The complaints seem to center around the idea that Mahayana turns paticcasamuppada into some kind of cosmic principle -- interconnectedness of all phenomena, etc. Kumbayah!
I have run into this accusation on another web forum. As far as I can tell some people cannot grasp the mahayana concept of emptiness and conclude that sunyata is therefore regarded by mahayanists as a type of independently existing force.
The difference between sunyata and interdependent origination, as I understand it has to do with which aspect of an appearance (of phenomena) is being discussed
, and in this way it can be likened to the discussion of a what appears in a mirror, as well as a mirror's reflective activity. The two are of course related, and can be regarded separately, but still refer to different aspects of the same overall result. Sunyata is a way of referring to interdependency and interdependency is a way of referring to sunyata but they are not the same exact thing.
Things are said to be empty of any intrinsically self-arising characteristic. This is describing phenomena in terms of sunyata.
But, now, I can't say "due to this sunyata, appearances arise interdependently"
because we aren't really talking about a cause-and effect sequence of events here, of one thing following another, of interdependency following sunyata. This is what those who complain do not understand. This is why they think mahayanists regard sunyata as a cosmic force.
You can't really
say, "due to the reflective activity of a mirror, something appears in it" because the reflective activity IS what appears in it. If there is no reflective activity, then it was not a mirror to begin with. But you can say 'a mirror is reflective" even without mentioning what is being reflected.
So, we can say that phenomena are empty of any intrinsically self-arising characteristics.
This is describing phenomena in terms of sunyata,
and we can say that appearances arise interdependently,
This is describing phenomena in terms of Interdependency.
(note from the grammar control-freak realm: things center on a topic,
or revolve around a topic
but they don't center around
a topic. you may slap me now