What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

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nichiren-123
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What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by nichiren-123 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:41 pm

Does emptiness mean that distinctions are all wrong and/or bad and/or illusory? I.e. what is wrong (if anything) with distinctions?

If so then how is the negation of distinctions liberating?

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Queequeg » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:19 pm

In Buddhism, sunyata, often translated into English as "emptiness" just means that there are no irreducible things. All things are nothing more than the confluence of other things.

In other words, the coffee mug on my desk has nothing intrinsically "coffee mug" about it. It is baked clay and glaze in a shape that, dependent on gravity, can lay in a stable manner on a flat surface and hold a certain volume of liquid. It has a protrusion from the side made of the same material that enables me to grasp it and hold it so that I can sip the liquid. It was made in a factory in Southern China, packed and shipped to the US where through the channels of commerce and happenstance, it came into my possession. It appears to be a coffee mug because I have experience with similarly shaped objects which I have used to hold a dark liquid brewed from beans harvested from trees growing in tropical climates and shipped to and then roasted at various production facilities... etc. etc.

Every thing can similarly be analyzed into infinite factors, each of which can similarly be analyzed into infinite factors. Including thoughts; including notions of our selves.

There is nothing inherently good or bad about this quality of things. There is nothing inherently good or bad about drawing distinctions, either. Its a function of how we experience the world, an experience that is the culmination of millions of years of biological, and from a Buddhist perspective, Karmic (meaning there is a moral import), evolution. It is determined by the very nature of reality itself.

When we mistakenly assume that things have an irreducible essence, like believing that the coffee cup is irreducibly real, we are actually mistaken about reality. Now, the coffee cup may not really present such a problem, because our understanding of the coffee cup includes awareness that the coffee cup can break, can be pulverized into power, effacing anything coffee cup about that powder.

Buddhism addresses a problem called dukkha, usually translated as "suffering". If you don't keep this in mind, then Buddhism will not make any sense.

The problem we instinctually have as human beings is that when it comes to our Self, we tend to exempt it from emptiness. We think that there is something essentially, and irreducibly, "I". We proceed as though the I is real and permanent, and cherish it as such, formulating all kinds of ideas about it such as, "I am a girl. I am a lover of chocolate cake. I am an American. I am a baseball fan. I am fashionable. I am smart. I am a Game of Thrones super fan. I am a gamer. I am a savvy shopper. I am [insert quality or identity]" We build up whole stories and architectures of meaning around these notions of who we are. The problem is, its all fungible, subject to change, subject to destruction, subject to utter effacement. When change comes, when the things we thought were permanent and real and irreducible inevitably dissolve, it hurts our feelings - we suffer. We are disappointed, even distraught. We become upset, angry, scared. We take desperate action to assert the things we think, even violent action to somehow prove that what we think is real is real. This is the desperate wheel of samsara - the desperate grasping at something permanent and real that only leads to suffering, even if we can find temporary, pleasurable respite.

As Buddhists, we strive to understand emptiness and its implications, especially for ourselves, at the most intimate level. We strive, through practice, to see it, to become used to it, to abide in it. This is liberation. To no longer be dependent on things and instead to abide in the True Aspect.

Depending on which tradition of Buddhism, one's approach to emptiness and how to proceed with this wisdom may differ in degrees.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Astus » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:48 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:41 pm
what is wrong (if anything) with distinctions? If so then how is the negation of distinctions liberating?
I assume by distinction you mean vikalpa (分別).

Nagarjuna writes (MMK 18.5):

"Liberation is attained through the destruction of actions and defilements;
actions and defilements arise because of falsifying conceptualizations;
those arise from hypostatization;
but hypostatization is extinguished in emptiness."

(tr Siderits)

"Release occurs when action and defilements cease.
Actions and defilements are derived from thoughts,
And these come from the mind’s construction.
Emptiness is what arrests them."

