Like waves, all the activities of this life have rolled endless on, yet they have left us empty-handed. Myriads of thoughts have run through our minds, but all they have done is increase our confusion and dissatisfaction.
Normally we operate under the deluded assumption that everything has some sort of true, substantial reality. But when we look more carefully, we find that the phenomenal world is like a rainbow—vivid and colorful, but without any tangible existence.
When a rainbow appears we see many beautiful colors—yet a rainbow is not something we can clothe ourselves with, or wear as an ornament; it simply appears through the conjunction of various conditions. Thoughts arise in the mind in just the same way. They have no tangible reality or intrinsic existence at all. There is therefore no logical reason why thoughts should have so much power over us, nor any reason why we should be enslaved by them.
Mind creates both samsara and nirvana. Yet there is nothing much to it–it is just thoughts. Once we recognize that thoughts are empty, the mind will no longer have the power to deceive us. But as long as we take our deluded thoughts as real, they will continue to torment us mercilessly, as they have been doing throughout countless past lives. To gain control over the mind, we need to be vigilant, constantly examining all our thoughts, words, and actions.
To cut through the mind’s clinging, it is important to understand that all appearances are void, like the appearance of water in a mirage. Beautiful forms are of no benefit to the mind, nor can ugly forms harm it in any way. Sever the ties of hope and fear, attraction and repulsion, and remain in equanimity in the understanding that all phenomena are nothing more than projections of your own mind.
To realize that appearance and voidness are one is what is called simplicity, or freedom from conceptual limitations.
Obstacles can arise from good as well as bad circumstances, but they should never deter or overpower you. Be like the earth, which supports all living creatures indiscriminately, without distinguishing good from bad. The earth is simply there. Your practice should be strengthened by the difficult situations you encounter, just as a bonfire in a strong wind is not blown out, but blazes even brighter.
When someone harms you, see that person as a kind teacher showing you the path to liberation. Pray that you may be able to help that person and never hope for revenge.
Look right into it, and you will see that the person who is harmed, the person who does the harm, and the harm itself are totally devoid of any inherent reality. Faced with these empty appearances, is there anything to be lost or gained? It is all like an empty sky. Recognize that!
As long as you pay heed to your hatred and attempt to overcome your external opponents, even if you succeed, more will inevitably rise up in their place. Even if you managed to overpower everyone your anger would only grow stronger. The only really intolerable enemy is hatred itself. To defeat the enemy of hatred, meditate one-pointedly on patience and love until they take root in your being.
Ask yourself how many of the billions of inhabitants of this planet have any idea of how rare it is to have been born as a human being. How many of those who understand the rarity of human birth ever think of using that chance to practice the dharma? How many of those who think of practice actually do? How many of those who start continue? How many of those who continue attain ultimate realization? Indeed, those who attain ultimate realization, compared to those who do not, are as few as the stars you can see at daybreak.
As long as you fail to recognize the true value of human existence you will just fritter your life away in futile activity and distraction. When life comes all too soon to its inevitable end, you will not have achieved anything worthwhile at all. But once you really see the unique opportunity that human life can bring, you will definitely direct all your energy into reaping its true worth by putting the dharma into practice.
Adapted from “Mind” and “Practice” by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Reprinted by permission of Editions Padmakra: St. Léon sur Vézère, Framce, 1990.
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