Monday, October 11, 2021

Gorampa's Madhyamaka - 129

. [Work in progress]

Gorampa’s Madhyamaka - 129

Gorampa (1429-89) - About the true meaning of emptiness (Madhyamaka): 

  1. merely refutation of inherent existence (= mere emptiness), or 

  2. transcendence of all extremes & middle, of all conceptual dualistic proliferations (ex. the four extremes of: existence, non-existence, both together, neither) (= Genuine-emptiness free from all extremes).

.

.

.

Passages from the book: FREEDOM FROM EXTREMES, Gorampa’s “Distinguishing the Views (written Jan-Feb 1469)” and the Polemic of Emptiness, Josè Ignacio Cabezón, Geshe Lobsang Dragyay, Wisdom Publication, 2007
https://www.amazon.com/Freedom-Extremes-Gorampas-Distinguishing-Emptiness/dp/0861715233 

.

.

.

(Résumé: For Gorampa, the True Madhyamaka is freedom from all extremes & middle, from all conceptual dualistic proliferations, not just realising the emptiness of all appearances; 

-- ex. freedom from the four extremes of the duality existence vs. non-existence : 

1) existence / causality / dependent origination / relative functionality / realism / eternalism / the first truth alone

2) non-existence / emptiness / nihilism / the second truth alone

3) both together / the two truths together in a duality (a form of dualism), 

4) neither / neither of the two truths (a form of monism) --. 

And this applies to the opposites/extremes & middle of any duality / triad / quad / etc.)

.

.


.

.

TABLE OF CONTENT OF THE BOOK

Thematic subdivisions of the text

Distinguishing the Views. … The text is lucid and structurally very simple, with little complexity in its subdivisions (sa bcad). It can roughly be divided into seven parts

  • three short sections that describe, respectively, (Chapter 1)

    • Dolpopa's views (eternalism; grasping at an ultimate truth / reality; the doctrine of the emptiness of other), 

    • Tsongkhapa's views (nihilism, grasping at emptiness as real, as the ultimate truth), and

    • Gorampa's own views (freedom from all extremes & middle, freedom from all conceptual proliferations), 

  • followed by three much longer sections in which 

    • he refutes each of the first two views (chapter 2 - Dolpopa’s views)

    • (chapter 3 - Tsongkhapa’s view)

    • and sets forth his own position in more detail, responding to possible objections along the way. (chapter 4 - freedom from all extremes)

  • The seventh and last section of the work consists of 36 stanzas summarizing his arguments. (not included)

[Chapter 1 - The three systems of those who claim to be Mādhyamikas] 69

  • 1.1 Those who claim that the extreme of Eternalism is the Madhyamaka 71 

  • 1.2 Those who claim that the extreme of Nihilism is the Madhyamaka 77 

    • 1.2.1 [Tsongkhapa's] Exposition of Emptiness, the Ultimate 79 

    • 1.2.2 [Tsongkhapa's] Exposition of Appearances -- That is, of the conventional [world] 83 

    • 1.2.3 Some Points that remain [to be discussed) in the wake of these [points just raised] 85 

      • 1.2.3.1 [How Tsongkhapa] identifies the two obscurations 85 

      • 1.2.3.2 [How Tsongkhapa] identifies the two selves 87 

      • 1.2.3.3 [How Tsongkhapa propounds] the differences between what the hīna-and mahā-yānas [accept as the objects to be abandoned and realized 87 

      • 1.2.3.4 How [Tsongkhapa] accepts external objects (phyi don), given that [he does not believe in the foundation (consciousness) or in reflexive awareness 89 

      • 1.2.3.5. What it means for there to be no autonomous reasons (rang rgyud kyi rtags) and no theses 91

  • 1.3. Those Who Claim that the Freedom from [all] extremes is the [true] Madhyamaka 93 

[Chapter 2 - The refutation of the system that advocates that the extreme of Eternalism is the Madhyamaka = The refutation of Dolpopa] 97

(i.e. DOLPOPA GRASPS AT AN ULTIMATE REALITY AND FALLS INTO THE EXTREME OF ETERNALISM:
Dolpopa teaches the doctrine of the emptiness of other. He grasps something as non-empty, an ultimate existence; he grasps at an ultimate truth / reality / ground / emptiness, a perfect unmistaken emptiness, a dharmakaya, thusness, an emptiness that possesses the quality of permanence and so forth ... which is not empty of its own nature, not non-existent / false / illusory like everything else, just empty of other. So he falls into the extreme of eternalism about this ultimate truth / emptiness. For him, the conventional is empty / not-existent / illusory (he calls this not eternalism about appearances), but the ultimate is independent / inherently existent / absolute, unborn, unchanging, unceasing / permanent / eternal, pure / perfect / limpid / blissful (he calls this not nihilism about the ultimate; and he think he is following the Madhyamaka). For him, emptiness is not also a conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional imperfect temporary impermanent tool [T1] <==> that is itself empty of inherent existence / not-independent / not-absolute [T2]. He believes that the real, which is non-composite, truly exists. He has no notions of the Inseparability / Interdependence / Union of opposites [Uopp] -- like existence & non-existence, empty & non-empty, relative & absolute, real & non-real -- and Union of the Two Truths [U2T]. He entertains their separation & opposition. He accepts the second truth as an inherently existing Ultimate / Reality [T2], and rejects the first truth, all conventional appearances & functionalities [T1] as mere illusions. For him there is ultimate existence. Grasping at an ultimate is his fault; for this he is not Madhaymika, and does not understand Nagarjuna. According to Red mda’ ba, he is not of any Buddhist schools.)

