The Three Principal Aspects of the Path – The Reason to Meditate on the Right View – W9

Week 9: The Reason to Meditate on the Right view

 [9] Without the wisdom realizing ultimate reality
Even though you have generated renunciation and the mind of enlightenment
You cannot cut the root cause of circling.
Therefore, attempt the method to realize dependent arising.


Today we talk about “emptiness” and the importance of understanding emptiness. The importance of realizing emptiness through the reason of interdependence is very profound point that we will discuss today. The verses that we will go through today is something that carries a huge profound meaning which maybe many of the Buddhist practitioners are lacking in their practices.

These verses we will go today definitely enlighten us so that we will be able to enhance our practice, then will be able to eliminate some of the common ignorance that people might have while they are practicing some Buddhist practices.

Before we go through that, I just thought to say few words on emptiness. Maybe we can start the section with the short maybe one minute of meditation where  we can try to reflect or try to meditate on what we mean by emptiness. Whatever we think of emptiness, we can just meditate on that, so that during the class, you can clarify which it is, not how it is supposed to be.

Based on our understanding about emptiness, let’s meditate for just one minute. So emptiness will be the subject on which we will meditate for one minute. Don’t worry about if you are understanding on emptiness is right or wrong, just meditate on it. If it is not clear, if it is not alright, then you will be able to clarify it later during the class and also if it is right, you can verify whether it is right or you can correct if it is not right. Anyway we will start on meditating on it, emptiness with which we can generate our motivation. Alright so three, two and one [one minute session of meditation]

To understand why emptiness is so important, we must understand “What is emptiness?” The way we can understand emptiness can be from various ways. There are many logics and reasons which are being talked to establish that existence of emptiness.

Emptiness, in other word, it’s more like the reality of phenomena, the ultimate nature of phenomena, the actual way that thing exists, the ultimate truth – these are just some other words for emptiness. That’s why in many Buddhist sutras and texts, whatever appears to us, express as illusion. In some texts, it says that we are awake, yet we are in a dream. Whatever we see is not true, we are in a sort of bigger dream where we are more confused with the world. Everything that appears to us doesn’t exist the way it appears to us, we are not able to see the thing as the thing actually exists, it’s all a sort of an illusion.

If it is an illusion, if it is all like a dream, then what is the truth, what is the reality, how the thing actually exists, the ultimate nature of phenomena? If you ask  like, how that is, what is that, what is true, what is reality, how the way thing actually exist, then Buddha explained about emptiness. When you talk about emptiness, each and every thing that we see, hear, taste, smell, feel, all things, we are not getting it as the way thing actually exists. So, how we get thing, how we understand thing, how the thing appears to us, how we assume thing? It’s the question.  Everything that appears to us, appears as it is inherently existence. Inherently existence is more like, when we look at the car, it appears as the car exists by its own without depending on the conceptual thought or without depending on the merely imputed name.

When we look at the car, it appears as the car exists out there by its own. But the reality, the emptiness is that the car doesn’t exist the way it appears as it exists by its own without depending even on the conceptual thought that is imputed. All the language that imputes as ‘Oh, that is the car’. When you look at the car, it appears as the car exists by its own without depending on anything, inherently existence by itself. But, at the end of the day, if you analyze deeper, you might be able to understand that, if you look closely, there is no car in there by its own, there is no car in its any part. If you look at the wheel – no car, the engine – it’s not the car, the body – it’s not the car, the color is not the car. If you try to pinpoint, if you try to touch the car, you will not get to touch that car. You think that the car is something formed that you can touch and feel and everything. But if you go there and if you touch the car, when you touch from the in front, it’s just the body of the car, it’s not the car.

Even if you change the body, the car is still there, that’s how we see, right? The body is certainly not the car. If you touch the below, it maybe the wheels, the wheel is not the car otherwise it would be like four cars. The body is not the car, because even if you change the body or even before the body existed, even before you put the body, there is a car. Even the body if you look closer, the body consists of the front side, the window side, the door side, the back side, everything. So even if you pinpoint, it’s the body itself, if you look closely, if you touch through the door, the door is not the car. Even if you remove the door, the car still is there, so it means the door part is not the car; the front part is not the car, if you remove the front, the car is still there. So whatever you pinpoint there is no car, you will not find. If you analyze totally, you won’t be able to find the car that you can touch with your fingers. If it is saw where the car actually exists, you will not find any part of its car. So, the car is not out there by its own, the car is just when all these small parts come together, the conceptual thought just imputes as there is a car. It’s something that is been created, projected merely by the conceptual thought, that ‘ah, this is a car’.

