Sonam Thakchoe (The Two Truths Debate: Tsongkhapa and Gorampa on the Middle Way):

"Tsongkhapa regards the nondual realization of ultimate truth as an epistemic event... ...Tsongkhapa does not hold the achievement of nondual wisdom as equivalent to the cessation of cognitive activity...

Tsongkhapa's description of the way the meditator arrives at nondual understanding is as follows. The cognitive agent experiences a fusion of subjectivity and its object, which refer here not to self and outside world but rather to elements within the meditator's own psychophysical aggregates. The meditator remains introspective, not engaging the outside world, but the outside world as such does not disappear. What occurs is instead a total cessation of the dualities between subject I and object mine, between thinker and thought, between feeler and feelings, between mind and body, between seeing and seen, and so forth. Initially a meditator perceives, for instance, that in each act of seeing, two factors are always present: the object seen and the act of seeing it. While each single act of seeing involves dissolution, the object seen and the act of seeing actually consist of numerous physical and mental processes that are seen to dissolve serially and successively. Eventually, the meditator also notices the dissolution of the dissolution itself.

In other words, the meditator first realizes the fluctuating and transitory character of the five aggregates, which is then followed by further realization of the aggregates as empty and selfless, and finally by the realization of the emptiness of even the empty and selfless phenomena. Nondual knowledge is thus arrived at, in Tsongkhapa's view, through the direct experience of seeing the truths within one's own aggregates, rather than being convinced of the truth of certain abstractions through rational argument or persuasion. Since the process here is a cognitive experience that operates entirely within the domain of one's psychophysical aggregates, it is therefore an epistemic but not a metaphysical nonduality.

This is how, according to Tsongkhapa, an arya has direct nonconceptual and nondual access to the transcendent nature of his own five psychophysical aggregates during meditative equipoise. In the wake of meditative equipoise, an arya engages with dualistic worldly activities, such as taking part in philosophical discourse, practicing different social conventions, and so on. The arya will thus make use of socio-linguistic conventions, but since the arya has eradicated all reifying tendencies, even these worldly dualistic engagements will be seen as consistent with nondual wisdom. Both non-dual and dual wisdoms, especially in the case of a buddha, Tsongkhapa argues, are fully commensurate."

"Both Tsong khapa and Go rampa describe non-dual knowledge as being like a process of mixing water. They argue that the fusion between subjectivity and objectivity, from the meditator's point of view, reaches its climax in their non-dual state in a way that is like mixing clean water from two different jars by pouring it all into one jar. Tsong khapa for example argues: "from the vantage point of the wisdom that directly realises ultimate reality, there is not even the slightest duality between object and the object-possessing consciousness. Like mixing water with water, [yogi] dwells in the meditative equipoise".' Tsongkhapa insists, however, that this metaphor should not be taken too far or too literally. It refers only to the cognitive process that occurs in total dissolution, and to the experience associated with that process, and must not be taken to represent the achivement of a metaphysical unity."

“So, as far as Tsong khapa is concerned, there is no contradiction in claiming that, from the empirical standpoint, on the one hand, non-dual wisdom constitutes the subjective pole of consciousnesses with ultimate truth as its objective counterpart; from the ultimate vantage point, on the other hand, non-dual wisdom and ultimate truth, "are free from the duality of act (bya ba) and object acted upon (byed pa)".

In the non-dual state, even the cognitive interplay between subject and object appears, from the meditator's point of view, completely to cease. This is because, as Tsong khapa points out, "duality of act and object acted upon is posited strictly from the perspective of empirical cognition".

Although the dual appearances of subject and object completely dissolve from the perspective of non-dual wisdom, and thus the meditator does not experience the mutual interaction between distinct and separate elements—between the seer and the seen—the meditator nonetheless engages in an act of 'mere seeing'. As the Buddha explains to Bahiya:

In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the
heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In
reference to the cognised, only the cognised. That is how you should
train yourself [Ud I. 10]... then Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that.
When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there
is no you there, you are neither here not yonder nor between the two.
This, just this, is the end of stress [Ud I. 101.

