Imagine that the human experience can be broken into 5 categories.
Form – This is our own bodies, and material objects as well. Specifically, this psychological component corresponds to our 5 senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch) and the organs associated with those senses.
Sensation – This is our awareness of feelings such as pleasant, unpleasant, and indifferent. When we experience an object it takes on an emotional tone of either pleasure, displeasure, or indifference.
Perception – This is our mind’s ability to recognize, categorize, and define an experience. As human beings, we are “meaning-making machines”. Our minds are very capable of formulating concepts and creating stories about our experiences.
Volition – This is the mind’s ability to create a conditioned response to experiences. It is our habitual response in the current moment directed in a particular way, by a built-up storehouse of perceptions we have acquired throughout our lives. We could consider this our morality or habits.
Consciousness – This is the mental coordination and instruction of our sensory experiences (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, thought). Our consciousness is capable of three forms of cognition. The first is the ability to recognize an object and reference past experiences. The second is the ability to compare an object to another that has been experienced in the past through logical deduction. The third is the ability to “create” perception-based irrelevant experiences and comparisons.
But, what if these five components of human life do not exist as independent and isolated things in and of themselves?
Examine each of these five components of self. Can you isolate them completely without relying on some “other” form of reference?
Do you exist as your body in and of itself, without relation to anything else?
Do you exist as your sensation of feelings in and of itself, without relation to anything else?
Do you exist as the perception of experiences in and of itself, without relation to anything else?
Do you exist as conditioned responses or habits in and of themselves, without relation to anything else?
Do you exist as consciousness in and of itself, without relation to anything else?
Then, where do you exist? Can you find your sense of “self”, the thing you call "Me" as any single independent and isolated thing separate from all other things?
Just to be clear, you most certainly exist, though perhaps not in the way you originally thought. If our carefully constructed identities can not be found as a single independent thing, then it stands to reason that if any aspect of who we are could have been slightly different, the result would be a new mixture of conditions and things that we now call ourselves. In effect our identity is malleable, and nothing is set in stone.
Consider the possibility that the essential characteristic of all phenomena is interdependence and malleability, that all of what we call reality is the result of endless influences and components combining together as mental constructs and then being labeled by our “meaning generating” minds.
What if ultimate reality is empty of inherent and independent existence? What if labels are all relative?
In emptiness there is a lack of form, feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness as independent, self-existing things. In the lack of independent form, feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness there is endless creative potential. In that vast infinite potential, there is freedom.
We all like to believe that we can trust our experiences, that we understand why we experience the things that we do, and that we can truly grasp why life is the way it is, but our experience, understanding, and wisdom are all sculpted by countless influences that have molded our awareness.
What if the stories we create and the fear that leads to the need to be right and look good are simply the results of all the cause and effect experiences we have accumulated? What if we are free to transcend these false views, beliefs, hopes, and convictions?
What if we are actually free to grow beyond our current limitations, to unleash our potential and look back on the former “now” with an even higher understanding.
“Gya-tei Gya-tei Ha-ra Gya-tei
Ha-ra So Gya-tei Bo-ji So-wa-ka”