Sunday, September 25, 2016

Emptiness: Giving without Staying

I've spent the last two weeks studying emptiness. Venerable Lobsang Chunzom has been out here in LA teaching classes on Master Kamalashila's commentary of Lord Buddha's DIAMOND CUTTER SUTRA. Prior to this I've read the DIAMOND CUTTER SUTRA (DCS) many times and studied a commentary by Choney Lama Drakpa Shedrup (1675-1748). This new commentary from Master Kamalashila (750) takes a different spin on emptiness. The past two weeks I've also felt extremely motivated by all the work I have to do to understand and apply these teachings.

Previously I knew the main teaching on emptiness being that it's a negative unchanging stuff joined in the nature of all phenomena. It's what allows a pen to be a pen to me and a chew toy to a dog. It's the blank screen karma is loaded into or onto every moment. And in the DCS there's this constant mention of giving without staying. I know that phrase to be in reference to karma and emptiness, and the positive action of giving must be done with the awareness of emptiness in order for one to call themselves a higher level Buddhist actor in the world. Giving without staying in my belief of all the different lists of karmic principles: the four steps, the 3 spheres, the 3 cocoons, 3 types of karma, four step purification, 3 karmic results. All these lists upon lists are re-enforced with that emptiness, including the belief in karma itself which is empty,

What I never considered was the emptiness of the emptiness. It's been mentioned before in other sutras and my mind gets vague on it. I intellectually understand: yes even emptiness has emptiness to it. I understand that in a hazy way. Master Kamalashila uses the metaphor of a fountain that spews out water in a certain pattern. That pattern is unchanging like emptiness. But the water is constantly changing and shifting. Emptiness is unchanging like that shape, but my perception of it and interaction with it is like the water flowing through that shape: shifting constantly. So emptiness has emptiness to it b/c of my perception/interaction. So as I try to understand more of emptiness, that too will shift. And as I give with emptiness, I can't stay in the act of giving, nor stay in my understanding of 'not staying' at the moment. It shifts.

So in the 3 sphere of giving -subject doing the act, object receiving act and the object(or verb) that flows between then each sphere has an emptiness to it. My past habits load each sphere with what I'm used to seeing and expecting. It's making me rethink all my previous understandings of emptiness.

Contemplating and meditating this morning on a Buddhist holiday. I write these notes down for my own review later on. And -like the sutras say- I rejoice in this act (without staying). 

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