Understanding emptiness

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby DarwidHalim » Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:50 am

Konchog1 wrote:So my body exists because of dependent origination but is labeled “arm” “leg” “trunk” and then “body”. Everything exists but it isn’t a body or my body. It’s arm+leg+etc and then labeled body and those are broken down too. Everything exists and functions but doesn’t have identities just labels.

Right?

So an Arya would think “the collections of collections that myself and others label body has been hit”?

Anything that dependently originates is merely labeled because it’s made from things that are labeled so anything that dependently originates (which is everything) is empty. Things can't be labelled unless they're empty so form is emptiness and emptiness is form.

Ah, still trying to find the razor’s edge between externalism and nihilism. If I’m right though this has blown my mind. Thank you.

Namo Manjushriya


Things cannot be said exist and cannot be said non-exist.

We cannot say it exist before now it is like this, but next moment it is already like that. This is a prove that thing is changeable. If thing really exist, that thing cannot change because it has a self.

We also cannot say things do not exist, because there are display, there are show.

The problem is: What is actually the true face of that display or that show?

We always think that thing are functioning. This is not right. In daily life, things are not functioning. But every second, the condition keeps changing, so we have a new display, a new display, again and again. From outside, it looks like a function. If you see how a tree grow in a television, from viewer side, you will see that the tree is growing. But from the television side, the tree is not growing. The television is just showing different light due to different causes and condition. Similarly, in this reality, things keep changing due to different causes and condition.

When we realize this is how things occur, you actually cannot pin point and make a demarkation that from this to that, this is called A. From another this to that, this is called B.

Once you make that A and B, automatically you will again create something call 'function' to relate what you have created before as A and B.

Reality has no A and has no B.

Reality has no name.
Reality has no identity.

Human create that name and create that identity based on certain display. But they don't realize that display is actually just an empty display.

We need to remember we do not negate the existance of display. But we negate the existance of identity.

Whatever we do, they don't have identity.

When we pray to buddha, we are praying to identitiless buddha or illusionlike buddha.
When we make a merit, we are making an identitiless merit or illusionlike merit.
When we receive a merit, we are receiving an identitiless merit or illusionlike merit.

Because everything is illusionlike, no identity, baseless, by right we cannot say this is buddha, this is merit, this is body that makes all this, this is mind that makes all this.

But, we do so, because of general consensus based on that display.

We also need to know about conventional truth.

For ordinary folk, conventional truth has identity.
For for enlightened being, conventional truth has no identity.

So, there are 2 types of beings. The label is same, but one label has identity, another one has no label or identity.

There is a great dispute between 2 buddhist school - Madyamika Sautrantika and Prasangika.

For Madyamika Sautrantika, things are selfless, not exist. But, they argue that conventionally or relatively things exist.

This is rejected by Prasangika, because it makes no sense.

If things are selfless, not exist, no identity, conventionally they are also like that.

When we say this is a glass, Prasangika is actually saying this is a "glass". This is a "body".

THey just say it out because we are living on earth and we need this label to communicate. But, is there a glass or a body? There is no glass and body. If no glass and body, why you still say a glass or body? We say it out because we need to commnicate based on a vocabulary accepted by general consensus. We are pushed by society to describe this phenomena with label, where in real is identitiless and no boundary display, as something as if this display has a boundary and as if this display has a self.

So, I hope it is clear here that in reality, we actualy have no base at all to put our label. We put a label, only as if there is a base for our object.

That is why in Prajnaparamita Sutta, it is mentioned:
THere is no eyes, no nouse, etc.
There is no increment, no decrement, no achievement, etc.
THere is EVEN no impermanent.

We are talking impermanent again and again. How come there is no impermanent? This is because we cannot find a base to put a label as a subject or an object.

When there is no subject or an object, how can you have a property such as weight, permanent, impermanent, etc?

By right and by logic, we cannot have it.

You may argue that in daily life, we have weight etc. But we need to know, your weight is just a phenomena when you related that phenomena to another phenomena called instrument. So, that phenomena is changing. Your weight is changing. If the phenomena of your weight instrument change, for example the string is a bit loose, then you get another phenomena called different weight.

So, this weight is not the real weight. They are just a phenomena, when you relate all this 'baseless' phenomena, you will definitely get another 'baseless' phenomena. Again remember, we do not say there is no display of phenomena in emptiness. What we say is just this: This so called weight is just a phenomena which in reality this particular phenomena actually has no identity.

Whatever we make, we should know this thing as said by Kumarajiva.

Where there is form, ALREADY there is emptiness. Where there is emptiness, ALREADY there is form.

When we create something by our label, they are actually already without identity. Why? Because before we create that thing with our label, they are already no identity. THey always have no identity.

The emptiness itself is just a concept. We can only know emptiness when we create something by label.

If we do not create something, how can we know that thing is empty? That is why emptiness itself is always found whether in term of form or formless.

When we know that form and empty are just a concept, we will understand emptiness of emptiness. And this is the one that make our mind extremely stable.

