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Help understanding Emptiness please!
Nothing can exist on itself.
All is interconnected and depends on other things.
Tree needs sun, water, dirt.
Consiousness somehow appears to transend this and go solo.
At least partly.
Even though mind is part conditioning and part genetics we still have free choice and can make new decisions and connections.
Our brains can physically even change, when we change thoughts!! (neurons making new connections too).
Mind is the spider and karma is the web.
Just some thoughts on this subject.
Yeah, i actually have a quote that i composed to do with this exactly.
"Everything exists for the benefit of anything but itself."
in this case, i'm referring to a conventional self.
The Kalama Sutta is helpful in this regard.
Or else we might as well discard every teaching there is....
Yes, and no. The whole point of his teachings is that for the greatest part, they are testable and verifiable. While it is true that some things may be 'lost in translation', the essence and origin of the suttas is pretty fixed, and more and more noteworthy scholars are applying themselves to transmitting the Pali cannon more and more accurately. Thanissaro Bikkhu is one such Monk.... His translations are about as accurate and on the mark as any can be.
I'm glad, and it's worth testing and comparing his teachings to those of other schools. When you see and perceive a constant vein, and little or no variation in the teachings, then one n be pretty confident.
When there appears to be a disparity, it's worth pursuing the matter further.
If your information is from a monk in the Kadampa Tradition, I would recommend, in all friendliness, and with no animosity or hostility, that perhaps more sources might also be studied....
Not really.It's your very own personal justice system. The 'Universe' has nothing to do with it....
Theravada: The oldest and most original school.
Your saying "Everything exists for the benefit of anything but itself" seems like there's something amiss. If everything exists for everything BUT self, it's not really logical. To me, it's a complete chain. Everything helps everything else. I'd like to know if you realize what you've said and if you meant it and if you did, why exclude 'self' - your own self, I guess is what you're saying. Like it's some sort of altruistic thing...I don't know what you're saying or suggesting with that sentence.
A tree doesnt exist for the benefit of the tree,
Nor does a mountain exist for the benefit of the mountain. If everything existed for its own sake the universe wouldn't work. How can your existence be of any benefit of your existence? It doesnt make sense. A star doesnt have the attributes of a star to benefit the attributes of itself because it doesnt make sense..
Obviously the instinct of survival is an exception, but it tends to be conscious beings that have this trait. All other phenomena in the universe exists for the benefit of anything but itself.
Maybe i should say " Everything in nature exists for the benefit of anything but itself."
But anyway... My reason for saying this was that our egos make us believe we exist for our own benefit but really we exist for the benefit of others, wherever we live in this way or not is up to us.
I'd rather not get into a discussion about this anyway because it can just go on for ages and im too lazy to keep replying lol.
Hope i cleared up my point though!
I can't be sure where ego comes into play where everything's instinct of survival is concerned. I myself don't know why anyone would consider it egotistical to feel as though not only do "I" survive (or 'you' survive) for others AND myself (and yourself). I guess I think it's like the 3 musketeers - all for one and one for all. Maybe it's that (what I consider) a misconception of ridding one's self of one's self that is uh more than a little odd to my way of thinking. I can only say how I look at this aspect under discussion.
Actually, it does; or else there would be little point in the tree being there at all. It grows to flourish and reproduce, and benefit from the prevalent environmental conditions. It's a two-way street. The tree gives but also takes.
A mountain isn't just 'a mountain'. It is covered in vegetation, so it is in and of itself not a single entity.
If everything existed for its own sake the universe wouldn't work.
Nothing exists 'for its own sake. Everything rides in a symbiotic existence; many things depend on "it", and "it" depends on many things.
The Universe isn't some mysterious entity that has a personality or need. The Universe is a make-up of every single thing in it; sentient, non-sentient, living, or without inherent life. But everything and everyone has a part to play, and gives, and gains reward.
Why not think about committing suicide? That might answer your question.
If your existence cannot benefit from your own existence, then why be here?
You are not solely designated as useful for others...
I am losing the sense of your discussion here.... An inanimate rock isn't really a factor to take into consideration. It's just a lump of matter, with no sentient ability or inherent will....
On the contrary. It is the very crux of the matter! Survival and existence is the very reason we will ourselves to live!
So now you're revising your quote....
I hate to point it out to you, but everything from Mankind down, flora and fauna, animal or vegetable, human or other - IS Nature.
