Different Ways of Looking at Things (Audio and Unedited Transcript)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
New York, NY, 1990 (Archive #791)

An audio recording and unedited transcript of a teaching on emptiness by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the Great Enlightenment Temple, New York, September 9, 1990. The edited version of this talk has been published as Chapter Four in the book How Things Exist: Teachings on Emptiness.

[Rinpoche chanting in Tibetan]

Do not commit any unwholesome actions,
Accumulate the perfect virtue,
Subdue one's own mind -
This is the teaching of the Buddha.

Look at oneself, and action, object, enemy, friend, stranger, one's own body, possessions, all these things that they are in the nature of, that they are transitory in nature, that they change within every second by the cause and conditions.

That they are not definite. Not definite in the sense that one can have these things all the time or that they last all the time.

So there's no basis to rise anger and concept of permanence and these wrong conceptions, ignorance and dissatisfied mind desire.

So, as I mentioned yesterday, what is called I, action, object, everything, the names that we hear, the names that we talk, words that we say, we hear, when we talk, we talk by labeling, labeling on things, on the base, from morning until night, what we think, we talk when we hear, everything is label. We hear the words, the names/ /imputed. We hear what we imputed. We talk something which we labeled, we talk about things which we labeled. We hear things which we labeled. We think things which we labeled. So everything, every thing, every word, every thing shows that they are empty of existing from their own side. everything, words, everything, shows that they are dependent arising, being merely imputed by the mind by depending on the base. So everything is like this. This is what they are. This is how each of the things, the way it exists. What they are, each of the things what they are is this, being merely imputed by the mind depending on the base.

So, everything, every single thing that we hear, that we talk, think about, hear, everything are dependent arising. So everything are empty of existing from their own side. I, action, object, sense object, samsara, nirvana, the samsara, true suffering and true cause of suffering, they are empty from their own side. True path and true cessation of suffering they are empty from their own side. So every things are empty from their own side.

So practicing awareness, being mindful that all these things are empty I, action, object, sense objects, all the five sense objects, everything the samsara, the true suffering, true cause of the suffering, cessation, path, everything, so this is the awareness, mind being aware, so one-pointedly concentrate on them, looking at everything, looking at all these things, looking at their nature, which is empty. So this is essence way of meditating the teachings of the Prajnaparamita, the Essence of Wisdom which is the essence or the heart of the whole entire Buddhadharma and especially all the entire teachings of the Prajnaparamita, the Wisdom Gone Beyond.

Everything they mention, they say, the way how things exist, they exist being merely imputed by the mind, all what it is, the true existence is decorated or projected on all this, I, on the mere I, on the merely labeled I, merely labeled actions and objects, the merely labeled true cause of suffering and true suffering, true path, true cessation of the sufferings, so the true existence it is projected on all these things, so that's how these things appear real or concrete, real in the sense of having an existence from its own side. So all these, starting from the I, the real I in the sense of existing from its own side, from there then to all, all these things are, all these existence, which appear having an existence from their own side, all these are hallucinations, all these projections are hallucinations.

All these true existence, these existence that are independent, unlabeled, real from its own side, all these are projected by one's own mind, by the ignorance, and all these are hallucinations.

So, believing that this is true, that this the way that things appear that they are true, this appearance is true, it interferes to see the reality, it block to see the reality, the emptiness only. In the sadhana how it says tong pa nyi emptiness only.

Concentrate, just concentrate a little while that, starting from the I, the real I that which is appearing from its own side, and all the existence, by looking at this, by focusing the mind on this perceptions, on these appearances, things appearing real, things having existence from its own side, or real one from its own side. Then, think, all these projections are projected by the ignorance, concept of true existence all these are hallucinations. So just meditate on the meaning of hallucination. Put the word "hallucination" on these things and then meditate on the meaning of hallucination, what it means, by relating to the perception, the appearance. So strongly meditate in the meaning of hallucination, by relating, by recognizing what is the hallucination and thinking in the meaning of the hallucination, so intensively concentrate on this.

So, we look at also opening eyes, we look at things then without closing eyes, we look at things and the mind meditate on the meaning of hallucinations, the form, so how the form, actually the form is, in reality it's merely imputed but doesn't appear to us that way, it appears having existence from its own side or independent real form. So while we are looking at this, while opening eye looking at things, the mind meditates, This is a projection of my ignorance, This is hallucination. So meditate in the meaning of hallucination by looking with the eye, looking at things.

