to elaborate greatly on Buddha Nature. The result would be a complex structure, with a lot of effort invested in its construction, carrying a danger of attachment of the "pet theory" variety.
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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:15 pm

Here's a link to a free downloadable commentary on Maitreya's Mahayana-Uttaratantra shastra on Buddha Nature. The commentary is by present-day Bhutanese master Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and is based on a commentary by 19th century Tibetan master Mipham Rinpoche. In the intro, Rinpoche says that his commentary is given according to sutra (it's a sutra-level text, but sometimes Tibetan masters weave in such texts' application on the tantra level since their audience is generally made up of Vajrayana practitioners; Rinpoche says he does not do that in this commentary. He does make mention of a couple different systems' views in a couple places, but he makes a clear distinction between them and the view of the text.) Anyway, I think it's a great commentary since it features two different versions of the English translation of the root text, with Rinpoche's contemporary, conversational English explanations interspersed after each stanza or so of the root text.

I'll put the link below. All you have to do is fill out the request form on the site and in a couple minutes a link to download the pdf file will be in your email box:

https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/Khyent ... eForm.html

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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby White Lotus » Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:37 pm

Buddha nature, whatever way you want to put it... when everything has been totally wiped clean/annihilated. the buddha nature still remains, not being anything to be annihilated. even when self, mind, awareness, emptiness have collapsed the buddha nature remains. it cannot be pinned down. it does not ''exist'' to be destroyed, nor does it ''not'' exist to have no effect.

when we have no-thing, do we have buddha nature?... yes, since there is always buddha nature. active as emptiness/void, active as dharma, all forms.

buddha nature could be equated with the Grand Emptiness/void, as is done by madhyamika, or it could be equated with an-atman, where the awareness of an apparent self is replaced by awareness of emptiness and there ceases to be an independent person with any kind of individuality or distinction. an-atman is just realization of the fundamental emptiness that is the root and base of all things. actually the only reason why we perceive a self is that the five skhandas have not been dissolved, when the five skhandas are broken up/dissolved then there is absolutely no perception of me or mine. all is empty, not only ones own body but the phenomena around us.

i would like to add that emptiness is phenomenal, in that when we see a tiger we perceive the dharma just as much as when we see an inanimate pebble, or a resplendent buddha. all is the same, there is no difference, all is the buddha. all is mind.

tathagata gharba = emptiness (of all, including self) = presence as all phenomena.

love, White Lotus. xxx
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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby ground » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:25 am

White Lotus wrote:even when self, mind, awareness, emptiness have collapsed the buddha nature remains.

From the perspective of the subject's experience this might be the final illusion. The illusion that remains when there still is not everything "wiped clean". There is still a "tiny" remainder, a shadow of "self".

White Lotus wrote:buddha nature could be equated with the Grand Emptiness/void, as is done by madhyamika, or it could be equated with an-atman, where the awareness of an apparent self is replaced by awareness of emptiness and there ceases to be an independent person with any kind of individuality or distinction.

Just emptiness, no "grand".
You think that there is an "awareness of" inherent in so called "buddha nature"? How could there be "awareness of" there being no "being aware of"?
The subjective's emptiness being objectivied is no different from emptiness of any other phenomenon, sentient or not.
The subjective's emptiness being subjectivied is emptiness experiencing itself. This may be like space touching itself: Nothing that touches or moves in any direction seeking any kind of contact and nothing tangible in any of the ten directions. No center, no extremes. Not conditioned [by time] there being no condition at all.

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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:58 am

TMingyur,

Have you taken a look at the link to Maitreya's Treatise on Buddha Nature that I posted above? I think you might find it very worthwhile.

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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby White Lotus » Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:24 pm

dear Tmingyur, yes there would certainly appear to be a shadow of the former self in this subject! hopefully, tiny.

i have a few times thought... this is it! im really in trouble now. talking about annihilation events. every time emptiness remains, when i thought it could be curtains, but ive got to take the risk.
perhaps it is presumptious of me to say that buddha nature is indestructible, regardless, since i may not have passed through any significant annihilation events. such a statement that might indicate that i have, could be seen as presumptious of an egoistic delusion.

i use the term Grand Emptiness, since secondary emptiness can be cankered by grey nothingness, grand emptiness is indestructible, this i equate with a form of presence, it is regardless, whilst awareness may be non-existent, something however is still existent, but this must be a no-thing. this presence could be called buddha nature, or the Grand Emptiness. it can be argued that nothing exists whatsoever.

there is no awareness inherent in buddha nature, since if there were, it could be eroded, it would still be something, and being something could be eroded. having said that though there is the appearance of awareness, but it not being awareness. it being a no-thing rather than a some-thing.

