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Help understanding Emptiness please!
best thing is do not expect anything
i am still trying not to be expected anything, but i am a failure so far
Emptiness is how the stockings and under the Christmas tree will look if you expect Santa to actually come fill them with presents. Spoiler alert.
When full of anger, we clench. Full.
When we relax and let go of the clench. Empty.
When see the word 'the' what do you see before 'the' appears, what do you see after 'the' appeared?
If you answered to the above question you wouldn't need an answer from me.
The answer should give a direction to the OP.
It is easy to get lost in concepts.
IMHO The zen concept: 'not one not two' exemplifies the fact that we can only understand the world in terms of conceptual extremes.
When I examine reality, I find that I cannot do it any other way than to break everything down into individual units which are then sub-divisible into further sub-units, ad infinitum, and then I find I've forgotten what I was actually doing in the first place - it's an interesting phenomenon, that many writers on the subject appear to express in various ways. Yet despite these particular differences, that allow us to view the world, we really can know that behind it all is a universe that contains, and is in fact, all of these particular divisible units. The conclusion that it makes sense of the world, yet it is part of and constructs can be quite overwhelming, and flippantly, incomprehensible - which is a real joy in itself,
Without opposites you cannot stand in the 'middle' and classify something as this or that, something or nothing, black or white, dead or alive, or in the context of the original post empty or full.
So you eventually become stuck with the idea that behind your conceptual mind is a mind, space, ether or whatever you want to call it (it has no name or conceptual reference) that behind all this something or nothing is... well this and that... And that makes me laugh!
When I started studying buddhism seriously, I thought I would really come to know who I was. I'm still lost in the mystery and wonder of it all, but it's becoming a familiar mystery and wonder, but the seriousness has been replaced with a sense of humour - perhaps I should look for the source of the sense of humour, rather than something empty!
Have you ever considered that maybe Buddhism isn't for you? I'm not saying it isn't, but if you're finding it distressing (as you said earlier about not wanting to accept something but if you had to your ego would be kicking and screaming while you tried to accept it), then maybe you just need to let it go and look at another path that aligns better with your life philosophy.
Just a thought.
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I think, @dhammachick , he may have inadvertently or prematurely taken your advice. He hasn't touched base here since January 17th....
Sorry @federica , it was showing as a current, active thread on my end
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You know, Buddhism is the EXPERIENCE of reality. Not an intellectual conception of it.
Experience has to be lived, and will not be understood from someone else's words .. nor even from our own "logic".
Perhaps an easier way to understand this distinction is to take an experience most of us are far more familiar with .. orgasm. How well could you comprehend what an orgasm is, merely by reading someone else's words about it? Or by trying to figure it out with cognitive logic? You sort of have to HAVE one to know it.
Just hang in there. Keep on doing your practices, especially your meditation. Give it years ... Buddhism is slower than dawn, but much more brilliant. Do not try to "figure out" Buddhism with your intellect. The BIG issues of life, and of Buddhism, often are NOT answered. And the challenge of BEING a Buddhist is the ability to learn how to respond to uncertainty and/or unpleasant situations .. by relaxing into them. By being as fully "present" IN this moment as you can ... and you acquire that through meditating.
The only reality we CAN know is that which we are living in this moment.
btw, I once sat and listened to a Tibetan Tulku answer a question from a student about what emptiness was. This was the Q&A after the 2-hour teaching. The student kept on trying and trying to grasp it with words .. and the Tulku patiently and gently kept on answering question after questions from this student. After each explanation, the student would respond, "So you are saying ....." and the teacher would say "No, it is like this ....
For 45 minutes.
At the end, the student gave up. The teacher .. never lost his gentleness nor got impatient. Despite the fact that the question was an exercise in futility.
This sentence sums it all up in a nutshell ....
The thread is active, he isn't..... I think he's only made three posts in this one.... Maybe even just two....This was his last post.
Apologies for the confusion....
Sure, but this is easier said than done. I think it begins with really feeling the present, which is why re-establishing mindfulness in the body is a good foundation.
I think emptiness is living without attatchment to things that are not significant. When we meditate we forget everything and dive within. Not this not that. Escaping Maya (illusion). This doesnt mean avoiding the world but being aware of what really matters. Some people claim that the only thing that lasts forever is the love we shared in this world. The love we gave and the love we received. I would include the Grace within to that claim.
Ah, emptiness! No thing exists inherently by itself, eh?
does that mean i am also the humming bird who visited the feeder this morning!?
Thanks @federica !!
