What Tsongkhapa said

Kenneth Chan
Posts: 209
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2016 1:35 am

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by Kenneth Chan » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:04 am

We seem to be arguing merely over semantics again. Before we continue with this semantics argument, it would be helpful if both Malcolm and Conebeckham state clearly whether or not they accept this statement by Cloudburst (which was made in response to Malcolm):
cloudburst wrote: For us, followers of Je Tsongkhapa, 'appear and function' is what is denoted by the english word 'exists,' and that which you denote with the term 'exists' is called 'inherent existence.'
For me, following the texts of Lama Tsongkhapa, what Cloudburst says here is evidently correct. But do you, Malcolm and Conebeckham, agree with it or not? I am asking this for the purpose of clarification.

stevie
Posts: 370
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:23 pm

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by stevie » Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:03 pm

Hello Jeff H

I've noticed that you've quoted several passages of the Lam Rim Chenmo in this thread. Since I am specially interested in LTK's presentation of Madhyamaka I would like to discuss your quotations or only one or some of them, depends.

I can follow some parts of his presentation because they correspond to my experience - or if I apply them they entail good results - but I cannot follow other parts of his presentation because they conflict with my experience.

My intention is neither to uncritically accept his presentation as a whole nor to uncritically reject it as a whole. Neither do I want to reject those parts of his presentation that I cannot follow at present because they conflict with my experience. But of course I am inclined to fully accept those parts of his presentation that correspond to my experience and I have to discipline myself to not impute instrinsically existent truth to those parts.

Taking into account his and Candrakirti's presentation of the bhumis and taking into account his reasonings about intrinsic existence, valid conventional existence and considering all the many statements he has made about the truthlessness of the conventional I have to assume that LTK has been a bodhisattva on the 8th bhumi at least. And how could I know better than a bodhisattva on the 8th bhumi?

From your words I understand that you've made negative experiences with debates about LTK's presentation, so I would understand if you refrained from responding and I would accept this without being displeased or having negative feelings towards you.





As to your first quote in this thread quoted below:

1. “objects to be negated by reason” vs “objects to be negated by the path.”

I would think that “objects to be negated by reason” refer to afflictive obscurations while “objects to be negated by the path.” refer to cognitive obscurations. Would you agree?

I mean principally this differentation is difficult because analysis in LTK's presentation is an integral part of the path, so “objects to be negated by the path.” would have to refer to those objects where rational analysis doesn't apply anymore because rational analysis would require a remainder of afflictive obscurations still being present.





2. “Rational Analysis” as such


I understand that from a logicians perspective only existents can be refuted, so if rational consciousness does not find an object in any place, how could it refute it at any other place or all places at all?

But what is it that makes rational analysis so special?

If we take a non-analytical consciousness that is called a 'conventional consciousness'. It identifies/perceives its conventional objects although in a deceptive way since conventional truth is 'truth for a obscurer/concealer'.

But why isn't rational consciousness that performs rational analysis not only a subtype of 'conventional consciousness' like the non-analytical consciousness?

Both 'non-analytical consciousness' and 'rational consciousness' have conceptual objects, so why the comparison to visual consciousness and ear-consciousness that are also 'conventional consciousnesses' but have different objects?

What is the rationale behind that differentiation between 'non-analytical conventional consciousness' and 'rational conventional consciousness' in terms of their validity in the context of the two truths?
After all if 'rational conventional consciousness' performs analysis it has to take its conceptual objects, the subject, the sign and the predicate as true/truly existing. This is at least my experience! :
If I perform rational analysis I necessarily have to conceive these conceptual objects used in that analysis as if truly existing, truly existing in the same way my 'non-analytical conventional consciousness' conceives its object as truly existing, the same object, i.e. the deceptively truly existing object that is negated by my 'rational conventional consciousness'.
See? I do not say that the mere conventional object is negated but that the deceptively truly existing conventional object is negated, so that in total - since both consciousnesses are conventional - the result of the analysis is merely that conventional consciousness is utterly self-contradicting because its rational mode negates what its non-analytical mode affirms and vv: its non-analytical mode negates the negation of its rational mode (which affirms its negation).

I am happy with this result and I do not think that coming to that conclusion does necessitate that I reject LTK's presentation. On the contrary if I did reject his presentation I would actually fall prey to afflictive obscurations, i.e. I would consider my conventional consciousness and its products to be valid to some extent even though the result has just shown that conventional consciousness is completely inconsistent.

What's your opinion?

Jeff H wrote:
Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:19 pm
The first point is from LRC (Lam Rim Chenmo) vol. 3, chap. 12, “Rational Analysis”. Here LTK (Lama Tsong Khapa) begins to establish his distinction between intrinsic existence and mere existence. Rational analysis is a process of negation by reason. It is a search for the essence of a thing to establish it in reality. When reason cannot find that essence, it has not thereby refuted the thing.
LTK wrote:When such a line of reasoning analyzes or searches for production and so forth, it does not find a trace of them; they are “unable to withstand analysis.” However, the fact that this line of reasoning does not find them does not entail that it refutes them. Rather reason refutes something that – if it did exist – would have to be established by reason, but which reason does not establish. Conventional consciousnesses establish the production and cessation of forms and such; although forms and such exist, reasoning consciousnesses do not establish them. Therefore, while reason does not find forms and such, how could it refute them? For example, a visual consciousness does not find sounds, but this not refute them. This is similar. [v.3, p.156]
Here we are talking about “objects to be negated by reason”. There is also such a thing as “objects to be negated by the path.” In other words, we do not overcome our delusions by claiming their objects do not exist. We overcome our afflictions and delusions with discipline and method practices. We apply reason and wisdom to negate the root of our delusions, the belief that conventional objects exist from their own side. They do exist and we have to apply strenuous effort to overcome them, but that is method practice. Wisdom practice attacks our underlying assumption that they have self-existent substance. But a thing refuted by reason must be something that never existed at all because reason cannot annihilate an existent thing. Conversely, within samsara, anger, desire, etc. do exist and must be overcome by means of antidotes.

Conventionally, we must use method practices to overcome our karmic experiences, simply because they are real in the sense that they function as suffering. Ultimately, we are not equating the reasoned negation of inherent existence with emptiness. That produces a preliminary concept of emptiness, but emptiness cannot be realized without the unification of method and wisdom.

Jeff H
Posts: 916
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:56 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by Jeff H » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:31 pm

stevie wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:03 pm
Hello Jeff H

I've noticed that you've quoted several passages of the Lam Rim Chenmo in this thread. Since I am specially interested in LTK's presentation of Madhyamaka I would like to discuss your quotations or only one or some of them, depends.
...
Hi Stevie. I've been reading your posts in other threads with interest and I welcome this invitation. However, a little context may be in order first.

I lack the authority of most of the principal posters on DW. I came to Buddhism very late in life and I don't have good scriptural or experiential foundations. I've taken formal courses online (FPMT's Foundations of Buddhist Thought and Lam Rim Chenmo) and studied the Bodhicharyavatara on my own. For the first 10 years nearly all my Buddhist influences were Gelug-oriented. I had a marvelous itinerant teacher who ignited my enthusiasm, and with whom I'm still in contact. But I've never been a member of a "brick and mortar" sangha.

The reason for my "What Tsongkhapa said" thread was, like all my postings, primarily to state my thoughts publicly. Doing that helps me hear and evaluate them differently, with the added benefit that sometimes someone will show me where I'm wrong. I came to DW when the Lam Rim Chenmo course ended and I wasn't sure which direction to go from there. I posted a few questions trying to clarify some points in my Gelug understanding and I was met with responses from the Dzogchen contingent, spearheaded by Malcolm. At the time I wasn't even able to tell that those responses were from a different tradition.

