Author Topic: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.  (Read 14626 times)

Offline White Lotus

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #165 on: July 16, 2011, 07:44:04 am »
Tashi, respects.

There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.

the only middle is emptiness! this emptiness is also the extremes. whilst the truly established nature is beyond all existents, it is also their  formation and appearance. so whilst emptiness is the beyond... it is also the within. there is no distinction.

at least thats how i see it!

Tashi. I hope your retreat went well.

best wishes, Tom.

Offline Ben Yuan

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #166 on: July 16, 2011, 11:06:39 am »
Quote
There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.
This smacks of transcendentalism and is also a positive assertion, i.e. that 'something' is beyond. This is what I meant many posts ago when I argued that the apagogic proof cannot bring one to anything fruitful.

Outside of Madhyamika, as far as the Buddha was concerned as reported in the Nikayas, the use of the term sunna was to refer to the lacking in phenomena of self arising and atman (which would requisite other arising). Hence sunna = anatman and pratityasamudpada, i.e. empty is a short form of the phrase 'empty of self nature.' Elsewhere you will see it explained that it is recognition of the lack of self nature and the process of dependent origination that allows one to go beyond self, other, both or neither causation. It's pretty simple, and so I personally find that Prasangika Madhyamika, whilst refuting perfectly well, ties itself in a knot.
Quote from: S iv 54
Then Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?"

"Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ananda, that the world is empty. And what is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self? The eye is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Forms... Eye-consciousness... Eye-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

"The ear is empty...

"The nose is empty...

"The tongue is empty...

"The body is empty...

"The intellect is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Ideas... Intellect-consciousness... Intellect-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Thus it is said that the world is empty."

- "whilst the truly established nature is beyond all existents"
--> There is no way for it to be beyond that which exists, for if it were it would neither exist nor would it by true and established.

- "it is also their  formation and appearance. so whilst emptiness is the beyond... it is also the within. there is no distinction."
--> The term 'beyond' here is still a catchup. Unless you mean 'beyond perceiving self-nature', then it is contradicting the notion that it is within phenomena. In which case, it is not beyond existents, but is the way existents are.

 :namaste:
« Last Edit: July 16, 2011, 11:21:53 am by Ben Yuan »

Offline TashiNyima

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #167 on: July 17, 2011, 08:20:53 am »
Guilty as charged!

May all who have great attachment for their own views (and self-emptiness is a view; 'incorregible', according to Arya Nagarjuna) find the experience of peace and bliss beyond all words.

The objective of argument is victory, not Truth.

mangalam
TN

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #168 on: July 17, 2011, 04:56:16 pm »
Quote
There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.
This smacks of transcendentalism and is also a positive assertion, i.e. that 'something' is beyond.
Exactly! Very good--you understand!
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 05:20:27 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 #169 on: July 18, 2011, 07:04:59 am »
There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.

lets not forget that the within is also beyond. to be seen in its pure pristine manifestation, the final stage before total disappearance of the subject a 'beyond' of the within is seen. it is in that place where there is neither anything, everything nor nothingness. this i call the seeing of emptiness in its transcendental state. such a seeing is definitely beyond the realms of normal experience and so can be called transcendental. however it must not be forgotten that this emptiness is at the root of all things and is all things, but only seen in its transcendental non-state in the beyond.

in its transcendental manifestation the within becomes like a bright moon or a giant pearl. then you wake up the next morning and no longer have a subject, the within is gone. seeing emptiness in its pristine nature means the annihilation of the subject and disappearance of the 'own nature', only the object nature remains to be seen. Kaizan calls this the great Icchantika (without buddha nature).

this beyond is also perfectly experienced in the form of normal everyday mind and so it is thoroughly immanent.
whether we see emptiness in a transcendent way or in the normal, just two sides of the same coin. emptiness.

thank you Tashi for your humility, but you are right to speak of the beyond. however... the greatest of all beyonds is within the daily experience of life and not in the rarefied. beyond the experience of most is this normal every day mind, because they are looking for something special. the own nature that we have at this moment. which is known as rigpa (normative awareness).

''everyday mind is the way''.
transcendent experiences will come and go like sun and rain,
none permanent, but all things are necessary.
it is not only being that matters, but also becoming.
seeing, i know that being and becoming are only appearances.
emptiness.

best wishes, Tom.

