I’ve been reading a lot of this book by Greg Goode and Tomas Sanders. It just came out and I have to say that I’m absolutely loving it. I’m about 20% done with it so far and have to say that finally our western mind is starting to convey the emptiness teaching of the east more clearly than ever. Greg and Tomas have done a really good job bringing the best of western minds that do talk about emptiness teaching to the forefront and articulate it in a way that well.. Make reality disappear and re-appear in the blink of a moment.
So what this book conveys that through our understanding of inherent existence and conventional existence are we able to let go of this seemingly sticky object of clinging which leads to suffering. It leads eventually to empty mind. So what I’m going to talk a little bit about today are,
- What is emptiness teaching?
- What are some of the benefits of emptiness teaching
- How you too can make a mountain disappear.
What is emptiness teaching
So the basic premise of this insight is to show ourselves how to investigate objects that we may take to be solid or have an inherent existence to the point where we then come to a realization that they are not. As in they do not stand alone and in fact are a build up of a grander much bigger scheme.
It goes on to show that what is actually going on is the dependence of everything for everything to exist. This is often referred to as Dependent Origination (or DO for you fancies out there!)
Is there anything physical or psychological that you can point to that is exactly the self? No. But at the same time, we can still designate a group of phenomena as the self as a kind of shorthand or convenience. -Greg and Tomas
Even the illusion of our selves being inherently existent can be shattered which brings about it’s own realizations and begins to strip away at the clinging which brings about human suffering.
However don’t get the wrong idea. Emptiness teaching doesn’t lead to meaninglessness and isn’t our typical definition of what empty means. empty mind is a healthy mind from this aspect that everything is seen conventionally so, but the inherency of even what we hold as “our thoughts” are seen through as being empty.
Emptiness is not nothingness or voidness. It is more like relatedness. -Greg and Tomas
What are some of the benefits of emptiness teaching
Well I will start by saying that one begins to see that through the web of life, that everything is dependent on everything else. Through this connected-ness brings about such a love and compassion for everything. It no longer becomes a game of “I’m separate and alienated.” And the coined term for this realization in this book is called joyful irony.
Joyful irony is the lightheartedness you feel when realizing that your self, your views, and the world are not as solid as they seem. As a joyful ironist, you realize that none of the things you say point to any objective truth. -Greg and Tomas
This doesn’t just apply to you though, it actually applies to everything and everyone you come into contact with. I would say this leads our now empty mind on the path back to healthy mind. As we begin to become lighthearted our struggles with ourselves begin to dissipate and we can see that we don’t have to take ourselves as seriously as we were before.
Our new look at reality being only conventional allows us now to mold our experience based on which agreements we want to make and which ones no longer suite us can be thrown out. Our will obtain an “empty mind” in this way of seeing.
How you too can make a mountain disappear
So now with a little bit of background behind the emptiness teaching I will show you how I made the mountain disappear. I was sitting quietly on my day sofa in zazen (sitting meditation) and I was visualizing a mountain to see if I could find if there is any one part of the mountain and affirm that it had inherent existence.
I began to break the mountain down into it’s parts in which slowly lose it’s “mountain-ness” until there no longer was a mountain in front of me. There was nothing left of the mountain aside from, dirt, rock, minerals, and its’ seemingly solid-ness. All of these movements or conditions make our conventional mountain.
Do you see what I did there?
It’s conventionally there but you could not point to any one thing and say, that is a mountain. It depends on so many different processes that make it into a mountain. So like a zen magician and within the blink of a moment, I turned it back into a mountain.
It was brilliant.
I hope you enjoyed this post on what i’ve learned about emptiness teaching then I highly recommend Greg and Tomas new book to anyone seeking the empty mind.