The Buddha’s fundamental insight was that we experience a constant level of dissatisfaction and suffering (dukkha), primarily due to our strong habitual tendency to invest in limiting identities. This is the meaning of not-self (anatman): that the sense of personal identity is a limiting construct. It is a mere superimposition, which gives rise to the felt-sense of confinement and stress. The recognition that the imputed label of “self” to the endlessly fluctuating psycho-physical aggregates is a supposition, and a habituated assumption: this recognition is the beginning of insight into Emptiness (Skt. shunyata, Tib: tong-pa-nyid). This insight into the lack of any indepedent, inherently existent status as-such of the individual self, the personal identity, is then extended to all possible phenomena — any and all possible objects in one’s experience. All phenomena have timelessly had the nature of emptiness — a complete and utter freedom from any and all conceptual elaborations. Any object which arises in one’s experience is completely without any status as-such. Even as they arise in one’s experience, all phenomena are totally beyond any true arising, duration, or cessation. This realization brings openness and spaciousness, and a reversal of the felt sense of confinement which the strong habit of concretizing phenomena engenders — rather than confinement, insight into emptiness brings relaxation, humor, and the felt sense of freedom.

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