how to train in insight.
As I have explained, meditative serenity has the features of
(1) non-discursiveness—i.e., when your attention is intentionally set on a single object of meditation, it stays there;
(2) clarity—i.e., it is free from laxity; and
(3) benefit—i.e., delight and bliss. However, you should not be satisfied with just this.
Rather, developing the wisdom that properly determines the meaning of reality, you must cultivate insight.
Otherwise, since mere concentration is something Buddhists have in common even with non-Buddhists,
its cultivation—as with non-Buddhist paths—will not get rid of the seeds of the afflictions. Hence it will not free you from cyclic existence.
As Kamalaśīla's 《first Stages of Meditation》 says:
After you have thus stabilized your mind on an object of meditation, you should analyze it with wisdom—it is the dawn of knowledge that obliterates the seeds of confusion. If you do not do this, you cannot abandon the afflictions with concentration alone, just as non-Buddhists cannot.
[The King of Concentrations] Sutra says:
Although worldly persons cultivate concentration, They do not destroy the notion of self. Afflictions return and disturb them, As they did Udraka, who cultivated concentration in this way.
The phrase "Although worldly persons cultivate concentration" means that worldly persons cultivate a concentration with features such as non-discursiveness and clarity, as explained above. The line "They do not destroy the notion of self" means that despite cultivating that concentration, they cannot eliminate the conception of self. "Afflictions return and disturb them" indicates that worldly persons will still produce afflictions because they have not eliminated the conception of self.
What kind of meditation leads to liberation?
As cited earlier, the very next [verse of the 《King of Concentrations Sūtra》] says:
If you analytically discern the lack of self in phenomena
And if you cultivate that analysis in meditation
This will cause the result, attainment of nirvāna;
There is no peace through any other means.
The first line sets out the condition—if, after you have analytically discerned phenomena which are selfless, you develop the wisdom that understands the meaning of selflessness.
The second line, "And if you cultivate that analysis in meditation," refers to sustaining and cultivating in meditation the philosophical view of selflessness that you have gained.
The third line, "This will cause the result, attainment of nirvāna," means that this is the cause of attaining the goal— nirvāna, or liberation. Liberation is attained through cultivating that wisdom. Can you also attain liberation without that wisdom, by cultivating some other path?
- p.399 -
The fourth line of this passage says, "There is no peace through any other means," meaning that even were you to cultivate another path, you would not quell suffering and the afflictions without that wisdom.
This scripture very clearly teaches that only the wisdom of selflessness severs the root of cyclic existence;
Kamalaśīla quotes it in his 《second Stages of Meditation》 in order to discredit the assertions of the Chinese abbot Ha-shang. Therefore, you must have certain knowledge of this.
For even non-Buddhist sages have many good qualities—such as concentration and the superknowledges—but, since they do not have the view of selflessness, they cannot escape cyclic existence at all.
In this way the 《Scriptural Collection of the Bodhisattvas》, cited earlier, says:
One who is satisfied with mere concentration, not understanding the reality explained in the scriptures, might develop an inflated sense of pride, mistaking mere concentration for the path of meditation on the profound meaning. Consequently, such a person will not become free from cyclic existence. It was with this in mind that I said, "One who listens to others will be free from aging and death."
The Teacher himself explains clearly what he meant: "listening to others" means to hear the explanation of selflessness from another person. Therefore, it is unquestionable that the Buddha spoke of listening to others in order to refute the idea that you can develop the view of selflessness from within yourself, without the study and reflection that go along with listening to an excellent external spiritual guide explain the meaning of selflessness.
Generally, among all the Conqueror's scriptures there are some that explicitly teach about reality, and even those that do not explicitly teach it nonetheless indirectly point toward it.
The darkness of confusion is not overcome until the knowledge of reality dawns, but it is overcome when that knowledge arises.
Therefore, meditative serenity—one-pointedness of mind—does not in itself become pure sublime wisdom, nor does it overcome the darkness of confusion.
Hence there is no doubt that you must seek wisdom; you should think, "I will seek the wisdom that discerns the meaning of selflessness—reality."
Kamalaśīla's second Stages of Meditation says: Then, having achieved serenity, you should cultivate insight.
You should think, "All the sayings of the Bhagavan were spoken well; directly or indirectly, they all elucidate and point to reality.
If I know reality, I will escape all of the entanglements of dogmatic views, just as darkness is cleared away by the dawn.
Meditative serenity alone does not lead to pure, sublime wisdom; nor will it clear away the darkness of the obscurations. However, if I use wisdom to meditate well on reality, I will reach pure, sublime wisdom and know reality.
- p.400 -
Only through wisdom can I really get rid of the obscurations.
Therefore, I will remain in serenity and use wisdom to pursue reality. I will not be satisfied with meditative serenity alone."
What is this reality? Ultimately all things are empty of the two selves — the self of persons and the self of phenomena.
Of all the perfections, it is the perfection of wisdom that knows reality. Since you cannot know it by means of meditative stabilization or the other perfections, you should develop wisdom without mistaking mere meditative stabilization for the perfection of wisdom.
The 《Sūtra Unravelling the Intended Meaning》 says:
"Bhagavan, through what perfection should bodhisattvas apprehend the absence of an essence in phenomena?"
"Avalokiteśvara, they should apprehend it through the perfection of wisdom."
As quoted earlier, the 《Sūtra of Cultivating Faith in the Mahāyāna》 also makes the same point: "I do not say that those who have faith in the Mahāyāna of bodhisattvas, unless they have wisdom, are delivered—no matter what Mahāyāna practices they may do."
第二學習毘缽舍那之法分四，一 依止毘缽舍那資糧，二 毘缽捨那所有差別，三 修習毘缽舍那之法，四 由修習故毘缽舍那成就之量。
Since insight is needed, the second section concerns how to train in insight. It has four parts:
1. Fulfilling the prerequisites for insight
2. Classifications of insight
3. How to cultivate insight in meditation
4. The measure of achieving insight through meditation
1. Fulfilling the prerequisites for insight
You should listen to the stainless textual systems, relying on a scholar who accurately understands the key points of the scriptures. An indispensable prerequisite for insight is to use the wisdom gained through study and reflection to develop knowledge of reality.
For without a decisive view of how things exist, you cannot develop insight that knows the real nature, emptiness.
Also, in seeking such a view you must rely not on that which has provisional meaning, but rather on that which is definitive. Therefore, you should differentiate between the provisional and the definitive, and you should then internalize the meaning of the definitive scriptures.
