Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Why Killing Dream-Like Beings Creates Negative Karma

(9.11) Killing an illusion incurs no actual karma of killing
Because an illusion has no mind,
But benefiting or harming an illusion-like person who has an illusion-like mind
Gives rise to merit and negativity respectively.

(9.12) Because the mantras and so forth that cause an illusion cannot produce mind,
An illusion does not develop a mind.
Different types of cause
Give rise to different types of illusion.

(9.13) There does not exist a single cause that is capable of
Giving rise to a variety of different results.

What difference then is there between a person that is an illusion and an illusion-like person?  We say one has a mind and the other does not.  For the latter there are causes that produce a mind in that person, and the former there are not the causes to produce a mind, but other than that, what is the difference?  This is a very good question to contemplate, because the answer will reveal to us much about the meaning of emptiness.

The answer is both are equally illusions, just different levels of complexity of illusion arising in dependence upon different causes and conditions.  Other than that, there is no difference.  Both are equally illusions, just different illusions that arise from different causes and conditions.  In terms of their nature, they are both equally illusions – in other words, even though they appear, there is nothing really there.  We feel there is a huge difference between the two.  Our feeling that there is a difference is our self-grasping ignorance.  In Star Trek there are these things called ‘Holodecks’ which are like a virtual reality of holograms of light in which the holograms are computer programs that think and act and feel as if they are real.   If somebody in the holodeck got angry at us or somebody in ‘real life’ got angry at us, would we feel there is a difference between the two?  What is the difference?  When we realize that reality is equally ‘unreal’ as the holodeck, then we realize it does not matter that somebody is getting angry at us because actually there is nobody getting angry at us, there is just an appearance of somebody getting angry at us.  In truth, there is nobody there!

People appear to us to be male, human, nice, mean, whatever.  And we relate to these appearances as if they were actually true.  No, these are just the reflections of our karma.  There is actually nobody there with any characteristics.  We are essentially schizophrenic, seeing hallucinations and grasping at them as being real.

If people existed from their own side, there would be no point viewing them as Dakas and Dakinis, because it would be a complete waste of time and it would not change anything.  But we know when we view people as emanations, and really believe this to be the case, it changes everything.  We view things completely differently.  We may object, ‘yes, we view it like that, but it is not really like that.’  I agree, it is not ‘really’ like that, but that does not mean it is ‘really’ like the other thing either.  It is actually not ‘really’ like anything.  It is just appearance to mind.

I would like to say that all things are illusions.  We often hear the language that says ‘illusion-like’ and ‘dream-like’.  We allow some grasping to remain with the ‘like’ part of this formulation.  No, all the things we normally see are illusions.  The difference is they are different illusions arising from different causes and conditions.  But their quality of being illusions is exactly the same.  Things are dreams, not just “dream like.”  The difference is different dreams arising from different levels of mind (gross or subtle).  But their quality of being a dream is exactly the same.  We hear “illusion-like” and “dream-like,” and we transfer all our grasping into the like part.  We need to realize just how radical the Prasangika position is.  We need to know what specifically are the differences between illusions and illusion-like phenomena (different causes and conditions, nothing else) and the difference between dreams and dream-like phenomena (different levels of mind).  All are equally illusions in the sense of not existing in the way that they appear, and all are equally dreams in being mere projections of mind. 

If there is no difference, why do we create different karma by killing an illusion-like woman than killing an illusion of a woman?  First of all, what is the difference in karma of the four effects?  We can consider the case of killing somebody in a video game and killing somebody in our waking life. The person we kill in a video game does not have a mind whereas the person we kill in our waking life does. Both are equally illusions and there is nobody actually there, but the complexity of the illusion in our waking life is higher therefore it will have different karmic effects. The ripened effect of killing somebody in our waking state is to be thrown into a hellish rebirth, in particular the reviving hells. The ripened effect of killing somebody in a video game would be perhaps taking rebirth as somebody who is schizophrenic who has experiences appearances of people killing them but not actually happening. The tendency similar to the cause of killing in our waking state is too be more likely to kill again in our waking state. The tendency similar to the cause of killing in a video game is too be more willing to kill again in future video games or other simulation type experiences. The effect similar to the cause of killing in our waking state is to be killed in our waking state; the effect similar to the cause of killing in our video game is to be killed in a future video game or to have our opportunities killed in our waking state. The environmental effect of killing in our waking state is to be reborn in a hostile environment; the environmental effect of killing in a video game would be to either be attracted to more violent video games or to once again be schizophrenic imagining we live in a hostile environment when in fact we do not.

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