We need to know why we are discussing emptiness. Why emptiness is so important to be understood? If we don't know this, we will just think that emptiness is a scholar debate. This is completely wrong.

There is one thing which is very important about emptiness is this teaching have to be understood and has to be realized for anyone who want to free from samsara.

No matter how good is just art of letting go, if you still have a notiOn of identity and fully believe this notion exist as reality, you will simply born in the highest god realm, realm of neither perception nor non-perception, like what have happen to 2 Sidharta teachers.


If we can understand emptiness, we will be able to see reality as it is. We will NEVER EVER get cheated anymore by the display. Our mind will be completely stable. Attachment will NATURALLY disappear, craving will NATURALLY disappear, grasping will NATURALLY disappear.


There is a great dispute about this between Hinayana scholar and Madhyamika-Prasagika scholar as told by Shantideva.

Hinayana scholar said:
What is the used to see things like an illusion?
A magician who display a girl, he still can have lust for that girl.

If we think about it, actually it is very stupid, isn't it. We know the lady is not there, why we still have lust.

Shantideva said: This is because our realization about no identity is still very very weak.

If we have fully realized it, not only that magic display of lady won't raise lust, even the 'real' lady also cannot raise lust.

Why?
It is because the magic display of that lady and the 'real' lady are actually same, in the sense that they are empty of identity.

No basis at all. Just an empty display.

The more we realize it, the more we reach stability of mind and the more natural all these attachments, craving, etc disappear.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby catmoon » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:54 pm

Konchog1 wrote:So my body exists because of dependent origination but is labeled “arm” “leg” “trunk” and then “body”. Everything exists but it isn’t a body or my body. It’s arm+leg+etc and then labeled body and those are broken down too. Everything exists and functions but doesn’t have identities just labels.

Right?

So an Arya would think “the collections of collections that myself and others label body has been hit”?

Anything that dependently originates is merely labeled because it’s made from things that are labeled so anything that dependently originates (which is everything) is empty. Things can't be labelled unless they're empty so form is emptiness and emptiness is form.

Ah, still trying to find the razor’s edge between externalism and nihilism. If I’m right though this has blown my mind. Thank you.

Namo Manjushriya


I do believe that you have assembled so many of the bits and pieces correctly here that it is now just a matter of time before it all falls together precisely and correctly. As things stand, you seem to have a perfectly workable understanding, the rest is detail work.


one way to balance on the razor's edge is ; If you are tending to nihilism, contemplate that the perceived world does actually function. If you are tending to externalism, contemplate that each labelled thing is composed of parts, that each part can be labelled, each of those parts in turn consists of sub-parts which we label, and since the divisions between parts do not have real existence anywhere, it's really just an infinite regression of labels all the way down.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:55 am

DarwidHalim wrote:Things cannot be said exist and cannot be said non-exist.

We cannot say it exist before now it is like this, but next moment it is already like that. This is a prove that thing is changeable. If thing really exist, that thing cannot change because it has a self.

Lots of words here, let us pause and take a moment to pray.

Humm dumm humm. Amen.

Darwid, your comment blithely asserts that whatever changes does not exist. This sounds cool but if you ignored your boss every time his arm moved because you thought it meant he did not exist, I think your career would be short-lived.

One of the reasons I like Buddhism (well, Tibetan Buddhism at least) is that it is generally precise in its presentation. The boss is not an illusion, the boss is *like* an illusion.

I think this is important. Without it, you get all sorts of projected nonsense.

Maybe.

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby DarwidHalim » Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:03 am

yadave wrote:
Darwid, your comment blithely asserts that whatever changes does not exist. This sounds cool but if you ignored your boss every time his arm moved because you thought it meant he did not exist, I think your career would be short-lived.

One of the reasons I like Buddhism (well, Tibetan Buddhism at least) is that it is generally precise in its presentation. The boss is not an illusion, the boss is *like* an illusion.

I think this is important. Without it, you get all sorts of projected nonsense.


Hi Yadave,

Your view about boss is actually correct to a certain Buddhist school. In this case Madyamika Sautrantika.

This is however critized by Madyamika Prasangika scholar, such as Candrakirti.

I don't want to go to such detail. Let us discuss with just common sense.

If you see the word "everything is just like an illusion. " in this word,the reflection of moon in the lake is illusion. How about the real moon? Is it real? It itself is also illusion, because EVERYTHING is illusion. It is not some is illusion, some are real.

In your opinion, you are thinking some are illusion, but some are real. Isn't it?

To you, the movement of your boss arm is real, isn't it?

This illusion notion is confused by a lot of people because they cannot differentiate between illusion and nihilism. They are almost similar, but they are actually also VERY VERY different.

What is illusion?

If someone show me a magic display, show my boss hand is moving, we are not denying oh sorry the hand is not moving, because it is a magic display.

This is a misunderstanding. Even in a magic display, we acknowledge there is a hand, there is a boss, there is a hand which is moving.

However, is the hand real? Is the boss real? Is the moving real?

From the perspective of appearance, they are all real. No dispute here.

