Consider the figure as a picture of the relations between Forms and Emptiness. Books on this has never pictures in them to go with the message which to me is surprising. Well, there’s always the Bodhi Tree, the Mountain and the River and whatnot, but they all say the same thing;
-This Is The Truth, This Is Reality, Open Your Eyes And Realize That The Answers To All Of Your Questions Are As Simple As This. Fair enough, but I’m trying to paint a picture of the actual confusion that makes me blind and keeps me asleep. Naturally this will not be beautiful at all. It’s not a beautiful thing to paint. It’s abstract, heady, rational and by default confusing. I find it impossible to paint a not-confusing picture of confusion, so here we go.
To be Form there only need to be One Form. There would be no one to recognize it so in essence it would be unknown. Therfore we can leave that hypothetical argument aside. It’s irrelevant.
To be unconscious Forms there need to be at least two of them and there need to be Emptiness in-between. In fact, there could not be two forms without some space in-between.
To be self-consious Form, which is the Form you and I are most interested in, there need to be one Form that consider itself differentiated from other Forms. As with unconscious Form, we need also Emptiness.
So, in the picture You are the red dot and Ground is the black circle. In reality Other Form is not one circle but millions because You are constantly encountering a lot of Forms simultaneously (chair, animal, sun rays, airwaves etc). The circle is better thought of as a ball of threads/forms that swirls around you. Sometimes you bounce onto the ball, sometimes the ball contracts and bounce on you. There’s a constant dynamic in this relation and it can’t be avoided. You are 24/7 100% in relation to other form whether you like it or not.
Allright then, our mind can only deal with differentiation, duality that is. We cannot think of Emptiness as a Form. Our mind tells us that Emptiness is defined by the abscence of Form. It is Nothing. So from a minds perspective there’s no point in looking into Emptiness. It will find Nothing. So if you’re not looking for anything take a look at Emptiness, right?
Well, when meditating we’re looking for something, so we go elsewhere. We’re looking for our True Self. Ok, says mind, then we’ll look at what is You and compare it to what is Not You. That’s the only thing your mind can do, and it is pretty good at it.
Problem is that the mind can only find the Formal aspect of You and that’s not the whole picture. As we’ve seen, the red dot can only exist when together with Other Form and Emptiness. The missing part of your True Self cannot be found within yourself and definitely not inside Other Form. It has to be within the empty space that makes different Forms possible. So mind has to be dismissed when searching for the missing part. It cannot relate to Nothing. So how do we look? The answer is; we don’t! If the only way to consciously look at reality is by using our mind, then we cannot find any part of reality that resides in Emptiness.
This is where the Zen concept of No-Mind come into play. It sounds stupid, but in this perspective it is totally rational. When we come to this point, it is best to say – “Nevermind” to our mind.
But we must be careful not to jump to conclusions here. When we realize that the True Self is not to be found in our physical form with all it’s content of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, memory and awareness, we might think – Oh well, my True Self is Emptiness then. Very not so! If we do that, we forget that we’ve already found a big part of what is our True Self, our physical Form that is. Going back to the picture, if no red dot then there’s no one to conclude – I am Emptiness. So we have to embrace that part of True Self which is Form and then move on with it. There’s no escape from the reality of Form. Therefore there’s no point in trying to deny it. If you look for your True Self without your Form (which in practice is impossible), you’ll only find fragments of the self bouncing in Emptiness. How sad.
So we take our My Form on a mindless tour around the empty space between that and other forms. It is there we can find the missing pieces. Our mind cannot find them because it sees nothing in Emptiness. They have to be experienced mindlessly so to speak. Therefore, those parts of True Self cannot be talked about directly. That would be “minding” them and as soon as that happens, they’re gone. Remember, mind can only grasp Form.
To sum it up; True Self is partially Form, but not entierly so. It isn’t Emptiness either because Emptiness is …well, “empty”. Rather, my True Self is My Form plus what happens in the space of Emptiness when My Form interacts with Other Form. That means, if there’s any sense in it, impermanence is of two distinct qualities. One obvious where My Form is in constant decay, and one less obvious. The slippery one is to be found in Emptiness where part of my True Self is in constant change due to the dynamics in relations between Forms. That part is in every moment both created and lost and thus impermanent in a circular fashion. In that perspective it would be possible to say that my True Self is in constant decay as well as constantly reborn and killed. You are the one walking the ground as well as the walking itself, and the walking is in itself made up of you and the Ground. Without this relation between you – ground there would only be Emptiness. But instead of Emptiness there is a relation in action and that relation contains equal parts of your form and the ground’s form. Part of the True Ground is thereby found in part of your True Self. Those parts are found within Emptiness, but they are not Emptiness. They are Oneness residing within Emptiness but inherently empty without the duality of different forms.
That is the Ultimate Reality.
If all this seems a load of BS, don’t blame me.
You did it.