Posted by: Soh
Conversation in the Facebook group 'Emptiness':

  • Cornelius O'shaughnessy "Cornelius: "There is a mind and body that is given the name Nenad , this mind body is having an experience"

    What proof do you have for that?"

    Scientists can stimulate the brain and it will change the experience that is being experienced.

    Again, what proof do you have that there is only one DE?
  • Kyle Dixon Though ultimately emptiness would also challenge the validity of mind, body, brain and so on as well.

    But of course there is no issue in saying that minds and bodies are valid in the conventional sense.
  • Christian Shadlock If the experience is dependant on that which is being experienced, then how could it be said that a limited mind/body is having it?
    Could the mind/body experience the taste of honey without the honey being there?
  • Cornelius O'shaughnessy Experience is of course dependant on all sorts of things, but having a brain is a pretty crucial factor
  • Cornelius O'shaughnessy Different brain, different experience
  • Christian Shadlock There is much you can examine in this area, should the interest appear
  • Dannon Flynn The point is that landing on any ontological conclusions, metaphysical or otherwise, about the existence of things, has no bearing on liberation or freedom. In fact, they only define the limit of our understanding and ignorance. It is irrelevant for the spiritual investigation to be so much invested in the composition of the universe, what matters is much more intimate. Can you imagine two monks arguing over whether the Earth is round or flat a thousand years ago? As far as enlightenment goes, it is totally irrelevant which ontological beliefs you hold. Let science sort it out.
  • Kyle Dixon Dependencies in emptiness does not truly mean that things are actually dependent upon one another, for that would be a subtle view of substantiality. Dependency in emptiness is a way to reveal that there is no core essence or being that a given conventional appearance has.
    9 hrs · Like · 2
  • Kyle Dixon The importance of the brain in our culture this day in age is partly due to the reigning materialist scientific paradigm that is considered to be supreme. However it really is just a paradigm and while it explains some things in the contexts it serves to represent, it completely fails to explain other things, some very vital.
    9 hrs · Like · 5
  • Christian Shadlock I would say that any statement beginning 'The Brain is responsible for', only details a grossly simplified view and may show a lack of understanding that the Brain does not and cannot be responsible for anything without other things being involved.
    However, there is nothing wrong with such statements and can be considered essential in order to convey information.
  • Cornelius O'shaughnessy Yes other things are involved, but you're pretty screwed if you don't have a brain. The brain obviously has a very key role in experience ...
  • Kyle Dixon Example of something the brain theory fails to explain? How experience appears at all, for one. Some in the scientific community are quite pleased with the theory that consciousness etc., is generated by the brain, but that seems quite ridiculous to me.
    7 hrs · Like · 1
  • Kyle Dixon For example: If experience, or visual consciousness, is a representation created in the brain, meaning that seeing, hearing, tactile sensation etc., are located in the brain; how do you get around the fact that the brain itself is likewise only apprehended via those very same faculties?

    The implications that there is an external universe which is apprehended via the senses and translated by a brain are quite damning. If that is the case, since experience would never transcend its translation, there is no way to access or prove the existence of such an external universe, and so the logic would negate the initial premise. The other issue would be that the very 'brain' experience is apprehended by, would likewise only be accessible and apprehensible from within the very experience it (the brain), itself apprehends. If experience goes on inside the brain, and the brain goes on inside experience; establishing an ontological hierarchy which maintains that experience occurs in a brain (or is generated by a brain) is impossible. Therefore no brain which could possibly contain visual (or any other type of) consciousness has ever been encountered.

    This is akin to saying 'the chicken is an interpretation which only ever occurs inside the egg' ...but the egg was laid by a chicken, which itself hatched from an egg... which was laid by a chicken.

    If consciousness is allegedly located in the brain or skull, yet brains and skulls (including your own skull which supposedly contains your own brain) appear to consciousness, then there's no way to make any definitive statements as to what comes first.

    And when it comes down to it neither can be found apart from conventionality, so attempting to make a definitive statement regarding either is choosing to be bias about one of two equally unfounded illusions as it is.
    7 hrs · Like · 3
  • Cornelius O'shaughnessy For me experience is made of to many things to say it originates within the brain.

