Author Topic: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form  (Read 4872 times)

Offline katersy

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2010, 02:47:15 pm »
I have heard the term "openness" used for Sunyata as an alternative to emptiness.  
Emptiness is a term used to describe the reality of dependent origination.
I've not heard that but I've thought it myself. After analyzing something and you find that it is not defined or limited by having a permanent identity or essence what is left is the freedom to change. I've also thought dependent origination is perhaps better translated as 'paradox'--at least in some applications.
(IMHO).

What do you mean "paradox" ? Why would this word be useful?
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Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2010, 03:40:11 pm »
What do you mean "paradox" ? Why would this word be useful?

Simplicity and clarity. Did you click on the link I gave in my last post? It's of a sketch by M.C. Escher of two hands drawing each other. They arise in dependence on each other.

Or you can think of it in the classic example of the chicken and the egg. They arise from each other, yet the question of which came first is a paradox.

Or it can greatly simplify the discussion of Nargajuna's four points. In the Prasanghika Madhyamaka they give four logical possibilities for how phenomena abide:
1) they exist
2) they don't exist
2) they both exist and don't exist
3) they neither exist or don't exist

All four possibilities are disproved and generally no answer is given beyond that. But now if this were a multiple choice question the obvious answer would be 4) none of the above (an option not offered). And since all the logical possibilities are disproved then the answer has to be illogical--or a paradox.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2010, 03:41:52 pm by santamonicacj »
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Offline Webgoji

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2010, 12:14:10 pm »
Simply put, you must locate a good teacher who has an experience of emptiness to received authentic teachings.  It's a bit inappropriate for us to teach emptiness on a forum as the many different means of explanation can lead to TREMENDOUS confusion.

I will offer this though, that by definition emptiness is as follows:

Emptiness is a non-affirming negative phenomena that functions to negate the object of inherent existence.

The key point here is that it negates inherent existence.  That is the mind's belief that we and other phenomena (such as chair, elephant, etc.) exist without depending on other causes and conditions for their existence.  To simplify, when we see a garden, we think, "What a nice garden."  But in fact, that garden exists only because of the causes (such as the gardener planting the seeds, tilling the soil, etc) and conditions (soil makeup, rain, sunlight, etc).  It did not spontaneously arise there and will cease in time.  This seems very simple, but if we look closer, we will find that there is nothing there we can point to that we can say is the garden.  We can point to flowers, the gardener, the soil, etc, but never find "garden".  This space that is left when we attempt to locate the garden itself that is emptiness.

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Offline Webgoji

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2010, 12:19:51 pm »
By the way, you do exist conventionally so don't worry.   :hug:
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Offline humanitas

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2010, 10:19:48 am »
Has this thread helped you clarify katersy?

SMCJ, I don't know, Pema Chodron might use "paradox" but really she tries to communicate in simple-to-understand terms.  I think she uses spaciousness, openness more.

Katersy, I think a good SIMPLE way to think about emptiness is this:

When you look at an apple, you can say, the apple exists.  It's there to your senses, it's round, sweet, delicious, etc.  This is what they usually mean by "conventional existence."  The reason it's "conventional" is because we all accept it's ONE apple.  However solid the apple might seem as ONE apple though is it ONE thing?  No, it is skin, and pulp, and seeds, and core.  So when we take apart the components, do we find the ONE apple?  No, we can keep going down to billions of atoms.  Can I find the apple in the atom?  No, but the atom makes the apple (a paradox).  Each one of those atoms is not inherently one atom, while it's conventional existence is singular (each atom IS one unit), the solidity is illusory.  We can find even more parts within the atomic level.  Neutrons, protons, etc.  So when you drill down to what the apple IS, it's conventionally one unit we call apple, but it's not a solid object.  Its existence is completely dependent on each atom's existence, therefore we can say the apple is empty.  Empty of inherent meaning/form.  The apple could not exist without all the conditions that came together to make it exist (history, particles, genetics, life, etc).  It is composed of many other whole units which are equally regarded as "ones" like atoms and seeds and one skin, etc.  But each one of those is also composed of many many other "conditions" as they say in Buddhist speak.

So in this way nothing is inherently solid, but conventionally exists.  So you and I exist, but we are empty.  Our self is not this one solid thing that exists absolutely.  It could not come to be or exist in a vacuum, therefore our HERE and NOW is completely dependent on EVERY factor and condition that gave it its current shape.  Since each condition has conditions of its own, essentially, the nature of everything IS emptiness because it's all interconnected.  Emptiness meaning there's a lot of space in this object, it's not a SOLID thing, the solidity is only a product of our perception.  Therefore its objective existence without our perception is really many things.  We call it one thing because that is how our perception organizes the stimuli and data.  But to the apple, is it one thing?  The apple doesn't care either way.  It can be many conditions, one unit, this does not change the essence or the existence of the apple, therefore it is inherently empty of meaning.