The experience of 'mere seeing' in a non-dual form is valid only when it is empirically grounded and when there is cognitive activity occurring between non-dual wisdom and non-dual ultimate truth.”

"Although all empirically given truths such as the aggregate of form, feelings etc., are contingently produced and have diverse conventional characters, all of them, according to Tsong khapa, are ultimately empty of the inherent arising. They share the universal characteristic (ro gcig, eka-rasa), literally, the same 'taste'. The Buddha, for example, makes this statement: "just as the great ocean has but one taste, the taste of salt, even so does this dharma and discipline have but one taste, the taste of release" [AN VIII.19].

The Samadhirajasatra (ting nge 'dzin rgyal po'i mdo) tells us: "By knowing one all are known. And by seeing one all are seen. Despite many things are said about [ultimate truth] in the conventional terms, no haughtiness should arise from it",' and furthermore, "Just as you have recognised ('du shes) personality, even so you should apply the same insight with respect to all [phenomena]. All phenomena are of the [same] nature like a clear space".

In the Gaganagamjasamadhi (Nam mkha'i mdzod kyi ting nge 'dzin), it is stated that: "Whoever by meditating on one phenomenon knows all phenomena as apprehensible like illusions and mirages, and knows them as hollow, false and ephemeral will before long reach the summum bonum (snying po) of enlightenment".

And Aryadeva also tells us that "whosoever sees one is said to see all. That which is emptiness of one is the emptiness of all" [VIII:191].

 Referring to this last passage from Aryadeva, Candrakirti has this to say:

The emptiness of the essence of form is itself the emptinesses of the essences of aggregates such as feeling. Similarly, the emptiness of the essence of eye-source is itself the emptinesses of the essences of all twelve sources. Likewise, the emptiness of the essence of eye-constituent is itself the emptinesses of the essences of all eighteen constituents. Equally so are [the emptinesses of the essences of] the infinite categories of things due to the distinct divisions in things, spaces, times and references. For whatever is the emptiness of the essence of one thing, is itself the emptinesses of the essences of all things. In spite of the fact that jars and bowls for example are distinct, space is not distinct. While things such as form are distinct, insofar as they all lack of essential arising of the form etc., they are not distinct. By understanding the lack the essential arising of merely one phenomenon, one understands the lack of the essential arising of all phenomena.'

Since all phenomena are empty of any substance or essence, they are all dependently arisen and relational entities. Tsong khapa agrees.' Yet to endorse the claim that the ultimate nature of all phenomena is fundamentally the same does not, in Tsong khapa's view, make one a monist. While accepting this account of the ultimate nature of things, Tsongkhapa remains committed to a pluralistic view. "A pluralistic view of the world", as Kalupahana puts it, "is not incompatible with dependent arising (pratityasamputpada).

Pluralism in the context of dependent arising does not imply the existence of self-contradictory truths. It need not necessarily lead to a notion of an Absolute that transcends such self-contradictory truths. As far as Tsong khapa is concerned, the ultimate reality of, for instance, the table in front of my eyes, cannot be treated as simply identical with the ultimate reality pertaining to the chair that I am sitting on. The empty table cannot be the taken as identical with the empty chair since the emptiness of the table is constitutive, not only of the empty table, but of the empty conceptual-linguistic conventions imposed upon it as well. Those conventions belong exclusively to the ultimate truth of the table and are not present in the chair.

According to Tsong khapa, however, conceding this much does not prevent one from arguing for the universality of ultimate truth. Just as different objects occupy different spaces, and yet the space those objects occupy has the same 'non-obstructive' characteristic, so the ultimate realities of both table and chair are different, notwithstanding the fact that two ultimate realities have identical natures—they share 'the same taste'. Both of these emptinesses imply insubstantiality and essenceless in the negative sense, as well as dependently arisen and relational nature in the affirmative sense."
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