Essay on Emptiness

Topics: Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, Metaphysics Pages: 2 (879 words) Published: June 5, 2014
"Emptiness" is a central teaching of all Buddhism, but its true meaning is often misunderstood. If we are ever to embrace Buddhism properly into the West, we need to be clear about emptiness, since a wrong understanding of its meaning can be confusing, even harmful. Because the Buddha viewed all issues of experience, from the gross to the subtle, in terms of intentional actions and their results, his tactical standard for wisdom applies to all levels as well, from the wisdom of simple generosity to the wisdom of emptiness and ultimate Awakening.What's striking about this standard for wisdom is how direct and down to earth it is. This might come as a surprise, for most of us don't think of Buddhist wisdom as so commonsensical and straightforward. Instead, the phrase "Buddhist wisdom" conjures up teachings more abstract and paradoxical, flying in the face of common sense — emptiness being a prime example. The irony here is that the idea of emptiness as lack of inherent existence has very little to do with what the Buddha himself said about emptiness. His teachings on emptiness — as reported in the earliest Buddhist texts, the Pali Canon — deal directly with actions and their results, with issues of pleasure and pain. Because the problem is tactical, the solution has to be tactical as well. The cure for addiction and attachment lies in retraining your imagination and your intentions through expanding your sense of the power of your actions and the possible happiness you can achieve. This means learning to become more honest and sensitive to your actions and their consequences, at the same time allowing yourself to imagine and master alternative routes to greater happiness with fewer drawbacks. Metaphysical views may sometimes enter into the equation, but at most they're only secondary. Many times they're irrelevant. Even if you were to see the alcohol and its pleasure as lacking inherent existence, you'd still go for the pleasure as long as you saw it as...
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