This is the seventh article in a row on this subject of emptiness, and p’raps you’re thinking, “Hey, this is all well and good, and interesting and such, but rather than sitting around on our butts trying to get to the bottom of things (or not, as the case may be, seeing as there is no bottom), shouldn’t we be out doing more stuff to help others practically?!!”
Carrying on from this article.
I have just been stopped on my bike in the King Sooper’s parking lot to sign a petition for the Environmental Protection Agency. And yes, I believe that man-made climate change is a problem that needs addressing. I have lost track of the amount of petitions and good causes I have been asked to sign up and pay for, especially since last November. My in-box and mail box have never been this inundated – how did everyone find me?!
And I do my best. But it is drops in the ocean compared with changing our minds and getting rid of our ignorance and selfish intentions, which alone will lead to lasting good results — a purification of the entire ocean.
Taking time out to ponder the bigger picture and master the mind is the opposite of Me Time because, when we don’t, our old habits naturally lead us to self-cherishing and wasting time yet again trying to make this non-existent real me happy. Which in any case is impossible, so it’s frustrating even just trying. As well as leading to a Them and Us mentality, and self-centered actions.
We remain part of the problem, ie, deluded. So, if that is the case, if delusions are the problem for each one of us, the question would seem to be, “What can I do to be part of the solution?”
The answer is to increase our wisdom. Wisdom is the way to destroy our common enemies of the delusions once and for all.
In any case, if recent studies are anything to go by, we are not running around helping each other all the time; we are spending something like 40 hours a week just stuck to our Smartphones!
So, if you find yourself too glued to your screens these days, can I make a little practical suggestion? I like to have one or two Kadampa Buddhist books on the go at any time, and I keep one next to my bed. Twenty minutes reading one each day = 20 minutes less time on the internet. Not saying we have to stop Netflix and Instagram altogether, just 20 little minutes?! Go to bed a little earlier and spend the last 20 minutes of the day all tucked up reading?! We’ll definitely sleep better as all studies show that we need to turn off our screens earlier; and we’ll likely get enlightened a lot quicker as well 😁
Normally we think that the physical world and everything in it comes first, and that we are conscious beings who then arrive and bump into everything – enter stage left, move around for a lifetime, depart stage right. But it is the other way around. The world and everything in it, including ourselves, is a projection of mind, like a dream, arising simultaneously with our awareness.
Wherever and however hard we look, we cannot find anything existing from its own side, independent of our consciousness. Our hand, for example, exists only as the object of an idea, an imputation. No imputation, no hand. Our hand functions as a hand, we can call it a hand, and many people will agree that it is hand. (Maybe not the wild boar I was warned about the other day when I was wandering in South Carolina, who bit someone’s fingers off, presumably imputing something like “Rare meat sticks”.)
So by agreement or convention we can say this is a hand – this is conventional reality. But it is a mere label created by conceptual thought. It is mere appearance — nothing more than appearance. If we look behind the label, we’ll find nothing.
To requote Ven Geshe-la from this article:
It is almost as if our body does not exist. Indeed, the only sense in which we can say that our body does exist is if we are satisfied with the mere name “body” and do not expect to find a real body behind the name. If we try to find, or point to, a real body to which the name “body” refers, we shall not find anything at all.
Hands in dreams also work as hands and can be called hands. It doesn’t mean they are real. This is true for the body, self, living beings, mind, planet, stars, everything. Things appear and perform a function, but they don’t exist from their own side. Everything is imputed by thought. A dream object only appears for as long as the dream awareness appearing it exists, then, Poof!, it’s gone.
Create a pure world
And the same is true for everything in the waking world. Once we have reasoned our way into reality and realized this:
We shall realize that we can cause all the unpleasant things that we dislike to cease simply by abandoning impure states of mind, and we can cause all the good things that we desire to arise simply by developing a pure mind. In this way, we shall be able to fulfill all our wishes. ~ Understanding the Mind
When we realize that we are creating our world with our thoughts, we understand at the deepest level what Buddha is always telling us — that if we want happiness and freedom from suffering we have to change our mind. For if we change our thoughts, we literally change our world. This is utterly radical and utterly mind-boggling — but also utterly true.
It’s also a good idea to get into practice this meditation on the emptiness of our body before our body gets too sore or unhealthy, because we’ll be delighted to have this knowledge when it does. I had a splitting headache the other night and I was able to remember that there was no head there to grasp at. It really helps.
Continued in the next and final article on the emptiness of the body.