    The fact that we are conscious of the brain doesn't undermine the hypothesis that consciousness originates in the brain. It may or may not originate in the brain , I don't really know.
  • Kyle Dixon Technically consciousness doesn't originate at all, so there's really no way it originates in a brain.
    7 hrs · Like · 2
  • Cornelius O'shaughnessy Ultimately no, but conventionally it might.
    7 hrs · Edited · Like · 1
  • Michael Zaurov Kyle, have you ever been under anesthesia? I was a couple years ago. Very interesting experience. They injected some chemical into my vein and immediately I felt sleepy, then I passed out and awoke several hours later. No dreams, no experience at all during that time.
  • Michael Zaurov I think the arguments 'you can't directly experience your own brain therefore you should be skeptical' or 'you can't directly experience the external world therefore you should be skeptical' are a bit naive. Direct experience shouldn't be the end all for gaining knowledge. Cognition is pretty useful too.
    6 hrs · Like · 1
  • Kyle Dixon Michael, the emptiness of time, scrutinizing consecutive sequencing of events, scrutinizing cause and effect, etc., would reveal the emptiness of experiences like those.
    6 hrs · Like · 4
  • Michael Zaurov Sounds like an interesting way to put your head in the sand.
  • Kyle Dixon Also, I wasn't saying you can't directly experience the world or your own brain. Emptiness inquiry doesn't really go that route... The idea that we don't experience the 'actual' world but rather a mere representation of it is another modem scientific theory (intromission theory).

    Emptiness inquiry is more concerned with direct empirical data, what is immediately apparent. The various components of intromission are inferential and abstract, you have to infer through second hand information that there is a world beyond what is experienced, and honestly it isn't really very helpful.
  • Michael Zaurov Yes, you have to infer there are other beings too then since there is no direct empirical evidence that other beings exist. Yet you find motivation to respond to me so clearly you don't cling just to empirical data. Sometimes inferences are necessary. How is this not solipsism?
  • Kyle Dixon How is it akin to burying one's head in the sand?
  • Kyle Dixon I wasn't discounting the conventional existence or application of things. This is the main point to be remembered with emptiness inquiry; we are negating the inherency of the aspects of experience that conventionality suggests, but we are not negating the conventional for there is no reason to... the conventional is merely conventional and so it is not an issue. The issue is mistaking the conventional to be inherent.
    5 hrs · Like · 1
  • Dannon Flynn The scientific method also relies on empirical data, and is not solipsism... if you look at meditation as a scientific method of investigating experience itself, we don't need to bring solipsism into it.
  • Michael Zaurov Saying there is only your experience, nothing outside of it, is solipsism. The difference is that science uses cognition where what Kyle is talking about discards it as second hand information
  • Kyle Dixon I would be advocating for solipsism if I said nothing else exists except for my personal experience, or my reference point, my knowing etc., I would have to negate everything else while affirming the allegedly solitary locus of my own experiential aperture or cognition.

    Or I would have to subsume everything else into my own consciousness, knowing, mind etc. However the conviction that my own experience is primary is arrived at (through outright negation or subsuming) it really makes no difference.
  • Dannon Flynn It is not affirmed that there is nothing outside of experience, just that there is no proof of it, so that it cannot be relied upon using a empirical method. Like science.
  • Kyle Dixon I wasn't discarding second hand information by any means. I think we're sort of missing each other on the type of view we are seeking to work with.

    I am not negating second hand information in order to advocate for some other type of view, I was merely saying in the course of a empirical analysis we would want to directly evaluate our experience as it is known.

    And my point was that carrying presuppositions of certain scientific models (as statements of ontological truth) into that inquiry is going to be problematic.
  • Kyle Dixon This is sort of along the same lines as another discussion I had recently where upon evoking the notion of the eight consciousness model, someone objected to that on the grounds that science has a different model. Which is an example of looking for ontological truth in these inquiries and completely missing the point of the conventional application of such a model:

    PadmaVonSamba wrote:
    Actually, terms such as "eye consciousness" and 'ear consciousness" are misleading. Those parts of the body do not possess consciousness. The activity associated with the sense organs, once light enters the eye, and vibrating air molecules reach the ear, occurs in the brain, which also itself has no consciousness. Nothing but neurological activity... and of course, some awareness of that neurological activity which manifests as sensory experience.

