Hannya Shin Kyo “Heart Sutra” Notes

MA-KA HAN-NYA HA-RA MI-TA SHIN-KYO
“Heart” of Transcendental Wisdom Teaching
KAN-JI-ZAI BO-SA-(TSU)
Kannon bodhisattva
GYO JIN HAN-NYA HA-RA-MI-TA
steeped in transcendental wisdom
JI SHO KEN GO UN KAI KU
saw five “heaps” as empty, knew
DO IS-SAI KU YAKU
this ended suffering.
SA-RI-SHI SHIKI FU I KU
Shariputra, form is empty.
KU FU I SHIKI
Emptiness is form.
SHIKI SOKU ZE KU
Form’s nothing but void.
KU SOKU ZE SHIKI
Void’s nothing but form.
JU SO GYO SHIKI YAKU BU NYO ZE
Feel, see, think, mind are the same.
SHA-RI-SHI ZE SHO HO KU SO
Shariputra, (all experiences are) empty aspects,
FU SHO FU METSU
no birth, no end,
FU KU FU JO
no “spoiled”, no “pure”, (no samsara or nirvana)
FU ZO FU GEN
no gain, no loss.
ZE KO KU CHU
Emptiness has
MU SHIKI MU JU SO GYO SHIKI
no form, feel, see, think, nor mind, (5 skhandas)
MU GEN NI BI ZETSU SHIN NI
no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind (6 senses)
MU SHIKI SHO KO MI SOKU HO
no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, thing.
MU GEN KAI NAI SHI
No vision on to
MU I SHIKI KAI
no mind to think. (18 sense constituents)
MU MU-MYO YAKU MU MU-MYO JIN
No delusion, no making bright,
NAI SHI
so forth to
MU RO SHI
no age and death, (12 interdependent links).
YAKU MU RO SHI JIN
No conquering age and death.
MU KU SHU METSU DO
No pain, cause, cure, path (4 noble truths about life)
MU CHI YAKU MU TOKU
No wisdom to gain.
I MU SHO TOK-KO
Nothing to attain,
BO-DAI-SAT-TA E
Enlightened ones know
HAN-NYA HA-RA-MI-TA KO
transcendent wisdom is key.
SHIN MU KE GE
Mind is no block.
MU KE GE KO MU U KU FU
With no blocks there are no more fears.
ON RI IS-SAI TEN DO MU SO
On beyond delusion’s pull, to
KU GYO NE-HAN
enlightenment.
SAN ZE SHO BUTSU E
All enlightened ones (of 3 worlds and times)
HAN-NYA HA-RA-MI-TA
grasp transcendent wisdom,
KO TOKU
so attain
A-NOKU-TA-RA SAN-MYAKU SAN BO DAI KO
perfect supreme unsurpassed enlightenment.
CHI HAN-NYA HA-RA-MI-TA
Perfect wisdom is found in the
ZE DAI JIN SHU
great divine phrase,
ZE DAI MYO SHU
great bright mantra,
ZE MU-JO SHU
unsurpassed phrase,
ZE MU-TO-DO SHU
matchless mantra phrase,
NO JO IS-SAI KU
that ends all suffering
SHIN-JITSU FU KO KO
All truth, nothing false.
SETSU HAN-NYA HA-RA-MI-TA SHU
Transcendental wisdom mantra
SOKU SETSU SHU WATSU
is the mantra that goes:
GYA-TEI GYA-TEI HA-RA GYA-TEI
“Go-ing, go-ing, go-ing be-yond,
HA-RA SO GYA-TEI BO-JI SO-WA-KA
go-ing on beyond, awakened to all.”
HAN-NYA SHIN KYO
Heart of Wisdom

Interpretation of enlightened truth; the “heart” of the teaching on the great perfection of transcendent wisdom
The bodhisattva Kannon, personifying the power of objective observation as an influence leading to enlightenment, meditated deeply on prajna-paramita perfection of transcendent wisdom, and realized the five psychophysical components of conscious living are “empty of inherent existence”. The five components of human life do not exist as independent and isolated “things” in and of themselves. Their qualities are determined by their conditional interdependency with countless other things and qualities arising from relative reality through causes and consequences. Kannon as objective observation realized that knowing this deepest truth could relieve all suffering.

