THE PRAJNA PARAMITA HEART SUTRA
with the Standless Gathas and Explanation of
Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Translated by Upasaka I Kuo Jung
FOR THIS REASON IN EMPTINESS THERE IS NO FORM, NO PERCEPTION, THINKING, PROCESS, OR CONSCIOUSNESS; NO EYES, EARS, NOSE, TONGUE, BODY OR MIND; NO FORMS, SOUNDS, SMELLS, TASTES, TOUCHABLES, OR DHARMAS, NO EYE STATES REACHING ON TO NO MIND CONSCIOUSNESS STATES.
THIS REASON IN EMPTINESS THERE ARE NO FORM PHENOMENA.
FOR THIS REASON IN EMPTINESS THERE IS NO FORM. This sentence refers to an earlier passage in the Sutra: NEITHER PRODUCED NOR DESTROYED, NEITHER DEFILED NOR PURE, NEITHER INCREASING NOR DECREASING. Since this is the case, in emptiness, true emptiness, there is no form.
NO PERCEPTION, THINKING, PROCESS OR CONSCIOUSNESS. Their original substance is also empty.
NO EYES, EARS, NOSE, TONGUE, BODY OR MIND. None of the six roots exist.
NO FORMS, SOUNDS, SMELLS, TASTES, TOUCHABLES, OR DHARMAS. The six dusts do not exist either.
NO EYE STATES REACHING ON TO NO MIND-CONSCIOUSNESS STATES. The six consciousnesses are also empty.
The Heart Sutra speaks about the true emptiness of prajna. The true emptiness. Therefore it is said: "True emptiness does not obstruct wonderful existence, and wonderful existence does not obstruct true emptiness. True emptiness is wonderful existence; wonderful existence is true emptiness." Therefore, an earlier passage in the Sutra says, FORM DOES NOT DIFFER FROM EMPTINESS, AND EMPTINESS DOES NOT DIFFER FROM FORM. The 'form' dharma of the five skandhas is empty. The five-skandha dharmas are a general summation of the dharmas, and the others—the six roots, the six dusts and the six consciousnesses——are special characteristics of the dharmas. Since their general character is emptiness, their special characteristics must also be non-existent. So the Sutra says there are NO EYES, EARS, NOSE, TONGUE, BODY OR MIND: NO FORMS, SOUNDS, SMELLS, TASTES, TOUCHABLE’S, OR DHARMAS; NO EYE STATES REACHING ON TO NO MIND CONSCIOUSNESS STATES.
The six dusts, six roots, and six consciousnesses taken together are called the eighteen realms. The six roots together with the six dusts are called the twelve dwellings. The six roots are also called the six entrances. There are five-skandhas, six roots, twelve dwellings, and eighteen realms. The six roots, six dusts and the six consciousnesses together make the eighteen realms, all of which are empty--they as well do not exist.
Why speak about these dharmas if they do not exist? They exist among common people, but not where there are sages who have given proof to the fruit. So the gatha says:
FOR THIS REASON IN EMPTINESS THERE ARE NO FORM PHENOMENA.
Because this doctrine was stated in the opening passage of the Sutra, the Sutra text now says,
THIS REASON IN EMPTINESS THERE IS NO FORM...
and the gatha says,
PERCEPTION, THINKING, PROCESS, AND CONSCIOUSNESS ALSO DISAPPEAR.
They are also empty, non-existent.
SIX ROOTS, SIX DUSTS, TOGETHER SIX CONSCIOUSNESSES.
The six "roots' are eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. Forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables and dharmas are the six 'dusts' which appear as the complement of the six roots. 'Roof takes its meaning from 'grow' and 'dust', from 'defiling'.
The six consciousnesses. Between .the six roots and the six dusts are produced discriminations which are called the six consciousnesses: eye consciousness, ear consciousness, nose consciousness, tongue consciousness, body consciousness, and mind consciousness. These six consciousnesses, the six 'roots' and the six 'dusts’ taken together are called the eighteen realms.
HEARTS, THREE STOPPINGS, THREE CLOSURES PENETRATED.
The three hearts are the past heart, the present heart, and the future heart. The past heart must stop, and the present and future hearts must stop as well. You do not want THREE HEARTS, THREE STOPPINGS. So it is said, "The past heart cannot be attained, the present heart cannot be attained, and the future heart cannot be attained." These three hearts all cannot be attained.
