Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Malcolm
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Malcolm »

illarraza wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 11:56 pm Nagarjuna stated in his treatise, the Great Perfection of Wisdom,
This text is not by Nagarjuna. It is too large to go unnoticed by Indian scholars, and no Indian scholar in the Madhyamaka school mentions it.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Caoimhghín
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Caoimhghín »

illarraza wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 12:41 am You know, I highly respect your erudition, however, you must realize that I respect most Nichiren's.
I certainly wouldn't expect you to take my word over his, no matter how right I thought mine was. For instance, I think Ven Nichiren misidentifies the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā as the Madhyamakaśāstra, but as Queequeg points out this could be an English translation issue. I know very little Japanese.

With regards to things I say and papers I bring up, I just present what is on my mind and I find as I go through my latest lockdown reading list. I have a lot of respect for the Lotus traditions of Buddhism, even though I am not a practitioner of a "Lotus Buddhism" in any meaningful way. The Lotus brought me to Buddhism and I've a high place for it in my heart even if I disagree with some of the ways it is read and some things read into it.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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tkp67
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by tkp67 »

Malcolm wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 12:37 pm
tkp67 wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 6:28 am
Malcolm wrote: Fri Jan 15, 2021 3:24 pm

The point is that you not studied anything outside it. That’s ok, but it necessarily means your perspective on Dharma is very narrow. Not that my perspective is universal, I’ve never deeply studied Chan, etc., mainly because what appeals to me is Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. We have our own triumphalism, and it’s equally as silly as your’s.
No.

There is no triumphalism in a vehicle regardless of tradition from the perspective of the buddha. This is simply a human construct.
So now you are speaking from the perspective of a buddha? You really do need to go back and examine your posts.
The lotus is the perspective of the buddha left as a means for others. If you want to dispel the Lotus and the schools based on it through something other than erroneous projections of your own ignorance on such manners I would greatly welcome the change.


Attempting to promote it by attacking a perceived lack from the perspective of a different tradition is not only repugnant but a grave offense according :rules:

Say what you like about Nichiren but the Lotus is still established and being practiced in Japan. Japanese buddhism has carried that nation to prosperity in a way that is reflective of the blessing of the Lotus itself.
“The way of the bodhisattva is the same as this. As long as a person has not yet heard, not yet understood, and not yet been able to practice this Lotus Sutra, then you should know that that person is still far away from supreme perfect enlightenment. But if the person is able to hear, understand, ponder, and practice the sutra, then you should know that he can draw near to supreme perfect enlightenment. Why? Because all bodhisattvas who attain supreme perfect enlightenment in all cases do so through this sutra. This sutra opens the gate of expedient means and shows the form of true reality. This storehouse of the Lotus Sutra is hidden deep and far away where no person can reach it. But now the Buddha, teaching, converting, and leading to success the bodhisattvas, opens it up for them.

“Medicine King, if there are bodhisattvas who, on hearing this Lotus Sutra, respond with surprise, doubt, and fear, then you should know that they are bodhisattvas who have only newly embarked on their course. And if there are voice-hearers who, on hearing this sutra, respond with surprise, doubt, and fear, then you should know that they are people of overbearing arrogance.
Teacher of the Law

---> https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/lsoc/Content/10
Malcolm
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Malcolm »

tkp67 wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 3:35 pm
Say what you like about Nichiren but the Lotus is still established and being practiced in Japan. Japanese buddhism has carried that nation to prosperity in a way that is reflective of the blessing of the Lotus itself.
That’s a nice declaration of faith, but that’s about it.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by haha »

Tri-Svabhava is also a complex theory. Different yogacara texts have presented its depth slightly different way. There are various kinds of middle ways. Mulamadhayamakakarika has its middle way. Madhyantavibhanga has its own. And so on.
The two theories do differ but there are also striking parallels, with the former consisting of their own negation (i.e. three non-self), and used in conjunction with the Ārūpya-dhātu, and the latter entailing their own intersubsumption, and used in conjunction with the Three Contemplations.
From above provided link
Yu-Kwan Ng’s thesis on Chih-i and Madhyamika: http://hdl.handle.net/11375/13647





For another point.
We already know Lotus and Nirvana as the pinnacle of the teaching in this context.

It is not about what is said in 24:18 verses but it is about how it is interpreted. However, all traditions have their own interpretation. And each group has their own choice of favorite scriptures. One group holds one version of prajnaparamita is definitive; another group holds another version is definitive. What is Buddha nature? That is not talked at least in Mulamadhayamakakarika. I have no idea where it fits in eightfold negation or in fourfold negation.
Chih-i is quite aware of the difference, as he states:
That which transcends annihilation and eternalism is called the Middle Way. It is, however, not the Buddha Nature-Middle Way.

