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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
82 Buddhadharma: The PracTiTioner's QuarTerly transform unwholesome obstacles into wholesome opportunities for awakening. Our mental factors not only reify a sense of self, they also shape our experience of the world. Conventional belief tells us the world exists “out there” as reality, and that we are both products and pro- ducers of the world. This is one fundamental reason we continue with our futile attempts to perpetuate, possess, and control every- thing around us. Yet neuroscientists tell us that what we experience “out there” is merely a complex simulation that occurs in our brains through synapses and neurotransmitters, and that these simula- tions are deeply influenced by our specific psychological makeup. Yogacara teachings agree with this but push it further, adding that our sense of the world is the result of the coming together of numer- ous past and present interdependent conditions. Yogacara calls this the interdependent nature of reality. This understanding challenges the distinctions we tend to make between inside and outside, body and mind, experience and experiencer. Yet we don’t tend to live as though that were true. These two concepts—imagined nature and interdependent nature—point to the essence and function of reality: emptiness and clarity. Contrary to commonly held misconception, emptiness does not mean vacuity or cessation. It simply means everything is in relationship with everything else (spatial emptiness) and has end- less potential for change (temporal emptiness). Our mind’s original Practitioners engaged in the Yogacara project of identifying negative mental factors run the risk of reifying them as discrete things that must be destroyed. this can easily become another form of greed or aversion. photo | Julia Zhu