What Tsongkhapa said

Jeff H
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Jeff H » Fri Jan 06, 2017 3:40 pm

Great Treatise, v.3, chapter 14, “Conventional Existence”

Summarizing chapter 13, Geshe Tashi comments that it is the subjective perspective (ultimate vs. conventional) that establishes the two modes of object existence (ultimately non-existent vs. conventionally existent). We are only capable of grasping the mistaken quality of conventional cognition after having found emptiness with rational analysis. Also, on p.174, Tsongkhapa explains that although ultimate reason refutes intrinsic existence, it does so conventionally, not ultimately. That is because nothing can be done ultimately since nothing exists ultimately. Whatever we do, including rational analysis, must be done conventionally because things only exist conventionally, and only exist contingently.

In chapter 14 LTK takes up the matter of how to distinguish that which exists conventionally from that which does not. He summarizes the problem others have in understanding the distinction like this:
In v.3, p.177, LTK wrote:In this way we Madhyamikas posit conventionally, within our own system, many presentations of cyclic existence and nirvana; we also refute the conventional existence of constructs that are put forward as unique assertions by essentialists. As this is extremely difficult, accurate knowledge of the presentation of the two truths scarcely exists.

Misunderstanding may arise as follows. … If they deny the conventional existence of constructs such as a divine creator or a primal essence, then they must also deny the conventional existence of forms and such; if they hold that forms do exist conventionally, then they would also have to accept the existence of a divine creator. They see those two as equivalent. They say that it is inappropriate for their own system to identify or to assert of any phenomenon, “This is such and such; this is not such and such.” They presume that in this they have found the Madhyamaka reality.

The Three Criteria: LTK asserts that a thing exists conventionally if it is: 1) Known by a conventional consciousness; 2) Not contradicted by conventional valid cognition; and 3) Not contradicted by rational analysis which establishes essential, ultimate existence.

The third criterion is understood this way: if ultimate analysis were to establish that a thing does exist inherently (i.e. independently), it cannot exist conventionally (i.e. dependently), and so its conventional existence would be thereby refuted. But also, certain things, such as intrinsic existence, which are established by the first criteria cannot be disproved by conventional reasoning. So then we apply the third criterion, ultimate analysis, which cannot establish intrinsic existence.

The point is to apply the correct reasoning method for the correct purpose. Conventional reasoning is applied to conventionally appearing objects. Rational analysis is applied to determine the way in which a thing actually exists.
In v.3, p.181, LTK wrote:Since the objects conceived by conceptual consciousnesses that apprehend the aggregates as permanent and so forth do not exist conventionally, reason can refute them. However, the referent objects of the conceptions of the aggregates as impermanent, etc. do exist conventionally; hence, reason cannot refute them. [Emphasis added]

So the objects of mind are of two types: those that can be refuted by reason and those that cannot. Those that can, do not exist; those that cannot, exist conventionally. This fact is critical to understanding Tsongkhapa’s system. He asserts that without understanding how to posit conventionally valid objects, one cannot fully apply the method practices.

This all applies to what LTK calls “mere existence” which is dependent arising with no trace of intrinsic qualities.
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Kenneth Chan
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Kenneth Chan » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:11 pm

conebeckham wrote:Put into simple words, I think the difference between TsongKhapa's innovation and what we may call the "mainstream" Madhyamaka of "Freedom from Extremes" is that in the latter presentation, rationality and analytical meditation are tools to exhaust clinging and to short-circuit conceptual elaboration, while TsongKhapa's system allows for a certain "weight" to convention, including conceptual constructions as well as cause and effect, law of karma, etc.--aspects of the path which I believe he felt were being dismissed or at least not given sufficient weight. Whether or not that is the case, I cannot say.

Now this is a very subtle difference but it is, I believe, an important one. The idea that "TsongKhapa's system allows for a certain 'weight' to convention" may be the incorrect way to characterise Lama Tsongkhapa’s meaning. There is actually no such "giving weight" to convention. What Lama Tsongkhapa is pointing out, as I understand it, is simply the difference between the observed object and the referent object.

