A lot of people love to talk about compassion and peace regarding home, foreign and domestic affairs. But did not have the compassion and peace in mind, then how will the true compassion and peace be formed?


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"All that we are is the result of what we have thought." The Buddha. "..Religion without Science is Blind, Science without religion is crippled." Albert Einstein 1879-1955

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Coming Vesak Day 2010

We have to apologise to fellow follower of Jing De Xuan. There will not be any events organise to celebrate the Vesak day as there is a lack of funds and sponsorships from public. But we will be chanting at home for the buddha and for all sufferings. Happy Vesak Day!

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
Namo Shakyamuni Buddha

Words of Wisdom 1

Good done hoping others will notice

it is not true good.

Evil done fearing others will discover it

is great evil.

Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo
Namo Shakyamuni Buddha

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Should One Practice Filiality?

If cultivators can let go of their parents and im­merse themselves in cultivation, they are on the right track. But if one neither cultivates nor is filial to one's parents, one is on the wrong path.

Today, let's investigate the question: should one be filial to one's parents, and why? There are two sides to this ques­tion.

From the viewpoint of world‑transcending Dharma, we shouldn't be filial to our parents. I believe that anyone listening to this is shocked, because this idea is unheard of. You know that one should be filial to one's parents; you have never heard of a view stating that one shouldn't practice filiality. That's why you are surprised. Yet, if we speak according to true principle, this view is correct. But from the worldly point of view, of course we should be filial to our parents. The worldly point of view says that just as a tree has its roots and a stream has its source, we also have our roots and we should pay attention to them. We should always carefully attend to the funeral rites of our parents and to the worship of our ancestors. We should be filial towards our parents, and respectful towards our teachers and elders. All this is a matter of course.

However, according to world‑transcending Dharma, if we cultivate diligently, work hard at learning, and bring forth a great Bodhi mind, this is great filiality, not small filiality. How is that? When you have accomplishment in cultivation, you can rescue your parents from your past seven lives and help them to be reborn in the heavens. It is said, "When one child becomes a Buddha, Ancestors of the past nine lives Ascend to the heavens." This is great filiality.

There are four types of filiality: great, small, distant, and close. Great filiality means repaying the kindness of one's parents, teachers, and elders from all lives. Small filiality is filiality towards one's parents of this present life, making them happy, providing food and shelter for them, and giving them peace of mind. It means respecting one's par­ents and providing for them. Distant filiality refers to re­specting and being filial to the ancient sages and worthy ones, taking them as models and emulating their words and conduct . Close filiality is, in addition to being filial to one's own parents, also being filial to other people's parents. It is to "take care of your own elders and extend the same care to others." This is how we should think and behave.

True world‑transcending Dharma surpasses filiality. That's why I say, "Don't get attached to filiality." If you're at­tached to filiality, you are still caught up in love and emo­tion. You're always thinking of your parents. How can you cultivate this way? Therefore, according to true principle one should not be filial to one's parents. Some of you may understand the principle I'm talking about, and others may not. So we need to investigate further.

At present, people's minds are getting worse day by day, and their behavior is getting daily more wicked. It is said, "People's minds are no longer like the minds of the ancients." People ought to be filial to their parents but they aren't. They think filiality is an outdated idea, and they think raising children is the parents' obligation. So then, if a person doesn't practice filiality, does that mean they are cultivating? Of course not. If a person could truly cultivate, even if he didn't provide for his parents, he would still be considered filial. This is great filial piety, helping one's parents be reborn in the heavens. If a person neither prac­tices filiality nor cultivates, but only creates all kinds of evil karma, then he will definitely fall into the three evil paths. There is no question about it.

You can see present‑day young men and women learning despicable behavior. If it's not killing and arson, then it's robbery and promiscuity. They do every evil thing there is to do, and they call their lack of restraint, "freedom." They think that not being filial to one's parents means one should learn to be bad. This kind of thinking is absolutely wrong. Even though we cannot generalize, many people have this fault.

A cultivator, although he can't be filial to his parents, can save his parents from the sea of suffering and help them to ascend to the heavens. However, some people neither prac­tice filiality nor do they cultivate. They only commit im­moral acts, which ruin families and disrupt society, causing there to be no peace in the nation. Such behavior is a losing business: the more you lose, the less capital you have left, and your future is doomed. People who act this stupidly are inexcusable offenders.

