Is the universe full or empty? What does it mean to meditate on emptiness? The buddhist concept of emptiness can be deceiving – nothing is actually empty at all… like a Buddhist hot dog, one with everything. Emptiness means that there is not one item in reality that can stand independently of others. Everything is inter-connected.
How did this coffee cup come to being in my hand? It was purchased at a store, which means that a store had to be in existence for me to purchase the cup, and the store manager had to order it from a manufacturer and have it delivered, and the cup wouldn’t have existed if it hadn’t been designed by someone, and realized by others, and if those had not been born, this particular type of cup wouldn’t have existed at all – which brings us to birth, going back generations and generations.
What emptiness really means is that everything is co-dependent. Every part of our reality is connected. What we call the Global Economy is an obvious manifestation of this principle: if one country does something, everyone else will be affected by it to some extent, like an amplified “butterfly effect” – as a butterfly flips its wings in Beijing, weather patterns may change in Alaska…which means that within this framework of interconnectedness, our music could be much more meaningful and affecting than it would have seemed at first. Every note, every vibration of an instrument, every movement of a human being playing an instrument, every feeling invested in the music and communicated, is potentially affecting everything else – and the consciousness that is projected through that music and the people putting it forth is an aspect of the composition framework that should not be ignored.
This notion of interdependence is outlined in detail in The Meaning of Life from a Buddhist Perspective by The Dalai Lama (translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins, 1993 publication of lectures given in 1984), but was made much more clear by a casual and yet enlightening newer book, The Wisdom of Forgiveness by The Dalai Lama and Victor Chan (2004).