“Everything is empty of an intrinsic reality of its own”
– Siddhārtha Gautama, Buddha
To be truly independent leads to the attainment of enlightenment… And would ever refuse to shine? In that state of self generated brightness is where one releases what ever prevents a better present. It is in this order that Buddha attained independence and illumination. He explained this when in Benares he said “Everything is empty of an intrinsic reality of its own.” I explain what this means and why it matters for achieving one’s own illumination through independence.
It may seem odd to bring up front someone usually associated with meditation activities to explain the true sense of being Independent. I promise that I will solve this briefly. Let’s start at the beginning:
What does independent mean?
Action and effect of not being under the will of another.
Etymology: in (denial) + depend (to hang up)
Here is where the conflict begins: being independent is generally understood as “not depending” and something to achieve by a fight against something or someone else, in the epic style of the Avengers. But this definition is far from being useful, practical and productive of a better present. There’s a simple reason this does not work: doing everything by myself limits and reduces the possibilities of my life. If I am my own customer, supplier, employee, partner … I am limited to what I sell and buy by/to myself. Up to here it is clear that not depending at all leads to isolation that doesn’t produce a better present.
But let’s also consider that there are situations where the dependency relationship results in a worse present, for example: a client with disrespectful communication style. We can say up to here that some dependencies work and some don’t. What the solution then? They key is in the etymology of “independent” because the Latin root of “in” is has two variations:
The Latin root of “in” means denial and also inwards. Good, very good! The solution is now available: there are dependencies that must be denied and there are dependencies that must be created consciously from within oneself. True In-dependence is to own by an individual decision which dependencies to create and which dependencies to deny.
Remember that the starting point of every situation in life is always non-owned dependencies. Just look at a newborn baby or a new product launch. To be truly independent one needs to create a dependency from within oneself. This is what Buddha discovered when he said “everything is empty of intrinsic reality of its own”, which can also be said as: there is no true ownership in the beginning until something is whole of a an intrinsic (from within) reality of its own. Following the previous example: one is to clarify with the client what is allowed and what is not allowed in respectful relationship.
I chose the image of the raindrop on water to illustrate the definition of independence when I notice that it demonstrates the failure and solution of what it is to be independent:
Fault –> isolation
The isolated drop of water is limited to the space within its circumference. The possibilities of transforming into something else are limited to what exists in that drop of water.
Solution –> In-dependence
The drop of water that relates to what’s outside by creating dependencies has access to more realities. at sea it travels; on earth it becomes a nutrient; as steam it splits and elevates…
To begin towards independence by creating dependencies is to err by acting upon effects instead of causes. Similar to whom follows healthy food recipes without understanding the amount of food and meals eaten each day. To create my own dependencies from myself, I am first to understand my automatic dependencies in relation to eating.
Why do I eat large amounts of food (nutritious or not)? Ah, it is because that way I achieve confidence that I have accumulated material goods… Then that is where I re-define the dependency from my independent position. This way I know I am closer to my goal if I affirm self confidence consciously. This can be done by drinking a glass of water to block my excessive appetite or by sharing my food with someone.
It is then that I achieve:
Reality: mi ideal weight.
Intrinsic: from the root cause.
Own: that only applies to me.