A Story Inspired by the Heart Sutra, Part 2

By Desmond Yeoh SC

buddhaAvalokitesvara then shifted his contemplation to his “Self”. When he was a young monk, the Buddha asked him what he thinks the “Self” is. Avalokitesvara confidently answered that the Self comprise of the Body and Mind.

The Buddha merely smiled and explained to him that Self can be broken down into the body, emotions, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness. The Buddha called this the five Skandhas. The last four Skandhas represents the Mind. The Buddha told Avalokistesvara that all things are empty and advised him to meditate, contemplate and experience this truth for himself.

He considered; if all things are empty, is the Self also empty?

He first analysed the body. To exist independently, the body must be unchanging but his body has gone through numerous changes from a baby to adulthood. The person he was as a child was very different from who he is now. In fact, he is a very different from the person he was before he became a monk. The Self is changing from moment to moment. It is like the old Self dies and a new Self is reborn from moment to moment.

The body cannot exist without food and water. Therefore, contained within the body is all the food and water he consumed before; and also all the factors that brought those food and water into existence.

Contained within his body is his parents…and their parents and so on. The genes he inherited from his parents is one of the major factor which determines his state of health. His parents lived a long and healthy life and he was fortunate to inherit that trait. He saw that the Karma of his body is contained within his genetic makeup. This Karma ripened the day of his birth.

He remembered that he was once so ill that his parents had given up hope but miraculously a doctor introduced by a relative managed to cure him. Therefore, that doctor is also the cause of the existence of his body. Contained within his body is that doctor.

Recently, the Buddha stopped a war by convincing the Kings of the opposing countries that cooperation is better than going to war. Had the war happened, the devastation would have been tragic and he might not have survived the violence; or the famine that would have eventually followed. He saw clearly that the prevention of the war also contributed to the existence of his body. The prevention of the war is also part of his body.

No one created his body. His body arose and is sustained by a multitude of existing and non-existing causes and conditions. His body is empty of separate existence but is full of both existing and non-existing causes and conditions. He realised that his body is emptiness and emptiness is his body.

Because of this, he understood that he really has no control of his body. He cannot tell a pain in its body or even an itch to go away. When he is tired, he cannot tell his body to be energetic. All these are determined by causes and conditions which he can influence but cannot control.

These contemplations made him see that the Body is indeed empty of separate existing. The Body and the Universe is actually one and the same. Separateness is an illusion.

 

A Story Inspired by the Heart Sutra, Part 3

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