We need Ego. It is an intrinsic part of being a human. Ego is necessary in order to function effectively. But we control it, and not vice-versa. And remember that we need to look to ourselves, our well-being and health, first. There's no point attending to others if we do not tend to what we need first.
An example often given in some Buddhist quarters is, that it's like being in an aeroplane and listening to the safety advice given at the start of the flight, regarding the use of oxygen masks: Fit your own mask first, before assisting others. If you're suffering, then you're in no position to 'benefit others'.
Well here's the thing: This is a discussion forum, and you DID ask to join, so that is kind of the point of you being here....but I suspect it's not 'laziness'. I suspect you didn't expect to have some of the information you had, as fixed in your head, quite so tossed about, and it's proving a bit of a challenge to have to possibly re-evaluate some of the things you have hitherto taken as rock-solid true, given that they have had a bit of a shake-up.
Your points were made, but as you can see, there are other considerations to take into account, now.
@federica has kindly given you a good kick up the ass. If we are as empty as good Buddhist form allows, we rush for further stuffing removal.
Kindness is not always gentle BUT if we are kind and emptied enough to receive, we may benefit from many forms of emptying ...
Form empties ... [something like that]
This is making my brain hurt, so I'm switching to "Oi dunno" mind for a while.
It's actually the best mind-set to have, at any time, anywhere....
Not during an exam, trust me.
Well. OK. yes....
But that's not the situation here.
Yeah, I know. My humour needs work.
I can see you're already getting more input on this than you'd like but negating to care for the self only makes it worse.
If I look at myself as low then why would I look up to anybody when they are just as much a negation of self as I am?
I don't see it as a negation of self, more like a subjective expression of the absolute.
We don't want to feel supremacy over anyone but by that same logic we don't want to feel inferior either. Putting ourselves on a different level than others makes it harder to understand and truly feel the logic of compassion.
"Everything exists for the benefit of anything but itself"
I can relate to that, and might not be a wrong way to look at things, but I can't help but think that it correlates to the idea that every exists to benefit itself. Which if that is the case then it does seem to have a dualistic tone.
I do not know what a conventional self is.
"Benefit" is something only ego can come up with, seems to me. Just like good, bad, right, wrong. I don't think 'benefit' has something to do with emptyness.
Emptyness = interconnected co-depended variables.
There is a koan by Huangpo that goes: "What did your face look like before your parents were born?" Seems it points at emptiness. Emptiness of inherent identity. More importantly it attempts to override things like "my philosophy" or the brain/mind activity that is a part of Dukkha; The inexhaustible chatter of monkey mind, the "Matrix"- like adherence to a shared conditioned perception of what we refer to as conventional reality. Karma and Sunyata are teachings that may not be meant to be "understood" conventionally. They are so problematic as to possibly be offered as tools to shatter logic, science and philosophy (not permanently, of course) to instigate "awakening" to the ambiguity and uncertainty of concepts beyond conventional thought, to emptiness. This is like, just my opinion, of course, but things are constantly in flux and never exactly what they seem and I am never surprised at being wrong about anything any more. So "getting it right" is fraught with misinterpretation, subject to change and completely overrated. That said, we should never give up either.
This link might be worth reading...
I personally don't like and don't trust Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's books and teachings for the reasons explained by @federica above.
I have tried to read several of his books but never went beyond the first ten pages in any.
His explanations feel too dry, inconsistent, contradictory, and in some cases, intolerant.
Apparently he was expelled from the monastery where he studied and never actually finished his studies, so we can hardly bring up the issue of lineages in his case.
This is my personal opinion, of course.
That said, Thich Nhat Hanh explains the concept of emptiness as things being empty of a separate self, a separate existence:
"A flower is full of everything in the cosmos -sunshine, clouds, air, and space. It is empty of only one thing, a separate existence. That is the meaning of emptiness."
This came through from Lion's Roar today and it seemed like a good idea to share about emptiness and compassion. Here's the Heart Sutra article.
All phenomena relies on my mind to exist then when i die it will no longer exist.
No it will still exist when you die.
It's not that Phenomenon will stop existing.It's the person who experiences phenomenon that stops existing.(goes away).
Phenomenon is impersonal.Its causes and conditions.Phenomenon keeps going.It has nothing to do with us.