But I could hear that they were critical of Tsongkhapa to the point of being dismissive. I don't know how to evaluate what bhumi a teacher or author might be on, but I was and remain quite certain that Tsongkhapa is an authentic master. Nevertheless I was very interested in Malcolm's perspective -- an interest that greatly intensified after I had the serendipitous opportunity to meet him in person.

So this thread was the culmination of a one or two year period of transition for me between Gelug and Dzogchen. I was looking for, and I found, ways to bridge them without rejecting my past training.

Before I could engage your questions, I'd need to reread this entire thread and get back in that frame of mind. In the meantime, there are other, more qualified Gelugpas and former Gelugpas on DW who will hopefully jump in and discuss these matters with you.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

stevie
Posts: 370
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:23 pm

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by stevie » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:49 pm

Hi Jeff

thanks for your reply.

I've been aware that this thread is already a bit old, so it's been kind of gambling to post here. But no problem I fully understand that it wouldn't be worth the effort too take this up again when you have changed your direction meanwhile ... maybe it would be even counterproductive for you. So let it be and that's perfectly fine for me.

I've never been associated with a specific tradition therefore my approach may appear a bit overrelaxed to some. Few years ago I've met teachers from different traditions, Gelug included. But since I've always been drawn to rational analysis in the context of experience LTK actually is the only one I know who provides plenty of 'food' because there is no other who explicitly elaborates down to the subtlest detail. That's always a welcomed challenge for me!

And although - at present - not being able to have any kind of 'valid' cognition without being involved in imputation of illusory independent truth (afflictive obscuration of ignorance) which may put me in opposition to LKT and his 'valid cognition tenet', I completely agree with him stressing the necessity of repeated analysis in the context of my experience and that the view of the perishing aggregates is the first challenging step on the journey to reality.

Take care!

Jeff H wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:31 pm
stevie wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:03 pm
Hello Jeff H

I've noticed that you've quoted several passages of the Lam Rim Chenmo in this thread. Since I am specially interested in LTK's presentation of Madhyamaka I would like to discuss your quotations or only one or some of them, depends.
...
Hi Stevie. I've been reading your posts in other threads with interest and I welcome this invitation. However, a little context may be in order first.

I lack the authority of most of the principal posters on DW. I came to Buddhism very late in life and I don't have good scriptural or experiential foundations. I've taken formal courses online (FPMT's Foundations of Buddhist Thought and Lam Rim Chenmo) and studied the Bodhicharyavatara on my own. For the first 10 years nearly all my Buddhist influences were Gelug-oriented. I had a marvelous itinerant teacher who ignited my enthusiasm, and with whom I'm still in contact. But I've never been a member of a "brick and mortar" sangha.

The reason for my "What Tsongkhapa said" thread was, like all my postings, primarily to state my thoughts publicly. Doing that helps me hear and evaluate them differently, with the added benefit that sometimes someone will show me where I'm wrong. I came to DW when the Lam Rim Chenmo course ended and I wasn't sure which direction to go from there. I posted a few questions trying to clarify some points in my Gelug understanding and I was met with responses from the Dzogchen contingent, spearheaded by Malcolm. At the time I wasn't even able to tell that those responses were from a different tradition.

But I could hear that they were critical of Tsongkhapa to the point of being dismissive. I don't know how to evaluate what bhumi a teacher or author might be on, but I was and remain quite certain that Tsongkhapa is an authentic master. Nevertheless I was very interested in Malcolm's perspective -- an interest that greatly intensified after I had the serendipitous opportunity to meet him in person.

So this thread was the culmination of a one or two year period of transition for me between Gelug and Dzogchen. I was looking for, and I found, ways to bridge them without rejecting my past training.

Before I could engage your questions, I'd need to reread this entire thread and get back in that frame of mind. In the meantime, there are other, more qualified Gelugpas and former Gelugpas on DW who will hopefully jump in and discuss these matters with you.

User avatar
Matt J
Posts: 832
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:29 am

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by Matt J » Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:03 pm

Dzogchen and Gelug teachings need not be at odds. One of the greatest Dzogchen masters ever, Shabkar, was both a Gelugpa and a Dzogchenpa. I believe Khenpo Acho was also both a Gelugpa and a Dzogchen master-- and he is said to attained rainbow body in 1998. The Fifth Dalai Lama was also a Dzogchen master.
Jeff H wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:31 pm
But I could hear that they were critical of Tsongkhapa to the point of being dismissive. I don't know how to evaluate what bhumi a teacher or author might be on, but I was and remain quite certain that Tsongkhapa is an authentic master. Nevertheless I was very interested in Malcolm's perspective -- an interest that greatly intensified after I had the serendipitous opportunity to meet him in person.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Jeff H
Posts: 916
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:56 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by Jeff H » Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:32 am

So, Stevie, I read my first post in the thread (not the whole thread) and went back over your questions. I had some thoughts and I’m posting my replies. I’m afraid this is a bit loosey-goosey, though, as they are my gut reactions.
stevie wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:03 pm
As to your first quote in this thread quoted below:

1. “objects to be negated by reason” vs “objects to be negated by the path.”
I would think that “objects to be negated by reason” refer to afflictive obscurations while “objects to be negated by the path.” refer to cognitive obscurations. Would you agree?

I mean principally this differentation is difficult because analysis in LTK's presentation is an integral part of the path, so “objects to be negated by the path.” would have to refer to those objects where rational analysis doesn't apply anymore because rational analysis would require a remainder of afflictive obscurations still being present.
I think that is reversed. The path refers to method practice and reason refers to wisdom practice; the two wings. If we have a sense of the key, emptiness, we can apply it with reasoned analysis to show that any phenomenon lacks self-existence. But that analysis does not eliminate the fact that we are beset with suffering due to being ignorant of emptiness in a practical sense. In other words, once we begin to understand that things cannot be inherently existent (rational analysis), then we can begin to integrate that knowledge with our actions (the path) until repeated familiarization leads us to spontaneously virtuous choices.
2. “Rational Analysis” as such
I understand that from a logicians perspective only existents can be refuted, so if rational consciousness does not find an object in any place, how could it refute it at any other place or all places at all?
The point of that first quote is that rational analysis does not refute existence, it only demonstrates that a phenomenon cannot be shown by reason to exist in the way that it appears to exist. This helps us realize that mere perception does not prove true existence.
But what is it that makes rational analysis so special?

If we take a non-analytical consciousness that is called a 'conventional consciousness'. It identifies/perceives its conventional objects although in a deceptive way since conventional truth is 'truth for a obscurer/concealer'.

But why isn't rational consciousness that performs rational analysis not only a subtype of 'conventional consciousness' like the non-analytical consciousness?
I think that it is, in some ways. The point is that we’re using conventional techniques of analysis but interjecting the results of realizations attained by ultimate consciousnesses to help tear the constraining fabric of our conventional analysis. The model is that an ordinary being believes in the perceived inherency of phenomena; a realized being in meditative equipoise perceives no phenomena; and when that realized being arises from meditation he/she understands phenomena to be illusion-like. The purpose of LTK’s rational analysis, I think, is for ordinary practitioners to apply the lessons of a realized state without having personally experienced such a state. That is why it is a gradual path: there are progressive steps.
Both 'non-analytical consciousness' and 'rational consciousness' have conceptual objects, so why the comparison to visual consciousness and ear-consciousness that are also 'conventional consciousnesses' but have different objects?