While you are looking at it with your mind meditate in the meaning, meditate, recognize the refuting object, what the refuting object, the independent, look at your perception, your appearance, looking at the object means looking at your perception, looking at your appearance, your appearance of your own mind, looking at the object means looking at your own appearance, your own mental, the appearance of your own mind, perception of your own mind.

There's no object other than your own appearance, your own perception. There's no object that exists other than the appearance of your own mind, view of your own mind. So looking at an object means looking at your own view view that which is production of your own level of mind, your own quality of mind, present quality of mind ys. How we see the object, pure or impure, how much pure, how much impure, how we see the people, how we see the house, how we see things, the holy objects, that is completely to do with the level of our mind quality of our mind, pure or impure.

So, anyway, looking at an object means looking at your own mind creation however so form, so that which has color, shape and things like that color, shape, form like this, which is, which can be touched, which has color, shape, so which can be seen by the eye, it's something that which can be touched, tangible, which has color and shape. There are different meanings of, there are different definitions of form different meaning of form and so generally form sound, smell, all those things are form, all these things are [pause] these things are form then sound, smell, taste the objects of the contact, the tangible, all these are form, but here relating to the form that which has particular, which is the object of the sense of the eye and that is something, a particular form.

So however form, something that is, generally the object of the eye, something which is substantial, that has color, shape, so we call form, so on that we label "form" that is the reality of the form, but the form does not appear as it is merely imputed, so form appears to us having an existence from its own side having true existence on the mere I, like having a cover on the mere I -on the mere form on the mere form, like having a cover, so that's true existence. That which is projected by the ignorance.

Yeah, so while one is looking at things mind meditate. This is a projection of my ignorance, This is a hallucination - then you meditate in the meaning of hallucination.

Then we meditate in this way. Without closing eyes, looking at things and mind meditating meaning of hallucination what it is that doesn't exist, what it is that exists. If you cannot recognize, cannot differentiate then you question to yourself: How does things appear to me? How does the form appear to me? Labeled or unlabeled? If it appears to you as unlabeled then that is the hallucination, because there's no form that exists unlabeled. If it's form it has to be labeled by the mind "form" so that's the only way that it can exist so therefore if it appears unlabeled that means hallucination. So then you meditate in the meaning of that, meaning of the hallucination.

Another way to meditate is This is dream. Another example to make it easier to understand how these inherently existent forms - I, the meditator, self, the meditator and forms house, lights truly existent house, lights, however these truly existent forms to understand how this is empty to feel the emptiness and then you label them dream you look at them dream. Not as dream however anyway as a dream however the house the form house or light as a dream but however so anyway to feel the emptiness then the lights, house, things that which appear real from its own side, real form from its own side then you look at them and label, This is dream. I am dreaming. I am dreaming that I'm in New York and I'm dreaming that I'm in the - what temple? [Chui- nan: Great Enlightenment] Great what? [Chui-nan: Enlightenment] Great Enlightenment Temple [GL], yeah, that I'm so that I see the statues, that I see the altars that I see the lights the building, people, I am dreaming. So another easy way to meditate to feel the emptiness then you label, I am dreaming.

So, as if you are dreaming but difference is recognizing the dream as dream, like that. So think, I am dreaming. So what it means, so what you should understand what it means is, "this is dream" means that these things do not exist. It's not saying the house doesn't exist, the light doesn't exist, altar doesn't exist, the meditator, I, doesn't exist - it's not saying that, but these things what appears more than what it merely imputed, so that doesn't exist. So trying to see that, trying to see this is empty, that is the main point. That which, trying to see these things are empty, which are empty. This truly existent form, meditator, form, meditator the self, form.

So so like this, in the view of the all-obscuring mind, the conventional mind or in the view of the all-obscuring mind, the ignorance then this is this and this is that this is house, this is light, this is this, this and that, all these are labeled, merely imputed and it appeared as they exist from their own side, unlabeled like this. By projecting so the true existence on the I, on the mere I, so everything like this, everything that which exists being merely imputed or which exists in mere name, so all these are covered by true existence projected by the ignorance that which is within one's own mental continuum. By leaving the imprint on the mental continuum, so therefore in the reality all these things are hallucinations, are empty, everything are completely empty in reality. So in emptiness, there is no such thing as I and you, in emptiness there's no such thing, this and that. In emptiness there's nothing.

