[11:00 AM, 5/26/2021] Soh Wei Yu: Kyle dixon:

The middle way is actually a freedom from the misconceptions of existence and non-existence. Holding that things exist (whether they are conditioned or unconditoned phenomena) is eternalism, holding that things do not exist (whether they are conditioned or unconditioned) is nihilism. Annihilationism is the belief that something existent becomes non-existent.
The way to avoid these various extremes is emptiness, which means (i) a lack of inherent existence, (ii) a freedom from extremes, (iii) a lack of arising [non-arising], (iv) dependent co-origination. All of those definitions being synonymous.
Dependent origination is the proper relative view which leads one to the realization of the ultimate view; which is emptiness. Many people misunderstand emptiness to be a negative view, but it is actually the proper middle way view which avoids the extremes of existence, non-existence, both and neither.
All in all there is really no way to ELI5 with this topic, you'll just have to ask questions. It is simple once understood, but very, very few people actually understand dependent origination.
Here is a collection of stuff I wrote awhile ago on dependent origination for the sake of the discussion:
the general definition of independent origination, the very idea that things are endowed with their own-being/essence [svabhāva], or self [ātman]. In order for something to be independently originated it would have to be unconditioned, independent and uncaused, but this is considered an impossibility in the eyes of Buddhism. The correct conventional view for emptiness is that of dependent origination, and so we see that in order to have objects, persons, places, things and so on, they must possessed of causes and conditions. Meaning they cannot be found apart from those causes and conditions. If the conditions are removed, the object does not remain.
The adepts of the past have said that since a thing only arises due to causes, and abides due to conditions, and fails in the absence of cause and condition, how can this thing be said to exist? For an object to inherently exist it must exist outright, independent of causes and conditions, independent of attributes, characteristics and constituent parts. However we cannot find an inherent object independent of these factors, and the implications of this fact is that we likewise cannot find an inherent object within those factors either. The object 'itself' is unfindable. We instead only find a designated collection of pieces, which do not in fact create anything apart from themselves, and even then, the parts are also arbitrary designations as well, for if there is no inherently existent object, there can be no inherent parts, characteristics or attributes either. Therefore the object is merely a useful conventional designation, and its validity is measured by its efficacy, apart from that conventional title however, there is no underlying inherent object to be found.
Dependent origination is pointing to a species of implied interdependency; the fact that an allegedly conditioned 'thing' only arises via implication from the misperception of other conditioned things, and so each 'thing' is simultaneously a cause and an effect of each other, and everything else. Dependent origination isn't a case in which we have truly established things which are existing in dependence on other truly existent things, for instance; that we have objects which are truly constructed of parts which are in turn made of smaller parts such as atoms etc. This is of course one way of looking at dependent origination, but this would be considered a very coarse and realist/essentialist view. One that subtly promotes a sense of own-being or essence to things. So instead what dependent origination is pointing out, is that there is no inherent object to be found apart from (or within) the varying conventional characteristics we attribute to said object. On the other hand there would also be no inherent objects found in relation to (or within a relationship) with the various characteristics attributed to said objects. For each would only be valid when contrasted with the other, and upon discovering a lack of inherency in regards to one, the validity of the other would be compromised as well. Our experiences are merely interdependent conventional constructs composed of unfounded inferences.
In this way, the object 'itself', as an essential core 'thing' is unfindable. We instead only find a designated collection of pieces, which do not in fact create anything apart from themselves, and even then, the parts are also arbitrary designations as well, for if there is no inherently existent object, there can be no inherent parts, characteristics or attributes either.
So for example, if a table were truly inherently existent, meaning it exists independently, then we would be able to find that table independently of its varying characteristics. The table would be able to exist independently of being observed, independent of its color or texture, independent of its parts and pieces, independent of its designated name, independent of its surroundings etc. In contrast, if observation - or consciousness for example - were truly existent, we would likewise be able to find it apart from the perception of the table, surrounding environment, and so on. There is no essential, 'core' nature that a table in fact 'is' or possesses, and the same goes for consciousness and anything else.
