There is no reality in a dream but nevertheless we believe in the reality of the things seen in a dream. After waking up, we recognize the falsity of the dream and we smile at ourselves. In the same way, the person deep in the sleep of the fetters (saṃyojananidra) clings (abhiniviśate) to the things that do not exist; but when he has found the Path, at the moment of enlightenment, he understands that there is no reality and laughs at himself. This is why it is said: like in a dream.
Moreover, by the power of sleep (nidrābala), the dreamer sees something there where there is nothing. In the same way, by the power of the sleep of ignorance (avidyānidrā), a person believes in the existence of all kinds of things that do not exist, e.g., ‘me’ and ‘mine’ (ātmātmīya), male and female, etc.
Moreover, in a dream, we enjoy ourselves although there is nothing enjoyable there; we are irritated although there is nothing irritating there; we are frightened although there is nothing to be afraid of there. In the same way, beings of the threefold world (traidhātukasattva), in the sleep of ignorance, are irritated although there is nothing irritating, enjoy themselves although there is nothing enjoyable, and frightened although there is nothing to be afraid of.
— Nagarjuna – Mahaprajñaparamitopadesa – Chapter XI
As it stands, the oak tree is an oak tree. If, however, we were to pluck out all of the leaves of this oak tree, would it still be a tree? Most people would definitely say yes. Trees lose their leaves in the winter all the time yet still remain trees. Suppose now that we were to saw off a few branches. Would our tree still remain a tree? Most people, again, would respond in the affirmative. We have all seen trees without a few branches. But let us say that we were to take another step and cut off all of the branches. What would we be left with? Now the response we would most likely get would be a trunk on a root, definitely not a tree. The point of this analogy is to illustrate that once any existent is subjected to thorough analysis, we soon realise that its nature is not fixed and determinate. In the case of the tree, this becomes clear when we ask: exactly when in our process of sawing off the branches does the tree stop being a tree? The difficulty in pin-pointing a universal essence which we can unequivocally identify as “treeness” is one reason for believing there is no such essence to begin with.
— Sacred Web (Volume 23, p. 51 – Atif Khalil – Emptiness, Identity and Interpenetration in Hua-yen Buddhism
And loving others
Are seeds that bear fruit
In this life and beyond.
No killing and no stealing,
No abusing and no lying,
No slandering, swearing, gossiping,
No coveting, resenting or fixating:
These pristine acts
Are ways to practice
That ripen as beauty and pleasure
Here and elsewhere.
— Nagarjuna – Verses from the Center – Acts
“Equanimity sees others as they are; no one is essentially desirable, no one is essentially repugnant, and no one is essentially insignificant. All are essentially sentient beings, hoping and fearing, loving and hating, living and dying.”
— Stephen Batchelor – Alone With Others (1983)
Were I other than you,
Then even without you
I would be someone else;
I cannot be your other without you.
— Nagarjuna – Verses from the Center – Connection – translated by Stephen Batchelor
Todays’ post is dedicated with gratitude to Stephen Batchelor, a British author, teacher, a scholar and a noted proponent of agnostic or secular Buddhism.
Have you ever searched yourself? — If you seriously searched the ‘I’, you didn’t find it. But if you never seriously got into that question, you probably see and maintain a very complex composed illusion of something without inherent existence. The ‘I’ exists only through the veil of ignorance. The ‘I’ is not permanent nor stable. It changes from moment to moment as we add or remove illusory content to it, and our attachment to it is so strong that we defend this mirage by all means. This illusion is the center of our world and the construct of what we would like to be as a person. It is our prison and as long as we are enchained to this illusion, we will never experience true freedom.
— personal comment
“I am not, I will not be. I have not, I will not have.”
That frightens all the childish
And extinguishes fear in the wise.
— Nagarjuna – Precious Garland
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘universe’,
a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings,
as something separate from the rest
– a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us,
restricting us to our personal desires
and to affectation for a few people near us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison
by widening our circles of compassion
to embrace all living creatures
and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
— Albert Einstein