Joint Practice of Conventional and Deepest Bodhichittas
Moscow, Russia, June 2013
Session Four: Deepest Bodhichitta
We have been discussing yesterday how we develop relative bodhichitta – sometimes that’s called conventional bodhichitta. We make a differentiation between relative and deepest truth:
In the Gelug tradition, when we speak about deepest truth, we’re only speaking about voidness, how everything exists. So it’s the mode of existence of everything.
And relative or conventional truth is everything else – the appearance of everything else, and functioning of everything else.
We saw that for the development of this relative or conventional bodhichitta – I’ll just call it relative to make it simple – then we need to develop ourselves through the three levels or scopes of motivation of lam-rim. We also saw that relative bodhichitta is brought on by love and compassion, but it’s not the same as love and compassion. Love and compassion are focused on other beings and, as great love and great compassion, they’re focused on everybody, not just some individuals. Love is the wish for them to be happy and to have the causes for happiness, and compassion is the wish for them to be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
When we specify a state of mind, like love or compassion, we always need to specify and know what is it aimed at or focused at, and how does your consciousness take or relate to that focal object. If we specify that, those two parameters, then we know what we actually need to generate when we want to generate a specific state of mind, like love and compassion. This is what you focus on, that’s how your mind relates to it. So when we meditate on love or compassion, we visualize all beings, or if you are in a room or group, you can look at the other people in the room, that’s what you are focusing on. And the way that your mind is relating to those objects, those people, visualized or actual ones, is “May they have happiness and the causes of happiness” or “May they be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.”
The point of doing this with visualized objects in meditation by ourselves is so that we can actually generate this state of mind when we are with other people. And not just other people, but animals, insects, any sort of life form. So I think it is important to differentiate that from just a strong emotional feeling, when you are with somebody who is suffering, but that emotional feeling is very vague, it’s not focused. Because, basically, when it is not in focus then it’s just sort of a very strong but vague movement of energy within the body, isn’t it? And basically it’s we feel bad about what’s going on with this other person, and the focus is a little bit more on ourselves, on what we feel.
And when we do love and compassion meditation, what we try to develop in the Buddhist training is a state of mind that is very clear and focused. There is emotion, of course, but it is clear and focused on the suffering of others – may it be gone and may the causes of it be gone; may this person be free of that. So when our minds are like that, more focused, then we are able to be in a clearer state for figuring out what to actually do to help this person. Otherwise we’re just overwhelmed with feeling badly about it.
Whereas when we meditate on bodhichitta, the focal object is not other beings, but rather, what we are focusing on is our own individual enlightenments. But it’s the enlightenment that has not yet happened, it’s not presently happening. There is a difference between meditating on the-not-yet happening tomorrow and meditating on the presently-happening-today, isn’t there? So we’re focusing on something that has not yet happened; it’s not going on now. We’ll speak a little bit later, hopefully, about how we actually do that. But basically we need to understand that this is going to be a conceptual cognition. That’s because, unless we are a Buddha, we wouldn’t be able to know or focus on enlightenment nonconceptually.
What does it mean to focus on something conceptually? It means to focus on it through the filter of a category. So, we have an audio category, which would just be [represented by the sound of] the word “enlightenment.” We don’t really have any idea of what enlightenment actually means, but we’re just focusing on enlightenment, and that’s what I want to attain. And as we mentioned yesterday, we are not talking about Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment – that’s impossible [for us to attain]; and we’re not talking about some vague general enlightenment that we’re going to plug into. Rather, we want to attain our own individual enlightenment.
So, it could just be the audio category “enlightenment” – the audio category is represented by [the sound of] a word. And it’s a category, which means that this is something that is static. Every time that we focus on enlightenment, we’re focusing on it through this same category, this audio category – whether audio spoken or the audio in your mind, “enlightenment.” Or, in addition to an audio category we can also focus through the filter of a meaning category. We associate some meaning to what enlightenment is, and it’s through our simple language or idea of what enlightenment is, that we are focusing on enlightenment, our enlightenment. We hear all this technical terminology in Buddhism, of categories and so on, that’s often translated as universals. There are many, many ways in which this is translated, but in simple language we’re really talking about an idea of something.
So, we have some idea of what enlightenment means, and when we focus on our not-yet happening enlightenment, actually it’s through our idea of what it is. That makes sense, doesn’t it? That’s what conceptual cognition is. So, either we have no idea of what it means, so we’re just thinking “enlightenment” – just that mental word, the sound of that word; or we attach some meaning, so we have some idea of what it means, which could be a completely wrong idea of what it means, of course. And it could also be a fairly accurate idea, but it could be vague. We could change our understanding, so our ideas change. So, our idea can become more and more accurate, but it’s not going to be actually focusing on enlightenment nonconceptually, without the medium of an idea. Only when we are a Buddha do you actually know what it really is.
When we talk about categories, this category of a meaning of what enlightenment is, each one is static; it doesn’t change, but it can be replaced by another one. Categories don’t grow like a plant; you have one category and then you replace it with another one. They don’t organically grow. That’s what we mean when we say that it’s static.
Okay, now, we’re focusing on not-yet-happening enlightenment. It could be represented by many different things. It could be represented by just a word. It could be represented by a visualized Buddha. In tantra it would be represented by ourselves visualized as a Buddha, when we have some idea what it means to be a Buddha, to be enlightened. And as a state of mind it is accompanied by many different mental factors – things like concentration, mindfulness, etc. These are some mental factors that are with that state of mind. But also it is accompanied by a mental factor called intention. So there are two intentions that are accompanying this focus on not-yet-happening enlightenment through an idea of what it means. One is the intention to attain that, and the other is the intention to benefit all beings by means of that. So the two intentions are also focused on the same object – some representation of our not-yet-happening enlightenment. The representation is what appears to our mind.
Now, love and compassion are focused on all beings; they’re not focused on our enlightenment. So, in the process of building up to this actual moment of bodhichitta meditation or focus, we bring it on by thought or a phase of meditation on love and compassion; and that exceptional resolve that to really help them and bring them happiness I have to attain enlightenment, and then that focus on the not-yet-happening enlightenment. With our intentions – we’re going to achieve that and benefit everybody by means of that.
Now, there are several explanations in terms of how love and compassion then fit into that particular state of mind, when we are meditating on bodhichitta. One would just be that that focus on not-yet-happening enlightenment has the force underlying it of love and compassion. Or, another way of explaining it is that we actually do have love and compassion at the same time, but they are with a separate consciousness.
So, that might seem surprising, but we have several types of consciousness that can occur simultaneously. Unlike our Western model of consciousness, we don’t think in Buddhism of consciousness as just being one thing, one mental activity, but we speak of individual types of consciousness. So, for instance, we can see and hear at the same time, can’t we? Those are two consciousnesses that are occurring simultaneously. And the amount of attention that we pay on each of them is different, isn’t it? There is tactile consciousness that’s occurring at the same time – the feeling of the clothing on our body or the temperature of the room – but maybe we’re not paying very much attention to that. But it’s occurring. Or the one that I always love to mention, which is so odd actually, is the tactile sensation of your tongue in your mouth. It’s very weird, there is this thing in your mouth, but anyway. It’s my own weirdness, sorry. But anyway, it’s there. We usually don’t pay attention to that at all, do we?
So, anyway, we can have at the same time as focusing on some representation of our enlightenment, you could have with that a very low level of attention with love and compassion focused on others – the wish for them to be happy and not to suffer. So that’s another variant of how love and compassion fit into that moment of bodhichitta meditation.
There are many variants of explanation of how these fit together, but what I think is important is to realize that bodhichitta is not love and compassion. Those are two separate types of mental states. I emphasize that because many people confuse bodhichitta meditation with just compassion meditation and think that compassion is actually bodhichitta – it’s not.
