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The world may be empty or it may be spacious or it may be both. As stated by you above neither concept seems to have much to say about why definite, public, things appear at all. This is an important point: we might mistake a rope for a snake, but we don’t mistake a snake for a snake, and this does not appear to be merely our interperaton of matters. And while there is no direct perception of a snake’s venom, we can infer it, and that inference can be true.
Whether it is called “emptiness” or “spaciouness” it is also is a wonderful description of what might happen if we had no habitual patterns of conflicting emotions, but, in fact, we all do. And we generally experience these patterns as something that “happens to us” rather than something that we make happen. In that sense, emptiness and spaciousness as described doesn’t address why any emotivity or thinking is there happening to us, either.
If, intellectually, we cannot use this to explain objective experience and we, further, cannot use this to explain subjective experiences, what else do we do with it?
karmakshanti wrote, “it is also is a wonderful description of what might happen if we had no habitual patterns of conflicting emotions, but, in fact, we all do”. My experience is that sometimes my habitual patterns feel more compulsive, and sometimes less. How compulsive these patterns are is inversely proportional to how much metaphorical ‘space’ I seem to have to perceive accurately and to react appropriately. Having the concept ‘spaciousness’ to address this quality of experience might allow us to talk about how to explore it, or encorouge ourselves not to be deterred by it’s disorientating effect, perhaps. Even though it provides no explanations.
This is preaty old post, but I just want to leave a comment here, that “spaciousness” is not “emptiness”, but “mindfullness” in Therevadian terms and is preaty much the same thing from what I can get from your description.
How would one put this into practice?
All Vajrayana practices involve spaciousness in some way. (So much of the rest of this site is relevant!) However, some emphasize it more than others.
In general Buddhism, practices that aim toward emptiness are called “shamatha” or “shi-né.” When those are practiced in a Vajrayana style, they aim for positive “spaciousness” as I’ve described it here, rather than the negative “emptiness” as understood in Prasangika Madhyamaka.
You might like to check out Evolving Ground, a Vajrayana meditation community co-led by my spouse. They emphasize shi-né practice for this purpose.
Thanks for your feedback, David!
I’m curious, do you have any familiarity with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s Joy of Living course?
Do you think this is a similar approach to Evolving Ground (creating spaciousness/suspending meaning-making) or would you also classify this approach as another form of Consensus (nice) Buddhism?
I’ve really enjoyed reading your work here. Really interesting!
I had not heard about this course before. I found a one-page overview of it. Interesting!
Just from that, it’s somewhat difficult to say. It’s broadly similar in presenting the Kagyu/Nyingma view in terms appropriate for contemporary Westerners. Some of the content will overlap, and it seems to take a generally life-positive attitude (unlike traditional mainstream Buddhism, and like Vajrayana in general).
My guess from the description there is that the specifics may be pretty different, both in terms of content and style. It does look a bit “nice”? Nothing wrong with that, depending on what an individual wants. EG isn’t un-nice, but may get more geeky and no-nonsense.
I’m not actually involved with it—I’d like to be, but I don’t have time currently. If you have further questions, it may be better to address questions to those involved directly.
That makes sense!
I will definitely have to check out EG more thoroughly.
Thank you again for all of your time and work!
How about the sense of “spaciousness” that comes from having lots of unstructured time like during holidays?
Freedom from obligations and the have-to’s of day to day
Is that part of the spaciousness definition you have in mind here?
I also see how this spaciousness is closely linked to the awareness when you speak about the difference of awareness and mind elsewhere in vividness
In western psychology, awareness is a part of mind. Whereas in Dzogchen, mind is a part of awareness where awareness is like this infinite boundary-less vast space if i recall correctly.
Can you talk more about the difference between the awareness of Dzogchen and the spaciousness here?
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