Misunderstanding emptiness

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:45 am

asunthatneversets wrote:That's cool they revisited that!

Hey Sunshine,

Your piece is more of a pointing out piece than Candrakirti's SevenFold Reasoning methinks. There is one mod we may want to make, which should be fine since you disclaimed everything at the start.

asunthatneversets wrote:The conclusion that the colors are external to us is based on the principle that these colors change over time.
...
But by looking at experience very directly it can actually be ascertained that this "otherness" is never a part of our experience.

This actually makes a bit of a contradiction in the interesting "world" you create. I think we'd need to lobotomize memory as well to prevent one from remembering "change" in whatever sense we focused on, for otherwise, one will "know" something about what changes, and what does not, and that itself becomes self/other or change/nochange. As Cone said way back in this thread, this distinction happens really early in most animals, probably genetic. Anyway, I'm trying to gather all this into an effable thought and sometimes my brain works better when I'm sleeping (actually, I think I am sleeping) so these issues will no doubt receive further blathering in future.

asunthatneversets wrote:So what are the issues with what cone is saying? Because they fall in line with the entire theme of this thread and are accurate in my opinion.

I don't think this thread has a theme any longer. First it went conventional, now it is approximately everything, perhaps that is the nature of these topics, they are all connected. ;)

Cone's post is the latest in a series of messages here, and also in cloud's thread referenced earlier, related to issues of language and how much time we spend trying to understand each others' words. We have Nagarjuna's Language Framework (say NLF for acronym geeks) and today's conventional-dictionary-compatible Modern Language Framework (MLF). NLF{exists} and MLF{exists} can mean really different things. Many words are like this. NLF{cognitive error} means you are not fairly advanced in meditation and/or Madhyamaka understanding of subject/object. MLF{cognitive error} means something is physically wrong with your brain, like you have ADD or seizures or made a conventionally false statement. When experienced Buddhists, like folks in this group, speak to "people on the street" using ALF, is this a "good" idea? As fun as semantics may be, it may not be the most effective approach to learning, teaching, or discussing Buddhism and spreading the Dharma. Cone says you can't know whose "fault" it is. Let's see, and some readers appear to avoid discussing the issue entirely so that their reaction feels irrational rather than your average Buddhist equanimity. So too many things for same thread imo, there is at least epistemology, ethics and morality, social dynamics, Buddhism itself (conventionally speaking), another almost everything topic. Maybe we can limit this thread to emptiness, realism versus antirealism, rabbit horns, and no more than six additional issues and fourteen jokes. ;)

Now I must return to the ever-satisfying deep sleep state. Hasta manana.

Regards,
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby asunthatneversets » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:12 am

yadave wrote:Hey Sunshine,

Your piece is more of a pointing out piece than Candrakirti's SevenFold Reasoning methinks. There is one mod we may want to make, which should be fine since you disclaimed everything at the start.

asunthatneversets wrote:The conclusion that the colors are external to us is based on the principle that these colors change over time.
...
But by looking at experience very directly it can actually be ascertained that this "otherness" is never a part of our experience.

This actually makes a bit of a contradiction in the interesting "world" you create. I think we'd need to lobotomize memory as well to prevent one from remembering "change" in whatever sense we focused on, for otherwise, one will "know" something about what changes, and what does not, and that itself becomes self/other or change/nochange. As Cone said way back in this thread, this distinction happens really early in most animals, probably genetic. Anyway, I'm trying to gather all this into an effable thought and sometimes my brain works better when I'm sleeping (actually, I think I am sleeping) so these issues will no doubt receive further blathering in future.


Now I must return to the ever-satisfying deep sleep state. Hasta manana.

Regards,
Dave.


Well what is there to change? Since the examination i proposed showed colors are vision, and vision is consciousness, and consciousness is empty. That in-and-of-itself negates the changing display of color. But to go further into it, the notion of change must be judged from a reference point of either less-changing or unchanging in the usual sense. But we found the less-changeful and/or changeless reference point to be inherently nonexistent. Change must move against a stagnant background to be change. There must be something to gauge the change... and we find nothing. Because you're right to know change requires memory to implement as a reference. But this is impossible. We don't have to lobotomize what is already lobotomized. We usually take memory to be an image 'of' a past event. Because we believe ourselves to be entities extended into time and space. This is not the case. A memory thought is always an ever-fresh appearance. It seems to resemble a previous state but it is just an image which appears in the present timeless moment. It is only an image. When the image appears, under the delusion of time we conceive ourselves to be a subject witnessing or possessing this image and then project that it is evidence of a previous event and call it memory. But time must exist as an inherent faculty of experience for this to be the case, and it isn't, because time IS the so-called memory thought as well. And that "memory" thought is only an ever fresh appearance. So there is only ever this timelessness. The past is a thought appearing now, and there is no thinker of that thought(it isn't even a thought either). Thoughts don't point or refer to anything. They just appear. We get in the habit of believing they refer to actual "things" out there in a world, but they don't. We also get in the habit of validating a thought with another thought. For example if a thought(a) appears and then a thought(b) appears which claims thought(a) is true. Thought(a) is already long gone. Thought(b) cannot reach out and touch thought(a). They never appear at the same time. When (b) is present (a) is not. Another thought may appear that says "bullsh*t!"... But that's thought(c). Whatever is appearing now is all that is.

To further negate the change of color; in our direct experience we never experience an unseen color. So a color's absence is never a part of experience. If a color cannot be experienced as absent, it cannot be experienced as present. A color cannot alternate between presence and absence. Having one side of a pair of opposites makes no sense. There are no one sided coins. So neither present or absent applies to color or any other appearance.

I must also sleep now. Hasta mañana. Taking my 3 yr old to the Oakland zoo mañana. Party animals.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:23 pm

color is not a thing.
how can it change or not change?
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby swampflower » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:42 am

asunthatneversets wrote:
yadave wrote:
Well what is there to change? Since the examination i proposed showed colors are vision, and vision is consciousness, and consciousness is empty. That in-and-of-itself negates the changing display of color. But to go further into it, the notion of change must be judged from a reference point of either less-changing or unchanging in the usual sense. But we found the less-changeful and/or changeless reference point to be inherently nonexistent. Change must move against a stagnant background to be change. There must be something to gauge the change... and we find nothing. Because you're right to know change requires memory to implement as a reference. But this is impossible. We don't have to lobotomize what is already lobotomized. We usually take memory to be an image 'of' a past event. Because we believe ourselves to be entities extended into time and space. This is not the case. A memory thought is always an ever-fresh appearance. It seems to resemble a previous state but it is just an image which appears in the present timeless moment. It is only an image. When the image appears, under the delusion of time we conceive ourselves to be a subject witnessing or possessing this image and then project that it is evidence of a previous event and call it memory. But time must exist as an inherent faculty of experience for this to be the case, and it isn't, because time IS the so-called memory thought as well. And that "memory" thought is only an ever fresh appearance. So there is only ever this timelessness. The past is a thought appearing now, and there is no thinker of that thought(it isn't even a thought either). Thoughts don't point or refer to anything. They just appear. We get in the habit of believing they refer to actual "things" out there in a world, but they don't. We also get in the habit of validating a thought with another thought. For example if a thought(a) appears and then a thought(b) appears which claims thought(a) is true. Thought(a) is already long gone. Thought(b) cannot reach out and touch thought(a). They never appear at the same time. When (b) is present (a) is not. Another thought may appear that says "bullsh*t!"... But that's thought(c). Whatever is appearing now is all that is.

To further negate the change of color; in our direct experience we never experience an unseen color. So a color's absence is never a part of experience. If a color cannot be experienced as absent, it cannot be experienced as present. A color cannot alternate between presence and absence. Having one side of a pair of opposites makes no sense. There are no one sided coins. So neither present or absent applies to color or any other appearance.

I must also sleep now. Hasta mañana. Taking my 3 yr old to the Oakland zoo mañana. Party animals.


1. "What is there to change?"...Everything
2. "Change must move against a stagnant background to be change."...Change is the passing away of something that has arisen and the arising of something new from something that has passed away. There is no "background" necessary...except for emptiness.
3. "To further negate the change of color; in our direct experience we never experience an unseen color." ...We experience "unseen" colors all the time. Ultraviolet gives us a sunburn. Infrared keeps us toasty warm. These wavelengths of light are color although unseen by humans.

This all seems far afield of the questions of emptiness.
Emptiness is not effectively intellectualized and analyzed through proposed theories of perception. These posts seem to be arguments against emptiness as a Buddhist understanding of reality.
As the Heart Sutra says "Emptiness is form; form is emptiness. Emptiness is non other than form; form is non other than emptiness."
It makes no sense to try to separate the two. Stated another way... There is no form without emptiness; there is no emptiness without form.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby asunthatneversets » Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:54 am

swampflower wrote:1.  "What is there to change?"...Everything

You're absolutely right from a conventional point of view. 

Devoid of locus, there is nothing to objectify, Rootless, they(things) have no fixed abode; they arise totally from the cause of ignorance, utterly devoid of beginning, middle and end. - Nagarjuna

swampflower wrote:2.  "Change must move against a stagnant background to be change."...Change is the passing away of something that has arisen and the arising of something new from something that has passed away.  There is no "background" necessary...except for emptiness.