From Ng Yu-Kwan, T'ien-T'ai Buddhism and Early Madhyamika
In contrast, the T’ien-t’ai (Chin; Tendai) school, which is based on the Lotus Sutra, holds that all people are endowed with the three inherent potentials of the Buddha nature—the innate Buddha nature, the wisdom to perceive it, and the deeds to develop it—and therefore can attain enlightenment.
https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/dic/Content/B/82
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Caoimhghín »

haha wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:35 pmYu-Kwan Ng’s thesis on Chih-i and Madhyamika: http://hdl.handle.net/11375/13647
Thank you! This is a lot better than the 20-page preview I was looking at.

To me, to suggest that Ven Nagarjuna either doesn't know or doesn't believe in buddha-nature is to suggest that Ven Nagarjuna in some way is not a Mahayanika, that he is perhaps a very wise Śrāvaka or something like that. Just as adherents of schools of "Lotus Buddhism" can read their scripture and find within it three buddha-bodies despite no mention of the such, we can read the MMK and find buddha-nature in it despite not overt mention of a term.

In regards to 24:18 of the MMK, I actually meant to write 25:20. I've actually been writing 24 instead of 25 in multiple places where I have copy-pasted this text, so now I have to run around correcting all my citations! Sorry if that caused confusion.

涅槃與世間  無有少分別
世間與涅槃  亦無少分別
涅槃之實際  及與世間際
如是二際者  無毫釐差別

From the true apex of nirvāṇa
to the apex of the world,
like this, there are two apices
with not a sliver of difference between them.
(T1564.35c27)

My argument will be that this is buddha-nature based on the way that Lotus Buddhists argue that the trikaya is in the Lotus. Sorry for the error in citation. Now I have to go fixing this everywhere
Last edited by Caoimhghín on Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
Malcolm
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Malcolm »

haha wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:35 pm What is Buddha nature? That is not talked at least in Mulamadhayamakakarika. I have no idea where it fits in eightfold negation or in fourfold negation.
"Whatever is the nature of the tathāgata, that is the nature of the world;
as the tathāgata has no nature, also the world has no nature."

I think that sums the MMK position on buddhanature pretty well.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Caoimhghín »

Caoimhghín wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:44 pm
涅槃與世間  無有少分別
世間與涅槃  亦無少分別
涅槃之實際  及與世間際
如是二際者  無毫釐差別

From the true apex of nirvāṇa
to the apex of the world,
like this, there are two apices
with not a sliver of difference between them.
(T1564.35c27)
First I mistake chapter 25 for 24, then I don't paste half of the section I wanted to paste. I'm not Interneting very well today. The full section should be:
Between nirvāṇa and the world,
there is not the slightest differentiation.
Between the world and nirvāṇa,
there is also not the slightest differentiation.


From the true apex of nirvāṇa
to the apex of the world,
like this, there are two apices
with not a sliver of difference between them.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
illarraza
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by illarraza »

Caoimhghín wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:07 pm
Caoimhghín wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:44 pm
涅槃與世間  無有少分別
世間與涅槃  亦無少分別
涅槃之實際  及與世間際
如是二際者  無毫釐差別

From the true apex of nirvāṇa
to the apex of the world,
like this, there are two apices
with not a sliver of difference between them.
(T1564.35c27)
First I mistake chapter 25 for 24, then I don't paste half of the section I wanted to paste. I'm not Interneting very well today. The full section should be:
Between nirvāṇa and the world,
there is not the slightest differentiation.
Between the world and nirvāṇa,
there is also not the slightest differentiation.


From the true apex of nirvāṇa
to the apex of the world,
like this, there are two apices
with not a sliver of difference between them.
Very good. Here is my association of Nagarjuna's Tetralemma and Tientai's Three Truths revised. Tell me what you think.

Nagarjuna's Tetralemma can be understood through the concept of latency, manifestation, and Tientai the Great's Mutual Possession of the Ten Worlds and Three Truth Doctrine

1). P; that is being...A single World (being or phenomena) manifestation is equivalent to Tientai's Truth of Temporary Existence (body)
2). not P; that is not being...Nine Worlds (being or phenomena) not manifest (latent) is equivalent to Tientai's Truth of Non-substantiality (mind)
3). P and not P; that is being and that is not being...A single World (or phenomena) manifest and Nine Worlds not manifest is equivalent to both Tientai's temporary existence and non-substantiality or relative understanding of mind and body.
4). not (P or not P); that is not being or not not being... not manifest or not latent (not not being) is a near equivalent to Tientai's Truth of the Middle Way (though not actually temporarily manifest or not actually non-substantial, exhibiting characteristics of both.)

