Non-Doing: The Space Between The Old And The New by Charles Eisenstein:

The Gifts of Nothingness

The problems we experience in our lives and in the world (whether relationship issues or world hunger) stem from energetic weakness and disconnection, from our lack of capacity to feel ourselves, each other, the earth, and how life seeks to move and evolve through us. The issue is not whether or not to act and “do something,” but what actually prompts us to act.

Dan Emmons

Before they are able to enter a new story, most people—and probably most societies as well—must first navigate the passage out of the old. In between the old and the new, there is an empty space. It is a time when the lessons and learnings of the old story are integrated. Only when that work has been done is the old story really complete. Then, there is nothing, the pregnant emptiness from which all being arises. Returning to essence, we regain the ability to act from essence. Returning to the space between stories, we can choose from freedom and not from habit.

A good time to do nothing is any time you feel stuck. I have done a lot of nothing in the writing of my book. For several days I was trying to write the conclusion, spinning my wheels, turning out tawdry rehashes of earlier material. The more I did, the worse it got. So I finally gave up the effort and just sat there on the couch, a baby strapped to my chest, mentally traveling through the book I had written, but with no agenda whatever of figuring out what to write. It was from that empty place that the conclusion arose, unbidden.

Do not be afraid of the empty place. It is the source we must return to if we are to be free of the stories and habits that entrap us.

Visiting the Empty Place
If we are stuck and do not choose to visit the empty place, eventually we will end up there anyway. You may be familiar with this process on a personal level. The old world falls apart, but the new has not emerged. Everything that once seemed permanent and real is revealed as a kind of hallucination. You don’t know what to think, what to do; you don’t know what anything means anymore. The life trajectory you had plotted out seems absurd, and you can’t imagine another one. Everything is uncertain. Your time frame shrinks from years to this month, this week, today; maybe even to the present moment. Without the mirages of order that once seemed to protect you and filter reality, you feel naked and vulnerable, but also a kind of freedom. Possibilities that didn’t even exist in the old story lie before you, even if you have no idea how to get there.

The space where the old world falls apart but the new has not yet emerged.

The challenge in our culture is to allow yourself to be in that space, to trust that the next story will emerge when the time in between has ended, and that you will recognize it. Our culture wants us to move on, to do. The old story we leave behind, which is usually part of the consensus ‘Story of the People,’ releases us with great reluctance. So please, if you are in the sacred space between stories, allow yourself to be there. It is frightening to lose the old structures of security, but you will find that even as you might lose things that were unthinkable to lose, you will be okay.

There is a kind of grace that protects us in the space between stories. It is not that you won’t lose your marriage, your money, your job, or your health. In fact, it is very likely that you will lose one of these things. It is that you will discover that even having lost that, you are still okay. You will find yourself in closer contact with something much more precious; something that fires cannot burn and thieves cannot steal, something that no one can take and that cannot be lost. We might lose sight of it sometimes, but it is always there, waiting for us. This is the resting place we return to when the old story falls apart. Clear of its fog, we can now receive a true vision of the next world, the next story, the next phase of life. From the marriage of this vision and this emptiness, a great power is born.

I wrote, “Possibilities that didn’t even exist in the old story lie before you, even if you have no idea how to get there.” This is a pretty good description of a place we are approaching collectively. Those of us who have, in various ways, left the old ‘Story of the People’ are the organs of perception of the collective human body. When civilization as a whole enters the space between stories, then it will be ready to receive these visions, these technologies and social forms of interbeing.

When we collectively enter the space between stories, we can reach new potentials.

Leaving the Old ‘Story of the People’
Civilization is not quite there yet. At the present moment, most people still tacitly believe that the old solutions will work. A new president is elected, a new invention announced, an uptick in the economy proclaimed, and hope springs anew. Maybe things will go back to normal. Maybe the ascent of humanity will resume. Today it is still possible, without too strenuous an effort of denial or pretense, to imagine that we are just in a rough patch. We can get through it, if only we discover some new sources of oil, build more infrastructure to ignite economic growth, solve the molecular puzzle of autoimmunity, deploy more drones to protect us from terrorism and crime, genetically engineer crops for higher yields, and put white colorant in cement to reflect the sun’s rays and slow global warming.

