When we talk about emptiness, we’re talking about the present moment as well.
The present is always empty of everything but itself, its nature—which is our nature too.
It’s empty of thought, because the second we finish a complete thought, the moment has already gone through dozens of transformations. Whenever something changes, that’s the moment changing. So each new sight, sound, thought, feeling, etc. is a new moment. How many things around you change before you finish a single thought, or finish saying a single word?
Even after the shortest word, “Yes,” nothing is where it was or as it was when we opened our mouths speak it.
It’s empty of division, since everything’s connected through the moment, everything in the entire universe is happening right now. Your neighbor weed-whacking next door, the sudden urge to pee, the sun, earth, and stars—light years away—day, night, love, hate, all sharing this moment, gathered together within it.
If you don’t want to go that far, you can keep it simple—your experience. Everything and everyone you observe is sharing this moment, connected through this moment. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be present within it. And the actions people and things perform are what change the moment. As we move forward, we move time forward as well. Because what’s time without matter? And if everything was motionless, who could start the stopwatch?
It’s empty of birth and death. Think about it: just as a single moment is too swift to fully encapsulate a word, it’s too short to capture long processes like birth and death. Birth and death are made up of hundreds of moments, each change is a moment. Which part of birth is the birth? Is it the second the baby comes out of the womb? I’m sure any mother would say that the whole process from labor pains to then was part of the birth.
What about death? Which single moment is death? Is it when electrical activity stops in the brain? Is it when the heart stops beating? To the friends and family gathered around, to the person that just died, death is more than any single event.
Impermanence is like the snake that bit its tail: it cancels itself out. Things change so rapidly that, when we see them directly, we can’t even call them things anymore. And if there aren’t any things, then what is there that can change? Just this.
This is all just a figure of speech, there are no two moments. Just this moment, and its nature. It’s the mind that fills it up, makes it into a stream of people, places, things, and events. But in immediacy, there’s no place for that mind, because that mind is also empty.
None of this is theoretical, this isn’t the stuff of academic halls. Through meditation, we can see for ourselves.