Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.

September 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

In Buddhism, emptiness is the inconceivable nature of reality and the impermanence and interdependence of all objects. All objects exist in dependence upon causes and conditions which themselves exist upon other causes and conditions. There is no “thing” that has any permanent or independent existence.

Because all objects are interconnected with everything else, they have no independent existence.  Lacking independent existence they are said to be empty.  Hence, we are told that form is emptiness and emptiness is form.

Form not only includes our experience of the world but our personal reactions as well.  Our thoughts, feelings and ‘sense of self’ are forms that the Buddhist asserts are empty.  But it is difficult to accept that our most immediate experience has no substance.  Paradoxically, though, recognizing the emptiness of our personal experience is conducive to good mental health and living a fuller life.

Recognizing our basic beliefs and assumptions are built upon on an ever-changing world enables us to “let go” when they no longer work for us.  Recognizing our emotions, the body’s felt reaction to the world, are dependent on the ever-changing conditions allows them to rise and fall without clinging.  What is not so obvious a recognition is that our sense of self, the ego and the personality, is also an ever-changing condition that is dependent upon other conditions and causes.

Recognizing the truth of “form is emptiness and emptiness is form” allows us to drop outmoded concepts of whom and what we are so we no longer live in the past.  It allows us to let go of the past and, where present circumstances are painful, to let go of our hopes for the future, as these only bind us to the pain of the moment. Letting go of past and future, accepting what is here and now, this brings relief from the psychological suffering that clinging creates.


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