    My response:
    We're coming at this from two entirely different angles now. The point of the "eye-consciousness" [cakṣurvijñāna] (and the other seven consciousnesses) is to propose a conventional model (for the purposes of upāya) in order to allow the aspirant a means to pierce the seeming inherency of consciousness in general. Unlike the intromission theory you are referencing, the eight-consciousness model is not a statement (or proposition) of ontological truth. And that exclusively conventional nature is characteristically implied due to the fact that the buddhadharma contends that inherency (in general) is a figment of deluded cognition which is completely unreal. Therefore the label "eye consciousness" is a term which is implemented so that the visual faculty and all of its implied constitutional characteristics can be compartmentalized into a single grouping for the purposes of analysis or expeditious delineation (eye-consciousness accounting for (i) sensory organ [eye], (ii) sensory cognition [seeing] and (iii) sensory objects [sights]).

    At any rate, intromission theory is really only towing the standard party line when it comes to a modern materialist scientific interpretation of consciousness. While the processes you are writing about are all well and good in a conventional sense, they have no practical application (in the sense of being a means to liberate you from the conditioned projections of inherency which is attributed to your conscious condition). In fact, the model you are proposing (and championing) actually serves to fortify the conditioning that the buddhadharma is attempting to dispel.

    The eight-consciousnesses [aṣṭavijñāna] as a conventional model is meant to be a tangible and empirical guideline for your direct experience, whereas the intromission theory you are discussing with its various electro-chemical processes is inferential in every way. The former model (the eight-consciousnesses) is one means to reveal the non-arising of consciousness, that cannot be said for the latter (intromission) which possesses zero soteriological value.
    5 hrs · Like · 2
  • Kyle Dixon The point being that in the application of a conventional model, at no point in time does that implementation suggest that the conventional model is actually true. It is merely a means to be discarded.

    But coming back to addressing experiences such as being under anesthesia; scrutinizing the various factors which go into an experience of that nature isn't a way to put one's head in the sand. In fact I would argue it is quite the opposite, because we are evaluating our convictions of inherency and continuity in experience to reveal that those convictions are predicated on certain presuppositions which do not hold water. And if done correctly the result can be very liberating, for those convictions can be turned on their heads, and in the end an experience which seemed to be quite impenetrable and infallible can be shown to be anything but impenetrable and infallible. Why is that? Because the experience itself lacks inherency, and the infallibility it seems to carry is actually our own conviction and perception which is not an intrinsic characteristic of an experience we can locate or find.
    4 hrs · Like · 2
  • Michael Zaurov Kyle, What I'm questioning is this assumption that direct experience is the way to go and that all concepts must be discarded. How do you know that's the right way to go? You're talking about analyzing and scrutinizing, but all of that is done with the assumption that unmediated by concepts we come to reality. I'd argue that through emptiness we come to the nature of experience, but this doesn't mean that all views are false in regards to reality. You can scrutinize your experience all you like, but this does not negate views about the world we live in just because you cannot directly verify them
  • Dannon Flynn People who engage in debate degrading philosophy in general and emptiness in particular really need to educate themselves on the philosophical ideas of ontology and epistemology. If the debaters are not coming from the same paradigm then they are speaking different languages and will inevitably misunderstand each other. Kyle is talking epistemology and Michael is talking ontology. Look it up on Wikipedia.
  • Michael Zaurov I'm talking about the epistemic value of views, Dannon. My degree was in philosophy so I'm well acquainted lol. I'm probably just not communicating clearly
    4 hrs · Edited · Like · 1
  • Dannon Flynn As far as investigating awareness and experience itself, direct experience is the way to go if you want to have realization. If you want a story that explains the way things are and why, there is religion, superstition, science, etc. all of which offer explanations and second-hand knowledge of variable veracity to be accepted or rejected in accordance with beliefs. But, like Kyle says, meditation has soterilogical value. There is a method, and sure it has its limitations, just as the scientific method does, but it is great at what it does. And if we apply the method we get the result that is promised.
    4 hrs · Like · 1
  • Kyle Dixon The scrutiny does not negate the inherency of the world, the realization of emptiness does though. The direct non-conceptual cognition of non-arising reveals that the world is unborn and unreal.

    Also, I'm not saying all concepts must be discarded, I'm just saying that clinging to concepts which have emerged from the reigning materialist scientific paradigm while attempting to recognize the emptiness of the very things those scientific theories reify is either severely complicating that process or is compromising it altogether. Because you're holding to a view which is saying there is an actual way things are, like an ontological truth. As opposed to emptiness which is an epistemic method.

    Emptiness would say that all views indeed are false in regards to reality because it would reveal a lack of an inherent reality to have views about.

