5.5 mins read
What’s appearing to you right now?
In any event, it’s not so much what is appearing to you right now that’s the problem (if you have any problems), so much as your grasping at it as actually being there, solid and real.
This self-grasping ignorance gets us into all sorts of trouble and weighs us down. One example amongst countless (such as everything we’ve been upset about today) — if someone we like appears unfriendly, we can buy into that, dwell on it, make it more and more real, and get more and more unhappy.
As opposed to using wisdom to just let it go.
Breaking the illusion
We have this little window right now, with this precious human life, because we’ve met these teachings, and especially Buddha’s wisdom teaching on the illusory nature of reality, which is the ultimate Dharma Jewel and refuge.
Going back to the analogy in the last article on refuge, samsara is full of preprogrammed robots like me.
Moreover, everything we see is a 3D virtual reality projection that we are buying into, as if we were obliviously wearing those glasses and thinking that it’s really going on out there. From the perspective of those not seeing our particular hallucinations, we can look quite mad. And they can look quite mad to us for not following the rules of our 3D game.
Until we realize the fakery of samsara, we are wandering around thinking: “All this is real and out there. I’m really limited. I’m really suffering. Things really are difficult for me. My body really is a horrible mess. And I am basically an angry person — perhaps I can practice a bit of patience here and there, or maybe I can get a little bit kinder, but basically this is how I am, and I’m fixed, and I’m limited. And I am really deluded, and my life is full of suffering and problems, not to mention irritating people.”
This is when we’re buying into the reality of our samsara. Believing it. Believing what we see, all those appearances or projections, thinking that’s the way it actually is, this is who I am, that’s who all these annoying people are, the world’s a mess, everything’s real, everything’s solid.
But with Buddha’s wisdom teachings, it’s a bit like we suddenly worked out we are preprogrammed, realizing, “My life is not my own — I’m being propelled from one situation to the next by the software of delusions and karma!” And we decide, “OK, I’m going to change this, because, although everything is kind of fake, now that I’ve realized this, it means I can ditch this program and take off these glasses.”
“We have everything upside down”
Fact is, there’s nothing real or solid or fixed about any of this. There is nothing existing objectively. There is nothing independent of the mind. There is nothing outside the mind. Even some quantum scientists are beginning to say this kind of thing:
Consciousness is what gives rise to our sense of there being an “out there” when, in fact, the world we experience around us is actually created in our consciousness.
I might add that it is our gross and subtle consciousness that creates this dualistic sense of in here and out there – our very subtle mind has a non-dual experience of reality. Check out this article if you’re interested.
Victims of our thoughts?
If things were inherently or objectively existent, we might as well give up right now. There’s no point practicing Buddhism if everything is solid and fixed and real. There’s no point at all, if we can’t change it.
But what Buddha is saying is that it is completely changeable because it’s not really there, at least not in the way we think it is. Everything is dreamlike and depends entirely upon our mind. We are projecting our world with our thoughts and then believing that it’s out there, coming at us, rather like a movie or an hallucination. But rather than remaining the victims of our own crummy thoughts without even realizing it, Buddha explained that we can transform our thoughts – which is the practice of Dharma – and therewith our reality.
It is not just a case of coping with the material, real world, by practicing a little bit of patience here with inherently annoying people, a little bit of contentment there with inherently attractive people. If we change our thoughts, we literally change our world. We change our reality from one of confusion and delusion to one of wisdom and positivity, with all the objects projected by our minds changing too, because they depend entirely one upon the other.
Buddha’s point is that we can do this because nothing is fixed, nothing is real. The ultimate Dharma Jewel IS those wisdom teachings, that nothing is real. Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist at all, by the way – we’re all here reading this, Hello! But we’re not here in the way that we think we’re here. We’re not all separate, isolated individuals, for example. It’s not us over here, and everyone else over there, with this big gap between us. That duality is an optical illusion of our ignorance.
Ultimately we turn to wisdom, therefore, to get rid of our problems. In the mean time we also turn to the other Dharma jewels: compassion, love, patience, renunciation, faith, correct imagination, and so on. All these virtuous minds solve our problems — they solve our actual problems, such that those problems reduce straightaway and finally go away for good.
As explained here, we have an habitual urge to solve our problems out there – “Should I contact him? What should I say to get his attention? To make him love me again?!” It doesn’t work, usually.
But we don’t have to keep scratching every itch, or any itch. If we change our thoughts, the itch simply goes away. For good.
Even just allowing our mind to settle a bit relieves the pain of needing to go out there and fix the fixed or unfixable. Delusions such as attachment and aversion go outwards – we need to go inwards, where we’ll find all the peace, relief, satisfaction, and richness we’ve always wanted. Try this meditation to see for yourself.
On that basis, instead of developing anger, jealousy, disappointment, or unrequited attachment, we can learn to view others with genuine love. That way they are never separated from us and we feel a warmth of communion instead of the wrench of being torn asunder.
