LAMRIM CHENMO (15)



23 THE SELFLESSNESS OF PERSONS


THE ACTUAL PROGRESSIVE GENERATION OF
THE TWO VIEW OF SELFLESSNESS


This has two points: identifying persons and determining them to not exist inherently.


IDENTIFYING PERSONS


Persons are persons of the six classes – gods and so forth – and persons who are ordinary beings, aryas, and so forth. They are also the accumulators of virtuous and non-virtuous karma, the experiences of the effects of those, revolvers in cyclic existence, cultivators of paths for the sake of liberation, attainers of liberation, and so forth. A sutra quotes in works such as the Entering the Middle Way Autocommentary (Madhyamakavatarabhasya) says:

The so-called self is Mara’s thought,
and you have come to hold this view.
The composition of aggregates is empty,
there is no sentient being in it.

Just as people speak of chariots
based in collection of chariot parts,
they conventionally say “sentient beings”
based on the aggregates of beings.

The first verse teaches the selflessness of persons, which is that ultimately persons do not exist. The first line says that the apprehension of self of persons is a fiendish mind, the second one says that those who apprehend in this manner are under the power of bad views, and the third and fourth say that the aggregates are empty of a self of persons. The second verse indicates that persons exist conventionally. More specifically, the first and second lines present an analogy, and the last two connect it to the meaning, indicating that persons are merely imputed on the basis of the aggregates.

The sutra passage is saying that the collection of aggregates is the basis of imputation of the person, and it is not logical for the basis of the imputation [239] to be the imputed phenomenon. The collection of aggregates must be understood as both the collection of aggregates at a given moment and the collection of aggregates across earlier and later moments. Therefore it is illogical to posit the continuum of the collection of aggregates as the person.

When the collection is posited as the basis of imputation, the possessor of the collection is also posited as the basis of imputation, and therefore it is unreasonable for both to be the person. Entering the Middle way (6.135) says:

The sutras say that since it depends on the aggregates,
the mere collection of aggregates is not the self.

And (6.132)

The Teacher said, “The aggregates are the self”.
If that’s why you posit the aggregates as the self,
it only refutes a self apart from the aggregates,
for other sutras make statements like “form is not self”.

Therefore even the statement “The view of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ by some ascetics or brahmins is only a view of these five aggregates” refutes, by means of the word “only,” that a self with a different nature from the aggregates exists as the observed object of one’s innate apprehension of an “I”. However, that is refuted, and the aggregates are shown to not be the observed object of the apprehension of an “I”. If they were, that would contradict the statement in other sutras that the five aggregates are not the self. The reason for this is that, out of the two [dimensions of the view of the transitory collection], the observed object and the aspect of the apprehension of “I,” if the aggregates were the observed object, they would have to be posited as the self. Therefore the meaning of the sutra statement about a view of the aggregates must be explained as referring to the observation of the self that is imputed to the aggregates.

That is why you should distinguish between statements that the mere I, referred to as self, conventionally exists and statement that an inherently established person, also referred to self, does not exist even conventionally. Still, you should not say that this system asserts the self of persons to be conventionally existent. Such an identification of person is a distinctive feature of this unsurpassed system. Ascertaining this well is an excellent means of realizing the uncommon selflessness of persons.


[6083]


DETERMINING THEM TO NOT EXIST INHERENTLY


This has three points: determining that the “I” does not inherently exist, determining that “mine” does not inherently exist, determining that “mine” does not inherently exist, and showing how persons appear like illusions in dependence on that. [240]




DETERMINING THE “I” DOES
NOT INHERENTLY EXIST


The first of four essential points with regard to this is to examine one’s own mindstream so as to identify the manner of apprehending a self of persons. That was explained previously. The second is the decision that if the person is inherently established, it must be established as either the same or different in nature from the aggregates and that there is not means of establishment other than these two. In general it is established through experience that, when you determine something to be plural, thinking something like “pot and pillar,” you eliminate that it is singular, and when you determine something to be singular, thinking something like “pot” you eliminate that it is plural. A third alternative, something that is neither one nor many, does therefore not exist. Consequently you are made to ascertain that to be neither one nature nor different natures is also impossible. The third is to see the damage to the position that the person and the aggregates are one inherently established nature. The fourth is to see well the damage to the position that the two are established as inherently different. When the four are complete in that manner, this produces the pure view realizing the suchness that is the selflessness of persons.