Moreover, if you do not rely upon the treatises by authoritative trailblazers commenting on the Buddha's thought, you are like a blind person headed toward danger without a guide. Hence, you must rely on accurate commentaries on the Buddha's thought.
On what sort of commentator should you depend? You should rely on the one whom the Bhagavan Buddha himself very clearly prophesied in many sutras and tantras as a commentator on the heart of the teaching, the profound reality beyond all extremes of existence and nonexistence.
- p.401 -
He is the noble Nāgārjuna, renowned in this world and in those beyond. Therefore, rely upon his texts as you seek the view that is the knowledge of emptiness.
此又分三，一 明了義不了義經，二 如何解釋龍猛意趣，三 决擇空性正見之法。
With regard to these prerequisites for insight, there are three parts:
1.1 Identifying scriptures of provisional and definitive meaning
1.2 The history of commentary on Nāgārjuna's intended meaning
1.3 How to determine the philosophical view of emptiness
1.1 Identifying scriptures of provisional and definitive meaning
Those who wish to know reality must rely on the Conqueror's scriptures.
However, due to the diversity of ideas among the Buddha's disciples, the scriptures vary. Hence you might wonder what sort of scripture you should rely upon in seeking the meaning of the profound reality.
You must know reality in reliance upon scriptures of definitive meaning.
What sort of scripture is definitive and what sort is provisional?
This is determined by way of the subjects that they discuss. Those that teach the ultimate are considered scriptures of definitive meaning and those that teach conventionalities are considered scriptures of provisional meaning.
In that vein, the 《Teachings of Aksayamati Sūtra》 says:
What are sūtras of definitive meaning? What are sūtras of provisional meaning? Those sūtras that teach so as to establish conventionalities are called provisional. Those sutras that teach so as to establish the ultimate are called definitive. Those sūtras that teach by way of various words and letters are called provisional. Those sūtras that teach the profound reality, which is difficult to understand and difficult to know, are called definitive.
Question: How does a sūtra teach conventionalities so as to be classified as provisional? And how does a sūtra teach the ultimate so as to be classified as definitive?
Reply: This also is indicated very clearly in the [Teachings of Aksayamati] Sūtra. It says: Sūtras called provisional are those that teach as though there were an owner where there is none, using various expressions—self, sentient being, living being, nourished being, creature, person, humankind, human, agent, experiencer.
Sūtras called definitive are those that teach the doors of liberation—emptiness, signlessness, wishlessness, no composition, no production, no creation, no sentient beings, no living beings, no persons, and no owners.
This means that the definitive are those that teach selflessness, no production, and such by eliminating elaborations, while the provisional are those that teach self and so forth.
Therefore, you should understand that no self, no production, and such are the ultimate, while production and so forth are the conventional.
- p.402 -
The 《King of Concentrations Sūtra》 also says:
Understand as instances of definitive sūtras those that teach
In accordance with the emptiness explained by the Sugata.
Understand as of provisional meaning all those teachings
That posit a "sentient being," "person," or "living being."
Also, Kamalaśīla's 《Illumination of the Middle Way》 says: Therefore, you should understand that only those that discuss the ultimate are of definitive meaning; the others are of provisional meaning.
Also, the 《Ornament for the Light of Wisdom that Introduces the Object of All Buddhas》 says, "The definitive object is the ultimate."
And also the 《Teachings of Aksayamati Sūtra》 teaches that the absence of production and so forth "are definitive." Consequently, it is certain that only the absence of production and so forth are called "ultimates."
Therefore, the collections of Mādhyamaka arguments as well as the commentaries on them are considered texts that precisely teach the definitive because they demonstrate at length the meaning of the ultimate that is free from all the masses of elaborations, such as production and cessation.
Why are teachings called "provisional" or "definitive"? A text is called definitive, or of definitive meaning, because it cannot be interpreted to mean something else.
Its meaning is the end-point of the process of making determinations insofar as it is the meaning of reality itself.
No one else can interpret it as having some further or different meaning because it is backed up by valid proofs.
Thus Kamalaśīla's 《Illumination of the Middle Way》 says: What is a text of definitive meaning? It is one that gives an explanation in terms of the ultimate and is supported by valid cognition, for it cannot be interpreted by someone else as having any other contrary meaning.
Implicitly, this statement allows you to understand the provisional.
The provisional, or that which requires interpretation, is a text that cannot be taken to mean exactly what it says; rather, you must explain what it intends, interpreting it as having some other meaning. Or, it is a text that can be taken literally, but in which this literal meaning is not the final reality, and you must still seek that reality as something other than the conventional phenomena to which the text refers.
Qualm: Since sūtras of definitive meaning are literal, when statements such as "production does not exist" and "persons do not exist" appear in those sūtras, one must conclude that production and persons do not exist at all; otherwise those sūtras would not beliteral, and it would absurdly follow that they are provisional.
Reply: This does not seem tenable because there are many definitive sūtras in which the Buddha, the teacher who makes these statements, adds the qualification "ultimately" when refuting production and so forth. If he adds such a qualification once, then we must add it even where it does not occur because it is a common attribute of all such refutations. Since the absence of ultimate existence is the reality of phenomena, how could a sūtra teaching this not be definitive?
- p.403 -
Otherwise, if these sūtras did refute production in a general sense, then, as far as particulars, they would also refute words, and hence even the definitive Sūtras that teach this could not make their presentations.
Therefore, you should understand that a sūtra or a treatise may still be definitive even if what it teaches in a few isolated phrases cannot be read literally when stripped from the context of the general system surrounding it in that scripture.
You also should understand that even when the teaching of the very words of a text can be taken literally, the text may still be provisional.
1.2 The history of commentary on Nāgārjuna's intended
Nāgārjuna gave flawless commentary on scriptures—e.g., the 《Persection of Wisdom sutras》—that teach that all phenomena are without any intrinsically existent production, cessation, and so forth. What is the history of commentary on Nāgārjuna's thought?
Both the father [Nāgārjuna] and his spiritual son [Aryadeva] are sources for the other Mādhyamikas; even great Mādhyamikas such as the masters Buddhapālita, Bhāvaviveka, Candrakirti, and Sãntaraksita took Aryadeva to be as authoritative as the master [Nāgārjuna].
Therefore, earlier Tibetan scholars used the term "Mādhyamikas of the fundamental texts" for those two and the term "partisan Mādhyamikas" for the others.
In the past, there were some Tibetan teachers who said that when Mādhyamikas are described in terms of how they posit conventionalities, there are two types: Sautrāntika-Mādhyamikas, who assert that external objects exist conventionally, and Yogācāra-Mādhyamikas, who assert that external objects do not exist conventionally.
