Like illusions

64 Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature

Part of an ongoing series of teachings (retreat and Friday) based on the book Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, the third volume in The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron.

  • Explanation of how phenomena are like an illusion and examples
  • Appearance and ultimate mode of existence
  • Description of being like a mirage
  • Person, path and liberation do not exist from their own side
  • Agent, action and object do no inherently exist
  • Mere experiencer and experiences
  • Incorrect views about the self and the body
  • Extremes of nihilism or absolutism

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature 64: Like Illusions (download)

Contemplation points

  1. What is meant by the term “illusion” from a Buddhist perspective when contemplating how things actually exist? What is the difference between being “like an illusion” and “being an illusion? Why is this an important distinction?
  2. Imagine what it would be like to not grasp at inherent existence. How would you interact differently with your own experience and with the world around you?
  3. Do you sometimes feel like you are your body? Are you your body? What are the inconsistencies that arise if you were your body?
  4. What is meant by saying the body is “old kamma?” Have you ever considered that your previous mental, verbal, and physical actions generated this life and this body, and that due to your actions you took rebirth in this form? Does contemplating this alter the way you think about your body?
  5. What does “mere conditionality” mean and how would a deep awareness of this affect your daily life?
  6. What is the difference between samsara created by mind and nirvana created by mind?
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.