Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Heart Sutra - Buddhism's Key Concepts, Part 2

All dharmas are marked with emptiness they do not appear or disappear are not tainted or pure do not increase or decrease.

The term dharmas here is different from The Dharma, the way or the teaching. Dharmas are factors of existence. The five skandhas are dharmas as are any other bit of consciousness-information. The Hinayana schools sought to analyze the dharmas and give them qualities such as arising or disappearing, increasing or decreasing, but the Mahayanists realized that dharmas are empty without qualities.


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

This is the conclusion of the argument, the five skandhas are empty, since they are interdependent dharmas and have no self-qualities.

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.

This is a related result of the above argument. Perception is divided into the six senses of Buddhism: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, mind. We usually think of the mind as separate from the other senses, but when we are conscious of an object or we dream or think of something that is not in front of us, our mind acts as a sense organ. Each sense has three parts, the organ of sense, its object, and its realm of consciousness (datu). For example the eye sees the color green which gives rise to the consciousness of green. Again each of these parts is empty, since they are interdependent and cannot be separated. Three parts and six senses gives us the eighteen elements of experience, enumerated in this verse.

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

This verse refers to the Twelve Link Chain of Causation or The Cycle of Interdependence (pratityasamutpada):

1. From ignorance (avida) arises volitional action

2. From volitional action (karma) arises consciousness

3. From consciousness (vijnana) arises mental and physical phenomena

4. From mental and physical phenomena (nama-rupa) arises the six senses

5. From the six senses (shadayatana) arises sensorial contact

6. From contact (spasha) arises sensation

7. From sensation (vedana) arises desire

8. From desire (trishna) arises grasping

9. From grasping (upadana) arises the process of becoming

10. From the process of becoming (bhava) arises birth

11. From birth (jeti) arises death, pain, decay . . .

12. From sickness, old age and death (jana-marana), sorrow, lamentation, suffering and distress occur. Thus arises the whole mass of suffering