Thursday, July 13, 2017

Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form

There are many stories about the great Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. This one is unique
One day, when he was sitting by the old dried river bed wondering how to alleviate the thirst of the tribal people, his mind was in turmoil as he was the chieftain and it was his responsibility to find water for them. Many years before this river was a torrent providing abundant water but now only a trickle flowed. He was sitting and looking for alternatives of how to find water when he realized that a troubled and anxious mind cannot think constructively. He should let go of his thoughts and focus his awareness on the river bed where abundant water once flowed. He then realized that with no rain or spring to feed the river, there must be some other source. He then saw many huge boulders up the river, he suddenly realized how in the past the force of the once wild stream must have hollowed out that rock. He then remembered how water tended to puddle in those kind of hollowed out rocks and boulders.
He suddenly cupped the palms of his hands to mimic the hollow shape that he saw in that rock and he wondered why he had never considered that a hollow shape could hold stuff, contain something... water for instance.
Suddenly he became aware of the sound that a few drops of water made that still slowly trickled down the rock wall behind him.
He could hardly find the right words to express what he had just discovered, he somehow blurted out, "Form is Emptiness!" but realizing that people will not understand him he added "and Emptiness is Form!"
When Buddha expounded the “Diamond Sutra” He has the following dialogue with his principle Bhikkhu, Subhuti and the dialogue is as follows:
'Subhuti, what do you think? Are there many particles of dust in the universe?'
Subhuti replied: 'Many, World Honoured One!'
'Subhuti, the Tathagata says these particles of dust are not (real), (but) are (merely) called particles of dust. The Tathagata says the universe is not (real), but it is (merely) called the universe.'
Buddhist cosmology is very advanced and the above dialogue points out to the deep understanding taught by the Buddha. The story and the teachings of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, as well as the Diamond Sutra teaches that the fundamental aspect of reality is emptiness.
As we now understand through research in particle physics and in our exercise of reconciling Quantum theory and Special theory of relativity that the concept of matter as consisting of particle is an illusion. String Theory posits that particle are manifestations of strings of energy vibrating at different frequencies in different dimensions. So the observable universe is an illusionary, collective, objective reality created by perception in a conditioned mind.
If we delve deep my understanding is that consciousness forms the very substratum of both the world of observation as well as the observing mind. Hence in these undifferentiated entities how can one arrive at a duality. Hence all dualities result from a conditioned consciousness rooted in forms.
All ‘rupas’ or forms and ‘lakshanas’ or attributes or the result of corrupted mind.
In a frustrated rational mental mode the existential philosopher Jean Paul Sartre declared:
 “Anything, anything would be better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses one and never hurts quite enough.” But this is the truth that grasping reality with our rational mind leads us to a frustrating experience.
The criticality of our mental self-annihilation, a burning to ashes of our overloaded rational mind, is brought out by Friedrich Nietzsche, in his book ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’.
“But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself; you lie in wait for yourself in caverns and forests. Lonely one, you are going the way to yourself! And your way goes past yourself, and past your seven devils! You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?”
The realization of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara on the river bed and the deep exposition of the Buddha to Subhuti as well as our current enquiry into nature of reality in science should take us on an inward journey of realizing our true nature.

Love to you all

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