True existence and substantial existence

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jnanavinaya
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True existence and substantial existence

Post by jnanavinaya » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:15 am

In a contemporary commentary on Madhyamaka i came across a sentence implying that "true existence" and "substantial existence" are equal categories. Then we have compounded and uncoumpouded phenomena. Taking to consideration that all these definitions are related to common consensus, couldn't we talk about unsubstential existence? Like either or things like "curviness" of a stone? And then it will be an object for dualistic mind,of course, ergo a truly existing phenomenon.

P.S. It would be great to have a forum on Madhyamaka, Lorig, etc. Alas, Google couldn't find anything substantial on this matter.

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Grigoris
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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:43 am

jnanavinaya wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:15 am
In a contemporary commentary on Madhyamaka i came across a sentence implying that "true existence" and "substantial existence" are equal categories. Then we have compounded and uncoumpouded phenomena. Taking to consideration that all these definitions are related to common consensus, couldn't we talk about unsubstential existence? Like either or things like "curviness" of a stone? And then it will be an object for dualistic mind,of course, ergo a truly existing phenomenon.

P.S. It would be great to have a forum on Madhyamaka, Lorig, etc. Alas, Google couldn't find anything substantial on this matter.
It would be a good idea to cite the sentence and it's content.

It seems to me that you may be misinterpreting the meaning.

A dependently arisen phenomenon has an apparent existence and yet has the same nature as uncompounded phenomena: ie it is ultimately empty.

So essentially there are not two categories of phenomena, ie they are equal.

https://books.google.gr/books?id=mwpmAb ... on&f=false
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Wayfarer
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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:20 am

This is a deep philosophical conundrum. The fundamental problem is that the verb 'to exist' has a limited scope of applicability. Strictly speaking, only conditioned phenomena exist, but they have no intrinsic being. So they neither truly exist (=eternalism) nor do not exist (=nihilism). But this is very hard to grasp, because in our minds, things either exist or don't exist; whereas in reality, they exist in some ways, and not in others. And if you think that's hard to understand, you're right! And, don't try googling this, because the information is not out there somewhere, it's a distinction that can't be made in modern English.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Grigoris
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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:26 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:20 am
This is a deep philosophical conundrum. The fundamental problem is that the verb 'to exist' has a limited scope of applicability. Strictly speaking, only conditioned phenomena exist, but they have no intrinsic being. So they neither truly exist (=eternalism) nor do not exist (=nihilism). But this is very hard to grasp, because in our minds, things either exist or don't exist; whereas in reality, they exist in some ways, and not in others. And if you think that's hard to understand, you're right! And, don't try googling this, because the information is not out there somewhere, it's a distinction that can't be made in modern English.
In the text I linked to they talk about uncompounded space, as an example.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

jnanavinaya
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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by jnanavinaya » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:34 am

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:43 am
jnanavinaya wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:15 am
In a contemporary commentary on Madhyamaka i came across a sentence implying that "true existence" and "substantial existence" are equal categories. Then we have compounded and uncoumpouded phenomena. Taking to consideration that all these definitions are related to common consensus, couldn't we talk about unsubstantial existence? Like either or things like "curviness" of a stone? And then it will be an object for dualistic mind, of course, ergo a truly existing phenomenon.

P.S. It would be great to have a forum on Madhyamaka, Lorig, etc. Alas, Google couldn't find anything substantial on this matter.
It would be a good idea to cite the sentence and it's content.

It seems to me that you may be misinterpreting the meaning.

A dependently arisen phenomenon has an apparent existence and yet has the same nature as uncompounded phenomena: ie it is ultimately empty.

So essentially there are not two categories of phenomena, ie they are equal.

https://books.google.gr/books?id=mwpmAb ... on&f=false
1. The sentence is: "The Madhyamikas would say that the answer is, “That nature of consciousness does not exist truly or substantially".
2. "Apparent existence" seems a neo-term) There is no such term in Tibetan. True existence and interdependent origination, yes. "Essentially" i.e. in Ultimate truth (as well as from the point of view of inseparability of ultimate and relative) everything is equal, indeed. Compounded phenomena, uncompounded phenomena are all - interdependent origination and ergo emptiness. But that's not the question here.

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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by jnanavinaya » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:47 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:20 am
This is a deep philosophical conundrum. The fundamental problem is that the verb 'to exist' has a limited scope of applicability. Strictly speaking, only conditioned phenomena exist, but they have no intrinsic being. So they neither truly exist (=eternalism) nor do not exist (=nihilism). But this is very hard to grasp, because in our minds, things either exist or don't exist; whereas in reality, they exist in some ways, and not in others. And if you think that's hard to understand, you're right! And, don't try googling this, because the information is not out there somewhere, it's a distinction that can't be made in modern English.
This is very basis conundrum. Interdependent relationship IS emptiness. Which is the freedom from four ontological extremes. And this is the only one way how phenomena "exist" in ultimate reality. But again, this is not the question here.

Oh, i wouldn't try to google it) Using google only to find a forum with people who studied and practiced madhyamaka enough to discuss it.

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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:55 am

Jnanavinaya wrote:Using google only to find a forum with people who studied and practiced madhyamaka enough to discuss it.
Google hasn't been around long enough ;-)
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Astus
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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by Astus » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:23 am

Existence is insubstantial (nihsvabhava), as there is no substance (svabhava) to be found in anything. At the same time, whenever we say that something is/exists, that is conceiving a substance right there. And if we say something does not exist, that is still thinking of a substance. The reason being is that to be a thing, an object of conception, it has to be conceived on its own, as a stand alone, independent entity. The deciding factor is whether one recognises substantiality as a conceptual product, or as the attribute of the conceived object. Now here to wonder about the level of existence of made up objects is like debating the hidden motives of fictional characters in a novel.
Last edited by Astus on Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Sherab
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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by Sherab » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:23 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:20 am
This is a deep philosophical conundrum. The fundamental problem is that the verb 'to exist' has a limited scope of applicability. Strictly speaking, only conditioned phenomena exist, but they have no intrinsic being. So they neither truly exist (=eternalism) nor do not exist (=nihilism). But this is very hard to grasp, because in our minds, things either exist or don't exist; whereas in reality, they exist in some ways, and not in others. And if you think that's hard to understand, you're right! And, don't try googling this, because the information is not out there somewhere, it's a distinction that can't be made in modern English.
It all depends on how you define your terms.

I understand eternalism in Buddhism as referring to something that exists unchanging forever. But something that exists unchanging forever by definition cannot interact with anything. So it logically should not exist.

I understand nihilism in Buddhism as referring to something that comes into existence and then goes out of existence without any further continuation. But again this is something that logically should not exist. How does it come into existence in the first place? From nothing?

So if anything can exist, it has to be something that is dependently arisen. But this would involve the presumption that the chain of dependency has no beginning. Logically, this is a rather unsatisfactory assumption to make. It is equivalent in my mind to the "God of the gap" argument of theistic apologists.

Dependent arising also presumed time because change is temporal by definition. But Ven Nanavira interestingly asserted that dependent arising is not temporal but structural. In a sense, it is something like the block universe of Einstein's general relativity and a little more. I think there is something to this idea about dependent arising as being structural.

Finally, if we assume that basic awareness is fundamental, in that it is from this that everything arises, then what that arises logically is illusory.

jnanavinaya
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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by jnanavinaya » Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:31 pm

Astus wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:23 am
Existence is insubstantial (nihsvabhava), as there is no substance (svabhava) to be found in anything. At the same time, whenever we say that something is/exists, that is conceiving a substance right there. And if we say something does not exist, that is still thinking of a substance. The reason being is that to be a thing, an object of conception, it has to be conceived on its own, as a stand alone, independent entity. The deciding factor is whether one recognises substantiality as a conceptual product, or as the attribute of the conceived object. Now here to wonder about the level of existence of made up objects is like debating the hidden motives of fictional characters in a novel.
Svabhava is actually "nature", not "substance".
Anyway, from what you say it follows that "insubstantial" and "substantial" are both conventions. But that's precisely my point.
At the same time, nisvabhava means absence of [self] nature, in other words, absence of independent nature. So yes, what we call "[truly] existent phenomena" actually (from the ultimate point of view), are lack of independent nature (or "inherent existence", etc) . No questions about it.
"Conceptual product" and "conceived object" occur at one time, and both as an illusion, so I didn't quite get your point why then it is a deciding factor.

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Astus
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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by Astus » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:09 pm

jnanavinaya wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:31 pm
"Conceptual product" and "conceived object" occur at one time, and both as an illusion, so I didn't quite get your point why then it is a deciding factor.
If substantiality is understood to be a conceptual product then it is no longer a substance, an independent entity, but a mere name, while if substantiality is attributed to the object, that is, the object exists on its own, then it is mistaken to be something graspable.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

jnanavinaya
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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by jnanavinaya » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:40 pm

Astus wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:09 pm
jnanavinaya wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:31 pm
"Conceptual product" and "conceived object" occur at one time, and both as an illusion, so I didn't quite get your point why then it is a deciding factor.
If substantiality is understood to be a conceptual product then it is no longer a substance, an independent entity, but a mere name, while if substantiality is attributed to the object, that is, the object exists on its own, then it is mistaken to be something graspable.
Then, a thought, for instance is not a substance. But it is still a dualistic phenomenon, isn't it? So, you say it is insubstantial and dualistic, correct? I would agree with this. I think there are many insubstantial dualistic phenomena. But the sentence is implying that "insubstantiality" and "emptiness" are synonyms.

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Astus
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Re: True existence and substantial existence

Post by Astus » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:03 pm

jnanavinaya wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:40 pm
Then, a thought, for instance is not a substance.
Nothing is a substance. Things seem substantial because of ignorance, substantiality is an incorrect assumption.
But it is still a dualistic phenomenon, isn't it?
The dualism of self and other is another way to say substantiality.
But the sentence is implying that "insubstantiality" and "emptiness" are synonyms.
Emptiness is the absence of substance, i.e. insubstantiality.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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