188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.3 How a Mādhyamika responds to those who negate the distinguishing feature of Mādhyamaka
To the objection, "If things were empty of intrinsic existence, the causes and effects of cyclic existence and nirvāna could not be set forth, "Nāgārjuna the Protector responds that since the fallacy that the Mādhyamikas were going to adduce has been advanced against them, they will turn it around and use it against the objectors.
The twenty-fourth chapter of Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》 Says:
You take your own fallacies
And turn them into ours,
Like someone who while riding on a horse,
Forgets that very horse.
If you regard things
As existing intrinsically,
Then you regard all things
As having no causes or conditions.
If all these phenomena were not empty
There would be neither arising nor disintegration;
It would follow that for you essentialists
The four noble truths would not exist.
And there are other such passages.
Therefore, it is clear that those who argue, "If there is no essential or intrinsic existence, then what else is there?" have unquestionably failed to distinguish between a seedling's lack of intrinsic existence and a seedling's lack of existence. Because of that, they have also failed to distinguish between the existence of a seedling and the existence of a seedling by way of its own essence.
Therefore, they clearly hold that whatever exists must exist essentially, and if something is not essentially existent, then it does not exist.
Otherwise, why would they claim that the arguments refuting essential existence refute mere existence and mere production and cessation, etc.?
They claim that insofar as seedlings and such are asserted to exist, they must exist essentially and they claim that if seedlings utterly lack essential existence, they must be utterly nonexistent. In taking these positions, they undeniably fall to both extremes of permanence and of annihilation. Thus, their perspective is no different from that of the essentialists.
For, Candrakirti's 《Commentary on [Aryadeva's] "Four Hundred Stanzas"》 says clearly: The essentialists say that whenever things exist, there is essence. As they see it, without essence these things would be completely nonexistent—like the horn of a donkey. Therefore these essentialists cannot avoid being proponents of both extremes of permanence and of annihilation. Consequently, it is difficult to reconcile all of their explicit assertions.
The glorious Candrakirti distinguishes intrinsic existence from existence; he also distinguishes the absence of intrinsic existence from nonexistence. Unless you know this you will no doubt fall to both extremes, and thus you will not know the meaning of the middle way which is without extremes.
For when it turns out that a phenomenon utterly lacks essential existence, for you it will be utterly nonexistent; then, since there will be no way at all to posit cause and effect within emptiness—emptiness of intrinsic existence—you will fall to an extreme of annihilation.
Also, once you accept that a phenomenon exists, you will have to assert that it essentially exists. In that case it will be impossible for you to treat cause and effect as similar to illusions in the sense that they appear to exist intrinsically whereas they do not. Consequently, you will fall to the extreme of permanence.
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Therefore, to avoid falling to the extreme of existence, you must realize that from the outset all phenomena lack even a particle of essential existence.
And to escape the extreme of nonexistence, you must develop definite knowledge that things such as seedlings nevertheless have the power to perform their own functions; that is, they do not turn into non-things which are empty of the capacity to perform functions.
A clear differentiation between the absence of intrinsic existence and nonexistence is also set forth in Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》:
Objection: This claim that things lack intrinsic existence will wipe out everything the Bhagavan said, such as, "You experience the fruition of the karma that you yourself have done." By making this claim, you mistakenly deny karma and its effects. Therefore, you are the supreme nihilists.
Reply: We are not nihilists. We refute both the proposition of existence and the proposition of nonexistence; we illuminate the path free from these two, the path that leads to the city of nirvāna.
We also do not claim, "Karma, agents, effects, and so forth do not exist." What do we say? We posit that these lack intrinsic nature.
Objection: There is still a defect in your position because it is not tenable for things that lack intrinsic nature to function.
Reply: Again, there is no such defect, because functionality is not attested in that which has intrinsic nature; functionality is attested only in that which lacks intrinsic nature.
The essentialist's position is that the denial of intrinsic nature prevents karma from giving rise to effects. This is no different from the assertion [by Tibetans who claim to be Mādhyamikas] that the arguments which refute intrinsic existence refute cause and effect.
The Mādhyamika and the essentialist agree that if one denies cause and effect, one becomes the most extreme sort of nihilist.
However, the Mādhyamika does not deny cause and effect. Still, the essentialist calls the Mādhyamika a "nihilist" or "annihilationist," supposing that if you refute intrinsic nature, then you certainly must also refute cause and effect.
Most Tibetans who claim to be Mādhyamikas seem to agree with the essentialist's assertion that if an argument refutes intrinsic nature, it must also refute cause and effect. Yet unlike essentialists, these Tibetans seem pleased that reason refutes cause and effect, taking this to be the Mādhyamaka system.
In answer to this objection, Candrakirti responds: "We are not nihilists; we eliminate the propositions of existence and nonexistence; we illuminate the path to liberation."
The rest of the passage shows how he avoids the positions of existence and nonexistence.
By saying, "We do not claim that karma, effects, and so forth are nonexistent," Candrakirti avoids the nihilistic position. We would be nihilists if we asserted that cause, effect, and so forth do not exist, but we do not assert this.
In response to the question, "Well, what do you hold?"
Candrakirti says, "We posit, or assert, that these—karma, effects, and so forth—lack intrinsic nature." He thereby avoids the position of existence.
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The statement, "There is still a defect in your position because it is not tenable for that which lacks intrinsic nature to function," indicates the essentialist's objection— "You Mādhyamikas say, ‘We do not propound nonexistence; we propound an absence of intrinsic nature,' but you still cannot escape the fallacy that we have already stated: Without intrinsic nature, cause and effect are not tenable."
Those essentialists raise this objection because in their system there is no difference between the absence of intrinsic nature and nonexistence.
In reply, Candrakirti says that functions— such as causes giving rise to effects—are impossible in the context of intrinsic existence and are possible only in the absence of intrinsic existence.
