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An Inquiry

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12 Explorations on Emptiness (In alphabetical order)

  1. A human being lacks self-existence. Body, feelings, perceptions, thoughts, consciousness mutually depend on each other AND the environment until these supportive faculties break down. A person abides empty of their own existence owing to such conditions for their support.

  2. A person finds himself or herself afflicted. The afflictions come from within and without, internally and externally. The person finds themselves in an empty village. There are no threats hiding in the village. There are no longer perceptions of terror, via any of the senses. Emptiness is the mind empty of perceived threats, of unresolved issues.

  3. An item does not have self-existence. Take a car. The engine is not the car, nor are the wheels, seats and dashboard. The car consists of a forming together of numerous parts. The car is empty of any self-existence. There is no self-existence and there is no separate self-existence, nor oneness of self and other.  The same principle applies to human beings and all else.

  4. Emptiness is a like a large bath of pure water. You put several tablespoons of salt into the bath of water but the pure water does not lose its flavour. An expansive heart and mind may have to deal with salt but its taste and significance fades away. If your put large tablespoons of salt into a glass, you will keep tasting the salt.

  5. Emptiness is like space. You cannot take hold of a box of paints and paint anything, good, bad or indifferent on to space.

  6. Emptiness is the mind Gone Great (mahajatti), such as the mind and heart of expansive love, kindness and friendship (metta) The Great Mind is empty of animosity and revenge.

  7. Emptiness shows that Mindfulness, Concentration and Inquiry abide empty of itself and empty of other.

  8. Emptiness shows the absence of any real identity, core, essence, soul or Self.

  9. Insights and realisations show the insubstantiality and lack of solidity of the body, forms, perceptions, feelings, mental activities and consciousness. Insubstantiality and lack of solidity in the human makeup confirm Emptiness.

  10. The mind/body/environment undergoes adaption, change and impermanence. The so-called world remains subject to causes and conditions. This world abides empty of permanence, eternity and an unchanging nature.

  11. The present is empty of what is not present. Whatever one concentrates on is empty of what is not concentrated on. Whatever is concentrated on is made up of what is not concentrated on.

  12. There is a deep sense of the Boundless (appamana). The Boundless reveals itself in the emptiness of so-called ‘obstructions.’ Obstructions or hindrances have no ‘self’ existence. Emptiness is revealed equally in sentient and insentience, in the heavens and hells of existence.



Five primary Ways to view Meditation


1.      Meditation is mindfulness with a formal posture. Meditation is a practice for calm and insight.


2.      Some traditions regard meditation as a prescription, a solution. This kind of meditation adheres strictly to method and technique to enhance concentration and discipline. The meditator applies the method or technique once or twice a day from 15 minutes up to an hour to develop calm and clarity.


3.      Meditation is a depth of concentration that uncovers a range of experiences welcome and unwelcome. Meditation includes use of form and techniques and absence of form and techniques.


4.      A state of meditation arises spontaneously. You suddenly find yourself experiencing quietude of feelings, stillness, and a sense of harmony with the world around. Thoughts fade away, the brain cells become quiet and there is a genuine sense of inner well being. In this meditative space, the elements of stillness and silence become predominant. There is a palpable sense of the extraordinary presence without division or fragmentation.


5.      Meditation is a rare mystical state that transcends the conventional world. Some associate meditation as synonymous with an ultimate state for consciousness. The implication is that few reach this state of meditation. To be in a state of meditation is to be with God.


Six Practical Steps. To Address Tendencies


  • Acknowledge how hard it is to change these negative patterns yet not submit to them.

  • Become acutely mindful of the tendency to self-blame and finding fault with others.

  • Find ways to express appreciation for others and ourselves as an antidote to fault finding.

  • Know such patterns emerge from the past as a shadow on the present.

  • Remember that one particular feature of ourselves or others is not the whole.

  • Treat the tendency as empty, false and deceptive.


Knowing Spiritual Feelings and Worldly Feelings


  • Recognise spiritual feelings that nourish clarity and wisdom.

  • Recognise spiritual feelings that fuel the ego.

  • Recognise worldly feelings that support clarity and wisdom.

  • Recognise worldly feelings that fuel the ego.

  • Realise that realm of peace where perceptions and feelings have no foothold.

Who is Walking?


  • Is the walker separate from the walking?

  • Is there one activity going on – namely just walking or are there two activities – walking and walker?

  • If there are two, do they collide with each other or stay apart?

  • Does the walker walk or not walk?

  • Does the walker start before the walking or start when the foot first moves?

  • At what point does one go from sitting or standing to walking?

  • Can we find the beginning of walking? If we cannot find the moment that begins walking,          then is it appropriate to refer to walking?

  • I know that when I walk I see the body is moving. Am I moving?  



The Buddha on Mindfulness.

Definitions of Mindfulness

The Buddha’s Words on Mindfulness


DN 2.21. In walking, standing, sitting, lying down, in waking, in speaking and in keeping silent, one acts with clear awareness. In this way, one is accomplished in mindfulness and clear comprehension.


DN 22.2. One sits down cross-legged, holding body erect, having established mindfulness before him/her. Mindfully s/he breathes in, mindfully s/he breathes out.


M. 53.16.  S/he has the highest mindfulness and skill; s/he recalls and recollects what was done long ago and spoken long ago.


M 66.16. When he is practising the way, memories and intentions associated with accumulations beset him now and then through lapses of mindfulness. His or her mindfulness may be slow to arising but s/he quickly abandoned them, removes them and does away with them


M 118.13. One abides contemplating the body as a body, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief.


M 118.30. The mindfulness enlightenment factor is aroused and one develops it, and by development, it comes to fulfilment.


M. 118.33. These three states circle around right livelihood, that is, right view, right effort, and right mindfulness.


M. 10.46. If anyone should develop these four foundations of mindfulness final knowing (of liberation), here and now or if there is any trace of clinging left, there is no returning though to a mundane state.


M. 44.12. Unification of mind is concentration. The four foundations of mindfulness (body, feelings, states of mind and Dharma) are the basis for concentration.


M. 103.3. In the four foundations of mindfulness you should all train in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing.


M. 118.12. In this Sangha (community of practitioners), there are those who abide devoted to the development of the four foundations of mindfulness.


M. 151.12. If by reviewing, he knows that the four foundations of mindfulness are not developed in me, then he should make an effort to develop them. If by reviewing, he knows the four foundations of mindfulness are developed in me, then he can abide happy and glad training day and night in wholesome states.


M. 62.5. Develop mindfulness of breathing. When mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, it is of great fruit and great benefit.


M. 141.30. What is right mindfulness? One contemplates the body as a body, feelings as feelings, states of mind as states of mind, and Dharma as Dharma having put away covetousness and grief for the world.


SN. 1.130. A person has various foodstuffs strewn over his lap – sesame seeds, rice grains, lakes and jujubes - if he loses his  mindfulness when rising from that seat he would scatter them all over.


AN. 499. One bent on his own welfare should practice mindfulness and guarding of the mind.


AN. 737. Guard the doors of the senses. Take mindfulness as protector. Be mindful and alert. A mind is under the protection of mindfulness.


AN. 822. One who falls asleep mindfully and with clear comprehension does not have bad dreams.


AN. 1009. One has a strong commitment to mindfulness and alertness and does not lose this fondness for mindfulness and alertness in the future


AN. 1078. With mindfulness as his gatekeeper, the noble one abandoned the unwholesome and develops the wholesome, abandoned what is blameworthy and develops what is blameless.


AN 1160. The Dharma is the one with mindfulness established, not for one who is muddled headed.


AN.611. How is mindfulness an authority? Once mindfulness is established internally: “In just such a way, I will experience through liberation the Dharma that I have not yet experienced or assist with wisdom in various respects the Dharma that I have experienced.” It is in this way that mindfulness is an authority.


AN. 1269. What exercises authority over intentions and thoughts? Mindfulness exercises authority over them.“What is their supervisor?” “Wisdom is their supervisor.” “What is their core?” “Liberation is their core.”

Sn. 45. If one finds a wise friend, a companion, who is living according to wholesome virtues, then live with him happily and mindfully.


Sn. 151. As long as s/he is awake, s/he should develop this mindfulness.


Sn 212. One who has the strength of wisdom, born of ethics and restraint, tranquil in mind and delights in meditation, who is mindful, free from clinging, is called a sage by the wise.


Sn.283. Be pure and associate with the pure; being mindful, united and arise; put an end to suffering.


Sn. 340. Be restrained in the senses. Be mindful of the body. Continually develop to end fuelling what arises.


Sn. 413. The beggar walked on from house to house watching the sense doors, well restrained, alert and mindful. Soon his bowl was full.


Sn 777. Look at those who struggle after their petty ambitions, like fish in the stream that is fast drying up.  Mindful, let one fair unselfish while ceasing to worry about various states of becoming.


Sn.974. Let him mindfully trained to end the pollution from forms, sounds, tastes, smells and touch


Sn. 975. Let one who is mindful with well liberated mind subdue the desire for things. Then, investigating the truth thoroughly, and with concentration, one will destroy the darkness (of not seeing).


  1. MN. Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha.  1150 pages plus notes etc.

  2. DN. The Long Discourses of the Buddha. 520 pages, plus notes etc.

  3. AN. The Book of the Gradual Discourses 1400 pages, plus notes etc.

  4. . Connected Discourses of the Buddha 2920 pages plus notes etc.

  5. Sn. Sutta-Nipata. 1149 verses.


The Meanings of Mindfulness (in alphabetical order):


  1. Mindful sees clearly the present and our direction.

  2. Mindfulness applies equally to being and doing.

  3. Mindfulness contributes to inner steadiness when faced with difficulties.

  4. Mindfulness embraces the general and the specific, the bigger picture and the detail.

  5. Mindfulness examines intention, action and result. Mindfulness responds to what is.

  6. Mindfulness includes the art of total listening to discern what is valuable and insightful.

  7. Mindfulness is a limb in the body of total awakening.

  8. Mindfulness is a mental faculty and a power of mind to develop.

  9. Mindfulness is a tool to transform self-centred pursuit of pleasure, negativity and fear.

  10. Mindfulness makes wise judgements and prevents the manipulation of our attention.

  11. Mindfulness of others’ contribution develops and expresses appreciation and gratitude.

  12. Mindfulness refers to four applications, body, feelings, states of mind and Dharma.

  13. Mindfulness refers to our capacity to see clearly what is happening.

  14. Mindfulness reveals a clear comprehension of change, initiated or not.

  15. Mindfulness reveals what is common between self and others.

  16. Mindfulness saves falling prey to selfish desire, exploitation and indifference.

  17. Mindfulness serves as an important step towards overcoming grief, despair and pain.

  18. Mindfulness shows a genuine sense of responsibility for what we know.

  19. Mindfulness with inquiry examines causes and conditions for suffering.

  20. Mindfulness works to reduce stress, anxiety and physical pain.

  21. Mindfulness, awareness or clear attention can mean inter-changeable concepts.

  22. Right mindfulness includes wholesome intentions to inquire into suffering.

  23. The Buddha distinguished right or healthy mindfulness from harmful mindfulness.

  24. The Buddha said: “Mindfulness is applied to the extent necessary in order to abide without needing to lean on anything in the world” - either inwardly or outwardly.

  25. Wholesome intentions give support to mindfulness to inquire and change situations, inner and outer, personal and institutional.

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