“Emptiness”, The word itself means desolation. A feeling that has nothing to add in as well as nothing to take away from your mind. There are many times when we look back at various events in life so much so that it affects our physical and mental state, but emptiness doesn’t leave any thought behind! It is a state of mind that is free from presumptions. The world that we live in is full of conjectures that need explanations of our being.
Meaning of Emptiness in Buddhism
Emptiness has a very deep meaning and Buddha somewhere felt that the worldly views suppressed one’s existence. The world outside makes an influence on a person’s mind. According to Buddha, the presumptions add experience and whenever we try to solve any problem, these experiences get in our way as well as pull our attention away from influencing our thoughts. Let’s take a simple example of meditation. While meditating, your mind suddenly gets a rage feeling towards your friend. What will be an immediate reaction to your mind? It would identify that feeling and symbolize it as “My” and then starts detailing that rage feeling towards the friend. Your mind then builds up stories about a series of events that took place and justifies your feeling of bitterness towards your friend.
As per Buddha, these events that take place in our lives entangle us with misery. In his point of view, the actual cause of misery are not the events or experiences that take place but the actual cause of misery is the label “I”. When your mind remembers any experience, it associates the label “I” with you which is responsible for your bitter feeling. You can never find an end to your miseries till you accept the “emptiness” in your life.
Adopting Emptiness Mode
Understanding emptiness Buddhism is a little difficult but when one adopts it, one simply watches the series of events that happen to them instead of reacting to it with any kind of outrageous feeling. With the wisdom of emptiness Buddhism, one can find that any kind of emotion is empty. Once one master the concept of emptiness, one starts noticing that this mode not only heals bitter feelings but it also helps in most ingenious events.
Emptiness Buddhism definition is the sense in which you find all the things empty. The theory of emptiness Buddhism lies in the realization of unsuitable labels of “I” and “mine”. These labels are the only reason for pain and suffering in life and one needs to drop them to understand them to attain emptiness. By attaining emptiness one identifies a mode of calmness and lets you be free from everything.
If one needs to excel in the theory of emptiness Buddhism then one needs rigid training in ethics, consolidation, as well as insight. The mind has a great ability to think about everything that happens or the situation that occurs. Without proper training of emptiness, the mind remains in a mode of dissatisfaction and builds numerous stories through experiences or situations that go around. When one concentrates on understanding emptiness Buddhism one realises that the concept of “emptiness” practically has different rules that are different from the worldly views.
The wisdom of emptiness Buddhism lies in understanding its term that defines emptiness. It doesn’t follow any relationships or views of the world. Emptiness in Buddhism eliminates the worldviews and people who acquire the mode of emptiness to know that the world doesn’t exist. It is a consonant field from which we all came and someday or another it’s destined for us to return in the same.
By attaining emptiness, one keeps his/her mind in stable mode. According to Buddha, every person has relationships in life but if the world and relationships don’t exist in life then action and reaction to any kind of events will not take place. The Buddha preached to his followers in a very different manner and never used the word “emptiness” while teaching some of the modes.
Understanding the Wisdom of Emptiness in Buddhism
Many questions arise in our mind when we talk about emptiness! If we define emptiness Buddhism in simple terms, it is the ground of being to which every person is going to return. The very first question here comes to our mind is what is the need to train the mind about consolidation since all of us have to return to that one place? If one trains his/her mind to get back to the ground, then what’s there that would keep one from coming out of it all over again? If we consider all these questions, we would find the concept of training the mind absurd.
From Buddha’s point of view, our mind is perplexed with experiences and it keeps us away from present mode. No doubt, views of the world and people surrounding us do have a purpose. While teaching, he recapped the stories of people’s lives and made his followers realise that actions are the main cause of pain. One needs to train the mind to be more intuitive. According to Buddha’s principles, the round of rebirth depends on one’s actions. Atrocious actions lead to misery, good actions lead to prosperity and skilful actions may take one beyond the round all in all.
The wisdom of emptiness Buddhism lies in focusing the quality of opinion and intention in the mindsets of people. Once people understand the theory of emptiness Buddhism, they could use the preachings on emptiness for their predetermined objectives like emptying the mind from grief, annoyance as well as deception, to detach from all the worldly attachments, thus freeing the mind from miseries or any kind of discomfort. When one attains all these objectives then that’s the real emptiness.
Importance of Emptiness to Buddhism
The term “Emptiness” when first heard is a little bit difficult to clench but emptiness Buddhism definition makes a clear understanding of it. When people hear the term “Emptiness”, they have a common question, ” What does emptiness symbolize?” But Buddha’s teachings give access to the immense realisation of this term. The term means different when we see English dictionaries! Some dictionaries state this term as loneliness in one’s life or absence of everything or hopelessness but on the contrary Buddhist sutras have a whole new concept about this term. The true meaning of this term is “empty of one’s nature”.
Why is emptiness important to Buddhism? It is a fundamental teaching in Buddhism. One needs to understand the term properly before using it since a wrong perception of this term may prove noxious. Indian Buddhist Nagarjuna taught that if the term emptiness is misunderstood, it may be as harmful as picking up a poisonous snake by the wrong end. As per the emptiness Buddhism Dalai Lama ( mentioned in his book Heart Sutra), emptiness means the true nature of things and events but it’s not heaven or a separate sphere aside from this world. There is the importance of Emptiness in Buddhism but every experience in its being is empty and it doesn’t mean that every experience is empty! Yes, there is a difference between the above two lines and people need to understand this distinction to adopt emptiness in life. Here the meaning of “own being” is non-aligned existence.