For sentient beings afflicted with ignorance, conceptual imputation and conventional language are mistaken as pointing towards authentic persons, places, things, etc. When ignorance is undone, there is freedom to use conventional language, however it doesn't create confusion because wisdom directly knows ignorance for what it is. In Buddhism conventionality is allowed to be a tool implemented for communication, so we're allowed to be John Doe or Mary Smith, trees, rocks, cars are allowed to be designations. Conventionality is simply a useful tool which doesn't point to anything outside of itself. The conventional truth is relative... words, concepts, ideas, persons, places, things etc., and is contrasted by ultimate truth, which is emptiness.
All apparent phenomena which fall under the category of 'conditioned' - meaning they accord with one or more of the four extremes (existence, nonexistence, both, neither) - originate dependently. We know this is so because there is no such thing as phenomena which doesn't arise dependent upon causes and conditions.
"Whatever is dependently co-arisen
That is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation
Is itself the middle way.
Something that is not dependently arisen,
Such a thing does not exist.
Therefore a non-empty thing
Does not exist."
-- Nāgārjuna
level 1
· 9m
how exactly is something like that mountain not separate from me?
Conventionally, on the level of what Dzogchen calls the “rol pa” expression of our consciousness, the mountain is conventionally separate and distinct.
But when we realize the nature of the mountain we recognize that the appearance is actually the display of our own rigpa.
Also there is no actual internal point of reference in the mind, no actual subject. No actual self. Nevertheless, a self appears through the influence of delusion.
level 2
· 9m
holy shit....you just made me think of something:
so basically, like when we forget when we dream at night: in a "dream", the mind has the potential-power and habit of making a "world" within its scope. because it doesnt recognize the dream is really itself, still stuck in ignorance from lifetimes ago, it takes the "dream"-world seriously as "outside" of itself. is it pretty much like that? (of course i dont want to get into extremes of whats 'real' vs. 'dream', but this was just an analogy i thought of)
level 3
· 9m
like when we forget when we dream at night: in a "dream", the mind has the potential-power and habit of making a "world" within its scope. because it doesnt recognize the dream is really itself, it takes the world seriously. is it pretty much like that? (of course i dont want to get into extremes of whats 'real' vs. 'dream', but this was just an analogy i thought of)
The wheel [of the twelve links] is set in motion because one's own nature is not recognised, just like the deception that occurs when a magical illusion is not recognised as a magical illusion or when a dream is not recognised as a dream.
— Jamgon Kongtrul
level 2
· 6y · edited 6y
Eternalism is the idea that you are born and then you can live forever in your current body.
No, eternalism is simply reifying existents, whether allegedly conditioned or unconditioned... your assertion that eternalism only applies to conditioned phenomena but not to unconditioned phenomena is nothing more than a guise you employ to veil and hide your eternalist view. If you suggest that there is a truly existent ultimate nature, you are an eternalist plain and simple and your position is no different than Vedanta.
So the realm of the uncreated/Nirvana has none of the flaws of the theories of eternalism
Your interpretation certainly does, for it is precisely eternalism, i.e. reification of a truly existent, unconditioned nature.
the Buddha was not against all eternalism
Yes, śrāvakas usually believe that the Buddha advocated for some species of eternalism, however this notion is refuted by Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna.
To step out of impermanence, you need to be timeless - without time affecting you, bringing with it change, decay and death - this is the eternal that the Buddha actively told us to seek. This is called akaliko - timeless.
This is just Śrāvakayāna dualism.
As the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra states:
"Outside of the saṃskṛtas [conditioned dharmas], there are no asaṃskṛta [unconditioned dharmas], and the true nature [bhūtalakṣaṇa] of the saṃskṛta is exactly asaṃskṛta. The saṃskṛtas being empty, etc. the asaṃskṛtas themselves are also empty, for the two things are not different. Besides, some people, hearing about the defects of the saṃskṛtadharmas, become attached [abhiniveśante] to the asaṃskṛtadharmas and, as a result of this attachment, develop fetters."
Going on to say that the person who rejects the saṃskṛtas is attached to the asaṃskṛtas by attributing to them the characteristics of non-production [anutpāda], and by the very fact of this attachment those asaṃskṛtas are immediately transformed into saṃskṛtas. Which, as I have pointed out before; is equivalent to the act of turning dharmatā into a dharmin by considering it to be a separate, existent, unconditioned, free-standing nature. It should instead be understood that the very non-arising of conditioned dharmas [saṃskṛtadharmas] is the unconditioned [saṃskṛta] dharmatā. It is an epistemic realization which dispels ignorance by severing the causes and conditions for invalid cognition... not an ontological X that exists on its own (that is what Vedanta teaches).
And so in this vein Nāgārjuna states:
"Neither saṃsāra or nirvāṇa exist; instead, nirvāṇa is the thorough knowledge of saṃsāra"
-- Yuktiṣāṣṭika
Saṃsāra is the result of confusion, nothing is ultimately established in saṃsāra (conditioned phenomena or otherwise)... and if nothing is ultimately established in saṃsāra, saṃsāra is itself never truly established at anytime. If saṃsāra is not established, nirvāṇa is not established. Recognizing the true nature [satyalakṣhaṇa] of saṃsāra, as innately unproduced [anutpāda] is to realize that the allegedly conditioned [saṃskṛta] is a misconception of ignorance, and therefore the conditioned has in fact been unconditioned [asaṃskṛta] from the very beginning. That is awakening to the unconditioned, and that is the awakening which is the doorway to the cessation of suffering.
"Since arising, abiding and perishing are not established,
the conditioned is not established;
since the conditioned is never established,
how can the unconditioned be established?
-- Nāgārjuna
So it is not that there is indeed an unconditioned nirvāṇa which abides apart from conditioned phenomena. The 'unconditioned' is merely knowledge of the actual nature of 'conditioned' phenomena. Phenomena [dharmins] are themselves, in essence, unconditioned, their unconditioned nature is their dharmatā.
"Good son, the term 'unconditioned' is also a word provisionally invented by the First Teacher. Now, if the First Teacher provisionally invented this word, then it is a verbal expression apprehended by imagination. And, if it is a verbal expression apprehended by imagination, then, in the final analysis, such an imagined description does not validate a real thing. Therefore, the unconditioned does not exist."
-- Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra
This is why nirvāṇa is a cessation; it is the exhaustion of one's ignorance regarding the nature of phenomena. What ceases, is cause for the further arising and proliferation of the very delusion which lends to the misperception of arising, abiding and destruction in conditioned phenomena.
For this reason, nirvāṇa is said to be 'permanent', because due to the exhaustion of cause for the further proliferation of saṃsāra, saṃsāra no longer has any way to arise. However nirvāṇa is also a conventional designation which is only relevant in relation to the delusion of saṃsāra which has been exhausted, and so nirvāṇa is nothing real that exists in itself either, it is merely the absence of affliction, an exhaustion, an unbinding, a release, an extinguishing, a liberation, a cessation... that is nirvāṇa. There is sickness and there is health... health is simply the absence of sickness.
So the correct understanding of phenomena, reveals that phenomena (as misperceived via ignorance) have never occurred in the way one's ignorance made them appear. As a result it is seen that there has never been anything which was bound, nor anything which required liberation. That seeing reveals the unreality of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa as inherent entities, and the definitive and living freedom from saṃsāra [bondage] and nirvāṇa [liberation] is itself liberation.
Eternalism; in the vein of reifying a truly existent ultimate, is never necessary, and is a ridiculous notion.
[11:01 AM, 5/26/2021] Soh Wei Yu: - kyle wrote six years ago
[11:07 AM, 5/26/2021] John Tan: 👍
[11:09 AM, 5/26/2021] John Tan: Actually mmk is a very good exercise post anatta for mature understanding of the anatta insight. However in order to do that one must adhere to the padaegogy and methodology of reasoning of two truth in madhyamaka which can take some time.
[11:11 AM, 5/26/2021] John Tan: I m fairly clear of mmk after all these years of studies. Thought of writing mmk and comparing with the anatta insight and spells out what it lacks.
[11:11 AM, 5/26/2021] Soh Wei Yu: oic..
[11:12 AM, 5/26/2021] John Tan: Problem is it will take up too much of my time unless I go into retiring mode...lol
[11:12 AM, 5/26/2021] Soh Wei Yu: lol
[11:12 AM, 5/26/2021] Soh Wei Yu: can slowly start writing bit by bit
[11:13 AM, 5/26/2021] John Tan: Yeah that is what I thought also.
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