Therefore, contrary to the assertions to most Tibetans and Madhyamaka adherents, Nagarjuna's did postulate Three Truths (not merely Two Truths) in his Tetralemma but they differ slightly from Tientai's "unification of the Three Truths".
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by PeterC »

illarraza wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 11:03 pm Nagarjuna's Tetralemma can be understood through the concept of latency, manifestation, and Tientai the Great's Mutual Possession of the Ten Worlds and Three Truth Doctrine

1). P; that is being...A single World (being or phenomena) manifestation is equivalent to Tientai's Truth of Temporary Existence (body)
2). not P; that is not being...Nine Worlds (being or phenomena) not manifest (latent) is equivalent to Tientai's Truth of Non-substantiality (mind)
3). P and not P; that is being and that is not being...A single World (or phenomena) manifest and Nine Worlds not manifest is equivalent to both Tientai's temporary existence and non-substantiality or relative understanding of mind and body.
4). not (P or not P); that is not being or not not being... not manifest or not latent (not not being) is a near equivalent to Tientai's Truth of the Middle Way (though not actually temporarily manifest or not actually non-substantial, exhibiting characteristics of both.)

Therefore, contrary to the assertions to most Tibetans and Madhyamaka adherents, Nagarjuna's did postulate Three Truths (not merely Two Truths) in his Tetralemma but they differ slightly from Tientai's "unification of the Three Truths".
illarraza - I'm curious to hear how you reconcile your interpretation with the following:
(a) Nagarjuna nowhere mentions three truths, indeed that doctrine was only developed centuries after Nagarjuna; and
(b) the whole point of Nagarjuna's philosophy is that he doesn't postulate anything. Indeed that's the whole point of the tetralemma as a formal device.
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by haha »

We can find many different points about Buddha-nature in different texts.
“suggest that Ven Nagarjuna in some way is not a Mahayanika”
I have not suggested that either. Only suggesting, we did not find buddha-nature at least in Mulamadhayamakakarika. MMK’s one point is the appeasement of obsessions (prapancopasamam) by understanding the non-ceasing and the non-arising, etc.

It is a personal opinion; I find common ground for pranjnaparamita, the lotus sutra, etc. in three doors of liberation; they all talk about it.

For 25:20,
25:3:
No elimination and no attainment.
No annihilation and no permanence,
No cessation and no arising—
This is how nirvana is described.
This is how Nagarjuna has defined Nirvana.
20. Whatever is the limit of nirvana,
That is the limit of cyclic existenence.
There is not even the slightest difference between them,
Or even the subtlest thing.
Limit of nirvana is defined by six negation. With the same logic, No cessation and no arising, etc. — This is how samsara is described. This is what I have understood.





For 22:16
"Whatever is the nature of the tathāgata, that is the nature of the world;
as the tathāgata has no nature, also the world has no nature."
I might be incorrect but it is about svabhava and nisvabhava. I did not see how the tathagata-garbha (buddha-nature) fits here.





For catuskoti, there is correlation in 4 types of Samadhi of Tianti, then three truths.
That is: sitting, walking, walking and sitting, neither walking nor sitting.
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Malcolm »

haha wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:47 pm

For 22:16
"Whatever is the nature of the tathāgata, that is the nature of the world;
as the tathāgata has no nature, also the world has no nature."
I might be incorrect but it is about svabhava and nisvabhava. I did not see how the tathagata-garbha (buddha-nature) fits here.
For those whom emptiness is appropriate, everything is appropriate;
for those whom emptiness is not appropriate, nothing is appropriate.



For catuskoti, there is correlation in 4 types of Samadhi of Tianti, then three truths.
That is: sitting, walking, walking and sitting, neither walking nor sitting.
The catuskoti is just a rhetorical device. It can be used and misused. But Nāgārjuna uses it as follows:

An existent does not arise from an existent;
an existent does not arise from a nonexistent;
a nonexistent does not arise from an existent;
a nonexistent does not arise from a nonexistent.
Where can there be arising?
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Caoimhghín »

Caoimhghín wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:29 pm
Queequeg wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:16 pm Yes... the story about the fellow is that he retired to a mountain referred to as Nanyue. https://goo.gl/maps/yLfdqMry9cDqfNP66
Yes, it seems so.

Historical Vietnam (Nanyue) actually covers the modern Chinese subdivisions of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hong Kong, and Macau, as well as parts of southern Fujian at its largest. These are all situated right around that mountain, right around modern Hunan. IMO, and this is only MO, the mountain is named after the people, the "Southern Yue," the mixed Sinitic-Austronesian inhabitants of this place AFAIK.

Now, undermining what I have said above, I just checked in Makashikan's introduction, and the hanzi they used means that it is far more likely (i.e. definitely) the mountain.

