12. The Essence

In philosophy, essence is defined as the property or set of properties that make an entity or substance what it is, what it needs, and without which it loses its identity. The zero-energy universe hypothesis presupposes, as described earlier, that the total amount of energy in the universe is equal to zero. The amount of positive energy is negated by the potential negative energy in the form of gravity. Without gravity there would be no matter; matter, therefore, does not exist upon itself. Matter is therefore essentially empty. Also, space and time are essentially empty, because space is mutually dependent on time. This phenomenon corresponds to what is meant in Buddhism with the emptiness of essence; all phenomena are empty in their own essence and do not exist in themselves.[1]

Nothing we see, hear, feel, taste, smell, think, or are, stands on its own; everything is a preliminary expression of a seamless and continuously changing nature. All events (phenomena) we experience do not have an own nature. Since there is nothing in the universe that stands on its own, there can not be a self on its own. This ‘self’ arises through causality and dependencies in the movement of the natural man. The creation of the self is a mental construct, of man, that clings to reality, as if it exists upon itself, and wants to give meaning to it. However, there is no existence of things on its own. The existence depends on causality and conditions. Space is dependent on time, gravity is dependent on matter, life is dependent on its environment, senses of the body, consciousness of reality, etc. There is thus no absolute external reality, beyond the reality we perceive, nor a concrete self or others.

The above means that there is no duality between the implicit self or others, and existence separable from space-time. Instead, all these things are emptiness, momentary movements of matter and energy, that you perceive through your six senses, and that form your reality. In philosophy, duality is the assumption that the mind and body are different, and separate from each other. Duality, therefore, explains the difference between subject and object. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that the meaning of the concept of duality is strongly shaped by René Descartes.

While things (mental and physical objects) exist, they are ultimately empty of every existence on their own. The naming of things immediately creates a duality, as if they exist on their own. Non-duality, therefore, exists only beyond the human language, without thoughts and concepts, because if something is mentioned, by your thoughts, it is defined.[2] Through a thought, you give meaning to something from reality. However, because the essence of reality is empty, a thought about something from reality has no meaning beyond the meaning you give to it. This meaning only exists because you think so.

By developing focus (one-pointedness) and equanimity, you can experience a clear awareness of reality, without being distracted by sensory perceptions. Developing focus and equanimity helps you gain insight into reality, by not responding to your sensory perceptions. Without focus and equanimity your consciousness wanders, and you search for meaning in thoughts that enter your consciousness from your mind. In this way you are distracted by sensory perceptions and desires. Accepting thoughts that flow into your consciousness without responding to them, allowing them to distract you, or being influenced by them, cause these thoughts to dissolve.  After all, thoughts do not exist on their own and are dependent upon your desire to give meaning to reality. Your mind has been trained throughout your life to create thoughts, through your desire for meaning. A considerable amount of time and attention will be needed to let this go, depending on how strong your desire for meaning is.

Thoughts also arise because you doubt whether you act or have acted on your feelings, or because you doubt whether something from reality corresponds to your convictions, desires, or norms and values. To act on feeling is to act sincerely. Without sincere action you will not be completely relieved of your dissatisfaction. If you do not act out of what you feel, you act from a belief. On the path to non-self, you will then encounter this belief and doubt it.

However, thoughts are also necessary for our survival and well-being. It is not about not having thoughts, but about not clinging to thoughts. In this lies the importance of the middle way, which will be explained in the next chapter.

Go to Chapter 13

[1]             . https://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/emptiness-in-buddhism-empty-of-what

[2]             . http://www.lorenwebster.net/In_a_Dark_Time/2011/01/18/the-buddhist-beginningless-universe/