Have you ever wondered about the true nature of reality? Is everything an illusion or is it real?
The Dalai Lama, as one of the world’s most influential spiritual teachers, has thought deeply about this question.
He has shared with us a simple path for figuring it out and experiencing it for yourself.
The eight mundane concerns to let go of
The first step is to understand that there are eight mundane concerns that tend to dominate our lives. They are:
- becoming elated when someone praises you;
- becoming depressed when someone insults or belittles you;
- feeling happy when you experience success;
- being depressed when you experience failure;
- being joyful when you acquire wealth;
- feeling dispirited when you become poor;
- being pleased when you have fame; and
- feeling depressed when you lack recognition.
Someone seeking enlightenment into the true nature of reality should ensure that they are not being defiled by these thoughts.
By letting go of your attachment to these kinds of thoughts, you end up transforming your mind in very powerful ways.
Be glad when someone belittles you
As the Dalai Lama says:
“May I be gladdened when someone belittles me, and may I not take pleasure when someone praises me. If I do take pleasure in praise then it immediately increases my arrogance, pride, and conceit; whereas if I take pleasure in criticism, then at least it will open my eyes to my own shortcomings.”
This is indeed a powerful sentiment.
“And may I, recognizing all things as illusion, devoid of clinging, be released from bondage.”
In the Buddhist teachings on the ultimate nature of reality, there are two significant time periods to consider:
- The actual meditation on emptiness.
- The period subsequent to the meditative session when you engage actively with the real world.
In the Dalai Lama’s view:
“Sometimes people have the idea that what really matters is single-pointed meditation on emptiness within the meditative session. They pay much less attention to how this experience should be applied in post-meditation periods. However, I think the post-meditation period is very important. The whole point of meditating on the ultimate nature of reality is to ensure that you are not fooled by appearances can often be deluding. With a deeper understanding of reality, you can go beyond appearances and relate to the world in a much more appropriate, effective, and realistic manner.”
“The illusion-like nature of things can only be perceived if you have freed yourself from attachment to phenomena as independent discrete entities. Once you have succeeded in freeing yourself from such attachment, the perception of the illusion-like nature of reality will automatically arise. Whenever things appear to you, although they appear to have an independent or objective existence, you will know as a result of your meditation that this is not really the case. You will be aware that things are not as substantial and solid as they seem. The term ‘illusion’ therefore points to the disparity between how you perceive things and how they really are.”