There seems to be different understandings, or phases of understandings, of emptiness. We can understand emptiness in a manner like 'weather', where weather is merely an imputation upon a collection of phenomena like rain falling, sun shining, and so on. But we can understand this in terms of the emptiness of the imputed label, leaving the collection, the aggregates, the very manifest vivid experience "un-emptied". Actually if we truly realized in direct realization how 'chariot' applies as vivid appearing presence, then that covers all. As John Tan told me before, "Don't keep thinking of aggregates as also empty, if you understand chariot is empty, what is not empty?" However the problem is that the aggregates do appear real unless we've had direct realization that the 'name-only' or 'empty' is actually vivid appearing presence.

The label or chariot that is empty is the vivid appearing presence, unfindable shimmering vivid like mirage.. not mental label. That vivid appearing presence is what is empty just like chariot is empty of itself. This means that one must be able to directly link "empty" with vivid appearances. Instead of empty as empty of essence, empty = vivid appearances.

If we think of a label "chariot" and then think "that labelled chariot is empty of essence", that is not directly experiencing chariot as vivid presence. If we think 'chariot/weather/etc' is empty because of this and that, it is still inferential analysis rather than direct realisation and actualization. However, when one realizes that chariot = vivid appearing presence, it is a direct experiential insight. Empty = this vivid presence. All along it is trying to convey this taste and insight. But conceptually it is understood that way, empty of essence.

Like any object you see, a handphone, a table, a car, that vivid presencing is 'chariot' - is vivid unfindable appearing presence, hence there is no handphone.. pain is vivid appearing presence, hence there is no pain. The vividly presencing handphone is the chariot that appears and functions but is empty, the vividly presencing pain is the chariot. Being so, there is no chariot, no pain, no suffering, and all that negations in Heart Sutra. Heart Sutra even says, "No forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or objects of mind".

But when we talk about the "no"s, there can have many meanings. What does the "no" as a negation mean? Certainly it is not referring to non-existence, which is an extreme. And we certainly do (conventionally) experience forms, sounds... and so on. Obviously anyone reading this is fully cognizant and conscious rather than an inert corpse or a piece of wood. I have seen new Heart Sutra translations that translate 'emptiness' into something like 'empty of independent existence', stressing on how all phenomena are empty of a separate, independent being, else they might be stressing on ‘interdependence’. Although this seems to be a more explanatory and better understanding than ‘nihilistic non-existence’, I would say even that interpretative translation misses the mark, and hence John and I do prefer the more accurate and precise translations over the interpretive ones or those that take poetic liberties. Furthermore we may think that it is the mentally labelled entities that are empty of self-essence but then we fail to go beyond seeing emptiness on the level of constructs.

At the level of direct experiential insight, it is the very unfindability, ungraspability, referencelessness of empty-luminosity.. an appearing “absence”. There is no weather not as in weather doesn't exist but is simply vivid empty appearing/presencing.. but it's not just the mentally labelled entity "weather" that is empty nor is it that weather doesn't exist but the very vivid empty appearing/presencing we call rain falling etc is nothing there, an appearing absence or vivid empty presencing like a rainbow or mirage or hologram. Emptiness is none other than form as it is precisely the appearing absence that is empty, is emptiness. Appearances are mere shimmerings of light-mirages.. it's just taste of empty presencing appearance. So the car I'm looking at, by being like a chariot and mere name is mere shimmering luminous light. It is to see that chariot = vivid appearing presence. Whatever's seen, heard, smelled, sensed, tasted and thought are unfindable despite the clear display, just like chariot. We don't have to differentiate inherency and non-inherency, conceptual or non-conceptual. If you get used to it, whatever appears is just empty.

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form should be understood in this way... taste, see, and smell emptiness.

2009 conversation with John Tan:

“(12:20 PM) Thusness: what you see is DO, emptiness and non-dual, your mind is therefore trapped. This is how our mind is trapped and prevents the seeing. when we are trapped in non-dual, we can't see emptiness. Even when it is clearly mentioned, it can't be seen.
(12:22 PM) AEN: so what does that mean? :P
(12:23 PM) Thusness: reality is like an illusion. but not an illusion. it is like a dream but not a dream. Everything is a magical display.And everything is mind. :) What does that mean? The mind is always wrongly understood. from "I AM" to non-dual experience. We cannot understand the truth of this mind therefore we can't see mind. just like you can't see the essence of the article. we have a preconception.
Everything is mind. And Everything is like a magical display. that is why i said there is no mirror, there is only reflection. the key is to know the nature of mind. to see that everything is reflection, transience Everything is Mind is what that must be derived from anatta and emptiness. but we do not know what "everything" is and what mind is. therefore we cannot 'see' and cannot experience.
we cannot see the essence of it. so anatta and emptiness are taught.

