- Emptiness -

:: Posted :: 2018-04

I've wrestled with the word void in the Hannya Haramita Shingyo, the 'Heart Sutra'. Void (Sanskrit: Sunyata; Japanese: Ku) describes the inherent 'emptiness' of things: form, sensation, thought, activity & consciousness. In her translation, Roshi Jiyu-Kennett added 'unstained and pure' to balance the negativity of 'void', 'formless' or 'empty'.

Today I read an interpretation I rather like. In her book Start where you are, Pema Chodron renders sunyata as 'open/openness' - stressing the active contribution we make to our life-experience. 'Openness' embodies our potential to meet the 'unformed' as a continuously-refreshed flow, whose direction our own actions modify.

Dogen Zenji's discourse on the way we experience 'time' - Uji - pushes us to confront a relativity that can't be put into words. Trying to live through theories and dogmas, merely compounds our errors. Hence his stress on zazen as the direct, experiential doorway to understanding.

We best handle what life puts our way when we're free of 'anchors': flexible, open, optimistic - ready to plunge into whatever comes up without fear or preconception. In a word, fully alive. That's why Roshi Jiyu-Kennett called her manual of Zen training, 'Zen is Eternal Life'.



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