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Heart Sutra notes

The Heart Sutra. The short title of this most popular and import- ant sutra. It contains the very essence of the vast body of the Prajna Paramita Sutras in Buddhism.1

jargon

Info

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  • SUTRA
  • MANTRA
  • DHARMAS
  • NEITHER_ARISING__NOR_DECREASING
  • EMPTY_NATURE
  • DEEPLY_IMMERSED
  • AVALOKITESHVARA
  • PRAJNA
  • PRAJNAPARAMITA
  • BODHISATTVA
  • FIVE_SKHANDAS
  • EMPTINESS
  • SKHANDAS
  • SHARIPUTRA
  • NIRVANA
  • BODHI
  • SVAHA
  • DHAMMAS

gate

gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha This mantra basically means: go, go, go beyond, go completely beyond to complete enlightenment.1

  • Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate. Bodhi! Svaha!
  • (This mantra means "Gone, gone, utterly gone, beyond gone. Enlightenment! Hail!")

the insight that brings us to the other shore

  • https://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/letters/thich-nhat-hanh-new-heart-sutra-translation
  • translation by thich nhat hanh

  • AVALOKITESHVARA

  • while practicing deeply with
  • the insight that brings us to the other shore
  • suddenly discovered that
  • all of the five skandhas are equally empty
  • and with this realisation
  • he overcame all ill-being

  • listen SARIPUTRA

  • this body itself is EMPTINESS
  • and emptiness itself is this body
  • tis body is not other than emptiness
  • and emptiness is not other than this body
  • te same is true of feelings
  • perceptions, mental formations
  • and consciousness

  • listen sariputra

  • 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

  • that is why in emptiness

  • body, feelings, perceptions
  • mental formations and consciousness
  • are not separate self entities

  • the eighteen realms of phenomena

  • which are the six sense organs
  • the six sense objects
  • and the six consciousnesses
  • are also not separate self entities

  • the twelve links of interdependent arising

  • and their extinction
  • are also not separate self entities

  • Ill-being, the Causes of Ill-being

  • the End of Ill-being, the Path
  • insight and attainment
  • are also not separate self entities

  • Whoever can see this

  • no longer needs anything to attain

  • Bodhisattvas who practice

  • the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
  • see no more obstacles in their mind
  • and because there
  • are no more obstacles in their mind
  • they can overcome all fear
  • destroy all wrong perceptions
  • and realize Perfect Nirvana

  • All Buddhas in the past, present and future

  • by practicing
  • the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
  • are all capable of attaining
  • Authentic and Perfect Enlightenment

  • it should be known that

  • the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
  • is a Great Mantra
  • the most illuminating mantra
  • the highest mantra
  • a mantra beyond compare
  • the True Wisdom that has the power
  • to put an end to all kinds of sufering

  • Therefore let us proclaim

  • a mantra to praise
  • the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore:

  • Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!

  • Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
  • Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!

Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara (Skt.) The Bodhisattva of Great Compassion. Known as Guanyin in Chinese, the most beloved bodhisattva in Asia. The name means "perceiver of cries of the world" or "unhindered perception of the truth." Guanyin Bodhisattva vows to respond to all sentient beings who call out his name in times of distress.

Avalokiteshvara is a bodhisattva, or enlightened being, in Mahayana Buddhism.

He is also known as Guanyin in East Asia and Lokeshvara in Southeast Asia.

Avalokiteshvara is the embodiment of compassion and is known for his mercy and willingness to help all beings.

He is often depicted with multiple arms and a thousand eyes, signifying his ability to see and respond to the cries of all suffering beings

Avalokiteshvara is one of the most popular and beloved bodhisattvas in Buddhism.

He is revered as the patron deity of Tibet and is also widely worshipped in China, Japan, Korea, and other East Asian countries

Here is a more readable explanation of Avalokiteshvara:

Avalokiteshvara is a bodhisattva, or enlightened being, who is known for his compassion and mercy. He is often depicted with multiple arms and a thousand eyes, signifying his ability to see and respond to the cries of all suffering beings. Avalokiteshvara is one of the most popular and beloved bodhisattvas in Buddhism

Here are the readability scores for the sentence Avalokiteshvara is a bodhisattva, or enlightened being, who is known for his compassion and mercy

Readability Formula Score
Flesch Reading Ease 83.33
Gunning Fog Index 7.89
Automated Readability Index 9.67
Dale-Chall Readability Score 2.00
Coleman–Liau Index 7.89

As you can see, the sentence Avalokiteshvara is a bodhisattva, or enlightened being, who is known for his compassion and mercy. has a high readability score on all of the formulas. This means that it is an easy sentence to read

explanation

THAY’S COMMENTARY EXPLAINING HIS NEW TRANSLATION TO HIS STUDENTS

Reasons for Retranslating the Heart Sutra

Dear Family,

The reason Tay must retranslate the Heart Sutra is because the patriarch who originally recorded the Heart Sutra was not sufficiently skilful enough with his use of language. For this reason, it has caused much misunderstanding for almost 2,000 years.

Tay would like to share with you two stories: the story of a novice monk that paid a visit to a Zen master, and the story of a Bhikkhu who came with a question to the Eminent Master Tue Trung.

In the first story, the Zen master asked the novice monk:

Tell me about your understanding of the Heart sutra.

The novice monk joined his palms and replied:

I have understood that the fve skandhas are empty. Tere are no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body or mind; there are no forms, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings, or objects of mind; the six consciousnesses do not exist, the eighteen realms of phenomena do not exist, the twelve links of dependent arising do not exist, and even wisdom and attainment do not exist.

Do you believe what it says?

Yes, I truly believe what it says.

Come closer to me, the Zen master instructed the novice monk. When the novice monk drew near, the Zen master immediately used his thumb and index finger to pinch and twist the novice's nose.

In great agony, the novice cried out Teacher! You're hurting me! The Zen master looked at the novice. Just now you said that the nose doesn't exist. But if the nose doesn't exist then what's hurting?

Te Eminent Master Tue Trung was a lay Zen master who had once served as the mentor for the young King Tran Nhan Tong, in 13th Century Vietnam. One day, a Bhikkhu paid him a visit to ask him about the Heart Sutra.

Respected Eminent Master, what does the phrase 'form is emptiness, emptiness is form,' really mean?

At frst the Eminent Master remained silent. And then, after a while, he asked: Bhikkhu, do you have a body?

Yes, I do.

Ten, why do you say that the body does not exist?

The Eminent Master then continued, Do you think that in empty space there is form?

No, I do not see that there is form.

Ten why do you say that emptiness is form?

The Bhikkhu stood up, bowed, and went on his way. But the Master summoned him back in order to recite to him the following gatha:

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form, is a skillful means created temporarily by the Buddhas of the three times. Emptiness is not form, form is not emptiness -

Their nature is always pure and illuminating, neither caught in being nor in non-being. In this story the Eminent Master Tue Trung seems to contradict the Heart Sutra and challenge the sacred formula 'form is emptiness and emptiness is form,' considered inviolable in the Prajñāpāramitā literature.

Thay believes that the Eminent Master went too far. Te Master was not able to see that the mistake doesn't rest in the formula, 'form is emptiness' rather, it resides in the unskillfulness of the line, 'Terefore in emptiness there is no form.' According to Tay, the way in which words are used in the Heart Sutra, right from the beginning up to the line: 'no birth, no death, not defled, not immaculate, not increasing, nor decreasing,' is already perfect. Tay’s only regret is that the patriarch who recorded the Heart Sutra did not add the four words 'no being, no non-being' immediately after the four words 'no birth, no death,' because these four words would help us transcend the notion of being and non-being, and we would no longer get caught in such ideas as 'no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue…' Te nose of the novice monk is still sore, even today. Do you understand?

The problem begins with the line: 'Listen Shariputra, because in emptiness, there is no form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness' (in Sanskrit: TasmācŚāriputraśūnyatayāmnarūpamnavedanānasamjñānasamskārānavijñānam).

