The Heart Sutra contains the famous assertion, “emptiness is form, form is emptiness,” which is often cited in New Age circles and probably taught in just about every undergraduate Oriental philosophy course.
Although this may seem a simplistic, unsophisticated claim, it’s arguably relevant to recent discoveries in sub-atomic physics where matter and energy are observed as two different forms of one mysterious underlying reality.
But this idea cannot account for spiritual experiences (and possible realms) that extend beyond and above that somewhat basic level of cosmic – not heavenly – mystery.
Quite different from Jewish, Islamic and Christian heavens, Buddhist heavens are not taken as everlasting abodes. Buddhist heavens are just so many stops on a road towards the ‘nothingness/fullness’ of Nirvana.
So the oft-overlooked question remains: Are all of the heavens mentioned in different world traditions the same in character and quality?
Some find this simple, straightforward question troubling, preferring to focus on the apparent commonalities among world religions. While this is an admirable approach, one arguably shouldn’t turn a blind eye to religious differences.
Meanwhile, some tend to embrace politically correct beliefs about religious homogeneity instead of really thinking carefully about religion.
Additionally, we have those who conflate national pride with absolute truth. The semiologist Roland Barthes asked several decades ago, for instance, whether the ‘Holy Spirit’ and the ‘American Spirit’ connote the same thing. Along these lines history reveals that personal imaginings, political correctness and zeal for one’s nation rarely make good bedfellows with the sincere pursuit of truth, not only in religion but in just about any discipline.
- A Few Reading Suggestions (hanumandass.wordpress.com)
- Prajnaparamida (hilitehead.com)
- The Flower Adornment sutra (neozen888.wordpress.com)
- USB Buddism Sutra Chanting Tablet (asiajin.com)
- DAY 39: Yoga Sutra 1.39 (365daystoyogini.wordpress.com)
- Lotus Sutra (Buddha Shakyamuni) (hilitehead.com)
- a super sutra (shantiforme.wordpress.com)
- DAY 27: Yoga Sutra 1.27 (365daystoyogini.wordpress.com)
- DAY 40: Yoga Sutra 1.40 (365daystoyogini.wordpress.com)
- The mystery of Patanjali made more mysterious (theconfluencecountdown.com)