Way of Emptiness – Ch15 – Humanity’s Forgotten Reflection

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Humanity’s Forgotten Reflection

By S. A. Ward

Chapter Fifteen – Way of Emptiness

The perception of emptiness has been utilized by various cultures throughout our species history. Most prominently from Buddhism, but as well to add the Greeks, Hinduism, Master swordsman Miyamoto Musashi from Japan, The Zulu warriors from South Africa, Japanese Samurai, Alan Watts and amongst others, especially mythical warriors used this mode of perception. It allows one to use the entirety of their mind’s focus on one objective. In principle, meditation is the act of emptying one’s mind, in Buddhism there’s a teaching, “when I stop thinking then I really am.” There is a misconception on the practice of meditation where it is to sit calmly cross-legged, palms up, humming, or chanting. Meditation can have various forms of practice; however, the core goal is to focus your mind on a desired area of thought or objective. For meditation recommendations I’d say work on tracing the source of one’s own thoughts, actions, and behavior. Here are several quotes that will serve well for meditation, “We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” – Propaganda by Edward Bernays.  

“The root of man’s suffering is his desire to exist.” A Buddhist teaching. 

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” H.P Lovecraft. 

The core of emptiness is infinite possibilities and potential. Cultures and individuals who delved into this philosophy conveyed that the mind fundamentally is emptiness, and that consciousness is emptiness. 

When experienced it is like pulling aside a veil of illusions and then you remember that it is something you had simply forgotten. It is what we saw in the world as children when our minds were pure and without cognitive chains. The cognitive chains are like a sort of labyrinth that we venture into throughout our lives and there is a way to make the walls shorter to where one can peer over them. This grants greater control and mastery over one’s own mind. The following quote is a teaching from a diverse range of ancient cultures, “One thing, ten thousand functions.” A principle of emptiness is to be without form and simultaneously infinite. It is to unfetter one’s mind from our strict and constrained environmental conditioning. The box we were forced into from birth and later reconstructed in accordance with our environment’s desires. It is a deep sense of pure intuition to adapt instantaneously to life’s constant change. It is resorting to an organic way of being, to no longer swim against the current of life. Emptiness at its core is ultimate reality, it reduces the individual to a state of pure observation. Ultimate reality is that of one perceiving the timeless progression of existence, an experience of consciousness beyond the mortal fragility of death. Like stated in the Door of Death chapter, our existence is a fragile circumstance, and it is best to not cling to it. We desperately attach an assortment of labels and rules to everything we can safely experience or examine in a futile attempt to have control over our environment that falls through our hands like sand. Our findings are all too often fragmented and filtered through the human senses and overall human experience. The human senses are blatantly limiting and likely only amounts to a splinter of the potential perceivable dimensions of existence. 

In Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, it is said that the human experience is that of enlightenment. We are born divine and enlightened. It’s embedded into the very nature of our existence. It is also said that we are each a reflection of God, so if you want to see God you need only look in a mirror. The following was covered in the last chapter. Remember the Buddhist teaching that claims the Earth is a Symphony of creation and we are just one of nature’s many instruments. Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher born in 544 B.C. said, “A man cannot step into the same river twice, for it is not the same man nor the same river.” Existence is in a state of perpetual and uncompromising change. Nothing as far as we know is static whether it be external or internal to us. The following is a quote from Chapter 3, The Egos Lies, “Contradiction of ego, reincarnation or afterlife, and memory. If an individual’s brain is damaged, develops Alzheimer’s or dementia they can potentially lose memory and their sense of personality, which in some cases never returns to them. That is the fragility of the human experience, so now we’re able to ask, was this subject ever anyone in particular to begin with? The ego is not a static mechanism and is rather fluid. The common conceptualization of reincarnation or afterlife for most of human history implied that the ego is static and persists through death when it is just a societal defense mechanism to meld within a societal group. The ego is a reflection of an organism’s environmental exposure throughout its lifetime. Reincarnation was often thought of as physically being rebirthed as a different living creature after we died. It was a wishy-washy notion that delved in the realm of fantasy. The common idea of reincarnation is false and doesn’t actually align with the actual conceptualization of it found in Zen Buddhism or Hinduism. What true reincarnation actually is, is more so like this. The past and future don’t actually exist, there is only this singular infinite present. The past and future are ideations of our minds. The mind is a malleable focal point of conscious awareness and yes to an extent reflects its past experiences, but our memory of the past is a primary survival mechanism that has enabled us to thrive, adapt to danger, and at times can be highly skewed by our way of thinking. We’re ever changing, never stagnant and are perpetually morphing into a different individual being continuously reborn anew. Enduring a temporary cycle of rebirth and growth, which is what reincarnation truly is, rebirth and growth.” 

The following is an excerpt Chapter 3, the ego’s lies, “In regard to identity, the social construct for identity depends entirely upon whether or not an organism has the mental capacity for an ego. Identity is more so just a cog in a societal mechanism, it doesn’t have fundamental relevance and its purpose is to substantiate a distinct level of uniformity for greater functionality, making the system more cohesive. Similar to time it brings forth order such as organization, categorization, utility and purpose, relations, history and origin.” 

Every atom in the universe is in communication with one another. Each atom wields the potential to influence and fuse with other atoms to create an entirely different state of matter. Matter and the world we experience are different states of energy. Sadhguru stated in a lecture that ignoring this phenomenon is a key source of many people’s sufferings. Blinded by their environmental conditioning that induces irrational modes of cognition that run on hate and fear. Our capability to survive is extremely fragile, a rise or fall in temperature can kill us. An external chemical that is either found in nature or a product of synthesis can have life altering or fatal outcomes if introduced to the human body. Physical trauma to our bodies whether it be from falling or being struck with great force can end us in an instant. Lack of specific life sustaining necessities such as oxygen, nutrients, and water and we will die. The areas of existence that we can safely experience are unbelievably finite. There is still so much of our own world and ourselves that we are ignorant of. Then to bring in the factor of the seemingly infinite vastness of outer space. The H.P. Lovecraft quote comes to mind, “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” H.P Lovecraft. Think of the vast quantity of components in any human system or civilization that depend on one another in order to continue to exist. Think of something as simple as paper. Paper revolutionized humanity’s ability to convey, transfer, and store large quantities of information. What is paper made out of? It can be made from an array of materials from cloth, plants, and most especially trees. Let’s go with trees, trees are an amazing resource for cellulose fiber. Without trees that could be a major threat to the production of paper and amongst many other human industries that depend on it. If trees are threatened that could negatively impact the cycle of oxygen being produced. This could threaten plant life and the perpetuation of life on Earth entirely. What are trees dependent on? Fertile soil, water, carbon dioxide, sunlight, and an assortment of many finer details that I won’t list. Humans and life on Earth are in an interweaving dependency on external factors in order to exist. The point is the conditions for life to exist are extremely narrow. If it weren’t for our sun, orbital position, geographical composition, and diverse elements to be found on Earth that can support the existence of life then there would be no trees, humans, and a seemingly endless quantity of everyday gadgets, materials, concepts, destinations, industry, resources, and moreover our species history and modern civilization that the majority take for granted. Not taking into consideration the lifespan or trajectory of a single atom changing over the course of an eternity.  

Our concept of weight is entirely dependent on the gravitational pull and overall mass of the object or in our case Earth that we are standing on. If mass changes, the force of gravity is subject to change and can drastically alter our weight or ability to survive, it’s all relative. Let’s delve into the concept of something being fundamental. Is it a universal truth or a sort of knowledge acquired simply from existing? For example, do we know how to say cheese in every single language? Are we born knowing all of the Presidents from the United States? Does a Starbucks emerge organically outside of human construction? Do we know the concepts of time, age, or the vastness of our universe at birth? No to all of those, however, there are a few things we all realize at a young age, which is the importance of fun, playing, laughing, and love. 

Personal reflection: The point in my life where I initially became acquainted with the philosophy of emptiness was back in 2014 when I was 20. For hours at a time, I would sit out on my parent’s deck at night and just observe the present moment even with it being dead winter. This was 2 years into my inquiry in Buddhism and martial meditation. When I was 18 in 2012, I wanted to become a shaolin monk, which I never did, but that didn’t stop me from learning about its teachings and martial ways. I do not consider myself a Buddhist, however amidst this period of early meditation an insight came to mind and is as follows, “to be fearful of the unknown only makes one more distant from understanding it.” What we truly desire often resides beyond the limitations of our fears.

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