Below is a work in progress. I’m penning (doesnlt look right somehow) down a
simple commentary on some phrases from the Diamond Sutra 金剛經.
All conditioned phenomena
are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows,
dew and lightning
such is how one should reflect and observe!
Q1: What is meant by “All conditioned phenomena”?
A1: Conditioned phenomenon refers to that which exists due to conditions. Without conditions, such phenomenon cannot arise. They are without intrinsic properties, characteristics. They are empty or void of such properties. The properties are Empty. Such is meant by “All conditioned phenomena”.
Q2.1: What is meant by “dreams”?
A2.1: Dreams refer to the experience that arises during sleep wherein, one may experience an apparent sense of being in a scenario that may be real or fictitious. One may further engage in normal activity with others in the dream such as talking, walking, eating etc. In some cases, one may even dream about dreaming. In general, dreams are a series of mental images and emotions occurring during sleep. Upon waking, dreams are just a memory if at all. The characteristics of dreams is that they appear, and only appear to be real when one is in the state of dreaming. In reality, they are intangible and upon waking up, nothing in the dream can be grasped. Such is how dreams are to be known.
Q2.2: How is it that conditioned phenomena are like dreams?
A2.2: Conditioned phenomena appear to be tangible and solid, as though they possess their properties in their own right. In reality, they are empty of these properties. The characteristics and properties that they seem to be possess are as real as the ones in dreams, ultimately intangible. This is how conditioned phenomena are to be known to be like dreams.
Q3.1: What is meant be “illusions”?
A3.1: Illusions refers to erroneous mental representation. That which is a false representation of the actual situation is an illusion. Often used to describe performances by magicians and tricksters. Also known as sleigh-of-hand, magic, tricks etc.
The characteristic of illusions is that they are false representation of phenomena that lead to false perception of the said phenomena, resulting in belief in attributes or properties that are in actual fact absent. It is strongly associated with falsehood.
Q3.2: How is it that conditioned phenomena are like illusions?
A3.2: Conditioned phenomena appear to have solid properties and attributes that they project when in actual fact, they do not. They tend to lead one to perceive these qualities to be inherent in them although they are really dependent arising.
In this way, conditioned phenomena are like illusions, as they tend to lead us to perceive and believe in something that is actually absent. Like an illusion, conditioned phenomena can therefore be said to be of a lying nature, to have falsehood as its nature.
Q4.1: What is meant by bubbles?
A4.1: Bubbles refer to the collection of spherical or semi-spherical pockets of air or gases trapped within a layer of fluid.
The characteristic of bubbles is that they are very vulnerable, short lived and easily ruptured or destroyed.
Q4.2: How is it that conditioned phenomena are like bubbles?
A4.2: To be completed.