All phenomena bear the mark of Emptiness;
Their true nature is the nature of
No Birth No Death,
No Being No Non-being,
No Defilement No Purity,
No Increasing No Decreasing

Heart Sutra translation by Thich Nhat Hanh

Om mani padme hum.

As an angel investor, I know I will encounter loss at some point for another. I lose dollars and I lose cents. I lose valuable members of the team. I have even lost businesses that I have built. They vanish away into the emptiness never to return.

Where did they go? Where did it all go?

How did it all turn to dust?

It may seem risky–perhaps even foolish–to take on such great business risks when so many are content with being employees who receive a regular pay check for work done at regular intervals.

I am no fool, I assure you. But I am an optimist. I believe in things that do not exist. I have believed in people who have disappointed me. I have even loved people who have betrayed me.

But still, I believe.

There have been moments where I have lost my faith. Dark periods where I questioned and second-guessed what in the world I was doing with my life. Moments when I wondered if I should settle for that woman, that opportunity and that opening that was just good enough.

But I didn’t. I waited. Like an eagle on a tree or a mountaintop; I kept a lookout for the opportune moment to pounce on my prey.

We live in a world of infinite opportunities. As an investor, I meet hundreds of eager new business owners each week who ask me to invest in their businesses.

Opportunities are everywhere. But is it the right one for your soul?

Your money, your opportunities, your accolades–you do not take them with you when you leave this world. Which is why I am never afraid to lose them. They do not belong to me, but were merely in my possession for a short while. The true capitalists know that they are not owners–but rather custodians–of the world’s wealth.

I’ll tell you why I don’t fear loss the way most people do.

I lost a parent at a young age. I was so young I don’t even remember losing this person. There was a vacuum in my life that no other woman could fill. Not to say that I didn’t try to fill it. I failed countless times. Perhaps they sensed some inner longing they couldn’t meet. Perhaps they sensed the void I had in my soul. Perhaps they feared the emptiness I always embraced.

To many young boys, their mother is their God–especially in their younger years. She is ordinarily described as a doting woman who loves her children unconditionally. As a grown man in my 40s, I know this portrayal is a fallacy.

Our mothers bring us into this world, but they too, have a life of their own. They have their own destiny–and sometimes that doesn’t include us.

I do not know where my mother went after she passed. I have heard theories of reincarnation, resurrection and even heaven–depending on which faith one is born into or chooses for themselves.

A few months ago, I discovered The Heart Sutra. It speaks of the impermanence of all phenomena that our senses are privy to. It tells of the emptiness that is around us at all times.

I cannot mourn for someone I never knew. I would like to say that I feel the loss, but one cannot feel the loss of something one never had.

One only feels the emptiness.

I think I turned out okay. I eventually found a woman who made me happy; and I her. She’s a businessperson, like me. She’s an optimist, like me. But other than that, we are different people. There is really not much that is alike about the two of us. We think differently. We communicate differently. And quite frankly, I have never met anyone like her.

I grew up in a boys world. I have chosen to remain in a male-dominated profession. I wouldn’t describe myself as someone who is in touch with his feminine side. And yet, I love nurturing businesses and entrepreneurs.

There is something special about building something tangible where there was once only emptiness. But I know deep down that all businesses I build will eventually turn to dust. If not in my lifetime, then definitely a few generations down the line.

Whatever happened to the traders of the Silk Road? Whatever happened to the naval empires of the colonial era? Whatever happened to the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia?

Where did it all go?

They are all gone. Signs of their past remain buried in the history books that few seem to read… let alone be able to verify. But it no longer exists and it can never be brought back to life. Perhaps it never even existed at all.

Emptiness is the truth of all phenomena on this planet.

Whoever can see this
no longer needs anything to attain.

Heart Sutra translation by Thich Nhat Hanh
concrete tunnel

6 thoughts on “The Heart Sutra | A Life of Embracing Emptiness

  1. The emptiness is scary to most people… That is why they fill their lives with a multitude of instantly available distractions. Much peace to you, my friend.

    1. Empires collapse, businesses fade and people die. Emptiness is not to be feared, but to be surrendered to.

  2. We have attained and not attained everything that our soul is destined for. I hope this teaching brings tumultuous souls much-needed peace.

  3. A balance between the world of matter and the world of spirit… Or as you say, emptiness 🙂

Leave a Comment