2016/08/21

The Heart Sutra Session Five: The Nature of Everything Is Emptiness




August 17, 2016 – Gurgaon.


This afternoon the Karmapa continued to examine some of the points that he had talked about in the morning, when he focused on the lines of the sutra: “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Emptiness is none other than form; form is none other than emptiness.” Continuing from here, the sutra names the other four skandhas:
    Likewise sensation, perception, formation, and consciousness are empty.
When Avalokiteshvara explained emptiness, he started with the five skandhas: form, sensation, perception, formation, and consciousness. Using modern terms, we can classify these into two categories: matter, the first skandha of form, and mind (or psychology), the remaining four. All phenomena fall into the categories of these five skandhas. In our daily lives, we focus on material things and also what is in our mind, so the five skandhas are related to our body (the physical) and mind (the mental).
The purpose of practicing emptiness is to remove our ignorance, or misunderstanding, based on our body and mind. And therefore, Avalokiteshvara explained to Shariputra that a practitioner needs to begin by analyzing their body and mind to see that both are indeed empty. Practice, therefore, is not something that we look for outside but we turn our minds inward to observe and analyze.
In the morning, we looked at Shariputra’s question in which was embedded five questions on how a bodhisattva should train. With the subcategories, these five were expanded to eleven, and Avalokiteshvara replied to them all.
With the lines, “Shariputra, any son or daughter of a noble family, when they wish to practice the profound perfection of wisdom, should look at it in this way…” Avalokiteshvara expresses how beginning bodhisattvas should train on the paths of accumulation and joining.
“They should see accurately that all skandhas are empty by nature,” shows that those on the path of seeing will see all phenomena as empty. There is not one phenomenon they do not see as empty. There is not one phenomenon for which they cannot recognize its empty nature.
From that line, through most of the sutra, up to “completely transcending all error, they reach the ultimate nirvana,” indicates that through this path, bodhisattvas gradually remove their intellectual obscurations and reach nirvana.
The following line is: “By relying on the perfection of wisdom, all the buddhas dwelling in the three times come to the unsurpassable, authentic, and complete awakening of manifest, perfect buddhahood.” This expresses the path of no more learning.
The Karmapa then turned back to look at Avalokiteshvara’s key lines that follow the explanation of the emptiness of the individual skandhas: “Therefore, Shariputra, all phenomena are emptiness, without characteristics, unborn, unceasing, without stains and without freedom from stains, without decrease and without increase.” This line shows how emptiness manifests itself, how it comes to the surface.
Avalokiteshvara explains to Shariputra how to make use of the five skandhas to see the true nature, as a lead into seeing emptiness. This is why Avalokiteshvara first speaks of the four-fold emptiness (“Form is emptiness,” etc.) of the five skandhas. It introduces us to emptiness in a complete way. Now, however, there is a problem: How do we come to understand this emptiness? How can we recognize it through the five skandhas? How do we practice and cultivate this wisdom?
We need to know why the Buddha first talked about emptiness. The main reason is to remove our clinging, so first we must recognize how we cling to things. Then we can solve the problem: once we clear away our clinging, we will be able to see emptiness. In the morning we spoke about the path of seeing, which is seeing emptiness. In our confusion, we take the world to be solid and real; we do not experience the empty nature of what appears due to our mistaken understanding. Seeing emptiness refers to a time when we are not entrapped by concepts. We do not see anything that is mistakenly manifested in our minds, nor do we see anything we take to be truly existent.
What the sutra is saying is that not seeing is the best type of seeing. In the morning we emphasized that emptiness does not mean to be completely without something, a kind of void or lack. It means emptiness is not what we think it is. What does that mean? Emptiness does not contain what we think exists. What we think exists, does not; however, this does not mean that something completely does not exist. This means that what we know now from our experience is basically wrong. Why? Because we strongly think that things truly exist on their own. Since this attachment is wrong, all that we see is an illusion, a fantasy. Emptiness is telling us that these illusions are not real. They are fake, and that is why the Buddha calls them empty.
Usually people understand “empty” to mean an absence, a complete nonexistence. But actually, empty refers to the fact that what we now know is an illusion and, therefore, does not exist. This does not mean, however, that the thing itself does not exist. This point is extremely important.
This recalls what Tilopa told his disciple Naropa: “Son, it is not things that entrap you but your attachment to them.” Tilopa means that things in themselves cannot imprison us; it is our own attachment that serves as an obstacle.
There is a key point here: Emptiness is not built on nothing; something that existent is the foundation for emptiness. In other words, because things exist, you can say that they are empty. Due to our attachment and misunderstanding, we do not know the true nature of things. If all the things outside did not exist, then we could not talk about emptiness. If nothing existed, then nothing could be empty, and you could not talk about emptiness at all. It is due to existence that there is emptiness, and not to nonexistence.
In his text Entering the Middle Way, Chandrakirti writes that an ordinary being’s knowledge is based on misunderstanding. How would we know that our knowledge is wrong? Chandrakirti further states that if what we see manifesting is the truth as it is, then we all would be noble beings, not ordinary, and would know the actual nature of things. But the situation is not like this: what we ordinary people see manifesting is an illusion; we do not see the truth of phenomena. In brief, what we see is mistaken and what noble beings see is accurate.
In our lives we often meet with setbacks or pressure, and the Buddhist teachings as well as modern psychologists say that the stress people feel mostly comes from a wrong understanding of things. This can also happen because we think too much. In brief our basic confusion is the source of our suffering and problems.
The above explanation shows that what we know is subjective and does not match with the way things truly are, and in this way we can see that our way of knowing is fundamentally flawed. In other words, it is rubbish.
There are different types of attachment. The practice of emptiness is to dissolve our basic attachment, ignorance, or confusion. What do you think when you hear the word ignorance? Usually we think of it as an object.
The Dakpo Kagyu master Gampopa had four great disciples who held his lineage and through whom his teachings descended. One of these was Phagmodrukpa, who had traveled widely asking many masters about the causes of being trapped in samsara and the causes of life and death. Most of them answered that ignorance was the cause. None of these answers, however, inspired or touched Phagmodrukpa.
When the future lineage holder first met Gampopa, he was eating tsampa (roasted barley flour). Gampopa showed the heap of tsampa to Phagmodrukpa in a way that told him, “My tsampa is more valuable than your realization.” Phagmodrukpa asked the great teacher, “What are the causes of cycling in samsara?” Gampopa replied, “Thought remains in samsara.” This made an instant connection with Phagmodrukpa and he was inspired. Before he had heard a lot about ignorance and attachment, but he did not see how our mind could connect with ignorance. He thought that ignorance is ignorance and mind is mind.
There are three main types of attachment: to the thing itself, to the causes, and to the results. Through these three types of attachment, we are led toward what is good or bad, to the origin of suffering or its cessation, to holding someone or something far or near, and so forth. All the afflictions come from this. Clearly we need to dissolve these three types of attachment, and if we can manage to dissolve their root, they all can be extinguished.
For this purpose, the Buddha taught the three doors or openings to liberation: emptiness, the absence of signs, and being without any wishes. The first opening, emptiness, dissolves attachment to the cause or origin of things; the second opening, the absence of signs, dissolves attachment to the things themselves; and the third opening, being without any wishes, dissolves attachment to the result or fruition.
This third door relates to all our thoughts and plans for the future. In Buddhism, the word wish is understood to mean “hope” or “expectation,” so being wishless is a way to eliminate attachment to a future result.
    After the skandhas, the sutra speaks of emptiness again: “…all phenomena are emptiness, without characteristics, unborn, unceasing, without stains and without freedom from stains, without decrease and without increase.”
The first opening is the “emptiness” here, which works with attachment to the cause. The second opening relates to being “without characteristics, unborn, unceasing, without stains and without freedom from stains,” and this works with attachment to thing itself. And the third opening, being without any wishes, relates to the phrase “without decrease and without increase,” and this works with attachment to the future.
This discussion is more detailed than the earlier one on the emptiness of the five skandhas.
All attachment is subsumed in these three types, so if we can dissolve these three, we will be able to see emptiness. In sum, this part of the sutra teaches us how we can come to see emptiness.
This same section of the text can be looked at under the rubric of the eight profound meanings: “(1) emptiness, (2) without characteristics, (3) unborn, (4) unceasing, (5) without stains and (6) without freedom from stains, (7) without decrease and (8) without increase.”
The first point of emptiness points out the true nature of things, which is different from what we think it is. Taking (2) without characteristics as the result, (3) unborn and (4) unceasing function as its causes. Usually we think of things as real, and further, that these real things are born and cease, so these two points work to dissolve that confusion. We are also attached to classifying things into what is pure and what causes afflictions, what is polluted and not, bad and good, etc., so (5) without stains and (6) without freedom from stains eliminate this misunderstanding. (7) Without decrease and (8) without increase mitigate against attachment to results. Usually we are mistaken about a result and hope that it will be better than we expect, and (8) without increase clears this away. Or perhaps we do not have expectations or hopes and maintain a kind of rigid objectivity, which is also mistaken, so (7) without decrease works with this.
These eight profound meanings show the way to eliminate our mistaken attachment to every little thing. So (1) emptiness is key since what we think exists does not. For an ordinary being to efface attachment, they have to start at its home base. The eight profound meanings are a kind of reverse psychology, showing what is the case through negation, so that we can recognize emptiness.
Most people think that emptiness is difficult to understand, but if you compare it to bodhichitta, emptiness is much easier to understand. Although emptiness sounds profound and difficult, the logic of emptiness is always the same. It is hard for us to understand because of the discrepancy between what we are thinking and what emptiness is; so we need to change the way we are thinking and the sutra gives us many ways to comprehend emptiness and to shift our minds. Once we have some recognition of emptiness, it will become stable because emptiness never changes. It is a truth.
Bodhichitta is much harder to understand than emptiness because bodhichitta is for all living beings; we have to take note of every one, and each one has their own special qualities and differences. There are also complicated causes and conditions in their relations with us, and some people are nice to us, and others, not. Both lay and ordained people can understand this.
In an aside, the Karmapa notes that a commentary states that to be ordained, one has to leave home, and there are big and small homes to leave. Leaving one’s own home is a minor renunciation. However, if one renounces fame, fortune, and all such things of samsara, when you do not like them any more, that is renouncing the vast home—the major and real renunciation.
Returning to the topic of bodhichitta, he said that it is difficult to feel compassion for all living beings. Most of the time we think that having a small wish to help others is bodhichitta, but bodhichitta is not that easy to achieve. This is the first reason why bodhichitta is more difficult than emptiness. The second reason is that emptiness is understood through logic, but bodhichitta is a practice that works with emotions. Analyzing with logic can be done in a more straightforward, confident manner: what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. When it comes to emotions, there are many things that shift them around, and it is also very hard to say what is right and what is wrong emotionally so it is very complicated.
We often think that bodhicitta is easier, and all we have to do is go and receive bodhisattva vows, but we think understanding emptiness is very hard and we have to wait for the lama to give us blessings. But in fact it is not like that. To rouse true bodhichitta requires a lot of practice and we have to accumulate a lot of merit. Of course, understanding emptiness also requires these, but the amount of merit rousing bodhichitta requires ten or a hundred times more than understanding emptiness. We also need extensive practice and training like that of a special squad, which has to deal not with an ordinary country, but with the entire galaxy, and that is not so easy. You have to watch all living beings, keep thinking of others, and put yourself in their place.
We could summarize this discussion by referring to the old masters, who have said that to deeply understand the truth of all phenomena, there are two aspects: profound emptiness and vast bodhichitta.
To continue looking at emptiness in different ways, the Karmapa turned back to the sutra and the lines:
    Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, no perception, no formation and no consciousness, no eyes, no ears, no nose, no body and no mind, no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, and no dharmas (phenomena). There is no dhatu of the eyes, no dhatu of the mind, up to no dhatu of consciousness. There is no ignorance and no extinction of ignorance, up to no aging and death and no extinction of aging and death.
    Likewise there is no suffering, no origin of suffering, no cessation, and no path. There is no wisdom, no attainment and no nonattainment. Therefore, Shariputra, since bodhisattvas have nothing to attain, they abide relying on the perfection of wisdom. Since their mind is free of obscuration, they have no fear….
To eliminate our wrong understanding of emptiness, Avalokiteshvara names many things that we might not understand correctly as being empty. He started out with the five skandhas, which are most intimate to us as they relate to our body and mind. These are the foundation on which Avalokiteshvara tells us that other things are empty, which the Heart Sutra classifies into six types: (1) the five skandhas, (2) the twelve sense bases, (3) the 18 elements or dhatus, (4) the twelve links of dependent arising, (5) the four noble truths, and (6) the merit of practice. These again can be divided into the ordinary or basic foundation, the first three, and the special foundation, the last three.
The Karmapa then read from “Therefore, Shariputra…” to “no dhatu of the mind…” when he paused to relate a story.
In China, he said, there are many mahayana practitioners who know the Heart Sutra and in past Tibet all the ordained Sangha knew the Heart Sutra. In the early days of Buddhism there, the monks and nuns would recite every day after lunch the Prajna Paramita Sutra in 8,000 verses for the benefit of their sponsors. The Tibetans do try very hard. Then a great master came from India and said this was too much and very hard, not only on them but on the sutra as well, which was becoming worn from being passed around so much. It would be best, therefore, for them to chant the essence, the Heart Sutra. There was also the custom in Tibet of memorizing the Prajna Paramita Sutra in 10,000 verses.
The Karmapa added that there was once someone listening to these recitations of the Prajna Paramita sutras and hearing, “no ears, no eyes, no nose, no tongue,” said, “Why don’t they just say ‘No head’?” [Laughter.]
Returning to the quotation above, the Karmapa continued to explain that the first five are the skandhas; the next six are the inner sense bases (ayatanas) or the sense faculties and the six outer sense bases or their objects. Then adding the six types of consciousnesses, we have the eighteen dhatus or elements, through which ordinary beings pursue the various sense objects. Consciousness coming into contact with these objects creates a condition for attachment to arise.
So we can see that the five skandhas and the eighteen dhatus cover all material things as well as our mind. They give us different ways to categorize and analyze them.
The sutra provides such complex topics because people have different abilities and levels of understanding. Some can hear a discussion of the five skandhas and see the link between the mind and material things, the outer objects. They can experience, recognize, and understand the connection between the mind and outer objects. For others, however, this is not enough; they need further explanation and more details, such as the eighteen dhatus.
In his Treasury of Abhidharma, Vasubhandu writes that living beings have diverse capacities of understanding the relation between the mind and outer things, so all the categories are a way to help them. The five skandhas, the twelve sense bases, and the eighteen dhatus are directly related to us ordinary beings, whether we practice or not. These first three are part of samsara and the basic things to which we are attached. Tomorrow morning we will look at the special foundations beginning with the twelve links of dependent arising.

