There Is No Suffering 39

The Surangama Sutra describes a practice, which is to look at any one of the five skandhas as being empty at any given moment. If you can recognize any one of these five skandhas as being empty, you will perceive that the other four are also empty. To perceive is to look, or view, with illumination that the five skandhas are empty. Again, looking, or viewing, has many levels, depending on whether you are an ordinary sentient being, an arhat, or a bodhisattva. Illumination is wisdom; therefore the perception the sutra speaks of is limited to that of arhats and bodhisattvas. Ordinary sentient beings can look, and may even have the proper view, but they do not have the wisdom to go along with it.


In the phrase “transcended all suffering (Sanskrit: duhka),” the Chinese for suffering ( ku) is a composite of ‘suffering’ as well as ‘danger’ or ‘calamity.’ We might think that where there is suffering there need not be danger or calamity, and where there is danger or calamity, there need not be suffering. For ordinary sentient beings, however, danger and calamity always produce suffering. On the other hand, this is not the case with highly accomplished practitioners. What is this danger, both in our daily lives and in our practice? Danger in practice refers to the obstructions that arise in our bodies and minds. Physically, our energy may become blocked or may flow in the wrong direction.