Empty and Full

I liked this plate for its design. But its Heart Sutra calligraphy was what called out to me. I left a comment on a modern chanted version of this sutra, “Like emptiness, there is no limit on how to chant the heart sutra. The discordant chord at the end speaks to the unity of seeming opposites”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=958qchBNs60&t=56s.

This Sutra is central to the Mahayana Buddhist tradition that still flourishes in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan and China as well as parts of India and Nepal. Mahayana Buddhism has also spread to the Americas and Europe.

In the West, the concept of “emptiness,” can imply having run out of something and therefore lack. But this sutra’s “emptiness” seems more like transcendent fullness to me. Commentaries suggest the Sutra’s wisdom fosters compassion, and harmony, that it can make fear drop away. So while I could put whatever I like on that plate, with the Heart Sutra there, it already seems quite full:

Heart Sutra Translation by the Kuan Um School of Zen.

Source: https://www.dharmanet.org/HeartSutra

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva
when practicing deeply the Prajna Paramita
perceives that all five skandhas are empty
and is saved from all suffering and distress.

Shariputra,
form does not differ from emptiness,
emptiness does not differ from form.
That which is form is emptiness,
that which is emptiness form.

The same is true of feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.

Shariputra,
all dharmas are marked with emptiness;
they do not appear or disappear,
are not tainted or pure,
do not increase or decrease.

Therefore, in emptiness no form, no feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.

No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch,
no object of mind;
no realm of eyes
and so forth until no realm of mind consciousness.

No ignorance and also no extinction of it,
and so forth until no old age and death
and also no extinction of them.

No suffering, no origination,
no stopping, no path, no cognition,
also no attainment with nothing to attain.

The Bodhisattva depends on Prajna Paramita
and the mind is no hindrance;
without any hindrance no fears exist.
Far apart from every perverted view one dwells in Nirvana.

In the three worlds
all Buddhas depend on Prajna Paramita
and attain Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi.

Therefore know that Prajna Paramita
is the great transcendent mantra,
is the great bright mantra,
is the utmost mantra,
is the supreme mantra
which is able to relieve all suffering
and is true, not false.
So proclaim the Prajna Paramita mantra,
proclaim the mantra which says:

gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha

Author: katzlator

My writing, photography, consulting and workshops aim to inspire engagement with resources for wellbeing.