Misunderstanding emptiness

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:02 am

Namdrol wrote:
yadave wrote:Saltiness arises when we combine salt molecules with a tongue. I get that. If we look at all the tastes a tongue provides and ask which ones are salty, what do we find? Salt molecules.

HI dave, that's just not true. Monosodium glutamate is not salt. But it produces a salty taste. There are lots of things that taste salty, that have no salt in them.

How right you are. But now you are asking a scientific question rather than asserting an esoteric claim. Now your are asking what is it, exactly, that causes us to taste "salty?"

This question has good answers that won't be found in meditation.

This question will lead us to exploring the shape of salt molecules, their electrical properties, how these react with tongues and get processed by brains. We would examine many substances that create "saltiness" and find out what is the same in all these situations.

We would then discover the "essence" of saltiness and would even be able to synthesize new "saltiness producers" with this knowledge. And salt would share this "inherent" quality which scientists will probably just call a property.

At the end of the day, we would know that our saltiness experience required one of these saltiness producers and hope that it wasn't one of the nasty ones that causes zits. Sorry.

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:03 am

yadave wrote:
Tom wrote:
yadave wrote: In this sense, saltiness is an inherent quality of salt molecules, guilty as charged.


Quick question for Dave, and apologies if this interrupts the flow of debate - it is a quick one ...

I'm interested to know if you consider substances, say for example salt, that bear qualities, in this instance saltiness, to be more than conceptual fictions?

Hi Tom.

Yes.

Regards,
Dave.


Do you consider there to be an ontological distinction between wholes and parts? Like the old reductionist treatment of the chariot.
If so, what distinguishes a substance, say salt, from a whole, say chariot?
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:31 am

yadave wrote:[\\
At the end of the day, we would know that our saltiness experience required one of these saltiness producers and hope that it wasn't one of the nasty ones that causes zits. Sorry.



And at the end of the day, we will still be left with the fact that all of these so called "things" are just imputations of identity onto impermanent collections, which themselves are composed of still further impermanent collections.

So whatever clinging we have to any impermanent collection whether internal or external in terms of identity is certain to lead to suffering. This is the point of Madhyamaka i.e. to demonstrate that the beleif that attributions of identity onto impermanent collections are anything more than mere conventions is a delusion.

Of course these conventions work, but they are no more real than the habit of the "I" we attribute to our personal collection of aggregates. The habit of "I" certainly works, but that "I" is not real. The imputation of salt onto a given collection we have chosen to call salt "works" but the "salt" can't be found apart from the imputation we make onto that collection so we can use it effectively.

The problem most laypeople have with the MMK is that people rarely are acquainted with the views that MMK is seeking to correct. Without understanding Abhidharma, most of the arguments in the MMK will seem rather pointless if not obscure in the extreme. Some people mistakenly think that MMK is a panacea -- when it fact it is rather narrow text with a rather narrow project i.e. to correct Abhidharma realism and bring errant Abhidharmikas back to a proper understanding of dependent origination and help them to abandon a kind of naive essentialism that had crept into Buddhism.

Madhyamaka as a whole is an excercise in trying to introduce people to the real meaning of dependent origination i.e. the emptiness of persons and phenomena based in the Buddha's observation that statements about existence and non-existence were at odds with the real meaning of dependent origination.

Since there are no permanent phenomena, claims for the existence and non-existence of phenomena are completely naive on anything other than a conventional level.

So you can keep insisting that salt harms snails as much as you like. Since you are making a conventional statement you are not going to get any complaint from me, but if you assert that there is saltiness in salt, for example, you have only two courses -- mire yourself in the myriad contradictions of asserting that there is an essence of salt or simply accede the point that "salt" is a conventional identity proposition that is at best a functional imputation and nothing more than that.

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:36 am

Tom wrote:Do you consider there to be an ontological distinction between wholes and parts? Like the old reductionist treatment of the chariot.

Yes, of course, and some authors like the combined concept of whole-parts to remind us that our "things" are multidimensional.

Tom wrote:If so, what distinguishes a substance, say salt, from a whole, say chariot?

Not sure of your point here, Tom. I've never compared salt to a chariot.

