aflatun wrote:Again thank you for this wonderful post, its always a pleasure.
I think I could have been more clear. What I was really objecting to, was "ontological plenum." By this I mean, entity, thing, substance, essence, etc, especially one that is "transcendent." All of this falls into one of the four extremes that are roundly rejected (I'm thinking MMK, specifically the analysis of the unconditioned).
Indeed. Consider the various bells something must ring and whistles something must blow and the jumps and hurdles something must cross in various traditional Buddhisms to be considered even tangentially "real".
For something to be "real" in some Buddhisms, it essentially has to be unarisen, not arisen according to dependent origination, marked by svabhāva, and thus not
marked by the three marks.
Oddly enough though, according to Nāgārjuna's MMK, IMO the consequences of Nāgārjuna's analysis of Nibbāna is essentially that absolutely everything is unarisen, unceasing, marked by svabhāva (although not really*), in its way, while simultaneously "definitely not" marked as svabhāvadharmāḥ, as that would be a serious Madhyamaka "heresy".
*Now, "not from itself" is a formal disqualification of svabhāva, but I am not the first to point out that what we are essentially given is "emptiness" as a suggestion, "appearance" as a "real" experience, as real as an experience can be, unarisen, yet somehow also not
as svabhāvadharmāḥ. Most curious the dilemma Nāgārjuna leaves his readers in! Traditionally, an unarisen dharma is
a svabhāvadharma. That is the view of the Abhidharmikāḥ as poorly as I understand it, and the view, AFAIK, of the sutta-layer of Buddhavacana. Now whether or not that "traditional" definition is the definition of svabhāvadharma operative in prajñāpāramitāsūtrāṇi, that I am less able to guess concerning.
I don't think this internal contradiction in operative definitions of svabhāva is necessarily accidental at all, if indeed it exists as I think it does. It is also easy to see where Nāgārjuna & Zhìyǐ are differing, as much as one is riffing on the other. Zhìyǐ's innovation is a new methodology of contemplating appearances (which are framed as a modality of emptiness* in the positivist Tiāntāi synthesis) based on Madhyamaka.
*rather than have emptiness spontaneously "produce" appearances on its own accord, this "modality", AFAIK, is one of perception and ignorance still.
Methodologies of "regarding of" what we can and cannot call "real" and as "reality" is a major point of contention between Tiāntāi & say, Cittamātra, wherein "only the mind" is "real" (and only vaguely at that): if we can speak of everything as provisionally (or ultimately) "not existing", then it strikes me as also fine to speak of "everything as existing" ("sarvāsti", like in the ancient school) in much the same way, inasmuch as that way is simply a convention to get us along in our prapañca.
Consider the Buddhavacana of the Sarvāstivāda:
(SA 320, this is also generally identified as possible sectarian literature in EBT studies, on account of the name of a Buddhist school showing up in their own Buddhavacana)
Like this I heard:
One time, the Buddha dwelt at Śrāvastī at Anāthapiṇḍada’s park at Jetavana.
At that time, there dwelt śrāvakāḥ brāhmaṇāḥ proceeding in the accomplishments of the Buddha, their facial features greeted (the Buddha), afterwards withdrawing to sit to the side, they beseeched the Buddha, asking: "Gautama! It is so said that all exists [i.e. sarvāsti in the original], how so does all exist?"
The Buddha replied to the dwelling śrāvakāḥ brāhmaṇāḥ: "I presently ask of you, as you wish for my response. Brāhmaṇāḥ! In thought, how is this? With the eye is this not the case?
The many replied: "It is, Śramaṇa Gautama!"
"With appearance is this not the case?"
The many replied: "It is, Śramaṇa Gautama!"
"Brāhmaṇāḥ! There exists appearance, there exists cakṣurvijñāna, there exists the eye's sparśa, there exists the eye's sparśa's causal predestination's development of feelings, if bleak, if joyous, if not bleak, if not joyous?"
The many replied: "There exists these things, Śramaṇa Gautama!"
And that is all, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body, and thoughts also too are thus.
[this part is giving me troubles translating, its something about sense objects]
Buddhavacana this sūtra was thereafter, the dwelling myriad brāhmaṇāḥ heard the Buddha teach it, joyously with anumodana, from their seats they rose to go forth.
At some point it all seems to break down into a semantic game, specifically with the notions of "existence" and "non-existence".
TBH I don't even believe in non-existence (because it literally doesn't exist
) and I don't know why some other people do.
aflatun wrote:Anyway, the way Santi has stated the case, combining "Nibbana is a transcendent reality" with the interpenetration discourse, IMO I don't see anything distinct from the Plotinian One and its emanations, the Platonic Good and its images, Ibn Al Arabi's Wujud and its imaginal disclosure as the "world," the Tao that cannot be named and the 10,000 things, Brahman and Maya, etc. I think there's a critical distinction! I'm not trying to be a jerk, but this distinction is very important. Its what makes Nagarjuna, and a fortiori the Buddha, so special and unique.
There are certainly similarities that you are picking up on. For instance, in Tiāntāi the Buddha is referred to as the "root sign" or "seed sign" (本相/實相, běn/shí xiàng, *ādilakṣaṇa
) which all signification is fundamentally of. This is very similar to some theisms in some ways (it is also similar, in its way, to Platonic treatment of forms), but to draw too many other parallels is complicated by the shared Buddhist metaphysic which Tiāntāi has inherited from its predecessors.
*this is a Sanskritization/reconstruction. This word doesn't appear in Buddhist literature AFAIK. It is included to demonstrate that 本 is generally a rendering of ādi-
, as in ādi-buddha
, and carries much the same meaning. Consider its usage in 本覺, hongaku
I'll respond to the second half of your message when I have time, making sure to keep the discourse relevant to at least EBTs and EBT studies, which is generally synonymous enough with manners of Theravāda.