Monday, February 10, 2020

The true meaning of Unity / Non-duality / Union of opposites - 004

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The true meaning of
“The Union / Coalescence / Non-duality / Unity / Equality … of opposites” [Uopp]

What is the true relation between apparent opposites like Yin & Yang, good & evil, cause & effect, samsara & nirvana, the two truths, relative & absolute, the three spheres (subject, action / relation, object) … Is it true opposition (upholding the difference / separation), or true unity (negating any difference), or both together (a middle), or neither?

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1. THE RECONCILIATION OF OPPOSITES -- UNDER VARIOUS SYNONYMOUS POINTERS

The Middle Way (Madhyamaka) is essentially about resolving the problem of dichotomies / dualities / groups of two or more opposites or items in relation (ex. cause & effect). Or more generally about transcending all of our illusions by seeing through them, seeing where they come from, their true essence & nature & dynamic. This resolution / transcendance of groups of opposites (dualities, triad, quad, etc.) is done, along the path, for more and more subtle dualistic concepts; rarely is it done all of a sudden for all. But, all along the path, dualistic concepts & reasonings are used to progress, until, at the end, all dualistic concepts, views, methods, goals are transcended by directly realising their true essence & nature & dynamic. It is like using fire to fight fire. And “transcending” doesn’t mean to “reject / abandon / negate” leaving nothing / non-existence (that would be too “dualistic” and “nihilistic”); it is about becoming fully aware of their true essence & nature & dynamic while using them as possible imperfect temporary tools to help others still stuck in samsara. A Buddha still use dualistic appearances, concepts, methods & goals to help others in need; but He is not fooled by them; he is not slave to them as we are; He is fully aware of their true essence & nature & dynamic; that gives him incommensurable powers and omniscience. True Nirvana / Enlightenment is not complete cessation / non-existence / rejection of the apparent world, but cessation of the craving, cessation of being slave to these dependently co-arisen relatively functional but empty appearances; freedom thanks to this direct wisdom.

Meanwhile, our flawed conditioned conditioning mental / mind perceives everything in the world in terms of inherently existing entities and opposites / extremes with their middle / opposition / relation: 

Examples of opposites: left vs. center vs. right; top vs. middle vs. bottom; mind vs. matter; before vs. simultaneous vs. after; good vs. bad; best vs. worst; white vs. gray vs. black; master vs. slave; pleasure vs. suffering; desirable vs. undesirable; with vs. without; attraction vs. repulsion; old vs. new; male vs. female; light vs. darkness; right vs. wrong; ignorance vs. wisdom; authentic vs. inauthentic; wholesome vs. unwholesome; virtus vs. non-virtues; affirmation vs. negation; direct vs. indirect; valid vs. invalid; gross vs. subtle; action vs. non-action; inferior vs. average vs. superior; pure vs. impure; perfect vs. imperfect; equal vs. unequal; ordinary vs. divine; existence vs. non-existence; permanence vs. impermanence; eternity vs. annihilation; continuity vs. discontinuity; simultaneous vs. non-simultaneous; real vs. non-real; identity vs. difference; union vs. separation; divided vs. undivided; one vs. two/many; unity vs. multiplicity; both vs. neither; duality vs. non-duality; ordinary vs. being vs. buddha; samsara vs. nirvana; the three times: past vs. present vs. future [3T]; first vs. middle vs. last; positive vs. neutral vs. negative; on vs. off; self vs. other; the three stages of existence: origination / birth / beginning vs. duration / life / middle vs. cessation / death / end [3S]; the three kayas: body / physical vs. speech / conceptual vs. mind / mental [3K]; the three levels of organisation: individual vs. collective vs. universal [3L]; the three spheres: subject vs. action/relation vs. object [3S]; cause vs. causality vs. effect; producer vs. production vs. product; owner vs. owning vs. possessions; perceiver vs. perception vs. perceived; knower vs. cognition vs. known; causality vs. acausality; movement vs. rest; whole vs. parts; characteristic vs. characterised; definition vs. defined; thinking vs. not-thinking; meditation vs. post vs. meditation; analytical vs. meditative; dependent vs. independent; conditioned vs. unconditioned; composite vs. uncomposite; compounded vs. uncompounded; empty vs. non-empty; half vs. full vs. half vs. empty; buddha vs. nature vs. emptiness; the two truths: appearance vs. emptiness [2T]; relative vs. ultimate/absolute; nothing vs. everything; matter vs. antimatter; the three gems: buddha vs. dharma vs. sangha [3G]; conceptual vs. non-conceptual; conceivable vs. inconceivable; view vs. path vs. fruition.

But is reality really like that, or are we imposing this dualistic view on reality? It is by looking deeply into their true essence & nature & dynamic (objects), into the true essence & nature & dynamic of our own mind (subject), and into the relationship between subject & object (action / relation), that we will solve this dilemma, and become free from all illusions / conditioning / karma. That is the goal of the Buddhist path. But, first, concentrate on the apparent opposites, and their true relation.

What we find is that the opposites of any duality / triad / quad / etc, are not really in strict opposition / contradictory in absolute terms, just relatively / conventionally / inter-subjectively. There are not inherently existing opposites & relation / opposition; and they are not existing independently of the mind / subject merely labelling / imputing / conceptualising them in dependence of his/her past / conditioning / karma. Their true relation is much more subtle, inconceivable. We cannot say what it is because it is beyond dualistic concepts, but we can say “what it is not” using the tetralemma, and we can “use dualistic concepts to point to it” (or more like “use dualistic antidote-concepts to point away from all extreme positions about the duality / dichotomy / group of opposites'').

In the multitude of Buddhist teachings (specially those of the Middle Way), various concept-pointers have been used to point to the true relationship between opposites. Ex. “Union / Coalescence / Inseparability / Indivisibility / Interdependence / Co-dependence / Co-definition / Co-relativity / Co-emergence / Co-evolution / Co-cessation / Harmony / Equality / Non-duality / Oneness ...” of opposites. But all of those concepts are themselves dualistic concepts (one extreme of a duality) and cannot really describe what is beyond all concepts / dualities / opposites / extremes & middle; they are just pointers and antidotes. Like a finger pointing at the moon, which is not the moon itself; or like a sign pointing away from an extreme danger (Go this way until the next sign!). These particular words have been chosen to represent the “inconceivable true relationship between opposites” because they are antidotes to our usual extreme positions. Example, we usually think opposites, like good & evil, are mutually exclusive, different, separate, dual, unequal ..., and that we have to choose between them (or sometimes to choose both, or neither). The first antidote is to say that they are more like “inseparable, identical, non-dual, equal …” This keeps us away from our usual extreme position. But, if someone jump from one extreme position to another extreme position and think, for example, that the opposites of a duality are “really the same, identical, equal, one, non-dual … “ then he is in a worst situation than before, because now he has lost the capacity to differentiate between what is good and what is bad for him relatively / conventionally / inter-sujectively. He has fallen into nihilism / non-discrimination / non-thinking / non-action … For this worst case, the next solution is to use the opposite antidote, the various reasonings supporting the opposite position, etc., until he can realise that all positions / extremes are flawed and need to be transcended together. That is the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle, with nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do in absolute terms, just relatively / conventionally / inter-subjectively. It is about using temporary imperfect relative adapted skillful means / antidotes until one can transcend them all with direct wisdom.

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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 (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, 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);
they 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; 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 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 / 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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(i.e. Logic: Union of two opposites [Uopp] or Union of the Two Truths about two opposites [U2T-opp], ex.
Union of left & right [Uopp], or Union of the Two Truths about left & right [U2T-opp],
Union of bad & good [Uopp], or Union of the Two Truths about bad & good [U2T-opp],
Union of impure & pure [Uopp], or Union of the Two Truths about impure & pure [U2T-opp],
Union of samsara & nirvana [Uopp], or Union of the Two Truths about samsara & nirvana [U2T-opp],
Union of reflections & mirror [Uopp], or Union of the Two Truths about reflections & mirror [U2T-opp],
Union of waves & ocean [Uopp], or Union of the Two Truths about waves & ocean [U2T-opp],
Union of clouds & sky [Uopp], or Union of the Two Truths about clouds & sky [U2T-opp],
Union of parts & whole [Uopp], or Union of the Two Truths about parts & whole [U2T-opp],
Union of things & space [Uopp], or Union of the Two Truths about things & space [U2T-opp],
Union of 1st truth / dependent origination & 2nd truth / emptiness of inherent existence [Uopp-2T], or Union of the Two Truths about the two truths [U2T-2T]:
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{The apparent opposites in any duality / triad / quad / etc.  -- ex. left vs. right, pure vs. impure, samsara vs. nirvana, the three spheres, reflection & mirror, the two truths themselves, etc. -- are like an inconceivable Union of being empty of inherent existence (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, 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);
they 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; 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 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 / 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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2. THE NON-DUAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OPPOSITES

The “inconceivable true relationship between opposites” becomes more clear when we use the tetralemma to describe it (or to describe what it is NOT; to point away from all extremes & middle). This is what helps to get free from all extremes & middle.

The Middle Way free from the four extreme positions about any duality:
1) Not accepting one side and rejecting the other(s), 2) not vice versa,
3) not accepting both sides / all, 4) not rejecting all sides (accepting neither).

ex. Something is 1) not bad in absolute terms, 2) not good in absolute terms, 3) not both good & bad together,
4) not neither good nor bad (just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively).

ex. Opposites are 1) not different / separate / two / dual in absolute terms,
2) not identical / united / one / non-dual in absolute terms,
3) not both together, 4) not neither (just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively);

1) not inherently existent, 2) not completely non-existent,
3) not both together, 4) not neither; (just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively),
Even the Two Truths, or the three spheres.

Everything is 1) not impermanent / continuous / eternal in absolute terms,
2) not permanent / discontinuous / annihilated in absolute terms,,
3) not both together, 4) not neither; (just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively).

ex. Everything is 1) not this, 2) not non-this, 3) not both together, 4) not neither. (whatever “this” is)

This can be easily generalised for groups of more than 2 opposites: triads, quads, etc.

Reasoning: Because everything is empty of inherent existence (or Union of the Two Truths - U2T) ==> then everything is always: not this, not non-this, not both together, not neither, and there is no other possibility (tetralemma). Meaning the true nature of anything & everything is indescribable, inconceivable for our flawed conditioned conceptual dualistic mental. We can only say “what it is not” in order to stay away from all extremes & middle, clearing the place for a possible spontaneous non-conceptual non-dualistic direct realisation of the true essence & nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now.

Ex. opposites are always :

  • not different / unequal / divisible, not identical / equal / the same / indivisible, not both together, not neither; but we stress the “not different / unequal / divisible” in order to fight our usual extreme position: thinking they are absolutely / inherently “different / unequal / divisible”. And instead of using the negative form “not different / unequal / divisible”, we use the positive form “Identity / Equality / Indivisibility of opposites”. But it is important to remember that they are “not identical / equal / the same / indivisible” in absolute terms either; not both; not neither. These extreme positions are also refuted with the tetralemma. Saying that they are “identical / equal / indivisible” is just part of an imperfect temporary antidote / adapted skillful means to counteract the dualistic tendencies of our mind. Grasping at the antidote makes it turn into poison. The ultimate solution is to stay away from all extremes & middle (the both, neither positions) even about all extremes & middle: those of the original duality, and those of the antidotes. It is a limitless recursive process because it is about deconditioning our mind that has created a whole complex universe using recursively a simple dualistic scheme again and again. It is about deconstructing this illusory universe brick by brick, or duality by duality, in the reverse order of its fabrication; or until we get the whole idea and can jump to the conclusion.

  • not separate, not non-separate / united, not both neither, not neither; but we stress the “not separate” in order to fight our usual extreme position: thinking they are absolutely / inherently “separate”. And instead of using the negative form “not separate”, we use the positive form “Inseparability / Union of opposites”. But it is important to remember that they are “not non-separate / united” in absolute terms either; not both; not neither. These extreme positions are also refuted with the tetralemma. Saying that they are “inseparable / united” is just part of an imperfect temporary antidote / adapted skillful means to counteract the dualistic tendencies of our mind. Grasping at the antidote makes it turn into poison. The ultimate solution is to stay away from all extremes & middle (the both, neither positions) even about all extremes & middle: those of the original duality, and those of the antidotes.

  • not many / two / dual, not unity / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither; but we stress the “not many / dual” in order to fight our usual extreme position: thinking they are absolutely / inherently “many / dual”. And instead of using the negative form “not many / dual”, we use the positive form “Unity / Oneness / Non-duality of opposites”. But it is important to remember that they are “not Unity / One / Non-dual” in absolute terms either; not both; not neither. These extreme positions are also refuted with the tetralemma. Saying that they are “Unity / One / Non-dual” is just part of an imperfect temporary antidote / adapted skillful means to counteract the dualistic tendencies of our mind. Grasping at the antidote makes it turn into poison. The ultimate solution is to stay away from all extremes & middle (the both, neither positions) even about all extremes & middle: those of the original duality, and those of the antidotes.

  • not independent / non-coalescent, not interdependent / coalescent, not both neither, not neither; but we stress the “not independent / non-coalescent” in order to fight our usual extreme position: thinking they are absolutely / inherently “independent / non-coalescent”. And instead of using the negative form “not independent / non-coalescent”, we use the positive form “Interdependence / Coalescence of opposites”. But it is important to remember that they are “not interdependent / coalescent” in absolute terms either; not both; not neither. These extreme positions are also refuted with the tetralemma. Saying that they are “interdependent / coalescent” is just part of an imperfect temporary antidote / adapted skillful means to counteract the dualistic tendencies of our mind. Grasping at the antidote makes it turn into poison. The ultimate solution is to stay away from all extremes & middle (the both, neither positions) even about all extremes & middle: those of the original duality, and those of the antidotes.

Résumé: So we say that the “inconceivable true relationship between opposites'' is more like a “Union / Coalescence / Inseparability / Indivisibility / Interdependence / Co-dependence / Co-definition / Co-relativity / Co-emergence / Co-evolution / Co-cessation / Harmony / Equality / Non-duality / Oneness ...” -- but in the non-dual sense of all of those terms -- using the tetralemma: not this, not non-this, not both together, not neither. Ex. Opposites are not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Opposites are not existent, not non-existent, not both together, not neither. This works with any dualistic qualifier or pointer. We use antidote-dualistic-pointer-concepts to point to the inconceivable true nature of Reality; and use the tetralemma to refute all extremes & middle views that might occur.

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3. UNION / COALESCENCE … OF OPPOSITES [Uopp / U2T-opp]

ANIMATED 3D DOUBLE YIN-YANG:

No concept, symbol, picture can describe “IT”; but this one is nice.

