Thursday, October 29, 2020

Genuine Emptiness / Dharmata - 010


Genuine Emptiness / Dharmata

The Real Ultimate / Dharmata,
Which Is What Appears to the Meditative Equipoise of Āryans
in a Way that Is Devoid of the Proliferations of the Four Extremes]



[Résumé: The ultimate truth / Reality / Ground is not mere emptiness (the mere absence of inherent existence / non-existence), but

  • Genuine Emptiness free from all four extremes,

  • the Buddha-nature free from all extremes & middle,

  • the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle, 

  • the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free from all extremes & middle.

The four extremes, using the tetralemma, are: 

  1. existence / dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances / naïve realism, 

  2. complete non-existence / mere emptiness / nihilism, 

  3. both together / dualism, 

  4. neither / monism / radical oneness.

One must first use logical reasonings to transcend all extreme wrong views, and accumulate merit to diminish the influence of bad habits / karma, and clear the way for a possible spontaneous direct non-conceptual non-dualistic realisation / perception / abiding in the truth nature of Reality as it is here & now / dharmata / Buddha-nature / Genuine Emptiness ...]



Discussion from Facebook:

“Bodhisattvas in the beginning stage first realize that all is empty.

After that, they realize that all is not empty.

This is non discriminatory wisdom.

It is what is meant by the saying that ‘form is emptiness.’

It is not emptiness as annihilation of form; the very essence of form is empty.

The practice of bodhisattvas has emptiness as its realization.

When beginners see emptiness, this is seeing emptiness, it is not real emptiness.

Those who cultivate the Way and attain real emptiness do not see emptiness or non emptiness; they have no views.”


First Answer:

I have read somewhere that there might be 4 stages of wisdom on the path:

  1. First one realises the DEPENDENT ORIGINATION / causality of everything / appearances (the first truth).

  2. Then one realises the EMPTINESS of everything / appearances (the second truth).

  3. Then one realises that emptiness doesn't deny the dependent origination and relative functionality of everything. So he adopts BOTH DEPENDENTLY ARISEN APPEARANCES AND EMPTINESS TOGETHER. Both truths together.

  4. Then one realises that the two aspects / truths are inseparable / NON-DUAL / ONE. So he adopts NEITHER two truths but a transcendental reality that would explain the two truths.

  5. Then, ultimately, one realises that the inconceivable true nature of reality is BEYOND THOSE FOUR EXTREMES and let go of all extreme views.

That is the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle, 

  1. like existence (naïve realism), 

  2. non-existence (nihilism or radical mere emptiness), 

  3. both together (a form of dualism), 

  4. neither (monism or radical oneness).

If I ever find the original source I will post it.


Another Answer:

About what I said above, I think I got this idea from the book "Freedom from Extremes: Gorampa's "Distinguishing the Views" and the Polemics of Emptiness; by Jose Ignacio Cabezon (Author), Geshe Lobsang Dargyay (Author)" 

There is a good explanation of Gorampa's position on this web page: 

Quote: "Most Tibetan Buddhist philosophers agree that the tetralemma is a tool that allows one to realize the ultimate, but they differ in their explanations of the ways in which this tool functions. Gorampa argues that one must negate each of the four extremes in succession by using logic and reasoning, and then one must subsequently realize the negation of all four extremes simultaneously through meditative practices."



Quote From The Book:

“While one is still an ordinary being, one eliminates each of the proliferations of the four extremes one at a time (successively), and then meditates [on each of these individually].

This leads to the emergence of the Mahāyāna path of seeing.

At that time, the proliferations of all four extremes are eliminated (transcended) simultaneously (cig char du) in such a way that the reality (iii. OBJET / REALIZED) that is to be realized and the mind (i. SUBJECT / REALIZER) that realizes (ii. ACTION / RELATION / REALISATION) it does not appear as two distinct things (or as three separate / independent / inherently existing / absolute impure spheres).

The object (iii - Pure Non-dual Object) that manifests itself without proliferations and indivisibly (in UNION) from that mind (i. Pure Non-dual Subject) (and from the ii. Pure Non-dual Action / Relation itself) is given the name “THE ULTIMATE TRUTH”; but at that time, there is no apprehension whatsoever of the fact, “This is the ultimate truth.”

