what is emptiness? an everyday example of laundry


simple words for confusing times

An Everyday Example Of Laundry

I’ll give you another example of Emptiness, one you can remember often. This is important, because grasping Emptiness often eludes us (pun intended). It helps to find regular reminders, and come up with your own examples.

Let’s assume you have a plaid cotton shirt. Let’s say it’s your favorite shirt, so you wear it often. Your friends know it’s your favorite, and everyone else knows it’s a shirt, and many of those people might know it’s made of cotton.

You can’t bear the thought that someday that cotton shirt will become so worn that you’ll discard it. But every time you put it on, it leaves a little lint on your body. And if you sweat on it, a little of your body gets left on the shirt. So then, is it still your favorite plaid cotton shirt?

Or is it you and your favorite plaid cotton shirt?

Or is it just empty?

Let’s say you sweat on the shirt enough that you decide it needs cleaning. You put it in the laundry, where it loses more lint, and gains water and detergent and fragrance. Where is the shirt now? Now let’s say you put it through the dryer, and when it’s done, you retrieve what still functions as your favorite plaid cotton shirt, and you go on to wear it again and again.

But, as you clean the dryer lint screen, you notice that the lint is the same color as your shirt. Ultimately, where is the favorite plaid cotton shirt that until now existed independently of everything else?

It cannot be found, and never truly existed.

Now you can think of Emptiness every time you do your laundry, or put on your favorite shirt.

Whenever something troubles you, try to think of ways in which it is Empty. Maybe it’s your boss, or bad traffic (try to find the car that started the bad traffic and you’ll find the Emptiness of the bad traffic), or the weather, or your partner (or lack of partner).

You can use everything as an example, because everything is Empty. Start by indentifying the object. Then try to find its parts. Then try to find the parts of the parts. Take it all the way down to the molecules and atoms, if you like.

But please remember that even images of electrons are conventions, representations…

Please also do take breaks. Don’t exhaust yourself through contemplating Emptiness. Go out and enjoy yourself. Then, when you are ready for your next round of Emptiness contemplation, reflect on what you enjoyed.

Try to find a single form of pleasure that exists by itself and separately from everything else. If it’s separate, what is it separate from?

As you accustom yourself to looking at and for Emptiness, it will become familiar to you, so that the looking won’t seem exhausting. Eventually it will become a constant state of awareness, and you will have realized Emptiness.

The Great Bliss comes as you start to notice Emptiness in everything. You may feel like a kid in a candy shop when this starts to happen.

Whether you burst out giggling is entirely up to you… It’s also up to you whether you remember the rules of convention, and whether or not you’re still interested in following them.


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