The Inconceivable Non-conceptual Unity / Coalescence / Non-duality / UNION OF OPPOSITES [Uopp]:

“Union / Coalescence / inseparability / indivisibility / interdependence / co-dependence / co-definition / co-relativity / co-emergence / Co-evolution / Co-cessation / Harmony / Equality / Non-duality / Oneness ...” of opposites in any duality / triad / quad / etc.
The opposites are like a

“Union / Coalescence …” of being co-dependent with each other (T1) <==> thus empty of inherent existence (T2). [U2T-opp]

The Union of opposites is this: [Uopp] / [U2T-opp]:

Opposites in any duality / triad / quad / etc., are NOT really different / separate / independent / inherent entities that meet once in a while to oppose each other, nor are they identical / the same / one ...,

[U2T-opp / U2T-opp:] but are more like a UNION OF {being inseparable (one cannot exist without the other(s) / interdependent (one implies the other(s)) / co-defined (one is defined with the other(s)) / co-relative / CO-DEPENDENT / co-emergent / co-evolving / co-ceasing or co-transcended / in harmony / equal / non-dual / one (but in the non-dual sense of those terms, using the tetralemma for each) (1st truth -- not complete non-existence)} <==> {and being EMPTY OF INHERENT EXISTENCE (2nd truth -- not real existence)}; one aspect / truth implies the other (<==>);

like illusions / reflections / mirages / clouds / waves / dreams; like transparent;

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[U3S-opp:] they are objects co-dependent with the subject, merely labelled / imputed / conceptualised by the subject / mind(s) in co-dependence with its past / conditioning / karma.

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[U2T-opp:] They are empty of inherent existence (2nd truth), but still conventionally dependently co-arisen & relatively functional appearances (1st truth); conventionally dependently co-arisen & relatively functional appearances (1st truth), but still empty of inherent existence (2nd truth). One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>).
Reasoning notation: Union dependent co-origination <==> emptiness of inherent existence. One implies the other (<==>).

-

Because they are empty of inherent existence (or because they are a Union of the Two Truth), then they have no real three stages of becoming / time: i) origination / birth / beginning / before / past, ii) duration / life / change / middle / during / present, iii) cessation / death / ending / after / future. And there is no permanence / continuity / eternity, no impermanence / discontinuity / annihilation between one moment and the next about anything, between rebirths, and between samsara & nirvana.

Reasoning notation: Union [Union dependent origination <==> emptiness of inherent existence] <==> (no real origination, duration, cessation). One implies the other (<==>).

-

[Tetralemma:] And, using the tetralemma, because they are empty of inherent existence (or because they are a Union of the Two Truth), they are not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both, not neither; not existent, not non-existent, not both, not neither; not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not both together, not neither; not this/that, not non-this / nor-that, not both together, not neither.

Reasoning notation: Union [Union dependent origination <==> emptiness of inherent existence] <==> tetralemma. One implies the other (<==>).

-

This is the MIDDLE WAY free from all extremes & middle; extremes like: realism / existence / dependent-origination-only (self-existence, other-existence, or both together, or neither), nihilism / non-existence / emptiness-only, dualism / both together existence & non-existence or the two truths together, monism / neither existence nor non-existence or neither truths; or extremes like subjectivism / subject-only, objectivism / object-only, relationism / relation-only / processism / process-only / actionism / action-only, a combination of them, neither of them. Free from all extremes & middle defined in relation to any group of opposites / dualities / triad / quads / etc. Meaning their true nature cannot be described by any of those extremes views.

-

So, because they are empty of inherent existence (or because they are a Union of the Two Truth), 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 / subjectively, if it helps someone to get closer to the inconceivable Truth about the true nature of Reality, about the Ground. So we say that everything is already equal, pure, perfect, divine here & now. That is the Buddha-nature about anything & everything. Everything is a Buddhaverse.

Reasoning notation: Union [Union dependent origination <==> emptiness of inherent existence] <==> Middle Way free from all extremes & middle: nothing to accept nothing to reject. One implies the other (<==>).

 

Notation: Union / Coalescence of opposites [Uopp], ex.

  • Union / Coalescence ... of left / good / light <==> right / bad / darkness [Uopp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of dependence <==> independence [Uopp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of identity <==> difference [Uopp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of existence <==> non-existence [Uopp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of conditioned / composite <==> unconditioned / uncomposite [Uopp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of samsara / bounded <==> nirvana / liberated [Uopp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of body / physical <==> speech / conceptual <==> mind / mental [Uopp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of nirmanakaya <==> sambhogakaya <==> dharmakaya [Uopp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of Sangha <==> Dharma <==> Buddha [Uopp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of past / before <==> present / during <==> future / after [Uopp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of cause / producer <==> causality / production <==> effect / product [Uopp].

  • Union / Coalescence of causal /synchronous relations / laws <==> entities / matter-energy <==> space <==> time.

“Union” & the symbol “<==>” means that one opposite implies the other(s); one cannot exist without the other(s); they are inseparable, indivisible, interdependent, co-dependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing, co-transcended by realising their true nature & relationship. 

They are a Union of being co-dependent [T1] <==> and empty of inherent existence [T2] [U2T-opp].

PRACTICING THIS: It is by verifying this with multiple examples again and again, ex. using the groups of opposites mentioned above, that we gain certainty about this Union / Coalescence of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp]. That is part of the training on the path. Many Mahayana Middle Way Buddhist Teachings are exactly about this subject: demonstrating the Union / Coalescence of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp], including the Union of the Two Truths [U2T], the Union of the three spheres [U3S], the Union of ordinary beings & Buddha [Uopp], the Union of samsara & nirvana [Uopp]

Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarikas covers a lot of those dualities / triads / quads / etc.

Ex. subject-action/relation-object, cause-causality-effect, self-caused-other-caused, self-existence-other-existence,
actor-action(physical, conceptual or mental)-result, goer-going-destination, perceiver-perception-perceived,
knower-cognition-known, irreducible-elements-composing-aggregates, characteristic-characterising-characterised,
subject-desiring-object, producer-producing-product, owner-owning-possession, acquirer-acquiring-acquisition,
origination-duration-cessation, past-present-future, happiness-suffering, bounded-released, pure-impure, right-wrong,
separateness-concomitance, differentness-identity/sameness, unification-separation, continuity-discontinuity, eternity-annihilation,
fire-kindling, within-without, light-darkness, individual-collective-universal, existence-non-existence, real-non-real, being-non-being,
actual-not-actual, the-two-truths, samsara-nirvana, truth-falsehood, dependence-independence, empty-non-empty, the-12-links, …

See also Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra - 'The Teaching of Vimalakirti,' or 'The Reconciliation of Dichotomies,' or even 'Section of the Inconceivable Liberation.' translated by Robert A. F. Thurman. Chapter 9 - The Dharma-door of Non-duality … which covers those dualities / triads / quads / etc.:

1. origination/production/birth-duration/life-cessation/destruction/death, 2. I/possessor-mine/possession,

3. defilement-purification, 4. distraction-attention, 5. Bodhisattva-spirit-and-disciple-spirit, 6. grasping-non-grasping,

7. Uniqueness-characterlessness or discrimination-non-discrimination or oneness-manyness,

8. good-evil, 9. sinfulness-sinlessness or morality-immorality, 10. impure-immaculate or purity-impurity, 11. happiness-suffering/misery, 12. mundane-transcendent, 13. life-liberation or samsara-nirvana, 14. indestructible/permanent-destructible/impermanent,

15. self-no-self/selflessness, 16. knowledge/wisdom-ignorance, 17. the-two-truths or the-5-aggregates-emptiness,

18. elements or laws-matter-space-time, 19. eye-form … or perceiver-perception-perceived,

20. generosity/virtues-goal/omniscience or view-path-fruition, 21. voidness-signlessness-wishlessness or the-three-marks,

22. buddha-dharma-sangha, 23. existence-non-existence or aggregates-cessation-of-aggregates,

24. three-vajras or body/physical-speech/conceptua/verbal-mind/mental,

25. inferior-average-superior-actions or negative-neutral-positive-actions or meritorious-neutral-sinful,

26. all-dualies-in-general, 27. acceptation-rejection, 28. light-darkness, 29. detest-rejoice or samsara-nirvana, 30. good-bad-paths,

31. true-false, 32. duality-non-duality, 33. movement-stillness or action-non-action or thinking-non-thinking or speech-no-speech.

