Starting from the I, the aggregates, down to the atoms, down to the seconds of consciousness, everything is empty. While everything is empty, these phenomena exist. While all these phenomena are totally empty from their own side, they exist. They exist in mere name. While they’re existing in mere name, they are totally empty. So all these phenomena, starting from the I, unified emptiness and dependent arising, are existing in mere name, being merely labeled by the mind.
What I was trying to say before is that [the transformation of the mind is very easy] when our mind is ready, with all these necessary conditions gathered—strong guru devotion and strong practice of purification and collecting extensive merits, all these things happening. Also if there’s the imprint left from the past; the imprint left by listening to or meditating on teachings on emptiness, by reflecting and by meditating, so the imprint is there.
Then words like those of Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, for example, in the notes on Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching, Praise to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, having realized the unification of emptiness and dependent arising, and having revealed and taught dependent arising to us, having revealed this teaching with his experience to us sentient beings. So, for example, two words, as Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explained, I on the I. There’s I on the I, or vase on the vase. It looks like it doesn’t make sense, “vase on the vase,” or “I on the I.” It looks like it doesn’t make sense when you hear that or when you read it. Immediately it looks like it doesn’t make sense, but it has great meaning, it’s what is called the red commentary. It’s an expression of the object to be refuted or the false object, by Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo from his own experiences, from his own realization.
So suddenly, hearing something like that, words something like that, even very short, then suddenly it clicks in your mind. Ah! Like you woke up, like you wake up, like you wake up from sleep, like that. Or suddenly you see this word, for example something like that, and then you look at the outside phenomena, you look at the colorful objects, for example, the thangkas, the brocades around that are very bright, like that. Anyway, it can be any of the colors, any bright object, so suddenly you recognize that blue on the blue, red on the red, when you look at the brocade around a thangka or....
Then you look at the ceiling, same, there’s a real ceiling from there. There’s a ceiling appearing from there. You have this view that has been always from beginningless rebirth, this view has been there all the time but you didn’t recognize it. So suddenly here you wake up, with these conditions, your mental state like this, with these conditions of practice, then it’s like suddenly it clicks, the mind, in these points, now recognizing these things. Suddenly you recognize these things.
Then you look at the I. Then you look at that, on your I, then you see the I on the I, that. Again, it is always there. The I has been appearing to you always that way, independent, not merely labeled by mind. Independent, inherently existent, not merely labeled by mind, always it’s been appearing that way, but somehow, twenty-four hours we think of I and we apprehend it is true. I think maybe because we have been apprehending that is true, so that blocked to recognize the false I. So believing it’s true, that has been blocking to see the [false I.] We have been believing the false I as real I.
I on the I, the real I appearing from there, which is a hallucination, which is false, but because so far believing that it’s true, so that blocked to see, to recognize the false I, the I that which doesn’t exist and because not recognizing that, then that blocks to see that is empty, it blocks to see that is totally empty. So then realizing the emptiness of the I doesn’t happen, then we are unable to cut the root of samsara, the ignorance, the root of all the delusion, karma, all the samsara, so we are unable to cut, eliminate that ignorance. Because of that, from beginningless rebirth up to now we have been suffering. We die and are reborn, we die and are reborn, and we are experiencing all the sufferings in-between.
So like this, I on the I. Anyway, the first I, when somebody asks you what you’re doing, then before answering that, what the mind thinks of is what the body is doing, what the mind is doing. Then, by the mind, that which sees the body, the mind which sees the aggregates, the body, is sitting, then that mind makes up the label, “I’m sitting.” That mind which sees this consciousness or these mental factors is paying attention to the teaching, so the mind which sees the aggregates paying attention, aggregates, those consciousness, the mental factors, paying attention to the teaching, then that mind makes up the label “I am listening” and believes in that. If the aggregates are doing the action of talking, the mind which sees the aggregates doing the action of talking then makes up the label “I’m talking.” It merely imputes “I’m talking” and believes in that.
So twenty-four hours, depending on what the body does, what the mind does, then our thoughts constantly, reason because our thoughts seeing that then constantly make up the label “I’m doing this and that.” When the mind is happy then that mind, that thought, makes up the label, “I am happy.” When the mind is unhappy, then that thought seeing that, seeing unhappiness, the mind of unhappiness, then that thought makes up the label “I am unhappy.” It merely imputes “I’m unhappy” and believes in that. So twenty-four hours our mind constantly makes up the label, merely imputes the I and merely imputes the action of the I, twenty-four hours, like that.
And then from birth up to death our mind constantly makes up the label “I” and the label “action of the I” and experience of the I; constantly imputes, merely imputes the experience of the I—being happy, unhappy all these things. From birth up to death. Now like this, from beginningless rebirth up to enlightenment, our mind constantly makes up the label I and merely labels the actions and experiences, depending on what happens to the aggregates, the activities what it does and what it experiences.
Therefore, the I, what exists is what exists in mere name. What exists is what is merely labeled by the mind. What exists is what is merely labeled by the mind. So what doesn’t exist is, after our mind merely imputed I then immediately it appears back not merely labeled by the mind. So that, it appears back to you not merely labeled by mind, so the I, after your mind merely imputed then how you see the I, how it appears back to you. It appears back to you not merely labeled by mind, so that is false I and that is what doesn’t exist. Totally opposite to the reality of the I, that which exists, that which exists in mere name, merely imputed by the mind. So empty, so I is empty of existing from its own side, empty of inherent existence. So now here, the I that is perceived to you, that appeared to you, is totally opposite to the reality, so that’s the definition of false. The phenomena which appeared to you, that which is totally contradictory to the reality, that’s the definition of false.
So, I on I. The first I is the merely imputed one. The second I is when it appears back to you, the inherently existent I, the independent I, so that one, so it has that meaning. It has that meaning. Now here it makes, so now when we let our mind believe, apprehend it is true—the inherent existence of the I, or the I appearing as a real one from its own side, the inherently existent I—so when the I appears back to you as inherently existent, we let our mind believe it is true. So that time [Rinpoche snaps fingers] whenever we let our mind believe that this is true, in our perception that this is true, then right in that second [snaps fingers] we create the root of all the delusion and karma, the root of all the sufferings, the root of samsara. The minute, the second when we let our mind believe that this is true, then the second we let our mind hold onto the I appearing as inherently existent or as a real one from its own side; the minute, the second we let our mind hold onto that, then at that time, [snaps fingers] that concept becomes ignorance, that ignorance. We create the ignorance, we create the root of samsara.
From that concept, from where the death that we don’t want to experience, the frightening death and rebirth, this circle, all the old age, sicknesses, all the problems, are the creation or production of this ignorance. Everything is a creation, it came from this ignorance. All the undesirable sufferings, problems, that we experience, that others experience, that we experience.
Therefore now, the solution is—now we know what is the mistake, the root, what is the real mistake we did, so that we always have to die and be reborn and experience all the sufferings, the very beginning mistake, the very first mistake, the root—so now we have the idea.
Now, opposite to that, now what we have to do is opposite to that, the mistake. Now, the absence of the cover, the merely labeled, the I what exists is the merely labeled one, but it’s a cover. Inherent existence is a cover, like the brocade cover on the table, like carpets covering the floor, there’s a cover on that. We put a cover, our mind puts a projection, a hallucination, that which is inherent existence, inherently existent appearance. Our mind decorates or puts, projects a hallucination, the inherently existent appearance, on the merely labeled I.
How does that happen? That hallucination is projected by the negative imprint left on the mental continuum by the past ignorance, the same wrong concept, ignorance holding the I, holding on to the I as inherently existent. So now, the absence of this, the inherent existence on the merely labeled I, in our view, so the absence of that is emptiness. The absence of the inherent existence on the merely labeled I, that is emptiness.
Therefore now it makes sense in the philosophical teachings what it says, emptiness on the I, emptiness on the phenomena. That has great meaning when you recognize what is the refuting object, you are able to discriminate in your view. And then what the teaching says—emptiness on the phenomena, on the vase, on the pillar or on the table or on the I, so all these—it has great meaning. So now, when you see, when you realize the absence of that on the merely labeled I, when you realize that, emptiness of inherent existence on the merely labeled I, when you realize that, you see the I is totally empty. When you see the I is totally empty, as a result of that then you see the I existing in mere name. As the result of realizing that the I is totally empty then you realize; as a result of that then you get unshakable understanding that the I exists in mere name. So that’s what is normally explained by experienced lineage lamas of lam-rim.
So then that time you realize the conventional truth of the I. First you see the emptiness of the I, then after that you realize the conventional truth of the I, when you have unshakable understanding, realization that there’s an I that exists, but it exists in mere name. So that comes only after you realize that the I is empty.
So however, now, that. So you see the I on the I, then suddenly, “Oh, this is what the texts talk about, the object to be refuted.” Suddenly, due to strong devotion and purifying the obstacles, negative karmas and collecting extensive merits, suddenly it clicks in your mind, to recognize that. Then you use, even though there are so many logics, reasons to use, however, even simple things like that, that this is dependent arising, so without losing the object of your concentration, without losing that, as you are seeing the I on the I, or the real I appearing to you from its own side, so while you’re focusing, while you’re one-pointedly focusing on that, that which you have recognized as the object to be refuted, so suddenly you [think] with surprise, “Oh, this is what it called, what is mentioned this object to be. This is the one, that object to be refuted.” Then while you’re focusing, while you’re focused on that, without losing that, now you found, like you have found your enemy who always has been bothering you, who has been harming you, from the time without beginning who has been harming you. Now suddenly you recognize, suddenly you found it, you recognize it. It’s always there with you, but you haven’t recognized it. Now, this time, suddenly you recognize it.
While you’re focusing on this—that this is the object to be refuted, and this is a hallucination—while you’re focusing on this, then to think, to understand that this is a hallucination. So while you are thinking that this is a hallucination, then you think this is totally nonexistent, this is the meaning of hallucination. You think, “This is the meaning of hallucination, that this is totally nonexistent.” So while you’re thinking this is hallucination, think of the meaning of it, that it’s totally nonexistent right there.
Then that time, as I mentioned, because of all these conditions gathered, strong devotion to the guru and the strong practice of purifying, collecting merit, receiving blessings, so with all that, then suddenly the real I appearing from there cannot stay. It can’t stay, no choice, no freedom, no choice. Suddenly you lose that—not lose like we lose money, not lose like we lose money from a purse and it goes somewhere else, not like losing material where it goes somewhere else, not like that. But, losing that, not going somewhere else, but losing just there, from where it is appeared, the I from where it is appearing, it’s losing that there.
So normally I say this is the mudra of meditating on emptiness. So the object appearing as inherently existent, inherently or however appearing from there and, that which is appearing from there, does not exist there. The phenomena which are appearing from there do not exist there. So normally I say this is the mudra of meditating on emptiness. Just simple, appearing from there, doesn’t exist there. So it doesn’t go anywhere, but we lose it. It doesn’t go anywhere but we lose it just there, empty. Totally empty. So this normally I describe like that.
Our mind, the ignorance, the concept of inherently existent I, the root of samsara, has been holding onto the I like this, has been holding onto the I from beginningless rebirth up to now like this, from beginningless rebirth up to now like that. Believing this one hundred percent it is there, one hundred percent that there’s I there; that the I which appears as something real from there is true, apprehending this as one hundred percent true. So then, the day, the second when you see the I, when you see the emptiness of I then suddenly you lose the I just there. So that’s one expression, what happens in the experience. So suddenly your mind has nothing to hold onto. So suddenly there’s nothing there to hold onto, there’s nothing there to hold onto.
Before having, holding onto the I, this real I appearing from there, “Oh, this I is going to catch cold and this I is going to get sick.” With so much worry, fear, “This I is going to die and this I is going to—won’t get married or will get married,” having all the worry, fears. “This I is not having children,” and what else? “This I is not finding a job and this I is not making money and this I is not receiving a birthday present, even on my birthday nobody is paying attention.” Anyway, so many worries, fears, either something is going to, concerned for this I, the twenty-four hours, the whole life, and not only this life, from beginningless rebirth. It’s not just from birth time, it’s not only this life having concern of this I, it’s from beginningless rebirth.
So you see now, the whole life, now when we think, when we examine like this, the whole life becomes very strange, totally, it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. It’s like you have been believing the dream as true. Whatever was happening in the dream you have been believing true, and then worried. So much worry and fear that your children died in your dream, you got married and got children and they died, and then so much worried, then many wrinkles came in the body and many white hairs. In the dream so many problems happened, your house got burned by fire and so many problems happened in the dream, then by believing this is real then you got so much fear and worry. So it’s like that. So it’s like that, exactly, exactly the same as the dream story, by believing it’s real then all the fear, worries, all these concerns.
Now it’s exactly the same also for our daytime life, without the dream. Now, if we relate with this I, all the expectations to this I, which is not there, this I which is not there in reality.
So anyway, this I is going to die. When you have fear of death, now this real I, which is not there, is going to die. You are so afraid, so scared, but this I is not there, there’s nothing there. The I that exists is what is merely labeled by the mind, but there’s no I that one’s own mind can hold onto, that is appearing from there. It’s not there.
So anyway, so that time to that mind, to that wisdom or to that mind it appears like nihilism. It appears like nihilism that there’s no I at all; it appears like nihilism, it’s like falling in nihilism, but it’s not nihilism. It appears to that mind like nihilism, that there’s no I at all, so it appears like nihilism. That is very important to know, to remember or to know. If you don’t know that, this appearance has to happen, it’s like nihilism that there’s no I. That time, anyway, so there’s the appearance of nihilism, there’s no I. That is very important, very important to know, extremely important to know that this experience happens, appears to that mind. Otherwise, if you don’t know, when you experience emptiness, if you don’t know what is going to happen then your mind believes you’re falling into nihilism. Actually you’re seeing emptiness, actually you’re realizing emptiness, but you might be so afraid that you’re falling into nihilism, because in the teachings it talks so much about to be careful or to not fall in nihilism, the dangers of falling in nihilism and the shortcomings, the very heavy negative karmas if you fall into nihilism, if you believe nothing exists.
So it’s mentioned in the commentary of the Four Hundred Stanzas by Aryadeva, that if you fall—if you believe nothing exists, that there is no karma, no I, nothing exists; if you believe in nihilism, then how heavy the karma is, like having killed one hundred million people, like that heavy karma if you fall into nihilism, believing nothing exists.