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Emptiness of All Arisings


Nondual guided meditation with Michael Taft

Emptiness does not mean something doesn’t exist. Even the Buddha refused to say that emptiness means non-existence. Rather, emptiness is the recognition that an apparent phenomenon is present as an experience, but that experience is simply arising in awareness. Something happening in awareness is different than nothing-at-all; it’s an experience. But the nature of that experience is as nothing more than an appearance or arising in awareness.

(Note: this says nothing about whether there are objects “out there in the world for real” or not. It doesn’t say they’re there. It doesn’t say they’re not there. What we’re talking about here is out experience of the world and ourselves, not the ontological status (i.e. “realness”) of world and self. We’re only talking about our experience. Don’t fall for this mistake.)

When we look carefully at our experience, we notice something completely unexpected and shocking. Everything that we’ve been calling real is nothing other than an appearance in the mind. The world, as we experience it, is nothing other than an appearance in the mind. Even our self, as we experience it, is nothing other than an appearance in the mind. That’s emptiness. (Now go back and read that Note again. Understand?)

When we see directly that everything is nothing other than a mental construction (i.e. empty), we have learned something incredibly important. When seen as empty, things lose their “bite.” We no longer feel so reactive and upset by what’s happening, because we see it’s nature clearly. The deeper we see the emptiness, the more freedom we feel, the less reactive we feel. See a little emptiness, and you will feel a little relief from reactivity. See more emptiness, and you will feel more relief. It’s that straightforward.

Things experienced as empty become quite beautiful. The flow of their arising and passing is experienced as lovely, like a river or wind in the tall grass. Even the sense of self becomes beautiful as it is seen as empty. This is nonduality.

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