The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

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White Sakura
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The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by White Sakura »

Hi dear scholars!
I am reading a book from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the ninth Chapter of the Bodhicharyavatara.
First I read only the root text an did not have the commentary book and believed I understood it, until the debate with the Chittamatrins startet. Then I read the commentary and believed I understood the debate with the Chittamatrins with the help of the book. And, to have it complete I read in His Holiness´commentary the explanations for the first stanzas. I think I understand that, but I do not understand, what school that is, that Shantideva is refuting here.

In the Dalai Lamas book the headline is: Critic on the Buddhist realism.
In his explanation about the Stanza 6cd he talks about two scholars: Bhavaviveka and Chandrakirty. They had different understandings and from this derived the two schools: Madhyamaka-Svatantrika und Madhyamaka-Prasangika.

So I could think, the opponents of this first part are the Madhyamaka-Svatantrikas. But he often says: "The madhyamaki´s point of view"- so that sounds as if the opponents are not called Madhyamakins.

Then I tried to read this,

https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-s ... two-truths

but the first passage really confused me. So the Svatantricas are again divided into two schools an this is only so according to Gelug School.... :?

ok since I understand the argumentation itself, can somebody give me a short explanation to my question? Which school do his opponents belong to who are called Buddhist realists? I mean obviously I cannot understand everything about all this Schools mentioned at Study Buddhism. As I soon want to continue to read his Holiness´commentary.
zerwe
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by zerwe »

Buddhist "realists" likely refer to the Vaibhashika. Honestly, for myself, I found that in order to understand treatises and commentaries in the manner you seem to be hoping for, I had to study the Tenet systems in depth.

Shaun :namaste:
White Sakura
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by White Sakura »

zerwe wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 7:45 pm Buddhist "realists" likely refer to the Vaibhashika. Honestly, for myself, I found that in order to understand treatises and commentaries in the manner you seem to be hoping for, I had to study the Tenet systems in depth.

Shaun :namaste:
Thanks.
Yes I know that. But for whatever reason our Lamas recommend the Bodhicharyavatara to as as a basic book. Not easy to believe as it was given to an audience of monks who did nothing else than studying all this tenet systems the whole day.

But luckily, I can understand this commentary of His Holiness.
Jeff H
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by Jeff H »

White Sakura wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 5:35 pm Hi dear scholars!
I am reading a book from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the ninth Chapter of the Bodhicharyavatara.
First I read only the root text an did not have the commentary book and believed I understood it, until the debate with the Chittamatrins startet. Then I read the commentary and believed I understood the debate with the Chittamatrins with the help of the book. And, to have it complete I read in His Holiness´commentary the explanations for the first stanzas. I think I understand that, but I do not understand, what school that is, that Shantideva is refuting here.

In the Dalai Lamas book the headline is: Critic on the Buddhist realism.
In his explanation about the Stanza 6cd he talks about two scholars: Bhavaviveka and Chandrakirty. They had different understandings and from this derived the two schools: Madhyamaka-Svatantrika und Madhyamaka-Prasangika.

So I could think, the opponents of this first part are the Madhyamaka-Svatantrikas. But he often says: "The madhyamaki´s point of view"- so that sounds as if the opponents are not called Madhyamakins.

Then I tried to read this,

https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-s ... two-truths

but the first passage really confused me. So the Svatantricas are again divided into two schools an this is only so according to Gelug School.... :?

ok since I understand the argumentation itself, can somebody give me a short explanation to my question? Which school do his opponents belong to who are called Buddhist realists? I mean obviously I cannot understand everything about all this Schools mentioned at Study Buddhism. As I soon want to continue to read his Holiness´commentary.
I don't actually understand your question as stated because it seems to refer to a number of different things. Part of your question seems to refer to the tenet system teachings that Gelugpas use to demonstrate the mental progression of coming to understand the principle of emptiness. And I'm not sure how your reference to chapter 9:6cd fits.

But to address just the distinction between Svatantrika and Prasangika, this is what I've come to understand from Gelugpa teachers.

That distinction is Tsongkhapa’s discovery, based on analysis of Bhavaviveka’s criticism of Buddhapalita. Bhavaviveka criticized Buddhapalita's use of a “consequential”, reductio ad absurdum, argument, insisting instead that autonomous, logical argumentation in syllogistic form was a sufficient presentation of Madhyamaka. Chandrakirti then wrote a defense of Buddhapalita, providing an authoritative foundation for Tsongkhapa to use.

While it is certainly true that Bhavaviveka never stated or acknowledged the distinction, Tsongkhapa’s point was that an autonomous,
syllogistic argument is only valid if both parties accept the given premises. For Tsongkhapa, the essential Prasangika premise is that direct perception is mistaken because it apprehends objects as inherently existent from their own side. If the opponent does not accept that premise, but believes that direct perception is an accurate representation of reality which is subsequently distorted by ignorant conception, there is no common basis for syllogistic proofs. Therefore Chandrakirti defended Buddhapalita’s position that the most appropriate debate strategy for Prasangikas to use with non-Prasangika opponents is to demonstrate the internal contradictions of the other person’s position. In fact, that is exactly what Shantideva is doing in chapter nine.

Because Bhavaviveka criticized Buddhapalita's use of such consequential (i.e. "prasangika") arguments and insisted that only autonomous logic was valid, Tsongkhapa concluded that Bhavaviveka must, on some (subconscious?) level, have agreed with the premise that direct perception accurately reflects an object-reality out there.

Tsongkhapa uses this argument as the final step in the “Tenet System” teachings to show how even a great logician like Bhavaviveka, whom he respected greatly and quotes throughout the Great Treatise, could be shown to cling to a subtle vestige of inherent existence.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva
White Sakura
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by White Sakura »

Jeff H wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 3:30 am
I don't actually understand your question as stated because it seems to refer to a number of different things.
I also do not understand why His Holiness refers in his commentary book to all this schools and scholars. Thank you for your answer, but I better stick to the first answer: The first opponents of Shantideva are the Vaibashikas. I do not know why His Holiness does not say that.

I need sort of strategy to understand the ninth chapter of this "basic book" the bodhicharyavatara. I am at the level to be able to keep in mind, that the Vaibashikas are a Hinayana school. Because in the Buddhist forum in my mother-tongue, I know the Hinayanis as Theravadins.
Bristollad
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by Bristollad »

If I recall correctly, the term realists refers to those tenet systems that accept that some things exist from their own side. So that includes the Vaibashikas, the Sautrantikas and the Chittamatrins (who according to explanations I've heard accept that the mind exists from its own side). So realists are the three systems not included within the Madhyamaka. Svatantrika Madhyamaka doesn't accept that things exist from their own side alone so they aren't realists.

However, Svatantrika Madhyamika (as explained by Geluk scholars) do accept that there is something from the side of the cup in combination with its designation by the mind, that is necessary. Whereas Prasangikas say only the designation is necessary, that there is nothing from the side of the cup that makes it a cup. So in Gelug explanations, Svatantrikas demonstrate a realist tendency even though in the final analysis they aren't realists.

Also, Theravada =/= Hinayana. The two Hinayana tenet systems in the 4 tenet model are the Vaibashika and Sautrantika. The tenets of the Theravada school do not match either.

The Hinayana tendency a person might have (focussing on their own relief from suffering) can be found within proponents of any of the tenet systems or of none. It is also possible for a person accepting Vaibashika or Sautrantika tenets to be focused on relieving others' suffering above their own.

While a lot of the material in the Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life is straightforward and clear, I've never heard Chapter Nine referred to as basic by anyone.

One good guide to the way the Gelugpa understand the four tenet systmes is Cutting Through Appearances: Practice and Theory of Tibetan Buddhism by Geshe Lhundup Sopa https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cutting-throug ... 0937938815
Jeff H
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by Jeff H »

White Sakura wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 8:12 am I also do not understand why His Holiness refers in his commentary book to all this schools and scholars.
I think Bristollad's post should help clear up some of your confusion. I would only add that in Gelug teachings (which is HHDL's lineage), the tenet system is used as a teaching device to help us, individually, understand the nuances involved in coming to terms with what "no-self" actually means. That's why HHDL uses it.

The four tenet systems presented are all Buddhist because they accept some level of no-self. But the teachings are not meant (in my opinion) to be an historical review of specific schools. It is meant to illustrate that there is a progression by which practitioners might discover the deeper subtleties of no-self.