Also, Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Four Hundred Stanzas"》 says:
We are not proponents of nonexistence, for we are proponents of dependent-arising. Are we proponents of real things? No, because we are proponents only of dependent-arising. What do we propound? We propound dependent-arising. What is the meaning of dependent-arising? It means the absence of intrinsic existence; it means no intrinsically existent production; it means the arising of effects whose nature is similar to a magician's illusion, a mirage, a reflection, a phantom city, an emanation, or a dream; it means emptiness and selflessness.
Candrakirti shows that by asserting dependent-arising you can avoid the two extremes, the position that things exist and the position that things do not exist.
He avoids the position that things exist by explaining that dependent-arising means no intrinsically existent production,
and he avoids the position that things do not exist by indicating that dependent-arising refers to the arising of effects that are like a magician's illusion.
Therefore, "thing" may refer either to "intrinsic existence" or to "the capacity to perform a function."
Between these two, the "thing" in "the essentialist position that things exist" refers only to intrinsic existence; "thing" in "the position that things do not exist" refers to things that perform functions.
For in avoiding those two extremes, Candrakirti refutes intrinsic existence and indicates that there do exist causes and effects that are like a magician's illusions.
Moreover, Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Four Hundred Stanzas"》 says: Question: Do you Mādhyamikas claim that there are no memory consciousnesses that have as their objects the things of the past? Reply: Who would claim that such do not exist? We do not eliminate dependent-arising.
The master Aryadeva himself gives a precise statement of how memory exists:
Therefore, the arising of what we call "memory"
Is only an unreal subject with an unreal object.
Therefore, what memory observes is something in the past.
If the past thing essentially existed, then the memory of it would be observing an object that essentially exists. Therefore, that memory would be essentially existent.
But insofar as that past thing lacks intrinsic existence, the memory observing it also lacks intrinsic existence. Therefore, Aryadeva has established that the past object and the memory of it are unreal.
"Unreal" means only "lacking intrinsic existence" and "dependent-arising";
it does not mean the nonexistence of things that can perform functions.
A past thing is not entirely nonexistent because it is an object of memory and its effects can be seen. It also does not essentially exist, for if it did it would have to be permanent and it would have to be directly apprehensible.
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Candrakirtisays that these—past objects and such—are not utterly nonexistent and are also not essentially existent; he explains that unreal or false means being a dependent-arising and does not mean that things do not exist.
Therefore, if you claim that these phenomena are essentially existent, then you are a proponent of real things; you have fallen to the extreme of intrinsic existence. However, to hold that these phenomena are simply existent does not make you a proponent of real things or a proponent of real existence.
Similarly, if you hold that internal and external things are non-things, devoid of the capacity to perform functions, then you are propounding the nonexistence of things, and you have fallen to the extreme of nonexistence.
However, you do not fall to an extreme of nonexistence by saying that things lack intrinsic existence. Some [Tibetans who claim to be Mādhyamikas] do not distinguish utter nonexistence from the absence of intrinsic existence, and do not distinguish essential existence from mere existence. They hope to avoid falling to the extremes of existence and nonexistence simply by saying, "We do not claim that things are nonexistent (med pa); we say that they are not existent (yod pama yin pa). We do not claim that things exist (yod pa); we say that they are not nonexistent (med pa ma yin pa)." This is nothing but a mass of contradictions; it does not in the least explain the meaning of the middle way.
For when they refute others, they perform the refutation via an investigation of whether or not something intrinsically exists. Therefore, they have to limit the possibilities to two [i.e., it intrinsically exists or it does not]; yet in making their own assertions they claim there is something that is neither of those two.
Why should they have to limit the possibilities to two when they investigate something to see whether or not it intrinsically exists? Because if there were a third possibility beyond those two, it would not be reasonable to investigate the question, "Which is it, intrinsically existent or not intrinsically existent?"
It would be as though there were a color and someone asked, "Is it blue or is it yellow?"
Limiting things to two possibilities—either they intrinsically exist or they do not—derives from the universal limitation that anything imaginable either exists or does not exist. Similarly, the limitation that what truly exists must either truly exist as single or truly exist as plural is based on the universal limitation that anything must be either single or plural.
When there is such a limitation, any further alternative is necessarily precluded; hence, it is utter nonsense to assert a phenomenon that is neither of those two.
As Nāgārjuna's 《Refutation of Objections》 says: If the absence of intrinsic nature were refuted, Then the presence of intrinsic nature would be proven.
Moreover, there will always be some doubt in the minds of those who make these claims because they have no way of making a definitive list that excludes any further alternative. This is because as they see it the exclusion of one possibility—such as "exists" or "does not exist"—does not entail the other possibility.
If they accept that there are some cases—such as "is" (yin) and "is not" (min)—which exclude any further alternatives, then they should know that it is exactly the same in the case of "exists" (yod) and "does not exist" (med)."
Evidently their position is an overly literal misunderstanding of Mādhyamaka texts that say, "is not existent and is not nonexistent."
Therefore, if—as they claim— it is inappropriate to say "exists" or "does not exist," then it would also be wrong to say, "is not existent and is not nonexistent" because those Mādhyamaka texts say that you should reject all four possibilities.
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Therefore, Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》 does not refer to simple existence and nonexistence when it states:
To say "it exists" is a conception of permanence;
To say "it does not exist" is a view of annihilation.
Hence the learned should not dwell
In either existence or nonexistence.
This clearly means that the person who claims that things intrinsically exist will have views of permanence and annihilation.
Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 explains that in this passage the conception of existence and nonexistence refers to the view that things exist and the view that things do not exist.
It then says:
Why is it that when you have the view that things exist and the view that things do not exist, it follows that you have views of permanence and of annihilation? As Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》 says:
Whatever exists intrinsically is permanent
Since it does not become nonexistent.
If you say that an intrinsically existent thing that arose before
Is now nonexistent, that entails an extreme of annihilation.
Since intrinsic existence is not overcome, something that is said to be intrinsically existent would never become nonexistent; thus the assertion that something is intrinsically existent entails a view of permanence. Also, a view of annihilation is entailed by the assertion that there was intrinsic nature in things at an earlier time, but it has now been destroyed and no longer exists.
