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The purpose of this meditation is to generate a mind focused on the true nature of phenomena – their emptiness of true or independent existence.

In a dream a girl meets a dying boy. Because she does not realise she is dreaming, she takes the boy to be real, and is pleased to meet him. She sees that he is dying, and because of her ignorance, she takes this appearance as being real too, and develops sadness. Neither the boy nor his condition are real – they are just appearances to the dreaming girl. But because she is unaware she is dreaming, she naturally develops happiness and sadness.

We can see that both these emotions are not based on ‘real’ causes, yet they are real and the appearances seem very real to the girl. Buddha used this example to demonstrate that all the phenomena that appear to our senses are like dreams, and do not have any true, independent existence.

I contemplated this and slowly let all the appearances of today fade into emptiness. I kept my mind focused on the emptiness of phenomena for the rest of the meditation.


May all living beings realise emptiness and thereby quickly attain enlightenment.

Practice in the meditation break

I will remember that although all phenomena which appear to me seem to have true, independent existence, in actual fact they are mere appearances to my mind: they are my dreams in the sleep of my ignorance of the true nature of phenomena. I will try to remember how phenomena really exist, and not generate deluded states of mind based upon them.

Modern Buddhism

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