Click on the links below for a growing number of articles on Buddha’s teachings on the ultimate nature of reality, the emptiness of inherent existence.
These are just my musings on this profound subject. If you are interested in learning about emptiness, one of the best things you could do is download Modern Buddhism for free. In it you’ll find a thoroughly qualified and sublime explanation written by the wisdom master Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
Here are some reviews:
Library Journal – Geshe Kelsang Gyatso “is a prolific and respected author,” and in Modern Buddhism, “he again presents the thought of the Buddha in an especially accessible manner.” Gyatso’s 21st book is “elegantly stated” and “a delight.”
Booklist Magazine – Geshe Kelsang Gyatso “illuminates the very heart of Buddhist thought and practice.”
Spirituality & Health – Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is a “highly respected meditation master and scholar of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.”
Extract: The experience of dreaming night after night for however many years we’ve been dreaming has not managed to convince us, once we fall asleep again, that we’re just dreaming. We still think it’s real. So why do we trust our waking perceptions to be any more valid?
Extract: Even a slight understanding of emptiness (lack of inherent or independent existence) will revolutionize our outlook and where we put all our energy. If we want to change a dream, do we try and move the dream objects around, or do we need some understanding that we are dreaming and mainly focus on changing our mind?
Extract: When we think of our body, we don’t think of something merely appearing, like in a dream say –we think there is something there that is my body appearing to me.
Extract: Emptiness is naturally beautiful. It will free both ourselves and others. If we appreciate that beauty with admiring faith, we want to drink it in, spend time with it, rather that see it as a spiritual chore that is a struggle to comprehend.
Extract: Anything that appears to be more than just appearance to our mind, to exist over and above a dream-like appearance, is what we are grasping at with ignorance. Anything that appears to exist in any way from its own side, objectively, is an inherently existent thing; and grasping at this is causing all our suffering.
Extract: If something is out there that is real and inherently attractive, we naturally want it – we mentally or physically try to go out to it and pull it toward us. I want this. I need it. I must have it.
Extract: If things don’t exist from their own side, if things don’t exist independent of our mind, yet they appear, how do they exist? What is that appearance?
Extract: When we have some experience of emptiness, and a little concentration, and we can dissolve all appearances away into their space-like ultimate nature and stay there for a little while, we are at deep peace because we discover that there is nothing more we could possibly want. Why? Because we have it all already.
Extract: Yes, we are renouncing the places, enjoyments and bodies of samsara, but this is because we apprehend them as inherently existent. What we are actually renouncing is the ignorance in our minds.
Extract: We are not evil at heart, just ignorant, and ignorance can be overcome. We can tackle it in ourselves and forgive it in others.
Extract: And the way we can do this is through what is called “the four essential points” or steps, of the traditional meditation on emptiness, by which we can come to understand the true nature of our self, our body, and everything else.
Extract: We tell ourselves stories about ourselves and what we need all the time. They are all mental fictions. There is no reality behind those hallucinatory empty thoughts.
Extract: With every delusion there is always an object and a subject. On the one hand, we are exaggerating the object, the unattractive appearance becoming an intrinsic source of pain. On the other hand, we are also exaggerating our self — identifying with a self who cannot handle it, who feels overwhelmed.
Extract: Sure, it is nice to meditate on the emptiness of difficult conditions like annoying co-workers and ageing bodies, but is it so nice to dissolve our loved ones away into emptiness, to realize they are mere projections of our own mind with no power from their own side to make us happy!?
Extract: How great it will be to see through the veneer of my current reality to see that it too is fake, artificial, appearances pretending to be something solid and “out there”. We already are the designers, producers, and directors of our own reality. Once we realize this, we can design, produce, and direct a life we actually want!
Extract: Each elaborate piece was imputed on a stream of sounds, each sound coming
from nowhere and going nowhere in order for the next sound to arise, and our minds imputing some kind of continuum on that, to end up with the haunting mellifluence of Chopin’s Nocturnes or the grandiosity of Rachmaninoff’s Preludes.
Extract: It may sound daft, but I know from talking to many people over the years that they too basically make up the negated object, and then try to realize its non-existence, which means they don’t end up focusing on emptiness at all. Then meditation on emptiness is no fun and doesn’t feel liberating, and they prefer to stick with seemingly easier meditation practices instead.
Extract: If we train in viewing pure objects, our mind becomes pure by relation because our mind depends upon its objects. And as our mind becomes purer, objects appear more purely to it, because objects likewise depend upon our mind – like clear reflections will appear in a pristine mountain lake.