The Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra
(with Annotation)


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Annotation


Sutra: a Buddhist scripture, spoken by the Buddha or certified (to be true) by the Buddha.
Prajna: great transcendental wisdom, wisdom from understanding the truth, wisdom that can overcome birth-and-death, all suffering, and enlighten all beings.
Paramita: Perfection, the practice that can bring one to liberation. Literally, "to the other shore." To become a Buddha, the bodhisattva practices the six paramitas: perfection of charity (dana), moral conduct (sila), tolerance (ksanti), diligence (virya), meditation (dhyana), and, most important of all, wisdom (prajna).
Heart Sutra: the short title of this most popular and important sutra. It contains the very essence of the vast body of wisdom teachings (prajna-paramita sutras) in Buddhism.
Bodhisattva: one who vows to become a Buddha and, with infinite compassion, liberates countless sentient beings. A bodhisattva practices all six paramitas (perfections), but it is the prajna paramita that ultimately brings true liberation. Bodhi: enlightenment, to awaken. Sattva: sentient beings, beings with consciousness.
Avalokitesvara: (s is pronounced “sh”), the Bodhisattva of Compassion, who gave this discourse. Known as Guan-Yin in Chinese, this is the most beloved bodhisattva in Asia. The name means “perceiver of cries of the world,” or, “perceiving the originally free self-nature.”
Deeply immersed: deep in the practice and understanding of the profound prajna paramita. It is not enough to understand prajna intellectually; one must practice it with the whole body and mind.
Empty nature: all things are without independent existence, consistency, or fixed characteristics. They are impermanent, mutable, mutually dependent; their individuality is in appearance only.
Five skandhas: : five aggregates—form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness. Form refers to our body, the other four are of the mind. Ordinary beings take these aggregates to be the “self”. When we analyze them deeper, we find no real substance.
Sariputra: (pronounced Shariputra) A senior disciple of the Buddha, known for his wisdom.
Dharma: "Dharma" (capitalized) means the Buddha's teaching, the Law, the Truth; "dharmas" means things, phenomena.
Neither arising ... nor decreasing: By understanding the mutual dependencies and inter-connections of all things, one realizes that all the creation and destruction, birth-and-deaths, good and bad, more and less, etc., exist in appearance only.


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