If one can have the past heart not arise, and the present heart not be produced, and the future heart not come into being, then one does not think of good or evil. When the three hearts do not exist, how can one think of good or evil? When, through your vigorous cultivation, you attain to taking dhyana joy as food and are filled up by Dharma bliss, by sitting quietly and properly, you can open your first closure, middle closure, and top closure. The first closure is also called the ‘tail closure’. The middle closure is also called the ‘spinal closure’. The top closure is called the ‘jade pillow closure’ or also the ‘aged door of birth and death’. The first and second closures are easy to break through. When you get to the third closure, there is a little difficulty.
What kind of state do you meet with after you go through the third closure and still continue to cultivate? Then you experience
WHITE OX GREAT CART RAPIDLY TURNING SOUND.
The Dharma Flower says the "White Ox, Great Cart" is the Buddha Vehicle. "There is only the Buddha vehicle; there are no other vehicles. “After you have realized Buddhahood, you can go along this road in this great carriage. If you have not realized Buddhahood, then you will not be able to ride in this great carriage. That is to say, we work hard to be able to turn the Dharma Wheel to teach and transform living beings.
Why does it say WHITE OX GREAT CART? It doesn't say a black Ox Great Cart or a yellow Ox Great Cart. And it also doesn't say it is a vari-colored Ox Great Cart. Why does it say it is a White Ox Great Cart? This Ox is white (in order) to represent the non-defilement of our self-nature. Thus when you practice, the great vehicle Dharma turns "lin lin”. As it goes on the road, this great vehicle White Ox Carriage makes the sound "lin lin", the kind of sound a cart makes going along the road.
At this time, in cultivating the Way, people all have a kind of feeling. What kind? It feels like you are drunk on wine, and like being asleep, and also like dreaming. You ultimately do not know whether (it) is true or false, vacuous or actual. Your four limbs are especially soft; your hands and legs feel like soft mud. They have no strength and do not want to do anything at all. But when you sit or perhaps when you are not meditating, your heart constantly thumps.
This thumping is not your heart; it is your spleen. When you are walking along and feel “beng, beng, beng,” you suppose it is the heart thumping, but it is not the heart; it is the spleen thumping. Why is the spleen thumping? You run a little fast, so the spleen has to do a little more work. It thumps and hits your stomach to aid your stomach in digesting. So now the gatha says,
YELLOW FACED SMALL CHILD JUMPING, THUMPING, THUMPING.
Who is this yellow-faced child? It is just the thoughts in your mind. Your mind 'belongs to' the spleen. The spleen is yellow colored, so one picks a name and calls it YELLOW FACED SMALL CHILD JUMPING, THUMPING, THUMPING. It jumps back and forth. So when meditating during this period, some people unknowingly (think), "Oh! My heart is thumping so. Have I perhaps contracted heart disease?, and they become afraid. No (they have not), and it is not necessary to be afraid either. This is the result of cultivating the Way. When a person is afraid, his heart also feels like it is thumping; the heart is like a rabbit, jumping up and jumping down. Thumping. When the White Ox Great Cart turns the Dharma Wheel, mind-thoughts in the heart thump, thump, thump ferociously, just as when you are afraid, but it is only the YELLOW FACED SMALL CHILD JUMPING, THUMPING, THUMPING.
IF ONE ASKS IN THIS IS WHAT INSTRUCTIVE MEANING?
If you were to ask what this is about, what kind of Way-principle it is, what kind of manifest appearance it is,
THE FRONT THREE THREE CONNECT WITH THE BACK THREE THREE.
Both in front and in back there are three places. At that time, the roads of birth and death connect. Before, each went its own road. Birth went the road of birth and death went the road of death. The road of birth and the road of death were not the same. Now birth and death are one. Birth is death, death is birth. It is just FORM IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM EMPTINESS; EMPTINESS IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM FORM. FORM IS EMPTINESS; EMPTINESS IS FORM. This is to say birth and death are non-dual; in other words, there is no birth and no death. But you must work hard. If you do not work hard, if you go forward one step and retreat four steps, that is still of no use. If you want to cultivate, you should daily go forward and make progress; be vigorous. As soon as you retreat, your former work is wasted. It is lost. If you still wish to return to the original source, then you must start over from the beginning. So in cultivating you can only vigorously go forward. You cannot retreat.
NO IGNORANCE. AND ALSO NO EXHAUSTION OF IGNORANCE, REACHING ON TO NO AGING AND DEATH AND ALSO NO EXHAUSTION OF AGING AND DEATH.
NO EXHAUSTION OF IGNORANCE, THE ORIGINAL BEING IS EMPTY.
FALSE BEHAVIOR, DISCRIMINATING CONSCIOUSNESS, FOLLOWED BY NAME AND FORM.
THE SIX ENTRANCES, CONTACT, ENJOYMENT, LOVE, GRASPING, HAVING.
