Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Nobody really gets me"

I was sitting around with a friend eating a sandwich and conversation led to the shunyata. It went a little something like this:

"I had this realization that nobody knows the real me. One guy thinks I'm this uptight corporate guy, another person thinks I'm too cool for school, another person thinks I'm a nerd. My mom thinks I like certain things, my dad thinks I'm whatever...
but the way he sees me is all about him; it has nothing to do with the real me. Not even my wife really knows me. She just sees this version of me that she interprets, and it changes, but even my wife doesn't know me. This was such a liberating realization, that nobody really knows the real you because none of it is real."

...and that's when I said "shunyata!!!" 

Shunyata, or emptiness, is referenced in The Heart Sutra, which famously says, "form is emptiness, emptiness is form." The teaching is probably too profound to convey in a blog post. I'm not even sure I get more than little tastes of it here and there, but this lunch conversation got to the heart of it. 

What I take away from today is that we shouldn't worry so much about who other people think we are. None of it is solid. This is a lonely path and the nature of who you truly are will rarely, if ever, come across to other people. It is difficult enough to bring out in oneself. In fact, realizing the Buddha within each one of us, is the point of the journey, and that is the true "me" that Buddhists seek.


  1. I suspect that most people would be frustrated by this realization. Impressive! I notice myself projecting pretty regularly and see how much other people do as well. Staying aware of that has helped me understand my fears and motivations.

    I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on formative experiences that shape one's prejudices. Some serve a purpose, surely, but how do we move past harmful ones?

  2. Yes, awareness of your fears and motivations is the right track. The more you meditate, the more awarness you will get. The more awareness of these things you develop, the more the self might start to make less sense as a concept. At some point, the aggression that comes from defending the position of the self may start to make less sense. At some point aggression may start to seem totally unviable as an approach to the world.

    Great question about formative experience, prejudice, and how to move past harmful ones. I am going to ponder that and get back to you. Maybe a topic for a new blog post!