Keeping a Mind Free of Definitions: Emptiness and Its Effects in Healing

Shi Yao Lian, Practitioner Buddha’s Alchemy

May 8, 2017

There is a central teaching of the Buddha that is referred to as emptiness or sunyata in the Pali language. It is a difficult topic to convey, and words are very feeble indicators. Emptiness is commonly misunderstood, as the descriptors are hard to grasp from within the mental viewpoint of duality where most of us dwell. This is because the experience of emptiness precludes dichotomous comparison of phenomena. In other words, the illusion of self and other (that which is not self), which is the base of all duality, crumbles when the consciousness of emptiness predominates. However, because our language has the limitations of comparison and description based on what something is or is not (the basis of dichotomy), it makes for a cumbersome pointer to emptiness.

What is Emptiness?

Emptiness can be experienced when practicing deep meditative states called jhana. It can also be experienced spontaneously, and with skillful contemplation of certain subjects. In siddhi healing, emptiness is a consciousness viewpoint from where a healing practitioner can start to realize out of the ordinary skills, such as uncommon influence over form and its recognized attributes. Emptiness belongs to the mind energy category in siddhi healing. For example, changing the qualities of a disease or disorder to something entirely different through the use of mind strength, chi and life force, or deeper understandings and insights into causal factors of disease and individual karma can both occur from the consciousness of emptiness.

When a person enters the consciousness of emptiness, phenomena (all subjects/objects, self and everything/everyone other than self) cease to have defining individual identities. That is, they are seen without the projected inherent meanings that we normally ascribe to them. It is not that things physically disappear, are unrecognizable, or are taken as mere hallucinations. What is meant is that characteristics that we believe exist as the nature of phenomena, and that we interpret as reality, use to mentally label, filter and consequently define our world, drop away. This gives rise to a perception of phenomena as it exists in pure form, without those projected attributes that normally arise from a consciousness of duality (ie – a consciousness of storytelling and defining).

The awareness of non-separation, interconnectedness and infinite possibility can accompany the consciousness of emptiness and is sometimes referred to as fullness. Although this seems to imply duality once again, really emptiness and fullness exist as an inseparable matrix. One refers to the absence of inherent meaning of phenomena that is commonly but mistakenly believed to exist, and the other refers to what is really there (often called Truth). It’s kind of like suddenly tuning into the planck field of quantum physics, where the raw essence of limitless energetic possibility exists.

parachuter diving into emptiness

Emptiness as a Predecessor to Healing

So what does this mean for the person who happens upon this Truth? Remember, the mind and all phenomenon are energy. The energy of mind is that of higher frequency than material form, and it is partially through mind that we connect to what is infinitely bigger than human consciousness. Individual mind is normally coloured and weakened by conditioned subconscious beliefs and patterns. Since the individual mind creates our experience and known reality, these conditioned and erroneous patterns of belief prevent us from being aware of what is actually real. They prevent us from knowing anything outside of our self-prescribed boundaries. They prevent us from seeing the true nature of things. You see, stories and projections serve to filter out what is possible, and limit the view of what is. As my teacher says, they are arguments for what you (or other) are not, thereby limiting what can be. Without limited belief patterns in place, the mind has expanded capacity to recognize, connect with, and work with / move the essence of infinite possibility. Thus, when we are in the consciousness of emptiness, we get behind the causal side of karma. We influence movement in desired directions, not directions circumscribed by limited belief.

Thus, when we are in the consciousness of emptiness, we get behind the causal side of karma. We influence movement in desired directions, not directions circumscribed by limited belief.

Influencing change in desired directions means that things can happen that we previously told ourselves were impossible. Clearer and unobstructed perception of the way energy and nature exists brings insight into new ways of working with them. This ability requires a working knowledge of what we call relative truth. We cannot effect any meaningful and real change with imaginative fantasy-like thinking or wishing. This is important to understand. If one begins to act from a premise based in delusion, the result will be greater delusion. There are ways to check the process when beginning to work with these skills.

The definition of relative truth by Himalayan Buddhist standards quite simply is what exists (in its pure elemental form without mental projections), and the ways it can be worked with. For example in Buddhist siddhi healing, we learn to recognize the more subtle energetic qualities of phenomena, and how mind energy can be applied to effect change in those qualities of material form. The effects of these changes can be tested and analyzed. Although one may not have been aware of these qualities and understood their nature previously, their functional behaviour and hence their basis in relative truth can now be observed and measured. This touchstone of truth should always be referenced when traversing into newly discovered territories. It is essential to make certain that imaginary wantings do not become a replacement for true seeing and creative learning.

When I first began to learn the different qualities of chi (there are 19 in our system) from my teacher Shi Yao Hai, there were “tests” that he would walk us through. We would describe the raw physical sensory feeling of the qualities, and demonstrate our ability to generate them. But in addition, we would test the physical feedback from our own bodies and with each other when the chi was applied. We would examine the effects of the different qualities, and how using the mind in different ways changed what the chi does. In addition, observing Shi Yao Hai work with energy on impartial subjects (patients) provided an objective point of view. A patient may not understand how certain results are obtained, but they are no less happy about getting better.

swing representing emptiness

Occasionally a healer who is very skilled with good strength of mind and heart will participate in and witness events that may not be fully comprehensible or explainable, even to themselves. This is because the Infinite Source of possibility and Its power are beyond human capacity to fully grasp. It may act outside of what is known as humanly possible, even to those most advanced in their understanding who are able to skillfully connect with It. A practitioner with this level of skill will undoubtedly also have the insight to recognize this, and there should be no confusion in their mind. As always, they themselves are not the Source of power and healing, and they have probably long known that.

Emptiness is a state of consciousness that can be worked towards systematically through specific meditation techniques. In this consciousness, one ceases to tell imaginary stories about the world, and therefore does not limit the potential of anything to narrow definitions. Emptiness is the threshold consciousness for working with the miraculous. It is an access point from which one can transcend the mundane, and grow towards even higher levels of realization and skillfulness.


If you would like to know more about Himalayan Buddhist siddhi healing training, please visit our healing training page.

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