‘Buddha preaching Abhidhamma in Tavatimsa’ – Wikimedia Commons
There is a text that came from the dawn of ages, whose author is unknown, but which has been widely accepted, practised, and chanted in Mahāyāna Buddhism as a condensed exposé of the teaching of Buddha. Although known and praised as the ‘Heart Sutra’, its original Sanskrit name translates as ‘The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom’. If the Sutra’s main teaching asserts that all phenomena is ‘Śūnyatā’, a term widely translated as emptiness, its wide implications extend to many other aspects in the understanding of our true nature. Originally translated in Chinese by a 9th century Buddhist monk called Prajñā, the text exists in a shorter and longer version. I am sharing here the standard long version that provides an elegant and story-like context to the main teaching. I have also chosen to give to the many Sanskrit terms their original meaning or context. Following the Sutra is a short text that I wrote, some words that the text has evoked in me. I hope that this presentation will give justice to the profundity of this text, and that you will enjoy the reading.
“Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”
~ The Heart Sutra
Discover this milestone of Buddhist literature: the ‘Heart Sutra’… (READ MORE…)
‘Buddha Painting at Amazing Banyan Tree’ – Utsav Rock Garden – Wikimedia
When you see the representation of a Buddha in meditation — or a Shiva or a goddess —, it is not about a person or a god, not about an entity, no matter how mythical or divine he or she might be. It is yourself represented. It is the description of your own aware being. Present. Self-sufficient. Undisturbable. Undivided. Not dispersed. It is a representation of consciousness — that thing or essence of which we are made, and with which we are all having our many experiences. It is the very form of being. It is an attempt to make seen what cannot be seen, to make graspable that which cannot be grasped. It is the form of the formless. It is teaching itself. It is truth in a condensed and visible form.
To see it that way will never make you laugh again at the expressions of devotion in front of statues. It is not to say that the immense majority of believers do not see in these statues the representation of a person or a god, but rather to emphasise the truer significance behind these objects of devotion. They are reminders of truth, wake up calls from the bottomless being contained in your own being. They are beseeching you to direct your attention inwards. You are being asked to devote your attention to your self, to worship your own being, to not disperse yourself in the ten thousand things and the endless dance of thoughts and feelings, but to focus on that which is before them, that which is seeing them all. That is your true self, and that true self is Buddha-nature.
A Buddha in meditation is not a Buddha in meditation. It doesn’t tell you that you should meditate. It is rather the expression of the very being that sits as your very self or awareness. In other words, it is you. You are this close to a Buddha sitting in meditation. A breath away. Less than a breath, you are it to a point that you can never even envisage. That’s what keeps you so far remote from it. This is the real belief: to think of yourself as being a common person and not a Buddha. Imagination is taking you far away from your true self. Don’t let it do that to yourself. Don’t be so malleable as to follow the injunctions of a voice in your head. Sit down in yourself and look within. Surrender to the presence of your innermost being. Stay with it. Admire it. Your true nature is nothing but Buddha-nature. It is the only thing that you must not be asked to believe. It’s just for the realising.
Text by Alain Joly
Painting by Utsav Rock Garden
– Utsav Rock Garden
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