Okay, now, deepest bodhichitta is also focused on our not-yet-happening enlightenment, and it is focusing on basically how it exists. It’s focusing on the voidness of impossible ways of it existing. And until we are a Buddha, we’re not going to be able to focus on both of these simultaneously – to have both relative and deepest bodhichitta simultaneously. Nevertheless we need to supplement relative bodhichitta with deepest bodhichitta.
When we focus on voidness, we’re focusing on an absence. Regarding an absence, it needs to be understood what is actually absent. For instance, when you look at this table, you can see that there is no apple on the table. What do you see when you see that there’s no apple on the table? You see nothing on the table. That “nothing” is what we’re focusing on. But that nothing is the absence of something, isn’t it? And we understand that that nothing there is not the absence of an elephant on the table; it’s the absence of an apple on the table. But whether it’s the absence of an elephant or the absence of an apple, it looks the same, it’s basically nothing. We see nothing there. Correct?
So, when you focus on voidness, you don’t just focus on nothing and understand it to be nothing. We’re focusing on the absence of something; we understand what it is. And we are not focusing on the absence of an object like an apple; and we are not focusing on the absence of a way of being aware of something, like an absence of an understanding of something. I don’t understand calculus, or trigonometry, quantum physics – so there’s no understanding there. An absence of understanding what the English word “calculus” means – that’s a good example of the absence of an understanding. So, there’s nothing – no meaning comes to his mind when I say that word, so there’s an absence. There is no such thing. When we are talking about voidness, we’re talking about the absence of the way of existing that is impossible – no such thing.
So, what is impossible about our not-yet-happening enlightenment? When we’re focused on there being no such thing, nothing is appearing to us. That’s why we say it’s like space. So, we can understand how that enlightenment exists, through what’s known as the four gateways to liberation. If we imagine that that enlightenment, its existence is truly established, if we imagine that …You see this is what we are refuting. We might think that its existence is truly established, but that’s impossible. What “truly established” means is that there’s something on the side of enlightenment that by its own power makes it enlightenment; makes it exist by itself. So, I am simplifying in order to try to make this understandable in our short amount of time.
What is to be refuted here, to make it in a very simple image, is that enlightenment is something that is encapsulated in plastic. There it is all by itself. Often I use the example of a ping pong ball. Enlightenment is this ping pong ball – there it is by itself. The first gateway to liberation, the first type of analysis that we’re going to make to refute that it exists like a ping pong ball is its voidness in terms of cause. What we want to eventually focus on is that existing like a ping pong ball is impossible – no such thing.
So, remember, when we made prostrations at the beginning, we showed respect to those who have attained enlightenment, our own future enlightenment that we are aiming to achieve with bodhichitta, and the Buddha-nature factors that we all have that will enable us to attain enlightenment. So, we have these Buddha-nature factors, which we will explain in more detail later, hopefully. But to simplify it, we’re talking about our networks of positive force and networks of deep awareness that continue with the continuity of our mental continuum.
If we think of enlightenment as a ping pong ball, it’s not coming from no cause, nor does it exist already inside the cause – unmanifest but waiting to pop out. In that network – “network” is sometimes translated as “collection,” but it’s like a network, because everything is interacting and reinforcing each other – in that network, within our mental continuum there’s no little ping pong ball “enlightenment” that’s sitting there, waiting to pop out. That’s impossible.
If that ping pong ball “enlightenment” came from no cause, because it was self-established, it could happen anywhere, anytime, irrelevant of anything that’s happening. That contradicts our conventional knowledge, common sense; everything that we see in the world arises from causes. It doesn’t just happen arbitrarily out of nothing.
And if that already existed truly inside these networks, like a ping pong ball sort of inside the network, and it is unmanifest and unconditioned, which means that it’s static, it’s sort of forever, how could it not be functioning already? If it’s truly existent enlightenment, like this ping pong ball, how could it not be already functioning like a ping pong ball? And if it’s not functioning already, how could anything make it function? How could anything block it from functioning? So it doesn’t make any sense – if it truly exists like a ping pong ball, that it’s sitting somewhere in our mind, either functioning or not functioning.