The subjective's emptiness being objectivied is no different from emptiness of any other phenomenon, sentient or not.
The subjective's emptiness being subjectivied is emptiness experiencing itself. This may be like space touching itself: Nothing that touches or moves in any direction seeking any kind of contact and nothing tangible in any of the ten directions. No center, no extremes. Not conditioned [by time] there being no condition at all.


absolutely. this statement is anatta.

beautifully put. i had never heard that experienceing anatta, could be called the direct experience, of what everyone basically has... emptiness. (is that what you mean?) anatta is emptiness in experience. there is Nothing on examination. nothing cannot touch nothing, since there is nothing to be touched. so what does one call the 'experience' of anatta?

there is no time, no present moment to condition. i have sought for the present moment, and i cannot find it any longer. there is nothing to condition, and nothing to be conditioned. it is a complete absence of anything whasoever... No-thing. it has no location, it sees neither subject nor object (this and that are non-existent), it doesnt even see sameness (samata). just nothing whatsoever. and yet i am typing at the computer, but without self. the self having vanished, me and mine having vanished, replaced by an objective experience of a subjective reality (emptiness).

love, White Lotus. xxx

i hope this isnt all nonsense!
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby ground » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:17 pm

White Lotus wrote:i hope this isnt all nonsense!


It's creativity. Creativity is the mark of sentience. We are sentient beings.

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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:23 am

White Lotus,

You said this in a previous post:
"there is no awareness inherent in buddha nature, since if there were, it could be eroded, it would still be something, and being something could be eroded. having said that though there is the appearance of awareness, but it not being awareness. it being a no-thing rather than a some-thing."

The Buddhist teachings definitely say buddha nature is emptiness suffused with knowing. The word buddha means one who is awake. That of course implies knowing. Even aside from what the teachings say, if there were no knowing in the buddha nature, then what good would it be and what would remain after the knowing were removed from it? It would be inanimate and insensate and perform no function at all. It would also be very difficult to argue any link between it and the sentient beings who posses it. Where would their sentience ever have sprung up from?

To say emptiness is suffused with knowing does not mean the knowing is a thing or substance, or that it isn't empty. Buddhas have a stream of empty instants of wisdom, whereas sentient beings have a stream of empty instants of delusion. Both are equally empty, but only one is on point with regard to how reality actually "is."
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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby ground » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:11 am

The whole confusion is caused by mixing up the two perspectives:
1) "objectivying": looking at it as if one[self] would not have anything to do with it. Looking at it in merely analytical manner. Since objectively there is no self but any affirmation of "self" in a merely analytical context is delusion this perpective actually is the appopriate one of talking analytically about a phenomenon in the way "this is ... but this is not ..."
2) "subjectivying" still looking at it as an object but simultaneously including one's subjective experiential perspective through imagining that one[self] would be the subject "experiencing" the object talked about. Since here there is an affirmation of a subject's experience which neither can be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched nor can be objectively and validly inferred this is necessarily a deluded perspective in the context of talking about an object analytically ("this is ... but this is not ...").

Pema Rigdzin wrote:White Lotus,

You said this in a previous post:
"there is no awareness inherent in buddha nature, since if there were, it could be eroded, it would still be something, and being something could be eroded. having said that though there is the appearance of awareness, but it not being awareness. it being a no-thing rather than a some-thing."

The Buddhist teachings definitely say buddha nature is emptiness suffused with knowing.

This refers to the "subjectivying" perspective which includes mere imagination. From the "objectivying" perspective "buddha nature" is just emptiness and to add "knowing" is to fabricate something in addition to emptiness. Emptiness can be analytically and validly inferred and is a mere negation but there cannot be anything affirmed "in" it that refers to the subject's experience since this is deviating from the analytical perspective and cannot be validly established.
Therefore the term "buddha nature" how it is applied here by Pema Rigdzin necessarily is affirmation of "self" from the perspective of analysis.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:The word buddha means one who is awake. That of course implies knowing. Even aside from what the teachings say, if there were no knowing in the buddha nature, then what good would it be and what would remain after the knowing were removed from it? It would be inanimate and insensate and perform no function at all. It would also be very difficult to argue any link between it and the sentient beings who posses it. Where would their sentience ever have sprung up from?

