THE PRAJNA PARAMITA HEART SUTRA
With the Standless Gathas and Explanation of
Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Translated by Upasaka I Kuo Jung
Sponsored by The Buddhist Text Translation Society
ULITMATELY NIRVANA! BY FOLLOWING PRAJNA-PARAMITA ALL BUDDHAS OF THE THREE PERIODS OF TIME ATTAIN ANUTTARA SAMYAK SAMBODHI!
VIRTUE NOWHERE NOT COMPLETE, ALL IMPEDIMENTS PERISH,
THIS FINAL PERFECT STILLNESS IS NAMED NIRVANA.
THOSE PASSED BY, NOT YET COME, AND NOW EXISTING, ALL BUDDHAS OF THE THREE TIME PERIODS.
BASICALLY OF COMMON SOURCE, BY RELYING ON THIS
PARAMITAS, REACH THE SUPREME IMMORTAL'S GENUINE AND
IF THOSE WHO PRACTICE ARE ONLY CAPABLE OF DILIGENCE AND VIGOR,
WHAT WORRY OF NOT ATTAINING THE FIELD OF DHARMA NATURE?
ULTIMATELY NIRVANA. Because you have destroyed the retribution obstacle, the karma obstacle and the affliction obstacle, UPSIDE-DOWN DREAM THINKING...can be...LEFT FAR AWAY. If you examine this sentence of the Heart Sutra, you will see that all the living beings of the nine-dharma realms are dreaming. The Bodhisattva dreams of "seeking the Way of the Buddha above, and transforming living beings below."1 He wishes to realize the Way of the Buddha in order to cross over living beings, yet it is all in a dream.
The 'condition—enlightened' are also dreaming. About what? They dream of "looking out for themselves alone". They live deep in the desolate mountain valleys and are self—comprehending Arhats.2 This is what is meant by "looking out for themselves alone, they are incapable of promoting the common good", and is also dreaming.
'Sound-hearers' dream of the one-sided emptiness which is the one-sided truth of nirvana with residue. The gods have a dream of peace and happiness, in which they enjoy an especially peaceful, free and easy, superior and wonderful happiness.
People dream of seeking fame and profit. They wish to make a lot of money or become officials. In this life they are all upside-down, and consider suffering to be happiness, busy every day dreaming of fame and profit.
--Continued on the following page—
BUM TRIPPED? Regardless of what affliction plagues you at the moment, the remedy is close at hand. Find it in the next installment of the Heart Sutra in which the Master's commentary deals directly with the various types of suffering, and explains how to remove them. Don't miss a chance to turn your bummer into bliss.
What dream do the asuras have? They dream of fighting. For instance there is now a certain party who goes and fights with a certain party. This is an asura state. Because being an asura is just liking to fight, they are in the dream of fighting.
Those in the hells dream of undergoing bitter suffering. Hungry ghosts dream of starving. Animals dream a stupid dream.
Each of the nine-dharma realms has its own dream. Only in ultimate nirvana does the Buddha not dream and so his is called the ultimate nirvana.
People who do not understand the Buddhadharma say, "Nirvana is just dying." This dying is not the same as death. Why can it not be said that this dying is the same as death? This dying is voluntary dying, it is known and understood. What is voluntary dying? Because what there was to be done is already finished and the pure practice is already established, you undergo no further existence.4 Therefore, you wish to enter nirvana, the realm of no birth and death. When you enter nirvana you yourself know beforehand, "At a certain time I will enter nirvana and perfect the stillness." This is knowing your death.
What is understanding your death, understanding your nirvana? When you are about to enter nirvana, you have great clarity. Your body has no sickness or suffering and your mind has no love-attachment, and is not upside down. Your body is without sickness and suffering and in your heart there is no greed for the five desires: wealth, form, fame, food and sleep. You are neither greedy for anything, nor do you long for anything, nor is your mind upside down. When you are about to die, your thoughts are not all upside down and unclear. When people who have cultivated want to enter nirvana, they themselves know and say very clearly to everyone, "In a certain year, a certain month and day, at a certain time, I am going to enter nirvana." Saying this very clearly to everyone is what is meant by 'knowing'. It is not to say that nirvana is just death. Nirvana is no birth and no death. Why are you able to die? Because you are born. It is just the fact that if you are not born, you then do not die, and this is ultimate nirvana.