Mipham’s teachings are also pretty much about the reconciliation of all kinds of dichotomies / apparent oppositions.

The conclusion is always the same: the apparent opposites are inseparable / indivisible / interdependent / [Uopp] / ...
Union of being dependently co-arisen [T1] <==> thus empty of inherent existence [T2] [U2T-opp];

  • opposites are merely labelled / imputed / conceptualised by the subject / mind [U3S] in dependence of its past / conditioning / karma; like illusions …;

  • they are not existent / something, not non-existent / nothing, not both together, not neither;

  • not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither;

  • not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not permanent / continuous / eternal, not both together, not neither;

  • not bad / wrong / impure / imperfect / unequal / ordinary, not good / right / pure / perfect / equal / divine, not both together, not neither;

  • not purely objective, not purely subjective, not purely relational, not both/many together, not neither/none;

  • not dependent, not independent, not both together, not neither; not empty, not non-empty, not both together, not neither;

  • not dependently co-arisen (1st truth), not empty (2nd truth), not both together (two truths together), not neither (rejecting both truths); …

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4. UNION / COALESCENCE … OF THE TWO TRUTHS [U2T / Uopp-2T / U2T-2T]

ANIMATED 3D DOUBLE YIN-YANG:

The Inconceivable Non-conceptual Unity / Coalescence / Non-duality / 

UNION OF THE TWO TRUTHS [U2T]:

All phenomena, including all opposites, the two truths, the three spheres, are like a 

”Union / Coalescence ...” of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth) <==> thus empty of inherent existence (2nd truth),

and vice versa. ex. [U2T-all, U2T-opp, U2T-2T, U2T-3S]. 

Ex. Union dependently arisen self / phenomena / opposites / 2T / 3S
<==> emptiness of the self / of phenomena / of opposites / of 2T / 3S.

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The “two truths” themselves -- dependent origination & emptiness -- can be analysed as any other duality of two apparent opposites. The conclusions are the same as above.

Notation: The Union / Coalescence ... of the Two Truths [U2T] is just one important example of the Union / Coalescence of opposites [Uopp]. If you understand the true nature of opposites and their true relationship, you understand the Nature & Relationship between the Two Truths. In this case, this “Union / Coalescence … ” is the resolution of the apparent dichotomy of the two truths [2T].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances <==> and emptiness [U2T].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of dependently co-arisen relatively functional opposites <==> and emptiness [U2T-opp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of dependently co-arisen relatively functional Two Truths <==> and emptiness [U2T-2T].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of dependently co-arisen relatively functional three spheres <==> and emptiness [U2T-3S].

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5. UNION / COALESCENCE … OF THE THREE SPHERES [U3S / Uopp-3S / U2T-3S]

ANIMATED 3D TRIPLE YIN-YANG:

The Inconceivable Non-conceptual Unity / Coalescence / Non-duality / 

UNION OF THE THREE SPHERES [U3S]:

All phenomena, including opposites, the two truths, the three spheres, are like a

”Union …” of being objects co-dependent / co-evolving with the subject / mind & action / labelling / imputing <==> thus empty,

and vice versa. [U3S & U2T-3S].

Ex. Union subject / perceiver / knower <==> action / relation / perception / cognition <==> object / perceived / known.

Ex. Union subject / owner / acquirer <==> action / relation / owning / acquiring <==> object / possession / acquisition.

Ex. Union subject / actor / producer / cause <==> action / relation / production / causality <==> object / result / product / effect.

Ex. Union subject / characteristic / definition <==> action / relation / characterising / defining <==> object / characterised / defined.

.

The “three spheres” themselves -- subject, relation / action, object -- can be analysed as any other triad of three apparent opposites. The conclusions are the same as above.

Notation: The Union / Coalescence ... of the three spheres [U3S] is just another important example of the Union / Coalescence of opposites [Uopp]. If you understand the true nature of opposites and their true relationship, you understand the Nature & Relationship between the three spheres for any type of actions / relations & objects.

  • Union / Coalescence ... of subject <=> any action / relation <=> any object [U3S], for any type of action / relation / opposition & object.

  • Union / Coalescence ... of subject / perceiver / knower <=> action / relation / perception / cognition <=> object / perceived / known / “the opposites & their relation” [U3S-opp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of subject / perceiver / knower <=> action / relation / perception / cognition <=> object / perceived / known / “the Two Truths & their relation” [U3S-2T].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of subject / perceiver / knower <=> action / relation / perception / cognition <=> object / perceived / known / “the three spheres & their relation” [U3S-3S].

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6. A LESS “NAÏVELY OBJECTIVE” DESCRIPTION OF THE UNION OF OPPOSITES [U3S-opp]

[Description from the object side:] When we describe the “inconceivable true relationship between opposites” as a “Union / Coalescence / Inseparability / Indivisibility / Interdependence / Co-dependence / Co-definition / Co-relativity / Co-emergence / Co-evolution / Co-cessation / Harmony / Equality / Non-duality / Oneness ...” of opposites [Uopp], we give a description of something (the opposites & their relation) as if it was really existing out there by itself, inherently, independently of any subject / observer / perceiver / knower. We describe the relation between inherently existing objects with inherently existing properties; and we do not mention the subject and his/her karma. But all this is also an illusion fabricated by the subject(s).

[Description from the subject side or from the U3S:] As Kant would say (see other post about Kant): we have no knowledge of an independently existing world (objects) out there; we just have what we as observer(s) (subject(s)) perceive (action / relation). All perceived / known objects are perceived / known by imperfect conditioned subject(s) in dependence of his/her/their imperfect conditioned-conditioning (body, speech & mind) x (individual, collective, universal / cosmic), his/her/their conditioned -conditioning / karma. In that sense, the whole perceived / known world is “conditioned -conditioning / karma“ of the (individual <==> collective <==> universal / cosmic). Everything, all objects, co-emerge / co-evolve / co-cease with the subject(s) and the action(s) / relations(s). This co-conditioning / co-evolution is exactly the essence & nature & dynamic of the karmic cycle / samsara. That is the meaning of the “Union / Coalescence / Inseparability / Indivisibility / Interdependence / Co-dependence / Co-definition / Co-relativity / Co-emergence / CO-EVOLUTION / Co-cessation / Harmony / Equality / Non-duality / Oneness ...” of the three spheres: Union subject <==> action / relation <==> object [U3S]. 

“The opposites and their relation / opposition” is just another example of “mental objects” created by our conditioned -conditioning mind(s). They are also merely co-labelled / co-imputed by the mind in co-dependence of its past / conditioning / karma <==> thus are all empty of inherent existence [U2T], and vice versa.

This co-dependent labelling / imputation of the opposites is just another example of the dependent co-origination of all phenomena [T1].

So, the opposites are co-dependent with each other [Uopp]; and as objects they are also co-dependent with the subject / mind merely labelling / imputing / conceptualising (action) them together [U3S]. The three spheres arise together, evolve together, and cease together / are transcended together.

That is why opposites are doubly co-dependent [T1] and doubly empty [T2] -- if that is possible.

