Author Topic: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.  (Read 14751 times)

Offline White Lotus

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I have for a long while known of the great value placed on Madhyamaka and so i utter my respect for it here, but not knowing its basic method, this utterance is without understanding.

Madhyamaka points towards emptiness. what is the method behind this seeing of emptiness in the simplest possible explanation.

i know there are certain sayings that guide in Madhyamaka, what are they please. if these sayings will make the approach any clearer.

best wishes, Tom.

Offline Tsongkhapafan

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2011, 12:26:44 pm »
Hi Tom,

I think you really do need to receive teachings on Madhyamaka orally from a qualified Teacher in order for them to really have an impact on your mind - otherwise Madhyamaka can seem very intellectual and is a solution for a problem that isn't even clearly understood or explained.  The ability to understand these teachings depends upon how pure and how empowered your mind is by virtuous energy and blessings, so there are many different factors that will lead to success.  Even the simplest and clearest explanation of Madhyamaka can be unintelligible to someone who does not have the necessary conditions - it's a bit like giving a really large print book to someone whose eyesight is very poor - even though the print is big and clear, they are still unable to read it because of obstacles from their side.

I would suggest seeking out a local Dharma centre and going along there for teachings, if you aren't already, as this will bring together the best conditions for success.  Nagarjuna said that for those who are not ready to receive these teachings, they can be like a poisonous snake and infect us with the poison of either nihilism or eternalism.  Receiving correct explanations and imposing our own wrong interpretation on them is not unknown, and this can lead to worse problems than we already have

In short, I think you need to guidance of a qualified Teacher if you really want to understand this topic.

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2011, 01:33:58 pm »
Madhyamaka points towards emptiness. what is the method behind this seeing of emptiness in the simplest possible explanation.

i know there are certain sayings that guide in Madhyamaka, what are they please. if these sayings will make the approach any clearer.
The Madhyamaka is a philosophical approach to emptiness. It uses ideas, logic and debate. If you are going to talk about "method" then you are no longer talking about philosophy, you have to talk about meditation.

The parallel meditational approach is Shamata, then Vipassana, and then Sutrayana Mahamudra. Plus in this system you must also accumulate merit separately to combine with this accumulation of wisdom for it to be a fruitful Dharma path.

The question that Madhyamaka answers is, "What is the essence of phenomena, what is its eternal Truth?"
The answer is that such a thing cannot be found.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2011, 01:37:10 pm by santamonicacj »
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline White Lotus

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2011, 12:15:37 pm »
Thanks so much for your replies.

this is helpful... "What is the essence of phenomena, what is its eternal Truth?"

since the essence radiates, it can be found, but when it is found it is understood as 'without conditions'. without form, without name. if we were unable to perceive this radiance within the subject and see it as the same radiance as the objective world, there would be no seeing. the seeing is wisdom.

'truth' is a pole to which a donkey can be tethered for aeons. perhaps no comment at all is best. i dont seek to prove anything, only to explore the meaning of Madhyamaka through your teaching on this site.

above all else forgive my presumptious arrogance in speaking about things that are essentialy 'wordless', about which i can be said to have no understanding... only a little perhaps. please be patient with my fumbling in the night of apparent ignorance.

thanks again.

Tom.

Offline catmoon

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2011, 01:33:46 pm »
You have chosen a fiendishly difficult subject of study. My experience of the Madhayamaka has been that it is the sort of thing you will enjoy studying - if you enjoy things like physics and calculus and differential equations. Many people read it, and accept the conclusions, but so far I have met but a single person who understood even part of it in detail.
Sergeant Schultz was onto something.

Offline francis

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2011, 03:42:01 pm »
I have for a long while known of the great value placed on Madhyamaka and so i utter my respect for it here, but not knowing its basic method, this utterance is without understanding.

Madhyamaka points towards emptiness. what is the method behind this seeing of emptiness in the simplest possible explanation.

i know there are certain sayings that guide in Madhyamaka, what are they please. if these sayings will make the approach any clearer.

best wishes, Tom.


“Sentient beings are strange, although wishing happiness they avoid its causes. Although wishing to avoid suffering they constantly create its causes.” -Shantideva

"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline White Lotus

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2011, 11:51:32 am »
fiendishly difficult! ever seen a cat run up a wall?!
causality... cause and effect, suffering is in what you do. happiness is in what you do.

i am beginning to realize that Madhyamika, like any other form of Buddhism is probably a complete entire way in itself, and so a vast amount may be attached to it... silly of me really to think that it could be approached in one thread.

what is Zen? what is Madhyamika? what is Therevada? all complete ways in themselves that require years of study usually.

nonetheless, if anyone reading this thread can simplify four or five years worth of study, or more, into a few phrases (as simply put as possible), i would be so very grateful!

best wishes, Tom.

Yeshe

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2011, 12:08:12 pm »
fiendishly difficult! ever seen a cat run up a wall?!
causality... cause and effect, suffering is in what you do. happiness is in what you do.

i am beginning to realize that Madhyamika, like any other form of Buddhism is probably a complete entire way in itself, and so a vast amount may be attached to it... silly of me really to think that it could be approached in one thread.

what is Zen? what is Madhyamika? what is Therevada? all complete ways in themselves that require years of study usually.

nonetheless, if anyone reading this thread can simplify four or five years worth of study, or more, into a few phrases (as simply put as possible), i would be so very grateful!

best wishes, Tom.

Madhyamaka is simply an expression at a point along the continuum of views on 'emptiness'. Not nihilistic, we test the absence of inherent existence by seeking to find inherent existence in 'self' and 'other' and realising there is no permanent phenomenon to find.

Recognise non-duality, and the absence of 'self' and 'other'.  Seek to remove anger, desirous attachment and to eliminate ignorance of impermanence and of the absence of inherent existence.
Above all, cultivate and express Compassion and work for the benefit and enlightenment of all sentient beings.

That's a very rough and ready summation. ;)


Offline francis

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2011, 11:25:40 pm »
fiendishly difficult! ever seen a cat run up a wall?!
causality... cause and effect, suffering is in what you do. happiness is in what you do.

i am beginning to realize that Madhyamika, like any other form of Buddhism is probably a complete entire way in itself, and so a vast amount may be attached to it... silly of me really to think that it could be approached in one thread.

what is Zen? what is Madhyamika? what is Therevada? all complete ways in themselves that require years of study usually.


Hi Tom,

Fiendishly difficult, not necessarily.  All forms of Buddhism, while they may appear an entire way in themselves, are all based on understanding The Four Noble Truths (suffering and it’s causes) and the Eight Fold Path (the way to end suffering). 

Quote from: White Lotus
nonetheless, if anyone reading this thread can simplify four or five years worth of study, or more, into a few phrases (as simply put as possible), i would be so very grateful!


There is a good summary of the Mâdhyamika at Shantideva Online.

The following is a ramble from the introduction to the Bodhicaryavatara: A Guide to the Buddhist Path to Awakening. A excellent book, btw.

The Buddha taught that what we call ourselves is actually a construct superimposed upon an ever - changing flow of physical matter, sensations, conceptions, further mental contents such as volitions and so on, and consciousness.  That is all there is.  There is no unchanging Me, my Self.  Check out the Anatta-lakkhana (no self) Sutta some time. 

Madhyamaka writers interpret this by saying all things are like illusions, in that they appear one way, but actually exist in another way.  They appear to unenlightened beings as if their existence is interdependent and fixed - inherent existence.   However, this is not how it is in reality.  In reality, this existence in dependence on mental projections, that are impermanent; that is bound to change and decay.

When we look closely, we discover that things don’t have the inherent existence, that their existance is what we project on to them.  In reality, they are “empty” of the inherent existence, which is a projection. The often-quoted example is that of a chair.   

If the chair had inherited existence, then that existence could be found when we pulled the chair apart. However, when we pull the chair apart we find that the chair is just made from pieces of wood, that were assembled together to make what we call a chair.

Therefore, people say, the chair exists as a conventional truth, but not in the way we thought it did. It is in this respect that Madhyamaka say all things are like illusions. This does not mean literal illusions; rather they are like illusions in that they appear one way, but actual exist in another. 

The Madhyamaka is the middle way. That means it avoids the two cardinal errors of under-negation (something exists inherently) or over negation (nothing exists at all, in any sense) ie. nihilistic.

Hope that helps. 

 :)
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline White Lotus

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2011, 11:57:32 am »
Thank you Francis and Yeshe. no self is found on analysis, only the five aggregates that compose the 'appearance' of a self.

i was reading about Madhyamaka yesterday... it seems that any argument can be found to be empty.

the tetralemma says:

real,
illusory,
neither real nor illusory,
both real and illusory.

or, short, long, neither long nor short, both long and short.

all of these positions can be argued and whichever position you seek is the one you find, however Madhyamaka takes the middle way between all positions which is emptiness. they argue through logic that all positions and arguments cancel each other out and that the ultimate non position is empptiness.

the mind cleared of all opinions is the mind that sees emptiness. the clear mind.

best wishes, Tom.

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2011, 08:43:55 pm »
the tetralemma says:

real,
illusory,
neither real nor illusory,
both real and illusory.
In the Prasangika, since those are the four possible logical explanations for how things exist, and they are all disproven, I have a novel interpretation. Paraphrasing Mr. Spock from a barely remembered Star Trek episode, "If all the logical possibilities are disproven, then the only possibilities that are left are the illogical ones." Or, putting in my terms, the answer is a paradox.
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline White Lotus

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2011, 08:07:30 am »
clouds passing in the sky,
sun shining down at this moment.
typing at this computer...
im going to go home and have a cup of coffee.

thus, just so.

Offline TashiNyima

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2011, 06:31:30 am »
Dear Friends

om svasti

Not this. Not that.
Not both. Not neither.

All fixed views are necessarily incomplete (including this one!). They express a narrowing of awareness that we call consciousness.

And then there's Great Madhyamaka (dbUma chenpo)...

mangalam
Tashi Nyima


Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2011, 08:16:10 am »
Not this. Not that.
Not both. Not neither.

All fixed views are necessarily incomplete (including this one!). They express a narrowing of awareness that we call consciousness.

And then there's Great Madhyamaka (dbUma chenpo)...
I know in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions that these four points are considered a prerequisite to a philosophical understanding of the Great Madhyamaka (3rd Turning/Buddha Nature/Shentong). It now seems like that is also true in the Jonang!
« Last Edit: April 20, 2011, 08:52:36 am by santamonicacj »
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Yeshe

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2011, 09:14:11 am »
Dear Friends

om svasti

Not this. Not that.
Not both. Not neither.

All fixed views are necessarily incomplete (including this one!). They express a narrowing of awareness that we call consciousness.

And then there's Great Madhyamaka (dbUma chenpo)...

mangalam
Tashi Nyima



OK.  I'll ask  :)  : 

Please could you explain what Great Madhyamaka teaches please ?

 


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