Hanzi = Middle = Modern
南岳 = nʌm·ŋˠʌk = nányuè
南越 = nʌm·ɦʉɐt = nányuè

The first is from Makashikan, 岳 indicating the mountain rather than any lands of the Southern Yue.

So the pronunciation would have not been the same historically and they actually can't be confused. Only in modern Chinese are they confused and homophonous.
Look at this wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanyue_Huisi

They have it as a family name and/or title, but they also have it spelled like Vietnam, not the mountain. The Makashikan text spells it like the mountain.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Caoimhghín »

This is going to be overlong, sorry.
illarraza wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 11:03 pm
Caoimhghín wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:07 pm
Caoimhghín wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:44 pm(T1564.35c27)
First I mistake chapter 25 for 24, then I don't paste half of the section I wanted to paste. I'm not Interneting very well today. The full section should be:
Between nirvāṇa and the world,
there is not the slightest differentiation.
Between the world and nirvāṇa,
there is also not the slightest differentiation.


From the true apex of nirvāṇa
to the apex of the world,
like this, there are two apices
with not a sliver of difference between them.
Very good. Here is my association of Nagarjuna's Tetralemma and Tientai's Three Truths revised. Tell me what you think.

Nagarjuna's Tetralemma can be understood through the concept of latency, manifestation, and Tientai the Great's Mutual Possession of the Ten Worlds and Three Truth Doctrine

1). P; that is being...A single World (being or phenomena) manifestation is equivalent to Tientai's Truth of Temporary Existence (body)
2). not P; that is not being...Nine Worlds (being or phenomena) not manifest (latent) is equivalent to Tientai's Truth of Non-substantiality (mind)
3). P and not P; that is being and that is not being...A single World (or phenomena) manifest and Nine Worlds not manifest is equivalent to both Tientai's temporary existence and non-substantiality or relative understanding of mind and body.
4). not (P or not P); that is not being or not not being... not manifest or not latent (not not being) is a near equivalent to Tientai's Truth of the Middle Way (though not actually temporarily manifest or not actually non-substantial, exhibiting characteristics of both.)

Therefore, contrary to the assertions to most Tibetans and Madhyamaka adherents, Nagarjuna's did postulate Three Truths (not merely Two Truths) in his Tetralemma but they differ slightly from Tientai's "unification of the Three Truths".
It looks like you have the positive tetralemma from the 18th chapter of MMK overlayed onto different permutations of latent or manifested realms of the ten realms. I say the "positive" or "reverse" tetralemma because none of the elements of this tetralemma are negated aside from elements 2 and 4. Elements 1 and 3 are forms of "affirmed existence" as we might conventionally call it. Because you have used the positive/reverse tetralemma, this isn't really the four negated theses of Madhyamaka. This is just "the four theses." So this is going to be overlong because I want to first compare the negated theses with Tiantai and then, after that, the affirmed theses.

There's a certain Sarvāstivādin sensibility in explaining unmanifest things as latencies, but this comes from Ven Zhiyi himself rather than yourself having "a certain Sarvastivadin sensibility." He describes fire as latent in bamboo, for instance, requiring a convergence of causes and conditions to make it manifest, so I see where that comes from. Because you are using the positive or "reversed" tetralemma, it is functioning IMO fundamentally differently than the negative tetralemma. This will seem very roundabout, like I am not answering your question, but hopefully by the end of it something has been said.

The tetralemma or "four theses" are four ways to respond to a question: "it is," "it isn't," "it is and isn't," "it neither is nor isn't," like in your example above. We can take a frivolous question like "Does the Buddha exist after he appears to die?" and the four theses will give us a matrix of "Yes (he exists postmortem)," "No (he does not exist postmortem)," "Yes and no (he kind of does, kind of doesn't)," and "Neither yes nor no (something entirely else is the case)." These four are really the only places we can go to answer simple questions of any sort: affirmation, negation, some combination of the two, or none of the above. It's how we form philosophical stances and views, etc. The Buddha "is," Jehovah "isn't," etc. or the other way around. If it's option 4 that is the answer to "Does the Buddha exist or not exist after apparent death," then that means that he fundamentally "is" in some manner other than existence or nonexistence (a very queer suggestion indeed but a common one!).

Positive Tetralemma:
1. P; that is being -- affirmation
2. not P; that is not being -- negation
3. P and not P; that is being and that is not being -- a combination of the two
4. not (P or not P); that is neither being nor that is not being -- none of the above


Negative Tetralemma:
1. not P -- existence is negated
2. not not P -- nonexistence is negated
3. not both P and not P -- some intermediary
4. not not (P or not P) -- none of the above


Let's consider how the tetralemma appears in the literature of the Śrāvakas for the simple reason that I have this following short section typed out already. We could have used an example from a Mahāyāna sutra, but the tetralemma itself is largely the same however it appears. Let's pretend we know nothing about Ven Nagarjuna and the Buddhadharma and just read the passage as we imagine an uninstructed tirthika worldling might:
“Reverend Sāriputta, does a Realized One exist after death?”

