THE PRAJNA PARAMITA HEART SUTRA
Standless Gathas and
Translated by Upasaka I Kuo
FORM IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS; EMPTINESS IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM FORM. FORM IS EMPTINESS; EMPTINESS IS FORM.
NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS-
Form. What is form? That which has appearance is form. What is emptiness? That which is without appearance is emptiness. Why, then, does the text go on to say, FORM IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS; EMPTINESS IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM FORM. FORM IS EMPTINESS; EMPTINESS IS FORM. It declares the ultimate meaning which penetrates clear through to the ultimate truth principle.
FORM. The mountains, rivers, and great earth, all the chambers and corridors, rooms and dwellings are form. Where is form? Form is within emptiness. Where then is emptiness? Emptiness is also within form. Form and emtiness, therefore are said to be non—dual; FORM IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS means they do not have two different appearances.
EMPTINESS IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM FORM also explains that emptiness and form do not have two different appearances. They are one. Emptiness contains form; form contains emptiness. On the surface, one sees two; the actuality is one.
Take, for example, a table to discuss form. Put it in certain empty p±ace, and it occupies the emptiness of that place. The emptiness then does not exist. Take the table away and the emptiness immediately manifests. The place is then empty. Before the table was taken away did the emptiness exist or not? Yes there was emptiness, it was occupied by the form. The empty space certainly was not non—existent. Now, where there is emptiness, is there form or not? Just there lies the origin of form. This is the form which is emptiness. We have opened up and analyzed form so that it has become empty.
What are the characteristics of form? The body belongs to the form dharma; the heart belongs to emptiness. Heart dharma is emptiness dharma; the attainment of the principle of true emptiness is heart. Since the body is form dharma, from what does it come into existence? This form is composed of earth, water, fire, and wind, the four great elements, which come together and become a form—body. If one wants to analyze further the form—body, each of the four great elements has that place to which it returns. When people die, water returns to the great element water, earth returns to the great element earth, fire returns to the great element fire, and wind returns to the great element wind. Each has that place to which it returns, causing the form no longer to exist.
“FORM IS EMPTINESS”. “FORM IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS”. Although there is now the appearance of form, in the future it will be emptied. Therefore,
Although something “is”, this “is” is the same as “is not”.
This line says, FORM IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS. However, there are both substance and function. Emptiness is the empty substance; form is the function of emptiness Although substance and function appear as distinct from one another, originally they are one.
FORM IS EMPTINESS. When you actually know that FORM IS EMPTINESS, the true source is penetrated, your true source is attained, and you have penetrated to thorough understanding2
EMPTINESS IS FORM. When you actually understand EMPTINESS IS FORM, there is no false thinking. Therefor “the false flow dries up”, and flow from the false source disappears.
FORM IS EMPTINESS; FORM IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS; EMPTINESS IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM FORM. This state, it can be said, is a kind of attainment in your cultivation of the Way. It might also be said that this form is all varieties of “beautiful form”, which, in Chinese, represent “male—female questions”. FORM IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS. If you have truly attained to the states of cultivating the Way, the kinds of pleasures experienced can seem the same as the happiness derived from “form dharmas”. Therefore, FORM IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS; EMPTINESS IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM FORM. Here your cultivation has attained to a bliss which surpasses male—female relations 100,000,000, 000,000 fold.
Therefore, EMPTINESS IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM FORM; FORM IS EMPTINESS. In emptiness you have attained to a state of genuine happiness, and the false flow has dried up. At this time your false thinking is also non—existent.
MOUNTAINS, RIVERS, THE GREAT LANDS--
Mountains, rivers, and great lands are all form dharmas which manifest from the discriminating consciousness in our hearts. If we can change this discriminating consciousness, the mountains, rivers, and great lands all do not exist ,and so,
DREAM, ILLUSION, BUBBLE, SHADOW--
All this is like a dream. Everyone knows this dream, for everyone has dreams.
Why did you have this dream? Your reply will seem right, but will be wrong. It will not necessarily be accurate. You might say, “What I do during the day I dream about at night”. Or perhaps you will say, “In the past I experienced this state, and as a consequence I have this dream.” However, on occasion you have a certain dream even though you have not previously experienced this state. How do you explain this? You can’t. It is not possible for you to explain how you had the dream. Nor can you say how you awoke from the dream; this is being murky and mixed up. As soon as you awake from this dream, you forget it. Think about this. You have a dream, and then when less than ten hours have passed, you have forgotten it, so that not the least bit is remembered.
Consider, now, the contents of our past lives. You think, “I don’t believe there are past lives. If I had past lives, why don’t I remember them?” Take the dream as a comparison. From the time of dreaming to the time of waking, fewer than ten hours pass, yet the dream has been completely forgotten. How much the less can we remember the affairs of our past lives?
A dream · If, while a person is dreaming, a figure appears and says to the dreamer , “You have much money and are a great official; you have many sons and daughters, and great (material) wealth; but none of this is real; it is just a dream,” the dreamer can’t believe that what the dream figure says is true, but replies, “What? I have amassed great wealth, am a high official ,have many sons and daughters and vast properties, how can I be dreaming?” Regardless of what happens, the dreamer doesn’t believe that he is in a dream.
Upon waking from a dream, without being told he realizes that he was dreaming. “Before, when I made so much money, was an official, had many sons and daughters and vast properties, it was all only a dream. It wasn’t true.” Without being told, he knows. Why? Because he has awakened from the dream.
You should know that now we ,too, are dreaming. I am telling you right now, you are dreaming. But you can’ believe. Wait until you cultivate, cultivate to understanding and, “Ah, before everything I did was all a dream.” You have done no more than dreamed. Upon waking you know, know from the ground up, “Before I was dreaming all that came before was a dream.” This is a dream.