2016.8.17 法王噶瑪巴2016年亞洲講經法席《心經》課程 (5) The Heart Sutra Session Five: The Nature of Everything Is Emptiness

The Heart Sutra Session Four:The View of Emptiness and the Path to Buddhahood




17 August 2016 – Hyatt Regency Gurgaon,


His Holiness began the fourth session of his commentary on the Heart Sutra by reviewing the topics that had been covered in the previous sessions and then resumed his commentary on Section Five, the question:
    Son of a noble family, how should any son or daughter of noble family train, when they wish to practise the profound transcendent wisdom?
The Karmapa skilfully explained how what appears to be one question actually encompasses all aspects of the practice of the Mahayana from the beginning of the path to the attainment of buddhahood. Shariputra appears to ask how someone who wants to practise diligently should train, but there are in fact five questions embedded in this one question.
    • What mind-set is needed in order to cultivate or familiarise ourselves with prajna pāramitā (the perfection of wisdom)?
    • What kind of conduct or actions should we carry out in order to cultivate or familiarize ourselves with prajna pāramitā?
    • What kind of direct realisation should we attain in order to cultivate or familiarize ourselves with prajna pāramitā?
    • Which method of practice should we use?
    • What realisations are necessary in order to cultivate and familiarize ourselves with prajna pāramitā?
These five questions correspond to the five paths, so Shariputra is actually asking how a bodhisattva should practise on the path of accumulation, the path of joining, the path of seeing, the path of cultivation, and the path of no more learning.
The Vajradhara Lineage Prayer expresses the wish: “Throughout all my lives, may I not be separate form the perfect lama. Perfecting the qualities of the paths and levels, may I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara.” The paths are the five paths and the stages are the ten bhumis (levels) of the bodhisattvas who have directly realised emptiness. His Holiness clarified that the difference between the five paths and the ten levels is one of scope. The former is broader and includes ordinary bodhisattvas, whereas the ten bhumis, because they are based on the realization of emptiness, are limited to those who have realized emptiness.
The five paths are graduated and followed sequentially from the very beginning until the attainment of buddhahood. In addition, within each path there are stages: the path of accumulation has three stages (lesser, middling, and greater), the path of joining has four stages ((heat, peak, forbearance, highest dharma), the path of seeing has sixteen stages (or moments), and the path of cultivation consists of the ten bhumis.
Avalokiteshvara’s answer is the sixth section of the sutra. When Avalokiteshvara answers Shariputra’s question, there are in fact eleven different replies in accordance to the different abilities of his audience.
Though the audience listening to the Heart Sutra had higher mental faculties, His Holiness commented, there were still different capabilities, so the answer was given in two sections. The first part was intended for those with lesser capabilities, and the second part was for those with higher capabilities. The second part included the secret mantra itself, which contains all the key points for those of the highest level, who would be able to understand everything directly through a few words.
Avalokiteshvara’s answers correspond to the five embedded questions. The first two of the five questions on the mind-set and conduct have only one answer:
…Any son or daughter of noble family who wants to practise profound transcendent wisdom should view it in this way.
Simply put, His Holiness commented, this refers to all who have the right to listen to the prajna pāramitā teachings and who want to practise. To “view it in this way” means to use four types of meditation to closely examine all phenomena.
The third question on the direct realisation necessary to cultivate transcendent wisdom has an answer in five parts, which relate to these five sections of the text as follows:
    (1) “They should view the five aggregates correctly as naturally empty. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.”
    (2) “Emptiness is none other than form; form is none other than emptiness.”
    (3) “In that way, all phenomena are emptiness without characteristics, unborn, unceasing, without stains, and without freedom from stains, without decrease and without increase.”
    (4) “Therefore, in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, no perception, no formation and no consciousness, no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body and no mind, no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, and no dharmas. There is no dhatu of the eyes, no dhatu of the mind, up to no dhatu of consciousness. There is no ignorance and no extinction of ignorance, up to no ageing and death and no extinction of ageing and death.”
    (5) “Likewise, there is no suffering, no origin, no cessation and no path…”
    The fourth question, on the method of practice, has a two-part answer:
    (1) “Since bodhisattvas have nothing to attain, they abide relying on the perfection of wisdom.”
    (2) “Since their mind is free of obscuration, they have no fear; completely transcending all error, they reach the perfection of nirvana.”
    The final question, about the necessary realizations, has a three-part answer:
    (1) “By relying on the perfection of wisdom, all the Buddhas abiding in the three times come to the unsurpassable, authentic and complete awakening of manifest, perfect buddhahood.”
    (2) “Unsurpassable.”
    (3) “Authentic”
The Karmapa reiterated the importance of shamatha (calm abiding) meditation on the path, and detailed the four stages of shamatha meditation, as defined in the Sutra of the Explanation of the Profound Secrets. These should be practised in sequence.
The first stage, called reflection with concept, belongs to the path of accumulation and is aimed at beginners. Beginners need to extensively absorb, listen and contemplate Mahayana thought and to examine, analyse and affirm the various distinctions and logic. Such a process requires analytical ability, and for this reason it is called “discriminating.”
The second stage, reflection without concept, belongs to the path of joining. The practitioner now practises their meditative concentration without analysis, so it is known as “non-discriminating.”