The observed object is what is observed, and that relates to appearance and functionality. No rational analysis is used here with regards to the observed object. The referent object is the inherent existence of the entity that appears to the analysing mind. In ultimate analysis, we find that the entity is actually empty of inherent existence.

But this ultimate analysis does not affect the observed object, with regards to what we observe in terms of appearance and functionality. That’s all. It does not mean that Lama Tsongkhapa is giving “weight” to this observation in terms of ontology. He is just saying that what is observed is still present, i.e., it is still observed and not affected by rational analysis. That's all.

I suspect it is this subtle but mistaken thinking that a certain ontological “weight” is being given to appearance and functionality that is causing a lot of this criticism of the Gelug interpretation. The criticism is unwarranted because no additional ontological “weight” is actually being given to conventional appearance and functionality. This has to be the case because, according to Prasangika Madhyamaka, nothing exists from the side of the object, not even a tiny bit. So, in terms of ontology, there is actually nothing else left to negate.

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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Jeff H » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:10 pm

Kenneth Chan wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Put into simple words, I think the difference between TsongKhapa's innovation and what we may call the "mainstream" Madhyamaka of "Freedom from Extremes" is that in the latter presentation, rationality and analytical meditation are tools to exhaust clinging and to short-circuit conceptual elaboration, while TsongKhapa's system allows for a certain "weight" to convention, including conceptual constructions as well as cause and effect, law of karma, etc.--aspects of the path which I believe he felt were being dismissed or at least not given sufficient weight. Whether or not that is the case, I cannot say.

Now this is a very subtle difference but it is, I believe, an important one. The idea that "TsongKhapa's system allows for a certain 'weight' to convention" may be the incorrect way to characterise Lama Tsongkhapa’s meaning. There is actually no such "giving weight" to convention. What Lama Tsongkhapa is pointing out, as I understand it, is simply the difference between the observed object and the referent object.

The observed object is what is observed, and that relates to appearance and functionality. No rational analysis is used here with regards to the observed object. The referent object is the inherent existence of the entity that appears to the analysing mind. In ultimate analysis, we find that the entity is actually empty of inherent existence.

But this ultimate analysis does not affect the observed object, with regards to what we observe in terms of appearance and functionality. That’s all. It does not mean that Lama Tsongkhapa is giving “weight” to this observation in terms of ontology. He is just saying that what is observed is still present, i.e., it is still observed and not affected by rational analysis. That's all.

I suspect it is this subtle but mistaken thinking that a certain ontological “weight” is being given to appearance and functionality that is causing a lot of this criticism of the Gelug interpretation. The criticism is unwarranted because no additional ontological “weight” is actually being given to conventional appearance and functionality. This has to be the case because, according to Prasangika Madhyamaka, nothing exists from the side of the object, not even a tiny bit. So, in terms of ontology, there is actually nothing else left to negate.

I agree with this assessment. In fact, as I review these chapters, LTK seems to be repeating exactly this one distinction over and over in slightly different contexts.
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Lukeinaz
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Lukeinaz » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:14 pm

Kenneth Chan wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Put into simple words, I think the difference between TsongKhapa's innovation and what we may call the "mainstream" Madhyamaka of "Freedom from Extremes" is that in the latter presentation, rationality and analytical meditation are tools to exhaust clinging and to short-circuit conceptual elaboration, while TsongKhapa's system allows for a certain "weight" to convention, including conceptual constructions as well as cause and effect, law of karma, etc.--aspects of the path which I believe he felt were being dismissed or at least not given sufficient weight. Whether or not that is the case, I cannot say.

Now this is a very subtle difference but it is, I believe, an important one. The idea that "TsongKhapa's system allows for a certain 'weight' to convention" may be the incorrect way to characterise Lama Tsongkhapa’s meaning. There is actually no such "giving weight" to convention. What Lama Tsongkhapa is pointing out, as I understand it, is simply the difference between the observed object and the referent object.

The observed object is what is observed, and that relates to appearance and functionality. No rational analysis is used here with regards to the observed object. The referent object is the inherent existence of the entity that appears to the analysing mind. In ultimate analysis, we find that the entity is actually empty of inherent existence.

