How to Develop Loving Compassion

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Pomaia, Italy 1983 (Archive #183)

This is a lightly edited transcript of a course taught in September 1983 at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Pomaia, Italy. First published in 1983 by Chiara Luce Edizioni, Pomaia, Italy, then revised in 1984 and published by Wisdom Publications in London, England, then again in 1995 by Wisdom Publications in Boston.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, 2010. Photo: Ven. Roger Kunsang.
Monday September 5 through Thursday September 8


First we will recite one round of the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, so that the practice will become effective for the mind. Generate the thought of having the ultimate good heart in the mind of oneself and all other sentient beings.

You came here to learn something, to participate in the meditation course so as to develop something, to do something for the mind, seeking the method to develop mental peace. Thank you for that. I feel rejoicefulness.

We all came here desiring happiness, not desiring suffering. All human beings are the same in this. All variety of creatures and all the diverse human beings with different colors and appearances, all are the same—desiring happiness and not desiring suffering.

All creatures seek happiness; they are seeking it day and night, keeping busy. Those birds living in the bushes (you know, the noise that we hear from them) and also the butterflies—so busy. They are all the same—desiring happiness, not desiring suffering. The creatures that live in the water and those crawling on the earth, those ants that are so fast, working so fast—they are all running, seeking happiness.

Even the human beings on this earth are seeking mind peace, externally. They are not seeking mind peace by developing the inner factor of the mind, the good heart. They are only seeking it externally.

A person who has material wealth might have some material comfort, physical comfort, but because nothing is done to change the mind from the bad thoughts which bring confusion to the mind, even though there is some wealth, material comfort, because they have so much depression, fear and worry in the mind, that person is so overwhelmed by mental suffering that even the physical comfort is not felt. The physical comfort is not felt because of the mental suffering. You see, since you don’t change the bad thoughts and develop a pure mind, the good heart, it disturbs even physical comfort and enjoyment.

You have so much wealth but because you have so many problems sometimes you might even wish, “Oh, if I were a cat—how wonderful it would be!” Thinking that there would be no problems then, no relationship problems. Some people even wish, “If I were a beggar, not having any of the wealth that I have now, then I would have no problems, no danger”’ Someone of very high rank, such as a king or president might wish, “Oh, if I were a beggar like those beggars on the streets—how wonderful it would be! How happy I would be!”

Wishing to be an animal or something like that is because you are not aware—just because you do not see that they have problems it does not mean that they do not have problems. It is just that you are not aware of them, you have not checked up well enough.

Also, trying to obtain wealth, education, these things, or studying for thirty or forty years since you were a child, all this is not used to make the mind pure, it is not used to develop the good heart. Because it is not used for that purpose, no matter how much work, no matter how much education there is, life becomes more confused than before. There is no change in the mind. What is supposed to happen is greater peace of mind but that does not happen. One is more confused than an uneducated child.

Therefore, it is incredibly important, so important, that to gain happiness in everyday life, peace of mind in everyday life, you transform the mind—have less envy, less anger, less dissatisfaction, jealousy, pride, ill will and ignorance. Without changing the selfish attitude, the anger, dissatisfaction, ignorance and those things, there will be no peace.

All these problems—the depression, feeling up and down, all these things, all the fears, the nervous breakdowns, or that one has committed suicide—even no one else tried to kill you, you kill your- self, you become your own enemy—all these problems come from your own unsubdued mind.

There are twenty secondary unsubdued minds, however, the root is the three unsubdued minds of attachment, anger and ignorance. All suffering, all unhappiness come from these unsubdued minds. These come from the very root—ignorance not understanding the absolute nature of the mind, being ignorant of that. Not understanding the absolute nature of the I, so not understanding how the I exists.

You can see what it is like, this ignorance that holds the I to be truly existent. In our everyday life, from morning until night, each time that we do different activities, even now, each time that you think of yourself, you label I, an I is labeled on the aggregates. That labeling of an I is like labeling one’s own name, whatever one’s own name is, as it has been labeled by the parents. I is like that. Each time that other people see you, they label your name on your aggregates. Each time that you label I, it is merely labeled on these aggregates—just as other people merely label you when they see your body, or like when your parents gave you your name, or when other people talk about you. All this is merely labeled.

The I that appears to exist, as though it were real, is only that label, that is all. But the I that is merely labeled on the aggregates does not appear as though it were merely labeled. It does not appear as it is, it appears as though it existed from its own side.

The I that is merely labeled on these aggregates appears as though it were not merely labeled on these aggregates, but as if it existed from its own side, not being dependent on the aggregates, but independent, and existing from its own side. Not being dependent on thought which labels and not being dependent on the name, but existing in its own right.

This ignorance, the conception, the thought that completely clings to the belief that the I that appears to exist from its own side is one hundred per cent true—this is the ignorance that holds the I to be self-existent, clinging to the I as being truly existent.

All the confused minds, the dissatisfied mind and anger, arise from this ignorance. And all life’s other problems come from these confused minds. It not only makes your own life a problem but also makes you create problems for others, for other sentient beings. You disturb others, not letting someone who is peaceful and enjoying life have peace.

Short break followed by a short meditation
Think how the I appears to us to exist, and how we think of the I and label it.

So, now for the experience! Just think of the I, of yourself. Don’t think about the general I, about human beings in general, think about yourself, your I. Think, ‘I’.

Now, if you feel that there is a subject, a meditator, an I that can be found, that looks as though it can be found, a real I, then concentrate on that and at the same time, let a part of the mind be aware of your own body, all the things that are inside your body—the skin, the flesh, the bones, the ribs... Especially think about the chest part, the lungs, the heart and all the inside details.

First think, ‘I’. You try to feel an I that can really be found, one that is really inside here, especially from here down (Rinpoche points to the chest) from the neck to the heart in a kind of darkness, not clear. Then, when you have seen this I, let a part of the mind be aware of all your inside, searching for where that subject I is. Check on the heart, then after that check in the head, the ears, the nose, the brain and maybe inside the tongue. Also go inside the hands and legs, be aware of how the body looks inside. Check inside and think, “Where is it?”

At the very beginning you should not think, “Oh, that does not exist.” You should think that the I can be found.

You see, the result is this: that you cannot find the I. Even though it looked as though it could be found in the beginning, when you searched in detail—nothing. In the beginning it looks as though the I can really be found but once you start to search—it disappears. You cannot find that particular place, in that area where you always believed it to exist.