(tr Padmakara)

Menzan Zuiho gives us this explanation (Jijuyu-Zanmai, in Heart of Zen, p 43-44):

"Mumyo (fundamental delusion) is called illusory mind. It is the source of the rounds of delusory life and death from the immeasurable past. It is our discriminating mind which obstinately clings to body, mind, the world, and all things, as being the way we have perceived and recognized them until now. For example, although something good is not always good, we hold stubbornly to what we think is good. Something evil is not always evil, yet we become attached to our own judgment and make it a preconception. Even if you think something is good, others may think it is evil. Even if you think something is evil, others may think it good. And, even if both you and others think something may be good or evil today, fundamentally such judgments merely accord with illusory mind which manifests itself in the form of one’s own knowledge, views, and experiences. This is true not only of our judgments about good and evil, but also our views about being and non-being, hatred and love, etc. All these differentiations in regarding all existence arise from illusory mind."
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by nichiren-123 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:12 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:19 pm
In Buddhism, sunyata, often translated into English as "emptiness" just means that there are no irreducible things. All things are nothing more than the confluence of other things.

In other words, the coffee mug on my desk has nothing intrinsically "coffee mug" about it. It is baked clay and glaze in a shape that, dependent on gravity, can lay in a stable manner on a flat surface and hold a certain volume of liquid. It has a protrusion from the side made of the same material that enables me to grasp it and hold it so that I can sip the liquid. It was made in a factory in Southern China, packed and shipped to the US where through the channels of commerce and happenstance, it came into my possession. It appears to be a coffee mug because I have experience with similarly shaped objects which I have used to hold a dark liquid brewed from beans harvested from trees growing in tropical climates and shipped to and then roasted at various production facilities... etc. etc.

Every thing can similarly be analyzed into infinite factors, each of which can similarly be analyzed into infinite factors. Including thoughts; including notions of our selves.

There is nothing inherently good or bad about this quality of things. There is nothing inherently good or bad about drawing distinctions, either. Its a function of how we experience the world, an experience that is the culmination of millions of years of biological, and from a Buddhist perspective, Karmic (meaning there is a moral import), evolution. It is determined by the very nature of reality itself.

When we mistakenly assume that things have an irreducible essence, like believing that the coffee cup is irreducibly real, we are actually mistaken about reality. Now, the coffee cup may not really present such a problem, because our understanding of the coffee cup includes awareness that the coffee cup can break, can be pulverized into power, effacing anything coffee cup about that powder.

Buddhism addresses a problem called dukkha, usually translated as "suffering". If you don't keep this in mind, then Buddhism will not make any sense.

The problem we instinctually have as human beings is that when it comes to our Self, we tend to exempt it from emptiness. We think that there is something essentially, and irreducibly, "I". We proceed as though the I is real and permanent, and cherish it as such, formulating all kinds of ideas about it such as, "I am a girl. I am a lover of chocolate cake. I am an American. I am a baseball fan. I am fashionable. I am smart. I am a Game of Thrones super fan. I am a gamer. I am a savvy shopper. I am [insert quality or identity]" We build up whole stories and architectures of meaning around these notions of who we are. The problem is, its all fungible, subject to change, subject to destruction, subject to utter effacement. When change comes, when the things we thought were permanent and real and irreducible inevitably dissolve, it hurts our feelings - we suffer. We are disappointed, even distraught. We become upset, angry, scared. We take desperate action to assert the things we think, even violent action to somehow prove that what we think is real is real. This is the desperate wheel of samsara - the desperate grasping at something permanent and real that only leads to suffering, even if we can find temporary, pleasurable respite.

As Buddhists, we strive to understand emptiness and its implications, especially for ourselves, at the most intimate level. We strive, through practice, to see it, to become used to it, to abide in it. This is liberation. To no longer be dependent on things and instead to abide in the True Aspect.

Depending on which tradition of Buddhism, one's approach to emptiness and how to proceed with this wisdom may differ in degrees.
I understand the need to see myself as empty but what is the point of seeing, say, inanimate objects as empty? Why does seeing the coffee cup as empty help me - if at all?

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Queequeg » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:16 pm

Seeing a coffee cup as empty means you need to get a refill.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Aryjna » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:22 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:12 pm

I understand the need to see myself as empty but what is the point of seeing, say, inanimate objects as empty? Why does seeing the coffee cup as empty help me - if at all?
That is like asking 'I am having hallucinations, why does seeing that they are hallucinations and not real help me?'