Does this clarify?  Btw, this is only what I've understood so far in the more conceptual understanding of emptiness.  It's actually another thing entirely when you experience this "non-solidity" this "emptiness" in every form.  That's why I meditate, so I can still my mind and get closer to the reality that is, and not what my mind puts there to understand it. 

 :headbow:
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Offline Caz

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2010, 05:08:54 pm »
Simply put, you must locate a good teacher who has an experience of emptiness to received authentic teachings.  It's a bit inappropriate for us to teach emptiness on a forum as the many different means of explanation can lead to TREMENDOUS confusion.

I will offer this though, that by definition emptiness is as follows:

Emptiness is a non-affirming negative phenomena that functions to negate the object of inherent existence.

The key point here is that it negates inherent existence.  That is the mind's belief that we and other phenomena (such as chair, elephant, etc.) exist without depending on other causes and conditions for their existence.  To simplify, when we see a garden, we think, "What a nice garden."  But in fact, that garden exists only because of the causes (such as the gardener planting the seeds, tilling the soil, etc) and conditions (soil makeup, rain, sunlight, etc).  It did not spontaneously arise there and will cease in time.  This seems very simple, but if we look closer, we will find that there is nothing there we can point to that we can say is the garden.  We can point to flowers, the gardener, the soil, etc, but never find "garden".  This space that is left when we attempt to locate the garden itself that is emptiness.

For extensive reading, you can consult Heart of Wisdom or Ocean of Nectar.

Aye it can be difficult as there are many different views and versions friend but you cant go wrong with quoting a commentary !  :hug:
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We would like to request you to please respect this precious Dharma book, which functions to free living beings from suffering permanently. If you continually read and practice the advice in this book, eventually your problems caused by anger, attachment and ignorance will cease.

Please enjoy this special gift from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who dedicates: "May everyone who reads this book experience deep peace of mind, and accomplish the real meaning of human life."

Offline TongueTied

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2010, 11:34:36 pm »
"Form is emptiness, emptiness is form."

I never understood this statement.  Does it simply mean that they are co-dependent perceptions, or is there something deeper to it?  "Form is [made of] emptiness, emptiness is [made of] form?"

Offline humanitas

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2010, 11:31:14 am »
There seem to be two main factors to the confusion of this phrase:

1. not being completely aware and educated in Buddhist culture, and I'm sure our Venerable Shi Hong Yang can lend a hand with this sentence

2. Translation of terms.  The terms used in English ARE confusing as they have their own connotations in our language.  Emptiness tends to indicate a lack, form indicates a shape to some subject matter.

To answer the question plainly TongueTied, they are not co-dependent, they are non-dual.  That is they are one and the same, just perceived as dual by the samsaric mind.  So in short and sweet terms and pure intellectual understanding of the non-duality is impossible, one must experience its truth first hand to get the first non-intellectual/non-conceptual grasp.  It is not a concept, though we could make it one by analyzing it in depth.  But it still won't provide you with direct experience.  So it's often a contemplation sutra.  This mean that you spend a lifetime understanding, so if we don't get it completely, that's ok, we can aspire to it. 

Form IS emptiness, that is all form is inherently non-solid, non-dual.  All emptiness (inherent in all things) IS form, it's what form is made OF. 

I have no mastery over the concept, so I'm simply delineating what I understand and as I've experienced it first hand, but aside from that I could be grossly mistaken so I'll leave it to the more experienced perhaps to lend a hand in clarifying.

:headbow:
Ogyen.

"Form is emptiness, emptiness is form."

I never understood this statement.  Does it simply mean that they are co-dependent perceptions, or is there something deeper to it?  "Form is [made of] emptiness, emptiness is [made of] form?"
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Offline TongueTied

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #23 on: March 21, 2010, 10:57:54 pm »
So it's one of those "two sides of the same coin" shindigs.

Offline Webgoji

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #24 on: March 22, 2010, 07:06:57 am »
So it's one of those "two sides of the same coin" shindigs.

Uhh . . . sort of.  Ogyen is correct in her assertion, that form arises from emptiness and emptiness is form.  Be careful not to allow your mind to believe emptiness is like an inherently existent ether or primordial goo that everything stems from.  Emptiness is the lack of inherent existence.  It's not a positive phenomena like chili or axle grease.

As you get proper commentary from a qualified teacher, you'll start to dial in this lack.  Emptiness is not a feeling like compassion or love, but something apprehended by the mind.  With strong meditation and good commentary, it'll make sense intellectually.
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Offline ABC

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #25 on: March 24, 2010, 03:46:51 am »
I'm a bit confused about the word "emptiness."
Emptiness means empty of self.

Form is matter, like a rock.

So when a rock is examined closely, can any self be found in the rock?

Naturally, no.

So form is empty of self and emptiness is form. 

But with mental things, such examination is not so easy, which is why meditation is done.

