Cleanse the Lens of Your Mind, and Everything is Pure: There is No Adversity
There is a hidden treasure of enlightenment and divinity which existed in everyone irrespective of the individual’s caste, creed, nationality, religion and gender. When this treasure is unveiled, it is described as Nirvana or Enlightenment, but only in relation to the perceiving mind which is absolutely clean and pure.
A glass of water is seen very murky when looked through the tainted pair of lenses. Whereas it is so pure when looked through the lens which is cleansed. The purity of the object all depends on the purity of the subjective viewer. Likewise we see the whole world as so imperfect, as of now, when looked through the lens of our own mind which is acutely defiled by ignorance and its offshoot-afflictions such as attachment, anger and their corresponding contaminated karmas.
As one cleanses the mind of these afflictions and karmas and views the same world again, it will be seen very differently as so pure and perfect. As the mind is cleansed for good, one lives in the world of purity and perfection. This is the experience of nirvana and full enlightenment in the same world which is seen as samsara by the ordinary beings. Whether you experience full enlightenment or just a simple nirvana is dependent on with what degree of purity of the mind one interacts with the world. One is then posed with the next question. How can one possibly give rise to such a pure vision?
Given that the defiled mind is characterised as the mind which is tainted by the ignorance which misconceives things and the world to exist as objectively real along with the subtle stains of this misperception, this ignorance and its subtle stains which defile our mind need to be purified. For eliminating the ignorance, one has to revolutionize the way our minds perceive the world. The enlightened beings exhorted that just as the person is seen as void in the objective reality amongst the five aggregates of body and mind, the aggregates as well are objectively void as they are also seen as not different from their own constituents. This thus points to the absence of objectivity across the board of existence. Dream-like nature of all phenomena is established.
After delving into the experience of the emptiness of objectivity of the first aggregate which is the form, one furthers towards reflecting the same on the remaining aggregates – feeling, discrimination, compositional factors and consciousness. Reflecting on the emptiness of feeling which is of three kinds – pleasure, pain and neutral – is extremely important.
All sufferings are derived through negative karmas which in turn are given rise to by disturbing emotions such as attachment, anger and ignorance.
Of the three destructive emotions, ignorance lays the ground for the other two – attachment and aversion. Seeing things as independently there from the object side orchestrates the mind to latch on to the object when it is seen as attractive – which is attachment. It triggers aversion when the object is seen as objectively undesirable. Aversion or anger comes in the facade of service to feed attachment and to destroy what is felt as threat to feeding pleasure to attachment.
Feelings in the form of pleasure or pain, feed the attachment and aversion which in turn incessantly keeps karma rolling. The world endlessly operates in chaos with disruption of peace because of the people’s total surrender and slavery to the feeling of pleasure and paranoia to the feeling of fear and pain. In the process of the operation of the world, instead of subsiding fear and pain, more complications arise thus demeaning peace and happiness in the world.
Only through eliminating the ignorance by seeing these feelings as not existing the way they appear to us as objectively real, we can successfully undo the complications. By seeing the feeling of pain or pleasure as dream-like devoid of objective reality, the corresponding response in the form of attachment and aversion will cease. Therefore to see the ultimate reality of the feelings is very important. Fearlessness will dawn in us at times where otherwise fear and anxiety would have surged when meeting with unpleasant feelings. Since fear steals our peace and happiness. Fearlessness is thus peace.
For our meditation on the emptiness of feelings, we can reverse the four lines in the Heart Sutra as following:
Feeling is empty;
Emptiness is feeling;
There is no emptiness other than feelings;
There is no feeling other than emptiness.
Daily meditation on the emptiness of form or feeling will leave a deep effect on our mind. For simple steps to meditation on emptiness, please turn to Staircase to Emptiness (click here for audio recordings and related text).
The following line which is found in Heart Sutra bears a great message for us to reflect on:
Tadyatha Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha
The literal translation of the line is as follows:
This is thus: Go, Go, Go beyond, Go still beyond, Establish the Enlightenment
The meaning of the mantra is follows:
The five segments (1st: Gate, 2nd: Gate, 3rd: Paragate, 4th: Parasamgate, 5th: Bodhi Svaha) in the line indicate the five stages of the path to enlightenment.
While reciting the line, one should remind oneself of the fact that this line is exhorting us not to remain in samsara any more. It advices us to concertedly progress along the five paths to enlightenment through the insight into the ultimate reality which is the dreamlike nature of all phenomena.
Doing this practice consistently with some degree of experience of emptiness or dreamlike nature, be it a modicum of insight, will leave a deep impact on your mind. One will literally feel goose bumps on your body. The mind becomes cool, stable and not vulnerable to external disturbing conditions.
Realizing the means to cleanse the mind as indicated above to experience the world in its most perfect form, with the compassionate awareness that all beings have the same potential to unravel this treasure of happiness, one shares this secret with all sentient beings for their perfect wellbeing.
Everyone has the right to be happy. The source of happiness, fortunately, is not away from oneself. It is within you. The causation between the source of happiness and the resultant happiness operates on the basis of the law of interdependency. Just as happiness is what your mind experiences, the sources are there within your mind itself. With cheer and wisdom extract the causes of happiness from within.
Imagine that you are in a large, beautiful garden, but in pitch darkness. Even though you are in the most exquisite garden you cannot enjoy it. The reason is obvious. There is no light. Just as not enjoying the garden is due to the absence of light, all our miseries are due to the darkness of ignorance. Only through introducing the light of wisdom can the darkness of ignorance be eliminated. All the writings of the great saint-scholars of all religious traditions are meant to ignite the light of wisdom which sees everything as dream-like, empty of objective existence as indicated in the following stanza:
Just as in the dream of a youthful girl,
She met with a boy and saw his death,
Joyous was she at the meeting and despair at his death,
View all phenomena as thus.
Furthermore, although the light is introduced, if it is small like that of a tiny candle, you can only enjoy seeing one or two flowers, not the entire beautiful garden. Only a pervasive light as that of the sun will allow you to enjoy the whole exquisite garden. Likewise, the light that you introduce should be pervasive. What makes the light of wisdom pervasive is universal love which reaches out to all beings. Jainism’s emphasis on ahimsa and Buddhism’s emphasis on compassion are magnificent inspirations in this pursuit. Other religions share the same.
In short the legacy of these great beings from the various religious traditions boils down to the cultivation of wisdom to see everything as dream-like in the context of the interdependency of all phenomena and unconditional love which simply erases all ill thoughts by embracing all other sentient beings, leaving none aside. This keeps you, your family of sentient beings and your environment in peace and calmness at all times.
by Ven. Geshe Dorji Damdul