Author Topic: What’s in a Word? Emptiness  (Read 1547 times)

Offline Chaz

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #30 on: December 31, 2018, 10:53:21 am »
   For everything to be interconnected, shouldn't they need to inherently exist?

No, different objects and experiences are discriminated and thought to exist independently, but if they really had a separate independent existence, apart from everything else, they wouldn’t be constantly arising and disappearing based on causes and conditions.

What things are thought to exist independently?

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #31 on: December 31, 2018, 11:06:16 am »
   For everything to be interconnected, shouldn't they need to inherently exist?

No, different objects and experiences are discriminated and thought to exist independently, but if they really had a separate independent existence, apart from everything else, they wouldn’t be constantly arising and disappearing based on causes and conditions.

What things are thought to exist independently?

Every thing. Objects and experiences that are discriminated. You name it.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Chaz

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #32 on: December 31, 2018, 03:28:21 pm »
   For everything to be interconnected, shouldn't they need to inherently exist?

No, different objects and experiences are discriminated and thought to exist independently, but if they really had a separate independent existence, apart from everything else, they wouldn’t be constantly arising and disappearing based on causes and conditions.

What things are thought to exist independently?

Every thing. Objects and experiences that are discriminated. You name it.

Everything.  Hmmm.  If everything exists independently, then how can everything be interconnected?

How can anything arise from causes and conditions (everything)  still exist independently?

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2018, 06:32:24 pm »
   For everything to be interconnected, shouldn't they need to inherently exist?

No, different objects and experiences are discriminated and thought to exist independently, but if they really had a separate independent existence, apart from everything else, they wouldn’t be constantly arising and disappearing based on causes and conditions.

What things are thought to exist independently?

Every thing. Objects and experiences that are discriminated. You name it.

Everything.  Hmmm.  If everything exists independently, then how can everything be interconnected?

How can anything arise from causes and conditions (everything)  still exist independently?

Maybe I wasn't very clear.

I wrote "...different objects and experiences are discriminated and thought to exist independently, but if they really had a separate independent existence, apart from everything else, they wouldn’t be constantly arising and disappearing based on causes and conditions."

I didn't mean to say that they actually exist independently, but that most folks think they do. In fact in order to function in what you might call "conventional truth," where language rules, we discriminate them as separate objects and treat them as if they did exist independently.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Chaz

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #34 on: January 01, 2019, 08:42:53 am »
Thanks for setting me straight.  After thinking abput your last post I have to own my bad on this.  I completely misunderstood. 

Not to make excuses, but I've been sick as a frikkin dog for the last week.  Lot's of medicines and impaired faculties.

Thanks again.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #35 on: January 08, 2019, 03:38:37 pm »
Hi, Chaz.

Sorry for your illness.  Chances are your brain has been affected and you are having trouble reasoning clearly as a result as you suggested.  :hug:

When it comes to "the word" emptiness, my reasoning falls back on the words, "impermanent" and "insubstantial".  This is what all people, places, and things have in common.  Essentially "no permanent" essence or soul, anatta.

source:  https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/various/wheel202.html

Quote
Therefore it is said: There are three teachers in the world. The first teacher teaches the existence of an eternal ego-entity outlasting death: that is the Eternalist, as for example the Christian. The second teacher teaches a temporary ego-entity which becomes annihilated at death: that is the annihilationist, or materialist. The third teacher teaches neither an eternal, nor a temporary ego-entity: this is the Buddha. The Buddha teaches that, what we call ego, self, soul, personality etc., are merely conventional terms not referring to any real independent entity. And he teaches that there is only to be found this psychophysical process of existence changing from moment to moment. Without understanding the egolessness of existence, it is not possible to gain a real understanding of the Buddha-word; and it is not possible without it to realize that goal of emancipation and deliverance of mind proclaimed by the Buddha. This doctrine of egolessness of existence forms the essence of the Buddha's doctrine of emancipation. Thus with this doctrine of egolessness, or anattaa, stands or falls the entire Buddhist structure. Indeed, for anyone who wishes to engage in the study of the Buddhist scriptures, the best thing would be, from the very start, to get himself acquainted with the two methods, in which the Buddha taught the Dhamma to the world. The first method is the teaching in conventional language; the second method is the teaching in philosophically correct language. The first one relates to conventional truth, the second, to truth in the ultimate sense.

Thus, whenever the Buddha uses such terms as I, person, living being, etc., this is to be understood as conventional speech, hence not correct in the highest sense. It is just as speaking of the rising and setting of the sun, though we know thoroughly well that this does not correspond to reality. Thus the Buddha teaches that, in the ultimate sense, amongst all these psychophysical phenomena of existence there cannot be found any eternal or even temporary ego-entity, and hence that all existence of whatever kind is something impersonal, or anattaa.

