Monday, November 13, 2006

A Comment on the Heart Sutra

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, practicing deep Prajna Paramita

“Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva” is an Old Grandmother that has become intensely aware of how newborn babies convulse when their limbs are hacked off with machetes.

“Practicing deep Prajna Paramita” is personally resolving to make certain that not one single being will ever again be forced to watch his children raped and murdered.

clearly saw that all five skandhas are empty, transforming anguish and distress.

“Clearly saw that all five skandhas are empty” means seeing that each of the five skandhas (form, sensation, perception, mental reaction, and consciousness) is Real Existence.

“Transforming anguish and distress” means that anguish and distress are transformed from temporal abstract ideas into Real Existence.

Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form;

“Shariputra” is the person that this teaching is addressed to, i.e. Old Grandmothers who are personally resolved to abolishing cluster bombs.

“Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form” points out the fact that cancer is no other than Real Existence, Real Existence no other than multiple sclerosis.

form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form;

“Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form” says that a bayonet through the lung is exactly Real Existence, Real Existence is exactly a baby in a garbage can.

sensation, perception, mental reaction, consciousness are also like this.

“Sensation, perception, mental reaction, consciousness are also like this” explains that the other four, of the five skandhas, are also like form. That is, the sensation of being skinned alive is exactly Real Existence. The perception of a head crushed in a vice is exactly Real Existence. The mental reaction of terror while undergoing water torture is exactly Real Existence. The consciousness that the mutilated body parts on the ground are your family is exactly Real Existence.

Shariputra, all things are essentially empty—

“Shariputra, all things are essentially empty” means that not only the five skandhas are Real Existence, but all things. The essence of murder is Real Existence, the essence of rape, brutality, ignorance, starvation, AIDS, SIDS, PTSD, torture, war, asphyxiation, dismemberment, birth defects, hatred, child abuse, patricide, thumbscrews, gangrene, and cannibalism are all Real Existence.

not born, not destroyed;

“Not born, not destroyed” describes the nature, or essence of Real Existence; Ebola is without beginning or end.

not stained, not pure; without loss, without gain.

“Not stained, not pure; without loss, without gain” means the hands that tear flesh are not stained. The water given to the thirsty is not pure. The tyrant rules without loss. The honest laborer works without gain.

Therefore in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, perception, mental reaction, consciousness;

“Therefore in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, perception, mental reaction, consciousness” indicates the truth that because serial killers are Real Existence, there is no separate entity to call “serial killers.”

no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind,

“No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind” shows there is no truth, love, wisdom, justice, happiness, freedom.

no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, object of thought;

“No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, object of thought” illustrates the fact that there is no beauty, music, fragrant flower, sweet peach, gentle caress, knowledge.

no seeing and so on to no thinking;

“No seeing and so on to no thinking” says there are no sunsets and so on to no wonderful ideas.

no ignorance and also no ending of ignorance,

“No ignorance and also no ending of ignorance” indicates the truth that there is no enlightenment and also no beginning of enlightenment.

and so on to no old age and death,

“And so on to no old age and death” means there is no youth and life.

and also no ending of old age and death;

“And also no ending of old age and death” is no beginning of youth and life.

no anguish, cause of anguish, cessation, path;

“No anguish, cause of anguish, cessation, path” says there is no serenity, cause of serenity, arising of serenity, path to serenity.

no wisdom and no attainment.

“No wisdom and no attainment” indicates that there is no cure for anguish and no liberation to attain.

Since there is nothing to attain, the Bodhisattva lives by Prajna Paramita,

“Since there is nothing to attain, the Bodhisattva lives by Prajna Paramita” teaches that because there is no liberation to attain, the Bodhisattva lives by personally resolving to attain no liberation.

with no hindrance in the mind; no hindrance and therefore no fear;

“With no hindrance in the mind; no hindrance and therefore no fear,” the Old Grandmother, having become intensely aware that the sound of burning children is Real Existence, is no longer hindered by presumption. No longer hindered by presumption she is free of fear.

far beyond delusive thinking, right here is Nirvana.