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Tom » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:00 am

yadave wrote:
Tom wrote:If so, what distinguishes a substance, say salt, from a whole, say chariot?

Not sure of your point here, Tom. I've never compared salt to a chariot.



I was more interested in your thoughts about the differences between between substances and wholes rather than the examples of salt and chariots.

I didn' t really have a point - in my mind I was thinking much the same as Namdrol just posted, that Madhyamaka is best understood as a reaction to the Abhidharma. I had however thought that since the Abhidharma position is not intuitive that it is first better to understand Abhidharma's critique of the Nyaya idea of substance … also, I was wondering where a position like yours might sit on the spectrum.

anyways, I am out, carry on …
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:32 am

Tom wrote:
yadave wrote:
Tom wrote:If so, what distinguishes a substance, say salt, from a whole, say chariot?

Not sure of your point here, Tom. I've never compared salt to a chariot.

I was more interested in your thoughts about the differences between between substances and wholes rather than the examples of salt and chariots.

I didn' t really have a point - in my mind I was thinking much the same as Namdrol just posted, that Madhyamaka is best understood as a reaction to the Abhidharma. I had however thought that since the Abhidharma position is not intuitive that it is first better to understand Abhidharma's critique of the Nyaya idea of substance … also, I was wondering where a position like yours might sit on the spectrum.

anyways, I am out, carry on …

I'm not sure what "substances" means, perhaps these are enumerated in Abhidharma, but if we agree a substance like salt is a whole-part and a chariot is a whole-part then there is no difference at this level of abstraction. Is this what you mean?

I am also exhausted and must retire.

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby cloudburst » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:41 am

Namdrol wrote: I regularly qualify that in Madhyamaka the term "existent" is used in a very specific way. I discovered this through a close reading of Buddhapalita many years ago -- this is one of the reasons why I cite him more frequently than others.


I stand corrected. I think Je Tsongkhapa discovered the same thing while reading Buddhapalita.

Namdrol wrote: Many Tibetans assert, and have done so for centuries prior to Tsongkhapa, that not only are we to not find truly existent phenomena, we are indeed to find no phenomena at all which exist according to any of the four extremes.


For me this is where Je Rinpoche's brilliance and economy of thought really shine. We agree that we will find no phenomena which exist according to the tetralemmic extremes, precisely becasue it is the perceived and conceptualized existence of a nature of their own that is itself the perception of extremes.

To hearken back to our previous discussion, you were happy to admit that a "view," is a fundamental belief one holds about reality. In other words, it is something more than just a conventional assignation.

So "existence" "non-existence" "both" and "neither" are extreme views precisely becasue of their association with nature, essence truth reality, inherence, independence etc etc.

If we refute nature, we refute all four extremes in one stroke, not just the first extreme, as Karl Brunholzl and others mistakenly assert. it wasn't truly there before, and is not truly non existent now, this is the play of eternalism and nihilism. It is not extreme to say I had a dog, and he died. That's just conversation. It becomes extremes when "views" enter the picture.

Namdrol wrote:If these Tibetans are incorrect, then how can we accept the realization of any Tibetans prior to Tsongkhapa, or in any school that differs in opinion with his view? How are we for example to accept the realization of Atisha, Milarepa, etc.?


As a result of the basic confluence between the 'freedom from extremes' view and Je Tsongkhapa's presentation when properly understood, I see no need to say any particular Tibetan master was incorrect. Their realization is a private matter, unknown to me, so I have no view on that. Differing presentations benefit disciples of different inclinations and capacities. I have no doubt some presented a mistaken understanding of the freedom from extremes, others' mode of expression was perfect for it's context.

Je Tsongkhapa's presentation gave a new approach well suited to his situation, and he showed good results. I think the presentation of many lamas AFTER Tsongkhapa was a mess, its hard to read them for all their falling over one another to misunderstand Je Tsongkhapa and then refute the straw man they so laboriously fashioned. Open any text by Mipham, and you will find Je Tsongkhapa's view poorly represented within a few pages, and Mikko Dorje himself was a hot buttered mess, if Khenpo Karl is to be trusted.