    This is why emptiness is called the pacification of views. Because views can only be in reference to an existent or a non-existent, and if neither can be found, then how can one have a view? Like Nāgārjuna said; "If I had a view then I would undoubtedly be flawed, but alas I have no view and therefore I have no flaws."
    4 hrs · Like · 4
  • Dannon Flynn It's limitations are evident in HoM view where the observations are taken to be ontological facts. This seems to be what you are having a problem with, Michael. HoM view is solipsism, because they are claiming that there is nothing whatsoever outside experience, while emptiness teachings say that we only can work with experience, and any ontological claim regarding what is outside experience is irrelevant and not useful in this method.
    4 hrs · Like · 1
  • Dannon Flynn As far as epistemology is concerned, how do we know that the brain exists? Through our sensory awareness of witnessing a brain and dissecting organisms. We are still using our awareness and experience. If we want to figure out ontological facts we need to make inferences. I believe in brains, but in my investigation of awareness I use the method of meditation, and observing awareness especially during dreaming and sleep states have found an awareness that is not completely a product of the brain, yet is intimately involved with it. I suppose all doubts will be cleared up when nirodha samapatti is attained.
  • Michael Zaurov Dannon, I'm not questioning the soteriological value of meditation, rather the epistemic value. Why is knowledge gained through meditation more accurate than knowledge gained through the scientific method?
  • Kyle Dixon Because knowledge gained through the scientific method (in the way you are using the term to reference modern science) is information amassed in the context of relative truth. It will always be limited to the relative since it is gathered through the lens of the relative condition.
    3 hrs · Like · 1
  • Christian Shadlock Oh dear . . .
    It seems we are falling down the same rabbit hole
  • Dannon Flynn Who knows if it is more accurate? But meditation has more soterilogical value, it is more relevant to how we experience our existence. Neuroscience can logically infer that the sense of self is an illusion, but that does no good unless it is discovered first-hand in direct experience. I watched a documentary about the neuroscience of the sense of self, and in the end the scientists said "Imagine if we could actually experience the sense of self as an illusion?" Personally I think science and meditation are both accurate.
    2 hrs · Like · 1
  • Kyle Dixon Relative knowledge [skt. saṃvṛti-satya, tib. kun rdzob bden pa] is information regarding dharmins i.e. the things, places, functions, modalities, processes of the world as it is perceived from the standpoint of confusion. It is based on a subject measuring objective occurrences, presupposing existence, non-existence, time, space, dimension, spatiality, temporality and various other constructs of ignorance [avidyā]. Therefore it is information acquired from the standpoint of invalid cognitions. All allegedly relative truths are objects of deluded cognition, therefore the title 'truth' is only given to the relative within the conventional dichotomy of the two truth schematic. This does not mean there are actually two truths, nor that the relative is true by any means.

    Ultimate knowledge [skt. paramārtha-satya, tib. don dam bden pa] is knowledge of the dharmatā of dharmins, which is their emptiness or non-arising. That knowledge is of tathātva [gnas lugs] which means 'the actual way of things'. In the context of emptiness inquiry, the knowledge of emptiness is the only valid knowledge, hence why it is considered to be a valid cognition (whereas the relative is that which is ascertained via invalid cognition).

    So why is knowledge gained through the veil of the relative considered to be 'more accurate'? Because in the context of these teachings, being a soteriological methodology the only 'accuracy' there is, is of course going to be the accurate knowledge of the nature of phenomena i.e. their emptiness. The point of these inquiries and so on is to overturn that specific species of ignorance which gives rise to (and perceives) the apparent existence or non-existence of phenomena. Knowledge gained from within the confines of that ignorance is simply ignorance. Scientific measurements, presupposing the various aspects of experience listed above such as existence, non-existence, time, space, dimension, spatiality, temporality and so on only serve to reify and solidify the apparent validity or inherency of those things. Therefore that relative knowledge can never overturn the various principles it serves to substantiate. It has no application in the context of revealing the unreality of those things, and thus it has no application in the context of the conventional method of removing delusion that emptiness inquiry, analysis, meditation provides. So, this is to say that modern scientific knowledge lacks value in the context of emptiness inquiry. Is it all well and good conventionally? Sure, but it is not a means to remove delusion and that is the pertinent point.
    2 hrs · Like · 1

In another thread:

