Making ourselves feel solid, permanent, separate, continuous and defined – by constantly scanning the phenomenal horizon for reference points which substantiate these criteria – is a convoluted process. The phenomena of our perception will only serve us temporarily in this capacity. So if we take this course, we sentence ourselves to the continuous activity of establishing and replacing reference points. When we engage in this process, we convert our perceptual circumstances into a prison. In fact, our perceptual circumstances not only become an incarceration, but a very subtle personal torture chamber. We need to be continually on the look-out for new reference points. We need to reassess old reference points. We need to imbue ourselves with a certain pervasive nervousness. We need to foster a sense of unease about the whole process of experiencing existence. It could become unrelenting hard work in our own personal forced labour camp. In our attempts to establish reference points we react to the phenomena of our perception in three ways. We are either attracted, we are averse or we are indifferent. Attraction, aversion and indifference are usually referred to, in the translations of Buddhist texts, as lust (desire or attachment); hatred (anger or aggression); and ignorance. Although these words have a distinct application to the three distorted tendencies (usually referred to as ‘the Three Poisons’), they have connotations in English that lend them the tone of ‘the Seven Deadly Sins’.
If we encounter anything that seems to substantiate our fictions of solidity, permanence, separateness, continuity, and definition – we are attracted, we reach out for it. If we encounter anything that threatens these fictions – we are averse, we push it away. If we encounter anything that neither substantiates nor threatens these fictions – we are indifferent. What we cannot manipulate, we ignore. But what is left of our responses if these three fictions dissolve? The question of what our experience would be like without attraction, aversion, and indifference poses an interesting challenge to our rationale. In fact, we cannot approach this question at all, if we approach it through conventional reasoning. Fundamentally this question deals with the nature of experience itself. If attraction, aversion, and indifference dissolve, what remains is not any ‘kind of experience’; it is simply experience – experience as such. In terms of experience as such; we are completely present, open, and free in the experience of whatever arises as a perception.
Dechen, Khandro; Chogyam, Ngakpa (2014-01-14). Spectrum of Ecstasy: Embracing the Five Wisdom Emotions of Vajrayana Buddhism (p. 45). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.