What is the rationale behind that differentiation between 'non-analytical conventional consciousness' and 'rational conventional consciousness' in terms of their validity in the context of the two truths?
After all if 'rational conventional consciousness' performs analysis it has to take its conceptual objects, the subject, the sign and the predicate as true/truly existing. This is at least my experience!
I interpret this to mean that conventional consciousness necessarily has to deal with different realities. If I’m driving on a mountain road that curves to the left and I turn right, there are real, conventional consequences. I believe HHDL once said, if you think things have no existence, hit your finger with a hammer. In that regard, rationality in the conventional world means taking the existence of phenomena seriously. But in an ultimate sense, when we apply rational analysis, our reason tells us that inherency is impossible. That’s a different reality and that understanding can be useful – not for driving a car – but for beginning the process of extricating ourselves from generating a belief in inherency.
If I perform rational analysis I necessarily have to conceive these conceptual objects used in that analysis as if truly existing, truly existing in the same way my 'non-analytical conventional consciousness' conceives its object as truly existing, the same object, i.e. the deceptively truly existing object that is negated by my 'rational conventional consciousness'.
Yes, but the point here is that you already do conceive of them as truly existing. That is the condition we are trying rattle. We are attempting to apply a different perspective, but it must be done gradually. ChNN talks a lot about “capacity”. This has been the point from which I have defended LTK all along: if a person doesn’t have the karmic capacity for instant realization, he or she must build their capacity in a graduated manner.
See? I do not say that the mere conventional object is negated but that the deceptively truly existing conventional object is negated, so that in total - since both consciousnesses are conventional - the result of the analysis is merely that conventional consciousness is utterly self-contradicting because its rational mode negates what its non-analytical mode affirms and vv: its non-analytical mode negates the negation of its rational mode (which affirms its negation).
But the two states are not equal as you imply. The fundamental teaching is that we naturally gravitate to believing in inherency and as a result we grasp at phenomena as if they were truly existent, and that is the origin of all our suffering. Our path is meant to lead us away from that.
I am happy with this result and I do not think that coming to that conclusion does necessitate that I reject LTK's presentation. On the contrary if I did reject his presentation I would actually fall prey to afflictive obscurations, i.e. I would consider my conventional consciousness and its products to be valid to some extent even though the result has just shown that conventional consciousness is completely inconsistent.

What's your opinion?
It seems to me you’re in harmony with LTK. He does consider conventional consciousness to be valid cognition, because it is useful in the conventional world, but also completely inconsistent with reason.
(Here’s the original quote.)
Jeff H wrote:
Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:19 pm
The first point is from LRC (Lam Rim Chenmo) vol. 3, chap. 12, “Rational Analysis”. Here LTK (Lama Tsong Khapa) begins to establish his distinction between intrinsic existence and mere existence. Rational analysis is a process of negation by reason. It is a search for the essence of a thing to establish it in reality. When reason cannot find that essence, it has not thereby refuted the thing.
LTK wrote:When such a line of reasoning analyzes or searches for production and so forth, it does not find a trace of them; they are “unable to withstand analysis.” However, the fact that this line of reasoning does not find them does not entail that it refutes them. Rather reason refutes something that – if it did exist – would have to be established by reason, but which reason does not establish. Conventional consciousnesses establish the production and cessation of forms and such; although forms and such exist, reasoning consciousnesses do not establish them. Therefore, while reason does not find forms and such, how could it refute them? For example, a visual consciousness does not find sounds, but this not refute them. This is similar. [v.3, p.156]
Here we are talking about “objects to be negated by reason”. There is also such a thing as “objects to be negated by the path.” In other words, we do not overcome our delusions by claiming their objects do not exist. We overcome our afflictions and delusions with discipline and method practices. We apply reason and wisdom to negate the root of our delusions, the belief that conventional objects exist from their own side. They do exist and we have to apply strenuous effort to overcome them, but that is method practice. Wisdom practice attacks our underlying assumption that they have self-existent substance. But a thing refuted by reason must be something that never existed at all because reason cannot annihilate an existent thing. Conversely, within samsara, anger, desire, etc. do exist and must be overcome by means of antidotes.

Conventionally, we must use method practices to overcome our karmic experiences, simply because they are real in the sense that they function as suffering. Ultimately, we are not equating the reasoned negation of inherent existence with emptiness. That produces a preliminary concept of emptiness, but emptiness cannot be realized without the unification of method and wisdom.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

stevie
Posts: 370
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:23 pm

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by stevie » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:38 am

Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:32 am
So, Stevie, I read my first post in the thread (not the whole thread) and went back over your questions. I had some thoughts and I’m posting my replies. I’m afraid this is a bit loosey-goosey, though, as they are my gut reactions.
Wow. I haven't expected a response and as I said it would have been perfectly ok for me if you did not respond. And please do not take my response now as an obligation to communicate further! Feel free to stop the communication now or at any time you like, it'll be ok for me. your time is precious and you don't have to spend it with past issues. But thank you for your response!
'Gut reactions' often are the best ones!
Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:32 am
stevie wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:03 pm
As to your first quote in this thread quoted below:

1. “objects to be negated by reason” vs “objects to be negated by the path.”
I would think that “objects to be negated by reason” refer to afflictive obscurations while “objects to be negated by the path.” refer to cognitive obscurations. Would you agree?

I mean principally this differentation is difficult because analysis in LTK's presentation is an integral part of the path, so “objects to be negated by the path.” would have to refer to those objects where rational analysis doesn't apply anymore because rational analysis would require a remainder of afflictive obscurations still being present.
I think that is reversed. The path refers to method practice and reason refers to wisdom practice; the two wings. If we have a sense of the key, emptiness, we can apply it with reasoned analysis to show that any phenomenon lacks self-existence. But that analysis does not eliminate the fact that we are beset with suffering due to being ignorant of emptiness in a practical sense. In other words, once we begin to understand that things cannot be inherently existent (rational analysis), then we can begin to integrate that knowledge with our actions (the path) until repeated familiarization leads us to spontaneously virtuous choices.
Ok, that makes sense. I meditate applying rational analysis which helps me to identify my ignorance. Then I get up to practice methods and if I experience suffering in that context I can recognize that it is exactly due to the ignorance that I have identified before and which I have not been mindful of. Then I go back to rational analysis to check why ignorance possibly popped up without me registering it and refine my awareness of it, just to experience the next occasion during subsequent practice when ignorance pops up.
So it's actually an iterative process with analysis and method going hand in hand in the course of which more and more subtler instances of ignorance are detected.
Nevertheless there is still the fact that it is taught that afflictive ignorance is overcome first, on the 8th bhumi, before cognitive ignorance can be overcome which leads to buddhahood. So near the end of the path there must be a state in which analysis can be applied without the slightest trace of afflictive ignorance which is totally unimaginable for me. This is why I concluded that LTK must have been a bodhisattva on the 8th bhumi at least because otherwise I would have to assume that what he taught in the Lamrim he taught contrary to his own experience, i.e. speaking about valid cognition without being free from imputations of independent truth.
Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:32 am
2. “Rational Analysis” as such
I understand that from a logicians perspective only existents can be refuted, so if rational consciousness does not find an object in any place, how could it refute it at any other place or all places at all?
The point of that first quote is that rational analysis does not refute existence, it only demonstrates that a phenomenon cannot be shown by reason to exist in the way that it appears to exist. This helps us realize that mere perception does not prove true existence.
I think we're on the same page here.
Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:32 am
But what is it that makes rational analysis so special?

If we take a non-analytical consciousness that is called a 'conventional consciousness'. It identifies/perceives its conventional objects although in a deceptive way since conventional truth is 'truth for a obscurer/concealer'.