Kyle wrote below: Dependencies in emptiness does not truly mean that things are actually dependent upon one another, for that would be a subtle view of substantiality. Dependency in emptiness is a way to reveal that there is no core essence or being that a given conventional appearance has.
So how does anything exist?
  • Kyle Dixon Things exist conventionally. However apart from convention; existence, non-existence, both and/or neither cannot be found.
    9 hrs · Edited · Like · 5
  • Stephen Metcalf Once again, I have been lazy in asking my question I understand your answer from the emptiness perspective but am not satisfied I will go do my homework [ maybe !! ]
  • अष्टावक्र शान्ति "The ultimate truth is that the conventional truth is the only truth there is."
    - Gred Goode & Tomas Sander.
    9 hrs · Like · 2
  • Kyle Dixon Ok, well if you have more inquiries or objections to raise then please fire away, it would make for a good thread I'm sure everyone would enjoy contributing to.
    9 hrs · Like · 6
  • Peter Baker What do conventional truths depend on?
    8 hrs · Like · 1
  • Neony Karby well, conventions
    8 hrs · Like · 3
  • Neony Karby Remember, physics is not about how nature is, but how we talk about it
  • Matt James For me, this is a problem solved by looking rather than thinking.
  • Dannon Flynn Still trying to figure it intellectually why there is everything instead of nothing? Why do we dream? Because emptiness is infinitely creative and nature abhors vacuum. There are no voids. Even 'empty' space is full of subatomic particles popping in and out of existence. Conventional truth depends on the ignorance of sentient beings.
    8 hrs · Like · 1
  • Neony Karby Even enlightened people have to navigate conventionally
  • Greg Goode Stephen - Hmmm, not satisfied? Would you prefer more existence than emptiness seems to give? Better grounding?
  • Stephen Metcalf Not looking for grounding. Looking for clarity. Perhaps I'm just not clear on what the ultimate purpose of the Emptiness teachings are. Perhaps I'm chasing something that doesn't really concern me. I totally get dependent origination and do not see inherent existence in any "thing". It just seems that the emptiness teachings fall short in describing what "this" is. Of course, everything falls short in describing because what this is is indescribable and unresolvable as far as language is concerned at least.
    8 hrs · Edited · Like · 3
  • Kyle Dixon Hmm I feel that if you didn't see the inherent existence of any thing the notion of 'this' would go out the window. That has been my experience at least.
    7 hrs · Like · 3
  • Greg Goode Purpose: freedom from confusion, grasping, clinging and suffering.

    "This": This table? This pencil? This thisness?

    The final nature of "whatever" is not verbal or conceptual. The emptiness teachings are just a reminder not to expect words or concepts to capture any finalities.

    Emptiness teachings tend not to talk of an overall "this," as if it were one thing... Where there's one, there can jolly well be another....
    7 hrs · Edited · Like · 10
  • Greg Goode As far as "existence" goes, the emptiness teachings (pre-Tibetan) don't affirm existence and don't affirm non-existence either.

    Neither extreme is needed, and both lead to suffering if banked on. What can be done instead? Look for helpfulness or serviceability....
    7 hrs · Edited · Like · 3
  • Lindsay Funk Thanks for asking this, Stephen. It's been a sticking point for me for a long time.
    I get how 'things' exist conventionally, but I don't get how the knowing of things - or rather, just knowing - is a convention. I can see how talking about it, or thinking about it conceptualizes it, but the self-evident nature of isness... that doesn't seem purely conventional to me.
    7 hrs · Like · 4
  • Greg Goode Lindsay , the way the emptiness teachings would go about "isness" would be like this:

    -- get a real clear sense of the more-than-conventional nature of isness. Make this conception as vivid as you can.

    -- try to find the isness itself that corresponds to your conception. Look among the spatial and temporal parts, and look elsewhere too. Look everywhere you can. You'll be looking for inherent isness.

    --if you fail to find inherent isness, you'll find a lack of inherent isness.

    -- this lack is the emptiness of isness.

    -- your finding is your realization of the emptiness of isness...
    7 hrs · Like · 4
  • Neony Karby Though we cannot know objects (thoughts included) as things in themselves , we have to be able to at least think of them as things in themselves (refer to); otherwise we land in the absurd linguistic construct that there can be appearance without anything that appears. We can't represent to ourselves any possibility of an understanding that should know its object 'as it is', not discursively through concepts, but only as non-sensible intuition (non-sensible pointing to intuition also being a concept). Emptiness can be seen directly.

    Neony Karby's photo.
    7 hrs · Like · 5
  • Delma Mc Isn't this an appearance? Conventional. Not conventional. Ultimate. Relative. Are they all the way things seem? Not seem 'to be', but just plain Seem, with no substance or core behind the Seeming.

    That's my current understanding, which I expect to change anyway. But I can't pin anything down beyond appearance appearing.
    7 hrs · Like · 1
  • Delma Mc On vacation a couple of weeks ago, the emptiness of mountains became clear. There they were in the distance but when we drove into them, they began to disappear until finally all that was left was a marker letting us know we were at ~12,000 feet (whatever *that* meant). Not a single thing about the mountains was inherent, and if mountains aren't actually a thing, and I'm not a thing traveling "up and through", all that's left are appearances which seem to dependend upon other appearances, which I'd also found to be empty.

    Lindsay Funk, can you say more about the knowing of things. That sounded like an interesting question.

    But also, can anyone help me identify what it is in my mountain observation/inquiry that is missing from the perspective of emptiness teachings? This rabbit hole goes deeper and deeper, but it seems there is no 'end'. That's how I know I'm missing something... it's like a jewel with facets. There's no set way to view it, and if you turn it to just one angle, you miss an infinity of other ways to see it, and it surprises you at every turn.
    6 hrs · Edited · Like · 1
  • Nick Myers "This rabbit hole goes deeper and deeper, but it seems there is no 'end'. That's how I know I'm missing something..."

    Sounds like you entered a rabbit hole on your way through that mountain? Did you make it out Delma!?
    6 hrs · Edited · Like · 1
  • Lindsay Funk Greg, thanks, that sounds like a fun exercise, and one I need to do.

    You say "if you fail to find inherent isness, you'll find a lack of inherent isness." I would tend to think of a lack of inherent isness as implying a negation, but wouldn't that be going too far? Unfindable, sure, but not a negation, right? The cliche of the eye not seeing itself is the potential for the open-endedness of emptiness, right?

    Delma, I just mean that knowing doesn't seem like a convention until it's the knowing *of things*. Pre-conceptual knowing seems non-conventional until it's conceptualized. So, in my experience so far it seems that there is an indefinable, but undeniable 'reality' in the reading of these words. However, like yourself, views are subject to change without notice
    6 hrs · Like · 2
  • Delma Mc I see! Thank you, Lindsay.

    Nick, I did not!
    6 hrs · Like · 1
  • Greg Goode Lindsay , that's exactly right. Emptiness is a negation. It's a negation of the extreme of exaggerated existence.

    It's also a "non-affirming" negation. When you discover the lack of inherent isness or inherent pencil-ness or inherent self, then it is that lack, that absence.

    It does not imply another presence underneath that absence. By discovering emptiness, you won't also be discovering global awareness or any other candidate for essence or substance. Nope, just that absence.

    That's a non-affirming negation, as opposed to an affirming negation. An affirming negation would be how negating one thing actually affirms another.

    Example:

    YOU: "The red wire or the blue one! Hurry! I only have 007 seconds!"

    VOICE IN HEADPHONES: "Not the red wire."

    YOU: (snipping the blue wire and not getting blown up). "OK. Done!"
    6 hrs · Edited · Like · 4
  • Lindsay Funk But Greg , isn't "lack of inherent isness" already an extreme? It seems to me that it's more accurate to say that we can't *ascertain* inherent isness or a lack thereof. Or, in the case of knowingness, though we can't prove its inherent existence, wouldn't it be an unverifiable extreme (and a logical impossibility) to say that we've discovered its lack? So isn't 'lack' an outright negation, and wouldn't unfindable or unascertainable be the middle way?
    5 hrs · Like · 6
  • Stephen Metcalf Very good Lindsay
  • Dannon Flynn neither existing nor not existing.
    5 hrs · Like · 1
  • Mara Rosolen I am eagerly following this thread. This is my question too, but I wouldn't have been able to put it so clearly. Thank you all.
    5 hrs · Like · 2
  • Greg Goode Those were formal definitions from just one school. Here's another way to look at it.

    "X is" is the extreme of permanence and essentialism.

    "X is not" is the extreme of nihilism.

    The middle way is to go about life happily, relying on neither. No matter what value you plug in for X...
    5 hrs · Edited · Like · 7
  • Dannon Flynn I always fall back on 'unfindable but undeniable'...
    5 hrs · Like · 7
  • Kyle Dixon Lindsay, the extremes would belong to the conditioned entity. So X would be an entity which has originated and therefore exists and can potentially also lack existence etc.

    Emptiness inquiry asks that you evaluate X to see if such a conditioned entity can be found to begin with. Because existence, non-existence, both or neither are only applicable to X.

