Unity in Duality - Tendrel Report - 5b. Unity in Duality - Introduced Through an Exposition of Tendrel.

5b. Unity in Duality - Introduced Through an Exposition of Tendrel.
      Tarab Tulku, Dr. Phil. / Lharampa Geshe

Subject-Object Interdependent Relationship
In Buddhist philosophical / science of mind schools we find that subject and object are seen as inseparable and interdependent.
With reference to the Buddhist philosophical / science of mind literature, I will present the different ways which show that subject and object interrelationship is part and parcel of our existence.

In the philosophical school of Yogacara evolution or the unfoldment of existence is explained *10 in terms of the three progressive stages of manifestation *11 consisting of:

  • The basic principle of the universe and of existence *12;
  • The 'self-identification', the rising above the basic principle looking back at 'itself' *13; and
  • The 'other' identification *14.

    Following the manifestation of these dualistic principles the 'self' and 'other' unfold gradually into a more and more coarse level of being, and thence into an increasingly dualistic state of materialisation.

The 'basic principle' is said to contain all these three dualistic principles in a dormant or potential 'form' *15. The presence of these potential natures is the cause by which the whole universe and the whole of existence unfolds. In other words, the 'basic principle' has within itself the potential nature of the universe and of existence as such. So both the one experiencing, the subject and that which can be experienced, the object, are arising from the 'basic principle'. In that way it seems very similar to Yogacara where the five sense organs and the five sense-minds on the one hand, and the five sense-objects on the other hand have the same root.

Also we can see that in accordance with other Buddhist literature *16, for instance in regard to the wheel of existence *17, there are three root-principles for the creation of the universe and existence. The first principle is "self-identification" *18, which hinders our seeing the true nature. As a consequence of the former, the two other root principles of "attraction" *19 and "rejection" *20 arise, accordingly laying the foundations of actions *21. The universe and the whole of existence are based on these actions. This idea is integrated in all Buddhist philosophical schools.
    The first principle of "self-identification" lies at the root of the creation of samsara and of duality. It is the universal "self-holding" that forms the basis of the unfolding process into a coarser and coarser "self-identification", which at each stage determines the "other-identification".

Even at our level of manifestation, despite what we experience and the tools with which we experience, both the subject pole as well as the object pole are interdependent and are rooted in the potential nature of the basic principle.
    This is one of the ways by which we can understand that the subject and the object are mutually interdependent.

10. Trimsikakarika by Vasubandhu
11. (Tib.) Gyur-pa rnam-gsum / (Sanskrit) trividhah parinamah / the three progressive stages of manifestation.
12. (Tib.) Kun-gzhi rnam-shes / (Sanskrit) alaya-vijnana / substratum 'awareness'.
13. (Tib.) Nyon-yid rnam-shes / (Sanskrit) klesa-vijnana / primordial 'self'-'identification' or 'self'-referential 'awareness'.
14. (Tib.) Yul-la rnam-par rig-pa / (Sanskrit) visaya-vijnapti / 'experience' pertaining to phenomana.

15. (Tib.) Bag-chags, (Sanskrit) vasana,
16. The Vinaya literature, the Mahayana as well as the Hinayana Abhidharma.
17. In the Vinaya tradition there is a description of how the whole existence comes about and keeps up its existence. The painting illustrating this idea is called the "wheel of existence".
18. (Tib.) bDag-'dzin ma rig-pa. bDag-'dzin meaning 'self holding' (reference or identification) and Ma rig-pa meaning lack of intrinsic awareness, illustrated in the wheel of existence by a pig.
19. (Tib.) 'Dod-pa / attraction, illustrated in the wheel of existence by a pigeon.
20. (Tib.) sDang-ba / rejection, illustrated in the wheel of existenceby a snake.
21. (Tib.) Las / (Sanskrit) karma


Another expression of the subject and object interrelationship is the following.
We normally experience reality by means of either the sense-minds or the conceptual mind. Both of these perceptual / cognitive means are seen to have their respective objects - their respective minds are seen as interrelated with their objects. E.g. without the sense-minds and the conceptual mind respectively, the particular forms of reality that these types of mind allow, would not exist - reality here being that which we experience.
    The seeing sense objects do not exist "out there" exactly in the way we experience them. The way we see is dependent on the structure of the eyes and the perspective from where we view. Also what we hear is due to the condition of the inner ear. If the ears were built differently the faculty of hearing would change accordingly and consequently the sound experience. The same holds true for the other senses *22.
    The specifically human reality, conceptual reality, is interconnected with our specific human mind faculty, the conceptual mind. Its way of perceiving/cognising by means of language and abstraction is implying generalization, enabling the human mind to compare and analyse.
    We do not share our specific human reality with animals, as they do not have the specific linguistic and abstract ability that would enable them to experience our human reality. The nature of this exceptional ability of the human mind is thoroughly described and analysed in Buddhist literature *23.
    Although these basic conceptual realities do not exist as an inherent quality of the sense-object, they still form the basis for human reality - the human idea-realities and value-realities. Human reality is thus dependent on the way in which the conceptual mind experiences. I.e. the specific human realities cannot be said to objectively exist "out there" in their own right either.
    On top of humanly and culturally shared layers of reality, we have our own individual conceptual reality - corresponding to the crystallization of different identity patterns based on former experiences. If a person has had problematic experiences, for instance he or she has not felt loved and supported in the period of developing, he or she naturally creates vulnerable self-referential identifications that strongly influence his or her conceptual experience of reality.
    These private realities, being determined by the vulnerable self-references, are therefore not objectively existing in and by themselves either, but are experienced as such due to former imprints in our basic individual mind. Conceptual reality, as it is based on an abstraction from physical reality, can therefore take us from heavenly-like-experiences to the deepest paranoia - everything is possible - in accordance with the self-referential feeling.
    Another way to view the subject and object interdependent relationship is in the context of subtlety. If the subjective perceptual / cognitive means are of a coarse type, so is the experience of the object, and visa versa, in as much using more subtle tools of perception / cognition gives access to more subtle and uniting object experiences.

22. In accordance with Buddhist phil. / science of mind the five senses are said each to have their respective 'sense-power' in Tibetan called dBang-po gzugs-chen, where dBang-po means power, indicating the empowering effect the senses have on the experienced sense reality.
23. Dharmakirti's work, Pramanavedikarika, and many comentaries on Pramana by Indian and Tibetan scholars.