“Our relative world exists because we maintain a belief in its solidity. Yet in reality, it only exists as a mental state, as a conception. Although it has no real existence other than as a belief we cling to, from the viewpoint of relative truth, this world does appear—regardless of whether it actually exists or not—so we do need to be able to deal with it in various ways. It does function and have utility on the common level of perception between sentient beings.
From the point of view of ego, everything seems to exist as material form. We strongly believe that physical objects truly exist—we ascribe qualities to them, and consider them good, bad, or we’re indifferent. Mipham Rinpoche presents us with a method to carefully examine this relative level of existence where our underlying assumptions have not yet been investigated or analyzed, and to discern the true nature of existence. Without applying a mental analysis like this, and combining it with meditation, true wisdom does not arise. From the point of view of true wisdom, the existence of solid objects (dngos po) is a hallucination. All existence is illusory display.
The famous Nyingma master Patrul Rinpoche explained the nature of relative truth with the following story. In Tibet, children would collect hailstones and hold them in their hands thinking they had something precious. But the tighter they held them, the quicker the hailstones melted. When they opened their hands, they were gone.
Upon investigation and careful analysis, the warmth of awareness melts away the relative truth of our mistaken conventional perceptions like hailstones eagerly picked up and tightly held by curious, delighted children.
When the solidity of relative truth dissolves, we see that there is more to the world than mere appearances. This moment of realization is the view of the true nature (gnas lugs), the absolute truth of “great emptiness” (stong nyid chen po). It is the fundamental absolute nature where everything is complete, the emptiness nature that underlies and pervades all relative truth.
Although the Buddha taught that the phenomenal world is illusory, he did not ignore its relative level. Instead, the Buddha taught an absolute view that encompasses the relative within it. From the point of view of analysis, the relative state is an appearance, like a bubble, a mirage, or a reflection of the moon in water. The Buddha didn’t deny that the relative world does in fact appear. He simply pointed out that its existence is illusory.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Uprooting Clinging: A Commentary on Mipham Rinpoche’s Analytic Wheel of Meditation (pg 85-86)
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