Everyone is a projection of our mind, so we can learn to project with love and wisdom rather than projecting people out there, nothing to do with us, fixed, who then won’t or can’t cooperate with what we think we need from them.
Over to you, would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
Building self-confidence with meditation
Are we hallucinating all this?
What a wonderful article, and it came at precisely the right moment for me! I love the teachings on emptiness, and they were in fact what drew me to the Kadampa Tradition almost nine years ago. And yet I continue to forget them, and to get caught up in the “dream world,” thinking it is fixed and real.
That’s when relying on the Three Jewels is so important for me. This week it was two members of the Sangha: you writing about the Dharma, and my dear friend Kathy sharing it with me at exactly the right moment. And through the Blessings of the Buddhas, upon reading it, my mind immediately returned to a peaceful state.
I had been struggling with technical difficulties at work, grasping at the “I” that would be embarrassed when she could not deliver her presentation properly. In the midst of that stress, my partner texted me to say that his employer would be sending him to Afghanistan for a month in April, leaving me to care for the household, the animals, and his three teenage boys. Remembering how difficult it was when he was gone for a month last year, and already thrown off by stress of computer and network difficulties, I lost any shred of remaining peace.
Suddenly my mind was filled with chaotic thoughts, causing me to feel anger, resentment, fear, and self pity. I was sobbing at my desk, 100% certain that this was the most terrible thing that could happen, and that it was too much to bear.
As the tears streamed down my face, clouding my vision I received another text message. This one was a group text from Kathy, my dear friend from KMC Indianapolis, where I attended FP and taught Prayers for World Peace before moving to Maryland over a year ago.
The text was simply a link to this article. It’s first line, asking what was appearing to me right now, immediately snapped me to attention. My mind was so disturbed that I had to read the article twice before I can fully make sense of it and really focus on the meeting. And by th it’s first line, asking what was appearing to me right now, immediately snapped me to attention. My mind was so disturbed that I had to read the article twice before I can fully make sense of it and really focus on the meeting. By the time I finished reading it again, The fear, anxiety, and self-pity we’re gone. My mind was peaceful again, and has remained so with regards to the situation ever since. This is no guarantee that my mind will not become disturbed again, but it is a great relief to know that I am fortunate enough to have encountered such a beautiful presentation of Dharma as the NKT offers, and to have been surrounded by living Sangha members, both known and unknown, who so freely give Dharma wisdom. I am blessed indeed.
Thank you, Luna, for your teaching, and for being a part of that blessing.
Apologies for the repeated lines; I sometimes forget to proofread before posting from my phone.
I’m so glad this article appeared at a good time. Seems we are surrounded by the Three Jewels wherever we go, if we just take a moment to recognize it ☺️ Love from Madison airport x
“It’s not us over here, and everyone else over there, with this big gap between us. That duality is an optical illusion of our ignorance.”
These two lines are fantastic!
Luna Kadampa said it better than I ever could!
It’s all coming from the mind!
Samsara, Pure lands, all from the mind!
The quantum field of possible experiences (emptiness) collapses into the “actual” experienced world (form) depending on the state of mind of the observer.
Is that world real?
To the observer!
No duality! Form IS Emptiness! Emptiness IS form! You will never find one without the other! They are NOT other!
“Therefore, Shariputra, because there IS no attainment, Bodhisattvas rely upon and abide within the Perfection of Wisdom!”
Wisdom is a perfect mind that sees correctly. You can rely upon that mind to reveal how things TRULY are, and NOT how they appear!
Abide within the mind of Wisdom every day, even though YOUR mind tells you that’s NOT how it “really” is! especially then!
It could be said that your mind is right when it says that’s not how it really is, because nothing is real!
Now, change your mind and experience a Pure Land EVERY day!
Funny thing: I started reading Luna Kadampa again about a week ago.
Nice 😁 I agree, we can do this every day. One day at a time.
And thank you for the Heart Sutra quote, I love that one.
Thanks Luna. Read this first thing this morning after my routine daily reading of the following:
“The things that I normally see in dreams do not exist.
This proves that the things that I normally see while awake do not exist,
Since both of these things are equally mistaken appearance.
I will never grasp at the things that I normally see,
But just be satisfied with their mere name.
By doing this I will liberate myself permanently
From the sufferings of this life and countless future lives.
In this way I will be able
To benefit each and every living being every day.”
In the context of your article I think the line about being satisfied with mere name is most appropriate. Would you agree? Perhaps you could expand in your next article. I rejoice in your kindness and compassion in providing these regular teachings!
For the benefit of the readers, could you tell us which book and page number that incredible quote comes from? 😄
Being satisfied with mere name is really key to our daily life activities, I do agree. Living lightly like this prevents us from getting absorbed into objects of attachment and repelled from objects of aversion. Yes, I will try and expand on that sometime. Meantime, please feel free to have a go too!
Yes Luna, it’s from Chapter One of How to Transform Your Life, p. 44 of the eBook