Saturday, December 20, 2008

Is Life Really Empty?

He smiled, and looked up at a pippala leaf imprinted against the blue sky, its tail blowing back and forth as if calling him.

Looking deeply at the leaf, he saw clearly the presence of the sun and stars - without the sun, without light and warmth, the leaf could not exist. This was like this, because that was like that.

He also saw in the leaf the presence of clouds - without clouds there could be no rain, and without rain the leaf could not be.

He saw the earth, time, space, and mind - all were present in the leaf. In fact, at that very moment, the entire universe existed in that leaf. The reality of the leaf was a wondrous miracle.

Though we ordinarily think that a leaf is born in the springtime, Gautama could see that it had been there for a long, long time in the sunlight, the clouds, the tree, and in himself.

Seeing that the leaf had never been born, he could see that he too had never been born.

Both the leaf and he himself had simply manifested - they had never been born and were incapable of ever dying.

With this insight, ideas of birth and death, appearance and disapperance dissolved, and the true face of the leaf and his own true face revealed themselves.

He could see that the presence of any one phenomenon made possible the existence of all other phenomena. One included all, and all were contained in one.

Seeing the independent nature of all phenomena, Siddhartha saw the empty nature of all phenomena - that all things are empty of a separate, isolated self.

Siddhartha now understood that impermanence and emptiness of self are the very conditions necessary for life. With impermenance and emptiness of self, nothing could grow or develop.

If a grain of rice did not have the nature of impermanence and emptiness of self, it could not grow into a rice plant.

If clouds were not empty of self and impermanent, they could not transform into rain.

Without an impermanent, non-self nature, a child could never grow into an adult.

"Thus," he thought, "to accept life means to accept impermanence and emptiness of self. The source of suffering is a false belief in permanence and the existence of separate selves.

Seeing this, one understands that there is neither birth nor death, production nor destruction, one nor many, inner nor outer, large nor small, impure nor pure. All such concepts are false distinctions created by the intellect.

If one penetrates into the empty nature of all things, one will transcend all mental barriers, and be liberated from the cycle of suffering."

Extracted from: Old Path White Clouds, by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh


At March 6, 2009 at 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some good news, check this up : delegates from Plum Village coming to Spore!

At September 6, 2009 at 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking fwd to More reviews, please...


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