The Heart Sutra is a core Buddhist text about realizing the emptiness of all phenomena. That might sound a tad depressing, but emptiness is just another way of talking about the interconnectedness of things. It's the idea that nothing has a separate self, which is actually pretty poetic and lovely. So, a flower is made up of sunshine, water, earth, and the care of the gardener. You are a product of your parents, your diet, your habits, your milieu. This seems simplistic on the surface but, as I've found by studying Zen for about twenty years, even a basic understanding of emptiness can really change the way you go about your day. If nothing has a separate self, we're not alone in our fears, challenges lose some of their oomph and, most importantly, it's easier to marvel at how stunning the world is, even in the thick of trauma. That's powerful stuff.
I learned to chant the Heart Sutra by playing it over and over in my car and singing along. It's a long chant - it took me a few months of driving and chanting to really get it down. Buddhist teachers joke about how it's not a good idea to consider emptiness, groundlessness, and impermanence while driving - but I took my chances. The more I sang the sutra, the more I ended up internalizing it, and the more I realized how relevant it was to my life and art. I was falling in love after a year and a half of isolation after a divorce. I was emotionally drained and cautious after navigating the dating world and botching a series of small affairs - and then I found myself in love again. I'd been consoling myself with the idea that suffering is empty, and this was an opportunity to consider that love is, too. Love is all about interconnectedness, after all. It's a product of everything each partner shares - environment, history, passion, fear, hope. Love is a tender, glorious mashup of all these things. It's also fragile and impermanent, which makes it all the more precious when it arrives in our lives.
Heart Sutra is a collection of images about the delicate nature of love. The series traces my journey, my loves, and the little moments of magic and beauty that have carried me through. It's a continuing journey, so more images will be added as they arise. Maybe the whole thing will lead to enlightenment eventually. One can hope!
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