Shunyata Karuna Garbham
Emptiness is in essence Compassion.
Nagarjuna, Fourteenth Ancestor after Shakyamuni Buddha in our Transmission Line
Sit still and then get up and be Compassion.
Note: Garbham translates as Womb or Embryo. The use of ‘in essence’ above helps to make the point that Shunyata is not an vacuity or ‘negative emptiness’. As my Master would say It is the fullest emptiness you will ever know.
Many thanks to the Reverend who pointed me to this teaching.
3 thoughts on “Being Compassion”
Thank you for the quote, the note on translation, and your observation that “The use of ‘in essence’ above helps to make the point that Shunyata is not an vacuity or ‘negative emptiness’.”
Our tendency in the West to perceive emptiness as something negative is quite telling, much in line with our habitual hurry-scurry busy-ness, our fixation on progress, achievement, and acquisition, all of what makes us not inclined to be still. We say that someone sees the cup half-full or half-empty. Implicit here is that to see the cup half-full is good: to find what is positive or beneficial, while to see it as half-empty is bad: to focus on problems or the negative aspects of a situation. But that which is empty is also receptive, potential, available. If a shoe were not empty, it would be of no use.
I actually find the term “womb” wonderfully instructive in this case. It gives me the image of stillness as the safe place where compassion can develop and grow in the same way an embryo or fetus does, i.e., of its own accord, independent of our social/political agendas and ambitions.
Thanks for this thoughtful comment. Much appreciated. I too favour womb. We talk, as you know, of training growing in the dark, as is the case. We so often think of dark as a negative, which is sad.
I’m trying to say something which I -in essence- can’t and still I’m trying:
I feel that what is called/translated here as emptiness ‘knows’ no barriers or differentiations or separations and neither does compassion. So no characteristics can be referred to.
I only ‘know’ the taste of an apple at the very moment I taste the apple. Within the tasting there is nobody who is tasting. When that moment is gone ‘I’ can’t even speak about it. It’s gone, how can I speak of something that’s gone, and, when its gone, what can I explain when ‘I’ vanished in that very moment of tasting the apple?
The apple shared its compassion with me by offering itself up, unreserved, and I became for a moment the ‘taste of compassion’.