Taiwan Adventure (7): Heart Sutra in Binary Code

Upon entering Dharma Drum Mountain’s resource library is an interesting artwork. It’s called 心经影壁 or ‘Wall of Images of the Heart Sutra’. On it are 20 copies of the Heart Sutra inscribed on bronze in various languages. It’s an apt piece of sacred decoration as the library represents a storehouse of wisdom, while the Heart Sutra encapsulates the essence and universality of wisdom.

Of them all, the language used that was the most interesting to me was machine or binary code – in the lower left corner of the wall – which consists of nothing other than combinations of ‘1’s and ‘0’s to represent each word. This is the simplest universal way of encoding anything and everything, in a digital manner, using only 2 encoders (ones and zeroes). This is the second time I’ve seen the wall in person, but this time, after, more deliberate study of the Heart Sutra, I appreciated the binary version of the Heart Sutra even more. The Heart Sutra is often mistaken to be about emptiness alone. However, it is also equally about form. We know this because the sutra says clearly that –

Form is emptiness;
Emptiness is form.

Form is not different from emptiness;
Emptiness is not different from form.

The sutra obviously wants us to have balanced views about both form and emptiness; to be not particularly attached to either. Forms are important too, to exemplify the Dharma. The ‘Wall of Images of the Heart Sutra’ is a form for instance. Without form of thoughts, words, spoken, written, remembered… how can we come to realise the heart of wisdom? Interestingly, the ‘1’s can be seen to represent form, while the ‘O’s to represent emptiness (though emptiness is not nothingness, but everythingness in change). The universe is binary, dualistic, yet one! From http://www.ddm.org.tw/maze/171/homepage7.asp

一進入圖資館大廳,彙集二十種不同語文、時間版本的「心經影壁」, 立刻成為視覺焦點。建館之初,即選擇代表般若智慧、涵括佛法心要的《心經》來刻製的「心經影壁」,以中國八世紀的心經塔、一九三七年 的弘一大師寫本為中心,依照地區向東開展日、韓文等譯本,往西則為英、德文等譯本,還包括最新的電腦版本,以電腦程式語言0與1寫成 的《心經》,更是讓人玩味、駐足良久。「心經影壁」以「平面文化地圖」的概念呈現。就空間上來看,象徵佛教在世界各地的傳佈及發展;就時間而言,則突顯出貫穿過去、現 在和未來的歷史主軸。副館長果見法師在影壁完工後發願,只要瀏覽一眼乃至仔細閱讀過「心經影壁」的人,仗三寶之力,都可以結此種善 因、結善緣並開智慧。

Related Article:
The Heart of the Heart Sutra Between Its Lines
https://moonpointer.com/new/2010/04/the-heart-of-the-heart-sutra-between-its-lines

Next Taiwan Adventure:
https://moonpointer.com/new/2010/07/taiwan-adventure-8-guide-the-guide
Previous Taiwan Adventure:
https://moonpointer.com/new/2010/06/taiwan-adventure-6-oh-my-buddha