If you're interested, Dr. Hun Lye is currently in the middle of an excellent course on Bodhichatyavatara via Zoom. It's on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9am to 11am New York time, and translated into Chinese and Spanish. I've spent a lot of time with Bodhichatyavatara, but this is my first encounter with Dr. Lye. He is very practical in his teaching. He reads Shantideva like a contemporary and helps us see exactly how his advice can be applied in our lives. We're in chapter 6 now, but all the classes are posted on You Tube here. If you listen to a couple classes and like it, the Zoom information is below. This coming Saturday is canceled because of another engagement Dr. Lye had, but it will resume on Tuesday. There is no fee, not even a suggested donation, but they welcome donations if you wish.

It was PadmaVonSamba, here on DW, who mentioned this course and I'll pass along the same suggestion he did: be prepared to take notes. This guy is very good. You can get more info and register to receive class notices at this email: [email protected]

Zoom Information:
Every Tuesday and Saturday
9-11 AM, New York Time
9-11 PM, Singapore Time
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85292579977?p ... 0Zk5TQT09​
Meeting ID: 852 9257 9977
Passcode: bodhicitta
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva
White Sakura
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by White Sakura »

ok thanks everybody. I can understand the book of His Holiness, because I have that in German. I can read your posts several times, then English is ok.

But just listening to English on such a high level topic, ist too difficult. I can have teachings in English even in my city, but the master is not translated to German then. So first I go through that book.
zerwe
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by zerwe »

White Sakura wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 9:54 pm ok thanks everybody. I can understand the book of His Holiness, because I have that in German. I can read your posts several times, then English is ok.

But just listening to English on such a high level topic, ist too difficult. I can have teachings in English even in my city, but the master is not translated to German then. So first I go through that book.
You might see if you can find some translations in German. When it comes to tenets, logic an reasoning or emptiness my teacher says this is hard to understand even in ones native language.

Shaun :namaste:
White Sakura
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by White Sakura »

Bristollad wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 9:28 am If I recall correctly, the term realists refers to those tenet systems that accept that some things exist from their own side. So that includes the Vaibashikas, the Sautrantikas and the Chittamatrins (who according to explanations I've heard accept that the mind exists from its own side). So realists are the three systems not included within the Madhyamaka. Svatantrika Madhyamaka doesn't accept that things exist from their own side alone so they aren't realists.
It is clear to me now that the realists are more than one school.
But I cannot bring your definition together with the definition of His Holiness. He describes realists as all those who still believe in any form of inherent existence.
The Svatantrika-Madhyamakas state that neither mind nor the objects have a substantial inherent existence. Nevertheless mind and objects have a form of subtle inherent existence. Therefore, their understanding of emptiness is incomplete. And Shantideva calls all those "realists" who have any kind of incomplete understanding of emptiness.

I think there is no Buddhist school who believes that things exist from their own side? Because that would be just naive realism? Like just taking the relative truth for real. "The table is the table".

And he mentions the Svatantrika Madhyamaka in the explanations of the stanzas about the Buddhist realists. So of course he refers also to them.
Last edited by White Sakura on Fri Sep 17, 2021 7:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
White Sakura
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by White Sakura »

Question to the first sentence here:

https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-s ... two-truths

Does that mean, that the non-Gelug schools do not divide the Madhyamaka school into Prasangika Madhyamaka and Svatantrika Madhyamaka?
Because I thought all Tibetan Buddhist schools agree on that.
White Sakura
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by White Sakura »

zerwe wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:57 am
You might see if you can find some translations in German. When it comes to tenets, logic an reasoning or emptiness my teacher says this is hard to understand even in ones native language.
In German, it´s easy for me. The book of His Holiness is no problem. In English, it´s a problem of missing words. I need to have time to look them up. That´s why, engaging in discussions here is possible, listening to a teaching in English with no translation is not possible.
Bristollad
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by Bristollad »

White Sakura wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 7:45 am Question to the first sentence here:

https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-s ... two-truths

Does that mean, that the non-Gelug schools do not divide the Madhyamaka school into Prasangika Madhyamaka and Svatantrika Madhyamaka?
Because I thought all Tibetan Buddhist schools agree on that.
No, the non-Gelug schools also do this but they don't attach the same meaning to it. My understanding is that for the other Tibetan schools, the distinction between Prasangika and Svatantrika is a matter of whether they principally use the technique of showing the absurd consequences of a position (Prasangika) or whether they principally use autonomous syllogisms (Svatantrika). So it's a difference simply of logical technique.