“Reverend, this has not been declared by the Buddha.”

“Well then, does a Realized One not exist after death? …

Does a Realized One both exist and not exist after death? …

Does a Realized One neither exist nor not exist after death?”

“This too has not been declared by the Buddha.”
(SN 44.3)

We now break these down into the pseudo-logical language we often see on things like Wikipedia pages on Madhyamaka, where A is "The Tathagata existing after death," not A is "not existing," etc.

1. Not A
2. Not not A

Now we will pause. We are pretending to be someone who has neither heard the Buddha's sutras in which he outlines the four negated theses nor someone who has been exposed to anything like the MMK or the Heart Sutra. We are pretending to be a non-Buddhist, perhaps a materialist atheist, who is encountering a logical proposition of a negatory nature allegedly professing to describe "something," and reading these for the first time.

Because we are taking the text at its word, we now believe "neither 1 nor 2," which means "neither A nor not A." That is how our imagined reader reads elements 1 and 2 together or this list. We continue:

3. Not both A and not A
4. Not neither A nor not A

What has happened? What we have learned from 1 and 2 is now negated in 4. 1 and 2 are no longer "true" statements in light of 4. The entire proposition is logically incoherent from a so-called "objectively logical" perspective. This is just as true of the diamond slivers as it is true of the four theses in Madhyamaka as it is true of the four non-declared statements of the Buddha in SN 44.3. This tells us that the purpose of the four negations is not to "reason through" to a 5th alternative that is the "true thesis," which is nonetheless the winding road that many Buddhists, many Madhyamaka Buddhists too, venture down. The lesson of the tetralemma is to "just stop" trying to inquire into the origin and destiny of the world, the Buddha, and nirvana, and well as to "just stop" trying to define the world, the Buddha, and nirvana via conditioned and ignorant thinking. "Existence" and "nonexistence" are themselves modalities of the conditioned. They are opposites. They bring each other mutually about. "Nonexistence" is technically just a prapanca, a "frivolous pondering." There is "nothing" that "doesn't exist." The point of the tetralemma is to delineate inconceivables and imponderables. Madhyamaka illustrates this imponderability by negating all avenues of recourse that the interlocutor has with which to answer questions such as: "Is the world a oneness?" and "Is the world a multitude instead?" and others like it (MMK 25:24).

One of the most significant things that the tetralemma is applied to is the "existence or nonexistence" of nirvana in the 25th chapter of MMK.

If nirvana "exists," it is not in the world. Why? The world "exists" in a particular way, as designated conventionality. The world is characterized by suffering, impermanence, etc. Because nirvana is not characterized by these things, if nirvana and the world both "exist," then they have to exist "as different things." You would have to leave the world or in some way negate it in order to experience nirvana. The Theravadins believe that nirvana exists as a particular wondrous dharma. The mind can focus on one dharma at a time. So when the mind experiences nirvana, the mind does not experience "the world" in how they see things. They have to "leave the world" so to speak, to experience their nirvana. And sometimes they never come back after (well, not entirely true). So we begin to see perhaps, if I am leading readers properly, why it is important that "nirvana doesn't exist" even though that sounds odd, like saying "There is no Buddha." Now, "Nirvana does not exist" is itself an absurd statement. If nirvana "does not exist" full stop, then the Buddha was never enlightened at Bodh Gaya, because "Buddha" or "Arya" is a term for someone who has "touched" or experienced nirvana at least once. So the next question arises: "Does nirvana in some way exist as a rarified modality of nonexistence?" We can all imagine how this is rejected. I could go through every element of the tetralemma, but the MMK itself does this and the relevant section is already copied out here beginning at section XXV that I misidentify as chapter 24 instead of 25.

In Tiantai Buddhism, there is no leaving the world to experience nirvana. There is "one world" even though there are "ten worlds" and "three worlds."
The nature and characteristics of the path of suffering -– they misunderstand this path of suffering and saṃsāra remains expansive. This is misunderstanding the dharmakāya as the path of suffering. There is no separate dharmakāya apart from the path of suffering, like mistaking south as north, like how there is no separate south (apart from north). If one realizes saṃsāra, then it is the dharmakāya. Thus it is said the nature and characteristics of the path of suffering are the nature and characteristics of the dharmakāya.
(Ven Zhiyi, "The Dharma Flower's Profound Meaning," T1716.743c25-744a3-7)

This is fundamentally different than any version of Śrāvaka Buddhism. But there is something more. Ven Zhiyi is reacting to more than just "the Śrāvaka." Ven Zhiyi is laying out in clearer terms and with more hand-holding that there is no nirvana apart from samsara, which is the same point that Ven Nagarjuna makes when he points out that nirvana and samsara are actually "the same." Pointing out that they are "the same" involves, for Ven Nagarjuna, applying the tetralemma to them.

