Bhikkhu Nanananda, in his prologue to The Magic of the Mind ... an Exposition of the Kalakarama Sutta. (BPS 1985)
"..... Suppose, monks a magician or a magician's apprentice should hold a magic-show at the four cross-roads; and a keen-sighted man should see it, ponder over it and reflect on it radically. (1) Even as he sees it, ponders over it and reflects on it radically, he would find it empty; he would find it hollow; he would find it void of essence. What essence, monks, could there be in a magic show?
Even so, monks, whatever consciousness - be it past, future or present, in oneself or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near - a monk sees it, ponders over it and reflects on it radically. And even as he sees it, ponders over it and reflects on it radically, he would find it empty; he would find it hollow; he would find it void of essence. What essence monks, could there be in a consciousness? (2) ......"
Form is like a mass of foam
And feeling - but an airy bubble.
Perception is like a mirage
And formations a plantain tree.
Consciousness is a magic-show,
A juggler's trick entire,
All these similes were made known
By the 'Kinsman-of-the-Sun." (3) S.III.142.
The famous magician whose miraculous performances you have thoroughly enjoyed on many an occasion, is back again in your town. The news of his arrival has spread far and wide, and eager crowds are now making for the large hall where he is due to perform today. You too buy a ticket and manage to enter the hall. There is already a scramble for seats, but you are not keen on securing one, for today you have entered with a different purpose in mind. You have had a bright idea to outwit the magician - to play a trick on him yourself. So you cut your way through the thronging crowds and stealthily creep into some concealed corner of the stage.
The magician enters the stage through the dark curtains, clad in his pitchy black suit. Black boxes containing his secret stock-in-trade are also now on the stage. The performance starts and from your point of vantage you watch. And as you watch with sharp eyes every movement of the magician, you now begin to discover, one after the other, the secrets behind those 'breath-taking' miracles of your favourite magician. The hidden holes and false bottoms in his magic boxes, the counterfeits and secret pockets, the hidden strings and buttons that are pulled and pressed under the cover of the frantic waving of his magic-wand. Very soon you see through his bag of wily tricks so well, that you are able to discover his next 'surprises', they no longer surprise you. His 'tricks' no longer deceive you. His 'magic' has lost its magic for you. It no longer kindles your imagination as it used to do in the past. The magician's 'hocus-pocus' and 'abracadabra' and his magic-wand now suggest nothing to you - for you know them now for what they are, that is : 'meaningless'. The whole affair has now turned out to be an empty-show, one vast hoax - a treachery.
In utter disgust, you turn away from it to take a peep at the audience below. And what a sight! A sea of craned necks - eyes that gaze in blind admiration; mouths that gape in dumb appreciation; the 'Ah!'s and 'Oh!'s and whistles of speechless amazement.
Truly, a strange admixture of tragedy and comedy which you could have enjoyed instead of the magic-show, if not for the fact that you yourself were in that same sorry plight on many a previous occasion. Moved by compassion for this frenzied crowd, you almost frown on the magician as he chuckles with a sinister grin at every applause from his admirers. "how is it," you wonder, "that I have been deceived so long by this crook of a magician?" You are fed up with all this and swear to yourself - "Never will I waste my time and money on such empty shows, Nev-ver."
The show ends. Crowds are now making for the exit. You too slip out of your hiding place unseen, and mingle with them. Once outside, you spot a friend of yours whom you know as a keen admirer of this magician. Not wishing to embarrass him with the news of your unusual experience, you try to avoid him, but you are too late. Soon you find yourself listening to a vivid commentary on the magic performance. Your friend is now reliving those moments of the 'bliss-of-ignorance' which he had just been enjoying. But before long he discovers that you are mild and reserved today, and wonders how you could be so, after such a marvellous show.
"Why? You were in the same hall all this time, weren't you"
"Yes, I was."
"Then, were you sleeping?"
"You weren't watching closely, I suppose."
"No, no, I was watching it alright, may be I was watching too closely."
"You say you were watching, but you don't seem to have seen the show."
"No, I saw it. In fact I saw it so well that I missed the show!"
Last edited by cooran
on Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---