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950Re: [U-Zendo] Form

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  • Louis-Dominique Dubeau
    Jun 10, 2011
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      On Fri, 2011-06-10 at 06:59 -0400, Ralph Palmer wrote:
      > Greetings -
      > In the Heart Sutra (mahaprajnaparamita hridaya sutra), what is meant
      > by "form"?

      Every time you've fallen on the ground, you've been quite aware of form.

      Generally speaking, "form" is what is called rūpa in Sanskrit, 色 in
      Chinese, gzugs in Tibetan. It does not always mean the same thing in all
      contexts. In the context of the Heart Sutra, the clue which tells us
      what form means is this sentence (quoted from the English translation
      used by the Kwan Um School):

      "The same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness."

      It comes right after the passage relating form to emptiness and extends
      the relation to four other elements. Taking these together with form, we
      have a list of five things:

      form, feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness

      These are the five aggregates (the skandhas). The basic role of the
      aggregates in the discourses of the Buddha is as an explanation of what
      people think of as a self. The five aggregates are used to know that
      there is no such thing as a unitary entity which could serve as the
      self. What we call "self" really is the cooperation of the five
      aggregates. The five aggregates are supposed to provide a complete
      explanation. So there has to be something to account for the impressions
      "I am my body. This arm is me." etc This is the role played by form: it
      refers to the matter, the stuff, which makes up an individual.

      I hope this is helpful. If you have more questions, please ask.

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