Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Madhyamaka = Freedom from all extremes & middle - 001

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[Madhyamaka: Middle Way free from all extremes & middle]

SN12.48 - A root sutta about the Middle Way Buddhism
(Madhyamaka in the sense of freedom from all extremes & middle;
nothing to accept  / affirm / do, nothing to reject / negate / not-do in absolute terms,
just relatively / conventionally / intersubjectively)

(About the tetralemma, the Two Truths, the Middle Way,
and a bit about the three worlds -- subject, action / relation, object)




A. Sutta Pitaka SN 12.48: Lokayatika Sutta — The Cosmologist

[From Access to Insight web site:

SN: The Samyutta Nikaya, the third division of the Sutta Pitaka, contains 2,889 suttas grouped into five sections (vaggas). Each vagga is further divided into samyuttas, each of which in turn contains a group of suttas on related topics. The samyuttas are named according to the topics of the suttas they contain.

SN: Samyutta Nikaya (The Grouped Discourses); SN12-21: Nidana Vagga — The Section on Causation;

SN12: Nidana-samyuttaPaticcasamuppada (dependent co-arising); SN 12.48: Lokayatika Sutta — The Cosmologist]

Staying at Savatthi. Then a brahman cosmologist went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One (Buddha),

[QUESTION:] "Now, then, Master Gotama (the Buddha), does everything exist?"

[ANSWER: THERE ARE FOUR EXTREMES about this duality, using the tetralemma: existence, non-existence, both existence and non-existence together, neither existence nor non-existence:]

  1. "'Everything EXISTS' (1) is the senior form of cosmology, brahman."
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    (i.e. The extreme philosophical position of existence -- all forms of realism (realism of entities: subjects, objects & their characteristics, and oppositions / relations / forces / fields / strings / processes ...) / objectivism / materialism / relationism / processism. It could also be representative of the first of the Two Truths: Existence in co-dependence [T1]. There are many forms of interdependencies: ex. co-dependence with the causes & conditions and effect (when applicable); co-dependence with the parts and wholes (when applicable), co-dependence with the conceptual opposites or items in relation (always applicable); and co-dependence with the subject  / mind merely labelling / imputing it in dependence of its past / conditioning / karma (always applicable).)

  2. 'Everything DOES NOT EXIST' (2) is the second form of cosmology, Brahmin.
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    (i.e. The extreme philosophical position of non-existence -- nihilism / all forms of idealism / subjectivism. It could also be representative of the second of the Two Truths: Emptiness of inherent existence [T2].)

  3. 'Everything is a MANYNESS (BOTH TOGETHER (3))' is the fourth form of cosmology, Brahmin.
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    (i.e. The extreme philosophical position of both existence and non-existence together -- all forms of dualism / manyness. It could also be representative of Two Different Truths together [T1 vs. T2]: existence in co-dependence & emptiness of inherent existence.)

  4. 'Everything is a ONENESS (NEITHER (4))' is the third form of cosmology, Brahmin.
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    (i.e. The extreme philosophical position of neither existence nor non-existence -- all forms of monism / holism / radical oneness / God or TOE; opting for just a Big Cosmic Transcendental One from which existence and non-existence could arise as mere appearances. It could also be representative of thinking that the Two Truths are Identical / reducible to One Transcendental Truth [T]: neither existence in co-dependence nor emptiness of inherent existence.)

[THE MIDDLE WAY:] Avoiding these two extremes, (existence vs. non-existence)
the Tathagata (Buddha) teaches the Dharma (to the Sangha) via the middle (i.e. via the Middle Way: Union of the Two Truths [U2T]): ..."

[i.e. via different interpretations of the karmic cycle / the wheel of life / the 12 links of dependent origination both ways ... the different interpretations becoming more and more subtle, combined with more and more wisdom / emptiness;
… using gradual conventional truths methods & goals, without grasping at anything as if inherently existing / universal / absolute / independent of the subject(s);
... via the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] (one implies the other (<==>) ; they are not different / two, not identical / one, not both together, not neither), the Union of the three worlds [U3S], the Union of opposites [Uopp], the tetralemma ...]

[TAKING REFUGE IN THE THREE GEMS:] 

"Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has Master Gotama — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear.

I go to Master Gotama (the Buddha) for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Sangha of monks.

May Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life."