FUTURE BIRTH, AGING AND DEATH, EXHAUSTED ALL THE SAME.
INFINITE CLEAR EMPTINESS CUTS OFF THE CLOUDS AND SHADOWS.
THE LAKE IS FULL; THE BRIGHT MOON APPEARS IN CLEAR WATER.
JUST AS MEN, WHEN THIRSTY, DRINK AND KNOW COLD AND WARM.
"SPEAK OF FOOD", "HELP IT GROW", GENERALLY THE WORK IS WANTING.
This passage mentions the twelve conditioned causes, which those of the 'Condition-Enlightened' vehicle cultivate. They are twelve kinds of conditioned causes, which assist people in being born and dying and in dying and being born. The 'Conditioned-Enlightened' cultivate these twelve dharmas of conditioned cause and, understanding the doctrine of human life, they open enlightenment and give proof to the fruit of Pratyeka-Buddhahood. They are called those of the middle vehicle. 'Sound-hearers' are the small vehicle. Pratyeka-Buddhas are the middle vehicle and Bodhisattvas are great vehicle.
What is ignorance?
(1) Ignorance is lack of understanding. What is lack or understanding? In everyday language it is called 'being muddled'. This 'muddled' means you have not understood the principle--really muddled!
(2) Because you are so muddled and do not understand, your behavior is both muddled and false. What is meant by false behavior? Doing what you should not do. This false behavior then leads to empty and false
(3) Recognizing consciousness. Followed by
(4) Muddled name and form. Then there are
(5) Muddled entrances, the six entrances come into being. From muddled entrances, there arises
(6) Muddled contact. When there is muddled contact, one thinks of
(7) Muddled enjoyment. From muddled enjoyment comes
(8) Muddled love. From there being muddled love, there then arises
(9) Muddled seeking and grasping, which is followed by
(10) Muddled having. Having is just getting. From there being muddled having, one can then have
(11) Future birth. And from future birth comes
(12) Aging and death.
These twelve conditioned causes all begin with muddledness. Because in the beginning they are muddled, consequently, the fruition is muddled. You pass through one muddled life to the next (i.e. 'future birth'), and that next life is also muddled. So the twelve conditioned causes are all muddled conditioned causes. Muddled conditioned causes are just what common people are notable to understand.
From the very beginning, the twelve conditioned causes are muddled. When people produce thoughts of desire, whether for food or for sex, they are all produced from ignorance. Ignorance is just another name for being muddled. When they are produced, there then is wishing to act, to go and do it. In other words, the twelve conditioned causes explain the doctrine of how we are born and how we die. Because there is ignorance, there is sexual behavior. This muddled sexual behavior is produced from this muddledness. Having this muddled behavior, there is produced a muddled recognizing, muddled discrimination. This kind of consciousness is just the middle yin (skandha) consciousness-body. When male and female indulge in sexual behavior, if this middle yin body has a relational causal connection with that mother and father, even if it is a thousand or ten thousand li away and even if only the tiniest thread of light is emitted, it then sees this light and goes there to become a fetus. When the fetus comes into being, there is 'name and form'. 'Name' refers to the four skandhas: perception, thinking, process, and consciousness. 'Form' refers to the form skandha. The perception, thinking, process, and consciousness, which are in the mother’s belly, are only the names of these four kinds of consciousness. There is not yet any actual realization. When name and form come into being, there are six entrances. These entrances are just the six roots giving rise to the seeing nature, hearing nature, smelling nature, tasting nature, feeling nature, and knowing nature. These six natures are called the six entrances. Once these six entrances exist, the small child becomes aware of contact. Therefore, it is said, “The six entrances lead to contact.” Having awareness of contact, the child becomes receptive to feelings. From this sort of perception, a loving heart is produced. Only after the loving heart is produced does he wish to seek and grasp. So “love leads to grasping”, seeking and grasping for what he loves. From seeking and grasping, he wants to have, to get for himself. Then, because of thinking and getting, there is the next life (future birth). After future birth comes aging and death. These are the twelve conditioned causes.
If there were not any ignorance, then there would not be any behavior:
When ignorance is extinguished, behavior is extinguished.
When behavior is extinguished, consciousness is extinguished. There is no consciousness either.
When consciousness is extinguished, name and form are extinguished. There is no name and form.
When name and form are extinguished, the six entrances are extinguished, then contact is extinguished.
When contact is extinguished, then enjoyment is extinguished.
When enjoyment is extinguished, then love is extinguished.
When love is extinguished, grasping is extinguished.
When grasping is extinguished, having is also extinguished.
