I am also considering the idea that mind is self-existent, however that has to be qualified by saying it is never an object of cognition
Then you are saying that you cannot observe the mind
or the activity of the mind
Yet you are aware of the fact that you hold this view.
If you are aware of it, then you are aware of your own cognition.
Mind arises as the meeting of awareness and an object of awareness.
All you really have to know is that you are aware of the fact that you are thinking.
Quoting the source you cite:
Yogācārins deny the existence of external objects in two senses.
1. In terms of conventional experience they do not deny objects such as chairs, colors, and trees, but rather they reject the claim that such things appear anywhere else than in consciousness. It is externality, not objects per se, that they challenge.
2. While such objects are admissible as conventionalisms, in more precise terms there are no chairs, trees, etc. These are merely words and concepts by which we gather and interpret discrete sensations that arise moment by moment in a causal flux. These words and concepts are mental projections.
jeeprs wrote: Of course that is quite unnacceptable to Western naturalism, which presumes that the observer is separate to the world and that the world exists independently of any act of perception or conception.
Actually, the two views are not in opposition.
The problem is in the phrase and "...that the world exists..."
This is why, for example,
if a tree falls, it does not produce sound.
It only produces the vibrations of molecules
which hit the ear drum
and are experienced by awareness as mind arising as the cognitive experience of sound
In other words, the vibrations are happening outside the brain,
but the sound is only happening in the mind.
The same vibrations can be "caught" using a tape recorder
and reproduced again and again.
and can hit the eardrum again and again, as often as you play back the tape (or MP3 these days).
But the tape is not holding the actual sound either.
That would be like catching a scream in a jar,
and then whenever the jar was opened, the scream would come out.
But we know that the scream itself, or the crashing tree
has no intrisnic reality of its own, so this is not possible.
If the tree made the 'sound' , recording it would not be possible
because sound is only a temporary experience.
As soon as the tape recording of the tree falling stops,
the sound is gone.
The only reason why,
if I put a green chair into a room,
and walk away, and you enter the room
you are aware of the same green chair
is because the causes
of that awareness are similar:
1. the material nature or "cause" of the chair is the same (Yogācārins do not deny this).
2. awareness is present, and because
3. the sensory apparatus of our brains is similar enough, although not identical
...we share the same experience of green chair.
If you alter any of these component factors:
1.if the material nature of the chair changes (for example, it is set on fire or crushed into splinters)
2. if awareness is not present
3. if the sensory apparatus changes (perhaps the one entering the room is on LSD or is a cat, or cannot see the color green)
then what you experience as green chair is not shared.
And, in being not shared,
it loses the characteristic of being a green chair objectively
because what makes it a green chair objectively is that the experience of it can be shared
and this sharing is called verification.
The issue with western naturalism (I always thought that term referred to nudist cowboys)
is over the question of an objective or subjective 'reality'
in the context of a shared experience,
meaning that if you and I see the same thing,
it must be 'real' by virtue of the fact that
we each see things from differing perspectives, yet this experience is "the same".
But this objective point of view is limited in that it does not break down the shared experience
into its component factors and necessary conditions,
which is what Buddhist theory does.