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Can emptiness be understood as a conservation law? In other words, is it true that to posit a true end to any existent is to necessarily presuppose that it truly existed before it ended? Another way of saying it, to posit that with death and the break up of the body that a person truly ended is to presuppose that the person truly existed in the body beforehand?

Doesn't viewing the true destruction of a chariot presuppose that the chariot truly existed in the first place?

Doesn't viewing the true destruction of the body presuppose that the body truly existed in the first place?

Can an illusion ever truly end? Or does illusion necessarily give birth to subsequent moments of new illusion?

To my understanding a person is an impermanent ever changing phenomenon. That the person is like an illusion that continues from moment to moment in this life. If that is so, then how is death different? Doesn't supposing a true end for an illusion-like phenomenon necessarily imply that someone has mistaken the illusion for something real? Is this one consequence of the equation emptiness === form?

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Like the first verse of Nagarjuna's Madhyamikakarika, Prasangika refute the four extremes of production. Nagarjuna says:

Neither from itself nor from another, nor from both, nor without a cause, does anything whatever, anywhere arise.

What is produced is not truly produced (in the sense that it is not inherently produced), and what ceases does not truly cease (in the sense that it does not inherently cease). There is (conventional) production from another, but not inherent (or true) production from another... and there is no production from itself, be it truly/ultimately or conventionality.

You say:

To my understanding a person is an impermanent ever changing phenomenon. That the person is like an illusion that continues from moment to moment in this life. If that is so, then how is death different?

It's a great question. Death is different in that the mental continuum separates from the body. There is no such separation before death (except in rare cases of powa etc.) That is how death is different from the constant changes that occur in life. Even though no aggregate stays the same from one moment to the next, there is usually no such separation (of the mind stream from the body) before death.

In addition, since the aggregates belong to the same continuum, we can impute the same name on them although they have changed. It is what we do when we look a picture of us at age 10 and say "Look! It's me when I was ten."

  • How about the conservation law part or this as implication in equation of emptiness === form? iow, can anything at all said to truly end at death? either the body, the mind, the person, anything? is there any true end to anything at all? do illusion-like things continue to be illusion-like from the infinite past into the infinite future precisely because they never truly existed in the first place? BTW, so great to hear from you, you awesome illusion-like being! :) – Yeshe Tenley Aug 10 '18 at 14:57
  • When you burn a table into ashes, it becomes something else (ashes) and it ceases to be a [illusion-like] table. To paraphrase things, Vaïbashika posit that form will never become nothing, and I have never seen a refutation of that, be it by Prasangika or others. Still, the table ceased to exist - even though the form abiding in the table abides in or as ashes. Your body will cease to be a body. As far as I know, all Mahayana schools posit that the mental continuum never ends and that it is never severed, and so it is eternal (but impermanent). – Tenzin Dorje Aug 10 '18 at 15:05
  • Sorry but I don't understand what you mean with "emptiness === form". – Tenzin Dorje Aug 10 '18 at 15:06
  • "Vaïbashika posit that form will never become nothing," seems very close to a conservation law indeed. emptiness === form is shorthand for, "Form is empty. Emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form is also not other than emptiness." When I say that illusion-like things never truly cease it seems something like to say that conventional existents when they end always act as substantial cause for arising of other conventional existents..." – Yeshe Tenley Aug 10 '18 at 15:11
  • That the ending of any conventional existent is not a true ending in that the ending always acts as substantial cause to give rise to some new conventional existent? In much the way that burning table turns to ash... – Yeshe Tenley Aug 10 '18 at 15:12

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