Emptying your mind is a good idea

by Bob Schwartz

Emptying the mind is not a total solution to problems, yours or the world’s. But it is beneficial enough to mention.

Emptying the mind is exactly what it sounds like. The techniques and practices, such as meditations and concentrations, are many. There are some that are more explicit about that outcome of empty mind. There are others that seem to be about filling your mind with a particular image or thought—visualizations, for example—but they are actually part of a two-step process. Whatever you concentrate on, however concrete, you are first letting go whatever is already there. If we assume that what is already there may be problematic, that first step is helpful.

What after emptying? This is where the particular traditions seem to diverge: what do you try to fill an empty mind with? Is it some high-minded thought about this principle or that, about this master or that?

This is to say ideally that it doesn’t matter. (Ideally because this is an imperfect world.) The empty mind is there not to make room for other stuff, like a room emptied of clutter only to be filled with even more clutter.

Most basically, whatever traditional particulars you read or are told, is seeing clear down and through yourself and all else. Without judgment, since while judgment has a place in the day to day, judgment has no place in an empty mind. There you find the thing and the person as they are. You find that each thing and each person—including yourself—is a text and a teaching different than the one you read before. With that, the particulars offered by the traditions also take on a new light.

Are the problems solved with an empty mind? Of course not. Are the problems different in the light of an empty mind? Of course.