But from the perspective of essence, identity, core, or self, is the hand real? Is the boss real? Is the movement real? From this essence perspective, they are not real.

So, the definition of illusion has two important feature:
1. The appearance is real, but
2. The essence is not real.


Now, how about in real life?

You see your boss. You see his arm. His arm is moving. It looks so real isn't it?
There is no one deny that this boss is real, his arm is real, his movement is real. So, from the perspective of appearance, it has fulfilled 50% of illusion characteristic. The appearance occur.

However, when you ask further is this appearance of boss, his arm, and his movement unreal like in a magic display?

For ordinary folk, they will see they have essence. Their eyes will not be able to penetrate this solidness and see this solidness as something not solid and not real. That is why ordinary folk does not have wisdom of emptiness, because they eyes only see true the skin. They cannot see through what is the actual face of this skin of this solidness?

Buddha can see through this and anyone who can see through this they have a wisdom of emptiness.

From the perspective of the boss, yes the appearance of boss is there. But it is REALLY true that there is a boss?

In Buddhism, there is nothing exist inherently or exist with a self.

If something has a self or identity, that identity is in unchangeable. If that identity is changeable, in the sense that this present moment of identity is not same with the next moment of identity, it means doesn't have an identity or essence.

There is nothing on earth where this present identity is similar with the next identity. The present identity is wipe out by the next moment of identity due to causes and condition. So, you cannot find two similar body exactly same at a very minute detail.

We always think this body, so big is the same. This yesterday's body is same with today's body. For Buddhism, this is not the case. The body right know and the body in the next 0.00000000000000000000001 second are already different. You will never ever have a chance to have an exactly same body. Buddha eyes can see through all this with his wisdom.

Because everything is changing, you have no chance to have 2 exact things. The existence of 1 thing is always wipe out by the next different thing because they are impermanent, which is changing or changeable due to causes an conditiPon.

So, you cannot have to similar body. The question then where is the self of body?
You cannot find it.

You can argue that no, I can see thing with microscope and I have exactly the same structures. So, I can have exactly two identities. Fine. You are right up to here.

Now, if I ask you this, how if you change the condition that support it? Do you think you will still get exactly same thing?

You won't have it. It means your system is changeable

Anything which is changeable doesn't have an identity, doesn't have a self.

If something has an identity, a baby will always be a baby, because he has that identity or a self or a core which tell you this is baby, unchangable, solid, and permanent. This is not true isn't it?

So the meaning of no self shows us that we cannot have two thing exactly same.

What we are discussing here is simply intellectual display.
If you do a meditation, you will reach a state where your mind is extremely sharp when you can see thing in a very precise detail. You can see the movements of your thoughts in a very clear and precise movement. You know exactly when tr though appear, when it goes, when it disappear. When you see this again and again, you will come to realize that even your mind, you cannot have 2 mind with the same state, it is always changing and changeable.

In this way, you can never have 2 same identity, or two self.

In terms of appearance, you have mind, but in terms of identity you cannot have it.

So, even body and even mind, you cannot have 2 similar identity, which in this sense it actually show you there is no self.

We always think there is a self. But it is irony, we never question it, whether what we believe is true or not. When you do a research, which is your meditation, you can see all this. You can see that what we think is baseless.

Now, We see the real moon, it is so solid. This eyes tell us that. But sorry, this mind doesn't tell us that.

So, from this discussion we can see that you won't have a self or inherent identity is whatever you see, smell, touch, think, taste, etc. Never ever.

This is another 50% of the illusion characteristic, there is nothing inside. Whether you can see it or not, it all depends on your effort and merit.

So, 50% tell us there is appearance of body, of boss, of his arm, of his movement; but another 50% tell us this body has no identity, selfless, hollow. This boss is also no identity, selfless, hollow. His arm is also no identity, selfless, hollow.

This is illusion.

Everything is illusion. They are not only like an illusion, but they are really illusions.

When you realize this, you will realize the union of emptiness and appearance.
If before when you see something, you can really feel the magnet of those things. Now, when you see things, you will feel very light. Just appearance. Where is the problem?

This understanding will really bring yourself to peace. When you do a meditation, you will be very peace right from the start. The thought that appear and running here and there, are no longer a problem. Because they are just an appearance. The magnet no longer catch your attention, because you realize their hollowness.

They are not something we need to get rid of, they are also not something we need to accept.
There is also no I that want to get rid of the thoughts. There is also no I that fights with the thoughts.

When you left with nothing called identity or essence, not even a single dot; Nothing can catch "you", even the bliss cannot catch "you". They are all simply hollow appearances, simply hollow feelings. There is also no you or I to be touched. They are only hollow I, hollow you.

Only "peace" is with "you".
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:15 pm

DarwidHalim wrote:Your view about boss is actually correct to a certain Buddhist school. In this case Madyamika Sautrantika.

This is however critized by Madyamika Prasangika scholar, such as Candrakirti.


Thanks for your feedback, Darwid. It is a real treat to be in a room with so many wonderful scholars. I feel very lucky.