But, again this is also just a finger pointing at the moon. All of the terms used should be understood in their non-dual sense using the tetralemma about all of them. The Union of opposites [Uopp] is limitless and centerless, like the Middle Way. There is no “absolute / ultimate” to grasp anywhere anytime about anything; no absolute basis; not even Emptiness, Buddha-nature, Suchness. All is Uopp, U2T, U3S, Middle Way, Tetralemma. Everything is not existent (refuting naïve realism, or the first truth of dependent origination; ex. Buddha-nature alone as the Ultimate), not non-existent (refuting idealism / nihilism, or the second truth of emptiness; ex. Emptiness alone as the Ultimate), not BOTH existent & non-existent together (refuting all forms of dualism, or the two truths together; ex. both Buddha-nature & Emptiness together as the Ultimate), not NEITHER existence nor non-existence (refuting all forms of monism / holism / oneness, or neither of the two truths; ex. a Cosmic Emptiness / Buddha-nature / Oneness / Suchness / Brahman).

  • Union / Coalescence ... of subject / perceiver / knower <=> action / relation / perception / cognition <=> object / perceived / known / “the opposites & their relation” [U3S-opp].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of subject / perceiver / knower <=> action / relation / perception / cognition <=> object / perceived / known / “the Two Truths & their relation” [U3S-2T].

  • Union / Coalescence ... of subject / perceiver / knower <=> action / relation / perception / cognition <=> object / perceived / known / “the three spheres & their relation” [U3S-3S].

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Animated 2D Yin-Yang:

7. DUALISTIC MISINTERPRETATIONS OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OPPOSITES

When it comes to the relationship between opposites, especially between the two truths, a lot of Buddhists still think that the solution is in the BOTH solution, or the NEITHER solution. Ex. phenomena are “both existent and non-existent together” or “neither existent nor non-existent”, opposites (ex. the two truths, or samsara & nirvana, or ordinary sentient beings & Buddha) are “both the same and different together” or “neither the same nor different”. That is because they do not understand / use the tetralemma, the true meaning of Union / Coalescence / Inseparability / Non-duality / Unity / Identity / Equality / Harmony … of opposites [Uopp]. They have stopped thinking after being afraid that the tetralemma is too nihilistic; dualistically concluding that it negates too much. That is far from being the case. The tetralemma is about the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle, with nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do in absolute terms, just relatively / conventionally / inter-subjectively. It says there is nothing inherently existing to accept as absolute [T2], but still doesn’t reject all valid relative / conventional / inter-subjective antidotes / adapted skillful means / truths methods & goals [T1]. [U2T] It is not because everything is “not existent” that they are completely “non-existent” -- that is dualistic thinking. The tetralemma also refute “non-existence”. Also, it is not because everything is “not dual / multiple / separate / different” that everything is “non-dual / one / united / identical”. The tetralemma also refutes that extreme position. And "both" and "neither".

Most mistaken positions in Buddhism are due to dualistically interpreting the Buddha’s teaching, or treating the Ultimate as if it was something out there existing independently of us as observers / subjects. It always comes down to grasping at one extreme position or another about one duality or another. The solution is to become aware of how our mind / mental operates, to identify the opposites and their apparent opposition -- as they arise, and then to remember the “inconceivable true relationship between opposites”, and their relationship with the subject, as taught in this text and in many Buddhist texts. This should help to get free from all extremes and middle about everything. Then, once all the big clouds / extremes are pushed away ..., there is the possible spontaneous non-conceptual non-dualistic direct realisation that the sun / suchness has always been there.

So, just remember: [U2T], [U3S], [Uopp], tetralemma, Middle Way, purity & perfection & equality & divinity ... about everything here & now! And you will find true peace!

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8. CONCLUSION -- THE ULTIMATE VIEW / POINTER

Animated 3D Quadruple Yin-yang:
[The Union / Coalescence / Harmony ... of 

 U2T <==> U3S <==> Uopp <==> Middle Way <==> Tetralemma ...]

When the different concepts-pointers [ex. U2T, U3S, Uopp, Middle Way, tetralemma, Purity & Perfection & Equality & Divinity]

begin to harmonise with each other in our mind,

supporting each other without any contradiction, 

THEN CERTAINTY ARISE, resistance from the conceptual dualistic mental diminish,

leaving room for an individual spontaneous non-conceptual non-dualistic direct perception / realisation / experience

of the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now / Genuine Emptiness / Genuine Buddha-nature / Suchness.

That direct wisdom is unconditioned liberation / enlightenment.

Recursivity: Those different concepts-pointers [ex. U2T, U3S, Uopp, Middle Way, tetralemma ...] are themselves like a

“Union / Coalescence / Inseparability / Indivisibility / Interdependence / Co-dependence / Co-definition / Co-relativity / Co-emergence / Co-evolution / Co-cessation / Harmony / Equality / Non-duality / Oneness ...” of opposites [Uopp].

One implies the others / “<==>”. They are like a.

”Union / Coalescence ...” of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances / tools <==> thus empty of inherent existence, and vice versa. [U2T].

They are like a ”Union …” of being objects co-dependent / co-evolving with the subject / mind & action / labelling / imputing <==> thus empty, and vice versa. [U3S] ...e imp

[Union / Coalescence / compatibility ... of VIEW <==> MEDITATION <==> CONDUCT <==> FRUITION …]

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A RÉSUMÉ OF ALL MADHYAMAKA RESONNINGS:

{Tetralemma <==> Union of the Two Truths (U2T) <==> Union of the three spheres (U3S)

<==> Union of opposites (Uopp) <==> Middle Way Path <==> Fruit.}

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[{A. Tetralemma: Not this/that, not non-this/non-that, not both together, not neither -- for any duality} (can be generalised for groups of more than 2 opposites)

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<==> {B. Vision: Union of the Two Truths (U2T): Union existence in co-dependence (not really non-existent) (1st truth) <==> emptiness of inherent existence (not really existent) (2nd truth)

-- (Note: Something could be co-dependent with its causes and with its effects (if applicable);

co-dependent with its parts and with its wholes (if applicable);

it is always co-dependent with its conceptual opposites or items it is in relation with;

and as an object it is always co-dependent with the subject / mind merely labelling / imputing them all in dependence of its past / conditioning / karma, becoming part of its karma}

.

<==> {C. Vision: Union of the three spheres (U3S): Union subject <==> action / relation <==> object;

ex. Union subject / cause <==> action / relation / causality <==> object / effect;

ex. Union subject / perceiver / knower / acquirer <==> action / relation / perception / cognition <==> object / perceived world / known world;

ex. Union actor / producer / acquirer / past-5-aggregates-karma <==> action / production / acquisition / present-5-aggregates-karma <==> result / product / possession / future-5-aggregates-karma}

.

<==> {D. Vision: Union of opposites (Uopp):

ex. Union opposite-1 <==> opposite-2 …; Union left <==> right; Union top <==> middle <==> bottom;

Union good / pure / positive <==> neutral <==> bad / impure / negative;
Union individual / self <==> collective / other <==> cosmic / one;

Union existence / being <==> non-existence / non-being; Union dependence <==> independence;

Union difference / separation / manyness / duality / non-simultaneity <==> identity / union / oneness / non-duality / simultaneity;

Union permanence / eternity / continuity <==> impermanence / annihilation / discontinuity;

Union origination / birth / coming / beginning <==> duration / live / lasting / continuing
<==> cessation / death / going / ending;

Union past / before <==> present / during <==> future / after}

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<==> {E. The Middle Way Path: freedom from all extremes and middle;

nothing to accept / affirm / do / seek, nothing to reject / negate / not-do / abandon in absolute terms, just relatively / conventionally / inter-subjectively -- as valid or invalid truths, methods & goals;

A path composed of the Union of gradual virtuous methods /antidotes / temporary imperfect adapted skillful means <==> with more and more wisdom / emptiness}

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<==> {F. Fruit / goal: Union perfected virtues (ex. immeasurable loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity …) <==> wisdom / emptiness}.]

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[Where “Union” or “<==>” means: one implies the other(s),

the items are inseparable, interdependent, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing, non-dual / one (in a non-dual sense) <==> thus all empty of inherent existence, and vice versa.