In any case, the views of Milarepa and Atisha do not contradict Je Tsongkhapa's views, and we can trust in their realization simply out of faith in Je Tsongkhapa, since he praised both so highly.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby wisdom » Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:21 am

yadave wrote:Salt is the only constant in your examples. The only "indeterminate" here is what you mix it with.


Its just one way of showing how salt doesn't exist even in a conventional and relative sense. Even if we stop at salt molecules, what it is has no meaning in itself, there is no "inherent salt". There is salt, and its many properties and qualities. All of which are of the nature of emptiness, being compounded entities and having Dependently Arisen.

yadave wrote:"Enough" and other adjectives are subjective, salt is still salt.


The subjective and indeterminate quality of what even constitutes saltiness shows that we cannot even define it in those terms. Saltiness is just an idea, based on moods, feelings, perceptions, and memory. All of it has the nature of emptiness, and all of it is Dependently Arisen.

yadave wrote:I think we pegged saltiness to the interaction of salt molecules with a tongue earlier. I concur with your dependent arising points, I love dependent arising. Your final comment borders on antirealism so would need to explore further before commenting.


The final comment is a traditional way of talking about the empty and illusory and empty nature of phenomena.

wisdom wrote:What does it mean to say "salt exists conventionally"? It means that salt exists only relative to other conventional, compounded entities. To admit of a things conventional existence is the same as saying that it does not exist at all. Why? Because once we are making a distinction that something is conventional, we are also acknowledging that ultimately it has no absolute, inherent reality. This does not mean that conventionally the salt is "non existent", it means precisely what it says. Salt only exists as a compounded, indeterminate and temporary appearance whose nature is emptiness.

yadave wrote:I have taken issue with the "does not exist at all" part, am not sure these unqualified "exist" terms referring to some ultimate inconceivable are helpful or even relevant to external phenomena.


They aren't, there are no external phenomena.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby catmoon » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:06 am

yadave wrote:
At the end of the day, we would know that our saltiness experience required one of these saltiness producers and hope that it wasn't one of the nasty ones that causes zits. Sorry.

Regards,
Dave.



Something to ponder. By applying direct electrostimulation to the brain, almost any known experience can be elicited. People will hear music, old memories can be activated, even orgasmic and religious experiences can be elicited. So presumably, by finding the right patch of neurons, a few thousandths of a volt applied to right spot on the brain will elicit the saltiness taste.

Nothing remotely like salt would be involved, but the experience of saltiness would be there.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:51 pm

yadave wrote:Where the hell am I? Nowhere! OK, that makes sense.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
yadave wrote:Well if your emptiness is restricted to internal phenomena ------

What do you mean by internal vs. external phenomena? Where is the dividing line?

Internal phenomena includes my personal experience, thoughts, feelings, skandhas, that stuff. External phenomena is so-called shared reality, stuff you and I both can see and point to or bump into in our effort to emulate advanced yogis.

This seems obvious, I mean it seemed obvious to Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche's editors, what is your point?

Regards,
Dave.


it wasn't obvious to me. I just wanted to make sure I understood what you were referring to.

Some would argue that the two arise together
But others would say that the "internal" arises in response to an already existing "external".
Still, others say that the "external" is purely the creation of the "internal".

I think it is true, however, as Namdrol has mentioned,
the perception that the two are separate (from the beginning) is erroneous.

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:54 pm

catmoon wrote:

Something to ponder. By applying direct electrostimulation to the brain, almost any known experience can be elicited. People will hear music, old memories can be activated, even orgasmic and religious experiences can be elicited. So presumably, by finding the right patch of neurons, a few thousandths of a volt applied to right spot on the brain will elicit the saltiness taste.

Nothing remotely like salt would be involved, but the experience of saltiness would be there.


The electric charges would be there.
Where would the "experience" of saltiness occur?
Do the chemicals of the brain consciously witness their own activity
and think "mmmm, this is salty"
or does the witness arise elsewhere?
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby catmoon » Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:12 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
catmoon wrote:

Something to ponder. By applying direct electrostimulation to the brain, almost any known experience can be elicited. People will hear music, old memories can be activated, even orgasmic and religious experiences can be elicited. So presumably, by finding the right patch of neurons, a few thousandths of a volt applied to right spot on the brain will elicit the saltiness taste.