But why isn't rational consciousness that performs rational analysis not only a subtype of 'conventional consciousness' like the non-analytical consciousness?
I think that it is, in some ways. The point is that we’re using conventional techniques of analysis but interjecting the results of realizations attained by ultimate consciousnesses to help tear the constraining fabric of our conventional analysis. The model is that an ordinary being believes in the perceived inherency of phenomena; a realized being in meditative equipoise perceives no phenomena; and when that realized being arises from meditation he/she understands phenomena to be illusion-like. The purpose of LTK’s rational analysis, I think, is for ordinary practitioners to apply the lessons of a realized state without having personally experienced such a state. That is why it is a gradual path: there are progressive steps.
From my perspective the big advantage of this progression is that once afflictive ignorance has been identified - and I would not have been able to do this without LTK - it can be identified in more and more subtler appearances. Without that if I would practice non-dialectical teachings I would necessarily impute independent truth to the conceptual objects that are taught in these non-dialectical teachings without being aware of it and I would necessarily developt attachments that are merely alternative attachments but ignorant and afflictive nevertheless.

BTW LTK's presentation of 'illusion-like' is wonderful. Why? Because it offers me so much resistance and defies my current experience: he again and again stresses emptiness as being a content of mind, a knowledge, similar to conceptuality and as being simultaneous with appearances, but not as a property and not as a nature of appearances and rejects withdrawal of mind from appearances as being the wrong path.
What a wonderful challenge!


Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:32 am
Both 'non-analytical consciousness' and 'rational consciousness' have conceptual objects, so why the comparison to visual consciousness and ear-consciousness that are also 'conventional consciousnesses' but have different objects?

What is the rationale behind that differentiation between 'non-analytical conventional consciousness' and 'rational conventional consciousness' in terms of their validity in the context of the two truths?
After all if 'rational conventional consciousness' performs analysis it has to take its conceptual objects, the subject, the sign and the predicate as true/truly existing. This is at least my experience!
I interpret this to mean that conventional consciousness necessarily has to deal with different realities. If I’m driving on a mountain road that curves to the left and I turn right, there are real, conventional consequences. I believe HHDL once said, if you think things have no existence, hit your finger with a hammer. In that regard, rationality in the conventional world means taking the existence of phenomena seriously. But in an ultimate sense, when we apply rational analysis, our reason tells us that inherency is impossible. That’s a different reality and that understanding can be useful – not for driving a car – but for beginning the process of extricating ourselves from generating a belief in inherency.
Ok, yes but as long as there is a felt dichotomy between these two realities there is something 'out of order'.
Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:32 am
If I perform rational analysis I necessarily have to conceive these conceptual objects used in that analysis as if truly existing, truly existing in the same way my 'non-analytical conventional consciousness' conceives its object as truly existing, the same object, i.e. the deceptively truly existing object that is negated by my 'rational conventional consciousness'.
Yes, but the point here is that you already do conceive of them as truly existing. That is the condition we are trying rattle. We are attempting to apply a different perspective, but it must be done gradually. ChNN talks a lot about “capacity”. This has been the point from which I have defended LTK all along: if a person doesn’t have the karmic capacity for instant realization, he or she must build their capacity in a graduated manner.
Maybe there is a misunderstanding here. What I was trying to express was this:
I am perceiving an object as if truly existing or 'as independently true'. Then I apply Madhyamaka reasoning to that object and in the course of applying that reasoning I necessarily have to take the syllogism applied as independently true again, i.e. subject, the sign and the predicate of that syllogism and their pervasions.
E.g. if I apply the reasoning of whole vs its parts I necessarily have to perceive the parts as equally truly established as I perceive the whole which I perceived to be truly established from the outset.

That is why both, the non-analytical mode of conventional consciousness and the rational mode of conventional consciousness are either equally valid or equally invalid - as you like it - and conventional consciousness as such is inconsistent from the outset.

As to the concepts of other teachings and teachers I want to refrain from commenting these.
Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:32 am
See? I do not say that the mere conventional object is negated but that the deceptively truly existing conventional object is negated, so that in total - since both consciousnesses are conventional - the result of the analysis is merely that conventional consciousness is utterly self-contradicting because its rational mode negates what its non-analytical mode affirms and vv: its non-analytical mode negates the negation of its rational mode (which affirms its negation).
But the two states are not equal as you imply. The fundamental teaching is that we naturally gravitate to believing in inherency and as a result we grasp at phenomena as if they were truly existent, and that is the origin of all our suffering. Our path is meant to lead us away from that.
Wonderful! Finally it seems as we would have at least a slight disagreement on the basis of words. But I am not sure, so I will elaborate:

As I stated just above and let me repeat: the non-analytical mode of conventional consciousness and the rational mode of conventional consciousness are either equally valid or equally invalid - as you like it - and conventional consciousness as such is inconsistent from the outset.

And, let me use your words where appropriate:
The fundamental teaching is that we naturally gravitate to imputing (independent) truth to the conventional (all percepts and all concepts), as a result we grasp at phenomena as if they were truly existent, and that is the origin of all our suffering. Our path is meant to lead us away from that.

So do we agree or don't we agree? I am not sure. But no problem if we don't. On the contrary that could be delicious nourishment.
Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:32 am
I am happy with this result and I do not think that coming to that conclusion does necessitate that I reject LTK's presentation. On the contrary if I did reject his presentation I would actually fall prey to afflictive obscurations, i.e. I would consider my conventional consciousness and its products to be valid to some extent even though the result has just shown that conventional consciousness is completely inconsistent.

What's your opinion?
It seems to me you’re in harmony with LTK. He does consider conventional consciousness to be valid cognition, because it is useful in the conventional world, but also completely inconsistent with reason.
Well as to my setting of non-analytical and rational consciousness as equally valid or invalid I am certainly not in harmony with LTK, but that has to do with the circumstance that I am primarily guided by my experience when expressing myself with words and that my main intention is to practice Madhyamaka in a way that leads to an experiential vision 'beyond the four extremes'.
However having said that I take the 'valid cognition' that LTK teaches as belonging to a state still to be achieved and - as I have already mentioned - I think that LTK must be speaking from a perspective of the 8th bhumi at least.
Currently I simply can't imagine how a high bodhisattva or a Buddha are able to teach at all in a conventionally meaningful way. So that 'valid cognition' of LTK must be something special.
(Here’s the original quote.)
Jeff H wrote:
Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:19 pm
The first point is from LRC (Lam Rim Chenmo) vol. 3, chap. 12, “Rational Analysis”. Here LTK (Lama Tsong Khapa) begins to establish his distinction between intrinsic existence and mere existence. Rational analysis is a process of negation by reason. It is a search for the essence of a thing to establish it in reality. When reason cannot find that essence, it has not thereby refuted the thing.

Here we are talking about “objects to be negated by reason”. There is also such a thing as “objects to be negated by the path.” In other words, we do not overcome our delusions by claiming their objects do not exist. We overcome our afflictions and delusions with discipline and method practices. We apply reason and wisdom to negate the root of our delusions, the belief that conventional objects exist from their own side. They do exist and we have to apply strenuous effort to overcome them, but that is method practice. Wisdom practice attacks our underlying assumption that they have self-existent substance. But a thing refuted by reason must be something that never existed at all because reason cannot annihilate an existent thing. Conversely, within samsara, anger, desire, etc. do exist and must be overcome by means of antidotes.

Conventionally, we must use method practices to overcome our karmic experiences, simply because they are real in the sense that they function as suffering. Ultimately, we are not equating the reasoned negation of inherent existence with emptiness. That produces a preliminary concept of emptiness, but emptiness cannot be realized without the unification of method and wisdom.