[i.e. Everything is not inherently existent (2nd truth / emptiness), not completely non-existent (1st truth / conventionally dependently co-arisen), not both existent & non-existent together, not neither existent nor non-existent.
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Everything is empty of inherent existence <== because dependently co-arisen, and
everything is dependently co-arisen <== because empty of inherent existence. One truth implies the other (<==>).
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Something could be co-dependent with its causes & conditions, and with its effect (if applicable); with its parts, and with its wholes (if applicable), with its conceptual opposites or items in relation (always applicable); and as an object co-dependent with the subject / mind merely labelling / imputing / conceptualising it in dependence of its past / conditioning / karma (always applicable - the king of co-dependence).
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That is the Middle way free from all extreme philosophical positions & middle like: Realism / Objectivism / Dependent Origination (1st truth), Nihilism / Idealism / Subjectivism / Emptiness (2nd truth), Dualism / Manyness / the Two Different Truths together, Monism / Holism / the Two Truths as One / Identical.]

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B. From Mūlamadhyamakakārikā 25.1-16. [nirvana]

NIRVANA is not an existing thing (1) … 

not a non-existing thing (2) … 

not both an existent and a non-existent thing (3) … 

not neither an existent thing nor a non-existent thing (4) ...

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C. From Mūlamadhyamakakārikā 22.11. (emptiness)

One may not say that there is "EMPTINESS" (sunya) (non-existence - 2)

nor that there is non-emptiness . (existence - 1)"

Nor that both [3 - exist simultaneously],

nor that neither (4) exists;

the purpose for saying ["emptiness"] is for the purpose of conveying knowledge (just another conventional truth, antidote, adapted skillful means).

[i.e. It should be noted that saying "rejecting / staying away from all (four) extremes" is by itself a view / position. So "freedom from all extremes" doesn't mean to reject / abandon / never use the four extremes, no more than accepting them; just that we are never fooled by them thinking they are inherently existing / universal / absolute / existing independently of the subject(s). We could still use them as possible conventional truths / antidotes / temporary imperfect adapted skillful means in certain situations. examples:]

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D. From Nagarjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā - verse 18.8:

  1. EVERYTHING is "actual (or EXISTENT (1))"
    (i.e. Teaching via the thesis, “existence”: Using the thesis: The extreme philosophical position of existence -- all forms of realism (realism of objects / entities / characteristics / relations / forces / fields / strings / processes ...) / objectivism / materialism / relationism / processism. It could also be representative of the first of the Two Truths: existence in CO-DEPENDENCE: co-dependence with its causes & conditions and effect (if applicable); co-dependence with its parts and wholes (if applicable), co-dependence with its opposites or items in relation (always applicable); and as an object co-dependent <==> with the subject / mind merely labelling / imputing it in dependence of its conditioning / karma (always applicable).)

  2. or "not-actual (or NON-EXISTENT (2)),"
    (i.e. Teaching via the antithesis, “non-existence”: Using the antithesis: The extreme philosophical position of non-existence -- nihilism / all forms of idealism / subjectivism. It could also be representative of the second of the Two Truths: EMPTINESS of inherent existence.)

  3. or "BOTH (3) actual-and-not-actual,"
    (i.e. Teaching via “both existence and non-existence”: Accepting both thesis and antithesis as true: the extreme philosophical position of both existence and non-existence together -- all forms of dualism / manyness.It could also be representative of the TWO DIFFERENT TRUTHS TOGETHER: existence in co-dependence & emptiness of inherent existence.)

  4. or "NEITHER (4)-actual-nor-not-actual":
    (i.e. Teaching via “neither existence nor-non-existence”: Rejecting both thesis and antithesis as false: the extreme philosophical position of neither existence nor non-existence -- all forms of monism / holism / radical oneness / God or TOE; opting for just a Big Cosmic Transcendental One from which existence and non-existence could arise as mere appearances. It could also be representative of thinking that the TWO TRUTHS ARE IDENTICAL / REDUCIBLE TO ONE Transcendental Truth: neither existence in co-dependence nor emptiness of inherent existence.)

this is the teaching of the buddha.

[i.e. In the long term, the important point is not better discrimination -- accepting this, rejecting that -- or complete non-discrimination, not conceptualising or complete non-conceptualising, not thinking or complete non-thinking, not doing or complete non-doing, not having a view/path/goal or not-having a view/path/goal; the important point is being fully aware of the true nature of everything -- subject, action / relation, object -- as we use them as simple tools, as we live spontaneously, free from our conditioning / karma (individual, collective, cosmic), in complete inter-being with the whole universe.  And knowing that it is futile / useless to speculate about anything that we will never be able to verify / experiment / refute; ex. any transcendental reality / state.]