You cannot find it in the legs, you cannot find it in the head, neither inside nor outside. But definitely there is an I—that gets tired, that has leg pains, that wants to go out, that wants to sleep. There is definitely an I that meditates, that is unhappy, that wants to be happy, that wants to drink cappuccino. There is an I but not that I—isn’t it strange!

Maybe someone might have found it somewhere. Did anybody find it?


When we recite the mantra, you can visualize Chenrezig above your head and above the head of all other sentient beings—each hell-denizen (narak being), wandering spirit (preta), and animal being. Pure nectars are flowing from Chenrezig’s heart purifying them. It purifies all obstacles to the teachings becoming beneficial for the mind, effective for changing the mind, beneficial for the meditations and, mainly, beneficial for changing the mind to bodhicitta. All the obstacles to following the path to enlightenment and developing bodhicitta are purified.

First you think about the sentient beings here in this room, then about all the rest.

When we think about the existence of great compassion towards all sentient beings and training the mind in great compassion, it should be easy to understand that it is possible to develop this in your mind. In our everyday life, we have compassion towards others, towards some people towards some animals. Sometimes less, sometimes more. It is the nature of our mind that compassion sometimes goes up, so it is the nature of our mind that we can develop. For sure, it is possible to have the complete realization of having trained the mind in great compassion towards all sentient beings.

There is an I that we normally believe in as being something real inside. It is something somewhere in the heart or in the chest that we normally think of as ‘me’. When other people criticize, when they treat us badly, disrespectfully, when people do something to us, we feel a real I that hurts. “He gave me harm,” “he treated me badly.” We feel a real I somewhere inside there saying, “He helped me,” or “he gave me harm.” An I that is real, that exists from its own side, something there inside the chest, difficult to find.

Did you search for the I? Did somebody find the I?

Student : If I had to find the I, then I would say that maybe it is in the brain.

Rinpoche : You are not obliged to find it! It is not a commitment. You have to check whether it can be found or not! (laughing)

Student : When I closed my eyes I could feel the I, but when I was looking for the I, I was not able to find it.

Rinpoche : That should be done more and more! First you check down to the feet. When that is finished—what is the result in the mind? The experience, the result that came, you check that. Check how the I appears to you, then if the mind is distracted from that, again you bring it back, you look for the I.

If I close my eyes maybe it is more effective. Then I look at the I and again check how the I appears, then search again. It is very good to do this alternately so that it becomes clearer and clearer. That way it helps very much to see clearly the object of ignorance—that while there is no such I existing from its own side, the I is empty of existing from its own side, still it appears to exist from its own side. Clinging to this appearance is the root of all the suffering, all the confusion.

So this method helps very much to perceive more clearly the object of ignorance, the hallucination, the illusive I, the I that is empty and that we have to realize as empty. Believing in this I creates all the problems and suffering.

Was he saying that he found it in the brain?

Student : If I had to find it I would say that it was in the brain.

Rinpoche : Actually, I had not finished what I was going to say. It is like having to find a snow lion in Italy, or if it were compulsory to find a billion dollars in this room! He is not obliged to find a billion dollars in this room!

If he thinks it is in the head then he should not just be satisfied that it is there, he should check. He should not be satisfied with that. That is the problem, that is our problem—if we believe it is there we should search if it is really there. Just believing it is there and leaving it at that, being satisfied without checking if it is there—that is the root of our confusion in everyday life. That comes from not following wisdom, it is the problem of ignorance. (laughing) So the I can be found in this room? Yes or no?

Student : It is possible to find it anywhere. Maybe, only you can find the I. You will find the I when you reach enlightenment.

Rinpoche: Tell Renaldo, don’t you think that you are here in this room?

Student : With the body you can be here but with the mind you can go everywhere.

Rinpoche: That is similar to what was said yesterday by Salvatore. So your body is here. And when you think of India, is your mind in India? In the Indian tea shops?

Student : Maybe, it is possible. It is difficult with my mind, but Rinpoche’s mind has more qualities and possibilities to go out of here.

Rinpoche: My mind got stuck here.

Student : Is the sense of I that we have, related to the gross mind?

Rinpoche: Yes, that is right, think of the gross mind. George, can the I be found in this room? Can the I be found on the body?

George : I cannot be found in this room.

Rinpoche: Oh, I cannot be found in this room?

George : I is not findable in this room, it is not findable anywhere.

Rinpoche: The I is not findable in this room? So, George cannot be found in this room?

George : You should use the word ‘exist’ instead of ‘findable.’

Rinpoche: What is the definition of findable?

George : Findable means that it is some place.

Rinpoche: I mean, you find the watch there on the table. You find the watch, you see the watch on the table, then you find the watch because the watch is on the table. So you have found the watch in this room on this table. You have found the watch—that’s right isn’t it? So, George is findable?

George : In that sense he is findable.

Rinpoche: So I is findable in this room?

George : In that sense, yes.

Rinpoche: I is findable in this room? Okay, is I findable on the aggregates?

George : In that sense I is findable on the aggregates.

Rinpoche: Is I findable on the aggregates?

George : In that sense, yes.

Rinpoche: So I can be found on the aggregates? Okay, where is it? (laughing) So it is similar—can the table be found on the table?

George : We use it generally saying the table can be found in the room. In that sense the table can be found on the parts. But not in the sense of finding a self-existing table.

Rinpoche: I am not talking about a self-existent table, we are just talking about the table. Can the table be found on the basis of the table?

George : In that sense the table is findable.

Rinpoche: Yes, I am not talking about self-existent at all. Can it be found?

George : Yes, it can be found in the room, yes it can be found on the parts.

Rinpoche: Now the table can be found on the basis of the table. Okay, where is it? Point it out! (laughing) The table seems to be burning because George is pointing at the table very carefully and keeping at a distance. Can the I be found on the aggregates? Isn’t that supposed to be unfindable?

George : In English we use the word findable to mean existing. When you ask if it is findable in the room, do you mean is it existing?

Rinpoche: Yes.

George : It is existing in relation to the parts, so we can say it is on the parts in answer to the question, “where is it?” It cannot be found in the other sense of pointing it out in a substantial way.

Rinpoche: You cannot point out the table on the substantial one? You cannot point it out? You did point it out! (Laughing) You did point at the table. You pointed at the substantial one. Isn’t that substantial what you pointed at? Is it non-substantial?

George : I am pointing to the collection.

Rinpoche: So the collection is what? You are pointing at the collection saying that that is the table?

George : No.

Rinpoche: Then what else?

George : I am saying that the table can be found, so it exists there in a sense of existing in relation to that. It cannot be found elsewhere. It cannot be found here (points to the meditation hall). In English we could say in a loose way that people can be found here. What I don’t mean to say is that it is findable, that this is the table, that there is something that is the table.