But this ultimate analysis does not affect the observed object, with regards to what we observe in terms of appearance and functionality. That’s all. It does not mean that Lama Tsongkhapa is giving “weight” to this observation in terms of ontology. He is just saying that what is observed is still present, i.e., it is still observed and not affected by rational analysis. That's all.

I suspect it is this subtle but mistaken thinking that a certain ontological “weight” is being given to appearance and functionality that is causing a lot of this criticism of the Gelug interpretation. The criticism is unwarranted because no additional ontological “weight” is actually being given to conventional appearance and functionality. This has to be the case because, according to Prasangika Madhyamaka, nothing exists from the side of the object, not even a tiny bit. So, in terms of ontology, there is actually nothing else left to negate.


Thank you Kenneth, That is nicely stated.

And what happens when we now apply rational analysis to this observed object. It seems as though this observed object would then be vaporized as well, leaving not a scrap behind.
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Jeff H
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Jeff H » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:37 pm

Lukeinaz wrote:
Kenneth Chan wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Put into simple words, I think the difference between TsongKhapa's innovation and what we may call the "mainstream" Madhyamaka of "Freedom from Extremes" is that in the latter presentation, rationality and analytical meditation are tools to exhaust clinging and to short-circuit conceptual elaboration, while TsongKhapa's system allows for a certain "weight" to convention, including conceptual constructions as well as cause and effect, law of karma, etc.--aspects of the path which I believe he felt were being dismissed or at least not given sufficient weight. Whether or not that is the case, I cannot say.

Now this is a very subtle difference but it is, I believe, an important one. The idea that "TsongKhapa's system allows for a certain 'weight' to convention" may be the incorrect way to characterise Lama Tsongkhapa’s meaning. There is actually no such "giving weight" to convention. What Lama Tsongkhapa is pointing out, as I understand it, is simply the difference between the observed object and the referent object.

The observed object is what is observed, and that relates to appearance and functionality. No rational analysis is used here with regards to the observed object. The referent object is the inherent existence of the entity that appears to the analysing mind. In ultimate analysis, we find that the entity is actually empty of inherent existence.

But this ultimate analysis does not affect the observed object, with regards to what we observe in terms of appearance and functionality. That’s all. It does not mean that Lama Tsongkhapa is giving “weight” to this observation in terms of ontology. He is just saying that what is observed is still present, i.e., it is still observed and not affected by rational analysis. That's all.

I suspect it is this subtle but mistaken thinking that a certain ontological “weight” is being given to appearance and functionality that is causing a lot of this criticism of the Gelug interpretation. The criticism is unwarranted because no additional ontological “weight” is actually being given to conventional appearance and functionality. This has to be the case because, according to Prasangika Madhyamaka, nothing exists from the side of the object, not even a tiny bit. So, in terms of ontology, there is actually nothing else left to negate.


Thank you Kenneth, That is nicely stated.

And what happens when we now apply rational analysis to this observed object. It seems as though this observed object would then be vaporized as well, leaving not a scrap behind.

Actually, Tsongkhapa's point is that rational analysis does not apply to this observed object at all. Ordinary beings have varying degrees of ability to infer or conceptualize the lack of inherent existence, but mere existence is only "vaporized" for buddhas and arya beings in meditative equipoise. All ordinary beings are experiencing the conventionally functional, mere existence at all other times.

The distinction has to do with the observing mind: an ultimate mind does not find existence; a conventional mind finds mere existence. In neither case there is absolutely no self-nature from the side of the observed object, but the conventional mind cannot know that directly.
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Jeff H » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:05 pm

Great Treatise, v.3, chapter 15, “Production Is Not Refuted”

There are five principles lines of reasoning to test for ultimate existence, namely to analyze: nature; causes; results; cause/effect together; and dependent origination. The diamond slivers argument addresses intrinsic causes, using the “four corners” (self-created, other-created, both, neither). The tetralemma addresses intrinsic results, also called the four alternatives, or extremes (exist, not exist, both, neither). The point is that nothing can withstand analysis by these lines of reasoning. Geshe Tashi makes the point that we use these arguments with those who assert intrinsic existence. But in the world we simply observe causes and results, which are production. Rational analysis is irrelevant in the context of dependent origination.

