Reading for February 7, Mark Epstein

by Chris TerryNelson

One Dharma Nashville

Those with a misunderstanding of selflessness tend to overvalue the idea of the “empty mind” free of thoughts….Contrary to this way of thinking, conceptual thought does not disappear as a result of meditative insight.  Only the belief in the ego’s solidity is lost.  Yet this insight does not come easily.  It is far more tempting–and easier–to use meditation to withdraw from our confusion about ourselves, to dwell in the tranquil stabilization that meditation offers, and to think of this as approximating the teaching of egolessness.  But this is not what the Buddha meant by Right View.

To counter such tendencies, Nargarjuna, the founder of the Madhyamika school of Buddhism, taught the doctrine of emptiness, orsunyata.  Emptiness, he understood, is not a thing in itself, but is always predicated on a belief in something.  Referring to the absence of self-sufficiency or substantiality in persons, emotions, or things, emptiness describes…

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