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The Buddhist Archives of Dr. Alexander Berzin

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The Heart Sutra:
The Heart of Far-Reaching Discriminating Awareness, the Vanquishing Lady Surpassing All

(bCom-ldan-'das-ma Shes-rab-kyi pha-rol-tu phyin-pa'i snying-po,
Skt. Bhagavati Prajnaparamita-hrdaya)
translated from the Tibetan, as clarified by the Sanskrit
by Alexander Berzin, 2004

These words have I heard. At one time, the Vanquishing Master Surpassing All was dwelling at Vulture Peak Mountain, by the Royal City of Rajagriha, together with a great assembly of the monastic sangha and a great assembly of the bodhisattva sangha.

At that time, the Vanquishing Master Surpassing All was totally absorbed in the absorbed concentration that expresses the multiplicity of phenomena, known as "the appearance of the profound."

Also at that time, the bodhisattva great-minded mahasattva, the Arya Avalokiteshvara, the Powerful Lord Beholding All Around, conducting his behavior in profound and far-reaching discriminating awareness, was beholding all around, in detail, like this: He was beholding all around, in detail, the five aggregate factors of his experience and even those as devoid of self-establishing nature.

Then, through the might of the Buddha, the venerable Shariputra addressed these words to the bodhisattva great-minded mahasattva, the Arya Avalokiteshvara: "How does any spiritual child with the (Buddha) family traits need to train, who wishes to conduct his or her behavior in profound and far-reaching discriminating awareness?"

Addressed like that, the bodhisattva great-minded mahasattva, the Arya Avalokiteshvara, addressed these words to the venerable Son of Sharadvati, "O Shariputra, any spiritual son with the family traits or spiritual daughter with the family traits, who wishes to conduct his or her behavior in profound and far-reaching discriminating awareness, needs to behold all around, in detail, like this:

"He or she needs to keep in view, fully and in detail, the five aggregate factors of his or her experience and those as devoid of self-establishing nature. Form – voidness; voidness – form. Form not separate from voidness; voidness not separate from form. (What has form, that has voidness; what has voidness, that has form.) Similarly, feeling, distinguishing, affecting variables, types of consciousness – voidness. It's like that, Shariputra, with all phenomena – voidness: no defining characteristics, no arising, no stopping, no being stained, no being parted from stain, no being deficient, no being additional.

"Because it's like that, Shariputra, in voidness, no form, no feeling, no distinction, no affecting variables, no kind of consciousness. No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind. No sight, no sound, no smell, no taste, no physical sensation, no phenomena. No cognitive source that's an eye, up to no cognitive source that's a mind, (no cognitive source that's phenomena), no cognitive source that's mental consciousness. No unawareness, no elimination of unawareness, up to no aging and death, no elimination of aging and death. Likewise, no suffering, cause, stopping, and pathway mind. No deep awareness, no attainment, no non-attainment.

"Because it's like that, Shariputra, through there being no attainment of bodhisattvas, he (or she) lives, relying on far-reaching discriminating awareness, with no mental obscuration. (Because of there being no mental obscuration,) there is no fear, gone beyond what's reversed, (thus) nirvana release, complete to the end. In fact, it's by relying on far-reaching discriminating awareness that all Buddhas arrayed throughout the three times are full manifest Buddhas in peerless and perfect full Buddhahood.

"Because it's like that, far-reaching discriminating awareness is the (great) mind-protecting mantra, the mind-protecting mantra of great knowledge, the mind-protecting mantra that's unsurpassed, the mind-protecting mantra equal to the unequaled, the mind-protecting mantra completely stilling all suffering. Because of its being not deceitful, it's to be known as the truth. In far-reaching discriminating awareness, the mind-protecting mantra has been proclaimed, ' Tadyatha, (om) gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha. The actual nature: gone, gone, gone beyond, gone far-beyond, purified state, so be it.' O Shariputra, a bodhisattva great-minded mahasattva needs to train like that (for behavior that's) in profound and far-reaching discriminating awareness."

Then the Vanquishing Master Surpassing All, arising from that absorbed concentration, gave his endorsement "excellent" to the bodhisattva great-minded mahasattva, the Arya Avalokiteshvara, "Excellent, excellent, my spiritual son with the family traits, it's just like that. It's just like that that he or she needs to conduct (his or her behavior) in profound and far-reaching discriminating awareness. It's exactly as it's been shown by you for the bodhisattvas, (arhats, and Buddhas) to rejoice."

When the Vanquishing Master Surpassing All had pronounced those words, the venerable Son of Sharadvati, and the bodhisattva great-minded mahasattva, the Arya Avalokiteshvara, and the pair of assemblies of those endowed with all, as well as the world – gods, humans, anti-gods, and gandharva heavenly musicians – rejoicing, sang praises of what had been declared by the Vanquishing Master Surpassing All.