Friday, May 13, 2005

The Heart of the Prajnaparamita

Translated by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Bodhisattva Avalokita, while moving in the deep course of the Perfect Wisdom, shed light on the five aggregates and found them equally empty. After this penetration, he overcame all pain.

"Listen, Sariputra, form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form. The same thing is true with feeling, perception, mental functioning, and consciousness.

"Here, Sariputra, all dharmas are marked with emptiness; they are neither produced nor destroyed, neither defiled nor immaculate, neither increasing nor decreasing. Therefore, in emptiness there is neither form, nor feeling, nor perception, nor mental functioning, nor consciousness; no eye, or ear, or nose, or tongue, or body, or mind; no form, no sound, no smell elements (from sight to mind-consciousness), no interdependent origins (from ignorance to death and decay), no extinction of death and decay, no suffering, no origination of suffering, no extinction, no path, no wisdom, no attainment.

"Because there is no attainment, the Bodhisattva, basing on the Perfection of Wisdom, finds no obstacles for his mind. Having no obstacles, he overcomes fear, liberating himself forever from illusion and assault and realizing perfect Nirvana. All Buddhas in the past, present, and future, thanks to this Perfect Wisdom, arrive to full, right, and universal Enlightenment.

"Therefore one should know that the Perfect Wisdom is a great mantra, is the highest mantra, is the unequaled mantra, the destroyer of all suffering, the incorruptible truth. A mantra of Prajnaparamita should therefore be proclaimed. It is this:'Gone, gone, gone to the other shore, gone together to the other shore. O Awakening! All hail!'"
Hail? What's wrong with sleet? Or a gentle snow?

Strange the things we remember. I remember the first time I walked into Widener Library (a library meant to widen your understanding) back in the doldrum year of 1981. The first thing I wanted to find was the Prajnaparamita Sutras. Paul Courtwright, at Greensboro at the time, put the seed in my mind. What wild journeys the mind took thereafter...

Ah libraries! Ah sutras!