Mādhyamikas are also of two types when described in terms of how they assert the ultimate: the Proponents of Rationally Established Illusion assert that a composite of appearance and emptiness is an ultimate truth, and the Proponents of Thorough Non-Abiding assert that the mere elimination of elaborations with regard to appearances is an ultimate truth.
These earlier teachers asserted that within this second typology, the first type includes masters such as Śāntaraksita and Kamalaśīla. There were also some Indian masters who used the terms "illusionlike" and "thoroughly non-abiding" to refer to different types of Mādhyamikas.
Broadly speaking, there were some Indian and Tibetan masters who claimed to be Mādhyamikas who used this kind of terminology for dividing Mādhyamikas. However, here I aim to establish only the systems of the great Mādhyamikas who are followers of the master Nāgārjuna. Who could explain every subtle distinction?
Moreover, the great translator Lo-den-shay-rap makes an excellent point when he says that this presentation of two types of Mādhyamikas, distinguished according to how they assert the ultimate, is simply something to impress fools.
- p.404 -
For, those who make such a distinction seem be claiming that for Proponents of Rationally Established Illusion such as Śāntaraksita and Kamalasila the mere object that is understood by an inferential reasoning consciousness is an ultimate truth, whereas both Śāntaraksita's Ornament for the Middle Way and Kamalaśīla's Illumination of the Middle Way say that the object understood by a reasoning consciousness is designated "ultimate" due to its being concordant with an ultimate truth.
Also, the other great Mādhyamikas do not accept as an ultimate truth the mere object that is arrived at when reason eliminates elaborations with regard to an appearance. Therefore, this division is not a good approach.
As to the history of commentary on Nāgārjuna's thought, the master Ye-shay-day explains that the masters—the noble [Nāgārjuna] and his spiritual son [Aryadeva]—did not make clear in their Mādhyamaka treatises whether external objects exist; later, the master Bhavaviveka refuted the system of Vijñaptimatra and presented a system in which external objects exist conventionally.
Then the master Śāntaraksita set forth a different Mādhyamaka system that teaches, based on Yogācāra texts, that external objects do not exist conventionally; it also teaches that the mind ultimately lacks intrinsic existence.
Thus, two forms of Mādhyamaka arose; the former is called Sautrāntika-Mādhyamaka and the latter Yogācāra-Mādhyamaka.
It is evident that this sequence of events as explained by Ye-shay-day is correct. However, while the master Candrakirti does assert that external objects exist conventionally, he does not do so in a manner congruent with the claims of other tenet systems. Thus it is unsuitable to call him a Sautrāntika-Madhya.
Similarly, the claim that he is in accord with the Vaibhāsikas is also very reasonable.
Scholars of the later dissemination of Buddhist teachings to the snowy land of Tibet use the terms "Prāsangika" and "Svātantrika" for different types of Mādhyamikas. Since this agrees with Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》, you should not suppose that it is their own fabrication.
Therefore, all Mādhyamikas are included within two types— those who do and those who do not assert external objects in conventional terms.
If they are distinguished in terms of how they develop within their mind-streams the view that is certain knowledge of emptiness, the ultimate, then again they are all included within two types—Prāsangikas and Svātantrikas.
Following whom did those masters seek to understand what the noble Nāgārjuna and his spiritual son Aryadeva intended? The Great Elder [Atisha] considered the system of the master Candrakirti to be the main Mādhyamaka system.
Seeing this, the great gurus of the past who followed Atisha in giving personal instructions on these stages of the path also took Candrakirti's system as the main system.
The master Candrakirti saw that among the commentators on Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》 on the Middle Way (MulaMādhyamaka-kārikā), it was the master Buddhapālita who had fully elucidated what the noble Nāgārjuna intended. So he commented on the noble Nāgārjuna's intended meaning using his system as a basis; he also took many good explanations from the master Bhāvaviveka, while refuting those that seemed a little inaccurate.
- p.405 -
Inasmuch as the commentaries of master Buddhapalita and the glorious Candrakirti are seen to be excellent explanations of the texts of the noble Nāgārjuna and his spiritual son Aryadeva, I will follow them in making determinations about what the noble Nāgārjuna intended.
第三決擇空性正見之法分二，一 悟入真實義之次第，二 正決擇真實義。 今初
1.3 How to determine the philosophical view of emptiness. This has two parts:
1.3.1 The stages of entry into reality
1.3.2 The actual determination of reality
1.3.1 The stages of entry into reality
Question: Nirvāna is the reality one seeks to attain, but what is nirvāna? If "entry into reality" means a method for attaining it, then how do you enter?
Reply: The reality that you seek to attain—the embodiment of truth—is the total extinction of conceptions of both the self and that which belongs to the self, specifically by stopping all the various internal and external phenomena from appearing as though they were reality itself—which they are not—along with the latent predispositions for such false appearances.
The stages by which you enter that reality are as follows: First, having contemplated in dismay the faults and disadvantages of cyclic existence, you should develop a wish to be done with it.
Then, understanding that you will not overcome it unless you overcome its cause, you research its roots, considering what might be the root cause of cyclic existence.
You will thereby become certain from the depths of your heart that the reifying view of the aggregates, or ignorance, acts as the root of cyclic existence. You then need to develop a sincere wish to eliminate that.
Next, see that overcoming the reifying view of the perishing aggregates depends upon developing the wisdom that knows that the self, as thus conceived, does not exist. You will then see that you have to refute that self.
Be certain in that refutation, relying upon scriptures and lines of reasoning that contradict its existence and prove its nonexistence. This is an indispensable technique for anyone who seeks liberation.
After you have thus arrived at the philosophical view that discerns that the self and that which belongs to the self lack even a shred of intrinsic nature, you should accustom yourself to that; this will lead to the attainment of the embodiment of truth.
Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 says:
Question: You say that all of these afflictions, karma, bodies, agents, and effects are not reality. Still, though they are not reality, they appear to the childish in the guise of reality—like a phantom city and so forth. If this is so, then what is reality and how do you enter that reality?
- p.406 -
Reply: Reality is the total extinction of the conceptions of both the self and that which belongs to the self in regard to the internal and the external, this being a result of the non-apprehension of internal and external things. As for entry into reality, look in the 《Commentary on the "Middle Way"》, which says:
In their minds, yogis perceive that all afflictions
And all faults arise from the reifying view of the perishing aggregates,
And, knowing that the self is the object of that view,
They refute the self.
Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 also says:
Yogis who wish to enter reality and who wish to eliminate all afflictions and faults examine the question, "What does this existence have as its root?"