Even when we look at ourselves, where are we? This hand is certainly not me, my legs are certainly not me, my face is certainly not me. Then, where am I? If you think that our body is us, then also think carefully that if somebody asks you it is ok if you change the body with the person? You might feel like “Alright, let’s change the body”. Even in the future, a wonderful scientist or a doctor comes up and says that “Oh, I can change your own body with somebody else”, you might feel like okay. The person who is very sick, or having a physical issue, if some doctor says that “Oh, there is a new body, and if you ok I will change the new body with your body, like more of transplant”, it’s very much likely you feel like “yes, ok, go on”. So, it’s very that ‘I’ certainly our body, not us.

Some people might think that it’s our mind, very complicated, because it is a huge debate. There are some Buddhist schools which said that, ‘Yeah, your mind is you, you are your mind’, but when they came to final conclusion that Buddha gave ultimate teachings, then Buddha said ‘Even your mind is not you. You are just merely imputed by conceptual thought, nothing is there as we see. If you think that’s difficult, that is difficult, if you think that things are easy, easy, if you think that is happy life, it’s happy life, if you think that is not happy life, it’s not happy life. Thing doesn’t exist out there, it’s just your mind that creates, that projects everything, that’s impute everything.

For example, in some places of India, there are some beggars – I understand that in some countries, begging is a sort of illegal. But in India, I am not sure how it is through the law, especially around some Buddhist important holy places, there are a kind of beggar because Buddhists practice of generosity, so they get things from practitioners who visit there – so, the same word ‘beggar’ if you tell this word to those people [beggars], they might feel like it is very light for them, if you say ‘hey beggars’ they might feel like ‘hey/ hello’, that’s exactly how they feel or see. But if you say ‘a beggar’ to your friend, you might have really tactless with your friend, your friend may be angry or at least uncomfortable feeling or maybe down or maybe wonder what is going on. So the same word ‘beggar’, if you say to someone who is very rich, the situation might appear as you are crazy. The word is same – beggar, but to different people, it appears differently. For some people, it’s just normal like ‘hello’, for some people it likes huge thing, for some people they might be very hurt, some people take it’s as a joke.

It is not the phenomena, it is not the thing, it’s our mind that creates. The subject or the object maybe the same thing, but it’s the mind that makes everything. ‘The beggar’ is nice for some people, for some people is not nice, the word ‘beggar’ is nice to hear, not nice to hear, neutral to hear, something to be laughed at when people see it as a sort of a joke or something like that. The same thing, it’s very different for different people, this is all mind, if we thinks that it’s nice, it’s nice, if we thinks the word ‘beggar’ is nice to hear, it’s nice to hear, if we thinks it’s really terrible it’s terrible, if we thinks it’s a kind normal, it’s normal. It’s exactly the same with each and every situation in life, but we don’t get to see as the thing exists, we always project as the thing exists by its own. Some people might say, when you say ‘beggar’, that “Oh I am so sad”, if you ask them “Why you’re sad?” They might said “Because he said beggar to me”.

If you’re giving an example: they ask some people, who don’t get sick, just think beggar doesn’t mean that you have to be suffering, you have to be worrying, everybody should be worrying, but they don’t get worrying. So it is not the thing, it is the mind that creates the thing. I give you some short example as a story, this is a real story, maybe you can analyze, this is fun, I love this story.

There is a place on ‘Tao’, I think the incident happened around ‘Tao’ in Tibet around 1990. There were some people working around the house, then one male person had a small nap – a rest/ a small sleep/ a short sleep – while they were in between the working. During the sleep, the other people were just resting around the house, but one person went inside to sleep, suddenly, the person came out, and everybody thought that he’s just walking around. But another person who lives with that person, who just came out the house, knew that ‘oh, he is walking in a sleep’ [Ghi chú: somnambulism]. Then, the person said to others to just keep quiet, because he’s walking in the sleep. There was an electric pole and the person went toward the electric pole, when the person reached here, he started to walk to the electric pole upward, it’s more like you literally walk on the wall, upward the building, the person literally walked upward the electric pole. Everybody was shock, but another person who lived/stayed with that person told others to please keep quiet, because if you make a noise, the person may awake from the sleep. If the person awakes from the sleep, he may fall down. But if you don’t wake him up, he walks upward, he also walks downward. I don’t know, if you have any friend who walks in a sleep, maybe you can do it like an experiment. But that’s something that really happened in real. It’s not like the person has some super-nature power, just ordinary person who walks in the sleep.

That seems to be lot of people in Tibet, because they know about this thing, so they notice/watch a bit when people do like that. Regarding the people who walk in a sleep, in nomad areas, specially in some parts of Tibet, there are many nomads who’re literally living on a mountain, in the tent when they take care some animals in the tent; so if you check the nomadic dogs – they are very big and very strong, some wild animals can do nothing to these dogs, because these dogs are really huge, powerful and literally different versions of lives, they have very thick thigh part and very strong, you can check Tibetan nomadic dogs, there is really fun. There are many cases that these dogs even kill people, they are really dangerous, but one thing that is really fun and interesting that when a person walks in a sleep, if the person reach out to such a dog, the dogs never barking them. The daytime the dogs will literally kill them even with not just a serious bite. The dogs can be really dangerous and obviously the dogs will bark them, scare them away and everything. But if the person goes there in a sleep, they don’t even bark which is why many people think that the dogs don’t see when a person walks in a sleep, that’s how some people say that, but certainly the dogs don’t bite or bark.

I really like this point which is a fact, also that’s something that happened, people get to see and at the same time there are things that can learn with this situation. According to Buddhism, if a person walks in a sleep, if the person thinks that he walks in the plane surface; at that time, if that person get to walk on the water/river, I strongly believe and feel that if the person strongly think 100% in his dream or in his sleep that he’s walking on some flat plane/area, but if he in fact is on water, he will not fall in the water, it is very much likely he can literally walk on the water. The reason why we reach on the water, not because it is water, because we think that we gonna trip in there. There are many stories that practitioners who literally train the mind to see things in certain way, then they actually see, so based on that they can walk or perform.

Of course, the birds fly, there is no such wonder about this fly, but flying without spreading any wing, flying without having any wing, it’s fun! It’s something to be think, flying is not a big deal, but flying without a wing is a big deal. Buddhist monks who literally fly in the meditation position, the reason they fly is because they train their mind in such a way. One can literally walk in the air, if you really meditate and train your mind, meditate and see as the whole world is a stair then you can literally walk in the air as if you’re walking on the stairs, if you seriously believe in seeing thing that happens. At the same time, some Buddhists masters, they train the exchanging the other’s suffering in difficult time with one’s happiness in nice time, they train the exchange, they train the mind in this way many times, so after a while, the training result is sort of reality.

There are some stories in Tibet, for example, some Chineses came and hit lashes on some people or some king hit the people, some Tibetan Buddhist Masters, they are still far away but they see that some people are hitting that person, so the masters practiced exchanging one’s happiness with other’s suffering. When the mater meditate that the marks with the lashes (let’s say sticks) the person is hitting another person and think that ‘May I have the pain of that person’, so he literally plays himself on other person’s shoes and on other person’s tissues, then some Tibetan Masters even used to have those scars, the stick has been beating or hitting on other person but the marks appear on the Master’s body. Of course, this is something that is possible when you practice and the practice level is quite high if you train your mind in such a way.

And also, in the Buddhism, you can see there are three realms: desire realm, form realm and formless realm, the formless realm has four stages [Notes: Limitless Sky, Limitless Consciousness, Nothingness and the Tip of Samsara]. The beings in the formless realm literally don’t have any form. Generally, the ordinary beings don’t even see any form, no form at all. The reason why they born in such a place or in such a situation, why they don’t see the form is because they meditate each and every phenomena as the sky, each and every phenomena is empty as a mind. As nothing exists and all is empty, that is what they meditate, meditate, meditate and then when they die, because of those meditation, they born over there in the formless realm, and then they see no form, it’s all empty.

The way you train your mind is something that you can literally create that. Whatever we see just an illusion. Thing doesn’t exist the way it does, because everything is being created and projected and imputed by mind, but we don’t see. We see thing as it is there by its own. So, realizing that emptiness is very important. If you don’t realize that emptiness, even if you have bodhicitta, even if you have compassion – we recently have been through renunciation and bodhicitta; even if you have those practices, if you don’t have ‘the wisdom realizing emptiness’, you will not able to remove your ignorance. If you don’t remove your ignorance, then you misunderstand. Because you misunderstand, you have attachment to yourself, anger toward others, because of that, you create lot of karmas and because of that, you born in samsara again and again.

So, there is no way you can get rid of samsara, there is no way you can cut off the root of samsara with ignorance, if you don’t have that understanding of emptiness. So that is exactly that what we gonna see in these lines today. When I explain these things, the line is pretty much exactly what I said, we can just read through, it is not difficult thing right now.

1Without the wisdom realizing ultimate reality
2Even though you have generated renunciation and the mind of enlightenment
3You can not cut the root cause of circling
4Therefore, attempt the method to realize dependent arising.

1Without the wisdom realizing ultimate reality
You must have the ‘wisdom realizing the ultimate truth’. ‘The ultimate truth’ is that everything is just projected and imputed by the mind. If you don’t have the wisdom realizing that everything is imputed by the mind, or ‘ultimate reality’ – that was it quotes.

2Even though you have generated renunciation and the mind of enlightenment,
The mind of enlightenment’ is Bodhicitta – the mind desiring enlightenment. You might accumulate lot of merits if you have renunciation or if you have mind of enlightenment. It doesn’t mean that the mind in the continue of enlightenment beings like Buddha, it means the mind desiring enlightenment.

3You can not cut the root cause of circling
Even if you have these things, but if you are lacking the wisdom realizing the truth or emptiness, ‘you cannot cut the root cause of circling’. Here, the ‘circling’ actually is the cyclic existence or the samsara. The root cause is the ignorance. Samsara comes from negative actions, negative actions come from anger, attachment and negative emotions. All the negative emotions come from that ignorance – the ignorance of the way thing exists, the most of the existence, the ignorance of the emptiness. That is the cause of all the cyclic existence, all the sufferings. You cannot cut the root or the cause or the ignorance unless you realize the ultimate reality or emptiness, even if you have bodhicitta or renunciation.

4Therefore, attempt the method to realize dependent arising.
So practicing the method, ‘attempt’ is more like practicing, therefore practicing or try to understand, or engaging into ‘the method to realize dependent arising’. Here, ‘dependent arising’ is what the emptiness is in other way. Whatever we see outside, it may appear as it exists by its own, but it not exist by its own, it is dependent origination, it depends on your mind, your conception, the way you impute its parts and everything. The car doesn’t exist by its own, but the car is just merely imputed when all the things come together. You need to understand that dependent origination that when you will be able to realize emptiness, that is when you see all the whole world in a very different manner, the whole world will be different. This is what it is.

That’s why the verses in overall show the importance of understanding emptiness, the importance of understanding that everything is merely imputed, nothing is existed by its own, just created by mind, imputed by mind.

Question and Answer:

 1. Emptiness is also just a name?

Yes, emptiness is also merely imputed by mind, emptiness is also not something that exists by its own, emptiness is also something that our mind projects, so emptiness also doesn’t exist by its own. You have to have a base on which you project emptiness, for example, if there is nothing, then there is no emptiness of flower in the sky, because the flower in the sky doesn’t exist.

When I say ‘everything’ is been projected by mind, emptiness also includes in that ‘everything’, because emptiness exists, we even have misunderstanding about emptiness, when we think about emptiness, we think as emptiness exists by its own, but that’s not true. Emptiness also doesn’t exist by its own without imputed by mind or conceptual thought.

This is the topic that Buddha said, nobody is ready to understand. When Buddha became Buddha, Buddha sat 49 days without teaching. Buddha sat and realized the truth. Truth likes nectar, nectar likes truth. “Nobody will be able to understand even if I teach, so for instance, I will just sit here in the forest”, by saying that, Buddha waited for like 49 days to keep a teaching because as Buddha said, nobody will understands, nobody wait there to understand. So, when you call ‘Buddha, Dharma and Sangha’ or call ‘Sangha’, many people misunderstand that, the Sanga means ‘the monk’, that’s not true. Sangha means those beings who understand this emptiness very clearly. Whoever understands the emptiness very clearly, he becomes Sangha, then he will be able to explain Buddha teachings, he will be able to be the guide who can guide beings when Buddha is not around. So, he is the object of refuge on ‘Buddha, Dharma and Sangha’, so he’s like a nurse, when the doctor is not around, nurse will know what to do and how to take care of patient. So similarly, when Buddha is not around, those person who understand this emptiness clearly will be able to help, otherwise they themselves are in illusion, how they can help others. It’s more like somebody just be there, try to work as a nurse, you gonna have medical background, certain understanding. So similarly those beings, doesn’t matter whether is a monk or not or a nun or not, are called sangha to which we are supposed to take refuge, who understand this emptiness clearly.

