This waking life is like a dream. If we know we’re dreaming, will we hold on to the people in the dream? get upset about how we feel or that we lost something in that dream? Son to Mom: “Pretend you are surrounded by monsters and they are all coming at you. You’re really frightened. You think they’re going to attack you. What would you do?” Mom: “I don’t know—What would you do?” Son: “Stop pretending!”
Examining the aggregates of existence in the past few weeks, we see that we live in a constructed reality. Consciousness storing received sense impressions in memory and projecting them into the future, we create a solid, personal, view of an abiding self. But consciousness is only here and now—the present moment is all there is. The texture of thoughts, mental states, perceptions, body sensations is ephemeral, empty. Appearances are insubstantial, fleeting, generated by a nervous system pulsing on and off thousands of times every second. What feels solid is just hardness conveyed by the sense of touch, another fleeting sense impression. We may never know what underlying reality truly is.
The wisdom of the teaching of the five aggregates is to see “emptiness” or “selflessness,” which does not denote nothingness, a state of desolation—it points to the transparency and spaciousness of experience. The potentially deeply liberating effect of meditation is that it gives a steady basis from which emptiness—the impermanent and insubstantial nature of sense experiences that arise and dissolve, appear and fade—is revealed.
Buddha: “Empty phenomena roll on. This view alone is true.” Look deeply, be free.