Also related: Resolving That Thoughts and Perceptions are Buddha-Mind

A short excerpt from a thorough and very well written article

(Thrangu Rinpoche)

....Although one recognizes the cognitive lucidity or the lucidity of awareness within emptiness, there are different ways that this might be recognized. For example, someone might find that when they look at the nature of a thought, initially the thought arises, and then as the thought dissolves, what it leaves in its wake or what it leaves behind it is an experience or recognition of the unity of cognitive lucidity and emptiness. Because this person has recognized this cognitive lucidity and emptiness, there is some degree of recognition, but because this can only occur for them or has only occurred for them after the thought has subsided or vanished, then they are still not really seeing the nature of thought itself. For someone else, they might experience that from the moment of the thought's arising, and for the entire presence of that thought, it remains a unity of cognitive lucidity and emptiness. This is a correct identification, because whenever there is a thought present in the mind or when there is no thought present in the mind, and whether or not that thought is being viewed in this way or not, the nature of the mind and the nature of every thought is always a unity of cognitive lucidity and emptiness. It is not the case that thoughts only become that as they vanish.

The word naked is used a great deal at this point in the text. And the word naked here has a very specific and important meaning because it is used to distinguish between understanding and experience, that is to say, understanding and recognition. it is very easy to confuse one's understanding for an experience or a recognition. One might understand something about the mind and therefore think that one had recognized it directly. Here, the use of the term "naked" means "direct;" that is to say, something that is experienced nakedly or directly in the sense that the experience is free from the overlay of concepts.

Whereas normally we have the attitude that thought is something we must get rid of, in this case it is made clear that it is important not to get rid of thought, but to recognize its nature, and indeed, not only the nature of thought but the nature of stillness must be recognized. In particular, with regard to thought, as long as we do not recognize its nature, of course thought poses a threat to meditation and becomes an impediment. But once the nature of thought has been correctly recognized, thought itself becomes the meditative state and therefore it is often said that "the root of meditation is recognizing the nature of thought."

There lived in the eighteenth century a great Gelugpa teacher named Changkya Rolpe Dorje, who from his early youth displayed the signs of being an extraordinary person. He became particularly learned and also very realized, and at one point he composed a song called 'Recognizing Mother.' 'Mother' in his song is the word he uses to refer to dharmata or the nature of one's mind. This song was so extraordinary that a commentary was written about it by Khenchen Mipam Rinpoche. In this song, Changkya Rolpe Dorje makes a very clear distinction between recognizing and not recognizing the nature of one's mind. In one part of the song he says, "Nowadays we scholars of the Gelugpa tradition, in discarding these appearances of the mind as the basis for the realization of emptiness and of the basis for the negation of true existence, and in searching for something beyond this to refute, something beyond this to negate in order to realize emptiness, have left our old mother behind; in other words, we have missed the point of emptiness."

Changkya Rolpe Dorje gives another image for this mistake that we tend to make. he says that we are like a small child who is sitting in his mother's lap but forgetting where he is, looks for his mother everywhere; looks above, below, left and right and is unable to see his mother and becomes quite agitated. Along comes the child's older brother, and the image the older brother represents is both the understanding of interdependence and the recognition of the nature of thought. The older brother reminds the child by saying, "Your mother is right here, you are in her lap." In the same way, the nature of our mind or emptiness is with us all the time, we tend to look for it indirectly; we look for it somewhere outside ourselves, somewhere far away. And yet we do not need to look far away if we simply view the nature of thought as it is."...

Thusness/PasserBy found some very good posts in another forum, by a forummer 'rizenfenix' and I am sharing it here.
An object is seen by a hundred different people like a hundred reflections in a hundred mirrors. But is it the same object? As a first approximation, it’s the same object, but one that can be perceived in completely different ways by different beings. Only one who has attained enlightenment recognizes the object’s ultimate nature – that it appears, but is devoid of any intrinsic existence – as the direct contemplation of absolute truth transcends any intellectual concept, any duality between subject and object.

Buddhism’s position is that of the ‘Middle Way: the world isn’t a projection of our minds, but it isn’t totally independent of our minds, either – because it makes no sense to speak of a particular, fixed reality independent of any concept, mental process, or observer. Rather there is interdependence. In this manner, Buddhism avoids falling into either nihilism or eternalism. Phenomena arise through a process of interdependent causes and conditions, but nothing exists in itself or by itself.

Colors, sounds, smells, flavors, and textures aren’t attributes that are inherent to the objective world, existing independently of our senses. The objects we perceive seem completely ‘external’ to us, but do they have intrinsic characteristics that define their true nature? What is the true nature of the world as it exists independently of ourselves? We have no way of knowing, because our only way of apprehending it is via our own mental process. So, according to Buddhism, a ‘world’ independent of any conceptual designation would make no sense to anyone. To take an example, what is a white object? Is it a wavelength, a ‘color temperature’, and or moving particles? Are those particles energy, mass, or what? None of those attributes are intrinsic to the object, they’re only the result of our particular ways of investigating it.

Buddhist scriptures tell the story of two blind men who wanted to have explained to them what colors were? One of them was told that white was the color of snow. He took a handful of snow and concluded that white was ‘cold’. The other blind man was told white was the color of swans. He heard a swan flying overhead, and concluded that white went ‘swish swish’... The complete and correct recollection of the story aside, the point being the world cannot be determined by itself. If it was, we’d all perceive it in the same way.

