Understanding emptiness

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Understanding emptiness

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:21 am

Alright, then. I don't understand Emptiness. I don't even know what I don't know so this will be a little rambling. Sorry.

I understand cause and effect. I understand that a table is really a collection of items (leg, paint, top, empty space around it, and so forth) that is merely labeled "table" in dependence on its parts. I understand that the leg, paint, top, empty space, and so forth are merely labeled in dependence on their parts all the way down to subtle atoms where infinite recursion happens where the atom can be split into several atoms forever.

However, if a "person" "hits" "me" with a "pipe" it'll hurt just as much as if a person hits me with a pipe. Or will it? If everything is already empty then how would recognizing it change anything? And why is the fact that things doesn't have a self so important? It still functions, it just didn't cause itself to arise.

Thank you.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby catmoon » Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:34 am

The importance arises mainly when the ideas you mention are applied to self and others. For example, when "I" hit "you" with a "pipe", you are liable to become angry at "me". But why? The proximate cause of your pain is the pipe itself, should you not be angry at the pipe then? Or, what about the parents who taught me violent ways of solving problems? Shouldn't you be angry at them? And what about this "me" you are angry at - does it really exist? Or is there simply an infinitely intricate web of causes and effects, any one of which you could rationally select as the object of your anger?

Emptiness leads to the conclusion that the thing you are getting so angry at is merely an idea you have created to encompass a range of perceived phenomena, and thus there is no sane place to direct anger.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby kirtu » Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:13 am

Konchog1 wrote:However, if a "person" "hits" "me" with a "pipe" it'll hurt just as much as if a person hits me with a pipe.


Do you and the pipe and the act of being hit and the intention behind the person hitting you exist inherently or not?

If everything is already empty then how would recognizing it change anything? And why is the fact that things doesn't have a self so important? It still functions, it just didn't cause itself to arise.


Do negative mind states exist or not?

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:12 am

Konchog1 wrote:I understand cause and effect. I understand that a table is really a collection of items (leg, paint, top, empty space around it, and so forth) that is merely labeled "table" in dependence on its parts. I understand that the leg, paint, top, empty space, and so forth are merely labeled in dependence on their parts all the way down to subtle atoms where infinite recursion happens where the atom can be split into several atoms forever.

However, if a "person" "hits" "me" with a "pipe" it'll hurt just as much as if a person hits me with a pipe. Or will it? If everything is already empty then how would recognizing it change anything? And why is the fact that things doesn't have a self so important? It still functions, it just didn't cause itself to arise.

Thank you.


Instead of "empty" let's say, 'dependently arising'.
It is because of dependent arising, if somebody bonks you, it will hurt.
But understanding also has practical applications, when we relate to the rest of the world.
For a Shaolin monk, the understanding...no, the realization is very useful...when somebody hits him with a pipe
it won't hurt as much.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby gad rgyangs » Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:24 am

Konchog1 wrote:If everything is already empty then how would recognizing it change anything?


recognizing it will not make getting hit with the pipe hurt any less, but you may be less inclined to hit the person back, which will lessen the suffering arising in your continuum in the future, since that seed will not be created.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby ground » Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:37 am

Konchog1 wrote:Alright, then. I don't understand Emptiness. I don't even know what I don't know so this will be a little rambling. Sorry.

I understand cause and effect. I understand that a table is really a collection of items (leg, paint, top, empty space around it, and so forth) that is merely labeled "table" in dependence on its parts. I understand that the leg, paint, top, empty space, and so forth are merely labeled in dependence on their parts all the way down to subtle atoms where infinite recursion happens where the atom can be split into several atoms forever.

However, if a "person" "hits" "me" with a "pipe" it'll hurt just as much as if a person hits me with a pipe. Or will it? If everything is already empty then how would recognizing it change anything? And why is the fact that things doesn't have a self so important? It still functions, it just didn't cause itself to arise.

Thank you.


Emptiness is just an idea for those who can let go through the means of this idea.
What's the use of thinking about the emptiness of a table?
If you are greedy for a precious table made of precious woods but can't affort it then the idea may bring some relief. But actually just to let go of the desire to possess is the goal. If the idea of emptiness does not help you to let go then forget about it and seek more efficient devices.
If you get hit and anger arises then you have to let go of this anger. Does the idea of emptiness help you? If yes then fine, if no then forget it and seek more efficient devices.

