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Buddhadharma : Summer 2006
buddhadharma| 39 |summer 2006 spiritual practice, and it cannot attain liberation. Since the self is composed of these five aggregates and is also imper- manent, we say that our self is “false,” or we can say that it is “provisional.” This is also called no-self. Thus, through analysis, we can view emptiness from two perspectives. First, we see that the self is composed of the five aggregates, and therefore has no inherent self-nature. The second aspect is seeing the emptiness of inherent nature – that everything is without a nature of its own. The emptiness of inherent nature means that not only is the self empty of inher- ent nature, but each of the five skandhas is also individually empty. To clarify, if something had inherent nature, then it would never change, as it would be an ultimate reality. Therefore, anything that changes is empty of inherent nature. One time, a Westerner, seeing that I was a monk, came up to me and asked, “Master, what is reality?” My response was, “I don’t know.” He looked extremely disappointed and forlorn, and said, “Why don’t you know this?” To which I replied, “Because there is no thing called reality. So how could I know it?” The emptiness that is arrived at through logic is a kind of dialectic, but different from Western ideas of dialectic. It is the dialectic of the Madhyamaka philosophy of Buddhism. When we apply this special dialectic, we find that there is no left, no right, no middle, no front, no back, no past, no future, no present, and neither good nor evil. However, this dialectic does not give rise to a passive or negative view of the world; it affirms the existence of causes and conditions, but denies the existence of inherent nature. Things are said to lack inherent nature, because logical analysis shows that this is the case. Therefore, the conclusion is that things are inherently empty. The viewpoint of the Madhyamaka after such logical analysis is called a position of affirming emptiness. It is not a neutral viewpoint, not a kind of middle between two extremes. Because one can- not affirm any place, one cannot affirm the middle either. Let’s try to make it less abstract. There is a “left” that arises from causes and con- ditions; there is a “right” that is also made up of causes and conditions, and there is a “middle” that is due to causes and condi- tions. Everything is just causes and condi- tions, whether it’s to the left, to the right, or to the center. Why do we not take a stand anywhere? Why don’t we affirm any posi- tion? We don’t affirm any position because each place is without inherent nature. The goal of such logic is not to explain things, but to remind us not to cling to things because everything is changing. Everything exists because of causes and conditions, and everything lacks inherent nature. Emptiness of the Dharma of Mind Now I will talk about the emptiness of the dharma of mind. I will begin with a story from the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Bremerton, WA I, 2002