Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

Finding emptiness in KFC

August 10, 2013 3

Me yesterday. If I was white and male. And had a moustache.

Me yesterday. If I was white and male. And had a moustache.

Yesterday, Rinpoche took a small group of us for dinner, then to a movie and then on to KFC for supper (don’t worry, we only had the wedges, mash and coleslaw!). During supper, Rinpoche summarised for us many teachings on emptiness that Rinpoche has recently been giving…and yes, Rinpoche really did all that to open up our minds so the Dharma could go in! My immense gratitude aside, I wanted to share with you an analogy that Rinpoche used, that has stuck with me because it’s really quite awesome 🙂

We were sitting opposite to Rinpoche, ‘we’ being myself, Andrew, JP, Moh Mei and JJ. To illustrate how all phenomena (animate and inanimate) is empty of inherent existence, Rinpoche used the example of a Scottish guy. Rinpoche said if a Scottish guy were to lay flat out on our table, I would be very attracted. Andrew might consider it, JP would definitely not be interested, Moh Mei would scream “No way!” and JJ would head for the hills (I’m paraphrasing here, gimme a break!).

Okay, so obviously my weakness is a male from the British Isles, though not necessarily Scottish (although preferably ginger…yah, I’m one of the rare ones, okay?!). But that’s besides the point…the point is, how did Rinpoche use my attachments to demonstrate the emptiness of phenomena?

First, the object itself (the guy) has no inherent value. Why does it / he not have an inherent value? Well, what makes him Scottish? The value we impute on to him, and the labels we ascribe. “This guy is Scottish, this guy is not” – but what part of the guy is actually Scottish? Is it his finger? If you chop off his finger, is he still Scottish? Is the finger Scottish? Is it his arm that makes him Scottish? If you remove his arm, is he still Scottish then? Is his arm Scottish? Maybe it’s his hair – if you remove his hair, is he still Scottish? Is his hair still Scottish? And on it goes until you’ve removed everything…so what made the guy Scottish? Only the value we imputed, and the label we ascribed.

Yum...or is just my perception? Okay fine, yum...for now! (I never said I have achieved renunciation!)

Yum…or is just my perception? Okay fine, yum…for now! (I never said I have achieved renunciation!)

The second reason why the object has no inherent value is because of our different reactions. Now, if the Scottish guy had an inherent value, all five of us would react towards him in the same way – we would all be equally attracted or equally disgusted. However, given the fact we don’t have the same reactions, something (or some things) must be happening to account for this difference…so why do we all react to it differently? Because of our karma, created from previous lives, to perceive it differently. Since we perceive it differently, we should understand that the value of the phenomena is created according to our differing perceptions – that is, the object does not have a value that is independent of our perception. Since the object’s value is created according to our perception, and it in itself as no inherent value, why should we be attracted to or disgusted by something that is (in laymen’s terms) a figment of our imagination, and does not really exist?

And when we are attracted to or disgusted by it, we react to it as though it does exist. In reacting to it as though it does exist, we create the karma to experience it and the imprints to react towards it again in the future. When we experience it again in the future, and react to it (because of our imprints created by previously reacting to it), we create even more karma to find it again in the future…and so on it goes as we generate our own cyclical rebirths of suffering.

So naturally one has to come to the following conclusions:

  1. Why grow attached to something that doesn’t really exist? (a) you have to give it up at the time of death anyway, so why invest so much effort into maintaining something you cannot keep? (b) you’re attached to the idea of It, not to It itself because It doesn’t exist
  2. Why get so upset over something that doesn’t really exist? And create the karma to suffer it again in the future?
  3. Since it doesn’t exist, when you’re about to get upset or angry, take a step back and think about it. What are you getting so upset about? Something that doesn’t exist. So why create karma off of something that doesn’t exist? Is it worth it?
  4. Thus when we think in this way, we can free ourselves from our attachments, and our likes and dislikes because we know it’s no use hanging on to them. We learn how to approach phenomena as they really are – empty of inherent existence, without imputing our own values and perceptions on to them
  5. Got anger issues? Self-esteem problems? Realise emptiness and it’ll aaaaaaaaaaaaall be over because your reactions to the world around you will totally change. Happiness is possible
  6. That’s how lamas practise skilful means. They approach their students as their minds, and not as their current physical bodies because they know that the body is not what defines the student as being existent

I don’t know about you but after yesterday’s teachings…mind = blown.

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3 Comments → “Finding emptiness in KFC”

  1. David Lai 10 years ago   Reply

    Hahahaha what a cute analogy of the Scottish guy. You guys are very meritorious to have Rinpoche share teachings on Emptiness all the time. This is great stuff. Share more!

  2. Jim Yeh 10 years ago   Reply

    Thanks for sharing Rinpoche’s teaching with us. This post has given me much to contemplate upon.

  3. Meg 4 years ago   Reply

    I just stumbled across this. Never had the merit to meet his Eminence, but I do so love everything about him and connected to him. These posts are so well done!!

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