A lot has happened to me in this life. I have had a lot of challenges. In dealing with challenges, we must not let practical difficulties destroy our state of mind. For example, if you put a heavy object, weighing perhaps one or two hundred pounds, in front of a mirror, the heavy thing will be clearly reflected, but without the heaviness. In the same way, we can’t prevent ourselves from experiencing life’s difficulties, but we can experience them as if they are reflections in a mirror—clearly reflected without weighing us down.*
The next afternoon, he used another image to explain that the weight we usually experience comes from the way our fixations distort our interactions with the world.
Much of what we experience is not just mere appearance, but our fixation, what we overlay onto the appearances. For example, there is the way we divide things into “I” and “mine”. We don’t directly look at appearances, but see them through a frame, or window, which divides the world into I/mine, self/other. Something odd happens when we look out through the window of I/mine. When we try to reach out to others through this window, the window colors our interactions. The basic problem with that window is that we can’t really see through it.
We can imagine whatever we like. We want to look at something nice out the window, but if there isn’t anything nice there, we create a delusion instead. The window becomes a solid wall that blocks genuine reality. Genuine spiritual experience cannot be seen through the window of “I” and “mine”.*
There is a nice blog following the Karmapa’s visit called, His Holiness The 17th Karmapa’s 2008 U.S. Visit.
* These are not the Karmapa’s exact words, but a reconstruction from several people’s notes.