In Buddhism, the Sanskrit term “पारमिता (pāramitā)” is understood as the state of completeness or perfection reached by the elimination of suffering. This suffering is said to originate largely in ascribing certainty—a sense of reality—to what is but transient, including the body, the mind, and the self, and such an attachment prevents one from enjoying innate freedom. A commonly cited etymology suggests that the term is a combination of two words, pāra and mitā, each meaning “the further bank, shore, or boundary” and “that which goes”. In this regard, pāramitā refers to the transcendence of various limiting conditions, which accompany the very prescription of identity to an existence in constant change. 

 

In this minute-long video, the artist practices the experience of existence, and existence alone, on the hillside across from Golden Gate Bridge, which keeps the San Francisco cityscape at bay. The concluding mantra from a Korean recital of the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sutra (often considered the best-known Buddhist scripture, also known as the Heart Sutra) repeats three times, the way the Sutra ends. The mantra “Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha” loosely translates to “Gone, gone, gone to the other side, gone completely beyond. Enlightenment, hail!”

© 2020 by KAHN J. RYU