It’s often said that when someone has realized emptiness it enables them to have even greater compassion for other beings. I’ve wondered about that because, with my limited intellectual understanding, I often find myself getting frustrated with people, rather than overflowing with compassion. “Why are people doing all this crazy stuff?” “Why all the violence? Why all the greed?”
Well, today, somehow or other, I got a glimpse of an answer. There would be no point in relating the circumstances since they’re nothing special. In fact I’ve been in the same place in the same way (I calculated later) a good 20,000 times before. But this time… suddenly I saw the world in a very different way. It was beautiful. Scintillating. Full of “sound and fury” but at the same time, extremely peaceful. And I thought, “Yes. Maybe this is what it’s like.”
Frustration occurs when things don’t go the way you think they should. In other words, when you’re attached to things being (or going) a certain way. Since realizing emptiness entails realizing the emptiness of the self, once you are free from that misconception, there is no cause for attachment, and no cause for frustration. As the sutra says, “no ignorance, no exhaustion of ignorance, no ageing and death, no exhaustion of ageing and death. No suffering, no origins, on cessations, no path, no wisdom, no attainment, no lack of attainment.”
How so? Because all of these are relative to an inherently existent self. We freeze what we perceive into these objects and actions and value them based on how they affect “us” and the things “we” care about. But today’s experience was nothing like that. Everything was in flux, and it gave me a glimpse of what it might be like to have no grasping at objects, even though I knew they were there.
Of course, it didn’t last. I could feel it slipping away as time went by, but having seen this once it’s a lot easier to understand what was meant by emptiness empowering greater compassion. It was blissful, and compassion looked easy because there was no need for any suffering, no need for any fear. At the very least, it’s good motivation for practice!