What is meant by ultimate nirvana?
NOWHERE NOT COMPLETE, ALL IMPEDIMENTS PERISH.
virtuous nature is fully perfected, as there are no impediments at all.
There being no impediments at all is called perfecting the stillness,
and is also called nirvana.
FINAL PERFECT STILLNESS IS NAMED NIRVANA.
PERFECT STILLNESS is a translation of nirvana. 'Perfect' refers to merit, which is nowhere imperfect; 'stillness', to virtue, which is nowhere, unstill.6 Virtue is nowhere unstill because upon reaching the extreme limit, it meshes with the four virtues, permanence, bliss, self and purity, and thus the ultimate happiness called nirvana is attained.
PASSED BY, NOT YET COME, AND NOW EXISTING,
Not only do Bodhisattvas cultivate according to this Dharma door to ultimate nirvana, but so also do all Buddhas of the three periods of time; that is, all the Buddhas of the past, present and future. That is why the gatha says,
BUDDHAS OF THE THREE TIME PERIODS, BASICALLY OF COMMON SOURCE.
All the Buddhas of these three periods by following the profound and wonderful prajna wisdom are able to attain anuttara—samyak—sambodhi, the supreme, genuine and equal, and genuine enlightenment.7
Supreme: There is none that is above it. This is just the enlightenment of the Buddha.
and equal: This is that of the Bodhisattva.
Genuine: This is the enlightenment of those of the two vehicles. Those who are genuinely enlightened are not the same as common people, because the latter are unenlightened. Common people do wrong and do not even know that it is wrong. They do wrong and do not know to change. This is what is called being unenlightened. Genuine enlightenment is the attainment of those of the two vehicles, the condition enlightened' and the 'soundhearers'. Because they have attained genuine enlightenment, they are not the same as common people. Yet they have not been able to attain the genuine and equal enlightenment of the Bodhisattva Way: the six paramitas and ten thousand practices for crossing over oneself and crossing over others, for benefiting oneself and benefiting others. Those of the two vehicles are all 'self-comprehending' Arhats. Because they only pay attention to themselves and not to others, they are incapable of genuine and equal enlightenment.
Although Bodhisattvas attain the genuine and equal, they have not yet attained the supreme. Genuine and equal is genuine and equivalent to that of the Buddha. It refers to the equal enlightenment Bodhisattva.8 Such Bodhisattvas are not the same as those of the two vehicles. Those of the two vehicles are the 'self-comprehending' Arhats. The Bodhisattva is one who benefits himself in order to benefit others. Although there are Bodhisattvas who have genuine and equal enlightenment, they are still incapable of the supreme enlightenment.
the Buddha is supreme, he is celled the supreme 'scholar' and the
regulating hero.9 Therefore, his is said to be 'supreme,
genuine and equal, genuine enlightenment'.
Sutra text says: BY FOLLOWING PRAJNA PARAMITA. Because
all the Buddhas of the three periods of time through the use of profound
and wonderful prajna wisdom attain the other shore, the gatha
REACH THE SUPREME IMMORTAL'S GENUINE AND EQUAL ENLIGHTENMENT.
The Supreme Immortal is just the Buddha, who is also referred to as the Greatly Enlightened Golden Immortal. 10
IF THOSE WHO PRACTICE ARE ONLY CAPABLE OF DILIGENCE AND VIGOR.
You people who cultivate need only be capable of going forward and diligently cultivating without retreating. "Do not expose it to the sun for one day and freeze it for ten. "Cultivation of the Way is also like this. You must cultivate every day. Cultivate every year, cultivate every month, and cultivate every day. At all times cultivate, at all times be vigorous. Every day be vigorous, every month be vigorous, every year be vigorous. At all times be vigorous. In all places you must be vigorous. It is not that today I am vigorous and tomorrow I retreat. This is not to say, go forward one step and then backwards four steps. You should not be like this. That is not vigor.
WORRY OF NOT ATTAINING THE FIELD OF DHARMA NATURE?