When having is extinguished, birth, aging, and death are all extinguished.
is the “returning and extinguishing” door of the twelve conditioned
NO EXHAUSTION OF IGNORANCE, THE ORIGINAL BEING IS EMPTY.
This ignorance does not exist.
FALSE BEHAVIOR, DISCRIMINATING CONSCIOUSNESS, FOLLOWED BY NAME AND FORM.
says after this discriminating consciousness, there is name and form;
after name and form come six entrances; after six entrances, contact;
after contact, enjoyment. Enjoyment then love; love then grasping;
grasping then having; from having comes future birth, aging and death.
Therefore the gatha says:
SIX ENTRANCES, CONTACT, ENJOYMENT, LOVE, GRASPING, HAVING.
BIRTH, AGING AND DEATH, EXHAUSTED, ALL THE SAME.
They all are connected together in the twelve conditioned causes.
the time, when they all do not exist, it is just like:
CLEAR EMPTINESS CUTS OFF THE CLOUDS AND SHADOWS.
For 10,000 li) there are neither clouds nor shadows cast.
LAKE IS FULL; THE BRIGHT MOON APPEARS IN CLEAR WATER
is also like the bright moon appears in water when it is clear.
AS MEN, WHEN THIRSTY, DRINK AND KNOW COLD AND WARM
the spiritual skill of knowing and being enlightened to these twelve
dharmas of conditioned cause is compared to drinking water. When you are
thirsty and drink, you yourself know whether the water is cold or warm.
"SPEAK OF FOOD", "HELP IT GROW", GENERALLY THE WORK IS WANTING.
If you yourself do not actually cultivate, investigate and enlighten to the twelve conditioned causes and say, “Oh, the twelve conditioned causes are empty, empty, empty!” as a result, you profusely proclaim emptiness, but have not obtained its real meaning yourself.
"HELP IT GROW” refers to the extremely stupid people of the country of Sung in ancient China. At that time, when one wanted to talk about a country where the people were stupid, one said, "Like the people of Sung,' because they were the most stupid. To what extent did their stupidity reach?
the men of Sung there was someone
felt sorry for his plants and pulled them up.
was a citizen of Sung who felt pity for the crops, which he had planted.
He was nervous about the grain which he had planted not growing, so,
saying, 'Ah, my seedlings are growing so slowly,' he pulled them up to
help them grow. He pulled them up so they were one or two inches taller
and said, 'You see, they grew two inches today. '
Having returned in a dull hurry...
was muddled and confused, and had the appearance of great weariness, while
panting, 'hsu hsu', he exclaimed, 'Too much bitter suffering, too much
bitter suffering,' and said to the people of his family,
"Today I am very tired”?
I feel sick I am so tired, because I did so much work.'
helped the plants to grow."
son went running to see them.
son said, 'Ah, my father has such great ability, so much divine power, he
can help the plants grow. When heaven and earth help the plants grow, in
any one day they still cannot be said to have helped them grow. What
mantra did he recite to help the plants grow?' And he immediately went
running off to the field to take a look.
You have not genuinely given proof to the principle of emptiness. This is like the example “SPEAK OF FOOD”. As it says in the Surangama Sutra, “In the end, speaking of food cannot make you full.”
As to the plants, they had withered.
The plants were all dry, all dead.
This is just to say, in cultivating the Way, you should not think, 'Ah! I have opened enlightenment; I have opened enlightenment; I have opened enlightenment!" Or 'Ah, how is it that I have still not opened enlightenment? How should I be so that I open enlightenment? In such and such a way I do not open enlightenment, in that way I also do not open enlightenment. I go forward several steps and yet have not opened enlightenment, retreat several steps and also have not opened enlightenment. I jump several jumps and also do not open enlightenment. I have sat for one hour and yet have not opened enlightenment. At bottom, how is enlightenment opened?'
If you have a heart like this, then you will never be able to open enlightenment. Why? Because in your heart your wanting to open enlightenment heart pulls out your opening enlightenment heart--just like the man of Sung who helped the plants to grow. Therefore, the gatha says, "SPEAK OF FOOD," "HELP IT GROW", GENERALLY THE WORK IS WANTING. There is never any merit in these.
You yourself must cultivate energetically and with a level heart. You must put your feet down diligently on the actual ground. You should not say, "Will I be able to open enlightenment tomorrow or not? Will I be able to open enlightenment the day after or not? At what time will I be able to open enlightenment?" You should not cherish this heart, because it is just a false thinking heart, which will cause your opening enlightenment to run away in fright. Your opening enlightenment is afraid of false thinking. So when you have false thinking, the opening of enlightenment just runs away. Why does your heart jump? Because it is afraid of your false thinking. It is also afraid of opening enlightenment. Since you want to open enlightenment, your heart jumps and thumps.' Incredible! He wants to open enlightenment!' So your heart jumps up and your karmic obstacles are afraid, and imperceptibly think, “Ah! If he opens enlightenment, what will we do?' There will not be anything they can do.