Candrakirti calls the assertion of intrinsic existence a view of permanence, and says that if you assert the later destruction of what was formerly intrinsically existent, such is a view of nihilism. He does not say this of mere existence and mere disintegration.
Also Buddhapālita's 《Commentary on the "Fundamental Treatise"》 clearly explains that when Nāgārjuna says, "Whatever exists intrinsically is permanent," and so forth, he is indicating the type of permanence and the type of annihilation he meant when he explained that to say "exists" or to say "does not exist" is to have views of permanence or annihilation."
In brief, if you claim that the emptiness which is the absence of intrinsic existence is not the sublime emptiness taught by the Buddha and you refute it, then you will be reborn in a miserable realm due to having abandoned the true teaching, the perfection of wisdom.
If you take an interest in the absence of intrinsic existence, but think, "If there is no intrinsic existence, what is there?"
and then claim that all phenomena do not exist at all, you will still fall into the chasm of a view of annihilation. Similarly, [Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》] says:
If they view emptiness in the wrong way,
Those of limited intelligence will be ruined.
Commenting on this, Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 says:
If, on the one hand, you were to think, "All is empty, that is, does not exist," then you would be viewing emptiness in the wrong way.
In this vein [Nāgārjuna's Precious Garland] says:
If this teaching is misunderstood
It ruins the unwise, for
They sink into the filth
Of nihilistic views.
On the other hand, suppose that you do not deny all phenomena, but then say, "We have seen these things; how could they be empty? Therefore, an absence of intrinsic existence is not what emptiness means." In that case, you have definitely abandoned emptiness.
After you have abandoned emptiness in this way, you will definitely be reborn in a miserable realm due to this action of depriving yourself of the true teaching.
As Nāgārjuna's 《Precious Garland》 says:
Further, if they misunderstand this,
Fools who take pride in their supposed wisdom
Will destroy themselves by abandoning it
And fall head-first to the Unrelenting Hell.
Qualm: If we had claimed that there were real things, and then later viewed them as nonexistent, then we would have a view of annihilation. However, we do not accept their existence from the outset. What is annihilated so as to make this a view of annihilation?
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For [Nāgārjuna's 《Fundamental Treatise》] says:
If you say that what arose before
Is now nonexistent, that entails annihilation.
Thus Nāgārjuna says that such is a view of annihilation.
Also, Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 says:
Yogis do not fall to the two extremes if they know that conventional truths—which are produced only by ignorance—lack intrinsic existence, and then know that the emptiness of those has the character of the ultimate. They think, "How could something which has now become nonexistent have existed then?" Since they do not regard earlier things as having had intrinsic nature, they do not think that such later become nonexistent.
Reply: This is not reasonable. Your supposition is that in order to have a view of annihilation, one must assert the earlier existence of whatever thing is annihilated later. In that case, it would absurdly follow that even the Lokayata proponents of materialism" would not have a view of annihilation. For it is not their claim that past and future lives, karma and its effects, etc. once existed and later became nonexistent; they do not accept such as having existed in the first place.
Therefore, when Nāgārjuna said, "If you say that what arose before is now nonexistent, that entails annihilation,"
he meant that proponents of existence who assert that things have an essential or intrinsic nature will unquestionably have views of permanence or annihilation. For, if they claim that this intrinsic nature never changes, then they will have a view of permanence;
if they claim that it once existed and was later destroyed, then they will have a view of annihilation.
Mādhyamikas do not accept the existence of even a particle of essential or intrinsic nature; this fact proves that they lack one type of view of annihilation, the type in which it is held that an intrinsic nature that once existed is later destroyed. It does not prove that they have eliminated all views of annihilation.
In a different way, Mādhyamikas are also unlike those who have the other type of view of annihilation, a view in which it is held that karma and its effects do not exist.
This is set forth at length in Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》, as follows. Mādhyamikas and nihilists have different theses since those who have a view of annihilation hold that karma and its effects, as well as other worlds beyond this lifetime, do not exist, whereas Mādhyamikas hold that such things lack intrinsic existence.
Mādhyamikas propound that things such as karma and its effects lack intrinsic existence by reason of their being dependent-arisings; nihilists do not assert that karma and its effects are dependent-arisings, so they do not use dependent-arising as a reason in support of their thesis.
Instead, to support their claim that karma and its effects are nonexistent, the reason they give is that the living beings who are here now were not seen arriving in this life from a former one, and are not seen leaving it for a future one. Hence there is an enormous difference between nihilists and Mādhyamikas in their reasons.
Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 says: Some say that Mādhyamikas are no different from nihilists. Why? Because Mādhyamikas propound that virtuous and nonvirtuous actions, agents, and effects, as well as all the worlds of this and other lifetimes are empty of intrinsic existence, while nihilists also propound that those are nonexistent. Hence they argue that Mādhyamikas do not differ from nihilists.
Such is not the case, for Mādhyamikas propound dependent-arising and propound that because of being dependent-arisings, everything—this world, other worlds, and so forth—lacks intrinsic existence.
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The nihilists' understanding that things such as other worlds beyond this lifetime are not real is not reached via knowledge that those things are empty of intrinsic existence due to being dependent-arisings.
What do they claim? They regard the aspects of the things in this world as naturally existent; they do not see them come to this world from another or go to another world from this one, so they deny the existence of other things [e.g., former and future lives] which are in fact like the things seen in this world.
Qualm: Even though Mādhyamikas and nihilists cite different reasons, their views of the absence of intrinsic existence are the same because they are alike in realizing that karma and its effects and the worlds of past and future lifetimes lack essential or intrinsic existence.
Reply: Even in this they differ. For nihilists hold that the absence of intrinsic existence is utter nonexistence, and thus they do not accept karma, etc. as either of the two truths.
Mādhyamikas, however, accept conventionally the existence of such things as karma and its effects.
Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 says:
Qualm: Even so, their views are similar in one way because nihilists consider the absence of an essence in things to be nonexistence.
Reply: This is not so. They are not similar because Mādhyamikas assert that things without essence exist conventionally; these nihilists do not assert them at all.
