Reality and the Dreamlike World

Fifth in a series. I remind you that our intention here is to develop the desire to enter into a certain state without foundation, and the purpose of the analysis is to drive your careful mind hither and thither seeking something that, upon specialized reflection, you cannot prove is actually there. In that way, your mind needs to release that grasp, but maintain a direction, like a specific trajectory that allows you to land into the actual process and the correct view. Chandrakirti states emptiness of the outer, “ For these reasons, form's nature is emptiness. Therefore, form is empty of being form”.

We can do these mental exercises skillfully to achieve a state without foundation even though it happens naturally in highest yoga tantra deity practice. We do the exercises because we wish to participate more fully in transformative process in various methods at various times. What is addressed in other practices will emphasize perhaps a different dynamic than this analysis. You want to become skillful on all levels of your being, even on the outside gross mental.

This analysis should be done with prepared faith in the Buddha, Dharma, the teachings and the enlightened body of practitioners, the sangha, in a reproducible method so that you will not arouse or experience fear. It will also familiarize you with the components of the concepts so that you can understand better what is going on when thoughts and experiences come up. Meditators who could benefit by the analysis can become frightened or rigid or put off by study about emptiness, thinking, "Oh, that is for scholars. I am just a simple practitioner. I will just do my practice, and that is good enough."

There is a famous Lam Rim story about Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Geluk tradition of Tibetan Buddhism 500 years ago. He was teaching this or very similar instructions on the nature of reality to a large group of monks and noticed that one of the monks was grasping onto his own collar. Je Tsongkhapa said, "I see that so-and-so has discovered the innate view," The monk was trying to hang on because he was entering into the destruction of his innate view while still trying to hang onto his worldview. There are many benefits from receiving inner and outer teachings in person with a qualified mentor.

We continue. Chandrakirti states here that form's nature is emptiness. Therefore, form is empty because it is form. In addition, sounds, odors, things that are tasted, and body sensations such as a breeze on your face or arm; all of these phenomena are exactly the same in that they do not possess intrinsic permanence. Further, form and so forth cannot arise and remain for even the smallest fraction of time because it is illusory. This very lack of essence to be grasped toward is described as emptiness of the outer.

How worlds and their contents exist in manifestation is like dream objects to awakened beings, even those awakened ones who still have a human body and mind. All worlds are dreamlike and this human perceptual world is not a particularly scary one. It is a regular old standard-issue perceptual world. It is like a dream object. It is not meant to be relied upon as the excellent support for superior meaning. So, the way it works in manifestation is that everything that has form cannot exist in that way unless it is empty of essence. Everything that has form cannot exist as form unless it is naturally empty of the very essence that might prove it exists as it appears to exist. It's just the way it works. Hmmm, you might think. Hmm, why, why, ahhh! This means…. And rightly so.

We must keep our minds going in the correct direction so that our trajectory will take us to the correct view, and a correct conventional view of the world, so right now we focus on emptiness of the outer. We already looked at the analysis of emptiness of the inner earlier. It is without the inherent essence you perceive with your innate view as a filter for your worldview. Again, the very thing, the core upon which your mind craves to be supported by as being real and true, is like a dream object. To be continued….


  1. Thank you for these writings! They are wonderful, thought provoking, and perfect companion teachings to my meditations!
    In Gratitude-


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