Four ways we can recognize emptiness…
I can recognize emptiness of the world and not of myself. I can recognize emptiness of myself and not the world. I can recognize neither. Or I can recognize both.
This comes up since my wife now seem to realize (or at least taste) the emptiness of self but not of the world. And for me, it is reverse. I clearly realize emptiness of the world but still get caught up in some stories and emotional attachments. (Although when I look, it is easy to notice the emptiness of those as well.)
Of course, the two are not only not separate, they are really the same in several ways. The world and (my human) self both arise as content of experience. And if the emptiness of world/self is not clearly recognized, it just means that one or more stories are still taken as true.
Looked at this way, the distinction between emptiness of self and world doesn’t make any sense. It is a false distinction, as all distinctions are. But the distinction is also sometimes helpful, since it does reflect an experience we sometimes have of “getting” the emptiness of one or the other, but not both.
Then there is the question: what does “emptiness” refer to?
Emptiness has several aspects. The most obvious one is an immediate recognition of all form as – quite literally – empty. Nothing appearing as something. Ephemeral. Insubstantial. Appearances only. Awareness itself taking these forms.
Also, it can mean an absence of any separate I, everything – including this human self – is empty of a separate I. The middle man, the doer, is revealed and recognized as quite literally imaginary. Imagined by our mental field, and made to appear very real and substantial when we don’t recognize it as imagined.