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:49 am

gad rgyangs wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:If everything is already empty then how would recognizing it change anything?


recognizing it will not make getting hit with the pipe hurt any less, but you may be less inclined to hit the person back, which will lessen the suffering arising in your continuum in the future, since that seed will not be created.
Ok I get it, by not inherently existing it means that someone isn't hitting me with a pipe, someone is hitting me with a pipe BECAUSE of various factors (Karma, Bad parenting etc.). But, the pipe by itself still exists whether its a label or really exists right? Whether it is a pipe or it treated like a pipe is the same thing right?

kirtu wrote:Do you and the pipe and the act of being hit and the intention behind the person hitting you exist inherently or not?

No, they are labels by collections of cases and conditions. Metal, muscles, anger etc. But, a labelled person is still angry.

kirtu wrote:Do negative mind states exist or not?
Well yes, because they effect us.

Darn, I though I had it for a moment but it's gone now.

EDIT: I thought maybe my confusion is because I don't know where the middle path between eternalism and nihilism is. Things exists by labels but they don't matter because they lack essence?? Isn't it one or the other? They exist and matter or they don't and don't?
Last edited by Konchog1 on Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:51 am

TMingyur wrote:Emptiness is just an idea for those who can let go through the means of this idea.
What's the use of thinking about the emptiness of a table?
If you are greedy for a precious table made of precious woods but can't affort it then the idea may bring some relief. But actually just to let go of the desire to possess is the goal. If the idea of emptiness does not help you to let go then forget about it and seek more efficient devices.
If you get hit and anger arises then you have to let go of this anger. Does the idea of emptiness help you? If yes then fine, if no then forget it and seek more efficient devices.

Kind regards
Yeah you have a good point. I can revisit emptiness later when everything else is attained but what little I understand of emptiness makes sense and sounds really cool. Still you're right. Though I feel that emptiness would help with anger.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby kirtu » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:37 am

Konchog1 wrote:
kirtu wrote:Do you and the pipe and the act of being hit and the intention behind the person hitting you exist inherently or not?

No, they are labels by collections of cases and conditions. Metal, muscles, anger etc. But, a labelled person is still angry.


But does this anger exist by itself? Did it create itself?

Konchog1 wrote:
kirtu wrote:Do negative mind states exist or not?
Well yes, because they effect us.


They function but do they exist? Does anger or fear or pride exist all by itself?

Konchog1 wrote:EDIT: I thought maybe my confusion is because I don't know where the middle path between eternalism and nihilism is. Things exists by labels but they don't matter because they lack essence?? Isn't it one or the other? They exist and matter or they don't and don't?


Do things have an essence? Is a building always a building?

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:42 am

Disagree that recognizing this thing will not have the effect of less pain felt.
In obvious form it is indeed less anger producing, in perhaps a other form it does indeed reduce actual pain. With no conceived real self to perceive the pain it of course reduces. That componant of pain which is a large part of it is not present.
Watching pain when it occurs is not a big part of that pain that it is occuring to me?

No big deal really that thing....why should we pretend it does not happen?
Or are others stateing it does not?
I suppose it could be found this occurs in some schools of study....this thing is used for study...such would infer it is not all that bad, as if it were...how could one study it..called pain to the path it is. One in such a study in fact tries to magnify it make it more, for purposes of study. If such a thing could be made more, could it not also be made....less? Seems so...at least to me it does. Why not?
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby gad rgyangs » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:31 am

Konchog1 wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:
recognizing it will not make getting hit with the pipe hurt any less, but you may be less inclined to hit the person back, which will lessen the suffering arising in your continuum in the future, since that seed will not be created.