An illusion. For instance, a magician transforms something from nothing; he can also transform something into nothing. These changing illusions however, are not fathomed by small children, who see his magic as real. But adults penetrate the empty falseness of the magician1 transformations. They recognize the illusion.
A bubble. Water bubbles. Water bubbles, after not very long, burst. They are not permanent.
A shadow. Shadow refers specifically to a person’s shadow. Is a person’s shadow real or false? If you say the shadow is false, see it, there is that place, existent If you say that it is real, try to grab it; you cannot. You look and there is a shadow; you use your hand to gather it up and can’t catch hold. So is it real or false? Say it is false, yet it still exists; say it is real, yet it can’t be gathered up.
Where does the shadow come from? It is found on th north side of your body. On the yang side, the sunny southern side, there is no shadow. On the yin side, the shadow follows you wherever you go. This shadow I am talking about is an analogy. Like a ghost, it follows you wherever you go. As soon as people who are afraid of ghosts see a dark shadow, their hearts respond with great fear. The heart: thump; thump; thump; thump. “Oh! A ghost has come!” This is a ghost; although originally it was just a shadow.
When you are alive, this shadow is just a shadow; when you die, and don’t have this body, this shadow becomes a ghost. The side which does not have a shadow changes into a god. The god and the ghost, however, are not two; they are one. If your ~ energy is fulfilled1 you move to the side where there is no shadow; if your Y2 energy is fulfilled, you move to the shady side. You mc to whichever side your strength is greater. If you have a lot of merit, you rise into the heavens. If the karma of your offenses is greater, you fall into the hells.
Thus the gatha says, A DREAM, ILLUSION, BUBBLE, SHADOW -—. SO IT IS! It is just like that.
You don’t want to seek toward the outside; it is all there in yourself.
IS THE ONE COME THUS... You then have come. It is not far to the realization of Buddhahood, and therefore this is called One Come Thus. One who has realized Buddhahood is called the Thus Come One. Not having realized Buddhahood, we are called Come Thus. We have come, and then can become thus. Not come and then not thus. Come where? Where the Buddha is. This is callec~ Come Thus. Cast down the stained threads of cause and one can Come Thus. One can be Thus. Thus is everything fully united with principle. There is not one small mat which is not right; everything is right. Just this is Come Thus.
EMPTINESS. Emptiness is true emptiness; form is wonderful existence. True emptiness is not empty because it is wonderful existence. Wonderful existence is not existence because it is also true emptiness. From what place does emptiness manifest? Emptiness manifests in the place of existence, and is also manifest from form dharma. Form dharma is also manifest in emptiness, and therefore the text says, FORM IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS; EMPTINESS IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM FORM. FORM IS EMPTINESS; EMPTINESS IS FORM. This is also to say, TRUE EMPTINESS IS NOT EMPTY; WONDERFUL EXISTENCE IS NOT EXISTENCE. If you, in the midst of not knowing, understand, just this is to fathom the ground source of Dharma, just this is your genuine understanding of the Buddhadharma.
Take, for example, the dream I just finished discussing. If you don’t understand dreams, the source of their coming, the pulse of their going, how you had the dream, how you awakened from the dream, then you also don’t know how you came to be born, and how you will go to die. If you, not knowing, understand, you are enlightened.
Therefore the gatha reads, FORM IS EMPTINESS—— THE TRUE SOURCE PENETRATION. You understand this truth principle.
EMPTINESS IS FORM--THE FALSE FLOW DRIES UP. False thinking is cut off; at is non-~existent.
Therefore, if you want to comprehend the doctrine of emptiness and existence, you should investigate this doctrine where there is neither emptiness nor form. The Great Master the Sixth Patriarch said, “Not thinking good, and not thinking, evil, right at this moment what is Shang Tso Hui Ming’s original face?”~~ “Not thinking good” is just not empty; “not thinking evil” is just not having form. The place without thoughts of good or evil is where there is neither emptiness nor existence. Come and investigate! It is also the consciousness state which is both empty and existent. Come and be enlightened! You are capable of understanding FORM IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS; EMPTINESS IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM FORM.
In true emptiness is true form; in true form is true emptiness. It follows that the form dharma is the original substance of emptiness, and the emptiness dharma is the face of form. Thus I have said that in the form dharma there is emptiness, and in the emptiness dharma there is form.
For example, a mountain is a form dharma; if you level the mountain, then emptiness manifests. Before levelling the mountain was there emptiness or not? There was emptiness, too. When there is emptiness, does the form exist as well? Form also exists there. So you see, where there is emptiness, form can also exist. Emptinss and form are one.
Form and emptiness are analogous to ice and water. Why is there form? In emptiness there occurs the ice transformation. In emptiness the fine dust collects, collects together and becomes a form. When it disperses it is empty. Therefore, emptiness is form, and form is emptiness. How does the transformation into form occur When the weather is cold, the cold in the air changes the water into ice; the transformation from emptiness I form occurs like this. How does form change into emptiness? The weather gets hot and melts the ice. “Bul you say, “dirt cannot melt.”13 Remember, this is just at analogy, and does not imply that dirt is ice.
Because I am afraid that you won’t understand this principle, I have lent you the ice and water analogy. Don’t seize upon it and suppose that dust and emptiness can be transformed into water and ice. Thinking in th~ way is just to pile a head on top of your head. These attachments are fundamentally non—existent; however, when I explain this doctine for you, you then add one more level of attachment. If you want so much attachment I have no way to teach you to understand the doctrine of the non—duality of emptiness and form. So you must wait ‘till you investivate yourself and awaken to this doctrine. Perhaps then you will understand.