This chapter begins with an objection proposing a dilemma for Madhyamaka. It states that Madhyamikas refute production by means of the diamond slivers argument and asks if this refutes the existence of production by means of the tetralemma. The dilemma has these parts:
    1. If the diamond slivers refutes production, then there is no need for using the qualifier “ultimate” in the refutation of production because it does not exist even conventionally.
    2. If it does not, then the tetralemma fails to refute ultimate production.
LTK simply ignores the first part because Madhyamikas do not accept that position (i.e. Madhyamikas hold that production does exist conventionally). He answers the second as follows.

For anyone who asserts that production exists ultimately, the burden of proof is to show, by analysis of reality, which of the four means of production creates a phenomenon. Madhyamikas assert mere production, not real production, and therefore analysis of ultimate reality is irrelevant in this context. Mere production refers to “the arising of particular effects in dependence on particular causes and conditions” (p.186). What’s more, Chandrakirti says that the very fact of dependent production itself refutes the possibility of real production by any of the four means.
Chandrakirti wrote:Because things are not produced
Causelessly, or from causes such as a divine creator,
Or from self, other, or both self and other,
They are produced dependently.

In v.3, p.186, LTK wrote:Therefore, dependently produced dependent-arisings are free from the four extreme types of production. So do not ask, “That which is free from extremes – which of the four extremes is it?” Once again, these opponents go wrong by not distinguishing “no intrinsic production” from “no production.”

Rational analysis of ultimate reality has no place in analyzing conventional existence. For that, other valid reasoning is needed. LTK cites Chandrakirti’s statement about those who fail to recognize this distinction as having no ears (with which to hear the distinction being made) or no heart (with which to understand “intrinsic”). Chandratkirti said,
Quoted on p.188, Chandrakirti wrote:Poor thing! With neither ears nor heart, you still argue. This puts us in a difficult situation. We contend that dependently produced things are, like reflections, not produced intrinsically.

Next LTK deals with the qualm that, in refuting the tetralemma, reason thereby refutes everything since all things are included within the four possibilities. Here he reminds us that “thing” has two meanings: that which exists intrinsically, or that which can perform a function. Madhyamikas refute essentially existent things, both ultimately and conventionally, but they do not refute the existence of functioning things conventionally. They also refute essentially existent non-things, as well as something essentially both existent and non-existent and something essentially existing as neither. The core point is the qualifier “essentially”.

Beginning at the bottom of page 189, LTK addresses a question about analyzing the ultimate nature of emptiness. Since ultimate analysis of emptiness results in finding a lack of intrinsic existence, does that affirm that emptiness actually exists as it appears, thereby making emptiness the intrinsic nature of emptiness? No, it does not, because ultimate analysis has not found the true nature of emptiness, it has just shown that even emptiness cannot withstand rational analysis. That is to say, ultimate analysis merely shows that no intrinsic existence can be found.

It is contradictory to hold that, since nothing exists, therefore the lack of intrinsic existence of phenomena also does not exist. The argument comes down to the last paragraph on page 190. Refuting a thing’s intrinsic existence is definite, subjective knowledge. It is not internally subject to debate through reasoning whether emptiness exists or not because it is established as a certainty. If another mind apprehends that emptiness exists, reason does not refute the object of that apprehension. On the other hand, reason does refute that object if the mind apprehends emptiness to exist intrinsically. LTK says, “If you disagree, and you refute the existence of the emptiness which is the absence of intrinsic nature, then the absence of intrinsic nature would not exist. In that case, since essential or intrinsic nature would exist, it would be totally inappropriate to refute intrinsic nature.” (p.191)

