Conceptuality in Buddhism

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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby Tom » Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:22 am

RichardLinde wrote:
I would never say that anyone knows things by way of conception, since it is unnecessary to do so.



Inference ... ?
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby Tom » Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:27 am

RichardLinde wrote:Santideva could also explain that Buddhas don't have any choice about whether they appear or not, for the reason that if the causes are in place for Buddhas to appear then they will appear, regardless of what anyone wants. Buddhas must bow to the power of cause and effect, since they are not omnipotent.


Spot on! Their activities are spontaneous and without conceptual thought!
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby RichardLinde » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:14 am

Tom wrote:
RichardLinde wrote:Santideva could also explain that Buddhas don't have any choice about whether they appear or not, for the reason that if the causes are in place for Buddhas to appear then they will appear, regardless of what anyone wants. Buddhas must bow to the power of cause and effect, since they are not omnipotent.


Spot on! Their activities are spontaneous and without conceptual thought!


If a Buddha tells you about a concept he has for a new design of building then it would not be wrong to say that he has a concept, even though the Buddha's concept has the force of the whole of cause and effect behind it, and is ultimately of no doing of his own.

If you were to say that the thoughts or conceptions of Buddhas don't obscure reality, or something along those lines, then I think that would be fair, but to say that Buddhas don't think and don't have concepts is not at all useful, and it contributes to the popular delusion that Buddhas are Magic Men, which they are not in any degree.
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby Will » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:16 am

RichardLinde wrote:
Will wrote:So the Buddha does not say "I do not know" but "It will be hard for you to understand."


Nobody translates the text as "It will be hard for you to understand" - at least, nobody that you quoted.

More importantly, since this is an academic forum, I would like to see an actual logical proof that it is possible to predict the details of future events with certainty, rather than mere appeals to the authority of translators.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.


Is this an academic forum or a forum that is academic? More the latter meaning, methinks.

"Logical proof" is hardly extraordinary - plainly conceptual in fact. Nor is an appeal to the authority of logical proof superior to your appeal to the authority of your reading of the sutra passage. A passage that comes from the Leader of the ancient Academy of Buddhas, by the by.

If one cannot appeal to the translators, who are all soaked in many years of academic schooling - then who?
Last edited by Will on Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby RichardLinde » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:30 am

Tom wrote:
RichardLinde wrote:
I would never say that anyone knows things by way of conception, since it is unnecessary to do so.



Inference ... ?


One can't know anything for certain by way of inference. Deduction, perhaps.

Let's say that a person has worked out, in their head, that 2 + 2 - 4 = 0

In this case I could say that a person arrived at the result through conception, if I thought it was useful to describe it that way.

The important point I am making is that we use words only where useful, and there's nothing inherently wrong with doing so.

It doesn't matter what words we use, in whatever context, since it's the meaning, or use of those words that matters.

I probably wouldn't object to people saying that Buddhas "don't think" if I thought that their meaning was correct. But the fact that many people associate "not thinking" with knowing all the details of future events in perfect clarity, indicates to me that they don't know what they are talking about.

I would sincerely like someone to explain to me how they think anyone can know the details of future events. Then I will go to Las Vegas, win hundreds of millions of dollars, and donate it to their charity of choice. Is that fair?
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby RichardLinde » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:42 am

Will wrote:Nor is an appeal to the authority of logical proof superior to your appeal to the authority of your reading of the sutra passage.


The only way to judge whether anything in the sutras, or translations of sutras, is of value is through the use of logic. This is why the reading of sutras must always defer to logic. As the Buddha said, if something does not accord with reason then we should discard it.
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby Will » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:04 am

RichardLinde wrote:
Will wrote:Nor is an appeal to the authority of logical proof superior to your appeal to the authority of your reading of the sutra passage.


The only way to judge whether anything in the sutras, or translations of sutras, is of value is through the use of logic. This is why the reading of sutras must always defer to logic. As the Buddha said, if something does not accord with reason then we should discard it.


