Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

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Tsongkhapafan
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:34 am

PeterC wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:17 am
Great, then please explain for us in what sense your interpretation of Gelugpa teachings are "traditional". The point being made here by others is that you represent a minority position not particularly consistent with the historic or contemporary Gelugpa mainstream. Rather than addressing that point, you responded that it's all a matter of opinion / it's all politics / there's no point in discussing. If you're willing to elaborate, then please elaborate beyond that.
Elaboration is pointless, I hope you understand that. I've been debating this issue for two decades and it never goes anywhere. I've addressed the point online time without number and people just get angry. At the end of the day it doesn't make things better or improve someone's view.

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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by PeterC » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:16 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:34 am
PeterC wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:17 am
Great, then please explain for us in what sense your interpretation of Gelugpa teachings are "traditional". The point being made here by others is that you represent a minority position not particularly consistent with the historic or contemporary Gelugpa mainstream. Rather than addressing that point, you responded that it's all a matter of opinion / it's all politics / there's no point in discussing. If you're willing to elaborate, then please elaborate beyond that.
Elaboration is pointless, I hope you understand that. I've been debating this issue for two decades and it never goes anywhere. I've addressed the point online time without number and people just get angry. At the end of the day it doesn't make things better or improve someone's view.
If you believe that, then you probably shouldn’t get into discussions like these, or present something as the traditional position of the Gelugpas / Tsongkhapa, if you’re unwilling to then explain or justify that position.

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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Mantrik » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:00 pm

Kadampa Buddhist position on debate of Madhyamaka (and anything else):

it's all a matter of opinion.
It's all politics.
There's no point in discussing (it's all in the books).
There's no point elaborating (it's all in the books).

Oh, and:

'It's not my tradition so I can't comment.
Geshe-la says... (present tense used as if still alive).
We don't read those books as they are impure.
We are not Tibetan Buddhists.
We are the real Gelugpa (this week, not next, when we are the true Kadampa).
You cannot mix traditions.
False Dalai Lama is lying.
If in doubt, bliss-speak.

Did I miss any, TsongKhapafaN?


Mods note - Kadampa is a term used at times for Gelugpas, and is not a mention of a named group banned here.
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Jeff H » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:08 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:58 pm
I appreciate Jeff H's support but even his post seems to read that Tsongkhapa's teachings are okay for beginners but then we need to practise Mahamudra/Vajrayana/Dzogchen. Maybe I misunderstood your post Jeff, but you seemed to imply that you have to move on from Tsongkhapa's views but actually, his whole tradition is a complete path to enlightenment including profound teachings on Mahamudra and Vajrayana. Many of Tsongkhapa's disciples such as Gyalwa Ensapa and Khedrub Sangye Yeshe attained enlightenment in three years and three months by practising the uncommon Ganden Oral Lineage instructions on Mahamudra and the power of the tradition has not diminished.
:meditate: Returning to this post of yours, I'm hoping to pause the rapid degeneration of the thread. Frankly, I appreciate your voice on DW, even though I don't support your organization.

To answer your point, I'm not moving on from Tsongkhapa's views, but rather attempting to graduate from Sutrayana to Vajrayana by means of Dzogchen.

I, too, am a fan of Tsongkhapa. Also of HHDL and the ecumenical movement in Tibetan Buddhism. I very much appreciate the fact that you consistently defend the core teachings of Tsongkhapa, and from my still shaky understanding, I agree with most of your arguments. At the same time, I consider Malcolm to be a more reliable authority even though I think the teachings on inherent existence are a very effective method.