No thing exists inherently by itself!
does that mean i am also you, and you are also me?
Yes. But you can't ban me....
The privilege to ban seems to be the only thing that isn't empty!
Oh yes... I'm full of it.....
No. Sunyata is conditionality, and therefore uncertainty.
@SpinyNorman what a mind boggle!
i am now confused on the subject of emptiness.
i think i shall be content, at this point, to say "i don't know"!
and continue my zazen!
Sunyata ( emptiness ) just means lack of independent existence, which means that everything arises in dependence on conditions. So it is conditionality, and conditions are uncertain. It is actually very straightforward, though people tend to make it sound complicated.
The core text describing sunyata is the Heart Sutra:
"Form is only emptiness" = the aggregates lack independent existence;
"Emptiness is only form" = emptiness is not a thing "outside" the aggregates, or a ground of being or whatever, it is merely the nature of the aggregates.
Ahh, if only it were so simple as that!
It really is that simple. Obviously a clear understanding of what sunyata means is only the first stage, it is then a case of observing experience closely, gradually insight develops, one begins to actually feel what it is like.
It's worth noting that the principle of conditionality is central to Buddhist teachings, including the Four Truths, dependent origination and so on.
Dear absent OP; For the sake of my own expression, - incidentally a tree is expressing itself by diffusing energy in a delicate ballet of photosynthesis as conditions permit instead of becoming sun dried nothing - this thread on emptiness and nothing reminded me of something, but I need help putting my finger on it. Some Beat poets like Gregory Corso, Neal Cassady and their ilk had written some nice little dittys
about nothingness, like; "There's nothing to do on a rainy day in Nebraska, but it stays dry so nobody ever gets the chance." Or; "Nothing is good enough for those in the know, provided there's someone around to spread the word." I can't ascribe these to a particular poet and I know there are more - as if they were dueling nothingness.... Is there a Beat aficianado that can identify these or their authors? I think they got it about emptiness - that it can only be pointed to, laughed at and generally disregarded - much like the hum (aum) of the earth.......
if Homer Simpson might have a revelation about emptiness it would go like this:
And that would be it!
I've been thinking about emptiness again - so coming at it from an experiential point of view, emptiness of all phenomena is the background to your experience of the phenomenon.
Whilst having an intellectual understanding does come eventually, you can by analogy experience emptiness in an intellectual meditation, and understand the role of ignorance in the way your mind works.
Imagine a glass of water. When you focus on the still glass of water, it quickly loses interest, as it is ignored. It's not doing anything but sitting clear and still in the glass. No matter how hard you stare at it it just remains still and clear. Oh there must be something more to this glass of water than the container of clear liquid before me! How frustrating.
Try dropping a coloured dye into the glass of water. Whilst you can focus and see clearly the blob of swirling (let it be blue) dye as it dissolves in the water, you can now also be aware of the water the blue dye is swirling around in. Watch your mind as it goes between observing the blob of blue dye and the background clear liquid simultaneously - it is a beautiful illusion when you really get it. But you are only aware of it now because the dye is swirling around in the clear medium - what pretty images can emerge as the blob of blue infiltrates and merges with the water - how fascinating and intriguing! All because you ignored something so simple that needs no understanding, like water.
Eventually, the water dilutes the dye and it is again clear but tinged with the colour of the dye. At this stage the phenomenon and background might be noted as being one and the same again as it is constant, just tinged with blue. Slowly it appears not to be doing anything again and you start to ignore it. Put another drop in and the same thing happens Whilst the dye dissolves, the phenomenon and the empty background are again visible until they blend and so on, only it becomes more difficult to make out the blue blob doing it's thing in the water, which starts to be frustrating in itself.
However, it is easy to get lost in this as a concept, and the concept of the ever increasing colour of the dye as you add more dye to get the effect; the dye is becoming more of your focus of attention, and you want to add more of it so you can see the background medium again.
If at this stage the dye and the water mixture is noted to be the background that just has changed and become still again, a sudden intellectual recognition can come. You have got the analogy, and you only needed to get it once - the first time the blue blob of dye was added.
You have to try not to conceptualise anything as you are meditating - just see it as it is. Imagine your mind is the water, but don't get lost in the analogy and think your mind is water. Imagine the dye is your intellectual understanding, which is changing the colour of the background, but the background is still a glass of water with dye added. This is important. Intellectual understanding, can be a stepping stone, but once you have used the stepping stone discard the concept and experience that blissful background to everything. Voila! I'll repeat what I said earlier again: you only needed to get it once - the first time the blue blob of dye was added. Or to be clear as day: The more you continue with trying to understand intellectually, the more confounding and frustrating trying to understand emptiness can be.