On the other hand, if one is like the cultivator mentioned above and can let go of one's parents and immerse oneself in cultivation, then one is on the right track. But if one neither cultivates nor is filial to one's parents, one is on the wrong path. You should be clear about this. It is said,

Lust is the worst of all evils.

Filiality is the foremost of all virtues.

A talk given on July 29,1983, at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas

by the Venerable Master Hsüan Hua
(Venerable Master Hua's Talks on Dharma, Vol. 8, pp. 67-73)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The meaning of Heart Sutra

The Heart Sutra is a teaching by the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion, to the monk Shariputra. It is chanted regularly by followers of Buddhism at meetings and meditation practice. Although The Heart Sutra is very brief it contains key concepts of Buddhist Philosophy. These include the skandhas, the four noble truths, the cycle of interdependence and the central concept of Mahayana Buddhism, Emptiness.

Mahayana means the great vehicle, it is the Buddhism of China, Tibet, Japan and Korea. It arose around the first or second century CE as a reaction against several highly analytical schools of Buddhism which had developed in the 600 years since the time of the Buddha. These schools were referred to as Hinayana, the lesser vehicle by the Mahayanists. Zen, which appeared around 800, in China is considered a school of Mahayana.

The Heart Sutra begins:

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, When practicing deeply the Prajna-paramita perceives that all five skandhas are empty and is saved from all suffering and distress.

Avalokitesvara is an enlightened being, a Bodhisattva, who has forgone his own entry into Nirvana so that he can help others. As the embodiment of compassion he is called on by traditional practitioners of Buddhism in times of crisis. In the Heart Sutra he has realized emptiness through the practice of Prajna-paramita (infinite wisdom) and is preaching to the monk Shariputra.

That which is form is emptiness that which is emptiness form.

What is Emptiness? Emptiness is how we translate the Sanskrit noun Sunyata. The adjective form is Sunya, Empty.

Does Emptiness mean that Buddhists believe that nothing exists? No, Emptiness is not nothingness. It is the other side of interdependence (pratityasamutpada). All things are interrelated, you cannot take out an object and say this is here in and of itself. Its existence has no self-being (svabhava). This is explained further by Avalokitesvara using the five skandhas.

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

These are the five skandhas (aggregates): form, feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness. It is how we are aware.

Form is the solid object, the color or the sound that is interdependent with the other skandhas. For example a hot stove.

Feeling is the act of the sense organ contacting the object. The skin feels, the eye sees, the ears hear. For example when the skin comes in contact with a hot stove.

Perception is the first sensational awareness of the object. For example the skin becomes hot when it touches the stove.

Impulse is the unconscious reaction to the object. We place our hand on a hot stove and our impulse is to pull it away, before we even think.

Consciousness is mental awareness of the object. One feels the heat on the hand and thinks, "Ouch!"

Each of the skandhas is empty, since it cannot exist on its own, it is dependent on the four other skandhas. Like a set of blocks forming a house, the entire structure is dependent on its pieces, you can't point to one block and say that block alone is the house.

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

The term dharmas here is different from The Dharma, the way or the teaching. Dharmas are factors of existence. The five skandhas are dharmas as are any other bit of consciousness-information. The Hinayana schools sought to analyze the dharmas and give them qualities such as arising or disappearing, increasing or decreasing, but the Mahayanists realized that dharmas are empty without qualities.

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

This is the conclusion of the argument, the five skandhas are empty, since they are interdependent dharmas and have no self-qualities.

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.

This is a related result of the above argument. Perception is divided into the six senses of Buddhism: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, mind. We usually think of the mind as separate from the other senses, but when we are conscious of an object or we dream or think of something that is not in front of us, our mind acts as a sense organ. Each sense has three parts, the organ of sense, its object, and its realm of consciousness (datu). For example the eye sees the color green which gives rise to the consciousness of green. Again each of these parts is empty, since they are interdependent and cannot be separated. Three parts and six senses gives us the eighteen elements of experience, enumerated in this verse.

sense object + sense organ = realm of consciousness
color + eye = awareness of color

sound + ears = awareness of sound

smell + nose = awareness of smell

taste + tounge = awareness of taste

touch + body = awareness of touch

object of mind + mind = awareness of mental phenomena

No ignorance and also no extinction of it and so forth until no old age and death and also no extinction of them.

