Friday, February 17, 2006

The Great Heart of Wisdom Sutra

Here's my interpretation:

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva while practicing deep Prajna Paramita
Perceived all five skandhas were empty and was saved from suffering and distress

Avalokiteshvara was practicing perfect wisdom when he realised that the five aggregates that constitute a human being ("matter", "sensation", "cognition", "volition", "consciousness") all exist only dependently and relatively, lacking in intrinsic nature or reality. And he was liberated from suffering.

Shariputra, form is no different from emptiness
Emptiness is no different from form
That which is form is emptiness
That which is emptiness is form
Feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness, the same is true of these

Matter and emptiness are inseparable. There is no emptiness (lack of intrinsic reality) separate from the apparent world and vice versa. The same applies to the rest of the aggregates. (Ultimate reality does not transcend relative/conventional reality - they are one and the same. This is the non-duality of Nirvana and Samsara.)

Shariputra, all dharmas are marked with emptiness
They do not appear or disappear
are not tainted or pure
do not increase or decrease

Lacking intrinsic reality or essence, there are ultimately no phenomena to appear or disappear. (see Nagarjuna for details)

Therefore in emptiness no form,
no feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness
no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, mind
no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, object of mind
no realm of eyes and so forth until no realm of mind consciousness
no ignorance and also no extinction of ignorance
and so forth until no old age and death and no extinction of old age and death
no suffering, origination, stopping, path
no cognition also no attainment

Ultimately phenomena have no existence. Even Samsara and Nirvana have no intrinsic existence.

with nothing to attain
the Bodhisattva depends upon Prajna Paramita
and (his) mind is no hindrance
without any hindrance no fear exists
far apart from every inverted view
(he) dwells in Nirvana

Realising that there is no attainment or lack of attainment, the practitioner uses the perfection of Wisdom to liberate the mind from false views and fears and he finds Nirvana.

All Buddhas in the Three Worlds
depend on Prajna Paramita
and attain complete unsurpassed enlightenment

This is how all Buddha's become enlightened.

Therefore know the Prajna Paramita
is the great transcendent mantra
is the great bright mantra
is the utmost mantra
is the supreme mantra
which is able to relieve all suffering and is true, not false
so proclaim the Prajna Paramita mantra
proclaim the mantra that says
gone, gone, gone beyond
gone all the way beyond, Bodhi Svaha!

So, the Great Heart of Wisdom mantra is an important and powerful teaching which liberates from suffering - learn it. It goes:
'Gone, gone, Gone beyond
gone all the way beyond, Enlightenment, how wonderful! '

For more information see


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Hi, Justin - I was looking at the PRAJÑÂ PÂRAMITÂ HRIDAYA SÛTRA just today and previewing a blog entry on it, when I hit the wrong button and - poof - away it went!

    Your interpretation is good. I tend to like this reference:

    Regards & Metta

  3. It just goes to show that even the Heart Sutra is really Void doesn't it.

    My Tibetan and Sanskrit are rather poor I'm afraid.

  4. Hi, Justin

    My Tibetan and Sanskrit are rather poor...

    That is why an english translation included at It is a very good translation.

    And, yes, all is empty. Even emptiness:

    "Emptiness demolishes the five appropriated aggregates. The emptiness of emptiness demolishes [that] emptiness. Emptiness demolishes all dharmas so that the only thing, which abides is emptiness. After emptiness has already demolished all dharmas, emptiness itself should also be relinquished. It is on account of this that we require this emptiness of emptiness."
    On the Twenty Emptinesses
    A Commentary on Selected Verses from Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way (mean, in patriarch terms

    Hope you are overcoming the emptiness of the recent move...

    Regards, M.Lee

  5. Thanks for the references

    Hope you are overcoming the emptiness of the recent move...

    Well, given the amount of stuff we've got rid of over the past few weeks, my life should be getting more empty. :)

  6. Just stopping by to say 'hi'...

    Has the move ceased movement, yet?

    Regards & Metta

  7. Hi meleephd,

    Yes we've moved, but things have taken a while to settle and I've got out of the meditation habit. I don't want to write about Buddhism while I'm not practicing it.

    I should be back soon though.

    And I could always write about something else...

    Thanks for popping by!