How funny!

It was previously stated that emptiness is form, and form is emptiness, but now you say the opposite: there is only emptiness, there is no body.

This line of the sutra can lead to many damaging misunderstandings. It removes all phenomena from the category 'being' and places them into the category of 'non-being' (no form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations or consciousness...).

Yet the true nature of all phenomena is the nature of no being nor non-being, no birth and no death.

The view of 'being' is one extreme view and the view of 'non-being' is another extreme view. It is because of this unskilfulness that the novice monk's nose is still sore. Te famous gatha ascribed to the sixth patriarch Hue Nang (Hui-neng), in which he presented his insight to the ffth patriarch Hoang Nhan (Hung-jen), also expresses this notion and is also caught in the same wrong view:

Originally, there is no Bodhi tree

Te bright mirror does not exist either

From the non-beginning of time nothing has ever existed

So where can the dust settle?

A white cloud passes by and hides the mouth of the cave

Causing so many birds to lose their way home.

The insight of prajñāpāramitā is the most liberating insight that helps us overcome all pairs of opposites such as birth and death, being and non-being, deflement and immaculacy, increasing and decreasing, subject and object, and so on, and helps us to get in touch with the true nature of no birth/no death, no being/no non-being etc… which is the true nature of all phenomena.

This is a state of coolness, peace, and non-fear that can be experienced in this very life, in your own body and in your own fve skandhas.

It is nirvana. Just as the birds enjoy the sky, and the deer enjoy the meadow, so do the wise enjoy dwelling in nirvana.

This is a very beautiful sentence in the Nirvana Chapter of the Chinese Dharmapada.

The insight of prajñāpāramitā is the ultimate truth, transcending of all conventional truths. It is the highest vision of the Buddha.

Whatever paragraph in the Tripitaka, even in the most impressive of the Prajñāpāramitā collections, if it so contradicts this, it is still caught in conventional truth.

Unfortunately, in the Heart Sutra we fnd such a paragraph, and it is quite long.

That is why in this new translation Tay has changed the way of using words in both the original Sanskrit and the Chinese translation by Huyen Trang (Xuan-Zang).

Thay translates as follows: 'Tat is why in emptiness, body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness are not separate self entities.' All phenomena are products of dependent arising: that is the main point of the prajñāpāramitā teaching.

'Even insight and attainment do not exist as separate self entities.'

This sentence is as important as the sentence 'form is emptiness.' Tay also has added 'no being, no non-being' into the text.

No being, no non-being is the deep vision of the Buddha stated in the Kātyāyana sutra, when he offered a defnition on right view. These four words, no being, no non-being, will help future generations not to suffer from a twisted nose.

The Heart Sutra was intended to help the Sarvāstivādins relinquish the view of no self and no dharma.

The deepest teaching of Prājñāpāramitā is the emptiness of self (ātmaśūnyatā) and the emptiness of dharma (dharmanairātmya) and not the non-being of self and dharma.

Te Buddha has taught in the Kātyāyana sutra that most people in the world are caught either in the view of being and non-being.

Therefore, the sentence 'in emptiness there is no form, feelings...' is obviously still caught in the view of non-being.

That is why this sentence does not correspond to the Ultimate Truth. Emptiness of self only means the emptiness of self, not the non-being of self, just as a balloon that is empty inside does not mean that the balloon does not exist.

The same is true with the emptiness of dharma: it only means the emptiness of all phenomena and not the non-existence of phenomena.

It is like a flower that is made only of non-fower elements. Te fower is empty of a separate existence, but that doesn't mean that the fower is not there.

Th Heart Sutra made a late appearance at a time when Tantric Buddhism had begun to flourish.

The patriarch who compiled the Heart Sutra wanted to encourage followers of Tantric Buddhism to practice and recite the Heart Sutra, so that's why he presented the Heart Sutra as a kind of mantra.

This was also a skillful means.

Tay has used the phrase, 'The Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore,' because in the mantra there is the expression pāraga Th which means 'gone over to the other shore, the shore of wisdom'.

