K223 Form Itself Is Emptiness! by Daikō Sōgen 大綱宗彦

Form Itself Is Emptiness!

Brushed by the 74-year-old fellow Daikō, formerly of Daitoku-ji

前大徳七十四翁大綱書
色即是空
Daikō Sōgen (大綱宗彦, 1772-1860)
K223 hanging scroll, sumi on paper 98.8 cm × 30.0 cm

 

The expression “Form Itself is Emptiness, Emptiness Itself is Form” is at the heart of the Heart Sutra, and sums up the teaching of Mahayana Buddhism in general, and Zen Buddhism in particular. Over the centuries, there have been hundreds of commentaries on this line in all kinds of languages but those writings have one thing in common—they are ultimately inadequate. There is no way to adequately explain, “Form Itself is Emptiness, Emptiness Itself is Form.” It is an experience.