Ok I get it, by not inherently existing it means that someone isn't hitting me with a pipe, someone is hitting me with a pipe BECAUSE of various factors (Karma, Bad parenting etc.). But, the pipe by itself still exists whether its a label or really exists right? Whether it is a pipe or it treated like a pipe is the same thing right?



in conventional reality, a pipe is quite an effective imputation if what you want to do is use it to bonk someone. the hallmark of conventional reality is the ability to be effective, to do something. and someone is hitting you with the pipe on the same conventional level. there is nothing wrong with using the label "person" on this level. the reason you are having a perception of a conventional person hitting you may be the result of karma, or it could be random. if everything was caused by karma in a simple "you're getting hit because you did x in the past", then all people would be doing is hitting each other with pipes for all eternity. hmmm maybe thats actually a pretty good description of samsara...
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:49 am

I don't know if this is being said as the end seems to contradict, but if it is I also disagree :smile: ...."may be the result of karma, or it could be random"...

everything resulting from as consequence of karma, is what seeems to be. No other random thing can exist.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Adamantine » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:22 am

ronnewmexico wrote:I don't know if this is being said as the end seems to contradict, but if it is I also disagree :smile: ...."may be the result of karma, or it could be random"...

everything resulting from as consequence of karma, is what seeems to be. No other random thing can exist.



I think it's not necessarily so cut and dry
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Quiet Heart » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:47 am

Konchog1 wrote:Alright, then. I don't understand Emptiness. I don't even know what I don't know so this will be a little rambling. Sorry.

I understand cause and effect. I understand that a table is really a collection of items (leg, paint, top, empty space around it, and so forth) that is merely labeled "table" in dependence on its parts. I understand that the leg, paint, top, empty space, and so forth are merely labeled in dependence on their parts all the way down to subtle atoms where infinite recursion happens where the atom can be split into several atoms forever.

However, if a "person" "hits" "me" with a "pipe" it'll hurt just as much as if a person hits me with a pipe. Or will it? If everything is already empty then how would recognizing it change anything? And why is the fact that things doesn't have a self so important? It still functions, it just didn't cause itself to arise.

Thank you.

--------------------------
:smile:
Don't be so hard on yourself. Especially in the beginning these things often seem counter-intuitive and difficult to understand.
In fact, they often can not be understood by the mind alone, because mere words are inadequate to express such concepts.
You need to experience them more directly...and you need to learn how to do that by experiencing the reality.
But one error commenly made is that "emptiness" means there is a thing called "nothing" there.
Consider this riddle...
Nothing is a thing (it has a definition.... so it has Form or existance).
Therefore the thing called "empiness" contains the thing called "Nothing" or no thing.....if so, then...
where is this thing called "Nothing" held.....
and if Emptiness was truely empty how could it hold "Nothingmess" in it and still be "Emptiness".
(O.K. I'm playing games with words to confuse you out of your pre-conceptions...hoping you will understand then that your words and pre-conceptions are merely mistaken illustions).
But as I said before...you can't understand these things by words alone.

But then you post this brilllant qoute:

That which arose from conditions is unborn; It has no arising by virtue of intrinsic existence. Since it depends on other conditions it is empty.”

-Gungthang Tempai Drome

That which arose from conditions is unborn;
(it is empty, emptiness)
It has no arising by virtue of intrinsic existence.
(It is without inherent self-referring existance...it arises from it's relationship to other things...whether you wish to call that "dependent arising " or "dependent origination")
Since it depends on other conditions it is empty.”
(THat is precisely what is meant by "emptiness".)

Hope that doesn't confuse you too much.
:smile:
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:35 am

Quiet Heart wrote: :smile:
Don't be so hard on yourself. Especially in the beginning these things often seem counter-intuitive and difficult to understand.
In fact, they often can not be understood by the mind alone, because mere words are inadequate to express such concepts.
You need to experience them more directly...and you need to learn how to do that by experiencing the reality.
:namaste:

Quiet Heart wrote:But one error commenly made is that "emptiness" means there is a thing called "nothing" there.
Consider this riddle...
Nothing is a thing (it has a definition.... so it has Form or existance).
Therefore the thing called "empiness" contains the thing called "Nothing" or no thing.....if so, then...
where is this thing called "Nothing" held.....
and if Emptiness was truely empty how could it hold "Nothingmess" in it and still be "Emptiness".
(O.K. I'm playing games with words to confuse you out of your pre-conceptions...hoping you will understand then that your words and pre-conceptions are merely mistaken illustions).
But as I said before...you can't understand these things by words alone.

Right, I understand that. Emptiness is just a quality of form. There is no emptiness without form. I still get thrown when I hear things like "see all things as illusion like"

Quiet Heart wrote:But then you post this brilllant qoute:

That which arose from conditions is unborn; It has no arising by virtue of intrinsic existence. Since it depends on other conditions it is empty.”

