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The “Self” Is a Giant Illusion

2020-10-14 21:00 From: www.xuemo.com Author: Ruxue Media Browse: 16522859 Times

 

 

The “Self” Is a Giant Illusion

 

 

From inside to outside, there is no way we can find an unchanging “me.” Since there is no unchanging “me,” how could there be “my” family, “my” house, “my” car, and all the rest of it?

We have said that the true characteristic of life is that it is a giant dream. So then, what about people? What is the true characteristic of “people”?

The true characteristic of “people” is also that they are an illusion, a kind of play of elements coming together, like children building with blocks. At a certain moment, the children use the blocks to build a little castle. This “castle” is something that exists within a certain relative period of time, but the children will soon knock it down, and build something else. So we say that the existence of the “castle” is an illusion. When the elements which are put together to form it come apart, then it will crumble. Human life and the human body are also this way. Our ways of thinking, our emotions, our health, our internal physical environment, our outward appearance, our course in life – all these will change every minute following the ceaselessly changing flow of causal conditions. There is no fixed, unchanging situation; no independent essence that does not pass through birth and go toward death. Thus, speaking from the level of ultimate meaning, there is no “castle built of blocks” that really exists, and there is no “person” that truly exists. Everything is covered with a term to show the subtle distinctions, the “apparent forms” that are really the same as the real basic substance. If we say that there is some great distinction between ourselves and the building made of wooden blocks, it is that we have a “soul” – what I mean is not a soul as in “spiritual self” – which we are equipped with and with which we can recognize the true mind, and fully awaken to the true characteristic of life.

If your mind and spirit is covered over by desires, then you will have no way to recognize the true self, and no way to fully awaken to the true characteristic of life. You may think that in the world a “self” genuinely exists, and it continuously possesses things and loses things. In reality, this so-called “self” is no more than another thing that arises from the coming together of causal conditions. Our physical bodies are not inherent: their birth, health, and growth requires that they depend on many external conditions, like the union of the father and mother, good food, ample nutrition, a secure environment to grow up in, and so on. Moreover, the cells in our bodies are constantly being born and dying off, and our vital functions and our external appearances are constantly changing. Our intellects, our viewpoints, our habits, our standards of conduct are very individual, but none of them are inherent; they too are things resulting from the coming together of causal conditions, and they are constantly undergoing changes due to the operation of external objects. So then, from internal to external, there is no way we can find any unchanging “self.” Since there is no unchanging “self,” how could there be “my” family, “my” house, “my” car, and all the rest of it?

Speaking at the level of basic substance, the whole world is like this. It is equivalent to us, there is no distinction at all. For this reason there exists no opposition of standpoint or viewpoint. The afflictions of many people lie in their not understanding this point. They either put themselves in opposition to the world, or make a distinction between “you” and “me,” and they waste a lot of brain power and time calculating and comparing, and produce many forms of clinging and attachment. Thus, people who are in favorable circumstances busy themselves seeking even higher desires, and those who are in adverse circumstances busy themselves with anger and resentment, and even taking vengeance on an external world which cannot satisfy their desires.

What is the so-called external world? In reality, it is the projection of various kinds of apparent forms on our inner minds. When we still have not yet been enlightened, all we can do is interpret the world assuming we are right, but this kind of interpretation cannot represent the true characteristic of the world. For example, when you hear someone rebuking you, you feel that you have suffered an insult, and so you feel very angry. But in fact, both the sense of being insulted and the anger are products of your ears and your mind functioning together. If you had not heard them, or you did not care about them, could someone else’s insults hurt your mind? This is why we say that what punishes you is your own mind.

In my writings, I often express my own point of view forthrightly, so it is very difficult to make everyone like me. Sometimes friends tell me that someone is insulting me again, and I always laugh it off. On the other hand, when friends praise me highly, I will write verse along the lines of “Xue Mo is adonkey” to express myself. Why is this? It is because I know that this world is illusory transformation, and everything is memory. As causal conditions flow and change, the people who criticized you may become your most loyal friends, and the people who praised you may think of all kinds of schemes to bury you. Nothing in the world is fixed and immutable. Therefore I do not concern myself with it, and I do not have time to care about it. All I can do is value and hold precious the time I am alive, and use appropriate methods to do a lot of things of benefit to the world. As for whether or not the world will accept me, or welcome me, that is the world’s business – it will be enough if I have done properly what I had to do.

Many times, if we think a lot about all the many changes in life, then we will look upon individual gain and loss more and more indifferently. In the end, the bodies which accompany us through our lives are not permanent things.

At the outset we are just a fertilized ovum; when certain conditions come together we develop and take shape, and then we are born. From being a baby the size of a kitten, we grow up and mature into adults who can live independently, take on responsibilities, and form families. The changes involved in this cannot be called minor. But at the same time we happily accept these interesting changes, we also must accept those changes that are no so interesting, like the aging of the body, and the decline of physical strength, and the erosion of beauty, and so on. This is because in basic substance our bodies are like houses and furniture – they are all things formed by the coming together of causal conditions, and it is impossible for them to avoid undergoing changes as the old causal conditions dissolve and new causal conditions come together.

The contradiction is that when we are crazy about making money, smoking, drinking alcohol, indulging in mad revelry, we are totally unaware that we are creating the conditions that promote ageing, and even more unaware that this will reduce our lifespans. We always feel that we will be able to live for several more decades, but who knows? This is why I say, the physical body is a big lie, and beauty based on the physical body is an even bigger lie. It is a false form that can ingratiate itself with other people and with ourselves, and can induce desires and anger and strife.

There is a movie that describes a funny yet also sad story: ten years of war, dead bodies everywhere, but a man wanted to take the beauty of a woman as his own. What an absurd state of affairs! But there are many events like this in history – ancient and modern, here and abroad, it is all like this. Why is this? It is because desire and false thoughts cover people’s eyes, and make people unable to see the true characteristic of the world clearly.

After you see the light of the real characteristic, and this dissolves away the many desires and false thoughts, then you will discover that many of the world’s concepts are no more than concepts, that they are labels created by people. The true characteristic is much simpler than the concepts. When you clearly understand this point, then you will discover that all gains and losses are just a dream. You will also discover that you have been patronizing a dream, and on the other hand, forgetting to do all those things which have real meaning and genuine constructive value. Sometimes it may even become a regret that you have no way to remedy in this lifetime.

 

 

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