What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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Ervin
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What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Ervin » Sat Jan 23, 2016 11:23 am

I still don't quite know what is meant by emptiness in Buddhism. I would ask people on this forum to try and explain it briefly and simply , if possible. If not possible, then go into more detail and please use any examples, again if possible.

Thanks

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jundo cohen
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by jundo cohen » Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:20 pm

Ervin wrote:I still don't quite know what is meant by emptiness in Buddhism. I would ask people on this forum to try and explain it briefly and simply , if possible. If not possible, then go into more detail and please use any examples, again if possible.

Thanks
Hi Ervin,

I will take a try ...

All things of reality, including you and me, so interflow and interplay and interpenetrate that there really is no solid independent "this that and the other individual things" (including you and me) to stand separate and apart from each other, banging and bumping into each other in this world of apparent frictions and separation and names and categories ... and so, in such way, "Emptiness" is not actually "empty", but might also be described as a Great Flowing Wholeness that sweeps all in and is all. "Empty" means empty of apparent independent, abiding, separate existence.

That does not mean that, for practical day to day ordinary life purposes, there is not "this that and the other thing" (including you and me), because there are ... otherwise who is writing this message on a computer, and who is reading it somewhere far away on his own computer? (Just try telling the tax office that there is really no "you" there, so you don't owe income tax this year! :thinking: )

It just means that the separation and "bang and bump" friction is not the only way to experience, and we often forget that the Great Flowing Wholeness is just all this too. The separation is just the Flowing, this Wholeness precisely the divisions.

That's my crazy way of expressing "Emptiness".

Gassho, Jundo
Last edited by jundo cohen on Sat Jan 23, 2016 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

Ervin
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Ervin » Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:27 pm

Thanks Jundo,

Just a question. Are you a zen practitioner?

Thanks

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Astus
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Astus » Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:58 pm

Ideas define the world and the self. To believe that the world and the self are like this and that on their own: that is delusion. To see that everything is defined by fictional ideas: that is seeing the emptiness of all phenomena.
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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jundo cohen
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by jundo cohen » Sat Jan 23, 2016 1:10 pm

Ervin wrote:Thanks Jundo,

Just a question. Are you a zen practitioner?

Thanks
Well, if ya must put an independent, abiding, separate name and category on such ... yep.

Anyway, I don't practice Zen ... Zen just Practices! :rolleye:

Gassho, Jundo
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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Vasana
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Vasana » Sat Jan 23, 2016 1:18 pm

For an introductory explanation, i always like the flower as an example.

A flower can only come in to being when certain conditions come in to play. Earth, Soil, seed,cloud,rain, sunshine etc
Without these ingredients, there would be no flower we could speak of. So we can say that the flower is empty of possessing any 'flower-nature' of it's own because it arises co-dependently with all of those other factors (which are also co-dependent upon other factors which arise co-dependently with others and so on)

You can apply this line of thinking to any 'external' phenomena and to any concept, thought & emotion and see that none of them exist solely in the way they appear to.

Applying that way of thinking to the ways in which we suffer and we're able to begin the process of untying the conceptual-knots and erroneous thinking that lead to that suffering.

There are more nuanced explanations and implications of how this relates to meditation, but as a simple reflection and thought experiment, i found it helpful to apply the basic 'formula' of the flower example, where you reduce an object to the sum of it's parts in order to see that the said object doesn't exist outside of those parts, yet can't be found within those individual parts.

Take your time with it! :reading:
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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jundo cohen
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Post by jundo cohen » Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:27 pm

Hi,

I was just looking at the organization of Dharma Wheel, which is a bit complicated ... like Samsara ... with many categories and names.

When this thread is labled under "Mahayana Buddhism", does that mean a particular flavor of Mahayana Buddhism such that, for example, it is meant as a territory where Zen or Vajrayana folks are intruding, much like I would not presume to go into the Tendai section and tell them what's what in my opinion? I hope you understand the question, as I truly mean it well. I just don't want to intrude on somebody's Dharma turf. I am a little confused whether "Bodhisattvacarya ‹ Mahāyāna Buddhism" means "all Mahayana Buddhism" or a particular group of people.

Thank you.

Gassho, Jundo
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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jundo cohen
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by jundo cohen » Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:36 pm

Never mind, I believe I found my answer ...
Bodhisattvacarya ‹ Mahāyāna Buddhism

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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Rick
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Rick » Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:52 pm

If you're a visual/imaginative person, Indra's Net is a very cool way to get a feeling for dependent arising, which is one of the cornerstones of Buddhist emptiness:

"Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each "eye" of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering "like" stars in the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring." — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra%27s ... yan_school
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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KathyLauren
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by KathyLauren » Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:53 pm

Ervin wrote:I still don't quite know what is meant by emptiness in Buddhism. I would ask people on this forum to try and explain it briefly and simply , if possible. If not possible, then go into more detail and please use any examples, again if possible.

Thanks
'Emptiness' is a bit misleading as a term, because it is a noun, and we tend to think that a noun refers to a 'thing' that 'exists'. As a noun, it is nothing more than a grammatical convenience.

It is more accurate to say that all phenomena are empty of inherent existence. That is what the word 'emptiness' is trying to say.

So, okay, 'empty of inherent existence' - what does that mean? If something were to exist inherently, it would exist without any causes. For example, Christians believe that God exists inherently, without any cause or reason. Buddhists believe that no phenomenon exists without causes, in other words that all phenomena lack inherent existence. (Incidentally, this is one reason why Buddhists don't believe in a creator. A creator would have to exist without cause.)

Emptiness does not mean that nothing exists. It just means that any existence that phenomena have is as a result of causes and conditions and will cease when those causes and conditions no longer apply.

Om mani padme hum
Keith

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Rick
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Rick » Sat Jan 23, 2016 3:16 pm

Very clear, Keith.

Where it gets really interesting is when you start recognizing yourself (the recognizer, cognizer, "I") to be just another stream of empty phenomena. That's when the rug gets pulled out from under your feet!
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Malcolm
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:01 pm

Ervin wrote:I still don't quite know what is meant by emptiness in Buddhism.
It means things are not real.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

Saoshun
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Saoshun » Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:20 pm

Ervin wrote:I still don't quite know what is meant by emptiness in Buddhism. I would ask people on this forum to try and explain it briefly and simply , if possible. If not possible, then go into more detail and please use any examples, again if possible.

Thanks
None.

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dzogchungpa
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by dzogchungpa » Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:46 pm

There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Malcolm
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:49 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:

Nice try.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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dzogchungpa
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by dzogchungpa » Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:54 pm

Malcolm wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:

Nice try.
Curses, foiled again!



:focus:
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Malcolm
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 23, 2016 5:03 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:

Nice try.
Curses, foiled again!



:focus:

Well, your attempt was rather "transparent."
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

Saoshun
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Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:16 pm

Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Saoshun » Sat Jan 23, 2016 5:31 pm

Ervin wrote:I still don't quite know what is meant by emptiness in Buddhism. I would ask people on this forum to try and explain it briefly and simply , if possible. If not possible, then go into more detail and please use any examples, again if possible.

Thanks
and there is no such thing as explanations on emptiness, there are only pointing out instructions for it so you can realize it if you have enough merit so the question is kinda wrong.

smcj
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by smcj » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:19 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Ervin wrote:I still don't quite know what is meant by emptiness in Buddhism.
It means things are not real...
...in any way that we can imagine. Simply saying "not real" seems like the first negation of the tetralemma to me.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

Saoshun
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Re: What's in simple, brief explanation, emptiness?

Post by Saoshun » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:40 pm

They become unreal as you realize emptiness, as in the dream you wake up and realize that was the dream but in the middle and start of the dream you was living there as real because mind didn't recognize that. emptiness and dream is the closest explanation you can get.

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