Emptiness, can be best explained by using the example of the self. What do we imagine when we think of the self? Exactly where does the self reside? Is it in the heart or the brain? In the incoming breath or the outgoing breath? In the movement of our limbs? In our interaction or relationship with others? The self differs greatly at ages 15 and 25. Because it is impermanent and intangible, the self is empty of any inherent self‐nature. And, because this is so, our happiness, our sadness, our successes, and our failures are also empty by nature. This does not mean that we are nothing, but that we are constantly moving, absorbing, and shedding. Consequently, we need not experience great attachment to our experiences and can develop equanimity regarding all phenomena. To experience this freedom from the conviction of a self and the self‐importance it creates means that we can dispense with the artificial distinction between self and other and can be part of all phenomena everywhere.

How does this relate to the environment?

According to Buddhism, ignorance of the empty nature of self and the rejection of compassion is the root cause of egotism, anger, attachment, and greed. Ignorance is why human beings have degraded the environment and are driving so many species to extinction. Ignorance causes us to place an excessive worth upon the self and anything related to it; my family, my possessions, my country, and even my race. Perceiving the diversity of the world through the limited lens of self means we can impose grave harm upon Earth without concern, because Earth has become “other.”

~ HH Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje


(Posted by mindmichael, Instagram, 23 February 2023)

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