Essential Tibetan Buddhism, p. 176-202

Tsong Khapa’s Medium-Length
Transcendent Insight (Part IV)

Determining of the Nonreality of "Mine" 

Thus having inquired rationally into the existence of absence of intrinsically real status in the self, when you negate its intrinsic reality by not finding any self either the same or different from the aggregates, that same rationality analytic of thatness will not discover any intrinsic reality in one’s property. If you cannot perceive the son of a barren woman, his property such as eyes and so on will also not be perceived. Thus that rationality which determines the lack of intrinsically objective status of one’s own "I" or "self" or "person" should realize the entire import of the thatness of personal selflessness, that all persons and their property, from hell beings up to Buddhas, have no intrinsic reality as the same or as different from their designative bases, whether they be contaminated or uncontaminated aggregates. And thereby one should also understand the method of establishing the lack of intrinsic reality of all those beings’ property. . . . .

Arising as Illusion

The method of understanding other things as like the example of illusion is as follows: For example, when a magician manifests an illusion, though there never was any horse or ox there, the appearance of horse and ox undeniably arises. In the same way, things such as persons, although they were always empty of any objectively established intrinsic reality as objects, are understood as undeniably appearing to have that status. Thus the appearances of gods and humans are represented as persons, and the appearances of forms and sounds and so on are represented as objects, and although not even an atom in persons and objects has intrinsically identifiable intrinsic reality, all the functions of relativities such as accumulation of evolutionary actions and seeing and hearing are viable. Voidness is not nihilistic, since all functions are viable because of it. Since one simply becomes aware of that voidness, things having always and ever been void, neither is it just a mentally made-up voidness. Since all things knowable are accepted in that way, it is not a partial voidness, and when one meditates upon it, it serves as the remedy for all the automatic reifications of the truth habits.

That profound import is not at all objectively inaccessible to any sort of cognition but can be determined by the authentic view and can be taken as object by meditation on the meaning of reality; so it is not a voidness that cannot be cultivated in the context of the path, that cannot be known, and cannot be realized, a sort of utter nothingness. . . . .

Thus, to the perception of one experienced in meditating in samadhi, there is an understanding that apparent things such as pots and cloths are void of what they appear to have; but this is not the same as the understanding of their illusoriness and dream-likeness, which is their lack of intrinsically real status. Therefore one must investigate thoroughly the distinctive mode of arisal as illusory stated in the definitive meaning scriptures and the scientific treatises in order to generate realization of illusoriness and dream-likeness.

False mode of Arising as Illusory

When one has not properly identified the measure of the negatee as explained above, when one’s analysis of the object cools down, one first begins to imagine that the object does not exist, then one comes to experience the analyzer also as likewise (nonexistent), then even that ascertained as nonexistence ceases to have existence, and one comes into a state wherein there is no ground of ascertaining anything at all as "this is it" or "this is not it." There then arises perception of a fuzzy, foggy appearance, occurring from the failure to distinguish between intrinsically real existence and nonexistence and mere existence and nonexistence. Such a voidness is the kind of voidness that destroys relativity, and therefore the arisal of such a fuzzy, foggy perception derived from such a realization is definitely not the meaning of illusoriness.

Therefore when one analyzes rationally and one comes to consider that such a "person" is not present even in the slightest upon any intrinsically established object, sustaining that consideration one might have perceptions that arise in a fuzzy, foggy manner; just this is not very difficult. Such experiences occur for all those who admire the centrist philosophies and have a casual learning of the teachings that demonstrate intrinsic realitylessness. But the real difficulty is to negate completely any objectively established intrinsic reality and yet develop a deep certainty about the representation of how that intrinsically unreal person itself is the accumulator of evolutionary actions and the experiencer of evolutionary effects and so on. When the combination of those two facts - realitylessness and the ability to represent those things - is carried to the extreme limit of existence, that is the view of the central way, so extremely difficult to discover. . . . . 

