Re: cont.. Buddhism and the illusion of time

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Posted by Soulplex ( on April 20, 2000 at 13:06:09:

In Reply to: cont.. Buddhism and the illusion of time posted by Remmy on April 19, 2000 at 03:26:46:

<< Thanks for the explanation.
I'm still having trouble understanding part of it though and I'd be very greatful if anyone could help. I understand that the movie screen is timeless and since the frames of light that appear on it ARE the movie screen, then they too must be timeless. But where, then, does impermenence come from? I still don't understand this after reading about it all night. If the frames are beyond time how can they be impermenant? >>

Okay--bear in mind that it's only an analogy, so you can only take it so far--but I'll try to go with it and clarify. Impermanence comes from believing that the motion within the movie is actually real. Impermanence is change. Impermanence is time. When you go to a theater and watch a movie, perhaps an airplane on the screen takes off, flies a bit, then crashes into the ocean. If you believe that this "airplane" really exists and changes, then it will seem impermanent. But if you understand that the "airplane" is just a sequence of completely motionless movie frames, with the illusion of motion created by your memory stringing the images together and your thoughts labeling the appearance "airplane," then there is no impermanence. There's just an ever-new appearance, with no "thing," no "airplane," actually persisting through time and changing.

<< Are they timeless for the Buddhahood within us but impermenent for the form/samsaric body? Does one frame of light appear, stay for a short time and then disappear to be replaced by a different frame of light so that impermenence is true in a literal way, or does just the one present frame exist on its own - timeless, never born and never to die so I'm frozen in time as I type this/ read the reply? I'm asking from the samsaric view. Does a samsaric frame - the frame that suffers - only live for a short time on the screen of awareness or does it exist eternally and timelessly? >>

How many frames are on a movie screen at once? Only one, right? And they replace each other on the screen at a speed of 24 frames per second. Well, that's a movie screen, existing in the world of time and change. For the "movie screen" of your own Awareness--which is beyond time and change--the frames replace each other in infinite succession. (But not "infinite frames per second," because these are the frames that generate "seconds" in the first place.) That's why Zen Master Seung Sahn said that Awareness is like a camera with a shutter speed of 1 divided by infinity. There's always only one frame on your Awareness (with no "past" or "future" frames really existing anywhere), but it's a brand new frame every timeless instant. In Dzogchen they say that the movie frames of existence--since they are timeless, even though they can generate an appearance of time--are "self-liberated as they arise." Since they are timeless, since they aren't really independent of the Awareness-screen they exist on, they are one with that timeless Awareness in the "Great Perfection" of Reality.

So, yes, the impermanence is real enough for the samsaric entity within the context of the movie--who is himself nothing but part of a sequence of movie frames--but not for the ever-present Buddha Mind that the frames of light are reflected upon in radiant newness for all eternity.

When you believe that you're a changing, moving creature within a movie, you believe that you exist through time and live and die and suffer. But when you see that the movie is just a movie--a sequence of completely new and distinct images--then you penetrate the illusion, stop identifying yourself with it, and discover your own True Nature as the screen that the movie appears on. Whether horror, thriller, comedy, drama, or fantasy--the movie screen itself remains forever untouched by such displays. And when you discover that screen and cease identifying with a character in a movie that appears on the screen, you will realize the Freedom that is always yours.


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