Emptiness and Meditation

Kris Williams, Flickr cc

Kris Williams, Flickr cc

Contemplating emptiness can be a meditative experience, if we can get into a goalless mindset, that is if we can come to a point of view that awareness and realization aren’t important. It’s hard for us to think that way because cultivating awareness is exactly what we’re trying to do on the path, but we don’t want to make the path into just another thing to cling to.

I suppose it’s not really that awareness and realization aren’t important, but rather that they aren’t things we can cling to. We don’t want to attach to them. The Heart Sutra tells us that even the path isn’t worth clinging to. The Emptiness teachings aren’t telling us that nothing exists so much as that there’s nothing for us to hold on to.

When we meditate on Emptiness we aren’t meditating with a technique. We are simply trying to open our minds, to make them open to dwelling in the void.

It seems hard to grasp concepts like Emptiness at first. It definitely isn’t our usual way of perceiving the world. But as we develop our awareness and mindfulness practices, it starts to get a little easier. When we develop awareness and start to loosen our attachment to the self, the mind that focuses on I-Me-Mine all the time, then we can start to understand Emptiness a little better.

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About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg is an independent dharma teacher and Ch'an Adept living in Kansas City. He regularly gives teachings through the Open Heart Project. He also runs the Monday Night Zen Group at the Rime Buddhist Center. Daniel has a BA in English from KU and handles paperwork for a living.

His teaching style has been compared to that of the earliest Mahayana teachers and Ch'an Masters.

Daniel has taken Bodhisattva Vows in both the Nagarjuna and Asanga lineages and was transmitted the Caodong Ch'an lineage of Master Xu Yun.

Find out more about Daniel on his blog and connect with him on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter