Art of Emptiness

Many different viewpoints, concepts and opinions exist around why we are here on earth. For Christians, God the supreme being is the very reason we exist. For Hindus it relates to Karma and how we lived in our past lives. It’s pretty much the same in Islam & Buddhism too.

According to Buddhist philosophy & Science there are two main factors –  Emptiness & Interdependence. Nothing and nobody exists in the way we perceive it.  Here’s an example to consider;

In a room there’s a wooden coffee table. We know it’s a coffee table because it’s got four legs, a square wooden top & it’s made of wood – right?  We can walk around it, and from all angles we can pretty much say it’s a coffee table.

Now consider this…..

The next day you enter the room and the coffee table is in pieces on the floor. All 4 legs scattered around, the base somewhere else – just a mishmash of wood and screws. All different parts of the thing we call a ‘coffee table’ but not one of them identifies within itself as a coffee table. The table is what we perceive it to be, when all the parts are put together to create something we recognise. 

And now it gets even more interesting……

Each individual part of this thing we call a coffee table, is made up of several different components of its own.

Wood is one component & we know wood comes from trees. 

But for that tree to exist, it needs the right weather conditions & a seed to be planted by a human or at least an animal of some kind. 

But that human or animal also needs to be born in order to exist in the first place. So there’s parents too, who also needed to be born and so on. 

So you see…….. What started off as a simple coffee table, suddenly doesn’t exist at all in the form we first thought it did.

Although it seems complicated, the reality is very simple. Nothing exists independently in the world. There is nothing at all, whether it’s human, phenomena, material, plant or animal that exists independently of other factors. But all these different factors come together in an illusion, an illusion we perceive as absolute reality. 

This according to Buddhism, is why people suffer so much with stress, anxiety & other mental health problems.  We look at a problem and see it as massive, something big enough to ruin our lives.

When we apply the coffee table concept to the human body or to situations & experiences, it’s the same thing. We can’t actually pinpoint the problem as a single entity.

So here’s the big question…….

If nothing or nobody exists in the way we perceive it…..why do we get so hung up on things?  

According to Buddhism it’s because the mind is constantly racing and attaching itself to negative beliefs, concepts and ideas. The mind is a sense organ and not something we can see or feel.

We know this is true, because if we got even the cleverest surgeon In the world to open up our skull, they would never be able to locate anything resembling the mind. Yet it’s the mind that causes most of our problems.

This is why Mindfulness is so beneficial as it brings the mind back home. Home to a place of peace, tranquility & comfort. 

Only when the mind enters this space, can it begin to unravel itself and make sense of things. This is why bringing the mind into the present moment is key to good mental health. 

                   Gain control of your mind before it gains control of you.

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