Twilight wrote:I've never heard Buddha debate weather the earth element is inherently real or not.
Yes. I agree. But Nāgārjuna sounds like he does. This was the point of raising the issue.
Honestly I don't even understand too much what "inherently" is supposed to mean.
Probably a Abhidhamma word, such as 'sabhava', which means the element of earth will always be earthy (solid), as in MN 62:
And what is the earth property? The earth property can be either internal or external. What is the internal earth property?} Anything internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid... MN 62
Buddha view about the earth element and everything else is like this:
1) They have no substance, but they do exist.
The Pali is tucchaka - empty; vain, fruitless; lacking substance. Stop focusing on the English translation. Tucchaka is unrelated to non-existence.
Form has as much substance in it as consciousness or volition. That is how it should be seen. But it does exist just like consciousness or volition do exist.
Tucchaka means "fruitless". But in terms of "existence", form (rupa) is more permanent than mentality (nama), as follows:
"It would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to the body composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what's called 'mind,' 'intellect,' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another... SN 12.61
2) That who sees their cessation can not say they exist because they cease. Those who see their arising can not say they don't exist because they do arise.
SN 12.15 is probably about 'self-views' rather than about objects of consciousness. The two worldly views in SN 12.15 are atthitañceva & natthitañca, where each word seems to be connected with 'asmi" or "I am". The core message of SN 12.15 is right view does not regard anything as "myself". It sounds like you are reading SN 12.15 the same as Nagarjuna did & applying it to all things. You seem to be saying that because the Universe might possibly one day blow up & cease, say in 500 trillion years time in the future, the universe does not exist.
The word 'loka' generally refers to the human & godly (social) worlds. These are the worlds of 'self-identity' & dukkha (rather than the world as the planet Earth).
And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.
"The craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming: This, friend Visakha, is the origination of self-identification described by the Blessed One."
Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos (world), the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos."
From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world
By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.
He is not resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.