Emptiness nutshells

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
User avatar
Rick
Posts: 1789
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:05 am

Emptiness nutshells

Post by Rick » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:08 pm

Hi everyone.

When I’m practicing emptiness I find it very useful to bring to mind a short pithy instruction, so that when my mind starts to wander I can refocus, similarly to how I might refocus on the breath when my minds starts to wander during anapanasati.

For years I have used this nutshell:

Things are not what they seem.

Or, more accurate (but klunkier, needs streamlining):

Things are neither what they seem nor not what they seem.

What, for you, is emptiness … in a nutshell? And what’s a good short instruction to bring yourself back to emptiness in practice?

Thanks!

rachMiel
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

smcj
Posts: 5858
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by smcj » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:26 pm

Your first nutshell is all you need. If you're going to expand it I'd suggest "...or in any way you can possibly imagine them to be."

Once you can put aside appearances you can get down to business with accessing essences. An even simpler shortcut to doing this is the meditation on impermanence and death.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 1789
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:05 am

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Rick » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:37 pm

Thanks, smjc. :-)

The thing I like about "Things are neither what they seem nor not what they seem" is that it brings to mind the ultimate non-difference between the two truths. (I think btw that your addition of "...or in any way you can possibly imagine them to be" does something quite similar.) When I say to myself "Things are not what they seem" it nudges me to reject the relative truth of what I'm experiencing and search for the "real" truth.

Nutshells are tricky, I think. You have to find one that, given your individual conditioning (the way certain words/phrases work on you), points consciously and unconsciously in the right direction.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

smcj
Posts: 5858
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by smcj » Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:02 pm

My understanding is that ChNN's offhand comment* that "A human being has his limits. And thus in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits." is a very big deal. It actually is what all the teachings on emptiness are addressing. The problem is that unawareness thinks that what it sees is how things actually are--or some variation thereof. It takes what is communicated from Great Awareness and tries to make it fit into its own limitations. So when great awareness tries to communicate to unawareness it must take that into consideration. That is one of the great strengths of Buddhism.

Step by step Great Awareness shows unawareness, in a way unawareness can understand through the intellect, that it sees things in a mistaken way. It makes great efforts to prevent unawareness to interpret what is being taught back down into its own limited understanding. First on the Shravakayana level it says that the personality is not the essence of our being. Nothing is offered as to what actually is the essence. Then objective phenomena is analyzed. By the time we get to Madhyamaka all views are explored and defeated. Nothing whatsoever is offered as an answer or alternative that can be misinterpreted into a limited view. This is what I meant when I added "...and can't even be imagined" to your nutshell.

*Dzog Chen and Zen" p.16
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

Anonymous X
Posts: 813
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:43 am
Location: Bangkok

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Anonymous X » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:22 pm

rachmiel wrote:Thanks, smjc. :-)

The thing I like about "Things are neither what they seem nor not what they seem" is that it brings to mind the ultimate non-difference between the two truths. (I think btw that your addition of "...or in any way you can possibly imagine them to be" does something quite similar.) When I say to myself "Things are not what they seem" it nudges me to reject the relative truth of what I'm experiencing and search for the "real" truth.

Nutshells are tricky, I think. You have to find one that, given your individual conditioning (the way certain words/phrases work on you), points consciously and unconsciously in the right direction.
What is the 'real' truth?

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 1789
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:05 am

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Rick » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:26 pm

smcj wrote:By the time we get to Madhyamaka all views are explored and defeated. Nothing whatsoever is offered as an answer or alternative that can be misinterpreted into a limited view. This is what I meant when I added "...and can't even be imagined" to your nutshell.
Gotcha. Whenever you think "I got it!" you should remember that there is no "getting it." Feeling like you've arrived is a sure sign you haven't. And there are LOTs and LOTs of ways to feel that "I've got it" ... including the conclusion that there IS no "it" to be gotten.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 1789
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:05 am

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Rick » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:28 pm

Anonymous X wrote:What is the 'real' truth?
Vaddam I a god'demn(it) philosopher?!

(I have no idea.)

:namaste:
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

Anonymous X
Posts: 813
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:43 am
Location: Bangkok

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Anonymous X » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:30 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Anonymous X wrote:What is the 'real' truth?
Vaddam I a god'demn(it) philosopher?!

(I have no idea.)

