Annual India Tours
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.
July 29 1990
The idea of the whole practice is, spirituality is something we all enjoy. If someone comes to understand the benefits and good feelings and things which happen within a spiritual practice, one feels inspired and such, but if we looked to a deeper aspect of it, is what is the nature of reality is the question being asked. In dealing with that issue, it is important that it is not something which is external to ourselves. Scientists talk about the nature of reality all the time. Their whole thing is to discover the nature of reality.
When you delve into it, we often look at it that it has to deal from where my eye is, and out there.It is that way. If you look around the room and you say reality is this. And then, once I start to understand reality I will then somehow enter into it. Funny, but that is how we do it. We deal with it in a dualistic manner and also as a me here and reality out there somewhere beyond my senses. Just outside of my ear, outside of my eye. And this is the situation we are involved in.
It is important not to look at it that when when you are involved in a meditative approach to try to realize reality. It is to be inclusive and holistic. Meaning, when you look for reality, you do not look for it out there. You should actually have a sense of yourself sitting, that you are there. Reality has to be taken conclusive. It is part of you and the things around you. So as you sit there, reality is totally inclusive of your mind, the mind which is listening to the discourse, the mind that is experiencing body sensation, the mind which is controlling the body you have at this moment.
In that sense, if you questioned reality, and it has to be taken from a personal perspective because that is the seeker, the seeker is your own mind, and we are trying to develop the perfection of wisdom which is the wisdom that understands reality, the mind which is there, observing then, it has to ask what is happening around me? The last two weeks we have dealt with what is termed the Chittamantrin ideal which says there is mind only. In that they say there is no external phenomena. There is mind alone. And in that it says that athough there are what is termed other powered or dependently arising phenomena, none of these phenomena have any existence whatsoever. There is merely mind, and mind is what gives anything it's reality. And if you were to ask what is reality, your mind is your reality. It then says very strongly, mind has true existence. So when I look at the watch in my hand, it has no reality at all in anyway whatsoever. My mind, which looks and registers watch, that is the only reality there is.
So there is no external phenomena according to the way they look at reality. Sometimes our mind says that is hard to grasp. But what you have to do is, actually include yourself totally in the context of that idea and you would have to say, actually, there is only mind. Because everything I become conscious of indicates that there is mind there. And beyond my mind's appraisal, is there anything? And you would say no, there isn't. For you as an individual, and you have talk about reality, because it is important. Reality as of you, the experiencer. It is not something beyond that. And if you delve into it, if you take this watch and look for the reality, you could take the watch apart until it disappears and you would loose watch. So watch has to be the mind which is perceiving it. That is what makes this a watch. They say that alone is mind. And that alone is the reality of everything. And if one understands that, one can then develop wisdom, and wisdom that then accumulates to the attainment of liberation or the ultimate in spirituality. Because you have to then say, what is the spiritual practice all about, the spiritual practice is aimed into what is reality. I mean, did God create the world? Is that reality? There are many different philosophies. I s the world just a hodge podge of possibilities? What is the world around us? In that question that their statement is that there is no external phenomena whatsoever. In a totally holistic manner, there is only mind.
Now one point to take us further. The problem with that is saying, is that the mind has true existence. They claim the mind is the sole creator of reality, and that mind is the only existent thing. Now in that sense, they are saying that has true existence. The madhaymika has a more subtle appraisal of reality, a more profound realization of reality. It says you cannot actually can not establish that things are, you can not say that there is actually nothing in the outside world and that mind has the only reality because that is too extreme. It is saying then that mind is the sole creator of all things. And mind in that sense is not. There is something else. There is something more subtle than that, just to claim mind as sole creator. They take mind's consciouness, the mind that is experiencing, and they say that mind also is interdependent phenomena, that it is also created with causes and circumstances. And if mind were the ultimate reality, then someway the entities of mind have to always be existent. And that is not the case. To say that in your mind, is there all the impressions of everything that exists in the universe, because that is what you would have to say. Something along those lines, in your mind would have to be everything.
And if you think about it, is that true? And how do those things exist in your mind? Are they there fully manifested all of the time? Or all they in a subtle form? And if they are there in a subtle form, how do they sustain themself? All kinds of questions like that to ask. And it seems that it would be illogical to say the mind is holding these sort of entities to be truly existent little things, and has like a great seed bed which then things get pulled out of. That seems to be inappropriate. And it does not seem to be close to reality having to suppose there has to be some sort of creator consciousness or something.