It's funny you mention Sautrantika and Prasangika since a similar passage in the book I'm reading, "Essentials of Mahamudra" by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, triggered my initial desire to find a room full of Buddhists!

So I'm trying to understand emptiness, to find a True Story of emptiness that works for me. I think a challenge is words, what they mean or how they are used. For example, take "existence." Everyone here is saying "this exists" or "nothing exists" and so on. I have a science background and some science friends so I when I say "exist" in my True Story, I want it to mean about the same thing as it does to most rational folks:

1. If something is physical, we can say it exists or people will start asking if we talk to flowers;

2. If something is metaphysical, or only mental, we could say it exists, in the sense that people have feelings and dreams, but we can also say it doesn't really exist because it tends to vanish when you look for it.

I think something like this works for most people in normal conversation, yes?

Then we have our dharma discussions here and people say things like "pipes do not exist". It is tricky because sometimes it is not clear if they mean "pipes are not physical" or they might mean "pipes are empty" as if empty were a synonym for "does not exist" but we just spent several excellent posts explaining that empty pipes were simply dependent on many many factors and this is quite different than being metaphysical. At least in my story line. Perhaps this is the Svatantrika view, I don't know, but these are some of the questions I'm working on, thanks for helping me clarify.

I'm gonna pause now so I can digest the rest of your comments!

Regards,
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:33 pm

There are obviously shared conditions, and we call these shared conditions "objective reality".
I say shared, because you are reading this, and I wrote this, and everybody who reads it will read the same thing.
So, it is a shared condition, and we can say that this text exists or operates in an objective state. This is what people refer to as objective reality.

What you think I am saying may not be what I meat to convey, and everybody who reads these words may gather a different meaning, or project their own meanings into these words. So, in that sense there is no objective reality to this block of text whatsoever. merely subjective reality.

Furthermore, this block of text does not actually exist as it appears. It is composed of pixels, of little dots of colored light. Beyond that, there are all sorts of arising conditions, such as you logging onto this forum, and electricity to power your computer, and so on, which bring these words to your eyes at this very moment. And if you look at the page source, you would see an entirely different thing on your computer screen...lots of programming code. In a sense, you might describe this as the forum's ultimate reality.

And then, there is the physiology of the whole eye-brain thing.

So, emptiness really applies to the conditional operation of things that appear, that we perceive, or that hold a brief place in our thoughts.

When we say "flowers don't exist" that isn't really quite right, because if it were, then you couldn't even begin by using "flowers" as the subject of that statement!

But what we can say is, "nothing (no THING) exists which can be called a flower. We are not denying the appearance of a flower, or of a whole bouquet or a garden, but referring to the actual condition of that flower, of that arising appearance.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:06 pm

DarwidHalim wrote:There is a great dispute between 2 buddhist school - Madyamika Sautrantika and Prasangika.

For Madyamika Sautrantika, things are selfless, not exist. But, they argue that conventionally or relatively things exist.

This is rejected by Prasangika, because it makes no sense.

If things are selfless, not exist, no identity, conventionally they are also like that.

This is also mentioned, but not explained, on page 150 of "Essentials of Mahamudra":

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche wrote:While there are some contradictions in the Svantantrika presentation, nevertheless the explanations are helpful when we are beginning to understand emptiness.

The Svantrika view of a relative and absolute, or conventional and ultimate reality seems perfectly consistent to me while your Prasangika argument above seems to rest on an either-or situation where we are not allowed to say things like "a state of both existing and not existing". Yet both schools, I think, are comfortable with statements like "a state of neither existence nor nonexistence" so I don't know why Prasangika has trouble with a relative / absolute view.

DarwidHalim wrote:When we say this is a glass, Prasangika is actually saying this is a "glass". This is a "body".

THey just say it out because we are living on earth and we need this label to communicate. But, is there a glass or a body?

Ultimately no, relatively yes. Your Prasangika example feels like semantic gymnastics so I'm probably not understanding their view properly. In other words, it is like I agree with all of your comments but would add a qualifier "ultimately" to many of your sentences. For example, when you say "There is no glass and body" without further elaboration, it is impossible to tell if you are explaining Buddhist dharma or teaching us a New Age Shamanism (with discounts for early registration). But if you say "Ultimately, there is no glass and body," then I breathe a sigh of relief knowing there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Now I must pause again, take a deep breath, smell the roses, etc.

Regards,
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:14 pm

Hi PadmaVonSamba,

Love that name, sounds German with a dash of Salsa.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:So, emptiness really applies to the conditional operation of things that appear, that we perceive, or that hold a brief place in our thoughts.

When we say "flowers don't exist" that isn't really quite right, because if it were, then you couldn't even begin by using "flowers" as the subject of that statement!

Agree, agree, I totally agree.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:But what we can say is, "nothing (no THING) exists which can be called a flower…

Now see, I don't think I'd even go there. I know it is all just language, but your parentheses already admit some funny business going on and your THING, I think, represents a quite specific and subtle Buddhist notion of "essence" or "inherent and permanent unchanging element" which, if listener is not pre-loaded with enough dharma baggage, or worse, if speaker is simply repeating an expression she read somewhere, makes little sense. So for now at least I still prefer "Ultimately, nothing exists which can be called a flower"; then if anyone asks what "ultimately" means, I can tell my favorite emptiness story. Six or one-half dozen? Maybe.

