A Story Inspired by the Heart Sutra, Part 3

By Desmond Yeoh SC

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Avalokitesvara then shone the light of his awareness on his mind which is represented by the four Skandhas; emotions, perception, mental formations and consciousness.

His contemplations had shown him his body is empty. Without the body, the mind cannot exist. Therefore, if the body is empty, then his mind must be empty too because his mind depends on his body to arise. Nevertheless, he chose to dive deeper into the contemplation of his mind to confirm this.

He first directed his analysis on emotions. Some of his fellow monks achieved enlightenment merely by meditating on their emotions. He saw that his emotions are always changing. Sometimes, when he is at peace, there is no emotion at all. How can something that appears and disappear be said to have a separate existence.

He contemplated if he truly controlled his emotions because for there to be a separate self, that separate self must have control over the emotions.

A few days ago, a young mother carried her still-born baby to him; begging him to bring life to the baby. Avalokistesvara was heartbroken and could not hold back his tears as he tried to explain to the distraught mother the workings of Karma and advised her to devote her efforts to transcend suffering. Although the mother was comforted, the sadness remained within him. He saw that he did not choose to feel that sadness. The young mother was the seed and cause of the sadness which burdened him for days. He could clearly see that he is not the creator or master of his emotions.

A fellow monk who once was a doctor had explained to Avalokitesvara that a person who is always angry or worried is often stricken with various ailments and illnesses. Therefore, meditation not only benefits the mind but also profits the body greatly. He concluded that if external events can control his emotions, they can surely control his body as well.

Contained within his emotions are all the trigger events and his memories of those events. His emotions are also full of causes and conditions and empty of a separate self.

He observed that in silent meditation, when his mind was clear of memories and other mental formations, his emotions fades away into nothingness. That is because the causes of the emotions are temporarily held in abeyance. This also showed him that his emotions arose from causes and conditions. His emotions are full of his surroundings because these external factors are the causes and conditions that determines his emotions.

He clearly saw that his emotions are also empty. His emotions are like the flame of a candle which does not exist separately from the candle wick, wax and the lantern which protects it from the wind.

A Story Inspired by the Heart Sutra, Part 4

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