Nothing remotely like salt would be involved, but the experience of saltiness would be there.


The electric charges would be there.
Where would the "experience" of saltiness occur?
Do the chemicals of the brain consciously witness their own activity
and think "mmmm, this is salty"
or does the witness arise elsewhere?


No. Seriously. No.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:54 pm

Namdrol wrote:
yadave wrote:At the end of the day, we would know that our saltiness experience required one of these saltiness producers and hope that it wasn't one of the nasty ones that causes zits. Sorry.

And at the end of the day, we will still be left with the fact that all of these so called "things" are just imputations of identity onto impermanent collections, which themselves are composed of still further impermanent collections.

You and I call salt salt. We agree salt is conditioned, its parts include atoms. We agree that a salt experience requires a salt experiencer. We agree salt is impermanent, if we put it in tea it dissolves. Our only disagreement seems to be on the word "just". I have a simple explanation for shared reality, you do not.

Namdrol wrote:So whatever clinging we have to any impermanent collection whether internal or external in terms of identity is certain to lead to suffering. This is the point of Madhyamaka i.e. to demonstrate that the beleif that attributions of identity onto impermanent collections are anything more than mere conventions is a delusion.

We agree on the internal part, we agree Madhyamaka extends this idea to external stuff, we've (hopefully) seen that I don't accept the latter, the meaning of "clinging to salt" is dubious and bears little relationship to "clinging to self" which, as you point out elsewhere, was Nagarjuna's main target in the first place.

Namdrol wrote:Of course these conventions work, but they are no more real than the habit of the "I" we attribute to our personal collection of aggregates. The habit of "I" certainly works, but that "I" is not real. The imputation of salt onto a given collection we have chosen to call salt "works" but the "salt" can't be found apart from the imputation we make onto that collection so we can use it effectively.

This flattening of external into internal just doesn't work for me, Namdrol. It looks elegant on the surface but loses too much "reality". And I have a strong suspicion that you and I have just about the same "salt experience."

Namdrol wrote:The problem most laypeople have with the MMK is that people rarely are acquainted with the views that MMK is seeking to correct. Without understanding Abhidharma, most of the arguments in the MMK will seem rather pointless if not obscure in the extreme. Some people mistakenly think that MMK is a panacea -- when it fact it is rather narrow text with a rather narrow project i.e. to correct Abhidharma realism and bring errant Abhidharmikas back to a proper understanding of dependent origination and help them to abandon a kind of naive essentialism that had crept into Buddhism.

Indeed, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I still find MMK fascinating and am sure that if I have more time to study in future our discussions would be that much richer.

Namdrol wrote:Madhyamaka as a whole is an excercise in trying to introduce people to the real meaning of dependent origination i.e. the emptiness of persons and phenomena based in the Buddha's observation that statements about existence and non-existence were at odds with the real meaning of dependent origination.

Since there are no permanent phenomena, claims for the existence and non-existence of phenomena are completely naive on anything other than a conventional level.

"Permanent phenomena" is a straw man imho, a nonexistent used to assert something about existence. Impermanence is measurable, quantifiable, rocks persist longer than thoughts, let's not throw out the baby with the bath.

Namdrol wrote:So you can keep insisting that salt harms snails as much as you like. Since you are making a conventional statement you are not going to get any complaint from me, but if you assert that there is saltiness in salt, for example, you have only two courses -- mire yourself in the myriad contradictions of asserting that there is an essence of salt or simply accede the point that "salt" is a conventional identity proposition that is at best a functional imputation and nothing more than that.

I think we're going in circles, Sir. There are salt molecules. "Essence" is your word, your quagmire, I was just offering something for it to mean wrt salt. If it means nothing or does not exist a priori or cannot be defined any differently than DO, it resembles another straw man, empty of usefulness, ineffective.

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:56 pm

catmoon wrote:
yadave wrote:
At the end of the day, we would know that our saltiness experience required one of these saltiness producers and hope that it wasn't one of the nasty ones that causes zits. Sorry.

Regards,
Dave.


Something to ponder. By applying direct electrostimulation to the brain, almost any known experience can be elicited. People will hear music, old memories can be activated, even orgasmic and religious experiences can be elicited. So presumably, by finding the right patch of neurons, a few thousandths of a volt applied to right spot on the brain will elicit the saltiness taste.

Nothing remotely like salt would be involved, but the experience of saltiness would be there.

These are great, cat, reminds me of that old movie Brainstorms. Might make an interesting topic to discuss what it all means.

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:27 pm

wisdom wrote:
yadave wrote:Salt is the only constant in your examples. The only "indeterminate" here is what you mix it with.

Its just one way of showing how salt doesn't exist even in a conventional and relative sense.

But you did not show this, you showed that one salt reacts in many ways when combined with many experiencers.

wisdom wrote:Even if we stop at salt molecules, what it is has no meaning in itself, there is no "inherent salt". There is salt, and its many properties and qualities.

That's it. You just said what salt means, a collection of properties we call salt. If you tell us what "meaning in itself" means, then we can talk about that.

wisdom wrote:All of which are of the nature of emptiness, being compounded entities and having Dependently Arisen.

We agree on DO, disagree on "existence," maybe just a (the) language issue.

wisdom wrote:
yadave wrote:"Enough" and other adjectives are subjective, salt is still salt.

The subjective and indeterminate quality of what even constitutes saltiness shows that we cannot even define it in those terms.

You illustrated the subjective nature of "enough" yet continue speaking as if you proved something about "saltiness."

wisdom wrote:Saltiness is just an idea, based on moods, feelings, perceptions, and memory.

That's an interesting idea but I think saltiness is a taste. It tastes about the same on good and bad hair days.

wisdom wrote:
yadave wrote:I think we pegged saltiness to the interaction of salt molecules with a tongue earlier. I concur with your dependent arising points, I love dependent arising. Your final comment borders on antirealism so would need to explore further before commenting.

The final comment is a traditional way of talking about the empty and illusory and empty nature of phenomena.

A way of talking. A language framework designed to confuse Dave. ;)

wisdom wrote:there are no external phenomena.

Take it up with Khenchen Thrangu.

I think we could go in circles like this, wisdom, unless I became fluent in Nagarjuna's language framework. Then I would know exactly what you mean, I would easily map Nagarjuna's framework onto today's framework. Still, I don't know if I would then use the old language to explain things to newer students, might just confuse them.

Anyway, thanks for the dialogue.

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby conebeckham » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:52 pm

yadave wrote:
wisdom wrote:there are no external phenomena.

Take it up with Khenchen Thrangu.

I think we could go in circles like this, wisdom, unless I became fluent in Nagarjuna's language framework. Then I would know exactly what you mean, I would easily map Nagarjuna's framework onto today's framework. Still, I don't know if I would then use the old language to explain things to newer students, might just confuse them.


Are you saying Thrangu Rinpoche asserts that there ARE external phenomena?
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:52 pm

yadave wrote:I have a simple explanation for shared reality, you do not.


Sure I do: functionality.

BTW, you seem to think I am trying to convince you Madhyamaka is correct -- I am not -- I am trying to help you understand what Madhyamaka is actually pointing out. Madhyamaka is not necessarily the appropriate POV for all practitioners.

Namdrol wrote:So whatever clinging we have to any impermanent collection whether internal or external in terms of identity is certain to lead to suffering. This is the point of Madhyamaka i.e. to demonstrate that the beleif that attributions of identity onto impermanent collections are anything more than mere conventions is a delusion.

We agree on the internal part, we agree Madhyamaka extends this idea to external stuff, we've (hopefully) seen that I don't accept the latter, the meaning of "clinging to salt" is dubious and bears little relationship to "clinging to self" which, as you point out elsewhere, was Nagarjuna's main target in the first place.


The point was clinging to identity (atman). Atman, as you know, means self, it also means "essence" in Sanskrit, and it s synonym of svabhāva. This will be addressed below.

