The Heart of The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra – W4

“Shariputra, likewise, all phenomena are emptiness; without characteristic;
unproduced, unceased; stainless, not without stain; not deficient, not fulfilled.

“Shariputra, therefore, in emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no discrimination,
no compositional factors, no consciousness;
no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
no visual form, no sound, no odor, no taste, no object of touch, and no phenomenon;
there is no eye element and so on up to and including no mind element and no mental consciousness element;
there is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, and so on
up to and including no aging and death and no extinction of aging and death.

Similarly, there is no suffering, origination, cessation, and path;
there is no exalted wisdom, no attainment, and also no non-attainment.

Small Meditation Session

As usual, we’ll start with a bit of meditation, then we’ll move to the emptiness, the Heart Sutra of  course. I think I told in one of our previous class about the self cherishing mind, or maybe just think about the disadvantages of selfishness – if you think that selfish is good sometimes – also the advantages of selfishness. Because this is pretty much related to emptiness, because of the ignorance towards the emptiness, the selfishness, the ignorance of emptiness induced selfishness, that literally sometimes make us blind, and we are not able to classify which is right, which is wrong. 

Because of that, in this world, there are lot of settings, there are many problems in suffering let people experience. All these problems can be solved quite easily. The ignorance induces selfishness, so let’s just contemplate on selfishness or advantages or disadvantages of selfishness to realize it, to know it better. 

I hope it’s not really noisy over here because there is a bit of noise from my site, so we have to train in this way. But for the beginner, if you are doing some concentration, meditation, it’s better to be in a place where there’s a bit quieter. But to the analytical meditation, I mean, you cannot go to the quiet place all the time to think and to analyze, and also this is not really difficult, it’s quite easier in one sense anyway. 

Selfish mind is what we will concentrate today, or advantages of not having selfishness or disadvantages of having selfishness. Alright, three, two and one. 

[Let’s dissolve in the mind from where everything originates, as I told in the previous class that everything is just a projection of the mind, eveything has been projected by this mind. Let’s explore a part of this mind which is called selfishness, contemplate on advantages and on disadvantages of this sefish mind]. 

(meditation within few minutes)

The Selfishness 

From many angles, selfishness seems to be huge, are huge one of the main causes which brings all the sufferings into this world. All the wars, fighting, cheating, greed, these all seem to be generated from this selfish mind. 

Now the selfish mind itself, the English word, ‘selfish’ means to do something for oneself, then it has a positive and negative. If ‘selfish’ means to do something for just oneself is a selfish, then I would say that all the selfish is not wrong. If you have a scar on your body and then you apply medicine on that, of course, you’re doing it for yourself. If that is selfish then the selfishness has not to be bad, that is positive. 

If you think that taking care of your own family is a selfishness, then that selfishness is good, taking care of your own self is a selfishness then that selfishness is good. But if you’re doing something which harms others in a process that you are trying to take care of yourself or someone that you like or that is  on your side, then that selfish is bad. So all these politics, wars, fighting are the negative selfish. Maybe you’re doing something good, you’re trying to do something for yourself or your country, your place, your house, your parents, whatever it is, but in the way, you are also harming someone to benefit your side, so if we do something which is harmful for others, even if it is helpful for ourselves, then that is a negative selfishness, that is something we need to get rid of. 

Generally many reasons, but if I share some of the things that I’ve contemplated, in this planet, there are really lots of problems that the people suffer. Even the Covid, for a longtime the whole world has been wishing, praying, waiting for a cure or vaccination. Now the world has vaccination, yet many places in this world where people still haven’t got vaccination, there are places where people don’t even have their first dose. 

Even if it takes lives, the negative selfish is playing some parts or some roles in there which is a bit sad. When the world found the sort of vacciation, for example, if one this country found cure like a sort of at least a vaccination, then usally they don’t share with the rest of the other people or the other countries. Maybe it is understandable in some cases, but not when it takes a lot of lives by not sharing that, it is called what? IP, intellectual property, like you don’t share the formulas, how to do this and that, so there is also one of the selfishness is more like you just concentrate on your own benefit, your own profit so that you can sell this which is very sad.

At the current situation, I would say, for example, India, there is many manufacturers, their medicines are in three different places but then still, instead of giving, instead of selling vaccines like many other countries – can just share the formula so that they can just make by themselves, t’s easier and then no worries – even in this State that people are dying, where almost like what a million who have lost their life, but still giving it such a situation, they’re just thinking of business and then they say like “Ah my manufacturer and I’m not going to give you the solution, a composition or these IP, but I would like raise the sell of the vaccines”. And as a consequence in India they don’t have enough for themselves. 

