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Buddhadharma : Fall 2017
fall 2017 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 65 Life, Frame by Frame by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche Since nothing has inherent nature nor any singular, permanent qualities, it is as if all phenomena are magically produced by causes and conditions com- ing together—just like a rainbow, in which sunshine, rain, and moisture in the atmosphere produce arching colors in space. Like the rainbow, every phenom- enon and experience is insubstantial, with nothing to grasp and hold on to; it is also essenceless, with nothing we can pinpoint as something to react to. It’s all as unreal as a movie. “Realness” is not out there at all. Nor is it here in the mind. It is merely a product of ignorance, an imputed quality imposed by igno- rant mind onto objects and subjective experience. If you understand this, then you see the twofold character of everything that happens: the background and the foreground. In the background, shunyata is present all of the time. In the foreground are the various appearances that rise and fall because of causes and conditions. The background is like the screen. The foreground is like the movie projected on the screen. They are not one and the same, nor are they separate. If they were one, while seeing the appearance of the phenomena, we would also realize their emptiness. Nor are they separate, since what is happening in the foreground is only possible because of empti- ness as a background. Emptiness is the essence of everything that happens; it is the essence of this dreamlike life and dreamlike experiences brought about by causes and conditions. Emptiness is the unfabricated state; appearance is the fabricated state. The unfabricated and the fabricated work together. From an unfabricated state, fab- rications happen. All that is fabricated is impermanent and generated by causes and conditions. Conditions and appearances are always changing, moment to moment. If you look deeply, you see that the past is gone, the future has not arisen, and the present is just this very moment of appearance arising and dis- solving simultaneously. Any reality that we project comes from the subjective mind steeped in igno- rance and confusion. So we must strive to see the ways in which the world is magical and dreamlike, a mere appearance having no reality. This applies to the world and other beings as well as to our own mind and emotions. A bodhisattva who wakes up to this notion, seeing interdependent origination as appearance and emptiness as the nature, also sees why we suffer so much. All of the sufferings of our mind come from holding appearance to be real where there’s no reality, producing false characteristics of permanence, singularity, and independence. If we can use this wisdom to analyze any person, any problem, any situation—noting how it’s created interdependently, how impermanent and illusory it is from moment to moment—then it gives our mind freedom and space to work with. Winter 2013