This shows that those who claim to be Mādhyamikas, yet do not accept the existence of karma and its effects even conventionally, in fact have a view similar to that of the Lokāyata nihilists.
What reason does the master Candrakirti give for the difference between Mādhyamikas and nihilists? He does not say, "Because they have assertions, whereas we do not."
He does not say, "They assert that those are nonexistent, whereas we do not say that they are nonexistent (med pa); rather, we hold that they are not existent (yod pa ma yin)." Instead, he says that Mādhyamikas propound that karma and such lack intrinsic existence; he says that Mādhyamikas cite dependent-arising as the reason for that lack of intrinsic existence; he says that Mādhyamikas do accept those teachings on karma and such in conventional terms.
Qualm: You propose that things such as karma and its effects lack essential or intrinsic existence. Those nihilists also assert that such things lack intrinsic existence inasmuch as they assert that they are nonexistent. Therefore they agree with the Mādhyamikas about the lack of intrinsic existence.
Reply: Again, there is a very great difference. For example, suppose someone who does not know who stole some jewels deceptively states, "That person committed the robbery." Another person—who saw the thief steal the jewels—also says, "That person committed the robbery."
As it happens, they identify the same thief who has actually stolen the jewels. Yet they are not alike, for one spoke deceptively and the other honestly.
In this vein, Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 says:
Objection: Mādhyamikas and nihilists agree about real things.
Reply: Even if they agree that real things do not exist, they are still not the same because the way that they know that is different.
For example, suppose someone does not really know that a certain person committed a robbery, but out of animosity toward that person dishonestly proclaims, "This person committed the robbery." Another person makes the same accusation having actually seen that robbery.
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Even though there is no difference between those two with regard to the fact, still there is a difference in the two accusers, for of the one it is said, "That one speaks dishonestly," and of the other, "That one speaks honestly."
A careful investigation of the first person will lead to disgrace and reproach, but such is not the case with the second.
Similarly, here also, when the understanding and the utterances of the Mādhyamikas, who accurately know the nature of things, are compared to those of nihilists, who do not accurately know the nature of things, what they know and say are not alike.
Some persons, in understanding the absence of intrinsic existence, think that reason refutes such things as karma and its effects; thus they conclude that cause and effect cannot be posited in their own system. Candrakirti totally refutes the proposition that such persons, though wrong about the class of appearances, i.e., conventionalities, have gained an accurate view of the class of emptiness.
Therefore, do not take emptiness to mean being empty of the capacity to perform functions. Instead, you must have away to posit the dependent-arising of causes and effects despite the absence of intrinsic existence.
Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Four Hundred Stanzas"》 says:
In that case, regarding any object,
When it is produced, it does not come;
Likewise, when it ceases, it does not go.
It definitely does not intrinsically exist. If it does not intrinsically exist, then what is there? Dependent-arisings—entities caused by the afflicted and the pure—do exist.
This clearly answers the question, "If there is no intrinsic existence, then what does exist?"
The master Buddhapalita also gives an answer that clearly distinguishes existence from essential existence;
Buddhapalita's 《Commentary on the "Fundamental Treatise,"》 commenting on the twentieth chapter of Nāgārjuna's text, says:
Objection: If time does not exist, and causes, effects, and collections of causes and conditions also do not exist, then what else could exist? Therefore, the Mādhyamaka position is simply a nihilistic argument.
Reply. It is not so. It is utterly impossible for time and such to exist essentially, as you imagine. However, they are established as dependent designations.
Thus he refutes this, saying that it is impossible for there to be essential existence as the essentialists claim. He also says that dependent-arisings exist: "They are established as dependent designations."
Thus, you will overcome countless wrong ideas if you distinguish intrinsic existence and the absence of intrinsic existence from existence and nonexistence. Moreover, you will not mistake the arguments refuting intrinsic existence for refutations of existence itself.
Therefore, since the main answers that Mādhyamikas give to scholars who are essentialists proceed from this set of distinctions, I have given a bit of explanation.
第二顯所設難皆非能破分四，一 觀察堪不堪忍正理思擇而為破除，然不能破，二 觀察由量成不成立而為破除，然不能破，三 觀察是否四句所生而為破除，然不能破，四 觀察有事無事等四
- p.427 -
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Showing that the Mādhyamaka critique does not eradicate conventional existence.
This has four parts:
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.1 You cannot eradicate conventional phenomena by refuting them through investigating whether they are capable of withstanding rational analysis
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.2 You cannot eradicate conventional phenomena by refuting them through investigating whether valid cognition establishes them
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.3 You cannot eradicate conventional phenomena by refuting them through investigating whether they are produced in one of four alternative ways [from self, other, both, or neither]
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.4 A refutation of all four parts of the tetralemma—things exist, things do not exist, and so forth—is not a legitimate Critique of conventional phenomena
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.1 You cannot eradicate conventional phenomena by refuting them through investigating whether they are capable of withstanding rational analysis
A proper analysis of whether these phenomena—forms and such exist, or are produced, in an objective sense is what we call "a line of reasoning that analyzes reality," or "a line of reasoning that analyzes the final status of being."
Since we Mādhyamikas do not assert that the production of forms and such can withstand analysis by such reasoning, our position avoids the fallacy that there are truly existent things.
Question: If these things cannot withstand rational analysis, then how is it possible for something to exist when reason has refuted it?
Reply: You are mistakenly conflating the inability to withstand rational analysis with invalidation by reason.
Many who have made this error claim that production and such exist even though rational analysis of reality refutes them.
This is reckless chatter, so we do not agree.
To ask whether something can withstand rational analysis is to ask whether it is found by a line of reasoning that analyzes reality.
Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Four Hundred Stanzas"》 says:
...because our analysis is intent upon seeking intrinsic nature.
So this is seeking to discover whether forms and so forth have an intrinsic nature that is produced, ceases, and so forth. Thus, the analysis searches to see whether forms and so forth have production and cessation that exist essentially; it is not that this line of reasoning searches for mere production and cessation. Therefore, this line of reasoning is said to "analyze reality" because it analyzes whether production, cessation, and so forth are established in reality."