When they thoroughly investigate this, they see that cyclic existence has as its root the reifying view of the perishing aggregates, and they see that the self is the object observed by that reifying view of the perishing aggregates. They see that not observing the self leads to eliminating the reifying view of the perishing aggregates, and that through eliminating that, all afflictions and faults are overcome.
Hence, at the very beginning they examine only the self, asking, "What is the 'self' that is the object of the conception of self?"
Scripture sets forth many arguments refuting the intrinsic existence of a limitless number of individual things. However, when yogis initially engage in practice, they meditate in an abridged way, determining that both the self and that which belongs to the self lack intrinsic nature.
The master Buddhapālita says that this is the meaning of the eighteenth chapter of Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》. The master Candrakirti bases his own commentary on this statement by Buddhapālita.
Also, the teachings on the selflessness of the person in Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Middle Way"》 are just extended explanations of the eighteenth chapter of Nāgārjuna's Fundamental Treatise.
Qualm: Are you not teaching how to enter the reality of the Mahāyāna? In that case, the reality that one seeks to attain cannot be the mere extinction of the conceptions of both the self and that which belongs to it.
Also, since a simple determination that both the self and that which belongs to it lack intrinsic nature does not entail a determination that objects, as distinct from persons, lack self, it is wrong to posit it as the path for entering into reality.
Reply: There is no problem here, for there are two types of total extinction of the conceptions of both the self and that which belongs to it. Even Hinayanists may have the first type, the utter elimination of the afflictions so that those afflictions will never recur; however the second is a buddha's embodiment of truth. It is the elimination—through utter non-apprehension—of all signs which are elaborations of external and internal phenomena.
Also, when you know that the self does not exist intrinsically, you also overcome the conception that the aggregates which are its components exist intrinsically—just as when a chariot is burned, the wheels and such that are its parts are also burned.
- p.407 -
Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 says:
The self is imputed dependently; it is what those who have the error of ignorance cling to fiercely; it is regarded as the appropriator of the five aggregates. Those who seek liberation analyze this self has the character of the aggregates.
When those who seek liberation have analyzed it in every way, they do not observe a self, and thus [Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》] says:
If the self does not exist
How could that which belongs to the self exist?
Because they do not observe the self, they also do not at all observe the aggregates which belong to the self—the basis on which the self is designated. When a chariot is burned, its parts also are burned and thus are not observed; similarly, when yogis know that the self does not exist, they will know that what belongs to the self, the things that are the aggregates, are also devoid of self.
Thus Candrakirti says that when you know that the self lacks intrinsic nature, you also know that the self's aggregates lack self— that is to say, they lack intrinsic nature.
Also, Candrakirti's 《Explanation of the "Middle Way" Commentary》 says: Śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas following Hīnayāna tenets are inaccurate because they apprehend an essence in things such as form. Therefore, they do not know even the selflessness of persons. This is because they hold conceptions of the aggregates, the basis that is designated as the self. [Nāgārjuna's 《Precious Garland》 ] says: As long as you conceive of the aggregates, You will conceive of them as "I."
Thus he says that if you do not know that the aggregates lack intrinsic nature, you do not know the selflessness of the person.
Qualm: If the same awareness that knows that the person lacks intrinsic existence also knows that the aggregates lack intrinsic existence, then there is a fallacy—the two awarenesses that know the two types of selflessness would be the same.
However, since objects and persons are distinct, the awarenesses that know that they lack intrinsic existence are also distinct, as in the case of the awarenesses that know the impermanence of a pot and that of a pillar.
If the awareness that knows that the person lacks intrinsic existence does not know that the aggregates lack intrinsic existence, then how can Candrakirti claim that one will know that the aggregates lack intrinsic existence when one knows the selflessness of the person?
Reply: Since we do not assert this, I will answer your final question.
The awareness that knows that the person lacks intrinsic existence does not think, "The aggregates do not intrinsically exist." However, without relying on anything else, that very awareness can induce certain knowledge that the aggregates lack intrinsic existence, thereby eliminating the reification of intrinsic existence that has been superimposed upon the aggregates.
Therefore, Candrakirti says that when you know that the person lacks intrinsic existence, you also know that the aggregates lack intrinsic existence.
Also, Buddhapālita's 《Commentary on the "Fundamental Treatise"》 says: What the so-called self possesses is called "that which belongs to the self." That self does not exist; if it does not exist, how can it be right to speak of what belongs to it?
- p.408 -
This is how you should understand it. For example, when reflecting that the son of a barren woman does not exist, that very awareness does not think, "His ears and such do not exist." However, that awareness can eliminate any reifying thought that might imagine that his ears exist.
Similarly, when you know that the self does not exist in reality, you stop any notion that its eyes and such exist in reality.
Objection: There are Buddhist essentialists who hold that the person exists as an imputation; they do not assert that the person exists ultimately. Therefore, even they would know that eyes and such lack intrinsic existence.
Reply: You are arguing that since they assert that gross objects such as eyes and seedlings exist as imputations, they would know that those objects lack intrinsic existence. If you accept that this is so, then you contradict your own assertion that these are essentialists, proponents of true existence.
If essentialists did know the absence of intrinsic existence, then it would not be necessary for Mādhyamikas to prove to them that seedlings lack true existence.
Further, the process of completing a virtuous or nonvirtuous action is a continuum, and if essentialists accepted that a continuum lacks intrinsic existence, then why would they challenge the Mādhyamaka position that a continuum, like a dream, lacks true existence?
Yet this is what we find in Haribhadra's 《Little Commentary on the "Ornament for Clear Knowledge"》 :
[The essentialists say to us Mādhyamikas:] If all phenomena are like dreams, then the ten nonvirtues, giving, and so forth would not exist. Hence even when you are not asleep, it would be as though you were.
Therefore, there is a huge disparity between an essentialist system and a Mādhyamaka system with respect to whether things exist, either ultimately or conventionally.
What they consider conventional existence amounts to ultimate existence from a Mādhyamaka perspective and what they consider ultimately existent exists only conventionally according to Mādhyamaka.
There is nothing contradictory about this. Hence, you need to draw distinctions.
Furthermore, although the imputedly existent person of these Buddhist essentialists and the imputedly existent person of the master Candrakirti are similar in name, their meanings are not the same.
For, Candrakirti maintains that these Buddhist essentialists do not have the view which is the knowledge of the selflessness of the person.
This is because he asserts that if you have not known the selflessness of objects, then you have not known the selflessness of the person.
Therefore, Candrakirti asserts that they will continue to apprehend the person as substantially existent as long as they do not give up the tenet that the aggregates are substantially existent. Hence essentialists do not know that the person does not ultimately exist.
