Sunday, September 20, 2009

Class 3b – The Chittamatra (Mind-Only) Philosophical School, part 2

Continuing the series, Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness
Notes from the DVD Teaching by the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

We continue our series with instuction on how to meditate on this stage of emptiness.

Four Convictions

The main point is to rest in dharmata, the true nature of phenomena, which is in the state of being totally free from duality. Resting in the nondual nature. But how do we get to that stage of nonduality resting? We go through four contemplations to develop four convictions.

1. To contemplate on all appearances and see them as mistaken appearances.

We view all appearances as being mistaken appearances. To understand that, we reflect on karma. Because of karmic seeds, we have appearances of dualism. This is not how things are, but they are how they appear to our mind. Subject, object, action.

In order to gain certainty that all appearances are mistaken, it is helpful to contemplate on the dream example. In a dream, appearances of duality arise but they do not exist in any kind of real duality. There is a perceived subject and object in the dream, but we can see that none of these truly exist. If right in the middle of the dream we recognize we’re dreaming, it changes everything. The object that appears may still be there and you still perceive it, but you recognize, “This is a dream.” So there is not a snake “out there,” so the fear you’re having isn’t really necessary.

In this stage of contemplation, we should reflect on the dream analogy. Looking at the present appearances from tomorrow’s point of view, and looking at yesterday’s experiences from today’s point of view, and comparing them with dream appearances. Things appear outside but they are not really that far outside.

I always enjoy the message on the side mirror of the car, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” Like that. Objects that we experience are closer than they appear. They’re not that far outside of our mind.

So all appearances are mistaken appearances... they arise from dualistic mind.

When one has gained stable certainty in this, one moves to the next contemplation:

2. These objects, therefore, do not exist externally. They are all simply appearances of mind.

From the perspective of how things appear to oneself, there is nothing there appearing externally. But this isn’t really an investigation of whether something is there or not. It is only relating to experience. Our experience is mind only.

A person appears as a friend. But when our mind changes, they may appear as an enemy. But all along, it has been the same appearance; it has not changed.

All seemingly external objects do not exist in the way they seem to appear. They are appearances for oneself.

3. Contemplation of the perceiving subject

The subject that is perceiving the object does not solidly exist either. The mind that perceives does not exist in the way it appears. Is there a consciousness looking at these nonexistent objects? No, there is not. So the consciousness that apprehends mistaken appearances is a mistaken consciousness and is not truly existent.

4. Rest evenly (in equipoise) in suchness, the true nature of phenomena that is free of perceiver and perceived.

Through the preceding three stages we discovered that neither outer or inner objects exist, so we can rest free of duality. Sometimes this is likened to water being poured into water.

These four stages were taught by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche in Distinguishing True Phenomena from their Nature.

Khenpo Rinpoche composed a verse:

“When you gain certainty in the absence of duality of perceiver and perceived,
this is called dharmata, empty of duality.
When you know how to relax within this state,
this is called meditation on the emptiness of duality.”


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