Rinpoche: There is something that is the table? So the collection is the table?

George : No.

Rinpoche: You are not pointing to the collection? Then which one is the table?

George : The collection is not the table.

Rinpoche: So you are not pointing at the collection? Then to point at the collection and to say it is the table is wrong! Are you not pointing at the collection of the parts?

George : As the table, no.

Rinpoche: Then what are you pointing at? You are not pointing at the parts, you are not pointing at the collection, so what are you pointing at?

George : In a conventional sense, if we ask if there is a table, then there is a table. If we ask for an example of a table then we point to this (George points to the table).

Rinpoche: Okay, then when you want to tell Siliana something, for example, but you can’t find her and then she suddenly appears—you point to her as Siliana. It’s her aggregates that you are pointing at, isn’t it?

George : We do talk that way.

Rinpoche: So you do point at her aggregate?

George : We do.

Rinpoche: Yes, (laughing) so it is the same thing. You are not pointing out particular parts of the aggregates, are you? So it is similar with the table, you point to the collection of the table, the collection of the parts of the table.

George : We say it like that, but in English....

Rinpoche: Isn’t it like that? Isn’t it correct?

George : When you say that you can find Siliana there, in English it implies that there is something findable.

Rinpoche: Okay, is Siliana not findable? I am just asking these questions so that you people can think about it.

Student : May I ask a question? Briefly, what is the difference between the I and the mind?

Rinpoche: There is a big difference. What is his name? Salvatore? For example, are Salvatore and Salvatore’s body different? You know, Salvatore is not Salvatore’s body, there is a big difference like that. The mind is formless, colorless, different from the body which is the object of the sense of I. So nobody can see Salvatore, the I. I and Salvatore are the same thing.

Salvatore: If the I of Salvatore is formless, so is the mind.

Rinpoche: Can anybody see the I, Salvatore? Salvatore is formless? Okay, then Salvatore does not need dinner tonight. He does not need breakfast, lunch, dinner. He does not have to go by car.

Salvatore: I can eat, I can also stay without eating.

Rinpoche: When the time comes for breakfast, lunch or dinner, then Salvatore does not become mind, at those times Salvatore takes form but otherwise he is formless. I like that very much. I think that is smart.

Salvatore: What is the difference between the I and the mind—and Salvatore is not included in this question! It is a question for everybody, not just Salvatore.

Rinpoche: As I mentioned in the beginning—you heard the words “merely labeled”? Okay, that is what it is. The I is the possessor of the mind and body, the aggregates, but it is merely labeled on the aggregates. Sometimes there is a body, sometimes there is no body, just the mind, however, the mind is the possession and the I is the possessor. However, the mind that we believe to exist from its own side is, in fact, only mind, there is nothing other than what has been merely labeled on that.

Student : I find that there was one kind of grasping when I was a young girl and another when I was an older girl. There is always the same way of grasping but I feel that I have many I’s, I don’t always have the same one. Is there a valid way to make these different I’s the object to be identified?

Rinpoche: You mean different I’s from young time and so on? In normal daily life when you are not searching for the I or using logic to examine the way that it exists, there is something that appears and that you cling to as being I. Think about that. Ask yourself what it is like.

In general, it is like this: there is the appearance of a real I, a truly existent I, something that looks as though it can be found, as though it is there inside the body. Also, when somebody criticizes you, you think, “Are you talking to me?” With anger, with the excitement of anger you point at the chest. Or, when some terrible thing happens you hold your hand at the chest saying, “Oh my God”’ and so forth. You hold your hand at your heart. Sometimes you also point at your head as well, but mostly at the heart.

When you point at the I, you don’t point like this (Rinpoche points to the head), you point like this (Rinpoche points to the heart). When you talk about thinking you point at the head, but you don’t point there when you say, “Is he criticising me?”’ I think in normal life this expression explains through gestures the ignorance of true existence: the I that is merely labeled is appearing as though it were not merely labeled, as though it existed from its own side, and the person completely clings to that as though it were real. This is shown by the outward gesture of a person hitting himself very strongly here at the heart. For them, the I appears to be real, truly existent, completely truly existent.

The I still appears to experienced meditators but way inside the heart there is the understanding that on these aggregates there is no I existing from its own side at all. It is like seeing a mirage. If someone who is walking over hot sand has a definite understanding that there is no water at all, then when they see a mirage, the mirage still appears as though it were water. That is similar. An experienced meditator has a definite understanding that there is no I existing from its own side at all, but the I that is merely labeled and under the control of name still appears to him as though it existed from its own side. The point is that he does not cling to it, just as the person who sees the mirage does not cling to that as being water. Like that.

Also, there is the thought of the mere I, for example, “I’ll eat,” “I’ll drink,” “I’ll go to the market,” “I am going to sleep.” There is the thought of a mere I even when one has not realized the meaning of egolessness, the absolute nature of the I—that I is empty of true existence. If this thought is wrong perception, it means that “I think,” “I eat,” “I walk,” all this does not exist. It means that it does not exist. That means that you have reached the state of nihilism. But, of course, the thought of a truly existent I, eating, sleeping, etc., that is hallucinated, wrong conception, because that truly existent I does not exist. The I that does the eating, sitting, etc. does not exist.

It is good to relate this to your own experience. Try to understand this from your own experiences. It is so worthwhile to study or to gain understanding. Our ignorance of this is the reason why we are not yet free, why we have not yet achieved liberation from samsara.

Student : Can I ask something else? When we point to the heart, sometimes we have such a strong experience of an I that we can even get physical pain. When we meditate, how can we use this physical experience of an I in the chest? It seems physical. Do we have to meditate on that to find something?

Rinpoche: No. (laughing) That is the same as before when I said that it is not a commitment to find one million dollars in the room when the room is empty of that.

Even if you have realized the absolute nature of the I, even when you see that the I is empty of true existence, still you need to do the analytical meditation. You need to develop wisdom by seeing the appearance, the thing that appears to be truly existent. You have to discover that it is empty.

You see, it depends on the individual level of mind. I am not asking Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, “Please, you meditate on shunyata, please meditate to see the I as empty of true existence.” Do you understand what I am saying? You don’t ask Guru Shakyamuni Buddha to search for the appearance of the truly existent I and to find out that it is empty. Buddha does not need effort, training. That is all. It is the individual.

