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Transient, Unreliable, Contingent

In Chapter 1 ("Parallel Mythologies") of Living with the Devil author Stephen Batchelor explores emptiness as "... an absence of what limits and confines one's capacity to realize what a human life can potentially become":

At the heart of Buddha's awakening lies a counterintuitive recognition of human experience as radically transient, unreliable, and contingent. By paying sustained, unsentimental attention to life as it unfolded within and around him, Siddhattha Gotama (the historical Buddha) realized that no essential self either underpinned or stood back and viewed the integrated display of colors, shapes, sounds, sensations, thoughts, and feelings that arise and vanish in each moment of consciousness. This startling insight shook him to the core of what he felt himself to be. The instinctive conviction of being an unchanging, isolated "I" collapsed. Life was just a dazzlingly tentative array of contingent processes, playing themselves out in complex sequences of causes and effects but with no discernible beginning and no divine power mysteriously directing them to a preordained end.

... and, a couple of pages later:

Letting go, even momentarily and unintentionally, of that desperate and obsessive grip on self does not obliterate you but opens you up to a fleeting and highly contingent world that you share with other anxious creatures like yourself. This can be frightening; for the only certainty in such a world is that at some point you will die. You realize that your self is not a fixed thing or personal essence but a tentative and confused story hastening toward its conclusion. This might prompt you to scurry back to the familiar perceptions, beliefs, and routines in which you feel secure. But once the process of emptying has started, to cling to such consolations will hinder you from feeling fully alive. To become empty, as Nagarjuna insists, is to encounter the raw, unfiltered contingency of life itself. The challenge of emptiness is to plunge into life's torrent rather than hover uncertainly on its brink.

... maybe like the Bob Dylan lyric in Mr Tambourine Man, "... but for the sky, there are no fences facing ..." — and the Chuck Palahniuk Fight Club observation "And then, something happened. I let go. Lost in oblivion. Dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom."

^z - 2013-06-14

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