Sunyata, Mu, Interdependent Arising, Nothingness, The Void
Appearances and Insubstantiality, Buddhist Metaphysics

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Cloud Hands Blog     One Old Druid's Final Journey     Green Way Research


Research by Michael Garofalo
Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California



“I want to make myself an empty room:
Quiet whitewashed walls with slant sunshine
And a fresh breeze through open windows.
  Some days are extremely fluid, and all possible courses of action are equally attractive.  Rather than do something arbitrary, it is far better to empty oneself completely. Then the more subtle currents of life may be felt. One should avoid the mistake of random action.
  Arbitrary action will most likely be out of accord with the times.  It is artificial, a structure that we impose from our own thought. Such movements are invariably stilted and wooden; they do not have the fresh perfection of the natural.
    We do not have enough peace. Yet peace will never be attained by perpetual action. Stirred water never has the chance to settle clear. A tree buffeted by winds can never grow straight. Give up all unnecessary activity. Give up all arbitrary actions. Make yourself receptive. The peace that you seek shall be quickly at hand.”
-  Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations: Receptivity #248



“According to legend, the Buddha entrusted the one hundred thousand verses of these Sutras of Transcendental Wisdom to the hands of semi-divine, dragonlike sea dwellers, known as Nagas, who kept them safe until they were rediscovered by and Indian philosopher sage named Nagarjuna who lived in about the first century A.D.  Because he brought these highly treasured teachings about emptiness back from the Nagas, his name became Nagarjuna, literally translated as “charioteer of the Nagas.”  The original exponent of Madhyamika, the Great Middle Way doctrine of Buddhist logic and epistemology, Nagarjuna is considered the Buddhist philosopher of relativism.  Madhyamika reveals how it is that nothing exists independently.  Everything is conventionally, relatively real, arising through interdependent causes and effects.  This it is said that nothing exists forever in any ultimate sense.  This is true whether we are talking about a soul or a table.  Things just appear to be real and substantial, without being exactly so.  This is the mysterious, fertile intersection of the void of nothingness and everything we so vividly experience.”
-  Lama Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within, p 188  



The Heart Sutra

"When the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara
Was Discoursing in the Deep Prajna Paramita,
He Perceived That All Five Skandhas Are Empty.
Thus He Overcame All Ills and Suffering.
Oh, Sariputra, Form Does not Differ From the Void,
And the Void Does Not Differ From Form.
Form is Void and Void is Form;
The Same is True For Feelings,
Perceptions, Volitions and Consciousness.
Sariputra, the Characteristics of the
Voidness of All Dharmas
Are Non-Arising, Non-Ceasing, Non-Defiled,
Non-Pure, Non-Increasing, Non-Decreasing.
Therefore, in the Void There Are No Forms,
No Feelings, Perceptions, Volitions or Consciousness.
No Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue, Body or Mind;
No Form, Sound, Smell, Taste, Touch or Mind Object;
No Realm of the Eye,
Until We Come to No realm of Consciousness.
No ignorance and Also No Ending of Ignorance,
Until We Come to No Old Age and Death and
No Ending of Old Age and Death.
Also, There is No Truth of Suffering,
Of the Cause of Suffering,
Of the Cessation of Suffering, Nor of the Path.
There is No Wisdom, and There is No Attainment Whatsoever.
Because There is Nothing to Be Attained,
The Bodhisattva Relying On Prajna Paramita Has
No Obstruction in His Mind.
Because There is No Obstruction, He Has no Fear,
And He passes Far Beyond Confused Imagination.
And Reaches Ultimate Nirvana.
The Buddhas of the Past, Present and Future,
By Relying on Prajna Paramita
Have Attained Supreme Enlightenment.
Therefore, the Prajna Paramita is the Great Magic Spell,
The Spell of Illumination, the Supreme Spell,
Which Can Truly Protect One From All Suffering Without Fail.
Therefore He Uttered the Spell of Prajnaparmita,
Saying 'Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha.' "

- The Heart Sutra of Buddhism

Audio version of the Heart Sutra; a reading by Michael P. Garofalo.

The Heart Sutra, Buddhist Scripture, circa 200 CE  (PDF Version)





"When I unroll my yoga mat and carefully place it on the floor, I often briefly reflect on the fact that this yoga mat has created a sacred space.  The mat has outlined a spiritual domain, marked the Four Magickal Quarters, hallowed out an empty space for action.  Could we stand tall and strong like The Warrior without this freedom of Nothing in Our Way?  Without this potent emptiness how could we move to align with the Divine? 

My Taijiquan practice area is also a wide empty space.  A clear space for flowing movements with a clear mind.  An uncluttered domain for cultivating an uncluttered mind.  Nothing is essential here for doing something of real value. 

The whole topic of Emptiness (Sunyata, Mu, the Void, Inter-Dependent Arising, impermanence, etc.) leads us into thoughts and insights about consciousness, knowing, and metaphysics. The Heart Sutra is a classic Buddhist scripture that reflects on the emptiness at the core of all beings and that is a path for true understanding.  This understanding along with the Four Immeasurables (Love, Compassion, Joy and Impartiality), the Ten Paramitas, and Three Treasures (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) provide us with a wide path for going beyond, far beyond, to the Other Shore.

Our simple yoga mats, like a beautiful window or door, can open us up and out to energizing possibilities, allow us to play with new experiences, allow us to see in new ways, grant us a place for becoming.  Emptiness creates the ground for what is to emerge, from the holy heart of creation.  Emptiness is receptive and giving at the same time.  So, today, just lay your mat down, enter the Dragon's Gate of Emptiness, sit, and savor Nothing."  
-  Michael Garofalo, The Empty Mat








Bibliography, Links, Resources

Emptiness, Sunyata, Interdependent Arising
Appearances and Insubstantiality, Buddhist Metaphysics


Cloud Hands Blog

The Heart Sutra, Buddhist Scripture, circa 200 CE  (PDF Version)

The Heart Sutra with Audio Version

One Old Druid's Final Journal: Notebooks of the Librarian of Gushen Grove 

Spirituality and Nature 

Zen Poetry







Cloud Hands Blog

The Spirit of Gardening

Months and Seasons 

Ripening Peaches: Daoist Studies and Practices 

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons

Nature Mysticism  

Opening the Four Gates

Green Way Research


Send Email to Mike Garofalo

The contents of this webpage were first published on the Internet on September 6, 2012.

This webpage was last modified or updated on September 7, 2012.