Variations on the Two Truths: Distinct, Identical, or Coalescent

There's something paradoxical or even ironic about the concept of the conventional (saṃvṛti) being understood as a kind of "truth" (satya), since in some interpretations of the two truths the conventional is understood as false in contrast to the ultimate (paramārtha) which is alone true. Generally, according to these views, often associated with the Sakya …

Beyond the Impasse of Self-Emptiness and Other-Emptiness in Tibetan Madhyamaka

Some thoughts on the dichotomy of self-empty (rang stong) and other-empty (gzhan stong): The basis of the dichotomy comes about from considering the role and scope of negation in the apprehension of emptiness.  The dialectic of emptiness that runs through the various tenet systems (from Vaibhashika to Sautantrika to Cittamatra to Madhyamaka) progressively refines the negandum or …

On Madhyamaka non-foundationalism

In contemporary Buddhist Studies (which refers to the mostly Western, semi-global academic study of Buddhism, and not the indigenous systems of actually existing Buddhadharma) the Madhyamaka is often rendered as a form of philosophical anti-foundationalism, which is opposed to totalizing, metaphysical forms of thought based on self-sufficient first principles or self-grounding foundations which pretend to, …

Buddhahood at the Terminus of a Thanatropic Humanity

Consummate Buddhahood is like an alien intelligence from the future assembling itself entirely from the past and present afflictions of sentient beings, transforming this afflictive basis into remedial elements more conducive to the eventual and inexorable realization of this perfected body of wisdom and bliss. Cosmically speaking, humanity becomes known as being, and as having …

On Pragmatism

A pragmatist theory of truth (broadly defined as a theory of truth based on the value of the utility of any given set of procedures in terms of their ability to produce their intended effects) may be more adequate to experience than either a naive realism that considers truth to be a simple, absolute correspondence …

Madhyamaka and the Problem of Approach

The doctrine of the two truths is a principle tenet of the Madhyamaka path, serving not only to show the non-contradictory coherence of the Buddha's different teachings but also serving as a support for the practice of achieving liberating knowing. The doctrine distinguishes between the conventional truth of phenomena as interdependently originated and the ultimate …