Reality and Extreme Viewing

Eleventh in a series. For those who perceive the philosophical realities of True Paths, it is difficult to see past correct reasoning to the lack of inherent existence or essence. One must not give up True Paths in order to find its empty nature, but hold space for that correct dynamic with the path to transformation to emerge at the correct time.

Point nine of Sage Chandrakirtis twenty; Emptiness of That Which is Beyond Extremes: “That to which extremes do not apply is expressed as being beyond extremes. Its emptiness of its very self is explained as the emptiness of that which is beyond extremes”.

It is identified as that which is beyond extremes because it actually identifies the problems that exist. Since the Dharma contains the tools of “not this and not that”, dharma is acknowledged to be beyond the extremes of permanentism and nihilism. So, we do not give up the remedy because it describes the remedy, thinking that True Paths (higher functioning Dharma) might be the first place that you would reject because it is describing cessation.

Some might think therefore we should reject true paths in order to be alive to the spirit of true paths. I know that sounds convoluted but the mind is very tricky and can easily do this. Many arrive at this stage and remain in a state of "I know now that I do not need to learn anything more. Just knowing that, I have carefully rejected true paths. In honor of its teachings, I reject it." This is totally bizarre, and very carefully done by many. They thereby stop practicing because they think that they know it now. Some intelligent Western people have done this but we never do like this in Tibet or get a smack on the head from our teacher.

It is better to hold space for the correct dynamic with the path of transformation to emerge at the correct time. You might feel like doing that and enjoy that feeling of solidifying around an exciting concept but the skillful practitioner should not act upon it. Maintain a steady course in your practice, and affirm, "I am sure I will understand soon."

We can look at the extreme views as four or two. These are the two that are the foundation and special feature of Buddhism and the middle way philosophy. Permanentism: the philosophy of those who intellectually believe that there is at least one thing which is permanent are adherents of permanentism, and those who believe that not even one thing can exist are believers in nihilism. That nothing exists, or that one true thing exists are the two extremes.

Most world religions are adherents of permanentism, that at least one thing does exist, such as God. That defines the illusory outer view but it is in the innate view that is being analyzed where another deeper view is attached to inner minds. That is where the programming of human realm that takes the temporary to be permanent is located.

I want to laugh because actually there is not such thing as a true nihilist. If they were, they would not be here. There would be no way that the inner and outer view including the innate view could remain for the 2nd second after that realization. The Middle Way is the defining characteristic of that which is not extreme, and that does not mean that you do a little bit of permanentism and a little bit of nihilism and see how it works together that way, no. So, the two views are empty and what is left after the two extreme views have been refuted intellectually and energetically, meaning outer and inner refutation; that remainder is also empty of inherent existence and not the excellent support for your intellectual craving for sensations of knowing.

Point number Ten: Emptiness of that which has neither beginning nor end. “That which has no point from which it begins nor boundary where it ends is the cycle of existence. Since it is free from coming and going, it is just mere appearance like a dream. Existence is void of any existence. This is the emptiness of that which neither beings nor ends. It was definitively taught in the commentaries”.

Now we must understand that cyclic existence feeds off of itself, and when it does, it gives rise to a sense of stability and safety that it does not possess. The habitual cycling in samsara gives a very unreliable sensation of familiarity that lulls ordinary beings. This circling is all illusory appearance without fulfilling the promise it seems to make as the excellent support of higher training of transformation by familiarity and improving or learning by experiences. It is by nature without essence.

This means that the hope you place within evolutionary development contained in samsara that will bring you the fulfillment of some imaginary samsaric promise that it seems to make is baseless. This includes a sense that everything will be okay in the future and that things are getting better and that sense of optimism that many people hold, giving rise to a feeling of stability and safety that it does not possess.

This cyclic existence; the cycle of births and moving through lives of form and having different kinds of existences produces a certain kind of familiarity and safety that it does not have. However, from a higher view, it is not good to induce a feeling that existence is dangerous, although in classic Tibetan Buddhism this technique is used seriously to instill a fear of cyclic existence. That is traditional. Since beginningless time you have wandered in cyclic existence without achieving more than a continuation of cyclic process. This larger dynamic that compels living beings to participate without choices is dreamlike in appearance and empty of inherent reality. Existence itself as a larger dynamic is without inherent basis.

So within the parameters of the existential dilemma that face all living beings I end todays discussion with a story. Recently I went to our local home improvement center, and when I came out, I had been in there so long that I could not remember where I parked my car and the weather had changed dramatically. It was pouring rain and I had a full shopping cart of things. The normal reaction would be to run hither and thither in the parking lot, dodging raindrops, trying to find the car. I think you get the picture. However, I decided that, out of a sense of dignity, I was not going to run, as I was not going to get any wetter if I simply walked without scrambling and looking foolish to myself.


In that way, rather than hiding from or rushing from samsara and cyclic existence out of a sense of fear and anxiety that you are going to get wet with cyclic existence because you are already, as they say, all wet. Out of a sense of dignity and understanding of the true nature of reality, I expect fully prepared beings to exit cyclic existence with a certain sense of dignity and not like people rushing in the rain. To be continued…

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