This is again, I won’t say it’s ignorance, because they’re available of these things, but still the selfishness and also a bit of greed in some sense, because all they see is the wealth and sometimes they even forget to prioritize their own people, but for the wealth. And it is kind of sad because it is such  populated country and people live very close to each other, so in such a situation, the chances of people getting infected each other is really huge. But still, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a country or whether it’s a small society level or even among any sort of relationship, as long as there is a bit of selfishness involved it’s very difficult, because you don’t have the sense of other’s well-being. 

And that is where it creates all the problems, but at the same time if we think the negative or disadvantage of selfishness or advantage of not being selfish, there are lots, they’re really lots, for example, our very survival fell very much depend on other’s cares, loves, that’s how we have been developed, that’s how our growth took place. Another care even nowadays the very cloths we’re wearing, the books, the foods, the flowers, the fruits that we consume, each and everything is there because of somebody’s contribution. There are lots of people behind and there is a contribution of many people,  you might have huge horde or weld.

But what’s the point? Without the farmers we don’t get to eat beans or rice, without those who cultivate apple trees or mango trees, there’s no way that we can have mangos. It’s more like because of this selfishness many people can’t see far, they pretty much neglect the source of their own happiness. All those people who contributed to you and then, you create a bomb throwing the people who have been like pretty much feeding you, directly or indirectly. 

If we literally go to the Mars or Venus or Moon and we look back to the earth, perhaps we will feel like there’s much more than the heaven that we are expecting right now. I truly feel those people who go to the moon and spend a week or two over there at the moon, when they come back to the earth, when they see the earth from a bit of distance, I think they see as if somebody seeing a heaven,  they look what can be more there in heaven like we have pretty much everything. Although we have pretty much everything, we are literally destroying this earth, our home, to try to find some other home out there where things are pretty much not as we expect or as we need. Here we have everything like air, water, food, the proper soil where the vegetables and beans and rice and all the grains grow, what do we need. I mean because that’s pretty much all our human need. 

When we have everything over here and then neglecting and literally destroying all these, forest and polluted water, polluted air and everything for the purpose is to try to find somewhere you can run. We literally have enough! So these are all pretty much partially greed, partially ignorant, partially selfish. When there are lots of problems that people experience in this world, they can literally be solved easily by a bit of collaboration or sense of altruism, sense of concern about other’s well-being. 

There are some issues which is quite difficult like earthquake, or maybe some floods in some way, it’s very much understandable, even most of the floods are very much avoidable, but there is more human met. So many of these things or problems and then sufferings that they experience in this life can be  solved, yet we pretty much neglected. 

It’s pretty much a sort of ignorance in some sense, because all we concern about is ourselves, that isn’t problem. Among many couples or any sort of friendship or any sort of relation, there is this issue which is being caused by some selfishness. If you start to care other much more than yourself, then there’s no space for any break up, because everyone wish happiness. If you care much more about other, then 90% of the relationship can be saved and many suicides can be avoided. 

This is how we can create a world peace, otherwise just by praying we can’t even turn on our lights. You wake up in the middle of night and you pray and then see if the switch turns on by itself, you  can try on for like 50 years, I don’t think that the switch is going to turn on automatically if you pray. You gotta switch on the light to get rid of the darkness by turning on the light. Just praying, I really don’t know. 

You can learn, I would start with monks, those monks, the priests in every religion, monks in every religions. When they have virus in computer, check if they’re going to pray hall to pray or if they are relying on antidotes, antivirus. You can check if they rely on antidote, that’s a very good lesson for us. I would truly appreciate if a priest has a virus in a computer and then to get rid of the virus, he’s going to the God or Buddha or Bhagavan or whatever it is to pray like “I have a virus out there, you are the one who created everything, you are the one who can eliminate everything, now I’m praying to you, please help me to get rid of the virus”. I would really appreciate that priest, I believe that there is no altruist. That is a very good message and I think that’s something that we should think of. And there is a very big message of life, to bring world peace we also have to walk, there are things that we can do in our own realm, in our own capability. 

If we take just small part then the world is getting better, like one billion fifty is more than one billion forty nine. If you try a bit, the world is getting better, if you become better, the world is getting better. So if everyone gets better, even 25% of the world start to think about other’s well-being, I think we already reach the world peace, because fighting happens when two people initiate, because all the problems in the fightings and everything are not because of one  cause, lots of causes. 

So that’s contributed by many people and surroundings, friends and so on. So if even one part of that is removed, problem doesn’t stays as it is, it’s more like the chair has four legs, if one of that is broken, thing doesn’t exist the way it is. Without spending the whole time onto this, let’s go to the Heart Sutra. This is really interesting that even our own happiness is comes from others. So others’ happiness is very much important because we are literally enhancing or helping the cause of our happiness to grow.

The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra (con’t)

So let’s go to the page number 3, we have been how the practice of the path of accumulation, the practice of the path of preparation, now is the time for the preparation of the path of seeing. So it says that: 

 “Shariputra, likewise, all phenomena are emptiness; without characteristic;

So here it explains about the three gates of liberation, and how to train on the three gates of liberation, on the path of seeing. So the path of seeing is the stage where, in Buddhism we have Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, when a person enter into the stage of the path of seeing, one is known as Sangha. That is when you are with the boddhicitta and compassion, mahayana practitioner. At this stage you don’t have any pain and your body change, you don’t have in the ordinary body like we have. This is the third stage, as I said earlier, among the five stages, the path of accumulation, the path of preparation, this is the path of seeing, so at the path of seeing they practice the three gates of liberation. 

Here, the three gates of liberation are the gate of liberation of emptiness, the gate of liberation of attribute lessness, the gate of the liberation of the aspiration lessness. So here, “Shariputra – it’s like the calling Shariputra – likewise all phenomena are emptiness”.

So it sees that each and every phenomena doesn’t exist by its own, and it is just merely imputed by the mind, without the mind projecting, no phenomena exists by its own. So all phenomena are emptiness, this shows the first part, the first gate of liberation which is the gate of liberation of emptiness. 

Then for ‘without characteristics, here it starts the gate of liberation of attribute lessness because here without characteristics which means that nothing has its own characteristics. When the conceptual mind or when the conceptual thought doesn’t project it, there’s no characteristics of any phenomena. These are all created by own mind, merely imputed by own mind or there’s no characteristics which is independent by themselves, there are lots of causes and conditions  which have to be there to form that, so it’s very much interdependent to its own parts and also to the mind which creates it. So without mind creating or mind projecting, mind imputing or without its parts, nothing then there’s ‘no characteristics at all by its own.

unproduced, unceased; stainless, not without stain; not deficient, not fulfilled”.

And also it’s ‘unproduced, unceased, it’s unproduced because we usually say that things are produced, like yogurt is produced by a milk, milk is produced by a cow and so forth, mango from the tree, tree from the seed, we talk about all these produced. So all these are not produced by its own, these grow from there also have to be projected by the mind. So without mind projecting it, without mind, without its own different parts, lots of different parts, there’s no entity by its own. So each and everything is unproduced by its own, truly unproduced by its own, inherently unproduced, that’s what it means,

Here it is ‘unceased, so everything that dissolve, everything that cease to exist is also because of the mind projection, created by mind, happened because of many causes and conditions. And so nothing is inherently ceased or unceased

Here it says the ‘stainless, so the ‘stainlness means even the liberation, even the enlightenment,

is something ‘stainless’. 

First, you gotta understand, the liberation is just when we get rid of the negative emotions, so even the negative emotions are ‘stainless’ by its own. So negative emotion is a negative emotion when your mind projects, when there are lots of  cause and conditions accumulate and also when your conceptual thought projects. So without conceptual thought projecting, even the negative emotions are not stained anymore, is stainless

It is ‘not without stain’, it means it is talking about the liberation the salvation or the enlightenment, and this is ‘not without stain’ by its own inherently not without stain. Yes, it is clean and pure, but it is not clean and pure by its own without depending on our mind or its different parts, these are not inherently without stain. Until here it talked about the gate of attribute lessness.

The next one is the gate of the liberation of aspiration lessness, and that is ‘not deficient, not fulfilling’. So here, deficient is more like the negative emotion, as I said, the darkness can be removed by the light not just through praying. So likewise, these negative emotions can be removed, like the darkness  can be removed by the light, the negative emotion can be removed by practicing on the positive qualities, by practicing on the positive sides, the antidote which is love, compassion, understanding, wisdom, morality, diligence, and so forth. This can be eliminated by that, this cannot be inherently eliminated, because it has to have lot of cause and conditions, mind projection and everything. It is not all that negative emotions are removed, it can be eliminated, it can be minimized, it can be removed, but not inherently removed, it’s no inherently possible. Nothing can be inherently removed.  