After all, everyone knows everything is a thing. You know.

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:35 pm

catmoon wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:So my body exists because of dependent origination but is labeled “arm” “leg” “trunk” and then “body”. Everything exists but it isn’t a body or my body. It’s arm+leg+etc and then labeled body and those are broken down too. Everything exists and functions but doesn’t have identities just labels.

Right?

So an Arya would think “the collections of collections that myself and others label body has been hit”?

Anything that dependently originates is merely labeled because it’s made from things that are labeled so anything that dependently originates (which is everything) is empty. Things can't be labelled unless they're empty so form is emptiness and emptiness is form.

Ah, still trying to find the razor’s edge between externalism and nihilism. If I’m right though this has blown my mind. Thank you.

Namo Manjushriya


I do believe that you have assembled so many of the bits and pieces correctly here that it is now just a matter of time before it all falls together precisely and correctly. As things stand, you seem to have a perfectly workable understanding, the rest is detail work.


one way to balance on the razor's edge is ; If you are tending to nihilism, contemplate that the perceived world does actually function. If you are tending to externalism, contemplate that each labelled thing is composed of parts, that each part can be labelled, each of those parts in turn consists of sub-parts which we label, and since the divisions between parts do not have real existence anywhere, it's really just an infinite regression of labels all the way down.
I agree. Everytime I take a few steps I feel like I take one back. Even now, I can't quite remember the whole import of the above breakthrough. Well, practice practice.

I'll keep your advice in mind.
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"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:26 am

I planned to write a nice coherent presentation of my emptiness questions a couple of days ago but that didn't quite work out so I'll try to fumble toward a foaming conclusion here. Not sure I'll have the answers but at least the question part will be more or less done.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:There are obviously shared conditions, and we call these shared conditions "objective reality".

Padma then clearly shows how these posts are really encrypted messages for taking over the planet. Then the final part I skipped earlier,

PadmaVonSamba wrote:But what we can say is, "nothing (no THING) exists which can be called a flower. We are not denying the appearance of a flower, or of a whole bouquet or a garden, but referring to the actual condition of that flower, of that arising appearance.

And then the complete chunk that lead me here, again from page 150 of "Essentials of Mahamudra",

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche wrote:There are two divisions of the Madhyamaka school: the Svatantrika and the Prasangika. In the Svatantrika school, appearances are considered relative (or conventional) reality while emptiness is considered absolute (or ultimate) reality. On the relative level, appearances appear, but on the absolute level, they are empty. While there are some contradictions in the Svatantrika presentation, nevertheless the explanations are helpful when we are beginning to understand emptiness.

The Prasangika view is a higher one than the Svatantrika school's. For Prasangikas, emptiness and appearance are not contradictory. Thus the Heart Sutra says, "Form is empty, emptiness is form. Form is not other than emptiness, emptiness is not other than form." In this view, form and emptiness exist together. They have the same nature. It is like the appearance of an elephant in a dream. While the elephant appears in our dream, no elephant is actually there. The nonexistence of the elephant and the appearance of the elephant seem contradictory, but in fact they occur together.

Lots of "stuff" "here". Two schools or views of things, one school has two flavors of reality, the other school has one flavor of reality but it's really intense and spicy, there's appearances and emptiness, unexplained contradictions and superiority, and the famous and helpful dream metaphor.

"So what's the question, Dave?"

Well, I look at this EoM quote again and wonder if I'll have time in this life to read enough of these original works to actually understand their views and appreciate their disagreements -- Khenchen is providing but a summary here -- and I don't want to bore folks with explicating my personal take or bias, probably a mixture of the above two schools. I do think words are important, though, and that a careful usage can make these ideas easier to grasp so I will make (foam?) one final point.

I think our casual or explicit use of "existence" as an antonym for "emptiness" conflates the heck out of things.

Take another look at the dream metaphor. It is a great example of the Nagarjuna-like brain teaser "appearance without existence" or equivalently "nonexistent appearance" because the external referent (i.e., the "real" elephant) really does not exist. Now look at the expression "does not exist" in that last sentence. It really means *nothing* is there: no referent, no complicated causes and conditions, no arising external anything. Nothing. That's real nonexistence, empty space, and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche repeatedly emphasizes the difference between dead empty space and the rich vividness of emptiness in its dance with form.

So this wonderful dream metaphor has little to do with emptiness per se. It is really about "appearance without existence," not an example of dependent origination.

Now look at "emptiness is form" or "form is emptiness." Is form = appearance? OK. Then consider "appearance is emptiness" or simply "empty appearance." For example, one can say "Oh my, what an empty appearance you have today" (probably not so good) or "My, that tree is looking empty this morning" (better) and so on. This is really really really different than saying, "Oh my, there is no tree here this morning!" An empty tree is rich, alive, growing, house to birds, reaching into the earth, connected to the Sun, a damn virtual universe. A nonexistent tree simply isn't there.

Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it unless you bribe me.

I also think insufficient attention is given to this interesting notion of "shared reality" but won't go there now, too much foam.

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:10 pm

One final related excerpt from "Essentials of Mahamudra", page 211, as I finish this reading:

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche wrote:Of the four ways of going astray, the first is the most important one to abandon. Misunderstanding the emptiness that is the nature of all things that appear to our mind is the most dangerous mistake. Why is it such a problem? It is a problem because a nihilistic view causes us to think that there is no interdependent relationship among phenomena. We mistakenly think that emptiness is mere voidness or nothingness. Because the word "emptiness" causes us to think of nonexistence, other terms are used for the emptiness of mind in the Kagyu tradition -- "mind as it is," "mahamudra," and "ordinary mind." We are less likely to think of mere nothingness when we hear these other terms. If we misconstrue emptiness, we will not travel the genuine path. How can such a misconception be cleared away? It is cleared away by the mind resting on the unfabricated state of equipoise.

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby conebeckham » Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:09 am

yadave wrote:Take another look at the dream metaphor. It is a great example of the Nagarjuna-like brain teaser "appearance without existence" or equivalently "nonexistent appearance" because the external referent (i.e., the "real" elephant) really does not exist. Now look at the expression "does not exist" in that last sentence. It really means *nothing* is there: no referent, no complicated causes and conditions, no arising external anything. Nothing. That's real nonexistence, empty space, and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche repeatedly emphasizes the difference between dead empty space and the rich vividness of emptiness in its dance with form.

So this wonderful dream metaphor has little to do with emptiness per se. It is really about "appearance without existence," not an example of dependent origination.


I think your position may reflect a certain materialism, which is common for all of us, especially those with a Western Education. The dichotomy between external world and perceiving being is ingrained very deeply. It's also a crucial point--Madhyamika is not interested AT ALL in the mode of being of external objects, qua objects. It's concerned with our mental assumptions about the modes of being of the objects, and also the modes of being of the perceiving subjects. On the relative level, where we are all functioning, things appear, and the laws of cause and effect, etc., function fully and without fail. On this level, the experience of ordinary people, the appearance of phenomena and their interaction, is said to be true. But this appearance is, at all times, and in all places, mere appearance without existence, on the Ultimate level. In this way, Relative and Ultimate are primordially co-emergent. Dependent Origination is, also, appearance without existence-for, if it were existence, how could things disappear, change, reappear, or be causes for results? Dependent Origination is also like a dream, the same way that seemingly solid external phenomena are mere appearance, without existence. At the same time, you cannot deny appearances--arising, ceasing, abiding, moving, etc. all appear, therefore one cannot say there is "Nothing," or maintain a nihilistic position.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:27 am

conebeckham wrote:I think your position may reflect a certain materialism, which is common for all of us, especially those with a Western Education.

It does. I don't think Buddhism is incompatible with materialism but there are many schools, maybe a Mind Only school is solipsistic, I don't know.

conebeckham wrote:The dichotomy between external world and perceiving being is ingrained very deeply. It's also a crucial point--Madhyamika is not interested AT ALL in the mode of being of external objects, qua objects. It's concerned with our mental assumptions about the modes of being of the objects, and also the modes of being of the perceiving subjects.

I would say any school of thought that makes statements about what people see in the waking state is concerned with external objects, whether or not that was their original intention.

In Nagarjuna's day, I think the huge deal was Essence. Reminds me of Einstein's aether. Nagarjuna dismantled essence or essentialism, Einstein terminated the aether. No more essence, no more aether, goodbye.

Buddhism excels in the phenomenological domain, for sure, and I think it will do just fine embracing whatever pops up in science-land.

conebeckham wrote:On the relative level, where we are all functioning, things appear, and the laws of cause and effect, etc., function fully and without fail. On this level, the experience of ordinary people, the appearance of phenomena and their interaction, is said to be true. But this appearance is, at all times, and in all places, mere appearance without existence, on the Ultimate level.

Now that I've been here three days, I can say you are echoing the Svatantrika view. It's a view, not a dogma. (Hopefully!)

The elephant in the dream appears without existence. The elephant in the waking state appears with existence. My use of "existence" in these two sentences has the same meaning. If you want to say the elephant doesn't exist in both waking and dream states, you must admit your use of "existence" has two quite different meanings. Do you see how confusing this can be?

Also, in my favorite story, the elephant is empty in both states.

conebeckham wrote:In this way, Relative and Ultimate are primordially co-emergent. Dependent Origination is, also, appearance without existence-for, if it were existence, how could things disappear, change, reappear, or be causes for results?

You could try an experiment. Watch everyone you see tomorrow and, if they move, ask them if they exist.

In my story, Dependent Origination is Emptiness. Existence retains its normal meaning.