what is Everything? it is like magical display, like an illusion. but it is not an illusion.  like a dream but not a dream which many misunderstood. therefore when we experience sounds, thoughts, see colors, forms, dimension and shapes...all is empty like an illusion. like dreams like the 'redness' of a flower. like the 'selfness'. like the 'hereness'. like the 'nowness', yet empty, nothing real.

if you can't totally see that pristineness, that non-dual, that luminosity and see only emptiness, you are mistaken. the 'redness', the 'nowness', the 'hardness', the coldness, all are as luminous, as clear, as vivid. we must fully experience it. yet they are not real, nothing concrete, no solidity, nothing substantial, nothing graspable, no findable.

Empty, thus non-dual luminosity and emptiness. we see this union, in all transience,
passing phenomena, in emotions, in feelings, in thoughts, in sounds, in sight, in color, in dimension, in shapes, in taste, in hardness, coldness, in sweetness, in sky, in the sound of chirping bird, all experience are like that. empty yet luminous, then we realise that it is the same as mind, it is mind. if we din see these 2 nature of mind thoroughly, we can't see. we distant, we seek, we find. because of its emptiness nature, the manifold, we cannot know what mind is. therefore the ground is taught, the view is taught. empty yet non-dual luminosity, so that you can see and experience directly that the transience are mind, yet there is no self nature, get it?
(12:38 PM) AEN: think so
(12:38 PM) Thusness: then you experience what is one taste. Because we do not know what mind is, we cannot experience mind. we do not know, that is why insight is important. however if you do not know what is non-dual luminosity and emptiness, how is a practitioner going to experience mind everywhere and know that whatever arises is mind? therefore first anatta (non-dual luminosity), then emptiness, then spontaneous arising. do you understand what i mean? read the article ( On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection )”

“[16/12/16, 12:54:29 AM] John Tan: When you hit a bell, how did the sound arise? Where did it go? Is there arising or can you say there is arising? This is crucial and key to understanding of emptiness and releasing. Why whatever arises in dependence due to conditions cannot be said to arise nor cease? And that is the middle path.

Neither arises, Nor not arises.
Neither ceases, Nor not ceases.
Neither existence Nor non existence.
Neither affirmation Nor negation.

And these must be understood the right way with right view. Not for beautiful language. If consciousness ceases this moment can you say it ceases? If this thought ceases can you say it ceases?
[16/12/16, 1:00:05 AM] Soh Wei Yu: No, nothing arose or cease like a city mirage on horizon
[16/12/16, 1:00:32 AM] John Tan: But why it cannot be said to cease? I have told you many times you must understand from dependent origination and not just emptiness. Because whatever arises do not arise by itself. Now what did Buddha say? If there is karma and conditions, can phenomena not manifest? If this mind moment ceases, can next mind moment not arise if conditions are there? No, mind moment will arise on conditions, so there is no real cessation. Yet this mind moment is not the same as next mind moment, and they cannot be said to be different either. It cannot be said to have not ceased, and cannot be said to have ceased. As such whatever arises in dependence is non-arisen. Then you talk about the direct experience of mind… Of the six entries and exits. Experience and view. Get it?

You must first separate direct experience from view. Talk about non-dual experience, how it can be distorted with view, and from anatta you realise right explanation of the experience should be dependent origination, emptiness and non-arisen.  Not from essence view. And middle path is understood that way. There is not creation but not no creation. Middle path is dependent origination. Because we are so accustomed to essence view, we cannot get used to dependent origination.  We want to use essence view to understand dependent origination.”

“As it is said in the Root Verses of the Middle Way:
Not from self, not from other,
Not from both and not from neither—
Not for any entity at all anywhere,
Is there ever any production.”

“So, regarding production such as that of the sprout from the seed, the Ācārya Nāgārjuna said:
From a seed that is destroyed or intact,
The sprout is not produced,
So you taught that all production
Is just like magical creation.
As it is said, the appearances of dependent origination cannot withstand logical analysis, and when investigated using reasoning that inquires into the ultimate, not even the slightest so-called ‘production’ may be observed. Yet, when left unanalyzed, just like the appearances during a dream, a sprout appears to be produced from a seed. This is simply the way in which the conventional is presented.”
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