Personally, I’m completely put off by the animus on both sides*. I am interested in the teaching concepts that are being debated, such as inherent existence. I consider myself Gelug-oriented in the FPMT tradition, but because you are the only substantial defender of Tsongkhapa here, I find myself torn between followers of traditions that historically oppose Tsongkhapa and the “sect-that-shall-not-be-named” (which, by the way, provided my first introduction to Tibetan Buddhism eleven years ago). I don’t think the arguments you present are misinterpretations. Or more specifically, I lack the subtly of understanding needed to see any misinterpretations if they exist. That is why I’d like to hear more from FPMT Gelugpas here on DW… and much less sect/tradition bashing. That's my position as nearly as I can express it.


* And to be clear, I don't think Tsongkhapafan has displayed animus in his posts that I've read over the last couple of years, even if perhaps he used to.
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:23 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:08 pm
That is why I’d like to hear more from FPMT Gelugpas here on DW… and much less sect/tradition bashing. That's my position as nearly as I can express it.
Thanks for your balanced approach. I think it's sad that there aren't more Gelugpas on DW and I think that sect/tradition bashing is pointless.

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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Lobsang Chojor » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:52 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:08 pm
That is why I’d like to hear more from FPMT Gelugpas here on DW
I don't think there are that many FPMT Gelugpas on here, and I personally don't feel that I know enough to comment and debate the subtleties of the philosophies.
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by PeterC » Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:23 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:08 pm
Personally, I’m completely put off by the animus on both sides*.

* And to be clear, I don't think Tsongkhapafan has displayed animus in his posts that I've read over the last couple of years, even if perhaps he used to.
Jeff - there are two discussions here, and I think it’s helpful to separate the two.

One is about Tsonkhapa’s position on madhyamaka. That has been done to death in other threads. Reasonable people can disagree on these things, particularly as many great lamas advise that the philosophical view one holds is consideably less important than the view one develops experientially through practice.

The other is about whether Tsongkhapafan is actually representing mainstream Gelugpa views and practices or representing those of a controversial offshoot, and how candid he is being about this. There is of course animus against that particular offshoot. Mods should lock this thread if it drifts too far into this area. Many people will also have an issue with disingenuity.

That said:
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by anjali » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:13 pm

The topic is Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka.

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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by conebeckham » Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:48 am

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:37 pm
I wasn't precise enough, let me try to parse out the question.

The Gelugpas say: The cup is not empty of its own [conventional] essence [as it appears to ordinary persons], but it is empty of having a truly established nature. (Anyen Rinpoche).

This is a non-affirming negative. In other words, the cup's truly established nature is negated, but it's [conventional] essence [as it appears to ordinary persons] is consequently not analyzed.
The crux of this is that the Gelukpas have this "truly established nature" or "Inherent existence" which has somehow been bifurcated from the "existence of the cup." All Madhayamakas says that appearances seem to exist for ordinary beings on the level of no analysis. Those that analyze the existence of the cup are faced with a cup appearing where no cup can be said to exist, after analysis. The Gelukpas are left with a non-existing object of negation which was never perceived by ordinary beings in the first place, but which is a philosophical construct, but the cup itself has some sort of "qualified existence" on the relative level.
KDT wrote:They do this, according to Anyen Rinpoche in his book, out of compassion for ordinary persons, who may have fear of emptiness.

[F]rom the Later Scholars’ point of view, if you assert that the conventional essence of the cup is empty, then the cup itself will cease to exist in conventional reality. But a cup appears; we see it, we can use it! The Later Scholars do not want to contradict this appearance; they abstain from making any assertions about conventional reality at all [...] They do not address conventional reality at all. They leave conventional reality exactly as it appears, without analysis. [...] As a result, the appearance of an entity and its truly established nature become two different things, because one is refuted and found to be empty, but not the other. Actually, they must be separated for this philosophy to be consistent; otherwise to refute one would be to refute the other. The Later Scholars have a good reason and motivation for putting space between conventional and ultimate reality. Beings have very strong attachment toward ordinary reality, and refuting conventional reality may cause some people to become frightened and unable to engage in the Buddhist path. This presentation actually benefits such beings. (AR).

Now, from what I am understanding, Mipham criticizes negation generally but also specifically this version of non-affirming negation.