When seen clearly, just like the rock, feelings, perception, thought function and consciousness are empty of self and emptiness itself is these mental things.

Mere feeling, mere perception, mere thought function and mere sense consciousness are just that....just those things...no self in them when seen clearly.

 :wink1:

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Offline Caz

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #26 on: March 24, 2010, 03:59:38 am »
I'm a bit confused about the word "emptiness."
Emptiness means empty of self.

Form is matter, like a rock.

So when a rock is examined closely, can any self be found in the rock?

Naturally, no.

So form is empty of self and emptiness is form. 

But with mental things, such examination is not so easy, which is why meditation is done.

When seen clearly, just like the rock, feelings, perception, thought function and consciousness are empty of self and emptiness itself is these mental things.

Mere feeling, mere perception, mere thought function and mere sense consciousness are just that....just those things...no self in them when seen clearly.

 :wink1:



Well spoken. It is the clinging at this self grasping which is a difficult one to get at, i found a better picture of it today, the trick is just eliminating it.  :pray:
http://emodernbuddhism.com/

This eBook Modern Buddhism – The Path of Compassion and Wisdom, in three volumes, is being distributed freely at the request of the author Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. The author says: "Through reading and practicing the instructions given in this book, people can solve their daily problems and maintain a happy mind all the time." So that these benefits can pervade the whole world, Geshe Kelsang wishes to give this eBook freely to everyone.

We would like to request you to please respect this precious Dharma book, which functions to free living beings from suffering permanently. If you continually read and practice the advice in this book, eventually your problems caused by anger, attachment and ignorance will cease.

Please enjoy this special gift from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who dedicates: "May everyone who reads this book experience deep peace of mind, and accomplish the real meaning of human life."

Offline Webgoji

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #27 on: March 26, 2010, 01:31:51 pm »
I'm a bit confused about the word "emptiness."
Emptiness means empty of self.

Form is matter, like a rock.

So when a rock is examined closely, can any self be found in the rock?

Naturally, no.

So form is empty of self and emptiness is form. 

But with mental things, such examination is not so easy, which is why meditation is done.

When seen clearly, just like the rock, feelings, perception, thought function and consciousness are empty of self and emptiness itself is these mental things.

Mere feeling, mere perception, mere thought function and mere sense consciousness are just that....just those things...no self in them when seen clearly.

 :wink1:



Well spoken. It is the clinging at this self grasping which is a difficult one to get at, i found a better picture of it today, the trick is just eliminating it.  :pray:

A little Weed-B-Gone will clear self grasping right up.   :teehee:
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Offline Caz

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #28 on: March 26, 2010, 01:39:56 pm »
I'm a bit confused about the word "emptiness."
Emptiness means empty of self.

Form is matter, like a rock.

So when a rock is examined closely, can any self be found in the rock?

Naturally, no.

So form is empty of self and emptiness is form. 

But with mental things, such examination is not so easy, which is why meditation is done.

When seen clearly, just like the rock, feelings, perception, thought function and consciousness are empty of self and emptiness itself is these mental things.

Mere feeling, mere perception, mere thought function and mere sense consciousness are just that....just those things...no self in them when seen clearly.

 :wink1:



Well spoken. It is the clinging at this self grasping which is a difficult one to get at, i found a better picture of it today, the trick is just eliminating it.  :pray:

A little Weed-B-Gone will clear self grasping right up.   :teehee:

Hehe that it will, Its damn tricky though...its like a weed that just keeps growing back  :eek:
http://emodernbuddhism.com/

This eBook Modern Buddhism – The Path of Compassion and Wisdom, in three volumes, is being distributed freely at the request of the author Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. The author says: "Through reading and practicing the instructions given in this book, people can solve their daily problems and maintain a happy mind all the time." So that these benefits can pervade the whole world, Geshe Kelsang wishes to give this eBook freely to everyone.

We would like to request you to please respect this precious Dharma book, which functions to free living beings from suffering permanently. If you continually read and practice the advice in this book, eventually your problems caused by anger, attachment and ignorance will cease.

Please enjoy this special gift from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who dedicates: "May everyone who reads this book experience deep peace of mind, and accomplish the real meaning of human life."

Offline humanitas

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Re: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
« Reply #29 on: March 26, 2010, 02:39:27 pm »
This is a nice analogy. Thank you.
:headbow:

I'm a bit confused about the word "emptiness."
Emptiness means empty of self.

Form is matter, like a rock.

So when a rock is examined closely, can any self be found in the rock?

Naturally, no.

So form is empty of self and emptiness is form. 

But with mental things, such examination is not so easy, which is why meditation is done.

When seen clearly, just like the rock, feelings, perception, thought function and consciousness are empty of self and emptiness itself is these mental things.

Mere feeling, mere perception, mere thought function and mere sense consciousness are just that....just those things...no self in them when seen clearly.

 :wink1:


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