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E. From Aryadeva - Four Hundred [verse 195]

  1. Teaching EXISTENCE (1),
    (i.e. Teaching via the thesis, “existence”: Using the thesis: The extreme philosophical position of existence -- all forms of realism (realism of objects / entities / characteristics / relations / forces / fields / strings / processes ...) / objectivism / materialism / relationism / processism. It could also be representative of the first of the Two Truths: existence in co-dependence: co-dependence with its causes & conditions and effect (if applicable); co-dependence with its parts and wholes (if applicable), co-dependence with its opposites or items in relation (always applicable); and as an object co-dependent <==> with the subject / mind merely labelling / imputing it in dependence of its conditioning / karma (always applicable).)

  2. NON-EXISTENCE (2),
    (i.e. Teaching via the antithesis, “non-existence”: Using the antithesis: The extreme philosophical position of non-existence -- nihilism / all forms of idealism / subjectivism. It could also be representative of the second of the Two Truths: Emptiness of inherent existence.)

  3. BOTH (3) EXISTENCE AND NON-EXISTENCE,
    (i.e. Teaching via “both existence and non-existence”: Accepting both thesis and antithesis as true: the extreme philosophical position of both existence and non-existence together -- all forms of dualism / manyness.It could also be representative of the Two Different Truths together: existence in co-dependence & emptiness of inherent existence.)

  4. AND NEITHER (4)
    (i.e. Teaching via “neither existence nor-non-existence”: Rejecting both thesis and antithesis as false: the extreme philosophical position of neither existence nor non-existence -- all forms of monism / holism / radical oneness / God or TOE; opting for just a Big Cosmic Transcendental One from which existence and non-existence could arise as mere appearances. It could also be representative of thinking that the Two Truths are Identical / reducible to One Transcendental Truth: neither existence in co-dependence nor emptiness of inherent existence.)

surely are medicines for all. that are influenced by the sickness.

[i.e. No absolute vision / truths, path / methods, or fruit / goals. Using different gradual temporary imperfect adapted skillful means, antidotes, conventional truths methods & goals,  -- ex. the four extremes -- depending on each case, depending on the conditioning / karma of the individual. Even the Two Truths -- dependent origination and emptiness -- are mere adapted skillful means, complementary antidotes; even the concept of the Union of the Two Truths is only a pointer, a tool. And it would be wrong to think that there is “SOMETHING beyond all extremes”, an inconceivable Reality / State, or a “NOTHINGNESS beyond all extremes”; see Nagarjuna’s 20 emptinesses and Chandrakirti’s commentary.]

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F. From Aryadeva - Four Hundred [verse 287-288]

287.

For the unreceptive, conceptions of A SELF (EXISTENCE (1)) are best;

To teach them SELFLESSNESS / NO-SELF (NON-EXISTENCE (2)) is not.

They would go to bad rebirths,

While the extraordinary attain peace.

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346.

The approach of EXISTENCE (1),

NON-EXISTENCE (2),

BOTH (3) EXISTENCE AND NON-EXISTENCE,

AND NEITHER (4),

Should always be applied by those

With mastery to oneness [i.e. emptiness] and so forth.

 

 

[Note: The four extreme positions and the Middle Way could be generalised to the four possible positions regarding ANY DUALITY: thesis & antithesis (ex. subject <==> object; pure <==> impure; self <==> other; conditioned <==> unconditioned; marked <==> unmarked; dependent <==> independent; empty <==> non-empty; differentness <==> identity, separation <==> concomitance; duality <==> non-duality / oneness; many <==> one; nothing <==> everything; samsara <==> nirvana);

and could be generalised for GROUPS OF MORE THAN TWO OPPOSITES (ex. (i) subject / perceiver / knower / acquirer <==> (ii) action / relation / perception / cognition / acquisition <==> (iii) object / perceived world / know world / possession / karma; body / physical <==> speech / conceptual <==> mind / mental; individual <==> collective <==> cosmic; Buddha <==> Dharma <==> Sangha; the ten directions; (i) causality / correlations / laws / forces / fields <==> (ii) entities / matter-energy <==> (iii) space <==> (iv) time).]