He criticizes negation generally since any negation, whether affirming or non-affirming, takes a position and hence is a contrivance, and is therefore not the ultimate, uncontrived view.

But he also criticizes the Gelugpa non-affirming negation specifically because: One of the consequences of refuting only an object’s truly established nature is that there is something left over after you refute it. This is clear if you recall the actual logic being stated: The pillar is not empty of the pillar; it is empty of the pillar’s true establishment. This implies that the pillar - how it appears conventionally - is somehow its own individual entity that is separate and distinct from its appearance. [...] When we say that “a pillar is not empty of being a pillar; it is empty of its truly established nature,” then conventional phenomena are able to withstand logical analysis. This means that conventional truth is not empty. (AR).

Now, The Gelugs, of course, say that their non-affirming negative is the same as the truly ultimate, uncontrived view: The Later Scholars say that from the point of view of the empty essence, the nonaffirming negative is completely uncontrived. From the point of view of the clear nature, it is the expression of the indivisible, enlightened body or inseparable, indestructible wisdom. It is uncompounded, naturally expressed, spontaneously present, and has all of the good qualities of the buddhas. This is how we always hear the uncontrived nature described. Except you may have noticed that, in this explanation, the nonaffirming negative is what is said to be uncontrived. That is the one distinction from Mipham Rinpoche’s presentation. (AR).

They do this in spite of the fact that they (apparently) deliberately preserve conventional essence from analysis.

So my question is - how do the Gelugpas avoid Mipham's criticism that as a consequence of deliberately preserving conventional essence from analysis, they have implicitly affirmed that conventional truth is not empty?

This becomes more absurd if we try to apply it to an actual being. Take the example of David. “David is not empty of David; David is empty of David’s truly established nature. [...] If the pillar is not empty of the pillar, but is empty of the pillar’s truly established nature, then the emptiness is not that of the pillar itself. The emptiness is just the emptiness of the pillar’s true existence. So actually, emptiness is never able to refute the pillar at all. Emptiness is not an expression of the pillar’s nature.” (AR).

It's a good book, btw.
I am not certain Mipham says Negation is a contrivance. Perhaps ultimately so, but he definitely supports the "rational investigation" of ontological and epistemological issues. Have you read "Beacon of Certainty?" He does ultimate say that one must move toward "nonelaboration."

With regard to your question, I am not sure the Gelukpas do avoid the critique that conventional truth is not empty. I have not seen any cogent response to that question.

Tsongkhapa says, in the JangChub Kyi Lam Rim Che Wa:
The production and cessation of form, etc., are established by conventional minds. Even though such things exist, they are not found by a rational cognition, but even though they are not found by it, how could they be thus negated? For example, an eye consciousness doe not find sound, but that does not mean sound has been negated.
He basically claims that there are different sorts of analysis--conventional and absolute, and these correspond only to their objects. Conventional minds find conventionally existent cups, while ultimate mind, searching for ultimate objects, find no such ultimate objects. That's the way I understand him, at least. TsongKhapa also says that the Svatantrikas do not refute natural existence but claim that true existence is negated. He feels this "natural existence" is similar to his conventional truth.
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Jeff H » Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:36 am

I'd like to offer this quote from Khensur Jampa Tegchok in Insight Into Emptiness. I think this is a good explanation of the Gelug argument from a directly authoritative source. It shows how this method is used to begin moving from an inferential to a direct understanding of emptiness by applying coarse and subtle examples. I'd be interested in people's comments on this passage.
Khensur Jampa Tegchok wrote:There can be two mistaken appearances in relation to one object. In the simile of the mirage, its appearance as water is its coarse mistaken appearance, while its appearance as truly existent is its subtle mistaken appearance. Similarly, its nonexistence as it appears could be on two levels. The mirage not existing as water as it appears is the coarse level. The mirage not existing from its own side is the subtle level. When we clearly realize the coarse level of its mistaken appearance, we come closer to understanding the subtle one, which is the actual meaning of the mirage simile.

