Emptiness and Change

It’s very easy to become convinced of a particular story or image we have of something. Everyone has heard of the phrase “in love with being in love”: to love our own concepts and ideas of something instead of what is actually there to touch and experience. Understanding the difference can be incredibly eye opening. Trying to find oneself, for example, or trying to find one’s lover, is an endless and never-ending task.

Empty doesn’t particularly mean nothing… Rather it points to the fluid nature of reality. It points to the fact that we are constantly in flux.

Try this contemplation:

  1. Try to find something about yourself that is unchanging, that you can point to and say “This, my friends, is me.” Point to it. Locate it. Where exactly are you in this sea of thoughts, feelings, ideas, stories, memories, and sensations?
  2. Now, try to find something about your loved one that is unchanging, that you can pinpoint, define, and locate what makes him or her, well, him or her.

In the Buddhist tradition, there are many teachings on emptiness. In this context, empty doesn’t particularly mean nothing, and it certainly doesn’t imply nihilism — the idea that nothing exists. Rather it points to the fluid nature of reality. It points to the fact that we are constantly in flux. The you of yesterday is not the same you of today. You have different feelings, thoughts, sensations, and many of your cells have died or have just been born.

It can be useful to touch into this truth when relating with others. It’s easy to show up in front of a person and treat them according to everything you already know about them: how they were yesterday, what they usually like, how they usually speak, what you think of them based on your experiences together. But what if you actually showed up in front of them with curiosity? What if you let go of any idea you had about how or who they will be? Showing up with inquisitiveness is true relationship. After all, the meaning of relationship is to relate. Relate with whatever is happening now, with whoever is happening now (for yourself or for another). It will do wonders for finding contentment in life.

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