Inherency and the Object of Negation

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Jeff H
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Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Jeff H » Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:56 pm

I’m trying to work out the logic of identifying the object of negation. Can anyone give me some insight into this?

The teaching on the object of negation says that for an object to exist inherently it would consist entirely of self-nature, underived from any outside source. Therefore it could not be affected by or affect any external phenomenon. I think I get the first part, but I don't understand why an inherently existing thing could not affect other things.

I imagine a rock that exists in some unchangeable intrinsic nature, impervious to erosion, chisels, dynamite, etc. It can't be affected from without. But why couldn't such a thing affect something else? For example, I could trip over it.
Same with the intrinsic "I". Suppose my self was inherently existent, self-generated, self-sustaining, and incapable of being changed by outside influences. Why does that kind of existence logically preclude my ability to influence and change other, non-intrinsic selves? Does this depend on some inferential necessity that one intrinsic object implies that all objects possess intrinsic nature?
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Bristollad
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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Bristollad » Sat Dec 05, 2015 1:30 am

Jeff,
I think your idea may be part of the answer but also consider functioning things:
...all functioning things are effects of their causes that preceeded them and are the causes of their effects that arise subsequent to them.
Debate in Tibetan Buddhism by Daniel Perdue p.277

So thinking like that, could there be something that was causeless which acted as a cause?

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Caodemarte » Sat Dec 05, 2015 4:44 am

Perhaps because in order to trip over the rock you would have to interact with it (remember the rock also trips over you from another frame of reference). You would be in a relationship with it. The rock would have to participate in this relationship and its existence is defined by this relationship. If the rock had a completely independent self nature it could not participate in or have the nature of being in a relationship with the universe. It could not interact with you. You cannot trip over a rock that is not affected by your foot or does not affect your foot (much the same thing depending on your frames of reference). Hence simple physics tell us that that the rock cannot have an independent self-nature if you trip over it or even see it (that is also an interaction).

It is like the old argument that God cannot be purely transcendent. If God is not also immanent, but completely transcendent as some heresies held, God cannot interact with the universe and so is totally irrelevant to it which is the same as being non-existent from our perspective. If God is relevant then God must interact with the universe in some way and there must be some relationship for this to happen. Hence logically God cannot be only transcendent (although God could be both transcendent and immanent).

Or so it appears to me at this late hour.

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Jeff H » Sun Dec 06, 2015 3:36 pm

Ok thanks, both of you. These answers give me some fodder to work with. What I hear is that both functioning things and interaction of any sort necessarily imply mutual dependence of some sort. I need to sit with that for a while.

I think I’m trying to scratch a spot I still can’t quite reach … or adequately describe to willing scratching assistants. It’s been with me since I started with Tibetan Buddhism and I think it’s something like a nagging idea that just maybe things could somehow be partially independent.

Anyway, an added bonus in this thread is hearing from you, Clive. Nice to see someone from the View On Buddhism forum here in DW!
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by conebeckham » Sun Dec 06, 2015 5:27 pm

If any phenomenon relies, in any way, to any extent, on any other phenomenon, for it's arisal, or it's continued existence, then it is impossible that that phenomenon can be inherently existent.
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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smcj
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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by smcj » Sun Dec 06, 2015 7:00 pm

conebeckham wrote:If any phenomenon relies, in any way, to any extent, on any other phenomenon, for it's arisal, or it's continued existence, then it is impossible that that phenomenon can be inherently existent.
You could also say "if it is made up of parts."
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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:07 pm

If something is inherently existent it must be independent of all other phenomena, so it would be unable to change or interact with anything else in the universe. To affect other things, an inherently existent phenomenon would have to have a relationship with other objects and that's no possible for something that is inherently existent, therefore we can see that cause and effect is a consequence of emptiness, not of inherent existence.

As Je Tsongkhapa said in the Three Principal Aspects of the Path '...and you know how emptiness is perceived as cause and effect'. This is what he was referring to.

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Jeff H » Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:42 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:To affect other things, an inherently existent phenomenon would have to have a relationship with other objects and that's not possible for something that is inherently existent.
The value of repetition and input from different people is that sometimes the same concept sinks in by virtue of a minor rearrangement of the words. You all said this, and I’ve said it myself, but for some reason this sentence from Tsongkhapafan just clicks. Thanks all. :twothumbsup:
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Herbie » Fri Feb 26, 2016 11:56 pm

Jeff H wrote:I’m trying to work out the logic of identifying the object of negation. Can anyone give me some insight into this?
Tsongkhapa says you have to identify it in your mind. The identification is introspection, not reasoning.
Jeff H wrote: The teaching on the object of negation says that for an object to exist inherently it would consist entirely of self-nature, underived from any outside source. Therefore it could not be affected by or affect any external phenomenon. I think I get the first part, but I don't understand why an inherently existing thing could not affect other things.
You seem to be confusing something. I'd like to refer you to the "Final Exposition of Wisdom"

Tsongkhapa's philosophy is the best of all. It is rational and consistent. But you have to study his use of words. Study "Final Exposition of Wisdom", of J. Hopkins. This is the most concise work about Tsongkhapa's philosophy. It is the best of all.