In the third stage, through meditative concentration and powerful analysis, the practitioner is able to directly experience emptiness. At this point the practitioner’s meditative concentration is the union of shamatha and vipashyana (insight), and is called the path of seeing because the practitioner has seen emptiness directly for the first time, and consequently becomes a noble being. Subsequently the wisdom gained from seeing emptiness is maintained on the path of cultivation.
This stage of meditation is known as the object of the extreme of things, because on the path of seeing and on the path of cultivation the meditator is able to see the true nature of all things, the emptiness (extreme) of all phenomena (objects).
With ceaseless practice, the meditator ultimately attains buddhahood and their meditative concentration achieves the ultimate perfection. Because all that has to be done has now been accomplished, this final stage of meditation is known as the object of the accomplishment of all things.
“However,” His Holiness quipped, “it doesn’t mean that you can retire. There is a saying: Our samsara is a small samsara, but Buddha’s samsara is the big samsara…Buddha can never leave samsara because he is in samsara to benefit sentient beings. Samsara is his office.”
“Why then would we want to become a buddha?” His Holiness asked. “Because for ordinary beings, when we want to benefit others, we may not always be able to do so. Bodhisattvas are able to do so most of the time but not always. Buddhas can succeed in benefiting others all the time.”
His Holiness then summarised the five paths to buddhahood.
From the very beginning, hearing and contemplation is vitally important because we need to stabilise our understanding and knowledge of the Mahayana teachings. This is the path of accumulation. We then need to gradually cultivate our concentration in order to further analyse and examine what we have heard and contemplated. Then, through actual practice, we develop a deep understanding and experience.
This is the path of joining, preliminary to the path of seeing. Once the practitioner has a direct realization of emptiness that is stable, they have arrived at the path of seeing, and then they move along the stages of the path of cultivation, until they finally arrive at the path of no more learning.
“In Buddhism theory and practice should not be separated. We should first listen and contemplate and then put what we have learnt into practice,” he emphasised. “Practice deepens our understanding of what we have learned. The wisdom gained from listening is the recognition of the nature of the afflictions. The wisdom from contemplation is to know how to deal with these afflictions, and the wisdom from practice is to know how to further deal with the afflictions.”
Returning to the beginning of Avalokiteshvara’s answer, His Holiness explored the meaning of the first part of his response: (1) “They should view the five aggregates correctly as naturally empty….” The five aggregates are the very basis for our clinging to the sense of “I.”
In the second part of the first reply, the text states: “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.” Form comes first because it is the container for the other four aggregates. Recognizing the emptiness of form eliminates the container of form, and then everything inside will be dispersed, the Karmapa explained.
The text continues with the emptiness of sensation, perception, and formation. The reference to the emptiness of sensation targets lay people, for whom enjoyment rules like a king. The emptiness of perception is aimed at the ordained, for whom there are different schools of thought, and based on these, they claims for the superiority of their particular school. Sensation and perception are two of the 51 mental factors. They have been selected because they are at the root of the problem. The other 49 factors belong to formation, and the fifth skandha is consciousness.
The second part of the first response reads: ”Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.” These two assertions are safeguards against falling into either of the two extremes of samsara or nirvana. Since sentient beings desire the enjoyments of form, they have fallen into samsara. To prevent them from falling into samsara, they have to be freed from their attachment to the enjoyments of form. However, someone who desires emptiness instead of form would fall into the other extreme of nirvana. An analogy is a blind person walking along a narrow path with a forbidden place on one side and a precipice on the other. If someone were to shout a warning, “Watch out to the left!” they would veer to the right and fall over the edge on the left side, and the same would be true for the other side. The only safe path is to keep to the middle.
The lines “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Emptiness is none other than form; form is none other than emptiness” explain the object of meditation for those on the path of joining.
To say “form is empty” does not mean that form does not exist, but rather that form and all phenomena do not exist in the way that we experience them.
“Precisely because phenomena do not exist the way we experience them,” His Holiness commented, “they have the ability to manifest. They manifest because of dependent arising. From this perspective, we call it form. Whatever form we see is itself emptiness. Other than that there is no other emptiness, because the nature of form is empty, so to look at it from the point of view of its nature, it has never existed. Therefore, in actuality it doesn’t exist but appears to exist.”
To explain this situation, His Holiness used the analogy of the moon reflected in water: The water can clearly reflect the moon, but the actually water never had a moon within it. The image of the moon can appear clearly on the surface of the water, but it is not really there. Likewise, in dreams we see objects clearly but they, too, are not truly existent.
Many people misunderstand “empty” to mean non-existent, but this is not the case. The word empty in this context has a special, unique meaning, which makes it difficult to comprehend. His Holiness concluded by saying that he would continue the discussion of emptiness in the afternoon.

2016.8.17 法王噶瑪巴2016年亞洲講經法席《心經》課程 (4)

http://kagyuoffice.org/the-view-of-emptiness-and-the-path-to-buddhahood/

2016/08/20

Monks intensify stir to press for Karmapa's visit to Sikkim - nezine.com




Ugen Bhutiya
Date of Publish: 2016-08-19



While the whole country was celebrating its 70th Independence Day with fervour, monks in Sikkim celebrated it in a novel way; they celebrated it with black armbands. These black armbands were the sign of despair and discontent against alleged insensitivity and indifferent attitude of the government towards their demand, even after their hunger strike of more than a month.

