Lady Waring: “And what would I be without [my anger] when it’s all that’s fueled me?”
U Ba Sein: “Emptied.”
Lady Waring: “Then I would be nothing.”
U Ba Sein: “On the other hand, when a gourd is hollowed out it becomes empty and is of great use to the world because of its emptiness.”
~Dorothy Gilman, Incident at Badamya
Do not fear emptiness, for that is where freedom is found.
A good definition of emptiness is the space between and around concept pairs. One of the significant delusions we must navigate if we inhabit a body and live in the earth realm is this duality of pairs, the binary universe. If we examine our experience, we can see that freedom exists in the space around or between pairs of opposites such as inner/outer, good/evil, peace/war, samsara/nibbana……and we will never find satisfaction by pursuing any of these.
Typically, we try to grasp peace, for example, without understanding that there cannot be peace without war, that war is a condition for peace. We cannot be happy without understanding that happiness cannot exist without unhappiness. This is the wheel of samsara from which we are trying to escape.
Emptiness is what you realize in the space between conditioned pairs. You fall into it and off the samsaric wheel when you walk the razor’s edge between dual pairs, grasping or pushing away neither. Kalu Rinpoche taught that
We live in illusion and the appearance of things.
We live in the world of concepts.
There is a reality; we are that reality.
When we understand this, we see we are nothing
And being nothing, we are everything.
Emptiness is the vastness of space itself: when we are empty, we contain all.