Given that all of these efforts are likely to produce unintended consequences even worse than the problems they intend to solve, it is not hard to see the wisdom of doing nothing. As I will describe later, this does not imply that the activist should focus on obstruction. Doing nothing arises naturally from the breakdown of the story that had motivated the old doings, calling us, therefore, to do what we can to hasten that story’s demise.

My brother–whose clarity of mind is relatively pristine because he rarely reads anything written after 1900–described to me his vision of how the changeover will finally manifest. A bunch of bureaucrats and leaders will be sitting around, wondering what to do about the new financial crisis. All the usual central bank policies, bailouts, interest rate cuts, quantitative easing, and so forth will be on the table, but the leaders just won’t be able to bring themselves to deal with it. “Fuck it,” they’ll say. “Let’s go fishing instead.”

Doing nothing arises naturally from the breakdown of the ‘old story’ and the ‘old doings.’

At some point, we are just going to have to stop. Just stop, without any idea of what to do. As I described with the examples of disarmament and permaculture, we are lost in a hellscape carrying a map that leads us in circles, with never a way out. To exit it, we are going to have to drop the map and look around.

A Case of the ‘Fuck-Its’
As your old story came to an end, or comes to an end, do you find yourself contracting a case of the ‘fuck-its’? The procrastination, the laziness, the halfhearted attempts, the going through the motions—all indicate that the old story isn’t motivating you anymore. What once made sense, makes sense no longer. You are beginning to withdraw from that world. Society does its best to persuade you to resist that withdrawal, which, when resisted, is called depression. Increasingly potent motivational and chemical means are required to keep us focused on what we don’t want to focus on, to keep us motivated to do that which we don’t care about. If fear of poverty doesn’t work, then maybe psychiatric medication will. Anything to keep you participating in business as usual.

That depression that makes it impossible to vigorously participate in life as it is offered has a collective expression as well. Lacking a compelling sense of purpose or destiny, our society muddles along, going halfheartedly through the motions. ‘Depression’ manifests in the economic sense, as the instrument of our collective will—money—stagnates. No longer is there enough of it to do anything grand. Like insulin in the insulin-resistant diabetic, the monetary authorities pump out more and more of it, to less and less effect. What would once have sparked an economic boom now barely suffices to keep the economy from grinding to a halt. Economic paralysis could indeed be the way this ‘stop’ appears. But it could be anything that makes us give up our story and its enactments, once and for all.

The Art of Doing Nothing
Doing nothing is not a universal suggestion; it is specific to the time when a story is ending and we enter the space between stories. I am drawing here from the Taoist principle of wu-wei. Sometimes translated as ‘non-doing,’ a better translation might be ‘noncontrivance’ or ‘nonforcing.’ It means freedom from reflexive doing: acting when it is time to act, not acting when it is not time to act. Action is thus aligned with the natural movement of things in service to that which wants to be born.

Wu-wei can be translated as ‘non-doing,’ or better yet ‘noncontrivance’ or ‘nonforcing.’

In this, I draw inspiration from a beautiful verse from the Tao Te Ching. This verse is extremely dense, with multiple meanings and layers of meaning, and I haven’t found a translation that highlights what I’m drawing from here. Therefore, the following is my own translation. It is the last half of verse 16—if you compare existing translations you will be astonished at how much they differ.

All things return to their root.

Returning to the root, there is stillness.

In stillness, true purpose returns.

This is what is real.

Knowing the real, there is clarity.

Not knowing the real, foolish action brings disaster.

From knowing the real comes spaciousness,

From spaciousness comes impartiality,

From impartiality comes sovereignty,

From sovereignty comes what is natural.

What comes naturally, is the Tao.

From the Tao comes what is lasting,

Persisting beyond one’s self.

Charles Eisenstein

Rupert Spira brings the Experience of Emptiness (Amazing!!)

Published on Aug 29, 2017

Rupert Spira brings the Experience of Emptiness (Amazing)

Audio

Eckhart tolle – back to sanity

BACK TO SANITY 

There Is Not Nothing; There Is Experience ~ Rupert Spira


Published on Oct 28, 2016

A discussion inquiring into the concept of emptiness in Buddhism in contrast with the concept of Self in the direct path.

Is there a Knower? Buddhism (Nirvana) and Advaita Vedanta


Published on Jul 24, 2016

No-Knower-Statements and Replies:

Question 1) There is no process of enlightenment for one is already it. There is nothing to gain or lose and everything dissolves

Reply: That true but not true. Its true from the point of view of awareness, but not true for the point of view of an individual.

2) No. There is no-knowing.

Reply: How do you know there is no-knowing?

3) When the mind is empty.

Reply: Is your mind empty now?

4) Experience. When one is full one must be empty, then one is full.

Reply: Experience doesn’t know anything. You, awareness, knows experience.

5) One’s awareness can be in the flow or not. Nothing is everything.

Reply: That may be true, depending on your idea of awareness, but who knows that nothing is everything?

6) Silence

Reply: Silence doesn’t know anything. It is known by you awareness.

7) There is no you. What I am saying is beyond the mind.

Reply: How do you know what is beyond the mind if there is no knower?

8) See how fast you contracted? I have been playing with you all along.

Reply: OK. So who are you, then?

9) Nothingness.

Emptiness the Womb of Compassion, Robert Thurman


Published on Dec 30, 2015

http://scienceandnonduality.com/

We here a lot about compassion nowadays, along with mindfulness, and there is no doubt it is the essence of all spirituality and also essential for any viable society or world. In the famous phrase of the title, the great Indian philosopher Nāgārjuna states emphatically that truly universal and unconditional compassion arises in a being who encounters the deepest nature of reality – or perhaps that compassion is the most realistic way of engaging with life realistically. This talk will elucidate the passage of Nāgārjuna’s Jewel Rosary in which this phrase occurs, connecting Buddha’s revolutionary physical theory with the supremely positive human emotions of selfless love and compassion.

Robert A.F. Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of the Tibet House U.S., a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, a non-profit affiliated with the Center for Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and dedicated to the publication of translations of important artistic and scientific treatises from the Tibetan Tengyur.

Time chose Professor Thurman as one of its 25 most influential Americans in 1997, describing him as a “larger than life scholar-activist destined to convey the Dharma, the precious teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, from Asia to America.” The New York Times recently said Thurman “is considered the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism.”

Thurman is known as a talented popularizer of the Buddha’s teachings. He is a riveting speaker and an author of many books on Tibet, Buddhism, art, politics and culture, including The Central Philosophy of Tibet, Circling the Sacred Mountain, Essential Tibetan Buddhism, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet, Worlds of Transformation, Inner Revolution, Infinite Life, the Jewel Tree of Tibet, Why The Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet, and the World, and, most recently, with Sharon Salzberg, Love Your Enemies.

Emptiness and Presence ~ Rupert Spira

As soon as anything appears, Awareness simultaneously knows it, allows it and lets it go.

Q: Are Awareness and Emptiness the same thing and would that also be Presence? Have you heard of Emptiness teachings? Basically the concept is Buddhist which says that phenomena have no intrinsic or inherent existence and therefore is empty of inherent power to exist.

Ok, having said that, I am trying to understand this in terms of “Presence,” which some may call God. In Advaita teachings there seems to be a posit of a God or Presence (using your word), and I have often read that the deeper you go into meditation there is nothing to be seen. Are Awareness and Emptiness the same thing, and would that also be Presence?

Rupert:  Phenomena, such as thoughts or physical objects, are said to be ‘empty’ in the sense that they have no inherent, independent substance or existence of their own. In other words, they are not made out of something called ‘mind’ or ‘matter’ that exists in their own right independent of Awareness.

The essential substance or reality of all experience is what is sometimes referred to as Awareness, God, Presence or ‘I,’ and the apparent reality of the mind, body and world could be said to be modulations of this one essential substance or reality.