Offline White Lotus

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #170 on: July 18, 2011, 07:23:18 am »
Ben,

This smacks of transcendentalism and is also a positive assertion, i.e. that 'something' is beyond.

transcendentalism is to be attached to the sublime and special, which has a role and a function, but may detract from our appreciation of ordinary life and experience. if we speak of a beyond, it is a non-state and so where is anything to be asserted. it is not. beyond is not even nothing. within is not even nothing. emptiness.

people hold onto form, saying that it is only empty of self nature. actually no, there is nothing whatsoever to assert, and true attainment is realizing (i speculate) that there is no attainment, however there is still the 'appearance' of attainment, where there is infact not a thing anywhere. appearances are important, very important, they make up the substance of our lives. The self is an appearance, where there is none. reality is an appearance, where there is none. attainment is an appearance, where there is none. not a thing.

talking about this is all fine, however I have to see it with my own eyes, and in my own mind. what i am talking about is not at all logical, it is however seeing reality, and ''reality does not compute captain'' (in the words of spocK).

best wishes, Tom.




Offline francis

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #171 on: July 18, 2011, 02:46:03 pm »
Quote from: White Lotus
There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.

lets not forget that the within is also beyond. to be seen in its pure pristine manifestation, the final stage before total disappearance of the subject a 'beyond' of the within is seen. it is in that place where there is neither anything, everything nor nothingness. this i call the seeing of emptiness in its transcendental state. such a seeing is definitely beyond the realms of normal experience and so can be called transcendental. however it must not be forgotten that this emptiness is at the root of all things and is all things, but only seen in its transcendental non-state in the beyond.

in its transcendental manifestation the within becomes like a bright moon or a giant pearl. then you wake up the next morning and no longer have a subject, the within is gone. seeing emptiness in its pristine nature means the annihilation of the subject and disappearance of the 'own nature', only the object nature remains to be seen. Kaizan calls this the great Icchantika (without buddha nature).

this beyond is also perfectly experienced in the form of normal everyday mind and so it is thoroughly immanent.

whether we see emptiness in a transcendent way or in the normal, just two sides of the same coin. emptiness.



Hi white lotus, is what you describe essentially any different from than the “luminous mind”  described in the Nikayas?

Pabhassara Sutta: Luminous AN 1.49-52

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements." {I,v,9}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements." {I,v,10}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind." {I,vi,1}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why

I tell you that — for the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — there is development of the mind." {I,vi,2}


« Last Edit: July 18, 2011, 02:47:56 pm by francis »
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline Ben Yuan

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #172 on: July 19, 2011, 10:22:29 pm »
Ben,

This smacks of transcendentalism and is also a positive assertion, i.e. that 'something' is beyond.

transcendentalism is to be attached to the sublime and special, which has a role and a function, but may detract from our appreciation of ordinary life and experience. if we speak of a beyond, it is a non-state and so where is anything to be asserted. it is not. beyond is not even nothing. within is not even nothing. emptiness.

people hold onto form, saying that it is only empty of self nature. actually no, there is nothing whatsoever to assert, and true attainment is realizing (i speculate) that there is no attainment, however there is still the 'appearance' of attainment, where there is infact not a thing anywhere. appearances are important, very important, they make up the substance of our lives. The self is an appearance, where there is none. reality is an appearance, where there is none. attainment is an appearance, where there is none. not a thing.

talking about this is all fine, however I have to see it with my own eyes, and in my own mind. what i am talking about is not at all logical, it is however seeing reality, and ''reality does not compute captain'' (in the words of spocK).

best wishes, Tom.
Tom,

Thanks for your reply. I think to a degree that Francis' post addresses some of the issues raised in your own. I think you may wish to clarify whether or not you are indeed denying everything. Nihilism and scepticism are not things which are unusual to be attributed to the Madhyamika viewpoint, and is part of why the Lankavatara asserted a transcended subjective reality, and why Bodhidharma and Huineng show attempts at reconciling the two approaches by combining the them. The Buddha's approach was of course the middle path, both in daily living and in theoretical matters. Neither absolutism nor scepticism; neither eternalism nor nihilism; neither deontology nor emotivism; neither realism nor nominalism. This of course results in a kind of relativism, which is palatable if we do not hold that there are views which are superior or more certain than others - it is exactly those views which the Buddha criticised the most. Ultimately what matters is the benefit and well being of all sentient beings, and that which contributes most to their welfare is the most appropriate in any given situation - whereas extremes rarely are.

Quote from: White Lotus on: July 18, 2011, 10:04:59 am
seeing emptiness ... means ... disappearance of the 'own nature', only the object nature remains to be seen
That is what they call 'svabhava', in fact the object is as dependently originated as the self is. Seeing emptiness from Nagarjuna's perspective, as from the Buddha in the Nikayas would mean seeing dependent origination. That is not the Madhyamika perspective, that is the Sarvastivada perspective.

