Tag Archives: Heart Sutra

Review: Zen Words for the Heart: Hakuin’s Commentary on the Heart Sutra


Zen Words for the Heart: Hakuin's Commentary on the Heart Sutra
Zen Words for the Heart: Hakuin’s Commentary on the Heart Sutra by Norman Waddell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This tiny book “Zen Words for the Heart” includes a translation of the Heart Sutra with commentary by the 17th Century Zen Master Hakuin Ekaku in a Zen idiom, e.g. Hakuin’s commentary on the line “Form is no other than Emptiness, Emptiness is no other than Form” in the Heart Sutra:

“A nice hot kettle on a stew. He ruins it by dropping the couple of “Form and Emptiness” in . It’s no good pushing delicacies at a man with a full belly. Striking waves to look for water when waves are water”.

Recommended for readers interested in Hakuin’s commentary on the Heart Sutra.

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Review: The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries


The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries
The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries by Donald S. Lopez Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tiny book “The Heart Sutra Explained” (230 pages) includes commentaries by Indian and Tibetan sages.

These commentaries are very useful to study the Heart Sutra from different perspectives.

E.g.: a commentary on the first line in the prologue “Thus I have hear at one time”:
“The commentator Vajrapani has high praise for the word Thus (“evam” in Sanskrit), the word with which sutras begin. Those four letters are the source of the 84.000 doctrines taught by Buddha and are the basis of all marvels. The meaning of the other words are less clear, there is controversy over the “I” who heard them and to the meaning of “at one time””.

The high praise of Thus – “evam” – is quite similar to the commentary of Bernie Glassman who says in “The Dude and the Zen Master” that the Heart Sutra begins with the most important word “Avalokiteshvara” or even better with the letter “A”. If this “A” is wholly encompassed, the Heart Sutra is all encompassed.

The controversy over the “I” who heard them and to the meaning of “at one time” may be seen as Buddhist question (or Koan) in my opinion .

This example given is only one of the many commentaries.

Next to this tiny book, a basic knowledge of Sanskrit is very helpful for a further study of the Heart Sutra.

“The Heart Sutra Explained” is highly recommended for a further study of the Heart Sutra from different perspectives, as is a basic course of Sanskrit.

For a first reading and basic study of the Heart Sutra, Red Pine’s translation and commentary is highly recommended.

For a first reading and more poetic commentary, “The Heart of Understanding” by Thich Nhat Hahn is also highly recommended.

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Review: The Heart Sutra


The Heart Sutra
The Heart Sutra by Red Pine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Heart Sutra – a very brief Sutra – is Buddhism in a nutshell.

Bernie Glassman says in “The Dude and the Zen Master” that the Heart Sutra begins with the most important word “Avalokiteshvara” or even better with the letter “A”. If this “A” is wholly encompassed, the Heart Sutra is all encompassed.

So true, bearing in mind the metaphor of the jewel net of Indra – in the Avatamsaka Sutra (translated by Thomas Cleary as “The Flower Ornament Scripture”) – stating that every single glass pearl in Indra’s Net reflects the whole endless Net, and at the same time every single glass pearl shapes the whole Net.

In the same way, although the Heart Sutra is Buddhism in a nutshell, it is not so much a summary of Buddhism, this Sutra is the very core of Buddhism (as all is the very core of Buddhism).

This translation – in English – and the commentary by Red Pine is excellent, and extensive in a tiny book.

Highly recommended.

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Five common realities – facts en logic 12


The next morning Carla, Man and Narrator have their breakfast seated on a beanch at the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, in Florence.

“Last night I read the following two comments by a Zen master on a Buddhistic question, that are in line with our discussion during our supper last night:

“Fundamentally there is no delusion or enlightenment

“Peace is originally the accomplishment of the general, but the general is not allowed to see peace.” [1]

The first comment reflects Carla’s introduction on the sometimes razor-thin difference between delusion and reality. I think the Zen master goes several steps further than Carla; in the tradition of the Heart Sūtra [2], the Zen master will probably identify delusion and enlightenment as empty; we will come to this later – at “Void” as the “Third common reality”. The second comment is not clear to me. Do you know an explanation?”, asks Man to Carla and Narrator.

feiten en logica 12a[3]

“This comment looks structurally like the well-known fallacy in logic “Every ox is an animal, so each animal is an ox”; in this comment, a denial in the second clause might cause a tautology. In my opinion, peace is originally only possible if it includes peace in everything and everyone; but due to entropy [4] – or very loosely interpreted: the organised  chaos – it is not possible to create and establish human peace for all an everyone. The effort to maintain this form of entropy, surpasses our environment”, says Carla.