:namaste:
me, too. :thumbsup:

Anonymous X
Posts: 813
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:43 am
Location: Bangkok

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Anonymous X » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:35 pm

What do you mean by 'practicing' emptiness? Is this something that Nagarjuna recommended doing in his writings? Maybe you can quote something from him where he recommends a practice of emptiness?

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 1789
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:05 am

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Rick » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:42 pm

I don't know if Nagarjuna recommended practicing emptiness. Or Chandrakirti. Or any of the other well-known Madhyamaka commentators.

But I *do* know that Alex Trisoglio, who is teaching the online Madhyamaka course that's finishing up this week, has stated many times that his teacher Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche says establishing "the view" — which is utterly critical — is 5% of the work towards enlightenment and practice is 95%. Which means I've been spending about 95% of my time on 5% of the work over the past few years. Oy! :tantrum:
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

Anonymous X
Posts: 813
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:43 am
Location: Bangkok

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Anonymous X » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:52 pm

rachmiel wrote:I don't know if Nagarjuna recommended practicing emptiness. Or Chandrakirti. Or any of the other well-known Madhyamaka commentators.

But I *do* know that Alex Trisoglio, who is teaching the online Madhyamaka course that's finishing up this week, has stated many times that his teacher Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche says establishing "the view" — which is utterly critical — is 5% of the work towards enlightenment and practice is 95%. Which means I've been spending about 95% of my time on 5% of the work over the past few years. Oy! :tantrum:
Since Madhyamaka is a dialectic which uses reason and logic to break down fixed positions concerning the impermanence of phenomenon and its lack of inherent existence, how does this translate to a practice in the course that you are taking?

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 1789
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:05 am

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Rick » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:56 pm

Alex has not (yet) introduced us to a standalone "emptiness/Madhyamaka" practice. It's more like he's providing us with lots of different ways to integrate the Middle Way view into our existing practice, both on and off the cushion. The main goal of the course is to help us establish the (right) view and then apply it to our practice. It's like a crash course in the Madhyamaka! :spy:

Btw all the weekly (7 so far, 1 to go) materials — audio/video/transcripts of his weekly talks + recommended readings — are available (free!) here:

https://madhyamaka.com/8-week-program/outline/

I prefer the transcripts, because he added a bunch of stuff to them during the transcription process.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 18218
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:58 pm

What do you mean "practicing emptiness"? Do you mean practicing mindfulness of emptiness?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 1789
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:05 am

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Rick » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:03 pm

Yeah, probably something like that. Hey I'm a (forever-)beginner ... what do I know? :shrug:

The relevant section in the course begins with the How to practice emptiness? heading and goes to the end* on this page:

https://madhyamaka.com/8-week-program/t ... ranscript/

* As of this moment, 2:03 pm EST, the last few sections of the transcript are not yet there. They should be latest by tonight or tomorrow.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

User avatar
conebeckham
Posts: 4943
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by conebeckham » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:29 pm

Things are not what they seem; neither are they otherwise.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

User avatar
justsit
Posts: 946
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:24 pm
Location: Delaware

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by justsit » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:41 pm

conebeckham wrote:Things are not what they seem; neither are they otherwise.
:thumbsup:

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 18218
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:51 pm

rachmiel wrote:Yeah, probably something like that. Hey I'm a (forever-)beginner ... what do I know? :shrug:

The relevant section in the course begins with the How to practice emptiness? heading and goes to the end* on this page:

https://madhyamaka.com/8-week-program/t ... ranscript/

* As of this moment, 2:03 pm EST, the last few sections of the transcript are not yet there. They should be latest by tonight or tomorrow.
Emptiness is the nature of our supposed reality, merely living is practicing emptiness, whether you like it or not. :smile:
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 1789
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:05 am

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Rick » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:18 pm

conebeckham wrote:Things are not what they seem; neither are they otherwise.
Nor both, nor neither. (Just for tetralemma'l completion.)

It fairly rrrrrrrrolls off the tongue! ;-)
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

User avatar
Tsongkhapafan
Posts: 1218
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 9:36 am

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:37 pm

The things that we normally see do not exist at all.

krodha
Posts: 2445
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:30 pm

Re: Emptiness nutshells

Post by krodha » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:06 pm

You either realize emptiness or you don't. "Practicing" consists of cultivating that insight through extended periods of equipoise after initial realization.

Which means you can't really say there is any "practice" related to emptiness unless you've had that realization to begin with.

Post Reply

Return to “Dharma in Everyday Life”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 52 guests