Pārāyana and pāramitā have both been translated as 'crossing over to the other shore.'

In the Sutta Nipāta there is a chapter called Pārāyana which has also been translated as 'crossing over to the other shore.'

Dear Family, I hope you enjoy practicing the new version of the Heart Sutra in English.

We have an English translation and Br. Phap Linh is in the process of composing the music for the new chant.

The next edition of the Chanting Book will include this new translation.

Yesterday, on the 21st of August, after finishing the translation at around 3a.m., a moon ray penetrated

  • Thay’s room.
  • With love and trust,
  • Your Teacher
  • Aśoka Institute, EIAB, Waldbröl

more explanation

Heart Sutra

AVALOKITESHVARA, the BODHISATTVA of Compassion, While practicing DEEPLY_IMMERSED the Perfection of Wisdom, Perceived that all FIVE_SKANDHAS are empty, And thus transcended all suffering.

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Form is not other than emptiness, emptiness is not other than form. Whatever is form is emptiness, whatever is emptiness is form.

Perceptions, feelings, thinking, and consciousness, Also are empty.

The eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind, Also are empty.

Form, sound, smell, taste, touch, and phenomena, Also are empty.

Even the mind itself is empty.

There is no ignorance, and no end to ignorance. There is no old age and death, and no end to old age and death. There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no end to suffering, And no path to follow.

There is no wisdom to attain, and no attainment of wisdom.

Because nothing exists, no Bodhisattvas exist, And because Bodhisattvas do not exist, no great compassion exists. And because no great compassion exists, no means, no objects of support, No wisdom, and no attainment of wisdom exist.

Therefore, Shariputra, In the absence of everything, the Bodhisattva Dwells in the Perfection of Wisdom, Without hindrance, and without fear. Completely severed from delusion, He realizes Nirvana.

All the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, Through the Perfection of Wisdom, Have attained full enlightenment.

Therefore, the Perfection of Wisdom, Is the great sacred mantra, The great bright mantra, The supreme mantra, The unequaled mantra, Which can eliminate all suffering. It is truth, and it is not false.

So know that the Perfection of Wisdom Is the great mantra, The radiant clear mantra, The supreme mantra, The unequaled mantra, Which can eliminate all suffering.

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate. Bodhi! Svaha!

(This mantra means "Gone, gone, utterly gone, beyond gone. Enlightenment! Hail!")

The Heart Sutra is one of the most popular and important sutras in Mahayana Buddhism. It is a concise but profound teaching on the emptiness of all phenomena and the path to enlightenment. The sutra is often recited as a mantra, and it is also studied and contemplated by Buddhists of all levels of experience.

The Heart Sutra begins with the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who is known for his compassion. While practicing the Perfection of Wisdom, Avalokiteshvara realized that all five skandhas are empty. The skandhas are the five components of our personality: form, perception, feeling, thinking, and consciousness.

When we realize that the skandhas are empty, we see that they are not permanent or substantial. They are constantly changing and interdependent. This realization leads to the transcendence of all suffering.

The Heart Sutra then goes on to explain that all phenomena are empty, including form, sound, smell, taste, touch, and phenomena. This does not mean that these things do not exist. It simply means that they are not inherent or fixed. They are empty of self-nature.

When we understand the emptiness of all phenomena, we are free from attachment and aversion. We are also free from the fear of death and rebirth.

The Heart Sutra concludes by stating that the Bodhisattva dwells in the Perfection of Wisdom, without hindrance and without fear. The Bodhisattva has completely severed delusion and realizes Nirvana.

The Heart Sutra is a powerful teaching that can help us to understand the nature of reality and the path to enlightenment. It is a sutra that can be studied and contemplated for a lifetime.

from zen reader

MATTER AND EMPTINESS - SEEING MATTER itself as emptiness produces great wisdom so one does not dwell in birth and death; seeing emptiness as equivalent to matter produces great compassion so one does not dwell in nirvana.

Yun-feng Excerpt From The Zen Reader Thomas Cleary