“Far beyond delusive thinking, right here is Nirvana,” means that right in the midst of delusive thinking, Samsara is transcended.

All Buddhas of past, present, and future live by Prajna Paramita

“All Buddhas of past, present, and future live by Prajna Paramita” says that all Buddhas at One Being Time, are personally resolved to making certain that genocide will never again be attempted.

attaining Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

“Attaining Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi” is providing food, clothing, shelter, and love to every single person on earth.

Therefore know that Prajna Paramitais the great sacred mantra, the great vivid mantra,the unsurpassed mantra, the supreme mantra,

“Therefore know that Prajna Paramita is the great sacred mantra, the great vivid mantra,the unsurpassed mantra, the supreme mantra” says that personally resolving to abolish childhood leukemia is the great sacred resolution, the great vivid activity, the unsurpassed vow, the supreme function of life.

which completely removes all anguish.

“Which completely removes all anguish” says that such a personal resolution removes all the parasites from the bellies of newborn babies.

This is truth not mere formality. “This is truth not mere formality” means that this is not just a hypothetical teaching, it is the literal truth.

Therefore set forth the Prajna Paramita mantra,

“Therefore set forth the Prajna Paramita mantra,” says that since this activity can liberate everyone being tortured in secret prisons, we should carry it out.

set forth this mantra and proclaim:Gate gate paragate parasamgate Bodhi svaha!

“Set forth this mantra and proclaim: Gate gate paragate parasamgate Bodhi svaha!” Means personally resolve to put an end to all ignorance: Abolished, abolished, totally abolished, totally transformed, Enlightenment hallelujah!

8 comments:

yamakoa said...

WOW! That was intense. Thank you for diamond cutting katana interpretation of the Heart Sutra. I will surely print this and sear into my eyballs until my misfiring neurons have nowhere to go and accept it and eventually realize it

TedinAnacortes said...

Dear Yamakoa,

Thank you for the kind words. But please be careful when searing anything into your eyeballs...

Gassho, Ted

Jordan&TheTurtle said...

Ted,
You have nailed it! It is disturbing though. You failed to mention an unlimited number of pleasant and unpleasant realities.

I would have appreciated some balance here.

Reality is also the birth of a child, the blossom of a flower, a new blade of grass pushing through the earth. You have focused on horrors and left out the joys.

Gassho

Jordan

TedinAnacortes said...

Jordan,

Thank you for your comment.

Yes, you are right of course, however, I was writing it as a "balance" to most of the other commentary I have seen on it (in which there is no shortage of the joys, but little recognition of the horror, which are, of course not two differnt things).

I do not mean to say that I am any better at seeing the horror than anybody else (I usually choose not to see it), I just felt a need to say it.

My life is full of joy, and I am grateful for it, but for me anyway, it took a little bit of real horror to wake me up to the joys of "the birth of a child, the blossom of a flower, a new blade of grass pushing through the earth." And yes, even a dried shitstick...

How wonderful, how wonderful! My supernatural powers; drawing water and carrying firewood!

Take care, Ted

JundoCohen said...

Hi Ted,

I was looking at your new blog and I found this powerful commentary on the Heart Sutra. I will print it out and keep it, if I may. Thank you for it.

The suffering and cruelty present in this world is to be kept always in front of us, and I think that what you did here is very important. We all need to be reminded of this, and to read all Buddhist writings in this manner sometimes.

I like to think that the human condition entails necessarily our having great freedom, and in that freedom is included the constant ability to harm others through our acts, thoughts and words. Without that freedom, we cannot be human, and life cannot be human life. As long as human life will be what it is, humans will have the ability to harm others and harm themselves. Buddhism offers merely the Precepts, which guide us, for example, to avoid anger and the taking of life. We realize that the victims of violence are -both- the slaughtered and the slaughterer [who must have been led to act through a lack of peace within]. We also realize that, from a certain perspective in which all thought of life and death are dropped, there is no separate self to do the killing, no self to be killed.

