How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Jeff H » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:06 am

Matt J wrote:If what appears and functions?

Jeff H wrote:If it appears and functions as expected according to the commonly understood meaning of the term "dog", it is designated as a dog. It has nothing to do with self-nature from the side of the phenomenon we are labeling "dog".

Your dependently arisen dog-thingy, the one that has no inherent existence and was not produced from itself, another, both, or neither.

I think I got this about "reliable and mysterious" from Guy Newland: Production and cessation are dependent arisings. Conventionally existent things arise “reliably” and “mysteriously”. They are reliable because we can predict and count on causal outcomes. They are mysterious because when we actually think about how phenomena come to be, we cannot identify the mechanics of the process in any inherently existent manner. We can’t pin down how dependent arising actually works. When we finish analyzing all of the four possible ways things could be produced intrinsically (self, other, both, or neither) – whether ultimately or conventionally – we find that intrinsic production is impossible. The only thing left is the mystery of dependent arising.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:39 am

Jeff H wrote:Within Tsongkhapa's system, it is claimed that Svatantrikas believe conventional phenomena exist truly, because of demonstrating some self-characteristics which provide a suitable basis for designation; But that nothing exists inherently because ultimately even a self-natured phenomenon must have a designating cognizer in order to say it exists.

Whether Svatantrikas actually hold that position is clearly open to question, and I can't say one way or the other. For me the point is that the Gelug system teaches it as an example of the most subtle way that any conscious being might cling to inherent existence.

Actually it does not matter whether any master actually held that position exactly. The tenet system is taught in the Gelug tradition mainly for the purpose of understanding the principles involved. It is not designed to accurately portray the historical development of Buddhist thinking.

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:42 am

There is a very old family of arguments in Western philosophy, called the 'cosmological arguments', which are generally intended to demonstrate the requirement for a 'first cause'. But the similarity with the Buddhist arguments from 'dependent origination', is that the cosmological argument rests on the fact that 'all particular things are dependent on an external cause'. This style of argument is developed to then argue that there must be an initial cause, which is a necessary being, something which is necessarily existent, which gives rise to all other beings.

Of course, Buddhism doesn't accept that there is a first cause, however there are convergences between the 'absence of inherent existence' and the idea of 'the contingent nature of beings' according to the cosmological arguments. 'Beings are mere nothings' said Meister Eckhardt, very much in the spirit of that argument. So there are parallels there.

Jeff H wrote: Conventionally existent things arise “reliably” and “mysteriously”. They are reliable because we can predict and count on causal outcomes. They are mysterious because when we actually think about how phenomena come to be, we cannot identify the mechanics of the process in any inherently existent manner. We can’t pin down how dependent arising actually works.


But amongst the reliable predictions you can make, are those that enable the technology you are using to make this argumen! The computer you're writing and reading on may not be - in fact is not - 'inherently existent', but it is nevertheless indispensable as a means of communication, as DharmaWheel forum depends on it in order to exist.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Jeff H » Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:33 pm

Correction: I mixed up the terms in my previous post. As presented in Gelug teachings, Svatantrikas accept intrinsic qualities in conventional phenomena, but deny that that implies true (i.e. ultimate) existence, due to the conditional fact that existence necessitates a valid cognizer observing those intrinsic qualities.

The arguments are summarized here from the Great Treastise chapter 13.

Jeff H wrote:It is my understanding that, according to Prasangika, truly existent and inherently existent are synonyms. ... Within Tsongkhapa's system, it is claimed that Svatantrikas believe conventional phenomena exist truly, because of demonstrating some self-characteristics which provide a suitable basis for designation; But that nothing exists inherently because ultimately even a self-natured phenomenon must have a designating cognizer in order to say it exists.
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Minobu » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:04 pm

So the Masters did use these words to teach ?...?

True existence
ultimate existence

or are these just used by someone who interpreted the teachings and thought to themselves" What a good boy am I...voila i give you true existence and ultimate existence..."

I say this for they seem a little ...how would you say...harsh and corrosive to use in establishing the view. There is no such thing as true existence..and ultimate existence sounds like your selling a condo in Trump Tower.


It's all about the view one arrives at ....and words are all we can use ...unless of course you practice and it just comes to you sort of naturally to your perception of what we dwell in.
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Matt J » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:26 pm

Good to know. I spent a week going through the Berzin archives looking for the answer this.