In emptiness there's no samsara, there's no liberation, there's no enlightenment, there's no hell, there's no good karma, there's no negative karma.
In emptiness there's no loss, there's no gain.
In emptiness there's no material receiving and there's no loss.
In emptiness there's no receiving friend, there's no losing friend.

It exists only in the view of the obscuring mind, by labeling loss and gain, by labeling meeting friend and losing friend, receiving friend and losing friend, by labeling enlightenment and hell, by labeling liberation and samsara, by labeling virtue and non-virtue.

In emptiness there's no East, West, there's no East and West.

There's no I and he or she, the other separate person, in emptiness. And no here and there.

So this might be useful when one has problems in the life to meditate this way is also a useful thing. And a great protection psychologically. A great protection to stop depression and also to stop very heavy karmas, creating negative karmas.

Now another meditation, so one think, you think of the I but you think of the I in space. In the space you think of yourself, I, nothing to do with this physical body but the self, I, which we feel here, you think you are there in the space. You are there in the space, the self that you feel here [center of chest] is there in space you think, in the space.

As you feel real I there there is real I there, I am there in the space, my real I that myself is there in the space. Then as you feel that, think, I am there in space. So when you, for us, this is for most of us especially not having realized emptiness, ultimate nature of the I when we think of I, all the time we think of the I which doesn't exist, the real I, the I that which, the I, real one from its own side, this is because one hasn't realized emptiness of the I, so therefore there's no other choice to appear the mere I or to see the mere I, to apprehend the mere I, so when we think of the I, often we think if there's a I, then it has to be a real one from its own side truly existent one. So often we think. So anyway when we think I, we often think real I, real one from its own side, which doesn't exist.

So anyway, so think, I am there in the space. What you feel here so you think that is out in the space. So then while you are focusing on that I, then use the logic, merely imputed by the mind, This is merely imputed, This is I, this is merely imputed by the mind. Right on top of that I which you feel is real then you use this logic, This is merely imputed by the mind. You see what effect comes, what discovery, what experience comes, by the result putting this logic, using/putting the logics of dependent arising right on top of the real I. So yeah, so try to meditate on this one.

So when you use the logics, this is right on top of the I that which one feel real the real one from its own side then when one use the logic This is merely imputed by the mind, when you use the King of the Logics, dependent arising, then you see that real one become empty, immediately there's change in the view of your I, in your perception of the I that which appears real before, real one from its own side is now empty it's not there. It is empty right there. Or another logic you use on that real I that which is appearing from its own side then you use the logic, This is non-truly existent. So it should have same effect empty, that it is empty. So that also might help.

So this is little bit similar to with dharmakaya meditation, those who do sadhanas, the Highest Tantra sadhanas or the Kriya Tantra or Highest Tantra, nyung nä" and Highest Tantra sadhanas, the sadhanas dharmakaya meditation so this meditation, actually this can be helpful for that, to meditate on emptiness similar.

The same meditation you can do in the body where you feel that I is there, if you feel that the I is in brain, if you feel the I is in the channels, chakras or wherever you feel the I, in the chest, inside the chest, wherever you feel the I is there, you can also do the same meditation like this to see by using these logics you can analyze, whether this I exists or not. So if it doesn't exist so then by using these logics then you see it's empty. Yeah, like this.

So if the I, in the particular location of body, in the chest or in the chakras or or in the mind, or on the consciousness or if the I is located somewhere, if that is true, if it exists, if that is true as you feel it is there somewhere then using the logics, in that case means this I is truly existent, so by using these logics then in that case by using the logics that is there's no way to use the logic dependent arising because it is not dependent arising. So in other words what I am saying is, If there's an I on the mind or on the body or on the association of body and mind, both, somewhere the I is located, the self is located somewhere if that is true as it appears then that means it is truly existent, that the I is truly existent. Somewhere that the I is found, that the I is able to find that the I is foundable then that means it is truly existent. So that means then there's no way, since it is truly existent there's no way to use the logic dependent arising, because it doesn't exist in that way.