For instance, in a movie the characters, houses, fields, trees and sky are not made out of flesh, bones, bricks, soil, wood and air. They are made of the screen. Their essential substance or reality is the screen.

The characters, houses, fields, trees and sky are not real as objects – as objects they are empty, void, nothing (not-a-thing) – but as screen they are real. In fact, the characters, houses, fields, trees and sky are not real as screen but rather only the screen is real. There is only the screen. The characters, houses, fields, trees and sky only appear to be real from the illusory point of view of one of the characters.

Likewise in experience only Awareness is real. The apparent reality of the mind, body and world is imagined with the thought that thinks it. In other words, the constructs of thought, that is, the beliefs we have about the mind, body and world – are only real for thought itself.

So, if we believe in the reality of objects, we may say as a halfway stage that these so called objects are empty, nothing, not-a-thing, not made out of something solid or real such as matter. However, the word ‘emptiness’ is said only in reference to the belief in the absolute reality of matter. In that sense objects are said to be empty or void of matter, that is, empty of any substance or reality other than Awareness.

However, experience (of apparent objects) is not nothing. Even the experience of ‘nothing’ requires Awareness and is, therefore, not ‘nothing.’ Whatever it is that is present during the experience of apparent objects or during their absence is known as Presence or Awareness because it is both present and aware.

So the true no-thingness or emptiness of an apparent object is made only of the fullness of Presence. In this sense emptiness and Presence are one.

However, even to call it Presence is not quite right for by giving it a name we are qualifying it in some albeit very subtle way. However, the mind cannot go further than this……

Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth — The Buddha’s Life and Message through Feminine Eyes (Sacred Activism) by Thanissara (Author)

Time to Stand Up retells the story of the historical Buddha, one of the greatest sacred activists of all time, as a practical human being whose teachings of freedom from suffering are more relevant than ever in this time of global peril. Evolving onward from the patriarchal template of spiritual warriors and their quests, former nun Thanissara explores awakening from within a feminine view where the archetypes of lover and nurturer are placed as central and essential for a sustainable world.

Vital is an investigation into the pinnacle of Buddhist practice, the realization of the “liberated heart.” Thanissara questions the narrative of “transcendence” and invites us into the lived reality of our deepest heart as it guides our journey of healing, reclamation, and redemption. As the book unfolds, the author examines traditional Buddhism–often fraught with gender discrimination–and asks the important question, “Can Buddhist schools, overly attached to hierarchal power structures, and often divorced from the radical and free inquiry exemplified by the Buddha, truly offer the ground for maturing awakening without undertaking a fundamental review of their own shadows?”

Chapter by chapter, the book relates Siddhartha Gautama’s awakening to the sea-change occurring on Earth in present time as we as a civilization become aware of the ethical bankruptcy of the nuclear and fossil fuel industry and the psychopathic corporate and military abuse of power currently terrorizing our planet. Thanissara relates the Buddha’s story to real-life individuals who are living through these transitional times, such as Iraq war veterans, First Nation People, and the Dalai Lama. Time to Stand Up gives examples of the Buddha’s activism, such as challenging a racist caste system and violence against animals, stopping war, transforming a serial killer, and laying down a nonhierarchical structure of community governance, actions that would seem radical even today.

Thanissara explores ways forward, deepening our understanding of meditation and mindfulness, probing its use to pacify ourselves as the cogs in the corporate world by helping people be more functional in a dysfunctional systems–and shows how these core Buddhist practices can inspire a wake-up call for action for our sick and suffering planet Earth.

About the Sacred Activism series
When the joy of compassionate service is combined with the pragmatic drive to transform all existing economic, social, and political institutions, a radical divine force is born: Sacred Activism. The Sacred Activism Series, published by North Atlantic Books, presents leading voices that embody the tenets of Sacred Activism–compassion, service, and sacred consciousness–while addressing the crucial issues of our time and inspiring radical action.


THANISSARA and her husband Kittisaro (Harry Randolph Weinberg) are the founders of Dharmagiri Hermitage in South Africa, from where they support several HIV/AIDS Outreach Programs and help guide and fundraise for Kulungile Care Center for orphaned and vulnerable children and teenagers. They have taught meditation internationally in Europe, the U.S., Canada, South Africa, and Israel for over 25 years.