Jeff H
Posts: 916
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:56 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by Jeff H » Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:39 pm

These posts are getting too long to quote entirely, so I've just included specific paragraphs.
stevie wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:38 am
Nevertheless there is still the fact that it is taught that afflictive ignorance is overcome first, on the 8th bhumi, before cognitive ignorance can be overcome which leads to buddhahood. So near the end of the path there must be a state in which analysis can be applied without the slightest trace of afflictive ignorance which is totally unimaginable for me. This is why I concluded that LTK must have been a bodhisattva on the 8th bhumi at least because otherwise I would have to assume that what he taught in the Lamrim he taught contrary to his own experience, i.e. speaking about valid cognition without being free from imputations of independent truth.
You may be right, but I don’t think it’s relevant. Buddha didn’t teach at his level, he taught from his level to guide people at their levels. Same for LTK who is said to have had personal conversations with Manjushri.
From my perspective the big advantage of this progression is that once afflictive ignorance has been identified - and I would not have been able to do this without LTK - it can be identified in more and more subtler appearances. Without that if I would practice non-dialectical teachings I would necessarily impute independent truth to the conceptual objects that are taught in these non-dialectical teachings without being aware of it and I would necessarily developt attachments that are merely alternative attachments but ignorant and afflictive nevertheless.
Yes, the graduated path is an iterative process, as you said, and with ever more familiarity we gain greater insight into the way we cling to ever more subtle objects.
Ok, yes but as long as there is a felt dichotomy between these two realities there is something 'out of order'.
Absolutely. That’s the primary aspect of this graduated path. But don’t forget that at the end of the Great Treatise LTK tells us that once we’ve internalized this graduated method, we’d be fools not to move on to Tantra.
Maybe there is a misunderstanding here. What I was trying to express was this:
I am perceiving an object as if truly existing or 'as independently true'. Then I apply Madhyamaka reasoning to that object and in the course of applying that reasoning I necessarily have to take the syllogism applied as independently true again, i.e. subject, the sign and the predicate of that syllogism and their pervasions.
E.g. if I apply the reasoning of whole vs its parts I necessarily have to perceive the parts as equally truly established as I perceive the whole which I perceived to be truly established from the outset.

That is why both, the non-analytical mode of conventional consciousness and the rational mode of conventional consciousness are either equally valid or equally invalid - as you like it - and conventional consciousness as such is inconsistent from the outset.
I think we are saying the same thing, but maybe I’m still misunderstanding. I believe that what I learned from LTK is “true”. There is a certain concreteness in my efforts to apply his teachings. But in reality, the teachings are not the point; total liberation is the point. In liberation I will no longer consider the teachings to be dualistically true in opposition to something that is dualistically false. So in this path a conventional truth is considered “true” for a deluded mind whereas an ultimate truth is considered “true” for a realized mind. But we don’t give equal weight to the two uses of “true”. We are intentionally counter-balancing in favor of what is dualistically identified as “wisdom” in distinction from “ignorance”.
Wonderful! Finally it seems as we would have at least a slight disagreement on the basis of words. But I am not sure, so I will elaborate:

As I stated just above and let me repeat: the non-analytical mode of conventional consciousness and the rational mode of conventional consciousness are either equally valid or equally invalid - as you like it - and conventional consciousness as such is inconsistent from the outset.

And, let me use your words where appropriate:
The fundamental teaching is that we naturally gravitate to imputing (independent) truth to the conventional (all percepts and all concepts), as a result we grasp at phenomena as if they were truly existent, and that is the origin of all our suffering. Our path is meant to lead us away from that.

So do we agree or don't we agree? I am not sure. But no problem if we don't. On the contrary that could be delicious nourishment.
Tell me if LTK’s Three Criteria address your point:
In v.3, p.178 Tsongkhapa wrote:How does one determine whether something exists conventionally? We hold that something exists conventionally (1) if it is known to a conventional consciousness; (2) if no other conventional valid cognition contradicts its being as it is thus known; and (3) if reason that accurately analyzes reality –- that is, analyzes whether something intrinsically exists –- does not contradict it. We hold that what fails to meet those criteria does not exist.
1. Regarding the first criterion, conventional minds are not utterly non-analytical. If someone asks, “How many chairs are in the room?” we analyze to the extent of understanding the request, what the room is, what chairs are, and how to count. This is conventional reasoning. It can be developed even to the extent of inferring that conventional phenomena do not exist inherently.

2. The crucial point about the second criterion is that it refers to conventional valid cognition that either does or does not contradict the thing established by the first criterion.

3. For the third criterion, if ultimate analysis establishes that a thing does exist inherently, it cannot exist conventionally and so its conventional existence would be thereby refuted. But also, certain things, such as intrinsic existence, which are established by the first criterion cannot be disproved by conventional reasoning. So then we apply the third criterion, ultimate analysis, which cannot establish intrinsic existence.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

User avatar
tobes
Posts: 1313
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:02 am

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by tobes » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:25 am

Jeff H, going back to your OP - I think your intuitions around this are quite correct.

As far as resolving the tension goes, I think the exemplar here is HHDL. Of late he has been teaching the Tsong Khapian view of emptiness (textually via the Indian masters) and -at the same teaching - giving Dzogchen empowerments (and explanations) grounded in Terma and visions of the 5th.

So don't let sectarianism shake you.

stevie
Posts: 370
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:23 pm

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by stevie » Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:26 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:39 pm
These posts are getting too long to quote entirely, so I've just included specific paragraphs.
stevie wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:38 am
Nevertheless there is still the fact that it is taught that afflictive ignorance is overcome first, on the 8th bhumi, before cognitive ignorance can be overcome which leads to buddhahood. So near the end of the path there must be a state in which analysis can be applied without the slightest trace of afflictive ignorance which is totally unimaginable for me. This is why I concluded that LTK must have been a bodhisattva on the 8th bhumi at least because otherwise I would have to assume that what he taught in the Lamrim he taught contrary to his own experience, i.e. speaking about valid cognition without being free from imputations of independent truth.
You may be right, but I don’t think it’s relevant. Buddha didn’t teach at his level, he taught from his level to guide people at their levels. Same for LTK who is said to have had personal conversations with Manjushri.
yes, of course. Nevertheless there must be a 'valid cognition' of what words are appropriate and what words are not appropriate for both, a Buddha and high bodhisattva who teach, and a 'valid cognition' what kinds of obscurations are still to be abandoned for a bodhisattva on the 8th bhumi. And this 'valid cognition' must be free from even a trace of afflictive ignorance by definition.
Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:39 pm
Ok, yes but as long as there is a felt dichotomy between these two realities there is something 'out of order'.
Absolutely. That’s the primary aspect of this graduated path. But don’t forget that at the end of the Great Treatise LTK tells us that once we’ve internalized this graduated method, we’d be fools not to move on to Tantra.
He says:
After you have trained in this way in the paths common to both sutra and mantra, you must undoubtedly enter the mantra path because it is very much more precious than any other practice
And there is no sign given to identify what is meant by 'After you have trained'.
Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:39 pm
Maybe there is a misunderstanding here. What I was trying to express was this:
I am perceiving an object as if truly existing or 'as independently true'. Then I apply Madhyamaka reasoning to that object and in the course of applying that reasoning I necessarily have to take the syllogism applied as independently true again, i.e. subject, the sign and the predicate of that syllogism and their pervasions.
E.g. if I apply the reasoning of whole vs its parts I necessarily have to perceive the parts as equally truly established as I perceive the whole which I perceived to be truly established from the outset.

That is why both, the non-analytical mode of conventional consciousness and the rational mode of conventional consciousness are either equally valid or equally invalid - as you like it - and conventional consciousness as such is inconsistent from the outset.
I think we are saying the same thing, but maybe I’m still misunderstanding. I believe that what I learned from LTK is “true”. There is a certain concreteness in my efforts to apply his teachings. But in reality, the teachings are not the point; total liberation is the point. In liberation I will no longer consider the teachings to be dualistically true in opposition to something that is dualistically false. So in this path a conventional truth is considered “true” for a deluded mind whereas an ultimate truth is considered “true” for a realized mind. But we don’t give equal weight to the two uses of “true”. We are intentionally counter-balancing in favor of what is dualistically identified as “wisdom” in distinction from “ignorance”.
you say 'dualistically true' I've said 'independently true'. However I also say that determining something to be true necessarily is a deceptive determination of 'independent truth'. So in my experience 'true' or 'truth' and 'independent' relate to each other like 'water' and 'wet'. Thus from my perspective in actuality there is no truth whatsoever because any appearance of 'true' or 'truth' - even on the intuitive level! - is a manifestation of my afflictive ignorance. That said, accepting the conventions of the world as they are but not as valid, like Candrakirti has done, it happens to me that I do apply the word 'true' in my everyday communication. However I do avoid the words 'true' or 'truth' as far as possible because my afflictive ignorance is tightly connected to the use of these words. I simply can't resist my ignorance when I intentionally say 'This or that is true or truth'.
The Buddha, knowing the afflictive truth habits of the world, taught the 'Noble Truths'.


