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Lions Roar : May 2013
HOW DO YOU RELATE TO this infinite ground of possibility that your life is built on? How can you create a meaningful life within whatever shifting circumstances you find yourself? Buddhist thought devotes a great deal of attention to these questions. The view that life holds infinite possibility is explored using the concepts of “interdependence” and “emptiness.” When you first hear the term “emptiness,” you might think this sug- gests nothingness or a void, but actually “emptiness” here should remind us that nothing exists in a vacuum. Everything is embed- ded within a context—a complex set of circumstances. Those contexts themselves are endlessly shifting. When we say that things are “empty,” we mean they lack any independent exis- tence outside of those changing contexts. Because everything and everyone is “empty” in this sense, they are capable of end- less adaptation. We ourselves have the basic flexibility to adapt to anything, and to become anything. Because of this, we should not mistake emptiness for nothing- ness. On the contrary, emptiness is full of potency. Understood correctly, emptiness inspires optimism, rather than pessimism, because it reminds us of the boundless range of possibilities of who we can become and how we can live. Interdependence and emptiness show us that there are no fixed starting points. We can start from nothing. Whatever we have, wherever we are—that is the place we can start from. Many people have the idea that they lack what they need in order to start working toward their dreams. They feel they do not have enough power, or they do not have enough money. But they should know that any point is the right starting point. This is the perspective that emptiness opens up. We can start from zero. In fact, emptiness can be compared to the concept and func- tion of zero. Zero may seem like nothing, but as we all know, everything starts from it. Without zero, our computers would collapse. Without zero, we could not start counting from one up to infinity. In the same way, from emptiness, anything and every- thing can manifest itself. Anything can come into being because there is no fixed way Emptiness and interdependence—they’re more than concepts; they’re key to realizing real-world benefits in our lives. H I S H OLINESS THE K A RMAPA helps us put our wisdom into practice. ARTWORKBYMIYAANDO,PHOTOBYMARTINRIGBY SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2013 23