I think i will rename this "existence" that everyone repeats here "buddha-existence". It is about 2000 years out-of-date and could be dismantled. We still have the important concept of emptiness and lose nothing but a dose of confusion.

conebeckham wrote:Dependent Origination is also like a dream, the same way that seemingly solid external phenomena are mere appearance, without existence. At the same time, you cannot deny appearances--arising, ceasing, abiding, moving, etc. all appear, therefore one cannot say there is "Nothing," or maintain a nihilistic position.

You look familiar, perhaps we have met. Your comments are helpful, thanks.

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby conebeckham » Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:43 pm

yadave wrote:Now that I've been here three days, I can say you are echoing the Svatantrika view. It's a view, not a dogma. (Hopefully!)

How so? At this level of discussion, I'm not sure the distinction even applies.

The elephant in the dream appears without existence. The elephant in the waking state appears with existence. My use of "existence" in these two sentences has the same meaning. If you want to say the elephant doesn't exist in both waking and dream states, you must admit your use of "existence" has two quite different meanings. Do you see how confusing this can be?


The mental context of the experience is crucial. First, we must recognize that the Dream Elephant seemed to exist while we were in the dream, but upon waking, we recognize the "nonexistence" of the elephant. Still, we can maintain or recall the memory of the dream elephant, to some degree, for a period perhaps, even though we know it never "existed."

In the Waking state, we are still ignorant. In this context, the elephant appears, and is felt to "exist." But in Reality, there is also no elephant! As long as we remain in the context of ignorance, our habitual tendencies rule us, including our materialistic, external-world-as-object assumptions. It's about THE MIND of the experiencer--when one is no longer in the context of ignorance in the Waking state, the existence of the Dream elephant and the existence of the Waking state Elephant are the same--i.e., they do not exist. However, they both appear in their respective contexts, depending on the state of the subject. This is what Nagarjuna teaches, this is unelaborated Madhyamika, according to my understanding.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:55 pm

yadave wrote:It does. I don't think Buddhism is incompatible with materialism but there are many schools, maybe a Mind Only school is solipsistic, I don't know.
Really? So how does a materialist describe the process of rebirth then?
Image
See what I mean?
:namaste:
"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: Understanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:34 pm

yadave wrote:Now that I've been here three days, I can say you are echoing the Svatantrika view. It's a view, not a dogma. (Hopefully!)
conebeckham wrote:How so? At this level of discussion, I'm not sure the distinction even applies.


My teacher is Darwid, blame him.

conebeckham wrote:In the Waking state, we are still ignorant. In this context, the elephant appears, and is felt to "exist." But in Reality, there is also no elephant! As long as we remain in the context of ignorance, our habitual tendencies rule us, including our materialistic, external-world-as-object assumptions. It's about THE MIND of the experiencer--when one is no longer in the context of ignorance in the Waking state, the existence of the Dream elephant and the existence of the Waking state Elephant are the same--i.e., they do not exist. However, they both appear in their respective contexts, depending on the state of the subject. This is what Nagarjuna teaches, this is unelaborated Madhyamika, according to my understanding.

I have no trouble with these teachings, and their tremendous benefits, applied to my internal experience. When these teachings are applied to external objects, I'm saying the language is confusing. Google "reality":

google wrote:Definition of Reality. The state or quality of being real; actual being or existence of anything, in distinction from mere appearance; fact.

In other words, as it stands, your language collapses or flattens internal experience (mere appearance) and external reality (elephant in waking state) but there's a big difference and I don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:39 pm

yadave wrote:I don't think Buddhism is incompatible with materialism but there are many schools, maybe a Mind Only school is solipsistic, I don't know.
gregkavarnos wrote:Really? So how does a materialist describe the process of rebirth then? See what I mean?

Hey Greg,

I love your posts and this is a key question. One of reasons I like Buddhism is the quote attributed to Buddha where he admonishes students, "Don't take my word for it, find out for yourself!" Stephen Batchelor's "Buddhism without Beliefs" explores this eloquently but I cannot find it online today, maybe a copyright issue.

In any case, we're advised to find out for ourselves rather than treating Dharma as Dogma. Contrast this with an excerpt from "Vivid Awareness, The Mind Instructions of Khenpo Gangshar", page 45,

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche wrote:It is important for us to believe in karma, cause, and result. There are different kinds of people. Some people naturally have faith in karma, cause, and result. If you are one of these people, that is very good. But other people do not automatically believe in rebirth and karma. They think that the Dharma is good and helpful, but they have doubt about future lives. They wonder whether karma, cause, and result are really true.

So I'm a Number 2. ;)

I do accept karma in this life, at least, and have plenty of personal examples where my annoying habitual patterns generate suffering. This motivates me to practice. I cannot accept metaphysical stuff on faith alone and also see modern authors adapt to their modern audience: Mt. Meru is an interesting myth and the six realms are psychological states, not literal places.

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche remarks that Tibetans are traditionally quite superstitious so "charnel grounds" or other "scary places where demons reside" work great when doing practices like "bringing obstacles to the path". Having Western audience go to cemetary doesn't quite generate the same conditions, there's not much there except headstones and Westerners are not so superstitious.

