Distinguishing What Is And What is Not …
… creates confusion.

In truth, they are not separate.
Freedom from confusion is in the very moment
that confusion is apprehended.
Recognition and realisation are simultaneous.

I’ve taken part of this article by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche to make a point (the bold text is my emphasis), but you can read the whole lecture from this link.


What is Not
“The teachings I am presenting concern what is and what is not. The Buddhist teachings speak about samsara – conditioned existence – and nirvana – the state of enlightenment that is beyond samsara. The characteristics of samsara are suffering and pain. The characteristics of nirvana are happiness and well-being. Our relationship to samsara is to become liberated from suffering. Our relationship to nirvana is to experience freedom from suffering.

 “Lord Buddha’s teachings distinguish (between) samsara and nirvana. One’s understanding of both is wrong, though. One doesn’t experience benefits in samsara due to being deluded, thus one seeks liberation from samsara and strives to attain the peace of nirvana.

One’s notions of samsara as a state of suffering, and nirvana as a state beyond suffering, imply running away from samsara and towards nirvana. Such ideas are illusory – they are dualistic fixations about samsara and nirvana and are an expression of confusion.

 “The 84,000 collections of teachings that Lord Buddha presented are contained in the two truths: the relative and ultimate truths. While gaining a gradual understanding of both, one differentiates (between) relative and ultimate reality because of phenomena’s display. The fundamental nature of all things presents no reason to separate the ultimate from the relative levels of being. The two truths are inseparable – this is the ultimate truth of the nature of relative existence.

Discussing relative and ultimate levels of being misleads one to separate the relative truth as a world of confusion from the ultimate truth as a world beyond confusion. This separation itself is a misconception and an expression of confusion.

“It is a split, and therefore one relates to the relative world of phenomena from a state of confusion.

“For instance, there are so many religions in the world that have evolved from many individuals’ wishes and attempts to become free of suffering and confusion, but confusion has developed around religions instead of being resolved.

“Many people see the world from a confused viewpoint, believing it was created by a self-created creator, by somebody who decided how it should be and fashioned it in that manner. Many people believe in a universal architect, in somebody who manipulates the world and its inhabitants.

“On the other hand, some people believe that nobody had anything to do with the world’s creation. How did it come about then? They shrug their shoulders and simply reply, “It just happened.”

“Both notions – belief in a creator and belief in coincidence – are delusive. The desire to leave a spot of suffering and to reach a spot free of suffering is the fundamental mistake, and more confusion evolves as a result. The teachings I will present deal with what is and what is not. The above concerns what is not.

 “What Is
“The theme ‘what is’ includes everything that is fundamentally valid without mistaken cognition, i.e., free of confusion. Somebody who is confused nourishes beliefs about things that contradict the way things really are. Bewilderment is confusion and has far-reaching consequences. Confusion is a mental state in the absence of knowledge as to the way all things really are and the way they arise and appear. But confusion can be unravelled; a mistaken view can be understood and dispelled. One’s approach is bewildered, though, as long as one’s practical relationship with one’s delusions make one shun confusion, which doesn’t bring about freedom from confusion…


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