existence of objects/form

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Johnny Dangerous
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existence of objects/form

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:47 pm

I think I understand the basics of Madhyamaka, i've read Nagarjuna, a few books briefly covering the 3 or 4 schools of thought, and various explanations.

There is alot there that still goes over my head, i'm wondering if someone can simplify for me, because something is just not clicking not matter what I read...

How do objects perceived as "external" exist in relation to the mind exactly, I know there are a few different views, it all makes sense to me until this part. I cannot understand how something can only exist 'of the mind' that clearly has some sort of base existence on it's own to be labeled, and in the Lankavatara Sutra for example, Atoms and units of physical existence are referenced, which tells me that clearly there is some base object existing outside the skandhas ultimately right? Or is all perceived existence just the skandhas?

Is it accurate to say this existence is only conventional by definition, since inherent existence is denied?

Is the perception of there being an external physically existent object just a mistaken perception of a seperate subject and object?
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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby nilakantha » Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:34 pm

I think the question of the ontological status of external objects is most clearly explained by Hsüan Tsang,
Tripiṭaka-Master of the Tang Dynasty, in his Ch’eng Wei-Shih Lun (The Doctrine of Mere-Consciousness):
I. Manifestation (pariṇāma) indicates that what essentially constitutes consciousness, when it is born, manifests itself in two functional divisions, namely, image and perception, i.e., the object perceived (or perceived division) and the perceiving faculty. These divisions arise out of a third division called the 'self-witness' or the 'self-corroboratory division' which constitutes their 'essential substance'. It is on the basis of these two functional divisions that Atman and dharmas are established, for they have no other basis.
2. Manifestation of consciousness means also that the inner consciousness manifests itself in what seems to be an external sphere of objects. By virtue of the 'perfuming' energy deposited in the mind by wrong concepts of Atman-dharmas, the consciousnesses, on becoming active, develop into the semblance of Atman and dharmas. Although the phenomena of Atman and dharmas lie within the consciousness, yet, because of wrong mental discrimination or particularization, they are taken to be external objects. That is why all sentient beings, since before the beginning of time, have conceived them as real Atman and real dharmas.
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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby futerko » Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:59 pm

Some explanations of Cittamatra tend towards the idea that everything is just our imagination, but that doesn't adequately describe the achievement of the philosophy.
Its more the idea that there is no "outside", no "beyond" to knowing - everything is an illusion, but there is no truth hidden behind the illusion, the truth lies in the fact that it is illusory.

So for example, anything man made has the mark of mind on it - it has been designed, thought out, there are blueprints and specifications - but what about apparently natural objects such as trees? - well, one can see a tree as providing wood, or fruit, or a home for insects, which are all partial views based upon a mental classifications, but ultimately the tree is part of the wider continuum of cause and effect, there is no dividing line between the tree and the carbon dioxide, sunlight, nutrients in the soil, etc. that go to make up the tree...

So some explanations say that all substance is God, there is intelligent design, but really, the perception of such a design is simply a reflection of the fact that we can make sense of the world and divide it up using thought based upon function...

The only thing "outside" the process is the perceiving mind, which can only really perceive from within the chain of cause and effect, but which appears as somehow separate from it - and therefore can posit a reflection of itself as "God" - substance, some kind of reality beyond the simple chain of causality, like an intelligence that operates to invisibly "pull the strings" to make phenomena appear to have some kind of logical structure, when really the "thing" adding the idea of a logical structure is nothing other than mind itself.

To put it simply, objects and thoughts of objects are the same thing. They are both self-same and dependent on an observer/subject, i.e. not self-same but impermanent, empty, and constantly in flux.

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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby Ayu » Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:21 pm

The phenomenons are mind-made by appelation and concept. Concepts are illusions, they are only names, and if the name isn't given, the concept will not exist or could be named completely different...

The basis of the phenomenons (the true existence) is not formed and it doesn't appear.
(In German: Die Grundlage von allem ist ungestaltet und tritt nicht in Erscheinung)
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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby futerko » Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:34 pm


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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby Ayu » Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:48 pm

I have decided to stick with love.
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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby futerko » Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:57 pm


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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby Ukigumo » Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:46 pm

Hi Johnny,

You might find this helpful:

For Nagarjuna and his followers, this point is connected deeply and directly with the emptiness of phenomena. That is, for instance, when a Madhyamika philosopher says of a table that it is empty, that assertion by itself is incomplete. It invites the question, "empty of what?" And the answer is: "empty of inherent existence, or self-nature, or, in more Western terms, essence." Now, to say that the table is empty is hence simply to say that it lacks essence and, importantly, not to say that it is completely nonexistent. To say that it lacks essence, the Madhyamika philosopher will explain, is to say, as the Tibetans like to put it, that it does not exist "from its own side"--that its existence as the object that it is, as a table, depends not only upon it or on any purely nonrelational characteristics, but upon us as well. That is, if this kind of furniture had not evolved in our culture, what appears to us to be an obviously unitary object might instead be correctly described as five objects: four quite useful sticks absurdly surmounted by a pointless slab of stick-wood waiting to be carved. It is also to say that the table depends for its existence on its parts, on its causes, on its material, and so forth. Apart from these, there is no table. The table, we might say, is a purely arbitrary slice of space-time chosen by us as the referent of a single name, and not an entity demanding, on its own, recognition and a philosophical analysis to reveal its essence. That independent character is precisely what it lacks, on this view.

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All compound phenomena are like a dream;
a phantom, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning
That is how to meditate on them
That is how to observe them

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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby Ayu » Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:50 pm

I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:24 am

It strikes me that it is one thing to say things do not exist as we see them - pretty much fundamental to any Buddhism, but then a different thing to make the assertion that things simply don't exist at all except when perceived. Is it an assertion of actual non-existence of phenomena which are not perceived, or is it simply a non-affrimation of their existence outside of mind?

As an example with the tree, it makes sense to say that the tree has no independent, inherent existence..not only makes sense, but is actually provable by examining the component parts of the tree, but saying that the parts that make up the tree are non-existent unless perceived by mind is really solipsism isn't it? It seems like a non-affrimation of existence outside of mind is more sensible than an affirmation of non-existence.
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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby futerko » Tue Dec 25, 2012 5:44 am


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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby ground » Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:24 am


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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby futerko » Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:35 am


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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:36 am

Futerko, I think that answers it fundamentally for me, the issue is really with affirmation or negation of "exist", and the flaw there, as defining somethins as existing or not is dichotomous..(is that a word lol)...thanks.
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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby Ayu » Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:28 am

Then: why compassion is inseperable from emptyness?

A self doesn't exist, but the phenomenons exist somehow. They don't come into appearance.
Otherwise there's no need for compassion.

There is a thin devision line between nihilism and the view of emptyness. :smile:
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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby ground » Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:26 am


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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby Ayu » Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:02 am

I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby ground » Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:19 am


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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby Ayu » Tue Dec 25, 2012 12:06 pm



Let's settle this down...
(Mein Englisch is so mies: wie sagt man "Lassen wir das sich mal setzen?")

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Re: existence of objects/form

Postby futerko » Tue Dec 25, 2012 4:13 pm



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