Excerpt About Emptiness

Freedom from Nonconceptual Impressions

At some point, we can recognize that emptiness offers not only freedom from constructs based on memory and concepts, but also freedom from nonconceptual structures. Our sense of self includes structures that are not constructed through conceptualizations, because they developed before we were able to know or to think. The experience of emptiness frees us from conceptual constructs and also from nonconceptual impressions, which are not constructed by the mind but are nevertheless imprinted onto the consciousness. So the consciousness mistakes these nonconceptual impressions as important features of reality and holds on to them as if they are what it is. Understanding these preverbal and nonconceptual structures liberates us more deeply from the sense of self and also moves our realization to deeper and more subtle levels. All of these kinds of constructs and impressions arise in the process of discovering the emptiness of other. The emptiness of self reveals a deeper understanding of spaciousness, one which underlies experience in general. In other words, spaciousness unfolds from one kind to another until it becomes the emptiness of self, which is a manifestation of the other side of Being, also known as nonbeing. The spaciousness becomes so empty and so open that it is no longer spaciousness—it is simply nothing. So knowing the emptiness of self means recognizing not only that the constructs of the individual consciousness are not reality, but also that the individual consciousness itself does not exist.

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