As for [the simile] "like a mirage...," a mirage appears on account of sunlight and the moving about of the dust by the wind. In the midst of a vast wilderness, this phenomenon may resemble "wild horses." On first observing it, an unknowledgeable person may think that it is water.
The features characteristic of manhood or womanhood are also like this. The sunlight of the fetters and afflictions heats up the dusts of karmic formations. The wind of improper reflective thought blows about in the vast wilderness of transmigration. One who is devoid of wisdom looks upon a given set of characteristics as constituting manhood or womanhood. It is [phenomena such as] these which are referred to as being like a mirage.
Furthermore, if one sees a mirage from a distance one may think that it is water. However, if one draws closer, there is no perception of water. [The situation of] a person lacking in wisdom is also like this. If he is distant from the Dharma of the sages, he is not aware of the nonexistence of self, is not aware of the emptiness of dharmas, and, in the midst of the intrinsically empty dharmas of the aggregates, sense realms and sense fields, he engenders [in his thoughts] characteristics of personhood, characteristics of manhood, and characteristics of womanhood. But, if he draws near to the Dharma of the sages, then he becomes aware of the actual mark of all dharmas. At this time all of the various kinds of false and deceptive erroneous thought are entirely eliminated. It is on account of this that it states here that the Bodhisattvas are aware of all dharmas as being like a mirage.
To be continued