I sure do talk about emptiness a lot, don’t I? That’s because it’s a big subject; I like approaching big subjects from several different angles.
Also, not everyone even agrees on what emptiness is, or even if it is at all. Aren’t people weird?
The Madhyamakins believed that emptiness was emptiness of essence, that all things are devoid of themselves since they’re 100% dependent arisings. I’m not a huge fan of Madhyamaka. It’s extremely extreme for a school that called itself, “The Middle Way.”
The Yogacarins took a more measured approach, one based on experience. That each moment is empty of grasper and grasped, subject and object.
I think those are both waaaaay too convoluted. So much so, that I’m just going to abandon the term “emptiness” altogether and stick with the nudity vibe we’ve got going on around here now.
Emptiness = nakedness. What’s naked? We are, the present moment is. What are we naked of? Our clothes, duh. We’re naked of all the labels, habits, notions, conditioning, views, preferences, opinions, expectations, desires, regrets, and so many other things that we accumulate throughout our lives. All the things that weren’t present before that first moment when we reached out grasped onto a sensation.
So, when the Heart Sutra says, “Form is no other than emptiness,” form is no other than naked of contrivance, of accumulation, of embellishment, of exaggeration; naked of reaching, grasping, and holding. By pack-ratting images and mistaking them for reality, we make everything into an abstraction. But form is not abstract, it’s just form.
“Emptiness is no other than form.” This unreachable, ungrapsable, and unholdable moment is what allows form to even, well, form. If things were graspable, then that’d mean they remain as they are for longer than a moment. But the moment is characterized by change. So, if something doesn’t change, it can’t exist in the moment. It’d be left behind *bloop* with the next turning second.
But, this nakedness, this absence, isn’t nothing. When you’re walking around your house in your birthday suit, it’s definitely something, isn’t it? This nakedness is what’s left over, what remains. It’s the mind that needs nothing taken away from it, and the moment that needs nothing added to it.
You don’t really need anything to be naked, just do it right now. Just be naked. You don’t need to meditate, study Buddhism, practice mindfulness, or visit one teacher: just be naked. Of course, that doesn’t work for most of us, that’s why we have all this crap to lend us a hand.
But it doesn’t really matter either way. Either you’ll realize you’re naked now, or later on after using different methods; it’s still the same.