Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Sunday, 5 August 2007

Learning emptiness

Every phenomenon exists because of its causes and conditions, nothing exists from itself. Everything that is dependent, is ‘empty’. Out of our seven days in Hamburg, the Dalai Lama taught five days Buddhist dialectics by giving a commentary on the Four Hundred Verses, a treatise by the Sri Lankan philosopher Aryadeva (3rd century CE, see picture). To my limited knowledge the meaning of emptiness has to be understood as follows.

Our ‘conceptual thinking’ makes us see phenomena in a ‘biased’ way: immediately imputing labels on whatever we perceive. These labels construct in our mind a reality that seems to exist independently and permanently. The ultimate reality though is that everything is subject to a continuous process of change, that phenomena are empty of an independent nature.

Once we understand the emptiness of one object, we will be able to understand the emptiness of all phenomena. Understanding emptiness makes a person better equipped to deal in the right way with the conventional reality as he is less vulnerable to negative emotions, such as anger, hatred, greed, desire etc. One of the methods to begin to understand emptiness is to analyze the concept of ‘self’ or ‘I’ through reflection and meditation.

At a grosser level of understanding I learned that an un-biased look at reality and a more humble understanding of the ‘I’ or ‘Self’ is a pre-condition for any successful intervention towards positive change.

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