    Emptiness states that X is an object of deluded cognition, an abstraction or a figment of confusion. So if that confusion can be pierced, then the X which is product of that confusion is revealed to have always only been a figment of confusion, like a figment of one's imagination. When that recognition dawns directly and non-conceptually, then X is immediately realized to be unreal, unborn from the very beginning. And hence we realize that there is no true X that could possibly exist or not-exist. Thus the extremes of existence and non-existence (both and neither) no longer have anything they apply to.

    This is like being in the desert and seeing the mirage of an oasis and taking it to be real. You would hurriedly go to that oasis because it appears to exist, and you even proclaim that it exists. You would be elated that there is water which is not far away. Upon getting closer you would realize that the oasis is just a mirage, and it would dissipate. Your convictions of an existent oasis were based on a deluded cognition, there never was an oasis. Upon realizing that, the notions of existence, non-existence, both or neither cannot actually apply to anything. The oasis cannot actually be non-existent, for it would have to first exist and then cease to be. But the oasis never arose in the first place, it was a figment of confusion, a hallucination. It now cannot possibly actually exist or not exist just like horns on a rabbit or fur on a turtle cannot actually exist or not exist. So emptiness states that all phenomena is like horns on a rabbit or hair on a turtle, primordially unreal and unborn from beginninglessness.
    4 hrs · Like · 5
  • Robert Dominik "Even enlightened people have to navigate conventionally" <- -="" a="" agree="" at="" because="" behind="" buddha="" buddhist="" but="" context="" conventional="" deluded="" do="" emptiness="" free="" from="" how="" i="" imply="" is="" it.="" it="" least="" m="" make="" nature="" necessarily="" not="" notion="" object="" of="" only="" onventional="" out="" perception.="" point="" reality="" relative="" remembering="" s="" samsara="" samsaric="" say="" seems="" some="" span="" statement="" such="" taken="" teachings="" that="" the="" there="" to="" traditional="" truth...="" truth="" trying="" ultimate="" understand="" with="" worth="">
    4 hrs · Like · 1
  • Robert Dominik Greg Goode wrote: "As far as "existence" goes, the emptiness teachings (pre-Tibetan) don't affirm existence and don't affirm non-existence either." <- and="" are="" buddhism="" class="emoticon emoticon_tongue" existence="" extremes="" in="" it="" like="" non-existence="" of="" re="" s="" sounds="" span="" stuck="" suggesting="" teachings="" the="" tibetan="" title=":P" you=""> At least that's how "(pre-Tibetan)" in this context appears to me

4 hrs · Edited · Like · 1


  • Dannon Flynn Yet Tibetan Vajrayana will say that traditional emptiness teachings don't go far enough and throw the baby out with the bathwater.
  • Kyle Dixon I haven't seen Vajrayana state that.
    3 hrs · Like · 1
  • Robert Dominik IMO: That is a misrepresentation of Vajryana. Vajrayana doesn't part ways with the fundamental message of the Buddha and all the principles like Anatta, Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination still apply there. It simply may use different terms and skillful means, which might be misinterpreted by the people lacking knowledge/understanding of Vajrayana.
  • Kyle Dixon Vajrayāna may scrutinize the path and praxis of certain methods found in Mahāyāna and Sūtrayāna in general, but the prajñāpāramitā sūtras are considered to be expositions on the same emptiness discussed in Vajrayāna.

    Sort of like various methods to realize the same insight of non-arising, but different ways to realize it. Some paths scrutinize other paths and so on, this is pretty normal when it comes to buddhist polemics, but all in all they're aiming for the same insight.
    3 hrs · Like · 1
  • Robert Dominik Maybe the part about "not going far enough" comes from confusing what Vajrayana says, that it's a quick path because it works with the body and utilises energy, it has diverse methods for different individuals etc. From the Vajrayana POV Madhyamaka analysis is nice but slow and it's possible that many people who work with it are just left with philosophical debates after many (and quite possibly some subtle forms of delusion - like clinging to the Relative Truth etc.), many years of going in circles. Of course this doesn't serve the purpose of bashing other vehicles. The path to Arhathood can be also very fast if someone is ready to completely renounciate wordly life. In the end every path is slow if one goes into it half-assed.
  • Robert Dominik But what Kyle said is valid. Vajrayana is part of Buddhadharma (to be more specific Vajrayana belongs to Mahayana), which has diverse methods for individuals with different circumstances, capacity and different setup of attachments, ignorance etc.
  • Greg Goode Robert _ pre-Tibetan as in pre-Tsong-kha-pa. You know about his and the Gelugs' emphasis on conventional existence which is affirmed, and inherent existence, which is refuted.