25:17
The Tathagata, after parinirvāṇa,
is neither said to exist nor not to exist,
nor is he said to both exist and not exist,
nor neither exist nor not exist.

25:18
The Tathagata, presently,
is neither said to exist nor not to exist,
nor is he said to both exist and not exist,
nor neither exist nor not exist.


"After parinirvana" is "in nirvana" and "presently" is "in the world." The same applies to the Tathagata before and after. There is no change for the Tathagata with parinirvana, even though to us it appears like the change of all changes. This is directly related to the proclamation of the Buddha in Ch 16 concerning what "the world" thinks of his entering into parinirvana and his transforming of the body into ash and relics. To quote Ven Sengzhao:
[...] the Sage’s wisdom embraces all things yet it is never belabored; his bodily form fills the eight directions but this brings him no distress. If you add to him, he will not overflow; if you subtract from him, he will not be lessened. How could anyone take literally the story that he contracted dysentery on the way to Kuśinagara, that his life ended under the twin trees, that his mind ceased in the regal casket, and that his body was cremated on a pyre? Yet all the while the deluded, investigating the traces of his extraordinary responsiveness, cling to the evidence of their eyes and ears. Carpenter’s square and ruler in hand, they go about trying to measure the Great Square: they want to find the Perfect belabored by knowledge and distressed by bodily form. “He discarded being to delve into nonbeing,” they claim, and then assign to him the corresponding names.

Surely what they do is not picking words of subtlety from the realm beyond speech, or pulling the root of mystery from the vacuous field.
(Venerable Sēngzhào 肇論 Zhào's Essays T1858.158a4 BDK translation, translator unknown by poster)

"He discarded being to delve into nonbeing" is the world's understanding of the Buddha's parinirvana. What is "the world?" The demons, ghosts, titans, animals, humans, gods, etc., living in it. A sentient being itself is "a world" and indeed is also "worlds" in the plural. Ven Nagarjuna, Ven Zhiyi, and the Lotus Sutra itself say in different ways, "That's not quite the case" that "he discarded being to delve into nonbeing." Not only did he not discard being for nonbeing, he didn't "go anywhere" either, because nirvana is not a location (this is part of it "not existing"). Furthermore, the world is not a "location" similarly, despite the protestations of the worldlings, so indeed he could not have left it to begin with.

As I see it, and please anyone feel free to disagree, the three truths are not an "equivalent" to the two truths, they are the fruits of a particular meditation that Ven Zhiyi learned. Ven Jizang also practiced this. I have no proof, but I speculate that Ven Zhiyi learned it from Ven Huiwen and not Ven Huisi.
In order to enter into emptiness, you must contemplate conventional existence; emptiness is realized through this encounter. This realization is as when the clouds are scattered and vanquished, and above is made manifest and below is clear [...] The conventional is that which is to be destroyed; the real is that which is used to destroy [...] If you enter emptiness, you realize that emptiness itself has no being, and re-enter the conventional with that insight, knowing that this contemplation is done for the sake of saving sentient beings, and knowing that the real is not reality but a utility that appears conventionally. Therefore we say "entering from emptiness" [從空入], and one who attains this contemplation differentiates the proper medicine according to the disease without mistaken discriminations.
(Ven Zhìyǐ, Mahāśamathavipaśyanā T1911.23c12, published as "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight," p. 452)

The important thing that people often miss IMO is that "this contemplation is done for the sake of saving sentient beings." Ven Zhiyi's "ultimate" or "emptiness" or "non-conventional truth" is an extreme. It is not emptiness of emptiness. It is emptiness as the destruction of conventionality. It is not, as the MMK says, an emptiness of this nature:

By virtue of the principle of emptiness
all phenomena are established.
If there were no principle of emptiness,
nothing would be established.

(MMK 24 T1564.32b)

Ven Zhiyi actually says the complete opposite. By virtue of the ultimate truth, emptiness, nothing is established and everything is destroyed. "The real," which is to say emptiness, "is used to destroy" the conventional, not establish it. So there's actually something fundamentally different between the "three truths" and "two truths." For Ven Zhiyi, if he were to rest in the absorption of the ultimate, it would be like Śrāvaka liberation. All of the dharmas are ended. Mind is ended, body is ended, speech is ended. For the sake of saving sentient beings, Ven Zhiyi emerges from the absorption into emptiness and finds conventionality not to be a reality, but instead "a utility." This is all about bodhisattvayana and bodhicitta. Ven Nagarjuna must have also emerged from his nirvanic absorption. This is another way we can read "they knew it in their hearts" other than my silly "they didn't write a commentary" speculations. If Ven Nagarjuna and the Buddha did not know in their hearts how to "enter from emptiness," the principle behind the realization of the third truth, the middle, then the Buddha would have never been able to teach, Ven Nagarjuna would not have been able to write the MMK, and there would be no such thing as samyaksaṃbuddhatva. There would only be arhatva and Pratyekabuddhas.

