September 30, 2010

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche on Form

Today's Daily Dharma,

Form is that which is before we project our concepts onto it. It is the original state of "what is here," the colorful, vivid, impressive, dramatic, aesthetic qualities that exist in every situation. Form could be a maple leaf falling from a tree and landing on a mountain river; it could be full moonlight, a gutter in the street or a garbage pile. These things are "what is," and they are all in one sense the same: they are all forms, they are all objects, they are just what is. Evaluations regarding them are only created later in our minds. If we really look at these things as they are, they are just forms.

So form is empty. But empty of what? Form is empty of our preconceptions, empty of our judgments.

-Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, "The Heart Sutra: Translations and Commentary"

Excerpted from Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

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Dean Crabb's picture

Clicking my name above will take you there.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Hi Dean...thanks for your response.

>"Does the consciousness of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind shut down when you die?"

Clinical death indicates such. And since Buddhism posits no such phenomenon as a "soul", consciousness (believed by some religions as housed in the "soul") also ceases.

>"What happens to it? Does it go anywhere? Where does it go?"

Rather than consciousness per se "going anywhere" at death, the life force that previously animated you is absorbed by the larger life of the universe itself. In short, instead of travelling to some other destination (e.g. your soul going to Heaven or Hell) your life itself enters a period of dormancy. Kind of like going to sleep at night and waking up refreshed the next morning, ready to start a brand new day.

>"I think what Chana meant to say is that there is form “as it is”, and then there are our labels and names for it, plus our evaluations, thoughts and emotions about it."

Kind of like some people calling New York City by that name and others calling it The Big Apple: same city (form) but with different labels, names, evaluations, thoughts and emotions about it by different people.

>Re: "Suffering...created when we attach to the appearance of form as if it is real"

More accurately, "suffering" is due to our innate desire to want things to last forever: our youth, our health, lovers, spouses and family, our six figure (or less!) incomes, our cars, etc. When reality sets in and we become aware that not everything lasts forever and that you can't take it with you when you die, then that longing or craving acts to prevent you from really enjoying your very existence itself.

>"Are they “real” in the first place?"

As real as the skull you feel when you rap the side of your head.

>"If we don’t see through this illusion now then what happens when we die?" "What happens to that sense of “me” that I think is real when I die?"

As far as Buddhism is concerned, in your next lifetime you just pick up from where you left off.

>"I have a blog where I talk about this sort of stuff more if you are interested."

Please reply with the link to it. Thanks!

Dean Crabb's picture

Dominic, it is a good question you raise. Does the consciousness of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind shut down when you die? What happens to it? Does it go anywhere? Where does it go? These are all good questions to ask. If you aren't sure of the answer then maybe you should inquire into it and find out, then you will know the essence of Buddhism.

I think what Chana meant to say is that there is form "as it is", and then there are our labels and names for it, plus our evaluations, thoughts and emotions about it. Suffering if created when we attach to the appearance of form as if it is real and we attach to our evaluations, thoughts and emotions as if they are real too. Then we are either craving after something or trying to get away from it. On and on it goes, suffering like this always. Look around it is everywhere. So we attach to this sense of realness, much like we attach to the body and consciousness as if it is real. So again your question is very good, what does happen to this body and all of its six senses when we die? Are they "real" in the first place? If we don't see through this illusion now then what happens when we die? Will my attachment to realness remain? What happens to that sense of "me" that I think is real when I die? This is all really good questions, keep going and keep inquiring further.

Domonic, I have a blog where I talk about this sort of stuff more if you are interested.

Metta
Dean

Dominic Gomez's picture

@ Chana - re: "stop describing the phenomena around us"

Doesn't that happen when you die anyway? When your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and mind finally shut down and you become non-sentient?

Chana's picture

Form is what there is in our world without us describing it. Description is supposed to be cool, and sophisticated, and educated. But what it actually does is cause
suffering in us and others around us. If we make an effort to stop describing the phenomena around us, then we will practicing the essentials of Buddhism.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Would "form" be the complimentary of "emptiness"? The yin to the yang?