On my recent trip to Hong Kong, I visited the Wisdom Path on Lantau Island. This outdoor “sculpture” consists of thirty-eight wooden columns inscribed with the Heart Sutra, a text treasured by Confucians, Buddhists, and Taoists.
The columns, each about 10 meters (~30 feet) in height, are arranged in a figure-eight infinity symbol; they stand on a steep hill, in a serene, natural setting overlooking Lantau Peak.
In short, the Heart Sutra espouses the doctrine of “emptiness.” One of its famous lines teaches that “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”
Such emptiness is not to be interpreted in a nihilistic, nothing-exists sense. Rather, it means that nothing is absolute—everything is relative and impermanent, and in a constant state of change. Therefore, there is no point in becoming irrationally attached to things.
I couldn’t help but think how beautifully this coincides with minimalism, and living as non-attached to material things as possible. I feel that embracing “emptiness,” rather than clinging to the material aspects of existence, opens us to a more direct, genuine, and fulfilling experience of life.
Although I haven’t taken any Buddhist vows, I agree with (and live according to) many aspects of Zen philosophy. I don’t know whether my minimalism has led me to embrace Zen Buddhism, or vice versa—but the two seem to complement each other very well.
Does anyone else feel a tie between their spiritual beliefs and minimalist lifestyle?