Even an Arahant has to put up with phenomenon arising and passing away and only Parinibbanna does it cease.
Also, If all of you are mere appearances to my mind why do i only perceive one body because of self grasping ignorance, aren't you all just an appearance like my body, why aren't i experiencing your body?
Your not experiencing other people's body because at conception, consciousness is tied to a certain (matter)body due to karma.
... But does my karma really effect the suffering of others or does my karma only effect how i perceive the suffering of others?
Your karmic actions affects others.If you came and hit me you are affecting me.
So many questions... I have tried speaking to monks in person about emptiness and it always left me feeling like the way the universe is - is a result of my karma.
The universe is not a result of your karma or my karma. It's just Causes and conditions.This is clearly seen in an Arahant's life.Even after they have attained enlgihtenment. The universe keeps going..The planets keep orbiting..season's keep changing..that's because the universe is formed by causes and conditions which is impersonal.
However how You PERCEIVE or experience YOUR life is greatly affected by your karma.We walk around among people but they all have different mind states.They perceive their lives and experiences differently.Some are living in hell others in heaven.
I had one of those weird experiences that happens when listening to a lot of dharma and meditating plenty.
I came to see that 'now' is any time between the past and future - that it was a very very narrow window of time. The things that happened in 'now' had repercussions for the future. Instead of seeing things in a linear manner, things were clearly much more multi-directional and dynamic. It was that the conditions of that moment led to new conditions the following moment and so on.
Around that same time, I saw the world not as a series of objects but in molecules that were moving.
And when walking, I came to realise that the world is actually in 2-D but that our mind casts edges to everything and the 'objects' are just a perception. For the visual world, we use binocular vision to shift the world from 2-D into 3-D.
The upshot of these experiences is that I have the feeling that a big part of understanding what emptiness means is that the world is not a series of objects. Instead, our minds create an edge where there isn't one.
The bit I haven't understood is how compassion and emptiness are intertwined. It appears to be something about me being you. I get it theoretically but not experientially.
I would say the nutshell of the Heart Sutra is that all Five Aggregates -as well as every bolt and nut that makes up conventional reality- inter-are.
Form is empty of a separate self, but is full of everything else that has come to be and becomes within the samsaric frames of reference.
New translation of the Heart Sutra here by TNH, which might be of interest:
Everything is here and now. The past is a memory happening now and the future is a mental projection also happening now. But without a past or future there is actually no present either. Time is a mental construct.
Firewood becomes ash. Ash cannot turn back into firewood again. However, we should not view ash as after and firewood as before. We should know that firewood dwells in the dharma position of firewood and it has its own before and after. Although there is before and after, past and future are cut off. Ash stays at the position of ash and it has its own before and after. As firewood never becomes firewood again after it is burned and becomes ash, after person dies, there is no return to living. However, in buddha dharma, it is a never-changing tradition not to say that life becomes death. Therefore we call it no-arising. It is the laid-down way of buddha's turning the dharma wheel not to say that death becomes life. Therefore, we call it no-perishing. Life is a position at one time; death is also a position at one time. For instance, this is like winter and spring. We don't think that winter becomes spring, and we don't say that spring becomes summer.
They aren't. They balance each other. Compassion is a nod to form and saying form matters. It is a non-rejection of convention.
To me, simplifying it to the Nth degree, it's that Compassion is hugely important: it's vital we cultivate Compassion through Wisdom and discernment (not 'Idiot Compassion') but that we understand, simultaneously, that all inherent, compounded phenomena are 'empty'.
We demonstrate Compassion but are safe within the Wisdom of perceiving the impermanence of whatever it is we're being Compassionate about. "This too shall pass. I shall render unto it the Just and Wise Compassion it deserves of me; I shall embrace it and give it my attention, all the while knowing that it is in fact fleeting and transitory. My effort will not be wasted; it will fulfil what is needed, but then it - and I - can move on"....
This is TNH's take on emptiness from Lion's Roar reader yesterday:
"When I am bound inside my own skin and others are bound inside theirs, I have to defend and protect myself from them. And when I do place myself among them, I must do it carefully, which is hard work, because I am often hurt, opposed, and thwarted by others. But when there’s openness, no boundary between myself and others—when it turns out that I literally am others and others literally are me—then love and connection is easy and natural.
