Your body is composed of the five aggregates, and your mind of the various kinds of consciousness. Your name, or the idea ‘I,’ is the label affixed to the momentary association of these two.
Examine first the concept, ‘body.’ If you single out the skin, the flesh and the bones of your body one by one, and then ask yourself if the body is dwelling in the skin, if flesh could be the body, or if you can call the bones the body, what will you find? The further you take your investigation, all the way down to the atomic particles, the less you can point to the ‘body’-or to any other material object, for that matter-as a discrete entity. ‘Body’ is merely a name given to a conglomeration of different things to which, once they are separated, that label no longer applies.
The same is true of the mind. What you call ‘my mind’ is something you believe to have a certain continuity. But, as we have just seen, past, present and future thoughts and feelings can have no veritable point of mutual contact. It is not possible to conceive of an entity that is an amalgam of thoughts of which some have already ceased, some have not yet happened, and some exist in the present.
As for your name, you hold on to your identity as if it had some autonomous existence – as if it truly belonged to you. But if you examine it carefully, you will find that it has no intrinsic reality – as is the case with the name of anything. Take the word ‘lion’ for instance. It is made up of the letters L, I, O, and N. Take those four letters apart, and there is nothing left; the name has vanished.
Once you recognize these three concepts of body, mind, and name as being empty, there is no longer anything left of the so-called ‘I.’ The ‘I’ is purely an invention, an imposture conjured up by delusion. Someone with eye disease might see all kinds of objects apparently floating in the sky – lights, lines, and spots – when in truth there is nothing there.
Similarly, because we have the disease of believing in an ‘I,’ we see that ‘I’ as an inherently existing entity.
In essence, the mind is what is aware of everything – it is a clarity that perceives all external objects and events. But try to find it, and it turns out to be as impossible to grasp and as elusive as a rainbow – the more you run after it, the further it appears to recede; the more you look at it, the less you can find. This is the empty aspect of the mind.
Clarity and emptiness are inseparably united in the true nature of mind, which is beyond all concepts of existence and non-existence.
As the Great Master of Oddiyana said:
“Like a precious jewel buried under a poor man’s house, Primordially pure awareness has always been present in the dharmakaya.
It is because it is not recognized that the delusion of samsara takes place.
By being introduced directly to that awareness and recognizing it, One realizes the wisdom of primordial space – and this is known as buddhahood.”
Once you have been able to recognize the empty nature of mind, attachment and desire will not arise when your mind sees something beautiful, and hatred and repulsion will not develop whenever it comes across anything horrible or unpleasant. Since these negative emotions no longer arise, the mind is no longer deceived or deluded, karma is not accumulated, and the stream of suffering is cut.
If you throw a stone at the nose of a pig, it will immediately turn round and run away. Likewise, whenever a thought develops, recognize it as being empty. That thought will immediately lose its compelling power and will not generate attachment and hatred-and once attachment and hatred are gone, realization of the perfectly pure Dharma will unfold naturally from within.
Indeed, try as you might, there is no way you will ever be rid of your attachment and hatred as long as you keep believing that they arise because of the external objects or circumstances to which they are connected.
The more you attempt to reject external phenomena, the more they will spring back at you. Hence, therefore, the importance of recognizing the empty nature of your thoughts and simply allowing them to dissolve. When you know that it is mind that both creates and perceives samsara and nirvana, and also, at the same time, that the nature of mind is emptiness, then mind will be no longer be able to delude you and lead you around by the nose.
~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche