Importance of understanding the concept of Emptiness

From our e-book “We are Here to Celebrate”

Why it is important to understand the concept of emptiness or no-self. It is closely related to the concept of cause and effect. Because the ego is not fixed or permanent but changes all the time, then, there is a possibility of increasing our mental well-being by reducing the causes of suffering and increasing the causes of happiness. One may argue that some negative events that happen to us are beyond our control.

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However, if we analyse this deeply, we can see that a lot of suffering that we endure are due to our habitual reactions to events for example, if we hear someone say something negative about us, we can let it pass or choose to take action and create an enemy. As human beings, we suffer more from mental suffering than physical suffering. So, if we remove the causes of mental suffering, we can live a happier and more fulfilling life.

The negative mental habits we possess are as varied and different as our faces. Everyone is different. But there are basic patterns that we have in common and spiritual masters will address those basic patterns such as desire, aversion, anger and so on. However, how we use those teaching and apply them to our mental habits will determine their efficacy.

To apply those teachings, we need to constantly be aware of our thoughts and emotional patterns. An effective way to do so is to maintain a spiritual diary. It has two benefits. Firstly, if we are able to write down our thoughts when we are flooded with a negative emotion, we are able to become more objective because we need to use our left brain when we are writing. We calm down more easily and the solution to the problem will come to us more easily. The solution may also come as wisdom to see that the problem is not as big as we make it out to be when we are emotionally charged.

Secondly, when we come back to our writings later, we can truly understand our thinking process and the thoughts that give rise to our mental suffering. So, the next time similar thoughts arise, we can easily catch them and let go of them before our emotions run while. For example, people suffering from panic attacks are advised by their doctors to observe their thoughts and identify those thoughts that trigger the panic attacks. In this way, they can be aware when those thoughts are arising and take action before the panic attacks occur. This involves using awareness to understand oneself.

 

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