When such a line of reasoning analyzes or searches for production and so forth, it does not find a trace of them; they are "unable to withstand analysis." However, the fact that this line of reasoning does not find them does not entail that it refutes them.
Rather, reason refutes something that—if it did exist—would have to be established by reason, but which reason does not establish.
Conventional consciousnesses establish the production and cessation of forms and such; although forms and such exist, reasoning consciousnesses do not establish them. Therefore, while reason does not find forms and such, how could it refute them?
For example, a visual consciousness does not find sounds, but this does not refute them. This is similar.
Therefore, if production, cessation, and so forth existed essentially, i.e., were established in reality, then reason would have to find them because it accurately analyzes whether forms and such have essentially existent production and cessation.
Since such analysis does not find production and so forth, it refutes production, cessation, and so forth that exist essentially, that is, in reality. For if they existed essentially, that analysis would have to find them, but it does not.
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For example, when a searcher who is certain to find a pot in the east if it is there searches in the east for a pot and does not find it, this refutes the existence of a pot in the east. Yet how could it refute the mere existence of a pot?
Similarly, Mādhyamaka analysis is certain to find essentially existent production if such exists; when it does not find production, this constitutes a refutation of intrinsically or essentially existent production. How could it refute mere production?
In this vein, Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Four Hundred Stanzas"》 is clear: Therefore, when reason analyzes in this way, there is no essential nature that exists in the sensory faculties, objects, or consciousnesses; hence, they have no essential existence.
If they essentially existed, then under analysis by reason their status as essentially existent would be seen even more clearly, but it is not. Therefore, they are established as "empty of intrinsic nature."
Candrakirti repeatedly allows that these conventionalities, such as forms and sounds, do exist. However, they are not in the least established by reasoning that analyzes reality, that is, analyzes whether they have intrinsic nature. Thus the scrutiny of reason is not applied to them.
Also, Candrakirti often says that it is those who are incompetent at positing conventionalities who claim that conventionalities are destroyed when, upon rational analysis, reason does not find them.
If reasoning that analyzes whether they have intrinsic nature could refute them, then you would have to apply intense rational scrutiny to these conventionalities, i.e., forms, feelings, and so forth.
However, the texts of this master completely refute such efforts. Therefore, it is those who have wandered very far from the middle way who claim that something is invalidated when it is not found by reasoning that analyzes whether it has intrinsic nature.
Similarly, the meditative equipoise of a noble being does not see the production and cessation of forms and so forth, but how could it see production, cessation, and so forth as nonexistent?
Also, reasoning that analyzes whether things have intrinsic nature does not find production and so forth, but it does not consider production, cessation, and so forth to be nonexistent.
Therefore, even some earlier scholars," not to mention those today, seem to have erred by not differentiating, and instead considering identical, the following pairs:
(1) something unable to withstand rational analysis vs. something invalidated by reason;
(2) the non-perception of production and cessation by a noble being's wisdom of meditative equipoise vs. the perception of production and cessation as nonexistent by a noble being's wisdom of meditative equipoise; and
(3) the non-discovery of production and cessation by a reasoning consciousness which analyzes whether they intrinsically exist vs. the discovery that production and cessation are nonexistent.
Therefore, the intelligent should analyze this in detail and make careful distinctions!
In saying this, we do not assert that conventional consciousness is more powerful than knowledge of the ultimate; nor do we assert that conventional consciousness contradicts knowledge of the ultimate.
- p.429 -
However, you claim that rational analysis of reality refutes conventional forms, feelings, and so forth when it analyzes them and does not find them. It does not refute them. In fact, mundane knowledge will contradict any attempt to refute conventional phenomena.
Candrakīrti's 《Commentary on the "Middle Way"》 says:
If you think that the world does not contradict you,
Then refute something that is based right in the world.
You and the world can argue about it
And afterwards I will follow the stronger party.
Candrakirti's 《Explanation of the "Middle Way" Commentary》 says:
We have endured great hardship in order to overturn worldly conventionalities. Please, you eliminate worldly conventionalities. If the world does not contradict you, then we will join you. However, the world does contradict you.
The statement, "We have endured great hardship in order to overturn worldly conventionalities," refers to striving at the path in order to purify mistaken subjects, such as visual consciousnesses, and mistaken appearances of objects, such as forms. Hence we do not assert that these are objects that are refuted by reason. Rather, we consider them objects that are negated by the cultivation of the path.
The statement, "Please, you eliminate worldly conventionalities," answers those Cittāmatrins who draw the following parallel: "If you Mādhyamikas refute substantially existent dependent entities, then we will use reason to refute your conventionalities."
Candrakirti replies, "We can refute the intrinsic existence of dependent entities; if you can use reason to give a similar refutation of conventionalities, then we will go along with you."
He means that if reason could refute conventionalities, we would want that, as it would render unnecessary the hardships involved in cultivating the path in order to overcome them. Therefore, this passage shows that reason does not refute conventionalities.
Since it does not refute them, Candrakirti says that what is commonly known in the world contradicts any attempt to refute them. Hence, conventional knowledge contradicts any apparently reasonable argument to that effect. We therefore assert that conventional knowledge is more powerful than those arguments.
Consequently, when essentialists use rational analysis to refute conventional phenomena such as external objects, reason does not find those conventional phenomena, but it does not contradict them.
Objection: When we say that we do not refute forms and so forth in conventional terms, we mean that they are not refuted in the eyes of ordinary worldly people, such as shepherds. However, rational analysis of reality does refute them.
- p.430 -
Reply: Your position is quite unacceptable. Reflective individuals may wonder whether rational analysis of reality refutes these, yet they never doubt that such things remain unrefuted for those whose minds have not been affected by tenets.
Moreover, if rational analysis of reality did refute them, then that refutation would have to be done in conventional terms. The master Candrakirti also clearly states that rational analysis of reality does not refute all forms of production.
His 《Commentary on the "Four Hundred Stanzas"》 says:
Incorrect position: Aryadeva means that compounded phenomena lack production because this analysis refutes all forms of production.