Jeff H wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:39 pm
Wonderful! Finally it seems as we would have at least a slight disagreement on the basis of words. But I am not sure, so I will elaborate:

As I stated just above and let me repeat: the non-analytical mode of conventional consciousness and the rational mode of conventional consciousness are either equally valid or equally invalid - as you like it - and conventional consciousness as such is inconsistent from the outset.

And, let me use your words where appropriate:
The fundamental teaching is that we naturally gravitate to imputing (independent) truth to the conventional (all percepts and all concepts), as a result we grasp at phenomena as if they were truly existent, and that is the origin of all our suffering. Our path is meant to lead us away from that.

So do we agree or don't we agree? I am not sure. But no problem if we don't. On the contrary that could be delicious nourishment.
Tell me if LTK’s Three Criteria address your point:
In v.3, p.178 Tsongkhapa wrote:How does one determine whether something exists conventionally? We hold that something exists conventionally (1) if it is known to a conventional consciousness; (2) if no other conventional valid cognition contradicts its being as it is thus known; and (3) if reason that accurately analyzes reality –- that is, analyzes whether something intrinsically exists –- does not contradict it. We hold that what fails to meet those criteria does not exist.
1. Regarding the first criterion, conventional minds are not utterly non-analytical. If someone asks, “How many chairs are in the room?” we analyze to the extent of understanding the request, what the room is, what chairs are, and how to count. This is conventional reasoning. It can be developed even to the extent of inferring that conventional phenomena do not exist inherently.

2. The crucial point about the second criterion is that it refers to conventional valid cognition that either does or does not contradict the thing established by the first criterion.

3. For the third criterion, if ultimate analysis establishes that a thing does exist inherently, it cannot exist conventionally and so its conventional existence would be thereby refuted. But also, certain things, such as intrinsic existence, which are established by the first criterion cannot be disproved by conventional reasoning. So then we apply the third criterion, ultimate analysis, which cannot establish intrinsic existence.
As to 1.

I've already expressed that from my current perspective I subsume both, LTK's 'reasoning consciousness that investigates into the mode of being' and non-analytical consciousness under 'conventional consciousness'. And both are equally valid or invalid and - since they contradict each other - reveal the deceptiveness and unreliability of conventional consciousness. These alleged 'two' consciousnesses are actually simply two working modes of conventional consciosuness.
It is as you say that the mode of conciousness that is not called the 'reasoning consciousness that investigates into the mode of being' and which I've labelled 'non-analytical conciousness' is not merely 'spontaneous' but also has periods of reasoning but that only shows that the divide 'reasoning consciousness that investigates into the mode of being' on the one hand and 'non-analytical conciousness' on the other hand is artificial. It is conventional consciousness that either applies analysis or not and if it applies analysis that analysis may be directed to different objects.

It seems we are on the same page here.

As to 2.

As I said from my current perspective 'both (modes of conventional consciosuness, i.e. non-analytical spontaneous and analytical, regardless of the object analysis is directed to) are equally valid or equally invalid' therefore that which appears to exist can always be contradicted by a conventional - in this case 'valid' - consciousness and that existence that is negated by a conventional 'valid' consciousness is always contradicted by a another conventional 'valid' consciousness.

As to 3.

The third criterion is - according to LTK - always valid as shown in your quote of LTK's words above.

Then ... according to my understanding if something did exist ultimately it necessarily existed conventionally, too. Therefore I cannot follow your reasoning in the first sentence.

Next ... 'intrinsic existence' or 'true existence' or simply 'truth' is established on the intuitive level(!!) by conventional consciousnesses. On the full-fledged conceptual level 'truth' is established by the world and 'intrinsic existence' or 'true existence' may be established only by some philosophers.

In contrast to you I say that conventional reasoning can disprove, i.e. negate. And when it comes to the first effective negation conventional reasoning does not negate merely 'intrinsic existence' or 'true existence' or 'truth' but it negates the object that appears as if intrinsically or truly existing, i.e. it negates the deceptive object's existence as such. From my perspective only after having effectively negated the deceptive object it is possible to realize the meaning of 'intrinsic existence' or 'true existence' or 'truth' on the intuitive level(!!), i.e. the experiential correlate of these terms, and if then one knows the sentiment/intuition of 'intrinsic existence' or 'true existence' or 'truth' then one can subsequently restrict - when conducting mindfulness, not in deep meditation - the negation to this sentiment/intuition, i.e. restrict the negation to 'intrinsic existence' or 'true existence' or 'truth'.

What I say however in addition to that is that this negation does not reveal a truth. How could I say that it reveals a 'truth' about this or that when my ignorant sentiment/intuition of 'truth' pops up when I assert this? Then what does it reveal? It reveals the deceptiveness of conventional consciousness which fabricates and can negate its own fabrications and does take both contradictories as 'truths', i.e. affirms sometimes what it negates at other times.
What does that mean in this context?
It means that knowing my afflictive ignorance, i.e. my sentiment/intuition of 'truth' I should be mindful of it as long as it pops up. And I can assure you that it pops up quite often when I am writing posts like this. It also means that if someone asked 'Is what you are saying true?' I could neither answer in the affirmative nor in the negative.



And finally having said all this from within my sphere of experience I have to apologize for having seemingly contradicted LTK in many points. But actually I could have the sentiment of truly contradicting him only if I imputed some sort of truth to the products of my conventional consciousness, but I think I have made clear that from my perspective conventional consciousness is deceptive and inconsistent.
That is why I have to assume that LTK's 'valid cognition' and his whole presentation is something special I cannot completely fathom at present.

Jeff H
Posts: 916
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:56 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by Jeff H » Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:34 pm

Stevie, thanks very much for resurrecting this old thread. I’m still struggling through my rereading of it, but there’s some good stuff in here. However, I’m afraid you’ve lost me now regarding your interest in it.

I accept LTK as a master who has something of great value to impart to me. I don’t see how speculating about what bhumi he was on or lamenting our afflictions helps at all. It’s my job to try and understand his words to the best of my ability at my level, then internalize the lessons learned, and integrate them into the circumstances I am experiencing now. The aspiration is to gain insight into the real nature of what sentient beings experience and why. The motivation is to move toward release from suffering for myself and all beings.

Experiencing paralysis in the path because I am still afflicted would be a profound justification for the gradual method: I must accept my current limitations and strive to the best of my ability under my present conditions to move forward, step by step.

Chapters 2 and 3 of the Bodhicharyavatara constitute a liturgy of the Bodhisattva Vows, and it culminates by repeating the following verses three times.
In chapter 3 Shantideva wrote:23. Just as all the Buddhas of the past
Have brought forth the awakened mind,
And in the precepts of the Bodhisattvas
Step-by-step abode and trained,

24. Likewise, for the benefit of beings,
I will bring to birth the awakened mind,
And in those precepts, step-by-step,
I will abide and train myself.


stevie wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:26 pm
I have to apologize for having seemingly contradicted LTK in many points.
You’re not in a debate with Je Tsongkhapa, you’re wrestling with yourself. There is a common pitfall for all of us who are drawn to his analytical method: over thinking. It is important to develop your own standards of discernment. The middle way is not all-or-nothing. It is a mistake to think you can’t know anything useful until you’ve completely eradicated your afflictions.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Jeff H
Posts: 916
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:56 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by Jeff H » Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:54 pm

tobes wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:25 am
Jeff H, going back to your OP - I think your intuitions around this are quite correct.

