Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Emptiness is Good News?

     I suspect most of us hunger & thirst almost continuously for something, anything to make & keep us happy or at least satisfied. This is despite the fact that deep down we realize that there is absolutely nothing out there that can reliably do it for us. 
     Everything is "empty" - not in a nihilistic sense, but in that everything 1) lacks essence - there's no intrinsic quality that makes a thing what it is; and 2) lacks independence - does not exist on its own, apart from conditions, relations or cognition. http://www.johnlovas.com/2016/05/emptiness.html
     The Buddha found that all phenomena, including our very own body, are empty!

"Thus shall ye look on all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in the stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream."
Gautama the Buddha 

      Everything being empty, constantly changing with prevailing causes & conditions sounds rather unsatisfactory - no?
     But the Buddha also found that everything changes when we completely let go of clinging - when we stop trying to find happiness in empty, conditioned stuff. 
     So, can we take empty stuff a lot more lightly, and instead, turn serious attention to the unconditioned - awareness itself?

     “All formations are transient; all formations are subject to suffering; all things are without a self.
     Therefore, whatever they be of form, of feeling, perception, mental formations, or consciousness, whether past, present, or future, one’s own or external, gross or subtle, lofty or low, far or near, one should understand according to reality and true wisdom: 
‘This does not belong to me; this am I not; this is not my Self.’
      adapted from the Anguttara Nikaya and Samyutta Nikaya, translated by Nyanatiloka
      Jack Kornfield, Gil Fronsdal eds. “Teachings of the Buddha.” Shambhala, Boston, 2007.
     And the good news is that despite the "full catastrophe" of life, we can nevertheless develop progressively increasing levels of peace & equanimity. Simultaneously we develop greater compassion & do more to relieve suffering, when no longer anxiously craving for empty phantoms & dreams.

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