Do you have a question?
Question: In many texts it is said that enlightenment is like gold which is covered with filth, and in the same way it is covered by our disturbing emotions, obscurations, and due to that we are not able to experience it.
Alex: Right, but it doesn’t exist like that, like a ping pong ball, sitting in our head. In order to understand those texts, you have to understand that enlightenment is not sitting there like a ping pong ball. It doesn’t exist that way. There’s no contradiction here. How it actually does exist – that’s a whole different question. But in any case it doesn’t exist in an impossible way. That’s what voidness is about. So this whole discussion of Buddha-nature and enlightenment and so on is talking about enlightenment in terms of how it actually does exist, not in terms of some impossible fantasized way that you imagined it exists.
You know, we have two ideas of it: one idea of what it is, and the second is an idea of how it exists. And we want to try to get that as accurate as possible, and then eventually not through some idea of it, but actual perception of enlightenment, nonconceptually. We need to understand how it functions to become enlightened on the basis of Buddha-nature. And it cannot function if you imagine that enlightenment is like some ping pong ball sitting there. Okay? You start to get the idea of what we’re talking about with deepest bodhichitta. You could have some fantasized weird idea of what enlightenment is, and then we’re aiming to achieve something that is completely different from what enlightenment actually is.
So we really need to understand, and there’s the whole list of the qualities of a Buddha and so on, that we can learn, so we have some idea of what a Buddha is, what enlightenment is. And the teachings on refuge – there’s all the qualities of body, speech and mind and activity of a Buddha. That gives us some accurate idea of what a Buddha is, what it would be like to be enlightened. We would learn that Buddha is not the same as God Almighty, the creator of the universe. We’re not talking about that at all, so we need to remove that idea from our minds. But if we are going to focus on our not-yet-happening enlightenment, and we want to attain it, we have to know how that could happen, especially in terms of cause and effect – how can it come about, that we actually become enlightened.
So, what we’re refuting is that it exists like a ping pong ball. We can refute that from several points of view – these four gateways. So, that ping pong ball, it can’t be coming from no cause and it can’t be already existing inside the cause. Now, from the point of view of result, as a result it can’t be that a nothing becomes a something. A nothing cannot become a something. So the result – a truly existing result, the ping pong ball – cannot be nonexistent at the time of the cause. If the ping pong ball, the truly existent one, doesn’t exist at all at the time of the cause, then it truly is a nothing. So, if that enlightenment is truly nothing at the time of the cause, how can a true nothing become a true something, a ping pong ball? Think about that.
The application of that is in the discussion of abortion. If you think that the child, the foetus, just becomes a something, a living being, at a certain period in the gestation, let’s say six weeks, and before that it’s a nothing, that’s pretty weird. How can a nothing all of a sudden become a something, a living being? Before this border in time it’s truly nothing, and then how can it all of a sudden become a something, if it’s truly nothing? A true nothing can’t become a true something. So, enlightenment can’t come from nothing. And if it already exists truly at the time of the cause, why does it have to come about at the time of the result, if it already exists?
So this is the second gateway – none of these are easy by the way, but I’m just introducing the lines of reasoning. It will take a great, great deal of time to really understand this and digest it. If it already exists, why am I bothering to do anything? Doing something isn’t going to make it exist, because it already exists. So, then it becomes really strange what we’re doing with our practice. And if now it’s actually nothing, how could I ever make it happen? How could it ever become a something? If I think that it’s like a ping pong ball, just pah! There it is by itself. What we’re deflating is this idea that it’s like a ping pong ball.
Okay, the third one is that the steps leading to enlightenment can’t have truly established existence. If they did, how could they lead to enlightenment? How could cause and effect connect with each other? Remember, we had the steps for generating bodhichitta. And we have the steps for attaining enlightenment. We didn’t go through that, the five paths and the ten bhumis – I mean there are all these steps and stages. So, if those steps existed like ping pong balls, or like encapsulated in plastic, they couldn’t connect with each other. They would just exist by themselves. Steps can only lead somewhere sequentially if they’re connected. But they can’t connect if they exist just independently, encapsulated by themselves, like ping pong balls. What do you have, sticks connecting them? That’s not the way that they connect. None of the steps in a causal sequence can exist like ping pong balls. Think about that.
Perhaps this becomes a little bit easier to understand if we use the example of age. One year-old, two year-old, three years-old, four year-old, etc. – if each of these stages existed all by itself, like a ping pong ball, all by itself, how could they possibly connect to each other? How does a one year-old become a two year-old, if a one year-old exists all by itself? How is there any connection between me as a baby, me as a child, and me as an adult, if each of those exist separately by themselves, empowered by themselves, as baby Alex, child Alex, adult Alex? It can’t exist that way. It’s not like three pictures, is it? Here’s a little picture of the baby, here’s a little picture as a child, here’s a picture as an adult. Well, it doesn’t exist like that, does it? That’s impossible. How could you change from the picture of the baby to the picture of the child to the picture of the adult? You’re truly the baby, truly the child, truly the adult. Interesting, isn’t it?
So, you had a question?
Question: My picture now is that enlightenment is a constantly changing and interdependent process, and the question is, is there in this process anything static like clear-light mind, the part of the picture that never changes?
Alex: This gets a little bit complicated. The state of being enlightened never ends. It doesn’t degenerate. So what is it that is static here? What’s static is the true stopping of the obscurations; they’re gone forever. So it’s a fact, and that fact doesn’t change. I think this is a very helpful way for understanding at least some of the static phenomenon. It’s a fact and that fact is a fact. And it’s not going to change. It’s a fact – they’re gone forever. The attainment of that stopping is something that you have to work toward. So what we are trying to achieve in becoming enlightened is to get rid of these obscurations, so that we attain enlightenment. Enlightenment, once it happens, is never going to change.
But if that enlightenment exists like a ping pong ball you can never attain it. The steps to attain it wouldn’t connect with each other or with enlightenment. And that ping pong ball “enlightenment” is not going to come from a nothing. It’s not that it’s a nothing and then all of a sudden it becomes a something. And it’s not already sitting there. Now, once we are enlightened, the state of enlightenment doesn’t change, but as an enlightened being we are functioning, we are helping others, aren’t we? We are doing something as an enlightened being. We are helping others.
And when you talk about a clear-light mind, the subtlest mind, it does have moments. Moment one is not moment two. The quality is the same, characteristics are the same, but moment one is not moment two. So, we need to really be quite careful and precise when we read or hear about these terms “static,” “unconditioned,” “permanent,” and so on – to try to understand what it means in that context and what aspect are we talking about. Things change; the nature doesn’t change, how they exist doesn’t change, but things change. My mind, I’m seeing different things in each moment, but the nature of the mind doesn’t change. The mind has different objects in each moment.
And even if you speak in terms of omniscience, being aware of absolutely everything, in terms of the three times – not yet happening, presently happening, no longer happening – well, only certain things are presently happening now. “Not yet happening” and “no longer happening” don’t truly stay like that forever. So a Buddha’s omniscient, but what Buddha is omniscient of is changing, because in each moment something else is happening. So, from one point of view it doesn’t change, because a Buddha is always omniscient, knows everything; but from another point of view that everything that Buddha knows is constantly changing because different things are happening in each moment.
So, we can speak about it from one point of view or we can speak about it from another point of view.
From one point of view it sounds as though it is unconditioned, which it is;
and from another point of view it’s conditioned.
So, it’s just a matter of what aspect are you looking at. It’s like the classic example of blind people touching different parts of an elephant and describing it as something quite different. You’re talking about the same thing, just a different part. It’s very important to understand that general principle of how things are explained in Buddhism, so that we can resolve seeming conflicts or contradictions. Okay?
So, fourth gateway is that enlightenment as a ping pong ball; me as the person who is working to attain it or has attained it; and the whole process or activity of attaining it – these don’t exist as three separate ping pong balls. They can’t exist on their own independently of each other; they are dependent on each other. Someone practicing to achieve enlightenment, well that’s dependent on enlightenment, isn’t it? How could be somebody practicing to achieve enlightenment, all by itself independent of enlightenment? There can only be enlightenment in relation to somebody attaining enlightenment. There can’t be enlightenment by itself, with nobody attaining it. How can it be enlightenment, independent of somebody who is enlightened? Does that make any sense?
How can there be “ten years old” independently of somebody being ten years old? Being ten years old is only in relation to somebody being ten years old, or something being ten years old. It’s not existing all by itself, independent of anything else. Everything exists dependent of something else. How can there be “green” without there being something that’s green, whether light, or whether an object, whatever. There can’t just be “green,” can there? Things don’t establish themselves. “Green” is established by something being green, isn’t it?
Question: I can close my eyes and imagine something green, but there is nothing green in my head, my brain is not green.
Alex: When you close your eyes and visualizing “green,” it is a mental hologram that seems like green. The whole way in which cognition works is through mental holograms. So there’s something appearing. If we look from a tantra point of view (anuttarayoga tantra) then various energies and so on are involved with these mental holograms. Okay?
Question: How many enlightened beings are there on the earth now?
Alex: I have no idea. Unless one is an enlightened being oneself one wouldn’t be able to recognize another one. Easy way out, a coward’s way of answering the question. How do I know? How does anybody know? A truly enlightened being isn’t going to go around and say, “I am enlightened. I am the great Buddha.” So, these are difficult questions.
Question: Do you like to know the second question?
Alex: Do I like to know? Is that the question?
Question: It’s easy to understand that unenlightened beings, they are different, they have different minds, because they are caused by causes and conditions. But then when a being achieves enlightenment, are they then to become the same? It’s the same mind...?
Alex: Well, that’s the whole point of our discussion of deepest bodhichitta. It isn’t that somebody is truly an unenlightened being and then all of a sudden they become a truly enlightened being. How could this two connect? It is like two ping pong balls. If the unenlightened being is just totally separate, totally different from the enlightened being, then it’s like something coming from nothing.
Question: I think the question was mostly about that all enlightened beings are equal among themselves, so there are kind of no difference among themselves...
Alex: Well, all enlightened beings, are they the same? The enlightened state is the same, but their enlightenment is individual. To use a silly example: I have a nose, you have a nose, we all have noses. But my nose isn’t your nose. So, all enlightened Buddhas have omniscient minds, but the omniscient mind of Shakyamuni Buddha is not the omniscient mind of Maitreya Buddha; they are individual. They are both aware of everything, but they are individual, they retain their individuality. They don’t merge into one big soup.
And there’s need and purpose for many Buddhas, because different beings have different karmic connections, based on their own development and so on with different Buddhas. So, we didn’t have the connection to be born at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha and to be able to directly benefit from his presence as a being at that time. So we are not directly benefiting from him. We are benefiting from various teachers and followers who follow his teachings, and through them we benefit from Shakyamuni Buddha. But many people have no connection; they’re not interested at all in Buddhism. But maybe through their development they eventually might have some connection with the next Buddha. So, like that, different beings have different karmic connections with different Buddhas. So, there is a need for many Buddhas. Their enlightenment is the same, but they are individual.
