Monday, February 9, 2009

Heart Sutra: Wisdom Beyond Wisdom

(Heart of Great Wisdom Discourse)

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva [1], doing deep prajna paramita [2],
Clearly saw emptiness of all the five conditions,
Thus, completely relieving misfortune and pain,

O Shariputra [3], form is no other than emptiness, emptiness is no other than form;
Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form;

Sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness are likewise like this.

O Shariputra, all dharmas [4] are forms of emptiness, not born, not destroyed;
Not stained, not pure, without loss, without gain;

So in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness;

No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;
No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena;

No realm of realm of consciousness;
No ignorance and no end to ignorance...

No old age and death, and no end to old age and death;
No suffering, no cause of suffering, no extinguishing, no path;
No wisdom and no gain. No gain and thus
The bodhisattva lives prajna paramita
With no hindrance in the mind, no hindrance, therefore no fear,
Far beyond deluded thoughts, this is nirvana.

All past, present, and future Buddhas live prajna paramita,
And therefore attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

Therefore know, prajna paramita is the Great mantra, the vivid mantra,
The best mantra, the unsurpassable mantra;

It completely clears all pain, this is the truth, not a lie.
So set forth the Prajna Paramita Mantra; set forth this mantra and say:

Gate! Gate! Paragate! Parasamgate!
Bodhi svaha.

Prajna Heart Sutra.


[1] Bodhisattva = a "being bent on enlightenment," particularly (in Mahayana Buddhism) one who forsakes nirvana for the sake of saving other sentient beings.

[2] Prajna = wisdom; Paramita = one of the paramis or "Ten Perfections" brought consummated by insight that transcends thought, logic, and pondering. "Doing prajna paramita" -- or perfecting his wisdom -- suggests he was meditating towards satori (a sudden epiphany). The name "Heart" Sutra refers principally to the fact that this is the pirth or essence of that wisdom, the distilled version of a much longer exegetical work. The name is also appropriate since all wisdom emanates from the heart (citta, a word that means both heart and mind since the heart is considered, at least metaphorically and often literally, to be the seat of conscious awareness).

[3] Shariputra = an arhat (enlightened) chief disciple of Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, designated (and still regarded in Theravada Buddhism) as "foremost in wisdom."

[4] dharmas = things, phenomena; this refers specifically to conditioned materiality and mentality. Only nirvana is "unconditioned," that is, not dependent on causes and conditions for its existence.

No comments: