Heart Sutra

The Heart Sutra

By Desmond Yeoh

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

Ceramic Products

The Buddha was staying in Rajagraha at Vulture Peak along with a great community of monks and bodhisattvas[1].

At that time, a bodhisattva named Avalokitsevara, was meditating on the profound perfection of wisdom. Through the Buddha’s inspiration, the venerable Sariputra, a senior disciple of the Buddha asked the bodhisattva, “In what way should a noble son who wishes to engage in the practice of the profound perfection of wisdom train?”

Avalokitsevara responded, “Sariputra, any noble sons or daughters who wish to practice the perfection of wisdom should see insightfully and repeatedly that the five aggregates[2] are empty of inherent nature. Form is empty, emptiness is form. Body is nothing more than emptiness, emptiness is nothing more than body. Likewise, sensation, thoughts, conditioning, and consciousness are empty. In this way, Sariputra, all things are empty; they are without defining characteristics; they are not born, they do not cease, they are not defiled, they are not undefiled. They do not increase and they do not decrease.”

Our form exist because of  the existence of the cosmic intelligence or Divinity behind all things. Without it, we will not have our body. Medical science can explain the function of each organ but will never be able to explain how they function. There is an underlying intelligence that coordinates all the functions of our body without the need for our conscious intervention. We cannot even consciously go against this intelligence; try holding your breath. The mere existence of our body is proof of the Divine. Without the Divine, there can be no form. Nothing can exist.

The five aggregates, makes up the ego. We are always caught up with one of or a combination of these five aggregates; form, sensation, thoughts, conditioning, and consciousness.

Our body and consciousness are the basis for the other aggregates to function. Our body creates a separation between you and me. However, the separation is merely conceptual and through our practice, we gradually realise the oneness of all beings.

Most of the time, we are caught up with our thoughts. Our thoughts are our mental chatter and mental movies. Our thoughts draw us away from our present reality. One may be sitting in Malaysia and remembering a trip he had a few months ago to Thailand. When he is caught up with the memory, he is stuck in the past and as far as he is concerned, he is present in Thailand. Only his body is in Malaysia. When he is thinking of the future, again he is magically drawn to another place; away from his present reality. Most of the time, we are living in the past and the future. We rarely stay in our present reality. That is how we get caught up with our ego. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we are rarely present. We are always off somewhere in our dream world.

At times, a sensation may bring our attention to our present reality. It may be a beautiful scenery or a lovely music. Our consciousness may not be caught up by our thoughts but it gets bound to our sensations instead. Consciousness implies that we are conscious of something. When we are thinking about the past and future, we are conscious of our thoughts. When we focus on something with our senses, we are conscious of our sensations. Our consciousness is so occupied by our thoughts and our senses, that our ego become alive and existential. Our thoughts and the sensations we experience are not something that exist inherently. They are merely movements of energy. If we picture a green ball, we will say that the ball does not exist. However, we do not say the same thing about the ego even though the green ball and the ego is not very different.

Our conditioning is our habits. It is our perception of what is right or wrong, good or evil, sinful or virtuous and so on. We often react to external circumstances based on our habits or conditioning. Rarely do we act out of wisdom. That is why we often regret our words and actions later on when we are calmer. These habits and conditioning were taught to us. We picked them up as we grew up. Being racist is a conditioning. Seeing other humans as mostly kind and compassionate is a conditioning. Seeing the world as a dog eat dog world is a conditioning. Our habits and conditioning influence our decisions and actions more that we care to admit.

As we progress with our meditation, we begin to see how our consciousness shifts between our body, thoughts and sensations. We begin to see and understand our habitual tendencies and conditioning. As we go deeper within ourselves, we eventually reach a point that we are not conscious of anything. There are no thoughts or sensations. When we are not conscious of anything, consciousness disappears. At that point the ego disappears and then….

“Therefore, Sariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, no thoughts, no conditioning, and no consciousness. There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind. There is no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no texture, no mental formations. There is no eye-element and so on up to no mind-element and also up to no element of mental awareness. There is no ignorance and no end to ignorance. There is no old age and death, and no end to old age and death. There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no end to suffering and no path to follow. There is no attainment of wisdom, and no wisdom to attain”.

Enlightenment exists because the ego exists. When the ego disappears, enlightenment becomes irrelevant and accordingly, all the various paths become irrelevant. As the Buddha puts it, once one crosses a river on a raft, one will abandon the raft by the river. The raft is no longer needed. Emptiness can be experience now. All we need to do is allow our mind to move within…

“Therefore, Sariputra, the bodhisattvas abide relying on the perfection of wisdom. Having no defilements in their minds, they have no fear, and passing completely beyond error, they reach nirvana. Likewise, all the past, present and future Buddhas attain complete awakening in dependence upon the perfection of wisdom”.

“Therefore, one should know that the mantra of the perfection of wisdom – the mantra of great knowledge, the precious mantra, the unexcelled mantra, the unequalled mantra, the mantra that quells all suffering – is true and cannot be doubted. The mantra of the perfection of wisdom is proclaimed:

“tadyatha – gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha! “

Which means – Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone fully beyond. Awakened! Rejoice!

Thereupon, the Buddha exclaimed,  “Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! Noble child, it is just so. One should practice the profound perfection of wisdom in the manner that you have revealed – the Tathagatas rejoice!”

Related Article : The Gap Between ThoughtsPracticing Awareness, The Living Computer
List of Articles

[1] Under the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, bodhisattvas are those beings who have taken the vow to help all beings to achieve enlightenment before they themselves becomes enlightened.

[2] The Five Aggregates are form, sensations, thoughts, conditioning and consciousness.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sharmaine Steinhardt
    Mar 01, 2012 @ 20:19:18

    This blog is actually highly informative, crisp and crystal clear. Here everything continues to be described in the systematic manner to ensure reader could find maximum information and learn several things.


  2. Refugio Wendy
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 08:43:13

    I’m really impressed along with your writing talents and also with the structure in your weblog. Is this a paid subject or did you customize it your self? Anyway stay up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one today.


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