In this connection I would like to emphasize the fact that this fundamental doctrine of egolessness and emptiness is not, as some misinformed Western Buddhists assert, only taught in the southern school of Buddhism, but that even in the so-called the Mahayana schools it forms a most essential part. Without this teaching of anattaa, or egolessness, there is no Buddhism; and without having realized the truth of egolessness no real progress is possible on the path to deliverance.

The Buddha is, in every respect, a teacher at the golden mean, ethically as well as philosophically. From the ethical standpoint, for example, the Buddha rejects two extremes: the way of sensual pleasures and the way of self-torture. From the philosophical standpoint he rejects eternity, as well as temporariness of an ego entity. Just so he rejects belief in an absolute identity and an absolute otherness of the various stages of the process of existence. He rejects the determinism, as well as the belief in chance. He rejects the belief in absolute existence and absolute non-existence; likewise in freedom of will, as well as in unfreedom of will.

All these things will become clear to one who understands the egolessness and conditioned nature of all phenomena of existence. On the understanding of these two truths depends the understanding of the entire doctrine of the Buddha. Hence the understanding and final penetration of the egolessness and conditionedness of all phenomena of existence are the necessary foundation to the realization of the noble eightfold path leading to deliverance from all vanity and misery, namely: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right bodily action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration of mind. Only this golden middle path, based on these two kinds of right understanding, namely of "egolessness and conditionedness," can alleviate and destroy these vain illusions of "self" and craving, which are the root-causes of all war and bloodshed in the world. But without these two kinds of understanding there is no realization of the holy and peaceful goal pointed out by the Buddha. There are however, to be found various would-be Buddhists in the West who are attached to an imaginary Great Self, and who uphold that the Buddha did in no way reject the view of an "eternal Atman," or soul, behind and independent of the phenomena of existence, and who believe that the Mahayana texts teach such a doctrine. Such assertions, however, do not in the least prove correct, for neither do the Pali texts, nor the early Mahayana texts proclaim an eternal self. Any reader, who is unbiased in mind and free from prejudices, can never from a study of the Buddhist scriptures come to the conclusion that the Buddha ever taught any such ego-entity within or outside the corporeal, mental and spiritual phenomena of existence. Nowhere in the world can there be found such an entity, as was clearly pointed out by the Buddha.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Chaz

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #36 on: January 09, 2019, 07:48:41 am »
Hi, Chaz.

Sorry for your illness.  Chances are your brain has been affected and you are having trouble reasoning clearly as a result as you suggested.  :hug:

When it comes to "the word" emptiness, my reasoning falls back on the words, "impermanent" and "insubstantial".  This is what all people, places, and things have in common.  Essentially "no permanent" essence or soul, anatta.

Very good.

What I've been taught, is a bit different.

You said:

Quote
Essentially "no permanent" essence or soul, anatta.

My read of that is we are still left with essence, albeit impermanent.

What I've been taught is that there is, simply put, no essence.  An apple has no "essential" apple.  Ever.  This is emptiness.  The apple is empty of apple.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #37 on: January 11, 2019, 02:40:43 am »
What I've been taught is that there is, simply put, no essence.  An apple has no "essential" apple.  Ever.  This is emptiness.  The apple is empty of apple.

Yes.  No noumena, just phenomena.   
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Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #38 on: January 12, 2019, 04:01:29 am »
What I've been taught is that there is, simply put, no essence.  An apple has no "essential" apple.  Ever.  This is emptiness.  The apple is empty of apple.

Yes.  No noumena, just phenomena.   

Yes, it's been a problem with Western Philosophy since the ancient Greeks posited an existence of things apart from their physical presence. A chair existed before chairs were 'invented'.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Chaz

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #39 on: January 12, 2019, 06:02:00 am »
Yes.  No noumena, just phenomena.   

Not a fan of Kant, but, in the context of Buddhist teaching, doesn't the above get a little to flirty with nihilistic thinking?

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #40 on: January 13, 2019, 07:22:31 am »
Yes.  No noumena, just phenomena.   

Not a fan of Kant, but, in the context of Buddhist teaching, doesn't the above get a little to flirty with nihilistic thinking?

I don't think so.  IMO saying that there are no noumena corresponds quite closely to sunyata in the sense of lack of inherent existence, things not existing from their own side - or as TNH puts in his translation of the Heart Sutra, "not separate self-entities". :
https://plumvillage.org/news/thich-nhat-hanh-new-heart-sutra-translation/

So for example an apple does not have a separate self-entity.  There is no essence of "apple", ie no noumena - there are just transient phenomena like colour, shape, taste, texture, etc.   
« Last Edit: January 13, 2019, 07:29:15 am by Dairy Lama »
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Offline Zen44

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #41 on: January 13, 2019, 08:10:09 am »
a whole lot of explaining about nothing

Offline BlackLooter

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #42 on: January 15, 2019, 01:11:44 am »
Emptiness is a form of nihilism...which means that we disregard all images..and thoughts as relating to anything and put them into one kind of stew..called nothingness..

