Emptiness

The Heart Sutra has continued to vex me since I’ve first heard it. And the reason is emptiness.

The dictionary says emptiness is:

the state of containing nothing.
“the vast emptiness of space”

the quality of lacking meaning or sincerity; meaninglessness.
“he realizes the emptiness of his statement”

But in the Mahayana tradition, emptiness is Sunyata, which refers to the tenet that “all things are empty of intrinsic existence and nature”.

 

“Body is nothing more than emptiness, 
emptiness is nothing more than body
The body is exactly empty, 
and emptiness is exactly body.

The other four aspects of human existence — 
feeling, thought, will, and consciousness — 
are likewise nothing more than emptiness, 
and emptiness nothing more than they.

All things are empty: 
Nothing is born, nothing dies, 
nothing is pure, nothing is stained, 
nothing increases and nothing decreases”

From the Heart Sutra, http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/heartsutra.html

The Apple of Emptiness

As I continue to explore the concept of emptiness, I was struck by the Heart Sutra and the five skandhas and the line “No Form, Sound, Smell, Taste, Touch or Mind Object”. And the below story struck me.

What does an apple taste like? Your answer is incomplete.
Does a red apple taste like a green apple? Does a small apple taste the same as a large apple?
What do some apples taste like? Your answer is incomplete.
Does an apple taste the same to you that it does to someone else? Do all people like spicy food? Do all people use pepper?
What does an apple taste like to you? Your answer is incomplete.
Do you remember what the last apple tasted like? Was your answer free from what you thought it might taste like, free from how you feel about apples, free from whatever emotional state you were in – hungry or disinterested or happy?

The only way to answer what an apple taste like is to put it in your mouth and taste it.

Don’t talk with your mind full and your mouth empty.

Skandhas (Sanskrit) or khandhas (Pāḷi) means “heaps, aggregates, collections, groupings”. … The five aggregates or heaps are: form (or matter or body) (rupa), sensations (or feelings, received from form) (vedana), perceptions (samjna), mental activity or formations (sankhara), and consciousness (vijnana) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skandha