MEDITATION ON EMPTINESS
Emptiness, empty. When someone enters the meditative practice and hears to
speak of emptiness, he/she thinks: "Ah, yes, I have to realize the voidness".
And he imagines an empty mind of every thought. It is wrong, it is right. It
is wrong. Because emptiness means another thing. To start to understand the
absence of a stable self, to start to understand that it has nothing to do
with a mutable reality, changing even in its deeper aspects, those where we
imagine there a stable substance, the soul, that would reach the heaven
according to our beliefs or it would face the long process of reincarnations….
It is right. Because to create the mental void means to come at the end of
every conceptualization, including the two precedents (heaven, reincarnation),
to come into contact with the things as they are and not as we represent them.
It is wrong. It doesn't deal with suppressing the thoughts, creating a dualism
among what is better and what is worse, between the thought and the not
It is right: We cannot arrive at the end of the dualism if it is not overcome
to think, to conceptualize.
It is neither a fault nor right. It needs also to abandon this opposition
because it belongs to the world of the mental proliferation.
To this point the discourse is finished. We are reduced to silence. The mind
has made a short-circuit.
But when you exhaust the possibilities, the only thing to be done is to live.
As Wittgenstein, a philosopher that it sometimes happens me to quote, wrote: "
The place where I want to arrive it is a place where I am now already."
For an instant I have realized the mental silence, for an instant I have
enjoyed of a flash of apophatic mysticism (that is, based on silence). But
then the mind takes back its natural course, to think and to discriminate, the
psico-physical processes take awareness of themselves and they propose the
image of a self and we stay with the usual problem: as to live a practice that
can bring to the realization of the vacuity, that is of the realization of the
absence of a self and the interdependence of all the phenomenons. Because
another dualism to be overcome is that among instant realization, as above,
and gradual realization, slowly, daily.
In the years I hear to speak and I have read a lot on the concept of emptiness,
however I have not found from any part a meditation on emptiness. It seems
that all speak without pointing out a practical path to , we say this way, an
approximation at least. We know that three doors exist to the Liberation, to
the Nirvana,: the door of the Emptiness, that of the no-sign and that of the
absence of direction; there are also three types of samadhi and three types of
liberation of the mind. But is there a specific path, of practical actions
that is, that brings in this direction? It could be said: there is not any
path, everything is deprived of a self. It's true, but this allows me once
more to earth. I need some practical indication. Some specific attention that
accompanies me really in this direction.
There is, to my opinion, a practical answer on which I now insist , the
meditation on the space. It could apparently be objected that it is one
invention of mine. In reality I confine me to propose one of the ancient
subjects of meditation recommended by the Buddha and then partly abandoned for
a complex of historical reasons that I personally have analyzed but that it
misses here the space to treat. The same thing is also worth for the three
doors to Freedom. Where do we ever hear to speak of them? Yet they are all
indications that belonged to the ancient path. I certainly know , they deal
with indications that usually imply an already advanced level of realization.
But why to accept this gradualism? And therefore its opposite, subitaneism.
Why not to overcome the dualist divarication between goal and way? Why not to
plan already the practice in these directions? Emptiness, no-sign, absence of
All the traditions (religious, politics etc.) suffer, in the time, a process
of historicization, becomes rich of new elements and they put in shade others.
Motives are complex but substantially they don't do but to recall one of them,
the fundamental: the impermanence. You think only of how much imaginative
interpretation has suběto, in as soon as 150 years of history, a theory as the
Marxist one and you can think how much imagination and construction are
inserted in religions as the Buddhist (2400 years of history) and the
Christian (2000 years of history) not to speak of those Jew and Moslem. Theirs
founders-of Buddhism and Christianity, already to few years from the death,
were deified (a process that for Buddhism it is initiated only very slowly,
with Mahayana tradition; as it regards the Christianity it can be seen the
discourse of the "God's Son": but all the Hebrews considered themselves sons
of God - as they declare today at times also the Christians) and however they
have had their own teachings submitted to a process of loss or acquisition. It
is normal, it is the impermanence. But this goes too far. We return to the
discourse on emptiness.
The freedom or Nirvana has to do with the understanding the deep vision, that
a real self real doesn't exist, that complex phenomenons exist, only. This is
what emptiness means, as we said above, absence of substance. Then the
liberation has to do with an undiversified last reality, unconditional. There
is now an only concept that draws near to this, that of space that was not by
chance pointed out (wrongly) from some ancient traditions as an unconditional
reality similar to Nirvana ( also in a theravada text, The Milindha questions).
And not by chance the space was one of the many recommended meditative objects
in the Mahaasakuludaahyi Sutta (MN,n.77) between the ten kasinas or bases of
meditation (earth, water, fire, air, blue, yellow, red, white, space and
conscience). Of it we shall speak in future.
Every Saturday meditation, Tower street 9, S. Andrea of Compito, Lucca (tel.
0583.977051), time: 15,30.