2020-07-16 Be, See, Free, We (4 of 10) The Emptiness Door of Liberation
2:56PM Jul 16, 2020
So today as we talk about the third door to liberation. That these three doors, the experience of them, the opening to them, is built on developing ourselves, becoming stable, becoming happier since a well being, and having a confidence, a self confidence, so that we can see deeply into the nature of this world. So with seeing, to begin to releasing our fixations, until such a point where the we can become free. To be, to see, to free, and then to open up wider into this community of living beings that we are part of on this planet. To a we that we can share our world with. That's difficult if we preoccupied or caught in the web, in the sticky spiderweb, of self, me myself in mine, selfishness and self preoccupation.
And so a big part of Buddhist practice is to become free, but specifically free of this spiderweb of this net, this trap of self that's so easy to get caught in. And so there's a lot of teachings in Buddhism about not self, some people call it to no self, and to kind of plunge into that teaching, too. Some people get the wrong impression, as if they're supposed to not count or supposed to be very self effacing, are supposed to be selfless in a way that is an unhealthy self denial. And so it might be more useful to think of this as a maturation process. And to recognize that self, knowing oneself, knowing where one isn't spatially in relationship to other people, learning that skill, that ability to learn, to recognize one's own feelings and emotions and thoughts and to track them and to really be careful with them as we go through the world requires a kind of self. We can call it a self focus, an inner focus and awareness. And the mindfulness practice certainly is awakening up to a greater capacity, to know ourselves, to experience the fullness of thoughts, beliefs that we have, feelings and motivations and sensations, as part of the richness of this practice is to open to this.
And to some degree, the meditation, you know, we have to realize that this idea of self, it's actually developmentally very important for human beings. That as children go up, to develop a sense of who they are and to develop a strong sense of efficacy and confidence and self awareness is just part of the deal. And it's awkward sometimes growing up and being a young teenager and it's kind of like riding a bicycle and, you know, there's just a lot of self consciousness and a lot of self awareness to kind of find our balance and find our way. And I was thinking about when the bicycle also, if you're trying to learn how to ride a bike, maybe just beginning to get the hang of it. And then, you know, people that you want to, you know, you have a lot of respect for, what they think of you is really important, then suddenly there's all this self consciousness that comes to play, and the self consciousness now messes up our ability to ride the bike.
So, this whole idea of focusing on ourselves and is necessary part, so to say not self as a way of dismissing the developmentally important ways in which we become strong selves, balanced selves and kind of conventional kind of way of saying, it does a disservice for people. And so it might be more useful to think of it as developmentally maturing beyond the limitations of self. That we have to have enough self awareness and self wisdom, to be able to be like in the bicycle, to eventually be so skilled with all this living this life that we don't have to be self conscious anymore. And we don't have to be so self focused on all the details of what goes on. But we can kind of mature and a lot of things become second nature. And then with that foundation of just managing and knowing how to get through the world, we can let go in a deeper way. Or you can move or grow into and flower into a way in which we're more, we're bigger, we're not limited by any self concept. We might still have self concepts as they're useful. But we're not fooled by them. We're not constricted by them or limited by them. We enter into them freely if it's necessary. And then we're ready to shed them when they're not necessary. And so this developmental capacity to be able to live our life as we become a fully skilled bicycle rider, who can unselfconsciously ride the bike and look no hands. And just ride the bike and have this freedom in how they are.
And so to not diminish ourselves by letting go of self concern, but to accept the healthy parts of self concern and grow beyond it, and learn how in meditation especially, to not be limited by anything. And in in the mindfulness practice, to see that we're more is usually not talked about in Buddhism, because the danger is that we identify with the more. The more becomes a thing, and then people hold on to the more and so there's a very strong tendency not to assert any thing that's this is the way it is because of the danger of identifying with that.
So rather, what do we do in Theravada Buddhism is we recognize that things are not self. And so if I take this clock that we have here in front of me, and you know it belongs to IMC, and it says if you can't see it, it says insight on it. So, you know, clearly it's not my clock. And so I would say it's, you know, it's a clock, but it's not me, not me, myself and I, and it's relatively easy not to identify with a clock as being me. But you know, I could, in some functional way be concerned about how people think of me depending on the clothes I wear. And so I hope you realize that this shirt that I wear is a very prestigious shirt for a Dharma teacher to wear and my status as a Dharma teacher, and your infinite appreciation of me I'm sure is completely dependent on the shirt that I wear. And now I'm really caught up in self and shirts. But I could also say wear this shirt is not me, I don't have to define myself by my shirt, this shirt is not self and then I'm more than that or opened up and I relaxed and functionally is a kind of feeling of relaxation and opening, rather than being preoccupied by what you think about my shirt. And they can go on and on. And as we do mindfulness practice, we start seeing how in our minds, all these things, our don't really doesn't really work to say this is who I am, this is not me. My thoughts, my beliefs, my opinions, my abilities or non-abilities, my physical characteristics of who I am, my abilities, all kinds of things that we, you know, in a sense, they're important and have a role in life. But we don't have to limit ourselves by it, we have to find ourselves by it. And as we become more skilled and more wise and more mature, and more confident, we become greater than that. But in Theravada Buddhism we have movement or freedom is found that this is not self, this is not self, it's always a particular thing, anything that eyes can land on, perception to take in, at some point we say wow, that not that, not that, not that. Not to dismiss anything, everything maybe has a role time and place, but rather so we kind of let go of the clinging and the holding that may be for today we can understand is the same as going more, more. And as soon as we identify with more, that's a limitation,more, more.
And so what that becomes is a recognition that anything, any particular thing our eyes can land on or any particular things we can feel or perceive, is empty of self. It doesn't qualify as the central organizing agent for what controls and runs the whole show of self, of the world or the thing that is, we define ourselves by whether is, as the active agent to do something or the active recipient of experience, the victim of things, that that kind of central locus of identification around me, myself, and my, is seen as not that, not that, not self. And is empty of self. And when that sense of more and emptiness and space and freedom kind of begins to open fully around this idea of self, then a person is said to go through the door of emptiness. That which is empty of self. But the idea of an open empty door, a door which is not empty. You can't go through. The doors kind of, you know, shut close on its frame, you can't go through it, but a door that's open. That's the doorframe, this empty of door, then you can go through.
And so this emptiness, seeing the empty space, or the empty nature of this thing called self. Not to be limited or become smaller, but to grow and develop and become more mature, more free. Part of the developmental cycles of human beings to maturation, because we're so at ease, so peaceful, so free, so mature, so self understanding that where we trust letting go of holding on to self measuring self being with self. Functionally there are times in places where ideas of self are important and sometimes we coagulate around it in important ways, useful ways. But at least in meditation, it's a laboratory for where, hopefully, it's safe, where we sit and we are. That there we can allow this natural maturing process of human being to occur, where we no longer limit ourselves hold ourselves back, by ideas of self ideas, of a locus, central agent, central receiver of experience, victim of experience, and open to more and free. It's not an easy thing and it's not meant to dismiss anything. It's not meant to limit ourselves or make ourselves less than who we are. It's a maturation, it's a freedom, it's going beyond.
So you might if you find this idea interesting, the door of emptiness, the door of emptiness is the door when self preoccupation, self concerned, becomes quiet becomes still. And that's one of the reasons why meditation is really important doorway to this, because meditation is a certain kind of becoming more alert and becoming quieter in the mind, and quieter have self concern, self preoccupation, self definition, self focus, and as all that becomes quieter. The emptiness of self, the more than self, the vastness, the freedom. That door can open the third door of liberation