We also see that nature is [without trying to imply some anthropomorphic interpretation to it] cruel from our selfish perspective, and we find disease, disaster and death in its jungle. A child died in my family some time ago. I am coming from a retreat in Italy, and went last week to visit the ruins of Pompei at the foot of Vesuvius ... gone. Change happens. Life is as long as it is, not one instant longer. Perhaps that is one reason that our Zen practice teaches us about living moment-to-moment, and about not thinking of life in terms of "long" or "short" in time.

My teacher, Nishijima, talks about embracing the world "as-it-is," that there is not one single thing to add to it, not one thing to take away. This is true. However, at the same time, there is no reason for us not to try to make this world better than it is, to reduce violence, disease and tragedy as best we can. They are not two separate ways of looking at things, and while we accept the world as-it-is, we can try to repair this world, our home, when its walls our in need of repair. (For example, one of my pet projects is support of medical and psychiatric research on the violent brain, as science looks at what pushes some people in that direction but not most of us. Can we treat violence as a disease and reduce its causes much as we are seeking to eliminate the causes of cancer and other disease. Ethicists are asking too if we can do so in a way that preserves our human nature).

Anyway, thank you for reminding us of all this.

Peace, Jundo

TedinAnacortes said...

Dear Jundo,

Thank you for your comments.
I fully agree with you about the nonduality of freedom and causation. In my humble opinion, the best expression of this nondual aspect in Zen literature is the koan about Hyakujo and the wild fox.

You wrote:
"My teacher, Nishijima, talks about embracing the world "as-it-is," that there is not one single thing to add to it, not one thing to take away. This is true. However, at the same time, there is no reason for us not to try to make this world better than it is, to reduce violence, disease and tragedy as best we can. They are not two separate ways of looking at things, and while we accept the world as-it-is, we can try to repair this world, our home, when its walls our in need of repair."

Yes. I am convinced that our very desire to "reduce violence, disease and tragedy" is itself one true aspect of "the world as-it-is."

As Mumon says in the koan about the wild fox, "If you have the single eye of realization, you will appreciate how old Hyakujo lived five hundred lives as a fox as lives of grace."

Thanks again.

Gassho, Ted

Michael said...

It's ok if new born baby limbs are hacked off with strange surgical instruments if they are negative 6 months or less inside a woman's womb.

It's ok that children be raped and murdered--if they are the children of cannibals, or the children of Mr. and Mrs. Sawney Bean.

Cluster bombs are ok, but only in communist countries

It's ok if some die of pancreatic cancer, but those "some" better be child molesters and the snuff perverts who get off watching the Juarez women being raped and butchered.

A bayonet through the lung is allowed if you are fighting for family and country.

A baby in a garbage can is better off than a baby in the garbage disposal--if he starts to cry, someone might hear and save him.

Being skinned alive is proper punishment--in my opinion--for the likes of Saddam Hussein. Water torture is ok if wisely used by the CIA to extract information from known terrorists.

It's better to lose a leg to gangrene than to lose the entire body. Some people mutilate themselves in religious ecstasies. Others mutilate their sex organs, and it's fine, they like it.

There's such a thing as erotic asphyxiation.

Some birth defects and mental retardation are caused by drinking or druggie women-- and boy! did they enjoy their alcohol and cocaine.

Thumbscrews are ok on traitors.

As soon as AIDs because airborne--it's mutating like crazy--then good-bye, polluting human race. There's just too many people in this world, and look what's happening to the jungles and north and south poles.

If only scientist were to mix the genes of ebola and AIDs--I hate to see the monarch butterflies go because soon they will not have milkweed thanks to the pesticides and other chemicals humans use .

Patricide is ok only in self-defence.

Serial killers can be condoned only if go after child rapists.

It's thanks to President Roosevelt who declared war against Nazi Germany that a lot of Jews and their children are alive today.

And so on--to be continued...

Anonymous said...

I found this site using [url=http://google.com]google.com[/url] And i want to thank you for your work. You have done really very good site. Great work, great site! Thank you!

Sorry for offtopic