To say emptiness is suffused with knowing does not mean the knowing is a thing or substance, or that it isn't empty. Buddhas have a stream of empty instants of wisdom, whereas sentient beings have a stream of empty instants of delusion. Both are equally empty, but only one is on point with regard to how reality actually "is."

It is simply another view that Pema Rigdzin expounds here. It is not the Madhyamaka view but an affirmative non-analytical view which is incompatible with Madhyamaka's valid cognition approach and close to or even identical with the tathagatagarbha view.

Simply put you just have these alternatives:
Either you follow valid cognition or you indulge in speculation. Any affirmation of something that is not validly established from the analytical perspective is to be considered speculation.


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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:47 am

Sorry TMingyur, but you're mistaken. Take a look at the Uttaratantra shastra which will make it clear that emptiness and clarity are inseparable in the tathagatagarbha, yet it involves no self, no subject or object. It is nondual wisdom. Perhaps you feel your view is superior to this fundamental Mahayana text? You must also know better than the Heart Sutra which says more than just that form is emptiness and that emptiness is form. It also says the same for the aggregates, such as that emptiness is awareness and awareness is emptiness, that emptiness is none other than awareness and awareness is none other than emptiness. http://www.lamrim.com/hhdl/heartsutra.html

I have a few questions. Please take time to answer each one.

1) How could there be anything but absolute nihilistic nothingness if emptiness and knowing were two?

2) If it weren't empty, how could knowing occur?

3) How did your present knowing coming about, and what will happen to it once you realize emptiness?

4) How does your present mind's knowing not constitute a self while it knows and does all this dualistic analysis, but emptiness suffused with non-dual gnosis does constitute a self?

*last edit was to replace "faculties" with "aggregates" in the first paragraph because that was a typo.
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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby muni » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:12 am

We indeed make mistakes when there is "some knowing" there must be a kind of entity. But free from the veils of ignorance, by perfect knowledge there is just nature.

Primordial goodness of sentient beings. (This as well can be mistakenly understood, here is no entity neither)
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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby ground » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:32 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Sorry TMingyur, but you're mistaken. Take a look at the Uttaratantra shastra which will make it clear that emptiness and clarity are inseparable in the tathagatagarbha, yet it involves no self, no subject or object.

Thank you for this!
This shows that the crucial point is:
Does one consider the "objectivity" of scripture as valid as pure analytical objectivity?
It really boils down to this question.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:It is nondual wisdom. Perhaps you feel your view is superior to this fundamental Mahayana text? Maybe you could explain how there could be anything but absolute nihilistic nothingness if emptiness and clarity were two?
Maybe you could explain how your present mind's knowing - that which is doing all this dualistic analysis - does not constitute a self while it knows, yet emptiness suffused with non-dual gnosis does constitute a self?


1) As to "nondual wisdom", "dualistic analysis", "non-dual gnosis"
I do no consider this talking about "non-dual" or "dualistic" very helpful because this in itself implies a dualism and presumes that dualism is something one has to (or does finally) get rid of. But dualism is not bad, is not something to be abandoned and one will never get rid of as long as there is interaction with other beings.

2) As to "Perhaps you feel your view is superior"
It has nothing to do with superiority, it has just to do whether one is content with what is analytically accessible or not. This is all there is: Either "experience non-purified and inextricably intermingled with deluded thought" or "experience purified by analysis" after analysis has reached the farest point it may get and thusness being the "remaining" non-conceptual experiencing.
When there is "desire for more" then there is "asking" and grasping answers that are not accessible in the first place and thus necessarily are fabrications.

3) As to "Maybe you could explain how there could be anything but absolute nihilistic nothingness if emptiness and clarity were two? "
Nothing to grasp does not necessarily mean "nihilism" because "nihilism" is based on frustrated deluded fabricating thought.

4) As to "Maybe you could explain how your present mind's knowing - that which is doing all this dualistic analysis - does not constitute a self while it knows"
No need to explain beyond what may be experienced after "experience non-purified and inextricably intermingled with deluded thought" has been purified by uncompromising analysis.
Mind cannot be found. Period.
Self cannot be found. Period.

