If there were no objects for awareness to illuminate what is known, would there just be pure being?

Student:

If there were no objects for awareness to illuminate what is known, would there just be pure being and does this relate to the Dharmakaya*?

Lama Shenpen:

The so called objects are not separate from the awareness but the question is what does that mean really?!  Everything relates to Dharmakaya in the end – the question is what is Dharmakaya and how do we know it?

We can contemplate the field of perception as awareness flowing and taking on different appearances, so in this way our experience is mind/awareness only. Lately this is the way I meditate and it seems a good way and I understand it is how our personal realities are created.

Yet we are not talking about solipsism, it is not the case that everything is just our own imagination.

However this does not mean there isn’t a world “out there” that beings “paint” their world’s upon. This is why we are not dreaming. For example a dog’s experience of its owner’s house is very different from the owner’s experience, but there is a structure that we can create the concept of home around, just in different ways. I need to reconcile the mind’s appearances with the “world out there” that appearances depend on.

It cannot be resolved conceptually – something has to happen in the way we look at everything – we are so used to either dividing everything up into seer and seen or to just blanking out and becoming vague about everything. Something quite different from both needs to happen.

A student writes:

I want to philosophically understand how reality operates in Buddhist terms and I wonder the best approach as I wrestle with these ideas. At the moment I would say we are dreaming on a reality we cannot know…

Lama Shenpen:

We can know but not in the way we think we know.

Student:

I know conceptual understanding is not enough but I find it can help me have confidence in my practice for a while anyway, although sometimes it feels like everything I’ve tried to understand slips completely away.

Lama Shenpen:

Yes – we learn by trying to understand and eventually that very attempt to understand slips completely away – but not into dullness or blankness.

 

*Dharmakaya – one of the three kayas, the source or essence of the Buddhas, synonymous with emptiness, Buddhanature, true nature/reality etc.

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