Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Jhampa Nov 1, 87
We said in the beginning that there were three principles which are important in one's practice. The principle of renunciation, love and compassion and wisdom. Renunciation is just that your mind has some detachment from the immediate world around you. Said in another way, you put more emphasis on who you are rather than the possessions you have or things like that. It's emphasis is to your own being, to the sense of gaining qualities which will be with you as the years go by and hopefully grow and increase. Renunciation doesn't mean that you give up your life, material possessions, or job, rather it means a focus upon your own inner good qualities, positive qualities, and to the development of those as the principle, the main key of your life. Material assets or whatever around you are secondary.
The second quality is love and compassion which I will talk about later. This is the main body of practice in the sense that without love and compassion, our relationship with the world is very cold. And that is not at all good. It's very important that we have a very warm and receptive relationship with the beings around us and also the material world, the environment. That we have a caring attitude.
The third principle is wisdom, important because otherwise our love has a quality of just being very emotional and therefore sometimes actually a hindrance rather than a blessing. So it's very important to develop wisdom as the compliment to our love.
For this evening I'd like to start to work on wisdom consciousness. Although initially you were introduced to ideas to think about and meditate on, sort of feel them out to see if you agree with them or not, but we might term that as an intellectual introduction. With your own experience, then it becomes actually your own wisdom. And then, that wisdom grows within you. Really, the difference between the intellectual knowledge and wisdom is just the amount of experience that goes behind it. And if the wisdom, the knowledge that you are given is truly what you might term as the proper vision of reality, then that wisdom, as you go into it deeper and deeper will affirm itself at deeper and deeper levels. So it's something that is always important, it's not a dogmatic statement or has to be taken on faith. You can confirm it as your mind unfolds or as your mind reveals it's nature as your experiences of the world confirms those realizations.
In Buddhism there are two ways of approaching what we term as a reality. Now reality means the correct relationship with the world and with ourselves and this implies the development of our own wisdom. So there are two ways of approaching reality or the true nature of reality. One is focused on what is termed the realization of the mind and the second is what is termed as realization of the true nature. This week I would like to talk about realization of the mind in the sense of that it is termed mind only school. It's a really good way to approach a realization of reality because it allows us to experience a possible duality or some distance between the real way the world functions versus the way we interact and believe that it functions. So it can help us to realize possibly areas of our own ignorance.
When you first think about the world around you... Let's take any object that we would like to be aware of for the fun of it. We will put this object down.
So, here is an object. In any object we approach, we all think that we are seeing the same object, don't we? Like we look at it and we say it's a bowl. But actually, each one of us has our own perceptions on that. Each one of us has our own object really. And although we might like to believe that we have the same object, we don't. How it is, is each one of us, we look at that, and maybe we can choose an object that we are all familiar with. We will use a candle. We all know candle.
Candle. We all look at candle. But we all have different ideas about it. Some of us might look at it and say, "They are nice, but they actually leave soot on the things that they are around, and they leave black on the roof if you burn them enough." Other people might say, "Oh how romantic!" Other people might say, "A waste of money when there is electricity." Really.... I don't know what each of you might think, but if each of us wrote it on paper so you couldn't mimic what the next person beside you said, each would make a different statement about it. It goes to really show that we actually live in our own universes and we all work or relate to the world in slightly different ways which goes down to prove that objectively, there is no final reality. Objectively there is no one true reality. Because if there were, then this candle, for every one of us would have to be exactly the same thing. If it had it's own reality, some sort of true "candle-ness" about itself, then when each one of us looked at it, we would have to cognize that and say, "Yes, this is what it is!" If we all wrote it on pieces of paper privately, and if someone walked in the room, he would also say exactly the same thing because that candle would have it's own nature and everyone would know that and recognize that. But it is not the case. Because when we come in the room or even sitting here and just looking at it, we have different ideas about it. We don't like a white candle, we like grey candles!.... whatever our ideas our ideas might be.
It comes down to that the world around us is created by our side. And on the world's side there is no objective reality. It's a subjective reality. In one way then you can appreciate "What establishes our reality? What establishes the world around us for the way that we see it?" It is established by our habits, what you might term as our ideas. You could say delusions. Because it's our previous familiarity, our experience of the object, all these different things which makes us have the relationship that we do have. Again it really affirms that our objective projection of the world can be completely off the mark because of
mis-information, mis-upbringing, whatever else. So to give the outside world unbelievable emphasis saying "This is how the world is!" is really to miss the mark. It is always established from our perspective, from our habits from our experiences, whatever they might be based upon. Who our parents were, our social upbringing, our cultural identity, all these things. It comes back to the more we think about it, the more we really have to appreciate that we do create our own existence of the world.
So for some of us we can come into a group of people that we know and feel very uncomfortable and anxious. Then we come into a different group of people and feel comfortable and warm. This is because of the way our mind views the world around us. It's such a subjective world in the sense that it's a subjectively orientated or subjectively projected world.
So in coming to start to realize our subjective projection, the point of where wisdom can come from it is because we can start to realize possibly where we have delusions in regards to reality. Like our own prejudices in either to one side or the other. We can start to realize that possibly our prejudices are not the real nature of the thing. Are not the real situation. By doing that then, at least that much we knock our mind back from getting ourselves all emotionally upset. If you think about it, if I strongly dislike candles, for whatever reason, maybe I'm allergic to the smell... If I was to sit here and really dislike the candle, I've created for myself anxiety and discomfort and everything. Whereas three or four of you other people enjoy candles because you think they are a very peaceful environment. Your whole being is very relaxed, open and you really think it's nice.
If thinking about the world is a subjective projection, then we can start to relate to our own delusions that we have, our own emotional experiences and say, "Alright, are my experiences a valid one? Like why do I have to relate to this in this way?" And in doing that, then maybe we could make a judgement about possibly what is a more a productive way to relate to that. Or what would be a way closer to reality?
For this evening, just to initially open ourselves to the fact that the world around us is subjectively created and that if we create it in a highly deluded manner, then definitely we are setting ourselves up for a lot of anxiety, a lot trials and tribulations, a lot of emotional turmoil. So, if it is a subjective world we live in, we should be more aware of how we create our existence each moment that we live it. And it is something that we can change in the sense that if we start to take control of ourselves, then we can start to cultivate a more positive rapport and negate the more negative sides of ourselves. The sides which immediately go to anxiety. And if we know that a situation will invoke into a strong anxiety, then we maybe can do something to alter that by either avoiding a situation. Or in another way trying to actually generate a different perspective. The main point is to divest the outside world of a strong sense of "It has a nature which is completely outside of my control."
And this is important because so often we do give away responsibility for situations. We say, "Well this situation is out of my control." And that is saying the outside world has more control than I do myself personally. In this sense, the most important point in developing wisdom is start gaining control of the situation, and in gaining control of the situation, it's starting to realize "Who creates the situation for me?" In the sense that "Obviously my perspective creates the situation for me." And in doing that we can start to take hold of the situation by realizing that we are our own creator in the sense that we create our existence, our relationship with the world around us. And so we should start to be a little more in control of the situation, that creating that we do.
As you develop or go into the meditation you can dwell a little on your own, you can certainly work with the very direct and immediate thing which is your outside projection of the world. Like how you view things and seeing how subjective that is created. In the secondary aspect you actually can view your own self image which is always interesting in the sense that we identify strongly with our self image.
We might put ourself down. Feel very insecure. Whatever. Or maybe other times we feel very confident and then actually over identify and become arrogant, become pushy. There are so many different things that we do. It's merely how we are holding
ourself. How we are projecting on ourself.
That way of viewing an object around us, either our own personal self as sort of having a duality or viewing the world around us, start to realize that we create the vision of that object. And although we might feel that I've had all these bad experiences with this object. But if we really think about it, maybe somebody else really enjoys that object. So is my vision of the object really a true realty? Obviously it isn't. There are different ways people relate to objects. In this sense we take away a little of that strong emphasis on the objective, the outside world, and start to realize that it is our creation that we are doing. Our own mind creating the outer situations.
To help you a little, there is a nice example. Take a glass of water. In the sense for us, when we look at a glass of water, we see something as something we can drink and consume. We have a very clear fixed idea of what water is all about. Where as for example, a fish, when they see a glass of water, that is home! A whole different vision of the thing. He doesn't have to worry about drinking it, he lives in it!
This makes us realize that from different perspective things appear a different way. I'm not sure all the other ways water can appear for all other beings, maybe for small insects, it appears like something that could kill them. At least we can start to look at different objects and start to realize what they appear to different beings. For us if a mouse ran across the floor, some might be disgusted, some might be afraid, and some might be apathetic, and for the pussy cat, she might get excited. She sees food! There are four different views on one poor little mouse. So who has the reality? Does that mouse have some sort of reality? Or is it something that we subjectively put to the mouse. I think it comes down to mouse gets turned into whatever we think it is!
For this evening's meditation, the main points are to relax, become more comfortable with yourself. Having done that the secondary function is to start to think about, how have I created my world? Is what I have heard something which is valid or not in the sense that if I take an object, what does it mean to me? What would it mean to someone beside me? Start to realize that there is maybe a subjectively created world around us. And think of it in various other ways.
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