Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Method Practices are Preparations for Realizing Emptiness

(9.1) Buddha taught all the method practices explained above
To enable us to complete the training in wisdom realizing emptiness.
Therefore, those who wish to liberate themselves and others from suffering
Should strive to develop this wisdom.

This is an important point:  the purpose of all the method practices is to help us gain the realization of emptiness, because only that can end samsara.  If we think samsara is created by something other than our mind, we can never become free of it.  When we realize everything is empty, we realize all that needs to change is our own mind.  Liberation is possible because it is entirely within our control.

Love and compassion alone are not enough, because they still grasp at beings existing outside of us.  It will take us a long way, but it will leave the roots in tact.  Only by realizing emptiness can we bring an end to all the suffering of all living beings because we stop projecting it.

At the end of the day, samsara is a dream created by delusions.  As long as its creator exists, samsara will continually be re-created.  If we can replace its creator – delusions – with its opposite – wisdom – then samsara will quite simply cease to be created.  If we stop creating new contaminated karmic seeds, the ones already on our mind will gradually exhaust themselves, either through purification or ripening.  Deluded minds activate contaminated karma.  If we eliminate all of our delusions from our mind, we will stop activating contaminated karma, and samsara will cease to appear. 

A Buddha is a being that has removed the two obstructions – the delusion obstructions and the obstructions to omniscience.  Just as all waves are the nature of water, so too all delusions are the nature of the ignorance of self-grasping.  If we remove the water, waves cannot arise – ever.  The wisdom realizing emptiness opposes self-grasping directly, and in so doing, opposes all other delusions indirectly, thereby removing the delusion obstructions.  Once we have removed the delusion obstructions, we attain individual liberation. This is also sometimes known as Nirvana. It is a permanent state in the sense that if we never generate delusion it is impossible for us to activate any contaminated karma potentialities that remain in our mind, so we never fall back into samsara, even though the karmic potentials to do so remain on our mind.

The obstructions to omniscience are the contaminated karmic potentialities on our mind from our past actions motivated by delusion.  Each one of these seeds, if ripened, would create a samsaric experience.  In order to purify the obstructions to omniscience we need to purify our very subtle mind of all of these contaminated karmic potentialities. The method for doing so is realizing the emptiness of our very subtle mind. When we connect with the emptiness of our very subtle mind it functions to uproot all of our contaminated karmic potentialities directly and simultaneously. In this way we gradually purify our very subtle mind of the obstructions to omniscience and attain enlightenment. From this perspective it is easy to see how the wisdom realizing emptiness overcomes both the delusion obstructions and the obstructions to omniscience.  Therefore, if we want to attain liberation or enlightenment we must gain the wisdom realizing emptiness.

It is useful to re-examine each of our method practices from the perspective of how it helps us to realize emptiness.  The method practices help us create the mental environment for realizing emptiness.  By seeing the connection between wisdom and our method practices, we will understand the deep meaning of the method practices.  All of our method practices are made more powerful when they are conjoined with an understanding of emptiness.   For example, dedication.  If things existed outside of the mind, our dedication is useless.  But because things are coming from our mind, our dedications can and have worked miracles. 

Back in 2013, I did an extensive series of posts where I looked at all of the stages of the path of lamrim, lojong, and Mahamudra from the perspective of emptiness.  We can do the same, meditating on the union of emptiness and each of the 21 lamrim meditations, the six perfections, and the two tantric stages.  When we build these connections within our mind, we realize that everything we have been taught has a deeper meaning – one informed by ultimate truth emptiness.

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