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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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