Emptiness

stars and clouds at nighttimePhoto by Arnie Chou on Pexels.com

This is from an article I’m reading by Norman Fischer. I love the way he speaks of emptiness as something that can be felt and experienced moment to moment. I also love his enthusiasm and easy way of talking about a topic that is so often misunderstood.

“From the first time I encountered the word in English, I liked the sound of it: emptiness. Some would find  it chillingly abstract, even scary. But I took to it immediately. I chanted the Heart Sutra (“form is emptiness, emptiness form …”) alone and with sangha every day for years before I ever bothered to find out what the great teachers of the past meant by emptiness. It didn’t matter to me what they meant. I knew what emptiness was.

“Of course I had no clue. But intuitively I knew… The logic of emptiness is wonderfully airtight. Like all simple truths, its clarity is immediately self-evident: we are. And there is no moment in which we are separate and apart: we are always connected—to past, to future, to others, to objects, to air, earth, sky. Every thought, every emotion, every action, every moment of time, has multiple causes and reverberations—tendrils of culture, history, hurt, and joy that stretch out mysteriously and endlessly.

“As with us, so with everything: all things influence one another. This is how the world appears, shimmers, and shifts, moment by moment. But if things always associate with and bump up against each other, they must touch one another. If so, they must have parts, for without parts they couldn’t touch (they’d melt into one another, disappearing). But the parts in turn are also things in their own right (a nose, part of a face, is a nose; an airplane wing, part of a plane, is an airplane wing) and so the parts must have parts (nostrils, wingtips), and those parts have parts and so on: an infinite proliferation of parts, smaller and smaller, clouds of them. (This is true of thoughts and feelings as well as physical objects.) If you look closely enough and truly enough at anything, it disappears into a cloud, and the cloud disappears into a cloud. All is void. There is no final substantial something anywhere. The only thing real is connection: void touching void.”

 

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