Relate these things to your own experience, for example, when you have a child. After the baby has come out the parents look for a name. They label that name on the aggregates. In the very first second that thought labels the name “Milano” on that child, on the aggregates, that is the thought of the mere Milano. It does not cling to Milano as being truly existent. Then, after that, because of our habit from beginningless past lives of seeing things appear as truly existent and clinging to that appearance, gradually we forget that Milano, or Claudio was merely labeled on those aggregates. You forget that in the beginning this name was merely labeled. You are not aware of that any more. You forget and the Claudio that you have merely labeled on the aggregates appears as though it were not merely labeled but completely existing from its own side, without depending on the parts, on the body, the aggregates and the person’s thought that labels a Claudio, a Milano, or whatever it is called on those aggregates. The Claudio appears to exist completely from his own side, completely independently. So whenever the parents or other people see him, they think of him existing in this way.

It is the same when other people who did not know him before are introduced. Somebody says, “This is Claudio.” Then in that very first second, the thought that labels Claudio does not cling to Claudio as being truly existent. Then, gradually Claudio does appear as truly existent and they cling to that as one hundred per cent true, a completely independent Claudio existing from his own side. So now you can see that the appearance and the reality—how Claudio actually exists on those aggregates and how Claudio appears to exist—are completely contradictory. Not similar.

Then you can use this example. From this example you can understand how Claudio is merely labeled. Without Claudio’s body, his aggregates, even if there is the thought which labels Claudio, does Claudio exist or not? No.

You see, even after Claudio was born, if the parents still have not labeled Claudio, even though his aggregates already exist, before they have labeled Claudio, Claudio does not exist. Do you understand? So then one day they decide to label Claudio on the aggregates. The body and the aggregates exist and they decide that what looks best on him is the name Claudio (laughing). That is why they call him Claudio. That is all, there is no other Claudio besides that. That is all. We have to be satisfied that on what the parents merely label as Claudio, Claudio exists. There is nothing more, nothing else to find. No other Claudio. We have to be satisfied that having merely labeled Claudio on those aggregates there is a Claudio existing. Then whatever he does: when he sleeps—Claudio is sleeping. If he eats—Claudio is eating. We have to be satisfied just with what is merely labeled on the aggregates. Otherwise, there is no other Claudio eating, sleeping, etc.

On this body, on these aggregates, the parents merely labeled a Claudio—that’s all. That is the only way that Claudio exists, do you understand? That is all. So now you can see, there is no Claudio at all existing from its own side. You should relate that to your own name, then to your I. You should meditate like this.

The appearance, the way we look at it is that there is a Claudio existing from its own side, not merely labeled. We do not see a Claudio that we have merely labeled but one that is completely existent from its own side. So the way Claudio appears to you and the actual existence of Claudio is completely contradictory. When we look at Claudio what we should actually see, the appearance, should be according to the reality. But we don’t see that. The problem comes from that.


Visualize Chenrezig on the crown of each being in this room and on the head of all the other sentient beings, purifying all the problems. (Everyone recites mantra OM MANI PADME HUM.)

Think that Chenrezig is inseparable from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, so as to bless the mind, to transform the mind. Then Chenrezig above your head and above the heads of the rest of the sentient beings absorbs and blesses their minds, becoming oneness. Visualize that you transform your mind, that you generate the three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment and also the graduated path of generation and accomplishment, cutting off dual view, the impure view.

As well as the different thoughts of I that were mentioned yesterday, there is also the intellectual thought, learned through doctrine, thinking of the I as truly existent. Not only can you have a spontaneous wrong conception, but also philosophically, intellectually, you can posit the I as truly existent. There is also a thought like this.

Yesterday, I used the example of Claudio. We think of Claudio as being not only that which has been merely labeled on the aggregates—how could it be that he were only that? We feel that there must be something else. There is the conception inside of something else, a real Claudio—how could a merely labeled Claudio work? There must be a real one, otherwise how could he exist?

When we talk about and when we hear the words “merely labeled Claudio” our mind is thinking, “How could that function? How could that exist and function? How could that harm or benefit others?” We feel that there is not only that, but something else as well, something more than that. That “something else”, that “more” is what does not exist. The object of that conception is empty. That Claudio is empty. That is the refuting object.

Not being satisfied with the merely labeled Claudio, we think that there should be something else, that there should be more, a Claudio that is more than just merely labeled. But all of those other objects that you believe to be Claudio are the refuting object. They are the refuting object that is empty but that you have not yet realized as empty.

It is the same thing in relation to the I. We think that there is more than just the merely labeled I. You agree that the I, “Zopa”, is labeled. You agree with that, it is obvious that it is dependent on the thought labeling. You cannot contradict that but you feel naturally that there is not just the merely labeled Zopa, that there is something else, something more than that. That something else, that I, that Zopa is what is empty, an hallucination. That is the I that you should realize as empty.

There is the I which does not exist and the I which exists. The one which we believe to exist does not actually exist and that wrong conception of an I is the root of samsaric suffering.

For somebody who has meditated on shunyata, who has realized the truly existent I as empty and recognized the refuting object, the truly existent, independent I, that meditator does not need particular conditions to be able to see the emptiness of the I, the absolute nature of the I. He can see the refuting object, the truly existent I, vividly and clearly, at any time. He is able to see the I which exists and the I which does not exist, he is able to discriminate between the appearance and the reality—to see what exists and what does not exist.

For us, who have not realized the absolute truth of I, who do not recognize the refuting object, the I which does not exist, and who cannot differentiate between the I which exists and the I which does not exist, when we meet particular conditions we have a strong sense of an independent I. When we are excited, very happy, like having found a million dollars when we were penniless, or when some disaster happens, like at the start of a car accident—when a drunken driver is driving and you are so scared that something is going to happen! Or when you are in danger, somebody is shooting, or you are in danger of falling down, at those times you feel “now some danger is going to happen.” Then you feel an I that is not dependent on the aggregates, neither on the body, nor the mind, on nothing, just completely I, an I which exists from its own side.

That I is the object of ignorance. Ignorance does not think of the body or mind as objects, it sees only an I existing from its own side. So as that appearance of a truly existent I rises strongly, great fear also arises—fear that something is going to happen to this real I, that this real I is going to fall down, or that this real I is going to get hurt, that some big danger is going to happen to it.

Also, when we are excited and happy this I gets inflated, like when you blow up a balloon: first it is small, then as you blow it gradually becomes very big. Through the condition it becomes stronger.

In those situations, when there is the strong appearance of a real I existing from its own side, that I is what is called the independent I. The way that it appears and the way that we cling to it is as though it were independent. It appears in this way and one clings to it as 100 per cent true. So you see, when we realize that this is empty, when by relying on the teachings of experienced gurus one realizes with the wisdom of having listened to the teachings that this I is what is invalid. Then with the logic of dependent arising, knowing that this is in fact empty because it is dependent arising, and checking with the sevenfold logical reasoning, the four point analysis, you can see this I which appears to exist from its own side, the “real” I that is completely empty.

You see that this I is completely empty, just there, right there, it does not go anywhere Just right there it is void. There where it appears to exist it is actually completely empty. At that time you see the absolute nature of the I, you have realized this.

As I said the other day, when the I appears here (Rinpoche points to his chest), when it looks as though it were there, then just simply leave one part of the mind aware of the body and search for that I—where is it? That way it is possible even with just a simple meditation that somebody who has much merit, many impressions left from past times, to see the absolute nature of the I, that it is empty.

At that time the meditator experiences that the I, the subject himself, the doer himself does not exist—completely does not exist. The meditator feels that the I does not exist, that it is lost. Actually, there is no way that the I, that I, can be lost, no way that it can become non-existent because always there is the stream of consciousness, the continuity of consciousness that never ceases. So there is no way that the I can cease, that the I can become non-existent. But the experience of the meditator is that the subject himself does not exist at all.

That experience comes from our habit in beginningless past lives of seeing appearance and reality as all the time mixed. We see the appearance, the truly existent I that exists from its own side, and the I which is merely labeled, which is empty of existence from its own side, as mixed. It is our habit to mix them and then completely believe in the appearance of the truly existent I.

When one sees that the object of ignorance, the truly existent I is empty, then even though the I does not cease, it is not lost, still the meditator experiences it as lost, as though it did not exist. This shows that the I does not exist at all from its own side. It is a sign of that.

The experience at that time is that the I one believed to exist, that one held as something really precious, is completely empty. Something that you always grasped, that you always held on to, that you did not want to go away, that you held as very precious—without choice it becomes void.

It is like a magician giving you a million dollars: you hold on to it and feel that it is so precious, then while you are holding on to it, as so precious, it disappears from your hand. That is the same kind of thing.

If you do not have an extensive understanding of shunyata, if you have not studied extensively and have only a partial understanding, and you experience this, fear can arise. If you have not listened to teachings extensively, you are like a small child riding a horse—you feel very afraid. At that time, fear arises in your heart because you feel that you are losing something that you believe to be very precious—your I.

A person who has much intelligence and has done extensive listening is like an adult, a trained person riding a horse—there is no fear, only happiness. When the horse runs faster, it is more enjoyable; much happiness arises. It is like the happiness experienced by a person who has been waiting a long time to find a precious treasure, finally finding it.

(Short break)

When we have such an experience as this, if fear arises, one should not stop the experience. Even though you have been saying “truly existent,” repeating what is written in the teachings, debating, and reciting the words “truly existent” that are given in the teachings, still when you come to the actual meditation experience and recognize this lack of a truly existent I, it is not like anything you had thought of before with intellectual understanding. The actual experience is different from that.

When you have this experience you might feel that you have been following a nihilistic path. It depends on how much understanding you have, but you could really feel as though you had been following the path of nihilism. Dependent on whether your intelligence is lower or higher that thought could arise. But it is not true. That thought does not take into consideration the complete realization. You should let the experience happen, you should go through the fear.

Even if a person believes philosophically, through doctrine, that the I does not exist, even if the person talks about it intellectually, actually that person is still saying all day, “I am doing this and that,” “I am happy,” “I am unhappy,” “I want this and that.” (Laughing) The person shouldn’t be saying anything at all. If the I does not exist, the person should never even have these thoughts, they should stop completely. But because his consciousness exists, the base consciousness exists, there is no choice—the I has to exist.

In our experience thoughts are coming all the time that “I want this and that,” “I want to do this and that.” Even if a person thinks intellectually that there is no I, what he says and his experience are completely contradictory. If someone says bad words to that person, pointing out his mistakes, then you can check whether the I exists for him or not. (Laughing) If the person is intelligent, if she has some merit and watches her own mind, then her experience tells her that definitely there is an I because those bad words hurt.

In Australia some years ago, in a place called Noogee during an Australian course, I had been talking for three or four days about the I, and there was one man, not a young guy, an old man, who I think had understood that the I does not exist at all. In a field close to that place there was a pool with dirty water, not clean water, and one day—it was cold weather—he took off his clothes and jumped into that water. Then he felt so cold that he realized, “Oh, there is definitely an I’“ He could not bear it any more in the water. (Laughing) Before he was just not aware because there were no bad conditions.

So, you see, if you have an experience like this you shouldn’t stop there. You shouldn’t leave it at that. It is so important, extremely important that you carry on, that you develop that experience. It is so important to develop that experience by realizing the absolute nature of the I, by seeing the absolute nature of the I, by seeing the I which appears to be truly existent as empty of being truly existent from its own side, by seeing that it is dependent arising and merely labeled on the aggregates by thought. Through realizing this, there is liberation, there is the cessation of problems, there is the cessation of samsara. If you do not realize this, if you don’t see the I which appears to be truly existent as empty of being truly existent, then there is always samsara, there are always problems. So it depends on that.

It is very important to do this meditation every day, so that again you reach the state of emptiness and when your mind gets distracted and the truly existent I again appears you use the logic, you try to see that I as empty.

Also, one should understand the meditation techniques used to develop shamatha, tranquil abiding, the meditation techniques used to cut mental scattering and mental sinking, these two thoughts that come from attachment. One should study and one should understand those things, the meditation techniques, the methods to cut off these two. Then one should apply those meditation techniques and one should meditate one-pointedly on emptiness. If the mind is distracted, then again you should check to see that distraction as empty. One should practice shamatha on the object of emptiness and in this way develop the wisdom realizing emptiness.

You must do that every day of your life no matter how busy you are. Cut out the small unimportant things. You must carry on the meditation continuously, otherwise you may have some experience but then if you don’t continue, the ignorance and wrong conception will come back again.

It is similar to a person who does retreat or practices Dharma for some time and then after some time gives it up, they lose their energy for it; either they feel nothing is happening or they are discouraged and they give up practicing, then the mind becomes as degenerate as before, the same problem as before. So it is the same thing if you give up this meditation, the thought that clings to the I as truly existent comes back again, it gets stronger again, then after some time it is difficult to get back in touch with that experience and to have that experience again.

After continuously meditating on emptiness, as seven days or fifteen days go by, you see more and more things as illusory. The definite understanding of the I and of other things as being empty of existence from their own side gets stronger and stronger, and as a result you see more and more things as illusory. Even though the I appears to be truly existent, you realize that it is completely empty, that it is completely invalid. Even though the I appears as truly existent, you have the definite understanding that the I is empty of being truly existent.