Again, ‘not fulfilled, there is no qualities including liberation which can be achieved inherently, it can be achieved without any cause and conditions. Here until this, it shows about the practices of the gates of liberation of the path of seeing.

Below that is how to train on the path of meditation, now this is the 4th path. Here, it says how to train on the path of meditation through understanding the emptiness of elements and sense bases. Now it’s talking about the path of meditation. 

Shariputra, therefore, in emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no discrimination, no compositi onal factors, no consciousness;

Because the three gates of liberation, because nothing inherently exist, nothing exists by its own 

without depending on the mind or it’s projection, that’s why ‘in emptiness there is no form’. It means that when a person realizes the empty of inherent existence, the mind which realizes inherent existence, that mind is not able to see, cannot perceive the form. If the form exists the way it appears, then form should be there to perceive when the mind perceives emptiness of the form. So when the mind perceives the emptiness of the form, mind is not able to realize the form because the form doesn’t exist by its own, as it appears to our ordinary mind, to the mind we realize the emptiness. 

‘…there is no form, there’s no feelings, no discrimination, no compositional factor, and no consciousness;

Here it talks about the five forms. Form here is like the forms are five types, the form is just a name given to the first category of the functional phenomena, and that category includes: the object which you can see, the object which you can hear, the object which you can smell, with your nose can smell, the tongue can taste, the body can feel, so the object of the five sense consciousness. When we talk about ‘no form’, so the form is the object of the five sense consciousness.

It says ‘no feelings’. The feelings are of three: happiness, unpleasant and then the neutral feeling.

no discrimination’ that discrimination here it is again, one of the mental factors which help us to see and to understand or to feel “Oh this is that”, so this is the work of that mental factor  which is called discrimination. So that also doesn’t exist.

no compositional factor’, so compositional factor is like each and every impermanence is a compositional factor.

And ‘no consciousness. The reason why Buddha said ‘no form, no feeling, no discrimination, no compositional factorno consciousness’, there are 2 reasons: one of the reason, there is this sequence because of the subtleness and the gross, the form is the most gross and the consciousness is the most subtle; one of the another reason because of the negative from the point of view of the growth or arising of the negative emotion, because first we see the form, because all attachments  or likes or dislikes we have to do something for general, when we see something nice we attach, when we see something bad we have this avulsion. 

So for that, the form comes first, from the form, when we look at the form then it gives us a feeling nice or comfortable, uncomfortable, neutral, whatever it is.  So when we have that feeling then we have the discrimination, like we pretty much exaggerate “Oh, this is very good. Oh this is not good”. We literally exaggerate much more than the thing that actually exists over there, on the phenomena we pretty much exaggerate, so here it is the discrimination. When we exaggerate then we create karmas, compositional factors like the action of body, mind or speech, with this position or negative action then the consciousness. This is also known as the five aggregates, so here it explains about the emptiness of five aggregates. 

Then after this it talks about the 12 sense bases which are: 

no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
no visual form, no sound, no odor, no taste, no object of touch, and no phenomenon.

in the mind, the mind which realize emptiness, there is no eye, it is not able to perceive the eye, because the eye doesn’t exist the way it appears to us. So if the eye truly exists, then the way that the eye appear is as if it is independent. But to the mind, we truly see the emptiness that is not able to see the eye because it doesn’t exist the way it appears to us. It is not true because the way it exists and the way it appears are different. 

It appears as an independent factor, but the way it exists is independent. The way it appears to us is more like inherently existing, but the way it actually exists is empty of inherent existence. So to the mind we truly see the nature of the eye which is emptiness. When it sees the true nature of the eye, it doesn’t see the eye. So the eye doesn’t exist inherently which is why no eye, no ear, likewise no nose, no tongue, no body and no mind. So here it explains about the emptiness of the five senses, it is eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind so this is six, the five other ones which relate to the five senses and that the sixth one is the mental consciousness, and also it explains no visual form, so these are the objects of the five senses and the mental consciousness.

The object of the eye consciousness is the form, the object of the ear consciousness is the sound, the nose is smell, the tongue is taste, the body is the object of touch and the object of mind is the phenomena, so it not only explains the emptiness of the five senses in the mind, but also it explains the emptiness of the object of the five senses in the mind. 

So after that it  explains about the emptiness of 18 elements. The mind which realize that emptiness also do not see, do not realize, even the 18 elements do not inherently exist, otherwise, the mind which realize the ultimate nature of these phenomena should realize this, so that’s why these are not inherently existing. So it explains the 18 elements, the 18 elements are:

  • The six powers, the 5 sensepowers and the mental power which means the sixth power which    help the consciousness to see the form or any other objects,
  • The six consciousness, the 5sense consciousness and the mental consciousness which is six. Six powers help the consciousness to grow. 
  • The six objects

Six powers, six consciousness, and the six objects become the 18 elements. 

