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History of Mahayana, Metaphysics

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.tantra,alt.religion.buddhism.tibetan,alt.religion.tantra,alt.religion.buddhism,talk.religion.buddhism
From: Nevermind 
Subject: Re: History of Mahayana, Metaphysics (was Sunyata and Maya ...)
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 11:25:15 GMT

On Mon, 15 May 2000 09:36:10 GMT, (nagasiva
yronwode) wrote:

>I would partially agree. the Yogacarins, by my understanding,
>posit that "suchness" is the nature of reality, that 'mind' is
>at best a passing phenomenon that obscures perception of this
>reality. their metaphysics (if it can be called this) include
>not just mental phenomena but more:

Actually, the Yogacarins posit the mind (in their case what they
refer to as alaya-vijnana, the storehouse consciousness) as a 
substantially existent entity, which is why they're considered
wrong from the Prasangika perspective, which considers ALL
phenomena as devoid of intrinsic characteristics (lakshanas, or

>>Nagarjuna and Asanga are considered to be founders of both 
>>the Yogacara and the Prasangika school. The prasangika part 
>>of Mahayana can be considered a later elaboration of the 
>>Yogacara school.
>that's odd. my sources indicate that the Madhyamika and
>Yogacara schools were rivals, and critiqued one another's
>reflections on reality. 

You are correct.

>I'd understood that the originators
>of the Yogacara were Asanga, possibly Maitreyanatha, and
>Asanga's half-brother Vasubandhu.

Again, right on. The original poster has his facts confused.

>>Not true, Yogacara is part of the Madhyamika school 
>that is a VERY unusual claim in my experience, since these
>two are almost consistently described as rival schools.

It's not only very unusual, it's dead-wrong. Yogacara is
mercilessly refuted by all Madhyamikins (at least Prasangikas,
perhaps not fully by the Madhyamika-Svatantrika-Yogacararins,
for example).

>>In the Tibetan tantras, the mode of philosophising is 
>>definately reflected...  in the practice.
>are you saying that debate and discussion are presumed to
>have the capacity to lead to awakening in Tibetan Buddhism?

Absolutely. The point of debate is to produce the correct
"inferential cognizer" in the mind of one's interlocutor. In
this way one falsifies invalid propositions about the nature
of reality which normally ensnare one. This style is what
"Prasanga" refers to: the technique that uses logic to
falsify eternalistic or nihilistic views of existence, thus
leading one to the correct conclusion about the Middle
Way by inference.

This is very important in some schools of Tibetan
Buddhism -- the Geluk school, for example. And this
most definitely leads directly to awakening. This fact
sometimes engenders disbelief in those who've only
read a few books on Zen, for example, or who wrongly
believe that emptiness is some fuzzy, inchoate thing
one must break koans to experience -- that the intellect
is a mere hindrance to realization. In reality, nothing
could be further from the truth. Right View depends
on eliminating wrong views, and that can only happen
after one has eradicated intellectual flavors of wrong
views in the first place.

To understand how this is so, one must consider that
there are three valid modes of cognition: 1) direct cognition
(i.e. the sense organs come in contact with an object);
2) inferential cognition, where one sees the truth of a thing
via logic, in this case, emptiness; and 3)  yogic direct
perception, which occurs in the mind in deep meditation
and is the final stop: direct perception of emptiness.

Since the first is impossible with a "deeply hidden" object
like emptiness, only the last two modes obtain. However, it is
extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have a direct perception
without having generated the correct inferential cognizers
via logic, and one is otherwise likely to be entangled in a
thicket of wrong views that directly block direct perception
in deep meditation. The point of logic is to eradicate wrong
views intellectually. Koans serve a similar purpose: to get the
discursive intellect out of the way by blasting it to smithereens.
The two approaches are nearly opposiute, yet produce the
same effect. The Tibetans use the intellect to bootstrap
itself out of mistaken views via logic, whereas koans
attempt to indiscriminately nuke all types of discursiveness
by throwing nonsense at the mind. Personally I find the logic
approach superior, all other things being equal, because
it is very systematic and leaves far less room for error
about what emptiness is not, and as a result I think it is a
superior pedagogical strategy.

>is there a discernment made between ('mere') "intellectual
>comprehension" and "realization"? or are these considered
>to be coincident?

See the "three modes" of cognition above. There is a world
of diffecence between inferential and direct perception. The
direct preception is the sine qua non of Buddhist practice. It
is the only wway one can permently destroy mental afflictions
(kleshas). Inferential congnition is merely a stepping-stone
to direct perception.

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