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Thread: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

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    UK Avalon Member Clear Light's Avatar
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    Default Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?


    by Haleigh Atwood | March 29, 2019

    In a recent study, meditating on emptiness led to a 24 percent decrease in negative emotions.


    Quote Emptiness meditation may be more effective at improving wellbeing than mindfulness meditation, according to psychologists at the University of Derby, UK.

    Led by psychologist and lecturer William Van Gordon, an international research team conducted the first-ever study to investigate the impact of Buddhist emptiness meditation. A central Buddhist insight, emptiness is the understanding that neither we nor any phenomenon in the universe — sentient or otherwise — has a permanent, separate, and independent core, or soul.

    “Mindfulness and other contemplative techniques are very useful for creating mental calm and space in which to explore the mind,” Van Gordon said. “But one has to go a step further and undermine the emptiness of self and the emptiness of all phenomena — that’s very consistent with the Buddhist teachings across most traditions.

    “In the last few decades, we’ve seen a significant increase of scientific interest in investigating contemplative Buddhist approaches. This really started with a first phase of investigations concerning mindfulness about 20 or 30 years ago. About 10 or 15 years ago there was a second phase concerning compassion and loving kindness. What we’re seeing now is a third phase of investigation focusing on wisdom, emptiness, and non-attachment.”

    In order to have a complete understanding of Buddhist techniques, Van Gordon believes science must cover all three phases: mindfulness, compassion, and emptiness. He wants to see an increasing focus on the relationship between emptiness and wellbeing.

    The University of Derby study compared emptiness meditation to mindfulness meditation in a controlled condition with 25 participants, including Buddhist lay practitioners and monastics. To be considered for the study, participants were required to have a daily meditation practice that spanned an average of 25 years. Furthermore, Van Gordon and his team interviewed each potential candidate to explore their understanding of emptiness before inviting them to participate.

    Participants engaged in a practice of emptiness meditation on their own time. The emptiness meditation consisted of an initial phase of concentrative meditation, followed by a phase of investigative meditation. This two-stage process involved searching for an existing self and examining the underlying nature of experience, and then transcending conceptual boundaries—such as space and time—in order to obtain a universal, farsighted outlook rooted in compassion. While experiencing emptiness, participants retained control over the duration and content of the meditation and awareness of their physical body and environment.

    Within the same month, they also practiced a mindfulness meditation that didn’t involve any emptiness components. Before and after each meditation, participants filled in a series of psychometric tests, which were analyzed by the research team to compare the effectiveness of each meditation approach.

    The results showed that—even though participants already demonstrated high levels of wellbeing and spiritual insight—meditating on emptiness led to a 24 percent reduction of negative emotions, 16 percent increase in compassionate feelings, and 10 percent reduction in attachment to themselves and their external experiences.

    Findings also showed that participants experienced emptiness as an underlying fabric of the mind and reality. In other words, they felt that the nature of reality is not as concrete as people generally think.

    While emptiness meditation was shown to be more effective than mindfulness for improving wisdom and wellbeing for these participants, Van Gordon says this needs to be tested on relatively inexperienced lay meditation practitioners. Van Gordon plans to conduct further studies on emptiness meditation to explore its impact on new meditators.

    If further studies suggest that emptiness is a scientific truth of existence, says Van Gordon, then it may be necessary for scientists to reexamine how they interpret psychological and physical phenomena.

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    Quote Posted by Clear Light (here)
    “Mindfulness and other contemplative techniques are very useful for creating mental calm and space in which to explore the mind,” Van Gordon said. “But one has to go a step further and undermine the emptiness of self and the emptiness of all phenomena — that’s very consistent with the Buddhist teachings across most traditions.
    Well, I'm going to rephrase the highlighted text in two slightly different ways :

    Quote But one has to go a step further and ...
    • undermine the concreteness of self and the concreteness of all phenomena
    • reveal the emptiness of self and the emptiness of all phenomena

    Because if this second step isn't taken I'd suggest you're still going to be (apparently) stuck at a superficial understanding of Buddhism and will have *not* penetrated deeper into its Actual Meaning eh ?
    Last edited by Clear Light; 31st July 2019 at 14:15. Reason: Reworded the final sentence

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    Quote Posted by Clear Light (here)

    Well, I'm going to rephrase the highlighted text in two slightly different ways :

    Quote But one has to go a step further and ...
    • undermine the concreteness of self and the concreteness of all phenomena
    • reveal the emptiness of self and the emptiness of all phenomena

    Because otherwise I'd suggest you're still apparently stuck at a superficial understanding of Buddhism and have *not* penetrated deeper into its Actual Meaning eh ?
    Excellent correction, Clear Light!

    The "Mindfulness" style of meditation is useful to understand self better and to maintain balance/being grounded. This is because one is being mindful of oneself and is still attached to the concept of a self, which is actually an illusion created by each one of us.

    However, if one's goal using meditation towards enlightenment to discover one's true nature (Buddha Nature in Buddhist lingo), then one needs a method that has the fewest reliance on one's conscious mind. My late master (Sheng Yen), whose Dharma lineage can be traced directly back to the historical Buddha taught that the highest method of meditation is actually a method of no method. He calls this method "Silent Illumination." Using this method, one first gets to the point of having no scattered thoughts occurring in one's mind (the silent aspect of this method). Then one allows the awareness to grow. Whenever any scattered thought or sensation is perceived, one just let it go. One continues to just let all thoughts go until one's pure awareness grows and at some point one's true nature is revealed. This method is described in detail in his book, "The Method of No-Method: The Chan Practice of Silent Illumination."

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    While mindful meditation, mantras, affirmations, etc have a specific place, the real gold of meditation is learning how to empty the mind of thoughts altogether, this clears unwanted static and fear from the subconscious. The subconscious mind is fed everything the conscious mind "perceives" and "judges" and "thinks" - the more clarity you can bring to your conscious mind, the better the 'food" you are feeding the subconscious mind.

    So my own personal experiences have always seen distinct place for each style of meditation - each for different purposes and results.
    When you are one step ahead of the crowd, you are a genius.
    Two steps ahead, and you are deemed a crackpot.

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    Oh, not that I want to take any-thing away from the Profound Implications of Emptiness, nor to "make light" of it, but neverthless, for your Enjoyment ...



    Because, if in Reality, there is no such "thing" as a "self", then who / what is "it" that is seeking Enlightenment or Liberation eh ?

    I'd say it sounds like a presently-arising-Delusion chasing after a non-existent-Illusion eh ? LOL
    Last edited by Clear Light; 31st July 2019 at 16:05. Reason: Appearance

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    It may be best to not try to empty the mind. Let it happen naturally.
    And spend focus time on things that are fun, things that feel good, past present and future.

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    Oh, I'd say it's just the way-of-the-world nowadays with so much seeming Distraction to keep us all Entertained not really having to confront any Existential Issues (which may bring up uncomfortable feelings / emotions / memories etc) that spending your Time and Energy looking INWARDLY probably seems so Pointless eh ?



    Quote The Buddha always told his disciples not to waste their time
    and energy in metaphysical speculation. Whenever he was
    asked a metaphysical question, he remained silent. Instead,
    he directed his disciples toward practical efforts. Questioned
    one day about the problem of the infinity of the world, the
    Buddha said, "Whether the world is finite or infinite, limited
    or unlimited, the problem of your liberation remains the same."

    Another time he said, "Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned
    arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately.
    Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he
    knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it.
    What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions
    have been answered, the man might die first." Life is so short.
    It must not be spent in endless metaphysical speculation that
    does not bring us any closer to the truth.

    Thich Nhat Hanh
    Last edited by Clear Light; 31st July 2019 at 18:59. Reason: Placement of the Graphic

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    I think its a question of who is doing the meditation

    For myself I just do three ohms then the Gayatri Mantra then get me out of the way.
    No directing of the meditation--it goes where it wants--though most times there is just silence.
    If thought creeps in I be aware of the breath--or do Self Inquiry for a moment or two.