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Malcolm » Sat Feb 27, 2016 12:55 pm

Jeff H wrote:Ok thanks, both of you. These answers give me some fodder to work with. What I hear is that both functioning things and interaction of any sort necessarily imply mutual dependence of some sort. I need to sit with that for a while.

I think I’m trying to scratch a spot I still can’t quite reach … or adequately describe to willing scratching assistants. It’s been with me since I started with Tibetan Buddhism and I think it’s something like a nagging idea that just maybe things could somehow be partially independent.

Anyway, an added bonus in this thread is hearing from you, Clive. Nice to see someone from the View On Buddhism forum here in DW!
most of your difficulty in understanding this point comes from not having properly understood tne theory of causes and conditions laid out in Abhidharma.
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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Jeff H » Sat Feb 27, 2016 3:39 pm

Interesting to see this thread pop up now.

Herbie, thanks for the tip. I downloaded the book on your recommendation and I'll check it out.

Malcolm, are you familiar with Hopkins' Final Exposition of Wisdom, and do you think I'll find that missing link of causality there? Can you be more specific about what I'm missing?
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by narhwal90 » Sat Feb 27, 2016 3:53 pm

The impervious rock makes me think of one the Terry Pratchett Discworld stories; IIRC in one story Death got tired of his job and quit. The universe then appointed another Death who started messing things up. The ex-Death decided to make a bid for his old job and so built a scythe for himself- that being a prerequisite of the job. The Official scythe is the notionally impervious tool; death comes to all, there is no stopping it, no way to blunt its edge nor halt the stroke. But ex-Death tried with conventional materials, he made a really fancy scythe and ultimately honed it by holding it edge on to the sunrise so the sun's photons would put the final perfection on the edge- yet it was inadequate at the showdown. He got his job back, but not because of the scythe.

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Malcolm » Sat Feb 27, 2016 6:08 pm

Jeff H wrote:Interesting to see this thread pop up now.

Herbie, thanks for the tip. I downloaded the book on your recommendation and I'll check it out.

Malcolm, are you familiar with Hopkins' Final Exposition of Wisdom, and do you think I'll find that missing link of causality there? Can you be more specific about what I'm missing?
The back ground for discussing conditionality is found in the lengthy diecussion of the six causes and four conditions in chapter two. One must be acquainted with these ideas from abhidharma if o evreally hopes tp understand what is between critiqued by Madhyamaka.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


The knowledge imparted through the guru’s instructions that formerly was unknown (avidyā) is vidyā.


—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Longchenpa.

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Jeff H » Sat Feb 27, 2016 7:55 pm

Malcolm wrote:The back ground for discussing conditionality is found in the lengthy diecussion of the six causes and four conditions in chapter two. One must be acquainted with these ideas from abhidharma if o evreally hopes tp understand what is between critiqued by Madhyamaka.
Excellent. Thanks Malcolm.
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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Herbie » Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:55 pm

Jeff H wrote:Herbie, thanks for the tip. I downloaded the book on your recommendation and I'll check it out.
Tsongkhapa is totally right philosophically but he is totally speculative with his religion. So my recommendation was a purely philosophical one because I am not a buddhist. But it is quite easy to segregate the philosophical view of Tsongkhapa from his religious view.

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:49 pm

conebeckham wrote:If any phenomenon relies, in any way, to any extent, on any other phenomenon, for it's arisal, or it's continued existence, then it is impossible that that phenomenon can be inherently existent.
It seems to me that there is a relationship between this argument and the traditional philosophical 'cosmological' argument. The cosmological argument is that all things depend on a prior cause for their existence, but there must ultimately be an un-caused cause which grounds the causal chain that culminates an some existent, otherwise nothing would have come into existence in the first place.

Of course, where the cosmological argument is radically different is that it posits the 'uncaused cause' that is usually identified as God, and there is no corresponding entity in Buddhism. So the Buddhist argument about the absence of inherent existence isn't used to prove that there is a necessary being, which is the kind of terminology that is foreign to Buddhism generally.

My interpretation is that objects don't have inherent existence, which is why they're not called 'beings'. They're only 'objects' insofar as they're the object of perception for a subject; they don't have any real being other than that (therefore their being is imputed or designated).

Materialism naturally wants to claim that objects have real existence - actually, that is what 'materialism' means. But non-materialist philosophy, Western and Buddhist, claims that objects as such are devoid of real existence. That is not to say they're non-existent or merely illusory (like the proverbial rabbit-horns) but that their existence is conditioned and contingent; there is no real or ultimate object to be found.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by conebeckham » Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:08 am

Wayfarer wrote:
conebeckham wrote:If any phenomenon relies, in any way, to any extent, on any other phenomenon, for it's arisal, or it's continued existence, then it is impossible that that phenomenon can be inherently existent.
It seems to me that there is a relationship between this argument and the traditional philosophical 'cosmological' argument. The cosmological argument is that all things depend on a prior cause for their existence, but there must ultimately be an un-caused cause which grounds the causal chain that culminates an some existent, otherwise nothing would have come into existence in the first place.
Ah, but Madhaymaka says nothing did come into existence in the first place. There is no arising, there is no ceasing....etc., etc. Again, a common misperception of Madhyamaka thought is that it replaces an essential existence of a given phenomenon with a sort of "process-over-time" of "becoming" which somehow replaces our assumption of essential phenomenon-ness. Alas,t his "becoming" or "continuum" also has no existence.

Of course, where the cosmological argument is radically different is that it posits the 'uncaused cause' that is usually identified as God, and there is no corresponding entity in Buddhism. So the Buddhist argument about the absence of inherent existence isn't used to prove that there is a necessary being, which is the kind of terminology that is foreign to Buddhism generally.
In actuality, the idea of a "Creator God" is in fact addressed by Madhyamaka. The same ultimate resolution applies to such an entity, as it does to all phenomena.
My interpretation is that objects don't have inherent existence, which is why they're not called 'beings'. They're only 'objects' insofar as they're the object of perception for a subject; they don't have any real being other than that (therefore their being is imputed or designated).

Materialism naturally wants to claim that objects have real existence - actually, that is what 'materialism' means. But non-materialist philosophy, Western and Buddhist, claims that objects as such are devoid of real existence. That is not to say they're non-existent or merely illusory (like the proverbial rabbit-horns) but that their existence is conditioned and contingent; there is no real or ultimate object to be found.
The proverbial rabbit-horns are not even illusory--they don't appear, at all. (Though I suppose they could be "imagined" by the "mind's eye," or the imagination). Simply stated, Phenomena appear--but all that can be stated, ontologically, is that Suchness transcends positions of existence or nonexistence.
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: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:13 am

Conebeckham wrote:Madhaymaka says nothing did come into existence in the first place...
Hey maybe you can help me out here, because this is a stumbling block for me. If nothing comes into existence, or really doesn't exist, how come this is not simply nihilism'? I do understand that Nāgārjuna refutes nihilism, but could you explain to me what that refutation means?
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by conebeckham » Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:50 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Conebeckham wrote:Madhaymaka says nothing did come into existence in the first place...
Hey maybe you can help me out here, because this is a stumbling block for me. If nothing comes into existence, or really doesn't exist, how come this is not simply nihilism'? I do understand that Nāgārjuna refutes nihilism, but could you explain to me what that refutation means?
By Nihilism, you mean the ontogical position that Nothing Exists, correct? Nihilism has a variety of meanings, and sometimes a tone or shade of moral ambivalence, etc.....but I take it you're using it in a strictly ontological way. Right? If this is the case, one way of understanding an answer is that a given phenomenon never existed in the first place, but that nevertheless, on an unexamined level, conventional phenomena appear to us. This applies especially to Karma, and to Rebirth, which are hallmarks of the Buddha's Dharma, and which are said to function unerringly on the level of convention. Buddha, and Nagarjuna, and Candrakirti, do not deny Appearances.

Conventional truth and it's "mode of being" are, for most people, the hardest things to comprehend. The logical analysis, and ultimate conceptual determination, of Ultimate Truth and Emptiness is not so difficult, really, but squaring that conceptual determination with lived experience is something else entirely.

Malcolm is correct, I think, in that the main thrust of Nagarjuna was to refute a sort of "essentialism" that was prevalent in Abhidharma. But when seen from our modern point of view, it is more useful to recall that Nagarjuna and Madhyamaka do not assert nonexistence, in practice. They merely destroy any notion of existence. Again, the target is a notional existence, a conceptual reification of experience, an "imagined" existence, a theory. These are the things Madhyamaka takes aim at. As Nagarjuna said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "those who have understood emptiness understand the relinquishing of all views. Those attached to the view of emptiness are beyond hope."

In our lived experience, if we take this theory of emptiness, nonexistence of phenomena, and apply that concept to the "plenum void" as a whole, and somehow use this to assert an ultimate Nonexistence, all we are doing is replacing one (assumed, ingrained) mistaken concept or idea with another (forced or asserted) mistaken concept. Meanwhile, appearances arise, and cease.

You must remember that the two truths are primordially inseperable. Phenomena are empty appearances. Nagarjuna was primarily concerned with an assertion of "non-empty appearances." In our lived experience, we too are assuming a "non-emptiness" to appearances. But none of us is concerned with a nonappearance.
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: Inherency and the Object of Negation

Post by conebeckham » Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:01 am

Another thing that has to be kept in perspective--Buddhists are not ultimately concerned with an ontological position about phenomena. We are not concerned with what actually "exists" as an object of knowledge...the Goal of Buddhism is not to advance our knowledge of "What Really Is"....we are concerned with the relinquishment of samsara, with salvific method. We're not here to make objective statements about reality. We are here to liberate sentient beings from their subjective bondage to samsara.
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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