Best of Wishes,
Ben Yuan

Offline White Lotus

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #173 on: July 20, 2011, 07:40:09 am »
Francis, when seen, the mind is always luminous, but when we go beyond, mind, emptiness, nothingness, that which is not is very luminous, seeing it the within shines like a full moon, or like a giant pearl. this seen when one renounces everything with vows. something remains which cannot be swept away and yet leads to the disappearance of the subject (self experience had already gone). the Chinese National Teacher Hui Chung said... no name whatsoever for it... and yet i say, it is emptiness. the nameless is named. emptiness. the empty source is to be seen in its pristine nature in that place where there is absolutely not a thing. all things have been swept away by vows and intention.

thank you Ben,
you may wish to clarify whether or not you are indeed denying everything. Nihilism and scepticism are not things which are unusual to be attributed to the Madhyamika viewpoint

emptiness cannot be denied, nor can it be wiped away and yet it is not a thing, not even nothingness (Nihlo). Nihilism is a heterodox teaching that there is nothing... Shen Hui, Wei Langs principle disciple said... ''just see into nothingness'' (tan chien wu). i believe that this is a part of the journey, however not the end (i speculate).

to assert nothingness is to assert everythingness or anythingness. emptiness is beyond either of these dualistic opposites in that it has no opposite. everything is empty and nothing is empty. truly empty, not just nothing, which is still a position.

if i am denying everything then i will not say that emptiness is... such and such, i will not say that emptiness is form. (these are assertions), however if i deny that there is anything to be denied, since as the heart sutra says... "in emptyness there is no form". then i am both denying and asserting at the same time, as did Siddharta.

i deny things, since all is emptiness, and i assert things since i see and experience them. prajna awareness says that there is not a thing to assert, but prajna awarenss also sees, touches, tastes and smells all duality/reality.

there are two realities, the fundamental ''seeing'' of emptiness and the normal seeing of dualities, bot are empty, but i see both.

I hope this makes some sense, it is not easy describing emptiness in terms of denying and not denying, since both denying and not denying are both empty. though we see their appearance in this thread... it is only an appearance. i am free to assert emptiness and in so doing deny the existence of everything, however i am typing at this computer. paradox.
i dont see anything and yet i see this computer. paradox. there is not a thing to assert. there is not a thing to deny. assertion is empty, denial is empty.

That is what they call 'svabhava', in fact the object is as dependently originated as the self is. absolutely everything is dependently originated except emptiness, which is dependent origination and yet exists independently. the self, the Self, the Subject, the Objective all are dependent, all are emptiness, which is independent.

i assert emptiness, in doing this i assert that all things including assertion are emptiness.

only emptiness.

best wishes, Tom.

Offline White Lotus

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #174 on: July 20, 2011, 07:47:59 am »
if i assert prajna, and insight i can deny everything.
is i assert ordinary seeing, i can affirm everything.
both are empty.

Offline Sunya

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #175 on: July 20, 2011, 08:11:13 am »
Mindful of the title of this thread ("Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms"), here's an attempt at a brief explanation with limited abstraction (which is sure to become more abstract than I intend).

Sunyata (emptiness) is used to refer to the emptiness of self or anything pertaining to a self. Not an Absolute, it is merely upaya (a pedagogical device) used to uphold a Madhyama Pratipada (middle path) between Ucchedavada (nihilism) and Sassatavada (eternalism).

Madhyamaka is neither dualistic (2) nor non-dualistic (1). If anything, it is all about emptiness (0), which is neither an assertion of "asti", it is (+1), nor of "nasti", it is not (-1), but  the refutation of both, without replacing either position with anything else.

Offline francis

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #176 on: July 21, 2011, 05:25:00 am »
Francis, when seen, the mind is always luminous, but when we go beyond, mind, emptiness, nothingness, that which is not is very luminous, seeing it the within shines like a full moon, or like a giant pearl. this seen when one renounces everything with vows. something remains which cannot be swept away and yet leads to the disappearance of the subject (self experience had already gone). the Chinese National Teacher Hui Chung said... no name whatsoever for it... and yet i say, it is emptiness. the nameless is named. emptiness. the empty source is to be seen in its pristine nature in that place where there is absolutely not a thing. all things have been swept away by vows and intention.


Hi White Lotus, I think you are looking for something that doesn’t really exist.  When we wipe away the defilements from the window we call a mind, we get a clean luminous window.  Nothing more, not some Buddha nature hiding within.  Just a clean mind.  We don’t transcend, so much as understand the mind, and with understanding go beyond the limitations of the mind. 

The Existence of an Eternal Self in Buddhism

“According to shunyata theory, all things are empty of a self-nature (svabhava), essenceless.

It has been theorized that the Shunyavadin’s real purpose in positing such a negative position was due to a conscious attempt to clearly distance their position from that of the Vedantists. John Keenan affirms this position when he writes:

"Guarding against constant solicitation from Brahmanic influence, the major doctrinal trajectories of Indian Buddhism shied away from anything that seemed to suggest a Buddhist centrism; that there is any core reality, however august, ineffable, or hidden, from which all things come and to which all return." (Keenan, qtd. in Griffiths, 1990)

Shunyata realization is recognized by the followers of tathagatagarbha as being a necessary precondition to the realization of tathagatagarbha, but only as a precondition.

Many Buddhist practitioners view shunyata as an ontological reality, and therefore as an end in itself. Others, however, found this negative approach to philosophy to be too unfulfilling, too dry (Prasad, 1991). Being aligned with the latter view, tathagatagarbha thinkers viewed shunyata as a prerequisite emptying of oneself of the false in order to open oneself to the true, one’s innate Buddha nature. Rather than being the goal, shunyata is merely the process for achieving the goal. In the Ratna-gotravibhaga, shunyata is viewed as a process designed to clear one’s vision, the goal of which is the realization of something positive, the tathagatagarbha-dharmakaya (Takasaki, 1966). …

The tathagatagarbha doctrine presents us with ideas that are quite similar to those found in many of the world’s religions, especially Buddhism's sister religion Sanatana Dharma. The dogmas of the lack of self and the non-existence of an Absolute have probably served as the major stumbling blocks in the acceptance of Buddhism in attempts at ecumenical dialogue. The tathagatagarbha doctrine could serve as a point of reference that will allow non-Buddhist religions to approach Buddhism with a more open mind.

Overall, post-Shakyamuni contemporary Buddhism seems to present itself as a via negativa, an attempt to know the Absolute by systematically stripping way all that the Absolute is not. The human mind can not live on a diet of negation alone, however, and seems to inevitably yearn to know the positive side of ultimate reality.

The human being ultimately experiences both intellectual and existential dissatisfaction without the assurance of an ever-existent soul, or atman. The theory of tathagatagarbha was apparently born from just such a natural yearning. As a via positiva, it confirmed the existence of a true self, an eternal self, as juxtaposed against the egoic “self”; and of an Absolute possessed of superlative qualities.”



A really good article written by a Hindu scholar, but it completely misses the point.  That point being that the teachings of the Buddha shakyamuni on anatta are unique amongst the myriad of religions that teach “attachment and clinging” to a non-existence self, soul or Buddha nature.   
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 05:53:10 am by francis »
"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 #177 on: July 21, 2011, 07:23:26 am »
The human mind can not live on a diet of negation alone, however, and seems to inevitably yearn to know the positive side of ultimate reality.

Francis and Sunya,
i wonder whether reality is like a ticking watch, you clearly see the face, but when you open up the back... there is no mechanism. it is empty.

or like a tapestry, which when you turn it over has no pattern of threads, or needle work backing it.

if this makes it any easier, there is a real watch and a real tapestry, we see them, touch them, use them, however in their mechanism they are empty.

emptiness is reality, reality is real. so we can say that all things are empty from the viewpoint of prajna (wisdom seeing), but  real from the ordinary perception.

Sunya, mahayana goes further than the emptiness of self. it posits the emptiness of all things including all objects. however that is not to say that these things arnt real. real appearances, however still basically emptiness.

the mechanism of reality is emptiness, the function of reality is real appearance. emptiness is form. reality is emptiness, reality is real. at the same time. perhaps this is asserting the positive side of reality Francis.

the danger of all these ideas is that they are speculations, and may not be grounded in actuality.

all i can say, all i know from my own seeing and experience is that when i see things with reference to my true nature, all things are empty, including that nature. and when i see things without reference to this nature, just flowing, they are real enough... still however there is a feeling of dreamlikeness to all this. insubstantiality.

the metaphors come from my own experience. the watch and the tapestry. and come after seeking to understand how emptiness and reality relate to each other. its a toughie, and the metaphors may not be accurate. i only say this because in my own experience i doubt the existence of any kind of substantial reality whatsoever.

its hard to get ones head around all this!

best wishes, Tom.

Offline Karma Dondrup Tashi

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #178 on: July 21, 2011, 07:31:11 am »
Ultimate reality is emptiness, relative reality is ordinary. But dividing things into ultimates and relatives is itself a relative view.
[size=90]what I want is a view. Hannibal Lecter[/size]

Offline Sunya

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Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
« Reply #179 on: July 21, 2011, 07:38:11 am »
White Lotus,

Emptiness of self extends to emptiness of all objects. All things, all objects, all phenomena are empty of self or anything pertaining to a self. So "empty of self" seems to be the simplest of terms in which to express this. "Emptiness of self" does not mean that only the self is empty. It means that everything is empty of self.

"It is" is a notion of eternity. "It is not" is a nihilistic view. Therefore, one who is wise does not have recourse to "being" or "non-being." (MMK 15.10)

Neither bhava (being) nor vibhava (non-being) apply, in any case, as there is no svabhava (self nature), anywhere, to do either. The question of being vs. non-being, itself, is flawed, as are many other questions that arise.

If you wanted to discuss this at an abstract level, you might have wanted to choose a different title for this thread.

:anjali:

 


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