Sanzang — The Heart
The quote above is the first line in the book and shows what the book is about. The passions are powerful and we easily attach ourselves to them. Cultivating the heart means freeing ourselves of the passions and cultivating the desire to be present.
In one of the adventures of Journey to the West, a demon wants to get Sanzang`s heart because it is very pure, to make an elixir that would enable him to live very long. Monkey changes himself into Sanzang and goes to meet the demon.
The many hearts symbolize all the different passions we have, many of which are contradictory. Cultivating the heart means cultivating the desire to be present to one`s life, making presence the most important thing in one`s life.
The moment one makes effort to be present one has to leave all the other desires and thoughts, one has to leave all other hearts. However, if one sets for oneself the aim to awaken the God within oneself, one will start to see that many parts in one, especially the instinctive center, are not interested in this at all and will resist it. A struggle begins between the part that wants to awaken and the parts that are not interested in it. This struggle is symbolized by war. In all Esoteric writings there are passages about war which all symbolize the struggle between the many I`s in a man, like the Persian image of a battle in a man`s head shows.
In chapter 30 Sanzang is captured by a demon. In the quote above he is called The Yellow Wife. The Yellow Wife is a Taoist symbol.
The ten thousand things are the many I`s, the many hearts. When they are under control, true will (intent) can arise. The character Sanzang represents the heart`s desire or will to be present. The most important thing for him is to reach Vulture Peak (Presence). He is willing to give up everything to achieve this goal.
When the hearts lives refers to the desire and the effort to be present. When this desire appears and one makes effort to be present, the demons come into being. Demons refer to thoughts and emotions that interfere with this effort. When one tries to be present, the lower self (the demons) will do everything to get rid of this effort, because when the Higher Self is present the lower self can no longer be in control, but has to be passive.
The next quote is the title of one of the chapters, in which a demon boy captures Sanzang, who is called the Dhyana (meditation) heart.
Sanzang is captured again and again by demons on his Journey to Vulture Peak. This symbolizes how when we try to be present, another thought enters, we listen to it and the desire to be present disappears.
An evil thought is a thought that takes us away from our effort to be present. A good thought is a thought that reminds us to be present. For example, while one is trying to be present, a thought comes up about a friend who didn`t keep his promise. Instead of letting this 'I' pass by, one listens to it, and completely forgets about the effort to be present. I fight invisibly from your sight, refers to the lower self bringing thoughts unrelated to being present. We start to listen to these thoughts without observing what's happening, invisibly from our sight, and the effort to be present stops. This happens without awareness, in a state of psychological sleep and as a result, the desire to be present disappears. This desire, symbolized by Sanzang, is the most important desire we can have and it must be protected.
Sweeping the heart relates to observing when I`s unrelated to our effort to be present come, not listening or attaching ourselves to them, but just letting them go and continuing to be present. However, Sanzang is very naive and is caught by demons again and again, because he can`t see through their disguises. This means that our heart takes interest in these thoughts and doesn`t understand in that moment, that to listen to these thoughts is deadly. The demons take different forms, a lovely young girl or an old woman in need, representing beautiful or urgent thoughts. Therefore, Sanzang cannot reach Vulture Peak alone.
This symbolizes that the desire to be present alone is not enough, one needs knowledge and tools to get there, because the demons are very clever.
When Sanzang reaches Vulture Peak, he sheds his mortal body.
Sanzang shedding his mortal body means that the heart is freed from the passions and only the desire to reach presence is left, so that a prolonged state of Divine presence is reached.
of the spirit is
the heart has first died.
When a man can let his heart die,
then the primal spirit wakes to life. To kill
the heart does not mean to let it dry and wither away,
but it means that it has become undivided and gathered into one.
The Buddha said: When you fix your heart on one point, then nothing is impossible for you
-- The Secret of the Golden Flower (Taoist text).
Both the pyramid and the cone symbolize the transformation of the many, into the point of oneness.
© copyright 2009 - 2017 Walther Sell