Imagine you are shown a box full of balls which are identical except for their colour. In a moment, you are informed, you will be asked to pick out all the balls of your favourite colour. You can’t help but naturally like some colours more than others, and of those, let’s say that you like the nice golden yellow balls the best. By contrast you really don’t like the muddy green/brown balls at all.
Just before you start to pick out the yellow balls, another person joins you, and is told the same – choose their favourite colour in the box.
You can’t help but consider this person to be a rival for your nice yellow balls. You develop some negative feelings towards the person as a result some fear, resentment and competitiveness perhaps. Your wish to possess your balls of choice grows.
The balls are all identical except for the colour, but somehow those different colours have had an effect on you. They seem to have created an unbalanced attitude towards them which in turn has affected your feelings towards another person.
Now imagine you are blindfolded and told to pick your favourite balls. The question is almost meaningless. They are all identical in this context. You have no favourites or least favourites. They all feel the same and your mind is quite balanced towards them all.
If another blindfolded person is told to pick their favourites, the question will be equally meaningless to them too. If you both absolutely have to pick out your favourites, you’ll probably just share them out equally between you both – after all, there’s nothing to distinguish them for each other. They are all equal.
When we perceive objects, they appear to have real, existing qualities which we are instinctively drawn towards or repelled by. We desire the objects which appear pleasant and dislike the objects we feel are unpleasant. The appearance of the objects creates an imbalance and discomfort in our minds. As we want the pleasant objects for ourselves, we naturally view others are competitors for them, and we develop fear, anger and competitiveness towards them.
But – if we understand that the true nature of these objects is their lack of inherent existence, we can put on a metaphorical blindfold to their conventional characteristics. We can understand that despite their appearance, their true nature is emptiness, and the nature of that emptiness is the same as the nature of the emptiness of all other phenomena.
In this context, there are no desired or despised objects. Our mind is not knocked off balance by their appearances because they are all, essentially, identical in their emptiness.
This is how a realisation of emptiness bestows inner peace and undermines the basis for all delusions.