The Mahayana path is like peeling layers of skin and finally finding out that there’s no seed inside. We have to obtain liberation from the skins, but this is difficult to do — we love our skins. When we’re children, a sand castle is very important to us. Then when we’re sixteen, a skateboard is very important, and by then the sand castle has become a rotten skin. When we’re in our thirties and forties, money, cars, and relationships replace the skateboard. These are all layers of skin. More important, even the paths that we practice are all layers of skin, which we use to help us peel the other skins. The inner skin helps us think about the outer skin and motivates us to peel it. But ultimately in the Mahayana path, you have to be free from all systems, all skins.
So what happens when all these skins have been peeled off? What’s left? Is enlightenment a total negation, like the exhaustion of a fire or the evaporation of moisture? Is it something like that? No, we’re talking about something that is a result of elimination. For example, if your window is dirty, you clean it, you wash the dirt; then the window, in the absence of dirt, is labeled a “clean” window. There’s nothing else. The phenomenon that we are calling a clean window, the quality that is the absence of dirt, is not something we produced by cleaning the dirt. I don’t think we should even call it a clean window, because the window in its original state has never been stained by the extremes of either dirty or clean. Nevertheless, the process of getting rid of the dirt can be labeled as the emergence of the clean window.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
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