Reasons for Conventional Reality

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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby conebeckham » Mon Nov 14, 2011 6:52 pm

First-
Different Buddhists have different views about the "existence" of Conventional Reality."

Second-
If one subscribes to the view that Conventional reality "exists" in any way, the "reason" for it's existence is often said to be good ol- D.O., and according to "function," from an external POV, and, for some, Valid Cognition, from an internal POV.
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby Acchantika » Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:11 pm

Astus wrote:What about establishing the correct view of conventional reality? Are there lists of arguments? Is it possible to logically argue for the Buddhist view of conventional reality?

The correct (i.e. Buddhist) view of conventional reality can be summed up as dependent origination.


Like Buddhism 101? :D

--

All possible lines of inquiry conclude that: Everything is in a constant state of change (Impermanence).

Given impermanence, the concept of a persistent self cannot be applied to phenomena (Not-Self).

If phenomena are lacking a persistent essence, yet they trivially appear, then their only mode of being must be a dependent one (Dependent Origination).

If phenomena dependently originate, and what dependently originates lacks persistence, phenomena are empty of anything persistent (Emptiness).

Retrospectively, this theory of Dependent Origination/Emptiness is one explanation, depending on whether we view things relatively or ultimately (Two Truths).

Given Dependent Origination, a change in one node must have dependent effects (Karma).

Given Karma, a cause cannot be explicitly separate from its effect (Rebirth).

If all phenomena are empty, they can have no existence beyond the imputation of a perceiver (Yogachara).

The perceiver is also empty, so not even the imputation can exist as a convention (Madhyamaka).

If true, not realising this is by definition ignorance of what is true (Samsara).

If true, realising this is by definition not ignorance of what is true (Nirvana).

If we identify with things that are empty (Second Noble Truth) our expectation of their non-emptiness will remain unsatisified (First Noble truth).

If we cease to identify with things it follows we will cease being unsatisifed (Third Noble Truth).

Since this is causative, it also necessarily follows that there would be a method to do this (Fourth Noble Truth).

It turns out there is such a way (Noble Eightfold Path).

The guy that realised this (Buddha) also explained it (Dharma) and this explanantion was preserved by others (Sangha).

---

I believe you could structure most of the above syllogistically and consequentially.

Not sure if this is the kind of thing you meant, though.
...
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby ground » Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:32 pm

"Reasons for" is misleading. Better would be to ask "What are the causes for wanting to establish something called 'conventional reality'?"
And the answer is "the clinging aggregates".

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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby Jnana » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:28 pm

Astus wrote:My question is if there are arguments to establish correct view on the conventional level.

Given that this has been debated by Buddhists for over 2000 years it's a somewhat complex and technical subject. Fortunately, if one takes their time the basic ideas can be understood without too much difficulty.

Firstly, as Namdrol has already indicated, for many mādhyamikas conventions are simply accepted as worldly conventions which do not withstand analysis and cannot be established as real entities. They are merely designations (prajñaptimātra). The basis of designations is just appearances (ākāra) as they appear to the clear faculties of ordinary beings. Thus, in accord with the perceptions and consensus of ordinary beings, correct conventions are those which appear to be causally effective, and what is false is whatever is not efficacious or that appears to defective faculties (such as the appearance of hallucinations, or imagined entities such as God, etc.). Atiśa's Satyadvayāvatāra:

    The conventional is asserted to be of two kinds:
    A false one and a correct one.
    The former is twofold: [appearances such as floating] hairs or [double] moons,
    And the conceptions of faulty philosophical systems.

    The arising and ceasing phenomena
    Which only satisfy when unexamined
    And are able to perform functions,
    Are asserted to be the correct conventional.

Secondly (and where this gets a bit more complex), some mādhyamikas use the non-Mādhyamaka system of epistemology developed by Dignāga and Dharmakīrti, but only on the level of conventional truth, either as a provisional stage of vipaśyanābhāvanā (e.g. Śāntarakṣita & Kamalaśīla) or as part of a more comprehensive scholastic system (e.g. Je Tsongkhapa). Thus, in order to begin to understand these distinctions it's helpful to learn the basic pramāṇa theory of direct perception (pratyakṣa) and inference (anumāna) as developed by Dignāga.
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby Astus » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:40 pm

There are a couple of points where all Buddhists agree to some level, for instance that there are 5/6 realms of existence, and not 7 or 4. That stealing is conducive to lower birth and giving is conducive to higher birth. That there are magical powers, curses, healing spells, etc. That there are distinct cyclic eras on both social and cosmological levels. That there are five aggregates and six senses. These and other basic teachings are taken as facts and evident attributes of the conventional reality. However, in this culture in our time it is not that easy to just accept them. But this is not a unique situation. Such realms, deities, afterlife, they were not normal in many other cultures where Buddhism spread throughout the centuries, and that includes the time and land of Shakyamuni too. So when Buddhists had to debate with brahmins, warriors, merchants, shamans, yogis, zoroastrians, taoists, confucianists, etc. they didn't just have to say that "all phenomena are empty" but also that Indra is a mighty god but doesn't really help humanity, that it is wrong to sacrifice animals and monks should not bow before kings.

