Glimpses of Shunyata - Chögyam Trungpa


Shunyata, or emptiness, is empty of subject-object relationship.Nonexistent subject, nonexistent object. Perceiver and perceptions do notexist. As far as the groundwork is concerned, there is no definite ground. Aslong as there is definite ground on the spiritual quest it becomes a struggle,a deliberate attitude of achievement. And once we begin to be aware of ourprocess of searching as an ambitious struggle, that struggle automaticallybecomes a formulated struggle— a struggle with ideas, a struggle with theology,concept— which is perpetually creating samsaric mind rather than the spiritualpath. The spiritual path becomes religion from that point of view, pejorativelyspeaking.

So the shunyata experience seems to be that which frees us fromreligiosity and leads us to true spirituality. Religion in this sense is dogma.You are already a bad person, a condemned person, you contain all kinds ofwickedness and you should take those faults and problems seriously. You shouldtry to get into a reformation process, or if you can’t do that, you should takea vow and promise to somebody, “At whatever cost it might take, I won’t do itagain. It won’t happen, I can assure you. I promise not to be naughty anymore.From today onward, I’ll be good. I’m ashamed of what I was, but at the sametime I am proud of what I might be in the future.” Some kind of primitivepositive thinking.

The shunyata principle has an entirely different perspective andfeel to the whole thing. We do not think that we are naughty or being bad orthat we are condemned. Instead we accept at the same time the destructivequalities in our basic mechanism as well as the positive qualities in ourmechanism, so we have no ground to have a battle at all.In other words, theshunyata principle is a clear principle in which at the beginning, as far asthe groundwork of shunyata is concerned, no battleground is provided— goodfighting evil, evil fighting good, and so forth. It is free of all territories.Both good and bad could coexist. We are acknowledging that process but notregarding it as a defeat— or a promise, for that matter. In other words,dualistic mind has become confused. As soon as dualistic mind exists on thebasic ground, it has to fight or to make love, it has to define enemy andfriend. It cannot exist without all of those. So the shunyata perspective showsus a new dimension: in order to exist, we don’t have to fight anymore and wedon’t have to grasp anymore at all.

From Glimpses of Shunyata