5) As to "Maybe you could explain ... emptiness suffused with non-dual gnosis does constitute a self?[/quote]
"non-dual gnosis" what is that?
How can a mere non-affirming negation be suffused with anything?
Emptiness being non-affirming negation just removes the object its preceding analysis is direct to but this what is called "seeing", "hearing", "smelling" etc. is not removed. Appearences keep "coming" and "going".
How can something grasped that cannot be affirmed but being mere fabricating thought not constitute a self - this self being the impulsive desire for affirmatively establishing phenomena in order to cling to them?

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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby muni » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:19 am

:smile: Analyzing, then unapprehended.
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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:22 am

TMingyur wrote:This is all there is: Either "experience non-purified and inextricably intermingled with deluded thought" or "experience purified by analysis" after analysis has reached the farest point it may get and thusness being the "remaining" non-conceptual experiencing.


So much for your emptiness being "mere non-affirming negation."

This is exactly what I was saying. This is gnosis purified of the adventitious stains which give rise to deluded thought/experience. In all actuality, though, these stains and their purification are really just concepts that apply to our present way of looking at it. In truth, the gnosis could never be stained by anything and there was nothing to purify, nor a subject to purify it. It is free from the four extremes of existing, not existing, both, and neither, therefore it is empty and thus there is no basis on which to call it a self or to posit that, having removed all delusion, there is anything that could be clung to or anyone to cling. It cannot be established as a phenomenon, so it cannot be clung to. A deluded being could cling to ideas about it, so those ideas and that delusion are the only things that can be refuted.

Another thing, if there is nothing that can be established as a self or a truly existing phenomenon, there are no truly existing entities to label "self and other" (beyond the conventional level), therefore there is nonduality. A buddha has purified all delusion, so no notions remain: not the notion of buddhas or the notion of sentient beings, nor does a buddha act with volition, according to Mahayana doctrine. Buddha activity is spontaneous, nonconceptual compassion, so it is impartial, like the sun's rays, shining on all. Whether beings perceive benefit from it is according to their karma. It is we deluded sentient beings who conceive of buddhas and sentient beings.
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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby White Lotus » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:49 pm

i have to say friends/teachers, that this is a very beautiful discussion. you all have something really good to say. i am going to print out some of this for further study.

once i was truly 'awake', now i am neither awake nor asleep, once i had awareness, now that is gone. there is no-one and nothing... and yet this is not nihilism because though not awake, neither asleep. not aware, neither unaware. though these things are not, there is still the appearance of them.

pontificating again! i mustnt do too much of that, but its ok.

i have to say, i really appreciate some rigorous thought process.

my final point (pontificating again!)... though annihilation events occur, ultimately there cannot be and is not annihilation, this is since there is nothing to annihilate. this 'nothing' is not, being not it cannot be eroded. an empty house is a clean house. i dont believe in aquiring, i believe in dropping things and in detachment which is ultimately the gravity of nothing/emptiness.

love, White-Lotus. xxx

i am not learned in these ways, but i can speak from experience on some of these matters. :P
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby ground » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:39 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
TMingyur wrote:This is all there is: Either "experience non-purified and inextricably intermingled with deluded thought" or "experience purified by analysis" after analysis has reached the farest point it may get and thusness being the "remaining" non-conceptual experiencing.


So much for your emptiness being "mere non-affirming negation."

"Remains" was not intended to mean <remain> since of course nothing "remains" that can be found. But as long as there is breath and heartbeat there is "experiencing". And this is the mark of "sentient being".

The beauty and simplicity of Madhyamaka is just this: There is nothing that can be found under analysis. Period.
And the analysis being applied is grounded on the same linguistic practices conventional phenomena are gounded on.

But either there is a commonly verifiable correlate of a "label" or there is not. And if there is a commonly verifiable correlate then the corresponding phenomenon is conventionally established. And for "Buddha nature" there is no commonly verifiable correlate, but for "emptiness" there is.

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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:01 pm

TMingyur wrote:
Pema Rigdzin wrote:
TMingyur wrote:This is all there is: Either "experience non-purified and inextricably intermingled with deluded thought" or "experience purified by analysis" after analysis has reached the farest point it may get and thusness being the "remaining" non-conceptual experiencing.


So much for your emptiness being "mere non-affirming negation."

"Remains" was not intended to mean <remain> since of course nothing "remains" that can be found. But as long as there is breath and heartbeat there is "experiencing". And this is the mark of "sentient being".

The beauty and simplicity of Madhyamaka is just this: There is nothing that can be found under analysis. Period.
And the analysis being applied is grounded on the same linguistic practices conventional phenomena are gounded on.