=======================
One thing I am noticing as I prepare this little "Cliff Notes" review of the Great Treatise is that at the time, LTK was addressing primarily those who assert intrinsic existence. All his arguments resoundingly deny even the slightest intrinsic existence. But subsequent criticisms of his system seem to object to his distinction between intrinsic existence and mere existence, as if mere existence were some alternative form of intrinsic existence. What’s more, LTK’s critique of Bhavaviveka is used to claim that even a great master of the Madhyamaka tradition could be found to have subtly implied intrinsic existence without intending to posit true existence. This reinforces the idea that LTK’s entire system, especially his bifurcated use of “existence”, was meant to utterly destroy even the slightest vestige of lingering conceptions of true existence.
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Bakmoon » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:47 pm

Jeff H wrote:Beginning at the bottom of page 189, LTK addresses a question about analyzing the ultimate nature of emptiness. Since ultimate analysis of emptiness results in finding a lack of intrinsic existence, does that affirm that emptiness actually exists as it appears, thereby making emptiness the intrinsic nature of emptiness? No, it does not, because ultimate analysis has not found the true nature of emptiness, it has just shown that even emptiness cannot withstand rational analysis. That is to say, ultimate analysis merely shows that no intrinsic existence can be found.

This is a very important point that sometimes people gloss over. Sometimes people will talk as though one analyzes something and finds emptiness instead, but that isn't correct. Rather, one analyzes something, and fails to find it, and this failure to find it under analysis is what we call emptiness.

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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:14 am

Jeff H wrote:What’s more, LTK’s critique of Bhavaviveka is used to claim that even a great master of the Madhyamaka tradition could be found to have subtly implied intrinsic existence without intending to posit true existence.


The problem is that Bhavaviveka never, ever, implies anything of the sort. I have seen many centuries of claims that he did, but not one citation which proves it to be so.
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Matt J » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:14 am

Interesting stuff.

One issue--- we're using conventional minds to define conventional existence. One cannot use the term in its own definition.

Jeff H wrote:The Three Criteria: LTK asserts that a thing exists conventionally if it is: 1) Known by a conventional consciousness; 2) Not contradicted by conventional valid cognition; and 3) Not contradicted by rational analysis which establishes essential, ultimate existence.


If I'm following right, LTK says that what we experience is basically one of two types of imputations: the imputation of the object, and then on top of that we add another imputation, inherent or true existence. By negating inherent existence, LTK says that we focus on one imputation (inherent existence) and leave the other (the conventional object) untouched. How come? If they are both imputations, then why is one negated and the other left untouched?

That's one issue. The other issue is what is doing the imputation? Is a conventional mind imputed? If so, how is it imputed? It can't be self-imputed, because this is negated by the first vajra sliver.
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Jeff H » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:28 am

Malcolm wrote:
Jeff H wrote:What’s more, LTK’s critique of Bhavaviveka is used to claim that even a great master of the Madhyamaka tradition could be found to have subtly implied intrinsic existence without intending to posit true existence.


The problem is that Bhavaviveka never, ever, implies anything of the sort. I have seen many centuries of claims that he did, but not one citation which proves it to be so.

I can’t comment personally, except that I have no intention to slander Bhavaviveka or to mistakenly repeat a slander that has been presented to me as fact. My personal position on the matter doesn’t require verification either way. Like the presentation of tenets in general, I view this as a teaching illustration. The tenet systems are taught to illustrate progressive views on selflessness (and other points), and not necessarily to teach an accurate history of the Indian schools. This particular story illustrates LTK’s idea of the most subtle way to cling to self-nature from the side of the object. LTK speaks very highly of Bhavaviveka elsewhere in the Great Treatise, so I don’t know why he would use his name if he knew this allegation to be false. But from my perspective, I think the underlying point is important even if Bhavaviveka didn’t hold this position.

However, it is my understanding that LTK is not claiming that Bhavaviveka stated a belief in intrinsic nature, but that LTK inferred it from his criticism of Buddhapalita. Here is how Guy Newland explains it, in simplified form.
In Introduction to Emptiness, pp.79-81, Newland wrote:Roughly speaking, … direct syllogism is the form of argument Bhavaviveka insists that we as Madhyamikas must make to non-Madhyamikas. Indeed, Tsong-kha-pa says that we could make arguments in this 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. They take it that their empirical knowledge of a table includes authoritative confirmation of the intrinsic nature of the table. They take it as given that things have their own essential nature and on that account exist in an ultimate sense. It is therefore highly unlikely that they will be readily moved to adopt our Madhyamaka thesis.
… 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: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:29 am

Lukeinaz wrote:Thank you Kenneth, That is nicely stated.

