Friday, August 9, 2013

Void Contemplates Void

I read that yesterday. I've been struggling understanding emptiness. Unfortunately, the more I hear about it, I less I know. My modus operandi for understanding is to isolate the object on a pedestal and differentiate it from all other things.  Then I (erroneously) thinking I understand. I describe it by color, weight, mass, temperature when it freezes or turns to gas. I even watch it change, not realizing that I'm looking at just one piece of an infinite puzzle. Or maybe I'm just looking at looking. Or even looking at looking at looking.

When I meditate, I drift between two places. One is being somewhere else, like engaged in a fantasy of some sort, developing a project to do, or worrying that someone just stole a wallet from the zendo's shoe rack. Or I watch my breathing. But I sense my Zen practice could be something else. I separate my mind from my body from my breathing and become a trinity of three desperate elements. I'm exhausted just at the thought of it. I'm discombobulated. Totally discombobulated.

Sunday, in preparation for my Tao study class, I mistakenly read the wrong passage. It was about how a tiger, viewing his prey, has a choice of two actions. One is to leap to devour the prey, and the second is to do nothing. I loved that in the Tao world (actually our world) not acting is an action.

Then I was searching on the Web for the Heart Sutra today to send a prisoner. Lo and behold, the version I came across used the word void for emptiness. How nice I thought! My walking partner reminds me that before things there really was nothing. Space was not a container without contents. It wasn't. No outside. No inside. Nada.

So I've been trying to not busy myself with watching myself breatheseparating the breather, the breath, and the watcherbut rather I'm trying to do none of that. And not to pursue the alternativedrifting off into lala land. Hovering between being present and being vigilance is hard workwork that qualifies under the auspices of the protestation work ethic. No, I want to do something else. A while back we called it be here now, though at that moment when we observe ourselves being here now, we aren't here, but rather observing ourselves being there.

Coming back now to the void contemplating void. What was refreshing to notice when I quit trying so hard to observe was that my body was still breathing. All by itself. And I realized I didn't have to tend to it ... or even watch it. It was the leader of the pack.


Anonymous said...

You may have reached a state of perfect wisdom. On the other hand you may not have reached this aspiration. H.

Anonymous said...

Void is generally considered to be a poor choice as a translation for emptiness. Emptiness does not refer to a state before things-as-it-is. It may be hinting at things-as-it-is not being the things-we-think-they-is. Or, put another way, emptiness is not nothingness, but no-thing-ness.