“You are right for the manifestations in our environment, and that is partly meant with this comment on the  Buddhistic question “Zhaozhou’s was your bowl”. The question is:

“Have you had breakfast yet?”

“Yes, I have eaten”

“Then go wash your bowl”

In this question “breakfast” stands for (a personal experience of) Buddhist enlightingment and “Go was your bowl” stands for realising Buddhistic enlightenment – as bodhisattva – for the All-encompassing One [5].

feiten en logica 12b[6]

Within Indra’s Net is not possible to see peace, because on the one hand an eye cannot fully see itself and because no peace and no war exists in Indra’s Net: Indra’s Net is empty of these concepts.

Shall I use this second comment as prelude to my introduction to Kṛṣṇa?”, says Narrator.

“Good explanation of both comments in words; a Zen master asks to show the answer directly and immediately within Indra’s net. I am looking forward to your introduction to Kṛṣṇa”, says Man.

“I will formulate the comment more precisely:

“Shānti [7] (peace, rest, calmness of mind, absence of passion, comfort, son of Indra, son of Kṛṣṇa and  kālindi) is originally the accomplishment of Īśvara [8] (or the general), but Īśvara is not allowed to see peace”.

In the course of my introduction it will become clear why this comment is so aptly for Kṛṣṇa.

The emergence of Kṛṣṇa is shrouded in mystery. According to Vedic tradition Kṛṣṇa is – after an immaculate conception [9] – born about 5000 years ago in Mathura – the former capital of the kingdom Shurasena (now Uttar Pradesh) – in Northern India [10].

feiten en logica 12c[11]

In the third book of the Mahābhārata [12] – composed more than 2500 years ago – Kṛṣṇa shouts:

“I am Nārāyaņa. I am creator and destroyer. I am Vişņu [13]. I am Brahman. I am Indra the master God.” [14]

In our contemporary ears, this exclamation sounds extremely overconfident. Within the metaphor of Indra’s Net, it is an open door, because every manifestation in Indra’s Net reflects and shapes the entire net as a creator and destroyer.

According to the Mahābhārata, Kṛṣṇa refuses to take sides at the beginning of the battle for the Kingdom between the five Pāṇḍavaḥ brothers – including Arjuna – and their many Kaurava cousins; he is only willing to enter the arena on the side of Pāṇḍavaḥ brothers as charioteer and leader of Arjuna.

At the beginning of the Bhagavad Gītā – a small and old part of the Mahābhārata – the army of the five Pāṇḍavaḥ brothers stands in battle order on the battlefield – with the place name Kurukshetra – opposite the army of their Kaurava cousins. In addition to a battle for a Kingdom, they stand on the battlefield in the tension between on one hand world order and duty (Dharmakshetra [15]) and on the other hand human action (Kurukshetra [16]). At the start of the battle, Arjuna – as leader of the five Pāṇḍavaḥ brothers – refuses to give the starting signal for the attack; in the opposite battle order he sees many family members, teachers, and loved ones. Kṛṣṇa – the leader and charioteer of Arjuna during this fight – encourages Arjuna to fulfil his duty within the world order. Kṛṣṇa only succeeds after he adopts his Godlike form during the dialogue with Arjuna.

In the Bhagavad Gītā Kṛṣṇa is called amongst others Parameshvara [17] or the Supreme God [18]. Some of the statements of Kṛṣṇa during the dialogue with Arjuna are:

“Although I am the Unborn and of immutable essence, although I am the Īśvara of the created beings, I enter my Godlike shape and come into finite existence from age to age” [19]

“I am equal to all created beings, there is no object of my particular favour or disfavour.”[20]

“Have your mind and life directed to Me, enlighten one another and talk about Me constantly.” [21]

feiten en logica 12d[22]

This last statement of Kṛṣṇa was applicable to my mask of an idol in the inverted world in Amsterdam [23].

Through this Godlike shape, Kṛṣṇa – in this part of the Mahābhārata – is a guardian and a leader of the world order and duty, and of human action. Within the world order of the Mahābhārata, Kṛṣṇa is not allowed to see peace – also this Godlike shape in the form of Kṛṣṇa is bound by the law of cause and effect.

