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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
32 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY Using this method, we negate each aspect of existence, one after the other, until nothing is left. This beautiful flower does not truly exist, nor does this cool glass of water, this precious friend, this feel ing of happiness, this thought of tomorrow, this body, this mind, this me. We analyze, dismantle, and thereby transcend our strong cling ing to the solid existence of each aspect of our world. In this way, a Buddhist practitioner is initially propelled from the extreme of exis tence to the extreme of nonexistence, which can be a great shock. the LabeL anD the basis oF the LabeL The appearances we experience—the sensory perceptions and their objects and the conceptual mind and its objects—are all experiences of relative truth. And there is a certain validity in our experiences of the relative. One great Tibetan master of the twentieth century, Gendun Chophel, said, “When my fingertips experience the pricking of a needle, then I feel that things do exist.” But when he contem plated phenomena deeply, he found there was nothing solid and real to be found. This is a very good illustration of the two truths: when you analyze phenomena, there is nothing solid and real to be found, but when experiences are left unanalyzed, they are quite vivid and sharp. This notion may seem esoteric, but if we pay attention, we can see this truth at work in our daily lives. One way to do this is to distinguish between what the Prasangika school refers to as the “labels,” which includes the labeling process itself, and the bases of the labels. From the perspective of the Madhyamaka, both existence and nonexistence are extreme positions; the absolute truth is beyond any view of existence or nonexistence.