Reply: In that case, the production of compounded phenomena would not be like a magician's illusion. Rather, we would make it understood using examples such as the son of a barren woman. Wary of the absurd implication that dependent-arisings would not exist, we avoid such comparisons. Instead, we compare the production of things to a magician's illusion and so forth, examples that do not contradict dependent-arising.
The phrase "this analysis" refers to rational analysis of reality.
"Refutes all forms of production" means refuting all production of any kind without adding any qualification to the object to be negated.
The passage referring to the barren woman should be understood as follows: If reason refuted all production, then production—like the son of a barren woman, the horns of a hare, and such—would be a non-thing, empty of all function.
In that case, there would be the fallacy that dependent-arisings would not exist. We are wary of that. Hence we do not say that it is like the non-production of something devoid of the capacity to perform functions, such as the son of a barren woman. We say that production is like a magician's illusion and so forth. Therefore, we refute truly existent or intrinsically existent production.
Also, Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Four Hundred Stanzas"》says:
Objection: If eyes and such do not exist, then how can the sensory faculties of organs such as the eye be considered things that result from karma?
Reply: Would we refute that it is the nature of these to result from karma?
Objection: Since you are demonstrating the refutation of eyes and such, how could you not refute that?
Reply: Because our analysis is intent upon seeking intrinsic nature. We refute here that things exist essentially; we do not refute that eyes and such are products and are dependently arisen results of karma. Therefore, they exist. Hence, when eyes and such are explained only as results of karma, they do exist.
Hence Candrakirti very clearly states exactly what reason does and does not refute. Therefore, once he makes these distinctions in one passage, they must be applied, even when they are not stated, in all similar passages throughout the text.
Therefore, reason refutes essential existence—objective existence found on the side of the thing itself; it does not refute mere existence. Since he says that reason is intent on seeking intrinsic nature, reason seeks to discover whether something intrinsically exists.
Therefore, this means that a refutation by such analysis is a refutation of intrinsic existence. Hence, distinguish these two.
Candrakirti does not refute that such instances are results of karma; moreover, he says that Mādhyamikas must assert this.
- p.431 -
The continuation of that passage says: Therefore, the learned do not subject worldly objects to the analysis just explained, i.e., the analysis congruent with the perception of reality. Instead, they accept that worldly objects are simply the inconceivable results of karma. They accept the whole world as though it were an emanation projected by another emanation.
So when you present the two truths, does the line of reasoning that establishes the ultimate contradict the presentation of the conventional? If it does, then your presentation of the two truths contradicts itself. In that case, how can you have perfected the skill of positing the two truths?
If, on the other hand, there is no trace of internal contradiction in your presentation of the two truths, then it is a contradiction to claim that the line of reasoning that establishes the ultimate refutes the presentation of conventionalities.
Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》 also says:
Unskilled in ultimate and conventional truths, you sometimes apply analytical standards inappropriately and destroy the conventional. Because we are skilled in positing conventional truths, we stay with the world's position, and we use its conventional standards to overturn the standards that you set so as to eliminate the category of conventionalities. Like the elders of the world, we drive out only you who deviate from the traditional standards of the world; we do not drive out conventionalities.
Thus he says that he refutes only proponents of tenets that deviate from conventionalities; he does not refute conventionalities. He also says that it is those who are unskilled in positing the two truths who destroy conventionalities by using analysis, i.e., rational analysis of reality. Thus, this master did not at all intend to use reason to refute conventional forms and such.
In brief, while one person may try to find contradictions in another person's presentation of the two truths, I hold that there is no one from any Indian Buddhist tenet system, Madhyamaka or otherwise, who says, "In my own presentation of the two truths, reasoning directed at the ultimate eradicates conventional objects."
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.2 You cannot eradicate conventional phenomena by refuting them through investigating whether valid cognition establishes them
As to assertions about forms and such, we do not hold that valid cognition does not establish them; valid cognition does establish them.
Qualm: Then how can Candrakirti's Commentary on the "Middle Way" be correct when it says, "The world is not valid in any way"?
Reply: That passage refutes the notion that the world's visual consciousnesses and such are valid with regard to reality. It does not refute their validity regarding all objects.
In this vein, Candrakirti's 《Explanation of the "Middle Way" Commentary》 says: Accordingly, only noble beings are authorities on the contemplation of reality; those who are not noble beings are not.
- p.432 -
Those who are not noble beings would be authorities on reality if our acceptance of the world's critique meant that we accept the validity of the world's perception of our analysis of reality.
[The Commentary on the "Middle Way" says]:
If the world were an authority, it would see reality.
Then what need would there be for those others called noble beings?
What would the noble path accomplish?
It is not right that fools should be authorities.
In the commentary following that [Explanation of the "Middle Way" Commentary], Candrakirti says: Because mere visual consciousness and such would ascertain reality, it would be fruitless to work at ethics or to study, reflect, and meditate in order to understand the noble path. However, this is not the case.
Therefore [the 《Commentary on the "Middle Way"》 says]: Because the world is not valid in any way, The world has no critique in the context of reality.
Also Candrakirti's 《Commentary on [Nāgārjuna's] "Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning"》 says: To view those forms and such as simply existing is not to see reality. In order to establish this, the Bhagavan said, "The eye, ear, and nose consciousnesses are not valid cognitions."
Since Candrakirti cites such scripture, it is extremely clear that what he refutes is that visual consciousnesses and such are valid with regard to a special object—reality—and not that they are valid with regard to other objects.
If it is not taken in this way, his statements would be inconsistent. Suppose Candrakirti meant, "If visual consciousnesses and such were valid regarding conventional objects such as forms and sounds, then it would absurdly follow that there is no need to strive at the noble path in order to perceive reality."
This would be as senseless as saying that if visual consciousness is aware of form, it follows that the ear is not needed to hear sounds.
On the other hand, suppose he meant, "If the visual consciousness were valid with regard to forms, then it would absurdly follow that it is pointless to strive at the noble path in order to perceive things such as forms and sounds." We completely agree with this, so what unwanted absurdity does it demonstrate?
