The purpose of this meditation is to mix our mind with the ultimate nature of phenomena, and then to meditate on what this means in light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing.

I began with breathing meditation and towards the end when my mind was quite settled, I imagined my mind like a crumpled and folded piece of paper. It slowly unfolded until it was open and cupped, like a wide bowl, and then it opened further until it was completely smooth and flat. This evoked a very calm and expansive feeling of emptiness which I stayed with and enjoyed  for a while.

I then thought about the topic of this meditation – the emptiness of phenomena.

When I was in London this week, I took several trips on the Underground train system. At one of the stations we stopped at, I noticed a rather large eye peering in through the window at me. It was part of a face on an advert on the wall outside the train. The eye was from an impressionist painting – a Renoir or similar. As people got off and on the train, I looked at the eye, and noticed how it was made up of different patches of colour and dashes of paint. The dark oval of the pupil. The rough oval of the iris. The touch of white suggesting the reflection of light on the eyeball. The graceful sweeps of black creating the eye itself within the face. Although at first glance the eye clearly appeared as an eye, as I gazed at it, the eye slowly faded and all I could see were the different elements.

I thought about how impressionist paintings are a particularly good example of how elements can be brought together to create the impression of another, single entity.

As I sat on my cushion, I thought about how all phenomena are perceived in the same way. When we look at an object, we see one part of the object at a time – we never see the whole object at once with our eyes. We look over the object, taking in one aspect after another until we can generate a mental construct of the whole object. We then take this mental object to be the ‘real’ object and generate feelings towards it.

We ‘see’ these objects and mistake them for being single, inherently existent objects because of our ignorance. Though this bad mental habit, we ‘see’ the object over and above the parts we actually see with our eyes.

But when we look again, with wisdom, we clearly see that the object we perceive does not exist in the way it appears – when we search for it, it fades and cannot be found.

I thought about this carefully, and it seemed to me that the objects I relate to ‘came into’ my mind through my eyes and I understood that all these things are simply generic images in my mind. As they were part of my mind, it simply did not make any sense to feel anger or attachment to them. At this point, I felt a real sense of freedom and liberation. I felt that everything was peaceful and tranquil – balanced and harmonious. I felt completely free, and I focused on this feeling for a long while. It was lovely.

I then thought about what this means in light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing.

Self-cherishing depends on self-grasping, and the wisdom realising emptiness destroys self-grasping by revealing the ultimate nature of objects. I felt that the cause of all my problems and suffering was fading and disappearing completely. Once again, I felt free and liberated – a beautiful balanced, peaceful and open feeling. How wonderful.

Dedication

May all living beings develop the wisdom realising emptiness, and pass through the door to liberation and enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to sustain this realisation that the appearances I perceive are patterns arising from my karma, creating generic images in my mind. I will try to remember that although they have a very convincing conventional nature, in reality they are empty of inherent existence. I will try to sustain the balanced and free feeling in the midst of samsara’s illusions.