第二正決擇真實義分三，一 正明正理所破，二 破所破時應成能立以誰而破，三 依其能破於相續中生見之法。
1.3.2 The actual determination of reality.
The section on actually determining the view of reality has three parts:
220.127.116.11 Identifying the object to be negated by reason
18.104.22.168 Whether to carry out that refutation with a Svātantrika procedure or with a Prāsangika procedure.
22.214.171.124 How to use that procedure to generate the right philosophical view within your mind-stream.
初又分三，一 必須善明所破之因相，二 遮遣餘派未明所破而妄破除，三 自派明顯
- p.409 -
Identifying the object to be negated by reason. This has three parts:
126.96.36.199.1 Why the object of negation must be carefully identified
188.8.131.52.2 Refuting other systems that refute without identifying the object to be negated
184.108.40.206.3 How our system identifies the object of negation
220.127.116.11.1 Why the object of negation must be carefully identified.
In order to be sure that a certain person is not present, you must know the absent person. Likewise, in order to be certain of the meaning of "selflessness" or "the lack of intrinsic existence," you must carefully identify the self, or intrinsic nature, that does not exist.
For, if you do not have a clear concept of the object to be negated, you will also not have accurate knowledge of its negation.
For Santideva's 《Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds》 says:
Without contacting the entity that is imputed
You will not apprehend the absence of that entity.
There is limitless diversity among objects of negation, but they come together at the root; when you refute this, you refute all objects of negation.
Moreover, if you leave some remainder, failing to refute the deepest and most subtle core of the object of negation, then you will fall to an extreme of true existence. You will cling to the idea of real things, whereby you will not be able to escape cyclic existence.
If you fail to limit the object of negation and overextend your refutation, then you will lose confidence in the causal progressions of dependent-arising, thereby falling to a nihilistic extreme. This nihilistic view will lead you to rebirth in a miserable realm. Therefore, it is crucial to identify the object of negation carefully,
for if it is not identified, you will certainly develop either a nihilistic view or an eternalistic view.
第二遮破他派未明所破而妄破除分二，一 明所破義遮破太過，二 明所破義遮破太狹。
18.104.22.168.2 Refuting other systems that refute without identifying the object to be negated.
This has two parts:
22.214.171.124.2.1 Refuting an overly broad identification of the object to be negated
126.96.36.199.2.2 Refuting an overly restricted identification of the object to be negated
初又分二，一 說其所欲，二 顯其非理。 今初
Refuting an overly broad identification of the object to be negated. This has two parts:
188.8.131.52.2.1.1 Stating others' assertions
184.108.40.206.2.1.2 Showing that those assertions are wrong
220.127.116.11.2.1.1 Stating others' assertions
Most of those who today claim to teach the meaning of Mādhyamaka say that all phenomena ranging from forms through omniscient consciousness are refuted by rational analysis of whether production and such exist as their own reality.
For when reason analyzes anything that is put forward, there is not even a particle that can withstand analysis.
Also, all four possible ways that something could be produced—as an existent effect, a nonexistent effect, and so forth—are refuted, and there is nothing that is not included in those four.
Moreover, these persons assert that a noble being's sublime wisdom which perceives reality perceives production, cessation, bondage, freedom, and so forth as not existing in the least. Therefore, since things must be just as this sublime wisdom knows them, production and such do not exist.
- p.410 -
When we assert that production and such do exist, these persons ask, "Are these capable of withstanding rational analysis of their reality? If so, then there would be things that can withstand rational analysis, and thus there would be truly existent things. If not, then how is it possible for something that has been rationally refuted to exist?"
Similarly, when we hold that production and such exist, these persons ask, "Does valid cognition establish them?" If we claim that it does, they reply that since the sublime wisdom perceiving reality perceives production as nonexistent, it is impossible for that wisdom to establish production.
Further, if we argue that production is established by conventional visual consciousnesses and such, they reply that it is impossible for such conventional consciousnesses to be valid cognitions that establish production, because scriptural sources refute the claim that those conventional consciousnesses are valid cognitions.
The 《King of Concentrations Sūtra》 says:
The eye, ear, and nose consciousnesses are not valid cognitions.
The tongue, body, and mental consciousnesses are also not valid cognitions.
If these sensory consciousnesses were valid cognitions,
Of what use to anyone would the noble beings' path be?
Also, Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Middle Way"》 says: "The world is not valid in any way."
They argue that we cannot say that production exists without valid establishment, for we ourselves do not assert this and it is not reasonable.
They also argue that if we are to assert production, since it cannot be asserted ultimately in Mādhyamaka, we will have to assert it conventionally, but that is unreasonable
because Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Middle Way"》 says:
The argument which shows that production from self and from other
Are untenable in the context of ultimate reality
Also shows that production is untenable even conventionally.
As this is so, what argument will demonstrate the production you believe in?
Thus, they say that the argument refuting ultimate production also refutes conventional production.
Furthermore, these persons say that if we assert that production exists despite the lack of an effect which is produced from any of the four—itself, something other, and so forth—then, when we try to carry out the Mādhyamaka refutation of production through investigating those four alternatives, we will fail. For we ourselves would have already allowed a type of production which is not among those four.
Also they say that if there were production from any of those four, then it would have to be production from a cause which is something other than the effect, for we do not accept the remaining three [production from self, both self and other, or causelessly].
However this is not reasonable because Candrakirti's 《Comment on the "Middle Way"》says, "Production from another does not exist even in the world."
Therefore these persons say that you should not add the qualifying word "ultimate" when refuting production, for Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 refutes the addition of this qualification.
Among those who argue in this way, there are some who say that they do not accept production and such even conventionally, while others accept that production and such do exist conventionally. However, all of them stick out their necks and argue: "It is undeniable that the system of the master Candrakirti is a rational refutation of essential or intrinsic nature, for he refutes intrinsic existence in terms of both truths. Thus, if something does not intrinsically exist, how else could it exist? Therefore, adding the qualification "ultimate' to the object of negation is the procedure only in the Svātantrika-Mādhyamaka system."
第二顯其非理分二，一 顯彼破壞中觀不共勝法，二 顯所設難皆非能破。
18.104.22.168.2.1.2 Showing that those assertions are wrong. This has two parts:
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199 Showing that those systems contradict the unique feature of Mādhyamaka
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Showing that the Mādhyamaka critique does not eradicate conventional existence
- p.411 -
法，二 彼如何破壞，三 諸中觀師如何答彼。
Showing that those systems contradict the unique feature of Mādhyamaka has three parts:
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.1 Identifying the distinguishing feature of Mādhyamaka
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.2 Showing that those systems contradict this distinguishing feature
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.3 How a Mādhyamika responds to those who negate the distinguishing feature of Mādhyamaka
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.1 Identifying the distinguishing feature of Mādhyamaka
Nāgārjuna's 《Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning》 says:
Through this virtue may all beings
Amass the collections of merit and wisdom
And attain the two sublime embodiments
That arise from merit and wisdom.