Observe how Ven Vimalaksa describes the absorption into the ultimate:
[Root text]
If all phenomena are not empty,
then there is no arising and no ceasing.
What then is severed and what ceases
and what is called 'nirvāṇa?'

[Ven Vimalākṣa] Existence and nonexistence, these two gates, do not lead to nirvāṇa. That which is called nirvāṇa is:


[Root text]
neither attained nor arrived at,
neither severed nor permanent,
neither arising nor ceasing.
This is called 'nirvāṇa.'

[Ven Vimalākṣa] It is unattained, because in its action and in its reward there is nothing attained. It is not arrived at, because there is nowhere to arrive. It is unsevered, because the five aggregates have been completely empty from the outset. Therefore, upon attaining awakening and entering into nirvāṇa without remainder, there is nothing severed. It is impermanent. If (from within nirvāṇa) phenomena could still be established, those would otherwise be called 'permanent.' In nirvāṇa there is calm cessation and no phenomena can be established, and so it is not called 'permanent.' Arising and ceasing are also like this(, unestablished). Like this are the characteristics of that which is called 'nirvāṇa.' Furthermore, the scriptures speak of nirvāṇa as neither existent, nor nonexistent, nor existent and nonexistent, nor neither existent nor nonexistent. The calm cessation that is independent of all phenomena is called 'nirvāṇa.'
(MMK XV with commentary)

"Independent" of the world. Something that is truly "independent" of the world cannot then go participate in the world and go for alms runs and teach the Dharma. So we actually find two conflicting messages in the Sinitic MMK, that "By virtue of the principle of emptiness all phenomena are established" and yet from within nirvana "no phenomena can be established." These two are contradictory. This is where Ven Zhiyi is getting his idea that the ultimate "destroys" the conventional from. If we believe in the emptiness of emptiness, then we know that the ultimate is not itself an entity that destroys or replaces another entity. The middle is such that the two co-exist mysteriously. If emptiness itself is empty, it cannot obscure -- this is Ven Zhiyi's middle. The ultimate, for Ven Zhiyi, is emptiness, but the middle is "the emptiness of emptiness." But Ven Zhiyi and the Indian Madhyamakas have very different ways of communicating this.

If the Madhyamakas did not know how to "enter from emptiness," they would all have been pratyekabuddhas and would never have taught the Dharma due to cultivated bodhicitta. All phenomena for them forever would remain unestablished, including body, speech, and mind. As such is not the case, we know that actually emptiness establishes body, speech, and mind, and it does not destroy them.

There is another contradiction still. In the above, Ven Vimalaksa says "Furthermore, the scriptures speak of nirvāṇa as neither existent, nor nonexistent, nor existent and nonexistent, nor neither existent nor nonexistent." We continue at another section:
[Ven Vimalākṣa] [...] Living beings are of three kinds: a superior, a middling, and an inferior. The superior sees the characteristics of all phenomena as neither real nor unreal. The middling sees the characteristics of all phenomena as either all real or all unreal. The inferior, on account of his shallow intellect, reasons seeing the characteristics of all phenomena as slightly real and slightly unreal. He sees nirvāṇa as the unconditioned phenomena and imperishable and reasons it as the real. He sees saṁsāra as the conditioned and the false and reasons it as the unreal. "Neither real nor unreal" is taught to break "Both real and unreal."

[Interlocutor] The Buddha in other places says "separate from neither existence nor nonexistence." In light of this, why say "neither existence nor nonexistence" are the Buddhas' words?

[Ven Vimalākṣa] On those occasions, it was to break the four kinds of attachment to existence that it was taught (referencing earlier: "'Neither real nor unreal' is taught to break 'Both real and unreal'"), not for dramatic discourse. We hear the words of the Buddhas. We attain the way. Like this, we say, "Neither existence nor nonexistence."
(MMK XVIII commentary)

Argument from authority, but one must concede that the Venerable has some degree of authority here. Now, the reason Ven Vimalaksa has to say "not neither existence nor nonexistence" and then turn around and say "neither existence not nonexistence" has to do with the difference between an affirming and a non-affirming negation. Either way, this is outside the purview of this particular post where I, believe it or not, am really trying not to ramble. It is a loosing battle.