Reason can be logical, but logic is not reasonable.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby Mariusz » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:32 am

RichardLinde wrote:
Mariusz wrote:We are not able to understand what the omniscience of a Buddha is. All we have its our sentient being's cognition.


If all you have is a faulty cognition, and nothing else, then this discussion isn't going to get very far!

You don't understand my previous posts. Our seeming is "not totally faulty", as I always written, but can works as remedy for us, can be "self-liberated". When the seeming is "self-liberated" it is not fault or benefit from any buddha somewhere "out there" outside us. The freedom from all reference points simply means the unblurred unimpared vision (omniscience) because already no more obscured by reference points and clingings to them, not because reference points somehow lead to it. Reference points never have arisen or existed according to the 5 arguments of Nagarjuna, so they do not need be liberated and the omniscience do not need be created once more. Cenceptuality do not lead to the self-liberation because there is no time for its existence since already self-liberated. This is Madhyamaka, which is also compatible with Dzogchen/Mahamudra. In Dzogchen there is term "kadak" primordial purity because omniscience "do not need be created once more".
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby RichardLinde » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:49 am

Mariusz wrote:unblurred unimpared vision (omniscience)


Yes, but what does that have to do with the ability to predict the details of future events with 100% accuracy?

An unblurred, unimpaired vision doesn't help one to see a square circle.
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby Mariusz » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:53 am

RichardLinde wrote:
Mariusz wrote:unblurred unimpared vision (omniscience)


Yes, but what does that have to do with the ability to predict the details of future events with 100% accuracy?

An unblurred, unimpaired vision doesn't help one to see a square circle.

the future according to arguments of Nagarjuna ialso "seems to be" only and never will be. even the present is not possible to be. For buddhas there are not such reference points.
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby RichardLinde » Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:13 am

Mariusz wrote:The future according to arguments of Nagarjuna ialso "seems to be" only and never will be. even the presence is not possible to be. For buddhas there are not such reference points.


So what does Nagarjuna have to say about whether a Buddha can know the details of future events with certainty? That's the question we are discussing here.

If being without concepts means the ability to know the details of future events with certainty, then that will help us to understand what it means to be without concepts.
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby Mariusz » Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:22 am

RichardLinde wrote:
Mariusz wrote:The future according to arguments of Nagarjuna ialso "seems to be" only and never will be. even the presence is not possible to be. For buddhas there are not such reference points.


So what does Nagarjuna have to say about whether a Buddha can know the details of future events with certainty? That's the question we are discussing here.

If being without concepts means the ability to know the details of future events with certainty, then that will help us to understand what it means to be without concepts.

Without concepts does not mean "beyond conceps". It has to do with "mental non-engagement" which is explained by Kamalasila "Stages of Meditation", the Madhyamaka famous siastra . "The center of sunlit sky" contains some explanation.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby LastLegend » Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:25 am

Without attachment but there are concepts. They are not going anywhere.
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby wisdom » Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:29 am

RichardLinde wrote:If being without concepts means the ability to know the details of future events with certainty, then that will help us to understand what it means to be without concepts.


Based on my limited knowledge of Buddhism this is my opinion, I'm sure someone knowledgeable will correct me if I'm wrong:

To be without concepts is to stop having the delusion of being the possessor of a concept or a thought. In that state of delusion one divides oneself into the concept and the possessor of the concept, subject/object. The Buddha is without such delusion. Regular people are bound by their karmic patterns. Their thoughts, words and actions are based on their conditioning. They are highly predictable as a result since they are caught in cyclic existence. The Buddha has ended this cycle, abides in the unconditioned state, and so when he acts in the conditioned world for the sake of other beings, his thoughts, words and actions are spontaneous. They do not arise from a karmic cycle he is bound to, they arise spontaneously, and in their arising, abiding and cessation there is no delusion in the mind of Buddha about there being a concept and possessor of the concept. Its not like the Buddha temporarily falls into delusion and samsaric bondage over and over again each time he acts. He is free during the whole thing, always unconditioned and never at risk of falling into samsara. Regular beings are bound the entire time, delusional in thinking that there is a difference between the self and the thing thought of or conceived of, and they continue to spin around in the karmic cycles they are bound to, creating new causes and conditions as they go. The meaning of spontaneous is that it arises without having a previous cause and condition (since Buddha has become freed from them all), and it passes away without creating new causes and conditions. Hence, the Buddha has no concepts, no thoughts, and so forth. If we think it is so, we are making a division in the Buddha that is not really there, we are diving him into the Buddha and his thought, into a subject and object, which is only really true for us in our limited, delusional mind (at least so long as we are perceiving the world in this manner).
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:40 am

