What is the mental void – shunyata in yoga (emptiness, mindfulness, heartfullness)?

It is an interesting nondualist concept that refers to the fact that when the state of yoga is reached, there are no more thoughts, defending the so-called mental void of nondual happiness.

“Yoga Sutras” by Patanjali affirms from the very beginning

” Yoga citta vritti nirodhah”
which means
“Yoga is the cessation of all mental fluctuations”.

That is, there are no more thoughts, but not only thoughts as we expect…
but any mental fluctuations.

What finer fluctuations than known thoughts could there be?

Emotions, symbols, concepts but also finer than these can be the simple mental vibrations that are coarser than the spanda – the primordial vibration of the universe.

In fact , the mental void of nondual happiness means that in consciousness there is no differentiation whatsoever, that is, there is apparently nothing, although, paradoxically, it contains everything.

It is a “full void”, not a desert, so there are also two words that designate the same thing but with seemingly opposite words:

“emptiness” and

“mindfulness” or “heartfullness”.

The first refers to the fact that there is no thought, no differentiation, no matter how small (abheda) and the second and third refers to this mysterious fullness of the state of mental emptiness, the nature of which is, in fact,

sat-cit-ananda, that is, pure existence (village) – pure consciousness (cit) – pure nondual happiness (ananda).

That is, the Absolute, the Infinite or… even to be one with God.

In this state, it’s true, so we have no thought, but most people would think that they then lose the most important human faculty — that of thinking.

Well, everything is wrong in this statement because

to think is not the most important human faculty , and

we lose nothing, because if we want to, we can think.

But we will find that when we reach this state in meditation, that we do not want to think, because it is not worth leaving such a sublime state to think something – maybe only if it is an emergency – fire, explosion, etc.

Otherwise, it really is not worth leaving this state easily, although we can do it at any time.

In Buddhism “emptyness” or “shunyata” takes, in explanations, the form of spiritual realization, of the terminus, and this is also true because the mental void is associated with the ultimate spiritual realization.

We can distinguish here, four main understandings of the shunyata “vacuum”:

(1) all sentient beings are empty of a personalized Self or ego;

(2) all things, no matter what happens, are empty of their own inherent or intrinsic existence, since they are all relative to causes and conditions, a vision associated especially with Nagarjuna and the Madhyamika Buddhist school;

(3) the flow of nondual consciousness is empty of subject-object type duality, yogachara vision;

(4) The buddha nature, which lies within all sentient beings, is intrinsically and primordially empty of all impurities, a notion much debated in Tibetan Buddhism.

Through the fundamental meditations of Abheda we can directly know the mental void of nondual happiness, but we can also do more than that: to be in the village-putty-ananda but to be able to think at the same time.

Leo Radutz

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