To realize that the reflection in the mirror does not exist as an actual face, we have to realize that the reflection does not exist as it appears. That reflection has two appearances: (1) its appearance as a face, which is the coarse appearance, and (2) its appearance as self-existent, which is its subtle appearance. When we realize the reflection is empty of existing as a face as it appears, we realize it is empty of its coarse appearance. At that time, we have not even come close to negating its subtle mistaken appearance, its appearance as truly existent. When we realize the reflection is empty of true existence as it appears, we realize its subtle emptiness.

The reflection is given as a simile to help us understand the emptiness of other objects, such as a table. Someone could make the syllogism, “The table does not exist as it appears; for example, like a reflection.” The example—the reflection of a face is empty of being a real face—is coarse. The point it is illustrating—the emptiness of inherent existence of the table—is subtle. The example itself cannot be the subtle emptiness, because if it were, we would have had to already realize emptiness just to understand the example.

“The table is empty of existing as it appears, like the reflection of a face in a mirror does not exist as it appears.” It only says, “It doesn’t exist as it appears,” which is a fact. Only that is said because there are multiple levels on which the reflection of a face in a mirror does not exist as it appears. Thus, even if a person has not yet realized the subtle one, he can get at it by contemplating the coarser level indicated by the simile.

If a mirage were actually water, as we came closer to it, we would see the water ever more clearly. Wild creatures believe it is water and go running toward it. But as they approach, the appearance of water vanishes because in fact there is no water. Dependent on the combination of sunlight and the asphalt, an appearance arose of what from a distance seems to be water.

Similarly, if we do not analyze closely, inherent existence appears, but the more we investigate, the more we discover it is not actually there. Like a mirage, the appearance of inherent existence is an illusion that does not persist if we look closely. Similarly, when the sky is clear on a full moon night, the form of the moon will appear reflected in a still body of water, though there is no moon in the water as there appears to be. Likewise, things are not existent from their own side as they appear, because if they were, when we searched for them in their basis of designation, we would find them.

Tegchok, Jampa. Insight into Emptiness (Kindle Locations 4637ff). Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition.
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Jeff H » Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:02 am

I should clarify: This encapsulates my understanding of how inherent existence is applied as a method in Tsongkhapa's lam rim. I want to know if people here believe this is wrong and/or misleading.

I'm not asking about alternative ways to arrive at direct perception of emptiness, even if they might be better ways. Just whether applying the concept of inherent existence in the context of a Gelug training program will necessarily fail to result in the experience of emptiness.

Regarding the thread topic, I believe that the method described here is not Svatantrika.
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Bristollad » Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:05 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:37 pm
I wasn't precise enough, let me try to parse out the question.

The Gelugpas say: The cup is not empty of its own [conventional] essence [as it appears to ordinary persons], but it is empty of having a truly established nature. (Anyen Rinpoche).

This is a non-affirming negative. In other words, the cup's truly established nature is negated, but it's [conventional] essence [as it appears to ordinary persons] is consequently not analyzed.
Sorry, but I don’t think this what Tsongkhapa and Gelugpas say. In the same way that Malcolm thinks Sonam Thackhoe didn’t understand and present Gorampa’s position correctly in the Two Truths Debate, I also think this misses what the Gelugpa position is. Subsequent discussion and refutation based on this idea of Tsongkhapa’s view is consquently unconvincing to me.

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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Jeff H » Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:47 pm

Following on Bristollad's comment, in the matter of Svatantrika, I think Guy Newland presents a very understandable summary of what Tsongkhapa actually meant by his distinction between Svatantrika and Prasangika.

