Reality and Heaven
Seventh in a series. Emptiness of the Great: is point five of Chandrakirti Twenty Emptinesses “The great is what the ten directions encompass, all sentient beings and the entire universe. The immeasurables prove the directions' in finiteness. They pervade the limitless directions, so they cannot be measured in extent. That all ten directions in their whole vast extent are empty of essence is the emptiness of the great. The Buddha taught about its emptiness to reverse our concept of the vast as being real.”
For the educated modern person, shock is a normal reaction to learning that all inner and outer events and forms and sense bases and even the emptiness are not anything you feel you were promised. This could have the effect then, of driving your awareness to seek refuge into the undifferentiated magnitude of living beings as real in their combined life force. That means all sentient beings as possessing something real. This sense of, “We are all one and that feels real”, is the experience of universal oneness that is the root and goal of many spiritual traditions. It is also a stage of growth where many kind and well meaning people rest in their compassion and inner identity without going further. However, this is not any liberation from suffering, only a temporary respite from the rigors and suffering of individuality.
The mind might wish to look to outer space, the constellations, the vast systems of stars and planets and possible life on other planets as the vast reality, and be just a speck in that vastness. This natural reaction from feeling important and finding that without essence causes a diving into a small place in a vast cosmos to be a correct relationship. However, this vast is of the very same baseless nature as the grain of sand and is not the excellent support of your craving.
At this point you might feel that your cultivated sense of emerging bodhichitta is being threatened as being of little or no value. Your investment and faith in universal responsibility at this point in the analysis should be the alive and vibrant wish to save all sentient beings, and now that should be introduced and attached to the correct view. This correct view of the altruistic wish to be of benefit to all sentient beings belongs with a careful understanding of the illusory nature of the world in order to mature.
Number six: Emptiness of the Ultimate: “Because it is wanderer's supreme of all needs, nirvana's cessation is the ultimate here. Nirvana, the truth body, is empty of itself, and this is what the emptiness of the ultimate is. The knower of the ultimate taught the emptiness of the ultimate to counteract the mind's tendency to think that nirvana is a thing.”
And now, after rightly becoming disappointed with the vast as a flimsy excuse for true reality, the seeker makes great effort to find something real. The meditator then should embark upon the path that is common to all seekers of cessation to rid them self of the thorn of craving. This extreme step seems to be the last option to become free of the suffering of craving. So they begin to withdraw the mind from sense objects, rejecting the world of ideas and mental constructs, and develop an even stronger wish to enter into another way of being that is actually really real. However, the meditator still holds a distorted view toward a goal that has the same defective problem that all other phenomena have: The perceiver is holding it to have a solidity that it does not possess. This is because and only because the bonds of the innate view are still holding the practitioner into a model that is dependent upon the human valuation of freedom.
Even the heaven realms, the pure realms and holy places of pilgrimage where practitioners are looking to as the excellent support for their craving and grasping are empty of essence. Devotees of this sort are looking for a special kind of stability, one that which will support them in their life process to make them feel secure. And that cannot give it because it does not have it in the way that the devotee wishes to relate to it.
How can you have the correct view while you are still grasping and craving toward something that it cannot provide? I have just told you, not just me, Chandrakirti said this too, and Nagarjuna told him. He is just explaining a little bit more. Nagarjuna is telling you what the Buddha said, we all say the same thing.
A valid meditation practice is based upon the understanding that your innate view is still in place and you are in error. Have I, or any of your mentors given you any indication that your innate view is the excellent support of the deeper practices? Never. You will become a better meditator when you release the grasping at your innate view. Some will object saying, “Didn’t you want my innate view attaching to aspects of the practice and grasping after the practice, and now you are saying that that is wrong? But you have always told us to turn away from grasping and grasp onto virtuous?” Wouldn’t it be better to say as a result of this analysis, ”Well, everything is empty, so why bother to do meditation practice?” Yes, that would be an error. That would be a big error although many people have done that. They say, "What difference does it make? Everything is empty anyway!"
Another tactic used is to think, "Even thought it is called empty of intrinsic reality would it be okay to hold onto this little bit of meditation process as being real? Now Rinpoche is telling me it is not okay, and that does not seem fair." I answer that it did not make it any more real that you believed it. However, I do love the enthusiasm of your process and so we are looking at it in the correct way. I did not get this feeling when we tried to discuss it before, so I am so happy.
To be continued….