One of the most well known teachings of Buddhism is called The Heart Sutra. If you search the web you are sure to find a copy of it. Many authors of books on Zen give their take on this sutra. I spend some time on it as well in Mind Makes Everything. The Sutra starts with the line:
"Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva when practicing deeply the prajna paramita perceived that all five skandas are empty and was saved from all suffering and distress."Wow! That is quite an opening line. For this post we are going to put it all down except for the word "empty".
Emptiness is the word translators have used to bring the Sanskrit word Sunyata into English. What is this emptiness? It can be read as empty of an independent self. In fact, our delusion is that we see ourselves as separate from everything else.
Just look at the sense organs. When we see something, it is the photons interacting with our optics that we see. When we hear something, it is the sound waves actually interacting with our inner ear that we hear. So are you and the source of the sound waves the same or different? Separate or distinct? This goes for everything. I am always touching something, breathing something, seeing something, etc. The same is true for the thoughts. They are always about something.
We can look at if from another direction. This morning I had breakfast with friends at a restaurant. I drove a car that was designed and manufactured by a huge team of people. I ate ingredients prepared by a chef long after they were planted by a farmer who ultimately harvested them. They were then shipped to a warehouse and off to their final destination. There is simply no way that I am separate from all of this. I can't even have breakfast without the help of a great many people.
Let's investigate what we eat, too. The food is grown from the planet. Or if we are having some meat with the meal, we are eating creatures that ate the vegetation as well. Again, how are we separate? If we make the distinction between ourselves and the food, we are back to the delusion!
This is then how we practice. There is this idea of mindfulness. It is basically paying attention. As an example, when we are walking we simply walk. We pay attention as we walk. However, if we are thinking "I am walking", we have just turned the act of walking into a concept. We return to simply walking.
So we practice not making self and other. Or to return to the situation at the start of this post: When golfing, just golf.