Which is all around everything..between the fabric of time and material..the eternal thought itself..is full..until it passes into nothingness..which is emptiness..

The notion of emptiness is within all the bounds and limits of existence...with physics we might conclude that string theory..as a posit..is a thing..but emptiness itself..cannot be scientifically discovered..because it doesn't exist..and does exist at the same time..we could never test nothingness...except with our virtue...with math..and intuition..
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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #43 on: January 15, 2019, 04:06:44 am »
Emptiness is a form of nihilism...which means that we disregard all images..and thoughts as relating to anything and put them into one kind of stew..called nothingness..

Which is all around everything..between the fabric of time and material..the eternal thought itself..is full..until it passes into nothingness..which is emptiness..

The notion of emptiness is within all the bounds and limits of existence...with physics we might conclude that string theory..as a posit..is a thing..but emptiness itself..cannot be scientifically discovered..because it doesn't exist..and does exist at the same time..we could never test nothingness...except with our virtue...with math..and intuition..
Physical 'emptiness' is interesting. I often use science as part of my insight meditation programme, and was intrigued by the idea of things coming into and popping out of existence in so-called emptiness. Of course the emptiness of the Buddha has nothing to do with physical emptiness in that sense, but a philosophical emptiness where things have no inherent existence apart from their physical presence. The meanings we attach to things have no real existence yet they are the factor enabling the kind of suffering the Buddha talked about. Let go of the attached meanings and there is no more suffering of that kind.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline paracelsus

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Re: What’s in a Word? Emptiness
« Reply #44 on: January 15, 2019, 08:32:20 pm »
Emptiness is a form of nihilism...which means that we disregard all images..and thoughts as relating to anything and put them into one kind of stew..called nothingness..

Which is all around everything..between the fabric of time and material..the eternal thought itself..is full..until it passes into nothingness..which is emptiness..

The notion of emptiness is within all the bounds and limits of existence...with physics we might conclude that string theory..as a posit..is a thing..but emptiness itself..cannot be scientifically discovered..because it doesn't exist..and does exist at the same time..we could never test nothingness...except with our virtue...with math..and intuition..

Considering Emptiness on the samsaric level (where I am) and its usefulness:
I think the term "emptiness" doesn’t refer to the physical aspect of an object but to our perception of it.
I’d suggest that "emptiness" is not emptiness in the sense of vacuity or being void of substance or lacking all characteristics, eg: the idea that a substantial object is not in fact of substance.
I don't believe it is correct to imply with the use of the word emptiness that all (Samsara) is without substance, i.e. without materiality, or that materiality is dependent upon the existence or observation of humans or other sentient beings.

 I suggest that the term "emptiness" is mostly relevant to our sentience and its interaction with its environment (inner and outer, self and other). Apart from recognising that all existence is movement and change without pause, and that all arising is dependent on cause and condition, to describe that as “emptiness” seems to confuse the matter and distract from the usefulness of the term. "Devoid of..." (some specific attribute) could be an alternative. As in:
- devoid of difference between perceiver and perceived,
- devoid of self-arising, (i.e. coming into existence independent of the realm into which an object becomes or forms),
- devoid of existence apart from causes and conditions,
- devoid of permanence,
- a state of quietude devoid of conceptual formation,
- etc...

Emptiness is therefore not nihilism but simply the term for the delusional aspects of our existence, i.e. the bits we take to be real but which are not.

Theo Stcherbatski wrote in his "Buddhist Logic. Vol 1":
"The aim of Buddhist logic is an investigation into the sources of our knowledge with a view to finding out, in the cognised world, its elements of ultimate reality and of separating them out from the elements of imagination, which in the process of cognition, have been added to them."

I have a feeling that the word has become over mystified and tries to establish emptiness as a metaphysical state or intrinsic property of existence but I would suggest that it is a word used in the attempt to point out our delusions and help encourage us to banish our clinging to ideas of permanence and stability.

To quote Seigen Ishin:
“Before studying Zen, mountains are mountains and waters are waters but after some practice it is realised that mountains are not mountains and waters are not waters. But now after achieving the abode of rest, the mountains are once again as mountains and the waters are again waters.”

The usefulness of the term lies in its implication that we are not as we think we are (independent selves), but are as we think (made up of our thoughts), and that our thoughts and perceptions are merely ephemeral approximations, produced through the interaction of the skandhas.

Possibly.


 


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