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Dhamma Letter No. 63
Q&A 18: Emptiness(空, Suñña)
A: When practicing samatha meditation, which holds one object, it leads to calmness and cuts off the mind’s thinking process.
In this way, having an object can temporarily and potentially lead to forgetting one's feelings, memories of the past, the present, or worries of the future.
If you were in a difficult situation at the time of Samatha practice, you may think that the results obtained through such practices are good results. For the time being, one will not be swayed by any emotions, so one may have the illusion that one has reached a certain level along the path. However, such a state does not last forever, and if some condition arises, one must suffer the consequences in the next life, even if not in this life (Dhamma letter No. 33, No 34, No 35) because the underlying root of the difficult situation has not been noticed as it really is.
It is said that many ancient meditators experienced the state of nirvana or the state of emptiness in any absolute state experienced through meditation. Such a Nirvana is regarded as a conceptual experience as knowledge and is called 'Emptiness'.
Already, 'emptiness in an absolute state' is just a concept, not the emptiness the Buddha speaks of in early Buddhism. They use the same word, but the actual meaning is different.
As stated in Dhamma Letter No. 57, Nirvana (Nibbana) is a state in which three things are imminent at the same time:
no object/imagination, and
In other words, the state of emptiness can be checked with these other expressions with no volition (Asankara) and no conditions.
The problem for the meditators who say they have had such experiences is that they can recognize that it is still a conceptual emptiness.
For more understanding, I quote below:
He regards nirvana as nirvana, and after he regards nirvana as nirvana,
Thinking of nirvana, thinking in nirvana, thinking from nirvana,
One thinks that 'nirvana is mine',
One is happy about nirvana.
For what reason?
Because he does not know Nirvana (Nibbana).
- Majjhima Nikaya 1
If one knows Nibbana, it becomes like the wind that doesn't get caught in the net.
Like a lotus flower that doesn't get dirty in the mud.
In the next Dhamma Letters, we will discuss specific practices for 'no defilements', which is the state of nirvana(nibbana).
May you develop your concentration and insight through meditation!
May you be peaceful and happy!
May all practice well for Magga (道, the path of enlightenment) and Phala (果, the fruit of enlightenment)!
Edited by Euna Bonovich
If you have any questions related to dhamma & meditation, please feel free to ask. You can reach Ayya Kosalla directly at Bhikkhuni.Kosalla@gmail.com.
법에 대한 질문이 있으신 분은 위의 이메일 주소로 질문을 남겨주세요.
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The Korean Dhamma Letter is here 담마레터.
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Buddha Sāsanaṁ Ciraṁ Tiṭṭhatu!
May the Buddha’s teachings last a long time!
Bhavatu Sabba Sotiṁ ca Maṅgalaṁ ca!!
May everyone be led on the path of peace and blessing!!
Sādhu Sādhu Sādhu !