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So each `<==>` denotes a reasoning: if we demonstrate / prove one side, then the other side is automatically demonstrated / proved, because they are inseparable ...]

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That resumes all Madhyamaka reasonings:

{Tetralemma <==> Union of the Two Truths (U2T) <==> Union of the three spheres (U3S)

<==> Union of opposites (Uopp) <==> Middle Way Path <==> Fruit.}

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VIEW: The inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now / suchness / dharmata / dharmadhatu / Genuine Emptiness / Buddha-nature ... cannot be described; it is inconceivable for our flawed conceptual dualistic conditioned mental; it has to be individually / spontaneously / directly perceived / realised / experienced; but we can point to it, and we can say what is is not thus staying away from extreme positions. It is beyond all action & non-action, thinking & non-thinking, conceptualisation & non-conceptualisation, discrimination & non-discrimination; beyond all opposition / duality, causality / dependent origination / laws, forms / matter-energy, space & time. 

We can point to it using concepts like

  • the Union of the Two Truths [U2T]: Union appearance ⇔ emptiness;

  • the Union of the three spheres [U3S]: Union subject ⇔ action / relation ⇔ object;

  • the Union of opposites [Uopp] for any duality / triad / quad / etc.;

  • the tetralemma, generalisable for the opposites of any duality / triad / quad / etc.;

  • the Middle Way: freedom from all extremes and middle, nothing to accept nothing to reject in absolute terms, just relatively / conventionally / inter-subjectively. We can use valid / relative / conventional truths, methods & goals as imperfect temporary adapted skillful means / antidotes; but while being fully aware of their true nature; without grasping at them, without thinking they are inherent / universal / absolute / independent of the subject(s), without becoming slave to them.

In various texts, to describe it, we use concepts like: “pure / pristine”, “equal”, “uncompounded”, “immutable”, “self-arisen”, “primordial”, “basis-of-all / source-of-all”, “fundamental”, “actual / factual”, “all-pervasive”, “basis / basic”, “reality”, “final mode”, “great”, “non-dual / one”, “natural”, “noumenon”, “innate”, “spontaneous”, “clear light”, “compassion”, “emptiness”, “Union”, “first cause”, “final effect” ...; but that is just using dualistic concepts as temporary imperfect antidotes, and to point to its true inconceivable beyond all dualities. But that is never its true nature.

Using the tetralemma, it is more like:

  • not existence / real / factual, not non-existence / non-real / illusory, not both together, not neither;

  • not realism, not nihilism / idealism, not dualism, not monism / holism / oneness;

  • not object /objectivism, not subject / subjectivism / idealism, not both together / dualism, not neither / monism / holism / oneness;

  • not physical / body, not conceptual / speech, not mental / Mind, not two/three of them, not none of them;

  • not differentness / separation / many / duality, not Identity / Sameness / Unity / Union / One / Non-duality, not both together, not neither;

  • not individuality, not collectivity, not universality / Cosmic, not two/three of them, not none of them;

  • not marked / characterised / defined, not Unmarked / uncharacterised / undefined, not both together, not neither;

  • not impurity / unequality, not Purity / Pristineness / Equality, not both together, not neither;

  • not other-caused, not self-caused / Self-arisen, not both together, not neither / uncaused / Spontaneous;

  • not dependent / interdependent / co-dependent / conditioned / composite, not Independent / unconditioned / uncomposite, not both together, not neither;

  • not compoundedness / causality / impermanence / annihilation / discontinuous, no Uncompoundedness / uncausality / permanence / eternity / continuous, not both together, not neither;

  • not first / primordial / basis-of-all, not last / final / ultimate, not in-the-middle, not two/three of them, not none of them;

  • not non-virtuous / suffering, not virtuous / Love / Compassion / Equanimity / Joy / Bliss, not both together, not neither;

  • not non-empty, not empty, not both together, not neither;

  • not relative / conventional, not absolute / universal, not both together, not neither;

  • not imperfect, not great / perfect, not both together, not neither;

  • not dependently co-arisen appearances / basic knowledge, not Emptiness, not the Two Truths together, not neither;

  • not bounded / samsara, not free / nirvana, not both together, not neither;

  • not obscure / darkness, not Clear / Light, not both together, not neither;

  • not temporal, not intemporal, not both together, not neither;

  • not local, not omnipresent / all pervasive, not both together, not neither;

  • not relation, not thing, not space, not time, not few of them together, not all together, not neither / none of them;

  • not this/that, not non-this/non-that, not both together, not neither;

  • not to be accepted / seek, not to be rejected / abandoned, not both together, not neither;

  • not “Something beyond all extremes”, not “Nothingness / Great Emptiness beyond all extremes”, not both together, not neither.

It is beyond all extremes, beyond the two truths, beyond the three spheres of any action / relation, beyond all opposites of any duality / triad / quad / etc. And this doesn’t mean we have to reject / abandon / demonise those, just that we should not grasp at any of them as inherent / universal / absolute / independent of the subject(s). We can still use them as tools while being fully aware of their true nature.

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10. QUOTES

From: The 21 states of Union - Arya Nagarjuna (in Paths and Grounds of Guhyasamaja Tantra):

The 21 states of Union which are included in the two types of Union,

"Union with a factor of abandonment" and "Union with a factor of insight" are:

  • The state of Union of Cyclic Existence (Samsara) and Cessation (Nirvana) [Uopp].

  • The state of Union of the afflicted class of phenomena and the liberated class of phenomena.

  • The state of Union of perceptions of objects with and without aspects.

  • The state of Union of subjective perception and objective phenomena [U3S].

  • The state of Union devoid of Eternalism and Nihilism [Uopp-extremes].

  • The state of Union of Emptiness and Compassion [U2T-Fruition].

  • The state of Union of Method and Wisdom [U2T-Path].

  • The Union of those with and those without remainder.

  • The Union of the two Selflessnesses (emptiness of the self / subject and of phenomena / object).

  • The Union of an Illusory Body and a Clear Light.

  • The Union of Thorough (sudden) and Gradual Dissolutions.

  • The Union of the Two Truths [U2T-View].

  • The Union of entering and emerging from a Meditative Equipoise (Shamata).

  • The Union of sleep and wakefulness [Uopp].

  • The Union of Meditative Equipoise and the post meditational period [Uopp].

  • The Union of mindfulness and forgetfulness [Uopp].

  • The Union of Bliss and Emptiness [U2T-Fruition].

  • The Union of Objects and Action [U3S].

  • The Union of the Generation stage and Completion stage.

  • The Union of Purity and Impurity [Uopp].

  • The Union of those with and without forms [Uopp].