If you can be vigorous, then you can attain the Dharma nature, which is represented by a field. Only when you plant things in the field can you then have a harvest. You need only be vigorous in plowing and weeding and then you can harvest. This is THE FIELD OF DHARMA NATURE; you cultivate the Dharma body yourself, your self-nature will be perfected and you will realize Buddhahood, which is like harvesting the field of the Dharma nature. You obtain the fruit.
instance, there is a person who is so vigorous, he does not even sleep
at night but cultivates the Way instead. He cultivates for one night and
then what? He sleeps every day during the day. This too is equivalent to
not cultivating and cannot be said to be vigor. It is not to say
"All of you sleep; I will not sleep. I'll cultivate the Way!"
Then in the daytime when everyone is not sleeping, you sleep. This is
not vigor. Not sleeping at night and sleeping during the day is just the
KNOW THE MANTRA OF PRAJNA PARAMITA,
GREAT DIVINE MANTRA.
GREAT BRIGHT MANTRA.
ABLE TO REMOVE ALL SUFFERING.
TRUE, ACTUAL AND NOT FALSE.
KNOW THE MANTRA OF PRAJNA PARAMITA,
THIS GREAT DIVINE MANTRA.
KNOW...Because of all the various principles discussed above, one
knows this prajna paramita, this wonderful wisdom, the
Dharma which arrives at the other shore, is just the GREAT DIVINE
What is the meaning of GREAT? Great is called great in contradistinction too small. This great is the great with nothing beyond; because if there were something beyond this great, it would not count as great, but would be 'small'. Because this great has nothing beyond it, there is nothing greater.
is the meaning of DIVINE? The divine is inconceivable. The
meaning is just about the same as 'wonderful'; nonetheless, 'wonderful'
has the meaning of 'unmoving'. 'Divine' has the meaning of moving; there
is a kind of movement. The wonderful is unmoving, yet totally moves
everything, totally comprehends everything. It does not function through
movement. However, if the divine does not move, then it is not the
divine. The divine must move. It
is the divine of 'divine penetration';13 the 'penetration'
means 'to go through'; there is movement. In the wonderful there is
knowledge without movement.
Buddha teaches and transforms living beings in other Buddha countries to
realize the Way and enter nirvana. He knows all. The wonderful is here
without using movement, he knows. But with the divine, you must go to
the place to know. The divine gets to wherever it is going life a rocket
going to the moon. When you arrive on the moon, you know what the moon
is made of; you know what the creation of the moon was about. This is
having a little bit of the divine. With the wonderful, without having to
go there, you still know what the moon is like. You know what the moon
is all about. It is not necessary to use the powers of science to come
to a conclusion about it. You
just know. Without Moving the Way-place,14 you are
enlightened to and understand everything.
the 'divine', it is necessary to move the Way-place. You must go to the
place and then you know. So the person with penetration of the heavenly
eye should go to the space station and beforehand tell them what the
moon is like. He should go and discuss with them, saying, "I have
proof. If you do not believe me, I will bring you back a clump of moon
for you to see."
is what the divine is like.
HARD EXHAUSTIVELY TO FATHOM.
you wish to say whether or not the divine ultimately has form and
appearance, it does not have any form and appearance. It is the GREAT
is a mantra? Does it tell you to "man-man"15
(Chinese for 'slowly slowly') recite it? No. What meaning does it have?
Mantra also is a kind of inconceivable state. It has four meanings.
(1) The first meaning: all mantras are the names of god and ghost kings, like the pisaca and kumbhanda. You recite the names of the god and ghost kings and the small gods and ghosts all are dependable. Why? It is because they wonder, "How do you know our ghost king? How do you know our god king?" When you recite the mantra, the little gods and ghosts do not dare break the rules and are really dependable. This is the first meaning.
(2) The second meaning: it is like a soldier's password. In the army everyday there is a different password, which only your own people know. The people outside do not know it. For example, today it is 'victory'. If, for instance, you meet a soldier whom you do not know, then you ask him what the password is, he says 'victory' and you say 'right'. Everyone then knows that he is one of us. If you ask him the password and he says 'lucky', that is not it and you know that you will have to start fighting. Why? Because he is not one of us. The mantras are just like passwords. As soon as the gods and ghosts hear you recite the mantra, they say, "Oh, that is our password," so they are all dependable, and all follow the rules. If not, then they all want to fight. This is the second meaning.
