Emptiness and a Wet Towel!

Your self-image has been massaged through self-cherishing, and this has caused you to become confused as to how you actually exist. It is based upon false values because, for example, you could be shaken in your body/mind conditioning by simply choosing the wrong garment from your closet and feel awful the whole day! This seem to happen more in women, but I am sure there are many men who are like that too, "Oh, this tie just makes me look fat!"

Most feelings of self-consciousness or shyness are related to self-cherishing even though it might appear to be a lack of self-cherishing by the appearance of a kind of false humility. This is not a genuine humility based in equanimity but actually enhances and encourages destructive behavior with little hope of resolving the dilemma by a false dynamic. This is because it mimics spirituality or holiness and is a trick of the self-cherishing mind to avoid losing its power.

Whether we arrive from false humility or false sense of overt power we need to decrease self-absorption and eventually become natural and receptive to change. In this higher development change, once we remove scholarly fascination of words, there is not much distinction between elimination of self-cherishing and the nature of emptiness. I hope, in the future, there will be large numbers of dedicated people who, from a very young age, actively benefit others based upon the lack of inherent existence of this world. This world and its inhabitants have a wonderful place for learning, change, and growth. The method to overcome all poor strategies is to substitute in place of self-cherishing, to cherish others.

Regarding the other element, emptiness, the problem is not that phenomena are empty of inherent existence by nature. The problem is the force of grasping onto an innate view that takes the illusory changeable to be real, solid, and permanent. This grasping consumes much of the available life force that could be channeled into better strategies. However, an unskillful, confused meditator might make strange changes in their perceptions in order to overcome the view of solidity of the world and now expects emptiness to be something that it cannot provide.

Let’s say it has been raining and there are wet clothes and towels on the clothesline. Yogi Soso, having a desire to drink milk, goes to the clothesline, sticks a corner of one of those very wet, hanging towels in his mouth and sucks on it to get milk while gazing at the blue sky and pretty clouds. Like that, perhaps you want something from spiritual practice called emptiness to provide something for you that it is not possible to give or receive. It is exactly a wet towel! You cannot get milk from a wet towel, and not only can you not get it, that would be disgusting! It is disgusting!

Others now come to watch out of concern for Yogi Soso and might ask, "What are you doing Yogi? You are sucking on a wet towel!" “Oh contraire, you foolish people, I am engrossed in the practice of emptiness.” Therefore, we need to develop a studied receptivity to the destruction of incorrect views so that we would never, ever again find a wet towel to be something suitable to suck!

To be fair to Yogi we understand how these misunderstandings can happen. There is a subtle distinction between, "I have self cherishing, and everything is empty, so it does not matter…” or "I am feeling self cherishing, but everything is empty, and even my self cherishing is empty, and so it is okay and I relax a bit," and then you bring your self cherishing into a place that is tolerable. We do this so that we do not frighten ourselves by forcing change too soon. However, most practitioners not challenge themselves enough to experience the boundary of what the mind is not yet prepared to understand. Remaining too relaxed is not correct or too tight as our poor Yogi. Quoting the Buddha “Keep the strings of the lute not too tight or too loose”…..

Comments

  1. Hmmm...I will have to think about that one for a while - the absurdity of this confusion is amazing! Wonderful mental picture though...laughing...

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