A Story Inspired by the Heart Sutra, Part 1

By Desmond Yeoh SC

Avalokitesvara was a Bodhisattva. A Bodhisattva is a spiritual master who has taken a vow of not obtaining full enlightenment until all other beings have achieve enlightenment.

He was sitting in silent contemplation, enjoying the early morning sunrise and the cool breeze from the sea.

That morning he was contemplating the Truth of Emptiness taught by the Buddha. He observed and listened to the waves as they rolled and crashed into the shore. He saw that the waves, although appearing separate from each other, are in essence, the sea. The waves are not created by any Being but arose because of causes and conditions. The wind and position of the moon contributed to the existence of the waves. Also, the non-existence of certain causes, such as a large rock or other obstacle in the ocean, enables the waves to continue to exist until they finally crash into the shore. The waves are the ocean and the ocean is the waves. The separation exists only because humans chose to name them differently.

He turned his gaze to a nearby tree. He saw that each leaf on the tree, although appearing separate, is in essence the tree. The existence of each leaf depends on the water drawn by the roots of the tree, the nourishing rays from the sun and the nutrients from the soil. He saw that contained within each leaf is the sun, clouds, earth and even the bird which, long ago, dropped the seed that eventually became that tree. He saw that contained within a seed is an entire forest. When each leaf dries up and falls to the ground, it does not die. It would be reabsorbed back into the tree and be “reborn” as part of the tree. The leaves are the tree and the tree is the leaves.

He reached down and picked up a handful of sand from the shore. Up close, he could see each grain of sand. But without every grain of sand, the shore would not exist. Without the shore, the sand would not exist. The sand is no different from the shore and the shore is no different from the sand. They are both empty of separate existence.

He laughed at how all things do not appear as they truly are. He rejoiced as he started to glimpse the Truth of Emptiness.

nature-stars-milky-way-galaxy-974470.jpegHe felt his robe flapping in the wind. He asked himself, who should he credit for creating the robe. The answer was obvious; no one. The robe cannot come into existence without the cotton, the farmers, transporters, dye-makers, seller and many other factors. Contained within the cotton plant is the sun, cloud, earth and so on. Contained within the robe is the first person who invented the cotton cloth a long time ago. He was surprised to find the entire universe within his robe.

His first realisation was that all things are empty; empty of separate existence and is not created. They are empty but at the same time, full of uncountable causes and conditions. All things exist because of uncountable causes and conditions. Because of this, he saw that the law of Karma is infallible.


A Story Inspired by the Heart Sutra, Part 2

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