What is Emptiness and How Can I Use It? (2013, Oslo)

Below you’ll find a video and also find an excerpt from Geshe Michael’s new book The Karma of Love which discusses the same theme.

See the full video here: https://www.theknowledgebase.com/opening-the-heart-to-love-2013-oslo-geshe-michael-roach

So let’s jump in right now, to the most basic new idea that you need to know: emptiness.

I hold a pen up in my hand, and I ask you, “What is this thing?”

“A pen,” you quickly answer.

“And if a puppy dog walked into this room right now, and I waved this object in front of his nose, what would he do?”

“Well I don’t know, I suppose he might very well chew on it.”

“So how does the puppy see the pen?”

“Well, we can say that he sees it as a chew-toy.”

So that’s step one in your understanding of emptiness. Now let’s go a little further.

“Okay then, who’s right— the person or the dog? Is this thing a pen, or is it a chew-toy?”

“Well I suppose they’re both right: to me, the thing is a pen; and to the dog, it’s a chew-toy.”

“Good, good; animal rights and all that! So you’re both correct. This object is, to different observers, both a pen and a chew-toy. Now another question. If I take this object and set it on the table here, and you and the puppy both leave the room, which one is it then—a pen, or a chew-toy?”

“Well if neither of them werehere to see it one way or another, then I think we’d have to say it was neither—right then it wouldn’t be a pen or a chew-toy. But it would have the potential to be either one, depending on whether a human or a dog walked back into the room.”

Okay, so now you’ve got it; you already understand the very difficult idea of emptiness, an idea which is absolutely necessary if you’re going to create your perfect partner. Try to see what “emptiness” means here. It’s not like everything is black, or nothing is nothing, or nothing matters.

The object lying on the table after the human and the dog leave the room is “empty” because it’s blank—like a blank white movie screen before they start the movie.

Everything around us, and everybody in our life, is the same: empty, blank, available. You may feel pretty bad about the last person you shared a relationship with, but there are probably lots of other people who think they’re pretty nice. They’re the same as the pen:it just depends on what you see—it depends on who’s looking.

“So now hold up a pen in one hand, hold it in front of your face, and show me with your other hand whether the pen is coming from its side, or from yours. Wave your hand from the pen to your eyes, if you think the pen is coming from its own side. Or wave your hand from your eyes to the pen, if you think it’s coming from your side.”

Almost everybody will point their finger from themselves to the pen: “It’s coming from me, it must be coming from me. And the chew-toy is coming from the puppy.”

“That’s right. If the pen were coming from the pen’s side, well then the dog would have to see it as a pen…and then they would try to grab it in their paw, and try to write a poem maybe—a poem to their dog girlfriend saying, ‘You’ve got a great tail!’”

So there we’ve got it: the pen is coming from me. By itself it’s not a pen or a chew-toy; it’s just blank, it’s just available. And so when I see a pen it’s got to be coming from my own mind.

Can we just close our eyes then, and wish that the pen was a big diamond ring? Try it right now and see—you know it doesn’t work. A great new boyfriend may be coming from your own mind, but that doesn’t mean you can just close your eyes and wish him into existence. We can want or wish or pray all we want, but that’s not going to make it happen—every lonely person in the world wishes they had someone, but the wishing doesn’t make someone appear.

So why do we see a pen? How does it come from our mind?

There are seeds in our mind, karmic seeds. They lay deep in our subconscious, deep down in the mind, and when the time is ready they crack open, like a seed for a tree. I hold a black stick up in front of your face and in that microsecond a karmic seed splits open in your mind, and out pops a luminous image of a pen. This tiny picture of a pen jumps out between you and the black stick in a thousandth of a second—so fast that you’ve never in your life noticed that it was happening—and then you see a pen.

And it’s a real pen. Mental pictures are that good. You can pick it up and write with it.

Do you see where this is going? If you’re a woman looking for a partner and a good-looking man walks in the door at Starbucks Coffee and heads towards your table, he’s the same as the pen. He’s coming from a seed in your mind. Ah! Now all we need to know is how to plant the seed! To put it briefly, we can only plant a seed with another person.

Whatever we want, we need to see that somebody else gets it first. When we help someone else get what they want, it plants a seed in our mind to get the same thing ourselves later on, as the seed ripens and splits open.

What this means is that you can plant your future partner, or change anything you want about the partner you have now—because it’s all coming from you. You just need to know how to do it: to be a good farmer, you need to learn how to plant seeds right, and take care of them right. Then you can have everything.