So defining conventional reality as just something that are commonly accepted doesn't really fit here. Even if we go into epistemology.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby Jnana » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:06 pm

Astus wrote:So defining conventional reality as just something that are commonly accepted doesn't really fit here. Even if we go into epistemology.

Well, this subject is very much related to the discipline of epistemology. If you want Buddhist refutations of materialism, proofs for karma & rebirth, and so on, study Dharmakīrti and also Śāntarakṣita's Tattvasaṃgraha with Kamalaśīla's commentary (with the caveat that the English translation of the Tattvasaṃgraha & Tattvasaṃgrahapañjikā is not entirely reliable in all cases and should be compared with the Sanskrit or Tibetan or with reference to other sources).

But for anyone who is intent on maintaining their worldview of scientific materialism, etc., these refutations and proofs probably won't turn their mind towards the dharma anyway.
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby deepbluehum » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:09 pm

Astus wrote:The correct (i.e. Buddhist) view of conventional reality can be summed up as dependent origination. That includes the general law of causality, the teachings on morality, karma, realms, beings, mundane samadhis, and from a Mahayana POV the dharmas, five aggregates, etc.


I don't think this is quite right. DO is the limit of reality, beyond ordinary conventions and is the vision of the Arya. Whereas, the Buddha treated conventional reality as ordinary folksy conventions the way everybody generally takes things to be, i.e., normal talk, this, that and the other.
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby Astus » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:45 pm

Jnana,

Thanks, I'll look into it.

Vol 1 (Very big file on Scribd!)
Vol. 2. (on Archive)
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby Jnana » Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:17 pm

Astus wrote:Thanks, I'll look into it.

Yeah, the Tattvasaṃgraha covers the refutations of materialism and theism pretty well. Another source for Dharmakīrti's arguments regarding rebirth would be:

    Jackson, Roger, 1993, Is Enlightenment Possible? Dharmakīrti and rGyal tshab rje on Knowledge, Rebirth, No-Self and Liberation. Ithaca, N.Y. Snow Lion Publications.

There are probably other (better) sources that have been published in English translation, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. It's been a long time since I studied any of this kind of stuff.
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby Tsongkhapafan » Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:29 pm

Namdrol wrote:Conventional reality is an appearance for the deluded.
N


Not all aspects are, otherwise you are saying that minds such as love and compassion are based on delusion, which is not so. What makes Tsongkhapa's teachings so special is that he is able to unite conventional and ultimate truth without contradiction. The view that all conventional reality is only an appearance for the deluded is an extreme. It is exaggerating the lack of inherent existence of such appearances and falling into the extreme of nothinginess,
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby conebeckham » Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:56 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Conventional reality is an appearance for the deluded.
N


Not all aspects are, otherwise you are saying that minds such as love and compassion are based on delusion, which is not so. What makes Tsongkhapa's teachings so special is that he is able to unite conventional and ultimate truth without contradiction. The view that all conventional reality is only an appearance for the deluded is an extreme. It is exaggerating the lack of inherent existence of such appearances and falling into the extreme of nothinginess,


There are "Compassion without object" and "Love without Object," according to the teachings I've heard, which are transcendent--i.e., nondelusive.

The view that all conventional reality is only appearance for the deluded is not an extreme, it is the majority view amongst all who claim to follow the Madhyamika of Nagarjuna, etc.
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby Acchantika » Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:09 am

Astus wrote:There are a couple of points where all Buddhists agree to some level, for instance that there are 5/6 realms of existence, and not 7 or 4. That stealing is conducive to lower birth and giving is conducive to higher birth. That there are magical powers, curses, healing spells, etc. That there are distinct cyclic eras on both social and cosmological levels. That there are five aggregates and six senses. These and other basic teachings are taken as facts and evident attributes of the conventional reality. However, in this culture in our time it is not that easy to just accept them. But this is not a unique situation. Such realms, deities, afterlife, they were not normal in many other cultures where Buddhism spread throughout the centuries, and that includes the time and land of Shakyamuni too. So when Buddhists had to debate with brahmins, warriors, merchants, shamans, yogis, zoroastrians, taoists, confucianists, etc. they didn't just have to say that "all phenomena are empty" but also that Indra is a mighty god but doesn't really help humanity, that it is wrong to sacrifice animals and monks should not bow before kings.