Thanissara grew up in an extended Anglo-Irish family in London, attending Southampton College of Art and traveling extensively in Asia in the 1970s. Also inspired by Ajahn Chah, she spent 12 years as a Buddhist nun in Thailand. She holds an MA in Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy Practice from Middlesex University and the Karuna Institute in the U.K. and co-facilitates the Community Dharma Leader Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California. Recently Thanissara shared the stage with South African presidential candidate Mamphela Rampele at the “Dreaming a New World into Reality” in Cape Town.

LOOK INSIDE

Engaged Dharma in a World on Fire

Published on Mar 26, 2015

Zen master Dogen said “Enlightenment is the intimacy of all things.” Kittisaro and Thanissara, former Buddhist monastics and longtime meditation teachers, reflect on how to live from this reality in a world increasingly divided and threatened by climate change, fundamentalism, and violence.

00:00 Welcome and introductions by Christopher Raiche, MDiv Candidate, Harvard Divinity School

4:40 Remarks by Kittisaro, Co-founder, Dharmagiri Hermitage and Author of Listening to the Heart: A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism

31:56 Remarks by Thanissara, Co-founder, Dharmagiri Hermitage and Author of Listening to the Heart: A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism

1:04:50 Q&A moderated by Christopher Raiche

Learn more about Harvard Divinity School and its mission to illuminate, engage, and serve at http://www.hds.harvard.edu.

Emptiness is NOT nothing – teaching from Thich Nhat Hanh.

“Emptiness is not nothing.” Thich Nhat Hanh talks about emptiness – the root window of perception (HERE) within the I AM HERE teaching.
I AM HERE is a system of teaching presently being introduced world-wide by Dr. Bart ten Berge and Georgi within the Chashymie School of Inner Growth of the International School of Spiritual Psychology (ISSP).

Pouring Emptiness into the Body

Published on Jul 24, 2015

Tracing our attention back to its empty subjective source; permeating the body with emptiness.

The true meaning of emptiness(GDD-144, Master Sheng Yen)

In Buddhism, “”emptiness”” means that all phenomena, either material or psychological, are not eternal and unchanging. Therefore we should remain undisturbed by them in our minds and don’t fall victim to all kinds of negative, contaminated mental reactions.

Emptiness is NOT nothing – teaching from Thich Nhat Hanh.

“Emptiness is not nothing.” Thich Nhat Hanh talks about emptiness – the root window of perception (HERE) within the I AM HERE teaching.
I AM HERE is a system of teaching presently being introduced world-wide by Dr. Bart ten Berge and Georgi within the Chashymie School of Inner Growth of the International School of Spiritual Psychology (ISSP)

Coming from the Advaitic/Awareness Teachings? Special Pointers by Greg Goode


When I began to study the emptiness teachings in earnest, I had already been familiar with the advaitic awareness-style teachings for many years. By “awareness-style teachings” I mean the teachings for which global, non-phenomenal awareness or Brahman is a foundational element. These teachings would include traditional Shankaracharyan Advaita-Vedanta, as well as the teachings coming from Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ranjit Maharaj, Krishna Menon (Sri Atmananda) and others. I was familiar with all of these.

So when I began to study the emptiness teachings, I found it altogether natural to equate the “emptiness” in the new teaching with the “awareness” mentioned in my earlier teachings. This actually caused confusion on my part, and made it much harder to understand what even the very best emptiness teachers were talking about.

So I thought I would put together these pointers in case they might help spare you the confusion I experienced!

In the awareness teachings you often see lists of names for the un-nameable. Sometines they are capitalized, sometimes not: awareness, consciousness, the un-nameable, reality, truth, being, clarity, God, love, knowledge, thisness, oneness, the singularity, I, the I-principle, and sometimes even emptiness or “emptyfullness.” They are all used more or less synonymously to point to the single reality that is beyond pointing, but which is what the self and everything is made out of.

