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Posts Tagged ‘emptiness’

I propose to do my research project on the experience, not just the concept, of emptiness in Buddhism.  Too often in the books we try to define emptiness, but this is an empty task that is impossible to do.  Emptiness in and of itself is without its own definition.  It is a feeling, an experience, which includes all definitions of all things.  Clearly, emptiness is a complex concept, so before continuing with my proposal I ask my reader to watch this video below.  In the video, Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist who was once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, describes in simple language the complex experience of emptiness.

In this video, Thich Nhat Hanh is not just describing emptiness as a concept or idea, but rather he is also revealing it as an experience.  Emptiness really is an actual feeling within and outside of the self, which relinquishes the self from the separate reality it perceives to have in relationship with the other, whether this other be a person, flower, or piece of paper.  As Hanh suggests, the cloud and the sun are in the newspaper, and if we are able to see this when we buy the newspaper then we will experience emptiness, or what he calls the interbeing.  When I walk the park, which is just about everyday, I feel every movement of every leaf within me.  I feel the pedaling leg motions and scattered heartbeat of the boy riding by on his bike within me.  I feel the squirrels hopping from tree branch to tree branch within me.  Emptiness is a very real experience, a feeling, that I want to reveal to the world in my own way.

I am not religious, so I do not want my proposal to be mistakened for a religious quest.  Yet I would like to interview many different kinds of religious leaders about their religious rituals.  I would like to explore whether or not other rituals, and the outcomes to these rituals, share a relationship with the feeling and experience of emptiness.  I might also interview nonreligous people too, such as a yoga instructor, a nonreligious Native American, etc.  I’ve been to the Pine Wind Zen Center in Shamong, New Jersey, so I was thinking I might interview the Zen master, Seijaku Roshi, there.  I have also been to the Center for Conscious Living in Moorestown, New Jersey, so I might interview reverend Dr. Carol there.  I would also like to do some electronic interviews.  I think this would be fun to do.

I think that this research proposal is perfect for someone like me.  I have always been incredibly interested in revealing how this one experience of emptiness, Nirvana, spirituality, God, call it what you will, is actually, what I believe, the same thing.  Further, I realize emptiness is a complex concept, but the complex has always been easier for me to explain than the simple.  In fact, I struggle greatly with trying to explain or interpret simple language.  I got a concentration in philosophy as an undergraduate merely because I loved it.  I feel my concentration in philosophy, along with my everyday experience with emptiness in my daily meditation, makes me a great canditate for this research project.

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I attached a video to this post.  In the video, my favorite Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hanh, describes his thoughts on emptiness.  It really is a great video to watch, especially for any beginners who might feel a bit confused about what emptiness is exactly.  One of the reasons I love Thich Nhat Hanh is because he has the ability to express a very complex concept, like emptiness, in a very simple fashion.  In this video, he explains why in every piece of paper we should be able to see a cloud and the sunlight, for it is only because of these things that paper exists.  The video really is awesome and can help people to become more mindful human beings in everyday existence.  It helps also to be able to experience ecstacy while doing the laundry.  Like I tell everyone all the time, when I drink a cup of tea, I do not just drink a cup of tea.  I revel in every sip of that tea as if it were my last sip, as if that sip is gracefully lending itself to me.  I know that sip is the drip to my existence.  I am dependent on that sip. 

In this video, Thich Nhat Hanh is not just explaining emptiness as a concept or idea.  Emptiness really is an experience.  As he suggests, the cloud and the sun are in the newspaper, and if we are able to see that when we get the newspaper then we will experience emptiness, or what he also calls interbeing.  When I walk the park, which is almost everyday, I feel every movement of the leaves within me.  I feel the leg motions of the boy riding by on his bike within me.  I feel the squirrels hopping from tree branch to tree branch within me.  Emptiness is a very real experience and an experience I want to show to the world.

I also included a link on this post that depicts in some way the kind of thing I want to do with my research project.   You have to click on the word abstract on the right side of the screen to view the link.  The link is on Buddhist Emptiness and the Christian God.  It compares the Christian concept of God to the Buddhist concept of emptiness.  Of course, I do not just want to compare these ideas, but rather I want to actively engage in discovering whether or not the experience of the Christian God is similar to the Buddhist experience of emptiness, along with other religious experiences.  I have one thing going for me.  I experience emptiness everyday in everything I do, so I think this gives me a headstart.   

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