The Heart Sutra has 260 words into which are condensed the major meaning of prajna wisdom. It also includes the thoughts of the Mahayana and Hinayana. Heart Sutra is among thousands of classical volumes that have the fewest words but the richest meaning. In simple and clear words Heart Sutra describes, ‘The worlds of senses is the void and vice versa’, as its philosophy and denies all other desires. It states how clear and simple the human mind is and how clever and mortal our heart is. Everything beyond this world starts from the true heart that is why this book is called, “Heart Sutra”. From Yao Qin to Song, a period of six hundred years, Heart of Wisdom was translated into eleven different languages, but all of them are long gone, leaving no copies to the present day. Of all the versions, the one most widely spread was translated by Master Tang Hsyan Tsang. People called him Tang San Zang. He become a monk when he was thirteen and when he was twenty-six years old he traveled to India to acquire valued Buddhist scriptures for China.
The Heart Sutra
When Bodhisattva Guan Yin practiced the most profound wisdom, the wisdom illuminated Guan Yin to see anything in the universe is Kong, Including the five aggregates of physical and mental activities: all the material world and all decisions, sensations, perceptions, and awareness.
Whoever understands that everything is Kong rises above all personal suffering and misfortune. Buddha Shakyamuni elaborated this wisdom further to his disciple Sariputra: The material world is not different from Kong, Kong is not different from the material world. The material world is therefore Kong, and Kong is therefore the material world. Kong is also all sensations, perceptions, decisions, and all awareness. Sariputra, all phenomena and observations are Kong. Phenomena such as life and death, filth and cleanliness, gain and loss are all Kong. Since Kong is everything there can be no material world and no sensations, perception, decisions, or awareness from the viewpoint of a separate self. No separate eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind, no form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or any other phenomena, no individual view point, no individual field of consciousness, no delusion of separation, and no ending of the delusion of separation, no aging and death, and no ending of aging and death.
The four phases of cultivation no longer exist. The principle makes no one wiser, since there is no separate self; no individual gains anything, since there is nothing to be gained. People receive enlightenment, because they follow this perfect wisdom. They have wide-open hearts without worries and, therefore, none of the worries of a separate self. They also have no fear. All delusions and self-centered fantasies are far removed. Enlightened ones reach ultimate nirvana. Three generations of Buddhas have followed this ultimate wisdom and attained the highest perfect enlightenment. Therefore, come to know this ultimate wisdom in a grand spiritual mantra, a great enlightenment mantra, a supreme mantra, a mantra with no equal that is able to end all suffering. This wisdom is real and not an illusion.Therefore the perfect wisdom mantra has been proclaimed. Chant the mantra this way: GATE, GATE PARAGATE, PARASAMGATE, BODHI SVAHA. GATE, GATE PARAGATE, PARASAMGATE, BODHI SVAHA.
Essence of the Heart Sutra
Among more than 5 billion people in this world only a handful are “enlightened ones” who have understood the ultimate truth in life. We refer to each of them as ‘Buddha’. Let’s presume that the world they live in is ‘The Other Shore’. Most of the rest of all living beings mistake the real essence of life and live in distorted illusions of this world. Let’s call their world, ‘This Shore’.
People who live on This Shore are preoccupied with the subjective ego-self. At any time and space they happen to be they hold onto their sense of ego-self like a needle falling into a bucket of water, not willing to dissolve into the water of time and space. As long as the ego-self exists there are judgments which contrast ‘I’ with time and space such as good vs. bad, high stature vs. low class. As long as the ego-self exixts there is ‘they’. Through a person’s own tools of recognition – eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, mind – information is received from the external world from voice, smell, taste, touch and all other phenomena – this information enters a person’s inner world. After the information is communicated, it is stored in the information center and then compared and contrasted. New information is compared to existing information and the ego-self’s ever-changing emotional values are added to analyze deduce and reason. Finally, comes the decision to act. Act of the Mouth, Act of the Body, Act of the Mind. Therefore, these inner responses and decision-making processes produce their results.