When one investigates with the rationality analytic of ultimate reality, nothing whatever is discovered that can withstand analysis such as a person who is born, does actions, and transmigrates. Nevertheless, illusory things occur as the evolutionary effects of good and bad actions. One must develop one’s understanding according to this statement of the Buddha. 

Furthermore, when one does not practice in equipose by concentrating upon the view that has decisively penetrated into reality, but merely finds stability in one-pointedness on not holding anything at all in one’s mind, then, when one arises from the power of that samadhi, appearances such as mountains no longer appear solid and substantial but appear indistinct like fine smoke or like a rainbow. But this is not the arisal of illusoriness explained in the Scriptures, because this is an appearance within a voidness of coarse substantiality and is not an appearance within the voidness of the intrinsically real status of thos apparent things; and because the absence of solid substantiality is definitely not the meaning of voidness that is intrinsic realitylessness. Otherwise there would be the fault that it would be impossible for the truth habit to arise when perceiving a rainbow as a qualified object, and it would be impossible to develop the wisdom-realizing truthlessness when considering substantiality as the qualified object. 

Correct Arisal in Illusoriness

For example, when the visual consciousness sees an illusory horse or ox, one depends on the certainty in mental consciousness that the apparent horse or ox does not exist, and one generates a certainty that the horse or ox appearance does not exist as it seems. In the same way, one depends on both the undeniable appearance of person and object in conventional cognition and the certainty through rational cognition that that very thing is empty of an objectively established intrinsic reality, and thereby one generates the certainty that that person is an illusory or false appearance. By that key one reaches the essence of the meditation on voidness as like space wherein one’s concentration allows not even an iota of mental orientations that are substantivistic sign-habits. When one arises from that concentration, and one regards the arisal of apparent objects, the aftermath illusory voidness arises. In that manner when one investigates repeatedly with the rationality analytic of the presence or absence of intrinsically objective status in things, after one has generated an intense certitude about intrinsic realitylessness, one’s observation of the arisal of appearances is the arisal in illusoriness, and there is not seperate method of determining the voidness that is illlusoriness. Thereupon, when one engages in activities such as prostrations and circumambulations, the certitude from the above analysis is taken into account, and the engagement in those activities becomes the education in the arisal of illusoriness. One should perform those activities from within the actuality of that awareness. When one purifies that, the mere remembrance of the view causes those things to arise in illusoriness.

To express the method of seeking that certainty in an easily understandable way: Having initiated the proper arisal in general of the above-explained rational negatee, one should identify it by considering thoroughly how one’s own misknowledge reifies intrinsic realities. Then, considering specifically the pattern wherein if such intrinsic reality exists it will not go beyond sameness or difference with its basis of designation, and the process wherein devastating negations accrue to the acceptance of either alternative, one should derive the certainty that is aware of the negations. Finally, one should confirm the certitude that considers that there is not even the slightest intrinsically real status in the person. And one should cultivate repeatedly such certainty-derivation in the voidness orientation. Then one should become involved in the appearance of the convention "person" undeniably arising as object of cognition, and one should cultivate the attitude oriented toward relativity wherein that conventional person is represented as the accumulator of evolutionary action and the experiencer of evolutionary effects, and one should discover the certitude about the systems wherein relativity is viable without any intrinsic reality. 

When those two facts - that is, the viability of relativity and the absence of intrinsic reality - seem contradictory, one should consider the pattern of their noncontradiction by using examples of mirror images and so forth. Thus the mirror image of an object, such as a face, although it is void of the reality of the eyes and ears and the like that appear in it, is still produced depending on the object and the mirror, and it is destroyed when either of those conditions is removed. Those two facts - its voidness of the objects and its being produced depending on them - are undeniably coincident in the same phenomenon.

Like that, there is not even an atom of intrinsic reality status in the person, and yet this does not contradict its being the accumulator of evolutionary actions, the experiencer of evolutionary effects, and its being produced depending on the actions and addictions of previous lives. One should cultivate this consideration. Thus one should understand illusoriness in this way on every such occasion . . . .

Tsong Khapa’s Medium-Length Transcendent Insight