What this means is that disciples who progress by way of the Supreme Mahāyāna vehicle will attain, upon reaching their goal, both the sublime embodiment of truth and the sublime embodiment of form.
This attainment, as explained earlier, is based on their having amassed along the path immeasurable collections of merit and sublime wisdom, collections within which method and wisdom are inseparable.
That, in turn, definitely relies upon attaining certain knowledge of the diversity of phenomena. This profound knowledge understands that the relationship of cause and effect—conventional cause and effect—is such that specific beneficial and harmful effects arise from specific causes. At the same time, amassing the collections of merit and wisdom also definitely relies on attaining certain knowledge of the real nature of phenomena. This means reaching a profound certainty that all phenomena lack even a particle of essential or intrinsic nature.
Certain knowledge of both diversity and the real nature is needed because without them it is impossible to practice the whole path, both method and wisdom, from the depths of your heart.
This is the key to the path that leads to the attainment of the two embodiments when the result is reached; whether you get it right depends on how you establish your philosophical view of the basic situation.
The way to establish that view is to reach certain knowledge of the two truths as I have just explained them. Except for Mādhyamikas, other people do not understand how to explain these two truths as non-contradictory; they see them as a mass of contradictions.
However, experts possessed of subtlety, wisdom, and vast intelligence — experts called Mādhyamikas — have used their mastery of techniques for knowing the two truths to establish them without even the slightest trace of contradiction.
In this way they reach the final meaning of what the Conqueror taught. This gives them a wonderful sense of respect for our Teacher and his teaching. Out of that respect they speak with utter sincerity, raising their voices again and again: "You who are wise, the meaning of emptiness—emptiness of intrinsic existence—is dependent-arising; it does not mean that things do not exist, it does not mean that they are empty of the capacity to function."
Scholars who are Buddhist essentialists may have great training in many topics of learning, but they do not accept the Mādhyamaka view,
and their dispute with the Mādhyamikas is as follows: "If all phenomena are empty, lacking any essential or intrinsic nature, then all of the teachings on cyclic existence and nirvana—bondage, freedom, and so forth—are untenable."
- p.412 -
Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》 states their view:
If all these were empty,
There would be no arising and no disintegration;
It would follow that for you
The four noble truths would not exist.
They say that if this is empty of intrinsic existence, then production, disintegration, and the four truths would not be tenable.
Nāgārjuna's 《Refutation of Objections》 also states an essentialist's objection:
If all things
Are completely without intrinsic nature,
Then your words also lack intrinsic nature
And cannot refute intrinsic existence.
They say that if words lack intrinsic nature, then they can neither refute intrinsic nature nor prove its absence.
They argue from the supposition that if there is no intrinsic nature, then the agents and objects of production are not tenable, and neither are the processes of refutation and proof.
Hence they dispute with us on the grounds that the arguments which refute intrinsic existence will refute all functionality.
Therefore, when essentialists and Mādhyamikas debate about their disparate tenets, they debate exclusively about whether all the teachings about cyclic existence and nirvana can be appropriate for that which is empty of intrinsic existence.
Hence, the distinguishing feature of Mādhyamaka is the admissibility of all the teachings about cyclic existence and nirvana— the agents and objects of production, refutation, proof, and so forth—in the absence of even a particle of essential or intrinsic nature.
The twenty-fourth chapter of Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》 says:
The reductio expressing the fallacy that all is untenable
Is not right about emptiness;
Thus, forsaking emptiness, as you have,
Is not right for me.
For those to whom emptiness makes sense
Everything makes sense;
For those to whom emptiness does not make sense
Nothing makes sense.
Nāgārjuna says that fallacies adduced by the essentialists, such as, "If all these are empty, there would be no arising and no disintegration...," do not apply to those who advocate the absence of intrinsic nature. Moreover, he also says that things such as production and disintegration are tenable within the position of emptiness of intrinsic existence, whereas they are not tenable within the position that phenomena are not empty of intrinsic existence.
Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 cites that passage and explains: Not only does the fallacy expressed in the reductio stated by the essentialists simply not apply to our position, but it is also the case that within our position all of the teachings on the four noble truths, etc. are quite correct.
In order to indicate this, Nāgārjuna said, "For those to whom emptiness makes sense...."
The twenty-sixth chapter of Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》 teaches the stages of production in the forward progression of the twelve factors of dependent-arising and the stages of their cessation in the reverse progression.
The other twenty-five chapters mainly refute intrinsic existence.
The twenty-fourth chapter analyzes the four noble truths. It demonstrates at length that none of the teachings about cyclic existence and nirvāna—arising, disintegration, etc.—makes sense in the context of non-emptiness of intrinsic existence, and how all of those do make sense within the context of emptiness of intrinsic existence.
Hence, you must know how to carry the implications of this twenty-fourth chapter over to the other chapters.
Therefore, those who currently claim to teach the meaning of Mādhyamaka are actually giving the position of the essentialists when they hold that all causes and effects—such as the agents and objects of production—are impossible in the absence of intrinsic existence.
- p.413 -
Thus, Nāgārjuna the Protector holds that one must seek the emptiness of intrinsic existence and the middle way on the very basis of the teachings of cause and effect—that is, the production and cessation of specific effects in dependence upon specific causes and conditions.
The twenty-fourth chapter [of Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》] says:
That which arises dependently
We explain as emptiness.
This [emptiness] is dependent designation;
This is the middle way.
Because there is no phenomenon
That is not a dependent-arising,
There is no phenomenon
That is not empty.
Thus, Nāgārjuna says that dependent-arisings are necessarily empty of intrinsic existence. Do not turn this statement on its head by claiming that what is produced in dependence on causes and conditions must intrinsically exist.
Similarly, Nāgārjuna's 《Refutation of Objections》 says:
For whomever emptiness makes sense,
Everything makes sense;
For whomever emptiness makes no sense,
Nothing makes any sense.
I bow down to the Buddha,
The unequaled supreme teacher,
Who taught that emptiness, dependent-arising,
And the middle way hold a single meaning.
Also, Nāgārjuna's 《Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness》says:
The unequaled Tathâgata taught
That because all things
Are empty of intrinsic existence,
Things are dependent-arisings.