    Some folks charge that this is too much existence even though it is laboriously explained as nominal only.

    Even within Grlug monastic training, the conventional/inherent distinction is so hard to grasp that it's almost easier to realize emptiness first! Then it is easier to grasp that distinction.

    That distinction is not found in Nagarjuna and the other Indian Madhyamikas. Conventional and ultimate truth, yes. But Nagarjuna didn't talk about conventional vs inherent existence.

    The Gelugs are very serious about conventional existence and the valid establishment of conventional truths.

    I could go into lots of technical details but that is a quick overview....
    3 hrs · Like · 3
  • Robert Dominik Thank you for your clarification. I didn't know this was the context of that statement I only heard some pretty basic stuff about Gelugs so you might go to into details but maybe make a different thread in order to do so
  • Dannon Flynn Vajrayana agrees with Nagarjuna's emptiness, but says that it is still an intellectual understanding. They also say that emptiness is inherently blissful, joyful, compassionate, and lucidly aware. I may be misunderstanding Mahayana view, but for Mahayana this is straying into inherent views and bare emptiness is the highest realization while in Vajrayana it is the union of emptiness and bliss/compassion beyond intellectual that is the highest realization. I have heard this from many Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachers. Yet they say that it is not straying into inherent views, that it is the true realization of madhyamaka.
  • Dannon Flynn I have no knowledge of the Gelug schools but I am referring to Nyingma and Kagyu.
  • Kyle Dixon The Madhyamaka praxis as outlined by Nāgārjuna, if left as an intellectual and analytical method is certainly merely intellectual, as anything would be. But the point is undoubtedly to apply that method in order to have a direct and non-conceptual realization, and this is of course Nāgārjuna's directive in teaching the path he did.

    I would say Mahāyāna also contends that one's nature implies bliss, joy, compassion etc., though because it is also the cessation of affliction. Some texts also simply describe that nature as 'peace' because it is free from arising and cessation. I don't think either are asserting that these are inherent views though, these are merely terms which are describing the qualities of that release or unbinding. Much like when releasing a tightly clenched fist there is an ease, an absence of tension, a relief etc. If you had been holding that fist for quite some time you might even describe that release of tension as blissful and joyous.

    I suspect you may be confusing with Mahāyāna the Śrāvakayāna though. For Vajrayāna is itself a part of Mahāyāna, and the Mahāyāna is the teaching of the bodhisattva.

    Take this from Nāgārjuna for example, from his Bodhisambharaka:

    "Since [prajñāpāramitā] is the mother of Bodhisattvas it is also the mother of Buddhas. Prajñāpāramitā is the foremost collection for enlightenment. Prajñāpāramitā is the mother of Bodhisattvas, skill in means is their father, and compassion is their daughter. Generosity, morality, patience, energy, dhyāna and the [other pāramitās] beyond these five are all due to prajñā. Prajñāpāramitā comprises them all. Great compassion penetrates into the marrow of the bone. It is the support of all living beings. Like [the love of a] father for his only son, the tenderness [of a Buddha] is all-pervasive. If one thinks of the Buddha's virtues and listens to [accounts of] the miracles of the Buddha, [this creates] love, joy, a feeling [of happiness], and purity. This is called great joy."
    2 hrs · Like · 1
  • Kyle Dixon Also, I have not seen Vajrayāna state that emptiness is lucidly aware, as if emptiness is a quality which can possess lucidity or awareness. Emptiness is only the lack of inherency of that which is empty, so for example; lucidity would be empty, or awareness would be empty, but emptiness itself isn't a quality which can perform functions or have attributes like lucidity or awareness.

    Vajrayāna does indeed state that emptiness is inseparable from lucidity, inseparable from clarity etc., when addressing the nature of mind or phenomena. Clarity can be cognition, or it can also represent appearance, so in that sense yes emptiness is always the emptiness of these 'things'. When we are realizing emptiness we are realizing the emptiness of appearances, or the emptiness of our own mind or cognizance i.e. clarity. In this way, stating that emptiness and appearances, or emptiness and clarity, emptiness and rigpa [rig stong] etc., are inseparable, is merely stating that emptiness is not found apart from these things, and those things are themselves empty.
    2 hrs · Like · 1
  • 0 Responses