So then in that way, by analyzing, able to see more clear and clear that the I, able to see more and more clear the more you analyze that the I should be able to find. But in the reality while it looks like foundable, it looks like it is foundable at the beginning, but as soon as you start to analyze search, by using logics, as it appears whether it exists or not, when you analyze, by using logics when you analyze immediately it becomes unclear what appears real one from its own side becomes, immediately it becomes unclear as soon as you use the logic dependent arising so forth on that. So that means, as you analyze more and more it becomes more unclear the real I from its own side so it proves that there's no such I, that there's no I on this body, inside the body, neither on the consciousness nor even the whole group of these aggregates, nowhere there's I here. Nowhere there's I on these aggregates, so it proves that. So, yeah.

[Break in teaching]

Now, in the view of these worldly beings' minds for example maybe first I give this example: In the Madhyamika teachings, in the Middle Way teachings, this example is given to explain, to describe these different views. a magician person with mantric power and the substances transforms jewel palace or beautiful man, woman, like that different things. Those audience whose eye senses are defected by the power of mantra or power of substances, so they, those audience they, so those who do not know that this is transformation by the magician person and then whatever appears to them, they believe it is real. Then the magician person, it appeared to, even the magician person his or her own sense of the eye, there is these appearances but there is no belief that they are real. And now there's a third person that who who don't see that, who doesn't have even those hallucinations, those whose mind is not affected by the power of mantra or the power of the substances, the third person who doesn't see that hallucination. So like that. So there are three types of people like that.

So now, but this audience who do not know the magician person has transformed and are believing it is true what appears to them later, when they find out this magician person's transformation even they, even themselves, same person can find out later it is wrong, that was hallucination and that the concept that was believed in was wrong concept, wrong conception. So this, yeah, this is related to the, this example is used for the worldly beings that for whom I, aggregates, sense objects, things which exist in mere name but, being merely imputed but they appear having existence from their own side. In the view of the worldly beings, as these things I and aggregates how the senses and sense objects that which exist in mere name but appear having existence from their own side, so they believe that is true. So as correct existence. In their view it's correct existence the things appear having existence from their own side, but in their view they think it's correct, correct existence. the correct conventional truth.

So now the person, the Arya beings who directly see, whose minds, whose wisdom directly sees all these existence who directly realizes all this existence that they are merely imputed and so that they way that things exist is being merely imputed so that they are empty of existing from their own side. So for them, when they are not in equipoise meditation on emptiness, even the things appear having existence from their own side the dual view, because there is still the imprint left by ignorance which projects and so, which makes to see dual view, the true existence on the things, on the merely labeled things, so those Arya beings, the transcendent beings who have wisdom directly perceiving everything as empty even the things appear conventional truth, even they appear as they have existence from their own side, but they don't have clinging that they are true. So like the magician person they see the hallucination but doesn't believe in that.

Because having completely purified even the subtle hallucinations the obscurations, the imprint that is left on the mental continuum by these disturbing thoughts, the ignorance, the concept of true existence.

So, now so in the view of the worldly being's mind so the conventional truth, things that which is labeled, merely imputed, appearing them having an existence from their own side, unlabeled these things are regarded as correct existence and for example when due to disease, due to fever due to bile disease seeing the white snow mountains in yellow or due to the wind disease seeing the white snow mountains in blue in blue color or due to drug, the mind being affected, the senses being affected by the drug, then, even there's no person in the house, but thinking there's a lot of people talking or appearing like this. Or for example by eating datura that you see the whole ground is full of worms, all the dust is of worms, kind of all the ground is full of worms.

So like that, so these things which the worldly beings, which they can, this they can see that is wrong, this they can see that doesn't exist in the reality. So in their view, as far as the conventional truth, wrong conventional truth existence and right conventional truth existence but in the view of the higher beings, one who have wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, those who have realized emptiness in their view according to them whatever appears, according to their view, according to their understanding whatever appears to the mind of the worldly being is all wrong, is all the wrong conventional truth. So like that. In their view, in the view of the transcendent beings, those Arya beings, those who have realized emptiness, in their view, whatever appears to the worldly beings' minds, everything is mistaken. Things appearing having an existence from their own side inherent existence, so even that is a mistaken view so it's a wrong conventional truth.

So in the view of the worldly beings, for their mind there's this, according to their mind they discriminate right and wrong but in the view of the higher beings, the Arya beings there's no two things right or wrong, or all what they see, so whatever appears to them, worldly beings' minds is all wrong. So like that. Does that make some sense?