In this regard, if the self and the aggregates had one inherently established nature, there would be three faults to refute this position. First, it would be pointless to assert a self. If the oneness of nature of the two were inherently established, they would be a completely indivisible one. This is because if their sameness of nature were ultimately established, then whatever mind those two appeared to, they would necessarily not appear distinct. Among falsities, or conventions, it is not contradictory for the way they appear and the way they abide to be discordant, but in something truly established, those two are necessarily contradictory, because something truly established that appears to a mind must appear just the way it is. A self established by its intrinsic nature is asserted to establish an agent who discards and adopts aggregates, because if he were one with the aggregates, this would be impossible. This is also set forth in the Root Text in Wisdom (27.5):

Once you agree that apart from the aggregates
that you appropriate, there is no self,
then the self is nothing but the aggregates.
In that case, your self does not exist.

Second, it follows that the self would be many. There would be the fault that is the self were established as one with the aggregates, then just as one person has many aggregates, so one person [241] would also have many selves, and just as there is no more than one self, so the aggregates would only be one. Entering the Middle Way (6.127) says:

The aggregates are many; if they were the self,
there would then be many selves.

Third, the self would arise and disintegrate. The Root Text on Wisdom (18.1) says:

If the aggregates were the self,
it would arise and disintegrate.


Just as the aggregates arise and disintegrate, so the self would also arise and disintegrate because the two would be one.

You may think, “It is asserted that the self or person arises and disintegrates in each moment”. There is no fault in merely asserting this conventionally. However, an opponent who asserts that persons are established by way of their intrinsic characteristics thereby necessarily asserts that persons arise and disintegrate inherently. In this regard the Entering the Middle Way Autocommentary sets forth three faults. The first one is set forth in Entering the Middle Way (6.61):

For things to be distinct by their character
but included in one continuum is illogical.

With respect to something earlier and something later established as distinct by way of their intrinsic natures, a relationship of dependence between what is later and what is earlier is illogical. Since they are established with their own power as capable of setting themselves up, they cannot depend on anything else. If a single mental continuum is therefore illogical, it would be unreasonable to have a memory of former lives, “In that life, at that time, I was such an such”. It is like with Devadatta when he remembers a former life. He does not remember “I was Yajnadatta” whose mindstream is distinct from his.


[6129]

In our system a single mindstream of earlier and later moments is not contradictory even though it disintegrates in each moment. Therefore the memory of former lives is valid. In people who have not realised the meaning  of this, the frequent statement in sutras “In the past I was this person” generates the first wrong view out of four bad views that were taught and that are based on a extreme associated with the past: “The two, the person at the time of Buddhahood and the person at an earlier time, are one. [242] Therefore the two are permanent”. To avoid that view, you need to understand well the particular manner of remembering in which, as you remember, you remember the “I” in general, without making a distinction in terms of the specific country, time, and nature of life.  

[6141]

The fault that karma that has been created would be wasted is that both the agent of an action and the experiencer of its effect could not be grouped together on the single basis of the mere I. The fault of meeting with actions one has not done is the absurd consequence of the effects of actions accumulated in some distinct mindstream would always be experienced by a different mindstream. These two faults are associated with the essential point explained above in Entering the Middle Way that is the person were established by way of its nature, its earlier and later moments could not be the same mindstream. The Root Text on Wisdom (27.16) also says:

If a god and future human were discrete,
their continuum would not be valid.

But what fault is there if you assert the self and the aggregates to be inherently different? The fault is set forth in the Root Text on Wisdom (18.1):

If [the self] were other than the aggregates,
it would not have their characteristics.


