I believe in patterns, and patterns of patterns, where scale is of secondary importance. Much like a fractal. The formula is more fundamental then the form. From there on, I believe that the mind will always be delusional. That is inherent to the formula by which it operates. The hypothesis is supported by the following: an illusion arises when the mind perceives something with an error. Hence the mind will never have a 100% accurate map of reality, and thus will always be delusional to some extent. Bridging to Samsara: I do not believe that there is an end stage, that it is boolean like: you either are in samsara, or you are not. I believe that to be true for very specific 'mental puzzles' though (more on that later). So I think, like with all things, that samsara is a concept. If you think of samsara to exist by itself, it is an illusion. Moving forward from this point of view I think that samsara can be experienced on a micro scale and macro scale. Macro scale would be to exerperience the end of samsara on the level of a life time. In the reality frame from which we now both view this webpage. Micro scale would be to experience the end of samsara during a meditation session.

Let me give an example of ending samsara at micro scale. I am meditating on the feeling of my body which is reflecting mental effort. Then suddenly I find myself inside this story (my mind is wandering). The theme of the story is aligned with the bodily feeling that I was focusing on. The central theme is that I am trying to do something, I try to solve something like a mental puzzle. I am trying to do this inside a context which hosts a 3D environment, full of visual and other sensory perception, a memory and entire past, etc. So it looks like a life-time. Not 'my' life necessarily. I may even be in a complylety different role or life than the one I am currently experiencing. Now the crux is: when I come to realize what I am mentally doing, and that there is no need to do it, I let go. That moment the entire environment fades, or I stay there and be in control of keeping it alive (only for a while). Much like a lucid dream. I can choose to wake up out of it, or just enjoy the scenery while being freed from this mental strain. That what I was doing, comes forth from craving and desire and illusions. So the moment I realize myself and fully see what I am doing, I can let go. No moment earlier, because when I do not see fully what I am doing, and I would attempt to let go, I would fool myself. With that, the environment collapses or when I put effort in, I can keep it alive for a while. The thing is: I am freed from the mental strain.

The reason I am relating all this to the cycle of birth and death is that: the entire environment, experience of self, the role I have there and what not, seems to be in function of self-reflecting. To find out what I am doing and learn about myself. And as soon as I let go, I die there. The environment goes away or I am no longer in the role that I was in.

Now my understanding of ending Samsara from a Buddhism perspective is that it is described at the scope of a life-time. I am wondering, is there any literature that talks about ending samsara at a more micro scale level. Like the example experience I gave above? From my personal experience I come to the conclusion that there are too much similarities between the meditation experience described above and my life, that is likely for them to have their root in the same formula, only on a different scale, like a fractal pattern.


First of all, let me confirm that your perspective is valid. Most of my teachers held similar views. For example, my Zen Master used to say that rebirth occurs every second. My Tibetan Buddhism teacher said that rebirth in the higher worlds occurs when we enter Jhanas, and that an entire realm is created right at that moment - just like you said. At least two other teachers said things that amounted to the same idea: the world is a hallucination being constructed by our mind and in order to exit samsara we must stop constructing it. I remember one teacher saying the biggest challenge with students was to achieve what he called "immediacy", getting them shift attention to their mind on the moment-by-moment scale.

(I used to think that this sort of explanation was an upaya, a clever trick designed to lead people to psychological realizations. However, the further I go, the more I see for myself that this "reality is a construct" explanation is not a metaphor but is true in the literal sense. In my recent encounters I was demonstrated some very advanced techniques that put some strain on my structure of reality, to put it mildly.

Whether this world is real and dharma is ethical and psychological, or this world is a dream we dream and dharma is literal, the moment-by-moment phenomenological perspective remains valid. This is what Buddha called "the safe bet" - his teaching remains an invariant that is correct regardless of the exact interpretation.)

There is not much literature on the topic however. The closest I've seen are the works by Buddhadāsa, a Thai Theravada reformist. He held that "dhamma is akaliko" (timeless) means it plays out on moment-by-moment scale. He insisted on phenomenological explanation of rebirth. Among his books there is a rather detailed analysis of Twelve Nidanas done from this phenomenological perspective.

  • Is this Yogachara's vijñapti-mātra or citta-mātra? The so-called mind-only school?
    – ruben2020
    Feb 20 '18 at 16:07
  • This answer seems to be referencing works which talk about the "macro/micro" equivalence. Just to check, is some of that literature about ending the micro-wanderings?
    – ChrisW
    Feb 20 '18 at 16:28
  • 1
    @ChrisW - yes Buddhadāsa speaks about ending the construction of "self" and ending of samsara on the micro scale.
    – Andrei Volkov
    Feb 20 '18 at 16:41

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