This verse refers to the Twelve Link Chain of Causation or The Cycle of Interdependence (pratityasamutpada):

1. From ignorance (avida) arises volitional action

2. From volitional action (karma) arises consciousness

3. From consciousness (vijnana) arises mental and physical phenomena

4. From mental and physical phenomena (nama-rupa) arises the six senses

5. From the six senses (shadayatana) arises sensorial contact

6. From contact (spasha) arises sensation

7. From sensation (vedana) arises desire

8. From desire (trishna) arises grasping

9. From grasping (upadana) arises the process of becoming

10. From the process of becoming (bhava) arises birth

11. From birth (jeti) arises death, pain, decay . . .

12. From sickness, old age and death (jana-marana), sorrow, lamentation, suffering and distress occur. Thus arises the whole mass of suffering.

The cycle starts when an individual becomes aware of itself as a being separete from the universe. It becomes ignorent of its true nature and this leads to metal activity (karma). Karma leads to consciousness which leads to metal and physical phenomena. This is the opposite of the way we usually think of creation. For the Buddhists, the mind itself creates the phenomenal world. Here we see the five skandas come into play as the self becomes aware of the objective world though the senses. When the self becomes aware of the other, desire arises. "I want what is outside myself." It has forgotten through ignorance that the object is just a creation of its own mind. Desire leads to grasping, trying to get something, which leads to becomming and birth, the consciousness has taken physical form. Now physical form is subject to all the ill of the world: pain, decay, sickness, old and and ultimatly death. From death arises ignorance and the process starts over again.

The process of Buddhist meditation and practice is to reverse the cycle. Through the extinction of ignorance, karma ceases, and so on,up to the ceasation of birth, meaning escape from the the cycle of birth and death (samsara), into nirvana, the stopping of the cycle.

Yet, the Heart Sutra says "no ignorance and also no extinction of it" and the same for the other twelve factors. In this process there is no first cause and there is no self-being. Each factor in the process is relative and interdependent with the other twelve factors and therefore empty.

No suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path, no cognition also no attainment with nothing to attain.

This verse refers to the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha:

1. Suffering (samsara) Suffering is endemic to life, even if we have our physical needs met, we still feel uneasy, there is something missing in our lives.

2. Origination (samudaya)The origination of suffering is clinging. We attach ourselves to material objects or to ideas and become obsessed with things that are ultimately transient.

3. Stopping (nirvana)

4. Path (marga) The path to escaping the cycle of samsara is the eight categories or the eight-fold path:

right understanding
right thoughts
right speech
right action
right livelihood
right effort
right mindfulness
right meditation

When you have stopped this cycle you attain nirvana, yet this verse denies attainment. This is the emptiness of emptiness. If you are clinging to emptiness, it cannot be emptiness.

The Bodhisattva depends on Prajna Paramita, and the mind is no hindrance, without any hindrance no fears exist. Far apart from ever perverted view one dwells in Nirvana. In the three worlds all Buddhas depend on Prajna Paramita and attain Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi.

When thoughts and analysis are stopped the world is perceived as it is. Perverted views are any qualities one gives to dharmas. Without the hindrance of wrong views we gain Prajna Paramita, the knowing beyond knowing and find Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi, the supreme awakening. Again we are presented with a paradox. In the last verse it says "no attainment, with nothing to attain" in this it says supreme awakening can be attained. What does this mean?

Therefore know that Prajna Paramita is the great transcendent mantra . . .

The sutra now shifts from diagnosis to prescription. It recommends a way to find the goal-less goal. Simply repeat the prajna paramita mantra:

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha.

Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone all together beyond, awaken, all hail.

This line is left untranslated from the Sanskrit in the different Asian versions. Mantra meditation has been used in India for thousands of years and was appropriated by the Buddhists. By concentrating on a phrase thinking is cut off, opening the way for awakening.

As with any other method there is no guarantee, but what we may find along the path is often helpful. Even if we do not find supreme awakening in this lifetime, perhaps we can find the still, empty eye in the center of the hurricane. Even if we do not know interdependence, by trying to understand it we can see that all life is related and have compassion for our fellow beings. As we chant the Heart Sutra we should be mindful of the teachings it summarizes and apply them to our lives.

English Translation of Heat Sutra


Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One together with many of the highest Bodhisattvas and a great company of Bhikshus was staying at Rajagaha on Mt. Gridhrakuta. The Blessed One was sitting apart absorbed in Samadhi Prajna-paramita. The Venerable Sariputra, influenced by the Blessed One absorbed in Samadhi, spoke thus to the Noble Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara: --If a son or daughter wishes to study the profound Prajna-paramita, how is he to do so?

The Noble Avalokitesvara replied to the Venerable Sariputra, saying:--If a son or daughter wishes to study the profound Prajna-paramita, he must first get rid of all ideas of ego-selfness. Let him think thus: Personality? What is personality? Is it an enduring entity? Or is it made up of elements that pass away? Personality is made up of the five grasping aggregates: form, sensation, perception, discrimination, consciousness, all of which are by nature empty of any self-substance. Form is emptiness, emptiness is not different from form, neither is form different from emptiness, indeed, emptiness is form. Also, sensation is emptiness, emptiness is not different from sensation, neither is sensation different from emptiness, indeed, emptiness is sensation. Also, perception is emptiness, emptiness is not different from perception, neither is perception different from emptiness, indeed, emptiness is perception. Also, discrimination is emptiness, emptiness is not different from discrimination, neither is discrimination different from emptiness, indeed, emptiness is discrimination. Also, consciousness is emptiness, emptiness is not different from consciousness, neither is consciousness different from emptiness, indeed, emptiness is consciousness.

Thus, O Sariputra, all things having the nature of emptiness have no beginning and no ending. The are neither faultless nor not faultless; they are neither perfect nor imperfect. In emptiness there is no form, no sensation, no perception, no discrimination, no consciousness. There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no sensitiveness to contact, no mind. There is no sight, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no mental process, no object, no knowledge, no ignorance. There is no destruction of objects, there is no cessation of knowledge, no destruction of objects, there is no cessation of knowledge, no cessation of ignorance. There is no Noble Four-fold Truths: no pain, no cause of pain, no cessation of pain, no Noble Path leading to the cessation of pain. There is no decay and no death, and no destruction of the notion of decay and death. There is no knowledge of Nirvana, there is no obtaining of Nirvana, there is no not obtaining of Nirvana.

Why is there no obtaining of Nirvana? Because Nirvana is the realm of no "thingness." If the ego-soul of personality was an enduring entity it could not obtain Nirvana. It is only because personality is made up of elements that pass away, that personality may attain Nirvana. So long as man is seeking highest perfect Wisdom, he is still abiding in the realm of consciousness. If he is to realize Nirvana, he must pass beyond consciousness. In highest samadhi having transcended consciousness, he has passed beyond discrimination and knowledge, beyond the reach of change or fear; he is already enjoying Nirvana. The perfect understanding of this and the patient acceptance of it is the highest perfect Wisdom that is Prajna-paramita. All the Buddhas of the past, present and future having attained highest samadhi, awake to find themselves realizing Prajna-paramita.

Therefore, O Sariputra, every-one should seek self-realization of Prajna-paramita, the Transcendent Truth, the unsurpassable Truth, the Truth that ends all pain, the Truth that is forever True. Oh Prajna-paramita! O Transcendent Truth that spans the troubled ocean of life and death: safely carry all seekers to the other shore of enlightenment.

Listen to the Mantra, the Great, Mysterious Mantra:--Gate, gate, paragate, bodhi, svaha! Gone, gone, gone to that other shore; safely passed to that other shore, O Prajna-paramita! So may it be.

About Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita Hrdaya)

The Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra or Heart Sutra or Essence of Wisdom Sutra (Sanskrit: प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदय Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya; Chinese: 摩訶般若波羅蜜多心經) (the word sutra is not present in known Sanskrit manuscripts) is a well-known Mahāyāna Buddhist sutra that is very popular among Mahayana Buddhists both for its brevity and depth of meaning. Buddhist writer and translator Bill Porter calls the Heart Sutra the best known and most popular of all Buddhist scriptures

The Heart Sutra is a member of the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā) class of Mahāyāna Buddhist literature, and along with the Diamond Sutra, is perhaps the most prominent representative of the genre.