Namdrol wrote:Of course these conventions work, but they are no more real than the habit of the "I" we attribute to our personal collection of aggregates. The habit of "I" certainly works, but that "I" is not real. The imputation of salt onto a given collection we have chosen to call salt "works" but the "salt" can't be found apart from the imputation we make onto that collection so we can use it effectively.

This flattening of external into internal just doesn't work for me, Namdrol. It looks elegant on the surface but loses too much "reality". And I have a strong suspicion that you and I have just about the same "salt experience."


Of course we do. Conventional truth is called "conventional" (vyavahāra) because it is based on empirically observed functionality shared by common people's ordinary healthy sense perception. What Madhyamaka rejects is that there is an salt atman or svabhāva, and further observes that claims for the existence of salt, or anything else for that matter, quickly become entangled with identity propositions.

Namdrol wrote:Madhyamaka as a whole is an excercise in trying to introduce people to the real meaning of dependent origination i.e. the emptiness of persons and phenomena based in the Buddha's observation that statements about existence and non-existence were at odds with the real meaning of dependent origination.

Since there are no permanent phenomena, claims for the existence and non-existence of phenomena are completely naive on anything other than a conventional level.


"Permanent phenomena" is a straw man imho, a nonexistent used to assert something about existence. Impermanence is measurable, quantifiable, rocks persist longer than thoughts, let's not throw out the baby with the bath.


Yes, and for this reason, in the Majjhima Nikāya, the Buddha quips that if one must choose a self between the body and the mind, it is better to choose the body since it at least lasts for up to 80 years, whereas a thought lasts mere miliseconds.

But permanent phenomena is not such a straw man, since we see in physics a trend to try and prove "self-origination" through the big bang theory and so on.

Namdrol wrote:So you can keep insisting that salt harms snails as much as you like. Since you are making a conventional statement you are not going to get any complaint from me, but if you assert that there is saltiness in salt, for example, you have only two courses -- mire yourself in the myriad contradictions of asserting that there is an essence of salt or simply accede the point that "salt" is a conventional identity proposition that is at best a functional imputation and nothing more than that.


I think we're going in circles, Sir. There are salt molecules. "Essence" is your word, your quagmire, I was just offering something for it to mean wrt salt.


Not really, I am trying to explain to you that Madhyamaka states the self, the identity, the atman of any given phenomena, not merely personal phenomena, is merely an imputed label which derives from the functionality of that phenomena. The absence of identity in external phenomena does not obliterate them, indeed, from a Madhyamaka POV that absence of idenity is all that makes them possible since whatever conditioned phenomena there are must be dependently originated and hence, must lack an intrinsic or unique identity, a "self", an essence, an atman.

We are not asserting, for example that dependent phenomenon are in the class of children of barren women or horns on rabbits or other such total non-existents -- which I suspect is your fear.

Dependent phenomena are free from both existence and non-existence since dependent phenomena are empty of a self or svabhāva, in other words, when a salt molecule ceases, there is no atman of salt that continues, and there is no atman of salt that ceases. When a salt molecule perishes all that has happened is that the causes and conditions for producing salt have ceased. Cessations are absence of causes, and are not caused per se.

If phenomena were to exist, they would not need causes and conditions, and since phenomena appear to be produced from causes and conditions, they are not non-existent either. They are not both existent and non-existent, since this is just a summary of the first extreme, and they are not neither, since this is just a summary of the second.

Therefore, since we cannot say that phenomena fall into one of these four extremes, Nagarjuna states dependent origination is free from eight extremes: in dependent origination there is no ceasing, arising, annihilation, permanence, going, coming, difference or sameness. He praises the Buddha for giving such a teaching because it frees one from ontological doubts i.e. pacifies proliferation.

All I am trying to get you to understand is that emptiness means that when you examine some conventional entity, something that we would say "exists out there in shared reality", there is no underlying reality proping it, apart from being labeled on the basis of functional appearances, such conventional entities cannot be found.

N
Last edited by Malcolm on Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:58 pm

conebeckham wrote:
yadave wrote:
wisdom wrote:there are no external phenomena.

Take it up with Khenchen Thrangu.

I think we could go in circles like this, wisdom, unless I became fluent in Nagarjuna's language framework. Then I would know exactly what you mean, I would easily map Nagarjuna's framework onto today's framework. Still, I don't know if I would then use the old language to explain things to newer students, might just confuse them.


Are you saying Thrangu Rinpoche asserts that there ARE external phenomena?

Hey Cone,

We briefly discussed this before but I'm learning links now so can say "please see the following:"

viewtopic.php?f=39&t=6423&start=9

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Acchantika » Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:09 pm

yadave wrote:I don't think I've ever seen "public accessibility" so have no idea what you are talking about.


Public accessibility is a concept in the philosophy of science that refers to a coherency between different individuals’ experiences of events. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method. It is also the distinction between something quantitative and something qualitative.

We do not experience a mind-independent world.

Huh?


In summary, the epistemological problem of realism is that, if reality is mind-independent, since all experience and thus knowledge is mediated by mind, knowledge of such a reality is impossible. Therefore, realism reduces to epistemological nihilsm, which entails many things, including realism being self-refuting and meaningless. This is one of many problems realism must solve, but has not yet, in order to be tenable.

If we reduce the salt to its atomic components, any form of interaction, including measurement, annihilates them.


This is nonsense. If you look at salt under a microscope, it does not suddenly explode.


This isn't what annihilation means. When you look at salt under a microscope, you are looking at photons not salt, which are annihilated on your retina. Particles are not objects, they are packets of energy. This energy dissipates into heat when it interacts with cells in your eyes that are photosensitive.

An external phenomenon is a contradiction - a phenomenon is a subjective appearance.


Take your complaint up with Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.


Rinpoche does not, as you do, equate “external” with “objective”, which is why you think he disagrees with me.

Objective means mind-independent. External means external to oneself. An external phenomena means a subjective appearance external to oneself not, as you are using it, an objective subjective appearance, which is a contradiction. Phenomena means the same thing in Buddhism as it does in science and philosophy - a subjective appearance. This is why Kant distinguished between phenomena and noumena. This is why the study of subjective experience is called “phenomenology”. This is why the word “phenomena” comes from the Latin word for “appearance”. You are trying to argue that phenomena are equal to or approximations of an objective reality. If you try to state instead that phenomena are objective you will be incomprehensible, including to other realists.
...
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby conebeckham » Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:17 pm

yadave wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Are you saying Thrangu Rinpoche asserts that there ARE external phenomena?

Hey Cone,

We briefly discussed this before but I'm learning links now so can say "please see the following:"

http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f= ... 23&start=9

Regards,
Dave.


You're referring me back in the same thread? Dude, that's, like, literally, circular reasoning, isn't it? :smile: Can you just quote an example of where Thrangu Rinpoche assserts that external phenomena exist? I think you'll find he makes no such claim. His position is that phenomena appear, and function, but that they have no real existence. The way things appear is not the way they are. But from the perspective of unenlightened beings, such as ourselves, the appearance of things, and the functioning of dependent origination, is misconstrued as existence.
Now, he may say that things "conventionally exist," but you must understand that this statement is equivalent, in his view, to "things don't REALLY exist."

To quote from http://www.purifymind.com/RW6.htm

We saw that nothing is really produced, nevertheless things appear, which accords with the mode of perception and experience, namely that things unceasingly arise and function in a structured interrelationship with a source and with conditions that are prerequisites and necessary for a source to come to fruition. If we do examine carefully, we discover that whatever arises is empty of a self-essence, i.e., an inherent reality of its own. This being the case, it follows that nothing abides or ceases the way it appears to do.
In Buddhist scriptures, the analogy of horns of a rabbit are presented to describe our illusory mode of perceiving the world and being within. If rabbits have no horns, investigating how long a rabbit can have horns is rather foolish. Understanding that ultimately nothing can arise, it is conclusive that nothing abides or ceases. All appearances are mere appearances that do occur but have no solid, self-existing reality of their own. Since nothing abides, nothing can arise, nor can things be stopped from arising when causes and conditions prevail. Ultimately, everything is beyond conceptuality, the meaning of shunyata, the ultimate truth that is the ground for the relative truth of being and becoming.


The appearance, and experience, of salt and saltiness, does not in any way negate the nonexistence of salt, or it's saltiness.
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
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