This is why the emptiness teaching of the Heart Sutra, which seems to be rather philosophical and dour, is the necessary basis for compassion. Emptiness and compassion go hand in hand. Compassion as transaction—me over here, being compassionate to you over there—is simply too clunky and difficult. If I am going to be responsible to receive your suffering and do something about it, and if I am going to make this kind of compassion the cornerstone of my religious life, I will soon be exhausted. But if I see the boundarylessness of me and you, and recognize that my suffering and your suffering are one suffering, and that that suffering is empty of any separation, weightiness, or ultimate tragedy, then I can do it. I can be boundlessly compassionate and loving, without limit. To be sure, living this teaching takes time and effort, and maybe we never entirely arrive at it. But it’s a joyful, heartfelt path worth treading."
So I think that means emptiness is about not creating an edge between me and you. That you and I aren't separate in the way that I'm not separate from me. When I'm sick, I'm sick.
It sounds like TNH is saying that when I don't cast my mind as separate from you then if you're sick, I'm with you in the journey in the same way that if I were sick I'm with me.
As he has slightly more experience than I, I'd go with his take on it....
Essentially sunyata is conditionality, lack of inherent existence.
Many moons ago I spent several years in NKT, and I thought they explained emptiness rather well.
The discussion on emptiness is educational, and I don't mean to stop the discussion, but I'd like to point out that the OP hasn't signed in since January 17th, approximately two weeks after this thread was started. If you are commenting on the OP's views for their own sake, you may be wasting your breath.
I'd bet people are commenting on the thread for the thread's sake, at this point, @specialkayme
@DhammaDragon I'd assume most were. @Akasha's post appeared to be directed more at the OP. Just giving a heads up if anyone is attempting to do that again.
If we become too attached to trying to figure out this emptiness thing, or if we become too attached to anything at all, we will only become more frustrated, more confused, more angry, and suffer more. It's not something we can think ourselves to, and no amount of reading sutras or listening to lectures and dharma talks will help much. One of the reasons why it's like this is because it's surely a bad translation. Emptiness to a Westerner means that something is missing. If the glass is empty, whatever it is that is empty, then let's fill it up. Even our science says that nature abhors a vacuum, which is what emptiness can be understood to be (from a Western perspective).
If we understand that all things do not contain intrinsic meaning or existence, then it makes more sense. But again, it's not about making sense, or of even experiencing emptiness, it's about being emptiness, which is usually achieved through chanting, sitting meditation, and mindfulness practice. Stuff like that. Once we are emptiness, there is no need to have it explained.
I was sitting on my own when I first started out w/ Buddhist meditation because there was no one to help me where I lived. All I had were some books from the library and my own intention and curiosity. Didn't have a computer, and no youtube videos. There were no Buddhist groups in my area other than an SGI group, but even knowing nothing not much about Buddhism I sensed that there was something fundamentally off w/ that group. One day I was meditating and looking in the direction of a coffee table, and thought I saw the table's legs become translucent and the table levitated up a few inches! Aha I thought, everything really IS empty! Of course I was just as mad as a March hare, but that shows you the power of suggestion and how the mind can think it sees something and make up all sorts of delusional nonsense to support what it has conjured up to support that delusion if you don't watch out for it. We all do similar stuff all the time, only our "ideas" and habitual assumptions have become so ingrained that we actually think they're real.
I think the 'trying to figure it out' thing is too difficult for emptiness because thinking is conceptual by nature and emptiness is about non-conceptuality.
This hasn't been my experience. Each of us is different but for me, it's only by listening and reading talks and texts that I've come to understand any notion of emptiness. For instance, I listened over and over to a talk by Judith Simmer-Brown and Pema Chodron on Shantideva's 9th chapter and I couldn't understand it by thinking it, it just kinda happened when I wasn't looking for the answer.
Without emptiness we have nothing to cling to or talk about. In other words you are what you think and when you stop (empty) then the rubbish bin mind is more receptive to anything ...
Emptiness is form and form is emptiness.
To put it another way, imagine that you had nothing to think with, no body, no mind, no soul. What would you be like? Anyone who comes up with something is clearly not so empty ...
More thoughts to the usual recycling ...
