Heart Sutra

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Heart Sutra

Postby Jechbi » Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:37 am

Not sure where to post this. I'd like to hear the impression of others regarding the Heart Sutra.

I've heard it described as more of a poetic discourse, a recitation one makes without analyzing too literally, just letting the words wash over. I've also heard it described as a repudiation of the Theravada understanding of Buddhism. But when I hear the Heart Sutra or read it, frankly, I don't see a contradiction. How much am I missing? Probably a lot, I guess.

What is the proper way to understand this sutra? Learned opinions welcome.

:D
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby KeithBC » Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:33 pm

I think the Heart Sutra is best understood in the context of the entire body of Prajnaparamita Sutras. They all cover the same material, just in different amounts of detail. (My favourite is Conze's translation of the 8000-line Prajnaparamita Sutra - I find it the most accessible.)

If you take a subject that is addressed in 8000 lines or 20,000 lines, and compress it to a couple of dozen lines, you know that you are getting just the barest minimum of detail. In effect, the Heart Sutra is an outline of the longer texts.

I use it as an outline, a mnemonic device to jog my memory of what the Prajnaparamita literature is about. As such, I recite it daily, to remind myself that there is something beyond the daily samsaric view of life.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Apr 07, 2009 7:45 pm

My favorite Mahayana sutra! :heart:

Especially great for chanting!
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby Luke » Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:14 pm

My impression is that the Heart Sutra is primarily about emptiness. So, I think the original poster's question reduces to "Is the Theravada concept of emptiness the same or compatible with the Mahayana concept of emptiness"? However, I'm not knowledgeable enough to answer that. :thinking: Where's a geshe when you need one?
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby Jechbi » Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:58 am

Thanks, Keith. Found it here.

:anjali:
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby Jechbi » Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:51 am

Armed with the great armour, the Bodhisattva should so develop that he does not
take his stand on any of these: not on form, feeling, perception, impulses,
consciousness; not on eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; not on forms,
sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, mind-objects; not on eye-consciousness,
etc., until we come to: not on mind-consciousness, etc., until we come to:
not on the elements, i.e., earth, water, fire, wind, ether, consciousness: not
on the pillars of mindfulness, right efforts, roads to psychic power, faculties,
powers, limbs of enlightenment, limbs of the Path;

not on the fruits of Streamwinner, Once-Returner, Never-Returner, or Arhatship; not on
Pratyekabuddhahood, nor on Buddhahood. He should not take his stand on
the idea that 'this is form,' 'this is feeling,' etc., to: 'this is Buddhahood.'

He should not take his stand on the ideas that 'form, etc., is permanent,
[or] impermanent'; that 'form is ease or ill'; that 'form is the self, or
not the self,' that 'form is lovely or repulsive,' that 'form is empty, or
apprehended as something.' He should not take his stand on the notion
that the fruits or the holy life derive their dignity from the Uncondilioned.

Or that a Streamwinner is worthy of gifts, and will be reborn seven times
at the most. Or that a Once-Returner is worthy of gifts, and will, as he has
not yet quite won through to the end, make an end of ill after he has once
more come into this world. Or that a Never-Returner is worthy of gifts,
and will, without once more returning to this world, win Nirvana elsewhere.
Or that an Arhat is worthy of gifts, and will just here in this very
existence win Nirvana in the realm of Nirvana that leaves nothing behind.

Or that a Pratyekabuddha is worthy of gifts, and will win Nirvana after
rising above the level of a Disciple, but without having attained the level of
a Buddha. That a Buddha is worthy of gifts, and will win Nirvana in the
Buddha-Nirvana, in the realm of Nirvana that leaves nothing behind, after
he has risen above the levels of a common man, of a Disciple, and of a
Pratyekabuddha, wrought the weal of countless beings, Ied to Nirvana
countless hundreds of thousands of niyutas of kotis of beings, assured
countless beings of Discipleship, Pratyekabuddhahood and full Buddhahood,
stood on the stage of a Buddha and done a Buddha's work,
- even thereon a Bodhisattva should not take his stand.

Thereupon the Venerable Sariputra thought to himself: If even thereon
one should not take one's stand, how then should one stand, and train
oneself? The Venerable Subhuti, through the Buddha's might, read his
thoughts and said: What do you think, Sariputra, where did the Tathagata
stand?

Sariputra: Nowhere did the Tathagata stand, because his mind sought
no support. He stood neither in what is conditioned, nor in what is unconditioned,
nor did he emerge from them.
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby Drolma » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:57 pm

I love The Heart Sutra !


tadyatha - gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha! :bow:

I personally like this wise and learned teaching on the Sutra on the Heart of the Perfection of Widsom-

http://www.lamrim.com/hhdl/

:heart:
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby Dazzle » Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:55 pm

An extract of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Essence of the Heart Sutra may also be found here:


http://www.wisdom-books.com/ProductExtr ... ?PID=14137

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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby Huifeng » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:21 am

KeithBC wrote:I think the Heart Sutra is best understood in the context of the entire body of Prajnaparamita Sutras. They all cover the same material, just in different amounts of detail. (My favourite is Conze's translation of the 8000-line Prajnaparamita Sutra - I find it the most accessible.)

If you take a subject that is addressed in 8000 lines or 20,000 lines, and compress it to a couple of dozen lines, you know that you are getting just the barest minimum of detail. In effect, the Heart Sutra is an outline of the longer texts.

I use it as an outline, a mnemonic device to jog my memory of what the Prajnaparamita literature is about. As such, I recite it daily, to remind myself that there is something beyond the daily samsaric view of life.

Om mani padme hum
Keith


Ah, my dear friend KeithBC, a post that I could have written myself!
I often despair at many attempts to explain the Heart sutra which show little or no understanding of the Prajnaparamita as a whole. Thank you for your reminder.
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:28 pm

My understanding of the Heart Sutra according to Red Pines commentary was that it was composed to correct Sariputtas misunderstanding of the Abhidhamma.

:namaste:
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby meindzai » Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:15 pm

Luke wrote:My impression is that the Heart Sutra is primarily about emptiness. So, I think the original poster's question reduces to "Is the Theravada concept of emptiness the same or compatible with the Mahayana concept of emptiness"? However, I'm not knowledgeable enough to answer that. :thinking: Where's a geshe when you need one?


In Theravada, emptiness usually refers to the emptiness of a self. So where the heart sutra is pointing out that the aggregates are empty, no eye, ear, nose, tongue, etc. there is no contradiction that I can see.

Then Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?"

"Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ananda, that the world is empty. And what is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self? The eye is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Forms... Eye-consciousness... Eye-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

"The ear is empty...

"The nose is empty...

"The tongue is empty...

"The body is empty...

"The intellect is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Ideas... Intellect-consciousness... Intellect-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Thus it is said that the world is empty."


Suñña Sutta: Empty

But when emptiness starts being applied to the path itself is where I'd perhaps start to see Theravadins cringing a bit. One might reference the simile of the raft, oft quoted in both traditions, but I think Mahayana takes it a bit further.

For more on emptiness from a Theravadin standpoint: The Integrity of Emptiness

-M
"The Dharma is huge." - Rael
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby Huifeng » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:47 am

bodom wrote:My understanding of the Heart Sutra according to Red Pines commentary was that it was composed to correct Sariputtas misunderstanding of the Abhidhamma.

:namaste:


Red Pine is probably just quoting Conze, but should be that Sariputra understood the Abhidharma correctly, but Subhuti is giving him the Mahayana version.

But I don't think that this is necessarily the case. It's complicated, and looking at the Heart Sutra is not actually the best place to start or pursue such questions. Read the full Prajnaparamita instead.
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby kirtu » Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:09 am

Lopez's book on the Heart Sutra is an excellent study: THE HEART SUTRA EXPLAINED: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries

This is a translation of four or five short Indian Buddhist and Tibetan commentaries on the Heart Sutra addressing the Heart Sutra from Madhyamika, Yogacharya and Vajrayana points of view.

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby Virgo » Mon Feb 08, 2010 7:57 pm

This is an excellent sutra.

Kevin
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby Sound Of Silence » Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:55 pm

meindzai wrote:
But when emptiness starts being applied to the path itself is where I'd perhaps start to see Theravadins cringing a bit. One might reference the simile of the raft, oft quoted in both traditions, but I think Mahayana takes it a bit further.

-M


Sorry-- how does mahayana take it further?
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Re: Heart Sutra

Postby kirtu » Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:18 pm

Sound Of Silence wrote:
meindzai wrote:
But when emptiness starts being applied to the path itself is where I'd perhaps start to see Theravadins cringing a bit. One might reference the simile of the raft, oft quoted in both traditions, but I think Mahayana takes it a bit further.

-M


Sorry-- how does mahayana take it further?


As Meindzai mentions Mahayana applies emptiness to the path itself.

Mahayana applies emptiness not only to the personal self but all phenomena including the Buddhist path.

As the Heart Sutra begins with the apparent enlightenment of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara with his realization of the emptiness of the skandhas. It proceeds to state that from the ultimate view

form is no other than emptiness, emptiness is no other than form, form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form


continuing to explicitly apply emptiness to the senses and sense objects. The Heart Sutra then states that all phenomena are forms of emptiness and are:

not born, not destroyed, not stained, not pure ...


The teaching continues to apply emptiness to dependent origination:
no ignorance, no end to ignorance, no old age and death and no end to old age and death, no suffering, no cause of suffering, ...


and then to the path itself:
no extinguishing, no path, no wisdom and no gain


as a result the bodhisattva lives in the wisdom of emptiness, the perfection of wisdom:
no gain and thus the Bodhisattva lives prajnaparamita, with no hinderance in the mind, no hinderance therefore no fear,


Living in this wisdom itself is nirvana:
far beyond deluded thoughts this is nirvana


It concludes by stating that all Buddhas realized the perfection of wisdom and through that they attained their Buddhahood. And finally concludes with what can be described as a praise to the perfection of wisdom. The Heart Sutra asserts that the perfection of wisdom itself is the mantra and that it ultimately is the cause of enlightenment. And the final statement in this section is the mantra itself "Gate, Gate ...." which is taken as the condensation of the teaching itself.

BTW this teaching is embeded in the longer version in which Shakyamuni Buddha entered into samadhi and blessed Shariputra to ask the question of how one should attain the ultimate knowledge of enlightenment and is followed by the Buddha arising from his meditation and praised the teaching.

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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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