[Chapter 3 - The refutation of the system that advocates that the extreme of Nihilism is the Madhyamaka = The refutation of Tsongkhapa] 115

(i.e. TSONGKHAPA GRASP AT EMPTINESS AS THE ULTIMATE TRUTH AND FALLS INTO THE EXTREME OF NIHILISM:
Tsongkhapa grasps things as empty, grasps at emptiness as the ultimate truth / reality, and falls into the extreme of nihilism.)

  • 3.1 An Examination of [Tsongkhapa's] Exposition of the Ultimate 115 

  • 3.2 An Examination of [Tsongkhapa's] Exposition of the Conventional 133

    • 3.2.1 An Examination of the way that Karma Gives Rise to its Effects 137

    • 3.2.2 An Analysis of [Tsongkhapa's View Concerning] How the Eye Consciousnesses of the Six Classes of Beings Perceive (Objects) 139

  • 3.3 The Analysis of Some Ancillary Points 143

    • 3.3.1 The Analysis of [Tsongkhapa's Views Concerning] the Identification of the Two Obscurations 143

    • 3.3.2 An Examination of [Tsongkhapa's] Identification of the Two Selves 149

    • 3.3.3 An Examination of [Tsongkhapa's] Views Concerning the Differences between What the Mahā- and Hīna-yāna [Believe] Ought to Be Abandoned and Realized 157

    • 3.3.4 An Examination of [Tsongkhapa's View that Prāsangikas] Accept External Objects Despite the fact that They Do Not Believe in the Foundation (Consciousness) and in Reflexive Awareness 173

    • 3.3.5 An Examination of [Tsongkhapa's Views] Concerning Why There Are No Autonomous Reasons and Theses 177

      • 3.3.5.1 The Differences [Between Prāsangikas and Svātantrikas] with Respect to Theses 191 

      • 3.3.5.2 The Difference [Between Prāsangikas and Svātantrikas] As Regards Adequate Argumentation 193 

      • 3.3.5.3 The Basis for Distinguishing Between the Two Truths

[Chapter 4 - Those who claim that the Freedom from [all] extremes is the [true] Madhyamaka = Gorampa's own system] 203

(i.e. FOR GORAMPA THE TRUE MADHYAMAKA IS FREEDOM FROM ALL EXTREMES & MIDDLE,
FREEDOM FROM ALL CONCEPTUAL DUALISTIC PROLIFERATIONS,
not just the refutation of inherent existence (emptiness) of appearances -- self & aggregates --.
--
Extremes like existence, non-existence, both existence & non-existence together, neither existence nor non-existence … Even extremes like 1) the first truth / dependent origination & relative functionality / interdependence / causality, 2) the second truth / emptiness of inherent existence, 3) both truths together as a duality, and 4) neither truths.
The same for the extremes of the apparent opposites of any duality / triad / quad / etc.
--
Indeed, the opposites of all dualities / triad / quads / etc., even the two truths -- conventional/relative truths vs. ultimate truth -- and their relation/Union, are all empty of inherent existence [T2], like illusions, not really existent <==> because conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances / conventional truths, merely labelled / imputed / conceptualised by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma, not completely non-existent [T1]. And vice versa (<==>).
They are all not inherently existent, not completely non-existent, not both together, not neither.
--
This is the Middle Way free from all graspings, from all views: ex. not grasping at an ultimate truth like Dolpopa (eternalism), not grasping at emptiness like Tsongkhapa (nihilism).
--
So, 1) grasping at conventional tuths is not enough. 2) Stopping at the emptiness of all conventional truths, taking emptiness as the ultimate truth is not enough. 3) Grasping at the opposition/duality between the two truths is not enough. 4) Grasping at neither truths is not enough.
We need to go beyond all four extremes together at the same time, without making it an inconceivable Cosmic-Somethingness, or Cosmic-Nothingness, or Cosmic-Oneness.
--
It is not only transcending the inherent existence of appearances, realising their emptiness, that we need; we need to transcend our flawed conditioned dualistic conceptual mind by directly realising its true nature & dynamic as it is here & now.)