1. Eye consciousness states (i.e., visual perception), ear consciousness
states (i.e., auditory perception), nose consciousness states (i.e.,
olfactory perception), tongue consciousness states (i.e., taste
perception), body consciousness states (i.e., tactile perception), mind
consciousness states (i.e., ‘thinking’). See note #3 below.
2. Prajna is the Sanskrit word for wisdom. See VBS #8 pg. 6)
3. 'The Eighteen Realms'
All are further explained in the lecture text immediately following.
4. “...Contemplate Own Being Bodhisattva illumine and views the five skandhas all as empty...” What follows, all the way to “For this reason...” is an elaboration of the meaning stated here.
5. Note that the definitions are functional.
i.e. ‘mind-consciousness’ of the past, present, and future, literally
‘The passed by, manifest existent, and not yet come. See note #7 below.
From the Diamond Sutra. See VBS #17, pg. 32, note 15.
The three ‘closures’ or ‘gates’ san kuan.
9. (Saddharmapundarika Sutra T. 262.) The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
10. In the ‘Analogy’ Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra the Buddha presents the parable of a man of great power whose huge mansion catches fire. His children, intent on their games, will not leave the dwelling. The man lures them out of the burning dwelling by telling them that outside are three types of carriages for them to play with—sheep-drawn, deer-drawn, and ox-drawn. But when the children escape to safety, each is given the same kind of carriage magnificent beyond his wildest dreams and drawn by a great white ox. Thus the Buddha uses expedient vehicles to lure living beings to the true actual doctrine, the one Buddha Vehicle Dharma.
Lin lin, onomatopoetic for the sound of the carriage.
According to Chinese cosmology, the color yellow represents the earth (t’u).
The earth is controlled by the spleen (p’i), which is the seat of the
mind (yi). Chinese medicine teaches that the function of the spleen is to
beat or thump on the stomach to aid digestion. Thus the analogy,
12A. i.e. ‘condition-enlightened.’
13. wu ming (Skt. avidya). The Chinese means literally ‘no brightness’ or ‘no clarity’; the Sanskrit ‘no knowledge’.
A rough translation of an extremely colloquial Chinese expression hu t’u.
The subject ‘you’ had been added for the sake of greater readability.
Chinese is more flexible in this regard and can easily omit a subject and
not seem overly abstract or formal.
hsing wei, a compound meaning ‘behavior’ is an explanation of the
character hsing. See note #20 below.
jen shih, a compound translated ‘recognition’ is broken up here and
translated as two different words because it is an explanation of the
character shih, ‘consciousness’. See note #20 below.
hsiang shou, ‘enjoyment’ explains the character, shou, literally,
‘receiving’ and so ‘perception’. See note #20 below.
yu, means both ‘having’ and ‘existing’.
19. lai sheng, literally, ‘the birth to come’, i.e. ‘next life’.
20. The Twelve Conditioned Causes (Ch. Skt. dvadasangaprati-tyasamutpada).
1.avida wu ming 2.samskara hsing 3.vihnana shin
4.nama-rupa mingshai 5.sadyatana liu ju 6.sparsa ch’u
7.vedana shou 8.trsna ai 9.upadana ch’u 10.bhava yu
11.jati sheng 12.jara-marapa lao ssu
21. kuo, ‘fruit’ or ‘result’.
22. chung yin shen also known as the chung yu (Skt. anantarabhava) is, according to the Chinese, what at birth changes into the three hun and seven p’ai. The Middle Yin Body is probably close to the Western conception of soul. This Middle Yin Body after death exists in darkness. When it sees the very small light produced by the sexual relations of the couple with whom it has karmically conditioned cause, then that light acts as a beacon on which it hones like a magnet. It can travel at amazing speed over long distances if the karmic conditions are present.
22A. Lit. yu ling shou
23. huan mieh men.
The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra Ch. 1: See VBS #17
KNOW COLD AND WARM is perhaps an allusion to ‘patience in the
non-production of dharmas’. (wu cheng fa jen). When it is attained, only
you yourself know. As when, perceiving the temperature of water, only the
person drinking knows whether it is hot or cold. The allusion applies to
the entire experiential realm.
25. shou leng yen ching. (Surangama Sutra T. 945)
26. The reference is to the analogy in Mencius (Bk. II, Pt. 1 Ch. 2)