And what happens when we now apply rational analysis to this observed object. It seems as though this observed object would then be vaporized as well, leaving not a scrap behind.
“When reasoning searches to whether the chariot intrinsically exists, it is not found in any of the seven ways. This is the case in terms of both of the two truths. But when reason fails to find it those seven ways, does this refute the chariot? How could it? Reasoning that analyses whether things intrinsically exist does not establish the assertion of the chariot; rather, leaving reasoned analysis aside, it is established by a mere unimpaired, ordinary, conventional—i.e., worldly—consciousness. Therefore, the way a chariot is posited is that it is established as existing imputedly; it is imputed in dependence upon its parts.”
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:42 pm

Jeff H wrote: ,,,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.


You should realize that Newland's statements are obviously speculative and cannot be born out by examining what Bhavaviveka himself actually states in his criticism of Samkhya and Buddhapalita's argument against it. This is why, among non-Gelug Mādhyamikas, it is generally held that Bhavaviveka's arguments are more effective at refuting non-Buddhists, while Candrakīrtī's arguments are more persuasive against Buddhists. Further, since inherent existence appears to no-one, ever, anywhere, at anytime, and is a learned object of negation, Bhavaviveka confines the objet of refutation to the coarse object of refutation, existence.

By treating Bhavaviveka the way you do, you are effectively saying that everything is a nail, and so you will only use a hammer, when sometimes, in some cases, a saw is needed.
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Jeff H » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:31 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Jeff H wrote: ,,,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.


You should realize that Newland's statements are obviously speculative and cannot be born out by examining what Bhavaviveka himself actually states in his criticism of Samkhya and Buddhapalita's argument against it. This is why, among non-Gelug Mādhyamikas, it is generally held that Bhavaviveka's arguments are more effective at refuting non-Buddhists, while Candrakīrtī's arguments are more persuasive against Buddhists. Further, since inherent existence appears to no-one, ever, anywhere, at anytime, and is a learned object of negation, Bhavaviveka confines the objet of refutation to the coarse object of refutation, existence.

By treating Bhavaviveka the way you do, you are effectively saying that everything is a nail, and so you will only use a hammer, when sometimes, in some cases, a saw is needed.

Point taken. Thank you.

I don't have the resources to bear out your position for myself, nor the inclination since my interest is in the point about subtle clinging to true existence rather than who said what. I have to mention that I consider Newland a reliable source for several reasons. I've read three of his books, listened to him lecture, my teachers hold him in high esteem, and he was the senior translating editor (under Joshua Cutler) for the Great Treastise project. The book I quoted from is his attempt to explicate some of Tsongkhapa's more difficult passages (in this case, he was talking about chapters 17-20).

In any case, I also consider you a reliable source and I appreciate you sharing your perspective.
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:24 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Jeff H wrote: ,,,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.


You should realize that Newland's statements are obviously speculative and cannot be born out by examining what Bhavaviveka himself actually states in his criticism of Samkhya and Buddhapalita's argument against it. This is why, among non-Gelug Mādhyamikas, it is generally held that Bhavaviveka's arguments are more effective at refuting non-Buddhists, while Candrakīrtī's arguments are more persuasive against Buddhists. Further, since inherent existence appears to no-one, ever, anywhere, at anytime, and is a learned object of negation, Bhavaviveka confines the objet of refutation to the coarse object of refutation, existence.

By treating Bhavaviveka the way you do, you are effectively saying that everything is a nail, and so you will only use a hammer, when sometimes, in some cases, a saw is needed.

Point taken. Thank you.

I don't have the resources to bear out your position for myself, nor the inclination since my interest is in the point about subtle clinging to true existence rather than who said what. I have to mention that I consider Newland a reliable source for several reasons. I've read three of his books, listened to him lecture, my teachers hold him in high esteem, and he was the senior translating editor (under Joshua Cutler) for the Great Treastise project. The book I quoted from is his attempt to explicate some of Tsongkhapa's more difficult passages (in this case, he was talking about chapters 17-20).