If you are used to these teachings and then attend a class or pick up a book on emptiness, it will be almost inevitable for you to perform a mental substitution as you take in the new teachings. You’ll hear “emptiness” and say to yourself, “awareness.”

It took me a while to understand this, but the emptiness teachings do not think of themselves as a version of the awareness teachings. When the emptiness teachings say, “emptiness” they do not mean “awareness” at all. They are not referring to anything beyond phenomena, which baffled me at first. Instead, the emptiness teachings refer to something more like the impermanence of phenomena, or the contingency, non-objectivity, or relationality of phenomena.

The Truth?
If you begin studying the emptiness teachings after spending time with the awareness teachings, you may start to wonder, “OK, so which teaching is true? They seem so different. Either there is global awareness or there isn’t.” How are such questions answered from within the awareness teachings themselves? Depending on the variety of awareness teaching, the reaction to questions like these might very well assert that they are a non-issue: these questions, like any mentations, may be said to be nothing more than arisings in global awareness. Therefore, the questions can’t possibly be relevant. Notice that when the questions are viewed in this way, the effect is not a move toward the question but a move away from the question. This move-away amounts to a statement that already assumes the teaching to be true.

The emptiness teachings, however, tackle such questions more critically and profoundly. Emptiness teachings do not take themselves for granted as true. Instead, they submit themselves to their own investigation. Emptiness teachings entail a radical critique of the notions of objective truth and independence. This is part of how one realizes that emptiness is empty. The teachings look at themselves. Nagarjuna is able to say, “If I had a position, no doubt fault could be found with it. Since I have no position, that problem does not arise.” The teachings allow one to investigate how this can be. The self-examining reflexive process becomes part of the teachings, and brings deep peace about questions such as “Which teaching is true?”

Similarities
There are similarities between the two teachings which made me at first think they were identical with each other. For example, here are some similarities:

Goals
In the awareness teachings, realizing that you are this very same awareness that constitutes the entire world is the goal, or at least one way to describe it. In the emptiness teachings, realizing that you and all phenomena are empty is the goal. And in both cases, realizing the goal leads to peace, freedom and happiness.

Terminology
Awareness and emptiness are both valorized, key terms in their respective teachings. The terms even sound a little bit alike.

Non-Objectivity
According to both teachings, persons and other phenomena do not exist objectively. Whether it is a body, a material substance, a thought or a concept, it is held by both teachings not to exist in an independent way.

Analysis
Not all awareness teachings are the same in this respect, but in the traditional Advaita Vedanta teachings as well as in the Atmanandan direct-path teachings, self-inquiry includes focused inferential activities such as logical analysis along the way to realization. And the emptiness teachings have this focused inferential, analytic feature as well.

Origin
Both sets of teachings originated in ancient India. In fact, Gautama, who later became Shakyamuni Buddha and the founder of Buddhism, was raised in the Vedic Hindu tradition, which gave rise to the Vedantic teachings. It’s sort of like Jesus being Jewish. (By the way, the West has teachings that are surprisingly similar to Buddhist emptiness teachings, for example the teachings of Sextus Empiricus, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty, which developed independently.)

Differences

Where to study the teachings
Awareness teachings. Awareness teachings are very easy to find these days. There are satsangs, retreats, workshops, conferences, FaceBook, Google+, portal sites, networks of friends, and many personal websites. And, of course, there are quite a few books and some publishers specializing in these teachings.

Emptiness teachings. As I write this in January 2012, emptiness teachings are much harder to come by. One must usually attend teachings at a Buddhist dharma center, and then not all dharma centers have classes in emptiness. Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist centers may have emptiness classes, but sometimes these classes are given only in the Tibetan or Chinese languages. There are some classes in Madhyamika or Buddhist philosophy taught in colleges and universities. And sometimes professors will offer public, non-academic seminars. As for writings, when one includes the Western varieties of what we’re calling emptiness teachings (which include various kinds of non-essentialist areas of culture), then there are writings that number in the thousands. Depending on the author (whether Eastern or Western), the reading can be quite challenging.

