Sunday, January 6, 2013

Love Is Empty?

My little brother and his girlfriend came to visit Green Gulch after New Years.  We all went down to Muir Beach and built a roaring fire, complete with the wind blowing little fire balls and smoke every which way.  We're chatting and knowing that Austin is super into calligraphy, Gabby was telling us about this old Chinese master of some sort she met in Sedona.  He was doing personalized calligraphy of your...essence.  As in he would chat with you for a while and do a freehand abstract calligraphy that he felt represented you in some way.  Long story short, one of the special stamps he put on the drawing translated as something like "love is empty."

When she tells us this, Austin and I both glance at each other with a tiny smile.  Empty.  Such a provocative word!  The 'emptiness teachings' are a huge thing for some factions of Zen.  (I don't know enough about it all to say who's into it and who's not).  At first glance "love is empty" can sound totally depressing or cynical or something.  (I'm not sure Brian was very keen on the whole idea).  But as she elaborated on how the Chinese (Zen?) Master explained it, it resonated with the teachings I have heard here at GGF.  One thing I thought of as she was telling us this story is by calling love empty we are saying LOVE is freedom.  The emptiness teachings do not mean everything is empty like 'nothing' or 'lacking' or 'shallow' but empty of our expectations or projections.  As in there is some essence to every thing and everyone that is independent (in a way) of what we think it is.*  In regards to a relationship, we can meet this person totally at face value without expecting them to be what we want them to be.  Of course, in a conventional sense this may be 'impossible' but we also believe maybe in a more absolute or global way that we really could get to a point where we can let go of our delusions or illusions of who we think other people are.  FREEDOM!  Free from the pressure to live up to what other people think we are and freedom from the disappointment when people can never be what we want them to be.

*Caveat, my understanding of the emptiness teachings is the faintest tip of the iceberg.  Also I have explained the above using language that makes sense to me; someone with more knowledge of these teachings may choose language that better explains the heart of the matter but can be hard to grasp

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