In any case, I also consider you a reliable source and I appreciate you sharing your perspective.


There are two issues at stake here: one, your primary goal, which is to understand Tsongkhapa's perspective. In general, LRC is an excellent book. It is very detailed and interesting. The second issue, which should be of concern to everyone who cares about Madhyamaka in general, is the extent to which Tsongkhapa's use of the terms Prasanga and Svatantra actually reflect real positions in Indian Madhyamaka. If they do reflect substantive differences between Indian Madhyamakas, then the distinction becomes substantive. But if it is merely pedagogical, than the distinction is not substantive, apart from various Indian Madhyamakas who level against one another the charge of being making poor arguments, a trend begun by Bhavaviveka, rejected by Candra, who in turn was castigated for poor arguments by Jñānagarbha (in the Satdvayavibhanga).

Frankly, apart from the religious dimension of Tsongkhapa's impact on Tibetan Buddhism, most of the research done on his thought has been by adherents with a vested interest in trying to defend his view rather than a critical appraisal to verify his claims. So it becomes an issue when this or that person boldly proclaims this or that to be the position of Prasangikas (who never existed in India), when in fact it is really just the postion of post 11th century Madhyamakas in Tibet who were trying to understand differences between the new fangled Madhyamaka introduced by Patshab Nyima Dragpa and the older Madhyamaka schools introduced during the Imperial period. This older, Tibetan Madhyamaka (Kadampas, 11and 12th century) indeed made many of the claims about intrinsic characteristics and so on Tsongkhapa rails against, but they did so in error, because they did not understand Madhyamaka perfectly. This is the reason why, for example, that Dzogchen authors like Rongzom castigate Kadampas in the 12th century for being too attached to characteristics in debate.

Thus, if your goal is understand Madhyamaka, this is one thing; if your goal is to understand Tsongkhapa, that is another. But don't mix these two goals up please.
Last edited by Malcolm on Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Jeff H » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:28 pm

Matt J wrote:Interesting stuff.

One issue--- we're using conventional minds to define conventional existence. One cannot use the term in its own definition.

Jeff H wrote:The Three Criteria: LTK asserts that a thing exists conventionally if it is: 1) Known by a conventional consciousness; 2) Not contradicted by conventional valid cognition; and 3) Not contradicted by rational analysis which establishes essential, ultimate existence.


If I'm following right, LTK says that what we experience is basically one of two types of imputations: the imputation of the object, and then on top of that we add another imputation, inherent or true existence. By negating inherent existence, LTK says that we focus on one imputation (inherent existence) and leave the other (the conventional object) untouched. How come? If they are both imputations, then why is one negated and the other left untouched?

That's one issue. The other issue is what is doing the imputation? Is a conventional mind imputed? If so, how is it imputed? It can't be self-imputed, because this is negated by the first vajra sliver.

I don't want anyone to think I'm setting myself up as (imputing myself to be :smile: ) an expert. Because of all the unreferenced assertions that have been flying back and forth about what the Gelug position is, I just decided to go back and consult the root text along with my class notes.

That said, here's how I would reply to your points based on where I am now in my review of the Lam Rim Chenmo. First, I don't think the three criteria are defining conventionality, but rather providing a basis for identifying conventionally existent phenomena. Conventionality is just the experience of interacting with functional dependent arisings. In this case, it's a given. From there LTK is setting forth the means to, first, eliminate inherent existence, then distinguish that which is conventionally existent from that which is non-existent.

He's not saying that we negate inherent existence with rational analysis and then choose to leave mere existence alone. He's saying that the means to negate inherent existence (i.e. rational analysis) has no bearing on the functional experience of our perceptions.

A majority of ordinary beings have no capacity to apply rational analysis (i.e. ultimate reasoning) to their awareness of the perceived world. Rational analysis is a tool of arya beings which we aspiring aryas can understand and approximate conceptually.