The outcome of the battle for the Kingdom is disastrous for all concerned. The heroes had been slain in battle; the survivors were consumed with hate, anger and grief; and the women and children mourn miserably for the loss of the fallen. At the end of the Mahabharata, all are deceased.

May I come back on the death this afternoon?”, says Narrator.

“That will be a good transition to my introduction to the mind of the warrior; wars eventually see only losers. I will come back to this later”, says Carla.

“Narrator, what do you think might be the answers by Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa to the Buddhistic question  “Zhaozhou’s Wash your bowl””, asks Man to Narrator.

“Arjuna puts his hands to his mouth as battle horn and roars; Kṛṣṇa spurs the battle horses”, says Narrator.

“Would Zhaozhou approve these answers?”, asks Man to Narrator.

“Zhaozhou accepts the answer of Arjuna, and he gives Arjuna right away “Linji’s True Man” as next Buddhistic question. According to Hinduism, Arjuna has met “The true Man” within his possibilities and limitations [24]. Zhaozhou rejects the answer of Kṛṣṇa, after which Kṛṣṇa – in the incarnation as Bhikṣu – immediately makes the gestures of cleansing of the begging bowl”, says Narrator.

“So far I have mostly listened during your introductions to God in human shape. The “Deus ex homine” has for me characteristics of a “Deus ex machina””, says Carla

“Almost all religious movements have struggled with this problem. As we have seen before, Christ was only recognized as son of God within the Trinity after many altercations and struggle within the Catholic Church. The doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary – the mother of Christ – by the Holy Spirit has caused much discussion. In 1854 A.C. with the Papal Bull “Ineffabilis Deus” (the inexpressible God), Pope Pius IX proclaimed this dogma [25]”, says Man.

“During my life I have often renounced “Deus ex homine”, because in this manifestation I was not allowed to see peace”, says Narrator.

“Later on our Odyssey – during “Incarnatus est” at “Seven other realities “– I hope to learn more about the wonder of life within the void and the manifestations of Indra’s Net”, says Man.

“Shall we clean up our breakfast and visit the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella?”, says Carla.


[1] Both sentences are comments by the Zen master Xuedou on the koan ‘Zhaozhou’s “Wash your bowl’. See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 172

[2] See also: Leben, Man, Narrator – One Way. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 110 – 112

[3] In this human painting of peace, it is doubtful if peace also extends to the ox and the bay leaves. Mural of Peace by Gari Melchers. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. Bron afbeelding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace

[4] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy

[5] A bodhisattva is a human who – on the verge of personal Buddhistic enlightenment – decides to remain in the world to work on the enlightenment of the whole universe; a bodhisattva has made the vow to enter enlightenment together with all around us at the same. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhisattva

[6] Woodcut of Zhaozhou. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhaozhou_Congshen

[7] Shānti is comparable with Sanctus meaning in Dutch “Part of the Eucharist before the consecration” and “Holy praising”, and in Latin “holy, inviolable, untouchable” en “holy, honourable, exalted, godlike, pure and pious”. Sources: Dictionaries Dutch and Latin published by Wolters – Noordhoff

[8] Īśvara means in Sanskrit amongst others “being able to”, “Supreme being/soul”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[9] Source: Bhagavata Purana according to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna

[10] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna_(god)

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna

[12] See: Book 3, 188 (or 189), 5 from the Mahābhārata

[13] A Hindu supreme God, manifestation of Brahman, also named Nārāyaņa. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vishnu

[14] Source: Radhakrishnan, S, Indian Philosophy – Centenary Edition. London: Unwin Hyman Limited, 1989, Vol. One, p. 485 – 486

[15] Dharmakshetra consists of “to place the continuous self/Self”, and “kshetra” – litterally: field.

[16] Kurukshetra consists of Kuru – a conjugation of “kr” meaning “to make, to do or act”, and “kshetra” – litterally: field.

[17] Parameshvara consists of para and Īśvara wherein “para” means “highest” in het Sanskrit.