"Good Subhuti," answered the Buddha, "whenever someone announces, "I want to follow the Bodhisattva Path because I want to save all sentient beings; and it does not matter whether they are creatures which are formed in a womb or hatched from an egg; whether their life cycles are as observable as those of garden worms, insects and butterflies; or whether they appear as miraculously as mushrooms or gods; or whether they are capable of profound thoughts or of no thoughts at all, for I vow to lead every individual being to Nirvana; and not until they are all safely there will I reap my reward and enter Nirvana!" then, Subhuti, you should remind such a vow-taker that even if such uncountable numbers of beings were so liberated, in reality no beings would have been liberated. A Bodhisattva does not cling to the illusion of separate individuality or ego-entity or personal identification. In reality, there is no "I" who liberates and no "they" who are liberated.
^^. Ay caramba @pegembara
The easy stuff comes to town. Exactly so but hey ...
No I, Know I, eye. No form, no empty ... maybe we can sing it?
Diamond Sutra, sure tests any mind not worth having ...
when one understand what the 'emptiness' is one has no one or no thing to be angry with
and one sees how the 'others' are suffering
auto reaction is compassion.
the way U talk it seems it is not far away
just use Ur six sense bases to be mindful, not just at the time of meditation but all the time (have an effort to remind Ur-self to be mindful) during the day, until the sleep take U into its hand
remember the tools are the internal six sense bases, materials are the external six sense media, and be attentive to Ur mind and see how it behaves
not a big deal
I think this pretty much sums up my experience of the dhamma. I used to think enlightenment would be an amazing thing but I have a hunch these days that it's much like the difference between leaning forward and resting where I am. Different, but not majorly so.
I can imagine that Nibbana being the end of woe, the state of mind in which one is free of negative emotions, it must per force be a kind of amazing thing, as viewed, standing as we are, from the shore of Samsara.
But as they say: before ecstasy, the laundry, after ecstasy, the laundry.
Personal experience would indicate this may not be true. I had an experience when meditating about five years ago... i was sitting in my chair when I had a sudden realisation which caused me to jump up, and it was like being hit with a laser beam from the top of my head, which filled me with a radiant energy. I was suddenly more aware and awake than I had ever been, and everything was easy. It lasted for about three days, and had noticeable effects on my thought process, it was very disinhibiting and raised my energy levels a lot.
No-one I have described it to has been able to explain that experience. But if enlightenment is anything like that, you'll really notice. Although I have also read elsewhere that it is like being in a dream and then waking up.
^^. Sounds good to me @Kerome
Three days is a good glimpse. Kensho is how it is termed in some zen schools. Temp awakening.
My first such insight was a 'sport samadhi', it lasted only a few seconds ...
what do U see at the end of 1.
what do U see at the end of 2.
what do U see in between, at 3.
U have doubt about the experience
if and only if U were able stay a bit longer U Urself could have known 'what it was'
instead of awakenning to the Truth you have awaken to the world/ the day dreaming
that because nothing in the world changes, but the change of attitude (paradigm shift?) happens within
oh, I don't understand... Sorry
go back to Ur statement (post)
what do U mean by "it's much like the difference between leaning forward and resting where I am"
try to find and read majji sutta (for sri lankan there are 7 dhamma talks about it in the following link:
it won't be difficult to understand as i see Ur posts in this forum
happy reading and happy contemplating!
I had a look on ATI but couldn't find Maj in AN. If you can find it, I'd be happy to read it.
U have to ask a monk or someone who know about suttas, pali and english
i too tried in access-to-insight but couldn't find it.
Well that was ten minutes I'll never get back...!
@upekka sorry, but if you make reference to a teaching, it helps to provide a link. You can't expect people to chase after something which is obscure and difficult to locate, even by you....!
@federica @upekka I had a look on Sutta Central and it only came up with pali words. Interestingly it means
intoxicant, intoxicating drink, wine, spirits Vin.i.205; DN.iii.62, DN.iii.63; Snp.398 (+ pāna = majjapāna); Vv-a.73 (= surā ca merayañ ca); Sdhp.267.
drinking place Ja.iv.223 (= pān’ āgāra).
-pa one who drinks strong drink, a drunkard AN.iv.261; Snp.400; Pv.iv.1#76 (a˚); Thag-a.38. -pāna drinking of intoxicating liquors Vv.15#8; Vv-a.73; Sdhp.87. -pāyaka = majjapa Ja.ii.192 (a˚). -pāyin = ˚pāyaka Sdhp.88 -vikkaya sale of spirits Ja.iv.115.
majja = middle
an intoxicant = craving