Essence/No Essence
Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, awareness is said to be the essence of all things. In fact, “things” aren’t really things at all; there is awareness only. The sum and subsance of everything is awareness. Nondual inquiry often proceeds in a reductive fashion, where one looks at the world, body and mind, and experiences in different ways that there can’t be any separate or distinct reality to any of it. Everything consists of awareness only.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, there are no essences. Things are said to be empty, but they aren’t said to be made out of emptiness. Physical things are composed of various pieces and parts and constituents, all of which are empty. Emptiness is not a substance of any kind. Rather, it is a name for how things exist — in an interdependent fashion.

Self/No Self

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, awareness=I and I=awareness. Awareness is the Self.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, I am said to be empty, but I am not made of emptiness. When the emptiness teachings say that there is no self, they are negating the idea of a partless, seamless, unified, independently existing essence that is supposed to be the basis of identity through time and space. That kind of self cannot be found anywhere, no matter how closely one looks. But the empty self is said to exist. This is the self that is a convenient, informal designation. It’s a placeholder, a bit of shorthand to refer to a constantly changing psychophysical complex. And underneath this complex there is no fundamental substance or nature. (Some Mahayana Buddhist teachings, such as the Tathagatagarbha and the Dharmakaya doctrines, come very close to affirming a Vedantic-like, Atman-like Self. But the emptiness teachings from Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti and Tsong-kha-pa do not affirm anything like this. The congruent Western emptiness teachings do not posit any essential, Atman-like self either.)

Dependencies
Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, it is sometimes said that appearances depend on awareness. But it is never said that awareness depends on appearances. Awareness stands on its own, never depending on anything else. Ultimately there IS nothing else. Any dependence is unilateral only.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, dependencies are bilateral. Not only do things depend on emptiness; emptiness depends on things as well. The fact that emptiness depends on things is why emptiness is empty: it is not free-floating or independent. Emptiness depends on its base of designation (such as the cup), as well as upon cognition and verbal convention. It depends on being labelled as such.

Quantities
Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, there are never said to be many global awarenesses. The nondualist slogan says, “Not two.”

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, there are many emptinesses, not one large general emptiness. Each thing has its own emptiness, its own absence of inherent existence. The cup is one thing; the saucer is another things. The emptiness of the cup is one thing; the emptiness of the saucer is another thing.

Time
Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, awareness is totally beyond time. It is never created and never destroyed.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, each thing’s emptiness lasts only as long as the thing itself. So the emptiness of the cup comes and goes with the cup.

Nonduality
Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, nonduality is related to the insight that experience itself, the self and the world are essentially nothing but awareness, and there aren’t two or more awarenesses. Nonduality here has a lot to do with singularity.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, nonduality refers not to singularity but to the lack of dualistic extremes. Emptiness avoids both extremes: essentialism (the claim that things exist inherently) and nihilism (the claim that things are utterly void and without any kind of existence). Whereas awareness teachings say, “One” or “Not two,” the emptiness teachings say, “Not even one,” or “Neither one nor other than one.”

Realization
Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, realization of the nature of the Self is something that happens once per lifetime. Depending on the teaching, there might be several different stages to this realization, but regardless of the process, it is not something that can be repeated (or needs to be). In fact, it is often said that from the standpoint of “after” realization (note the quotation marks), nothing ever happened. Who could it have happened to? Oftentimes, depending on the particular awareness teaching, there is not a lot to say about the process or the person who undergoes the process.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings there is a lot to say. Whether before or after realization, it is not regarded as unwarranted to speak of the conventionally existent person. The conventionally existent person is an informal designation based upon the essenceless, fluctuating assembly of psychophysical parts. In the spirit of this informal designation, the person exists (conventionally). This person is the one who suffers, meditates on emptiness and does other practices, and who realizes the emptiness of the self. It is all conventional, including the Buddhist teachings themselves.

Another difference is that the realization of emptiness can happen many times. Each realization, even a tiny one, promotes lightness, vibrancy and openness of heart. There can be more than one because to realize emptiness is to realize the interdepenence of what one thought was fixed and independent. Since there are many ways for things to depend on each other, there are many different ways these interdependencies can be seen and realized. Each realization strengthens one’s insight.

