20 Aug Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, Part 1
[Series of Master Shen-Long expounding on the Prajna Paramita (Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom) Heart Sutra]
Before I explain the title of this Sutra, I need to make a statement and let everyone know about the origin of this sutra.
We all know that there is a well-known Sutra called the Diamond Sutra. The Diamond Sutra unfolds the Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra. This means the Heart Sutra is the quintessence of the Diamond Sutra. It is the key point. If you understand the Heart Sutra, then you will certainly know the Maha-Prajnaparamita Sutra, which consists of 600 volumes (that was delivered by Shakyamuni in four places at sixteen assemblies) as translated by Master Xuan-Zang. To “know well” means you have verified into the Buddha truth.
Today I will, to the best of my ability, try not to use Buddhist terminology to explain, because for those that have studied Buddhist terminology, while they may understand it, the general audience would have a problem understanding the in-depth meaning. Today I will only talk about the word Prajna (wisdom).
When listening to Sutra explaining, one needs to have patience. During listening, you need to concentrate your attention completely. After having finished listening, one does not think it over again, for the mind is crystal clear and understands; this is called Prajna.
What is the function of Prajna? The function is wisdom because Prajna has multi-faceted meanings in which wisdom only represents one of them.
Prajna (wisdom) originates from Sanskrit and the Indian language has multiple implied meanings. Everything within the Heart Sutra talks about wisdom as the key point within multiple implied meanings. Here I have introduced the general concept to everyone.
Next, we will formally go into the Sutra title. The title is Prajna Paramita (Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom) Heart Sutra: Prajna – before Shakyamuni Buddha was born to this Saha land, in India there were 96 kinds of teaching outside of the doctrine. This so-called “teaching outside of the doctrine” means looking for teaching outside of the mind. People were all searching for wisdom. These people had very high cultivation skill close to Samadhi (the highest level of the unmoved mind and undisturbed); they were not ordinary when seated quietly like an average person or doing Yoga practice. They all realistically entered the phase of verification into the ultimate essence of the truth. This so-called “phase of verification into the ultimate essence of the truth” means that you see with your own eyes, hear with your own ears, even to the extent that their six supernatural powers were gradually recovered.
What did one see? One saw the phenomena of the universe, like we speak about the Milk-Way galaxy, which to the average person is called the condition of Heaven and the whole world. Regarding Heaven, they saw that Heaven has 28 tiers. This happened before Shakyamuni Buddha was born here – this was the attainment of those ascetic practice monks, or practitioners of Brahmanism, and from other religions. However, there was a problem: they knew about outside phenomena, but they did not know why the root cause had come into being, which was equivalent to our current phenomena.
The so-called phenomena are as we are here listening to sutra explaining, we gather here and there are people, events, places, objects, but we do not know how people come to be, and do not know the contributory cause or condition behind it. Of course, there was a small portion of people who knew the contributory cause or condition, but maybe not that thoroughly.
The most important problem is that many people who have comprehended the truth up to the highest level, they want to make a breakthrough and they want to attain full selflessness to no longer have the concept of “I –self”. They wanted to attain this goal, but they could not reach it.
Why? It is because they still have attachment. The practitioners used the method of the “Total eight Meditation levels of the four Dhyana heavens of both the realm of Form and Formless” In Chinese culture; Daoism mentioned this. Daoism is the teaching of Lao-Zi (the founder of Daoism and the book of Dao – Daodejing); there is also another person named Zhang Dao-Leng, but we must not confuse his way with Lao-Zi. In Daoism, Lao-Zi speaks of:
The Way that can be described is not the universal and eternal way.
Regarding the universal and eternal way in Daoism, their comprehension is like the condition of those 96 kinds of teaching outside the doctrine, but it is not the same.
If you have studied Confucianism, you would also know that the Chinese often mention:
Sincerity, right mind, to cultivate one’s moral character, to govern one’s family, to rule a country, to pacify the country.
Sincerity is precisely talking about meditation (mental composure); Zeng Guo-Fan (1811-1872; Qing dynasty politician and military man) also said:
No (distracting) thought emerges is called sincere.
Therefore, regardless from what angle you look at this, all ethnic groups seek out wisdom to reach this identical condition.
How come they have this identical thinking?
They want to resolve the problems of life.
What problem? Afflictions.
Living in this world we seem to have countless and boundless afflictions. Shakyamuni Buddha in his era talked about this, and he knew that all living beings needed to resolve this problem.