It is like the example I mentioned yesterday of the mirage: there is the appearance of water but there is also the definite understanding that this appearance is empty of being water, the appearance is illusory. In the same way, one sees the I as illusory and realizes that it does not exist in the way that we perceive it to exist—as a truly existent I, existing from its own side.

The appearance of things as being truly existent is a subtle obscuration that comes from the impression left by the disturbing thoughts. Until you reach enlightenment, this appearance of things as truly existent is there. It is there all the time until we cease all subtle obscurations, except when the meditator is in meditative equipoise on shunyata. At that time only, no separation exists for his mind. It is like pouring water into water, all such objects are dissolved.

This is very important. As soon as you realize the I which appears to exist from its own side on these aggregates to be empty of existing from its own side, when you see that the whole I is completely empty and non-existent from its own side, that there is not the slightest piece, not the slightest atom of I existing from its own side on the aggregates, when you see this I as empty, then the result is that without choice you get a definite understanding, way inside, that no matter how much you say the I does not exist there is a powerful experience of an I existing on the aggregates under the control of name. It is so powerful, such a strong experience that I exists on the aggregates under the control of name that it’s as though you don’t have any freedom at all. So before you realized this you saw the I as existing one way on the aggregates and now you see the I as existing in another way on the aggregates—you see that there is no I from the side of the aggregates but that there is an I on the aggregates existing under the control of name.

So, you see, as a result of this definite understanding that the I does not exist from its own side, there comes the understanding that the I exists on the aggregates under the control of name. It is not that the I does not exist at all but that the I exists on the aggregates dependent on name.

So there are two things to be understood: that the I is empty of existing from its own side on the aggregates, and that the I exists under the control of name on the aggregates. You see these two together and at that time you have realized the subtle dependent arising. Of the Four Schools, this is the Prasangika’s dependent arising.

When you have this experience of emptiness combined with an understanding of dependent arising, that means that the emptiness that you have realized is correct. Otherwise, if you don’t see the merely labeled I and the emptiness of the I together, unified, then that means something is wrong with your meditation on shunyata. You might believe that you have had the realization of shunyata, but it was not the realization of shunyata according to the Middle Way point of view. It was wrong.


Once you have had an experience of shunyata it is extremely important to continue with the meditation. This experience does happen. Some people have planted many seeds, many imprints of shunyata from past lifetimes, so when they hear teachings this time, or when they do a little meditation and they have accumulated much merit and done much purification, then they have this experience again. This is possible even if the person has not done much study or listened to many teachings or even heard the teachings exactly.

Such experiences do happen to Westerners. I have met some students who have had this experience but as they did not have a complete explanation of the teachings, the complete graduated path (lamrim), even though they had a little bit of experience of shunyata, they didn’t know what to do.

Then if the experience is not continued, it is like a person who at the beginning has a good understanding of the teachings and is able to practice controlling the mind, but then after some time stop—their mind becomes very stubborn so that any teachings they read or hear do not change the mind, it becomes very difficult to change the mind.

If a person has some experience but does not continue with the meditations then, after some time, the mind becomes very stubborn and it is very difficult to get back that experience. The mind becomes very unsubdued, very hard, it is difficult to reach the same understanding as before.

This is not only true of shunyata but of any experience of the meditations. For example, there is the thought that this perfect human life qualified with eight freedoms and ten richnesses is so precious, that it is highly difficult to find again and that the life span is very short, death can happen at any moment. By doing the analytical and one-pointedness meditation, this thought, this experience, can be developed from small and become stronger and stronger, so the feeling becomes more and more real that death can happen at any moment. So it is extremely important to continue with any experience.

Even if you have realizations, if you don’t continue to develop them they will degenerate. It doesn’t need so much effort as before but still you need to continue. If you do not continue then, maybe in one week or in one month’s retreat you develop that much experience but by not continuing your mind just becomes the same as before, it degenerates again. You generate some experience then it is disturbed again, then after some time you again generate some experience, then again it is disturbed, so your work never gets finished.

Some of us now, for example, have the thought that the happiness of future lives is not so important but that the happiness of this life, these few days, this week is important, more important. We do not have much fear about what will happen in future lives. We do not have much feeling for the sufferings of future lives or the happiness of future lives.

It is said in the great commentary on lamrim by Lama Tsongkhapa that when this thought has changed from the depth of the heart, when we have realized that it is important to make preparation for the happiness of future lives and this life appears very short to the mind, then the comfort of this life does not matter, it is so short that it does not matter, it is not so important. When one has developed such an attitude, the complete opposite of the previous attitude, then at that time, these few days, whether rich or poor, comfortable or not, whatever, it does not matter so much. The long run is more important. When the attitude is completely changed then, as Lama Tsongkhapa said, this is the realization of the graduated path of the lower capable being, but he also says that this should be stabilized. It is said frequently in the great commentaries on lamrim that this realization should be stabilized. This is very important.

Yesterday, we were talking about the I that we have to realize does not exist, the I that is hallucination, that does not exist, that is the refuting object.

I heard that normally in the West you label as the “emotional I” that I which seems to be there and very real from its own side when you are angry or when you are happy or in a terrified state. Even though the person does not know that this I is empty and that he has to realize it as empty, still the person calls it the “emotional I.”

Another way of recognizing this I is by searching. For example, you use the four point analytical meditation or just search for the I, then after you have gone right down to the feet and there is nowhere left to be checked, no space left to search, but still you see an I, a real I somewhere inside, that is the I that has to be realized as empty. Even you have searched everywhere and found no I on the base, still there appears to be an I somewhere inside and that is what has to be realized as empty.

It is similar when you check to find where the rosary is. You check everywhere and cannot find it but still you see a rosary that appears to exist from its own side. That is the refuting object, that is what you have to realize that the rosary is empty of.

When we talk about the truly existent I, the refuting object, which we have to realize as empty and we think about reincarnation or the continuation of consciousness, it looks as though the I exists on the consciousness from its own side. But when we concentrate more on the body, the body is going somewhere, for example, to Milano or somewhere, then it looks more as though it were on the body, as though there were an I existing on the body from its own side. That I is what we have to realize is empty.

Some people can recognize the refuting object without having to use outside objects as examples. Others may find it easier to first recognize the refuting object on outside objects. For example, on the different colors, especially colors that are very bright. That is very easy for some people.

First, an experienced guru gives you teachings on how to recognize the refuting object, then, with this understanding, if you check the appearance and your view, it is like having the picture of a person that you want to find, the picture of a thief, for example, you can recognize that person, you can find him and throw him out! (Laughing)

On this blue cloth, for example, there appears to be a blue cloth existing from its own side—that is the refuting object. As soon as you recognize this on one object, then look immediately at the I and you will recognize that it appears to exist in a similar way. Then it does not take much time to destroy the object of ignorance, to see that the object of ignorance, the I that appears to be truly existent, is empty.

Once you have recognized the refuting object on some outside thing, then even without using logic, like the sevenfold analysis, as soon as you look at the I you can recognize the I that appears to be truly existent. Then, concentrate one-pointedly on that I and at the same time have the idea that this I is what is empty, that is what the teachings say is empty.

While you are concentrating right on top of this I that appears as truly existent, your mind should be aware that this I is empty. Just continue like this, being aware that actually this I is empty. Concentrate one-pointedly on that, not letting the mind be distracted but thinking all the time that this I is actually empty. Then it will become empty, right there. You will see the truly existent I as empty.

Many lamas, such as His Holiness Ling Rinpoche, also say that the refuting object is the base and the label. A carpet, for example, is both the base of the carpet—the form, the colors and everything that makes up the carpet—and the label “carpet” that is put onto that base. These two things appear to be mixed, but that is the refuting object.

When a person who has not recognized the refuting object looks at a watch, they cannot differentiate between the label “watch” and the base on which the watch has been labeled. They cannot differentiate between these two things because they appear as a oneness, as mixed. Or if that person sees a table, the base of the table and the label “table” appear as mixed, so the table is inside of these two. The table is contained in that mixture of label and base.

For us, anything that appears to our senses has the appearance of being truly existent but these are all objects to be refuted.

A person who has recognized the refuting object, who has realized that the I that appears to be truly existent is empty of true existence, that person does not see the refuting object, the base and the I, as mixed. But before one has recognized the refuting object, the base and the label appear to be completely one.

So first of all, a person who hasn’t recognized the refuting object sees the base of the table and the label table as completely mixed. They cannot differentiate at all. Then, after they have recognized the table that appears to be truly existent, the refuting object, their view changes. Whatever they look at appears in a way that is different from their past experience, as though it were a new thing, a different thing. There is still the same form and the same color but it appears in a completely new way, different from before.

It is like seeing something that has been put on the table. The person who has recognized the refuting object sees it as one can see the cloth that has been put on this table. On the table there is a table that appears to exist from its own side. After a person has realized the emptiness of the table, the base and the label no longer appear as oneness, as mixed.

We should do meditation! You don’t have to close your eyes, just look, see whether you can differentiate between the base and the label. Just look. Whatever you are looking at is the object of meditation. Check whether you can differentiate or not. Check the appearance, whether you see these two things as mixed or as unmixed.

Unmixed. Unmixed. Unmixed. There is a base table, on the base there is a table. On the base of the carpet there is a carpet.

Think of a watch, for example. When everything is put together it functions and is the kind of base that is labeled “watch” by worldly thought. What you see first of all is the base, not the watch. What you see first of all is the base and because the base has a certain shape and function people call it a watch. They agree that it is a watch.

So, having labeled this thing “watch”, you are satisfied that there is a watch on the table. You are satisfied that, “I am seeing a watch.” You feel satisfied with just that. If you check, then you see that the base of the watch is not mixed with the label but that there is a watch labeled on that base. You can look at that watch to find out the time or you can fix it but the watch that you use to find out the time, or to sell, or whatever, is the watch that is merely labeled.

Now we are all sitting on a cushion, so if you were to ask yourself what you are doing, you would say, “I am sitting.” This I that is sitting is the one that appears to exist from its own side, that we really believe to exist from its own side. We don’t think that the I that is sitting is the merely labeled one, we believe that it is an I that really exists from its own side. This is what we believe. This is how it appears to us.

So, now you can check. Ask yourself why you say, “I am sitting.” Why? The answer is this, “Because my aggregates, the body (there is no question of the mind sitting or standing because it is not a physical thing), the body aggregate is sitting.” That is the reason. That is all. Just only that. There is no other reason at all for saying that “I am sitting” other than that the body aggregate is sitting.

If we have accumulated much merit and recognized the refuting object, then just by using this reason, “I am sitting on this cushion because the body aggregate is sitting,” it is possible to see that the I that we feel inside here, that appears to exist from its own side, is empty.

It is empty because it is not true! Because this I that we feel here is not true, it does not exist. So, you see, although in the beginning it may look as though it is there, when you apply this reason you see that it is not there. This is the proof, the sign that this I is false, that it is empty.

If this I that we feel inside as though existing from its own side were real, if it were true that there is an unlabeled, independent I, then if this I were sitting, the next time that you stood up, the I would still be sitting, or if your body were outside—having coffee or tea, or making peepee—the I, your real I, would still be sitting on the cushion!

It is similar when we stand up. After sitting we have to stand up (laughing), then we think, “I am standing up.” Okay? We label this “I am standing up” for no other reason at all than that the body aggregate is standing. When the body aggregate is walking you think, “I am walking.” You label on the body that is doing the action of walking “I am walking.”

When you are walking or standing up, there is again this I, that appears to be unlabeled, not merely labeled—an I that appears and that you believe to be doing the action. If you check up, if you are sensitive enough and have enough merit, then you can see that if this I were true—the I that does the sitting and walking and appears to be not just merely labeled—if it really existed, then even after your body, the body aggregate had sat down, this I would still be standing.

Why? Why would the I still be standing? Because it is not dependent on this body, it is not merely labeled. It is not dependent on the aggregates, it is not dependent on the activities of the aggregates that are sitting and standing. So there would be an I that was eternally standing, an I that was eternally sitting, an I that was eternally making peepee, an I that was eternally sleeping, an I that was eternally eating pizza, and so on. But the way that the I appears to us completely contradicts this. It appears to us as though there were a truly existent I standing, a truly existent I talking, etc. and we also believe in that appearance. The I that appears to us and that we believe to be independent and not labeled, is in fact, dependent and merely labeled.

It is easy to understand dependent arising and the refuting object by using the example of flour. When you mix flour with water and you make it long like this (Rinpoche indicates the shape of the bread with his hands) it becomes French bread. I think, normally, everywhere people like this, they like that shape—French bread. Then, when you take the flour and water and you make tiny long things, after it has been made into that shape, on to that is labeled “noodles”. Then, you can make it into spaghetti and label it “spaghetti”. Then, you can make momos or those things with holes inside—“tortellini”. So there are various different things that you can do with it, and when it has been made into different shapes, then people agree in general what they are going to call it. Then, when you see these things you say, “this is bread,” “this is tortellini,” etc. By putting something on top of the mixture of flour and water—some mushrooms or tomatoes or fish or cheese—then it is called “pizza”.

