Comment from Gendo
“The extent of mind is vast as space, without bounds….The subtle nature of people in the world is originally empty, with nothing that can be grasped." (Huineng, The Platform Sutra)
The third of six Buddhist ‘paramitas’ (transportation across life’s turbulence), is sometimes translated as ‘inclusiveness.’ We generally think of inclusiveness as openness to other people – like the Pilgrims inviting the native tribes to Thanksgiving. But I am suggesting a broader meaning. In a time of ‘globalization,’ we learn again the ancient truth that the earth itself, and all who live here, are who “I am.” Huineng goes on to include all of space. The whole universe is implied by our existence!
The entire universe is implicit in the awareness that is mind. Inclusiveness, in this sense, is what we call ‘mindfulness,’ or, as I prefer, ‘fullness of mind.’ Huineng equates fullness of mind with ‘emptiness’, empty of separate identity.” In other words, emptiness is all inclusive.
I don’t think such ideas mean much unless we can relate them to everyday experience. Emptiness and inclusiveness are not some doctrine dictating appropriate behavior. In my mind they are simply the way things are, a natural, will-less activity, so ordinary it escapes notice; which is why ‘waking up’ is necessary.
Buddhism is after all, concerned with the ordinary experience of suffering and its resolution. ‘Emptiness’ is another way of talking about the resolution of suffering.
Buddhism identifies four stages, or ‘truths’ of suffering. The first is acknowledging suffering. Suffering can be frightening and we try to avoid it. But avoidance only confirms its power. The path to resolving suffering must go through suffering itself!
Acknowledging suffering leads to a second truth: 'causes.' Suffering is holding on to something, some irretrievable loss, a person or circumstance, a death or destruction that you weep for something or someone lost, perhaps fully appreciating them for the first time. Grief uncovers some deeply held experience, an 'attachment.'
The third truth of suffering is ‘letting go,’ or not clinging. If noticing grief leads to awareness of attachment, then attachment leads to the paradox that grief (loss) and joy (clinging) are happening together. Hidden in grief is some joyful recollection. Zen Buddhism offers the perspective that minus (loss) and plus (clinging) meet and become zero (emptiness), experienced as equinimity.
The fourth Buddhist truth of suffering is ‘the path,’ or ‘moving on,’ leaving the stuck place of suffering to act with insight into the dynamic nature of grief and joy. This is ‘fullness of mind,’ the 'emptiness' personified as ‘true’ self’ or 'Buddha nature', the ultimate inclusiveness.