May 19 – true emptiness

May 19 2016 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – Day 19


Photo May 17, 2016 © graphite on paper. Sketchbook pencil drawing by Chris, 24 year old African American homeless art student: “I’m drawing it for a girl I met who wants a Buddha tattoo. She’s Oriental. That’s my favorite kind of woman, that’s an Oriental woman. My life’s not all rushed, and you know, that’s a real blessing. But on the other hand, my life’s movin’ too slow: I’m already 24 and I haven’t finished college. I’ve got my car, and that’s a blessing, but that’s all I got. I earned it working, but that’s all I got.”



gold-leafed gauge-cut flower, detail of coromandel lacquer screen, coffeehouse, May 18, 2016. photo ©


The Diamond Sutra (Vajra-chedika Prajna-paramita Sutra) teaches us egolessness, formlessness, nondwelling, and nonattainment. We have no entity within us to be called ego. We only postulate our desires and call that ego. Everything appears as if it exists, but we only recognize things in relative terms. The world is formless — simply a phenomenon of flux, consisting of various relations, conceivable only in relation to subjectivity and objectivity. Without this close relation, there is no thing, there is no world. Nondwelling means nonattachment. Nonattachment discourages our clinging ideas of loss and gain.   …

Subhuti was the disciple for whom Buddha preached his Diamond Sutra. Subhuti was able to understand the potency of emptiness, the viewpoint that nothing exists except in the relationship of subjectivity and objectivity. One day Subhuti, in a mood of sublime emptiness, was sitting under a tree. Flowers began to fall upon him. “We are praising you for your discourse on emptiness,” the gods whispered to him.

“But I have not spoken of emptiness,” Subhuti said.

“You have not spoken of emptiness. We have not heard of emptiness,” responded the gods. “This is true emptiness.”

And blossoms showered upon Subhuti like rain.

                              — Ven. Nyogen Senzaki sensei, from a talk on the Diamond Sutra, San Diego, May 19, 1946. Seventy years ago, today….