Venerable Jízàng on the Two Truths

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Saengnapha
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Re: Venerable Jízàng on the Two Truths

Post by Saengnapha » Mon Apr 09, 2018 2:23 am

chownah wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:56 pm
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:10 am
chownah wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:37 am

The part I can relate to the most is:

This seems to support what I have been posting so far;;;that is that both truths are just kinds of truth....that is to say, both are what is knowable and are mental objects and it is only the domain of their application which sets them apart from each other.
chownah
Please show us an absolute truth that is knowable and a mental object? Is that what Nibbana is for you? You are trying to make the form fit the function of your mind, but it doesn't. This conventional mind can only know relative things. Thoughts are objects. Absolute truth cannot be an object or a thought. Both dissolve with the senses at death of the body. What is being put forth here is transcendental understanding, which may happen according to some, when the mind is negated. You have not negated anything with a logical refutation. Try reading Nagarjuna or some of the Madhyamaka masters like Chandrakirti. You seem to want to affirm something where the prescribed understanding is through negation. This is a difficult subject to talk about.
I've been looking around and found alot of stuff talking about absolute truth an ultimate truth and it really does seem that everything I have found seems to be describing it the way I concieve of it. You probably think that I am biased in my search or in my interpretation so I invite you to bring something for us to look at.

Here is an example of what I found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_truths_doctrine. I don't consider wikipedia to be a great source of information on these sorts of things. There are lots of things not from wikipedia but I brought this one because it relates to your suggestion of a maddhyamaka take on the two truths:
In Madhyamaka the two truths are two epistemological truths: two different ways to look at reality.
Note that epistemological means "relating to the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion."....which I took from a google search. I think this is saying that "truths" are knowledge based or something similar.

I think that you are using a meaning for "truth" which is not commonly held in buddhism of most types. I think that truth is something that is determined after a period of discernment.....one examines an idea with discernment to determine if it is truth....thus it is a sort of value statement about an idea....thus it is idea based and thus conditioned.

I am not trying to negate your concept that there are things beyond the rational mind....just that they are not in and of themselves thruth.....only that truth is an evaluation of whether those things are actually beyond the rational mind......and that those exact things are not in and of themselves "truth"...."truth" is a value which we ascribe to an idea meant to express that thing which is beyond the rational mind....etc.

If I explain anatta then the explanation is judged as to whether it is true or not.....my explanation is likely to judged true by some and not true by others but the idea of anatta if properly presented and rightly discerned would be judged to be true....but it is the explanation that is the utimate truth and not anatta itself (pun intended)....
as I understand it.
chownah
Like I said, this is a difficult subject to talk about as there is so much room for interpretation. What I am trying to get at, and it only refers to the ordinary mind that is trying to understand this intellectually, that the only knowable truths are relative ones because that is what the intellect can understand. The system of negation is designed to stop this intellect from settling on a view of both these truths. Intellectually understanding is not the same as realization of emptiness, or lack of inherent being. That state of emptiness is not 'knowable' in the sense of knowing the table is green. It is probably more like 'knowingness', an essence, rather than a subject object experience.

The subject has a lot of interest for me, but I find discussion of it tedious and unproductive because it is just ideas being bandied about. Much better to read the Masters of Madhyamaka as I've suggested.

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Venerable Jízàng on the Two Truths

Post by Coëmgenu » Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:47 pm

chownah wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:37 am
The part I can relate to the most is:
Consequently all misconceive. It is time to speak of two comprehensions which are not two. These two truths equally attained. How? Because these two comprehensions are not two.
This seems to support what I have been posting so far;;;that is that both truths are just kinds of truth....that is to say, both are what is knowable and are mental objects and it is only the domain of their application which sets them apart from each other.
chownah
Certainly I don't think any Mahāyānikāḥ would substantially disagree with this way of stating things, but I am not highly exposed to how Theravāda treats saṁvṛtiparamārtha (two truths/dvyarthāḥ), being only really critically exposed how it is explained in some Madhyamaka Buddhisms and interpretations of the āgamāḥ that are designed to harmonize śrāvaka Buddhism with Madhyamaka. Obviously that is an issue, because voices that argue that Madhyamaka is not a valid interpretation are plentiful.

It has to do with that radical statement from Āryanāgārjuna, concerning the equivalence of saṃsāra & nirvāṇa. Venerable Jízàng takes that statement, and, doubtless also looking back to Venerable Zhìyǐ, concludes that this means that fundamental characteristiclessness must occur simultaneously with appearances. Somehow both are the "same thing", that is, they exhibit a lack of characteristics and qualities, despite also having characteristics and qualities. Two divergent perspectives that are "somehow" the same perspective.
次說二悟不二
It is time to speak of two comprehensions which are not two.
Pretty wild. The "comprehensions" are apparently "the same", which is to say, the persectives, which we know to be different on account of their disparity, are somehow not disparate.

The "somehow" is where my eyebrows occasionally raise. Quite the scandal. One wants to ask "how exactly"? But then, the answerer would just say "dependent origination", regardless of it they understood how DO would possibly resolve this.