Also, Nāgārjuna's 《Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning》 says:
Those who cling to the self or to the world
As though these were not contingent
Are captivated by extreme views
Of permanence and impermanence.
Those who claim that dependent things
Exist in reality—
How can they avoid the fallacies
Of permanence and so forth?
Those who hold that contingent things,
Like a moon reflected in water,
Are neither real nor unreal–
They are not captivated by such wrong views.
Also, Nāgārjuna's Praise of the Transcendent One says:
Logicians claim that suffering
Is produced from itself, or from something other,
Or from both of those, or without a cause;
You said it arises dependently.
You hold that whatever arises
Dependently is empty;
There is nothing to match your roar,
"Things do not exist on their own!"
Thus Nāgārjuna says that it is precisely because of being dependent-arisings that phenomena are empty of intrinsic existence. This explanation that dependent-arising is the meaning of emptiness— that is to say, the absence of intrinsic existence—is the unique system of Nāgārjuna the Protector.
Therefore, dependent-arising does not mean accepting emptiness—the absence of intrinsic existence—for oneself as a Mādhyamika, while leaving teachings on dependently arisen cause and effect to others because one is uncomfortable with having them in one's own system. For Nāgārjuna's statement in the 《Fundamental Treatise》, "For those to whom emptiness makes sense...," means that all of the dependent-arisings of cyclic existence and nirvāna are admissible in a system that teaches the absence of intrinsic existence.
How is it that all of cyclic existence and nirvâna is possible in a system that asserts emptiness?
- p.414 -
As I will explain below, proponents of the view that all things are empty of intrinsic existence argue that this is possible by reason of things' arising in dependence on causes and conditions.
This being the case, dependent-arising is tenable within emptiness of intrinsic existence, and when dependent-arising is tenable, suffering is also tenable—for suffering may be attributed only to what arises in dependence on causes and conditions; it cannot be attributed to what does not arise dependently.
When true suffering exists, then the origins from which it arises, the cessation that is the stopping of that suffering, and the paths leading to those cessations are tenable; thus, all four truths exist.
When the four truths exist, then it is possible to understand, to eliminate, and to actualize the first three truths respectively, and it is possible to cultivate true paths;
when such practices exist, then everything—the three jewels and so forth—is tenable.
As Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 says:
For those to whom this emptiness of intrinsic existence of all things makes sense, everything that has been mentioned also makes sense. Why?
Because we call dependent-arising "emptiness". thus, dependent-arising makes sense in a system in which emptiness makes sense... and the four noble truths are reasonable for those to whom dependent-arising makes sense.
Because only what arises dependently can be suffering, not what does not arise dependently. Since what arises dependently lacks intrinsic nature, it is empty.
Once there is suffering, then the origins of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the paths leading to the cessation of suffering also make sense. Therefore, thorough understanding of suffering, elimination of origins, actualization of cessation, and cultivation of paths also make sense.
When there is thorough understanding, etc. of the truths—suffering, etc.—then it makes sense that there will be spiritual results. Once there are results, then it makes sense that there are people who have achieved those results; this in turn implies the possibility of people who are approaching those results. Once there are people who are approaching and achieving these results, then the community is possible.
When the noble truths exist, then the sublime teaching also makes sense, and when the sublime teaching and community exist, then buddhas are possible as well.
Therefore, the three jewels also make sense. All profound knowledge of everything mundane and supramundane makes sense.
Proper and improper conduct, the results of that [happy and miserable rebirths], and all worldly conventions make sense as well.
Therefore, in that way, Nāgārjuna says, "For those to whom emptiness makes sense, everything makes sense....". If emptiness did not make sense, then dependent-arising would not exist, and so nothing would make sense.
Therefore, you should understand that "what makes sense" and "what does not make sense" here refer to whether those things exist.
As cited earlier, an objection by essentialists appears in Nāgārjuna's 《Refutation of Objections》:
If all things
Are completely without intrinsic nature,
Then your words also lack intrinsic nature
And thus cannot refute intrinsic existence.
The master Nāgārjuna clearly answers that functionality is tenable within the context of the absence of intrinsic existence.
The 《Refutation of Objections》:
We propound that the dependent-arising
Of things is called "emptiness";
That which arises dependently
Has no intrinsic nature.
Also, Nāgārjuna's own 《Commentary on the "Refutation of Objections"》 here says: Failing to comprehend the emptiness of things, you essentialists look for something to criticize, and argue against the Mādhyamikas, saying, "Your words lack intrinsic nature and therefore cannot refute the intrinsic existence of things."
- p.415 -
Here in Mādhyamaka, the dependent-arising of things is emptiness. Why? Because they lack intrinsic nature. Those things that arise dependently are not associated with intrinsic nature because they lack intrinsic nature. Why? Because they rely on causes and conditions. If things had intrinsic nature, then they would exist even without causes and conditions; since such is not the case, they lack intrinsic nature. Therefore, we speak of them as "empty."
Similarly, my words also are dependent-arisings and therefore are without intrinsic nature. Because they lack intrinsic nature, it is reasonable to say that they are "empty." Because things such as pots and cloth are dependent-arisings, they are empty of intrinsic nature. Yet a pot can receive and hold honey, water, and soup; a cloth can protect one from the cold, wind, and sun." And so it is with my words. Because they are dependent-arisings, they lack intrinsic nature; yet they are fully capable of establishing that things lack intrinsic existence. Therefore, it is inappropriate for you to give the argument, "Because your words lack intrinsic nature, it is not tenable that they refute the intrinsic existence of all things."
Thus Nāgārjuna speaks very clearly about the pervasion that whatever relies on causes and conditions lacks intrinsic nature and the counter-pervasion that whatever has intrinsic nature does not rely on causes and conditions; he very clearly says that words without intrinsic nature can carry out refutations and proofs.
Is it even necessary to point out that dependent-arising—the production and cessation of afflicted and pure phenomena in dependence on causes and conditions—is located right together with the absence of intrinsic existence? Dependent-arising is the best reason to use in order to know the absence of intrinsic existence. You should be aware that only the Mādhyamika experts have this unique approach.
If you hold that dependent production and dependent cessation would have to be essentially existent, and you use the arguments against intrinsic existence to refute the dependent-arising of production and cessation, then those arguments—like a god transformed into a demon—will be a tremendous obstacle to finding an accurate understanding of Mādhyamaka.
In that case, when you develop a sense of certainty that phenomena lack even a particle of essential or intrinsic nature, you will then have no basis for developing certain knowledge of the relationship between cause and effect within your own system; you will have to posit those as others see them, etc.