As far as resolving the tension goes, I think the exemplar here is HHDL. Of late he has been teaching the Tsong Khapian view of emptiness (textually via the Indian masters) and -at the same teaching - giving Dzogchen empowerments (and explanations) grounded in Terma and visions of the 5th.

So don't let sectarianism shake you.
Thanks tobes. I wasn't aware of this trend in HHDL's teachings. When I told my teacher (who's root gurus are Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa) I was interested in Dzogchen she said she was delighted to hear it and also that she knew nothing of it. But she referred me to HHDL's The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra which was a powerful component of my bridge. Another was Alan Wallace. It just so happened that at that time I was working through more than 90 hours of his lectures given at an 8-week retreat. I'd been listening for a while on my daily walks, but just about the time Malcolm had really piqued my interest in Dzogchen, the lessons I was hearing from Wallace turned directly to Dzogchen and he added real clarity for me.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

stevie
Posts: 370
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:23 pm

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by stevie » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:43 am

Jeff H wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:34 pm
Stevie, thanks very much for resurrecting this old thread. I’m still struggling through my rereading of it, but there’s some good stuff in here. However, I’m afraid you’ve lost me now regarding your interest in it.
Well, Madhyamaka for me is the path. How could I not be interested in the path?
Jeff H wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:34 pm
I accept LTK as a master who has something of great value to impart to me. I don’t see how speculating about what bhumi he was on or lamenting our afflictions helps at all.
Who's lamenting? Sorry but I do not understand this remark of yours. Nobody has lamented anything.

His wisdom teaching is a blessing for me, since it enabled me to clearly identify my ignorance on the coarsest level, i.e. on the level of imputing truth to percepts and concepts. And that revelation or insight actually has been the basis for revealing that same ignorance on more and more subtler levels.
I am very grateful for that blessing and that is why I am putting him on a throne to pay homage.
When in the course of expressing my experience I have seemingly contradicted LTK's wisdom teaching then that's only a deceptive contradiction, no true contradiction.
Jeff H wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:34 pm
It’s my job to try and understand his words to the best of my ability at my level, then internalize the lessons learned, and integrate them into the circumstances I am experiencing now. The aspiration is to gain insight into the real nature of what sentient beings experience and why. The motivation is to move toward release from suffering for myself and all beings.

Experiencing paralysis in the path because I am still afflicted would be a profound justification for the gradual method: I must accept my current limitations and strive to the best of my ability under my present conditions to move forward, step by step.

Chapters 2 and 3 of the Bodhicharyavatara constitute a liturgy of the Bodhisattva Vows, and it culminates by repeating the following verses three times.
In chapter 3 Shantideva wrote:23. Just as all the Buddhas of the past
Have brought forth the awakened mind,
And in the precepts of the Bodhisattvas
Step-by-step abode and trained,

24. Likewise, for the benefit of beings,
I will bring to birth the awakened mind,
And in those precepts, step-by-step,
I will abide and train myself.
I completely accept your words as expression of your experience.
Jeff H wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:34 pm
stevie wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:26 pm
I have to apologize for having seemingly contradicted LTK in many points.
You’re not in a debate with Je Tsongkhapa, you’re wrestling with yourself.
It seems you have misunderstood my words. How could I be wrestling with myself? About/for what could I be possibly wrestling?

stevie wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:26 pm
There is a common pitfall for all of us who are drawn to his analytical method: over thinking.
Over-thinking was impossible for me once I had clearly identified my ignorance of imputing truth to concepts and percepts.
When affirmation and negation ends great bliss may arise.
stevie wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:26 pm
It is important to develop your own standards of discernment. The middle way is not all-or-nothing. It is a mistake to think you can’t know anything useful until you’ve completely eradicated your afflictions.
Well, how to say it ... There is a difference between knowing and not imputing truth to the known and the knowing on the one hand and knowing and imputing truth to the known and the knowing on the other hand.
The conventional and thus all the experiences we have been sharing here by means of words which are part of the conventional has been called 'truths for an obscurer' by Candrakirti and the obscurer he identified as ignorance. It seems that LTK and me, we both are agreeing with Candrakirti here.

Take care!

Jeff H
Posts: 916
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:56 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by Jeff H » Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:23 pm

My sincerest apologies if I have misunderstood you. In my reading, it sounded like identifying LTK’s bhumi and whether or not he (and you) had fully overcome all afflictive ignorance significantly impedes your ability to discern the path from such afflictions. To be sure, abandoning afflictive emotions is an important objective, but learning to identify them strengthens our path.


stevie wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:26 pm
… there must be a 'valid cognition' of what words are appropriate and what words are not appropriate for both, a Buddha and high bodhisattva who teach, and a 'valid cognition' what kinds of obscurations are still to be abandoned for a bodhisattva on the 8th bhumi. And this 'valid cognition' must be free from even a trace of afflictive ignorance by definition.
I’m not aware of that definitive requirement for valid teaching, and I don’t think this use of “valid cognition” corresponds with what LTK means. He uses that term to mean that, despite deceptive perceptual information and faulty conceptions, there is a form of cognition that is completely valid within the conventional context.

… from my perspective in actuality there is no truth whatsoever because any appearance of 'true' or 'truth' - even on the intuitive level! - is a manifestation of my afflictive ignorance. … I simply can't resist my ignorance when I intentionally say 'This or that is true or truth'.
If I agree that this statement is “true” I am applying discernment regarding what I’ve learned about which conventional untruths foster liberation and which do not. Another way in which conventional untruths are true is in relation to conventional functioning.

As I read your statements on this point it seems to me that you over emphasize the equality of all conventional “truths for a concealer”. I consider that equation to be conventionally false in the sense that it is not helpful for liberation. I think it is possible and useful to resist our ignorance in the use of “true” and “truth” and that’s what I mean by applying discernment.

As to [LTK’s criterion] 2.
As I said from my current perspective 'both (modes of conventional consciosuness, i.e. non-analytical spontaneous and analytical, regardless of the object analysis is directed to) are equally valid or equally invalid' therefore that which appears to exist can always be contradicted by a conventional - in this case 'valid' - consciousness and that existence that is negated by a conventional 'valid' consciousness is always contradicted by a another conventional 'valid' consciousness.
Perhaps it is equating the validity of conventional and analytical cognition that leads me to misunderstand you. Yes, they are both conventional forms of thought assessing a single phenomenon, but they are not examining the same information about the phenomenon.

Therefore the validity or lack of validity of each depends on very different conditions. One of LTK’s primary points is that they are in no way interchangeable, no more than hearing and sight are. Hearing addresses sound, sight addresses forms; conventional thought addresses function, rational analysis addresses the mode of existence.

The point of the first two criteria is that we can basically think whatever we want conventionally, (criterion 1), but some things are deemed conventionally false on the face of it by further conventional analysis (criterion 2). Often there is substantial controversy between the two, as with LTK’s example of the existence of a supreme being.

I do think you’ve misunderstood the three criteria, though. “We hold that what fails to meet those criteria does not exist.” Failing the first criterion means no one has ever conceived of the thing. Failing the second means a thing has been thought of, but proven conventionally false by conventional analysis. The cognitions in these two criteria are, in fact, equal because they both apply to the functional world of dependent origination.

