Contemplating Emptiness

A very beautiful meditation is called “contemplating emptiness” (no-thing-ness/boundlessness/openness).

According to Chan master Sheng Yen, one simply allows the attention to fall on any object–a thought, a physical sensation, a perception, or an emotion–and then passes on, letting it gently go. Simply, one dwells in awareness, where awareness is “behind” and “beyond” agile attention.

In this way, each phenomenal arising is seen, by awareness, to arise and fall. Just so one learns, as Chuang Tzu would say, to “roam with the ten thousand things.”

It might not be clear to you yet why this meditation is beautiful. Here’s why:

Once you see that your mind does not flow along with the ten thousand things but rather is jammed and gunked up (see how those thought loops? feel the emotional reactivity sometimes in the form of “tidal waves”?), you might have greater appreciation for its beauty.

And if, after years or decades of skillful, proper meditation, you find that your experience seamlessly flows along without being grabbed onto and then without being held onto, you will see, quite naturally, that contemplating emptiness is nothing but–how amusing is this!–a very brief description of your actual life. This is just how it is for you.

And so, for the one with a lot of gunk and therefore seemingly endless dis-ease, this meditation may seem quite difficult, if not impossible. And for the one who has been establishing herself in the seat of Reality, this contemplation is as easy as easy could be.

Look to the latter: she is us before we know it.