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Complicated Simplicity

June 25, 2012

Book coverEmptiness is the simplest and most unelaborated thing we could imagine, but then there is this whole literature about all these very discursive details with all their subpoints. There are five paths and ten bhumis, and each path is divided into a number of stages, with certain numbers of obscurations having to be relinquished on each one of those subpaths. Most people just think, “Who wants or needs to know all that? Don’t we have too many thoughts already? I thought this was about letting go of all reference points.”

Of course nobody really wants to know all those details and in a sense we all know them already, because they are the details of the many reference points that we already have in our mind. The fact that these sutras and their commentaries talk about our obscurations is precisely the point why they seem so endless and complicated—because our minds are complicated. Emptiness is extremely simple, but our convoluted minds that do not get this simplicity are very complicated. It is not that the Buddha and the other speakers in the sutras and the commentaries really like to, but they need to address each one of those knots in our minds, which are like knots in space.

The Heart Attack Sutra: A New Commentary on the Heart Sutra by Karl Brunnhölzl, page 40.

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