Jeff H wrote:I think I got this about "reliable and mysterious" from Guy Newland: Production and cessation are dependent arisings. Conventionally existent things arise “reliably” and “mysteriously”. They are reliable because we can predict and count on causal outcomes. They are mysterious because when we actually think about how phenomena come to be, we cannot identify the mechanics of the process in any inherently existent manner. We can’t pin down how dependent arising actually works. When we finish analyzing all of the four possible ways things could be produced intrinsically (self, other, both, or neither) – whether ultimately or conventionally – we find that intrinsic production is impossible. The only thing left is the mystery of dependent arising.
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If only there is no picking or choosing
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby KarmaOcean » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:59 pm

"According to Madhyamika philosophy, objects only exist in dependence upon causes and conditions, and in dependence upon the mind that apprehends it."

The above is a quote from page 1.

I personally think the following, similar, statement is a better one:

"According to Modern Science, objects only exist in dependence upon causes and conditions, and in dependence upon an observer who apprehends it."

In relation to these statements, I ask;

If sentient beings are composed of the very same matter which is being observed, and do not possess any "self", then how come the wave-function has been scientifically verified to be applicable to a sentient beings and, for example, not found to be also applicable to wooden puppets ?

Thanks.

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:45 pm

The following is from an interview with Thubten Jingpa Langri on Science and Buddhism. (Note that Michel Bitbol was also one of the speakers at the Madhyamika and Physics conference that the OP refers to. For those interested, the opening session of that conference, including the Dalai Lama's address, is on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUkLLy0TSYw .)

Q: French philosopher of science Michel Bitbol [said] that “in science and in Buddhism, the whole distribution of what counts as knowledge and what counts as ignorance is completely reversed.” Isn’t it true that in Buddhism ignorance is defined as the belief that things are stable and constant (rather than changing from one moment to the next), that they have intrinsic properties, and that they exist in and of themselves independent of one another and observers? But these ideas, Bitbol points out, “are exactly the presuppositions that are made in everyday work in science.”

I would agree with Michel Bitbol that the majority of scientists probably operate from that kind of assumption, which a Buddhist would see as being deluded. But there are other scientists who have a much more pragmatic view of the enterprise. They understand that these are constructs they have developed. The constructs are useful to come up with certain predictions and experiments, which then allow them to do certain things they couldn’t do before. So there are other scientists who take their constructs not as representing what is “actually out there” but more like a working model that helps them to fine-tune their understanding.

And even from the scientific point of view, what we mean by "truth" is a problematic question. There is a lot of debate within the philosophy of science as to the status of scientific truths. The majority of scientists have a universalist and absolutist standpoint that “truth is truth regardless of our perspective.” But others will have a different take, because the history of science itself shows that what was deemed to be true in one generation came to be modified later. These scientists will say that the idea that something is true regardless of who is looking at it or regardless of any framework makes no sense. Something can be said to be true only within a particular framework. This is why in Buddhism truth or falsity is considered within the framework of conventional reality, which takes into account the kind of background of language, shared consensus, and so on. When it comes to ultimate truth, you have emptiness, which is always negatively characterized. You cannot say anything about its attributes in language of objects and properties.


Some noteworthy points: Thubten says that if scientists hold that theories are 'ultimately real', then Buddhists would say that is a delusion. But if they hold that they are pragmatically real, then this would not be a delusion, but simply a 'working assumption'.

In the debates between Einstein and Bohr about the meaning of quantum mechanics, Einstein always took the viewpoint of scientific realism: that what physics describes must exist independently of any act of measurement; in other words, be 'mind-independent'. That is why he asked the rhetorical question, 'does the moon continue to exist when we're not looking at it?'

Bohr, Heisenberg, and Pauli, on the other hand, advocated what came to be called the 'Copenhagen intepretation'. Their claims were much more modest - and more in line with the 'pragmatist' approach. For example, Heisenberg said 'what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning'.
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:15 am

KarmaOcean wrote:
"According to Madhyamika philosophy, objects only exist in dependence upon causes and conditions, and in dependence upon the mind that apprehends it."

The above is a quote from page 1.

I personally think the following, similar, statement is a better one:

"According to Modern Science, objects only exist in dependence upon causes and conditions, and in dependence upon an observer who apprehends it."

Both statements are correct. That is why Madhyamika philosophy fits so well with quantum physics.