Ari Goldfield, who was a Buddhist teacher at Wisdom Sun termed two meanings of emptiness. He described the first meaning of emptiness as the emptiness of element which means the situations that one experiences have no implicit nature by themselves. The second meaning of emptiness is described in the context of Buddhism which sees it as an aroused mind full of bliss, calmness and endurance. The eventual truth of emptiness is the conciliation of both emptinesses.
Common Misconceptions about Emptiness
Whenever someone tells you that he/she is feeling empty, the first thing that comes to our mind is he/she might be feeling lonely or is depressed with something or other. “Emptiness” is not considered to be a very good word in English but it has a very different meaning in Buddhism. When you search the exact translation of the Sanskrit word “sunyata”, you will notice that no other English word other than ” emptiness” fulfils it. Though in English context this word means “voidness” but in the actual context of Buddhism “emptiness is something that has a particular form.” Emptiness doesn’t relate to sensitiveness but it’s relief from any emotional feeling. This can be understood only with the change in perception.
This is another misconception of emptiness in Buddhism. Being virtuous or ethical isn’t the meaning of emptiness because many times Buddhist teachers use unusual methods to train their students and teach them the right principles. What they believe is that students can be encouraged through compassion! For Buddhist practitioners, if any kind of practice isn’t harming anyone then in their terms that method to train their students is ethical.
This is a common misconception about emptiness. Many people believe that the introspective or meditative state of mind is empty and this state is the realisation of emptiness in Buddhism. Well, it isn’t true, no doubt meditation brings peace to the mind but the mind is capable of thinking about various events and it’s just temporary or not convictive to emancipation. The actual emptiness of Buddhism according to the Dalai Lama means the true nature of events which includes the mind. An introspective mind may be full of thoughts or empty, the true nature of the mind remains unchanged.
Many questions were raised after the concept of emptiness came. Some people asked why there was a need for emptiness in life? Why did Buddha even teach this concept? What does emptiness mean in Buddhism? Buddha felt that there was so much suffering in the world. To his insight, he found that people suffered because they thought about events or situations after they were fixed. We need to open ourselves and see how to react to different situations. Emptiness is not being lonely or separate but it means to leave your mind empty and give it space. Your mind needs relaxation, it needs that courage and clarity to be empty. The goal is to first understand the clear concept of emptiness.
The theory of emptiness Buddhism is much discussed but on the contrary, it also needs an understanding of “own nature” which means “svabhava” in Sanskrit. Here “sva” reflects “own” or impression of attitude and “bhava” reflects “nature” or “existence”. We mean to say that the meaning of emptiness is deep and it reflects the absence of ” own-nature”.
In Heart Sutra, Shariputra has stated once a person reaches the mode of emptiness he/she doesn’t experience any form, feeling, impulse or consciousness. If we consider emptiness with the above depiction, it in all means “lack existence” because according to Heart Sutra in the mode of emptiness one has neither senses nor object of senses. In Heart Sutra, it is intelligently stated that things do not exist independently. The below lines are also stated in Heart Sutra :
“There is no suffering, no origination, no cessation, no path. There is no cognition, no attainment and no non-attainment.”
Buddha knew that existence is suffering. He knew people suffered because every life in this world has some or another kind of pain and life itself is non-satisfactory. The mind has structured suffering and it can’t exist independently. When suffering has no independent existence then it is empty! The feeling of suffering is a typical truth. The Buddha saw that suffering prevailed due to the vagueness of people. He knew that usually doesn’t exist independently.
The truth of emptiness in Buddhism was opaque to the minds of people but with his wisdom, he made people understand the legitimate meaning of “emptiness”. The Buddha delivered his preachings at two different levels:
In this level when one talks about “self” it means “individual”. When people talk about “self”, it hinders people to achieve refinement. One can never achieve wisdom if one doesn’t realise that ” self” is an invalid word. When one talks about “self”, one only means “it is mine” and this roots in one’s mind. One can never attain peace with basic nature. Thus, one can never leave worldly views because he/she only thinks about self in his/her mind! This never enlightens the mind of a person and one can never be free from the repeated cycle of birth and death: the ultimate source of suffering. Where there is suffering, there is no place for emptiness.
In this level, one foresees “all people” as “one-self”. The word ” emptiness” here is chosen to convey people at a mundane level.
What we conclude here is that if you define emptiness Buddhism, then it doesn’t mean nothingness but is something which is the authentic nature of phenomena. All the things ultimate nature, truth and emptiness are clones of each other. It is an answer to our question, “Why do we get stuck in problems?” It is just because we don’t realize the ultimate truth of life. We get so much stuck in the world’s prison that because of our deception, our actions are harmful. If we accept “emptiness: the ultimate truth”, our perception towards life may change our actions too!
The Buddha enlightened the true meaning of emptiness to people. When he saw sufferings all over the world, he tried to understand the root cause of all the sufferings. He then concluded that it is the person’s mind which response to actions and his thoughts that makes him suffer the most. Thus, he started teaching people the wideness in the word “emptiness”. This word though has a different meaning in the English context but its wide understanding and awareness bring true enlightenment in the lives of people who understand this context of emptiness in Buddhism. What we conclude here is, to know the theory of emptiness Buddhism one needs to understand the completeness of this word. Our mind tricks us with events and situations. The need is to have a hold on mind and trick it with calmness and patience. When one attains this as well as leaves all worldly views, one attains the emptiness in mind which in turn frees one from all the sufferings. Understanding emptiness Buddhism is not a daunting task but yes, one needs to focus on what it means.
Emptiness isn’t voidness, it is the complete state of mind.