The Heart Sutra is made up of 14 shlokas in Sanskrit; a shloka composed of 32 syllables. In Chinese, it is 260 Chinese characters, while in English it is composed of sixteen sentences. This makes it one of the most highly abbreviated versions of the Perfection of Wisdom texts, which exist in various lengths up to 100,000 shlokas. According to Buddhist scholar and author Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in his commentary to the Heart Sutra:

The Essence of Wisdom Sutra (Heart Sutra) is much shorter than the other Perfection of Wisdom Sutras but it contains explicitly or implicitly the entire meaning of the longer Sutras.

This sutra is classified by Edward Conze as belonging to the third of four periods in the development of the Perfection of Wisdom canon, although because it contains a mantra (sometimes called a dharani), it does overlap with the final tantric phase of development according to this scheme, and is included in the tantra section of at least some editions of the Kangyur. Conze estimates the sutra's date of origin to be 350 CE; some others consider it to be two centuries older than that. Recent scholarship is unable to verify any date earlier than the 7th century CE.

The Chinese version is frequently chanted (in the local pronunciation) by the Chan (Zen/Seon/Thiền) sects during ceremonies in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam respectively. It is also significant to the Shingon Buddhist school in Japan, whose founder Kūkai wrote a commentary on it, and to the various Tibetan Buddhist schools, where it is studied extensively.

The sutra is in a small class of sutras not attributed to the Buddha. In some versions of the text, starting with that of Fayue dating to about 735[10], the Buddha confirms and praises the words of Avalokiteśvara, although this is not included in the preeminent Chinese version translated by Xuanzang. The Tibetan canon uses the longer version, although Tibetan translations without the framing text have been found at Dunhuang. The Chinese Buddhist canon includes both long and short versions, and both versions exist in Sanskrit.

Origin and early translations
The Heart Sutra, it is generally thought, is likely to have been composed in the 1st century CE in Kushan Empire territory, by a Sarvastivadin or ex-Sarvastivadin monk. The earliest record of a copy of the sutra is a 200-250CE Chinese version attributed to the Yuezhi monk Zhi Qian. It was supposedly translated again by Kumarajiva around 400CE, although John McRae and Jan Nattier have argued that this translation was created by someone else, much later, based on Kumarajiva's Large Sutra. Zhi Qian's version, if it ever existed, was lost before the time of Xuanzang, who produced his own version in 649CE, which closely matches the one attributed to Kumarajiva. Xuanzang's version is the first record of the title "Heart Sutra" (心經 xīnjīng) being used for the text, and Fukui Fumimasa has argued that xinjing actually means dharani scripture. According to Huili's biography, Xuanzang learned the sutra from an inhabitant of Sichuan, and subsequently chanted it during times of danger in his journey to the West.

However, based on textual patterns in the Sanskrit and Chinese versions of the Heart Sutra and the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra, scholar Jan Nattier has suggested that the earliest (shortest) version of the Heart Sutra was probably first composed in China in the Chinese language from a mixture of Indian-derived material and new composition, and that this assemblage was later translated into Sanskrit (or back-translated, in the case of most of the sutra). She argues that the majority of the text was redacted from the Larger Sutra on the Perfection of Wisdom, which had originated with a Sanskrit Indian original, but that the "framing" passages (the introduction and concluding passages) were new compositions in Chinese by a Chinese author, and that the text was intended as a dharani rather than a sutra. The Chinese version of the core (i.e. the short version) of the Heart Sutra matches a passage from the Large Sutra almost exactly, character by character; but the corresponding Sanskrit texts, while agreeing in meaning, differ in virtually every word. Furthermore, Nattier argues that there is no evidence (such as a commentary would be) of a Sanskrit version before the 8th century CE, and she dates the first evidence (in the form of commentaries by Xuanzang's disciples Kuiji and Wonch'uk, and Dunhuang manuscripts) of Chinese versions to the 7th century CE. She considers attributions to earlier dates "extremely problematic". In any case, the corroborating evidence supports a Chinese version at least a century before a Sanskrit version. This theory has gained support amongst some other prominent scholars of Buddhism, but is by no means universally accepted.