LTK's "mere existence" describes the experience of ordinary beings, as well as aryas out of meditative equipoise. The way to deal with it is conventional analysis, not rational analysis. Conventional analysis distinguishes that which is conventionally true from what is conventionally untrue, and more importantly on the path, what to adopt and what to abandon in order maximize positive karma while purifying negative karma. Rational analysis belongs to the wisdom wing; Conventional analysis belongs to the method wing. In Tsongkapa's system, the two wings are cultivated separately, but in tandem like a seesaw. The final stage is the union of wisdom and method.

Regarding your second question, my understanding is that we are talking about the experience of conscious awareness. On the conventional level we are imputing a self to our personal experiences of awareness, but that is all part of the polluted muddle of ignorance.
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Jeff H » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:45 pm

Malcolm wrote:Frankly, apart from the religious dimension of Tsongkhapa's impact on Tibetan Buddhism, most of the research done on his thought has been by adherents with a vested interest in trying to defend his view rather than a critical appraisal to verify his claims.
...

Thus, if your goal is understand Madhyamaka, this is one thing; if your goal is to understand Tsongkhapa, that is another. But don't mix these two goals up please.

Guilty as charged on point one. Seeking to understand Tsongkhapa is my position on point two.

This little exercise of mine is very specifically intended to clarify my own understanding of what Tsongkhapa actually said. By karmic inclination and willing intention I have been almost entirely subject to the Gelug perspective for 10 years. Thanks to you and others on this forum, most recently Virgo, I am now looking outward from that base. But I still consider it a good base and I have found the attacks on the Gelug position here very disconcerting.

If I am to move on now to another approach on my path, I do not want to be left with lingering doubts. I believe the Gelug system is valid and strong. I don't want to leave it with my mind in a state of having received counter-arguments without clarifying Tsongkhapa's intended meaning for myself.
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:57 pm

Jeff H wrote:But I still consider it a good base and I have found the attacks on the Gelug position here very disconcerting.



It is normal. The Gelugpas engaged in the suppression of other religion traditions for centuries.

There is nothing wrong with using Tsongkhapa as a base. But like all presentations, it is just a point of view, and not the essence.
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Jeff H » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:09 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Jeff H wrote:But I still consider it a good base and I have found the attacks on the Gelug position here very disconcerting.



It is normal. The Gelugpas engaged in the suppression of other religion traditions for centuries.

There is nothing wrong with using Tsongkhapa as a base. But like all presentations, it is just a point of view, and not the essence.

I quite agree on all points.
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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby Tsongkhapafan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:19 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Jeff H wrote:But I still consider it a good base and I have found the attacks on the Gelug position here very disconcerting.



It is normal. The Gelugpas engaged in the suppression of other religion traditions for centuries.

There is nothing wrong with using Tsongkhapa as a base. But like all presentations, it is just a point of view, and not the essence.


It's incorrect to say that it was the Gelugpas, it was the 5th Dalai Lama who caused all these problems by mixing religion and politics. It is most regrettable but using such a justification for attacking the Gelugpa tradition is completely unwarranted.

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Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Postby cloudburst » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:29 pm

Malcolm wrote: inherent existence appears to no-one, ever, anywhere, at anytime


If you want to understand Je Tsongkhapas position, you need to understand that inherent existence appears to all sentient beings, at all times, except for aryas in equipoise.

Malcolm wrote: Prasangikas (who never existed in India)


Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Chandrakirti, Buddhapalita and Atisha were all prasangikas existing in India.


Malcolm wrote:Thus, if your goal is understand Madhyamaka, this is one thing; if your goal is to understand Tsongkhapa, that is another. But don't mix these two goals up please.


This imports your unwarranted assumption that Tsongkhapa's presentation does not accurately reflect Madhaymaka.

the current Dalai Lama agrees
I feel that if the original teachers were here now, if Chandrakirti, Buddapalita and their master Nagarjuna were here now they would express their wholehearted agreement and satisfaction with the way that Je Rinpoche explained things. His works on the Middle Way are an encapsulation of the view of Nagarjuna, Aryadeva and particularly of Chandrakirti.


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