Emptiness

One of the central ideas in Buddhism is “emptiness” or Shunyata or Tibetan term.  This idea is typically used in a sentence such as “My thought about how stupid she is (or I am) is empty.”  Now, this is often seen as the most misunderstoodn word in Buddhism, but i don’t know if it needs to be all that complicated.

The problem is (as I see it) not that the idea of emptiness is difficult to understand, but that it is difficult to accept.

When I say “my thoughts about you are empty” it simply means that those thoughts are just passing thoughts and have little or no relation to any ultimate reality or truth about “you.”

Or as my teacher said

Student: You said that at first shunyata has a very cold quality, and then you said that after you lose your fears, shunyata develops a warm quality. Could you comment on that?

Chogyam Trungpa: To begin with, when we realize that the primitive idea of security does not apply anymore, it is very terrifying, threatening. That comes from the idea of looking for a secure home, to begin with, that you regard spiritual practice as something that secures you. But you come to the understanding that this is not so, that you have to give up the security and give up hope and everything. That gives new perspective to the whole practice. You tend to try to struggle with that, trying to interpret and to reinterpret–that giving up hope is the ultimate hope, giving up security is the ultimate security, and so forth. And we can go on like that, trying to find a way of twisting it around. But we realize that there is no hope, there is no way of finding a new strategy because shunyata is a hard fact. There is nothing you can con about it.

Then, having accepted the whole thing, you can begin to relax. You begin to let things fall through you because you realize you have nothing really to lose. If you have anything happen there is something to gain. So that is the starting point where warmth begins to happen, generosity begins to develop. You have nothing to lose, therefore you have nothing to secure about anything at all. And the spontaneous quality of warmth and compassion is the expression of generosity. You become generous to yourself to begin with, therefore the expression of being generous to others becomes a natural situation.

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And for some reason I wanted to add “Nothing is exactly as it seems. Nor is it otherwise.”