(Note from #4 & #18 we have: Union subject ⇔ action / relation ⇔ object / world [U3S])

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From Mipham’s Dialectics And The Debates On Emptiness - To Be, Not to Be or Neither — by Karma Phuntsho - [Promienie]

Chapter 4 - The Fully Empty “He (Mipham) strongly argued for the interdependent [T1] and the ultimately untenable nature [T2] of dualistic notions (opposites) such as existence and non-existence, production and non-production, empty and non-empty, self and non-self, [investigator / subject,] investigation (action) and the investigated (object) [U2T-opp, U2T-3S] in his commentary on MK, IX/7, BA, IX/111, 141 and Madhyamakalamkara”;

“Therefore, non-existence (one opposite / emptiness / T2) is merely imputed in dependence on existence (the other opposite / dependent originatiion / T1); it does not exist independently by its nature. [U2T-2T]”

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From Mipham’s Gateway to Knowledge - [Promienie]

Freedom from the mental constructs of [opposites like:] permanence and nihilism, going and coming, arising and ceasing and singularity and multiplicity [Uopp] is that things appear [T1] while being devoid of nature [T2]. [U2T]”

See the eight profound topics: ex. “In the true sense, there is no duality of the cultivated (object) and the cultivator (subject) [and of the action / relation / cultivation] [T2], but nominally there is cultivation of the path [T1]. The profound non-duality is to realise that this is a single fact, without contradiction, just as was mentioned above. [Uopp, U2T, U3M, Middle Way]”

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From Journey to Certainty, The Quintessence of the Dzogchen View - An Exploration of Mipham's Beacon of Certainty — by Anyen Rinpoche, translated by Allison Choying Zangmo - [Promienie]

“Thus, we should know that the view of the indivisible wisdom (pure non-dual subject) of great bliss and the empty expanse (pure non-dual object), which we call the dharmadhatu, is the indivisible state of equality in which the knower (subject) and object known (action / relation) are completely beyond all duality [U3S]. This is the unsurpassable defining characteristic of the Indestructible Vehicle of the Secret Mantrayana. There are many synonyms that describe this spontaneously present display of wisdom. It is often referred to as the nature of luminosity, self-arisen wisdom, rigpa, or unobstructed, spontaneously present appearance and emptiness, and so on.”

“From our conventional point of view, samsara and nirvana appear as a dualistic pair. However, their actual way of abiding is free from any dispelling (rejecting) and fixing (accepting), taking up or abandoning [Middle Way]; in this way, we say they are in a spontaneously established state of equality. They are an expression of indivisible wisdom (pure non-dual subject). Therefore, certainty is the key to recognising, experiencing (pure non-dual action / relation), and abiding in indivisible wisdom (pure non-dual subject).”

“None of us are able to abide in indivisible emptiness and appearance [U2T] until we are free from the delusion of duality [Uopp]. Valid cognition is gradually purified based on practice, in the same way a cloud gradually disappears so that the sun nakedly appears in the sky. When the sun appears directly, we experience the pure vision of the noble ones (pure non-dual action / relation / perception).”

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From Mipham On Buddha Nature - The Ground of the Nyingma Tradition, by Douglas S. Duckworth - [Promienie]

“The dialectical unity [Union ...] of presence and absence (not non-existence, not existence, not both toghether, not neither) is a theme that runs through Mipam's works. This central theme can be seen in his treatment of a variety of topics: appearance versus emptiness, authentic versus inauthentic experience, sutra (the last vs. middle "wheels of doctrine"), sastra (Yogacara vs. Prasangika), an ontology of emptiness (other-emptiness vs. self-emptiness), an epistemology of Buddha-nature (extraordinary logic vs. ordinary logic), Mahayoga Tantra (purity vs. equality), and the Great Perfection (spontaneous presence vs. primordial purity). The structure of the chapters follows somewhat of a historical progression of the development of these topics; it can also be seen as a dialectical ascent into a deepening ground of subjectivity (from naïve objectivity to more and more U3S), which in Buddhist terms is expressed as wisdom.”

“In the course of the chapters, we will see that the monistic resolution of duality [Union ... of opposites] is central to Mipam's exegetical system. A common theme in his exegesis is a twofold schema, with an ultimately false dichotomy of two opposed factors and a unified ground [Union ...] that emerges from their dissolution. Two provisionally opposed factors, such as the two truths, samsara and nirvana, self and other, appearance and emptiness, and so on, are resolved in a synthesis [Union ...] in which each of the two distinctions is ultimately untrue, because they are actually indivisible [in Union ...] from the beginning. His manner of representing the indivisible ground [Union ...], however, goes through a virtual "detour" of dichotomisation. Thus, such a system is not a simple monism (or holism or oneness) but is better understood as a dialectical monism (Inconceivable Union / Coalescence of opposites). The detour through ultimately unreal dichotomies is a process that involves everything that falls under the rubric of conventional reality -- all that can be physically acted upon, verbally spoken of, and mentally thought about. In Mipam's depictions of the indivisible ground [Union ...], these provisional divisions are part of a process toward the complete realisation of the single ultimate truth of a unified ground-Buddha-nature. (Buddha-nature as the Union of the Two Truths [U2T]; the same for Genuine Emptiness.)

“Emptiness and appearance are mutually exclusive in the context of conventional valid cognition, but not for wisdom. Wisdom is beyond dichotomies and perceives the unity [Union ...] of appearance and emptiness [U2T].”

Mipam states: "The meaning of unity [Union ...] is the single sphere of equal taste of all dualistic phenomena [U2T, U3S, Uopp, Middle Way, Tetralemma]."

“... the consummate meaning of emptiness (Genuine Emptiness) cannot be known by the mind because it is the domain of wisdom. In this way, emptiness as such is beyond the substance/quality dichotomy; the consummate emptiness is the unity [Union ...] of emptiness and appearance [U2T].”

“... Like emptiness, Buddha-nature is the suchness of reality and the indivisible truth [Union ...] beyond dichotomies [U2T, U3S, Uopp, Middle Way, Tetralemma].

“... Through becoming accustomed to a freedom from constructs, all notions of duality become no longer present (are transcended through direct wisdom; the Middle Way: not accepted, not rejected) as impinging upon the mind”

“Existent entities arise in dependence upon something else; they are dependent arisings.
"Non-entities" like space are also dependent because they are imputed in dependence upon entities [Uopp].
This interdependence does not make phenomena go away, but is the necessary condition for their arising [T1]. Also, this is why phenomena lack any truly established, individual essences [T2].” [U2T]

Mantra is distinguished by means of the subjective manner of experiencing non-duality (U3S). As such, Mantra involves a new ascription of subjectivity (importance of the subject in any action / relation with an object). This wisdom [beyond all dichotomies], as the optimised subjectivity [U3S] that is discovered within, is the unique subject matter of Mantra. … In this way, Mipam portrays suchness as the unity [Union ...] of emptiness and awareness [U2T, U3S, Uopp, Middle Way, Tetralemma]. He affirms again that this is beyond the domain of [dualistic] consciousness and is beyond the mere aspect of the non-existence of mind ( Genuine Emptiness is beyond mere emptiness / mere absence; it is beyond the four extremes: existence, non-existence, both together, neither).”

“In the Bodhipaksanirdesasutra: Manjusri, whoever sees, without duality, the equality of all phenomena as non-dual [Uopp], sees authentically.

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From Mipham’s Beacon of certainty, Illuminating the View of Dzogchen - The Great Perfection, John Whitney Pettit - [Promienie]

It discusses the transcendence of dichotomies like: truth & falsehood, sudden & gradual, self & other, form & emptiness, relative & ultimate, reality & appearance, subject & object, pure & impure, cause & effect, harmony & disharmony, intrinsic & extrinsic …

“Mipham maintains that ultimate reality is beyond the dichotomy of form and emptiness, since these two are themselves only conventionally established [U2T-2T].”

“The point of topic 6 is to show that “experiencing” is ultimately not reducible to subject or object (, or their relation / action), and that reality as coalescence is beyond all dichotomies [U3S / Union of the three spheres, U2T / Union of the Two Truths, Uopp / Union of opposites, Middle Way, Tetralemma].”

“For Mipham emptiness as one aspect of a dichotomy is still a conventional designation; a qualified meditation on the ultimate view must not adhere one-sidedly to it, lest it focus too much on words over meanings, consciousness over gnosis, etc. Thus, the coalescence [Union ...] of form and emptiness [U2T] is just another way of expressing the inseparability of form and emptiness; if the absolute negation of emptiness is an authentic emptiness, it must not be exclusive of appearance. The distinguishing feature of the Prāsaṅgika approach according to Mipham is the non-separation of the two truths [U2T].”