Hence why I sometimes wonder about this line of discourse.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Venerable Jízàng on the Two Truths

Post by Coëmgenu » Mon Apr 09, 2018 2:50 pm

Venerable Jízàng's enumeration of saṁvṛtiparamārtha treats them very much like the common metaphor of them being "two sides of the very same coin". This is a sort of claim of "they are different-but-not-different".

Āryanāgārjuna says that not only are they "two sides of the same coin", they are "both two sides of the same coin", in the sense that saṁvṛti is absolutely identical to paramārtha. Venerable Jízàng seems to say this at some points, but there is an ambiguous statement towards the end, the aforementioned essence-function polarity pointed out between concordance in saṁvṛtiparamārtha (真假 'the ultimate and the conventional') and diversity in saṁvṛtiparamārtha (二卽體用。不二卽用體。Two is the essence's function. Not two is the function's essence., "two" here-meaning diversity and "not two" meaning concordance)

Compare with Āryanāgārjuna:

涅槃之實際            及與世間際
[from] nirvāṇa's utmost extreme   towards this world's [utmost] extreme

如是二際者            無毫釐差別
like this there are two extremes   [like this there is] not the smallest sliver of disparity [between them]


T1564.4.36a06/MMK25

There is "not the smallest sliver of disparity". Is this incoherent with 二卽體用 "two is the essence's function" from Ven Jízàng? Particularly as "opposed" to the "not two" being the "function's essence"? Very interesting.

If we insert Āryanāgārjuna's statement of non-disparity/non-diveristy (that is to say, concordance in saṁvṛtiparamārtha,) into Venerable Jízàng's essence-function porality, one might come up with a statement something like:

from the extreme of concordance between two truths towards the extreme of diversity between two truths there is not the slightest sliver of disparity

or even more succinctly

from the extreme of an essence's function towards the extreme of a function's essence there is not the slightest sliver of disparity

Or to put it with more interpretation from me even still than is already latently present in this presentation:

there is no difference between a functional real and an essential real, no difference between a functional level of the real and an essential level of the real

Is this in turn incoherent with the the quote in the OP? Some other Madhyamaka thinkers have addressed this issue, I will post more shortly.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Venerable Jízàng on the Two Truths

Post by Coëmgenu » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:09 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 2:50 pm
涅槃之實際            及與世間際
[from] nirvāṇa's utmost extreme   towards this world's [utmost] extreme

如是二際者            無毫釐差別
like this there are two extremes   [like this there is] not the smallest sliver of disparity [between them]


T1564.4.36a06/MMK25
For the sake of context, the grounds for their concordance, the negated tetralemma:

nasvāto nāpiparato nadvābhyāṃ nāpyahetutaḥ
Neither from self nor other neither both nor acausally
-Āryanāgārjunasya Mūlamadhyamakakārikā Pratyayaparīkṣāparivartaḥ MMK1


These are negations of Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma terminological categories, svāto being related to svābhāva, the svā- being in turn related to "to be", for instance look at the French être as it appears in the reflexive, suis. v --> w --> x. Svā-/sva-, suis. Note that this is not a chronological argument that one comes from the other. Just an illustration of a relation between languages.

svayaṃkṛtaṃ, self-created, or "from self" for our practical purposes.

paraṃkṛtaṃ, other-created, or "from (an)other" for our practical purposes. Para- is functioning similar as it does in English here, similar to its usage in the construct paranormal, other than or apart from normal.

Nasvāto = asvayaṃkṛtaṃ. Not from self.
Nāpiparato = aparaṃkṛtaṃ. Not from other.
Nadvābhyāṃ = nasvāto nāpiparato, not from either.

See SN 12.17 Acelakassapasutta: sayaṅkataṃ dukkhaṃ?, [...] paraṅkataṃ dukkhaṃ?, [...] sayaṅkatañca paraṅkatañca dukkhaṃ?

Notice SF 169 Sarvāstivādin Acelasūtra: asvayaṃkāraparakārahetusamutpānnaṃ, ahetusamutpānnaṃ: arisen without causality, compare with MMK1: nāpyahetutaḥ
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Venerable Jízàng on the Two Truths

Post by Coëmgenu » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:39 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 2:50 pm
Āryanāgārjuna says that not only are they "two sides of the same coin", they are "both two sides of the same coin",
I don't think this came across as intended. If we are to laboriously and pedantically stretch the metaphor of the correspondence between asaṃskṛtaṃ & saṃskṛtaṃ (unconditioned & conditioned) as "two sides of the same coin", we might say that Āryanāgārjuna says that they are so identical, that it is not correct to say that one side of the coin is saṃskṛtaṃ & the other asaṃskṛtaṃ, both sides of the coin are both saṃskṛtaṃ & asaṃskṛtaṃ, or we might say that the coin does not have two sides, or at least, the coin does not have a top side that differs in any way from its bottom side.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

chownah
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Re: Venerable Jízàng on the Two Truths

Post by chownah » Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:02 am

Conditioned and unconditioned are the same in that they are just evaluations we make and labels that we apply to some aspect of experience. We first make the mistake of isolating some phenomena and mistakenly identify it (fabricate a false identity)....then we use discernment to determine if it is conditioned or unconditioned.