This inner world is ever-changing in response to external stimuli and is referred to as sensations, perceptions, decisions and awareness. All the external world, including the self’s physical body which is outside of the inner mind, is referred to as the material world. The external material world and the sensations, perceptions, decisions and awareness are referred to as ‘the five aspects of existence’. All living beings exist in the relative world of ego-self and objects. Therefore, there is the contrast of big vs. small, beauty vs. ugliness. The mind distinguishes things that are my will and not my will. When people live with this attitude of separating ego-self from time and space, we refer to it as living in the ‘REALM OF MATERIAL WORLD’. The enlightened ones who live spiritually on The Other Shore have a different attitude toward their lives in this world. Wherever they happen to live, they dissolve themselves into that space without any ego involvement. Whenever they happen to live, they dissolve into that time without any ego involvement either. A nice hot day. Perfect for sun bathing. When an enlightened one watches flowers – I am the flower, I am the fragrance. When an enlightened one listens to the rain – I am the rain, I am the sound of the rain. When an enlightened one is born, grows older, get sick, dies – I am birth! I am aging! I am illness! I am death! – if ego selflessly and sincerely embraces all changes in the external world. An enlightened one also mindfully appreciates any piece of time and space. An enlightened one’s attitude toward living in this world is like a grain of salt dissolving into a bucket of water. Salt dissolves into water and turns into zillions of molecules. Although the ego-self disappears, every part of the water is salty. In the water bucket of space and time, there is no more ego-self to be found, Instead, it has dissolved into one with the entirety of space and time. An enlightened one is like endless light that fills up all space. Like an endless life-span that lasts throughout all time. We refer to this attitude of high consciousness in living as: Kong.
If the world is a big meadow, and everyone is a blade of grass, and you consider yourself to be a tiny blade of grass, you are living in the ‘realm of material world’, on This Shore – I am a tiny blade of grass. If you consider yourself to be one with the meadow, then you are living in the ‘realm of Kong’, on The Other Shore – I am the meadow. If the world is a vast ocean and everyone is a drop of water and you consider yourself to be a drop of water, you are living in the ‘realm of material world’ – I am one drop of water in a vast ocean. If you consider yourself to be one with the vast ocean, then you are living in the ‘realm of Kong’ – I am the vast ocean!
The so-called This Shore and The Other Shore are, as a matter of fact, in the same physical space and time: How boring ….. How serene. The only difference is in the mindset (This Shore or The Other Shore). The quality of life for those two mindsets ends up significantly different: How noisy ….. What a delightful sound! Therefore, the Buddha Shakyamuni says: Material world is not different from Kong, Kong is not different from material world; Material world is Kong and Kong is material world. A human being in any time and space should be like a grain of salt dissolving into a bucket of water. Right at the time a grain of salt falls into a bucket of water, there is ego-self and there is water, I am a grain of salt. After it dissolves into the water, there is no more pure salt or pure water. The self-identify of ego disappears as self dissolves into every part of that particular time and place. Every part of the water has me. I am one with the water. Dissolve the ego-self into a bucket of water. You therefore own the whole bucket of water. Dissolve the ego-self into the time and place you happened to be and you own that whole time and place. Most people are always carrying the burden of the past, anticipating the future while missing life in the present. Be a person who dissolves into the present. Do not be a slave who carries the burden of the past and anticipates the future. Be like a boat that flows in time and space. Wherever the water goes, there is the boat; wherever the boat goes, there is the body; wherever the body goes, there are the mind and heart.
“宇” “Yu” are included in this Chinese character which represents “space” from the closest possible to the furthest away imaginable, inclusive of all space, there is no end and no boundary. From the ancient past to the present moment, this Chinese character represents “time” and covers from the first beginning to the last ending inclusive of all time, there is no starting point and no finish.
Bodhisattva Quan Yin used the selfless point of view to obtain the most perfect wisdom. Quan Yin then brought us the wisdom to understand that everything in this universe is one essence, and nothing can be truly independent. The external material world and one’s inner sensations, perceptions, decisions and awareness all flow and change constantly in time and space. One should dissolve the ego of self into the unity of time and space everywhere and every place. The concept and practice of being part of the universal whole is defined as “Kong”.
