Emptiness

September 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

In Buddhism, emptiness does not refer to nothingness.  Nor does it refer to a lack, as in, “My (e.g., life, bank account, gas tank) is empty.”  To the Buddhist emptiness refers to the inconceivable nature of reality and the impermanence and interdependence of all objects.

To a non-Buddhist uncritical thinker objects are things that exist independently of whether we perceive them or not. He’d say your car in the garage is, for example, there whether you watch it or not.  To the philosopher, however, any statement of the car’s independent existence is an assumption as there is no way to prove the existence of things, where “things” are defined as that which exists independent and outside of consciousness in every way.  All the philosopher can say with assurance is that there is an experience of a car and that experience follows specific rules or laws that preclude the car from disappearing when not directly observed (unless some other factor, such as a car thief, comes into play).

The Buddhist does not deny the experience of the car but would assert any statement that it’s existence has an element of permanency or independence from other objects in the universe, including the self, reflects a basic ignorance of the true nature of reality.  To the Buddhist all objects exist in dependence upon causes and conditions which themselves exist upon other causes and conditions.  The universe is in continuing flux, constantly changing according to laws that are themselves dependent upon other conditions.   There is no “thing” that has any permanent or independent existence and our feeling that they do is a superimposition placed over our experience of the world that is a delusion.

In his book, “Pathways Through to Space” Franklin Merrell-Wolff states the delusion that objects have permanent existence results from a confusion of the properties of the Self with those of the Object.  It is the Self as an unchanging power of awareness that remains constant but we have falsely attributed this quality to objects.  Correcting this “false predication,” as Merrell-Wolff calls it, resolves many of the difficulties we encounter in life.  This correction comes about through meditation that correctly discriminates between properties that are true of the Self and those that are proper to the Object.

True discrimination has a dehypnotizing effect upon consciousness.  Various meditative techniques for the different types of personalities exist but all have as an aim the arousal of true discrimination and its resultant dehypnotizing effect.  When carried far enough, discriminating between Self and not-Self leads to true Awakening.

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