Emptiness ain’t nothing to sneeze at in Buddhism. According to Guy Armstrong, who teaches at the Insight Meditation Center, Spirit Rock, and lots of other places in the States and around the world, emptiness is not the same as nothingness. One of my sangha members at the Philadelphia Meditation Center, who also is a regular in PMC’s book group, clued me into a book by Armstrong that I’ve just started: Emptiness: A Practical Guide for Meditators. According to Armstrong, “…the insights pointed to by emptiness are deeply liberating and bring great happiness.”
My own take comes from seeing everything as a process. The default way of seeing the world is as a separate world of objects, of things external to ourselves. Our language is based on this delusion. Actually, we and everything in our universe are all phenomena, inextricably intertwined, all continually changing. We see a chair, for instance, as a stable object, unwavering and solid. But that chair didn’t always exist. It was constructed from wood, glue, and other components, all of which had different origins. Eventually, the chair will no longer exist. Everything, from ourselves, to the stars and galaxies, to the tiniest bacterium, to the subatomic components of all matter and energy, is impermanent.
Everything is empty of essence. This understanding is not easily expressed, but can lead to a perspective that frees us from the limitations we impose on existence. On rare occasion, I’ve been able to glimpse this truth.
Hopefully, Armstrong’s book will help me express this mystery more cogently and I’ll try again in a future posting.
In the meantime,”Dharma Buns” is a characteristically silly way of expressing notions of emptiness, in the form of a kind of play.
But is it art? Next time, I hope to point to some comics that strive to be art.
“Dharma Buns” will be included in a series of Pause & Reflect Comics which will feature a continuing story about an extraterrestrial’s encounter with the Dharma. Check back for updates.
Multiverse Comics and Stories is a 100+-page, full-color comic book I finished this year. The print version is available from Amazon.com here>>
You can get a low-cost, but high-quality digital version of the same comic from comiXology, here>