When one understands, appreciates and practices that and completely allows oneself into the Kong thereafter, there is no more hardship and misfortune because both are sufferings generated by the distorted viewpoint of the ego-self. Buddha Shakyamuni said to his disciple Sariputra: Sariputra, we often look at external objects as completely separate from us. In reality, all objects are one with the ultimate essence and this essence is inseparable from any object. Nothing can be independent of this ultimate essence. Your entire body, mind, and spirit are all a part of this essence. This ultimate essence of the universe is Kong. All objects you see may be referred to as the material world. As a result, Kong and the material world are not separate. Material world is Kong and Kong is material world. They are not different from each other. This is also the case for our sensations, perceptions, decisions and awareness. They are all included in the Kong essence.
Sariputra, all of your observations and opinions originate at the point of the ego-self. Phenomena such as life and death, beauty and ugliness, abundance and scarcity are all generated from one’s individual point of view. Therefore, if you are able to look at the world without any point of view and without any pre-existing attitudes. When I look at a flower, I am the flower. When I look at a butterfly, I am the butterfly. At any time you can dissolve the ego-self into that time. At any space you can dissolve the ego-self into that space. When I am in the water, I am the water. When I am with a school of fish, I am the fish. Transform the ego-self into millions and zillions of molecules and dissolve into any time and space you happen to be. All this time there is no more separate ego-self and no more separate universe phenomena, time, space. This is like a grain of salt dissolved into a bucket of water. Every part of the water is now a bit salty. No more pure salt and no more pure water. They became one complete whole.
There are no more activities of the ego-self. No more use of the six senses to monitor the external world from the point of view of ego-self, one will not have all of the distorted information generated from human senses. No attempt to understand “death” from the point of view of “life”, no illusion of “presence” from the viewpoint of “absence”. Without distorted viewpoints, there will be no more sense of separateness. There is no such thing as “cause” and therefore no such thing as “planting a seed”. There is no such thing as “effect” and therefore, no such concern as “harvesting the fruit”.
The meaning of life is found in completely dissolving into the process of living and not in specific goals. With such an understanding one will no longer be troubled by the problems of aging and death. There are four phases in cultivation. Experiencing the suffering in life. Discovering the causes of suffering. Using cultivation to be rid of suffering. And reaching the ultimate state of no self and no suffering.
When we understand the true nature of existence as an ever-changing and endless cycle of life and death, and when we dissolve into this process of existence, there are no more problems of birth, aging, illness and death, this appears to be wise. But what is so wise about it? This principle clearly lies in front of everyone’s eyes. Unfortunately most people are too confused to see it. Someone who practices this principle would appear to have a lot to gain. But what is to be gained? This principle is most natural, and yet, most people don’t know how to use it. The enlightened ones have thought through these principles and clearly see everything as it truly is. The enlightened heart is therefore wide open and no longer led everywhere by distorted points of view. After letting go of one’s ego-self and the sense of separation, one no longer has fear, desire and fantasy and no longer lives by a distorted point of view. One knows that all distortions of existence are generated from ego’s selfish viewpoint. Therefore, an enlightened one’s mind is like the water in a lake which gradually settles down from muddiness to complete clarity and quietness. This is what is meant by The Other Shore.
All enlightened ones from the past, present, and future follow this kind of wisdom to reach from This Shore of worldly life to The Other Shore of highest consciousness. Cleansing oneself of all distorted attitudes and illusions means fully reaching The Other Shore. Therefore, we should know that such utmost and perfect wisdom is a method of grand power and ultimate illumination. A method of supreme excellence and an outstanding method without equal! This approach can rid you of all illusion and suffering generated from distorted viewpoints. This method is realistic and practical. Everybody can adopt it to reach The Other Shore. Let us sing a song to encourage those soul mates who are half-way to enlightenment. Hey! Comrades who are half way! Hey! Friends in the middle of the road! Hey! Soul mates moving toward The Other Shore of enlightenment! Move onto The Other Shore! Climb onto The Other Shore! How joyful it is to be! On The Other Shore!