Friday, January 25, 2013

An Audience With His Holiness the Dalai Lama by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Photograph of Preetha Ram, Director of the Emo...
Photograph of Preetha Ram, Director of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative, meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
His Holiness: Although all phenomena and their bases of imputation are imputed by conception, it's not necessary that the phenomena and the conception designating it should always be there at the same time. I'll tell you a little story. One Amdo monk came to visit a senior lama to clarify some doubts. He said, "My doubt is that it says in the scriptures that all phenomena are merely designated by thought or conception." The lama replied, "Yes, that's a very difficult point." After the monk left the room, he said, "It's not necessary that the thought designating those phenomena should always be tied to those phenomena."
The point is that when a sense consciousness sees particular phenomena, there is no relation with conception or thought. For example, when a thought apprehending form realizes the form, then that thought is induced by a sense consciousness. It's not the other way around. If we ask whether the focal object of an eye consciousness is designated by thought or not, we have to say that it is definitely designated by thought.
Saying that form is designated by thought is a general explanation, but we are not saying that the thought induced by the sense consciousness has designated that form, because that thought has yet to arise. If we analyze and try to find whose thought has designated this form—mine or yours—we will not be able to explain it. Similarly if we ask if this form has been designated in the past, present or future, we will not be able to explain it. If we try to analyze in that way, we are going beyond that limit and trying to find something that is inherently existent. This is because imputation by thought is itself imputed by thought. If imputation by thought had inherent existence, then of course we should be able to find it, but again it is imputed thought, so we will not be able to find it if we analyze in that way.
When we say that phenomena are merely imputed by mind, we know that for phenomena to exist, they must have only nominal existence. That nominal existence is designated by thought, therefore it exists. It can produce a result and it has its own causes, so there is something. That phenomenon can give us a pleasant or unpleasant experience, so it definitely exists. If we try to investigate the very nature of those phenomena, the conclusion is there is something, but we cannot find it. The ultimate answer is that it exists due to designation and its existence is just through renown. The conclusion is that things exist, but they don't have an inherent mode of existence. Since we're sure that they exist nominally and that we experience them, then the only recourse open for us is that their existence is based on the mind. Did that clarify this question?

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