Now, it’s a very sophisticated discussion about what constitutes individuality and how is it that things are individual. That’s a very sophisticated, complex discussion. Because there is nothing on the side of any object like a thick line around it that makes it individual, separate from something else. Things don’t exist with lines around them that make them into individual items, do they? Even if you start to think in terms of energy fields and atomic and subatomic level, there’s no line around any object, is there? If any of you know chemistry, you can’t have a bonding between two elements, two atoms, if you have a solid boundary between them. You can’t connect to form a compound, like water. Yet, there’s a hydrogen atom and an oxygen atom. In water they don’t have lines around them, but they still are individual. I think that’s a good example, actually, if you know a little bit about chemistry.
Question: We can speak about individual atoms only if there is an observer who observes these atoms. But if there is no duality between the subject and object, how can we speak about any kind of individuality?
Alex: Okay, now, we have to understand, when we say non-dual, it doesn’t mean that subject and object are the same thing. The sight of the hand and the seeing of the hand are not the same thing, but you can’t have the sight of the hand separate from seeing of the hand. It’s only a sight in relation to a seeing. So “non-dual” means that they don’t exist on their own, separately from each other. They exist dependently on each other. When we talk about mind, we’re talking about a way of being aware of something. It can’t just exist without it being aware of something, even if the content is darkness, while you’re asleep. And something is only a cognitive object in relation to cognition. So, “non-dual” has to be understood in this sense, not that there’s no difference between a knowing and something that’s known.
Now, Buddhism has a huge discussion, which we don’t have time to go into, that speaks about the relationship of mind and all phenomena. So, in a sense, you can speak about it from the point of view of quantum physics, and Buddhism is very similar to what quantum physics says. From a point of view of a Buddha – I can’t resist bringing this in, so excuse me – an omniscient mind, there is the superimposition of everything. Maybe you don’t know the terminology, so maybe it’s better to skip this. But everything is all superimposed, like all quantum states, but for each mind that is limited, it collapses into one quantum state that they see in terms of what appears to them truly existent.
Buddha sees the interdependence of everything. But our limited mind, within the interdependence of everything, just sees a little bit; it just collapsed into how it appears to us. And somebody else sees collapsed into how it appears to them, and everybody thinks that that is truly what’s happening. But for each one, each of their appearances is like a quantum state that is superimposed in the full dependent arising of everything that a Buddha sees.
A simple example: a Buddha would see the whole elephant. For each of the blind people that touches the elephant, what an elephant is collapses into just what they feel – an ear, the tail, the belly, trunk. Buddha sees the whole thing. I mean, they are all interrelated, all of that. But each person just sees a little bit, so it collapses into that for them. So, how things appear is always into relation to a mind, whether a mind is able to see the whole thing or a mind is only able to see a part.
And then there is a whole discussion of mental labelling. We were talking about “green.” “Green” can’t exist separately from something being green. But what establishes “green,” that something is green – it’s only because there are concepts of “green,” “blue,” “purple.” On the side of light there aren’t these boundaries that say on the side of light, “I am blue,” “I am green.” But we’ve made these conventions of “blue,” “green,” “purple.” Is there blue, green and purple? Yes, but there’s blue, green and purple only in relation to the concepts of “blue,” “green” and “purple.” So they exist as what these mental labels refer to. Are there blue, green and purple objects? Yes. What establishes that they’re blue, green and purple? Well, it’s what these concepts refer to. It’s on the basis of concepts that you would say that they are blue, green and purple. So, there’s always a relation with mind. But the relationship with mind is multidimensional – there are many aspects of it.
Okay, now we’re totally confused. We can have our break for lunch. Think about this. Everything that we see or we experience is relative to our mind, isn’t it? We’re all in this room, aren’t we? That’s hard to prove, by the way, but we’re all in this room, because what I see and what you see is quite different. And what each of you see, if you took a picture would be different. It’s all individual, isn’t it, in relation to where you’re sitting. So everything is in relation to the mind and it is individual. When I want to have fun, I challenge my students to try to prove that we’re all in the same room, because everybody has a different photograph of what they see, it’s very hard to prove that we’re in the same room. That’s a fun puzzle. So, time for lunch. Thank you.
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