-Gungthang Tempai Drome

That which arose from conditions is unborn;
(it is empty, emptiness)
It has no arising by virtue of intrinsic existence.
(It is without inherent self-referring existance...it arises from it's relationship to other things...whether you wish to call that "dependent arising " or "dependent origination")
Since it depends on other conditions it is empty.”
(THat is precisely what is meant by "emptiness".)
I have it in my sig so I can stare at it everyday. I think I understand. But what is the difference between labelled things and actual things? If things inherently existed, how would that be different from what we have now? What would inherently existing things be like?
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Adamantine » Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:09 am

inherently existing things are actually not possible. . . they are just a conceptual fabrication, and are pointed towards by eternalist religions... Have you read Nagarjuna's Mulamadhymakarika? if not I'd recommend getting Jay Garfield's translation and commentary since he relates it to some familiar references in Western philosphical tradition where appropriate..

we often live and act AS IF our "self" was independent, permanent, etc. --meaning our recurring conceptual image of our "self"...along with similar images of "others" and "objects", we don't readily perceive the complex subtleties of cause, effect, and conditions that enable a given being or object to appear-- we may think of a few of them only, but without enough spacious perspective to snap us out of identifying the object as a solid self-existing thing.
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:48 am

Adamantine wrote:inherently existing things are actually not possible. . . they are just a conceptual fabrication, and are pointed towards by eternalist religions... Have you read Nagarjuna's Mulamadhymakarika? if not I'd recommend getting Jay Garfield's translation and commentary since he relates it to some familiar references in Western philosphical tradition where appropriate..
Right, but I thought knowing what they would be like would help me understand the difference between how things exist and inherently existing things.

I actually have Jay Garfield's Mulamadhyamakakarika. This line is so beautiful. Simple and breath taking at the same time.

"If the self were the aggregates,
It would have arising and ceasing (as properties).
If it were different from the aggregates,
It would not have the characteristics of the aggregates."

So, since I am unchanging and have the characteristics of my aggregates, I cannot logically exist. But I do exist. I interact with things and they interact with me. So . . . huh? I exist but can't logically? The rest of the book was beyond me so I didn't finish it I suppose I should try again though if you're recommending it.

[quote="Adamantine"]we often live and act AS IF our "self" was independent, permanent, etc. --meaning our recurring conceptual image of our "self"...along with similar images of "others" and "objects", we don't readily perceive the complex subtleties of cause, effect, and conditions that enable a given being or object to appear-- we may think of a few of them only, but without enough spacious perspective to snap us out of identifying the object as a solid self-existing thing.[/qoute]Yes I understand but the self still exists. Things still exist. How they come to existance don't matter. Uhh I feel stupid.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Dec 15, 2011 11:42 am

The existence of the two truths/realities is vital to your understanding.

At the ultimate level there is no attacker, victim, weapon, feeling, reaction, they are just labels or conceptions.

At the relative level there is an attacker, victim, weapon, feeling, reaction, they do exist.

The truth though, lies somewhere in between these two.
:namaste:
PS A person that has direct insight into reality still feels bodily pain, it is their mental reaction that differs from us deluded individuals.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby Paul » Thu Dec 15, 2011 1:27 pm

Konchog1 wrote:I have it in my sig so I can stare at it everyday. I think I understand. But what is the difference between labelled things and actual things? If things inherently existed, how would that be different from what we have now? What would inherently existing things be like?


Being able to function, ie to be caused and to have an effect is a direct consequence of not having a nature. If something wasn't empty, it would be frozen and could neither be created, changed or destroyed.

Imgine an A4 piece of white paper that is by nature a blank A4 white piece of paper. You could not tear it, as to do so would mean it was no longer A4 size - which by nature it must be. You could not write on it, as it is blank and white by nature. You could not burn it, as it would become ashes - but by nature it must remain paper.

So you can see that if something had a nature it would be unable to function. Since appearances are dependant on the cause and effect of other appearances and not a nature, they can arise, change and cease. Emptiness is a mandatory requirement for a universe that can change and function.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

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Re: Understanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:07 pm

ronnewmexico wrote:No other random thing can exist.

You've never heard of dice?
For that matter, you've never heard of the universe?
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