I'm going to stop this suddenly and maybe continue it in a bit. It is too long.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Caoimhghín »

Queequeg wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:16 pm Yes... the story about the fellow is that he retired to a mountain referred to as Nanyue. https://goo.gl/maps/yLfdqMry9cDqfNP66
From the wikipedia article on "Nanyue Huisi," it looks like he spent his most prolific years teaching in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, part of the "Southern Yue" that was conquered and incorporated into China in 111BC. He himself is from the north of China, so my "is Vietnamese" was certainly hyperbolic. "Taught in the territory of ancient Vietnam" is more like.

I'm still trying to figure out why some sources spell his name like the mountain and some like the Southern Yue territory and which one is original and if spelling his name like ancient Vietnam is a mistake.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Queequeg
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Queequeg »

Caoimhghín wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:14 pm I'm still trying to figure out why some sources spell his name like the mountain and some like the Southern Yue territory and which one is original and if spelling his name like ancient Vietnam is a mistake.
I suspect the simpler character was adopted sometime in the last 1400 years. Often you see the character itself simplified, but sometimes they just take another character entirely. Another example, the 台 of 天台 (Tiantai/Tendai) is not the original character, as I understand.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Caoimhghín »

Caoimhghín wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 5:36 pm
In order to enter into emptiness, you must contemplate conventional existence; emptiness is realized through this encounter. This realization is as when the clouds are scattered and vanquished, and above is made manifest and below is clear [...] The conventional is that which is to be destroyed; the real is that which is used to destroy [...] If you enter emptiness, you realize that emptiness itself has no being, and re-enter the conventional with that insight, knowing that this contemplation is done for the sake of saving sentient beings, and knowing that the real is not reality but a utility that appears conventionally. Therefore we say "entering from emptiness" [從空入], and one who attains this contemplation differentiates the proper medicine according to the disease without mistaken discriminations.
(Ven Zhìyǐ, Mahāśamathavipaśyanā T1911.23c12, published as "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight," p. 452)

The important thing that people often miss IMO is that "this contemplation is done for the sake of saving sentient beings." Ven Zhiyi's "ultimate" or "emptiness" or "non-conventional truth" is an extreme. It is not emptiness of emptiness. It is emptiness as the destruction of conventionality. It is not, as the MMK says, an emptiness of this nature:

By virtue of the principle of emptiness
all phenomena are established.
If there were no principle of emptiness,
nothing would be established.

(MMK 24 T1564.32b)

Ven Zhiyi actually says the complete opposite. By virtue of the ultimate truth, emptiness, nothing is established and everything is destroyed. "The real," which is to say emptiness, "is used to destroy" the conventional, not establish it. So there's actually something fundamentally different between the "three truths" and "two truths." For Ven Zhiyi, if he were to rest in the absorption of the ultimate, it would be like Śrāvaka liberation. All of the dharmas are ended. Mind is ended, body is ended, speech is ended. For the sake of saving sentient beings, Ven Zhiyi emerges from the absorption into emptiness and finds conventionality not to be a reality, but instead "a utility." This is all about bodhisattvayana and bodhicitta.
Ambiguous wording on my part. It should read "Ven Zhiyi emerges from the absorption that is called 'entering into emptiness' and finds [...]"
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by narhwal90 »

If you'll pardon a minor off-topic tangent- I notice the term "absorption" showing up here and there; eg illusory absorption, universal gateway- perhaps many others. I have the impression it is referring to awareness "absorbed" in some subject eg sense, desire, thought and so on- but am curious if thats correct or if something else is connoted.
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Caoimhghín »

I mean absorption in the sense of a meditative absorption. One of the ways in which nirvāṇa is spoken of is as an absorption. Nirvāṇa as an object of meditative absorption, a dharma, is how the Theravādins believe nibbāna to be a particularized "object." It is in this sense that it appears in the matrices of the Ābhidharmikas.

The Madhyamakaśāstra makes the claim that it is the teaching of the Kārikā that nirvāṇa is not truly a particular one unconditioned dharma, but instead, the "true aspect of all phenomena" can be found to be nirvāṇa. The sage knows nirvāṇa as the true aspect of any dharma, worldly or non-worldly. Nirvāṇa is in the witness of the sage in equipoise, in a way, although that description isn't perfect. Ven Vimalākṣa even says, "No one dharma known as the unconditioned is found." One of the things that Madhyamaka responds to is what we can call historical Ābhidharmika fundamentalism, the belief that the matrices of the Abhidharmas correspond to discrete sets of ultimate realities. Let me find that śāstra quote when I get to posting again.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Queequeg
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Posts: 11695
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Re: Nagarjuna's tetralemma in contrast to Nichiren's interpretation of Tendai 3 Truths

Post by Queequeg »

single pointed attention

samadhi
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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