A valid base
For things to
exist, mere labeling by mind is not enough. There has to be
a valid base. Not just
any basea valid base. Therefore, I cannot label my bell
"car." This object can receive the label "bell,"
but not "car" or "airplane." It receives
the label "bell by virtue of the way the valid base
functions. Mere labeling by mind is not enoughthere has
to be a valid base. In the case of a bell, the base has to have
a certain shape and perform the function of ringing. This is
what validates it.
Furthermore, the valid base that
is merely labeled "bell" by the mind should not be
harmed by anothers valid mind. Whats a valid mind?
A mind that perceives things correctly, that is not under the
influence of disease, drugs, mantras or hypnotic spells, which
might cause it to see sense objects in an illusory way.
Next, the object we claim to exist
should not be harmed by a fully enlightened beings mind.
A Buddha's mind is completely unmistaken, completely purified,
free from hallucination. All existent phenomena are the object
of the omniscient mind; it sees whatever exists. If the omniscient
mind does not see the bell, the bell does not exist.
Finally, for the bell that is merely
labeled by the mind to exist, it should not receive harm from
the wisdom realizing emptiness, ultimate nature. If the bell,
which is merely imputed by the mind, is harmed by the wisdom
realizing emptiness, it does not exist. Thus, there are three
kinds of mind that can harm, or invalidate, the existence of
what appears to be, for example, a bell: another persons
valid conventional mind; an omniscient mind; and the wisdom
Now, regarding this valid base,
this phenomenon that has the function of ringing and possesses
this particular shape, our mind creates the label, "bell."
This, then, is the real bell, the bell that we use, the one
that is merely imputed by our mind, the valid base that is labeled
"bell" by our mind.
The worst ignorance
So what is
the bell that does not exist ?
When our mind perceives the bell,
it does not see a bell that is merely labeled by the mind. It
sees something slightly beyond that, ever so slightly more than
that. It sees something as existing from the side of the bell,
something existing from its own side, from the side of the object.
If you concentrate, if you analyze carefully how the bell exists,
that it is merely labeled by the mind, you can see that theres
nothing coming from the side of the bell. When you look deeply
into the meaning of "merely labeled by the mind,"
you can see that nothing exists from the side of the object.
When you concentrate on this, you can see how its existence
comes only from your mind.
But the way the bell appears to
us, the way we believe it exists, is slightly beyond its reality,
slightly more than its actual mode of existence, which is being
merely labeled by the mind. Thats where the hallucination
begins. Starting from there, the rest of the way it appears
is a total hallucination. The way it appears, the way we believe
it to existas something slightly beyond that which is
merely labeled by the mindis our biggest hallucination,
the biggest suffering in the lives of us sentient beings. Thats
what keeps us continually circling in samsara, dying and being
reborn, dying and being reborn, experiencing the same beginningless
problems again and again.
Theres no beginning to our
experience of samsaric suffering and so far it has not ended.
Why do we still suffer? Because we have not yet realized emptiness,
the ultimate nature of phenomenathat things are empty,
that things exist merely in name. We have not discovered reality;
we have not discovered the wisdom that cuts the root of all
delusion and karma, the true cause of suffering, the cause of
samsara. We have not eradicated ignorance, the unknowing mind.
We have continually been creating ignorance, the root of samsara.
Instead of meditating on emptiness, practicing mindfulness,
we have been making our mind more and more ignorant. Thats
why we continue to suffer.
So, what is this bell (or any other
object you care to look at)? It is nothing other than that which
is merely labeled by the mind. But our minds are so replete
with negative imprints left by past ignorance, the simultaneously
born concept of inherent existence, that even though things
exist as merely labeled by the mind, we hold on to them as if
they exist from their own side. We apprehend them as inherently
existent, as not merely imputed by the mind.
Therefore, this bell is merely
labeled by the mind.
But because of the negative imprints
left on our mental continuum by past ignorance, the concept
of inherent existence, the apprehension and belief that phenomena
exist from their own side, as soon as our mind creates the label
"bell," as soon as it merely imputes "bell"
on the base, the negative imprints left on our mental continuum
project the hallucination that it exists from its own side.
Its like when you take a roll of film to be developedthe
images from the negative are projected onto special paper, mixed
with chemicals, and a picture appears to make the photographor
like putting a film into a projector and beaming the images
it contains onto a screen. Whatever the objecta bell,
your Ithe moment its labeled by the mind, the negative
imprints project upon it the adornment of inherent existence.
The thing is that were unaware,
or we forget, that what were seeing is merely imputed
by our mind.