As important as the ideas of emptiness or the cosmic mind were for the statecraft and “internal colonialism” of the Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors, there is a certain danger in focusing only on the sovereign. I do not want to give the impression that the doctrine of emptiness or mind is really about politics, and not about personal enlightenment, sorcery, exorcism, etc. On the contrary, emptiness can only be a political force when it is already forceful in all these other domains. We have already seen this with the authority of the Dalai Lama. The political authority of the Dalai Lama will only be fully appreciated in a new cultural context if there are some who have direct and personal knowledge of his cosmic significance. There is nothing like private experience cultivated in meditation to vouch for public authority. In this chapter, I will explore ways in which the structures and images of authority and obligation found in local populations are coopted by royal courts through the use of specific images in ritual and meditation to turn the focus of local obedience from local polities to the imperial center. In other words, to truly understand how empires become powerful, we have to begin to look at the imperial center from the perspective of the populations that will ultimately grant it power. I will show that the image of emptiness was central to court strategies to coopt sets of obligations already at play in local populations from as early as the Shang Dynasty (second millennium BCE), i.e., long before Buddhism ever arrived in China. Indeed, one of the central theses of this chapter is to show that images can have the social and political effects that they do if and only if they are not exclusive to any one religion. When Chinese began to embrace Buddhist discussions of emptiness, it was because they could recognize it as being similar in structure and function to something that they already had. I then show that this image of emptiness continued to be part of court strategies well into the Ming even before (as we saw in the last chapter) it became part of the strategies of Yongzheng and Qianlong in the Qing.