There Is No Suffering 33

What is this direct realization? The Heart Sutra tells us that Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva “perceived that the five skandhas are empty (of self-nature).” The five skandhas, or ‘aggregates,’ are experiential factors that together, make up what we normally think of as the self. These are form, sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness. The early Buddhist traditions17 diected their philosophical and practical energy toward at realizing the emptiness of the five skandhas and, hence, of sentient beings themselves, since sentient beings are an aggregation of the five skandhas.

When great bodhisattvas successfully cultivate the six paramitas through hearing, practice, and reflecting, prajna will spontaneously arise. When prajna arises, all five skandhas are perceived as empty, and afflictions do not manifest. Reaching full realization of emptiness is the attainment of ‘wisdom of all things,’18 or fundamental wisdom. With the power derived from this fundamental wisdom, bodhisattvas cultivate innumerable paramitas and expedient means to help liberate sentient beings. This functioning aspect of wisdom is called ‘wisdom of the path.’19 or acquired wisdom. To perfectly penetrate and consummate the task of liberating self and others is called ‘wisdom of all aspects.’20