Empty Emptiness

I learned a new term today – Empty Emptiness.

Actually, I saw this term previously but did not pay attention to it. Today the time is ripe so I noticed it.

I didn’t set out to read about it. I just thought why not read it when I was organizing my files. The writer was talking about his learning of his family arts and mentioned about his father’s fond frequent recitation of a particular Buddhist sutra.

Empty emptiness is a paradox in that the sutra contains nothing yet has a lot of things. In a way this type of paradox is reminds me of the story of how Damo answered the Emperor of China when his majesty wanted to know about the spiritual merits he would get for advancing the course of Buddhism by building temples, copying sutras, etc.

When you learn Tai Chi initially you would look clumsy. Too many things out of place, not right. When you become more familiar then your movements look more coordinated, filled with energy.

At a more advanced level your movements look powerful and you can demonstrate fajing skills. To many this is what Tai Chi should be like. However, the concept of empty emptiness tells us that this is not so.

If anything Tai Chi at the level of conformance to the principles should be in compliance to empty emptiness in that it looks like there is nothing there to most viewers, except those in the know.

My teacher says that at the 1% level of attainment only true masters can see what we are doing. This is when we have internalized the skill such that movements look ordinary and unimpressive. At a certain stage even the form you play does not matter as much; you can apply the intention models from the 22-form into the normal Yang Chengfu long form. After all principle is just a principle.

So now you know a goal that you can work towards. Have fun finding the emptiness that is not empty.


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