It is intending this that the stainless word [of the Buddha] and its commentarial tradition repeatedly urge us to “see things through the method of not seeing, and perceive things through the method of non-perception.”

(i.e. This is called Pure Non-conceptual Non-dualistic DIRECT PERCEPTION of Reality as it is here & now, without any di-vision between the three spheres: with awareness of the Union of the three spheres; Union subject / perceiver / knower / realizer <==> relation / action / perception / cognition / realization <==> object / perceived / known / realized; or Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres: Union of being dependently co-arisen / co-evolving relatively functional appearances <= => and being empty of inherent existence. Where “Union of opposites” means they are inseparable, interdependent, co-dependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing, non-dual / one, equal, in harmony …; empty because dependently co-arisen, dependently co-arisen because empty; merely labelled / imputed by the mind in accord with its conditioning / karma.)

[Opponent:] Well then, aren’t you contradicting the fact that [in those same texts] emptiness is called “the ultimate truth”?

[Reply:] In general, there are many [uses] of the term “emptiness.”

  1. The two śrāvaka schools use the term “emptiness” to refer to the emptiness of the self of the person, as in the Pramāṇavārttika line that goes, “Because it contradicts the view of emptiness.”

  2. The Cittamātras use the term “emptiness” to refer to the emptiness of the fact that subject and object are empty of being different substances, when that same text says, “Therefore, its non-duality is its reality. (i.e. Union subject <==> object)”

  3. The followers of the Madhyamaka [use the term “emptiness”] in two ways:

    1. they use the term “emptiness” to refer to the mere emptiness of truth, and

    2. they also use the term “emptiness” to refer to the emptiness of the proliferations of the four extremes.

The first [kind of emptiness] is [an object] that is understood in common [by the followers] of all three vehicles (theg pa gsum char).

The latter [—that is, emptiness qua negation of all four extremes—is an object] that is not understood in common, but [is understood] only in the Mahāyāna.

Each [of these kinds of emptiness], as before, has two subdivisions: quasi (rjes mthun pa) and real (mtshan nyid pa.The latter two are accepted as real ultimate truths, for this system accepts that even Hīnayāna āryans understand the ultimate truth. Reality (dharmatā, chos nyid), the sphere of reality (dharmadhātu, chos dbyings), the freedom from proliferations (niṣprapañca, spros bral), and the Union (yuganadha, zung ’jug)—each one of these must be a FORM OF FREEDOM FROM ALL FOUR EXTREMES, for Hīnayanists have not the slightest understanding of any of them.” (whatever we call it, the ultimate truth is free from all four extremes, from all conceptual dualistic views)


“The uninterrupted path of the path of seeing of the Mahāyāna focuses chiefly on the freedom from the proliferations of all four extremes, and that is why it can eliminate all of the obscurations to omniscience. This is the point.”


“Lord, if everything is empty, then does there not follow the absurdity of nihilism?”

The Lord said, “Son of good lineage, a nihilistic view becomes a nihilistic view due to three reasons: 

  1. because it denies the fact that karmic causes and effects exist even conventionally; 

  2. because it is attached only to the side of nonexistence; and 

  3. because it is attached to the word “empty” without understanding the meaning of this profound doctrine.


-- From "Freedom from Extremes: Gorampa's "Distinguishing the Views" and the Polemics of Emptiness; by Jose Ignacio Cabezon (Author), Geshe Lobsang Dargyay (Author)" 




Another Quote (about The Four Stages Of The Dawning Of The Middle Way);
From Jamgon Mipam - His Life His Teaching, by Douglas Duckworth - [Promienie]

  1. “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).”

  2. “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).”

  3. [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, U3W, Uopp, Middle Way, Tetralemma]. To know equality [Union ...] is to experience the one taste of all things, where there is no separate self [U3W] or other in samsara or nirvana. [Uopp]


So directly realizing the Ultimate Truth is directly realizing the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, as pointed by concepts like: The inconceivable Union of the Two Truths; the inconceivable Union of the three spheres; the Unconceivable Union of opposites / Non-duality / Oneness; the Purity / Perfection / Equality / Divinity of everything here & now; the inconceivable Middle Way free from all extremes & middle -- with nothing to accept / affirm / seek nothing to reject / negate / abandon in absolute terms, just relatively / conventionally.