Tsongkhapa discerned in Bhavaviveka's preference for autonomous syllogisms a difference in the understanding of emptiness. So for Gelugpas, there is a difference in technique and understanding.

My study has been in the Gelug school but I find it always useful to remember that Tsongkhapa's position on some things is quite different to the other main schools. It's useful when reading commentaries to Chapter Nine from Tibetan teachers to know where they are coming from to avoid additional misunderstandings trying to compare an explanation from say a Nyingma or Kagyu teacher to one from a Gelug teacher.
Bristollad
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by Bristollad »

White Sakura wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 7:37 am I think there is no Buddhist school that believes that things exist from their own side? Because that would be just naive realism? Like just taking the relative truth for real. "The table is the table".
While for the Vaibashika the table is a conventional truth, the directionally partless particles which come together to form the table are ultimate truths.

From Guy Newland. Appearance And Reality: The Two Truths In The Four Buddhist Tenet Systems:

Conventional Truths and Ultimate Truths

"Definitions of the two truths according to the Great Exposition system can be derived from this stanza in Vasubandhu's Treasury of Knowledge:
If the awareness of something does not operate after that thing Is destroyed or mentally separated into other things, Then that thing exists conventionally, like a pot or water. Others exist ultimately.'
Accordingly, a conventional truth is defined as: a phenomenon which is such that if it were physically destroyed or mentally separated into parts, the consciousness apprehending it would be cancelled."

-----
"The definition of an ultimate truth is: a phenomenon which is such that if it were physically destroyed or mentally separated into parts, the consciousness apprehending it would not be cancelled. Examples include a directionally partless particle, a temporally partless moment of consciousness, and uncompounded space."
-----
This presentation of the two truths brings home the message that we have an ingrained predilection to see a gross sort of wholeness in our selves, our bodies, and the external objects we encounter. We fail to reflect upon the fact that such phenomena are imputed to collections of parts. Consequently, in our minds they take on a solidity and substantiality which they actually do not have. The conventional truths of the Great Exposition system are subject to disintegration, but we ignorantly apprehend them as unchanging and permanent. We mistakenly see them as independent realities, when in fact they rely on the aggregation of things other than themselves. All of these misapprehensions lead us into afflictive emotions, such as desire and hatred, and these afflictions in turn motivate the actions that trap us in a cycle of suffering.
Yogis can notice and experience the very subtlest substance particles and partless instants of consciousness. According to the Great Exposition system, they thereby eradicate the ignorant conceptions of a permanent, partless, and independent self and/or a substantially existent self, and eventually attain nirvana, which is a true cessation."


As was mentioned before, a thorough grounding in tenets helps. His Holiness has a fantastic ability to give clear and simple explanations to complex points, but they are the results of his lifetime of study and meditation - If I just read His Holiness' explanation, I find I can be lulled into thinking I understand something which I really don't. Taking the time to read other explanations and spending time contemplating and meditating on the difficult points are necessary for me to really appreciate and understand His Holiness' explanation.
White Sakura
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by White Sakura »

Bristollad wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 10:14 am
White Sakura wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 7:45 am Question to the first sentence here:

https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-s ... two-truths

Does that mean, that the non-Gelug schools do not divide the Madhyamaka school into Prasangika Madhyamaka and Svatantrika Madhyamaka?
Because I thought all Tibetan Buddhist schools agree on that.
No, the non-Gelug schools also do this but they don't attach the same meaning to it. My understanding is that for the other Tibetan schools, the distinction between Prasangika and Svatantrika is a matter of whether they principally use the technique of showing the absurd consequences of a position (Prasangika) or whether they principally use autonomous syllogisms (Svatantrika). So it's a difference simply of logical technique.

Tsongkhapa discerned in Bhavaviveka's preference for autonomous syllogisms a difference in the understanding of emptiness. So for Gelugpas, there is a difference in technique and understanding.

My study has been in the Gelug school but I find it always useful to remember that Tsongkhapa's position on some things is quite different to the other main schools. It's useful when reading commentaries to Chapter Nine from Tibetan teachers to know where they are coming from to avoid additional misunderstandings trying to compare an explanation from say a Nyingma or Kagyu teacher to one from a Gelug teacher.
thanks.