Yes again you're correct but my statements were geared towards very subtle and minute details of experience in the theme of abandoning false imputation.  I was attempting to frame the way change seems to arise in experience via the use of projected thought and memory. Again, yadave was interested so its really just for conversational purposes because he seems to enjoy discussions like these as much as I do. And emptiness being empty itself cannot serve as a substantiated or fundamental background.

swampflower wrote:3.  "To further negate the change of color; in our direct experience we never experience an unseen color."  ...We experience "unseen" colors all the time.  Ultraviolet gives us a sunburn.  Infrared keeps us toasty warm.  These wavelengths of light are color although unseen by humans.

True but again I'm attempting to convey a certain perception of experience. I'm covering all my bases in a way so yadave can try to understand what I'm attempting to describe. In the picture I'm attempting to paint; ultraviolet being imperceptible would not be a part of what I'm describing, I'm only using elements of direct sensual  experience... what directly appears. So ultraviolet isn't a direct part of experience. There is direct evidence of contact with ultraviolet light as you said which would be a pain and a hue of redness appearing. But we'd only be concerned with those arisings and not the projected cause... Even though the projected cause arising as thought would be an aspect which could be integrated at a later time once one had a firm handle on the basic view. But like I said in that long description on the previous page where I was talking about salt I'm really only discussing what is immediately sensible. Not mediately. Same goes for infrared, that would be a mediate quality. So being unseen by humans, and absent in direct perception they aren't part of the discussion and view of experience I was portraying. 

swampflower wrote:This all seems far afield of the questions of emptiness.
Emptiness is not effectively intellectualized and analyzed through proposed theories of perception.   

Yes somewhat, I think it's been agreed upon that this thread has evolved into a slightly different beast than it started as but we all seem to agree that it's remained productive and insightful. I started early on in this thread with my sentiments on emptiness, what you're reading lately is just my attempts at clarifying my points for yadave, I did originally go quality by quality to show how they are dependently originated in ones experience.

 I'm not sure how you can say emptiness teachings are not effectively intellectualized and analyzed through proposed theories of perception, unless a proper teaching or discourse comes about how else would one arrive at a perception of emptiness? There are rare events where one gains insight from a peak experience spontaneously but that is rare. To add, everyone learns differently and everyone possesses different capacities for the teachings so what works for one person may not be appropriate for another. There is no staple approach to this type of thing, and I am certainly not claiming any authority in what I say. If it helps someone that is great! If not that is also perfectly ok. It makes sense to me so I'm only trying to share my view. It's validity or invalidity lies with you. 

swampflower wrote:These posts seem to be arguments against emptiness as a Buddhist understanding of reality.
As the Heart Sutra says "Emptiness is form; form is emptiness.  Emptiness is non other than form; form is non other than emptiness."
It makes no sense to try to separate the two.  Stated another way... There is no form without emptiness; there is no emptiness without form.

Interesting that you interpret these posts as being arguments against emptiness as a Buddhist understanding of reality. I would disagree but after all we are only sharing opinions and I respect yours. 

Your other way of stating that(there is no form without emptiness...) is one way to interpret it; Conveying the natural dependency of form on emptiness in a positive-negative relational dichotomy. I however was approaching "form is emptiness" from the standpoint of form being precisely emptiness. And "emptiness is form" from the standpoint of 'emptiness being precisely form' in that emptiness as a concept IS form so therefore emptiness is also empty. And you're right it does make no sense to attempt to separate the two... Because they are not two.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:00 pm

Hey Sunshine,

Glad you had fun at zoo. My daughter is in CA, spent many enjoyable years in your neck of the woods, will ping you if I get out that way.

We could probably take a break from this, thought experiments may not agree with all readers and I need to tackle taxes, the true ultimate existent.

I will share one more brain fart in my efforts to make sense of MMK yesterday, maybe it is helpful.

NLF = Nagarjuna's Language Framework.
MLF = Modern Language Framework.
Unqualified expressions mean same in both frameworks.

NLF{ultimate reality} = whatever never changes (eternal).
NLF{ultimate existence} = the condition of never changing.
NLF{conventional reality} = MLF{reality}.
NLF{conventional existence} = MLF{existence}.

Then MMK in a nutshell is:

NLF{P1}. NLF{ultimate reality} never changes.
NLF{P2}. NLF{conventional reality} always changes (impermanence).
NLF{C1}. Therefore NLF{conventional reality} does not NLF{ultimately exist}.

