thank you for the post.
I always had the impression that Ch'an school started with Venerable Kashyapa, the mind transmissioning happening when the Buddha held up a flower and no one understood what the Buddha was pointing to except for Venerable Kashyapa.
the Pali records: annasi vata bho Kondanno.
is what the Buddha said to Kondanna during the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion (SN 56.11)
Mahakasyapa was ordained in the first Sangha and convened the first Council, indeed, he is a towering figure in the early Buddhadharma. as it wasn't until many centuries later that Ch'an arose, per se, as a distinct school of the Mahayana. Chinese literature, of which the Flower Sutra is part, has a very interesting history... quite unlike that of the West and even the Middle East, it is very often the case that a new writer would write under an older, famous writers name or would attribute texts, poems, etc to other august personages. indeed, the whole thing smacks of an air of deception yet the Chinese by and large didn't see it that way, they saw it as lending an air of legitimacy to new ideas, techniques and technologies that a reluctant populace wasn't eager to embrace. for the ancient Chinese if "the Old Master" or Kung Fu'tze said it then it was worthwhile and worthy of consideration. such phenomena still happens in China.. and in alot of the rest of the world "science" has taken the place of the old Chinese masters. in any case, attributing the origin of Ch'an to Mahakasypa is certainly within the Chinese character to lend legitimacy to the new form of Buddhist practice sweeping over the land brought by the Boundless One, Bodhidharma.
I think that which is unspeakable cannot be experienced by the mind because the mind itself is an epiphenomenon of the unspeakable.
an interesting view but it is not one which i share as i do not hold consciousness to be merely an epiphenomena of matter. perhaps by the term "mind" you mean to include more than simply consciousness?
i would also tend to disagree that the fact that a phenomena cannot be emcompassed by language that makes it, in and of itself, unexperienceable. i would suggest that the most mundane act of eating a persimmon is incapable of being expressed in any manner which can convey knowledge other than an individuals like or dislike of the taste. yet we would all tend to agree that we can experience the taste of the persimmon even without being able to convey the knowledge of that taste.
In the end however, as the Buddha himself proclaimed, he taught nothing.
hmm.... well.. he taught no thing which is somewhat different than nothing
To me, Madhyamika view itself is subjected to many interpretations. The Gelugpas, Shakyapas, Kagyupas and Nyingmapas each have their own interpretations. And clearly, the differences in interpretations have not prevented each schools to give rise to realized beings, so it cannot be the "culmination of the praxis" if I may use your expression.
the culimination of the praxis is outside of the philosophical view. indeed, the Ri Me movement in Tibetan Vajrayana puts an emphasis on learning the other schools, taking teachings and refuges within their tantric lineages in order to preserve them. Tibetan Vajrayana literature is repleat with beings from the Initial Spread to the New Spreading that have Awakened and attained Liberation and i hope you didn't misconstrue my post. you mentioned that Dzogchen seems to present a rigpa from which all things arise and my point is that Madhyamika (in general) and Prasangika (in particular) do not derive their view from an understanding of rigpa and that experience of rigpa is not the culmation of the tantric path but i'm loath to speculate further as it probably isn't very helpful or useful.
Perhaps, here is a good place for me to state what I think is unique about the Buddha's view. This is just my own intellectual speculation so I could be wrong. I think the Buddha taught that the ultimate is neither unitary nor dualistic, it is not one and it is not many. And this ultimate is not something attainable nor can it be taught. It is not something that the mind can experienced, but it can nevertheless be "experienced".
i would say that such a view is not too disimilar to the Sautantrika view and it's absolutely spot on that the Buddha proclaims that the Dharma is "beyond conjecture, to be experienced by The Wise."
it's rather like the old Taoist mondo:
"the purpose of a fish trap is to catch fish, once the fish are caught the trap is forgotten.
the purpose of a rabbit trap is to catch rabbits, once the rabbit is caught the trap is forgotten.
the purpose of words to to convey ideas, once the idea is caught the words are forgotten.
show me the person that has forgotten words for that is the person with whom i'd like to talk."
sentient humans use concepts but concepts aren't reality