The Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra
(with Annotation)


page 3

No form, feeling ... : This negation of the five skandhas is to point out that the superficial appearance and characters we are familiar with actually have no intrinsic substance. Form (physical matter) is energy, its appearance is an illusion of the perceiver; feelings are subjective, conceptions are mind-made, volition (will, intent which lead to action) and what we call consciousness are streams of thought based on deluded understanding of reality. There is no “self” to be found in form, feeling, conception, volition, or consciousness.
No eye, ear ... : negation of the six senses. Used to perceive and understand the world, they actually mislead and limit our perception.
No form, sound ... : the six sense objects are also not what they seem and are devoid of substance.
No realm of vision … no realm of mind-consciousness: negation of the eighteen spheres (six senses, six sense objects, and six types of consciousness, that of vision, hearing, olfaction, taste, touch, and mind-consciousness). The eighteen spheres represent the way the deluded mind perceives and divides the world, and prevents us from seeing the unity and equality of all things.
No ignorance … no ending of aging and death: negation of the twelvefold causal chain (ignorance->intentional action->consciousness->mind and form->six senses->contact-> feeling->craving->grasping->being->birth->old age and death) which explains the dependent arising process of reincarnation. From the view of absolute reality, the twelvefold chain and its elimination (ending of …, which is needed to gain liberation from reincarnation), are also empty. In fact, what we perceive as birth-and-deaths are actually delusions, so suffering is also empty.
No wisdom and no attainment: wisdom overcomes ignorance and delusion. Since delusions are empty, so is wisdom. Nothing (which we do not already have) is gained by liberation.
By way of prajna paramita …: by the practice and profound understanding of the empty/interconnected/equal nature of all dharmas, which is prajna wisdom, one’s mind becomes freed from all delusions and abides in absolute peace and absolute bliss. This is called attaining nirvana.
There is no fear: fear comes from misunderstanding and ignorance. With prajna wisdom, all fear is removed.
Buddhas: “the enlightened one.” There are many Buddhas in the past, present, and future; all sentient beings can become Buddhas, by practicing prajna paramita.
Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi: anuttara: supreme, samyak-sambodhi: right and comprehensive understanding (complete enlightenment). The state of the Buddha.
Powerful, enlightening …: True wisdom liberates and empowers us. There is no higher wisdom than prajna, nothing can compare to it. There is no higher bliss than what prajna can bring.
Mantra: "true words", also a short phrase that contains much meaning. Mantras are usually left untranslated.
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha: this mantra basically means: go, go, go beyond, go completely beyond to complete enlightenment.


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