Sunday, October 9, 2016

Emptiness and the Heart Sutra

In the Heart Sutra, the following 4 lines are very famous.  

Form is no other than emptiness.
Emptiness is no other than form.
Form is namely emptiness.
Emptiness is namely form.

But I feel that the following 4 lines are missing before the above 4 lines. 

This is because that is.
Form is because space is.
Space is because form is.

So, it's better to replace emptiness with space as below to make it easier to understand.

Form is no other than space.
Space is no other than form.
Form is namely space.
Space is namely form.

The Buddha taught the formula of the ultimate truth of non-separation, non-discrimination, or the non-duality. Simply speaking, the Buddha's formula is that because A = non-A = B, A can exist. To the contrary, the formula of the conventional truth based on the duality is that because A ≠ non-A ≠ B, A can exist.

In other word, the Buddha's understanding is that all pairs of opposites in this phenomenal world are the two sides of the same coin. The followings are examples.

Light is because darkness is.
Right is because left is.
Above is because below is.
Birth is because death is.
Being is because nonbeing is.
Coming is because going is.
Beginning is because end is.
Sameness is because otherness is.
Happiness is because suffering is.
This is because that is.
A is because B is. 
A is not possible without B.
A is made of non-A elements (= B).

A and B are all notions made up by human ego for self-protection. And all notions cause separation, discrimination, or the duality. That's why afflictions arise and people suffer. In this sense, all sufferings which arise from ignorance of human ego are our own creation. Therefore, we need to throw away all notions. When the extinction of all notions is attained, or when the duality is transcended and the non-duality is attained, we reach nirvana. So, emptiness is nothing but a skillful means to transcend the duality and attain non-duality. There is not separation, or discrimination anymore. But we must not forget to throw away the notion of emptiness upon attainment.

Yin and yang