Awareness versus Emptiness

Awareness versus Emptiness

This post  is a further exploration of Mind and Awareness, in that it differentiates taking refuge in awareness versus taking refuge in emptiness.

The difference between the two (where you take refuge) is subtle, but i think it might be profound, might be an important step to opening the door to whatever it is.

To my way of seeing things (at least in the last few months) when we take refuge (and I’m not sure that is the right way to say it, think of it) in awareness or the natural state of being (if that is the right term) we are (touching, or catching a glimpse of, or approaching) that which is pointed towards with “Ones awareness is the guru of the three kayas.

That is to say, when we take refuge in our basic nature, we are allowing oru basic nature to shine through. And what might be evidence in that is that yesterday and today I’ve changed my daily morning practice to be just resting in my basic nature (and that is why they call it practice). The result of that is that yesterday I started back in on Satan’s Hand, and today I wrote this.

What is taking refuge in Emptiness?

I am not sure “taking refuge” is the right phrase, but it is close.

First of all here is a posting on Emptiness. So simply put, when I am meditating and I have a thought, I can recognized the thought is empty, and let the thought go. That is what I mean (and what I think/hope Ghanshar Rinpoche meant or would mean) by taking refuge in emptiness.

It is much better to do what I just described than to take the thought too seriously, to make a solid “real” thing of the thought.  So if the thought is “George is a real jerk” — normally I take that serously, and think about why he is a jerk and what I should do about it. Or I feel guilty in thinking that and try NOT to think about it, or maybe I justify why I am thinking about it…….


I could notice the thought was just a thought and let it go.  Which lets me be back to where I am, back to reality.  And if that thought came up while I was with George, it would let me be with whoever or whatever or however George is, rather than with my thoughts about George.

So taking refuge in emptiness is pretty good.

Why is taking refuge in awareness better?

While my thought about George is empty — in that it is transient (like the “imprint of a bird in the sky”) there is something there.  Thinking George is a jerk might have some wisdom in it. I mean “George is a jerk” is probably a more useful or accurate thought then “George is an elevator.”


If my thought is “I am really angry at George” — it is good to recognize the emptiness of that; since most of the alternatives lead to my 1) punching him, or 2) suppressing my anger, so I kick my dog when I get home. — and I don’t even have a dog.

But if I just recognize the thought “I am really angry…” is empty and let it go — this feels a little like I am pushing it away, a little like I am pretending I didn’t have the thought.


What if I recognize the thought it empty, but sort of acknowledge the thought — or more to the point, acknowledge that I was aware of the thought. This is hard for me to describe, but it is almost as if I touch the thought and then let it go (“Touch and Go” is one of the first teachings I heard when i started meditating.)


That is what I mean by “taking refuge in awareness.”  My allegiance to more to the awareness than to the concept of emptiness (which is seen/felt/whatever by the awareness.


When working on this posting I came across The Mystical Core of the Great Religions, which seems to fit here somehow.