Emptiness is derived fromthe Mahayana teaching or the profound understanding of worldly existences.Emptiness or sunyata is the means through which people will become more mindfulof their reality, and then be able to disentangle themselves from attachmentand suffering.1 Inhis book, the Indestructible Truth, Reginald Ray explains, “Usually,when we attach labels to things in the world that we perceive. We assume thatthe labeled perception is what we have experienced at the most basiclevel.”2Put simply; people become attached to material goods because of the labels theyplace on them; which is because our possessions project a certain social image,and people become attached to such illusions. For instance, once somethinghappens to those material goods, such as a broken iPhone, or stolen Pradapurse, people feel an unnecessary suffering because of their attachment to thematerial good.
Carrie Bradshaw’s (the main, and very vain protagonist ofHBO’s Sex and the City) affinity for Manolo Blahniks, and her need for awhole closet of them, eventually left her broke and effected her friendships.She is the epitome of the materialistic American girl–shopping nonstop withcredit cards to make herself feel better by buying labels, only to see herselfsuffer in the end both financially and emotionally. Chasing the needs thatarise from materialism is one of the reasons that the Buddha encouraged peopleto look beyond the grid of culture, religion, society, and material goods thatbinds us. By recognizing how each concept is inherently empty and that itis truly our perspective that one is attached to, not shoes, nor purses,nor phones. If people understood the true meaning of ’emptiness,’ then theywould wake up to the reality around them to see how their materialisticpossessions and social constructs have been controlling their happiness, orlack thereof.1Reginald A.
Ray, Indestructibletruth: the living spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism (Boston: Shambhala, 2002), 321-322.2Reginald A. Ray, 322-323.