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby conebeckham » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:55 pm

yadave wrote:I have no trouble with these teachings, and their tremendous benefits, applied to my internal experience. When these teachings are applied to external objects, I'm saying the language is confusing. Google "reality":

google wrote:Definition of Reality. The state or quality of being real; actual being or existence of anything, in distinction from mere appearance; fact.

In other words, as it stands, your language collapses or flattens internal experience (mere appearance) and external reality (elephant in waking state) but there's a big difference and I don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater.


All you have, all any of us have, are our internal experiences. This is what concerns Buddhism.

Nothing can be said about External reality apart from our experience of it, and our cognitive processes are all we have.

These teachings are not really "applied to external objects" in the way many of us try to apply them.....
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby DarwidHalim » Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:29 am

Padmashambava said there is a great difference between someone who realize emptiness and ordinary folk when they say this is flower, this is a glass.

Someone who realize emptiness will not be affected by the words they are talking about because for them, they know exactly what they are just talking, which doesn't have identity. We won't be affected by it.

Ordinary folk are different. When they talk, they are affected by the words uttered by them and other parties. Their reaction is 100% affected by the words they are talking about, because to them there are are identity in what they are talking about. They can be angry, jealous, happy, etc.

So, although they speak the same language, speak the same words, but inside they are very different.

Madhyamika Svatantrika and Prasingka, has only a slight difference.

The difference is on the conventional truth. In ultimate truth, both of them agree, there is no identities in this universe.

The question is then: you have same understanding of ultimate truth, how can you have a difference in conventional truth?

Let say there is a flower on the table.
For Svatantrika: ultimately there is no flower, but conventionally there is a flower. So, they still have a slight sense of identity. They called it true existence. They differentiate between inherent existence and true existence.

There is a big question here: how can ultimate truth and Conventuals truth conflicting each other?

If ultimate truth say no, conventional should say no as well.

Chandrakirti is the one who against this Svatantrika view. He said there is no difference between true existence and inherent existence. We are just basically talking same things with different vocab.

For prasingka: ultimately, definitely no flower as well. But even conventionally there is no such thing called flower.

We need to see here. Simply by saying there is flower, it doesn't mean in daily life I cannot say there is no flower. I just say it out because I simply follow your unrealistic rule. We have to remember, we are in samsara!

So let's follow this samsara rule, which think everything exists.

However like what Padmashambava said, if you know what you are talking about from your realization of emptinessx there is no dangerous and no errors in following all this ordinary folk rules.

Because deep inside you know there is no flower both ultimately and conventionally.

Prasingka view is the finest of the finest in viewing no identity.

There is only 1 thing, they don't negate, which is the 'appearance'.

The different between nihilism and prasingka is only "1 second walk".

Nihilism say there is no appearance.

Prasangika say there is this appearance. But te existence of this appearance is without identity. Because it doesn't have identity, I cannot pin point to say oh this is flower. In reality, by right I really cannot say there is flower conventionally and ultimately. But, I just say there is a flower by pretending there is a flower in front of me. Although we are pretending, it is also valid according to samsara rule, because there is a valid unutterable and no identity appearance in front of me right now.

There is an appearance, but that appearance is without identity. I really have no basis at all to say this is flower.cmy base is keep changing. I don't have a solid and stable ground in a very minute detail, to make me able to say this is a flower.

Prasangika has a solid reason why even conventionally there is no flower. Their reasons really make sense.
The ultimate and conventional truth also not conflicting each other.

Milarepa said, even a Buddha is mute to utter this reality. All this is because we cannot find the basis. From outside, things really looks so solid and unchanged, but from inside the appearance keep changing, until we also give up to find the solid base for us to capture it and said this is The solid base (the identity), where I can put my label.

We simply cannot have that chance.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:47 am

yadave wrote:One of reasons I like Buddhism is the quote attributed to Buddha where he admonishes students, "Don't take my word for it, find out for yourself!" Stephen Batchelor's "Buddhism without Beliefs" explores this eloquently but I cannot find it online today, maybe a copyright issue.

In any case, we're advised to find out for ourselves rather than treating Dharma as Dogma.
You see, this is the problem. Why is it that "finding out for oneself" is always taken by Western Buddhists to mean: reject the proposal until one can verify it?

When one takes refuge they take it in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. What this means to me is that I have accepted these as my source of refuge and aspire that, through my practice, I will be able to realise the state of the Buddha, the truth of the Dharma and the companionship of the Sangha. This for me means that if the Buddha says "rebirth" then I say, "ummmm... well, okay, I will just accept that for now and see if through my practice I can realise what exactly this entails."

Why? Because I have trust in the teachings, in the realisation of the Buddha and in all the effort of the Sangha (they were wrong about rebirth for 2500 years???). Just because I do not have the capacity to see it for myself right now does not mean I have to reject it. I mean I don't have the capacity to directly observe sub atomic particles, does that mean I have to suspend my belief in them until I personally verify their existence? Is this not ego? It certainly sounds like ego. But then the sense of self is the very basis of all Western philosophy after all.

In (overly) simple terms: reject ego, accept enlightenment!
:namaste:
"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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