Twelve Sense Fields (십이처)
Pages InformationWriter Jogye Date13 Aug 2015 Read5,649 Comment0
Therefore, in emptiness there are no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind; no sights, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or dharmas.
-From the Heart Sutra
Here, the "eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind" are called the "six sense faculties" and "sights, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or dharmas" are called the six objects of the senses. The six sense faculties and the six objects of the senses compose the "twelve sense fields." For example, mind arises based on the encounter of "eyes and sights" or "ears and sounds," through which we perceive the world. This is a people-oriented perspective. There is a subjective self called "I" and the objective world outside of me: The combination of these two is called "all things."
From the perspective of Mahayana Buddhism, the twelve sense fields are not permanent and do not have fixed substance. Therefore, they are said to be void of self-nature and empty. The above passage cited from the Heart Sutra denies the six sense fields and their corresponding objects. By denying the twelve sense fields, the true nature of emptiness is revealed.
-Lecture on the Heart Sutra by Ven. Beopsang
- excerpt from Buddhist English (Elementary 1) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism