Legend has it that the Sakya-muni, and who called himself Tathagata (i.e. the one gone beyond the given), stated that he taught no dharma. Round about the 4th century AD, the Brahmin interloper Nagarjuna restated the logic for the Sakya’s statement, namely that all forms (i.e. dharmas) are empty (of atta)). The Diamond Sutra reprised Nagarjuna. The Heart Sutra – the late Mahayana Buddhist CREDO – filled back a bit of ancient colour, then finished with a nonsense (i.e. emptiness) tape, i.e. the mantra: “Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, perfect ending. Amen!” (my translation)
Essentially the Sakyamuni took no (firm) position. Consequently, the Buddha seat is always empty. He was the Zero Man. The reason he took no position (like Nagarjuna and the Diamond Sutra later on) was that he believed that all positions (read: dharmas) were not only anicca (transient) but also an’atta, i.e. not self, because empty of inherent essence or substance (and which is true for the analogue view of ‘becoming’ but not for the experience of momentary (timeless, formless) ‘real’ quantum interaction).
The Buddhist icon for a dharma is : O The O, invented by the Indians, also doubles as the icon of the Buddhist saint, the arahant, and later as that of Mahayana bodhisattva.
Note that if a dharma is an’atta, then so are time and form (both happening as transient dharmas). That makes either the a’nicca or the an’atta parts of his triple understanding redundant.
So what task (or purpose) do the Sakyan’s ‘emptiness’ (because neither essential nor permanent) teachings serve?
They serve as ochre noise (almost empty of formal content, hence either not triggering a response or merely a minimal one.*). The colour or flavour of the Sakyan’s noise (basically packaging for naught), hence capable of being sold (i.e. of being reborn), corresponds to the colour of the robe of the bihkkhu/monk/priest ‘essentially’ taking an almost non-position.
So we have:
1. Ochre noise (in various shades), i.e. Theravada non-positions
2. Purple noise, i.e. Tibetan non-positions
3. Grey Noise: Taiwanese non-positions
4. Black Noise: Japanese Zen non-positions
5. and brown, yellow and more noises and, finally
6. White noise, the final noise produced by the Jhanas and by far the most efficient.
All these noises have a logic (i.e. a decisions making or stopping) function. Every individual runs, even during sleep, a continuous tape of response (hence re-birth) triggers, called a conversation or narrative, in his or her head. Each element (or quantum) of that conversation directly affects her metabolic system (so Emile Coué) and by so doing ups (to fight or flee) or downs (to ‘All clear. Relax!’) his or her state of stress, which if not controlled becomes distress thereby affecting his or her health.
By running a response trigger neutral tape in the head, an individual’s metabolic system can return to normal (in fact to ‘stand-by’ or ‘waiting’ = Nirvana 1), consequently allowing the immune system to do its job of healing. Obviously white noise – producing mental catalepsy (i.e. coma, first described in detail in the 19th century by the British military doctor Esdaile) – is the most efficient tape. However, white noise tapes are difficult to sell and don’t provide BMW’s for the noise sellers, i.e. the monks.
The simplest minimal response = birth tape to run is watching the breath going in and out (Buddhist anapana practice). There now exists a worldwide web of Buddhist centres (actually asylums for mental health re-enabling) that provide quality training in this distress reduction method. To the breath observation practice is often added the practice of discrete observation of the arising and ceasing of (quantum) affects, wrongly called Vipassana. Buddhist Vipassana training actually focuses intensely on the key views of the Buddhist religious cult, and which are dodgy indeed.
* … Nirvana = no response