The monks, supported by the Buddhist communities in the state, have been demanding that the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje should be allowed to visit Sikkim since soon his escape from Tibet in 2000 to India. Since then various cultural and political groups in the state have been raising their voice for it. The monks from different monasteries in the state organized a rally- ‘Peace and Aspiration rally’- in Gangtok on July 10, 2016. The government’s response was not a positive one; it ignored it completely.  Reading from the first signs,  Denzong Lhadey Tsopa, an organisation of the monks, had decided to fast till the demand was accepted.

Karmapa is the highest order in the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Majority of the Buddhists in Sikkim belong to this sect. Rumtek Monastery in East Sikkim is the abode of Karmapa. It was built by 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje in 1966 and was named as Pal Karmapa Densa Shed Drub Cho Khor Ling meaning ‘The seat of His Holiness The Gyalwa Karmapa’. Hence demands were raised to get permission for the 17th Karmapa to live in Rumtek Monastery. But there was a major problem in this demand.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje supported by Tibetan religious head Dalai Lama is not the only one who claims to be Karmapa. Trinlay Thaye Dorje who came to India in 1994 from Tibet because of the threat from the Chinese government is also another candidate for the post. His candidature is no less than the Ogyen Trinley because he is supported by Shamar Rinpoche, the second highest rank in the Kagyu monk’s hierarchy. The disagreement about the real 17thKarmapa has reached judiciary and is presently subjudice.

The monks and Buddhists in Sikkim consider Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the original 17thKarmapa. But now the matter is subjudice,  they changed their demand from reinstating Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa to permit him to visit Phodong or Ralang Monastery for the Drukpa Tsheshi prayers instead of Rumtek monastery. Drukpa Tsheshi is one of the important Buddhist festivals in the state. Since this demand was also ignored, lamas who were in hunger strike since 10 July are now demanding that he should be allowed to visit any place that the government suggest at the least.

The issue of Karmapa visit to Sikkim became one of the major political issues in the State. By and large every political party in the state promised that they will bring him to Sikkim in every election since the year 2000. State legislative Assembly election in 2014 was no way different. The issues is more important for the candidates who are contesting for Sangha seat. Article 371 (f) of the Indian constitution gives space for the Sangha seat to give monks representation in the governance of the State. Only the monks from different monasteries of Sikkim can vote for Sangha candidates. Needless to say, the trusts of monks on the candidate in bringing Karmapa greatly influences their choice while voting. Moreover, the adequate numbers of voters from Buddhist communities make the issue undeniable for any political outfits in the State.

In 2014, State Legislative Assembly passed two resolutions urging the Central government to allow Ogyen Trinley’s visit to Sikkim.

But the present contradiction between the monks and the state government is about the place of his visit. According to the protesting lamas the government is trying to confuse and manipulate the situation by requesting Central government to allow Ogyen Trinley to visit Rumtek Monastery. While knowing that this could not be achieved because the case is in the judicial process, such insistence by the government has desolated the monks. 

Moreover, rather than heeding to the grievances of the citizens, those in power are adding into their misery by eschewing the issue. Various Bhutia Lepcha Buddhist organisations of Sikkim and a Joint Action Committee (for restoration of Democracy in Sikkim) submitted the memorandums on 10 and 11 august respectively to the Governor requesting him to look into the matter. To date no reply has been received from the gubernatorial office.  

While governor maintained the silence and ignored the issue, representatives from the government visited the protestors on 11th August 2016. But the insensitivity and callousness attitude of the government towards their demand was increasingly leading to desperation. The protesters have been sitting on a hunger strike since 33 days in the Bhutia-Lepcha House in the Tibet road, Gangtok. According to the protestors when the ministers visited them they had shown concern on water and electric supplies in the BL house than discussing the issue for which they were protesting.

However, even such attitudes of the authorities could not deter the monks from their steadfast protest. And on 15th of August more monks joined them to celebrate Independence Day with a black armband. They are now planning to the march towards the Nathula, Indo-Chinese border and one of the favorite tourist spot in Sikkim, if authorities continued such attitudes. And for the government the need of an hour is that it should understand the situation and start the real dialogue with these monks rather than beating around the bush.







Ugen Bhutiya  
(Ugen Bhutiya is a Doctoral Fellow at the Department of History, Sikkim university. He can be reached at bhutiaups@gmail.com )


2016/08/19

Writing from the Heart



August 16, 2016 – Gurgaon, India


Following the advice of the Gyalwang Karmapa to practice the ten Dharma Activities, this evening everyone gathered again in the main hall to practice the first one: writing out the letters of the Dharma. On the tables in front of every cushion was an elegant, accordion-pleated book. It contained facsimiles of the Karmapa’s calligraphy in Chinese, including the Heart Sutra and the Praises of the Thirty-Five Buddhas. The texts had been screened so that the letters appeared in a soft shade of grey, giving a model to be copied over with the calligraphy pen set next to the book.
For over an hour the hall was filled with the spacious melody of a classical stringed instrument and the feeling of intense concentration as one nun reminded people to write from their heart. Part way through, the Karmapa entered the hall and walked down the main aisle, stopping now and then to look at people’s work. He took his seat on the stage and wrote out a copy of the sutra as well, giving a special blessing to the occasion.

2016.8.16 The Heart Sutra Session Three: How to Truly Practice the Heart Sutra?

http://kagyuoffice.org/writing-from-the-heart/

The Heart Sutra Session Three: How to Truly Practice the Heart Sutra?