KarmaOcean wrote:In relation to these statements, I ask;

If sentient beings are composed of the very same matter which is being observed, and do not possess any "self", then how come the wave-function has been scientifically verified to be applicable to a sentient beings and, for example, not found to be also applicable to wooden puppets ?

Thanks.

Wooden puppets are not conscious, while sentient beings are. Also, there is no evidence that mind is derived purely from matter, so sentient beings are not entirely "composed of the very same matter which is being observed."

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:47 am

Minobu wrote:So the Masters did use these words to teach ?...?

True existence
ultimate existence

or are these just used by someone who interpreted the teachings and thought to themselves" What a good boy am I...voila i give you true existence and ultimate existence..."

I say this for they seem a little ...how would you say...harsh and corrosive to use in establishing the view. There is no such thing as true existence..and ultimate existence sounds like your selling a condo in Trump Tower.

It's all about the view one arrives at ....and words are all we can use ...unless of course you practice and it just comes to you sort of naturally to your perception of what we dwell in.

Please do not get fixated over the literal meaning of individual words taken out of context. Words are only tools of communication and have serious limitations. It is the intended meaning that the words are trying to convey that is of paramount importance, not the words themselves.

That is why words must always be taken in the correct context. Any individual word can mean many different things when used in different contexts. Just consider, for example, the English word "existence"; it can mean so many different things when used under different circumstances. That is the nature of words - it is true for English, and also true for Sanskrit, and in fact, true for any language.

What is important is for us to understand is the meaning that is being conveyed, not the individual words themselves. That is why context is important, and that is why commentaries are important, and that is also why maintaining the lineage of transmission is important.

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Minobu » Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:29 pm

Kenneth Chan wrote:
Minobu wrote:So the Masters did use these words to teach ?...?

True existence
ultimate existence

or are these just used by someone who interpreted the teachings and thought to themselves" What a good boy am I...voila i give you true existence and ultimate existence..."

I say this for they seem a little ...how would you say...harsh and corrosive to use in establishing the view. There is no such thing as true existence..and ultimate existence sounds like your selling a condo in Trump Tower.

It's all about the view one arrives at ....and words are all we can use ...unless of course you practice and it just comes to you sort of naturally to your perception of what we dwell in.

Please do not get fixated over the literal meaning of individual words taken out of context. Words are only tools of communication and have serious limitations. It is the intended meaning that the words are trying to convey that is of paramount importance, not the words themselves.

That is why words must always be taken in the correct context. Any individual word can mean many different things when used in different contexts. Just consider, for example, the English word "existence"; it can mean so many different things when used under different circumstances. That is the nature of words - it is true for English, and also true for Sanskrit, and in fact, true for any language.

What is important is for us to understand is the meaning that is being conveyed, not the individual words themselves. That is why context is important, and that is why commentaries are important, and that is also why maintaining the lineage of transmission is important.


No need to lecture me in the use of words by the Masters, or maintaining the lineage of transmission.
Thats the point of my posts all along.

You have every right to explore the possibilities of Madhyamika view on all aspects of life.

If you decide to introduce words that could alter the path to establishing the correct view, i will point that out.
It's dangerous and damaging to get it wrong, if you respect what you are doing.



True existence
ultimate existence

Those words were never used by the Masters.

These are the only words used in the context we are now discussing by the Masters and interpreted in order to establish the correct view:

Existence
Non existence
Nihilism , nihilistic
convention , conventional
view
and Inherent Existence


You mention lineage and transmission.
Which Qualified Teacher actually sat you down and taught you Madhyamika , which method of meditation and Buddhist practice did you use to come to your understanding of Madhyamika..



I ask for this is vital to know if you are going to lecture people on Madhyamika.
Did you get it your understanding solely from a book?

Excuse me if i sound insulting, after all you just arrogantly told us to allow for the use of any words you please...
meaning that is being conveyed, not the individual words themselves


There is something every Master explains to the student on embarking on attaining the establishment of correct view of Sunyata.

Never try to teach someone the view unless you yourself have grasped it. It actually causes harm to one's self and others of the gravest nature.

The use of

True existence
ultimate existence

shows me just that. I have a nagging suspicion that you have not actually grasped it totally yet.


Words have a subtle effect in every use, they have incredible effect when teaching Dharma .
As he died to make men holy
Let us die to make things cheap
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:46 am

Minobu wrote:
Kenneth Chan wrote:
Minobu wrote:So the Masters did use these words to teach ?...?