In this regard, if the self were different from the aggregates, and thus established by way of its distinct nature, it would not have the characteristics that characterise the aggregates as compounded phenomena: production, abidance, and disintegration. It would be like a horse, for example, which does not have the characteristics of an ox because it is established as an object other than an ox. You may insist, “It is indeed like that but…”. Well then, it would be unacceptable as the observed objected that is the basis of one’s innate apprehension, designating the verbal convention “self” because it is an uncompounded phenomenon – like, for instance, a flower in the sky or nirvana. Moreover, if is existed as inherently different from the characteristics of the aggregates, suitability as form and so forth, it would have to be observed as such, just as, for instance, form and mind are observed as different. Since there is no such apprehension, though, the self does not exist as something factually other. The Root Text on Wisdom (27.7) says:

It is illogical for the self to be
other than the appropriated aggregates. [243]
If it were other, you could apprehend it
in their absence. But you cannot.


And Entering the Middle Way says (6.124)

Thus there is no self other than the aggregates,
for, besides those, apprehending it is not established.

You should train in order to gain the firm certainty that sees that such reasonings damage the position that a self exists as a different nature from the aggregates. This is because if you have not induced pure certainty with respect to the two sides of sameness and difference, the conclusion that persons do not inherently exist will be a mere thesis, and you will not gain the pure view.

[6165]


DETERMINING THAT “MINE” DOES
NOT INHERENTLY EXIST


When you have thus sought with reasoning whether the self is or is not inherently established, you negate the inherent existence of the self by failing to find it to be either one or many. At that point, through the reasoning that analyses suchness, you will not find an inherently established “mine,” just as, when you do not observe a barren woman’s son, you do not observe his “mine,” such as his eyes. The Root Verses on Wisdom (18.2) says:

If the “I” does not exist,
how possibly could “mine” exist?

And Entering the Middle Way (6.165) says:

Since no actions exist without an agent,
there is no “mine” without a self.
Therefore, by seeing the “I” and “mine” as empty,
the yogi is completely liberated.


Thus those reasonings determine that the “I” of your own apprehending mindstream thinking “I” or self or person does not exist by way of its intrinsic nature. Through them you should also realize the entire meaning of the suchness that is the selflessness of persons: that all persons from hell beings through buddhas, and all their “mine,” are not inherently established as the same nature or a different nature from their bases of designation, their contaminated or uncontaminated aggregates. Through those reasonings, you should also know how all their “mine” is likewise established as lacking inherent existence. [244]



SHOWING HOW PERSONS APPEAR LIKE AN
ILLUSION IN DEPENDENCE ON THAT


This has two points: the meaning of the expression “like an illusion” and the method through which things appear like an illusion.



THE MEANING OF THE EXPRESSION “LIKE AN ILLUSION”


This has two points: the unmistaken manner of appearing like an illusion and the fallacious manner of appearing like an illusion.

[6186]

THE UNMISTAKEN MANNER OF
APPEARING LIKE AN ILLUSION



The King of Concentrations Sutra says:

Meditate on signs as empty of nature,
like a mirage, a gandharva city,
like an illusion, or a dream.
Know all phenomena to be like that.


The Mother of the Victors also teaches that all phenomena, from form through omniscience, are like illusions and dreams. There are two meanings of being like illusions described in this way. First, there are things like ultimate truth, which is said to be illusion-like, and although it is established as merely existent, its true existence is understood to be negated. And, second, there are things like the illusion-like appearance of that which appears while being empty. In this context, we are discussing the latter of these two. For this, both its appearance and its emptiness of truly existing in the way it appears are necessary. So if an object seems utterly nonexistent even as a mere appearance, like the horn of a rabbit or the son a barren woman, and does not arise as “appearing yet empty of existing in the way it appears,” then you have not understood the meaning of being an illusion-like appearance.

Hence you should understand other phenomena as resembling an illusion like this. Illusions conjured by a magician are from the start empty of being horses and elephants, and yet their appearances as horses and elephants undeniably arise. Likewise, phenomena such as persons are from the start empty of inherent existence, of being established by way of their intrinsic natures on top of the objects, and yet it is undeniable that they appear as if established that way.

That being so, the appearance as a god, a human, and so forth are posited as persons, and the objects that appear as form, sound, and so forth are posited as phenomena. Therefore, although persons and phenomena have not even a particle of inherent existence established by way of their intrinsic characteristics, nevertheless accumulators of karma and so forth, the actions of seeing and hearing and so forth, and all the interdependent actions and agents are valid. And since all actions and agents are valid, emptiness is not nihilistic. Primordially phenomena have always been empty like that and are understood merely as empty, [245] and so it is not a mentally fabricated emptiness, and since all objects of knowledge are asserted in this manner, neither is it a limited emptiness. That is why, when it is meditated on, it becomes the antidote to all attachment associated with the apprehension of true existence.

This profound meaning is not unsuitable to become the object of any mind whatsoever. It can be determined by means of pure view, and it can be made the object by means of meditation on the pure meaning. Therefore it is also not an emptiness that cannot be practiced at the time of the path or one that has nothing to see or realize.

[6211]   

Someone might object, “Well then, if the ascertainment that mirror reflections and so forth are empty of what they appear to be were the realization of their lack of inherent existence, the absence of inherent existence would be realized by the direct perception of normal beings; so the later would be aryas. Otherwise, how could these be suitable analogies for the absence of inherent existence?”

Four Hundred Stanzas (8.16) says:

It is explained that a seer of one thing
is a seer of everything.
The emptiness of one thing
is the emptiness of all.

It explains that the seer or realizer of the emptiness of one thing can realise the emptiness of other things. The realization that the reflection of a face is empty of being a face does not in any way damage the object of one’s apprehension of true existence that apprehends the reflection to be established by way of its intrinsic nature. Without the negation of its object, the emptiness of inherent establishment of the reflection cannot be realized. Therefore that mind does not realize the suchness of the reflection. Even if you realize that illustrations are empty of being horses and elephants, and that the appearances in dreams are empty of what they appear to be, you have not found the Madhyamaka view that realises that objects are like illusions and dreams.

The reason for taking them as analogies is because it is easier to realize that they do not inherently exist compared to other phenomena like forms and sounds. That they are empty of inherent existence established by way of their intrinsic nature is proven by showing the contradiction between the way they actually abide and the way they appear to the mind. For if an object were established as real, those two could not have different aspects. [246]

[6223]

In our system a single mindstream of earlier and later moments is not contradictory even though it disintegrates in each moment. Therefore the memory of former lives is valid. In people who have not realized the meaning of this, the frequent statement in sutras “In the past I was this person” generates the first wrong view out of four bad views that were taught and that are based on an extreme associated with past: “The two, the person at time of Buddhahood and the person at an earlier time, are one. Moreover, if they were compounded phenomena, they would disintegrate moment by moment and therefore could not be one. [242] Therefore the two are permanent.” To avoid that view, you need to understand well the particular manner of remembering in which, as you remember, you remember the “I” in general, without making a distinction in terms of the specific country, time, and nature of a life.

The fault that karma that has been created would be wasted is that both the agent of an action and the experiencer of its effect could not be grouped together on the single basis of the mere I. The fault of meeting with actions one has not done is the absurd consequence that the effects of actions accumulated in some distinct mindstream would always be experienced by a different mindstream. These two faults are associated with the essential point explained above in Entering the Middle Way that if the person were established by way of its nature, its earlier and later moments could not be the same mindstream. The Root Text on Wisdom (27.16) also says:

If [self] were other than the aggregates,
it would not have their characteristics.


In regard, if the self were different from the aggregates, and thus established by way of its distinct nature, it would not have the characteristics that characterize, the aggregates as compounded phenomena: production, abidance, and disintegration. It would be like a horse, for example, which does not have the characteristics of an ox because it is established as an object other than an ox. You may insist, “It is indeed like that but…” Well then, it would be unacceptable as the observed object that is the basis of one’s innate apprehension designating the verbal convention “self” because it is an uncompounded phenomena – like, for instance, a flower in the sky or nirvana. Moreover, if it existed as inherently different from the characteristics of the aggregates, suitability as form and so forth, it would have to have to be observed as such, just as, for instance, form and mind are observed as different. Since there is no such apprehension, though, the self does not exist as something factually other. The Root Text on Wisdom (27.7) says:

It is illogical for the self to be
other than the appropriated aggregates. [243]
If it were other, you could apprehend it
in their absence. But you cannot.

And Entering the Middle Way says (6.124):

This there is no self other than the aggregates,
for besides those, apprehending it is not established.

You should train in order to gain the firm certainty that sees that such reasonings damage the position that a self exists as a different nature from the aggregates. This is because if you have not induced pure certainty with respect to the two sides of sameness and difference, the conclusion that persons do not inherently exist will be a mere thesis, and you will not gain the pure view.


[6165]

You need to first allow yourself to realize that these examples that are well known in world to be false lack inherent existence, and then generate the realization that other phenomena that are not well known in the world to be false also lack inherent existence. The significance of having a sequence wherein one of these two comes first and the other follows is not that by realising the emptiness of a single phenomenon, the emptiness of every other phenomenon is explicitly realized. Rather, the significance is that when the mind turns to another phenomenon to consider the way it exists, it can realize it.

That being so, to know that one is in a dream and to realize that the appearance of men, women, and so forth are empty of being [actual men, women, and so forth] is not the same as viewing in dreams all phenomena to be dreamlike. As said in the Ornament for Clear Knowledge (5.1):


Even in your dreams, view all
phenomena like dreams and so forth.

Likewise, the realization, in visions of meditative experience during concentration meditation, that appearances like pots and woollen cloth are empty of what they appear to be, does not have the same meaning as the realization that they are like illusions and dreams that are not inherently established. Therefore you should investigate well that uncommon manner in which things appear like an illusion set forth in scriptures and treatises of definitive meaning that say something should be known to be like an illusion and a dream.

Having said this, the following are similar to each: a preverbal child who apprehends a reflection in the mirror as a face; a spectator who does not know about illusions and apprehends illusory appearances as horses, elephants, and so forth; and someone in a dream who is unaware of it and therefore apprehends the appearance of mountains, houses, and forth as real. On the other hand, a more mature person, a magician, and lucid dreamer are also similar in that they know their particular appearance to be untrue. Neither group has found the view of suchness.



THE FALLACIOUS MANNER OF APPEARING
LIKE AN ILLUSON


If the measure of the object of negation explained above has not been grasped well and the object is analysed by means of reasoning and broken down, the thought will first arise that “The object does not exist”. Then, the analyser is also seen to be like that. And since the ascertainer of his non-existence is also nonexistent, any [247] ascertainment in terms of “It is this and not that” becomes impossible. Then the vague appearances that arise do so depending on the failure to differentiate inherent existence and nonexistence on the one hand from mere existence and nonexistence on the other. Therefore such an emptiness is an emptiness that also destroys dependent arising. Hence, even though the vague appearances arise induced by that realization, this is not at all the meaning of being like an illusion.

[6244]

That is why it is not difficult, upon reasoned analysis, to conclude that “Persons and so forth do not in the least have a mode of subsistence established by way of their intrinsic natures on top of the objects” and for appearances to simply arise vaguely depending on that. Something like that occurs to everyone with an interest in Madhyamaka tenets who has heard a little bit of Dharms being taught about how there is no inherent existence. However, the difficult point is to achieve certainty, from the depths of one’s heart, about both negating all inherent existence established by way of an intrinsic nature and positing those inherently nonexistent persons and so forth as accumulators of karma, experiencers of effects, and so forth. Since that combination of two that enables one to posit both is next to impossible, it is extremely difficult to find the Madhyamaka view.

Therefore, as you analyse suchness with analytical reasoning, you find no production, and thereby you negate inherent production, but you do not negate every kind of production, cessation, and so forth. It is taught that, if you did, they would become empty of performing any function, like the horns of a rabbit or the son of a barren woman, and it would be untenable to have any interdependent actions and agents within that mere illusions-like appearance that is left over. Four Hundred Stanzas (15.10) says:

If that is so, how would existence
not resemble an illusion?

And [Candrakirti] commentary says:

Once that which is dependently arisen is seen as
what it is, it becomes like an illusory creation but
not like the son of a barren woman. If one were
to assert that production is negated in every way
through this analysis and that therefore it
demonstrates the nonproduction of compounded
phenomena, then they would not be like illusions;
they would be something to be examined in terms
of the son or a barren woman and the like. For
fear of someone concluding that the dependently
arisen does not exist, [248] we do not compare
phenomena with those but rather with illusions
and the like, which do not contradict the
dependently arisen.

And:

Therefore, upon such thorough analysis, since the
inherent existence of things is not established,
that illusion-like appearance itself will be left as a
remnant for each thing.

Therefore the apprehension of dependent arising as illusion-like appearances that are merely existent is not a mistaken apprehension of illusions, but it would be mistaken if illusion-like appearances were apprehended as established by way of their nature as truly existent.

The King of Concentrations Sutra also says:

Going through cyclic existence is like a dream.
No one is born here, nor does anyone die.

No sentient beings, human, or life can be found.
Theses phenomena are like foam, plantain trees,
like illusions, lighting in the sky,
like the moon in water, a mirage.

Even after one dies here in this world,
one does not move on to another world.
Nevertheless, actions done are not lost;
their white and black fruit ripen in cyclic existence.

There is no contradiction. Persons and the like who are born, die, and transmigrate and who bear analysis are not found, not even a particle, when sought with the reasonings that analyze suchness. Nevertheless, positive and negative effects occur relative to illusion-like phenomena. You need to arrive at an understanding of such statements.

Moreover, some do not place and maintain the mind within the view that has solved, in meditative equipoise, the ultimate mode of being not just gain a stable single-pointedness in which the mind does not apprehend anything at all. Through its power, when they arise from it, appearances such as a mountain that previously appeared hard and obstructive now appear insubstantial like a rainbow or thin smoke. This is also not the illusion-like appearance explained in the scriptures; it is an appearance of objects as empty of coarse obstructiveness rather than the appearance of objects as empty of inherent establishment. Emptiness is the absence of inherent existence, it cannot possibly be the lack of obstructive hardness. [249] Otherwise there would be the fault that is would be impossible for an apprehension of true existence to arise on the basis of apprehending rainbows and the like, and it would be impossible to generate a consciousness realising the absence of true existence on the basis of apprehending obstructive objects.

[6284]

THE METHOD THROUGH WHICH THINGS
APPEAR LIKE AN ILLUSION


Well then, what you do so that illusory objects appear without mistake? You see illusory horses and elephants, for example, with your eye consciousness and ascertain, with your mental consciousness, that no horses or elephants that accord with the appearances exist; in reliance upon that, the ascertainment arises that this appearance of horses and elephants is an illusory or false appearance. Likewise, persons and so forth undeniably appear to your conventional mind while you ascertain, by means of a reasoning consciousness, that they are empty of inherent existence by way of their intrinsic natures; in reliance upon these two, the ascertainment arises that the persons are illusory or false appearances.

Owing to that essential point, the meditation in equipoise on space-like emptiness is on the nonexistence of even a mere particle of the referent object for apprehending characteristics. If this hits home, an illusion-like emptiness will appear as you look at the appearance of objects in post-meditation after you have risen from that meditation. Thus you analyse phenomena many times with the reasoning that analyses whether they are established by way of their intrinsic natures, and you generate a very strong certainty that they lack inherent existence. Subsequently when you look at the appearances that arise, they will appear like illusions. There is no separate method for determining illusion-like emptiness.

Therefore, even when engaging in active practices like prostrations and circumambulations, be governed by the ascertainment of your analysis as explained above. Train thereby in illusion-like appearance, and perform them from within that. Once you have trained thus, they will appear like illusions even through the mere recollection of the view.

Put simply and easy to understand, the method for seeking this ascertainment is as follows. As explained above, while engaging in the clear appearance of the generality that is the object of negation of rational analysis and carefully contemplating this inherent nature as fabricated by the ignorance within your own mindstream, you should identify it. Then you should contemplate how, if there were such inherent existence, it would not be beyond oneness and difference, and how there are flaws in any assertion of it as either. You should induce the ascertainment of seeing the flaws and finally stabilize the ascertainment by thinking, “A person [250] has not the least inherent establishment”. You should train extensively in the factor of emptiness like that.

Then you should let the undeniable appearances of what are designated as persons arise as objects of your mind, attend to the interdependent factors of positing them as accumulators of karma and experiencers of effects, and gain certainty about how dependent arising is valid in the absence of inherent existence. When these two appear to contradict each other, take the analogy of a mirror image and the like and consider how they are noncontradictory. Although the reflection of a face is empty of whatever appears – the eyes, ears, and so forth – it nevertheless arises depending on a face and a mirror, and it disintegrates when either of those conditions is gone. These two [emptiness and arising] are undeniably contained in the common locus. You should train in the thought that likewise, although persons also do not have even a particle of inherent establishment, this does not contradict that they accumulate karma, experience effects, and are born depending on previous karma, afflictions, and so forth. This you should know in all such circumstances.

[6313]

[Response:] Those who think that way approach the meaning of the scriptures incorrectly. The above statement means the same as the following statement by the Victor:

Monks, this ultimate truth is unique; it is nirvana,
that which is nondeceptive. All compounded
things have the quality of being false and
deceptive. [258]

This sutra also says that nirvana is true and that all compounded things are false. The first part of the sutra quote very clearly explains that true means nondeceptive, and the latter part very clearly explains that false means deceptive. Moreover, the Commentary on Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning (Yuktisastikavrtti), explains nirvana as an ultimate truth, which it is. Therefore a mind looking at it with direct perception will see in it no deceptiveness of appearing inherently established while not being inherently established. A mind directly perceiving all other phenomena, compounded things, will see in them the deceptiveness of appearing inherently established while not being inherently established. That is why they do not turn out to be established as truths that withstand analysis when you examine them with the reasoning that analyses whether they are truly established. What then is the point of being attached to mere words without thinking deeply about their meaning?

Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning (v.6) also says:

Cyclic existence and nirvana –
neither of these exists.
Perfect knowledge of cyclic existence
is what is called nirvana.

This is an explanation that both existence and peace do not inherently exist and that nirvana is posited as the very knowledge that an inherently established existence does not exist. So how could this be a position that asserts emptiness, the nontrue existence of cyclic existence, as a nihilistic emptiness?

The meaning of the scriptural passage from Praise of the Sphere of Reality, too, is this: To avert the apprehension of things as truly existent, the root of all other mental afflictions, the sutras teaching emptiness, the absence of inherent establishment, teach that the object conceived by that apprehension does not exist. They do not teach that emptiness does not exist – the sphere of natural purity that negates the object of that apprehension of true existence, the two types of self. Although emptiness exists, it is not truly established. That is why this scriptural passage serves as a source for refuting the assertions “The emptiness that negates the object of negation, true existence, does not exist either” and “In order to eliminate all the mental afflictions, it is not necessary to realize emptiness, the ultimate suchness”. In fact that very Praise says:

 These three purify the mind
“impermanence, emptiness, and suffering”.
What purifies it best is
the absence of inherent existence.

And: [259]

Phenomena have no inherent existence;
meditate on this as the sphere of reality.

The fact that these phenomena lack an inherently established nature is said to be the sphere of reality (dharmadhatu), which is the object of meditation, and just meditation on that is said to be the mind’s best purifier. Therefore how could it be suitable to interpret these quotes as supporting the position that the emptiness that is the absence of inherent establishment of phenomena appearing inherently established is a nihilistic emptiness and that, therefore, a truly established emptiness separate from it should be posited as the emptiness that is the object of meditation?

That is like propounding that when it comes to eliminating the suffering of fear arising from apprehending a snake in the east even though there is none, showing that there is no snake in the east will not serve as an antidote and one needs to show, rather, that there is a tree in the west. This is because one would propound that when it comes to eliminating the suffering of sentient beings as they adhere to true existence with regard to what appears truly existent, the realisation that the basis for the apprehension of true existence lacks true existence will not serve as an antidote and instead one needs to show some other useless basis to be truly existent.

[6524]


(to be continued…)