(Prologue: I’ve got first-hand experience that a real understanding of the laws of karma can substantially change our lives for the better. I created this weblog to share information and personal experience with others. May it be of benefit!)
In the post of March 01’09 below, I noted that, while I found Row Row Row Your Boat, a child’s nursery rhyme, helpful in understanding the nature of reality, it still didn’t answer the question of why life is like a dream. I also asked the reader to note that
“We must be very clear that only the self that is being grasped as intrinsically real needs to be negated. The self as a conventional phenomenon is not rejected.” (source: From book by HH Dalai Lama XIV)
I quoted a story the Buddha told about why we are so confused about who we are. Please see previous post for the quote.
He talks about the “false views”: believing that we have a separate, permanent, intrinsically-existing self ( oneness”), that is different from the other separate, permanent, intrinsically-existing selves (otherness”) around us.
When you ask someone, “what is the self?” the answer will usually be a list of parts or items — the self is the body-mind, my history, my memory, my thoughts. Our most basic assumption is that everything inside this bag of skin is me and everything outside of it is the rest of the universe. (source: In the Face of Fear; article by John Daido Loori: “Getting to the Bottom of Stress”)
Karma is created by two situations [false views]: the sense of me-ness or I-ness and the sense of other. “I am what I am, therefore things are as they are.” <Karma Seminar>
So, in a very real sense, the line from a Beatles’ song “I am he as you are he as you are me as we are all together,” rings true.
We may know intellectually that we are not permanent or solid. After all, this “self” — that has no existence apart from relative causes and conditions — dies. But we act as if we are a continuous, separate self….”Hi, my name is ___. I have two children, two cars, work at ___job, take holidays at _______, have four credit cards, play tennis,” etc. etc. etc. You get the idea. But just in case I didn’t explain it well enough, this quote might help:
I built up this story in my mind of who I am, it goes like this: Tough, independent chick. Has a killer career, does not need a man to make her happy. May get married around 30 (but never before), adopt a cute little Asian at 35. Will live in a loft in a big city with big city friends and run marathons and charities on the weekends. (source: please click here)
After a while, we might wonder “Is that who I am? Is this all I am?” (page 5)
The Dalai Lama talks about “the two truths” — relative and ultimate. I have found this immensely helpful.
On the relative plane: Imagine taking a walk along a beach with fine white sand. It would be startling to see one grain of sand jump up to try to get our attention. That’s what ego does. Waking up from this dream (or nightmare), where we confuse a conceptual, manufactured — what Eckhart Tolle calls a “phantom” — self for what is really a collection of moments that are fleeting and impermanent, is our lifetime job. <see also Glossary under conventional wisdom 12links >
I used to get upset when I heard phrases like “who we really are,” and “seeing things as they are.” What did that mean? I came to the conclusion that it meant seeing things beyond the confusion caused by the erroneous belief in a world with permanent substance. It means seeing things beyond the concepts we superimpose on them. We are only seeing our own projections, not the thing itself.
One of the clearest descriptions of these phrases is
To see things just as they are — what does that really mean? It means to see without delusion; to see clearly, without confusion….This is the realization that while the appearances [what we call "phenomena"] of this life arise and cease, basic mind is unceasing.
On the ultimate plane, we are the universe itself, whose nature we reflect. There is only theunfabricated nature of mind itself. A primordial wisdom that no one owns but that we all reflect. See also “Glossary” under ultimate level 12links >
The good news is that we do not have to take any action whatsoever to connect with who we truly are. For example, we do not have to merge with ultimate reality. We are that reality.
A closing quote:
You live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality: you are that reality. When you know that, you understand that you are nothing and, in being nothing, you are everything. That is all. <Kalu Rinpoche – 1904-1989>
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