Friday, February 27, 2009

CoZ5: The Heart Sutra

The Maha
Prajna Paramita Hrdaya Sutra

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva
when practicing deeply the Prajna Paramita
perceives that all five skandhas are empty
and is saved from all suffering and distress.

form does not differ from emptiness,
emptiness does not differ from form.
That which is form is emptiness,
that which is emptiness, form.

The same is true of feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.

all dharmas are marked with emptiness;
they do not appear or disappear,
are not tainted or pure,
do not increase or decrease.

Therefore, in emptiness no form, no feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.

No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch,
no object of mind;
no realm of eyes
and so forth until no realm of mind consciousness.

No ignorance and also no extinction of it,
and so forth until no old age or death
and also no extinction of it.
No suffering, no origination,
no stopping, no path, no cognition,
also no attainment with nothing to attain.

The Bodhisattva depends on Prajna Paramita
and the mind is no hindrance;
without any hindrance no fears exist.
Far apart from every perverted view one dwells in Nirvana.

In the three worlds
all Buddhas depend on Prajna Paramita
and attain Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi.

Therefore, know that the Prajna Paramita
is the great transcendent mantra
is the great bright mantra,
is the utmost mantra,
is the supreme mantra,
which is able to relieve all suffering
and is true, not false.
So proclaim the Prajna Paramita mantra,
proclaim the mantra which says:

gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha
gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha
gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha.
This is the Heart Sutra. Or rather, the Sutra (sutra) of the Heart (hrdaya) of the Perfection of Insight (prajna paramita). The Perfection of Insight Sutra is much longer. I have not seen it but I'm guessing that where in the Heart Sutra is says, "and so forth, " the Perfection fo Insight Sutra actually lists the stuff the Heart Sutra is so forth-ing.

To help understand what is being said here, I should probably define some words/concepts.

Avalokitesvara: this is Kwan Yin (Chinese), Konnon (Japanese) or Kwan Um (Korean). Legend has it that Avalokitesvara, an enlightened being (Bodhisattva) realized the truth behind the Heart Sutra while meditating. Avalokitesvare is known as the Bodhisattva of Compassion. It is rumored that the Dalai Lama is the reincarnation of Avalokitesvara*.

Shariputra: this is the person to whom this talk is given. I don't know why it's left in.

Skandha: these are those things which make up the human experience. Eyes/sight, ears/hearing, nose/smelling, tongue/taste, body/touch, mind/thinking. So when they say that all five skandas are empty, what's being said is what your senses pick up ain't the way things are (or rather, ain't what you make them out to be).

"Ignorance and so forth until no old age or death": aka, Dependant Origination. Remember that post a couple of weeks ago? No? Slacker! Go back and look! BTW, the "and so forth" is ten things. I'm guessing the original went through and listed each one.

Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi: this translates into something like, "unexcelled perfect enlightenment." I'm not sure why they don't translate everything but there you are.

"Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha": "Gone, gone, gone to the shore beyond." By the way, it's pronounced GAH-TAY although it is fun to go hilbilly and say GAYT GAYT PARA-GAYT.

The Heart Sutra sums up Mahayana Buddhism quite well and is chanted all the damn time. It sticks in your head more than that new McDonald's fish sammich song.

* Just so you know, Buddhism doesn't preach anything about the afterlife and is completely silent on reincarnation. So believe it if you will! Personally, I'm sceptical.

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