“If we think about our conceptions, they are not stable or something we can rely on. They are not firm because they are dualistic, and duality is deluded. Therefore our conceptions are not perfect. For example, in the early part of our liveswemayhavebelievedinsomething100%,thinking that it was perfect.Yet later in life we might completely refute this and adopt the opposite idea. So what happened? Who created that? Who made that? It was none other than our mind. Deluded mind is not reliable. If we think something is 100% beautiful,and then change our mind 100% the other way, it is not real. Every creation and division comes from our deluded, unreliable mind.
The Dzogchen and Vajrayana teachings say that the first thing practitioners must realize is that all appearances and everything they hear and think is their mind. This does not mean that we have to think that this tree is our mind, this stone is our mind, or this building is our mind. At this time, just think that the perceptions of the tree are our mind, the perceptions of the stone are our mind, and the perceptions of the building are our mind. Similarly, the perceptions of happiness are our mind, and the perceptions of suffering are our mind.
In thinking this way, we may wonder where all the stones in the earth come from. As we have heard so many times, they come from atoms, and atoms come from emptiness. Each atom is in the state of emptiness. Therefore trees are emptiness, stones are emptiness, and mountains are emptiness because they are all constructed from emptiness. Everything is empty—even our ignorance and perceptions of duality. Our intellectual knowledge doesn’t see it this way exactly, but that is the reality, whether we believe it or not. Our experience is structured by our conceptions, names, and labels, which we turn into compounded things. However, if we investigate deep down, we see that these names and labels come from the mind. For this reason, the Prajnaparamita teachings say, “Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.”
This knowledge of appearance being the mind is very important. It is not just important to think this way—we must also really believe that all appearances are mind, whether they are good or bad. We should not think this way just because the Buddha or Jigme Lingpa said it. We need to look closely at this point and realize it ourselves. Why do we have to think this way? Why is this realization important? Because it completely breaks our ego fabrication, our perceptions of duality, and our clinging to things as solidly existing. This is what Dzogchen is pointing out. It undermines the solidity of the ego and the solidity of grasping to subject and object by pointing out and knowing that all appearances are our mind. Mind is unreliable and mind is not firm, therefore appearances are unreliable and appearances are not firm.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Supreme Wisdom: Commentary on Yeshe Lama (pghs 196-198)
Photo of Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche at Tashi Choling.
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