[18] Source: Bhagavad Gītā (11.3-4). A word by word translation is available, see: Sargeant, Winthrop, The Bhagavad Gȋtâ. Albany: State New York University Press, 1994

[19] Source: Bhagavad Gītā IV.6

[20] Source: Bhagavad Gītā IX.29

[21] Source: Bhagavad Gītā X.9

[22] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurukshetra

[23] See:  Leben, Man, Narrator – One Way. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 93 – 98

[24] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arjuna

[25] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception

Five common realities – facts and logic 4


“May I come back to our discussion of last night before you will tell us more about organized chaos and the mind of the warrior?”, asks Man to Carla.

“All right, it’s better to finish a topic before starting a new subject”, says Carla.

“Last night I read in a book with Buddhist questions (a recent copy of the bundle that Narrator received from his American friend as farewell gift) the passage “All sentient beings just have active consciousness, boundless and unclear with no foundation to rely on“. As example is given:

When a monk passes and he is addressed with “Hey, you”, then right away this monk will turn his head towards the caller. When this monk hesitates upon the second question “Who are you?”, then this monk has an active consciousness, boundless and unclear without foundation to rely on”.

This fundamental affliction of ignorance in itself is – according to this question – the immutable knowledge of all Buddha’s. The verse accompanying this question is:

One call and one turns her/his head –Do you know the self/Self or not?

Vaguely, like the moon [1] through ivy, a crescent at that.

The child of riches, as soon as she/he falls

On the boundless road of destitution, has many sorrows. [2]

feiten en logica 41.jpg[3]

Upon reading this question and verse, I thought of our last discussion about God as “another, a stranger”, who is separated from “the Unspeakable”, ” the Supreme Astonishment”, “the ultimate question that exceeds words”. Before the separation [4] were God, the people and everything around us in this fundamental affliction of ignorance, as a healthy human body without ailments also forms a coherent entity without separate parts? Had they a foundation to rely upon and what foundation was it, or was the lack of a foundation the source of an active consciousness, boundless and unclear? I don’t know the answer to these questions. And – after the fall, after the separation – wherefrom arrives the boundless road of destitution with many sorrows? Heschel continues his essay “Man is not alone” [5] with the topics: “faith”, “one God”, “beyond faith”, “strive for oneness”, and “common actions are adventures”. Would Heschel have seen “One call” and “One turns her/his head” in the category “common actions are adventures”? I think so; but would he finally have seen “One call” and “One turns her/his head” as “one” or as “separate”? I see it vaguely as a crescent Moon through ivy”, says Man.   

“At the strophe “boundless and vague without foundation to rely upon” from the Buddhist question, I was reminded of “śūnya” – meaning “empty” – from the Heart Sūtra [6] in which “form is emptiness as emptiness is equal to form”; in emptiness is no Dharma – or world order or duty. Now I invite you to visit the Cappelle Medicee [7] in the Basilica of San Lorenzo [8]. This Chapel – located behind the Basilica – is a symbolic mausoleum of the family De Medici. This family was a “child of riches in the Renaissance that has known many sorrows once it had fallen on the boundless road of destitutions“. In my opinion the mausoleum superbly shows the immensity of the sorrows and the coldness of the destitution of this family”, says Narrator.

Carla, Man and Narrator visit the Cappelle Medicee.

feiten en logica 42.png[9]

They continue their discussion outside seated on a bench in the Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini.

“Everything in the Cappelle Medicee aims to create distance to the spectator. I expect that in the past visits to this mausoleum were only allowed on invitation by the family. I think this mausoleum sought to remind the descendants of the Medici wherefrom they owed their wealth and to show visitors which “children of wealth” were commemorated here. At each grave in the mausoleum, I wondered “Who are you?” and “Do you know the self/self or not?”. I think “Vaguely, like the moon through the ivy”, but the abundance of the many types of “Ivy” will not be helpful to see the Moon”, says Man.

“May we visit the Basilica of San Lorenzo now? This building is austere outside, but the Basilica will show its beauty inside”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 43[10]

feiten en logica 44[11]

“I am pleased that we have continued the discussion, as this – and certainly the visit to the Basilica – creates a nice stepping stone to the separation between science and religion in the Renaissance. The transition in style of the choir dome toward the ceiling of the main and side aisles nicely showed the wish to change science – emerged from the Medieval Scholasticism – toward an orderly science that explains everything in case we know and apply the basics. May I continue on this subject the next time, because now I need to rest?”, says Carla.

feiten en logica 45[12]

“Please do”, says Man.

“During dinner?”, says Narrator.

“That’s fine”, says Carla.


