Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Emptiness and Compassion

“Emptiness and compassion are completely intertwined. The relationship between them has been compared to that of the flame and the light or the tree and the leaves. Activity in the world is not truly enlightened unless it springs from the awareness that, in the absolute sense, nothing is being done or needs be done. Yet at the same time the awakened heart feels as its own the suffering of all who not yet awakened” ...... 'Luminous Emptiness’ by Francesca Fremantle

In the symbolism of Vajrayana, emptiness and wisdom are regarded as the female principle of enlightenment, inseparably united with the masculine principle of compassion and skilful means or method. We need to understand why emptiness is clubbed with wisdom and assigned a feminine creative principle. Emptiness is the state of non-attachment that can only be realized through a process of dismantling the ego created boundaries. The mind is so conditioned that ego isolation becomes the accepted norm in our relationships to all created entities. This leads to development of attachments as a process of ego affirmation. A process of dismantling the ego can only take place through wisdom which can be acquired through various spiritual practices. Vajrayana meditation called deity-yoga, which is intimately connected with the visualization of the mandala, is a key tool in this process. At the root of this deity-yoga practice is the unification of blissful experiences with a single-pointed concentration of mind on the emptiness of all things, known as the indivisible union of bliss and emptiness. This profound meaning of the Vajrayana path is portrayed explicitly in the complex iconography of the Tibetan Buddhist world, within which mandalas occupy a vital place. The Vajrayana meditation also includes sophisticated techniques involving the utilization of certain aspects of the human physiology such as channels, chakras (energy centres) and the vital energies that flow within them.


Compassion is not just a feeling of pity or empathy, but an active force, a fundamental energy that is ceaselessly working to remove the cause of suffering. It cannot help arising, because in the realization of emptiness there are no boundaries between oneself and others. Compassion is the absolute sensitivity, unbiased love and limitless concern for all that is in existence. Compassion cannot remain in isolation as true compassion always and inherently implies a course of action. This is the reason a male principle is attached to compassion and skilful means or method of its employment as it always is related to a committed action.
Now we can understand how the two fundamental aspects of Buddhist philosophy of emptiness and compassion are inseparably connected. Emptiness and the associated wisdom of realization is the essence that gives birth to awakening of the energy of compassion and its deployment in our lives.
The Buddha always insisted on the inseparability of human existence from the world of action. We are created to be creatures of this world. A state of bliss is not to be achieved through abandoning the world or abandoning oneself as is often commonly believed and erroneously taught, but through transforming our perception of both - transforming this perception slowly, continuously, incrementally and very thoroughly. This is the awakening that Buddha taught.


Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche says “Meditating on emptiness cuts the root of existence. Love and compassion free you from the extreme of peace, of clinging to a one-sided, static kind of peace that is only for one's own benefit. The union of compassion and the wisdom realizing emptiness results in the union of skilful means and wisdom in a way that is stuck in neither the cycle of existence nor in a one-sided selfish kind of peace. Bringing these two, wisdom and skilful means, together in this way is a practice that makes us very fortunate. If we can do that, that is what it means to be lucky.”

Hope we are the lucky ones who can realize this great truth.

Love to you all

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