  • 4.1. Identifying the Vessel - That is, the Student, to Whom Reality Is to Be Taught 203

    • 4.1.1 Those Who (First Adhere to Any One of the Philosophical Positions of the Realists -- Whether Buddhist or Non-Buddhist - and Subsequently] Change Their Philosophical Outlook [to the Madhyamaka] 205 

    • 4.1.2 Those Who Do Not Change Their Minds Philosophically, [but Who from the Very Beginning Exert Themselves at Understanding Reality through the Power of the Awakening of their Mahāyāna Lineage] 205

  • 4.2 What Is to be taught: The [inconceivable) nature of Reality 207 

    • 4.2.1 [GROUND] The Madhyamaka Qua Basis: The Union of the Two Truths [U2T] 207 

      • 4.2.1.1 The Exposition of the Conventional [T1] 207

(i.e. The conventional: Followers of the Madhyamaka accept appearances just as they are known in the world, that is, without analyzing by means of the reasoning that analyzes reality, just analysing their conventional validity by means of conventional valid cognitions.)

  • 4.2.1.2 The Exposition of the Ultimate [U2T] 211

    • 4.2.1.2.1 The Quasi-Ultimate, Which Involves Analysis 211 

(i.e. The quasi-ultimate -- a useful temporary imperfect mental construction resulting from logical rational analysis --: We need not only to use logical reasonings to realise the emptiness of inherent existence of all appearances [T2] -- physical, conceptual, mental; subject, relation/action, object --, but also to realise that this emptiness of inherent existence [T2], or emptiness of truth, cannot be considered the True Ultimate Reality / Truth / Ground / Suchness / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness, and that it is necessary to refute all of the forms of apprehending things in terms of the four extremes: ex. one need to refute ‘the fourfold extremist proliferations’ of: existence, non-existence, both existence & non-existence together, neither existence nor non-existence.
That is freedom from the dualistic conceptual proliferations of the four extremes.
Ultimately, one needs to transcend ‘the law of double negation’ and all opposition / separation / dualities / triads / quads / etc., even including the duality of the Two Truths.
All of this is called a ‘quasi-ultimate’ because all of this is done using our flawed conditioned dualistic conceptual mind, all of this is still just another temporary mental construction.
And the realisation of the inconceivable ultimate reality, the transcending of all extremes & middle -- ex. of the four extremes together -- is not possible using only conceptual analysis; it has to be a personal spontaneous non-conceptual non-dualistic direct perception / realisation / experience.
The job of those logical reasoning is to refute all conceptual proliferations, all extremes & middle, the four extremes one by one, and leave enough room for a personal spontaneous non-conceptual non-dualistic direct perception / realisation / experience of this ultimate reality -- that is itself not something to grasp as a Cosmic-Somethingness, or Cosmic-Nothingness,  or Cosmic-Oneness.
The important point here is that emptiness of inherent existence [T2] is not the ultimate truth, not reality [U2T]. It is just a tool, a step along the Middle Way. Grasping at emptiness or at any ultimate reality leads to one extreme or another: ex. nihilism or eternalism.)

  • 4.2.1.2.2. The Real Ultimate, Which is what appears to the [meditative] equipoise of Aryans in a way that is devoid of the proliferations 217

(i.e. The True Ultimate Reality / Truth / Ground / Suchness / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness -- has to be personally spontaneously non-conceptually non-dualistically directly perceived / realised / experienced. This could spontaneously happen in meditation or not in meditation; enlightenment cannot be caused / produced; it is not dependent on specific causes & conditions.
-- It is the spontaneous simultaneous transcendence of all extremes & middle, of all dualistic conceptual proliferations, all opposition / dualities / triads / quads / etc.; including the duality of the two truths themselves. It is not accepting one opposite and rejecting the other(s), it is not accepting both/all opposites, it is not rejecting both/all opposites. This is called the inconceivable Union of opposites [Uopp], or Union of the Two Truths about the opposites. [U2T-opp]
-- It is the simultaneous transcendence of the four extremes about the duality of existence vs. non-existence : 1) existence, 2) non-existence, 3) both together, 4) neither. This is called the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2T], Union of appearance / functionality / existence and emptiness of inherent existence / non-existence.
-- It is the simultaneous transcendence of the four extremes about the two truths: 1) the first truth / dependent origination & relative functionality, 2) the second truth / emptiness of inherent existence, 3) both truths together, 4) neither truth. This is called the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths about the two truths themselves [U2T-2T], or Union of opposites about the two truths themselves [Uopp-2T].
-- It is the simultaneous transcendence of the three spheres -- subject, relation/action, object -- for any type of relations / actions. This is called the inconceivable Union of the three spheres [U3S], or Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres. [U2T-3S]
-- The same for the extremes & middle of any duality / triad / quad / etc.
The real ultimate is not something to grasp; ex. as a Cosmic-somethingness, or a Cosmic-Nothingness, or a Cosmic-Oneness. Grasping at any ultimate view is a fault in Madhyamaka.
-- All of this is done by directly realising the true nature & dynamic of our own body, speech & mind. Directly realising how we create our reality by repeatedly imagining dualistic entities / characteristics / concepts where there is nothing inherently existing like that. What we need to transcend is not mere-inherent-existence, but our flawed conditioned dualistic conceptual mind by becoming fully aware of its true nature and normal dynamic, all dualistic conceptual proliferations.)

  • 4.2.2 [PATH] The Madhyamaka Qua Path, which is the Union of Method and Wisdom 219

(i.e. THERE IS PROGRESSION IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF GENUINE-EMPTINESS:
--
[Emptiness of the person only:] Even though the two śrāvaka (realist) schools do not understand the aggregates to be truthless, they do understand the emptiness that is the negation of the self of the person based on the aggregates.
The chief thing that śrāvakas must realize is the selflessness (emptiness) of the person.
--
[Emptiness of the person & aggregates:] The Cittamātras (Mind-only School) … (claim that) to obtain the enlightenment of the Mahāyāna, one must understand reality qua emptiness of the duality of subject and object.
The pratyekabuddha's (rang rgyal) uninterrupted path of the path of seeing also focuses chiefly on the truthlessness (emptiness) of external objects, and that is why they can eliminate the (form of the) grasping at truth that grasps at the truth of external objects, and why they are not able to eliminate the obscurations to omniscience that are different from those.
The chief thing that pratyekabuddhas must realize is the truthlessness (emptiness) of external things qua objects.
--
[Emptiness of the person & aggregates; and freedom from all views / all extremes & middle /  all dualistic conceptual proliferations -- including the duality of the two truths themselves:] As regards the system of the Madhyamaka, both Maitreya and Nāgārjuna are in agreement as to the fact that in order to obtain the enlightenment of any of the three vehicles, one must understand the aggregates to be truthless (empty of inherent existence); and that to obtain the enlightenment of the Mahāyāna, one must (additionally) understand the freedom from proliferations -- that is, the freedom from the proliferations of the four extremes (existence, non-existence, both existence & non-existence together, neither existence nor non-existence -- and there is no fifth).
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.
The chief thing that Mahāyānists must realize is the freedom from all dualistic proliferations.)

  • 4.2.2.1 The identification of the Two Obscurations, the (objects) to be eliminated 219 

  • 4.2.2.2 The identification of the Antidotes that eliminate those [two obscurations] 221 

  • 4.2.3 [FRUITION] The Madhyamaka Qua Result, which is the Union of the Two Bodies [i.e. Union of the three kayas - U3K] 227

(Not covered in this book)

  • 4.3 Bringing trustworthy scriptural [evidence) to bear (on these questions] 229

    • 4.3.1 The Division of the Ultimate Truth into two: The Ultimate Truth in name only, and the Ultimate Truth not in name only 229 

(i.e. Emptiness is also a conventional truth, not the True Ultimate Reality / Truth / Ground / Suchness / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness.
But, conventionally, we often call it the ultimate truth.
--
Like all appearances / conventional truths [T1], emptiness [T2] is also empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because inseparable / dependently co-arisen / interdependent with those appearances / conventional truths [T1]. Without the belief in inherently existing things there is no need for the tool of emptiness. Since all things are not really existing, so their negation / emptiness is also not really existing.
--
So, these two truths [2T] -- dependently arisen appearances [T1] & emptiness [T2] -- are both also empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because inseparable / interdependent / co-defined / co-relative / co-dependent [T1] / co-emerging / co-evolving / co-ceasing, non-dual in the non-dual sense of those terms: ex. they are not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. This is the concept of the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2T], and Union of the Two Truths about the two truths themselves. [U2T-2T].
--
Both truths -- dependently arisen appearances & emptiness --, taken individually or together, are conventional truths [T1] and also empty of inherent existence [T2], thus not the True Ultimate Reality / Truth / Ground / Suchness / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness.
--
The True Ultimate Reality / Truth / Ground / Suchness / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness is indescribable, inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual proliferations, beyond all dualities, ex. beyond existence & non-existence & both together & neither, beyond the two truths -- dependent origination & emptiness & both truths together & neither truth --. So it is called the inconceivable Inseparability / Interdependence / Union of the Two Truths [U2T], or Union of the three spheres [U3S], or Union of opposites [Uopp], or Middle Way free from all extremes & middle ...)
-
Those two truths, and the Union of the Two Truths, are also all conventional truths, not the true ultimate reality / truth. But because the Inseparability / Interdependence / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] is our best pointer to the inconceivable Reality / Truth / Ground, then we call this Ultimate Reality / Truth / Ground the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all conditioning / karma. It is like a pointer to the moon, not the moon itself. Why. Because the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] is also subject to the Union of the Two Truths. [U2T-2T].)

  • 4.3.2 The Scriptural sources for the freedom from the proliferations of the four extremes 231 

(i.e. The True Ultimate Reality / Truth / Ground / Suchness / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness is indescribable, inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual proliferations, beyond all dualities / triads / quads / etc., ex. beyond existence & non-existence & both together & neither, beyond the two truths -- dependent origination & emptiness & both truths together & neither truth --. So it is called the inconceivable Inseparability / Interdependence / Union of the Two Truths [U2T], or Union of the three spheres [U3S], or Union of opposites [Uopp], or Middle Way free from all extremes & middle ...)
--
The True Ultimate Reality / Truth / Ground / Suchness / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness is not a Somethingness, not a Nothingness, not a Oneness, not a God. It is not something to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, not something to reject / negate / abandon / subtract / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively if it helps someone to get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth as pointed by the concept of the Union of the Two Truths.
--
The Ground and its spontaneous manifestations are also subject to the Union of the Two Truths, also mental fabrications, conventional truths, empty of inherent existence. So there is nothing to grasp as Ultimate here. The True Ultimate Reality / Truth / Ground / Suchness / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness is beyond all possible description / conceptualisation, discrimination / dualities, causality / production, form / matter-energy, space & time.
--
Somebody is said to have fallen into the extreme of nihilism because of 1) denying the fact that karmic causes and effects exist even conventionally, or 2) being attached only to the side of non-existence, or 3) being attached to the word "empty" without understanding the meaning of this profound doctrine. )

[Colophon] 237

(i.e. When Tibetan Buddhism rediscovers its true basis and benefits from the precision of the original texts:
-- This text is the result of having studied the textual system of the Madhyamaka, having studied the texts of the supreme ārya Nāgārjuna, the father, and his spiritual son (Aryadeva).
-- And then generating an ascertaining consciousness of the meaning of Reality as it is here & now (Ground).
-- And then wishing to put this in written form so as to teach it to others.
-- And then illuminating / clarifying the scriptures of the founding lords of his Buddhist school.)

.

.


.

.

A. PASSAGES FROM THE INTRODUCTION


Gorampa in fact calls his version of the Madhyamaka “the Middle Way qua freedom from extremes”


-----------------------------


Intertextuality “Distinguishing the Views” is ostensibly written as an assault against the Madhyamaka views of Dolpopa and Tsongkhapa. … Since Dolpopa and Tsongkhapa had already penned refutations of Sakyapa Madhyamaka views, however, there is reason to believe that Distinguishing the Views is also a text of the second type -- a defense of the tradition in the wake of other scholars' prior challenges.


(… Through a rather long and circuitous route, we have finally come to the two individuals who are the objects of Gorampa's critique in Distinguishing the Views. These are, of course, Dolpopa Shes rab rgyal mtshan (1292-1361) and Tsongkhapa Blo bzang grags pa (1357-1419). While these two figures held quite different philosophical views, they also shared a great deal in common. Each was the founder/systematizer of a major school of Tibetan Buddhism. Dolpopa was the chief systematizer of the Jonangpa, Tsongkhapa the founder of the Dga' ldan pa (later called the Gelukpa pa). Both wrote extensively on a wide range of doctrinal topics -- both esoteric and exoteric. Each of them showed a special interest in Madhyamaka. Their rivals held that each of the two figures was also an innovator, propounding controversial theories that were departures from the Indian and Tibetan tradition that had preceded them.141


Dolpopa's theory of Madhyamaka came to be known as "the emptiness of what is other" (gzhan stong), so-called because it maintained that the ultimate (don dam), while empty of all things different from itself (rang ma yin pas stong pa = gzhan stong), is not empty of itself (rang stong ma yin). In Dolpopa's view, the ultimate, which he equates with the buddha nature (bde bzhin gshegs pa'i snying po = rigs) and gnosis (ye shes), is a positive reality beyond intellectual comprehension. It is a radiant, permanent, stable unity that is self-sufficient. It can never be understood in terms of the deconstructionist and reductive dialectic of the negationist (chad pa'i) branch of the Madhyamaka tradition epitomized in the rationalist works (rigs tshogs) of Nāgārjuna. Rather, says Dolpopa, it is the positivist tradition found, for example, in Nāgārjuna's "corpus of hymns" or "praises” (bstod tshogs) that is the best source for understanding the ultimate.


Tsongkhapa's Madhyamaka theory has come to be known simply as the Prāsangika. Like many of the luminaries of Tibetan scholasticism before him, Tsongkhapa saw the great texts of Indian Buddhism as the foundation for Buddhist theory and practice. As regards the doctrine of emptiness, he cast his lot with Indian Madhyamika thinkers like Buddhapālita, Candrakīrti, and sāntideva, claiming that it was their interpretation of Nāgārjuna, and their interpretation alone, that constituted the correct theory (yang dag pa'i Ita ba) of the nature of things. Tsongkhapa maintained that emptiness, the ultimate truth, was an absolute negation (med dgag) -- the negation of inherent existence -- and that nothing was exempt from being empty, including emptiness itself. The ultimate truth, he claimed, could be understood conceptually, and while that conceptual understanding needed to be transformed through meditation into a deeper and more transformatively efficacious mode of cognition (the gnosis of the aryan, the direct realization of emptiness; 'phags pa’i mnyam bzhag ye shes = stong nyid mngon sum du rtogs pa'i blo), he believed that the object of the conceptual understanding of the ultimate and the object of gnosis were no different. Moreover, he believed that since emptiness is a truth that is not evident, it could only be approached (at least initially) through the path of reasoning, that is, through the Madhyamaka dialectical strategies. The logic of the Madhya-maka, he felt, was not fundamentally inconsistent with the theories of Buddhist logicians like Dharmakīrti.142 …)


Tsongkhapa, as we have mentioned, never wrote a philosophical work that was polemical in its entirety, but he did write critiques of Sakyapa views in several of his Madhyamaka treatises. Although he rarely mentions his opponents by name, we know, for example, that it is the Sakyapas that Tsongkhapa has in mind when he refutes what he calls the “view that things are neither existent nor non-existent" (4th extreme) (yod min med min gyi Ita ba).219 In his Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path (Lam rim chen mo), for example, Tsongkhapa lays out this position in some detail, and then attempts to show how it is in contradiction to both “scripture and reasoning.” For Tsongkhapa, the view represents a faulty understanding of emptiness, one that "goes too far” (khyab che ba) in its negation of the "object to be refuted" (dgag bya).220 By denying existence altogether, he claims, it falls into the extreme of nihilism. Because it repudiates the law of double negation (dgag pa gnyis kyi rnal ma go ba), he says that it flies in the face of our ordinary understanding of the workings of language, wherein the negation of the existence of something necessarily implies the affirmation of its non-existence. This is but one example of the ways in which Tsongkhapa takes on the Sakyapas. There are others as well. Taken together, they constitute a critique of the mainstream Sakyapa interpretation of the Middle Way. ...


-----------------------------



Gorampa uses as a structural device the widely accepted Buddhist notion that in philosophy, as in ethics, one should follow a middle way (madhyamaka, dbu ma) between extremes.236 


Distinguishing the Views is then structured so as to demonstrate how Gorampa's interpretation of the Indian Madhyamaka, which he calls the “Madhyamaka qua freedom from proliferations” (spros bral kyi dbu ma) or “Madhyamaka qua freedom from extremes” (mtha' bral dbu ma), is the true middle way between two extremist views prevalent in his day: the eternalistic view of the Jonangpas, and the nihilistic view of the Gelukpas. 


The expression "freedom from proliferations” or spros bral (nisprapanca) has a long history in the Madhyamaka literature of both India and Tibet.237 Gorampa, however, uses the term as much denominatively as descriptively, which is to say that he uses the term to designate his particular brand of Madhyamaka -- that is, as an appellation or trademark for a lineage of Madhyamaka philosophical speculation that includes, but is not limited to, the Sakyapas -- in much the same way as emptiness of what is other (gzhan stong) came to be the trademark of the Jonangpas, and Prāsangika that of the Gelukpa pas.238


It is clear that Gorampa believes that his theory of emptiness represents the orthodox Sakyapa interpretation. This does not mean that Gorampa relies only on Sakyapa sources. The lineage of the Madhyamaka that he describes in the text is exceedingly eclectic but, he says, quite old, including both the Rngog (eleventh century) and Patshab lineages, and even Marpa and his student Milarépa. 


(From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patsab_Nyima_Drakpa 


Patsab Nyima Drakpa (Tib. པ་ཚབ་ཉི་མ་གྲགས་པ་, Wyl. Patsab nyi ma grags pa) (1055-1145?) was a Tibetan Buddhist scholar and translator of the Sarma (New Translation) era. He was a monk at Sangpu monastery and traveled to Kashmir where he translated Buddhist Madhyamika texts.


He is best known for being an important translator and exegete of Madhyamaka philosophy in Tibet, associating himself with what he called the "Prasangika" school and the views of Chandrakirti. He is thus considered to be the founder of the "Prasangika" school in Tibet and may have invented the Tibetan term thal 'gyur ba (which modern scholars have back translated to prasangika).


Patsab translated Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika, Aryadeva's Four Hundred Verses, and Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara. Three commentary works are attributed to him, and they have recently been published in the "Selected Works of the Kadampas, volume II". Patsab's commentary on Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika seems to be the first Tibetan commentary on this work.)


Although he mentions Rngog's Gsang phu lineage 239 Gorampa calls Patsab Nyima Drakpa “the one who introduced the Madhyamaka as freedom from extremes [into Tibet],” indicating his greater allegiance to Patsab, and therefore to the tradition of Candrakīrti 240 Despite his proclivity for Patsab's lineage -- that is, for the Prāsangika view -- Gorampa is reticent to identify himself as exclusively Prāsangika, and there are probably several reasons for this. First, Tsongkhapa had already co-opted this term, and Gorampa obviously wished to distance his interpretation of the Madhyamaka from that of the Gelukpa. Secondly, Gorampa's unequivocal adherence to the “freedom from extremes” doctrine precludes advocating any strong duality, even the Svātantrika/ Prāsangika one.


Both the grasping at duality and at nonduality must be negated, so that any object that is grasped in terms of the four extremes cannot be found. It is the non-grasping (of things) in those [terms] that we call “the realization of the Madhyamaka view." But if there arises a one-sided grasping of the form "this is the Madhyamaka view," then whether one grasps things as empty or as not empty, one has not gone beyond grasping at extremes, and this is not the Middle Way.


Finally, Gorampa has a wide-ranging and holistic view of the Madhyamaka that permits his reliance on Indian texts usually classified in Tibet as Svātantrika -- for example, jñānagarbha's Satyadvayavibhanga -- making it difficult for him to side with Candrakīrti's Prāsangika to the exclusion of other Madhyamaka systems of thought.


Gorampa's interpretation of Madhyamaka is committed to a more literal reading of the Indian sources than either Dolpopa's or Tsongkhapa's, which is to say that it tends to take the Indian texts at face value. For example, Gorampa believes that the fourfold negation found in the tetralemma or catuṣkoti -- not x, not non-x, not both, and not neither -- is to be taken literally as a repudiation of, for example, existence, non-existence, both, and neither without the need for qualification. (i.e. applicable to the opposites of any duality) Hence, contra Tsongkhapa, existence itself is an object of negation for him, there being no need to add the qualifier “ultimate" (as in “ultimate existence") to make this negation palatable.


To explain how existence can be repudiated, Gorampa resorts to a theory that bifurcates the ultimate truth into two parts. Emptiness for him is therefore of two kinds: 


  1. the emptiness that is the endpoint of rational analysis, and 

  2. the emptiness that yogis fathom by means of their own individual gnosis. 241 


The first of these -- the emptiness that is arrived at rationally -- is of two kinds: the selflessness of persons and the selflessness of phenomena. Emptiness as the byproduct of rational analysis -- that is, the emptiness of truth -- is not the real ultimate truth, but only an analogue (rjes mthun) thereof, or, put another way, it is the ultimate truth in name only (rnam grangs pa). Since the cognition of this quasi-ultimate requires that the mind entertain the empty/non-empty dichotomy, where the first element of the pair is privileged, the conceptual understanding of emptiness must eventually be negated in order to achieve an understanding of the highest form of emptiness that is the object of yogic gnosis (i.e. let’s call this Genuine-emptiness). This latter form of emptiness -- the emptiness that is mystically fathomed -- is the real ultimate truth (don dam dngos, don dam mtshan nyid pa). Being ineffable, it cannot be expressed in linguistic terms, since it is beyond all proliferative dichotomizing. Nonetheless, for Gorampa understanding emptiness rationally is a necessary prerequisite to understanding it in its true, non-analytical form.


-----------------------------


Gorampa accuses Tsongkhapa of holding a nihilistic interpretation of the Madhyamaka (i.e. grasping at emptiness). This is somewhat ironic, given that this is precisely the charge that Tsongkhapa levels against the neither existence nor non-existence (yod min med min) view (4th extreme) to which Gorampa (seems to) subscribes (according to the author; but he is not: he is free from all extremes: existence, non-existence, both together, neither). In one sense at least, Gorampa's accusations of nihilism are puzzling, for his central thesis is that Tsongkhapa and his followers do not go far enough in their negation (transcendence). While agreeing with the Gelukpas concerning the need to repudiate true existence, Gorampa maintains that both the emptiness that is that very negation and its apprehension/conceptualization must also be negated, a view that is anathema to Tsongkhapa. But according to Gorampa it is precisely this -- Tsongkhapa's grasping at emptiness -- that makes him a nihilist. As Gorampa says, “Those who grasp at emptiness have not gone beyond falling into the extreme of nihilism."


  • For Tsongkhapa, the object of the analytical/rational/conceptual understanding of emptiness is the real ultimate truth. 

  • For Gorampa it (emptiness) is a conventional (and not an ultimate) truth. 

  • Put another way, for Tsongkhapa, both inference and yogic gnosis understand the same object -- emptiness -- albeit in different ways. 

  • For Gorampa only yogic gnosis, which is non-analytical and nonconceptual, is capable of perceiving the true (mtshan nyid pa) ultimate. 


In Gorampa's view, the dichotomizing tendency of the mind that culminates in extremist proliferations (existence/non-existence, and so forth) is built into the very structure of conceptual thought and, as such, any object of conceptual thought, even emptiness, is of necessity contaminated with the type of dualistic proliferation that is the Madhyamaka's object of negation. That is why emptiness as the object of conceptual thought cannot be the real ultimate truth:


In brief, if one accepts that the direct object of the conceptual thought that apprehends things as truthless...is the real ultimate truth, then one would have to accept that the generic image (don spyi) of the ultimate truth is the ultimate truth. It would be like accepting the generic image of the pot to be the pot.


Hence, everything, including emptiness qua object of conceptual thought, is an object of the Madhyamaka critique, and this means that it must be negated (transcended) -- not simply negated as lacking mere inherent existence (as Tsongkhapa maintains), but negated (transcended) in toto through the fourfold dialectic (i.e. ex. not existent, not non-existent, not both together, not neither).


Gorampa is astute in anticipating the Gelukpa objection to this view. Like Gorampa, Tsongkhapa also believes that emptiness is the object of the Madhyamaka critique, not because it is itself to be negated, but because its true existence is to be negated. Gorampa, however, calls this “the deceptive blithering of individuals of little intelligence and merit, the demonic words that slander the 'freedom from proliferations view,' which is the heart of the teachings." 


His (Gorampa’s) reason for leveling this invective against Tsongkhapa is interesting. Why should the Madhyamaka texts claim that all views and conceptual constructs are to be abandoned if there is one -- emptiness -- that should not? Gorampa implies that Tsongkhapa's view makes the fourfold structure of the catuṣkoți meaningless because it subsumes the entire Madhyamaka critique into a qualified first koți (the negation of true existence), making the other three kotis (the negation of non-existence, both, and neither) pointless. For Gorampa, the truth of things comes to be negated (transcended) (and their illusory nature understood) not through the negation of true existence, but through the negation (transcendence) of all four extremes -- existence, non-existence, both, and neither -- without the need for any qualification. 


For Tsongkhapa, the problem of ignorance lies in the fact that the mind improperly reifies objects, imputing real or inherent existence to things that lack it.


For Gorampa, the chief problem lies in the fact that the mind operates through a dichotomizing filter that continuously splits the world into dualities (existent/non-existent, permanent/impermanent, empty/non-empty, and so forth). 


Put another way, for Tsongkhapa the problem lies with the false quality that the mind attributes to objects, whereas for Gorampa it lies with the very proliferative character of the conceptual mind itself, an aspect of mental functioning that cannot be entirely eliminated through the selective negation of a specific quality (true existence), requiring instead the use of a method (the complete negation (transcendence) of all extremes (& middle)) that brings dualistic thinking to a halt (to be transcended: not accepted not rejected -- the Middle Way).


Given this view, it is not surprising that Gorampa should repudiate the law of double negation, for clearly the negation of existence does not for him imply the acceptance of non-existence.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_negation )


...

.

.


.

.

Additional quotes

[It is simple. REALITY is the Union of the Two Truths: a Middle Way free from the extremes of inherent existence & complete non-existence.]

.

Emptiness and non-existence ~ 14th Dalai Lama

.

The doctrines of emptiness [T2 - not inherent existence] and selflessness do not imply the non-existence of things. Things do exist [T1 - not complete non-existence]. 

.

When we say that all phenomena are void of self-existence [T2 - emptiness], it does not mean that we are advocating non-existence [nihilism / nothingness], that we are repudiating that things exist [rejecting / escaping the world]. 

.

Then what is it we are negating? We are negating, or denying, that anything exists from its own side without depending on other things. 

.

Hence, 𝗶𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀 𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗲𝘅𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘂𝗽𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 [𝗧𝟭] <==> 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘀𝗮𝗶𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳-𝗲𝘅𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 [𝗧𝟮].

.

(i.e. UNION OF THE TWO TRUTH [U2T] : everything is empty of inherent existence [T2], like illusions, not really existing <==> exactly because everything is conventionally dependently co-arisen / interdependent relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1] -- physical, conceptual, mental; subject, relation/action, object --, merely labelled / imputed by the mind in dependence of its past / conditioning / karma -- individual, collective, cosmic --, not completely non-existent. One aspect / truth implying the other (<==>).)

.

(Note: Everybody agrees about that. The tricky part that not everybody agree about, but that is exactly true, is that this 'Union of the Two Truths: that something is empty <==> because it is dependently co-arisen / interdependent' also applies to the two truth themselves -- dependent origination / causality and emptiness of inherent existence --. That is called the Union of the Two Truths about the Two Truths themselves [U2T-2T]. 

.

The two tuths themselves -- dependent origination / causality & emptiness -- are themselves both empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent <==> exactly because they are inseparable / interdependent / co-dependent [T1], merely labelled / imputed by the mind. And vice versa (<==>). 

.

In other words: if appearances are not real, then their negation / emptiness is also not real. Without the belief in the inherent existence of things, then there is no more need for its antidote / emptiness. So 'emptiness' is not really some kind of Ultimate Truth or Reality. It is the ultimate truth only in name. The Ultimate Reality is inconceivable, beyond all dualities like empty vs. non-empty.

.

And this leaves nothing to grasp at all. This is transcending all views, all extremes & middle, all dualistic conceptual proliferations.

.

Tetralemma: Everything is not inherently existent, not completely non-existent, not both existent & non-existent together, not neither existent nor non-existent.)

.

.

– 14th Dalai Lama

from the book "Answers: Discussions With Western Buddhists"


.

.


.

.
.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.