Emptiness and the Shore Beyond – Part I [Updated Mar 17, 2014]


“Emptiness is bound to bloom, like hundreds of grasses blossoming.” ~Eihei Dogen, Sky Flowers

The Sunyata, the Emptiness, which is at the center of the Buddhist doctrine, is often not adequately understood. It is not a pessimistic or fatalistic doctrine, invented by an unhappy mind. It is the total and deep experience of a very healthy state of consciousness. We are all this primordial purity or emptiness, but our everyday consciousness is so clouded by emotions and thoughts that we are not aware of it, and thus we don’t recognize it.

Sunyata is one of the deepest realization states of meditative consciousness. It is what we all experience when we close our eyes and study the interiority of life.

By closing our eyes, we begin to see that life and consciousness consist of different layers. The first layer is already visible when our eyes are open. It consists of solid matter. This is the grossest form life exhibits. We can touch, smell, hear and see it. It is shallow, because it is what it is. It needs no interpretation, but only confirmation. We all agree about a rock. A rock is a rock.

Sunyata, on the other hand, emulates the attempts to perceive reality beyond the form, the integral essence of the beings and how the vibrational fields and different levels of consciousness play diverse roles in our understanding of ourselves and the universe.

“…It is only thus that the disciple can reach what the Lord Buddha called the ‘other shore’ — the spiritual realms which have to be reached by crossing the stormy ocean of human existence, and doing so under one’s own spiritual and intellectual and psychical power, with only such help as can be given him in view of his own past karma.

The idea of going to the other shore is commonly supposed to be typically Oriental, but this seems unjustified, as many Christian hymns speak of the mystical Jordan and of reaching the ‘shore beyond,’ a conception which appears to be more or less identical with that of Buddhism. ‘This side’ is the life of the world, the usual or common pursuits of men. The ‘other shore’ is simply the life spiritual, involving the expansion in relatively full power and function of the entire range of man’s nature. In other words, to reach the ‘other shore’ means living at one with the divinity within, and hence partaking of the universal life in relatively full self-consciousness.

The teaching of all the great religious and philosophical systems has been to urge upon their followers the fact that our real goal is to learn the lessons of manifested existence and to graduate from this experience into the cosmic life.”

~ William Q. Judge

According to Buddhist scholars, a short Buddhist writing called the Prajna-Paramita-Hridaya Sutra or “The Heart Sutra or Essence of the Wisdom of the Passing-Over,” is truly the dialogue between Avalokiteshvara and Sariputra and it was inspired by the Buddha.

The content of the conversation is determined entirely by the power of the Buddha’s concentration. The bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara represents the idea of perfect universal wisdom, while Sariputra is regarded as one of the Buddha’s closest and brightest disciples. The dialogue takes place at the Vulture Peak near the ancient city of Rajgaya where the Buddha and his community of monks stayed. Sariputra requests Avalokiteshvara to instruct him on the practice of the perfection of wisdom, which means prajnaparamita in Sanskrit.

The Heart Sutra is one of the main sutras of Buddhism. The practice of this sutra reveals the deep contemplation of what Buddhists call emptiness. Once one reflects and meditates on the essential emptiness of all things, one becomes able to remove any mental construct which creates obstacles in the human and spiritual path. So the meditative practice of the Heart Sutra is a powerful approach to get rid of many mental obstacles in our way.

Copyright 2013 Humanity Healing Network

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