August 16, 2016 – Gurgaon, HY, India


This afternoon, the Karmapa continued to discuss the eight sections and focused on the fifth point, the question Shariputra posed:
    Son of a noble family, how should any son or daughter of a noble family train when they wish to practice the profound perfection of wisdom?
The Karmapa narrowed his discussion to two phrases from this sentence: “son or daughter of a noble family” and the “wish to practice.” From the first, “son or daughter of a noble family” (in Sanskrit kulaputra and kuladuhitā), he selected the word family, which actually means “caste” in Sanskrit, while in a Buddhist context, it refers to those born into the mahayana who have become the Buddha’s child, hence son or daughter of the Buddha’s family or lineage. In a commentary on the Heart Sutras, Haribhadra states that “family” here indicates the qualities of being able to be enlightened, so “caste” refers to a person who can perfectly engage and practice that potential.
Even now it is an Indian custom to emphasize the cast system. Among themselves, members of certain castes will address each other as “Son or daughter of a noble family.” Since this type of polite address is part of an ancient Indian custom, Atisha states in his commentary on the Heart of Wisdom Sutra that “son or daughter of a family” refers to those who are focused on enlightenment: These individuals “wish to practice the profound perfection of wisdom” with the goal of becoming fully awakened. They have the aspiration to practice, but are not on the mahayana path as yet, though they have great respect for it and an aspiration to benefit living beings with a connection to the mahayana. Most of the commentators on this text believe that “noble family” or “caste” in this text refer to those born in the Buddha’s family or the mahayana family.
Different lineages define caste in different ways. There are also discussions of the four different types of noble beings—the Listeners, the Solitary Realizers, the Bodhisattvas, and the Buddhas. Further the mahayana, madhyadmaka, and mind-only schools define caste differently. There are also two basic ways of looking at caste through (1) the qualities we are born with and (2) the qualities that we develop.
The Karmapa then looked at the word desire, which he defined as “having hope for” or “wanting to do something.” What we usually know as desire and the desire referred to here in the sutra represent two different emotions or states of mind. In Buddhism, there is a special term for what is understood as an insatiable desire or covetousness. In the abhidharma, desire is set apart and defined differently from covetousness. Desire is a simple wanting, a wish for something but covetousness is a strong clinging to worldly things that cannot be released or given up. Nevertheless we are often unable to differentiate between these two and meld them together. The object of desire is vast and not limited to worldly things or even to the Dharma. The object of covetousness is solely for worldly things, the various kinds of enjoyments related to the senses or between two people.
Merely wanting the Dharma, therefore, would not be covetousness and to want something might not bring suffering either. For example, wanting to benefit others will not bring pain or suffering. On the other hand, covetousness is guaranteed to produce suffering. In brief, desire is more neutral, it can be good or bad, and covetousness is definitely an affliction. Desire is more pure and covetousness is negative. We should not, however, think about desire in too complicated a way, for then it can transform into covetousness, so just think of it simply.
The Karmapa then brought up the term practice. The sutra states: “…practice the profound perfection of wisdom.” Most Buddhists this word a lot. What does it mean? It is hard for us to grasp its true meaning and there are a number of ways to define it. Some writers interpret the term based on the characters themselves and say practice means, “to correct one’s conduct.” Others say it refers to spiritual practice and others think of it as a way to communicate with gods, ghosts, and bodhisattvas.
To look into the meaning, we need to divide the Chinese word into its two characters: Xiu meaning “to repair, correct,” or “to make right,” and Xing meaning “practice, conduct,” or “walk.” Xing comes first in Tibetan (cho pa, spyod pa) and is followed by Xiu (che pa, spyad pa), so the order is reversed from the Chinese. What does this important word Xing mean? It means, “to use prajna (wisdom) to realize profound emptiness.”
The mahayana sutras often speak of three aspects to the Dharma: the ground, path, and fruition. “Ground” refers to the theoretical foundation or the view; “path” refers to the wisdom that recognizes the foundation; and “result” points to the result of this wisdom.
The key point explicated in the Heart Sutra is emptiness, which is the ground of the sutra. But if we look at the text of the sutra, we will see that Shariputra did not ask about emptiness; rather, he asked how does someone practice who wants to practice the profound prajna paramita? His question comes from the point of view of the path; it is based on the path, rather than on the ground or theory.
Why does Shariputra not ask directly about emptiness? Many people come to ask me such direct questions. “What is the nature of our mind?” “What is pointing out the nature of mind?” “Can you point it out to us directly?” They do not ask how to train in or how to realize the nature of mind. They just want me to point it out to them directly. They say, “I do not have enough time to practice. Can you just show it to me?”
Why does Shariputra not ask directly about emptiness but how to train in it? The first reason is that the ground, which is the essence of the mahayana, and the practice of mahayana are intimately connected. As a mahayana practitioner, we need to practice mahayana theory or thought. In other words, we must use the mahayana path to experience the mahayana ground. This means that theory and practice cannot be separated. Often we think that theory is theory and practice is practice and they are not linked at all. We should not think, however, that the Buddha’s theory is a kind of thinking, something conceptual.
Mahayana practice is to experience and realize mahayana emptiness. So Shariputra asked Avalokiteshvara how to train in mahayana method, how to develop and allow mahayana wisdom to manifest. Avalokiteshvara responded from emptiness itself. This indicates that for this wisdom to manifest, one has to completely realize emptiness.
Many students ask me, “I want to have my wisdom manifest.” Or “I’m very stupid, can you make me wiser?” People think that I can do a surgery, open up their brain and insert something like a memory card so they will become very smart. For our wisdom to manifest, the most important thing is our view. If you have the right view, then wisdom will gradually manifest. Without an accurate view or ground, wisdom is not likely to come forth. And we cannot use our mundane intelligence, because it does not resemble true wisdom and does not go deep enough. For true wisdom to manifest, you need the right view.
Here, Shariputra is asking from the point of view of wisdom and Avalokiteshvara is answering from the point of view of emptiness. The emptiness is the object and the subject is consciousness; it is similar to the relationship of a pillar (the object) and the eye consciousness (the subject) that perceives it.
In the first session, we mentioned different kinds of prajna or wisdom. The path prajna refers to the question posed by Shariputra and the nature prajna refers to Avalokiteshvara’s response in explaining profound emptiness. This concludes the discussion of the first reason why Shariputra did not ask about emptiness but wanted to know how to train in prajna.
The second reason relates to the relationship of theory and practice. As a disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni, our focus should not emphasize theory too much, but place more emphasis on how to put theory into practice. When we’re too focused on theory, our brains can get a little strange; slowly a gap will develop between the Dharma and our practice. Questions will crowd our mind. So we have to use the theories and put them in to practice, not just keep them in our heads. We need to use our mind to truly experience the philosophy and then we can clarify our doubts. Putting these ideas in to practice is the best way to clear away our doubts. Therefore, Shariputra asked how to practice and not for an explanation of emptiness.
In the Heart Sutra, we are taught a method to help us work on our mind. What is important is whether or not your mind has been worked on. If we have read many sutras and yet our minds have not changed at all or improved some, then that is a real pity. It is so sad that it makes you want to cry. In another sutra, it is said that theory and thought are but methods that allow us to develop or manifest our wisdom.
The third reason for Shariputra’s question relates to a text of Maitreya, the Ornament of Clear Realization which is highly regarded in Tibet and which treats topics such as the eighteen types of emptiness and so forth. It suggests various ways to analyze emptiness and reveal what is not seen. There are numerous prajna paramita sutras in India; the longest is over three million words long, and then there are those with one hundred thousand verses, twenty thousand verses, eighteen thousand verses, eight thousand verses and many others. In China the longest and most complete Prajna Paramita sutra is the one in 600 fascicles or volumes translated by Xuanzang; there are also the sutras in one hundred thousand and twenty-five thousand verses plus others.
All the sutras present emptiness; they show the stages of realizing it, beginning with an ordinary mind and going all the way to buddhahood. There are many different sutras, different levels of detail and different numbers of verses. The complete stages leading to emptiness can only be found in the longer sutras, such as those in ten or eight thousand verses. The Diamond Sutra and Heart Sutra are shorter, and although they do suggest how to practice emptiness and develop wisdom, they do not relate the process in detail; there is no blueprint on how to become a buddha.
In brief, what we need to know is that the word Xiu means that we need to correctly train our mind. How do we redress or correct our mind? We continue to understand the theory of emptiness but we do not stop there; the theory has to have some effect on our mind. Xing means that we need to train our mind with the method of understanding emptiness. We use the wisdom from understanding emptiness to train our mind. Emptiness is not just theory; we have to make the understanding of emptiness part of our daily lives.
Maitreya outlines three different activities of a bodhisattva but these would be difficult for a beginner, so someone starting out on the bodhisattva path can practice the ten Dharma activities: (1) writing out the letters of the Dharma; (2) making offerings; (3) listening to the Dharma; (4) being generous, (5) reading the Dharma; (6) memorizing the Dharma; (7) explaining the Dharma; (8) reciting the Dharma; (9) contemplating the Dharma; and (10) meditating on the meaning of the Dharma. Tonight we will start together with practicing the first one, writing out the letters, and write out a copy of the Heart Sutra.
Buddhism has many different methods of practice, but if we do not practice diligently, then they are useless. As was mentioned earlier, the Kadampa masters said that all Dharma needs to be practiced today. We need the attitude of, “Right now is my chance. This very moment I will create my future.” If we do not work hard to understand the mahayana way of thinking, then even if the Dharma is very effective, it will have no impact on us at all.
Following the meaning of the term Xiu Xing, we now know that we should diligently try to understand emptiness. You have come from far and spent money to be here and receive this explanation of the Heart Sutra. The most important thing is that when you return home, you must continue to work hard on getting to know emptiness. This is the true way to practice the Heart Sutra.

2016.8.16 The Heart Sutra Session Three: How to Truly Practice the Heart Sutra?

The Heart Sutra Session Two: Causes and Conditions




16 August, 2016 – Hyatt Regency Gurgaon,


The session began with an invocation to Incense Cloud Buddha, whose golden image beamed down from the screen above the stage. This is the traditional Chinese way to begin all teachings, because when Incense Cloud Buddha lights his incense all the buddhas are summoned to listen to the teaching. Another feature of these study sessions is the recitation of the Heart Sutra in Chinese, sung to a particular musical style known as the Ocean’s Wave: a rolling, rhythmic chant, with descant and alto harmonies, peaceful and soft like the motion of gentle waves on the surface of the ocean.
Previously, in the opening session, the Karmapa had delineated the eight sections of the sutra and commented on the first three: the prologue, the time and the retinue. He now moved on to explore the section on the necessary causes and conditions.
To begin with, however, he gave more details of the story concerning the origin of the name Rajagriha, which some interpret as meaning ‘Rajah’s Sacrifice’. The name of the rajah or king who insisted on animal sacrifice was Vasu. Vasu was a lay Brahmin, but growing tired of the world, he took ordination.
One day, however, a dispute arose between ordained Brahmins and lay Brahmins. The lay Brahmins maintained that sacrificing animals and eating the meat were an essential part of the ritual as set down in the scriptures. The ordained Brahmins contested this strongly. Finally, the latter suggested they consult the ordained Rajah to adjudicate in the matter. But that night the lay Brahmins secretly went to see Vasu, and asked for his support. So, the following day, when the ordained Brahmins asked Vasu whether it was right to kill animals during sacrificial ceremonies, he replied that ritual sacrifice was in accord with the Vedic scriptures and therefore they should. The ordained Brahmins were shocked and asked for Vasu’s own personal view. Vasu replied, “In my opinion, a sacrificial ceremony for the gods must include the sacrifice of animals, but after their deaths they will be reborn in the heaven realm. “
The ordained Brahmins were very angry. They scolded him, called him a liar and even spat at him. Then they cursed him, and immediately Vasu sank into the ground up to his ankles. The Brahmins gave him a second chance. Again they questioned him, but again he said that of course animals should be sacrificed, and he sank up to his knees in the ground. This question and answer continued, until, finally, only Vasu’s head was visible above ground.
The Brahmins gave him one last chance. They urged him to admit that he was wrong, tell the truth, and they would still be able to save him, but Vasu reflected on the humiliation that would entail, and also on the Vedic texts which praised the sacrifice of animals to the gods. So, with his last breath, he maintained once more that sacrificing animals is not a crime. The ordained Brahmins said that they never wanted to see him again, and he disappeared below the ground.
As a consequence, his son moved the capital of the kingdom. It also became the custom before slaughtering sacrificial animals to tell them to lay the blame on Vasu, and this practice still continued at the time of Nagarjuna [c.150-250 CE].
Section 4: The Causes and Conditions which led to the teaching of the Heart Sutra
At that time the Bhagavan entered the samadhi called Profound Light. At that same time, the noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, looking into the practice of the profound perfection of wisdom, saw that the five aggregates by their nature were empty.
His Holiness commented that at the beginning of all sutras there is a common epigraph. This section, however, is the specific prologue explaining the causes and conditions which led to this particular sutra. “At that time” refers to the point in time where the Buddha entered samadhi before he began his teaching. Because the Buddha was able to recognise that the positive karma of all those present had ripened, he knew it was the right time to teach the Dharma, and for that reason “he entered the samadhi called Profound Light.”
The word profound, His Holiness explained, refers to the ultimate emptiness. Vimalamitra asserted that emptiness is referred to as profound because it transcends all extremes of experience. Similarly, in the Perfection of Wisdom in 8000 Lines [Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra] it is stated that “Profound Light” means emptiness. It adds: “Prajñāpāramitā is profound; hard to see and hard to explain.” From this one can see that it is profound because it has transcended concepts and language.
Vasabandhu in his Daśabhūmika-sūtra uses the terms profound silence, profound nirvana, profound emptiness, and so forth. In total, he gives nine explanations for the use of the word profound.
Buddha usually rests in samadhi, the Karmapa continued, and would remain in that state, so there was no need for him to enter into samadhi. The Buddha appears to enter into samadhi from the point of view of other beings. He manifests as entering into samadhi in order to enable the retinue, whose main teacher was Avalokiteshvara, to understand profound emptiness and to understand his thoughts, his intentions and his world. Normally, except for Buddhas, other sentient beings would be unable to understand the Buddha’s thoughts, even the bodhisattvas, but the Buddha has a special power of blessing so that people can share his thoughts. The Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya Vastu states that even ants and insects were able to share the Buddha’s thoughts by this power.
“Samadhi” means a state of focused concentration: letting the mind rest in silence through the power of concentration and mindfulness so the meditator is undistracted by the external environment. The mind is clear, stable and able to rest evenly on an object.
In the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra, it is mentioned that samadhi is the source of all merit in both Mahayana and Theravada traditions. Vasubhandu in his Abhidharmakośa stated that keeping vows leads to rebirth in the heavenly realms but meditation will lead to liberation.