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G. From Lin chi - The Four Distinctions (Using the four extreme positions of the duality subject-object, while being aware of their true nature)

  1. Sometimes I snatch away (REJECT) the person (subject) and save (ACCEPT), or do not snatch away, the object.
    (i.e. Using the second extreme position: accepting one opposite / antithesis (object) and rejecting the thesis (subject) = objectivism / realism (2))

  2. Sometimes I snatch away (REJECT) the object but save (ACCEPT) the person (subject).
    (i.e. Using the first extreme position: accepting the one opposite / thesis (subject) and rejecting the antithesis (object) = subjectivism / idealism (1))

  3. Sometimes I snatch away both (REJECT both) the object and the person (subject).
    (i.e. Using the fourth extreme position: rejecting both opposites: thesis & antithesis, subject & object = monism / onlism / oneness (4))

  4. Sometimes I snatch away neither (ACCEPT both) the person (subject) nor the object.
    (i.e. Using the third extreme position: accepting both opposites: thesis & antithesis, subject & object = dualism (3))

[i.e. So, realizing the Union of the Two Truths, and their true nature ... is FREEDOM FROM ALL EXTREMES & MIDDLE, from all grasping / accepting and fears / rejecting, from being slave to anything; free to use everything as simple tools / antidotes, free to create new tools, views, methods, goals to help others in need depending on their particular situation / conditioning / karma. We have no choice but to develop and use tools / conditioning / karma; but we have the choice of becoming slave to them or not. It is wisdom or ignorance of the true nature of reality, of the karmic cycle, that makes the difference between nirvana and samsara. But even that is just another dualistic pointer; as long as we are aware of this, all is Ok.]

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H. From Song of Precious Mirror Samadhi, by Ch'an Master Tung-shan Liang-chieh

Neither REJECT nor cling (ACCEPT) to words,

Both are wrong; like a ball of fire,

Useful but dangerous

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I. Sutta Pitaka SN1.1: Ogha-tarana Sutra – Crossing over the Flood

[The devata:]

"At long last I see, a Brahmin, totally unbound (free from all extremes),

who without pushing forward (NOT REJECTING),

without staying in place (NOT ACCEPTING),

has crossed over the entanglements of the world. (transcended all illusions / conditioning karma)"


Life is on the razor's edge between order and chaos.

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(i.e. Logic: This résumé of all Madhyamaka reasonings will be useful to analyse this text:
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Union of the Two Truths about any & all dharmas [U2T]:
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{All dharmas are not really different / separate / multiple / dual / in opposition or relation, but are more like an inconceivable Union of being empty of inherent existence [T2] (2nd truth - not real existence) <==> because of being inseparable (one cannot exists without the other), interdependent (one implies the other), co-defined (the definition of one defines the other), co-relative, co-dependent [T1], co-emergent (they arise together), co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended (they cease together), in harmony (not in real opposition), equal / non-dual / one (1st truth - not complete non-existence). All dharmas are like illusions / dreams / reflections / rainbows / like the displays of a magical show or cosmic dance of luminosity; in other words, they are appearing but still empty, empty but still appearing; one aspect / truth implies the other (<==>), one aspect / truth proves the other (<==>). This is the King of reasoning; the Union of the Two Truths. [U2T]}
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<==> {because of that then they have no real three stages of existence: i. origination / beginning / birth / before / past, ii. duration / middle / life / change / during / present, iii. cessation / ending / death / after / future; they have no real parts, or defining characteristics, or three marks, or functional properties, or qualities;
and so they have no permanence / continuity / eternity, no impermanence / discontinuity / annihilation, or any combination of the two, or neither, between one infinitesimal moment and the next one (valid for any thing, any being, any relation / action), or between two consecutive rebirths for beings, or between samsara and nirvana}
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<==> {because of these then they are merely labelled / imputed / conceptualised / categorised / classified by the mind / subject (after the fact) in co-dependence with its conditioning / karma (physical, conceptual, mental; individual, collective, cosmic); in other words, as objects they are inseparable, interdependent, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing, non-dual with the subject / mind -- in the non-dual sense of those terms; ex. subject & object are not different / separate / two / dual / independent, not identical / united / one / non-dual / dependent, not both together, not neither [U3S]}
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<==> {because of these then there is no real difference, separation, opposition, relation, dependence, duality between them…, and no real identity / sameness, unity, equality, non-duality, oneness, independence either; there is no inherent / universal / absolute basis for any discrimination between them (acceptation or rejection) or non-discrimination, action or non-action; ex. it is not about accepting one or few opposite(s) while rejecting the other(s), not about accepting all opposites, not about rejecting all opposites [Uopp]}
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<==> {because of these then they are not 'this', not 'non-this', not both together, not neither (tetralemma) -- and there is no other possibility -- for whatever dualistic concept ‘this’ is --; meaning their true nature is indescribable, inconceivable, beyond all conceptual proliferations, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conditioning / karma; examples, they are
- not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither;
- not inherently existent, not completely non-existent, not both together, not neither;
- not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not both together, not neither;
- not purely objective / physical / body, not purely subjective / mental / mind, not purely relational / process / conceptual / speech, not two or three of them together, not none of them;
- not dependent / caused / produced / functional, not independent / uncaused/spontaneous / unproduced / non-functional, not both together, not neither;
- not other-caused / other-arisen, not self-caused / self-arisen / spontaneous, not both together, not neither;
- not empty, not non-empty, not both together, not neither;
- not dependently co-arisen / interdependent (1st truth), not empty of inherent existence (2nd truth), not both truths together, not neither truth;
- not good / pure / perfect / equal / divine, not bad / impure / imperfect / unequal / ordinary, not both together, not neither;
- not conventional / relative / false, not absolute / universal / true, not both together, not neither;
- not this/that, not non-this/non-that, not both together, not neither.}
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<==> {because of these then we say that they are like transparent, uncompounded, self-arisen, unborn, uncreated, unfabricated, unchanging, unceasing, spontaneous displays of the Ground, unobstructed, infinite, timeless, one in naturelessness, primordially equal, pure, perfect, divine, Buddha-nature, Buddhaverse, Dharmata, Suchness, Trikaya … That is the inconceivable indivisible self-arisen Ground / Basis / Source / Dharmata. With direct wisdom, everything is transcended / purified / self-liberated into this self-arisen timeless equal pure perfect Ground / the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is in the three times.}
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<==> {because of these then the best attitude toward them is the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle;
Extremes like: i) existence / realism, ii) non-existence / nihilism, iii) both together / dualism, iv) neither / monism; or extremes like v) subject-only / mind-only / idealism / subjectivism, vi) object-only / naïve realism / objectivism, vii) relation-only / process-only / action-only / relationism / processism, viii) two or three of them together / pluralism, ix) none to them / monism;
so there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do / perceive / know in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / not-perceive / not-know in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone to get closer to the truth about the true nature of Reality as it is here & now;
so the best attitude is just to let them be, and transcend / purify / self-liberate them by directly perceiving / realising / abiding in their true nature (the Ground); to use them as possible temporary imperfect adapted skillful means while being fully aware of their true essence nature & dynamic, without any fixation / reification, without any illusion about them, without being fooled by them, without any grasping, without any attachment, without any di-vision between subject action & object, without becoming slave to them, while being totally free from them not without them}
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All dharmas are like that. Everything in all Madhyamaka teachings comes down to these reasonings. Together they are like a self-arisen indestructible vajra; one facet supported by the others. Together they point to the Ground, and generate 'certainty' about the view, path and fruition.)


