using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Winter 2011
BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY WINTER 2 0 11 38 if the perception that we have somehow represents what is truly there in front of us. A correct understanding of emptiness must reach that level of perception so that we no longer cling to any notion of objective inherent reality. Nagarjuna emphasizes that so long as we impart objective reality to the world that encompasses us, we will fuel a host of thoughts and emotions such as attachment, hostility, and anger. For Nagarjuna, the understanding of selflessness arrived at by the lower Buddhist philosophical schools is not the con- summation of Buddha’s teaching on selflessness because there remains some trace of grasping at a notion of independent and objective, inherently existent reality. Therefore it is through cultivating insight into this most subtle meaning of empti- ness—emptiness in terms of an absence of inherent existence— that one can eradicate the fundamental ignorance that binds us in samsara. Emptiness of Self In his work In Praise of Dharmadhatu (Ultimate Expanse), Nagarjuna states: Meditations on impermanence And overcoming clinging to permanence, Are all elements of training the mind. However, the supreme purification of mind Is achieved through insight into emptiness. Nagarjuna defines emptiness as an absence of inherent exis- tence. In the Heart Sutra, the Buddha makes his well-known cryptic statement, Form is empty, emptiness is form. There is a clearer presentation of this terse statement in the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in 25,000 Lines, where Buddha says: Form is not empty of emptiness; Form itself is that emptiness. In the first line Buddha specifies that what is being negated in respect to form is not something other than its inherent existence. In the second line he establishes the conventionally existent form that exists due to its emptiness of inherent exis- tence. What appears when we negate the inherent existence of form, is form. The nonexistence—or emptiness—of any inherent quality of form is what enables form to exist. Buddha pointed out that without knowledge of the emp- tiness of inherent existence of self there is no possibility of attaining freedom from our miserable state. The most pro- found meditative state of single-pointed absorption, free of all distractions of sensual experience, cannot dispel grasping at a sense of self. Sooner or later this self-grasping will serve as the basis for our experience of afflictions. These afflictions will lead to actions that will provoke more actions, resulting in our experience of misery in cyclic existence. If, however, we had no sense of self, there would be no basis for the occurrence of attachment or aversion. Attachment comes about in response to the perception of something’s being attractive. For something to be desirable there must be someone to whom it is so, as an object would not be attrac- tive all by itself. Only when something is attractive to me do I desire it. In the same way, when something is perceived to be unattractive, aversion arises and can grow into anger and even hostility. All these strong emotions are initially due to an “I” that is experiencing a perceived attractiveness or unat- tractiveness of an object. Since our experience with afflictions such as desire or aver- sion, pride or jealousy, is due to things being attractive or repellant to us, once the notion of this independent self is removed there is no possibility of these afflictions arising. If, however, we do not negate the mistaken notion of the “I,” regardless of the profundity of our meditation, afflictions will eventually arise in us and lead to our suffering. Buddha taught many practices by which happiness can grow in our lives, such as acting generously toward others and rejoicing in their virtues. But as these do not directly oppose our distorted grasping at a notion of self, the qualities that these practices engender cannot provide us with the ultimate state of happiness: freedom from all suffering. Only the insight into selflessness, with its direct antidote to our ignorant self- grasping, can accomplish this. It is essential that we penetrate the nature of phenomena by means of profound study and critical analysis. This will lead us to recognize the absence of any independent, identifi- able self in all phenomena. If we then cultivate our realization of selflessness in meditation, we will eventually attain true liberation—nirvana. Buddha taught many practices by which happiness can grow in our lives, such as acting generously toward others and rejoicing in their virtues. But these do not directly oppose our distorted grasping at a notion of self.