One may think that a laptop is empty because it *arose* dependent on conditions, but *now that it has arisen* it's actually 'here in front of us and is made of matter, it's black, it has a certain weight and it's square-shaped'.

Ans by John Tan-->-->-->-->
Instead of "empty because it *arose* dependent on conditions", should also contemplate deeply the opposite : empty therefore dependent on conditions are possible.

But we're told that the laptop is empty in the sense that it has *never arisen*. What could it mean?

Ans by John Tan-->-->-->-->
When we use the term "non-arisen", we are talking about the traditional two truth model so we must look at both the ultimate and conventional nature.  In ultimate analysis the "laptop" is empty and non-arisen; conventionally the "laptop" arose and the only valid mode of arising is via causes and conditions.

We follow the view and its praxis until the nature of mind and phenomena is clearly understood analytically.  Until gnosis (prajna) is able to intuitive emptiness free from extremes/conceptualities/all elaborations.

Take note that the path of non affirmative negation is only part of the story and to Mipham without seeing coalescence of appearance  and emptiness, it is considered notional emptiness.  He  presents the 4 stages of Madhyamaka experiences as emptiness --> coalescence --> lack of elaborations --> equality.   

It is a gradual approach where the insight and experience of former phase will form the foundation for the next phase to arise until the non-conceptual gnosis of spontaneous presence is realized.

What lies after is the pure, unfabricated, uncontrieved view of spontaneous presence which is inexpressible since it is beyond all notions and elaborations.

I think these 4 phases r extremely helpful pointers for ATR ppl post anatta insight.  Before that, the nature of mind and phenomena is still unclear.  For u, the insights and experiences are there but the view is still very weak and needs lots of refinement.  This is not ur fault, me included (🤣) as we start from koan and contemplate on short stanzas.  However if u want to have firmed and stable progress, u got to keep refining Ur view.

I don't fully understand non-arising yet, but I'd say it means that the laptop isn't actually solid or made of matter, even as it's resting right in front of us and we touch it. If it was actually made of matter, then it wouldn't be empty - it would have an intrinsic characteristic. But we're told in the Heart Sutra that 'form is emptiness'. So, form itself is devoid of nature, so it isn't truly form - it only appears so. And if the form element is empty, no object can possess it as an intrinsic characteristic.

Since mind and matter originates in dependence, investigated mind instead of matter. Emptiness without

Moreover, the laptop being material depends on being perceived by a non-material consciousness, so its materiality doesn't stand alone; it must be cognized externally as to be established - it's not self-established. The same with its being square or 'in front of us'. Likewise, consciousness does not stand alone - it requires the laptop so as to be able to 'arise as perception of laptop'.

Ans by John Tan-->-->-->-->
One point to take note here is when Nagarjuna talked about dependency, it is not just nominal dependency but also existential dependency.  Like the comment I made on Andre previous post:-

This undeniable conviction of "in here" is real and "undeniably exist" WITHOUT conceptual constructs is the "inherentness" that must be deconstructed.  For without "externality", how does the sense of "internality" arise?  If they r dependent, how could they exist truly?

The seeing through of their dependent designations also renders the seeing through of their existence.

That the laptop is square-shaped is a notion imputed onto the vivid clarity of experience. That it's black likewise; that it's out there too.

Ans by John Tan-->-->-->-->
Vivid clarity isn't within the scope of mmk.  However Mipham has two models of two truth, one is the traditional madhyamaka 2 truth model and second is the authentic(non-dual non-inherent non-conceptual)/inauthentic experiential model.  Andre's previous poem of equating DO with spontaneous presence belongs more to the second model.

I think the point is to empty all appearances of any notion that we might want to impute on them. Why? It reduces grasping and thus suffering. And, importantly, it opens the door to the transformation of experience. We're told that, in full enlightenment, experience sheds off its 'mortal skin' of ordinary body-mind and transforms into enlightened bodies and wisdom. That can't happen if experience is framed in confined structures of subject and object, mind and matter, limited and unlimited, space and time, etc. We can't wake up from a dream while still believing some aspects of it to be real, even if we've seen through the dream-character and some parts of the landscape.

Ans by John Tan-->-->-->-->
Relating grasping and suffering to imputations is more than a matter of logical deduction.  

We can deduced by asking:
how does the mind grasp at all when conditioned existence r seen through?

How does mind grasp when it is free from all fabricated notions and elaborations?  

We may also conclude that in fact mind comes to a total cessation when it's free from all elaborations.

But from practice point of view (imo), we must be thoroughly convinced and taste through experience that each conceptual construct has a set of emotional weights associated with it.  Be it "self", "phenomena", "arising", "production", "existence" ...etc.  Some releases r as powerful as anatta and mind-body dropped, some r like putting down a heavy load and often accompanied by a light sense of joy.  This point was very well described and articulated by Aditya Prasad.

"Don't try to bend the spoon, it's impossible. Instead, realize the truth. What truth? There is no spoon."

Ans by John Tan-->-->-->-->
Tell Andre to eat his food with his "spoon"! 🤣






Also relevant:


[10:04 PM, 4/12/2021] Soh Wei Yu: malcolm:
MMK refutes any kind of production other than dependent origination. It is through dependent origination that emptiness is correctly discerned. Without the view of dependent origination, emptiness cannot be correctly perceived, let alone realized. The MMK rejects production from self, other, both, and causeless production, but not dependent origination. The MMK also praises the teaching of dependent origination as the pacifier of proliferation in the mangalam. The last chapter of MMK is on dependent origination. The MMK nowhere rejects dependent origination, it is in fact a defense of the proper way to understand it. The only way to the ultimate truth (emptiness) is through the relative truth (dependent origination), so if one’s understanding of relative truth is flawed, as is the case with all traditions outside of Buddhadharma, and even many within it, there is no possibility that ultimate truth can be understood and realized.
Buddhism does not define “individual minds” as such, but rather discrete, momentary continuums which arise from their own causes and conditions. In short, jivas, pudgalas, atmans, etc., do not function as defined by their proponents, so they are negated.
Things appear to be discrete, so we label them “discrete.” If things appear to be nondiscrete, we are not able to label them as discrete. For example, from a distance a mountain does not appear to be composed of discrete parts, so we label that appearance “mountain.” When we get closer, we see there are many parts, and what was formally labeled a mountain gets redefined into slopes, peaks, ravines, and so on. When we meet someone, we label that person a self, a person, a living being, but these labels attached to appearances will not bear analysis. It’s the same with mental continuum’s, even the notion of mental continuum will not bear ultimate analysis, but since the cause and result of karma, etc., appear to be discrete, mind streams are, conventionally speaking, discrete, because there is an observable function.. If we wish to aggregate minds, we refer to all consciousnesses as the dhatu of consciousness, just as we refer to aggregated elements as the space dhatu, etc.
The argument that a knower is a self has already been advanced and dismantled in Buddhist texts. If a knower can have many cognitions, it already has many parts and cannot be a unitary or an integral entity. We are therefore not operating here at a position prior to recognizing discrete entities, the very fact that our minds (citta) are variegated (citra) proves the mind is not an integral entity, proves it is made of parts, and since those cognitions happen sequentially, this proves the mind is also impermanent, momentary, and dependent. So, it is impossible for a conventional knower to be a self.
[10:09 PM, 4/12/2021] John Tan: The DO part is really good.
[10:10 PM, 4/12/2021] John Tan: When did malcom say that? Recently or in the past?
[10:10 PM, 4/12/2021] Soh Wei Yu: oic..
[10:11 PM, 4/12/2021] Soh Wei Yu: from above
[10:11 PM, 4/12/2021] Soh Wei Yu: the others from here
[10:30 PM, 4/12/2021] John Tan: Many misunderstand that oh ultimately it is empty and DO is conventional therefore conceptual so ultimately empty non-existence.
We must understand what is meant by empty ultimately but conventionally valid. Nominal constructs are of two types, those that r valid and those that r invalid like "rabbit horns". Even mere appearances free from all elaborations and conceptualities, they inadvertently manifest therefore the term "appearances". They do not manifest randomly or haphazardly, they r valid mode of arising and that is dependent arising. When it is "valid" means it is the acceptable way of explanation and not "rabbit horn" which is non-existence. This part I mentioned in my reply to Andre.


3 Responses
  1. Tao Says:

    Not sure if it fits here, but I think that one difference between Mahamudra (and Essence Mahamdura) and this method, maybe that the order of some realizations is changed.

    The AtR (or J. Tan or Soh) method, triggers Anatta quite fast, and then there's quite a work to do about "appareances". And also has a quite interesting Madiamika approach.

    In Mahamudra, Anatta comes later, maybe even later than Dakpo says. For me it really happens in the frontier between one-tase and non-meditation (it's the door to non-med.). Dakpo says it happens at middle one-taste. But at this point, is not 100% Anatta. The non-background is there, but is not mature enough.

    But at that point, the work with appareances is a lot advanced, nearly finished. More from a "yogacara all-is-mind" p.o.v. with some madianika help, but it's quite refined.

    So maybe that's the reason, bhumis dont fit a lot in Mahamudra, and every master proposes a different mapping.

    Just ideas, here and there...

    Thnak you!

  2. PasserBy Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. PasserBy Says:

    Hi Tao, the 2 stanzas of seeing through self/Self led to the direct face to face authentication of mere appearances as one's radiance clarity and accompanying the anatta insight are these following experiences and realisations:

    1. Non-conceptual
    2. Non-dual
    3. Non-inherent-ness
    4. Coalescence emptiness and appearance
    5. Purity and equality
    6. Direct authentication of one's clarity as the dynamism of mere appearances.
    7. Effortlessness and natural spontaneity

    In fact all of what Mipham spelled out in the 4 experiences of mmk are all present and more in terms of direct experiential taste 🤣 but in terms of relinquishing the 2 obscurations it is still inadequate imo. Why?

    Because the flaw logic of "inherent-ness" is not thoroughly seen through from all angles and depth of the union of emptiness and dependent dependent arising has not been fully understood by the conceptual mind that rest upon a paradigm of "inherent-ness and duality". This point that sutra and tantra compliment each other is emphasized by Mipham which is unique and crucial imo.

    Sometimes it is good and advisable to step backward and look. A backward step does not necessarily mean retrogression; contrary it can make one see much more clearly. Imo what ATR lacks is the missing dots that link the 2 stanzas through mmk analysis in which I m too lazy to write...haha 😜