That’s not to deny reality as we observe it, nor to say that there’s no reality outside the mind, but simply that no ‘reality in itself’ exists. Phenomena only exist in dependence on other phenomena.
Originally Posted by Subjectivity9 View  Post

It makes little difference if there is a world out there, or if there is not a world out there, because we don't live in the world. We live almost exclusively in our minds, and what can be imagined. This is why our world is called an illusion.

We are constantly manufacturing what we think we know, out of mere fragments of sense data. We are dreaming. And just like our nightly dreams, these daily dreams are only temporary. Like clouds in the sky.

Get any 2 men in a room, ask them what they see and know, and you will always have 3 opinions.

; ^ )

Every thing we think that we know, about any thing in this world, must first pass through the filters of our mind (senses) and be translated into know-ability with little agreement and no final answers.

The Truth or Reality lies deeper than the surface movie that seems to be playing before our eyes.

If anything, metaphysics is quite fascinating and a pleasurable topic of cordial discourse and personal contemplation… As such, let us consider the term ‘illusion’, as it relates to the original question of this thread, the ‘Middle Way’, and the favor of your splendid insight, comments and points of view.

For those of us living in that illusion, the world seems as real as it possibly could be. But just as ice is only solidified water, the solidity we ascribe to the world isn’t its ultimate reality. This illusionary nature of the world doesn’t stop the laws of cause and effect being inescapable. Physicists would say that electrons aren’t tiny cannonballs but concentrations of energy. Such a statement doesn’t even slightly lessen the need to develop medicine, to allay suffering and to solve all the problems of everyday life. Even if the self is only an imposture, and even if the external world isn’t made up of entities endowed with true existence, it’s perfectly legitimate to remedy suffering by all available means and to do whatever can be done to increase the well-being of all. In the same way, a scientist who understands that we’re only made of particles that can be reduced to just energy won’t thereby be rendered indifferent to happiness and suffering.

Buddhist practice involves three complementary aspects – view, meditation and action. The ‘view’ is what corresponds to the metaphysical perspective, investigation of the ultimate nature of things, of the phenomenal world and of the mind. Once this view has been established, ‘meditation’ consists of familiarizing oneself (distinctively) with that view and integrating it through spiritual practice into the stream of consciousness, in such a way that the view becomes second nature (post-meditation). ‘Action’ is the expression in the outer world of the inner knowledge acquired through ‘view’ and ‘meditation’. It is a matter of applying and maintaining that knowledge in all circumstances. This is the phase in which ethics, or morals, enters into things. Ethics doesn’t become invalid when you realize the illusionary nature of the world. Someone whose eyes of wisdom are open sees even more clearly and finely the mechanisms of cause and effect, and knows what should be undertaken and what should be avoided in order to continue making progress on the path and bringing happiness to others. Again, the ‘Middle Way’ isn’t exclusionary, but inclusionary.

The goal isn’t to deny that there’s any such thing as the phenomenal world as we perceive it – what Buddhism calls relative truth – but to show that the world isn’t as real as we think. In fact, coming into existence seems impossible, because, once again, being can’t arise from nothingness, and if it already exists it doesn’t need to arise. At the same time, it doesn’t ‘cease’, because it’s never come into existence. This is what leads Buddhism to say the world is like a dream or an illusion. It doesn’t say the world is a dream or an illusion, because that would be falling into nihilism. As such and according to this ‘Middle Way’, appearances are emptiness, and from emptiness arise appearances.

As an alternate view, certain Hindu philosophers opposed Buddhism with the premise that if everything’s like a dream, if your suffering is like a dream, what’s the use of trying to attain enlightenment? The reply is this. Since beings do undergo the experience of suffering, it’s right to dissipate it, even if it’s an illusory. If not (exponentially), then what’s the use of taking any action, as we’re just a bunch of cells directed by a bunch of neurons? What’s the use of taking any action, as we’re made up of atoms and particles that ‘are not things’ and which, in any case, are not ‘us’?

Why, because it is Bodhicaryavatara, the Middle Way, the right view leading to the right meditation leading to the right action.

On rebirth:
Continuing consciousness after death is, in most religions, a matter of revealed truth. In Buddhism, the evidence comes from the contemplative experience of people who are certainly not ordinary but who are sufficiently numerous that what they say about it is worth taking seriously into account. Indeed, such testimonies begin with those of the Buddha himself.

Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that what’s called reincarnation in Buddhism has nothing to do with the transmigration of some ‘entity’ or other. It’s not a process of metempsychosis because there is no ‘soul’. As long as one thinks in terms of entities rather than function and continuity, it’s impossible to understand the Buddhist concept of rebirth. As it’s said, ‘There is no thread passing through the beads of the necklace of rebirths.’ Over successive rebirths, what is maintained is not the identity of a ‘person’, but the conditioning of a stream of consciousness.

Additionally, Buddhism speaks of successive states of existence; in other words, everything isn’t limited to just one lifetime. We’ve experienced other states of existence before our birth in this lifetime, and we’ll experience others after death. This, of course, leads to a fundamental question: is there a nonmaterial consciousness distinct from the body? It would be virtually impossible to talk about reincarnation without first examining the relationship between body and mind. Moreover, since Buddhism denies the existence of any self that could be seen as a separate entity capable of transmigrating from one existence to another by passing from one body to another, one might well wonder what it could be that links those successive states of existence together.

One could possibly understand it better by considering it as a continuum, a stream of consciousness that continues to flow without there being any fixed or autonomous entity running through it… Rather it could be likened to a river without a boat, or to a lamp flame that lights a second lamp, which in-turn lights a third lamp, and so on and so forth; the flame at the end of the process is neither the same flame as at the outset, nor a completely different one…