04 Dec Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, Part 64
[Series of Master Shen-Long expounding on the Prajna Paramita (Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom) Heart Sutra]
(Last week we ended with, “the ancient people have a proverb: Nothing under the heavens matter until a foolish person messes thing up for oneself. A wise person will never mess things up for oneself.”)
I believe none of you will admit you are a fool.
If you truly ask someone, are you a fool?
One might answer: “Yes, I am a fool.” But inside one’s mind, one will not admit to that.
This is because humans have discrimination and attachment; it is this problem which has extended humans to become more and more vague and have no direction. One has too many sufferings with feeling inharmonious here and feeling inharmonious there, and one cannot dispel and free oneself from the suffering sea. Mainly, one regards the matter overly serious; this is a big problem.
Therefore, if a person wants to free oneself, the only way is to have a mind purified of a defiling illusion, so that at any time and at any place your mind will be unaffected by any phenomena. On the outside when you meet others, you laugh and joke with all and know that all phenomena are unreal. You are very clear that none is your business. This body of mine will be cremated sooner or later, this mind of mine of past, present and future also cannot lay hold of as well, then you set the mind at rest.
As for the problem about the ruling chain of cause with conditional connection which shapes the producing effect with karma, where is it? When you are in the dream, it is there. When your mind is without attachment, then it does not exist. This “without attachment” is to be done thoroughly; attachment cannot be only less than one percent or two percent, one needs to be thorough like the Sixth Patriarch Hui-Neng.
The Sixth Patriarch Hui-Neng demonstrated totally letting go. All of you should read the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch if you have the opportunity; every single word and sentence in the Sutra is entirely about the condition after the Sixth Patriarch enlightened.
Ancient people joked:
For a person who has enlightenment, whatever one does is right.
This is because one who has Prajna is without deviation. An unenlightened one who pays homage to Buddha and recites Sutra, will all be without usefulness; it has only been bounded with good affinity; one cannot get enlightened, and cannot resolve the problems of life and death.
Therefore, you must have full clarity; Buddhism does not demand that you recite Sutra or chant Amitabha. Sutra recitation or chanting Amitabha are all a means. Buddhism is for you to be disillusioned with everything and to let go of all.
Next, we talk about cessation the suffering, suffering must be able to cease. If you have attachment to suffering, then the phenomena of cessation the suffering exist. Now, if you are in the state of no suffering is also no ending of no cessation, then you are successful.
Does cessation the suffering exist? You need to do it by name only.
Is there such a thing as cessation the suffering? No, there is not.
Do we need to hear Sutra explaining? Yes, we do.
By name only as there is Sutra, is the Sutra scripture there? No, there is nothing. There is not a single thing originally.
Buddha Bodhisattva help all living beings in this way; if you want to help a herd of pigs, you need to manifest as a pig then you can help them. If you want to help a herd of dogs, you need to manifest as a dog then you can help them. You need to be in the same form; if you are different from them then they will not accept you. So, for Buddha Bodhisattva to help humans they need to assume human form; Buddha Bodhisattva in the world of Hell or hungry ghosts must be the same form as they are – you need to become their colleague. Therefore, images of Buddha Bodhisattva exist in every form. If you are truly clear with all, then you become a Buddha Bodhisattva.
Thus, when we hear the Heart Sutra being explained, we may slowly experience this for ourselves on the inside. It talks about no or none from the beginning, and it also talks about the “no phenomenon as the impermanent existence nature and the mode of existing” which are no different, and “life and death” are no different.
Why does he explain this way? His purpose is to precisely to tell you to not have attachment to life and death; this is very important.
I feel that everyone needs to have the correct way of looking at life in the universe. Since you are learning to become a Buddha, you need to use the concept of Buddha Bodhisattva to live your life. If you use an ordinary unenlightened concept, as the concept of yourself to live, then it is very troublesome. Your suffering cannot be resolved, your affliction is yourself wanting to do things a certain way, and your future will ripen as you have sown it. The people of Earth all have a shortcoming; they enjoy acting for themselves and suffering the consequences, torturing themselves, and they feel good about this.
The last is the way to nirvana. We have constantly talked about morality, the Way (Dao) is an undefiled living condition. Dao De Jing (The Classic of the Way and Virtue) by Laozi states:
The Way (Dao) that can be spoken of is not the universal and eternal Way.
The way to Nirvana cannot be described with language and words, is under the condition of selflessness.
Therefore, people speak of suffering, cause of suffering, cessation the suffering and the way to nirvana. After having suffered, in the end it accumulates like the sea, where we then need all suffering to be ceased, and after all is ceased then you will see the way to nirvana. Seeing the way to nirvana means to behold one’s Buddha-nature, seeing the inherent quality and the nature of our life.
So, suffering, cause of suffering, cessation the suffering and the way to nirvana does not progress in steps; it is a onetime event. If you know suffering, then detach from the suffering, and after having detached from the suffering, you will be enlightened. It cannot be where there is suffering, and you want to detach slowly, and then after having detached from it, then you will have enlightenment and be fine; there is nothing of this sort. It is the same way with “moral precepts, stillness of mind control, wisdom”; it is not saying: After I abide the “moral precepts” then I am in the state of “stillness of mind control”. After being good with stillness of mind control then I have “wisdom”. There is nothing of that sort. When you abide the “moral precepts”, you have “stillness of mind control” and “wisdom”; all three are accomplished simultaneously.
If a person does not have anger, then this life on Earth is much easier to deal with. Therefore, suffering, cause of suffering, cessation the suffering and the way to nirvana has given us inspiration; if you use Prajna wisdom to resolve life, and use complete rationality to see through life, and furthermore, if you can be joyful every day, would this not be a pleasant thing!
I hope all of you can truly have a playful attitude towards the human world; there is no need to make life difficult for yourself. A beginner may have problems understanding this, but it does not matter, you can try to apply the preceding concept of all materialistic phenomena are not different from no phenomenon as the impermanent existence nature; the fundamental essence of no phenomenon is not different from all materialistic phenomena in your daily life. If you truly cannot experience it, then use the chanting Amitabha method to calm your mind.