Form is Emptiness

November 11, 2009
By Bryn03 BRONZE, Plattsburgh, New York
Bryn03 BRONZE, Plattsburgh, New York
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me—
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire—
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

-George Grey's Epitaph by Edgar Lee Masters

Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.
Atoms; compact and unbroken.
The base of all forms, all matter, even ourselves.
Yet, they are as unfilled as the great wide void of space.

Neutrons, protons;
Forming a dense cluster, like a cake that will not rise.
Around this, showers of electrons orbit,
The frosting on our poorly formed pastry.
Yet, they are as unfilled as the great wide void of space.

At any given moment, instant, second,
Our most basic support is made of more than ninety-nine percent emptiness.
Nothingness, even at the subtle level of matter.
How is this? Why is this?

Everything we know, like ghostly images;
We make them solid, accommodating, compassionate.
We make them supportive, firm, there;
But they are not.
They have never been and never will be.
Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.

The author's comments:
Emptiness is a key concept in Mahayana Buddhism. The phrase "form is emptiness; emptiness is form" is perhaps the most celebrated paradox associated with Buddhist philosophy. The mantra originates from the Heart Sutra which states, “Here, Sariputra, form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form; emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness; whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form, the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness.” This fascinating concept inspired the poem above.

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