Qualm: Candrakīrti's 《Commentary on the "Four Hundred Stanzas"》 says: It is quite inconsistent to call sensory consciousness "perception" and also to consider it valid with regard to other things. As the world sees it, a valid cognition is simply a non-deceptive consciousness; however, the Bhagavan said that even consciousness, because it is composite, has a false and deceptive quality and is like a magician's illusion.
That which has a false and deceptive quality and is like a magician's illusion is not non-deceptive because it exists in one way but appears in another. It is not right to designate such as a valid cognition because it would then absurdly follow that all consciousnesses would be valid cognitions. How do you interpret this general refutation of the position that visual consciousnesses and such are valid cognitions?
Reply: Unlike the passage, "Eye, ear, and nose are not valid," this passage has been a source of grave doubt. Therefore, I will explain it in detail.
This refutation of the position that the visual consciousnesses and such are both perceptions and valid cognitions is a refutation of the assertions of the logicians. Therefore, let us start by considering what they assert.
Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Four Hundred Stanzas"》 says: Because these logicians are utterly unpracticed in the sensibilities of the world, you must train them from the very beginning, like young children. Hence, in order to teach them, you question them closely,
asking, "What is a perception in your system?" They answer, "A consciousness is a perception."
"What sort of consciousness?" "One that is free from conceptuality."
- p.433 -
"What is this conceptuality?" "It is the fluctuation of the discrimination that is involved in the superimposition of names and types to objects.
Because they are free from that, the five sensory consciousnesses engage only the inexpressible intrinsic character of their objects. They are therefore called 'perceptions'.
Hence the logicians hold that a perception is a consciousness that is free from conceptuality and non-mistaken.
It is non-mistaken in that it apprehends the intrinsic character of the object just as it is. Thus, since all five sensory perceptions comprehend the intrinsic character of their objects, the intrinsic characteristics of forms, sounds, and so forth are the objects comprehended by those five perceptions.
Therefore, it is in relation to the intrinsic character of these five objects that they consider such perceptions to be valid.
As we will explain, the master Candrakirti does not accept even conventionally that anything exists essentially or by way of its intrinsic character. Thus, how could he accept this claim that the sensory consciousnesses are valid with regard to the intrinsic character of their objects?
Therefore, this refutation of the claim that sensory consciousnesses are valid is a refutation of the view that they are valid with regard to the intrinsic character of the five objects.
This refutation is made by way of the Bhagavan's statement that consciousness is false and deceptive.
The statement that it is deceptive refutes its being non-deceptive, and this in turn refutes its validity because "that which is non-deceptive" is the definition of "valid cognition."
In what sense is it deceptive? As Candrakirti puts it, "it exists in one way but appears in another."
This means that the five objects—forms, sounds, and so forth—are not established by way of their intrinsic character, but appear to the sensory consciousnesses as though they were. Therefore, those sensory consciousnesses are not valid with regard to the intrinsic character of their objects.
In brief, what Candrakirti intended in this passage is that the sensory consciousnesses are not valid with regard to the intrinsic character of the five objects because they are deceived in relation to the appearance of intrinsic character in the five objects.
This is because those five objects are empty of intrinsic character, yet appear to have it. For example, it is like a consciousness that perceives two moons.
On this point, essentialists claim that if forms, sounds, and so forth did not exist intrinsically—that is, were not established by way of their intrinsic character—they would be non-things, devoid of all capacity to perform functions. They therefore assert that if the sensory consciousnesses are not valid perceptual cognitions of the intrinsic character of the five objects, then there can be no valid cognition of the five objects;
if the sensory consciousnesses are valid cognitions of the five objects, then they will be valid cognitions of the intrinsic character of those objects.
According to the master Candrakirti, if something were established by way of its intrinsic character, or essence, it would be something true. Hence a valid cognition that posited such." truly existent object would have to be valid regarding the object's intrinsic character.
However, because objects are false, the valid cognition that posits them does not have to be valid regarding their intrinsic character.
For, Candrakirti's 《Commentary on the "Four Hundred Stanzas"》 says:
It is not reasonable that worldly perception should cancel perception of reality, because worldly perception is valid only for the world, and because the objects it observes have a false and deceptive quality.
Therefore, since Candrakirti is refuting the logician's position that sensory consciousnesses are valid regarding the intrinsic character of objects, he need not refute the position that they are simply valid cognitions.
Consequently, Candrakirti is not giving a general refutation of the position that there are valid cognitions among conventional consciousnesses.
- p.434 -
If he were, then it would not be reasonable for him to say, "As the world sees it, a valid cognition is simply a nondeceptive consciousness,"
because he would have refuted the validity of every sort of conventional consciousness.
Also, this would contradict Candrakirti's 《Clear Words》, where he presents direct, inferential, scriptural, and analogical valid cognitions, saying, "We therefore posit that the world knows objects with four valid cognitions.
Candrakirti refutes essentially existent valid cognitions and objects of comprehension; he does not refute valid cognitions and objects of comprehension that are contingently posited dependent-arisings.
That same text [《the Clear Words》] says:
Those are established through mutual dependence. When valid cognitions exist, then there are things that are the objects of comprehension. When there are things that are objects of comprehension, then there are valid cognitions. However, neither valid cognitions nor objects of comprehension exist essentially.
Therefore, if a sensory consciousness is unimpaired—that is, no eye disease or other internal or external cause of error is affecting it— then it is accurate in conventional terms. It is mistaken in terms of appearance because, under the influence of ignorance, it apprehends its object as though it were intrinsically existent—which it is not. Yet this does not contradict its conventional accuracy.
Candrakirti's Commentary on the "Middle Way" says:
Also, perceivers of falsities are of two types:
Those with clear sensory faculties and those with impaired sensory faculties.
A consciousness with an impaired sensory faculty
Is considered wrong in relation to a consciousness with a good sensory faculty.
Those objects known by the world
And apprehended with the six unimpaired sensory faculties
Are true for the world.
The rest Are posited as unreal for the world.
Thus conventional consciousnesses and their objects are of two types: accurate in relation to conventional consciousness and inaccurate in relation to conventional consciousness.