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Other Quotes

From the Prajnaparamita Sutra: 

“How do you perceive reality?”

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-- ... “No, look deeper.”

-- ... “No.”

-- ... “No. Look deeper.”

-- ... “No, that’s too limited an understanding.” ...

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Then Avalokiteshvara proclaimed the pith of the prajnaparamita, the essence of the rug-pulling-out experience, the essence of the fearless, open state of mind. It came in the form of a mantra: 

“OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA.” 

(“OM gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, awake, so be it.”)

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Just as a seed contains the tree, this mantra contains the entire teachings on abiding in prajnaparamita, abiding in the fearless state.

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“Good, good! You expressed it perfectly, Avalokiteshvara.”

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Via: https://www.lionsroar.com/bodhichitta-the-excellence-of-awakened-heart/ 

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(i.e. What is Bodhicitta / Reality?

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Bodhicitta is living with more and more awareness of, more and more in accord with, the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now -- as pointed by the concept of the Union of compassion & emptiness, or the Union of the Two Truths. 

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That is acting while knowing with certainty that everything is like an inconceivable Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth), merely labelled / imputed / conceptualised by the mind <==> and being empty of inherent existence (2nd truth), like illusions / mirages / reflections / dreams. Appearing but empty, empty but still appearing. One aspect / truth implies the other. 

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This Reality or inconceivable Union of the Two Truths is beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual proliferations, beyond all conditioning / karma (physical, conceptual, mental) x (individual, collective, cosmic). "Any conclusions we might draw must be let go."

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It is this direct realisation that brings freedom, fearlessness, great loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity.)

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The supreme thing (i.e. the Union of the Two Truths) ~ Khunu Rinpoche

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The supreme thing to know is bodhicitta.

The supreme thing to learn is bodhicitta.

The supreme thing to practice is bodhicitta.

The supreme thing to meditate on is bodhicitta.

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– Khunu Rinpoche

from the book "Vast As the Heavens, Deep As the Sea: Verses in Praise of Bodhicitta"

Via: https://www.facebook.com/NyingmaGems/photos/a.115646142114410/1477843872561290/ 

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