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As Viewed, So Appears
by Paul Levy
Paul Levy
Years ago I received the empowerment of PadmaSambhava from one of my teacher's gurus. In these empowerments, or initiations, we are supposed to imagine that we are receiving the empowerment, rich with infinite blessings, from PadmaSambhava himself. Afterwards, I had a private audience with this guru, and he casually asked me, as if asking about a journey I had just returned from, how it went. Put on the spot, I didn't quite know what to say, other than the noncommittal and unrevealing "fine." He responded by saying "If you think you got it, you got it." I didn't think much of it at the time. It was only months later that I realized that at that moment this guru was giving me a profound insight into the nature of reality.

The Buddha kept on prophesizing in a number of sutras that an even greater incarnation than himself will soon be born whose name will be PadmaSambhava. PadmaSambhava is the tantric Buddha, the incarnation of the enlightened mind itself; he is considered to be the Buddha of our age. By the power of his awakening he "conquered" the country of Tibet and turned everyone into Dharma practitioners. PadmaSambhava is the supreme alchemist; it is said the greater the negativity, the greater his power of transmutation.

PadmaSambhava started the "terma," or hidden treasure lineage, which is particularly unique and psychoactive beyond belief. To insure the propagation of the purity of the teachings, PadmaSambhava concealed teachings and blessed objects in the dreamfield: in the earth, in the sky, in lakes, in his disciples minds. He would then inspire his disciples to discover them at exactly the right point in history, when this exact teaching was needed. Like alarm clocks going off to wake us up, these terma hidden in the dream, were also like vitamins that the dreamfield would organically secrete when needed, so as to compensate a one-sidedness.

One such terma is the Tibetan Book of Great Liberation. In this hidden treasure, one of the things PadmaSambhava says is "As a thing is viewed, so it appears," which can be essentialized to "As Viewed, So Appears." This points to the dreamlike nature of reality, for, in a dream, if we change the way we view it, the dream has no choice but to immediately shapeshift and reflect back our new point of view. A dream is none other than a mirrored reflection or projection of the very mind that is observing it.

"As viewed, so appears," is such a profound expression of how we create our reality, that if we think it isn't true, the entire universe will shape-shift and reflect back that as viewed, so appears is not true. Which, of course, is just further proof of the all-pervasiveness and profundity of “as viewed, so appears.”

Because this whole process happens outside of time, in no time, faster than the twinkling of an eye, we don't see the role we're playing in co-dreaming our seeming reality, and we become entranced by our own creation. We imagine and then experience the dreamscape as something intrinsically real, objectively existing and separate from us, which we thereby react to. In essence we are reacting to our own energy, like a kitten reacting to her reflection in a mirror, and we have once again dreamed ourselves into the self-perpetuating, infinite regression known as samsara or cyclic existence.

So if I think I got PadmaSambhava's blessing at the empowerment, then, according to “as viewed, so appears,” I got it. Could it be that simple? PadmaSambhava would certainly say so.

An artist whose medium is dreaming, Paul Levy is also a healer in private practice, assisting others who are also spiritually awakening. He is the coordinator of the Portland PadmaSambhava Buddhist Center. He can be reached at (503) 234-6480. As part of the preparations for the Dalai Lama’s visit, Paul has been invited by New Renaissance Bookshop to give a lecture on "Receiving the Greatest Blessing from His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Visit to Portland." The talk will be held on Friday, April 20th. See calendar for details.

For more articles about dreaming, see