It’s third meaning; it is a sort of secret language. Other people do
not know it, only a certain person knows. What does he know? For
instance, there is a person who is originally very poor and lowly. He
goes abroad and people abroad do not know him. Since they do not know
who he is, he says, "I am the king of a certain country, but the
generals revolted and there was a change of government, so I secretly
escaped and came to this country." The king of this country does
not know whether he is genuine or not. Originally he is a phony, but the
king supposes that he is genuine, so he gives one of the princesses to
him for a wife. Since one of the king's women is given to this poor and
lowly person in marriage, he considers himself part of the king's
household. Basically he is not a king, but he acts like it. Day in and
day out he is always losing his temper. Since he cannot eat 'bitter
melons', he gets angry and his temper is not small. Then a person comes
who knows him, who knows that he was a poor and lowly person, and says
to the palace woman who is married to him, "When he gets angry, you
need only say these few sentences: 'Originally you were a poor and lowly
person who drifted in from another country far away. Why must you have
such a big temper?' As soon as you say this, he will know, 'Oh, she
knows my origins' and will not get angry any more." This meaning of
mantra is just like this. As soon as you recite the mantra, the gods and
ghosts will assume that you understand their origins that you know what
they are all about and so where you are concerned, they will not dare to
break the rules. This is also a meaning.
There is another meaning. Mantras are the heart seals of all Buddhas.
They are the secret language of all Buddhas which can be known only from
Buddha to Buddha. Because all other living beings do not know, mantras
are left untranslated. So it is said, "With one sound the mantra is
proclaimed and living beings receive it according to their
category."16 Living beings of every category understand
as soon as they hear the mantra. Although we people do not understand,
ghosts understand, gods understand, and animals and asuras all
understand it. All the strange ghosts and weird creatures also
understand it. So when you recite the mantra they are all dependable.
It is like there being a king of a country who wanted something called saindhava. Saindhava is a Sanskrit word, which has four different meanings: salt, water, chamber pot, and horse. All four are called saindhava. When the king says, "I want saindhava", the officials do not know whether he wants salt, water, a chamber pot, or a horse. As soon as people with wisdom hear him, they know what he wants, according to the situation. For instance, if he wants saindhava while he is eating; of course he would not want a (chamber pot, but certainly wants salt. When he is going traveling and wants saindhava, then he certainly wants a horse. If he is thirsty and wants saindhava, then he certainly wants water. And if you see that he is not thirsty, not eating and not going travelling, then of course he wants a chamber pot. So as soon as people with wisdom look, they know. One mantra also has a lot of meanings; therefore, to sum it all up, when you recite it and people with wisdom and gods and ghosts hear it, they understand it and act accordingly. Mantra has these four meanings.
--To be continued—
2. Tzu liao han. The same expression also means “self-ending”.
Although “nirvana” is properly used for those who at the end
of physical existence enter the realm of no birth and death, according
to current usage, it also has become merely a polite term for the death
of one who has gone forth from home.
one of the Chinese translations for nirvana.
derivation is generally from nirva to “blow out” or “be
extinguished” as a candle or lamp when the fuel is gone.
7. wu shang cheng teng cheng chiao
8. teng chiao p'u sa
9. These are two of the ten names which all Buddhas hold in common. The ten are:
10. ta chiao chin hsien
12. Miao. The two characters shen (divine) and miao (wonderful) are often combined into a single compound.
13. Shen t’ung (the powers of) divine penetration (Skt. abhijna, sometimes translated “superknowledge”).
tao ch'ang (Skt. bodhimanda[la]). The Surangama-sutra(T.
945), Roll 4, says:
(“If you are able to turn things, then you are the same as the Thus Come One, body and heart perfectly bright, an unmoving Way-place.”)
Coming in future issues of Vajra Bodhi Sea.
of the Lives of High Masters
Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra
in British Columbia
Bodhi Sea, The Bodhi Mirror, The Bodhi Lectern
on the Ten Designations of the Buddha