Malcolm is quite right in his challenge for someone to produce a quote from Bhavaviveka stating that he supported truly existent conventional nature. Tsongkhapa never claimed Bhavaviveka said that. Rather Tsongkhapa inferred that he must have been influenced by a belief in true nature from his objection to Buddhapalita’s consequentialist arguments and Chandrakirti’s defense of Buddhapalita.

Tsongkhapa cites Bhavaviveka very favorably throughout the Great Treatise, except in this one instance. The Svatantrika/Prasangika distinction originally just referred to two methods of debate: autonomous syllogisms and consequential arguments. The former uses agreed upon premises to establish conclusions and the latter attempts to demonstrate the internal contradictions of the opponent’s position.

Tsongkhapa's inference is laid out in what is acknowledged to be the most difficult section of the Lam Rim Chenmo. Guy Newland, one of the two co-lead translators of the Lam Rim Chenmo, unpacks it in a very readable way in chapter 8 of his Introduction to Emptiness. I strongly recommend this short chapter which is available as a free pdf here (although I don’t know whether it’s an authorized posting or not).

Here are just a few salient quotes from Newland:
Guy Newland wrote: Bhavaviveka wrote a commentary on Nagarjuna, criticizing Buddhapalita. He points out that Buddhapalita's reductio ad absurdum arguments are simply fallacies internal to the other systems' positions. They cannot be readily converted into positive assertions that will prove the Madhyamaka position using sources of knowledge acceptable to both parties. And this is precisely what Bhavaviveka thinks is properly required. As a logician, Bhavaviveka feels compelled to take issue with the way Buddhapalita's commentary deviates from the then-established standards of formal logic. Bhavaviveka does not at all fault Nagarjuna; he takes it that Buddhapalita has misinterpreted Nagarjuna. He sets out to show how Nagarjuna's arguments can be formulated as self-standing standing proofs, autonomous arguments for the correct position that there is no ultimately existent production.

Subsequently, Chandrakirti wrote his own commentary on Nagarjuna, siding with Buddhapalita in the face of Bhavaviveka's critique. In brief, Chandrakirti criticizes Bhavaviveka's use of autonomous syllogisms. In defense of Buddhapalita, he argues that it is proper for Madhyamikas to debate about emptiness using reductio ad absurdum arguments, arguments that draw out internal contradictions in the position of the other party. This is the defining moment for the distinction between the two types of Madhyamaka.
And …
Tsong-kha-pa says that we could make arguments in [syllogistic] form. [A] syllogism is an argument that Tsong-kha-pa accepts and that he will advance to someone who is ready to understand it. On the other hand, it is problematic to insist on this formulation –- as Bhavaviveka does in criticizing Buddhapalita –- for it is unlikely that this kind of argument will be especially persuasive at the outset. This is because our non-Madhyamika friends are proponents of true existence. For them, things exist as they appear.

But Tsong-kha-pa goes beyond this point to ask, "What does it mean that Bhavaviveka, a brilliant scholar, fails to appreciate what Buddhapalita is doing?" For example, if we all agree to the same four premises, then we can state to one another direct arguments about what these premises imply. Likewise, if we all agree to the same empirical data, then we can argue about what conclusions to draw from these perceptions. But suppose the other party accepts only three of our four premises and also takes it as given that the same mind that validates the first three premises simultaneously confirms the exact opposite of our fourth premise. The possibilities for straightforward debate are now much more constrained. In such a case, our most effective means of persuasion cannot be to state baldly our fourth premise as a thesis. Its falseness seems obvious to the other party. Our best course is to begin reasoning in an indirect manner, pointing out internal contradictions that we find implied by our opponent's view.

This is something that Bhavaviveka, famous as a great logician, must have understood. Therefore, Tsong-kha-pa says, by insisting that we Madhyamikas must prove emptiness by stating an autonomous syllogism directly to non-Madhyamikas, Bhavaviveka implies that Madhyamikas are in fact debating with non-Madhyamikas from a shared empirical knowledge base, some common understanding of how things exist at the conventional level. That is, Bhavaviveka must think that the only difference between Madhyamikas and non-Madhyamikas is that we have analyzed more deeply and worked out the correct implications of the common body of empirical evidence upon which all agree. In this way, Tsong-kha-pa argues, Bhavaviveka implies that intrinsic nature, just as it appears to our ordinary senses, does in fact exist conventionally.
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Jeff H » Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:06 pm

I would take this one step further to point out that, personally, I don’t think it matters in the least whether the historical Bhavaviveka actually held to truly existent nature, even unconsciously.

In the context of Gelug training, the four tenet systems are used as a teaching method to illustrate the progression from a view of relative materialism to direct realization of emptiness. Tsongkhapa’s extremely subtle distinction between Svatantrika and Prasangika, at the very top of that progression, very strongly makes the point that even a great logician could possibly miss this most subtle remnant of a materialist view.
In chapter 6, Newland wrote: Tsong-kha-pa kha-pa identifies [the] actual object of negation as things having their own way of existing without being posited through the force of consciousness. This is what we mean by "self" or "intrinsic nature." The sheer absence of this is emptiness. Therefore, at bottom, to understand stand emptiness means understanding that things have no way of existing apart from minds that impute them.
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by conebeckham » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:15 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:06 pm
I would take this one step further to point out that, personally, I don’t think it matters in the least whether the historical Bhavaviveka actually held to truly existent nature, even unconsciously.

In the context of Gelug training, the four tenet systems are used as a teaching method to illustrate the progression from a view of relative materialism to direct realization of emptiness. Tsongkhapa’s extremely subtle distinction between Svatantrika and Prasangika, at the very top of that progression, very strongly makes the point that even a great logician could possibly miss this most subtle remnant of a materialist view.
In chapter 6, Newland wrote: Tsong-kha-pa kha-pa identifies [the] actual object of negation as things having their own way of existing without being posited through the force of consciousness. This is what we mean by "self" or "intrinsic nature." The sheer absence of this is emptiness. Therefore, at bottom, to understand stand emptiness means understanding that things have no way of existing apart from minds that impute them.
FWIW, the way Svatantrika was presented to me, by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, Khenpo Ghawang and other Kagyu teachers, was that Svatantrikas use syllogisms as well, to establish Emptiness as Ultimate Nature. Prasangika, on the other hand, focus on showing the contradictory nature of any positive arguments for existence whatsoever. Neither denies conventions appearing to deluded minds, and neither claims "valid cognition" of appearing objects has any bearing on analysis. In some sense, I understand the Prasanga method is a means to exhaust any rational foothold whatsoever with regard to any ontological statements regarding our world and experience.

This is why, as Malcolm noted, some call TsongKhapa's system "crypto-Svatantrika;" a qualified existence is asserted with regard to conventional truth and things like "valid cognition," "Phenomena bearing their natures," etc. because the mythical object of negation has never existed in the first place. If one understands that existence presupposes essence, there's no need to qualify or torture texts with "explicative terms" as asserted by some.

On the other hand, it is perhaps the case that some very intellectual folks, when faced with the results of Prasanga, develop a nihilism and then rationalize away such things as karma, cause and effect, etc. They deny appearances, which is of course more foolish than clinging to the appearing phenomenon's existence, and potentially quite dangerous. In the Kagyu view, and I believe in Nyingma and Sakya as well, we say "the nonfinding is the finding" and the primacy of meditative equipoise over rational analysis is stressed. I am not saying Gelukpas don't believe in or practice meditative equipoise, but their "generic image of emptiness," and their qualified existence of conventions, are somewhat syllogistic in nature, IMO.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

Jeff H
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Jeff H » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:08 pm

I think my references have directly addressed the original topic of this thread from a Gelug perspective. I think the problem with these debates is that each tradition’s teachings constitute a wholistic context, and if one does not make the effort to grasp that larger context, piecemeal debates can distort the actual teachings.

ChNN discusses this in Guru Yoga in the section “View and Guru Yoga” where he explains that tawa, view, usually refers to the internal explanations and external refutations of any particular tradition’s crucial points.
ChNN wrote:In the Sakyapa tradition, an important scholar named Korampa wrote many books refuting the theories of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa tradition who is considered equal to Manjushri and hence an infallible and perfectly enlightened being. … I studied the explanations of Korampa for many years, so I am very familiar with his view, and at that time I was convinced that Tsongkhapa was definitely mistaken.


My teacher Changchub Dorje explained to me that this is the wrong approach; if we truly want to proceed in the correct way we have to understand that view does not consist in looking outward, but in turning to ourselves to try to understand how our existence is. … [M]y teacher said I should distinguish between the different functions of a pair of glasses and a mirror. If we look in a mirror we can see ourselves, but if we look through glasses we can only see external objects. This symbolic explanation helps us understand that observing ourselves is much more important than looking outward and forming judgments and concepts.
It is my position in this recurring topic that Tsongkhapa’s method, presented in context to Gelug-oriented students, is in fact a valid method for turning inward in order to, in ChNN’s words, “discover the nature of body, voice, and mind as well as our limitations.” While I lack the academic or experiential wherewithal to mount an adequate defense of the Gelug teachings, I hope to make it noted –- for other nascent and potential Gelugpas –- that there are strong arguments for his methods from authoritative sources. The use of inherent existence as a method leading to direct realization of emptiness is valid.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Malcolm
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:18 am

Jeff H wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:06 pm
I would take this one step further to point out that, personally, I don’t think it matters in the least whether the historical Bhavaviveka actually held to truly existent nature, even unconsciously.
A point that is systematically missed in these discussions is that there were Madhyamakas who adhered to the position that Tsongkhapa criticizes, they just never existed in India.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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conebeckham
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by conebeckham » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:14 am

Malcolm wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:18 am
Jeff H wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:06 pm
I would take this one step further to point out that, personally, I don’t think it matters in the least whether the historical Bhavaviveka actually held to truly existent nature, even unconsciously.
A point that is systematically missed in these discussions is that there were Madhyamakas who adhered to the position that Tsongkhapa criticizes, they just never existed in India.
In other words, a species of nihilism?
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by DGA » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:38 am

PeterC wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:23 pm
Jeff H wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:08 pm
Personally, I’m completely put off by the animus on both sides*.

* And to be clear, I don't think Tsongkhapafan has displayed animus in his posts that I've read over the last couple of years, even if perhaps he used to.
Jeff - there are two discussions here, and I think it’s helpful to separate the two.

One is about Tsonkhapa’s position on madhyamaka. That has been done to death in other threads. Reasonable people can disagree on these things, particularly as many great lamas advise that the philosophical view one holds is consideably less important than the view one develops experientially through practice.

The other is about whether Tsongkhapafan is actually representing mainstream Gelugpa views and practices or representing those of a controversial offshoot, and how candid he is being about this. There is of course animus against that particular offshoot. Mods should lock this thread if it drifts too far into this area. Many people will also have an issue with disingenuity.

That said:
:focus:
I just tuned in to learn more about Mipham's thinking regarding Tsongkhapa.

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Malcolm
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Re: Mipham: Gelug = Svatantrika Madhyamaka

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:08 am

conebeckham wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:14 am
Malcolm wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:18 am
Jeff H wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:06 pm
I would take this one step further to point out that, personally, I don’t think it matters in the least whether the historical Bhavaviveka actually held to truly existent nature, even unconsciously.
A point that is systematically missed in these discussions is that there were Madhyamakas who adhered to the position that Tsongkhapa criticizes, they just never existed in India.
In other words, a species of nihilism?
No, such Tibetan Madhyamakas are first criticized by Rongzom for having a realist view with respect to relative truth.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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