From Aryadeva’s Four Hundred

Verse 195.

Teaching EXISTENCE [or dependent origination, karma, the 12 links, sciences] (1),

NON-EXISTENCE [or emptiness] (2),

BOTH EXISTENCE AND NON-EXISTENCE [or the duality of the two truths] (3),

AND NEITHER [or the unity / oneness of the two truths] (4)

Surely are medicines for all

That is influenced by the sickness (as more and more subtle adapted skillful means).

[But the ultimate Reality / Dharmata is beyond those four positions or extreme views or adapted skillful means. Transcending those four extremes doesn’t mean to completely reject / abandon / negate them, but to realize their true nature, and be able to use them as possible adapted skillful means to help others when required, without becoming slave to them, without grasping them, without thinking they are independent, inherently existing, absolute.]





The View, Practice, Action and Fruit.

The View (Ground), Path (Practice, Action) and Fruition.

Via: Dharma Samye


“First of all sit down in the seven-point posture. Then the master calls to the student and says, ‘Oh good child, is there any watcher (subject) or thing that is watched (object) (or action / watching)? And to where? Or not? You cannot find any object to be watched or a watcher (subject) who watches (relation / action) it.


(i.e. Emptiness of inherent existence of the three spheres (subject / actor / perceiver / knower, relation / action / perception / cognition, object / result / perceived / known) <==> because they are co-dependent with each other, and merely labelled / imputed by the mind. One aspect / truths implies the other (<==>).)


At that moment everything goes as the  sky (transparent-like). Do not change or do anything (Middle Way: nothing to accept nothing to reject in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively).


That nature is inexpressible (inconceivable for our flawed conditioned conceptual dualistic mental). At that moment there are no names or concepts of clarity (1st truth), emptiness (2nd truth) or unification (Union of the Two Truths).


You cannot show this by example; you cannot check it or recognize it by thoughts. You are unable to remove it, yet it never goes away. There is no root – it is empty.


(i.e. That is the inconceivable self-arisen unchanging timeless pristine unstainable Ground: the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free from all extremes & middle -- about the three spheres. The inconceivable Union of conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances <==> and emptiness of inherent existence. Or the inconceivable Union of clarity / luminosity / functionality / awareness <==> and emptiness of inherent existence. One aspect / truths implies the other (<==>).

There is no other basis / ground that this inconceivable Union of the Two truths free from all extremes & middle. Not mere-dependent-origination / clarity alone, not mere-emptiness alone, not both together, not neither. But their inconceivable Inseparability / Union; one implying the other.)


While you are in this state clarity is there without ceasing, nonstop and purified.

The clarity is the self-created clarity and there is no antidote. It will always be in bliss. Always naked, it cannot be deluded. You can’t say what you have seen, but it is always bright. Its nature is without ceasing. It is the inexpressible nature and unremovable wisdom. There is no subject, for the visions are just there; without thoughts clarity is there.


(i.e. This inconceivable Ground is said to have three inseparable qualities:

1. its essence is emptiness,

2. its nature is dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances,

3. its compassionate energy / dynamism is the inseparability of the essence & nature, the Union of the Two Truths. This is the primordial energy at the core of all appearances / manifestations. This way, from nothing comes everything, and everything returns to nothing.)


Without distinguishing subject and object, wisdom is there. This is the wisdom without object or subject, without substance. It is the Great Secret Path of the Great Perfection – the heart blood of the dakinis – and is the gift of Drenpa Namkha. It is also the essential teaching of Rigpa Rangshar. Have you understood? You realized it? Wonderful!”


(i.e. The primordial Pristines Mind is empty but still functional / luminous / cognizant, functional / luminous / cognizant but still empty. One aspect implies the other (<==>). The fact of this Inseparability / Union of those two aspects is the inconceivable self-arisen permanent unchanging timeless pristine unstainable Ground. It is the true nature of Reality as it is here & now, suchness, dharmata, Buddha-nature, Trikaya. Continually directly abiding in this and it is pure Bliss / Nirvana.)


Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen – Heart Drops of Dharmakaya – on ‘The Practice of Trekchö – pp 59-60, Snow Lion




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