A conversation in the mountains

By Matthieu Ricard on October 07, 2009

Last week I went on a hike in the mountains with an eighty-one year old friend who is a brisk walker. After an hour, we reached a 10,000' high pass with a view of a breathtaking landscape that stretched for a hundred miles in front of our enchanted eyes.
As we sat on a log and gazed at this magnificent scene, he asked me:
--"What does Buddhism mean when it states that this is ‘emptiness'?”
--"It means not the ‘absence' of this landscape but the fact that it is ‘empty' of autonomous and permanent existence.”
--"What is wisdom then?”
--"The understanding of this nature.”
--"What is then the difference between emptiness and wisdom?”
--"Emptiness is the true nature of phenomena, whether you recognize it or not. When you recognize this nature, this is wisdom, when you don't recognize it, it is delusion.”
He then charmingly added: ‟You see, I am very impatient to learn about all these things, because I don't have much time left.”
Then we walked back through the forest to the valley, continuing our conversation.