Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mike's Question About the Three Natures

In the comments section of the posting about the relative truth and the mere relative, Mike Hennesy wrote:

Hi Tyler-

This distinction sounds similar to the mind-only school's distinction between the imaginary (imputed) nature and the dependent nature (when empty of the imag. nature).

Or is it better not to mix these?


PS Great blog-- long may it run.

Here was my response:

Hi Mike,

This is an interesting point. Some scholars have said that the dependent nature empty of the imaginary nature is the perfectly established nature. However, I wouldn't equate with imaginary nature to the relative truth as explained here by Chandrakirti and the Karmapa. For sentient beings, the relative truth consists of labels as well as the bases of the labels. If I were to attempt a comparison with the three nature, I would say that relative truth is the impure dependent nature, and the mere relative is the pure dependent nature.

Great question!



To amend these remarks slightly, it's important to say that these are only comparisons or parallels, not equivalents. The Middle Way presentation of relative truth has different foundations than the Mind Only presentation of the impure dependent nature. For some (purported) followers of Mind Only, the dependent nature is "substantially existent," a phrase that the Followers of the Middle Way would never use except in the context of refuting the people who use it. However, there are parallels, since both the impure dependent nature and the relative truth are what are perceived as real by ordinary beings; and both the pure dependent nature and the mere relative are what is perceived in post-meditation by the noble ones.

1 comment:

Michael Hennessy said...

Thanks, Tyler. Your postings clarify many points!

To ensure I'm following you:

a) Your original post states the Aryas experience "appearances that are the results of ignorance and karma during post-meditation." I assume that although these arise, the Aryas are not deluded by them, unlike ordinary beings. I.e., they experience them as "dependently-arisen mere appearance" and this is what is meant by the "mere relative."

b) Your subsequent comments suggest "mere relative" may be somewhat comparable to the "pure dependent nature." I don't have my NB sourcebook handy but "pure dependent nature" indicates the appearances of the higher stages of the path, e.g., the pure lands, etc. Would these qualify as karmic visions? Also, how would this fit with the Bodhisattva vow and the idea of being reborn in any of the six realms of samsara?

You're welcome to just point me to sections of the text; I don't want to take too much of your time on this.