An Interpretive Clarification of the Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra.



Doctor Of Humanistic Depth Psychology
Master Zen Teacher And Counselor

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The Heart Teaching of Perfect Wisdom, which in the original Sanskrit is called the "Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra", is the shortest and most revered scripture in all of Buddhism. Chanted daily in the Buddhist Monasteries of China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, and in the West, the Heart Sutra is regarded as the ultimate summation of the embodied wisdom of the historical Buddha. Less than a page in length, the Heart Sutra encourages human beings to be self-embodied within and beyond their unique differences of color, race, language, sex, creed, and nationality. The Heart Sutra shows us the possibility of this bright vision by encouraging us to experience our true self as a 'wisdoming emptiness" that penetrates our only moment body and all matter throughout the vastness of time and space. The embodiment of our true nature as a 'wisdoming emptiness' or 'intelligencing wholeness' is exactly "our pristine self'. It is our 'pristine embodiment of self' because it is the natural or original way of being in our body as a human being. This original Way of being self-embodied is a deeper experiential reality than passing thoughts, mental categories, personal preferences, religious views, ideological postures, racial identifications, historical contexts and culturally conditioned perceptions. As such, the simple yet profound embodiment of self as 'pristine wisdoming emptiness' allows one to practice life and relationships with mental clarity, bodily ease, integrity of being, playful spontaneity, bright wisdoming, compassionate insight, and childlike wonderment.

The teachings of the Heart Sutra are believed to have originated in Southern India about 100 B.C. No one knows who is responsible for its brief expression and its profound composition. Its earliest historical appearance was in the form of a Chinese translation somewhere between 200 AD and 250 AD. This first Chinese translation from Sanskrit, containing about 260 Chinese characters, was written by a Buddhist monk known as Chih ch'ien. Since the translation of Chih ch'ien, the Heart Sutra has become a primary teaching in Zen Buddhism and is considered to contain the "wisdom essence" of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition of embodied life meditation.

Over the last 32 years, the interpretations and commentaries of many Buddhist monks and teachers have inspired and guided my own embodied practice, understanding, and formal teaching of the Heart Sutra to my students and clients. I am indebted to the Zen Buddhist priest, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, for living and transmitting the true body of the Heart Sutra to the United States. I also wish to express my deep appreciation to my original Dharma teacher, Jaksho Kwong Roshi, for introducing me to the precious study of the Heart Sutra and for demonstrating its teachings through his sincere practice of embodied emptiness. I am also indebted to many others through the centuries who have lived, interpreted, and commented on the original meaning of the Heart Sutra. As divergent as these historical interpretations and commentaries have been, they are all appropriate and meaningful for the contemplative study and embodied practice of the Heart Sutra. This is precisely so because the Heart Sutra is like a "Precious Diamond" that has many elusive refractions of bright meaning. Each historical refraction of "bright meaning" serves to encourage the embodied study of the teachings within the Heart Sutra while inspiring the daily practice of meditation, wisdoming, and compassion.

Through the many years of practice, investigation, and teaching, I have found that there can be no absolute interpretation or commentary on the Heart Sutra. This is precisely so because the embodied wisdom that the Heart Sutra refers to is fundamentally preverbal and before any of the "traps and cages of thinking mind". Even the original Sanskrit text of the Heart Sutra may be likened to a "finger pointing at the Moon". Knowing this, we must never take the finger to be the Moon itself. This means that any verbal description can never approach the felt understanding and depth of realization derived from experiential immediacy. Only the embodied empathic feeling aroused at the sight of the full Moon can illicit an immediate experiential insight into the timeless and ageless "Wisdom Being" that the Moon truly is.

As a Zen Roshi and a Humanistic Psychologist, it is with the felt confidence of my embodied experience, along with a deep sense of my limitations as a human being, that I offer beginners and veteran practitioners of meditation "my own finger pointing to the Moon". I provide this teaching of the Heart Sutra by actually rewriting the original version of this most revered text. My rewriting of the Heart Sutra is not to say that the original text or other interpretations and commentaries were not clear or have been incorrect; but rather that the precious meaning of the Heart Sutra can also be taught and embodied as I have rewritten it here.

Before presenting the reader with my own embodied teaching of the Heart Sutra, I will provide the commonly accepted translation that is chanted worldwide in Zen centers and Buddhist temples and monasteries. It is my hope that the presentation of the common translation along side my own interpretive clarification will help provide you with a baseline for deepening your understanding and embodied practice of awakened heart wisdoming.

with blessings and one bow,

Dr. Bonnici

Email: Dr@ZenDoctor.Com

(The Great Teaching of Enlightened Heart Wisdom)

When Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva was practicing the deep perfection of embodied wisdom, he clearly saw that all five conditions of being are empty, thus he was relieved from all suffering and pain.
(Avalokiteshvara is an enlightened being of great compassion) *(Five conditions are form, sensation, perception, discrimination & awareness)

Oh Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form. Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form. Sensation, perception, discrimination, awareness are likewise like this.
*(Shariputra was a disciple of the Buddha. As the sutra is addressed to Shariputra, it is also addressed to you)

Oh Shariputra, all dharmas are forms of emptiness, not born, not destroyed; not tainted, not pure; without gain, without loss; so in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, perception, discrimination, awareness. No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena; No realm of sight and so forth until no realm of consciousness.
*(All dharmas makes reference to all beings and things)

No ignorance and no extinction of it and so forth until no old age and death and extinction of them. No suffering, no cause of suffering, no extinguishing, no path, no wisdom and no gain with nothing to attain; Kanzeon Bodhisattva lives the perfection of wisdom, with no hindrance in the mind, no hindrance, therefore no fear exists.

Far beyond deluded thoughts, this is Nirvana. All past, present, and future Buddhas live this perfection of wisdom and therefore attain complete and perfect enlightenment. Therefore know that Perfect Wisdom is a great mantra, is a great bright mantra; is a supreme mantra; an unsurpassable mantra. It is capable of relieving all suffering. This is true, not false.

So proclaim the perfection of wisdom mantra, proclaim this mantra and say: Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond, Gone forever Beyond, All Hail Living Enlightenment!


(Dr. Bonnici's Interpretive Clarification of the Heart Sutra)

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April 1, 2005

Honored One, as you sit in meditation and wakefully rest in the rhythmic breath of your life, you will sense that the life of your moment body is a wisdoming intelligence that is happening below the endless passage of self thoughts and thinking mind. You will clearly see that all concepts of self, beings, events, and things are fundamentally empty within the wisdoming of your only moment body. Just then, your mental sufferings, emotional pains, and bodily tensions will naturally soften and ease before your conscious will, intention, or effort.

Honored One, know that concepts of self, world views, and religious beliefs are no other than emptiness, and emptiness is no other than your self, beliefs, and world views. All thoughts, ideas, and concepts are exactly this emptiness, and this emptiness is exactly all ideas, concepts, and thoughts. Your self-owned sensations, perceptions, discriminations, and ego-awareness are likewise like this.

Honored One, resting in the deep silence and stillness of seated meditation, know that the Infinite Universe is One Vast Wisdoming Emptiness--- not born, not destroyed; not tainted, not pure, without gain, without loss, without life, without death; Just so, Vast Wisdoming Emptiness is beyond both life and death and is exactly all of life and death.

Honored One, know that Emptiness is exactly an Infinite Wisdoming that penetrates all forms, all sensations, perceptions, discriminations, and awareness. In Vast Wisdoming Emptiness there is no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, or phenomena; Although Vast Wisdoming Emptiness is beyond the realms of self-consciousness and thinking mind, It is exactly your Only Moment Body wisdoming Just as IT IS.

Honored One, know that, in Vast Wisdoming Emptiness there is no ignorance and no extinction of it; no old age and death and yet, no extinction of them. No suffering, no cause of suffering, no transcendence, no path, no wisdom and no gain with nothing to attain; just so, those who embrace Vast Wisdoming Emptiness as their True Nature have no hindrances in the mind, no hindrances, therefore no fear of death exists.

Honored One, this Only Moment Body is far beyond deluded thoughts and is the completion of truth, mystery, clarity, wonder, and compassion. All past, present, and future beings who live this Only Moment Body as exactly Wisdoming Emptiness will truly live beyond thought, attain ordinary life, true relationships, eternal being, and complete entrustment in death.

Honored One, know that this embodied Wisdoming Emptiness, gone beyond thoughts, is exactly a great round mirror, a great bright mirror; a supremely intelligent mirror; an infinitely precious mirror. It is capable of relieving all suffering caused by grasping and pushing away, by attachment to self, ego, belief, world view, and thinking mind.

So proclaim this sharp sword of Wisdoming Emptiness, proclaim this Bright Mirror Wisdoming that is exactly your true nature and say: Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond, Gone forever beyond! Hail, this Only Moment Body of Life and Death! Hail, the Compassionate Teaching of One Vast Wisdoming Emptiness! Hail, living the Wisdoming Body of Enlightenment before all thoughts and thinking mind!

Copyrights Dr.Bonnici
April 1, 2005

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