Johnny Dangerous wrote:I think I understand the basics of Madhyamaka, i've read Nagarjuna, a few books briefly covering the 3 or 4 schools of thought, and various explanations.
There is alot there that still goes over my head, i'm wondering if someone can simplify for me, because something is just not clicking not matter what I read...
How do objects perceived as "external" exist in relation to the mind exactly, I know there are a few different views, it all makes sense to me until this part. I cannot understand how something can only exist 'of the mind' that clearly has some sort of base existence on it's own to be labeled, and in the Lankavatara Sutra for example, Atoms and units of physical existence are referenced, which tells me that clearly there is some base object existing outside the skandhas ultimately right? Or is all perceived existence just the skandhas?
Is it accurate to say this existence is only conventional by definition, since inherent existence is denied?
Is the perception of there being an external physically existent object just a mistaken perception of a seperate subject and object?
I once wondered a lot that an object I see in front of my eyes is real or not. I'm not sure I find the right answer. What I tell here should be understood that is the path I have gone through from some pieces of the puzzle to a point where major pieces are put together to create a whole picture of the puzzle. That is where you have no doubt about what you see.
If you have some Buddhism's seeds in mind, such as "Emptiness is form, form is emptiness", something like that, you may know (think) that external objects are illusions. (This is the work of the sixth consciousness.) But your feeling, based on your senses, says that they are real. (This is the work of the five primary consciousnesses.) Your mind would be divided by this discontentment among your consciousnesses which could lead you to headache and restlessness. (So, knowing something is not always a good thing if you don't know how your mind work. You may never find peace in your mind again.)
I read some answers in this topic. I really enjoyed them at first. It seemed I get known more than I have already had. But then I felt headache and knowing became bored. That is when I realized that from the topic's matter, my mind jumps from this idea to that, follows the topic members' introduction, rather than sticking to the problem where it is ignited. This is the common way the mind works in our daily life.
The problem here is how to feel and see objects are illusions with your sixth consciousness, not just think about it.
Let's investigate a table. In common sense, the table is a real solid object we use everyday to such an extent that we will be surprised if someone tell us that it doesn't really exist, that it only exists in our mind.
But it is true. From my experience, there are two ways to understand this. The first way is to understand seeing is not the function of your eyes (your senses) but your mind. It means your mind seeing, not your eyes (and ears, nose, tongue or body.) Your eyes are like a lamp in a dark room waiting for a switching (contact) to expose things. You can imagine a person is a five skandhas holding five lamps (five senses) to reveal things in the dark room called the world.
The second way is to use what we may know in physics. Suppose that we have a microscope which can magnify our 'table' to billion times to such an extent that we enter the quantum world. What is the table from this point of view? It is no longer a solid object but it is like a flow of dust in voidness. It flows ceaselessly. Everything is also like that. There is no real boundary between them (table, chairs, floor, walls, etc.) like we see with our flesh eyes. Because there is no boundary, the universe is one and like an ocean of dusts, nothing else. The table in this scenario is like a waterfall. When looking at the waterfall from very far away, you see it as a static object all the time. But when you come very close to it, the static image disappears, instead it consists of countless water drops flowing ceaselessly and nothing as it is at the later moment. What happening to the table also happens to everything in the universe, including ourselves.
We know this fact but we don't see it. Instead, in practice, we see 'table' is a solid object. Our eyes tell our mind that. Our ears, from the sound when we knock on the table and our hand when touching it tell the same story. The only logical explanation for this phenomenon is we don't see the object as it is (a flux) instead we are seeing our consciousness! (I don't know how this makes sense to you but to me it is hard to come to this point of awareness. I found it when reading Surangama Sutra, about the second moon.)
We see the world through our consciousness which functions like a veil. How does it work? When a visual object contacts the eye faculty, a visual consciousness arises and disappears. The contact continues moment after moment, so does the visual consciousness. This happens so fast that you have no idea about the interval. The consciousness is continuous and smooth that gives you the feeling it is stationary.
Like you see a movie on a screen. Your seeing is like the screen. The table in our example is like images of the movie. When you see things on the screen, you think that they are something out there. Sometimes you even think that you are not seeing the screen but the world made of things in the movie.
Even if you know that the table is a mental object created by your mind, you still see it and feel it real. And it is always there in your mind, affects the way you see the world. How is it possible? This is the work of the manas consciousness. This consciousness embraces the alaya consciousness or actually a part of it and mistakes this part as its ego. Everything in this part becomes real to you. You can see in society some people can talk very well about a certain field that we call them as physicists, mathematicians, politicians, architects, buddhists, etc. and the rest has few ideas about what they say.
The manas consciousness is where ideas or thoughts created and cover your seeing. These thoughts created depend on your sense of your ego and differentiation of it from the rest of the world (or the alaya consciousness.) And thanks to that you feel they are real, they are not only mental objects in your mind but somehow objects out there. The main trick of this mind game here is one mistakes those objects as one’s ego, for example one says this perception is mine, this feeling is mine, this body is mine, this house is mine, this job is mine, this religion is mine, I’m a physicist, I’m a teacher, I’m a Buddhist, etc. When they move, because of this mistake, you (your ordinary mind) move with them in the cycle of birth and death. So who are you, if you are not those objects?
If there is something in your mind unchanged when things change, it is you. Things like guests come and go in your mind. Only the host goes nowhere. Only your seeing, your True Mind in unchanged. That is you. It is like the screen unchanged all the time, only images on it change. (In Surangama Sutra, the Buddha said: “All living beings, since the time without beginning, are continuously born and continuously die, simply because they do not know the permanent True Mind, whose substance is, by nature, pure and bright. Instead they have relied on false thinking which is not Reality and so that the wheel of samsara turns.")
If you know you is the True Mind (this knowing is not real but just the second moon, only enlightened ones see it very clear instead just know it), you return to it, stick to it, you are no long moved by things moving around you. You can see without any idea covers your seeing as if the manas ceases to function. No thought comes up in your mind to mislead your seeing, that you are this object or that then you should follow it, become someone else.
From this standpoint, when you see someone, for example, a politician delivering a speech, you will see all things just happen in his mind, like a movie being played in it. You see with your own eyes that he is dreaming. You may only hear sounds come out from his mouth, like you hear music, instead of things in those sounds, such as ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘our country’, ‘rich’, ‘poor’, ‘peace’, ‘war’, etc. It is somehow like you are hearing a foreign language. Even one insults you, you can smile with him, because you only see that is the work of his mind, not your. You no longer engage in false thinking. When you come to this point, you may no longer see ‘things’ in my essay, that this is ‘you’, ‘me’, ‘the Buddha’, ‘True Mind’, ‘alaya’, ‘manas’, ‘mind’, ‘body’, ‘screen’, ‘waterfall’, ‘table’, etc. You may see in front of you is only a bunch of black dots on a white background. I don’t know how to describe things to you anymore. Because ‘I’ no longer exists as a real human out there but a mental image created by your mind right here right now, in this very moment, in your seeing.
Forgive me because I’m not good in English.