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Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Heart Sutra

The Heart Sutra is the core of Buddhist teachings on emptiness. Nothings exists by itself, all exists because of a proces of cause and result. Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form.
Posted on Happy Minds!

This is the teaching of one of the students of Buddha Gautama - Avalokitshvara - on emptiness.
This text is usually chanted rhythmically. When chanted in buddhist ceremonies, even drums are used. But it can also be put to nice music, as in this example.
Also, you can watch me read it for you on youtube.
The meaning is not easily explained. It is said that if you chant/read this sutra regularly, the meaning comes to you automatically.

The core concept that is taught in this sutra, is emptiness. We humans tend to see ourselves and everything around us, as permanent entities. When we feel bad about something, it is usually due to the fact that we assign qualities to things, people, situations and emotions, that in reality these things do not have. You say: that is a bad person. However, this "person" is just a collection of flesh and bones. It has a collection of cells we label as a brain. This brain runs a process that we call the mind, which assigns qualities to things which we categorise as either "good" or "bad" qualities. In reality, the concepts good and bad are labels that only exist in the mind! They are illusions, things that have no intrinsic reality of their own. They only exist in the mind, not on this planet.

To you, a wooden board with four legs is a table. To a termite it is dinner. To a caveman it is firewood, and to an alien, it is the weirdest object they've ever seen.
So, what you think is really a table, has no tableness of its own. It is only a table to you, because you assign that quality to this object. What is REALLY there, is "something" that is the result of sunshine, CO2, plants, human labour and a concept created in someone’s mind (also called: an invention). In the end, all these things only exist as a result of what was there before, so nothing has any reality of its own. Everything only "exists" as a result of what has happened before. So, reality is an ever changing now, with energy that reforms itself continually! It is not the permanent thing we keep it for! The truth about all things, is that what is in the now, was something else in the moment before now. And it will be something else in the moment after now. The atoms will not be in the same place they used to occupy in the previous moment. So, you say: this is a table. But while you said that, the "object" you are referring to, has undergone innumerable changes. It is not the same it was just a moment ago. This is the reason things first look new, then wear off, and in the end break. This is also the reason we get born, grow older and in the end die. The pattern change follows may have some predictability, but even this pattern is not a permanent thing.

Because you are afraid to die and loose things, you create an ego that tries to overcome the perishing nature of reality by clinging to things and trying to keep them into existance. There's a lot of happiness that you can obtain if you start realising that this clinging is just a thought proces. So, the clinging has no clingingness of its own. It is only a concept, an idea in your mind. Even the fear that creates the clinging, is nothing more than an illusion!

When you're angry, in reality, your anger has no substance. It is not something you can hold in your hand, neither does it really exist anywhere in the Universe. I cannot give you my anger, and I cannot receive your anger, only its consequences. You are making up your anger, because your also illusory ego feels threatened by reality (because it cannot influence reality as it wishes). So, your anger is just the result of your believe in the intrinsic reality of your own being. The "you" that "you" think of as real, is a concept in "your" mind. In reality, there is just a collection of bones, some organs, muscles, skin and hair. And there's a continually ongoing process of thoughts that are created by a specific collection of nerve cells in the organ we call the brain. So, where is that "you"? Is it in your body? Is it that ongoing thought proces? Think about it!

If you can realise the "truth" in this, bad emotions do not have so much power anymore, they will not rule your behaviour as badly as they do when you assign them qualities of inherent existence.

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