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by nichiren-123 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:29 pm

Aryjna wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:22 pm
nichiren-123 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:12 pm

I understand the need to see myself as empty but what is the point of seeing, say, inanimate objects as empty? Why does seeing the coffee cup as empty help me - if at all?
That is like asking 'I am having hallucinations, why does seeing that they are hallucinations and not real help me?'
Seeing a coffee cup without sunyata sounds like a pretty harmless hallucination...

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Aryjna » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:32 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:29 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:22 pm
nichiren-123 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:12 pm

I understand the need to see myself as empty but what is the point of seeing, say, inanimate objects as empty? Why does seeing the coffee cup as empty help me - if at all?
That is like asking 'I am having hallucinations, why does seeing that they are hallucinations and not real help me?'
Seeing a coffee cup without sunyata sounds like a pretty harmless hallucination...
It does not apply selectively so it is not a separate case for a cup and for other objects or entities of any kind. The point is that it is not just an artificial way of seeing things.

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Queequeg » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:36 pm

I wear glasses, but I can manage some tasks without them. Some tasks, like driving without glasses, can be dangerous for me, my passengers, and others on the road.

Seeing clearly and correctly really matters sometimes.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by nichiren-123 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:55 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:36 pm
I wear glasses, but I can manage some tasks without them. Some tasks, like driving without glasses, can be dangerous for me, my passengers, and others on the road.

Seeing clearly and correctly really matters sometimes.
Like when?



Sorry I'm being blunt...

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Queequeg » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:12 pm

Like when I'm driving.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Empty Desire » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:47 pm

There is nothing to grasp onto.

Reality is Ungraspable.
No Beginning, No End, Just Mind......

Attachment's True Face is Aversion....

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Astus » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:31 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:12 pm
I understand the need to see myself as empty but what is the point of seeing, say, inanimate objects as empty? Why does seeing the coffee cup as empty help me - if at all?
The main idea of emptiness is the elimination of attachment. Slapping the label of emptiness on objects certainly makes little sense, and one should quickly move on from that level before it becomes problematic. Objects are called empty because they are not one's self, nor one's possession, so "I am the cup" and "This is my cup" are mere misconceptions generating suffering. The more abstract sounding doctrine of emptiness of phenomena (dharma-sunyata) is not about inanimate objects, but rather doctrinal categories (i.e. dharmas) called mere concepts, therefore without first learning about dharmas, there is not much use of worrying about that. So, you are right, a coffee cup is not an issue, but it becomes one the moment you take it to be meaningful, important, or in other words: personal.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Queequeg » Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:01 pm

Astus wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:31 pm
So, you are right, a coffee cup is not an issue, but it becomes one the moment you take it to be meaningful, important, or in other words: personal.
Like the time I dropped and broke a coffee mug my wife made with pictures of me and my son on it. It kind of broke my heart a little seeing it shattered like that. I was invested in that mug. It kind of made me suffer a little.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by deepred » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:47 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:12 pm
I understand the need to see myself as empty but what is the point of seeing, say, inanimate objects as empty? Why does seeing the coffee cup as empty help me - if at all?
The point isn't to "see" the mind as empty, but to realize that it is empty. Mind and appearances are not separate, so If you realize the emptiness of mind you realize the emptiness of all appearances.

Samsara is the result of not realizing emptiness.

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:23 am

nichiren-123 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:41 pm
Does emptiness mean that distinctions are all wrong and/or bad and/or illusory? I.e. what is wrong (if anything) with distinctions?

If so then how is the negation of distinctions liberating?
it doesn't mean that distinctions doesn't exists, it means that dinstinctions are a relative thing. being relative means being constructed.

(if we describe something or not, like it or not, is irrelevante in presence of the thusness of phenomena)

distinctions aren't wrong, just are means to, not an end-point.

negation of distinctions is not liberating, is only a "byproduct" of liberation. once liberated then one looks and there are no distinctions, in the mean time distinctions are patent.

to hold emptiness as a point of view, and in consequence also equality of phenomena, is mere point of view. pure poetry, self delusion, imagination, fabrication, construction, poison, etc.

so, afaik, emptiness is not a concept or idea realy; and non-distinction is in the same way. such concepts exists for comunication purposes, nothing else.

often people try to make sense of life, even some grasp the ideals of emptiness,etc. but if we look well, this is still true a conceptual thing. "naked" emptiness is an experience to be realized, not an idea to be focused on. it can't be forced through thought. :ban:
what are you doing

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by MatthewAngby » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:49 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:19 pm
In Buddhism, sunyata, often translated into English as "emptiness" just means that there are no irreducible things. All things are nothing more than the confluence of other things.

In other words, the coffee mug on my desk has nothing intrinsically "coffee mug" about it. It is baked clay and glaze in a shape that, dependent on gravity, can lay in a stable manner on a flat surface and hold a certain volume of liquid. It has a protrusion from the side made of the same material that enables me to grasp it and hold it so that I can sip the liquid. It was made in a factory in Southern China, packed and shipped to the US where through the channels of commerce and happenstance, it came into my possession. It appears to be a coffee mug because I have experience with similarly shaped objects which I have used to hold a dark liquid brewed from beans harvested from trees growing in tropical climates and shipped to and then roasted at various production facilities... etc. etc.

Every thing can similarly be analyzed into infinite factors, each of which can similarly be analyzed into infinite factors. Including thoughts; including notions of our selves.

There is nothing inherently good or bad about this quality of things. There is nothing inherently good or bad about drawing distinctions, either. Its a function of how we experience the world, an experience that is the culmination of millions of years of biological, and from a Buddhist perspective, Karmic (meaning there is a moral import), evolution. It is determined by the very nature of reality itself.

When we mistakenly assume that things have an irreducible essence, like believing that the coffee cup is irreducibly real, we are actually mistaken about reality. Now, the coffee cup may not really present such a problem, because our understanding of the coffee cup includes awareness that the coffee cup can break, can be pulverized into power, effacing anything coffee cup about that powder.

Buddhism addresses a problem called dukkha, usually translated as "suffering". If you don't keep this in mind, then Buddhism will not make any sense.

The problem we instinctually have as human beings is that when it comes to our Self, we tend to exempt it from emptiness. We think that there is something essentially, and irreducibly, "I". We proceed as though the I is real and permanent, and cherish it as such, formulating all kinds of ideas about it such as, "I am a girl. I am a lover of chocolate cake. I am an American. I am a baseball fan. I am fashionable. I am smart. I am a Game of Thrones super fan. I am a gamer. I am a savvy shopper. I am [insert quality or identity]" We build up whole stories and architectures of meaning around these notions of who we are. The problem is, its all fungible, subject to change, subject to destruction, subject to utter effacement. When change comes, when the things we thought were permanent and real and irreducible inevitably dissolve, it hurts our feelings - we suffer. We are disappointed, even distraught. We become upset, angry, scared. We take desperate action to assert the things we think, even violent action to somehow prove that what we think is real is real. This is the desperate wheel of samsara - the desperate grasping at something permanent and real that only leads to suffering, even if we can find temporary, pleasurable respite.

As Buddhists, we strive to understand emptiness and its implications, especially for ourselves, at the most intimate level. We strive, through practice, to see it, to become used to it, to abide in it. This is liberation. To no longer be dependent on things and instead to abide in the True Aspect.

Depending on which tradition of Buddhism, one's approach to emptiness and how to proceed with this wisdom may differ in degrees.
I don’t really like it when people tell me about emptiness and absolute truth, but you definitely changed it for me with this reply. 🙏🏼

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Queequeg » Tue Nov 06, 2018 5:24 pm

MatthewAngby wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:49 pm
🙏🏼
:anjali:
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by LastLegend » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:30 am

nichiren-123 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:41 pm
Does emptiness mean that distinctions are all wrong and/or bad and/or illusory? I.e. what is wrong (if anything) with distinctions?

If so then how is the negation of distinctions liberating?
Emptiness is the non discriminating nature of your mind. The issue is the consciousness is not clean.
None discriminating nature.

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Re: What does emptiness mean and why does it matter?

Post by Rick » Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:15 am

My favorite short descriptor of emptiness:

Things are not what they seem, nor are they otherwise.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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