A Double Take On Emptiness
Emptiness = clearness, lack of adornment
In Sanskrit, the word ‘shunyata’ means emptiness. But what is emptiness?
We first need an intellectual understanding of emptiness, and then we can recognise the experience. Emptiness is non-grasping at any thing, idea or self image, all of which have no true existence of their own: they are empty of any true reality as they all rely on conditions to come about. Emptiness is the clarity of pure experience, without contamination.
But we need to take a second look at this – a double take – to experience the emptiness of emptiness. This is to make sure that we are not in a theoretical state, stuck in an idea of emptiness.
Traditionally, we can only receive this understanding from an authentic teacher. First, we get the ‘idea’, we practise and then we reach confirmation. Once we get it, a thousand buddhas could not convince us otherwise.
Emptiness is not beyond us: it is beyond the thinking mind. We are emptiness itself, pure, unmixed, flawless, perfect, complete. We can’t get better than that, can we?
In the stillness of just sitting, awareness is experienced. Awareness, through instruction, looks at itself and finds nothing but awareness. That ‘nothing but awareness’ is the perfect, non-state of emptiness: pure awareness. We use meditation to arrive at non-meditation, which is not doing anything but resting.
It is not, “I am being”:
Mindfulness is used to arrive at pure awareness:
Even though we may feel that the brain is not functioning properly, and is grasping at everything, or we are confused, tired, ill, drunk, emotional…empty awareness is constantly present. It is life itself. When realised, this is spontaneous now – the pure land. We start to feel glowy and shiny and content.
As humans, being sentient, we carry around a karmic load that is precious to us. As practitioners, we recognise the karmic load we have to live through, but gradually lose interest in holding on to old ideas.
We start to…well…just feel smily 😀