“The apparent duality of “self” and “other” is a manufactured set of reference points that arises as a panic-response to the uncertainty, openness, and groundlessness of the “basic ground” of primordial awareness.” Reginald Ray, “The Secret of the Vajra World” pg. 308
What is this basic ground of primordial awareness? It is pure presence; a depth of unthinkability that is ever-present, non-dual, empty of form and substance, and non-changing. Direct experience of pure presence is available in each moment through the recognition of the basic emptiness and insubstantiality of all phenomena arising from the ground of being.
You might be asking yourself, how does emptiness and unthinkability apply in psychotherapy? Our patients feel they are truly suffering. How can it possibly help to tell them the pain they consider “theirs”, the confusion and helplessness that feels so real, is actually insubstantial and empty of self-existence?
The concept of emptiness in Buddhist psychology is not characterized by nihilism, disassociation, anhedonia, or a sense of deficiency in the self. Rather emptiness points directly to the reality of the interconnectedness of all arising phenomena as dependent upon interrelated causes and conditions. This fact renders all arising phenomena empty of self-existence apart from all other phenomena.
"The apparent world of “I” and “other” as existing realities is a false conceptualization, overlaid on our experience and completely unreal. The dependent nature, which arises in dependence on causes and conditions, possesses no more than a relative reality; it is not real in the ultimate sense of having an abiding essence or definitive character.” Reginald Ray, “The Secret of the Vajra World” pg. 309
So this emptiness extends even to the portals of perception; the senses—eyes, ears, touch, smell, taste, consciousness—all of which interdependently and simultaneously co-arise with percepts. It is Manas—the energy associated with consciousness experienced as craving for separate sense of self—that creates the false subject/object reality of an unenlightened mind. (see the previous post)
Buddhist psychology is a roadmap for realization that progressively allows the psyche to naturally drop into the ground of being through a process of direct inquiry into the nature of mind itself. It is this process of direct inquiry into the nature of mind, which this blog is dedicated to elucidating.