Buddhist Studies buddhist scriptures
Buddha Dharma Education Association & BuddhaNet
» Buddhist Scriptures » The Heart Sutra » Commentary on Text.

The Heart Sutra


This line specifies the Dharma of the Bodhisattva Practice. "Coursing" and "deep" relate to its quality. At one time, one thousand, two hundred and fifty-five bhiksus attained ' the four fruits of the Arhat; they practiced the Dharma of the Small Vehicle which leads to the end of their birth and death allotment. What is the birth and death allotment? It means every sentient being's body is merely a portion, or a part; whether short, long or middle length, the life of sentient being must end. One round of birth and death is referred to as allotment. Whoever practices the Dharma of the Small Vehicle will have the conversion of birth and death even after he/she has come to the end of the allotment of birth and death. What is the conversion of birth and death?

Our distorted thought pattern is the root of our failure to escape to escape from the cycle of birth and death. One of the recognized features of thought is to quiver and to move on, and the pattern and its movement normally neither change nor become suspended as long as there is consciousness. Every thought has its beginning, its duration and its end. Due to feelings, perceptions, volitions and consciousness every thought has its conversion into birth and death. The activity is never suspended, and thus the conversion of birth and death takes place, generated by feelings, perceptions, volitions and consciousness. Every rise and fall of delusive thought marks the conversion of birth and death. If our Dharma practice does not take us back to the truth, we are not going to be able to end the conversion of birth and death and that would hinder us from discerning the Buddha's point of view. To practice Dharma correctly, one should endeavor to liberate one's thought from delusion; the attainment and practice of truth are the means to the attainment of Prajna. Without these, how can we say we are coursing in the deep Prajnaparamita? To end the samsaric cycle, but not the conversion of birth and death of thought is a wisdom that is shallow. The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara attained Truth, thereby bringing the two kinds of birth and death to a complete halt. That is the deep Prajna, the awe-inspiring wisdom: It is beyond discriminating knowledge, has to be, since discrimination is one of the manifestations of duality, or birth and death.

Paramita is a Sanskrit term meaning virtue perfected to the level of transcendence. In the context of Buddhist practice it means to traverse the sea of Samsara, or the sea of birth and death, and reach Nirvana. The words "coursing in the deep Prajnaparamita" attest to the Bodhisattva's practice of all three kinds of wisdom, i.e., listening, thinking and practice; thus he attained the radiant wisdom, or the Ultimate. This paragraph offers description of correct Dharma practice and its purpose is to provide guidance for the assembly, including those who have attained partial understanding and insight.

, © BDEA/BuddhaNet. All Rights Reserved.
home sitemap back