Friday, June 3, 2011
New (Theravada) "Heart Sutra"
Seven Dharmachari (Wisdom Quarterly) based on classic Edward Conze translation
The female personification of the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajna-paramita), Java, Indonesia (wikipedia.org)
Khema, the arhat and foremost in wisdom, while coursing through the wisdom that has gone beyond, looked down from on high and beheld but Five Aggregates. She saw that in and of themselves, they were impersonal.
Here, O Sariputra! Form is impersonal, and the very impersonal is form.
The impersonal does not differ from form; form does not differ from the impersonal. Whatever is impersonal, that is form. Whatever is form, that is impersonal.
The same is true of sensations, perceptions, mental formations [most notably volition], and consciousness.
Here, O Sariputra! All phenomena are impersonal; they are dependently-originated and cease but not the composite-existence they represent, which is neither produced nor stopped, neither defiled nor immaculate, neither deficient nor complete.
Therefore, O Sariputra, in the impersonal-composite there is neither body, nor feeling, nor conception, nor volition, nor consciousness.
There is neither internal eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, nor mind; neither external forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangibles, nor objects of mind; no sight-organ sensitivity...no mind-consciousness sensitivity, nor the coming together of the three.
There is no ignorance for the impersonal-composite, no extinction of ignorance...there is no decay and death, no extinction of decay and death. There is no suffering for the impersonal-composite, no origination, no stopping, no path.
There is no cognition, no attainment, and no non-attainment for anyone.
Therefore, O Sariputra, it is because of there being no attainment that an arhat, through having developed the path culminating in the perfection of wisdom, abides without labels (discursive thoughts) and in the absence of labels has been relieved of trembling.
One has overcome what can upset and, entering the stream, in the end attains final nirvana.
All those who appear as supremely-enlightened teachers in the three periods of time -- past, present, and future -- fully awake to the utmost, right and complete enlightenment because they have developed the perfections culminating in the perfection of wisdom.
Therefore, one should know the perfection of wisdom as the great mantra, the mantra of great insight, the ultimate mantra, the unequalled mantra, uprooter of all suffering, in truth -- for how could the directly observable be otherwise? The perfection of wisdom has yielded this mantra which runs:
Gone,* gone, gone beyond, gone fully beyond, O enlightenment, so it is!
This completes the heart of perfect wisdom.
*Gone (Sanskrit, gate) literally means "gone-and-going," a grammatical form available in Sanskrit and even in German but not in English. How could something be gone and going? A river goes out to sea. Even as it is going, it has already gone; even as it is gone, it is still going. So, too, the Path of the Tathagata (the Wayfarer, both the "Welcome One," the "Well Gone One") has led out and still leads out to freedom from all suffering. See Thomas Ashley-Farrand for more on the Sanskrit and a more accurate pronunciation and translation into English. The climax of this short sutra (discourse) is its mantra: Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi, swaha!