conebeckham wrote: Tsongkhapafan wrote:
The Prasangika Madhyamaka position is: the conventional phenomena are mere appearances and they "exist" only as that.
That's exactly what I'm saying.
It may be what you're saying, but it is not exactly what Tsong Khapa is saying. He takes great pains to qualify "existence" on the conventional level. Although you can say conventionally-true phenomena are "mere appearances," which is what the rest of us actually say is the intent of Nagarjuna, Candra, etc., Tsong Khapa assigns a certain ontological status to conventionally-true phenomena which most non-Geluk Madhyamikas refute.
I don't think there's any problem. On the level of appearance, things exist and function and therefore certain conventional cognitions that we have of phenomena are valid. That's all that Tsongkhapa is saying. For example, in a dream if you steal a diamond and someone asks you if you stole it and you say no, you are lying. If you say 'there is no diamond, no stealing and no person stealing so no one stole anything' then you make yourself a laughing stock. Buddha would never argue with the valid cognitions of livings beings. As Chandrakirti says:
[VI.166] Such things as pots, woollen cloth, canvas, armies, forests, rosaries, trees,
Houses, small carts, guest houses, and so forth
Should be realized in just the same way as they are spoken of;
Because the Able One would never argue with the worldly.
These phenomena are existent as mere name. People seem to have a problem with that which I don't understand, it's a denial of existence, conventionality and karma.
It's pointless to say that these things don't exist and they don't not exist, both or neither, this is just abstract philosophy. Clearly things such as pots, woollen cloth and so forth exist because they are objects of valid cognition and Buddha would never argue with the worldly. The question is what is their real nature? What mistake are we making in how we apprehend them at present?