The Buddhist Concept Of Emptiness And Seeing Reality
Seeing “what is” is not just seeing the apple as an apple. It is the direct seeing of the emptiness of the apple. It is the essence of the underlying reality which permeates everything.
Our minds give “what is” color and flavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It makes for a colorful universe filled with many intriguing stories. The stories while being part of the universe, do not underpin it however. Thought is not necessary for existence, but it is necessary to build a story.
In the same way, calling an apple an apple is not really a pointer to reality. It is a descriptive story/label of the object – a product of the mind, a thought about an object.
We might then ask how we can directly see emptiness?
The first thing we should notice is that we get glimpses all the time. Anytime the mind stops is an opportunity to gain a sense of the underlying reality. For example when walking in nature, we might stumble across something of great beauty. For a brief period of time our minds stop and we become entranced. Sometimes we become so overwhelmed by the beauty of things we spontaneously begin to cry. We are in awe of it literally. We catch a glimpse.
The more we attempt to stay with the glimpse, the further away the glimpse becomes because our minds have kicked in. Our thoughts are back with a vengeance. We erroneously believe we have to stop the mind or meditate harder or straightening our minds or that seeing what is, has something to do with getting perception correct.
That’s the trap! The glimpse did not occur because of an attempt to stop the mind, rather something caused us to pay attention in a different way than we normally do.
What we do not notice is that the glimpse occurred without effort. Nor did it occur because we tried to be effortless… Hence the paradox… And we want an answer to the paradox, but there is none… Why? Because only the egoic mind creates the paradox.
While we cannot force or manipulate the direct seeing of emptiness, we can encourage more opportunities for glimpses. We can ask, what obstacles are in the way to being in a more natural state and work towards removing the obstacles one by one.
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