So defining conventional reality as just something that are commonly accepted doesn't really fit here. Even if we go into epistemology.


My impression was that you were asking about how to describe general Buddhist thought about conventional existence to a non-Buddhist who lacks the same vocabulary as you do.

In this regard, it is not helpful, in my opinion, to explain the complexities of conventional vs absolute truth in Madhyamaka and so on.

Nor is it helpful to start talking about things that mean totally different things in Buddhism as they do to everyone else e.g. god and magical powers.

Further it is not helpful to just offer refutations either. If refutation alone was sufficient, everyone would already be a Buddhist.

In my opinion, the contrary to your suggestion is true; those who debated Buddhism with others did in fact use precisely those concepts that were shared.

As in psychology as in Buddhism, the psychodynamics of a person will reject or block information that is destructive to previously held beliefs. So if you begin by explaining the insufficient potency of Indra to a theist, it may be that, as a result of conditions, it will be psychologically impossible for them to process this at the time. You are then competing with conditioning, not reason, logic etc. By the same token, when a materialist starts reading about Buddhism, they ignore all the stuff about karma and rebirth, they don't process it, they actually can't; instead only processing the things that make sense within the context of their own belief system. If this were not so and understood, there would be no teaching on conventional reality at all in Buddhism, there would not even be different schools. So you find the common ground, every time.
...
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby Acchantika » Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:14 am

Jnana wrote:But for anyone who is intent on maintaining their worldview of scientific materialism, etc., these refutations and proofs probably won't turn their mind towards the dharma anyway.


...because, in my opinion, trying to shatter someone's worldview with proofs and refutations is like trying to convince someone to break the chair they are standing on. You have to convince them to come down first.
...
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby edearl » Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:35 am

Astus wrote:Jnana,

Thanks, I'll look into it.

Vol 1 (Very big file on Scribd!)
Vol. 2. (on Archive)

My Linux (SUSE) does not like Vol1.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby Malcolm » Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:52 am

Astus wrote:
Paul wrote:It is just for the sake of refuting non-Buddhist opponents
That the learned ones have promoted them


And for this purpose I'd like to see all the many reasons for the validity of the Buddhist view vis-a-vis non-Buddhist views.


We don't have a view, per se, we just eliminate the incorrect views of others.

N
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby gad rgyangs » Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:06 am

Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:
Paul wrote:It is just for the sake of refuting non-Buddhist opponents
That the learned ones have promoted them


And for this purpose I'd like to see all the many reasons for the validity of the Buddhist view vis-a-vis non-Buddhist views.


We don't have a view, per se, we just eliminate the incorrect views of others.

N


I'm not sure who you mean by "we" (paleface), but the MMK is full of all kinds of views about sunyata, pratityasamutpada, etc
Thoroughly tame your own mind.
This is (possibly) the teaching of Buddha.
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby conebeckham » Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:17 am

gad rgyangs wrote:
I'm not sure who you mean by "we" (paleface), but the MMK is full of all kinds of views about sunyata, pratityasamutpada, etc


Really? Quoted examples?
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby gad rgyangs » Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:29 am

conebeckham wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:
I'm not sure who you mean by "we" (paleface), but the MMK is full of all kinds of views about sunyata, pratityasamutpada, etc


Really? Quoted examples?


I'm not gonna type in Chapter 24.
Thoroughly tame your own mind.
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Re: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby Malcolm » Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:42 am

gad rgyangs wrote:
I'm not sure who you mean by "we" (paleface), but the MMK is full of all kinds of views about sunyata, pratityasamutpada, etc


DO prescribed as the end of views in the MMK, not as a view in and of itself.

A view requires an existent or a non-existent. Since MMK shows that neither can be found, upon what could any view be based?

N
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http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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: Reasons for Conventional Reality

Postby gad rgyangs » Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:00 am

Namdrol wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:
I'm not sure who you mean by "we" (paleface), but the MMK is full of all kinds of views about sunyata, pratityasamutpada, etc


DO prescribed as the end of views in the MMK, not as a view in and of itself.

A view requires an existent or a non-existent. Since MMK shows that neither can be found, upon what could any view be based?

N


two truths is a view.
Thoroughly tame your own mind.
This is (possibly) the teaching of Buddha.
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