Can you now see, that in evaluating this series of posts there can be a background of intellectually understood emptiness which the intellectual mind can grasp - look at the many ways people who have studied it and tried to pass on a view, which can't be passed on in words only experienced. If you continue to try to grasp the background emptiness which is something that cannot be grasped, you will remain frustrated. Why because it is the background to everything - including intellectual understanding, it gives rise to it as a mental phenomenon in the form of thoughts and concepts. Freedom from such frustration can come from this form of analysis, if married to good meditative practice.
As you now know the background is there (lets call it your Mind or if you want to project it out there - empty space which is full of all those beautiful phenomena) and you are basically it, whatever that is, as its giving rise to lots of empty thoughts and concepts. (MENTAL NOTE: don't grasp that as it leads to another chain of thought will hurtle you down the path of delusional questions of what is mind, consciousness, awareness, self, not-self, etc etc.)
It's not easy piercing through the illusion, and even when you have you find that you are once again dragged back kicking and screaming into it because you continue to ignore a fundamental fact- it's all you and it's an illusion you have created for yourself.
Lots of little steps, can become big steps! That is why it is called a path of awakening!
Now enough of this nonsense! I'm being dragged into the illusion again... So many ways of talking about the same thing!
Wouldn't this make emptiness an empirical concept? How does it lead to spiritual experience or enlightenment?
how can we take these little steps
by paying attention to eye, ear, nose, tongue, body (form, sound, smell, taste, feel and thoughts/perception)
No any other way (ekayano ayan maggo- begin with mindfulness of body in and itself)
@upekka - our history is all about little steps. When we are mindful of whether we go on a wrong or right path should make us aware of the general moral compass which points us in the right direction of where we go tomorrow.
But this is Samsara after all! And we appear to require a shock or two every so often to make us aware of ourselves.
Otherwise who would we be?
What a dilemma...
TNH explains it well
But the deep realisation he ends his talk with is probably the fundamental teaching of buddhism, forget all the razzmatazz you may associate with the religion! It really is. There is no you without me! There is no good without bad. There is no light without darkness etc. etc. The middle way is where we are now. He just says it in the way of a venerable buddhist monk! I am saying it as it I see it and others will say it as they see it. You will see it as you see it, and that is when you should take a breath and reflect not on what is being said but what is...
The ellipsis says nothing but speaks volumes!
Contemplation is helpful, but I think real insight stems from paying close attention to experience, and getting a feel for the conditionality of that experience. This is why we practice mindfulness.
IMO it's arguable whether emptiness is an empirical or metaphysical teaching, since the Heart Sutra describes the emptiness of the aggregates, and the aggregates represent our subjective experience.
Couldn't it be both an empirical and a metaphysical teaching?
Different schools of Buddhist thought come at it differently but I don't think one view is exclusive of the others.
emptiness approached from three perspectives, treating it (1) as a meditative dwelling, (2) as an attribute of objects, and (3) as a type of awareness-release.
Emptiness as a meditative dwelling is most fully discussed in MN 121. Essentially, it boils down to the ability to center the mind in a particular mode of perception, to maintain it there, and then to notice the absence and presence of disturbance within that mode.
Emptiness in its second meaning, as an attribute of objects, is most fully discussed in SN 35.85. That sutta describes emptiness as meaning the lack of self or anything pertaining to a self in the internal and external sense media.
Emptiness in its third meaning, as a type of awareness-release, is an application of emptiness in its second. MN 43 describes this state of concentration as follows: "There is the case where a monk — having gone into the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or into an empty dwelling — considers this: 'This is empty of self or of anything pertaining to self.'" It adds that this awareness-release is different from the awareness-release that results when one doesn't attend to any themes. Thus this state of concentration cannot be entirely equated with the emptiness as a meditative dwelling mentioned in this sutta.
in the course of practice, all three meanings are related and all will inevitably play a role in Awakening.
You're right, but in my experience it is better to focus on the experiential truth of these teachings, rather than getting bogged down in metaphysical speculations, a thicket of views.
In other words it is most useful to look at our direct personal experience of conditionality and emptiness. What is really happening when we see, hear or think something? How do these experiences arise and cease, how do they come and go?
That is probably best just as to avoid losing the fundamentals in a hall of mirrors.
I avoid it mostly by not bothering with a conclusion but maybe I shouldn't even speculate with or without conjecture.
I don't know. Blah