This is an excellent explanation of what Buddhists call Emptiness (Sunnata or Shunyata). Written by a Western philosopher, who is also a Christian and has probably never heard of Emptiness, it avoids many of the pitfalls of Buddhist writers on Emptiness.
The Buddha was a radical empiricist and a pragmatist, which is why his teachings resonate so well with modern science. His message to us was not to assume that our perceptions are a valid representation of reality, and to stop analyzing the world in terms of substance and essence, as consisting of things with inherent natures. The Buddha consistently refused to engage in discussions of ontology, focusing instead on epistemology, what we can know and how we can know it. Nevertheless, all but the most sophisticated of Tibetan and other Mahayana thinkers have mistaken the notion of Emptiness for a doctrine about what exists. It is not. It is a statement that what we perceive is not, and cannot be, what actually is.
Dr. Bruteau’s discussion of how we create the world we know makes this perfectly clear. Once we understand that reality is Empty of being what it appears to us to be, and why, then questions about whether the things we perceive actually exist or not become irrelevant. “Things” exist – but only in our minds. “Something” exists outside of our minds, there is an Ultimate Reality, but we can never perceive that reality directly. We can never have a direct experience of ultimate reality, but we can have a direct experience that reveals this fact to us – a direct experience of Emptiness. Liberating insight comes through this realization of Emptiness. Ignorance is destroyed, the illusion we have been trapped in for our entire lives is dispelled, and true wisdom follows.
I highly recommend this book for everyone, but especially for anyone who has struggled to understand the teachings on Emptiness.