True existence
ultimate existence

or are these just used by someone who interpreted the teachings and thought to themselves" What a good boy am I...voila i give you true existence and ultimate existence..."

I say this for they seem a little ...how would you say...harsh and corrosive to use in establishing the view. There is no such thing as true existence..and ultimate existence sounds like your selling a condo in Trump Tower.

It's all about the view one arrives at ....and words are all we can use ...unless of course you practice and it just comes to you sort of naturally to your perception of what we dwell in.

Please do not get fixated over the literal meaning of individual words taken out of context. Words are only tools of communication and have serious limitations. It is the intended meaning that the words are trying to convey that is of paramount importance, not the words themselves.

That is why words must always be taken in the correct context. Any individual word can mean many different things when used in different contexts. Just consider, for example, the English word "existence"; it can mean so many different things when used under different circumstances. That is the nature of words - it is true for English, and also true for Sanskrit, and in fact, true for any language.

What is important for us to understand is the meaning that is being conveyed, not the individual words themselves. That is why context is important, and that is why commentaries are important, and that is also why maintaining the lineage of transmission is important.

No need to lecture me in the use of words by the Masters, or maintaining the lineage of transmission.
Thats the point of my posts all along.

You have every right to explore the possibilities of Madhyamika view on all aspects of life.

If you decide to introduce words that could alter the path to establishing the correct view, i will point that out.
It's dangerous and damaging to get it wrong, if you respect what you are doing.

I am not lecturing anyone. I am merely sharing my understanding, as everyone of us posting here is doing, including you. This is a discussion forum, not a lecture podium. Just as you are free to post your disagreement, I am free to post a rebuttal, and so on. Why am I suddenly accused of lecturing?

Also, I am not introducing the term "true existence." It is used by Geshe Tashi Tsering. The reason why I quote Geshe Tashi Tsering often is because he is a Lharampa Geshe, the highest educational qualification within the Gelug tradition, and because he speaks excellent English; so what he writes does not need to be translated. So technically nothing is lost in translation (which unfortunately can occur in translated teachings).

Minobu wrote:Words have a subtle effect in every use, they have incredible effect when teaching Dharma .

All I am saying is that words have to taken in the correct context, and that even the same word can have a different meaning when used in different contexts. This is the nature of words and language. Words and language are meant as a tool for communication and we have to recognise that it has serious limitations. That is why commentaries are important, and also why maintaining the lineage of transmission is important. Is this not the case?

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby boda » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:34 am

Kenneth Chan wrote:
KarmaOcean wrote:In relation to these statements, I ask;

If sentient beings are composed of the very same matter which is being observed, and do not possess any "self", then how come the wave-function has been scientifically verified to be applicable to a sentient beings and, for example, not found to be also applicable to wooden puppets ?

Thanks.

Wooden puppets are not conscious, while sentient beings are. Also, there is no evidence that mind is derived purely from matter, so sentient beings are not entirely "composed of the very same matter which is being observed."

Is there a source for your claim that there's no evidence that mind is derived purely from matter?

I believe there is evidence. The contents of our minds are derived from sense data (stimuli via the nervous system), or sensed physical matter. A mind cannot develop without sense data, and a developed mind cut off from sense data, regardless of the initial response to sensory depravation, will rapidly degenerate in continued depravation.

We simply don't know things that are not derived from the physical world around us. Further, we only know a fraction of what goes on around us, due to the limitations of our physical form. Even if we developed new sense organs or enhanced the physical sense organs that we have, our physical minds don't possess the structure to process the new sense data. In other words, our minds are limited by the physical structure of our form.

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby boda » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:35 am

Kenneth Chan wrote:
boda wrote:
Kenneth Chan wrote:What “illusion-like” means is that our reality is what would be suggested by the phrase “an interplay between the elements,” only that we need to also remove the term “the elements” from the phrase. In other words, there is just the “interplay” without any inherently existing elements. To most people, this would be a revolutionary way of thinking...

Really? I think most people could understand their bodies as a collection of interplaying organs, or an interplay of cells, chemicals, molecules, atom, quantum particles, etc. Most also understand an interplay of elements is transitory in nature.

You are missing the point. It is not the interplay per se that is a revolutionary way of thinking. It is the fact that the "elements" in the interplay do not inherently exist. In fact, it is more like we only have the interplay, with no elements at all.

