My crack at an interpretation of the Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra*...

The great and selfless teacher holding the lotus, while directly and simultaneously experiencing both Being and non-Being**, clearly and unmistakably comprehended that all sensations of mind and body are inherently empty, and through that realization, extinguished all suffering. (1)

The teacher aided the student, saying “Being and non-Being** are exactly one and the same. All that can be experienced is just so.” (2)

The teacher continued, saying “All truths are defined by their inherently empty nature; they are outside of linear time, cannot be sullied or made more holy, nor grow nor shrink away. They are just so.” (3)

The teacher elaborated; “So, appreciating this inherent emptiness, there is no compound or composite thing that is perceivable with the senses, nor anything imaginable by the mind, that is not inherently empty as well. Further, because these senses are themselves composite and dependent things, they too are empty. So, nothing perceivable with the body or the mind has any nature in-and-of itself. All within and without is inherently empty. But because this is so, a personal understanding and appreciation of this fact means that knowing and not knowing are one and the same thing as well, as are life and death, suffering and not-suffering, starting and stopping, Being and non-Being. There is no path to knowledge, because their is no knowledge. There is no attaining because there is nothing to attain. Because of the selfless nature of reality, a fully awakened being relies upon the direct, continuing experience of inherent emptiness moment to moment as a way of removing all impediments to a direct experience of that selfless nature. With nothing impeding them, there is no fear of the falling away of the ego, because the ego is itself empty. When this is mastered, and all incorrect views are eliminated, enlightenment is achieved.” (4)

The teacher clarified; “This mastery of the direct experience of emptiness defines all enlightened beings, as only those who depend on and continually practice this experiential realization achieve this unending and perpetual state of perfect enlightenment.” (5)

The teacher summarized; “Because of our exposure to this great, unarguable truth, we know that a first-hand experience of the empty nature of all things is the universal truth of reality, the light that illuminates all things yet casts no shadows, the supreme song of the Universe, the chant of all chants that eliminates suffering by reminding us that suffering is merely a sensation that is empty. Therefore, we insist that this song of songs is the guide to the direct experience of emptiness, the song whose lyrics state;

‘Gone. Gone beyond. Entirely gone beyond duality. This is Enlightenment...’” (6)


*= As is used by my sangha, (ZCO)...

(1) "Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, when deeply practicing Prajna Paramita, clearly saw that all five aggregates are empty and thus relieved all suffering."

(2) "Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form. Form itself is emptiness, emptiness itself form. Sensations, perceptions, formations, and consciousness are also like this."

(3) "Shariputra, all dharmas are marked by emptiness; they neither arise nor cease, are neither defiled nor pure, neither increase nor decrease."

(4) "Therefore, given emptiness, there is no form, no sensation, no perception, no formation, no consciousness; no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no sight, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind; no realm of sight… no realm of mind consciousness. There is neither ignorance nor extinction of ignorance… neither old age and death, nor extinction of old age and death; no suffering, no cause, no cessation, no path; no knowledge and no attainment. With nothing to attain, a bodhisattva relies on Prajna Paramita, and thus the mind is without hindrance. Without hindrance, there is no fear. Far beyond all inverted views one realizes nirvana."

(5) "All Buddhas of past, present and future rely on Prajna Paramita and thereby attain unsurpassed, complete, perfect enlightenment."

(6) "Therefore, we know the Prajna Paramita as the great miraculous mantra, the great bright mantra, the supreme manta, the incomparable mantra, which removes all suffering and is true, not false. Therefore we proclaim the Prajna Paramita mantra, the mantra that says:

'Gate Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!'"

**=was "existence and non-existence".


Gensho said...

A fine interpretation! It's not easy to bring the Heart Sutra alive in a contemporary idiom, but you rose to the challenge.

Now, here's a further stretch: can you find different language for existence and non-existence? Considered phenomenologically, we might bracket the question of whether something exists or not. How does it appear to consciousness?

Can you restate it without the word existence?

Zen Trixter said...

Excellent point! Thank you, Gensho. I was struggling with trying to define terms without using the term to describe itself. It is a work in progress, as am I ;) Too bad I can't just hit "Edit" on myself, though!

Zen Trixter said...

I am wary of falling back and using "Being and non-Being" because frankly they're subjective terms, but I think that may be all that I have left.

Actually, that's sort of a funny joke in a philosophical way...


Mpeterson said...

...actually, a deliciously hilarious joke.

I have a question: is 'dharma' best said to be 'truth' or is it the "form" (phenomenologically, the "merely formal" truth which is dialectically opposed to the "real or actual truth" -- which you get when a concept explicitly shows its inherent negation, that it implicitly contains its own opposite -- to use Hegelian language -- and which, speaking out of my Taoistly sutured hat, cancels itself out into emptiness, or cancels emptiness out into somethingness) which, to unenlightened consciousness seems to be the full truth, although to a more awakened consciousness comes to be understood as the form containing the emptiness which is its true 'truth'?

Which explains, really, why talk is cheap.

And would it add practical traction to use verbs ('existing' and 'non-existing') instead of the nouns ('existence' and 'non-existence')?


Zen Trixter said...

That answer deserves it's own blog entry, which is currently in the oven...

Good point about the "verb" aspect.