Discerning conditioned/unconditioned is just compounding the mistake of isolating some phenomena and mistakenly identifying it. From an ultimate standpoint that determination is meaningless. Discerning conditioned/unconditioned is conventional truth......just because we make the determination that something is unconditioned does not mean that we have broken out to the "ultimate truth".

From an "ultimate" viewpoint the entire process is empty....there is no "we" to make the mistake....there is no isolating of phenomena....there is no mistake made....there is no identity. Trying to say that there is some state of conditionedness or unconditionedness in this emptyness is like trying to stab a fart.
chownah

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Venerable Jízàng on the Two Truths

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:15 am

chownah wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:02 am
Conditioned and unconditioned are the same in that they are just evaluations we make and labels that we apply to some aspect of experience.
They are both certainly just labels we throw on things. One studies dhamma and learns to properly label a shoe a conditioned and Nibbāna as unconditioned, regardless of what conditioned or unconditioned means. But these are also words that have meaning, yes?

We can talk about how "ultimate meaning" can't be grasped, thought, conceptualized, etc, what have you, but the ultimate is approached via the conventional. That is why we can call ultimate "ultimate". "Ultimate" is a conventionality standing-in for something that's not "supposed" to be conventional.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

Saengnapha
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Re: Venerable Jízàng on the Two Truths

Post by Saengnapha » Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:24 am

chownah wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:02 am
Conditioned and unconditioned are the same in that they are just evaluations we make and labels that we apply to some aspect of experience. We first make the mistake of isolating some phenomena and mistakenly identify it (fabricate a false identity)....then we use discernment to determine if it is conditioned or unconditioned.

Discerning conditioned/unconditioned is just compounding the mistake of isolating some phenomena and mistakenly identifying it. From an ultimate standpoint that determination is meaningless. Discerning conditioned/unconditioned is conventional truth......just because we make the determination that something is unconditioned does not mean that we have broken out to the "ultimate truth".

From an "ultimate" viewpoint the entire process is empty....there is no "we" to make the mistake....there is no isolating of phenomena....there is no mistake made....there is no identity. Trying to say that there is some state of conditionedness or unconditionedness in this emptyness is like trying to stab a fart.
chownah
Now you are starting to make some sense. :D

chownah
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Re: Venerable Jízàng on the Two Truths

Post by chownah » Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:46 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:15 am
chownah wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:02 am
Conditioned and unconditioned are the same in that they are just evaluations we make and labels that we apply to some aspect of experience.
They are both certainly just labels we throw on things. One studies dhamma and learns to properly label a shoe a conditioned and Nibbāna as unconditioned, regardless of what conditioned or unconditioned means. But these are also words that have meaning, yes?

We can talk about how "ultimate meaning" can't be grasped, thought, conceptualized, etc, what have you, but the ultimate is approached via the conventional. That is why we can call ultimate "ultimate". "Ultimate" is a conventionality standing-in for something that's not "supposed" to be conventional.
Words do have meaning.....this is relative/conventional always as it is conditioned by meaning....so....saying something about some unconditioned something and calling it true does not mean that you have reached the ultimate anything. Conditioned and unconditioned are two sides of a coin but it is a coin which has arisen entirely from convention; both sides.....there is nothing unconditioned about the coin.
chownah

Saengnapha
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Re: Venerable Jízàng on the Two Truths

Post by Saengnapha » Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:00 am

chownah wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:46 am
Coëmgenu wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:15 am
chownah wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:02 am
Conditioned and unconditioned are the same in that they are just evaluations we make and labels that we apply to some aspect of experience.
They are both certainly just labels we throw on things. One studies dhamma and learns to properly label a shoe a conditioned and Nibbāna as unconditioned, regardless of what conditioned or unconditioned means. But these are also words that have meaning, yes?

We can talk about how "ultimate meaning" can't be grasped, thought, conceptualized, etc, what have you, but the ultimate is approached via the conventional. That is why we can call ultimate "ultimate". "Ultimate" is a conventionality standing-in for something that's not "supposed" to be conventional.
Words do have meaning.....this is relative/conventional always as it is conditioned by meaning....so....saying something about some unconditioned something and calling it true does not mean that you have reached the ultimate anything. Conditioned and unconditioned are two sides of a coin but it is a coin which has arisen entirely from convention; both sides.....there is nothing unconditioned about the coin.
chownah
Yes. But using your mind to try to organize this is not the same as what the Buddha preached as Nibbana. So your explanation is only partially correct. How do I know this? Because you would be in the same state the Buddha was in if it were so. The unconditioned is part of the Buddha's teaching and this is still not explainable through conventional means. The words must stop. The ultimate, being approached through the conventional, doesn't make the conventional the ultimate. This is only a dialectic. What happens internally is what matters, not the way we explain it. The whole approach to this is de-personalized. There is no 'person' left to understand, to know, to be.

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