Self-cherishing is due to the mind set of “I”, which is an illusionary “I”, the false self is like hallucination, like the reflection of yourself in the mirror, it is not the real self. The Buddha Shakyamuni, His intention was teaching us how to recover our true self, which is non-contaminated , pure-spirit self, which has always been with each of us, not inside, nor outside, it is formless, it is pure and divine, which transcend time and space , and with complete wisdom and compassion. That is why Buddha states that every sentient beings are capable of achieving full Enlightenment.
There for, the illusionary “I” is lack inherent existent.
Emptiness is translated from Sanskrit “Sunyata” , emptiness (Sunyata) is a realized achievement.
Sunyata translated into English as emptiness, voidness, openness, spaciousness, or vacuity, is a Buddhist concept which has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context. In the “old-text Buddhism” Theravada Buddhism, “Sunnata” often refers to the not-self nature of the five aggregates of experience and the six sense spheres. Sunnata is also often used to refer to a meditative state or experience.
After the Buddha, emptiness was further developed by Nagarjuna and the Madhyamaka school, an early Mahayana school. Emptiness (“positively” interpreted) is also an important element of the Buddha nature literature, which played a formative role in the evolution of subsequent Mahayana doctrine and practice
According to Thanissaro Bhikku:
Emptiness as a quality of dharmas, in the early canons, means simply that one cannot identify them as one’s own self or having anything pertaining to one’s own self…Emptiness as a mental state, in the early canons, means a mode of perception in which one neither adds anything to nor takes anything away from what is present, noting simply, “There is this.” This mode is achieved through a process of intense concentration, coupled with the insight that notes more and more subtle levels of the presence and absence of disturbance.
The four “Arupa-jhana”
While rupajhanas differ considering their characteristics, arupa-jhanas differ as their object is determined by the level of the jhana:
- fifth jhāna: infinite space 空無邊處
- sixth jhāna: infinite consciousness 識無邊處
- seventh jhāna: infinite nothingness 無所有處
- eighth jhāna: neither perception nor non-perception 非想非非想處
- In the fifth jhana, the meditator discovers that there is no object, but only an infinite space, which is empty. This perception motivates the interest of claiming arupajhanas.
- In the sixth jhana, it becomes obvious that space has no existence. There is only infinite consciousness.
- In the seventh jhana appears the feeling that there is no consciousness, but nothingness.
- The eighth jhana consists in the most discrete possible state of mind, which justifies the using of “neither perception nor non-perception”.
These “explanations” do not refer to any intellectual, philosophical comprehension, which disappear since the second jhana. They attempt to figure mental process. The Arupa-jhana are part of the kammatthanas, and are referred to as the four “formless states”(of the mind )
Note: Meditation in jhana state of mind, is a practice to realize that the body or self is lack inherent existence, all phenomena appears to be real is subject to change of time and space, ultimately return to nothingness, thus, life is here-and-now, not yesterday, not tomorrow, not present either, because present is also become past moment-by-moment. And everything we have.. love, wealth, name and fame etc. will cease to be when we leave this world, we can take nothing at all. Therefore, meditation is training of the mind, lead to true understanding of reality, thus enable us to truly enjoy life.
This doesn’t mean we should give up love, wealth, working, or any enjoyment. It just meant we should not be too attached to anything. If we imagine riding the in train, looking out the window as the train moving, we see all the sceneries past by; cities, country sights, rivers, mountains, houses, animals etc. we do not cling to what we saw in the moving train. Our life is like in the moving train, it is continual moment-to-moment experiences, grip and enjoy each precious of moments we have, and make the best of it, and be detached.