But either there is a commonly verifiable correlate of a "label" or there is not. And if there is a commonly verifiable correlate then the corresponding phenomenon is conventionally established. And for "Buddha nature" there is no commonly verifiable correlate, but for "emptiness" there is.

Kind regards


LOL so a sentient being nonconceptually "experiences" suchness but a buddha does not?

You have a very skewed understanding of madhyamaka. Madhyamaka's purpose is not to establish conventional phenomena as valid but to show that they cannot be established on the ultimate level. Moreover, you are separating the two truths which means you're dealing with the approximate ultimate, which is the province of mere intellect, whereas the ultimate itself, the province of buddhas alone, is said to be the union of the two truths. A buddha's realization encompasses both.
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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby ground » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:41 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:LOL so a sentient being nonconceptually "experiences" suchness but a buddha does not?

I know sentient beings but I do not know "buddhas". "Buddha" appears like a metaphysical concept. there is no way to discuss about such kinds of concepts. But I accept people's beliefs. In other contexts I myself have spoken of the "buddhas". But I really cannot say what I apprehended when I applied this concept. It is kind of a habit.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:You have a very skewed understanding of madhyamaka.

Well my understanding may not be yours. And your understanding is not mine.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Madhyamaka's purpose is not to establish conventional phenomena as valid but to show that they cannot be established on the ultimate level.

That depends on what convention of Madhyamaka you are following.
Somehow mere fantasy has to be differentiated from valid conventional phenomena because a Madhyamaka that does not comply with science and non-spiritual aspects of human life is inacceptable for me.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Moreover, you are separating the two truths which means you're dealing with the approximate ultimate, which is the province of mere intellect, whereas the ultimate itself, the province of buddhas alone, is said to be the union of the two truths. A buddha's realization encompasses both.

Actually there is only one truth because what you call "ultimate" is established only in conventional terms. There is nothing that could be united because all what is expressible is [the] relative.
Also the province of pure reason is not different from pure experience. One may call this "Manjushri".

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Re: Buddha Nature

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:47 pm

TMingyur wrote:
Pema Rigdzin wrote:LOL so a sentient being nonconceptually "experiences" suchness but a buddha does not?

I know sentient beings but I do not know "buddhas". "Buddha" appears like a metaphysical concept. there is no way to discuss about such kinds of concepts. But I accept people's beliefs. In other contexts I myself have spoken of the "buddhas". But I really cannot say what I apprehended when I applied this concept. It is kind of a habit.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:You have a very skewed understanding of madhyamaka.

Well my understanding may not be yours. And your understanding is not mine.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Madhyamaka's purpose is not to establish conventional phenomena as valid but to show that they cannot be established on the ultimate level.

That depends on what convention of Madhyamaka you are following.
Somehow mere fantasy has to be differentiated from valid conventional phenomena because a Madhyamaka that does not comply with science and non-spiritual aspects of human life is inacceptable for me.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Moreover, you are separating the two truths which means you're dealing with the approximate ultimate, which is the province of mere intellect, whereas the ultimate itself, the province of buddhas alone, is said to be the union of the two truths. A buddha's realization encompasses both.

Actually there is only one truth because what you call "ultimate" is established only in conventional terms. There is nothing that could be united because all what is expressible is [the] relative.
Also the province of pure reason is not different from pure experience. One may call this "Manjushri".

Kind regards


Well TMingyur,

Having read and received oral teachings on the paths and stages and the tenet systems and systems of practice, and having done a great deal of reasoning and contemplation of these teachings, I concluded that there is very good reason to believe in the potential of humans to achieve buddhahood, so my interest in Madhyamaka is in its potential to remove the adventitious stains that prevent the realization of buddhahood. I see plenty of reason to find plausible a buddhahood in which one can benefit all sentient beings.

Your interest in Madhyamaka obviously only goes so far as it can enable you to disprove (in your mind, at least) the plausibility of things which, for whatever reason, you're uncomfortable with or cannot accept. Nevermind that the same Madhyamaka masters you seem to look up to, such as perhaps its founder Nagarjuna, have spoken clearly on enlightened mind (see his "In Praise of the Dharmadhatu," for instance). Your skepticism or agnosticism is of course your prerogative; regardless, there's no useful or worthwhile common ground for us to continue this conversation since our aims and interests are so different. Take care and best wishes.
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