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Emptiness of the Mind in Buddhism

Lack of inherent existence of the mind.

All phenomena are devoid of inherent existence and are unfindable upon analysis.

This applies to the mind.

According to Wim van den Dungen

"Mind is therefore the mere arising and cognitive engaging with the contents of experience. Viewed as a continuum, defined by subsequent moments, the ideas of "mind-stream" or "mental continuum" emerge. Insofar we are conscious of our mind-stream, it becomes a "stream of consciousness". This never-ceasing moment-to-moment arising & engaging is "experience".


"All phenomena are imputed by the mind. All sensate & mental objects are apprehended by subjects of experience and "exist" relative to them. Sāntideva refers to the mind as the hub of our existence, holding all parts together. About this essential point both Kagyupas and Gelugpas are in full agreement. They also share the view Calm Abiding on a coarse (Buddha statue) & subtle (breath) object must already have been achieved before Mahāmudrā meditation should be initiated. For only then can the mind take itself as a stable object of placement. Again, if the mind is seen as a lantern, then the object of placement is not the objects illuminated by it (the perceived), nor the lantern itself (the perceiver), but only the light emitted (the act of perceiving). With this in mind, the reifying tendencies are identified and reversed. In this way, both coarse & subtle minds are eventually experienced as empty. This is the goal of the Great Seal.

The important difference between Gelug and Kagyu approaches of the Great Seal involves the luminosity of the mind. While both agree the mind is empty of inherent existence, i.e. not substantially instantiated, the Kagyu affirm the capacity of the mind to understand & reflect, or its "clarity", is inseparable from its emptiness. Gelugpas do not see this inseparability as part of the objective view, but only as part of the subjective fruit. Because of extensive analytical meditations & tranquility meditations on the mind itself, the Clear Light of the mind is generated or caused. As this Clear Light cannot be found under ultimate analysis, it cannot be posited beforehand and so should not be conceptually anticipated and be made part of the view. However, when the "Great Seal" has been placed on every instance of the mind, i.e. when all its cogitations are no longer substantially instantiated, the profound Buddha-qualities of this wisdom-mind of  Clear Light spontaneously & effortlessly arise ! Then the Clear Light dawns as a fish jumps out of the water, and the fact of it being inseparable with the emptiness of the mind may become a datum of direct yogic experience. But, in objective terms, nothing about this can be posited, for this personal, intimate and highly subjective experience is ineffable."


"So, what is the mind? It is nothing other than what is merely imputed by thought in dependence upon this particular phenomenon with this nature and function. Since the mind is merely imputed by thought in dependence upon this base, the mind is completely empty of existing from its own side. This is the clear light nature of the mind.

It is the clear light nature of the mind that gives us the potential to achieve any happiness that we wish. It is the clear light nature of the mind that gives us every hope. It gives us the opportunity to be completely liberated from all problems, from true suffering and true causes of suffering, and to actualize the clear light nature of the mind. It is because of this clear light nature of the mind that we can achieve ultimate happiness, besides temporary peace and happiness in our daily life. This is what gives us the opportunity to end the entire suffering of samsara, the continuation of which did not have a beginning. It is the clear light nature of the mind that gives us the possibility of ending the continuation of suffering, of samsara, even though it does not have a beginning..." More at  The Nature of the Mind by Lama Zopa Rinpoche