The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries

The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries

The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries

The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries

Synopsis

Renowned for its terse declaration of the perfection of wisdom, the Heart Sutra is the most famous of Buddhist scriptures. The author draws on previously unexamined commentaries, preserved only in Tibetan, to investigate the meanings derived from and invested into the sutra during the later period of Indian Buddhism.

The Heart Sutra Explained offers new insights on "form is emptiness, emptiness is form," on the mantra "gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha," and on the synthesis of Madhyamika, Yogacara, and tantric thought that characterized the final period of Buddhism in India. It also includes complete translations of two nineteenth century Tibetan commentaries demonstrating the selective appropriation of Indian sources.

Excerpt

The Negations and Enlightenment

Therefore, Sariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no discrimination, no compositional factors, no consciousness, no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind, no form, no sound, no odor, no taste, no object of touch, no phenomenon. There is no eye constituent, no mental constituent, up to and including no mental consciousness constituent. There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, up to and including no aging and death and no extinction of aging and death. Similarly, there are no sufferings, no origins, no cessations, no paths, no wisdom, no attainment, and also no non- attainment.

Therefore, Śāriputra, because Bodhisattvas have no attainment they depend on and abide in the perfection of wisdom and their minds are without obstruction and without fear. Having completely passed beyond all error they go to the completion of nirvạ̄a. All the Buddhas who abide in the three times have been fully awakened into unsurpassed, perfect, complete enlightenment through relying on the perfection of wisdom.

Here Avalokites+́vara proclaims the negation of all phenomena in the face of emptiness. He does not, however, simply say that in emptiness there are no phenomena. Rather, he systematically negates the categories of phenomena formulated by the Hīnayāna Abhidharma masters, of whom Ś+āriputra is supreme. Before considering the meaning of Avalokiteśvara's negation, it is useful to identify those categories.

The first of the classifications of phenomena is the five aggregates. the Bodhisattva then says, "no eye, no ear, no tongue, no body, no mind, no form, no sound, no odor, no taste, no object of touch, no phenomenon." This is the negation of the twelve sources (āyatana) of consciousness, comprising the six senses (indriya) and their six objects. the five senses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body) are forms of subtle matter, included in the form aggregate, that provide the physical bases for the generation of the sense consciousnesses. in order for consciousness to occur, there must be three conditions: the dominant condition . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.