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Re: No External Objects

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:09 pm
by conebeckham
Matt J wrote:Let me modify this example with a counter: if I am dreaming about playing Russian roulette, and there are five empty chambers, and one contains a dream bullet, does that establish the reality of the dream? No--- even if I shoot my dream self in the dream head and die. So it is clearly in our experience to have non-existent things appear to us, behave consistently, and follow established patterns. But none of this means any of it is is real or really established.

I think the confusion is in saying, well, if it doesn't exist, then it is nothing. But as the dream example shows, this is not the case at all. There is plenty of color, sound, and sensation in dreams. Gedun Chophel points out in the quote above that thinking that worrying about people becoming nihilists in the face of experience is pointless. We see and touch things, so of course there's not nothing.
Agreed. Also, regarding your dream example--it's clear that, in samsara, even things which happen in dreams can impact waking life,in different ways. Aside from what happens in the dream, it's often the case that one can be "upset" for a time after waking from dreams. In that sense, from the POV of Samsara, it's helpful to realize that what happens solely in our minds can have great effect, even in the absence of physical manifestation or "Form" in the "external world."

When we wake from a vivid nightmare, in a cold sweat and an emotionally turbulent state, we tell ourselves "it was only a dream, it's not real." Our sensory appartii and mental experience of being awake then gradually supplant the experience of the dream, even if we can vividly recall the details and content of the dream. We can see that things are not as they appear, yet they still have an influence or effect on us in certain states. Samsara is like that, but much more rooted. When Buddhas awaken from Samsara, they still understand the effects of mistaken ontological assumptions in the mindstreams of sentient beings. Neither Buddha nor Nagarjuna, nor any Madhyamaka teacher, argues for complete and utter nonexistence.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:43 pm
by MiphamFan
Malcolm wrote:
smcj wrote:
Malcolm wrote: IN general, people who practice only for this life get "faster" results.
I take it you've given up on regularly meditating on the '4 thought that turn the mind from samsara'.
"faster" is in scare quotes for a reason...
What do you mean?

For me, I found that thinking about liberation in this life stresses me out and depresses me because I have no circumstances to do long retreats.

I found that the older Mahayana idea of committing to a long stream of rebirths somehow calms me down instead.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:52 pm
by Malcolm
MiphamFan wrote: What do you mean?
Their view is shorter, their results more shallow, they feel more satisfied with less...

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:29 pm
by Wayfarer
MattJ wrote:I think the confusion is in saying, well, if it doesn't exist, then it is nothing. But as the dream example shows, this is not the case at all. There is plenty of color, sound, and sensation in dreams.
I am never impressed with the 'argument from dreams'. Dreams are private, subjective, and transient. There is no actual colour sound and sensation. If you can't differentiate a dream bullet from a real one then this has real consequences,

But you're closer to the mark with the first statement - which is what I'm trying to get at by distinguishing 'what is real' from 'what exists'. They're not exactly the same. So when we say that 'things don't actually exist'', what is meant is that they have no 'svabhava', they are not self-originated. Which means, they're derived from causes and conditions. As I pointed out, the fact that conditioned entities are derived from causes, is not a conception that is unique to Buddhism, it is found in other philosophical schools. But I don't see the point in continuing as the folks here are telling me that philosophical analysis is simply another mental construction, as if I don't know the difference. So do carry on with your 'dream analysis'.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:33 pm
by Malcolm
conebeckham wrote: Neither Buddha nor Nagarjuna, nor any Madhyamaka teacher, argues for complete and utter nonexistence.
Again, as Buddhapalita states, "We do not claim nonexistence, we merely remove claims that existents exist."

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:35 pm
by Malcolm
Wayfarer wrote: As I pointed out, the fact that conditioned entities are derived from causes, is not a conception that is unique to Buddhism...
And as Nāgārjuna points out, "arising from causes" is incoherent.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:45 pm
by MiphamFan
Malcolm wrote:
MiphamFan wrote: What do you mean?
Their view is shorter, their results more shallow, they feel more satisfied with less...
Oh, you mean the people who commit the first error mentioned inParting from the Four Attachments.

I thought you meant people who practise for liberation in this life.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:47 pm
by MiphamFan
Wayfarer wrote:
MattJ wrote:I think the confusion is in saying, well, if it doesn't exist, then it is nothing. But as the dream example shows, this is not the case at all. There is plenty of color, sound, and sensation in dreams.
I am never impressed with the 'argument from dreams'. Dreams are private, subjective, and transient. There is no actual colour sound and sensation. If you can't differentiate a dream bullet from a real one then this has real consequences,

But you're closer to the mark with the first statement - which is what I'm trying to get at by distinguishing 'what is real' from 'what exists'. They're not exactly the same. So when we say that 'things don't actually exist'', what is meant is that they have no 'svabhava', they are not self-originated. Which means, they're derived from causes and conditions. As I pointed out, the fact that conditioned entities are derived from causes, is not a conception that is unique to Buddhism, it is found in other philosophical schools. But I don't see the point in continuing as the folks here are telling me that philosophical analysis is simply another mental construction, as if I don't know the difference. So do carry on with your 'dream analysis'.
Your revolver example is more irrelevant than the dream example.

Whether or not it is a full loaded revolver, a scimitar, an empty revolver, all are completely without existence.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:53 pm
by Vasana
I came across this Excerpt from the 3rd Karmapa again earlier and thought it to be quite apt for where this discussion seems to be heading.

"All our thoughts and perceptions are relative.
The realization of their nature is the absolute.
The mind which realizes this is the relative.
Mind’s absence of true reality is the absolute.
The terms signifying the two truths are relative.
The absence of true reality in such terms is the absolute."
...........................................

" "Beginning" and "end" are dependent upon conceptualisation.
Mental events are like winds
That cause karma and kleshas to arise.
The (karma and kleshas) manifest the skandhas, dhatus,
Ayatanas, and all the phenomena of dualistic appearances.
Someone who strives for and discards these (appearances) is deluded.
What can be negated through rejecting your own projections?
What can be gained by acquiring your own projections?
Isn't this belief in duality a fraud?

Though this understanding is taught as a remedy,
The understanding of non-duality is not truth.
It is not conception of non-conceptuality.
The understanding of emptiness gained through breaking down forms and so on,
Isn't it itself a delusion?
But it is taught so that attachment to things as real will cease.

There isn't anything that is either real or false.
The wise have said that everything is like the moon's reflection on water.
The "ordinary mind" is called
The "dharmadhatu" and "the Buddha nature."
The enlightened cannot improve it.
Unenlightened beings cannot corrupt it.
It is described by many names,
But its meaning cannot be known through verbal expression."

Excerpts from A Teaching on the Tathagatagarba by
The 3rd. KARMAPA RANGJUNG DORJE

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 10:56 pm
by tingdzin
Oh, very nice quote.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 11:04 pm
by smcj
The understanding of emptiness gained through breaking down forms and so on,
Isn't it itself a delusion?
But it is taught so that attachment to things as real will cease.
Thanks. I've been trying to make the point that Mahdyamaka "...is taught so that attachment to things as real will cease" for a while. Now I've got a quote of someone that is an actual authority to back me up.

A shortcut to the same end is to meditate on impermanence and death. If everything is impermanent (it is), and you are certain to die (you will), then at death there will be nothing to cling to anyways. But that means going somewhere emotionally too close to Christianity for Westerners to accept. We would rather argue about Nagarjuna--and to do so comfortably without ever coming close to letting go of our attachments.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:51 am
by Wayfarer
Malcolm wrote:
Wayfarer wrote: As I pointed out, the fact that conditioned entities are derived from causes, is not a conception that is unique to Buddhism...
And as Nāgārjuna points out, "arising from causes" is incoherent.
Does Nāgārjuna say that dependent origination is incoherent?

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2015 3:10 pm
by Malcolm
Wayfarer wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Wayfarer wrote: As I pointed out, the fact that conditioned entities are derived from causes, is not a conception that is unique to Buddhism...
And as Nāgārjuna points out, "arising from causes" is incoherent.
Does Nāgārjuna say that dependent origination is incoherent?
He says in the opening statement of the MMK that the meaning of dependent origination is that things do not perish nor do they arise; are not annihilated nor are they permanent; do not go nor do they come; are not different nor are they the same. Dependent origination pacifies proliferation about whether things, arise, perish, are annihilated, permanent, going, coming, different or the same.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:03 pm
by Wayfarer
Well on face value, that certainlyr is both incoherent, and also incompatible with naturalism, so it seems we have some hermeneutic issues here.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:35 pm
by smcj
Malcolm wrote: He says in the opening statement of the MMK that the meaning of dependent origination is that things do not perish nor do they arise; are not annihilated nor are they permanent; do not go nor do they come; are not different nor are they the same. Dependent origination pacifies proliferation about whether things, arise, perish, are annihilated, permanent, going, coming, different or the same.
I like Tsongkhapa's version of Nagarjuna better. That's just a personal preference based on affection for my Gelug mentors.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Fri Nov 27, 2015 12:07 am
by conebeckham
Wayfarer wrote:Well on face value, that certainlyr is both incoherent, and also incompatible with naturalism, so it seems we have some hermeneutic issues here.
Hmmmm. It is coherent to me, in a sense. The Heart Sutra says much the same thing, frankly. Have you considered that coherence is a yardstick for rational, conceptual mind? Precisely the sort of think Nagarjuna, and the Buddha, set out to circumvent?

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Fri Nov 27, 2015 12:12 am
by smcj
conebeckham wrote:Have you considered that coherence is a yardstick for rational, conceptual mind? Precisely the sort of think Nagarjuna, and the Buddha, set out to circumvent?
I think in the case of Nagarjuna "circumvent" is not the right word. He subscribed to rationality and brought it to Dharma. Ultimately that rationality checkmates itself by seeing that there is zero rational propositions to explain how phenomena abide. I don't have the right word for it, but I don't think that's "circumventing". Maybe "seeing for itself its own limitations". I've actually heard a Dharma term for it, but only once and I've forgotten it.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Fri Nov 27, 2015 12:32 am
by conebeckham
Maybe "Exhausts itself?"

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Fri Nov 27, 2015 12:34 am
by smcj
conebeckham wrote:Maybe "Exhausts itself?"
Perfect.

Re: No External Objects

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 12:48 am
by Losal Samten
Mipham's commentary on Shantarakshita's Madhyamakalamkara goes over the Madhyamaka-Yogacara synthesis view quite thoroughly. There are two translations of this, one by Pakmakara, and one by Thomas Doctor called The Adornment of the Middle Way and the Speech of Delight: Mipham's Commentary on Santaraksita's Ornament of the Middle Way respectively. There is also a Western study on Shantarakshita's text with extracts from his autocommentary and a Gelugpa commentary by James Blumenthal called The Ornament of the Middle Way: A Study of the Madhyamaka Thought of Santaraksita. I have not read Doctor's nor Blumenthal's books.

Mipham's commentary on Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara goes over the problems of "inherent existence" very well, it has been translated by Padmakara as Introduction to the Middle Way.

A short essay on Gorampa's criticisms of Tsongkhapa's approach: http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/colle ... _22_05.pdf