Some Mahayana Buddhist teachings distinguish between inferential realization of emptiness, which happens through the mediation of a concept, and direct realization of emptiness, which happens unmediated by concepts. One’s first direct realization of emptiness, according to these teachings, eliminates a significant part of one’s afflictive emotions forever. But this direct realization can be repeated many times (even over lifetimes of rebirths according to some Mahayana teachings), so that compassion is increased and the lingering roots of ignorance can be eradicated. The point here is not so much exactly what happens according to certain teachings, but rather that realizing emptiness is something that can happen many times. It even happens after one’s own suffering has come to an end. Why continue if one’s suffering has ceased? This is related to the Bodhisattva ideal, according to which one devotes one’s energies to the eradication of others’ suffering.

Talking about realization
Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, it is quite common to talk about one’s own realization or other aspects of one’s spiritual state. Often this is part of a teacher’s teachings. “I did it; you can too.”

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, this is rarely heard, if ever. Buddhist teachers may talk about the realization of someone in the past, and you might hear how difficult and earth-shattering this realization is. But people tend not to talk about their own case. At least I have never heard it. In over 15 years of studying these teachings, working with teachers, visiting temples and monasteries, and reading thousands pages of emptiness teachings, I can’t recall even one time that someone said, “Back when I directly realized emptiness….”

The Zen Monk ~ Mooji

Published on Nov 24, 2014
The question is, ‘What is your twig – the thing that gets to you?’
The mind knows your moves and will press the buttons.
This is the divine game.Every part of it is good. Every part of it is in service to you. But you must be smart enough to know that.

A video extract from Satsang with Sri Mooji at Monte Sahaja
12th October 2014

Music: Harida Quinteros on Santor: http://www.nazcamusic.com

The Emptiness of Awareness


Published on Sep 19, 2014
In this clip Rupert clarifies the notion of emptiness applied to Consciousness.

The Perennial Way: New English Versions of Yoga Sutras, Dhammapada, Heart Sutra, Ashtavakra Gita, Faith Mind Sutra, and Tao Te Ching by Bart Marshall

VIEW THE UPDATED VERSION HERE

Zen Encounters with Loneliness ~ Terrance Keenan

Pub Date Nov 4 2014

Embark on a poignant and sometimes comic journey through Zen, poetry, and the transformative, personal practice of writing.

In Zen Encounters with Loneliness Terrance Keenan weaves together poetry, memoir, and raw insight to give voice to the lonely “nobody” in everyone. From his memories of early childhood to his struggles with addiction, writer’s block, and human relationship, Keenan delivers a heart-rending portrayal of the human hunger for selfhood and connection. Through his beautifully crafted literary reflections, he finds that Zen does not comfort our dream of being somebody, rather, it reveals connection only when we face who we really are—nobody. Zen Encounters intimately calls us to recognize that the well of emptiness is also a well of potential—to grow, learn, and overcome adversity.

Terrance Keenan was formerly a special collections librarian and head monk at the Zen Center of Syracuse. His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in national journals, including The Georgia Review, Epoch, White Pine, and River, as well as in numerous anthologies. Keenan was trained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist priest under Roko Sherry Chayat and Eido T. Shimano Roshi. He lives in County Cork, Ireland.

Christopher Titmuss: Seeing Emptiness is True Love.

Talk by Christopher Titmuss: Seeing Emptiness is True Love.

Emptiness is the abiding home of the wise. The realisation of emptiness allows the natural movement of love. Love only expresses through Emptiness. Are you empty? Are you willing to be empty?

Given at Buddhafield Festival 2013 in the Dharma Parlour on July 19. The theme of the festival this year was ‘A Fire In The Heart’, with the red Buddha of the West Amitabha.

The Is-ness of Things is the Am-ness of Self ~ Rupert Spira


Published on May 9, 2014

In this video clip, Rupert clarifies two apparent types of emptiness, arriving at the Great Understanding which lies at the heart of all true mystical, philosophical and religious traditions.

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