This doesn't translate well into MLF because MLF has no "ultimate" sense, there is just one flavor of MLF{reality} and one MLF{existence}, but both worlds happily agree on impermanence or "the only constant is change":

MLF{P1}. Whatever never changes never changes.
MLF{P2}. MLF{reality} always changes (impermanence).
MLF{C1}. Therefore MLF{reality} always changes.

If something like this worked, it might be easier to understand Nagarjuna's fivefold reasoning applied to, say, a basketball rolling across the floor.

Imagine a movie film of this rolling ball. Each frame represents one instance, one candidate for an ultimate ball. Naturally, since each of these candidates appears and disappears, none will fit the ultimate bill, but we can focus on a candidate near the middle and apply Cone's article, http://www.purifymind.com/RW6.htm:

1. Does our candidate ball arise from itself?

No, it did not appear in any previous frame so could not arise from itself.

2. Does our candidate arise from a different cause?

No, the other frames are all different, different position and orientation, they cannot possibly be our ball.

3. Does our candidate arise from both itself and another?

No, would violate (1) and (2).

4. Does our candidate ball arise without a cause?

This one is fun in Cone's article for Thrangu Rinpoche uses a "common sense" argument to reject (4). So we can plagiarize his analysis.

In the end, our candidate clearly does not NLF{ultimately exist} and so no "ball" exists.

Now I am enlightened. ;)

All the best.

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:45 pm

yadave wrote:
If something like this worked, it might be easier to understand Nagarjuna's fivefold reasoning applied to, say, a basketball rolling across the floor.



No, Nāgārjuna would say something much simpler:

"Apart from a ball which has rolled and a ball which has not rolled, there no ball rolling."

CF his negation of movement.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Tom » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:18 pm

Namdrol wrote:
yadave wrote:
If something like this worked, it might be easier to understand Nagarjuna's fivefold reasoning applied to, say, a basketball rolling across the floor.



No, Nāgārjuna would say something much simpler:

"Apart from a ball which has rolled and a ball which has not rolled, there no ball rolling."

CF his negation of movement.



Isn't it problematic to posit a rolled ball and a not rolled ball and then refute the rolling ball? They all exist in the same way, by way of conception.

What is refuted is that there is rolling in the past (already gone), rolling in the future (not yet happened), or rolling in the present (which is an instant).

Isn't there a subtle distinction?
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:24 pm

Tom wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
yadave wrote:
If something like this worked, it might be easier to understand Nagarjuna's fivefold reasoning applied to, say, a basketball rolling across the floor.



No, Nāgārjuna would say something much simpler:

"Apart from a ball which has rolled and a ball which has not rolled, there no ball rolling."

CF his negation of movement.



Isn't it problematic to posit a rolled ball and a not rolled ball and then refute the rolling ball? They all exist in the same way, by way of conception.

What is refuted is that there is rolling in the past, rolling in the future, or rolling in the present (which is an instant).


The subject of the analysis in MMK is "I am going to town". "The ball is rolling" is the same sort of statment, treated the same way.

N
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Tom » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:32 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Tom wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
No, Nāgārjuna would say something much simpler:

"Apart from a ball which has rolled and a ball which has not rolled, there no ball rolling."

CF his negation of movement.



Isn't it problematic to posit a rolled ball and a not rolled ball and then refute the rolling ball? They all exist in the same way, by way of conception.

What is refuted is that there is rolling in the past, rolling in the future, or rolling in the present (which is an instant).


The subject of the analysis in MMK is "I am going to town". "The ball is rolling" is the same sort of statment, treated the same way.

N


The reason for which is the lack of existence of motion in any of the three times. It just seemed your previous statement could be read as drawing an ontological distinction between moved objects and moving objects.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:35 pm

Tom wrote:
The reason for which is the lack of existence of motion in any of the three times. It just seemed your previous statement could be read as drawing an ontological distinction between moved objects and moving objects.


There is no basis for saying that something is moving, apart from something which has not moved or has moved. If you are familiar with the argument rejecting motion in the MMK than all of this is old hat.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Tom » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:09 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Tom wrote:
The reason for which is the lack of existence of motion in any of the three times. It just seemed your previous statement could be read as drawing an ontological distinction between moved objects and moving objects.


There is no basis for saying that something is moving, apart from something which has not moved or has moved. If you are familiar with the argument rejecting motion in the MMK than all of this is old hat.


I don't disagree, you are basically just quoting MMK CH2:1, my point is just that this verse is about the rolling not the ball.

Although, I do understand that motion and movement exist interdependently. Without motion there is no mover and without a mover there is no motion and that this precludes existing either independently or inherently.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:14 pm

Tom wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Tom wrote:
The reason for which is the lack of existence of motion in any of the three times. It just seemed your previous statement could be read as drawing an ontological distinction between moved objects and moving objects.


