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Buddhadharma : Spring 2015
58 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 5 Something produced by causes and conditions exists as an effect and is therefore illusory. Something that dissolves due to a lack of proper causes and condi- tions also has to be illusory. So in this way, the pres- ent moment is illusory. How long does this present moment actually last? Supposedly, the universe has been around for over thirteen billion years, and the earth has existed for around five billion years. But from the Buddhist point of view, anything compounded—the world and everything in it, including ourselves—lasts just one-sixtieth of a second. So the objective world and the subjective mind last just one-sixtieth of a sec- ond. Basically, everything arises and ceases simulta- neously. The light from a bulb or a computer screen seems continuous, but it is made of many flashes of light per second. A movie flashes by at twenty-four frames per second. The whole world is just like this: the experience of the present moment flashes by in one-sixtieth of a second. At any given time, we can simply clear our heads and recognize that we are always in the present moment. We’re always in the present because engaging subjective mind with objective world only lasts for a split second. So how can anything in the relative world be real? Where is the real universe? Where is the real world? In this sixtieth of a second, where are you? Where am I? Where is your perception? Where is my perception? There’s nothing real here. What, then, makes everything appear? It is yeshe, or primordial consciousness. Yeshe is the background and, at the same time, the essence of all relative phenomena we experience in the universe. Primordial consciousness is the absolute truth of all things. There is no arising, dwelling, or ceasing; there are no causes or conditions—no birth, old age, sickness, or death. There is no samsara, or even a notion of samsara. When we go beyond the relative, we see that the primordial consciousness is always present and unmoving. Movement only happens in the relative, not in yeshe. If we gain conviction in this view, it From the point of view of the Buddhist teachings, the way to make progress is to have a deeper under- standing of our own mind, which amounts to under- standing that the world and our perception of it are illusory. When we don’t realize that the world is illusory, we mistakenly believe that our perceptions are also something other than illusory. These days, people are well educated in their school subjects, particularly in science. On one crucial point, the scientific and Buddhist views are identical; that is, we are always in the present moment. Simply real- izing this fact—that we’re always in the present—is enough to help us see how the world is illusory. The present moment is always fading into the past, and the future is becoming the present. These moments are like the beads of a mala. No two moments can exist at the same time. We may have a memory of the past or a thought of the future, but these occur during the present moment of con- sciousness. During the present moment, past and future are emptiness. These concepts are without reality. But if past and future are emptiness, how could the present be other than emptiness? The concept “long” means nothing without “short.” “Long” and “short” are based on each other and therefore have no reality of their own. Similarly, since “present” is based on “past” and “future,” it has no reality of its own. The present is only seem- ingly here. It too is an illusion. If the present moment were not an illusion, it could not arise or fade away. It arises due to causes and conditions coming together, just like a rainbow, which has no reality from its own side. Something solid and intrinsically existent cannot be affected by causes and conditions. It would have to exist from the beginning and be unable to be destroyed. From the Buddhist point of view, anything compounded—the world and everything in it, including ourselves—lasts just one-sixtieth of a second. Basically, everything arises and ceases simultaneously. dZiGAr KonGtrul rinPoche is the spiritual director of mangala Shri Bhuti, based in crestone, colorado. this article is adapted from teachings he gave in new york on how to progress on the spiritual path in modern times, which were published in mSB’s magazine, Crucial Point. AUTHOR’SPORTRAITbronyaagasto