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Thread: LIVING by VOW: The Heart Sutra - pp 147-156 (Stopping at Emptiness in Theory)

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    LIVING by VOW: The Heart Sutra - pp 147-156 (Stopping at Emptiness in Theory)

    Hello all,

    We continue on...

    I think I’m going to try something a little different this week...

    We are getting into some of the more philosophical aspects of the Heart Sutra. Emptiness, of course, is still a big centerpiece and now we are being introduced into the concept of “Absolute” and “Relative”. And the necessity of not just understanding these things but also living them.

    Entire libraries of books have been written on these subjects. There is another thread on Treeleaf right now concerned with translations of the Heart Sutra that touches on this a little :
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ra-Translation

    Instead of trying to get too deep, I’m going to post a couple of my favorite quotes from this section:

    “When we say form is emptiness, we negate this body and mind. When we understand that emptiness is form, we negate emptiness. Negate means to let go. To let go of thought means to become free from both sides. Then we can see reality from both perspectives without being attached to either.” p. 154

    ““To study the Buddha’s Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self”. To forget the self means to negate this one. By negating this one, we see others more clearly.” p. 155

    And, probably my favorite:

    “This is our vow. Somehow I cannot help but follow this way of life. It is my practice. And when I see another person living this way I feel encouraged. If even one person is inspired or encouraged by my practice, I am really happy.” p. 156

    Trying to not get too philosophical, was there anything that spoke to you and your practice? Anything become a little clearer, or a little more confusing?




    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday/LAH
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  2. #2
    Thank you Shugen ... lets continue on. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  3. #3
    Eishuu
    Guest
    I hope this isn't too philosphical, but this is what spoke to me...

    I particularly found the first part of this section interesting.

    I was intrigued by the part on practising with the whole body and mind. I do find with Zazen that, maybe because my thoughts become less dominant, senses (sounds, sights, touch in particular) become slightly different – maybe heightened or just more interesting and vivid, I'm not sure how to describe it. I'm definitely more aware of my body and less 'in my head'.

    And I was wondering what it means to “become one with the emptiness of the five skandhas”? “When we truly see the emptiness (impermanence and egolessness) of the five skandhas of our body and mind, we see that there is nothing to cling to”. First, of all is this something that arises naturally in Zazen or something we should be actively reflecting on or investigating (the latter sounds more like insight meditation)?

    Second, reading about becoming one with the emptiness of form, sensation, perception, formation and consciousness reminded me of the lines (from the Bahiya Sutra):-

    In the seen, there is only the seen,
    in the heard, there is only the heard,
    in the sensed, there is only the sensed,
    in the cognized, there is only the cognized.


    Is that what it is getting at, that kind of pure experience in the moment? That seems like the way we are orientating ourselves in Zazen, by letting go of thoughts.

    Gassho
    Lucy
    ST/LAH

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Hi Lucy,

    We need to be careful in seeking certain experiences during our zazen. When we sit, we just sit... ( I think you know that but I'm going to say it anyway )

    That being said, your quote is very appropriate to what Shohaku is getting at in my opinion. The tricky part is not chasing it.

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday/LAH
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  5. #5
    Hello Shugen and all,

    There was a delay in ordering the book this end and my copy has just arrived.
    If it is okay I will try to quickly catch up with previous chapters and join in further
    readings together.

    Thank you.

    Gassho
    Washin
    sat and lah

  6. #6
    Eishuu
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Shugen View Post
    Hi Lucy,

    We need to be careful in seeking certain experiences during our zazen. When we sit, we just sit... ( I think you know that but I'm going to say it anyway )

    That being said, your quote is very appropriate to what Shohaku is getting at in my opinion. The tricky part is not chasing it.

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday/LAH


    Gassho
    Lucy
    ST/LAH

  7. #7
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    All I can say is that the fog is lifting. I read on.

    STMIZ lah


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Washin View Post
    Hello Shugen and all,

    There was a delay in ordering the book this end and my copy has just arrived.
    If it is okay I will try to quickly catch up with previous chapters and join in further
    readings together.

    Thank you.

