Reply To: Dr Mark Vernon's talk, A Revolution in Attention

  • Lucy Fleetwood

    May 22, 2023 at 11:51 am

    Hi Don,

    Thank you for your reply. Another concept of Tibetan Buddhism is the idea of relative and ultimate reality. The view is that at the relative level, we exist, and experience ourselves as separate beings that truly exist, but at the ultimate level (true nature of reality), we don’t, anymore than the person we were last night in our dreams actually exists. The reason it is so hard to articulate this, is because it is beyond elaboration, as soon as we use language, we can only point in a direction. And we do all our thinking through our sense of being a person. Suffering for Buddhism is this mistaken identification with a self. The ego is a process that we assign a self to. We do a similar thing with ideas of ‘soul’. It’s fascinating. In Buddhism there are the two vehicles (pathways), hinyana and mahayana. They each have skillful ways to create the conditions withing the mind that will allow for enlightenment, except the hinyana retains a subtle sense of self, that prevents enlightenment. The mahayana vehicle which focuses on traveling the path for the benefit of all beings, aims to cut through this. Someone on the mahayana path will also practice the hinyana pathway that creates right moral conduct and addresses the disturbed emotions, which then gives space to practice the mahayana practices. And these practices teach how suffering is due to this mistake sense of self. And so, from this perspective, if we cling to the idea of a soul, that ‘I’ exist beyond dependent origination, then we stay stuck in samsara living our the karma within the mindstream. I am probably not explaining this very well. I wonder about the LH and RH, does the sense of ‘self’ belong to the LH and no sense of self with the RH, or have I got that wrong?