Reversals and the Middle Way


When I read Ordinary Extraordinary’s excellent post on emptiness, I was reminded of how well reversals fit in with the Buddhist Middle Way. They both reflect the same insight, so it is not surprising: any story is only a relative truth, and each of its reversals have truths to it as well. And, when they all cancel each other out, we can taste the inherent neutrality of any situation… emptiness dancing, God’s will, God expressing, exploring and experiencing itself.

There is a self: Yes. (a) There is indeed the appearance of an individual human self and soul, as a holon in a much larger holarcy. Through an overlay of stories, we can differentiate within the world of form, split it up freely in any size and shape, and individuals are one of the things we can differentiate out. And (b) there is a Self… as Big Mind, Brahman, Tao… The Self absent of an Other, not any more or less identified with any aspect of the field of awake emptiness and form.

There is no self: Yes. (a1) Within the seamless world of form, there is no separate self. We can differentiate out an individual human self and soul within this seamless world, but there are no absolute boundaries there. Any boundaries come from stories alone. And (a2) all forms are no other than the brilliantly clear and awake emptiness itself, which is inherently absent of any separate self… no boundaries, no beginning, no end, timeless, spaceless, allowing any and all forms… And finally, (b) there is no Self. Any self requires an Other, an in the absence of an Other there is no Self either.

There is an I: Yes. (a) When there is an identification with one region of form, the sense of I is placed there, making the rest of the world of form (and the rest of Existence) appear as Other. This creates the appearance of a separate I. (b) There is an I, as the awake emptiness and form itself, as Big Mind, Brahman, Tao… This is the I without an Other. It is the same I as under (a), but now clearly realized to have no Other, and not more or less identified with any aspect of the field (of awake emptiness and form) than any other.

There is no I: Yes. (a) There is no separate I anywhere, no I with an Other. Only the appearance of it, when there is a belief in the story of a separate I (self), and the field is split into the appearance of I and Other. (b) There is no I even as the I without an Other, because without an Other, no I either. There is only what is… the field of awake emptiness and form, already and inherently absent of any center and any separate self or I.

None of these stories are absolutely true, yet they are all relative truths… each with a grain of truth in them. Together, they fill out the picture within the realm of stories, and they also point to that which is inherently free from (and prior to) stories.

Aspects of emptiness


Integral Options Cafe’s speedlinking for yesterday linked to a post on emptiness. Before I read it, here is what comes up for me on the topic.

Emptiness (shunyata) can be used in several different, although relatively closely related, ways…

  • As the Ground, the void everything arises from, within, and as.
  • As awake emptiness and form, Big Mind… which is emptiness dancing as form
  • As what is being inherently empty of any separate self, anywhere. It is just one field of awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate self… there is doing, but no doer.
    1. It is empty of separate self because it is emptiness dancing. (The void is just the void, no separate self there, not even when form is included).
    2. And it is empty of any separate self even within form. The world of form is a seamless whole. Everything happening has infinite causes and infinite effects. It is the local manifestations of the movements of the whole.
  • And finally, as absent of beliefs. Empty of believing in the stories of I and a particular identity. Empty of taking relative truths (stories, thoughts, maps, frameworks) as absolute.

I am sure there are other forms of emptiness here, but these seem to be the main ones.

And the funny thing is that these are not intellectual fabrications. It is not something thought out (although it can be thought out, and it can make sense, to some extent, within the realm of thought).

It not only comes from what is alive in immediate experience, but what is alive in immediate experience for all of us… right here now. If we look, investigate for ourselves… using pointers from the Big Mind process, headless experiments, or other forms of inquiry.


Separate self


Some of the ways there is, and is not, a separate self…

Finding ourselves as emptiness, there is an absence of a separate self… and anything else for that matter. The void is void.

Finding ourselves as awake emptiness and form, and form as no other than awake emptiness itself, there is also an absence of a separate self. There is just one field of awake emptiness and form, with no more or less identification with any part of it. This human self senses, thinks, acts in the world, but there is only the doing and no doer there. It all happens on its own, as part of the field.

Within form, there is also no separate self. There is just a seamless field of form, with infinite causes and infinite effects to anything happening locally… including anything happening to, within and as this particular human self.

And finally, within form, there is a separate self. This human self exists within the world of form. It is a whole as well as a part of a much larger whole. It is a holon in a holarchy. And in that sense, there is a separate self, or rather a separate individual living, relating and behaving in the world.

It is just that this separate self is not really separate from the wider world of form, nor is there a local doer there, nor is it anything else than emptiness itself.

All together, there is emptiness awake to itself and the inherent absence of a separate self in anything. There is the seamless whole of the world of form, with everything local having infinite causes and effects. And there is also the differentiation of this human individual from the wider world, allowing it to function in the world with a particular identity (an identity used for differentiation only, seen as only a relative, utilitarian, limited and temporary, truth.)