The Zhi Qian version is titled Po-jo po-lo-mi shen-chou i chuan or Prajnaparamita Dharani; the Kumarajiva version is titled Mo-ho po-jo po-lo-mi shen-chou i chuan or Maha Prajnaparamita Mahavidya Dharani. Xuanzang's was the first version to use Hrdaya or "Heart" in the title.

Xuanzang's was also the first version to call the text a sutra. No extant Sanskrit copies use this word, though it has become standard usage in Chinese and Tibetan, as well as English.

Some citations of Zhi Qian's and Kumarajiva's versions prepend moho (which would be maha in Sanskrit) to the title. Some Tibetan editions add bhagavatī, meaning "Victorious One" or "Conqueror," an epithet of Prajnaparamita as goddess.

In the Tibetan text the title is given first in Sanskrit and then in Tibetan:

Sanskrit: Bhagavatiprajnaparamitahrdaya

Tibetan: བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་མ་ཤེས་རབ་ཀྱི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པའི་སྙིང་པོ; Wylie: bcom ldan 'das ma shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i snying po

English: Bhagavatī Heart of Perfect Wisdom

The text
Various commentators divide this text in different numbers of sections. Briefly, the sutra describes the experience of liberation of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteśvara, as a result of insight gained while engaged in deep meditation to awaken the faculty of prajña (wisdom). The insight refers to the fundamental emptiness of all phenomena, the five aggregates of human existence (skandhas) – form (rūpa), feeling (vedanā), volitions (samskārā), perceptions (saṁjñā), and consciousness (vijñāna).

The specific sequence of concepts listed in lines 12-20 ("...in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, ... no attainment and no non-attainment") is the same sequence used in the Sarvastivadin Samyukt Agama; this sequence differs in the texts of other sects. On this basis, Red Pine has argued that the Heart Sutra is specifically a response to Sarvastivada teachings that dharmas are real. Lines 12-13 enumerate the five skandhas. Lines 14-15 list the twelve ayatanas or abodes. Line 16 makes a reference to the eighteen dhatus or elements of consciousness, using a conventional shorthand of naming only the first (eye) and last (conceptual consciousness) of the elements. Lines 17-18 assert the emptiness of the Twelve Nidānas, the traditional twelve links of dependent origination. Line 19 refers to the Four Noble Truths.

Avalokiteśvara addresses Śariputra, who was, according to the scriptures and texts of the Sarvastivada and other early Buddhist schools, the promulgator of abhidharma, having been singled out by the Buddha to receive those teachings. Avalokiteśvara famously states that, "Form is empty (Śūnyatā). Emptiness is form." and declares the other skandhas to be equally empty – that is, empty of an independent essence. Avalokiteśvara then goes through some of the most fundamental Buddhist teachings such as the Four Noble Truths and explains that in emptiness none of these labels apply. This is interpreted according to the concept of smaran as saying that teachings, while accurate descriptions of conventional truth, are mere statements about reality – they are not reality itself – and that they are therefore not applicable to the ultimate truth that is by definition beyond our comprehending. Thus the bodhisattva, as the archetypal Mahāyāna Buddhist, relies on the perfection of wisdom, defined in the larger Perfection of Wisdom sutra to be the wisdom that perceives reality directly without conceptual attachment. This perfection of wisdom is condensed in the mantra with which the sutra concludes.

It is unusual for Avalokiteśvara to play any role, let alone the central one, in a Prajñāpāramitā text. Most early Prajñāpāramitā texts involve Subhuti, who is absent from both versions of the Heart Sutra, and the Buddha, who is only present in the longer version. This could be considered evidence that the framing text is Chinese in origin.