The shopkeeper who makes cakes and all these various things labels a name on them, and the people who buy these things see them in the shop and also label—”Oh, this is cake, this is spaghetti, this is pizza.” They label the name on that particular shape and they buy it. Like that. This is all dependent on the particular shape. Those cakes and breads are all dependent on their particular shape.

In fact, the person who made that particular shape labeled the name on that and the people who buy label on that. Like this—dependent arising, dependent on that particular shape.

But the shopkeeper, even though he labeled all these different things on these particular shapes, still he is not aware that they are merely labeled. He thinks that all this spaghetti is existing from its own side, the pizza is existing from its own side, this cake is existing from its own side—unlabeled, not merely labeled, not merely labeled by him. He believes that everything completely exists from its own side.

People who come to buy from that shop, even though they have in fact labeled everything, still they are not aware. So the customer sees the things and says, “Is it the best pizza?” or whatever. He himself labeled the noodles, the spaghetti, the pizza and so on, but he thinks that this spaghetti or pizza or whatever, completely exists from its own side. For him the bread that he sees, the piece of bread that is there, completely exists from its own side. The jam completely exists from its own side. The candle, an unlabeled candle, completely exists from its own side. Like this. So, what it actually is and how it appears to us and we believe it to exist are in fact completely contradictory. This appearance and belief is something which does not exist at all. The person has merely labeled all these things.

It is the same with money. Paper money is labeled a different number of lire according to the number of zeros. It depends on the number of round figures whether you call this 1000 Lire or 10,000 Lire or 100 Lire. People who give money label the number of lire according to how many figures there are, On that they label, “I am giving 100 lire.” And the people who get the money, who take it, label on that, “I am receiving 100 lire.” As soon as you see the base you label “100 lire”, but in fact it is merely labeled. The person who gives has merely labeled, the person who takes has merely labeled. That is the reality of how that 100 lire exists on that base, on that paper. But for the person who is giving, it does not appear as merely labeled lire but as unlabeled Lire existing from its own side. And the person who takes it, even though he has labeled this 100 lire, still it appears to him not to be merely labeled but as existing from its own side. For him, the 100 lire exists from its own side.

You see, it is merely labeled. If you check this paper to find out where this 100 lire is, you cannot find it. If you check for this 100 lire, it cannot be found. But definitely you can go into a shop and get 100 lire worth of goods by giving them this. One has to be satisfied that on this paper with this design there is 100 lire that is merely labeled. If there were no 100 lire existing on this paper, then you could not get 100 lire worth of goods.

What exists is what is merely labeled and you can use this, you can buy things with it. If the 100 lire did not exist on that base, then if you went to the shop and got some peanut butter or some cakes, and gave them this (Rinpoche holds up an empty piece of paper), then the people might think you were crazy! (Laughing) They might lock you up!

It is the same with the bread. The bread is merely labeled on a particular shape after this has been put together. This is how it exists. It exists on what you have labeled, so you can eat bread, you can fill up your stomach and stop your hunger, or you can sell it. The bread that exists on that particular base is no more than what has been labeled, merely labeled. When one sees that base, one is satisfied that one has bread. When one eats that shape, one is satisfied that one is eating bread. One says, “I am eating bread.”

In the same way, the I is dependent. Whatever the I does is dependent on the aggregates. “I am sitting, now, because the aggregates are sitting.” “I am standing, now, because the aggregates are standing.” “I am speaking because the aggregates are doing the action of speaking.” When the aggregates are performing the action of sleeping, it is labeled, “I am sleeping.” It is like this.

When one gets up in the morning, the aggregates are getting up, so “I am getting up.” From morning until night, getting up and going to be, all the time we think, “I am doing this, I am doing that.” “I am happy, I am unhappy,”—depending on the mind, the base. All this is merely labeled.

Similarly, since birth, since the consciousness took place in the mother’s womb, on the fertilized egg, until death, sometimes the mind is happy and sometimes the mind is depressed, unhappy. Sometimes there are mind problems, sometimes physical problems—all these things, the whole thing from birth to death, all this is merely labeled.

There is no real I being happy or unhappy, having relationship problems or this and that. There is no real I being depressed, not having a job, and so on, all this is completely empty of how we believe it to be and how it appears to us. Completely empty.

Suffering. Suffering. Suffering. The real I existing from its own side that is unhappy—unhappy to live with one person or happy to live with one person—all this is completely empty. The I that appears to us and in which we believe is, in fact, empty on these aggregates, it is all hallucination.

Like this, from beginningless samsaric lifetimes up to enlightenment, all this, “I am suffering in samsara,” “I achieve liberation,” the whole thing is merely labeled on these aggregates. It is all in accordance with the aggregates, whether the aggregates are free from obscuration or not. It is dependent on that.

Everything, all objects of the senses are merely labeled, like the examples that I gave of bread, flour, etc. All of this is dependent arising—dependent on the base and the thought labeling.

In fact, it is like this: you stay in the merely labeled city of Milano, in a merely labeled house, and you live as a merely labeled family with a merely labeled husband and a merely labeled child—in fact, you are both merely labeled parents. Then, you eat merely labeled food, you go by merely labeled car to the merely labeled office and do the merely labeled job. You get angry with the merely labeled enemy, and attached to the merely labeled friend Then, you get money from the merely labeled employer and you go to the merely labeled shop and buy merely labeled food and merely labeled clothing. In the same way, you have a merely labeled body and merely labeled stomach ache or merely labeled ear pain, so you go to the merely labeled doctor and take the merely labeled medicine.

So, in fact, that is the reality!

Now, how it appears according to our wrong conception is that: you have a truly existent body, which does not exist. You go to see a truly existent doctor, who does not exist. You get truly existent medicine, which does not exist, to recover from a truly existent disease, which also does not exist.

Similarly, you are living in truly existent Milano which does not exist, with a truly existent family, which does not exist, doing a truly existent job which does not exist, getting truly existent money which does not exist, from a truly existent employer who does not exist, to go to a truly existent shop which does not exist and buy truly existent food and clothing which do not exist.

The conclusion is that if we do not recognize our wrong conception and wrong belief of how things exist, then we cannot realize the absolute true nature of reality. Then, one’s problems of this life and of future lives never cease.

So you should do the meditation as I have explained it, relating this understanding to your own experience.