Now I read that the Svatantrikas give this subtle immanent existence they state, even a name: Svabhava in Sanskrit. So it´s a bit difficult to understand that the non-Gelug schools believe that Prasangika Madhyamaka and Svatantrika Madhyamaka only differ in a logical technique. But ok now I just don´t have a text on the ninth chapter by a non gelug teacher. There is this archive side, Study Buddhism from Alexander Berzin and he is also a gelug scholar.
Bristollad
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by Bristollad »

Which tradition are your lamas? If people know, they might be able to suggest translations and commentaries that are appropriate for that tradition. Yes, I know Alex Berzin and respect him a lot but people don't always like his translation choices.
White Sakura
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by White Sakura »

Bristollad wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 7:18 pm Which tradition are your lamas? If people know, they might be able to suggest translations and commentaries that are appropriate for that tradition. Yes, I know Alex Berzin and respect him a lot but people don't always like his translation choices.
Kagyu/Nyingma
But it´s ok because everybody who is able to discuss about Madhyamaka in the German Forum studied at the same Buddhist Center in gelug school. So I meet the gelug view anyway.
It´s ok I can cope with the possibilities I have. I am not the person complaining about Dr. Berzins work or anybody else´s work who helps me to understand.
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by Crazywisdom »

White Sakura wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 5:35 pm Hi dear scholars!
I am reading a book from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the ninth Chapter of the Bodhicharyavatara.
First I read only the root text an did not have the commentary book and believed I understood it, until the debate with the Chittamatrins startet. Then I read the commentary and believed I understood the debate with the Chittamatrins with the help of the book. And, to have it complete I read in His Holiness´commentary the explanations for the first stanzas. I think I understand that, but I do not understand, what school that is, that Shantideva is refuting here.

In the Dalai Lamas book the headline is: Critic on the Buddhist realism.
In his explanation about the Stanza 6cd he talks about two scholars: Bhavaviveka and Chandrakirty. They had different understandings and from this derived the two schools: Madhyamaka-Svatantrika und Madhyamaka-Prasangika.

So I could think, the opponents of this first part are the Madhyamaka-Svatantrikas. But he often says: "The madhyamaki´s point of view"- so that sounds as if the opponents are not called Madhyamakins.

Then I tried to read this,

https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-s ... two-truths

but the first passage really confused me. So the Svatantricas are again divided into two schools an this is only so according to Gelug School.... :?

ok since I understand the argumentation itself, can somebody give me a short explanation to my question? Which school do his opponents belong to who are called Buddhist realists? I mean obviously I cannot understand everything about all this Schools mentioned at Study Buddhism. As I soon want to continue to read his Holiness´commentary.
I love everything about this book except the Wisdom Chapter. He's trying to prove his point against assumed positions by other schools, all of which are fallacious and silly. It all comes down to your wrong so I'm right. The best part is some rudimentary Madhyamaka. The Patience chapter is gold. I do not think this guy understood wisdom honestly.
White Sakura
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by White Sakura »

Crazywisdom wrote: Sat Sep 18, 2021 8:03 pm He's trying to prove his point against assumed positions by other schools, all of which are fallacious and silly.
that´s what I also thought. The Svatantrikas, how silly. :lol:
Malcolm
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Re: The opponents, Shantideva refutes first

Post by Malcolm »

White Sakura wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 11:07 am
Crazywisdom wrote: Sat Sep 18, 2021 8:03 pm He's trying to prove his point against assumed positions by other schools, all of which are fallacious and silly.
that´s what I also thought. The Svatantrikas, how silly. :lol:
"Svatantra" and Prasanga are positions invented by Tibetans. It has nothing to with the facts on the ground in Indian Madhyamaka.

Tsongkhapa is a wonderful teacher, but you should not imagine that his presentation is by any means the definitive one. It is not even the definitive one in Geluk, since there are many different trends in Geluk, and not even all famous Geluk scholars agree with everything Tsongkhapa wrote.

Śantideva does not address other Madhyamakas. He addresses only other tenet systems.
"Death stands before all who are born."
— Ācārya Aśvaghoṣa
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