“For Mipham, the emptiness of absolute negation is not definitive because ultimate reality in the definitive non-conceptual sense, as coalescence [U2T / Union of the Two Truths], is not conceptualisable and is not realised without the gradual pacification of all elaborations, which occurs through the application of emptiness to the dichotomy of the two truths, form and emptiness. This means, in effect, to qualify the dichotomy of the two truths of form and emptiness, or appearance and emptiness, in terms of the other two-truth paradigm that Mipham often invokes, namely, the two truths as the concordance or discordance of reality and appearance. Determining emptiness as absolute negation prepares the way for the realisation of coalescence [U2T / Union of the Two Truths], in the concordance of appearance and reality. It is definitive only to the extent that it represents the logical conclusion of Mādhyamika analysis.”

“4.2.2.2.2.3.3.1 Therefore… In dependence upon dichotomising analytical wisdom, non-dichotomising gnosis should be achieved. Therefore, by the causal analytical wisdom of meditative equipoise in the supreme certainty induced through analysis that is free of doubt, the fruitional gnosis of the coalescence [Union ...] of the expanse (pure non-dual object) and awareness (pure non-dual subject) is attained [U3S]. Thus, it is reasonable to persevere in the certainty that is induced by analysis.”

“7.2.4.3.1.1 On the sūtra path, in dependence upon dichotomising analytical wisdom, non-dual gnosis is generated; 7.2.4.3.1.2 on the mantra path, there are many methods that can indicate the essence of gnosis, by means of empowerment and symbolic means; 7.2.4.3.1.3 summarising the two as harmonious [U2T].”

“7.2.4.3.3.2.2.4 The equipoise… The equipoise that is beyond words and thoughts is, as a mere conventionality, said to be “gnosis realised individually.” [In it] the object and subject called “expanse and gnosis,” and “existence and non-existence,” and all such dichotomies, are elaborations that are pacified [Uopp]. The implicative negation that has an apparent aspect, the absolute negation that has no appearance, emptiness, and so forth, are also not imagined in the state of equipoise. If one analyses accordingly, they are not in the slightest bit established [in that context]. Nāgārjuna said: Because I have no negandum, I do not negate anything. Therefore by saying “I negate,” It is you who denigrates. (The Middle Way: nothing to accept / affirm / do, nothing to reject / negate / not-do in absolute terms, just relatively / conventionally / inter-subjectively)

“Wisdom (pure non-dual subject) is the expression of all phenomena (pure non-dual object) in the primordial state of equality [Uopp, U3S]. It is beyond the dichotomy of position (having a position / view in absolute terms) and positionless (having no position at all). All phenomena are included within the two truths, and when we examine their primordial nature, not even one of them can withstand analysis. This is the expression of wisdom that is reliant on mere appearance inseparable from emptiness. [U2T]”

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From Mipham’s Fundamental Mind, The Nyingma View of the Great Completeness, With Practical Commentary by Khetsun Sangpo Rinbochay, Translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins - [Promienie]

“In the entity of suchness there is no duality; it similarly is beyond all dualistic phenomena of object and subject, and so forth (action / relation). [U3S]”

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From Jamgon Mipam - His Life His Teaching, by Douglas Duckworth - [Promienie]

“These three texts elaborate the Yogic Practice School’s view of the three natures and explain the ultimate truth as non-conceptual wisdom free from duality (pure non-dual subject).”

“Thus, there is no duality in reality: the cognitive quality of wisdom (pure non-dual subject) is actually inseparable from the objective expanse of phenomena (pure non-dual object) (and their pure non-dual relation / action).

[Gradually realising the true meaning of Genuine Emptiness / Buddha-nature / Suchness, free from all extremes, using the tetralemma:] “This selection shows Mipam’s explanation of “THE FOUR STAGES OF THE DAWNING OF THE MIDDLE WAY.” It is taken from his overview of Longchenpa’s commentary on the Secret Essence Tantra, and nearly the same words can also be found in his commentary on the Ornament of the Middle Way. This illustrates the importance of this Middle Way view in the contexts of both sutra and tantra. Through a fourfold scheme, he outlines a process for those who progressively engage in the meaning of non-conceptuality through the stages of empty, unity, freedom from constructs, and equality. Beginning with the object of negation, true existence, each of the stages probes deeper into the meaning of emptiness and the Middle Way. The process culminates with equality [Union ...], free from all concepts and dualities, which is beyond all distinctions between sentient beings and buddhas, nirvana and samsara (or any other dichotomy or group of opposites [Uopp]). … Through becoming familiar with such a freedom of constructs again and again, all aspects of dualistic phenomena, in which one sets apart particular objects and their distinctive suchness, are purified. Through bringing forth an exceptional certainty in the nature of all phenomena as equality [Union ...], one reaches completion.”

These four stages -- empty, UNITY/UNION, freedom from constructs, and equality -- counteract respectively the four extremes (the “tetralemma”) of existence, non-existence, both, and neither.
1) The first stage, empty, negates [refutes] the first extreme of “existence”.
This is the most dominant extreme, because we are habituated to conceive things (our self, our things, the world) as truly real. By seeing these as empty, we come to recognise that they do not really exist the way we conceive them to be.
2) The second stage, UNITY/UNION, counteracts [refutes] the second extreme of “non-existence”.
After negating [transcending] the extreme of existence, if we hold on to that absence -- a mere lack of true existence -- we are still in the grips of conceptual constructs, because this absence is wholly dependent on its binary counterpart of true existence [Uopp-existence-non-existence]. If existence were truly something to be negated, its negation as non-existent would be real too. However, since nothing has ever been truly existent, non-existence cannot be real either. This is the reason why even the negation of existence cannot be affirmed. As is the case with the death of a man who was never born, without existence, non-existence cannot be real either.
3) The third stage, freedom from constructs, counteracts [refutes] the third and supposedly more subtle extreme of “both existence and non-existence”.
We might think that since reality is not truly “existent” and not truly “non-existent”, then perhaps it is ”both existent and non-existent together”. However, to both truly exist and truly not exist is a contradiction. Being and non-being, real and unreal, are mutually exclusive; we can only speak meaningfully of one or the other. Of course, we could say that things ultimately do not exist, while conventionally they do, but this is introducing a dichotomy of TWO TRUTHS. Here, we are talking about one truth, how things really are, as the ultimate or true nature of things. In “the way things are in reality, which are ultimate, the way that reality appears to a sublime being’s perception", nothing is both existent and non-existent. …
4) The fourth and last stage, equality, counteracts [refutes] what is said to be the most subtle of the four extremes, that of “neither existence nor non-existence”.
Since things do not really “both exist and not exist”, we might think they ”neither exist nor not exist”. However, this is still bound up within the premises of our conceptual categories. This stage takes us a step further, in a similar way as the move from the first stage to the second (because things do not really exist does not mean they must really be non-existent either): just because things do not ”both exist and not exist” does not mean that they must necessarily “neither exist nor not exist”. This may sound like a contradiction, but it need not be so. The dichotomy of existence and non-existence, the law of non-contradiction, and the excluded middle are products of thought. (the same for any group of opposites: dualities, triads, quads, etc.) They form the framework of our conceptual constructions. Yet even if consistent thought and language must follow these laws, our experience doesn’t need to because it is not necessarily confined to our conceptual structures. By first recognising this experience beyond concepts and becoming accustomed to it, we come to directly experience equality [U2T, U3S, Uopp, Middle Way, Tetralemma]. To know equality [Union ...] is to experience the one taste of all things, where there is no separate self [U3S] or other in samsara or nirvana. [Uopp]

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From Bötrül’s Distinguishing the Views and Philosophies - Illuminating Emptiness in a Twentieth-Century Tibetan Buddhist Classic, by Douglas Duckworth - [Promienie]


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