Posts Tagged ‘emptiness’

The flow of being

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Non- is an interesting prefix in modern Buddhism. It tends to get used in a non-dualistic way. In other words, the opposite of attachment is detachment, but if we want to talk about neither attachment nor detachment, we would use the word non-attachment. Non-duality is kind of like that too. This points to the idea that what we are talking about is beyond dualistic thinking, or the pairs of opposites as it used to be called in occult literature.

Thich Nhat Hanh pointed out that in every piece of paper is a cloud. I told this to my five year old niece the other day. And then explained to her that without clouds there would be no rain, and without the rain there would be no trees, and without the trees there would be no paper. She got it. “It still sounds strange though,” she replied. This is a revolution of thinking, of course it does.

Thich Nhat Hanh calls this Interbeing, some buddhists think this is an aspect of dependent co-arising, and I agree. In one sense we are who we are dependent on our parents, on the society we live in, on the people we mix with in our daily lives to be who we are. Moreover we participate in creating society around us, and the people around us who they are. In one breath we can say that we are responsible for everything being the way it is and also say “I am not my fault.” Neither and both.

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, said that you can’t step in the same river twice because by the time you step in it again the river will have changed. It will be different water, different fish, different shapes on the river banks. Just as importantly it won’t even be the same you. You will have changed. The you which has co-dependently arisen will have been changed by your experiences. All that you can really say, and you can’t even say that, is that there is this massive flux. There is certainly no separate permanent you, at all, not even for a second. So don’t delude yourself.

Delusion is exactly what we do. Rather than seeing this massive flux, we particularise. We see discrete fixed objects, and we give them names. And to make things worse we make them good and bad. We cling to our objectifications like a limpet. We define ourselves in terms of our experiences, of our objectified senses, of our objectifying thoughts. As a result, we suffer. When we create good, we create bad.

Yet all the time there is this miraculous awareness. Aware of the passing thoughts, experiences, and just aware in itself. Why define ourselves at all? This awareness doesn’t need definition. Try it. Whatever you define it as, it’s not that. Some would argue that the gateway to this understanding is concentration, but held within a context of not identifying with the thoughts and experiences as they arise. Try it, but don’t become attached to it.

What can we say about it? Or in saying anything have we just objectified and created a new delusion?

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A chain of conditioning

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

I’ve always been interested in my great great grandfather. I think it was from him that I inherited rather an old etymological dictionary that I consumed as a boy. I remember at about the age of 8 writing out all of the germanic verbs that I found in it. He was first president of the Esperanto Society in New Zealand and I remember after getting into astrology as a teenager coming across a book of his that had some rather interesting insights into the religious significance of the constellations.

George was an evangelist, a proselytiser is probably a better description. Born in Suffolk, at some point he moved to York where he became a stuff warehouseman, as they were called. And in that environment it seems he studied Hebrew and Greek. Obviously he made some impact because he moved to New Zealand in about 1881 to lecture on religious matters. (more…)

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Frogs and kings

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

And I’ve got an emptiness deep inside and I’ve tried but it won’t let me go. as Neil Diamond’s song about the frog who became a king goes. Not even becoming a king helped the protagonist with this one. And why is that? Because it seems to me the core of our being is that very emptiness that we feel uncomfortable with, which is the reason why it won’t let the protagonist go.

Meditation on the other hand embraces that emptiness. It’s nothing to run away from or avoid, it is who we are, and the more we come to know it the more we become our true selves. At least in my understanding and experience.

The message from society is indeed that we must become somebody, which inherently means somebody else. And we absorb that with gusto. One of my friends left the following post on Facebook the other day

It is difficult for the mind to accept emptiness. Think of it like you’re unconditioning the mind to realise that it’s not any of the content that it’s been clogging itself up with. Not a single piece of that content. Once you begin to realise this, you begin to have the freedom to choose your own content, at the same time realising that you’ve chosen it. And why would you do this? Because there is content that makes you miserable and content that makes you happy.

Whatever you put in is relative and short lived and at the same time whatever you put in is going to condition the mind. So choose very carefully because this creates the new you. Yet choose lightly because it’s not you.

The you which is permanent is empty. Nothing there and there’s nothing to be done. The impermanent you? Develop the skills to turn the illusory frog into an illusory king by all means. That’s magic.

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