This objective observation dawned on the seeker Shariputra as a message from Kannon. The message was that form, or the relative reality appearance of things, is not different from absolute emptiness of inherent existence as the potential to take any form. Emptiness of inherent existence, or the absolute as basis of all potential manifestation, is not different from form. Form is the way to experience emptiness. Emptiness is the underlying essence of form.
The other four aspects of human existence – feeling, perception, intention, and consciousness – are likewise empty of inherent existence and are in no way set things in and of themselves. We may like to think, “I am who I am,” but the truth is that every one of the aspects that makes us who we are could have been even slightly different, resulting in a blend producing a far different “me” than we now know. All of life is malleable; nothing is set.

Shariputra got the message that this emptiness of inherent existence, or malleability due to interdependence with countless other provisional influences, is the essential characteristic of all phenomena. All things subjective or objective – people, objects, situations, conditions, qualities – appear as a result of countless influences and components coming together as constructs and being given a label. In ultimate reality (emptiness of inherent, independent existence) no things take birth created out of nothing. Likewise, they do not really die or vanish; they go on as influences as part of a process actively creating new phenomena. It cannot be said that they are impure, nor free from impurity; such labels are relative. It cannot be said that they are increasing, nor decreasing; such measurements are relative.

Therefore, in emptiness there is lack of form, feelings, perceptions, intentions, or consciousness as self-existing things in and of themselves. This is not to argue that things do not exist; this is a statement that things cannot exist as stand-alone entities. All aspects of all things are what they are because they were part of a process. Because they were part of a process, they could have ended up as so many different things if any part of that process had been different.

We think we can believe in what we experience, but our basis for experience is the result of all sorts of influences that have molded us to this point. There is “no” eye, ear, nose, tongue, touch, or mind to sense as such, if we look closely. All of these organs are interpreters made up of and dependent upon their constituent parts along with other influences. Likewise there is really “no” color, sound, smell, taste, touch, or object to be sensed. All of these “things” are stimuli that trigger the interpretation of the mind once they have passed through the filters of the senses. We could also say that there is no faculty of sight, hearing, and so forth because all of these too are made up of aspects of and influences by physical structure, feelings, habit, memory, and so on.

We think we understand and can explain why we experience what we do, but our basis for understanding comes from all sorts of influences molding our way of thinking. Even the venerable “Twelve-fold steps of interdependence” is provisional. Ultimately there is no ignorance, as well as no need for extinction of ignorance, and so forth through the twelve-fold chain of dependent arising to the supposedly final effect of no old age and death, as well as no need for eliminating old age and death. All of these steps are qualified by how we interpret what we know as the process of cause and effect.

We think we can get a grasp of why life works the way it does, but even in wisdom there is the truth that all things are empty of inherent existence. Even the Buddhist Four Ultimate Truths about how life feels were, are, and will be subject to influence. Therefore, we must admit that in fact there is no suffering, origin, cessation, or path to enlightened liberation. There is ultimately no wisdom, also no lack of the attainment of wisdom.

Because nothing needs to be attained, an awakened being can rest assured in the intrinsic truth of prajna-paramita perfection of transcendent wisdom. Without delusions, the mind ceases to build walls as obstacles. When there are no obstructing walls boxing in how things must be defined, there is no defensive fear. Without fear, and the resultant need to “be right” that prompts fear, we are free to transcend erroneous views, beliefs, hopes, and convictions, and we can go on to attain nirvana, the “enlightened realization of the emptiness of all things”. Because as a part of their inherent nature, all awakened beings have in the past, do now, and will in the future rely on the perfection of transcendent wisdom, they can accomplish the breakthrough to the attainment of perfect supreme unsurpassed enlightenment.

The essence of pranja-paramita transcendent wisdom is summed up in a great divine mantra, a great bright mantra, an unsurpassed mantra, an incomparable mantra, a mantra that holds the power to break through all confusion and relieve all suffering. Because it is the essence of truth, no part of the mantra can be twisted around to contradict what is highest or deepest truth.

The transcendent wisdom mantra reminds us, “Onward, ever onward, completely ever onward, over to the other side to the enlightened peace that transcends all understanding!”

Here and now, truth looks this way. However, once you grow beyond and transcend the limitations of your current views and beliefs and labels, truth will be bigger. It will look different. You will then be “over there”, and will be able to look back on “now” with higher understanding. This is the Heart of the Transcendent Wisdom teaching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *