When we first hear about emptiness, we feel a little frightened. But after practicing for a while, we see that things do exist, only in a different way than we’d thought. Emptiness is the Middle Way between existent and nonexistent. The beautiful flower does not become empty when it fades and dies. It is already empty, in its essence. Looking deeply, we see that the flower is made of non-flower elements — light, space, clouds, earth, and consciousness. It is empty of a separate, independent self. In the Diamond Sutra, we are taught that a human being is not independent of other species, so to protect humans, we have to protect the non-human species. If we pollute the water and air, the vegetables and minerals, we destroy ourselves. We have to learn to see ourselves in things that we thought were outside of ourselves in order to dissolve false boundaries.
Thich Nhat Hanh
from the book The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation
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Further quotes from the book The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching:
- Fully alive and fully aware
- Right Diligence
- Being really there
- Anxiety is the illness of our age
- The only condition for happiness
- Allow yourself to be happy now
- Right Speech
- Just be
- Call for help
- Beyond birth and death