“Empty Knowing’s” or Experience?

“If you don’t comprehend the meaning by making it yours, then you throw the most valuable resource you have in the trash, your time.” -Ama Ma

I facilitated a group on inquiry yesterday, the focus was on Nothingness and Emptiness, it took a strange direction. One of the monks had pointed out that so many of the phrases used and encouragements given are empty of any meaning. So, having just spent a lot of time listening to what she was pointing towards, we did inquiry into the words and meaning themselves.

What does

“The ground of being,” mean?”

“The genuine self,” mean?,

“A Heart of Compassion”, mean?

“The Inner Self,” mean?

“Filled with Compassion”, mean?

“Knowing”, mean?

“Heart that’s pure”, mean?

“Wisdom of the genuine self” mean? (??????????????????????????????? This sounds so cool, I really want to access the wisdom of this self, whoever it is. I hope it’s whoever I thought I was becoming thirty years ago, I must meet this self!)

We ran over, and over, and over these phrases, diving as deeply as we possibly could. Yet, in the end, after tearing these phrases apart, could find NOTHING.

Often people who deliver these concepts are well meaning, they were taught to use these lofty sounding words, they simply haven’t done the inquiry to dive deeply into their own belief’s.

So why do we listen to these empty phrases? Why would anyone encourage anyone else to engage with any of these Projections? Does a person who encourages us to “Cultivate the wisdom or the genuine self” actually know what their talking about? If I asked them if that’s what they do, would they say yes?

And could they explain where this genuine self is hiding when it’s not in attention, manifested by meaningless words? Some other magical me who mimics a mountain mystic during the evening news when I see the utter chaos, greed, and meaningless wars we humans seem to thrive on that shred my very being emotionally? I have never more than a few months go by without us being involved in killing somewhere. How totally sad and meaningless. Or another argument with family or a loved one explodes and I’m grasping for that “heart of knowing” that’s must be in there somewhere. After all, someone said so.

It’s about listening. The Eightfold perspective on speaking and listening. How am I listening? Or am I just floating away, being buoyed by another series of useless meaningless words and phrases? Listening more to my streaming thoughts than my experience. For me, asking myself, “what does that mean” is a vital part of listening. (I notice I do a lot of passive listening, that’s when my attention is on the streaming thoughts more than on what’s being said, I’m not in attention to anything else but conditioned personality in this mode, despite believing I’m listening.)

In Ch’an it’s known as “Empty Knowing.”

Pay Attention to what enters the stream of thought. It can become your reality, and if your reality relies on accessing that “genuine self” who rests in that “ground of being” then I wish you well.

The mala beads sit next to the coffee, little tiny suns shine as reflections of these electric times. There is a stillness, and the whiteness of the snow illuminates a deer in the neighbor’s yard. There is a fragrance of coffee and vanilla that tickles a thought that never appears. That seems genuine enough this morning, just this, just now.

Bryan Wagner

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