Jan Nattier points out in her article on the origins of the Heart Sūtra that this mantra in several variations is present in the Chinese Tripiṭaka associated with several different Prajñāpāramitā texts. The version in the Heart Sūtra runs:

Roman script: gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā
Devanāgarī: गते गते पारगते पारसंगते बोधि स्वाहा
Tibetan: ག༌ཏེ༌ག༌ཏེ༌པཱ༌ར༌ག༌ཏེ༌པཱ༌ར༌སཾ༌ག༌ཏེ༌བོ༌དྷི༌སྭཱ༌ཧཱ།
Pronunciation: ɡəteː ɡəteː paːɾəɡəteː paːɾəsəŋɡəte boːdʱɪ sʋaːɦaː

Edward Conze, who translated most of the vast Prajñāpāramita corpus, rendered this mantra into English as:

"gone gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, all hail!"
There are several approaches to translating the mantra, most of which assume that the mantra obeys the rules of Classical Sanskrit. Gata is the past-participle of the verbal root √gam meaning "gone". Pāra means "across to the other side" – hence "gone beyond". The preposition sam- equates to the Greek συν, "with". Monier Monier-Williams gives "come together , met , encountered , joined , united; allied with , friendly to" and many other phrases that imply joining together. So a literal translation of pārasamgate would be "gone across to the other side, together with" or as Conze suggests "gone altogether beyond". Bodhi is an action noun from √budh "to wake up, to understand" and is generally taken to mean "awaken" in the Buddhist context. Svāhā is an expletive from Vedic ritual where it was used by ritualists as they made oblations to the fire. It is usually understood as deriving from su- + āha and therefore means "well said" (even Conze admits that his "all hail!" is not a good rendering).

There is much discussion about case ending (-e) of gata, pāragata, and pārasaṃgata. According to Classical Sanskrit grammar it could be a feminine singular vocative (of gatā), or a masculine/neuter singular locative. Most Western exegesis follows Conze in considering it a feminine vocative - and taking the mantra to be an address to the feminine deity Prajñāpāramitā. However the mantra may well have been composed in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit which is much freer in case endings – in the Magadhi Prakirt -e indicates a masculine nominative singular for instance. In fact the string of words resists analysis and is not a grammatical sentence – or anything like it.

The text itself describes the mantra as "Mahāmantro, mahā-vidyā mantro, ‘nuttara mantro samasama-mantraḥ", which Conze translates as "The great mantra, the mantra of great knowledge, the utmost mantra, the unequalled mantra, the allayer of all suffering." Conze notes that these words are also epithets of the Buddha, and so the text seems to be equating the mantra with the Buddha. Each Buddhist tradition with an interest in the Heart Sūtra seems to have its own interpretation of the sūtra, and therefore of the mantra. As Alex Wayman commented:

One feature of these commentaries [in Tibetan] on the Heart Sutra struck me quite forcibly: each commentary seemed so different to the others, and yet they all seemed to show in greater or lesser degree the influence of the Mādhyamika school of Buddhist philosophy.

Donald Lopez goes further to suggest:

The question still remains of the exact function of the mantra within the sutra, because the sutra provides no such explanation and the sadhanas make only perfunctory references to the mantra.

Tibetan exegesis of the mantra tends to look back on it from a Tantric point of view. For instance seeing it as representing progressive steps along the five paths of the Bodhisattva, through the two preparatory stages (the path of accumulation and preparation – gate, gate), through the first part of the first bhumi (path of insight – pāragate), through the second part of the first to the tenth bhumi (path of meditation – Pārasamgate), and to the eleventh bhumi (stage of no more learning – bodhi svāhā). As Geshe Kelsang Gyatso explains in Heart of Wisdom:

This mantra, retained in the original Sanskrit, explains in very condensed form the practice of the five Mahayana paths, which we attain and complete in dependence upon the perfection of wisdom.

The current Dalai Lama explains the mantra in a discourse on the Heart Sutra both as an instruction for practice and as a device for measuring one's own level of spiritual attainment, and translates it as go, go, go beyond, go thoroughly beyond, and establish yourself in enlightenment. In the discourse, he gives a similar explanation to the four stages (the four go's) as in the previous paragraph.

Monday, 3 May 2010

A strange photo taken in Thailand Hatyai

This is a strange photo taken by Ven. Dok Kempa in Feb 2010 when I was having my buddhist retreat in a temple Hatyai Thailand. At that time, I was doing my evening walking meditation. What do you see?


Due to this merits,
May I soon,
Attain the enlightened state of Guru Buddha,
That I may be able to librate all sentient beings from their suffering.

May the precious bodhi mind, Not yet been born in me, will arise and grow.
May the birth have no decline, and will increase forever more.

Namu Myo Ho Renge Kyo
Namo Buddhaya
Namo Dharmaya
Namo Sanghaya