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by Rhino
Rated: E · Non-fiction · Philosophy · #2315065
A concise exposition of Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophy.
Beyond conceptualisation. Without any characteristics or attributes. Impossible to accept or reject. This is what's known as the luminous mind. It transcends our notions of good and evil, attachment and detachment, existence and non-existence. Thus, it is also said to be no mind. It is the abiding disposition of all sentient beings, though we know it not. Indeed, our ignorance is only adventitious. Akin to a golden Buddha statue covered in mud. Wipe away the mud and you reveal what always was. Only difference is now you see the same thing from a new perspective.

Emptiness is what makes this transformation possible. Because everything is empty, everything can change. Nothing exists on its own side, independent of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Or in other words, the internal parts and external conditions that form the basis of labelling. A tree would not be a tree without things that aren't the tree. The sun, the soil, the rain, co2, etc. Nor would a tree exist without its components. There would be no tree without its trunk, roots, leaves, seed, etc. The tree is a result of the convergence of these different factors.

But most important and most difficult to understand is conceptual dependency. The tree couldn't be known to exist without the designation of a valid cognition. How we come to establish the existence of the tree as a separate thing is through conceiving of its relations to other phenomena. For example, a tree is not inorganic, so it is organic. A tree is not sentient, so it is insentient. A tree is not herbaceous, so it has a woody stem. The process goes on until you have a functioning category. By eliminating what it is not, you can gain an idea of what it is.

This is important because what these classifications ultimately refer to is illusory. There is no tree in itself. There is nothing we can pinpoint out there as "the tree" to the exclusion of those intrinsic and extrinsic factors I spoke of earlier. It's similar to a dream. A conceptual superimposition. Like mistaking a piece of rope for a snake under low light conditions. It's not entirely fictitious, like the child of an infertile woman. But it is devoid of autonomous existence. An important distinction to make, lest we fall into the trap of ontological nihilism. The Buddhist philosopher must always tread this line between being and nothingness.

And so it goes with everything, always and forever. The unborn reality. Whether it be an object of perception or one's very own self. All of it empty. Even emptiness itself is empty. Once you have analysed something and demonstrated its emptiness, there is no need to posit anything further. There is no transcendent elephant in a room without elephants. It's merely empty of elephants. An absolute negation without any implications. The pinnacle of apophasis. It is through this method of analysis that one wipes away the mud of delusion and sees the golden Buddha in all of its heavenly glory.
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