The third criterion is a different form of analysis altogether. Yes, it is a conventional thought process, but it does not address functionality it addresses the mode of existence. Failing this one means that the object was found by reason to exist independently. This is a little tricky, and it’s where western expectations of linear logic in Buddhism can be disappointed.

We are provided with the answer: absolutely nothing can exist independently. We are instructed to search repeatedly and deeply to find any intrinsic nature in any phenomenon. Why? Because we need to internalize for ourselves what all the arya beings have discovered by means of the same research: if something existed independently, it would be static, permanent, unchanging. Incapable of interaction with any other phenomenon.

So if a thing were found to exist inherently, its existence would be conventionally impossible, precisely because it couldn't function. When rational analysis cannot establish a thing's existence, it in no way affects the validity or invalidity of the conventional criteria. In LTK’s system the three criteria mean that it is perfectly valid to argue from a conventional perspective about conventionally existent things, but from the ultimate perspective nothing exists as it appears.

This is why I think you’re misunderstanding LTK when you talk about conventional thought and rational analysis being equally valid or invalid. It misses the extremely important distinction he makes between them.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

stevie
Posts: 370
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:23 pm

Re: What Tsongkhapa said

Post by stevie » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:33 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:23 pm
My sincerest apologies if I have misunderstood you. In my reading, it sounded like identifying LTK’s bhumi and whether or not he (and you) had fully overcome all afflictive ignorance significantly impedes your ability to discern the path from such afflictions. To be sure, abandoning afflictive emotions is an important objective, but learning to identify them strengthens our path.
That's the challenge always in comunication about difficult topics: one selects the words to the best of one's knowledge but is misunderstood nevertheless. Therefore there is a lack of 'valid cognition' as to the synthesis of meaning by the minds of others depending on the words one selects. A Buddha must have that kind of 'valid cognition'.
Jeff H wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:23 pm
stevie wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:26 pm
… there must be a 'valid cognition' of what words are appropriate and what words are not appropriate for both, a Buddha and high bodhisattva who teach, and a 'valid cognition' what kinds of obscurations are still to be abandoned for a bodhisattva on the 8th bhumi. And this 'valid cognition' must be free from even a trace of afflictive ignorance by definition.
I’m not aware of that definitive requirement for valid teaching, and I don’t think this use of “valid cognition” corresponds with what LTK means. He uses that term to mean that, despite deceptive perceptual information and faulty conceptions, there is a form of cognition that is completely valid within the conventional context.
I agree with your understanding. However I do not agree that this understanding excludes what I have said. Conventional consciousnesses of an audience are the conventional, too, and valid cognition applies to the conventional. Therefore the 'valid cognition' of Buddha and high bodhisattva are special and by definition free from even a trace of afflictive ignorance.

Jeff H wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:23 pm
… from my perspective in actuality there is no truth whatsoever because any appearance of 'true' or 'truth' - even on the intuitive level! - is a manifestation of my afflictive ignorance. … I simply can't resist my ignorance when I intentionally say 'This or that is true or truth'.
If I agree that this statement is “true” I am applying discernment regarding what I’ve learned about which conventional untruths foster liberation and which do not. Another way in which conventional untruths are true is in relation to conventional functioning.
you are free to use these words in this way.
Jeff H wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:23 pm
As I read your statements on this point it seems to me that you over emphasize the equality of all conventional “truths for a concealer”. I consider that equation to be conventionally false in the sense that it is not helpful for liberation. I think it is possible and useful to resist our ignorance in the use of “true” and “truth” and that’s what I mean by applying discernment.
you are free to use these words in this way.
Jeff H wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:23 pm
As to [LTK’s criterion] 2.
As I said from my current perspective 'both (modes of conventional consciosuness, i.e. non-analytical spontaneous and analytical, regardless of the object analysis is directed to) are equally valid or equally invalid' therefore that which appears to exist can always be contradicted by a conventional - in this case 'valid' - consciousness and that existence that is negated by a conventional 'valid' consciousness is always contradicted by a another conventional 'valid' consciousness.
Perhaps it is equating the validity of conventional and analytical cognition that leads me to misunderstand you. Yes, they are both conventional forms of thought assessing a single phenomenon, but they are not examining the same information about the phenomenon.
From my perspective they are both deceptive. Actually deceptive analytical conventional consciousness negates deceptive non-analytical conventional consciousness in terms of the mode of existence. However since both are deceptive this negation takes place in a sphere of illusion. It's 'an illusion in an illusion' or 'a dream within a dream'.
Jeff H wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:23 pm
Therefore the validity or lack of validity of each depends on very different conditions. One of LTK’s primary points is that they are in no way interchangeable, no more than hearing and sight are. Hearing addresses sound, sight addresses forms; conventional thought addresses function, rational analysis addresses the mode of existence.
Jeff, you don't have to repeat LTK view. I have already contradicted it above and provided reason. No true contradictions however from my perspective!
Jeff H wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:23 pm
The point of the first two criteria is that we can basically think whatever we want conventionally, (criterion 1), but some things are deemed conventionally false on the face of it by further conventional analysis (criterion 2). Often there is substantial controversy between the two, as with LTK’s example of the existence of a supreme being.

I do think you’ve misunderstood the three criteria, though. “We hold that what fails to meet those criteria does not exist.” Failing the first criterion means no one has ever conceived of the thing. Failing the second means a thing has been thought of, but proven conventionally false by conventional analysis. The cognitions in these two criteria are, in fact, equal because they both apply to the functional world of dependent origination.

The third criterion is a different form of analysis altogether. Yes, it is a conventional thought process, but it does not address functionality it addresses the mode of existence. Failing this one means that the object was found by reason to exist independently. This is a little tricky, and it’s where western expectations of linear logic in Buddhism can be disappointed.

We are provided with the answer: absolutely nothing can exist independently. We are instructed to search repeatedly and deeply to find any intrinsic nature in any phenomenon. Why? Because we need to internalize for ourselves what all the arya beings have discovered by means of the same research: if something existed independently, it would be static, permanent, unchanging. Incapable of interaction with any other phenomenon.

So if a thing were found to exist inherently, its existence would be conventionally impossible, precisely because it couldn't function. When rational analysis cannot establish a thing's existence, it in no way affects the validity or invalidity of the conventional criteria. In LTK’s system the three criteria mean that it is perfectly valid to argue from a conventional perspective about conventionally existent things, but from the ultimate perspective nothing exists as it appears.

This is why I think you’re misunderstanding LTK when you talk about conventional thought and rational analysis being equally valid or invalid. It misses the extremely important distinction he makes between them.
Jeff, there have been different levels in my elaboration of the three criteria:
EITHER
1. I've NOT elaborated above on how I think LTK's intended meaning of his words would be but selected my words primarily based on my experience. In the course of this I seemingly contradicted LTK.
OR
2. where the meaning is irrelevant for me due to my setting analytical and non-analytical as equally valid or equally invalid, I did elaborate on how I think LTK's intended meaning of his words is. This refers to criterion 3: starting with 'The third criterion is ...' and ending with 'I cannot follow your reasoning in the first sentence.'

We will not come to an agreement about the appropriate use of words here. It does not matter!


So where does my experience match the words of LTK?
Here:
1. Analysis is important
2. the correlate of 'true existence' aka 'truth' must be identified in one's mind
3. analytical conventional consciousness investigating into the mode of existence and non-analytical conventional consciousness are mutually contradictory in terms of true existence
4. entry into 'reality' begins with overcoming the view of the perishing aggregates
5. conventional truth is truth for an obscurer only

And - as I've already stated repeatedly and made clear there are points where my experience does not match LTK's words - or I should better say 'the words of the translators of LTK's text - but that's no problem for me.

Let's leave it at that, Jeff !

Thanks for your kind effort to have this communication with me. It's been a pleasure.

Post Reply

Return to “Gelug”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests