Wrote to someone:

The red petals are not red petals of an inherently existing flower. Flower is conventionally designated in dependence on the petals, there is no flower core anywhere. So it might be more accurate to say the petals “are” the flower. Even the red appearance is dependently originating with no real substance to be found, I.e. unreal - dogs don’t see red, so it is a nonoriginating reflection/appearance in any case, like the reflection of the moon on water, only appearing in dependence on certain conditions but never actually referring to an actual thing being created or abiding or ceasing anywhere. Like scrolling through facebook posts or watching a movie, no actual things or persons or objects are created despite their appearances. This is not to say "what you see is all there is" but "what you see does not amount to something truly existing or truly arising" and whatever "things" - self, cup, table, sky, car, flower, are all conventionally designated in dependence on parts, conditions, functions, designating consciousness and when analysed no true existence can be found.

The universe is like that. Nothing that appears in dependence on conditions exists intrinsically by its own power or essence. But of course it is not a rejection of phenomena and its causal efficacy, as explained in the chapter on the four noble truths in madhyamikakarika. It is precisely because conventional empty phenomena are not intrinsically existing that they could arise due to conditions and cease through practicing the path, otherwise they would be forever “there” like a moon in the lake would be stuck there if it were real and intrinsic. So we have to understand emptiness through dependent origination and understand the causal efficacy of conventional empty phenomena, otherwise we are falling into nihilism and rejecting the four noble truths, etc.

When we talk about illusion, there is a difference between water-moon and rabbit-horn. Appearances are like water-moon being dependently originated, without substance and base but not non-existent, whereas true existence/inherent existence is illusory in the sense of being "horns of rabbits", it does not exist even conventionally. If we merely see non-existence, or negate conventionalities and their valid functionalities, that is nihilism. The sun, even if hidden behind the clouds and thus "unseen", is still exerting a causal function of heating up the earth. On the other hand if we treat these things (e.g. the sun) as real and substantial instead of dependently designated/dependently originating and thus unreal, then we are having substantialist tendencies. The sun is also designated in dependence on its functions like 'heat', just like the flower is designated in dependence on the petals, and other conditions. So seeing this, we do not think of the sun as a substantial thing causing a substantial thing to happen, for the heating and sun are dependently designated. But that is not to deny "sun" or "heating" conventionally and their causal efficacy.

"In brief from empty phenomena
Empty phenomena arise;
Agent(cause), karma(action), fruits(effect), and their enjoyer(subject) -
The conqueror taught these to be [only] conventional.

Just as the sound of a drum as well as a shoot
Are produced from a collection [of factors],
We accept the external world of dependent origination
To be like a dream and an illusion.

That phenomena are born from causes
Can never be inconsistent [with facts];
Since the cause is empty of cause,
We understand it to be empty of origination."

- Nāgārjuna

“Earlier we saw that both the Vaibhāṣika and Sautrāntika argue that only ultimately intrinsic reality (svabhāva) enables things to perform a causal function (arthakriya). The Svātantrika Madhyamaka rejects this, and it instead argues that things are causally efficient because of their conventionally intrinsic reality (svabhāva) or unique particularity (svalakṣaṇa). The Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka, however, rejects both these positions, and argues only what is conventionally non-intrinsic reality (niḥsvabhāva) is causally effective, for only those phenomena, the conventional nature of which is non-intrinsic, are subject to conditioned or dependent arising. Conventional reality (here treated as dependently arisen phenomenon), given it is causally effective, is therefore always intrinsically unreal, and hence lacks any intrinsic reality even conventionally. Hence that which is conventionally (or dependently) coarisen is always conventionally (or dependently) arisen and strictly does not arise ultimately.”

"Nāgārjuna's central argument to support his radical non-foundationalist theory of the two truths draws upon an understanding of conventional truth as tied to dependently arisen phenomena, and ultimate truth as tied to emptiness of the intrinsic nature. Since the former and the latter are coconstitutive of each other, in that each entials the other, ultimate reality is tied to being that which is conventionally real. Nāgārjuna advances important arguments justifying the correlation between conventional truth vis-à-vis dependent arising, and emptiness vis-à-vis ultimate truth. These arguments bring home their epistemological and ontological correlations ([MMK] 24.14; Dbu ma tsa 15a). He argues that wherever applies emptiness as the ultimate reality, there applies the causal efficacy of conventional reality and wherever emptiness does not apply as the ultimate reality, there does not apply the causal efficacy of conventional reality (Vig.71) (Dbu ma tsa 29a). According to Nāgārjuna, ultimate reality's being empty of any intrinsic reality affords conventional reality its causal efficacy since being ultimately empty is identical to being causally produced, conventionally. This must be so since, for Nāgārjuna, “there is no thing that is not dependently arisen; therefore, there is no such thing that is not empty” ([MMK] 24.19, Dbu ma tsa 15a)."

- https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/twotruths-india/
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