    Kundalini energy comes in after about fifteen minutes and the body does what it wants
    It vibrates/moves in a way that I could not make happen.
    The energy moves up the spine through the neck and into the head.

    Meditation is a very personal thing but best not to do it to get any end result
    That's my thought on it.
    Whatever works---the side effect is "The peace that passes all understanding"

    Chris
    A charity to help African Children become self sufficient. :attention:

    http://www.learningtoolsforselfdevelopment.co.uk/

    Be kind to all life, including your own, no matter what!!

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    I would say yes, since Emptiness is the only condition from which one could even begin to perceive Buddha's Wisdom.

    I am a bit schismatic since the common teaching is H. H. Dalai Lama's school which says, empty of all natures. However, the Shentong philosophy of Dolpopa says, empty of all natures other than its own. So by eliminating chattering mind and disturbing emotion, one is not exactly reduced to nothingness and non-existence, but instead begins to perceive reality. Most of the awkwardness about the term "emptiness" could perhaps be better understood as No Ego.

    Correspondingly, Mindfulness also changes its nature. The beginning phase is called Sati, which has to do with environmental awareness, behavior, and thoughts that arise. However, as one cultivates Emptiness, or Sunyata, there is a different type of perception called Smrti. This, I suppose, is mindful of what the Void actually does. If you toss egotistical components into it, you will receive monsters and nightmares. If you stop that and approach it wisely, it will replace "you" with reality.

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    Quote Posted by Clear Light (here)
    If further studies suggest that emptiness is a scientific truth of existence, says Van Gordon, then it may be necessary for scientists to reexamine how they interpret psychological and physical phenomena.
    Click image for larger version

Name:	rubber_meets_the_road_smaller.jpg
Views:	6
Size:	41.8 KB
ID:	41289

    Ah, paradigmatically speaking, not to sound all pompous and self-righteous about it, but clearly this is where "the rubber meets the road" eh ?

    Now, imagine telling a hardened-matter-of-fact "Scientist" that ALL of their Models and Theories are based upon the Faulty starting premise of the apparent Universe being OBJECTIVELY "out there" PRIOR to their various ways of MEASURING it ... and furthermore that, actually, their SUBJECTIVE point-of-view is itself not as "water tight" as they would like to BELIEVE !!! LOL
    Last edited by Clear Light; 1st August 2019 at 08:59. Reason: Replaced the Graphic with a Smaller Version

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    DUALITY
    Masculine - Feminine
    Positive - Negative
    Thought - Silence (awaiting the 'thought')

    All the above ingredients are required for

    BALANCE
    NEUTRALITY
    ANDROGYNY

    Click image for larger version

Name:	Tantric-Marriage-By-George-Atherton-Pic-78.jpg
Views:	14
Size:	68.7 KB
ID:	41290

    Although I wouldn't necessarily say the image gives the 'polarities' correctly.

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    Great post Clear Light and I love that image you posted


    Now I haven't thought this thru properly, posting quick.

    I see the self as our: lost, over complicated, contaminated, unrefined INTERFACE.

    The basic self/interface is the tool to interact and communicate with the material world.
    It's a communication tool which we let control our interaction.

    It should be other way around, us just using it and not living through it uncontrolled.

    Ego is the ill, overindulged, over important, the junkie self controlled by emotions.

    We project a 'self' into the material world as the interface, but
    we get buried in the projected self, and end up using it as a 'Shield' which we become weak and lost behind..

    In my younger years I did a lot of experimenting with altered states and meditation/s.
    I would try a technique for some time then find out it was a well established form.
    Time and again I did that, find it first then read upon it.
    I am now very lucky and can just go into/out to a zen spot, clear, just me hanging there.

    I say out to a zen spot because it sounds healthier then hiding within.
    IN, OUT, I.
    We are the space

    I haven't got all day "TIME"
    Now that's another illusion ha
    I'm a simple easy going guy that is very upset/sad with the worlds hidden controllers!
    We need LEADERS who bat from the HEART!
    Rise up above them Dark evil doers, not within anger but with LOVE

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    I plow a field! No matter what stray thoughts or images come to me I go back to the plow pulled by my horse and the image of the plow moving the dirt as I walk with my horse in my bare feet. Give me a few minutes doing that in a chair relaxed and you can do a filling replacement in one of my teeth without anesthetic.
    The genius consistently stands out from the masses in that he unconsciously anticipates truths of which the population as a whole only later becomes conscious! Speech-circa 1937

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    Quote Posted by Ratszinger (here)
    I plow a field! No matter what stray thoughts or images come to me I go back to the plow pulled by my horse and the image of the plow moving the dirt as I walk with my horse in my bare feet. Give me a few minutes doing that in a chair relaxed and you can do a filling replacement in one of my teeth without anesthetic.
    Huh ? Say what ?

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    whatever makes you feel better in the concrete moment is best for that specific moment.... so there´s nothing truly better than other... that type of approach is ego based, competition.... all are defferent paths to the same no-thing-ness.
    Much love
    honoring White Feather: SHIFT HAPPENED

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    Oh well ....

    Best Buddhist meditation....


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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    Quote Posted by what is a name? (here)

    Attachment 41290

    Although I wouldn't necessarily say the image gives the 'polarities' correctly.

    That image is Ardhanarishvar or Shiva and Uma combined as one. I am not sure how they came up with it. To a greater extent, it appears that the Hindu Aryans actually received feminized or androgynized teachings from the Buddhists, i. e. one finds the Sahaja cult of Krishna and Radha appearing in the 1600s, which is very, very long after Sahaja had been publicized, which was probably a long time since it was practiced secretly, in Buddhism.

    The picture is roughly correct at least as far as the two main nerves, solar and lunar, where the human being invests their life-force without it ever reaching the center. Perhaps rather strangely, moon is considered male, you can see it there on Shiva's head. That is because the female is inner heat. There are a lot of other ways to philosophize it, but this is aimed at how the body could work if it were not in such an ignorant, defiled state.

    Meditation on Emptiness alone is insufficient, since the Androgyne is defined as Prajna--Upaya, which is Wisdom of Emptiness plus Skillful Means. You have to display the wisdom and do things that benefit others, characterized by generosity and patience and so forth. This is closer to the meaning of "Bhagavad", which is not lord or god, but means possessing transcendental wisdom while manifesting enlightened perfection, or being endowed with virtues.

    If Meditation on Emptiness is powerful, Mantra on Emptiness is exponentially more powerful, and Tantra on Emptiness is exponentially more powerful than that. But we have to start from Mindfulness. We have an open door to anybody, no matter how stupid, unskilled, criminal, or whoever. So there are piles of material intended for children and illiterates and other beginners or just people who have a hard time following it. This runs from "grade school" to "post-doctoral", everyone fits in somewhere.

    I believe most modern educated people can start somewhere beyond the "utter beginning" provided for the unwise. Look at it this way: Tibet was pierced by Jesuit and Capucin missions in the 1700s. At the time, the Jesuit was given much information and managed to intellectually learn most of the basics of Buddhism, but his mind could not even approach Emptiness. He was unable to "get it". So he had a pile of information that didn't work because it lacked an engine. Carl Jung was almost the same or thought it was another tool to stuff in his bag while science remained correct and supreme, so, he got a little farther but still didn't "get it".

    The "authorities" have failed miserably every time they were given a chance, and this really is for the "little people" who do much better. Our modern converts en masse are the Indian Dalits or the untouchable, unwashed poor. They and everyone else who sincerely tries, are going to yank the rug out from under the "ruling class" or at least its mental autocracy.

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    Ah, hopefully, for those interested, when talking about "emptiness", the idea, I'd suggest, is *not* to make it into a Concept (by reifying it) ... it's the exact reverse you're aiming for, that is, an un-doing, an un-binding, a loosening up, a releasing of solidity and tension eh ?

    Quote “Thirty spokes converge on a hub
    but it’s the emptiness
    that makes a wheel work
    pots are fashioned from clay
    but it’s the hollow
    that makes a pot work
    windows and doors are carved for a house
    but it’s the spaces
    that make a house work
    existence makes a thing useful
    but nonexistence makes it work”

    -Lao-tzu-

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    I think that “meditation on emptiness” is in fact, exercise of your finest logical reasoning, turning to logician ( rather than theologician ) and mind scientist for a while. Using our “front lobe” ability of deciphering reality of environment surrounding us, as it reflects in our mind, introspectively.
    Observing relationship between causes and consequences, rooting your thinking in logic firmly is important.

    Theological approach to everything happens in our brain trying to make best sense of its holistic, intuitive assumptions. Whatever theories or worldviews we have learned, evolved or adopted but not researched thoroughly they all are lingering in the vast unexplored space of intuitive brain.

    In Buddhist context, one of the best explanations of the doctrine of aka “emptiness” can be found in the Diamond Sutra ( more accurately: Diamond-cutter Sutra, Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita).

    It reveals the fierce quality of Buddhist thought is right about “connecting the dots”.

    It could be well called “mathematical approach to mind functions” without losing a point. It’s not something mysterious only Buddha can do or something to dwell on doing for lifetime. It’s something to get right in our mind and keep doing it

    It’s a method against so called “brain fog” and whatever people label as ignorance. Of course “ignorance” may apply to “ignorance of facts” and so also, in some cases out of the usual spectrum of experience, ignorance of consequences.

    We should not deny ourselves the privilege of understanding the subtle logic of causes and consequences available to us already, it’s how we learn to think efficiently.

    I’ve heard people saying “thinking hurts” or “too much thinking hurts”.

    But: if you are thinker then meditation is a must and vice versa, to meditate with sense your thinking process is either rich and logical
    or...you fall to difficulty of boredom, ignorance or various “dream realms” of consciousnesses and imaginations.

    Yogic approach to emptiness is more like using strong detergent on ourselves dissolving whatever comes in a way. Not many people can do it right nowadays.

    Dissolving “self” in the middle of society is ultimately risky. Anything bearing the name of “ultimate” is ultimately, socially risky.

    People who have done that correctly in the past have been guided and shielded by other people and specific protective environments like temples and monasteries.

    People use many strong “detergents” on themselves like drugs and various cult methods before developing themselves fully while there’s seldom any appropriate guidance.

    What happens as result is they bleach themselves, hurt each other but miss the “clear light” within.

    It seems to me that in human future there will be the notion of “Buddhist thought” and logical reasoning will turn even more important but there won’t be any “Buddhas” because we ( in terms of human society) don’t have the time and facilities to evolve them.

    Even these days and I’ve witnessed this personally and in many cases of very advanced thinkers, most are at huge risk of extermination from one or another government, held or punished for “freedom of thought, speech etc.”

    There’s an old Buddhist Koan of Rinzai tradition :” If you meet Buddha on the way kill him”.

    It’s not an instruction to kill or hurt people, it’s a riddle for students seeking the Buddha “out there” at all times.


    But you may have observed how many old fashioned people and systems can not tolerate progressive thinkers and peaceful evolution of thought.
    If you walk ahead too far ....


    well try look for Buddhas

    But that’s a koan

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    Default Re: Is meditating on "emptiness" better than mindfulness cultivation ?

    Quote Posted by Clear Light (here)
    Ah, hopefully, for those interested, when talking about "emptiness", the idea, I'd suggest, is *not* to make it into a Concept (by reifying it) ... it's the exact reverse you're aiming for, that is, an un-doing, an un-binding, a loosening up, a releasing of solidity and tension eh ?

    Quote “Thirty spokes converge on a hub
    but it’s the emptiness
    that makes a wheel work
    pots are fashioned from clay
    but it’s the hollow
    that makes a pot work
    windows and doors are carved for a house
    but it’s the spaces
    that make a house work
    existence makes a thing useful
    but nonexistence makes it work”

    -Lao-tzu-
    Thank you Clear Light.

    This reminds me of Dilgo Khyentse who said "Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it"

    Quote "The presence of space makes it possible for the whole universe to be set out within it, and yet this does not alter or condition space in any way.
    Although rainbows appear in the sky, they do not make any difference to the sky; it is simply that the sky makes the appearance of rainbows possible.
    Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it."

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