Modern Physics and Tibetan Buddhism

  1. Introduction and Paradigms of Natural Science

  2. Human Experience and Scientific Knowledge, Tenacity and Commitment

  3. The First Turning, The Single World Disk

  4. The Second Turning, Uncertainty and Complimentarity, Infinite Space, Innumerable World, Mahyamikan Paradigm

  5. The Third Turning, Cittamatrin, Idealism, Yogacara, Critical Realism

  6. Tathagatagarbha

  7. Conclusion

  8. Notes




 

SCIENTIFIC PARADIGMS

AND

THE THREE TURNINGS OF THE WHEEL:

THE EVOLUTION OF COSMOLOGICAL CONCEPTS IN TIBETAN BUDDHISM

  J. McKim Malville

 

What do you think, O monks - are the Aggregates, Bases of

Consciousness and Elements permanent or impermanent?

Impermanent, Lord.

But that which is impermanent, is it suffering or happiness?

Suffering, Lord.1

 

I. INTRODUCTION

    That the entire repertoire of human experience is fleeting and ever changing is a fundamental teaching of Buddhism.  Not one of the objects of our world, our perceptions of those objects, our concepts, or even our gods is eternal.  Like the river of Heraclites, life is ever flowing and ever different, and suffering results when we cling to something that appears to be permanent.  Human experience consists not of eternal ultimates and essences, but of combinations, the parts of which are perpetually arising and perishing, just as the human body itself changes form moment to moment.  The mind and consciousness appear and disappear, like day and night, like a monkey gamboling in a forest, leaping from branch to branch.

    Buddhism, as an ethical and philosophical system, has been no more exempt from continual change than anything else in our world.  The evolution of Buddhism has been interpreted either as a process of constant development spurred by internal and external challenges, perhaps largely unforeseen by its founder, or as a complete and self-contained philosophy taught by the Buddha and elucidated by subsequent  commentators.  The latter interpretation is preferred by Tibetan Buddhists who describe the unfolding of Buddhism in terms of the three turnings of the Wheel of Dharma: first, the scripture of Hinayana; second, the intermediate scripture of Mahayana including the Prajnaparamitas and the Madhyamika; third, the scripture of Yogacara.

These three stages have been characterized respectively as:

1) Realism emphasizing the "radical pluralism" implicit in the reality of "psychological atoms" or dharmas;

2) Dialectical criticism dominated by the concept of emptiness and by the towering figure of Nagarjuna;

(3) Idealism represented by the "absolutist idealism" of Cittamatrin or the "mind only" school2. 

    Interwoven throughout Buddhism are concepts that because of their physical or cosmological content fall into the realms claimed today by physics and cosmology. To a much greater extent than is experienced in Western cultures today, these issues of cosmology find their way into the every-day lives of ordinary people as they experience the surrounding world and heavens. A number of these concepts experienced major, revolutionary transformations in successive turnings of the wheel.  I shall explore some of those concepts that evolved through the three turnings and shall indicate how they may be described in the same language used to analyze western science.  In particular I shall suggest that the approach of the second turning has similarities to the positivism of Neils Bohr and his co-called Copenhagen School of quantum physics, which approach is probably preferred by most physicists today.  Furthermore, the third turning as represented by the Yogacara writings of Asanga, may share many of the aspects of modern critical realism.

 

 II. PARADIGMS OF NATURAL SCIENCE

    Western science has also evolved through a number of distinct stages, each described as a "paradigm" by Thomas Kuhn in his remarkably influential book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  One of the essential aspects of the evolution of science as pointed out by Kuhn is its non-cumulative development and its and non-anticipatory quality. Old science such as Aristotelian dynamics or Ptolemic astronomy contained many beliefs that were incompatible with the ones we hold today.  The old scientific beliefs were clearly wrong judged by current knowledge of physical phenomena.  What is even more striking, the new science could never have been logically generated by the logical methods of the old.  The new science would have been judged just as irrational by the standards of the old as we today judge the old.  Of course, any claim that the earth is in the center of the solar system would be "unscientific" today; a claim that the sun is in the center of the solar system, such as was made by Aristarchus, was also judged to be "unscientific" by the Aristotelians.

    If outmoded and rejected scientific concepts were not "unscientific" in their days, then it is difficult, Kuhn argues, to see the development of science as a process of accumulation and a steady movement toward "truth".  The progress of science does not appear to be accumulative, continuous, or even progressive, for that matter, but rather appears to occur through discrete jumps involving revolutionary changes between successive scientific paradigms.  Kuhn primary uses the term paradigm to mean exemplar: "standard examples of scientific work which embody a set of conceptual, methodological and metaphysical assumptions."3  In the process of becoming scientists, students study and often mold themselves according to the research style of major paradigmatic figures, such as Newton, Maxwell, Bohr, or Rutherford.  The ruling paradigm, through example, establishes appropriate style of discovery, tests of validity, as well as language of communication among fellow scientists within the paradigm.

    There is the interesting possibility that the three turnings may actually reflect progressive developments of science in the Buddhist world during the millennium following death of the Buddha.  In particular, Kloetzli has explored the possibility that "each of the Buddhist cosmologies is grounded in a particular scientific perception of reality".4  He suggests that the Madhyamikan revolution, led by Nagarjuna, is an example of the entry of "scientific" insights into theology; the science has been lost and only the Madhyamikan theology remains. In fact, one can identify a number of possible elements of a highly relativitistic scientific paradigm that may have been present in India at the time of Nagarjuna:

1.      rejection of absolute motion;

2. recognition of relative motion and the rotation of the earth

and other world disks;

3. rejection of indivisible dharmas;

4. rejection of all absolutes of size, space, time, and number;

5. rejection of geocentricity and, in fact, even of

heliocentricity;

6. assertion of the infinity of space;

7. replaced emphasis on time of the Sarvastivadins with emphasis

on the ten directions of space

8. introduction of light as a primary creative agent in the

universe.

    Many of these items are intriguing for their allusion to issues that are physical and astrophysical in nature.  However, evidence for an underlying science associated with the Madhyamikan revolution is highly presumptive and circumstantial due to the lack of documentation of Buddhist "scientific" cosmologies.

In addition there is a very ambiguous distinction between cosmology, science, and theology in Buddhism.  Buddhist "science" would certainly not have been as neatly separated from the rest of culture as it is presently separated in the West.  In the first place, in Buddhism, ontological issues, standard western astronomical questions about the nature of the universe, are always subservient to practical ethics and salvation. Furthermore, the cosmology of Buddhism is a total system in which astronomical cosmology and physics are inextricably intertwined with concerns for salvation.  Using the terminology of Clifford Geertz 5, the map of the world, for the Buddhist, is not just a model of something external as it is in Western science, but it also is a model for effective living by an individual and an entire community.  Further discussion of a possible Madhyamikan scientific paradigm will be given in the section on the second turning.

 

III. HUMAN EXPERIENCE AND SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE

    One of the significant areas of overlap between Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and western science is interpretation of human experience in the physical world.  The relationship between a "subjective" human observer and an "objective" world are major concerns in both western science and Buddhism.  Are the scientists, for example, "watchers" from a distance or are they participants who create a world as they investigate it?

    During the 1930's and 1940' there was an acceptance amongst philosophers of science of the positivist viewpoint that science starts from "pure" data which are describable in a neutral language which is independent of all theories.6 Since Hume, positivists have argued that experience begins with the passive perception of momentary, disconnected, un-interpreted sensory data.  That bare experience was viewed as "physical reality."  According to this view, the scientist, separate from that which he is measuring, collects objective data and then forms inductive generalizations that we identify as theories. In the 1950's criticism of the positivist viewpoint moved slightly away from the belief in bare facts.  The empiricists or critical rationalists such as Karl Popper7 argued that there were two levels in science: a lower, fundamental level of unchanging, objective data which were directly available to the senses which is completely non-conceptual and a second level of theoretical concepts in which creative imagination of the scientist played an essential role in the formation of models and theories. 

    In the 1960's a number of philosophers of science argued that there are no such things as pure, un-interpreted data. Expectations and conceptual commitments influence perceptions in everyday life as well as in science.  We supply the categories of interpretation at the very beginning of the process of data collection.  The language that we use in science depends upon the kind of regularities we expect to find.  In the words of Hanson: "All data are theory-laden."8 The dividing line between observation and theory is not sharp or fixed.

    Kuhn has argued that the data of observation and experiment were not independent of the paradigm and furthermore that the criteria used for assessing the validity of theory were similarly influenced by the paradigm.  A shift of scientific world view was not a calm and gradual evolution and growth of understanding but rather more one of conversion than logical argument.

    Scientists view the world through eyes influenced by the paradigm in which they live.  Newton saw the apple pulled downward by the force of gravity while the Aristotelians saw the same phenomena as the apple seeking its natural state.  The same situation can be seen in different ways as in an gestalt switch. Thus not only will scientists in different paradigms collect different sorts of data, but event viewing identical data, they will come to different conclusions. Different paradigms, argues Kuhn, solve address types of problems, often use different types of logic, and rely upon different tests for "truth".

    Modern critical realists(9) agree that experience in the world is strongly influenced by preconceptions and research strategies based upon the established paradigm but insist that the full experience is the product of something which is encountered and a consciousness capable of apprehending and interpreting it. Consciousness has a selective interest in the world and a selective response to that world and is therefore an active agent, not merely a passive receiver. We supply the categories into which experiences and observations are fitted.  However, although expectation, choices of objects of perception, and analytical strategies strongly influence what we see, they do not entirely prevent perception of the unexpected:

    "Our expectations strongly structure what we see, but do not

wholly eliminate unexpected sights....Our categorizations and

expectations guide us by orienting us selectively towards the

future; they set us, in particular to perceive in certain ways

and not in others.  Yet they do not blind us to the unforeseen." 10.

    The respective contributions of observer and external world, of subject and object are thus never completely separable.  The world is not purely subjective.  There is a portion which is given to us, which we seem powerless to alter totally and which often places demands upon us to which we must conform.  To live in the world fully, to understand its richness, we can not merely think about it. We must thoroughly investigate it and allow ourselves to be surprised by it.

 

IV. TENACITY AND COMMITMENT

    Kuhn sees commitment to "research programs" as a important aspect of scientific paradigms: a particular model is assumed to be correct and its implications are thoroughly explored throughout the material world.  The scientist proceeds with his or her reigning paradigm with a kind of faith that it will work, for only if it is not abandoned too quickly when apparent failures occur will its potentialities be explored.  Failures are neglected in this approach as it is more important to discover the power and breadth of applicability of the theory than its few areas which it apparently does not fit.  Often fits are made by ad hoc hypothesis and the discrepancy is understood to be merely illusory.  Examples of research programs are those which proceeded to show that the universe could be treated by Newtonian physics as a mechanical system or that instituted by Bohr to show that all atomic systems could be treated by quantum mechanics. As I shall suggest in the discussion of the second turning, the approach of the Prasangika Madhyamika in their systematic testing of every aspect of the world for "true existence" has the character of an ambitious research program that is approached in the spirit of modern physics.

    Paradigms contain models and metaphors which are accepted as explanation and puzzle solutions.  Questions of "why" are answered either by reference to established, analogical models or through identification of initial assumption but not by reliance upon "ultimate" truths.  There are no ultimate truths in science as that no proposition can ever be proven fully true. The act of the scientist within a paradigm is of three basic sorts: the discovery of new aspects of the phenomenal world, the demonstration that those aspects are consistent with the reigning theory, or the demonstration that a theory is in conflict with the phenomenal world and hence must be discarded.  Nowhere in science is there an attempt to prove as true a particular theory.

    Scientists, according to Kuhn, resist paradigm revolutions because previous commitments have permeated all their thinking. The new scientific revolution is complete only when the older scientists have either been `converted' or have died off.  In his subsequent writings Kuhn has softened his initial belief in the total incommensurability of paradigms.  Communication between different paradigm communities is possible, he suggests: `Both their everyday and most of their scientific world and language are shared.  Given that much in common, they should be able to find out a great deal about how they differ.'11  The problem, as Kuhn sees its, is similar to that of translation between two language and cultural communities, which is difficult in part and perhaps impossible in total.  Using the analogy with language, the conversion of a scientist to a new paradigm would then correspond to abandonment of mere translation of another language to the complete adoption of the new language in which one thinks and speaks.

    The three turnings of the wheel do reveal different worlds and do suggest radically different ways of dealing with experience, but they not appear to correspond to in-commensurate paradigms; they appear to be considerably more accumulative than is the case of scientific paradigms.  The incommensurability of scientific revolutions is a highly controversial assertion of Kuhn.  He argued that a new paradigm does not merely add to the old paradigm but actually replaces it.  The transformation from Aristotelian to Newtonian physics was a `transformation of the scientific imagination' in which old data were seen in entirely new ways.  The very means for testing for truth and the logic of discovery and analysis, may be totally different and hence incommensurate from one paradigm to the next.

    The second and third turnings do not abandon and nullify the teachings of the earlier turnings, but build upon them in a manner which is indeed quite in contrast to western science.  The highly "practical" training of a modern scientist does not typically include a study of pre-Newtonian paradigms nor the history of western science which topics are considered irrelevant to the pursuit of scientific research. Buddhists respect the totality of Buddhist sutra, but relegate different portions to either provisional {T. drang.ton} or final {T. ngl.ton} teachings. The Hinayanists view the first turning as final and the second and third as provisional teachings while the second turning for the Prasangikas is understood to be final and the Yogacains see third as final.  For many Tibetan Buddhists, full knowledge of all three turnings is considered necessary.

 

V. THE FIRST TURNING

    The philosophical position of the first turning was realistic and, in a sense, mechanistic. Reality was identified by the Sarvastivadans (Sanskrit: sarvam asti, everything exists) as fundamental "dharmas" and is presented in Abhidharmakosha written by Vasubandhu in the 4th Century A.D.  The Sarvastivadans affirmed the composite existence of external objects and the substantial existence of past, present, and future12.  Most significantly they constructed a world "beneath" our world of sensory phenomena which consists of elemental and discrete psychological experiences called dharmas. These psychological elements were considered real for they are timeless and underived.  They exist by their own right, a common ground of the variety of experience, independent and self-contained.  Thus reality can be described independently from the self and ego. Attachment to self is one of the fundamental sources of suffering according to the Buddha. When one searches for the "self" which appears to truly existent, one finds not find the self but only its components, the underlying dharmas.

    While dharmas themselves do not exist in time, their function is temporal.  They rise to function, carry out that function, and then cease to function.  The fundamental unit of time is the minimum conceivable time for the dharma to rise to function. Each unit of function is separate and distinct. Movement is the result of a series of discrete, momentary flashings of separate essences.  Motion is thus not continuous but divisible into a series of separate units.  Thus although the world encountered by our senses is empty of true existence in the sense that is always changing, compounded, and dependent upon causes and conditions, there is underlying our experiential reality a timeless substratum containing fundamental elements which can be neither cut or destroyed.

 

VI. THE SINGLE WORLD DISK

    The model of the universe which is presented in the Abidharmakosa is that of a world disk with the great cosmic mountain, Mt. Meru, situated in the center surrounded by seven rings of mountains and oceans.  The sun, moon, and stars revolve about Mt. Meru.  We live on the southern of four major continents lying in the seventh ocean beyond the seventh ring of mountains. Our disk floats on an ocean supported by winds which arise out of space.  There may or may not be other world disks separated from ours by empty space, but our world disk is the central one, the Buddha field {buddhaksetra} looked over by Buddha Sakyamuni.

    The drama of salvation for the Hinayana of the first turning is that of a shravaka (hearer) or pratyekabuddha (solitary realizer) as he or she moves upward through the successive heavens above Mt. Meru.  The Mt. Meru cosmology has the structure of a space-time diagram with time extending along the vertical axis and space expanding outward from the central mountain in seven successive rings.

    The cosmological model of the first turning was geocentric and absolutist.  The earth's disk was "absolutely" in the center; our disk was unique in that it possessed a Buddha. Human experience arose from absolute and indivisible dharmas forming a common ground for the rising and falling of particular events. The cosmology was certainly pre-Copernican in its assumed centrality of our world disk, although because the continent on which we live, Jambudvipa, was in the seventh ocean, there was a peripheral quality to our experience which was certainly not shared with the highly geocentric cosmos of the Greeks.

    The world view assumed by the first turning was similar to that of a scientific realist who assumes that scientific theories are accurate descriptions of the world as it actually exists. The realist believes that the entities such as mass, force, charge, atoms, etc postulated in theories do fully exist even though they may not be directly observable.  The real is thus is not necessarily the perceptible; indeed, for the Hinayana the perceptible is empty of true existence.  But there is is a real which exists in an objective relationship to human experience, namely the underlying dharmas.  Realists affirm that being is prior to knowing and that knowledge converges upon that being. 

 

VII. THE SECOND TURNING

    The second turning represented a major and dramatic shift away from the realism and process of solitary enlightenment of Hinayana.  The towering figure of the second turning is Nagarjuna who lived in the second century A.D..  For Nagarjuna the error of misplaced absoluteness13 was one of the main causes of suffering in the world.  The common human thirst for the absolute and the infinitely varied struggles to find and grasp the absolutes produs greater and greater suffering and frustration.

    My approach to the second turning will be primarily that of the Prasangika Madhyamika school.  Their basic position is that there is no object, self, or phenomenon whose ultimate nature is not "emptiness or voidness".  The terms "empty" and void" are short-hand for the proposition that all phenomena and selves are empty of true existence.  The term, "true existence" is carefully defined as meaning a state (1) which is independent of all external causes and conditions, (2) which possesses a self-existence "from its own side" independent of names and categories which are imposed upon its, either deliberately or instinctively by the mind, and (3) which is eternal and unchanging.  The basic proposition of the second turning is that one can not find either an aspect of oneself or of any phenomena which is truly existent as it is so defined.  The sanskrit term for emptiness is sunyata which comes from root svi meaning to swell.  The implication is that our sense of our selves is not only swollen in self-esteem but hollow and empty inside.  If we search for the heart or essence of a swollen and bloated fruit which has been lying rotten in the sun for some time, we find only hollowness and empty space.

   Reality can only be described using the non-affirming negation [prasajya pratisedha].  A distinctive character of the second turning was the scrupulous avoidance of any positive statement about reality. The only secure knowledge that we possess is that nothing is completely independent and unchanging.  The lack of true existence of phenomena is the only statement that can be made; no positive implications of an existent reality can be affirmed. 

    There is a strong hint of the infinity and interdependent nature of the world in the second turning.  But, it is only a hint.  Positive statements about reality can not be authentic. Reality is so infinite and so mutually interdependent that authentic portions can not be captured.  Scraps can not be cut out of the whole tapestry of reality without causing the unraveling of the cloth.  Absolutely valid statements can not be made by us, for the infinite can not be grasped or authentically divided.  But infinity, itself, can also only be hinted, as it is only a provisional concept; the infinite also is empty of true existence.14

    The Prasangika Madhyamika follow closely the teachings of Nagarjuna in denying the true existence everything which can be identified.  Known as the Consequence School, the Prasangika excel in debate.  Their debating style is to carry every positive assertion to its absurd consequence, a reductio ad absurdum. They do not concede that phenomena exist independently evenly conventionally, for all phenomena are compounds and therefore subject to dependent origination [pratitya samutpada] from extrinsic causes and conditions.

    When we search for phenomena which sometime appear to be so definite and clearly existence, we discover that they do not survive under "ultimate analysis" by which the Prasangika Madhyamika mean a highly ruthless search, in which no quarter is given, for the essence or true existence of a thing.  For, where exactly is the essence of a flower, a rock, or a frog?  The essence of the flower is not in the petals, the roots, the scent, the stamen, the color; the essence is nowhere to be found. It is neither in the flower nor is it not in the flower.  It is unfindable although no one can doubt that conventionally the flower certainly exists.

    A highly important aspect of the Prasangika strategy, which can not be overemphasized, is that one must be very specific about emptiness and what it is that can not be found.  Emptiness does not mean that phenomena do not exist; emptiness must refer to a particular object and must specify what the object is empty of.  The fundamental statement of the second turning that all things which can be identified or named are empty of true existence.  No such statement is made about that which can not be identified. 

    All objects in the world which can be identified must be investigated with care and precision to demonstrate their lack of true existence.  Such careful investigation of phenomena and ones self has been made into a meditative technique by the Prasangika Madhyamika, as they test the hypothesis that no phenomenon can be found which has true existence.  However, the Prasangika Madhyamikas assert that one must be very careful first to identify the object which one is investigating.  It is not proper to issue a general statement that all aspects of the universe are lacking in true existence; the prediction by the Prasangika is limited only to identifiable objects, objects to which we can give names or phenomena which have a basis which can be identified.  Another form of the prediction of Prasangika is that once one has identified an object or a phenomenon, it is ultimately not findable, that is, it does not exist as a single, "atomic" or fundamental object, precisely localizable in space and time.

    The Prasangika Madhyamika identify two "truths", ultimate and conventional.  The phenomena of the world are understood to exist conventionally, to obey laws which are conventionally true and to function according to the "infallible laws of cause and effect."  When these two truths or natures  "are seen to be non-contradictory then we have understood the `unification' of the two truths."_15_ All phenomena have two modes of existence: conventional and ultimate, of which voidness or emptiness is the ultimate nature of being.  Conventional truth deals with our everyday experiences and expresses the interdependence between a valid basis for imputation and a valid imputing consciousness. The ultimate truth is that all things and selves are empty of true existence.  A popular example of invalid imputations is that of the mistake of a coil of rope for a snake or a pile of rocks for a person.  Neither the pile or rock nor the rope can function properly as snake or person, respectively, and hence are judged as invalid._16_  Such a quasi-experimental approach advocated by the Madhyamikans in which predicted function of an imputation is used to judge its validity is similar to the standard inductive-deductive strategy of modern science as well as to that of modern empiricists such as Karl Popper who insist that discordant data falsify theories.  According to Popper, an inductive theory is judged to be valid on the basis of the agreement between predicted qualities and test by experimental fact, and is rejected if it fails the "test of fact".  In Madhyamikan terms, if the imputation does not function appropriately, it is not only not truly existent is simply non-existent.

    There are three levels of imputation for the coil of rope-snake combination:

1. The snake is non-existent as a coil of rope has been mistaken 

for the snake as is discovered upon closer inspection.

2. The snake was actually a snake in the grass but the snake is

given a self-existent nature; one is deceived when one believes

that the is truly existent, dangerous, and evil in its own right

and from its own side.  

3. The snake is accepted as a snake without any assumptions of

goodness or badness or without any inherent self-nature.  The

snake functions as a snake and hence the presence of the snake is

a conventional truth.  But, even though conventionally true, the

snake is deceptive as it still appears in a manner different from

its actual existence.

    According to the Prasangika, objects of sense consciousness such as the snake or rope are external to the perceiving consciousness.  These objects are the cause of the arising of a sense consciousness; sense consciousness could not arise as an effect without a preceding causes.

    An ultimate truth is understood by a direct valid perception in which all dualistic appearances have subsided: deceptive truth can be understood by a direct valid perception in which dualistic appearances have not subsided.  A dualistic appearance is that of an object together with its apparent inherent existence.

    If forms do not exist in the way they appear they are deceptive and not truly existent, for to be truly existent means that forms just appear and exist in the same way.  In the Prasangika view of reality there is only one thing is which is truly existent and that is the emptiness of all selves and phenomena.

 

VIII. UNCERTAINTY AND COMPLEMENTARITY

    There is a fascinating similarity between the approach to physical experience of the second turning and that of the so-called Copenhagen School of Quantum Mechanics fathered by Neils Bohr. This approach is probably that held today by most physicists who think about such matters. The Copenhagen School's representation of physical reality may approached through the famous Uncertainty Principle of Heisenberg, which states that one can not know simultaneously and with ultimate precision both the position and velocity of a particle.  Most physicists are convinced that such uncertainty is not a result of temporary ignorance, but is a fundamental limitation on human knowledge.  One form of such ignorance is that it is introduced by the actual process of observation, by our presence in the world.  Every act of questioning alters the situation since there is always a minimal interaction between the observer [who should be identified as a participant rather than separate, isolated observer] and the observed.  Because the disturbance of that which is external is unavoidable, one can never know the observed. 

    Another form of uncertainty in physics results from our conceptual limitations which Bohr maintains are inescapable. Concepts are derived from our everyday experience and we have a limited number of such concepts, which are inadequate to describe the alien world of the atom, for instance.  Because we try to force the non-human world into our conceptual molds we encounter the paradox of the Uncertainty Principle in Quantum Mechanics. These concepts are useful in enabling one to make [limited] predictions about the atomic world, but they are not the real nor even representations of the real.  Thus, the physicist would agree with the statement that the atom is indeed empty of true existence for it is built out of "flawed" experience due to an inseparability between the observer and the observed and the inadequacy of "local" concepts to apply to other realms of reality.

    Closely related to the meaning of the Uncertainty Principle is the wave-particle dualism of electrons as well as light.  In some situations electrons and light behave as waves; in other they clearly and unambiguously behave as if they were particles.

Bohr used the term complementarity to describe such paradoxical behavior:

   "However far the phenomena transcend the scope of classical

physical explanation, the account of all evidence must be

expressed in classical terms.  The argument is simply that by

the word "experiment" we refer to a situation where we can tell

others what we have done.... This implies the impossibility of

any sharp separation between the behavior of atomic objects and

the interaction with the measuring instruments which serve to

define the conditions under which the phenomena appear.  Any

attempt of subdividing the phenomena will demand a change in the

experimental arrangement, introducing new possibilities of

interaction between objects and measuring instruments which in

principle cannot be controlled.  Consequently, evidence obtained

within a single picture must be regarded as complementary in the

sense that only the totality of the phenomena exhausts the

possible information about the subjects."17

    Bohr's argument consists of the following points:

a. However alien phenomena may be involving microscopic spaces of

the atom or vast spaces of the cosmos, the evidence of such

phenomena must be expressed analogically in terms of the names,

concepts, and symbols derived from ordinary, conventional

experience.

b. Because we are participants and not separate, uninvolved

spectators, a sharp demarcation between phenomena and our

experience is impossible.

c. Every attempt we make to explore more deeply and with

alternate approaches will introduce new possibilities of

interactions between ourselves and the phenomenal world and hen

will introduce new results, altering thereby alter the very

phenomena we are striving to understand.

d. Experience obtained from a single set of experiences or mode

of interaction is complementary in that only the totality of all

possible interactions, infinite in number and variety, can

exhaust the potential information associated with that phenomena.

    The Copenhagen School asserts that in finite human experience one can never achieve final and total knowledge of the world. Our knowledge of the atomic realm is fatally flawed because of the participatory quality of our experience and our conceptual limitations.  According to Bohr's thinking our problems are not merely temporary but shall always be with us. No matter how many experiments we perform, no matter how sophisticated our equipment becomes, every time we attempt to measure simultaneously the velocity and position of an electron we shall discover the that electron as a discrete particle with the behavior of a billiard ball does not exist.  The early model of the atoms which imagined it as a miniature solar system with particle-like electrons in orbit around the nucleus could be visualized.  But the modern atom which has emerged from quantum physics is not picturable at all.  Pictures in one's head of probability functions and oscillating waves do not help very much.  The atom and its electrons are both inaccessible to direct observation and unimaginable in terms of our five or six senses. They can not be conceptualized in terms of space, time, causality, and mass.  The domain of the very small is fundamentally different from the world of ordinary human experience.  of quantum mechanics.  In physics, there is a strong encouragement to repeat the search for the billiard-electron in as many different circumstances as possible to affirm and re-affirm the uncertainty relation and the fact that it is un-findable and does not exist.  In a like manner, the Prasangika Madhyamika is encouraged to seek everywhere and in every situation confirmation and re-confirmation that every phenomena is similarly lacking in true existence. Both are "research programs" devoted to demonstrating our inability to conceptualize the truly existent.

 

IX. INFINITE SPACE, INNUMERABLE WORLDS

    A highly dramatic change in the cosmological view is associated with the second turning.  Because of its non-absolutist approach, the Prasangika Madhyamika could not claim that our world disk was central, unique, nor the major domain of the Buddha.  Hence the cosmos was transformed into boundless space containing unlimited numbers of world disks, each with their cosmic mountain, none at a center or at an edge, none superior, each associated with a Buddha.  There can be no absolute requirements on sizes of the worlds and consequently other worlds may be both infinitesimal and immense compared to ours.  Such a non-geocentric and non-heliocentric model is a remarkable leap of thought, considerably closer to modern astrophysics than were the models of contemporary Greek world.

Indeed the vastness of the second turning cosmos exceeded the vision of western astronomers until this century. Astrophysical cosmology today is based on a fundamental assumption known as the "Cosmological Principle" that the large scale features of the universe are identical when viewed from all possible locations. Thus we do not assume that our location is unique in any way whatsoever; our observations made from Earth and from our galaxy thus are typical and generic.

    Between our world and the innumerable other worlds there is simply space which is understood by the Prasangika Madhyamika to be the absence of obstructive contact 18. Space is considered to be a permanent phenomena (nitya) which does not disintegrate with time.  Although space is considered by the Buddhists to be the fifth element, in addition to earth, fire, air, and water, space can be cognized only by our mental consciousness since all phenomena composed of the four "lower" elements which can be contacted by the five physical senses are impermanent.  Space is considered to be unconditioned since it does not depend upon external causes and conditions.

    Space is all pervading since it is non-obstructive everywhere; solid objects could not exist in space unless it was non-obstructive without limit.  As a non-affirming negative [no positive thing is implied in its place] space is similar to the ultimate truth that all phenomena are empty of true existence. It is asserted that similar to emptiness, space has its parts because each object has an associated lack of obstructive contact just as it each object has a lack of true existence.  Space is thus used by the Prasangika Madhyamika as an analogical model for emptiness.  There is a slight distinction which is made between emptiness and space such that space is known to be a non-occasional permanent phenomenon while emptiness is an occasional permanent phenomenon.  The emptiness of a book, for example, is comes into being when the book is created and disappears when the book disappears.  While the book is present as a conventional phenomenon, its emptiness does not change or disintegrate.  As a general quality, emptiness is always present, as there never is a time when there is not an example of emptiness.  Similarly, space has been present since "beginningless time".

 

X. MADHYAMIKAN PARADIGM

    The second turning represents a curious leap from realism and world affirmation of the first turning to the sceptical and negativistic attitude of Nagarjuna.  In the 2nd Century A.D. Buddhism thus shifted away from a common sense approach to phenomena to a more subtle and non-picturable appreciation of reality.  Apparently Nagarjuna did not intend to produce a new paradigm nor metaphysics but instead to develop an approach to life involving an all embracing scepticism of all models and concepts.  The technique was certainly negative in its criticism of incomplete concepts and relatives mistaken for absolutes, but Nagarjuna's goal was not nihilistic but that of freeing the mind from attachment to old concepts.  His encouragement was to give the mind freedom to explore the depths of experience and to penetrate new realms closed by a too rigid view of reality. 

    Such a sceptical approach to established models and the advocacy of intellectual freedom is highly reminiscent of Einstein's description of his approaches leading to the theories of relativity.19  However, to claim that Nagarjuna anticipated many of the aspects of modern relativity is unjustified. Nagarjuna's rejection of absolute motion was partly due to his rejection of the Sarvastivadan's reliance upon absolute dharmas and their consequent discrete appearance in the world.  Motion according to the Sarvastivadan's could not be continuous and hence had no genuine existence.  Einstein's rejection of absolute motion was for a different reason, namely the impossibility of establishing an absolute frame of reference. Similarly, Nagarjuna's rejection of absolute motion did not necessarily imply a recognition of the rotation of the earth. But, there was undeniable power in Nagarjuna's rejection of all absolutes and although he may not have anticipated each and every aspect of experience where such rejection now applies, it was a major revolutionary change in viewing the world, radically different from the cosmological thinking that was occurring in the western world at that time.

 

XI. THIRD TURNING

    The third turning is called the turning of "fine distinctions" for its concern was to modify or soften the apparent nihilism of the second turning and to suggest that a positive statement can be made about reality.  The outgrowth of the third turning was the second major Mahayana school of Cittamatrins and Yogacaran, sometimes known as the "mind only" school.

    While the central concern of the second turning was the emptiness of true existence, the third turning emphasizes the emptiness of subject-object distinction. A fundamental deception identified by the third turning is subject-object duality: the belief that there is a fundamental difference between subject and object, that objects truly exist as external phenomena, and that the self therefore also exists.  The most dangerous consequence of subject-object distinction is that of identification of the self and the consequent proliferation of grasping tendencies of the ego.

    The second turning has been called idealistic, although there is appears to be a full spectrum ranging from the extreme idealism associated with the Cittamatrins, the "mind only school" to a very limited idealism of Asanga and the Yogacara.  My approach in this section will be to discuss primarily the approach to physical reality contained in the late 4th Century A.D. Yogacara literature of Asanga, the Tattvartha chapter of the Bodhisattvabhumi, and the Tri-svabhava-nirdesa written by his brother Vasubandhu.  The discussion of the Tathagatagarbha literature will be based on the Uttaratantra of Maitreya and Asanga.  The third turning is often identified with the idealism of the Cittamatrins and before discussing the Yogacara, a brief description of the "extreme" idealistic position is appropriate. Often one finds that the extreme idealistic position seems to be presented by opponents rather than advocates.

 

XII. CITTAMATRIN

    The extreme idealistic position attributed to the Cittamatrins is that all phenomena are of the same nature of the mind.  Phenomena are not identical to the mind because mind is an observer of objects.  As in a dream, objects are neither the mind which perceives them nor separate from the mind.  The perception of external objects is thus deceptive as they are not external to the mind.  Like an elephant in a dream, phenomena are neither only mind nor separate from mind.  Thus there are no objects nor phenomena which exist truly separate from and independent of a perceiving consciousness.  Apparently "external" objects are produced from the storehouse mind [_alaya vijnana_] or root consciousness, from seeds [_bijas_] which had been implanted from previous experience.  The storehouse mind produces both the "external" objects perceived by the mind and the active perceiving mind itself.  There is, consequently, no essential distinction between perceiver and perceived, between subject and object: all are produced by the mind.  Forms exist as products of that mind and the illusion that they are external, not the object themselves, is deceptive.  The Cittamatrin position counters two errors which may, but do not necessarily, arise form the second turning: (1) subject object dualism, i.e. that the subject and object are essentially different entities; and (2) the nihilistic position that neither subject and object exist.

 

XIII. IDEALISM

    The scientific idealist identifies the human mind as the primary creative agent in the cosmos.  The structures of the world expressed in physical theory, according to the idealist are entirely imposed upon essentially chaotic sense-data by the human mind.  Mind has invented patterns and created order out of chaos. Sir Arthur Eddington describes our experience in the world in terms of following foot prints in the sand to discover that the tracks are our own; "the foot print we have discovered on the shores of the unknown is our own" 20.

    There is a hint of idealism in the non-cumulative viewpoint of science; alternative human interpretations of experience emerge from different paradigms and each of these are the results of model-building and metaphor-creating by the human mind.  It is not altogether unconvincing to argue that the law of gravity as envisioned by Newton did not exist until Newton created it; nor does it exist now as a genuine description of nature for it has been replaced by the new gravitational theory of General Relativity.   But to say that the metaphor connecting the falling apple and the swinging moon is a creation of the mind, is quite different from arguing that the apple and the moon are nothing more than products of the mind.

 

XIV. YOGACARA

    The position of Yogacaras, contained in the writings of Asanga and Vasubandhu, is that the subject object dualism which is perceived by the mind is indeed produced by the mind.  All that we perceive as objects are projected from the mind; all that we see is deceptive in that it appears different from what it is. But, and here is a very significant departure from the pure idealistic position, there is something "out there" which acts as stimulus to the mind and which is in some sense external to and independent of the mind. However, we ordinary beings can not come into contact with that which truly exists beyond the mind for we are so dominated by dualistic projections from our mind.

    A dangerous and very common trap to fall into is to mistake something which we have created from our mind to exist independently from the mind.  Such traps are seemingly more common today than they have ever been in the past, for besides being surrounded by those venerable "ultimates" such as truth beauty, and justice, we have in addition all those persuasive "truths" of modern science such as the forces of nature, DNA molecules, elementary particles, and the expanding universe. And, indeed, we hear warnings from physicists and philosophers of science against literalism and the mistaking of metaphors for reality.

    The names we use [prajnapti] and and the concepts [vijnapti] we have generated are understood by Asanga to be deceptive for they do not adequately or correctly correspond to reality; furthermore names and concepts are dangerous in that they reinforce subject-object dualism and propagate a sense of personal ego.  But names and concepts can be used skillfully as pointing devices, as symbolic arrows pointing beyond themselves.

According to Asanga there exists a reality beyond subject-object duality which is inexpressible and beyond discursive thought. That reality is known by many names, all of which are inadequate partial representations: tathata, suchness; samata, sameness; sunyata, voidness; Buddhanature.

    The third turning emphasizes that assertions about the voidness of true existence of all phenomena and selves does not require or even imply their non-existence.  Voidness and emptiness certainly should not lead to nihilism.  The revolutionary assertion of the third turning is that beyond voidness is an transcendent existence or reality which provides the basis for the phenomena which we experience.  Dharmas, things, and selves thus do exist though in a manner different from appearance.  Things of the world are deceptive in that appearance and reality are not identical.  The new view point expressed in the third turning, which represents a significant paradigmatic change, is that "reality" can be discussed positively.  Although the essential nature is inexpressible and beyond the sphere of cognitive activity or discursive thought it still can be pointed to and hinted at.

   As a revolutionary alternative to the two truths of the second turning [conventional and ultimate truths], Asanga and Vasubandhu present the three nature theory of Yogacara, the tri-svabhava nirdesa:21

1. parikalpita-svabhava:(realistic)

The imagined nature in which the individual and phenomena are

seen as distinct, self-existent objects or as the subject of

experience

2. paratantra-svabhva:(causal interdependence)

This view encompasses causality and dependent arising of all

phenomena but still recognizes a subject-object distinction.

3. parinispanna-svabhava:(totality)

The "absolutely accomplished nature", the ultimate reality, in which all subject-object duality has been eliminated.

    The illusory and unreal nature of things (parikalpita) as well as the relative and mutually dependent nature (paratantra) are based upon a real, existent, though inexpressible substratum of reality, which makes conceptualization and the process of naming possible.  The advocacy of such an inexpressible foundation of selves and things and their causal interconnections existing a major revolutionary break from the second turning.

    "The illusory or unreal nature [parikalpita] as well as the

relative nature [paratantra] must nevertheless be grounded in the

real [parinispanna].  That is, his [Asanga's] formulation allows

for an existent, though inexpressible, substratum of reality

(which makes cognition, however distorted, and naming possible at

all).22

    The denial of the object of naming is permissible only if one understands that one is denying the projection of the mind upon the basis of the name and not the existence of something which exists.  It is "a grave error to deny the existence of the inexpressible [ultimate] foundation [adhisthanam] of a thing [vastu].  For, according to Asanga, that inexpressible foundation does exist in an ultimate sense.  It is the true, parinispanna, reality."23  Both designations {prajnapti and vijnapti} and referents, basis of designation  are grounded in the inexpressible reality.  "There can be no this without that."

    The undiscriminating, blanket denial of the conventional world of designation and causality [parikalpita and paratrantra] prevents one from arriving at a knowledge of ultimate reality Designations arise when there are both things and the projecting mind present.

    "Voidness is logical when one thing is void of another because of that {other's} absence and because of the presence of the void thing itself" 24.  The Prasangikas certainly voice identical caution.  Blanket statements about voidness are dangerously nihilistic; one must use the term with great precision.  Not only must a specific object be identified but also that of which it is void must be explicitly identified. Furthermore, the object which is void of true existence must be conventionally present and identifiable, though, of course, under ultimate analysis, it will be unfindable.

    Asanga asserts the existence of the ordinary world of cause and effect, paratantra, the other dependent nature.  Speaking to his supposed prasangika debating opponent: "You deny the self-existent nature.  In this we agree with you.  You also deny the non-self-existent entity [paratantra], but in this denial we can not agree with you."  Causality, interdependence exist; voidness exists as the interdependent aspect of nature. Non-self-existence exists.25     Asanga's vision of the Middle Path is that of one who neither exaggerates nor minimizes reality, one who neither affirms nor denies totally, one who "recognizes that it is possible for a thing to exist in such a way that it is neither totally existent nor totally nonexistent."26

 

XV. CRITICAL REALISM

    Critical realism occupies a similar middle ground between the literalism of a naive realist and fictionalism at the other. Valid scientific theories are true as well as useful, although they are clearly incomplete. Scientific theories are symbol systems which partially represent a particular aspect of the world for a particular purpose. Science is a process of discovery and exploration as well as that of invention and creative construction.  The scientist seeks to understand as well as to predict; merely predictive models which have no claim to reality are not attractive to the scientist.  For all their incompleteness, scientific theories are to be taken seriously.27 Scientific theories are too successful to be dismissed as merely purely fictional products of the human mind, yet they are clearly too incomplete and too heavily dependent upon human symbolism to justify a claim to absolute truth. Unlike the naive realist, the critical realist recognizes the great importance of human imagination in the creation of new theories. Scientific theories have not simply been lying in the ground waiting to be unearthed by clever diggers.

    Thus the critical realist acknowledges both the creativity of the human mind as well as the existence of patterns in events not created entirely by the mind. Descriptions of the world are human creations, but there exists a world out there which accepts certain theories and rejects others.  There appear to be objective relationships in nature.  There is a "being" which somehow exists in addition to knowning; being is not necessarily prior or dominant to knowing, but being can not be entirely dismissed.  No theory is an exact copy of the world, but some theories agree with experiments and observations because the world seems to have an objective nature of its own. 

    When creating a model or theory, the scientist has a realistic intent all the while recognizing the incomplete nature of the result.  The scientist tends to take his science, his theories and models, seriously but not literally.  and views his theories as having some degree of tentative ontological claim. Scientists are generally motivated by a desire to know and understand in addition to predict and perhaps to control.  

     Science, to the critical realist, is a quest for coherence and simplicity, for understanding and elegance.  Einstein remarked that the most incomprehensible thing about the world was it comprehensibility; the great mystery to him was that elegant mathematical theories coming from the human mind should bear any resemblance to the physical world.

    Asanga refers to "names" in a manner similar to the that which the critical realist refers to models and theories.  The theory is clearly incomplete and imperfect, but it serves a useful purpose in that it guides human activity and provides one with some hints of echoes from a reality that has as yet been only partially explored.  Names, according to Asanga, in their subject-object distinction generate ideas of things which are either exaggerations or underestimations of those things.

"...all dharmas have an inexpressible essential nature.  Why is

expression applicable at all?  Verily, because without

expression, the inexpressible true nature could not be told to

other, nor heard by others." 28

    Vasubandhu, echoes also the position of the critical realist; we live in a world of immense variety, depth, and surprise.  Our approach to that world is most often dualistic, imaging a firm separation between subject and object which is deceptive, illusory, and imaginary and which our mind has projected outward. But, the sense that there is a reality beyond, yet not totally separate from our mind, a the plurality of things themselves, which are there "independent of any mental activity by any beings" 29 is not deceptive.

    A highly important consequence of the destruction of subject-object duality is the resultant openness to possibilities which lie beyond that duality:  "From the non-perception of duality there arises the perception of the essence of reality; from the perception of the essence of reality there arises the perception of unlimitedness." Such a goal of perceiving things as they are beyond subject-object duality or duality in general is one which is very close to the heart of the physicist.  We have apparent dualities in physics such as energy-matter, space-time, and wave-particle which must be transcended in order to reach a more fundamental level of the physical world.

 

XV1. TATHAGATAGARBHA

    A major revolutionary change in the third turning occurred in the so-called tathagatagarbha literature which is represented by the Uttaratantra 30.  In that work, which is described as the bridge between the sutras and tantras, Asanga and Maitreya suggest that there must exist something external which initiates the process of perception and evokes compassion and widsom from sentient beings.  Because of its highly affirmative nature, the approach of the Uttaratantra is closer to that of a religious paradigm than is the approach of the Prasangika.  Barbour acknowledges that religious paradigms there is more influence from the `top down':"from paradigms, through interpretive mdels and beliefs, to experience."31  Characteristics of "postulated" Buddha-nature are thus identified and are proposed to be present in human beings at all times. In the Uttaratantra the presence of Buddha-nature is identified as the positive attribute of reality, a positive assertion which is highly revolutionary compared to the non-affirming negations of the second turning.  Other terms for Buddha-nature are Sugatagarbha and "other emptiness" [gzhen-stong] 32.  Tathagatagarbha is not only the primordial awareness of a fully awakened beings, totally beyond sense organs and beyond concepts and ordinary consciousness, but it is also representative of ultimate reality itself.  Emptiness is assumed to be identical with the awareness of the fully awakened being. Buddha-nature is considered to be totally beyond speech and concepts, hence the term is understood to be merely a way of pointing, a symbol pointing beyond itself. The Uttaratantra proposes a number of representations of Buddha-nature:

    1. unification of emptiness and luminosity;

    2. inconceivable

    3. permanent, everlasting, indestructible;

    4. all pervading; present in all beings but obscured;

    5. inexhaustible in extent like the waters of a great ocean;

    6. undifferentiated;

    The sun in its luminosity and space in its emptiness are used often as analogical models for Buddha-nature, which is described as luminous in nature and empty in essence.  The deceptive appearance of the world is likened to a cloudy day over which the sun is nevertheless shinning.  Indeed, the program of "photism" which in a sense has been building through the first two turnings, breaks through brilliantly in the Uttaratantra in its rich metaphorical use of sun and sunlight.  In a dramatic shift of perspective, one is transported from the surface of the earth, on which the view of the sun is often obscured by clouds, to the sun itself and the perspective of the cosmos obtainable from the source.

    To see better the revolution represented by the Uttaratantra, I review the differences in the physical views of the three turnings by means of the different interpretations of emptiness, space, and time.  For the Sarvastivadins, the world apprehended by our senses is empty of true existence for it arises from dharmas, those indivisible, unchanging sources of experience. The world which we experience is void of reality and rests upon a foundation of fundamental "psychological atoms" which are real. Reality seems dominated by time, which seems to have an existence of its own, for immense amounts of time which are required for sentient beings to achieve enlightenment. Space is defined simply as having the quality of non-obstruction; cosmic space is small, containing primarily only the single world disk on which we live and the empty darkness lying beyond.

    In the second turning the reality of indivisible dharmas was rejected as were all other positive references to reality.  The Prasangika Madhyamika maintain that all selves and phenomena are empty of true existence, that is, they are dependent upon other causes and conditions and are not eternal (rang.tong, empty in itself). All statements concerning emptiness are likewise empty of true existence, e.g., the concepts of infinity and emptiness are empty of true existence.  Although space and emptiness are recognized to have similar qualities of permanence and pervasiveness, there is no ontological connection drawn between them.  The only ultimate truth is the non-affirming negation of true existence.  However, such a truth must be applied carefully; true existence can be denied only for that which can be named or located.  A positive quality which emerges is the interdependent quality of all existence.  An example of such interweaving is in the presentation of the four elements, earth, water, fire, and air.  The second turning stresses their mutual inter-dependence as well as their lack of self-existence.  There is a striking openness in the second turning view of reality; space and time are without limit; worlds unlimited in number and size stretch outward in all ten directions of space.

    The Yogacarins identified emptiness in terms of non-duality: Subject-object distinction is empty of true existence.  However, they indicated that there is a state beyond subject-object dualism, the absolutely accomplished nature, parinispanna-svabhava about which one can make positive statements.  Emptiness beocomes a positive quality of experience and is understood to be identical to the "primordial awareness" of a fully awakened being. Emptiness is not a thing, but the awareness of a fully awakened being.  Buddha-nature is said to be empty because it is absolutely empty of all the qualities which are associated with all the reality which is known such as subject-object dualism and belief in the true existence of phenomena (gzen.tong, emptiness of other).  The Yogacaras moved through the door which the Prasangika Madhyamikas left slightly open.  That which can be named and identified has no true existence. But, what of that which can not be named?  One does not deny the existence of that which can not be found.

    The Uttaratantra carries the third turing program of making positive statements about reality a large step futher.  Since form and function is a deceptive duality, the function of the mind possessing primordial awarness must also be an existent form.  Buddha-nature is then identified as a quality of reality which is of the same nature as the fully awakened mind. Emptiness becomes a "thing", since "things" and the manner of viewing things can not be separated, and thus emptiness acquires an ontological existence.  According to the Uttaratantra one can make statements about that existant which is called emptiness; it is indivisible, permanent, and inconceivable.  No complete statement can be made about Buddha-nature yet the position is clearly not nihilistic because the act of pointing beyond symbols becomes very important.  There is something very powerful beyond duality, beyond words and concepts which pervades all space, which is pure, immaculate, and luminous, and which acts in a positive fashion upon consciousness.  The common analogical symbols for Buddha-nature involve light and rays of the sun; Buddha-nature is understood to be empty in essence and luminous in nature.  In its manifestation it is the basis for all sensory experience; it is like space, the unconditioned basis for all objects; it is like the pure mind which is the basis for all deceptions.33  Space as a concept has thus evolved from that which is simply non-obstructive to a powerful symbol for the all pervasive foundation of experience as well as an active agent for enlightenment.

   

XVII. CONCLUSION: PARADIGMS AND EVOLUTION

    According to Vasubandhu in the Tri-svabhava nirdesa, one approaches understanding the truth of things through an evolutionary process of "knowledge, rejection and attainment"34, a personal journey parallel to the three turnings.  One must first become a realist, perhaps even a naive one, and acquire a detailed knowledge of the imagined and deceptive nature of things.  One must immerse oneself in the world to know it.  It is the ignorance of the illusory world, which leads us to believe in and grasp permanent absolutes.  Although clearly not na´ve realists, Prasangika Madhyamika similarly assert that one must first investigate in great detail all aspects of the material world in their full diversity in order to convince oneself that the things of the world do not truly exist, as they appear to exist.  Secondly, one must recognize the dependent arising of all things.  The objects of the world do not exist as independent and self-existent objects but are dependent upon causes and conditions external to them. 

            The world is a network of tightly intertwined phenomena, and as a successful ecologist in a forest recognizes the integrated nature of the whole forest, so must one recognize the totality of experience.  Finally, one must reject the apparent duality implied by cause and effect and between subject and object, no matter how interdependent they may be.  Direct realization of paranispanna means the perception of the whole cloth of the universe without any seams, boundaries, or distinctions.  We are nevertheless left with the ultimate paradox: even that seamless cloth, in its wholeness and totality, is empty of true existence.

 


NOTES

 1. quoted in Etienne Lamotte, The Buddha, His Teachings and His  Sangha in The World of Buddhism, edited by Heinz Bechert and Richard Gombrich, London: Thames and Hudson, 1984.

 2. A. K. Chatterjee, The Yogacara Idealism, Varanasi: Banaras   Hindu University Press, 1962; Stcherbatsky, Th., Buddhist Logic, New York: Dover, 1962, I, 3-14.

 3. Kuhn, Thomas, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chapter II, Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1962.

 4. Randy Kloetzli, Buddhist Cosmology, Delhi: Motilal    Banarsidass, 1983.

 5. Geertz, Clifford, The Interpretation of Cultures, Chapter 4, New York: Basic Books, 1973.

 6. Percy Bridgman, The Logic of Modern Physics, New York: The    Macmillan Co., 1927.

 7. Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

              Hutchinson's University Library, 1956.

 8. N. R. Hanson, Patterns of Discovery, Cambridge: Cambridge    University Press, 1958.

 9. Ian Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms, New York: Harper & Row, 1974.

 10. Israel Scheffler, Science and Subjectivity, New York: Bobbs Merrill, 1967, pg. 44.

 11. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Second Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970; see also `Second Thoughts on Paradigms', in Frederick Suppe (ed.), The    Structure of Scientific Theories, University of Illinois Press, 1973.

 12. K. V. Raman, Nagarjuna's Philosophy, Rutland: Charles E.    Tuttle, 1966.

 13. Ramanan, p.38; S. sasvabhavavada.

 14. Geshe Rabten, Echoes of Voidness: The Sixth Chapter of    Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara, London: Wisdom Publications, 1983.

 15. Shantideva, Bodhisattvacharyavatara, tr. Stephen Batchelor, Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1979, chapter 9; also Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Meaningful to Behold, Cumbria, England: Wisdom Press, 1980, pg. 259-265.

 16. Jeffrey Hopkins, Meditation on Emptiness, London: Wisdom    Publications, 1983; pg. 539-547.

 17. Niels Bohr, Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge, New York:    John Wiley & Sons, 1958, pg. 39.

 18. Hopkins pg. 217-219.

 19. Albert Einstein, Autobiographical Notes in Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, P.A. Schlipp (ed), New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959.

 20. Sir Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World.

 21. Thomas A. Kochumuttom, A Buddhist Doctrine of Experience,    Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1982, pg. 92.

 22. Janice Jean Willis, On Knowing Reality: The Tattvartha    Chapter of Asanga's Bodhisattvabhumi, New York: Columbia University Press, 1979 pg. 107.

 23. Willis, pg. 108.

 24. Willis, pg. 114.

 25. Willis, pg. 116.

 26. Leonard Nash, The Nature of Natural Science, New York:    Little, Brown, and Co, 1963, p. 251.

 27. Willis, pg. 125.

 28. Kochumuttom, pg. 92.

 29. Maitreya and Asanga, Uttaratantra, tr. Katia Holmes and Ken Tsultim Gyamtso, Scotland: Kagyu Samye Ling, 1979.

 30. Trangu Rinpoche, The Peerless Continuum: A Commentary to the Uttaratantra of Maitreya/Asanga, London: Mahasandhi Books, 1983.

 31. Barbour, pg. 124.

  32. Maitreya and Asanga, pg. 21-42.

 33. Kochumuttom, pg. 119.

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