“Without samadhi,” the Karmapa commented, “you cannot even escape this desire realm, much less attain liberation.”
His Holiness then explored the many different meanings of the Sanskrit term dharma.
First of all, it has the meaning of maintaining, and can refer to the maintenance of all phenomena, as they have a self-sustaining nature. Here it refers to the Buddha’s true dharma, a special ability to maintain or sustain itself.
There are many different types of dharma, for example the Two Truths, the Four Noble Truths, the Threefold Training, and so on. But the dharma referred to here is the true dharma of samadhi, and a particular type of samadhi, the practice of profound transcendent wisdom.
The sutra says “at that same time.” Not only is the Buddha concentrating on profound emptiness but Avalokiteshvara has also entered that state. At the very moment that the Buddha entered samadhi, simultaneously Avalokiteshvara entered that state.
Avalokiteshvara is described as “a bodhisattva mahasattva” which means that he is a great bodhisattva who has attained level eight or above in the bodhisattva levels.
…the noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, looking into the practice of the profound perfection of wisdom, saw that the five aggregates by their nature were empty.
“Avalokiteshvara saw the true nature of the five aggregates which is emptiness,” His Holiness stated. “This suggests that if practitioners in later generations are able to see the true nature of the five aggregates as being empty, their wisdom [prajna] will manifest.”
Section 5: The Question
Then through the power of the Buddha, the venerable Shariputra spoke these words to the noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva. “Son of a noble family, how should any son or daughter of a noble family train when they wish to practise the profound perfection of wisdom?”
Both the Buddha and Avalokiteshvara have entered samadhi and now will discuss emptiness, His Holiness observed. “Venerable” is a term of address which shows respect, he explained, and the name “Shariputra” means “the child of Shari.” Shari was his mother’s name, and means “the bird of 100 tongues.” Two explanations have been given for her name. One suggests that she had beautiful eyes like the bird. The other says that when she became pregnant with Shariputra she became very intelligent especially in debate, and so she was called Shari. Vimalamitra’s commentary on the Heart Sutra explains that Shariputra is addressed as venerable in recognition that he has cut through all obscurations.
Of Lord Buddha’s two main disciples, Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, Shariputra excelled in wisdom, thus he was the natural candidate to ask the question on emptiness, but he asked the question “through the power of the Buddha.” Here, the Buddha’s power, out of the three powers of body, speech and mind, refers to the Buddha’s mind.
Then, having received the Buddha’s blessing, Avalokiteshvara, answered Shariputra’s question. This is a very important point because it shows that the Buddha’s sutras may not necessarily come from the Buddha himself, but they can still be the authentic words of the Buddha. The Karmapa now explored the claim from many Theravadan scholars that the Mahayana teachings are not the authentic words of the Buddha, but were composed by Nagarjuna. His Holiness suggested that this view can be challenged from both historical evidence and from the sutras in the Theravadan canon. In early Theravada Buddhism there were two main schools, the Sarvāstivāda and the Mahasanghika.
The Sarvāstivādins said that all the records of the words of the Buddha can be classified into twelve categories : sutras, poetic summaries, prophecies, discourses and verse, intentional statements, contextual accounts, testimonies of realisation, historical explanations, accounts of former lives, detailed explanations, wondrous discourses, and definitive explanations. The most important category to consider here is detailed explanation, which refers to vast content. The Mahasanghika had nine categories, which also included detailed explanation.
In an important, well-known text from the Theravadan Abhidharma Pitaka, the Heart Sutra is categorised as detailed explanation. Parsva, the elder who converted Asvaghosha to Buddhism and became his teacher, also assigned the Heart Sutra to the detailed explanation category.
Further evidence for the authenticity of Mahayana texts comes from references in Theravadan texts to terms linked with the Mahayana, for example the ten bhumis and the ten paramitas, which means that there must have been a source they were working from.
From the historical evidence, research by modern scholars dates the birth of the great master Nagarjuna to circa 150 C.E. and the earliest known translation of a Mahayana sutra, the Exalted Sutra on the Perfection of Wisdom, from Sanskrit into Chinese is dated 179 C.E. From these dates it is obvious that this sutra must have been in circulation in India before the birth of Nagarjuna. So it is possible to assert that Mahayana philosophy and texts were not created by Nagarjuna. This raises the further question of why Theravadan scholars would doubt their authenticity as the words of the Buddha.
His Holiness suggested two key reasons:
• Mahayana teachings are very profound and difficult to understand, and have to be collected buy the great Bodhisattvas;
• The content of Mahayana sutras is very vast, while the lifespan of beings in the human realm is limited and their memories are poor, so many of the sutras were assigned to the protection of the yakshas and heavenly beings and kept in the heavenly realms. The Theravadins were unaware of their existence.
In conclusion, His Holiness stated though the Heart Sutra was not spoken directly by the Buddha, it contains the Buddha’s blessings. Such blessings can be divided into three aspects, those of body, of speech and of mind. The Heart Sutra belongs to the blessings of the Buddha’s mind.
With this, the morning study session came to an end. “Now let’s talk about attaining Buddhahood,” the Karmapa remarked, as he began to put away his notes, and set the scene for the afternoon session.

2016.8.16 法王噶瑪巴2016年亞洲講經法席《心經》課程 (2) The Heart Sutra Session Two: Causes and Conditions

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