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Definition of the Week (54): Phenomenon (dharma)

[Updated]
The Sanskrit word dharma (Tib. cho) has two meanings:

  1. Phenomenon
  2. Teaching

The definition of dharma is holding its own identity. If something holds its own identity it eliminates another identity as being itself. For example, mind holds its own identity of being clear & knowing, which eliminates the possibility for it to be matter, i.e. being atomically established.

In the context of the teachings, a dharma mind holds its own identity of virtue, which eliminates the identity of non-virtue from the mind.

☞  Purbu Chock:

Definition: That holding its own identity.
Phenomenon is synonymous with existent. To exist it has to possess an identity, and that which does not exist does not hold an identity.
To be empty of inherent existence, it has to possess an identity, because it has to be a dependent arising.

☞ Chandrakirti:

Any definitions of compounded phenomena   [6.215]
And any definitions of non-compounded phenomena,
The emptiness of that alone,
It is the emptiness of definitions.

☞ The First Dalai Lama Gyalwa Gedun Drub:

Take the subject ‘the emptiness of the quintessential nature of the definitions of compounded and non-compounded phenomena alone’ – it is the emptiness of definitions – because it is the emptiness that is the lack of the true existence of definitions.

☞ The appearing desirability that gives rise to attachment, and the appearing darkness giving rise to anger, these do not hold their own identity. Running after them one is just running after one’s projections.

Definition of the Week (55): Object of Knowledge

Purbu Chock: That suitable to be made an object of awareness.

Object of knowledge is synonymous with existent. That which does not exist cannot be made a object of mind. That which exists can be comprehended and can be made an object of mind.

The causal nature of the afflictions, their nature of intense generation, their conditional nature and them being the source of all suffering can be comprehended and be made an object of mind.

Definition of the Week (53): Established Base

☞ Purbu Chock:
Definition: That established by prime cognition
Established base is synonymous with, among others, existent, phenomenon and object of knowledge.
That established objectively as existent is reality, such as the compounded being impermanent, that under the control of karma and afflictions being suffering, the existence of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and their qualities, as well as one’s ability to attain these.

Everything not established by prime cognition, and rather refuted by it, is less than fiction, such as the compounded being static and permanent, that under the control of karma and afflictions being delightful, attractive and happiness, the non-existence of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, or one being unable to transform one’s mind into the Dharma Jewel, and become Sangha Jewel and Buddha Jewel.

☞ Lama Tsong Khapa:
There are six causes for the generation of mental afflictions: … Regarding mental attention it is the mistaken mental attention which exaggerates the attractive or non-attractive, the grasping at the impermanent as permanent and so forth.

Desire and attachment are generated in dependence on exaggerating the attractive qualities of the object. Anger and hatred are generated in dependence on exaggerating the non-attractive qualities of the object. Both are generated in dependence on projecting existence from its own side where there is none.

When we are attached, we are attached to our own projection, and when we are angry, we are angry at our own projections. Since anger and attachment are perceived as the two main sources for worldly happiness, the worldly mind becomes tired out in constantly having to keep up its projections.
Give the mind a rest by giving the mind the alternative of liberation and enlightenment.

Definition of the Week (52): Existent

☞ Purbu Chock:
Definition: Being the object of prime cognition

In Buddhism the dividing line between something that exists and something that is only projected or imagined, is whether it is the object of prime cognition or not.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
The only antidote against the afflictions is to cut through the false appearances projected by mistaken conception and understand the reality of the object.

☞ Gyaltsab Je:
One is mistaken with regards to the truth of suffering by grasping at purity, happiness, permanence and self. Understanding the four aspects of the truth of suffering, which are impermanence, suffering, empty and selfless, counteracts this.
Take the subject suffering of suffering
it is impermanent – because it is generated adventitiously
it is suffering – because it is powered by karma and afflictions
it is empty – because there is no separate controlling self
it is empty – because it is not established in the nature of an independent self.
To exist it has to be the object of prime cognition. E.g., while the fiction of Harry Potter exists, not even one atom Harry Potter does exist.
The permanence of our aggregates, the happiness of samsara we always project, and the self that supposedly posseses these aggregates or enjoys the supposed happinesses of samsara are like Harry Potter – not the object of prime cognition.