Or, if you do develop a sense of certainty about cause and effect within your own system, then it will be impossible for your system to foster certain knowledge of the absence of intrinsic existence. You will have to find some other way to construe what the Buddha meant in speaking of the absence of intrinsic existence. If this is the case, then you must understand that you have not yet found the Mādhyamaka view.
What will help you to find the right view? As a basis, you should be pure in upholding your ethical commitments. Then strive in many ways to accumulate the collections of merit and wisdom and clear away obscurations. Rely on the learned, making efforts to study and to reflect upon their instructions.
Since certainty about appearances and certainty about emptiness almost never develop together, it is extremely difficult to find the Mādhyamaka view.
This is what Nāgārjuna meant in the twenty-fourth chapter of the 《Fundamental Treatise》:
Therefore, knowing that those of limited intelligence
Would have difficulty understanding the depths of his teaching,
The mind of the Sage turned away
From giving this teaching.
- p.416 -
Nāgārjuna's 《Precious Garland》 says:
When the impurity of this body—
Which is coarse, directly observable,
And continuously appearing—
Does not stay with the mind,
Then how could the excellent teaching—
Which has no basis, is not immediately apparent,
And is most subtle and profound—
Easily come to mind?
Realizing that because of its profundity
This teaching is difficult to understand,
The Sage, when he became a buddha,
Turned away from giving this teaching.
Thus, treatises and scriptures state that it is very difficult to understand the profound view.
Failing to reach such knowledge of both appearances and emptiness, some mistake the meaning of statements in certain authoritative texts that demonstrate the absence of intrinsic existence via rational analysis of whether pots and such are one with or different from their parts.
Analyzing whether something such as a pot is any of its parts—such as its lip or neck—they do not find it to be any of those; this leads them to a sense of certainty that "there is no pot here."
Then, applying the same analysis to the analyzer, they become certain that "there is also no analyzer here."
They then wonder, "If the analyzer is not to be found, then who is it that knows that pots and such do not exist?"
So they say, "Things are neither existent nor nonexistent." If the false certainty brought on by this sort of counterfeit reasoning were considered a case of finding the Mādhyamaka view, then gaining that view would seem to be the easiest thing in the world.
Therefore, the intelligent should develop an unshakable certainty that the very meaning of emptiness is dependent-arising. This is what is said in the definitive scriptures and in the pure Mādhyamaka texts, the treatises that comment on the intended meaning of those definitive scriptures.
This is the distinguishing feature of the Mādhyamika experts. Specifically, this is the subtle point that the noble Nāgārjuna and his spiritual son Aryadeva had in mind and upon which the master Buddhapalita and the glorious Candrakirti gave fully comprehensive commentary. This is how dependent arising bestows certain knowledge of the absence of intrinsic existence; this is how it dawns on you that it is things which are devoid of intrinsic existence that are causes and effects.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.2 How those systems contradict this distinguishing feature of Mādhyamaka
Thus, the system of Nāgārjuna the Protector is that phenomena do not have even a particle of essential or intrinsic nature.
Also, if there were intrinsic existence, then all of the teachings on cyclic existence and nirvāna would be impossible.
Since it is inappropriate not to give those teachings, all the teachings on bondage, freedom, etc. should be set forth. Thus, you definitely must assert the absence of intrinsic existence.
However, you misinterpreters of Mādhyamaka seem to say, "As things have no essential or intrinsic nature, then what else is there? Therefore, it is not necessary to add a qualification such as 'ultimate' when refuting bondage, freedom, production, cessation, etc. Bondage, etc. are refuted by the arguments that refute intrinsic existence."
If you say this, think about how you should not contradict that which allows you—in the absence of intrinsic existence—to posit bondage, freedom, arising, disintegration, and so forth.
- p.417 -
Objection: The master Candrakirti holds that teachings on cyclic existence and nirvana—bondage, freedom, etc.—are made conventionally, and we also accept these conventionally. Hence, there is no fault.
Reply: This is not reasonable. For you also accept the master Candrakirti's assertion that phenomena have no essential or intrinsic nature even conventionally. The argument refuting intrinsic existence must refute it even conventionally
and you claim that the argument refuting intrinsic existence also refutes bondage, freedom, and so forth. Therefore, it is quite clear that in your system bondage, freedom, and so forth are refuted even conventionally.
In brief, if you claim that the absence of intrinsic existence contradicts bondage, freedom, production, cessation, etc., then it will be impossible—in terms of either truth—to give the full and correct teachings on nirvana and cyclic existence within emptiness, the emptiness of intrinsic existence.
You have therefore denied the unique feature of Mādhyamaka.
If you claim that the absence of intrinsic existence does not contradict bondage and such, then you are left without any good reason with which to support your claim that—without having to add any qualification such as "ultimate" to what is negated—the argument refuting intrinsic existence also refutes production, cessation, bondage, freedom, etc.
Therefore, if the argument refuting intrinsic existence refutes cause and effect, then you are asserting that production, disintegration, and such are impossible in the absence of intrinsic existence.
In that case, it is quite clear that your position does not differ in the slightest from the essentialist argument set forth in the twenty-fourth chapter [of Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》]:
If these were all empty,
There would be neither arising nor disintegration;
It follows that for you
The noble truths would not exist.
Nor does your position differ at all from the essentialist argument set forth in Nāgārjuna's 《Refutation of Objections》:
If all things
Are completely without intrinsic nature,
Then your words also lack intrinsic nature
And thus cannot refute intrinsic existence.
Objection: Production, disintegration, and so forth are possible neither within emptiness of intrinsic existence nor within non-emptiness of intrinsic existence; since we assert neither emptiness of intrinsic existence nor non-emptiness of intrinsic existence, we have no faults.
Reply: This reading of the Mādhyamaka texts is utterly inappropriate, as Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 proves: We avoid the fallacy that arising, disintegration, and such would not be tenable. What is more, the four truths, etc. are tenable.
Also, Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》 makes a clear distinction between the tenability of the four truths in the context of emptiness of intrinsic existence and their untenability in the context of non-emptiness.
Further, Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Middle Way"》 says:
Empty things, such as reflections, depend on a collection of causes–
It is not as though this were not well known.
From those empty reflections and so forth
Arise consciousnesses that bear their image.
Similarly, even though all things are empty,
From those empty things, effects are definitely produced.
- p.418 -
Moreover, when reason refutes bondage, freedom, and so forth, according to your assertion it is not suitable to refute those ultimately and thus they must be refuted conventionally. In that case, one would be refuting all teachings on cyclic existence and nirvana even conventionally. Such a Mādhyamaka is without precedent.
- p.419 -