Reality and What Remains

Fifteenth in a series. Number Sixteen of Chandrakirits exposition Twenty Emptinesses: Emptiness That is the Absence of Entities: “Since an entity arises from causes and conditions, it lacks the nature of being a composite. This emptiness of there being anything that is a composite is the emptiness that is the absence of entities”.

Entity is the self, the person or the object that arises due to causes and conditions that transcends the gathering of elements by giving it a name. What manifests as a single object does so in dependence on causes and conditions. For example, what is called a chariot is a single object that is different from the parts of the chariot even though it arises from the assembly of the parts. It did not exist as a chariot until all the parts were assembled, and the chariot disappears when the parts are disassembled, isn't that so? Therefore, it is not a true composite such as an assembly of parts that remain unnamed even though it may look like a chariot or have the potential to become a chariot. If it is named, it is an entity and is an illusory support for the parts. If it is possible to maintain bare perception without adding a super name it would be a correct view of a manifested composite object.

So, if you try as much as you can to not name the results of causes and conditions in order for it to have a special status in reality still it will not make it ultimately real. In other words, if you try to mentally prevent the result of causes and conditions to come to your mind, this will not help because you cannot do a mental jigsaw dance to see things as composites from causes and conditions only and still grasp at the innate view that solidifies into naming phenomena in order to perceive them. Without this naming element of the innate programming or the benefits of a correct conventional view after enlightenment the imbuing of perceptual orientation would result in mental confusion. It is a very interesting point, isn't it?

If someone assembles a chariot, and you refrain from thinking the word chariot or calling it chariot or assigning chariot to it at all, or you were someone who had never seen it before and therefore did not have the word by not naming it, you are still innately naming it in order to see it. Your ability to name objects is a function of the innate view that is spontaneous.

The Sixteen Emptinesses are now condensed into four classes of emptinesses that serve as a summary of the previous sixteen and are the elements of a tetralemma logical statement of Nagarjuna. His work, hundreds of years before Chandrakirti, would have probably been lost without Chandrakirtis elucidation. They are called the Holy Father and Son in early Indian Buddhism and founders or the Middle Way view that defines the highest Buddhist views of reality. So, the summary states: “It is not realism. It is not nihilism. It is not dualism, and it is not monism. It is not permanent. It is not, not there. It is not two, and it is not one. This is the emptiness of the four extreme positions”.

Point one: Emptiness of entities: “That which is named. In other words, not permanentism”. The first point rejects the relative world of apparent reality as not possessing the marks and signs of reality. This aphorism states the position refuting or denying permanentism or realism. Emptiness of inherent existence is everything perceived inside and outside, whether it is by karmic means or stimulation of the environment or others or by interacting, stimulating the mind, or even by the interaction of the perceptions creating ideas or concepts. You cannot say that everything is nonexistent, and only I exist, or only my ideas, or some philosophical point.

That which is accomplished by the inner and outer sense as well as the products of that and also the products of the products of your thinking is illusory. In other words, if I should think that I should move the chair out there to a different position or sending someone out to move the chair, and when they move the chair a bee stings them. All activities instigated by inner and outer phenomena, as well as the products of that activity, such as somebody else getting stung by a bee, also lack inherent existence from their own side.

Number Two: The Emptiness of Nonentities: “In short, nonentities are all uncomposite phenomena. Nonentities are empty of being nonentities, and this is the emptiness of nonentities, and so the nonentities of these three noncomposite phenomena: Space, pervading all phenomena and thought by schools to be a support for phenomena because it is a nonconforming object. Second, the cessation of the afflictions is considered to be a noncomposite phenomenon. The cessation of the afflictions occurs when there is wisdom realizing selflessness”.

That cessation is something that is by nature without causes or conditions and non-existent. When something such as the delusions that require an innate view as a support is destroyed by wisdom, they cease to exist in a special manner. Since they existed in the past due to the afflictions of the presence of craving and grasping of ordinary mind, there is a memory, "This was a suffering state that I have left, and now I am free." This special cessation is induced by the process that created the correct trajectory to arrive at the place of developing wisdom in the individual. This means that even when everything is done correctly and one arrives at the correct view, even this cessation is illusory, dream-like, and empty. This is very nice, isn’t it?

The third noncomposite phenomena are a class of strange data called ordinary cessation. For example, there is no ox, no elephant, and no snake in this room. Fantasy figments of imagination that are not possible to exist such as the horns or a rabbit or the child of a barren woman, in philosophical argument, are of this category. They are not only nonexistent in ordinary terms but also empty of inherent existence in their supposed existence. In that way, we cannot take refuge in fantasy objects or recreate enlightened beings as a kind of fantasy deity as an alternative to seeing things as they are. Believers in permanentism can fall into this error in their attempt to not listen to the ordinary world and create a fantasy world of their own making to rest and feed their craving mind.

Point Three: Emptiness of the Nature: “The nature of phenomena is that they have no essence. It is called their nature because no one created it. The nature is empty of itself, and this is the emptiness of the nature”. We cannot fall into the error of espousing a belief in the nature of how phenomena exist in reality while still remaining intact in the innate wrong view. Everything that can be named is empty and without the excellent support that you wish to have for your spiritual pride.

Point Four: Emptiness of the Entity that is Other: “Whether or not Buddhas appears in the world, the natural emptiness of all entities is proclaimed to be the entity that is other. Other names for this are the genuine limit and suchness. They are empty of themselves, and this is the emptiness of the entity that is other”. There is no struggle for objects and phenomena such as inner events, ideas, feelings, as well as sky, clouds, mountains, and other persons, and yourself, to exist in reality. Your struggle is to lose the hypnotic trance that holds you to a way of being in your body, mind, world, and cosmos, which is antithetical to how it actually exists. This distorted view is suffering itself. This intense remainder that is the essence of a noncomposite assembly is also empty of inherent existence.

This concludes the commentary by Domo Geshe Rinpoche this 31st day of March 2009 at the Hermitage. This is dedicated for the benefit of all sentient beings to ease their confusion and bring joy to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas by praising them in this method.


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