There is no basis for saying that something is moving, apart from something which has not moved or has moved. If you are familiar with the argument rejecting motion in the MMK than all of this is old hat.


I don't disagree, you are basically just quoting MMK CH2:1, my point is just that this verse is about the rolling not the ball.

Although, I do understand that motion and movement exist interdependently. Without motion there is no mover and without a mover there is no motion and that this precludes existing either independently or inherently.



I was responding to this: "a basketball rolling across the floor."
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby gad rgyangs » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:16 pm

Thoroughly tame your own mind.
This is (possibly) the teaching of Buddha.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Tom » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:26 pm

Namdrol wrote:
I was responding to this: "a basketball rolling across the floor."



cool ... I read you as refuting directly the rolling ball rather than the "rolling" of the ball.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:38 pm

The problem arises when you first conjure up an idea such as 'ball' and then only afterwards assign it various attributes (round, moving, hollow, etc.) in order to define it. With this approach all you can end up doing is, over and over again, deconstructing concepts that have no essential attributes to begin with.

Rolling isn't the event taking place.
The ball is the event, a temporary event, and not a 'thing'.
When you realize that the ball is merely a temporary event,
whether it is rolling or not is of no consequence.
you can then see all 'things' as mere temporary events.

Since ideas only exist in time and not in space, it helps to think in terms of time and not space.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Tom » Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:32 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:The problem arises when you first conjure up an idea such as 'ball' and then only afterwards assign it various attributes (round, moving, hollow, etc.) in order to define it. With this approach all you can end up doing is, over and over again, deconstructing concepts that have no essential attributes to begin with.

Rolling isn't the event taking place.
The ball is the event, a temporary event, and not a 'thing'.
When you realize that the ball is merely a temporary event,
whether it is rolling or not is of no consequence.
you can then see all 'things' as mere temporary events.

Since ideas only exist in time and not in space, it helps to think in terms of time and not space.
.
.
.


Nagarjuna's opponent already see substantial things as temporary so this is not the point.

The problem is that the opponent thinks that these temporary events have essence (svabhava) and are really produced. So, one of the ways Nagarjuna takes them to task is by showing that things like production from other and movement can't be found in the past, present or future, that connection between cause and result must depend upon the mind. This is just one method for example he also uses infinite regressions in critiquing production from other, and also examines the relationship between these temporary events and their defining characteristics etc.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:24 am

Tom wrote:
Namdrol wrote:There is no basis for saying that something is moving, apart from something which has not moved or has moved. If you are familiar with the argument rejecting motion in the MMK than all of this is old hat.

I don't disagree, you are basically just quoting MMK CH2:1, my point is just that this verse is about the rolling not the ball.

You caught my sense Tom, it was about the ball, MMK CH2:1 is about the rolling. Gad's reference is good. It highlights that CH2:1, like Zeno's Paradox, depends on a concept of continuous space, where we can imagine motion at a dimensionless point on a line and conclude that 1) there is no motion in the space outside this point and 2) the space outside this point contains the entire line so 3) there is no motion at the point we chose.

Naturally, an ice skate is not a point, so we can be sure our ice skates are moving.

I think there was considerable diffusion along the Silk Road during these times, with Greeks and Indians sharing ideas.

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:10 pm

yadave wrote:You caught my sense Tom, it was about the ball, MMK CH2:1 is about the rolling. Gad's reference is good. It highlights that CH2:1, like Zeno's Paradox, depends on a concept of continuous space, where we can imagine motion at a dimensionless point on a line and conclude that 1) there is no motion in the space outside this point and 2) the space outside this point contains the entire line so 3) there is no motion at the point we chose.

Naturally, an ice skate is not a point, so we can be sure our ice skates are moving.

Looks like I'm making Candrakirti's typo in that last comment. To handle ice skates, we can use Zeno's Arrow Paradox, which is Tom's time example, which boils down to saying that Now there is no motion, Now there is no stationary, these concepts are undefined in the present moment because there is no duration of time in the present moment. When we turn the clock back on, these concepts arise, appear, show up. Maybe this illustrates emptiness of motion, it appears and disappears as we play with the clock.

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Sat Jan 28, 2012 6:10 pm

Still, this "emptiness of motion" feels more like a neat trick than something profound. I cannot remember ever thinking of "motion" as an eternal thing, or something that "movers" possessed. Perhaps these concepts were prevalent in Indian philosophy and Nagarjuna is deconstructing these on his way to emptiness of impermanence in general.

Regards,
Dave.
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