[1] See also: Drift, Carla, Man Leben – One Life, A Biography. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 71 – 72

[2] Free rendering of a part of the Zen dialogue “Guishan’s Active Consiousness” from: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 163 – 166.

[3] Source image: http://www.shambhala.com/book-of-serenity.html

[4] See also: The parable of Adam en Eve expelled from paradise after the fall in Chapter 3 of Genesis in the Old Testament.

[5] See: Heschel, Abraham Joshua, Man is not alone – A Philosophy of Religion. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1951. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Joshua_Heschel. In “The Long Discourses of the Buddha. Massachusetts: Wisdom Publications, 1995 p. 38-39”, 32 abodes are mentioned for sentient beings; including 22 abodes for Gods. Are Gods also “children of riches” within this frame of mind?

[6] See: Leben, Man, Narrator – One Way. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 110 – 112

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medici_Chapel

[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_San_Lorenzo,_Florence

[9] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medici_Chapel

[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_San_Lorenzo,_Florence

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_San_Lorenzo,_Florence

[12] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_di_San_Lorenzo_di_Firenze

Narrator – gate in the north 2


Life with my beloved in Stockholm – who had evaded his military service in the U.S. Army during the war in Vietnam and still stayed in Europe although he might return to the United States after the general pardon of president Carter in 1977 [1] – was as familiar as in Amsterdam and at the same time it was different in all respects.

In addition to the golden house in the old town, he also had a beautiful country house in the Stockholm archipelago. In the weekends and during holidays we stayed in this wooden house on a small island. We enjoyed the beautiful skies and during night we slept outside if the weather permitted. I was amazed about the long days.

[2]

Several friends of my lover played in jazz ensembles. Through them I learned to appreciate the music of the giants in jazz; my favourites were the Miles Davis Quintet [3] and John Coltrane [4] with his quartet; I learned his records of “Joy”, and “A Love Surpreme” – composed during the struggle for equal rights in America wherein John Coltrane wanted to create a spiritual unity with this music in order to influence a social change [5] – by heart.

[6]

During several practice sessions with a jazz ensemble I played on percussion; the members were so impressed that I could join playing at the Stockholm Jazz Festival [7] that summer. Afterwards I regularly performed with varying musicians in Stockholm and later in Copenhagen.

My beloved practised and studied Buddhism and meditation in Stockholm in order to give meaning to his life. Under his influence, I slowly engaged in the Buddhist and Taoist side of Oriental wisdom.  He could use some help with comprehending the source texts written in Sanskrit. Together we followed this way of living in Stockholm: he studied the content and I supported at the form.

Friday and Saturday before the last week in June, I celebrated Midsummer in Scandinavia for the first time. In Stockholm the night lasted only a few hours and that Saturday and Sunday the entire public life was closed. We stayed at friends for participating in this traditional celebration.

A few days after midsummer my lover and I began our holiday trip to the North Cape in the Goddess. By an almost deserted landscape of Northern Sweden – where your neighbour is your best friend, because there is no one else in the vicinity – we drove in eternal light.

[8]

Just before the border with Norway we saw Lapporten. My beloved named it the Empty Gate [9]. He asked me what “empty” is in Sanskrit. Hereupon I replied “śūnya” [10] that is akin to the English word “shunt” [11] where a low parallel resistor causes a parallel circuit within an electric circuit. He began  to chant a part of the Heart Sutra:

The Heart Sutra can be listened at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0jcx9fnoWc

A free rendering in English:

Form is equal to emptiness as emptiness is equal to form;

Form itself is empty and emptiness is form;

So also feeling, knowledge, formation and consciousness.

Thus Shariputra, all Dharmas are empty of characteristics.

They are not made, nor destroyed, nor defiled and they are not pure;

And they neither increase nor diminish.

There is no form, feeling, cognition, formation, or consciousness;

no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind;

no sights, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or Dharmas;

I said that the Empty Gate may give access to the Nirvana [12]. He replied that the Empty Gate was also empty of Nirvana and he shone [13] as a god. My beloved remained perfectly shining well beyond the North Cape.

[14]


[1] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_archipelago

[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_Davis_Quintet

[4] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Coltrane

[5] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Love_Supreme

[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Love_Supreme

[7] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_Jazz_Festival

[8] Source image: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalovardo

[9] The Mumonkan – in English often translated in Gateless Gate – is a collection of 48 Zen Koans compiled by the Zen monk Mumon in the 13th century after Christ.

The character 無 () has a fairly straightforward meaning: no, not, or without. However, within Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, the term 無 () is often a synonym for 空 (sunyata). This implies that the 無 () rather than negating the gate (as in “gateless”) is specifying it, and hence refers to the “Gate of Emptiness”. This is consistent with the Chinese Buddhist notion that the “Gate of Emptiness” 空門 is basically a synonym for Buddhism, or Buddhist practice. 門 (mén) is a very common character meaning door or gate. However, in the Buddhist sense, the term is often used to refer to a particular “aspect” or “method” of the Dharma teachings. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gateless_Gate

There are four well known versions in English:

Aitken, Robert, The Gateless Barrier, The Wu-men Kuan (Mumonkan). New York: North Point Press, 2000

Sekida, Katsuki, Two Zen Classics – Mumonkan & Hekiganroku. New York:Weatherhill, 1977

Shibayama, Zenkei, The Gateless Barrier, Zen Comments on the Mumonkan. Boston: Shambhala, 1974

Yamada Kôun Roshi, Gateless Gate (Mumonkan). Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1990

[10] “Empty, void” according to: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[11] According to Shorter Oxford English Dictionary a natural or artificial blood vessel to divert the blood stream.

[12] “Land without forest” according to: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[13] The word Deva whereof Deus in Latin, Zeus in Greec and Dieu in French arose, is Sanskrit connected with the verb root “Div” meaning amongst others “to shine, to play, to increase”.

[14] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapland_(Zweeds_landschap)

Introduction: Five realities and five skandha’s


In the previous post your Narrator has given an introduction about the consistency between religion and science. In this post your Narrator will explore the question whether the five skandhas include everything that we may need for our spiritual development.

During the following stages on their Odyssey the two main characters will continue with their quest for who we are, where we come from and where we shall go to. First we will visit the five common realities:

o   Facts and logic – scientific reflection and consciousness

o   Intensities and associations – intuitive reflection and consciousness

o   Emptiness – mode of consciousness

o   Change – mode of consciousness

o   interconnectedness – mode of consciousness

How do these five realities relate to the five skandha’s from the Mahâyâna Buddhism and with the emptiness of these skandhas according to the Heart Sutra [1]?

The answer to the second question is easy at this moment: the two main characters will look for the answer at the third stage at the reality – Emptiness.

The answer to the first question is also quite simple. The five realities include the five skandhas whereby the five realities better reflect the contemporary consciousness.

The fifth and final skandha – consciousness – constitutes the other four skandha’s and at the same time is derives from these four skandhas [2]. Consciousness underlies the five realities and consciousness is formed by the five realities. As far as your Narrator is aware, there is no difference between the fifth skandha – including emptiness – and the five realities.

The first skandha – form – in contemporary form, coincides with the five realities, because form takes shape by facts and logic (or lack of it), by intensities and associations for the experience of form, by change because everything changes and by interconnectedness because a form exists in relation to other forms.

The second skandha – feelings and sensation – coincides with the second reality for the experience, with the fourth reality for the change of feelings and with the fifth reality for the experience of feelings within and by a society.

The third skandha – perception, recognition or distinction – coincides with the first reality as far as its nature of  facts and things, with the second reality insofar as the distinction of intensities and associations concerned, with the fourth reality for the change of distinction and recognition, and with the fifth reality for the distinction and recognition relative to other things, facts, entities, living beings and events.

The fourth skandha – mental impressions, impulses, imprinting – is reflected in a similar way as the third skandha in the first, second, fourth and fifth reality

As far as your Narrator is aware, the five skandhas – including the emptiness – coincide with the five realities which the main characters will visit.

At the end of the Odyssey, the two main characters may in retrospect perhaps conclude whether the five skandhas provide everything that is needed for our spiritual development.

The following post will be available within a few weeks. One of the main characters is still recovering from the efforts and the other main character has made the first part of the report on “One”, “Two” and “Three”; this report is almost ready to be published. The version in the English language is not ready yet. In about four weeks the main characters will resume their Odyssey.

   [3]


[1] See several translations of the Heart Sutra, e.g. by Red Pine (Bill Porter), Edward Conze, Donald S. Lopez Jr.

[2] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skandha

[3] Source image: http://www.gralon.net/articles/art-et-culture/litterature/article-l-odyssee—resume-et-episodes-mythologiques-1415.htm