I really don’t know how you say and how you got, but it’s really fun, and I enjoy very much if  saying this point. Maybe the examples and stories I said may be out of your head, let’s see. But I would really request all of you to think about those. I’ve been very careful with the words that I use and the way I explain, and also the stories very much all along with what I said, I’m looking forward to have any question, because that’s only way you can clarify and try to know it better and better, even if you have a glimpse of it, you will literally make fun of the suffering. In the life, there would be lot of pain and problem and unpleasant things, you will see those as a fun, you will be able to make fun of those difficult time, then you will be able to control. You just need a little bit of practice, that’s all.

When you can literally project and create through mind, you can create happiness even you are or have to stay in a prison, through the mind you can literally live a luxury life, otherwise, you live in a suffering if you don’t train your mind. So this is why Buddha said that ‘Don’t engage in any negative action, engage in all the possible virtue, subdue your own mind, this is the teachings of Buddhas’. The reason why we need to subdue our mind is because we create all the sufferings from our mind. We create all the problems, all the negative emotions from our mind: doubt, anger, jealousy, ego, greedy, like all of those things which hurt. So, you have to subdue that mind, control that mind, and overall the misunderstanding and ignorance, it creates everything, it acts as a cause of all the problems. Subdue your mind, when you understand the emptiness that’s when you be able to cut all the causes of the sufferings and problems in this life.

2. So we exist just because of causes and conditions, but at the same time, we exist because of the projection of mind, so how is the link between these two?

When we look at ourselves, when we think about ourselves, from one glance we feel that we are not been created by causes and conditions, when we look at a certain thing we see it is as a permanence. That’s why many people feel so difficult to face the change, because in their mind, they see as it is permanent, as it has to be the same, so this is why it is really difficult in all the break-up, because we project, we think, we expect as the thing should go the way it is forever. That’s why some people like literally to hold the wealth as they gonna live forever, what misunderstanding that our mind creates is the thing doesn’t change, thing has to be the way it is.

A small monk came from Tibet when he was very small as four-five, the monk came here. About 20 years, the monk doesn’t meet with the mother, so in the mother’s mind, it is like “oh, the small kid, my small, nice looking, chubby kid”. The mother came here to visit after 20 years, so the mother is meeting the boy after 20 years, Lobsang is his name. So when the mother came here, the boy is not four years only anymore, the boy is huge big, much taller than mother, it is been 20 years, now he is around 24, 25 or more, so when the mother came here, the mother was shock, mother doesn’t have any feeling. So people asked when the mother went back to the Tibet like: “Are you happy, how was it, are you happy when you met your kid?” Then mother saying in the whole words “I gonna go, I gonna meet my son”. The mother so disappoints, so mother hasn’t had  that close feeling toward the kid, in the mother’s mind it sticks a small, nice looking baby, a chubby kid, it is not anymore, it’s grown up as his father. So the mother went back to the Tibet, what she said to the friends? She said “I don’t know that is my son or not, but people then say Lobsang, it means people call him by the name of my son, but I don’t know that is my son?”

You see the mind expects as thing exist by its own, that is why when we break something that we really like, it hurts us. It shouldn’t hurt us, it is a nature, this is the way things are, it falls apart all the time, but our mind will not able to accept it. Yes, we are created by causes and conditions but we see as it is there independent without dependent cause and effect including ourselves. That’s why we have so much attachment to our body and think “ah, this is my body”. Think carefully, the body that you think ‘that’s my body’ is not your one, it is actually when the white and the red blood of our parents meet together, so that white and red blood is the cause of body, so that is not originally our body, so the body we think that is our body not actually originally our body.

We are so much attachment, ‘it is my body’, ‘I’, so what you mean by ‘I’? That ‘I’ that you think that through this body, it is a part of your parents. The mind, when we think about thing, if we think it’s independent, but it is not independent, it is just been created, the mind we see this as independence, is not real, is not true, it is all interdependence. So that’s why interdependence is definition of emptiness.

Noted down from the Dharma Talk by Lama Nawang Kunphel on June 15th 2021, organized by The Aura of Wisdom