Today I meditated on the train again, coming back from London. The guy sitting next to me was watching a film on his laptop – Million Dollar Baby. I glanced at it and it made me think of a recent post from Luna Kadampa where she uses the example of films as a way of understanding how appearances are deceptive.

She says that hundreds of people work to produce a film which tries to portray itself as ‘real’ to a greater or lesser extent. And if one detail is not right, the whole appearance disappears and the charade is revealed. In the same way, we take our normal appearing world as ‘real’ and we don’t recognise that everything we see is dependent upon causes, meaning that the whole thing is dependent related and lacks the reality we impute upon it.

I thought about those people who search films for continuity errors. If you look closely at films, sometimes you can find errors that reveal that two clips were taken at completely different times, even though they are presented in the finished film as if they happened one right after the other.

I thought ‘I wonder what the errors are in my appearing world that will give it away.’

It seemed to me that the answer was obvious: external objects’ lack of remaining the same over time. In films, usually the bad guy stays the bad guy till the good guy (who remains good throughout the film) kills him at the end. In ‘real’ life things change. Enemies turn into friends and vice versa. Coffee sometimes tastes divine, and sometimes tastes very ordinary. If things really were real, they would stay the same. But they don’t and that is the continuity error that reveals the true nature of the objects that appear to me. They are my projections, nothing more. They seem real, but they are nothing more than my imputations.

Then I thought, if I impute objects as real, then they appear real. But if I impute them as empty of real existence, then they will appear as lacking or being empty of real or true existence.

I took this as my object of meditation and imagined looking at all my normal appearances and imputing emptiness upon them. I let my mind mix with their appearances and I tried to keep this feeling of seeing objects as empty of inherent existence for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May we all see the continuity errors in this deceptive reality, and quickly break free.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to impute emptiness instead of inherent existence.