Hsin Hsin Ming: “50. Do away with the cause and there is nothing to compare it with.”
‘There is nothing to compare it with’ means that there is no effect to follow the cause. The world of form where we are living is the world of cause and effect. All suffering we have is the result of causation. This scripture tells us to do away with the cause in order to escape from the suffering that is the effect of cause.
How should we remove the cause? How can we, first and foremost, recognise the cause? In fact, it is impossible to distinguish and separate cause from effect, since everything is both the effect of its cause and the cause for another effect at the same time. If we interpret this scripture literally, we should do away with all the things that we see and hear, irrespective of whether they are living things or non-living things.
How can we do that? The secret is to realise that everything is empty. When we see everything as empty, the cause is empty. When the cause is empty, the effect that comes as a result of the cause is also naturally empty. So, the Heart Sutra says that all sentient beings should escape from all suffering by realising that everything is empty.
Therefore, I recommend that people who practise Zen meditation should have a new definition of cause and effect. The cause of everything, good or bad, is making discriminations. So, to do away with the cause is to realise that everything is empty, that is, to stop discriminating.
Student: “What is cause and effect?”
Master: “Your discrimination is the cause and being deluded by it is the effect.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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