With regard to internal conditions that impair the sensory faculties, Candrakirti's 《Explanation of the "Middle Way" Commentary》 says:
Eye disease, jaundice, and so forth, as well as eating datura and so forth, are internal conditions that impair the Sensory faculties.
With regard to external conditions that impair the sensory faculties, that same text says:
External conditions that impair the sensory faculties include sesame oil, water, mirrors, sounds spoken from within caves and such, as well as sunlight at certain times and places.
Even in the absence of internal conditions that impair the sensory faculties, these cause the apprehension of reflections, echoes, the water of a mirage, and so forth.
You should understand that this is also the case with the medicine, mantra, and such used by conjurers and so forth. As for what impairs the mental sensory faculty, there are those just mentioned as well as incorrect tenets, etc., and false inference.
Thus he says that bad tenets and false reasoning are conditions that degrade the mental consciousness.
He says that conditions such as sleep also degrade the mental consciousnesses associated with dreams and so forth. [619) Therefore, you should not consider the impairment of being affected by ignorance as a cause of impairment in this context—even though the object apprehended by ignorance does not exist even conventionally, as will be explained below.
- p.435 -
Qualm: If the five sensory consciousnesses that are unimpaired by causes of error other than ignorance are non-mistaken conventionally, then the intrinsic character that appears to them must exist conventionally. However, the master Candrakirti does not assert such. Therefore, we must assert that the sensory consciousnesses are mistaken; in that case it is not feasible for those consciousnesses to be valid cognitions that posit things such as forms and sounds in conventional terms. Why? In conventional terms, they are mistaken with regard to forms.
Reply: On this point, the master Bhavaviveka asserts that it is the nature of forms and such to exist conventionally by way of their intrinsic character. The Cittamatrins argue that imaginary constructs lack characteristic nature because it is not their nature to exist by way of intrinsic character. To refute them, Bhavaviveka investigates the agents and objects involved in the process of imaginary construction. He says that if they assert that the terms and minds that construct entities and features lack intrinsic character conventionally, then they are inappropriately denying the existence of contingent entities. Therefore, it is clear that Bhavaviveka asserts that contingent entities have intrinsic character conventionally.
Along the same lines, Bhavaviveka's 《Lamp for [Nāgārjuna's] "Fundamental Treatise"》 comments on the twenty-fifth chapter of Nāgārjuna's text as follows:
If you say that the very nature of a construct—the mental and verbal expression "form"—does not exist, then you are mistakenly denying things, for you are mistakenly denying mental and verbal expressions.
In his 《Explanatory Commentary on [Bhāvaviveka's] "Lamp for the 'Fundamental Treatise'"》, on this, the master Avalokitavrata says: This statement by Bhāvaviveka indicates the following: As to the nature of the imaginary construct, the Yogacarins say that it has no nature inasmuch as it has no characteristic nature. In the case of entities and attributes such as "form," what is the nature that constructs mental expressions, i.e., conceptions, and verbal expressions, i.e., conventions? If you say that there is no such nature because they have no characteristic nature, this is unsuitable, since you would be inappropriately denying even conventional existence in things that are contingent.
He says that if you assert that those contingent entities that are included among the imputing terms and minds lack characteristic nature even conventionally, then it is an inappropriate denial.
"Character" in the phrase "lack characteristic nature" refers to intrinsic character or intrinsic nature.
Cittamātrins assert that imputations do not have such character, but that contingent entities do, and therefore exist intrinsically.
Nonetheless, because contingent entities arise from other things, they have no self-produced nature and hence Cittamātrins hold that they lack nature in this sense.
The Buddha explained it this way in the 《Sūtra Unravelling the Intended Meaning》; he said that there was an ulterior meaning behind the statements in the Perfection of Wisdom sutras which say that all phenomena lack nature.
In this regard, the master Kamalaśīla said in his Illumination of the Middle Way:
By indicating the intended meanings of the three types of naturelessness, that sutra [the 《Sūtra Unravelling the Intended Meaning》] teaches the middle way free from the two extremes. Consequently, the system it sets up is strictly definitive.
Kamalaśīla's argument is that [the Sūtra Unravelling the Intended Meaning] teaches the meaning of the middle way by showing that the ultimate nature that is superimposed upon contingent entities is an imaginary construct, and is thus nonexistent,
while also teaching that contingent entities have intrinsic character conventionally—thus avoiding an inappropriate negation. Hence the master Kamalaśīla also asserts that objects have intrinsic character conventionally.
- p.436 -
Candrakirti's 《Explanation of the "Middle Way"》 Commentary says:
For example, a snake is an imaginary construct when conceived in relation to a rope, but is perfectly real when conceived in relation to an actual snake.
Similarly, a nature is an imaginary construct when conceived with regard to contingent entities, which are dependently arisen fabrications. However, as the object of a buddha, it is considered perfectly real. Understand the presentation of the three natures in this way;
then explain what the 《Sūtra Unravelling the Intended Meaning》 means.
He states this as commentary on these lines from his 《Commentary on the "Middle Way"》:
Any sutra that explains something that is not reality,
And sets forth the provisional, should be understood as such and interpreted.
Thus, it is obvious that he considers the 《Sūtra Unravelling the Intended Meaning》's presentation of the three natures to be provisional. In his own system, the imaginary refers to the intrinsic existence of the contingent; hence, Candrakirti does not assert that contingent entities have intrinsic character or intrinsic nature even conventionally.
The Cittamātrins accept the nonexistence of characteristic nature only for imaginaries, but do not assert that with regard to the contingent and the perfectly real.
Thus, they assert that these two have essential character, intrinsic nature.
It appears that this assertion is based mainly on the 《Sūtra Unravelling the Intended Meaning》. Because of this, they assert that the contingent and the perfectly real exist ultimately.
The masters Buddhapālita and Candrakirti assert that if something were to existby way of its intrinsic character, then it would have to be truly existent; masters such as Bhavaviveka assert that this alone does not imply that something ultimately exists.
- p.437 -