The ‘home’ you have to leave, lest it become a prison, is not only your home town (or your home ‘discipline’ if you’re a specialist), but also your vain hope to find a permanent or substantial self within.

We are invited to abandon ‘our grasping after an inner ground’ which ‘is the essence of ego-self’ (Varela, Thompson and Rosch 1991, 143).

By progressively learning to let go of these tendencies to grasp, one can begin to appreciate that all phenomena are free of any absolute ground and that such ‘groundlessness’ (sunyata) is the very fabric of dependent co-origination.… Groundlessness, then, is to be found not in some far off, philosophically abstruse analysis but in everyday experience. Indeed, groundlessness is revealed in cognition as ‘common sense,’ that is, in knowing how to negotiate our way through a world that is not fixed and pregiven but that is continually shaped by the types of actions in which we engage.

— Varela, Thompson and Rosch (1991, 144)

Thus to ‘leave the world’ is to realize that your actions, like those of all sentient beings, are part of the never-ending process of making the world what it will be. ‘Groundlessness’ (or ‘emptiness’ as it is sometimes translated) is the cognitive cognate of homelessness in the social realm; and homelessness is the pervasive freedom we find when we break out of the prison of our own habits, when the subject leaves the illusory home of selfhood.

The realization of emptiness (“enlightenment”) translates into sociological terms as de-reification – ‘reification’ meaning the habit of perceiving the social institutions and roles of everyday life as if they were ‘natural things’ rather than human constructions (see Berger and Luckmann 1966, 89-92). It is normal for human individuals and societies to see the world this way – after all, humans are “born into a world they never made.” It’s easy to blame everything on “the goverment” or some other looming entity. But until they outgrow the reification habit, people are unable to take responsibility for making their world the way it is.

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