    Gassho
    Washin
    sat and lah
    Welcome!

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  9. #9
    Shugen, I like your suggested approach to this section

    We see that we cannot do anything completely by ourselves. We cannot live alone; we are always living with other people and other beings. To work together and live together with other people and beings, we have to negate ourselves. We have to negate this person to see what other people are doing or thinking.
    Negation is a tricky concept and it is easy to fall into the deep end over thinking it. I like this interpretation of negating ourselves. We need to get ourselves and our perceptions out of the way to truly see others around us.

    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat today

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Lucy View Post

    Second, reading about becoming one with the emptiness of form, sensation, perception, formation and consciousness reminded me of the lines (from the Bahiya Sutra):-

    In the seen, there is only the seen,
    in the heard, there is only the heard,
    in the sensed, there is only the sensed,
    in the cognized, there is only the cognized.


    Is that what it is getting at, that kind of pure experience in the moment? That seems like the way we are orientating ourselves in Zazen, by letting go of thoughts.

    Gassho
    Lucy
    ST/LAH
    I loved this quote Lucy, it reminded me of a couple of other similar readings that have helped me with the idea of non-self. One was a commentary on the Sattipatthana Sutta, in which the commentator talked about the eye, looking at an object and the eye seeing, seeing. It kind of cut out the middle man completely - that is 'I' 'Me'- it gave my ego quite a jolt to feel that I'd been left out, a really strange sensation, as if a rug had been pulled from under me. I had a brief glimpse of what non-self could mean. But as you say Shugen, 'the tricky part is not chasing it'

    I have a problem with the word 'negate', obviously it can't help having negative connotations, just from the sound. I looked up the dictionary definition and there is this sense of something being made invalid, null and void. It's further complicated for me because it relates to the Italian verb 'negare' which means to deny. I don't think I would define non-self as invalidating or nullifying oneself exactly? And as Warren says, negation is a tricky concept. Without applying wisdom, it would be very easy to fall into nihilism, which the Middle Way is all about avoiding.

    But I do love that quote that Warren put in about how we have to let go of the idea of self to fully realise our interconnectedness with everything around us.

    I'm perhaps not as fully engaged with these discussions as I could be at the moment, because of the Ango reading I've taken on, I apologise for that, but continue to enjoy the book and everyone's comments.

    Gassho

    Frankie
    satwithyoualltoday/lah

  11. #11
    Without relationships, what exists? From the theory of relativity to feminist theory, and everything in between and all around, it's all about relationships. Even this section of the Heart sutra is all about the relationship between form and emptiness, relative and absolute. We can't have one without the other. I can't have a me without a you, and yet here i emptily am.

    Form as emptiness is fairly easy to grasp for me, but I tend to get stuck on emptiness is not form and have to go back occasionally and read interpretations and analyses about this section to understand it better. Of what I've read, I like Okamura's description best, not because it was the most recent, but because of this relational aspect he brings to it that I don't recall from other readings.

    The challenge for me is in the balance. To be stuck on form is easy; it's everyday stuff, and I've been much too deep into it lately. And to be stuck on emptiness can be a convenient excuse to violate the precepts, because what does it matter if it's all empty anyway? Of course, that is a misinterpretation, but my delusional mind is happy to grasp on to it. But that breaks down when it becomes about relationships between the relative concepts as reflecting of absolute truth as well as the relationships between my self and others in every way.

    Finally, I liked how Okamura pointed out that prajna needs to be practiced. An obvious point, but I needed the reminder today, a day of returning to sitting.

    PS: Negate is one of those relative words that needs to be let go of; it exists only in relation to other words and its opposite. Also, there is nothing absolute about the dictionary, which is really a big book about the relationship between old and current words as well as words and the people who use them, stuff that changes all the time, thus relative and empty.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  12. #12
    well said Jigen; thank you

    gassho

    rish
    -st/lah

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Hello all,

    I promise I've not forgotten you! This Ango has been..... something.

    We will pick up again after the Rohatsu Retreat.

    Happy Sitting,

    Shugen

    Sattoday/LAH
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

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