Lama Zopa Rinpoche: Time is Emptiness, Emptiness is Time.
“This is a very good meditation on emptiness,” says Lama Zopa Rinpoche in his book Kadampa Teachings, adding, “It’s simple but profound, and gives us a clear understanding.”
“When we hear or think of one year, ‘Oh, it takes one year to do that,’ whether it’s study or travel, it’s a real one year, one that exists from its own side. Now, when you analyze that one year, you find that it is labeled on the base, twelve months. ‘One year’ is imputed by your mind to the base, twelve months.
“So, what is one year? Twelve months. Twelve months is what is called ‘one year.’ When we think of the base, the twelve months, it’s not that one year becomes totally nonexistent. One year exists, but it exists in mere name, merely imputed by the mind. It’s not that it becomes totally nonexistent. It’s not that there’s no one year. There is one year, but it is something unbelievably subtle. What one year is is extremely subtle … The one year that you thought of at the beginning doesn’t exist. The real one year that you thought of without thinking of the twelve months, the real one year existing from its own side, is not there. It doesn’t exist. That one doesn’t exist at all, anywhere. It’s not on the tip of your nose, nor anywhere else. I’m joking. It exists nowhere. When you think of the base, the twelve months, your understanding of one year is something totally different from what appeared to you and what you believed before. It’s not that real one at all. The one year still exists. It’s not nonexistent; it exists, but it’s empty, empty of existing from its own side. It’s empty of the year that you ﬁrst thought of, that ﬁrst appeared to you and in which you believed. When you think of the twelve months, the one year exists but it’s now something totally different from what you thought before, from what appeared to you and what you believed before. It’s totally different. It exists but it’s empty. It exists but it’s unified with emptiness. So, this is the Middle Way….”
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Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation and community service.