The Embodied World: A Redefinition of "Emptiness" in Heart Sutra Argumentative Essay

The Embodied World: A Redefinition of "Emptiness" in Heart Sutra
An argument to reinterpret the key idea in Buddhism from the perspective of cognitive science.
# 154024 | 2,794 words | 12 sources | 2014 | CN
Published on Sep 28, 2014 in Psychology (Physiological) , Philosophy (Religion)

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From the Paper:

"A verbatim translation of "Kong" as "emptiness" or "void" not only leads to a discrepancy with Buddhism's doctrines, but also contradicts with basic rationale in philosophy. The following passage to be examined is extracted from one English translation version of Heart Sutra: "Also, there is no truth of suffering, of the cause of suffering, of the cessation of suffering or of the path...the unequaled Mantra which can truly wipe out all suffering without fail" (USA ShaoLin Temple). According to this translation, all the things are void, including the Buddha, and there is no truth or cessation of suffering, since everything is void. On the other hand, the statement unequivocally confirmed that the Mantra, which is composed by the Buddha, is able to eliminate sufferings, by stating "Mantra which can truly wipe out all suffering without fail". Such sharp contradiction between the immutable nature of suffering described in first sentence and Mantra's ability to terminate all sufferings stated in the last sentence manifests a clear discrepancy in the current understanding of Heart Sutra. To further illustrate the inconsistency, Aristotle's law of identity and law of contradiction need to be applied. The essence of these two laws is that A should be equal to A and -A should not be equal to A. Emptiness can only equal to emptiness. Form is emptiness, so that form either equals to set void, or is part of void. Referred to the passage "The same [emptiness] is true for feeling, conception, impulse and consciousness," feeling can either equal to or belong to set void. Since feeling is different from form, it can be deduced that form and feeling are different parts of, but both included in void. But it is then mentioned that in the void there are no forms and no feelings, which indicate neither form nor feeling belongs to void. Then comes to the paradox, form and feeling are included in the concept of void, but form and feeling both does not belong to set void. Law of identity has pointed out unequivocally that one subset cannot both be included and excluded in the same set. Therefore, the two arguments above should have at least one of them fallacious.
"On the other hand, to consider everything as void is clearly nothing but purely mystic belief without scientific bases. Albert Einstein suggested that "what is essential is merely that besides observable objects, another thing, which is not perceptible, must be looked upon as real..."(Wikipedia). Though Einstein acknowledged that there is a possibility that "observable object" is unreal, he also pointed out the condition for this to take place is to first assert something as real. As a result, no matter how abundant emptiness is, there will always be things other than emptiness to enable any physical processes to take place."

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