Dear "RichardLinde",

Your obsession with the non-omniscience of the Buddha was dealt with in this thread viewtopic.php?f=66&t=5911&start=80 so there is no need for you to keep flogging the dead horse. Why don't we try to keep this topic on course? ie let's talk about conceptuality in Buddhism, or what you are essentially positing, the conceptual mind of the Buddha.
:namaste:
Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby muni » Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:20 am

May I ask a question, is there a base from where concepts start? Or a time when they start?

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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby RichardLinde » Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:54 am

gregkavarnos wrote:let's talk about conceptuality in Buddhism, or what you are essentially positing, the conceptual mind of the Buddha.


I am only arguing that Buddhas have concepts. I don't know about any "conceptual mind".

Mariusz says,

Without concepts does not mean "beyond concepts". It has to do with "mental non-engagement".


Very reasonable.

Then LastLegend says,

Without attachment but there are concepts.


Also very reasonable.

Then "wisdom" says

To be without concepts is to stop having the delusion of being the possessor of a concept or a thought.


Also very reasonable.

But many are arguing, including yourself I believe, that this dropping of attachment to concepts results in the "omniscience" of being able to see all the details of future events with absolute certainty.

I fully understand the whole thing about dropping the attachments and dropping the idea of being the possessor of concepts and thoughts. What I fail to see is how that has anything remotely to do with being able to predict details of the future with certainty, or how it would enable that ability in any way.

This makes me think that when you are all speaking of dropping attachments to concepts then you must be speaking of something completely different to what I'm thinking of, for it to produce the incredible power to see a future which hasn't even happened yet.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby LastLegend » Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:56 am

Actually when I said that I was referring to our practice.
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Re: Conceptuality in Buddhism

Postby Mr. G » Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:12 pm

Buddhas do not have conceptual thought:

As a result of intense vows and the development of compassion while following the Bodhisattva path to full Buddhahood, upon achieving the state of a Buddha it is no longer necessary actually to apprehend beings themselves in order to help them. Through aeons of practice, compassion has become automatic, in fact spontaneous. In achieving Buddhahood the ability to help has been perfected too. None of this requires actually apprehending any person who is helped, or indeed any situations requiring help. As we have seen in looking at the 'Perfection of Wisdom' literature, a Bodhisattva who sees a being who is actually helped is roundly declared by the Buddha to be no true Bodhisattva at all.

- Professor Paul Williams - Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations (2nd ed)
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Madyamika Sautrantika vs Prasangika

Postby Malcolm » Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:34 pm

RichardLinde wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
RichardLinde wrote:I did cite the Buddha saying that he doesn't know with certainty what will happen after the Dharma is extinguished. He doesn't give the reasons why he doesn't have this certainty, but we can work the reasons out for ourselves easily enough.
You have cited no such thing


See here.

So too, will the Dharma flare and die. After this time it is difficult to speak with certainty of what will follow.


So clearly the Buddha doesn't have the kind of omniscience that would give him certain knowledge of future events - quite apart from the fact that such things can be easily proven to be impossible.



This text is inadmissable because it's authencity is disputed.

In any event your remarks Buddha's omniscience are appropriate from a non-Mahāyāna point of view, but not from a Mahāyāna point of view. Therefore, there is no further basis for a discussion because there is no common agreement about what omniscience of a buddha entails, much less whether a buddha possesses concepts.

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