The Madhyamika philosophy says then, we don't hold to that. That seems to put a lot of emphasis to mind, and that mind which has everything existent in it, is very difficult to ascertain. To establish that this sort of section of large black hole of mind then has this seed bank in there. They say instead that mind, just as external phenomena is interdependent, so also is mind. And mind has merely capacity to know. This means, as my mind is sitting here, it has a capacity to know and understand things. And so, to be quite truthful, twenty years ago I would not have known some of what is here today. I would have recognized it if I looked at it for awhile, I would recognize it. Mind has a capacity to know and it has to be exposed to things which are around it. So there is an interaction. So mind isn't truly existent, nor is the external phenomenal truly existent. There is an experiencing mind which then comes to know of things, to understand something, and so you have only quality, quality of capacity to know, and secondly, it is impermanent. And also mind has the aspect that it is a continuity. And they refer to it as the continuity of a mind moment, thought moments.
In this way when you delve into reality, you are close to actually saying, yes, there is still mind only. It still applies a lot. You have to say when you look at this, obviously I have to label it. If I took this watch apart, there is not somewhere molecules which say, I am clock. I am a battery operated clock. Some thing with the table. If you took it apart you will not find a little part somewhere which says table. You might think it stupid to use that reference again and again. But the thing is , our minds do this. Our minds say somewhere there is table there. We really do. I mean there is cushion, etc. But if we understand reality more, we have to say that there is a phenomena here which is produced from all the things that come together. Yet this thing does not have an entity in itself. We give it a nominal reality. Meaning we label it as table. Someone else might label it different. Firewood. All are valid too.
The thing is, it isn't truly existent. So the question is, what is reality. You have a nominal phenomena, object, and also we have a nominal phenomena, mind. Mind as in being the apprehender. And mind as a changing entity. We can all say that there is the general flow of knowledge objects we come into contact with, change as we deal with them, maybe sometimes we feel aversion towards certain creatures, but if we develop ourselves or change a little, then we can deal with it. So we change. Mind changes.Mind isn't a fixed entity either.
So in our search for reality, you can not negate the fact that you have exposure to certain experiences and that those experiences are non existent. Because you do. You have a reality which is sitting right there right now, listening, thinking and appraising the information. So you cannot say that you are non existent. But, you cannot say you are truly existent. Because if you search for the truly existent, it can not be found. You end up with a dependently arising phenomena, interdependently arising phenomena, both externally and internally. And that has a nominal set of labels that applies to things which appropriately function. So carpet, we all agree because it functions as what we term carpet.
There is this mutability. This thing that when you search for reality, you do not find it in that way. You do come closer to what is the nature of reality in being able to say well, definitely my mind has the capacity to know. And so that is an aspect of mind. And that is something I can identify with. And secondly, both externally and internal phenomena, are impermanent, changing, fluctuating entity. In that way, you have a closer grasp as to what is reality.
Next week we will try to go a different way. The main point right now, is to still allow yourself to think of it as this role as creation of my mind, but being more subtle, and sort of appraising that it is not created, but labelled by mind. So it is in the same category. There is still the mind that will label and give something realtiy, but it is nominal reality. And it is a fluctuating thing, it is not like there is a truly existent reality. And that my mind is impermanent, it has the capacity to know but it is impermanent, external phenomenal is impermanent. And try to allow yourself to be fully experiential in those series of thoughts.
There is an analogy to help you think of it that way. You in the present moment, this energy sitting there, it is there, conscious. It is thinking. But it is like, the surface of water and there is tension on the water surface. You could take an object and drop it on the water and see the water bend. It doesn't really burst through, just that there is tension there. Right now your consciousness has that sort of tension about itself. And that tension is saying, I am existent. That is what the energy in your mind is saying right now. Now, there is no change. If you get into it, I am questioning how you hold reality. You are all sitting there. If you take what I am saying and say this carpet has no carpet in it, I am also saying there is Hening, but there is no Hening in Hening is what is being said. So you think about it and say, that means that I do not exist. That sort of thought is like the surface water with tension on it. You haven't really let yourself go into the nature of reality. You need to realize that you are very much caught on the surface tension. But if you allow yourself to break that surface tension and go inside of yourself, actually the same phenomena is still happening. It is just that you have never pushed hard enough go get inside. If you did, the same thing is happening. External phenomena is impermanent, still there is no carpet in carpet, there is no Jhampa in Jhampa, there is no truly existent Jhampa. But there is the phenomena Jhampa, Jhampa who has learned what he has learned to this moment and everything.
So often we think that if we understand voidness, we would kill ourself. That our conscious awareness would be, no more conscious awareness. I am dead. That is not true. That means, all that I have learned and everything is a non existent. And that is not true. All of my experiences, all of my knowledge are still valid entities, still that is a carpet, still this is a table, still I am a man and I have certain male experiences. All those things are valid. Nothing ever changes about those things. Just that holding to the surface tension is maybe this thing, I am a permanent entity. But if you break the surface tension and go inside, and you are an effervescent phenomena. That does not negate anything that you are, but it puts you in harmony with reality versus being held externally by the tension which says I feel very much that I am a truly existent thing.
The thing is we feel we are a real entity. Every time you have an emotion, that is based on your thinking you are a real entity because you are very uptight and brittle, all those things, those things which indicate that you do not have a very penetrative sense of reality, that you are a superficial person based on superficial images and such. And that is why your ego breaks up into all sorts of states of emotion. You need to penetrate a bit, go into the feelings and things, you can maybe realize there is a part of me which has anxiety over this object. In dealing with this object, I have other facets too though. And if I make those facets stronger, they will allow me to interact with this object. But if I make it that my fear is the most real thing, I will never do anything. But if I understand that I am actually a changeable phenomena, I understand that I can change that idea that respect of that type of being.
The point is to type to penetrate, break the surface tension about yourself. So when you are sitting there meditating, and you have this conscious feeling of being existent, it is there, all you have do is close your eyes, and it immediately fades away and you ask what I am talking about. But if you allow yourself to relax, you will find there is an energy that kicks in and it is right there. That energy is based on things such as the interests and attention you have and what you want to do. But that energy isn't real. Three weeks from now that energy is gone and there is another one there. That energy is what you live on to make yourself think you are truly existent. It makes you think I am a truly existent thing. But as soon as you start to realize, those are just mind sets which set me up and make me think I have to accomplish this and that, all those, if you get inside yourself, you realize that you still will do all those things but you are not truly existent.
Look at the feeling of what it is that is sitting there. Ask if it is not truly existent? It is a phenomena which is changing and pulsating and going through changes.
Question: How can this make any difference, this thought that you are not truly existent. If you accept that thought, how does that make difference from what most of us know we are truly existent? You could take it to an extreme...
The question is what is your reality? And what do you value. You have to deal with if this is the situation, then you look at the next time you do a set of activities with high value for your personally, you have to appraise and say, where is the value? The value is in my head. Is there any real value in that object? Whatever you have as a high priority in your life, you have to question and ask, this is a high priority. Look at all the karma I am creating. All the energy activity I am creating. And I am basing it on that this objective that I have is a real thing, chances are.
And all of a sudden you will realize that isn't such a reality. And then you have to question your motives.
Question: If you are not really existent, it doesn't really matter...
But you are. Because you have been creating your existence. And you are the sufferer of your existence.
For the meditation, I have a series of ambitions, I have definite feelings about something. Now, in the light of if things are not truly existent, that there is not an entity to be found in something, in my striving for it, you have to think, I would like to know reality. Why, because if I knew reality, I would have a better understanding of my existence, and be more comfortable or happy. Otherwise there is not point to be here, if there is not some sort of grasping to reality. People have a definite grasping to reality.
The question is, in my searching for reality, is my search valid? In my activities, where I spend my energy, is it satisfactory or is there something else to be done.
If there is not a need for an answer as in why do I suffer, why does the kid from the block get wiped out and an alcoholic live to the age of eighty? If I think of it, the kid should live to eighty, because he is a good kid. The alcoholic could die tomorrow and I would not be bothered. Those are questions about reality. Why am I me, and why am I not someone who is rich and famous?
Those are good questions to ask.
There is a search for reality in the sense that we have needs. In having needs we would like to have answers for our needs. You could superficially fulfill you needs by putting food in your tummy, but in the heart we have a need saying, why? I would think anyone involved in a spiritual practice has that need and has identified it and that is why they are here. Because they have a need. Otherwise they would not be doing these things. Because there is a dissatisfaction, a sense of suffering or inadequacy, there is need. So there is a searching for it. And in this sense, we are trying to find, is what is reality. If we can know reality we won't have that hunger, or we will know how to feed it to feel satisfied. It has to be a question of existence. It comes to who and what am I?
I did not say there was not a carpet, a table, or anything. I said, what is there? And all we can find is a label there. Or in a philosophical system, we find mind is there.
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