Mittwoch, 21. Mai 2014

The Power of Emptiness is the Power of Freedom, Heart Sûtra (Makahannya haramitsu, Part 2)

Dôgen starts with an important chapter,

“When Bodhidsattva Avalokiteshvara practices the profound prajnyâ paramitâ, the whole body reflects that the five aggregates are totally empty. The five aggregates (skandas) are matter, feeling, thinking, enaction and consciousness.”

Empty means that these five components of a human being and the world (skandas) are in the balanced state, they are not deluded, not lost in emotional dreams and not dependant on greed, anger or stupidity. They are free and empty of blockages.

In this state of Zazen we experience existentially both truth and reality: “the whole universe is as it is.” This means that we have not added anything unrealistic or any one-sided idea, that we have not taken away or reduced anything or any idea concerning the universe or ourselves.

This seems to be easy, but it must be practiced, and the effective way to do this is to practice Zazen. In the balanced state of Zazen we transcend conventional thinking and perception. And we are open to the here and now, without tension and stress and with no nervous emotions. In this state there is no fear, no anger and no exaggerated emotions. We are rid of the usual thoughts and emotions. And we are especially empty and free of social ideologies and political hate: that is the basis of creativity and an open mind.

Nishijima Roshi stresses that this balanced state is the balance of our autonomic nervous system; this means that the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, which are in interaction in the autonomic nervous system, are in a state of tranquility. This is a state of calmness and stability and with this it is possible to experience the universe exactly as it is and there is nothing which disturbs us. He says,

Therefore if we, human beings, want to have always the true decision, it is necessary for human beings to keep the balance of the autonomic nervous system at every moment.”

Because great wisdom is not one-sided, Master Dôgen says that “matter is just immaterial and the immaterial is just matter.” But he says in addition to that that everything is as it is

, “matter is matter and the immaterial is the immaterial. There are hundreds of things and million phenomena.”

So with this explanation I think it is not difficult to understand the words “form - emptiness and emptiness – form”. This means that we do not discriminate between matter, feeling and mind, and that we experience a unity, without separation of subject and object.

Master Dôgen explains in this chapter that prajnyâ, the six ways of acting of the Bodhidsattva, is essential for all Buddhist teachings and the Four Noble Truths; there are six instances of prajnyâ: freely giving, pure (observance of) precepts, patience, diligence, meditation and prajnyâ itself.

Master Dôgen emphasizes that the great wisdom of prajnyâ pâramitâ is realized in the present moment and it is also important for the truth of the three times: past, present and future. In Zen Buddhism it is essential to be clear about the material aspects of this universe, which is described by the elements of earth, water, fire, wind and space. The great wisdom should be integrated into our actions, such as walking, standing, sitting and lying down.

I think it might be helpful to explain the Sanskrit word shûnyatâ. In ancient times Indian mathematics scholars invented the zero of the algebraic system of positive and negative figures. They called this zero shûnyatâ. The zero is the middle of the whole system of figures and the center for the functioning of all positive and negative figures.

It has no value of its own; it is in the middle and guarantees the balance. This shûnyatâ was very significant for Indian scholars and Masters at the time of Mahâyâna. Master Nâgârjuna developed his philosophy of the Middle Way in the golden age of Mahâyâna. It is thus very clear that shûnyatâ doesn’t represent a nihilist philosophy and nothingness in the sense that no thing and no body really exist. The opposite is the case. It is a powerful truth concerning the whole system of mathematics; it is the middle and the balance.