To reiterate, most can easily understand the body as an interplay of organs, and the organs an interplay of cell, and the cells an interplay of molecules... and all of it transitory in nature. This is not revolutionary in the least. The only difference is that most don't incorporate this insight into a religious narrative or find it spiritually meaningful. Indeed Madhyamika philosophy may add a measure of meaning to Quantum physics for you, but for others it may not. In any case, meaningful interpretations and solving practical problems are two different things. The former is the domain of religion and the latter is that of science.

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:16 am

boda wrote:
Kenneth Chan wrote:
boda wrote:Really? I think most people could understand their bodies as a collection of interplaying organs, or an interplay of cells, chemicals, molecules, atom, quantum particles, etc. Most also understand an interplay of elements is transitory in nature.

You are missing the point. It is not the interplay per se that is a revolutionary way of thinking. It is the fact that the "elements" in the interplay do not inherently exist. In fact, it is more like we only have the interplay, with no elements at all.

To reiterate, most can easily understand the body as an interplay of organs, and the organs an interplay of cell, and the cells an interplay of molecules... and all of it transitory in nature. This is not revolutionary in the least. The only difference is that most don't incorporate this insight into a religious narrative or find it spiritually meaningful. Indeed Madhyamika philosophy may add a measure of meaning to Quantum physics for you, but for others it may not. In any case, meaningful interpretations and solving practical problems are two different things. The former is the domain of religion and the latter is that of science.

You are still missing the point. In an interplay, we usually think of two or more separate entities coming together and interacting. Here, we have a situation where there is interaction but there are no separate entities to begin with! If you find that hard to imagine, that is exactly what makes this way of thinking revolutionary.

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Felix » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:19 am

As I understand it, Madhyamika is not a solution to problems posed by science.
It's an end to suffering.
Including the suffering that results from defending our opinions.

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:56 pm

Kenneth Chan wrote:You are still missing the point. In an interplay, we usually think of two or more separate entities coming together and interacting. Here, we have a situation where there is interaction but there are no separate entities to begin with! If you find that hard to imagine, that is exactly what makes this way of thinking revolutionary.


No, Mādhyamaka shows that since there are no entities which can withstand analysis, there are no interactions which can withstand analysis.

Claiming that there are no entities but that there are processes or interactions is a misunderstand of dependent origination in toto. Dependent origination = non-origination.
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:56 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Kenneth Chan wrote:You are still missing the point. In an interplay, we usually think of two or more separate entities coming together and interacting. Here, we have a situation where there is interaction but there are no separate entities to begin with! If you find that hard to imagine, that is exactly what makes this way of thinking revolutionary.

No, Mādhyamaka shows that since there are no entities which can withstand analysis, there are no interactions which can withstand analysis.

Claiming that there are no entities but that there are processes or interactions is a misunderstand of dependent origination in toto. Dependent origination = non-origination.

Of course, what you say here is right. I know that. I am writing my comment in this way only to emphasize how revolutionary this way of thinking is. Again, context is crucial, and it must be taken into account that I am responding specifically to boda's comment. It is not meant to be a statement expressing definitively the ultimate truth. Context, context, context.

Of course, it is understood that the interactions themselves are also empty of inherent existence. I have already stated this explicitly in a previous post.

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:01 pm

Kenneth Chan wrote:
Of course, it is understood that the interplay itself is also empty of inherent existence. I have already stated this explicitly in a previous post.


If you carefully study Nāgārjuna, you will note that there is no interplay nor processes at all. Conventionally speaking, causes cannot exist before their effects (because they will then be noncauses), they cannot exist at the same time either (because they will then be noncauses). Causes and effects therefore can neither be the same nor different.
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:27 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Kenneth Chan wrote:
Of course, it is understood that the interplay itself is also empty of inherent existence. I have already stated this explicitly in a previous post.

If you carefully study Nāgārjuna, you will note that there is no interplay nor processes at all. Conventionally speaking, causes cannot exist before their effects (because they will then be noncauses), they cannot exist at the same time either (because they will then be noncauses). Causes and effects therefore can neither be the same nor different.

Malcolm, context, context, context!

You are talking about ultimate analysis, and my statement is specifically a response to boda's comment, and is an attempt to illustrate what is revolutionary about a particular way of thinking. The context is completely different. Please try to see context.

My feeling is that most of your objections to the Gelug interpretation of Madhyamaka also arises because you are failing to take into consideration the context in which certain statements are being made.


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