lens artists challenge: elements

…the four–earth, water, fire, and wind–are without characteristic, without entity, without self, without … principle.

D S Lopez, Jr, The Heart Sutra Explained
Nikon D750 f/7.1 1/800s 70mm 125 ISO

“The fire element is heat, warmth, and also the motivation that dives us; it also is our metabolism. …

“The earth element is all things that are solid, all the things we can touch…

“The water element is all the fluids in our body…

“The air element is the space in our body, also the air that enters and leaves our body, our breath…the movement the our body makes.”

Brother Phap Hai, nothing to it ten ways to be at home with yourself

Hop on over to Amy’s to join this week’s lens-artists challenge: elements

15 replies to “lens artists challenge: elements

    1. Thank you Patti…exploring the five elements within this perspective is, for me, a lot easier than through an understanding of traditional Chinese medicine

  1. Very interesting, Brenda. I have spent a lot of time studying the Heart Sutra recently. I am not sure the first quote comes from Heart Sutra. I thought it is from a different Sutra, but it doesn’t matter, because the idea is the same and he explains very nicely. Translating or explaining sutra is definitely not easy. Thanks for sharing.
    Have a wonderful day.

    1. Thank you…because I’m limited to translations and commentaries of the Heart Sutra it is important to me to know that my sources are good…especially since I am invested in studying and understanding “emptiness.” May you have a wonderful weekend.

      1. The more I think about this… there are several versions of Heart Sutra, so the quote may come from one of them. Also, when “people” (lack of the English word) try to explain one sutra, they may reference others or add their own words to describe the sutra. Like I said, I like the quote a lot. It explains “emptiness” well, don’t you think so?
        One explanation of “emptiness” is: it doesn’t mean “nothing exist”; it is like rainbow (or a moon reflection in a lake) — you see it, but, in a way, it doesn’t really exist. So there is no use to attach to it. (Not the best translation 😉
        Have a wonderful day, Brenda.

      2. Donald Lopez’s academic book “The Heart Sutra Explained” wrote “There are five types of emptiness: the emptiness of what did not exist before [the lack of yogurt in milk], the emptiness of what does not exist upon being destroyed [the lack of milk in yogurt], the emptiness of the utterly non-existent [the lack of horns on a rabbit’s head and a cloak of tortoise hairs], the emptiness of one not existing in the other [the emptiness of an ox in a horse], and the emptiness of entityness [a rope mistaken for a snake]. A bit difficult for me to fully understand.
        In Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, “The Other Shore” he writes, “…we must ask, ‘Dear Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, empty of what?’…And this was the reply: “They are empty of a separate self.” I can understand this a bit more…I think.
        So…between these two writers I am beginning to ponder if emptiness is the absence of a permanent, solid element within all phenomena. A rainbow is a good example as it is an impermanent and interdependent coming together of many elements (all of those that bring about the formation of water, the formation of light: as well as, my sight, eyes, and eye consciousness).
        Hope your weekend is filled with laughter and love.

      3. The above is an example of how I understand the Heart Sutra today…I wander through readings that have been translated by others and contemplation without a teacher; therefore, I will stumble through my own misunderstandings of the Heart Sutra.

      4. A lot of people say the concept of “emptiness” is the most difficult one. I agree. I have a feeling that you probably understand a lot more than I do. I have this small advantage that I read Chinese 😉
        I have to check what I wrote last time. I was debating how much to say at the time, and didn’t remember what I ended up saying. One of the nature of “emptiness” is impermanence, like you said in previous comment.
        There are 3 major sects within Buddhism. One of them describe “emptiness” as a rainbow – you see it but it doesn’t really exist. and the other describes it as “a rope mistaken for a snake”. The rope does exist, but we mistook it as a snake. The last one describe it as a jaundice patient sees a white conch as a yellow conch. — according to 17th Karmapa Lama. I only use his examples here. Examples are easier for me to understand. I hope I got it right. Ah ha, I found the English version. I don’t know if this is the same as the Chinese version. Please know that I am a beginner.


        I don’t really understand Lopez’s 5 types of emptiness. Maybe if I study more, I will understand it. So much to learn.

        Thanks, Brenda. This discussion is good for me.
        Have a wonderful day.

      5. Helen…oh WOW thank you for the link to the English version. You have made my day!!!! I think I understand the use of rainbow and a stick. Seeing a while conch as a yellow one…makes sense to me if I apply it to discrimination and left vs right media. Oh…how I wish I could read Chinese and Korean. English, at times, is a challenge.
        I appreciate this exchange with you…beginners helping each over.

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