Friday, April 19, 2013

Drawer # 4.4: Emptiness

I had a post ready to go for today but the bombings at the Boston Marathon have put me in a darker frame of mind.

By weird synchronicity, i.e. without my planning, Drawer 4.4 remained empty. The number 4 in Mandarin Chinese, si 四, is a homophone for the character si 死, meaning to die or to be dead. So like our number 13, it's a bad luck number...& doubled, like in this, it's super inauspicious for the superstitious. Drawer 4.4 is also, as it turns out, the dead center of the cabinet.

Although I didn't plan its position, I did plan its emptiness. In the treasure hunt of searching through the drawers I wanted moments of...maybe disappointment... or maybe stillness. Or of emptiness, in the way that I, at this moment, understand the Buddhist concept of sunyata.

Writes Buddhist psychologist and teacher, Jack Kornfield in A Path with Heart

True emptiness is not empty, but contains all things. The mysterious and pregnant void creates and reflects all possibilities. From it arises our individuality, which can be discovered and developed, although never possessed or fixed.

Here's the story that embodies the idea for me: He-Whom-I'm-Trailing, recently arrived from Shanghai & full of Christmas dinner, falls asleep sitting on the sofa. My aunt, whose sofa it is, is thrilled as it signals to her that he feels fully at ease in her house. My aunt's sister, my mother, is mostly keeping to herself the fact that she's a little appalled by what seems to her like anti-social behavior. For my part, I know that He-Whom-I'm-Trailing is in that state of jet lag where you can be in standing in platform heels at the Glamour Bar on a window ledge above the Huangpu River, watching the burlesque show at their tenth anniversary party & still fall asleep.

[V]oidness does not mean nothingness, but rather that all things lack intrinsic reality, intrinsic objectivity, intrinsic identity or intrinsic referentiality. Lacking such static essence or substance does not make them not exist —- it makes them thoroughly relative.
                                                                                       Foreword of Mother of the Buddhas by Lex Hixon

So any given situation is "empty" or open & we fill it with what we will.

My heart goes out to all those hurt physically or psychically by the bombings in Boston and especially to the parents of the young Chinese student who lost her life mid-stream. May they all find strength in their recovery.

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