Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dharma Quotes: Practicing Compassion, Emptiness

Dharma Quote of the week from Snow Lion Publications.

Practicing compassion will bring about the recognition of emptiness as the true nature of the mind. When you practice virtuous actions of love and compassion on the relative level, you spontaneously realize the profound nature of emptiness, which is the absolute level. In turn, if you focus your meditation practice on emptiness, then your loving-kindness and compassion will spontaneously grow.

These two natures, the absolute and the relative, are not opposites; they always arise together. They have the same nature; they are inseparable like a fire and its heat or the sun and its light. Compassion and emptiness are not like two sides of a coin. Emptiness and compassion are not two separate elements joined together; they are always coexistent.

In Buddhism, emptiness does not mean the absence of apparent existence. Emptiness is not like a black hole or darkness, or like an empty house or an empty bottle. Emptiness is fullness and openness and flexibility. Because of emptiness it is possible for phenomena to function, for beings to see and hear, and for things to move and change. It is called emptiness because when we examine things we cannot find anything that substantially and solidly exists. There is nothing that has a truly existent nature. Everything we perceive appears through ever-changing causes and conditions, without an independent, solid basis. Although from a relative perspective things appear, they arise from emptiness and they dissolve into emptiness. All appearances are like water bubbles or the reflection of the moon in water.

~ From Opening to our Primordial Nature by Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, published by Snow Lion Publications.

The Dalai Lama Quote this week amplifies the Dharma Quote, explaining the meaning of emptiness.

Although there are as many categories of emptiness as there are types of phenomena, when you realize the emptiness of one specific phenomenon, you also realize the emptiness of all phenomena. The ultimate nature, or emptiness, of all phenomena is of equal taste and of the same undifferentiable nature. Even though the nature of emptiness of all phenomena is the same, and all the different aspects of phenomena, such as whether they are good or bad, or the way they change, arise from the sphere of emptiness, you should understand that emptiness cannot be found apart from the subject or the object.

Emptiness refers to an object's being free of intrinsic existence. Things depend on causes and conditions. This very dependence on causes and conditions signifies that phenomena lack independent, or intrinsic, existence. It also demonstrates how all the diverse aspects of things that we experience arise because they are by nature empty. When we talk about emptiness, we are not dealing with those different aspects, we are dealing with phenomena's ultimate reality.

~ From Stages of Meditation by the H.H. the Dalai Lama, trans. by Ven. Geshe Lobsang Jordhen, Losang Choephel Ganchenpa, and Jeremy Russell, published by Snow Lion Publications.

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