From 1980: The teachings are all about you! by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:
From Lama Yeshe’s teachings on Discriminating Between the Middle and the Extremes, chapter 5, at Kopan, December 1980:
Up to now we have explained the calm abiding (shamatha) side so tonight we are going to continue with the side of penetrative wisdom (vipasyana) in detail.
So regarding what are we deluded? We are deluded with regard to the truth, with regard to dependent phenomena. We discussed this previously. This refers to words, the names of things, and their meanings and how they are connected, how they are habituated and become concepts. We have to understand that the notion of interdependence is a conventional reality. Thus, it is important to know conventional reality, relative phenomena, and the way in which they exist. It is about this that we are deluded. This also includes how we ourselves exist; we are also deluded about what we are. You know, Chandrakirti, the great Indian pandit, himself said that understanding relative conventional reality is the method leading to an understanding of absolute truth. By understanding the structure of relative compassion, then we are able to transcend, to go beyond that. We are no longer caught in the bondage of the relative bubble.
So, it is with regard to the fundamental truth that we are deluded. Let’s take, for example, Jon. Because of the way that I am deluded, my superstition is mixed up about the name “Jon” and the meaning of Jon. When I hear the name Jon, then I get a sort of artificial picture of what I think is the reality of him. I cannot perceive his real reality because the means of my understanding is through words, through this name. But the name “Jon” is here (Lama holding his hand up in front of his face), like this, so it is through this that I must try to look, to find out his reality. But the name is not the reality, this artificial cloud picture is not the reality, so already I am deluded. I am deluded in the beginning and in the end. The result is that deluded imprints are repeatedly placed in the mind. You understand?
Next, we have the characteristics of delusion. Delusion means the misconception or superstition that is characterized by the dualistic view of phenomena, even though what that dualistic view perceives does not exist. And from where does delusion come? Delusion arises from our consciousness. Of course, there is the philosophical view of the Chittamatrin school, which talks about the ground-of-all consciousness, which holds all the imprints of karma and delusion and whatever there is. Like a container it holds all these imprints, all our garbage experiences, all our good experiences, since we were born up to now. Everything is held there as in a container. It is a kind of foundational consciousness. Why do we call it “foundational”? It holds all the roots, you know? The roots of the manifestations are held there in consciousness and from there all those imprints can manifest all of samsara. All of samsara manifests from all those imprints. But leaving aside the philosophical points, according to our common sense we can say that delusions arise from consciousness, which holds the imprints of all our experiences, the karma from our bad experiences and our good experiences. Holding, holding. Until the necessary cooperative energies, conditions, come together, then these imprints simply remain there, latent. But when all the cooperative conditions come together, then the seeds are there and the cooperative causes are now present and bam! they manifest in an experience of samsara. They again become a samsaric reaction. We react, react, react. Okay.
From that then deluded actions and functions arise. From just one moment of superstition, reaction after reaction after reaction, one after another after another, are accumulated. You know? Endless superstitious reactions. (Lama laughs as he winds his mala through his fingers.) Because of cause and effect, the functioning of causation, then from delusion comes delusion, delusion, delusion. In other words, hallucinations. In Buddhist terminology, we refer to this state of delusion as hallucination. In other words, we do not see reality but are always perceiving wrong projections.
So what is the cause of the wrong projections that appear to the mind? The cause is the repeated perceiving of wrong view that creates imprints that are stored in our consciousness. They are manufactured non-stop, pam, pam, pam, pam, like a printing press publishing more and more imprints in every moment. Pam, pam, pam, pam. Then these are stored in our consciousness and they never finish. They are held there, like a treasure of superstitious imprints. It is from there that all delusions arise.
We have to understand this clean clear. Generally we think that when one delusion comes, it comes just once and then it is finished. No! It is not like that! One delusion produces a hundred delusions; one superstition mind has the ability to produce a hundred reactions. And that hundred has the ability to produce a thousand. This is why it is not easy for us.
In Western culture, we are almost forced to watch television. Everyone does it. And there are so many incredible things shown on the television and we watch them. It seems so simple. You just sit there, the TV is on, and you seem to be doing nothing. But as you watch, in each moment it is recorded, you know? Moment after moment, imprints are made, tremendous imprints. And tremendous negative imprints arise…unless you see and recognize these things as characterized by non-duality, as like a mirage or a dream. Recognize that! By doing so, instead of producing superstition, you produce wisdom energy. Then it is okay.
But we are not able to do this. We are beginners and are not able. It is very difficult to transform our projected view into wisdom energy. It is possible; we cannot say it is not possible. But as we are beginners, we should be very careful about what we see, what we watch. We should be careful. Why? Because the object itself also has the power to delude, the power to be superstition, hallucination. The object also has power. Because we have magnetized the superstition energy inside, so objects outside also come together as delusional.
Remember, in the Abhidharmakosha it says that the cause of delusion is incorrect imagination, or, as we have called it, superstition. You always imagine the object incorrectly. And it says that we have this incorrect imagination already. So as you already have this superstition that sees incorrectly within you, when the external object appears and you come in contact with it, then pam! Delusion arises.
For example, since we are here in this primitive tent in Nepal, then you don’t have a certain particular New York pleasure grasping mind, do you? Because the object isn’t here. The particular object needs to be close by. So when the superstitious thought is there inside and the external object is in close proximity, then delusion arises. That is why I am saying that we are usually perceiving things unconsciously and thinking that it doesn’t matter what we are seeing, but everything matters. Our minds are uncontrolled. Thus, as I am trying to demonstrate, it is very difficult see objectively and not to be deluded.
Good. So now we understand what we are deluded in regard to, the characteristics of delusion, and from where delusion arises. Now it is clear.