From studying the profound meaning of emptiness contained within “The Heart Sutra” I have gained the following benefits:
(a) I have gained an understanding of emptiness and the emptiness of emptiness, the subject that the Buddha’s other teachings build up to. I have also gained an understanding of the 5 Paths. I have moved slightly closer towards full, perfect, complete Enlightenment. It might only be 1 inch, but it is 1 inch in the right direction towards Liberation and Enlightenment.
(b) I find that teachings on emptiness slightly loosen my strong attachment to my self and identity; my emotions and possessions; my experiences and world events; my friends, enemies, and strangers; my expectations.
– With this slightly loosened attachment, feelings of stress and anxiety are slightly reduced and I feel slightly more relaxed.
– By loosening my strong attachment to my friends, enemies, and strangers, it means that I have the space to generate equanimity towards other beings more easily. This will be the basis for the development of bodhicitta.
(c) As part of reflecting on Dependent Arising, I look at events in the newspaper or products on the shop shelf slightly differently. By reflecting on the Dependent Arising aspect of the teachings it is easier to look beyond a product as an isolated entity and consider the various physical causes and conditions that give rise to the product. For example, with a watch, this includes the physical materials that might be mined from the ground, the manufacturing that might have occurred in a country that does not pay a minimum wage, and the pollution that might have come from transporting the watch hundreds of miles to New Zealand.
(d) The analysis that is used during the analysis of emptiness helps to cut through superficial appearances. Advertising is a form of superficial appearances that is a modern invention. When a product is advertised the product is positioned in a way that exaggerates the positive qualities of the product and associates the product with other positive things. For example, an advertisement for an icecream might feature a family on a sunny day to suggest that the icecream will provide this type of happiness. However, on closer inspection, the icecream is just frozen sugar water and milk. The sugar water can be a source of health problems including diabetes. The milk comes from the dairy industry which is a source of suffering for both the male calves that are killed shortly after birth and the female calves that are kept alive only as long as they are efficient milk-making machines.
[i] “Essence of the Heart Sutra” by His Holiness the IVX Dalai Lama published by Wisdom Pulications (2015).
[ii] “The Heart Sutra Explained” by Donald S. Lopez, published by Sri Satguru Publications (1990).
[iii] “Commentary on the Heart Sutra, Jewel Light Illuminating the Meaning” by Tendar Lharampa published by FPMT Education Department (2005).
[iv] “The Heart Sutra Commentary” by Geshe Ngawang Dakpa at Tse Chen Ling, published by FPMT Education Department (2001).