There is no eye element and so on up to and including no mind element and no mental consciousness element.

This has been briefly mentioned, not individually. And also after that: 

There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, and so on
up to including no aging and death and no extinction of aging and death.

So it is like it is talking about the 12 links of interdependence. The way we engage into the samsara and the way we can get rid of the samsara. So all these 12 interdependences are also empty of inherent existence. So

Similarly, there is no suffering, origination, cessation, and path;

So similarly, there is no suffering, no origination of suffering, no cessation and no path, which means here, likewise, it explains the emptiness of the Four Noble Truths that is the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of cessation and the path which leads to the cessation. So even this doesn’t exist by it own.

So even to the mind which realize emptiness, even the four noble truth doesn’t exist because the nature of Four Noble Truths is also emptiness. So to the mind visualizes emptiness, even these four noble truths are not being an object of that mind, the object of realization of that mind, so if these inherently exists by its own then it should be realized by the mind visualize emptiness, but it is not. 

there is no exalted wisdom, no attainment, and also no non-attainment.

So ‘there is no exalted wisdom, now the path which leads to the cessation also is no exalted wisdom. Here it says ‘no attainment and also no non-attainment, so there’s nothing that you can achieve, there’s no achievement that you can achieve inherently. There is ‘no non-attainmentthat is not to be attained inherenly. So here, it is after explaining the Four Noble Truths, it talks about the general exalted wisdom and also the things we say that  “Oh this is to be achieved, this is not to achieve”, but both are inherently existent, it’s just created by the mind, but it doesn’t exist by its own. So maybe we have a time for one question and answer. We will leave it over here for today. 

It’s very good to hear it once and then slowly, this is one of the very powerful sutras, and when you realize, like  anger can be removed by love and compassion or patience. So love and compassion, patience, these are all particular antidotes of this one, anger. So love, compassion, these things may not work for some other negative emotion, but realizing emptiness is effective

for each and every negative emotions. Because if you realize emptiness, it literally remove the base of all those negative emotions. The base of all those negative emotions is the ignorance so you are literally trying to affect the base or the main cause or the root so that those branches which are the negative emotions, just like branches and the leaves are more likely suffering. 

So the root either leaves are suffering and subbranches are like negative actions, branches are more like negative emotions,  and all the stem is more like negative emotions and the root is like  ignorance. So when you realize emptiness, you’re literally removing the root, so then, the whole tree automatically collapse in dry. 

It may be kind of difficult because we all are not really habituated, it’s not like we know this from previous lives. There are a lot of things that we know from when we are born, there’re nothing to be taught like to get angry, jealous, envy, these kind of things are not something that you need to know. And also people when they’re born, nobody teach us how to drink a milk from the mother’s breast which is a knowing because we have turned it millions of times in our previous lives. So these are not something that you gotta learn and also I have heard in the example kangaroo, when the when they deliver a kangaroo baby, the baby knows that it’s gonna get back to the pocket so that there will be a milk and it can survive. I really don’t know what it is called scientifically. 

So there are things that we know from our birth, but these are not something that we know from birth and also  the whole world totally against that, it’s more like the whole world is totally ignorant about this and even if they know, they totally ignore . So it might not be that easy to understand, it might not be really handy, so it requires some thoughts analysis.

The more you analyze the more you understand, the more you understand the more you see the world from very different perspectives. And when you are able to do that, you’re prett much able to do and control your own mind and everything around, it doesn’t matter even if the whole world is against you or whatever it is. 

You will be able to take that very nicely and and you will understand that and you will not lose your own peace of mind. Regardless of how the situation, even if your body is not with you one day, even if your body is like against you, if the body is having cancer, like this disease, even if your body is not with you, who to which you literally cherished, cared much more than anything else in this world. One day this body also can go against us, and at that stage, this emptiness will play the role to keep and to maintain the peace and happiness within us.

Question. Lama, with the five aggregates, likely it will start with the form, for instance, with the eyes we see someone, then we have the feeling, then discrimination,.. finally consciousness ? 

Yes, you’re right, that’s right, so not just the eyes, but ears, because as I said, here the form doesn’t just mean the thing that you can see from the eyes, but here the form is the object of the five senses. And also, even with a blind, the eyes may not work, but the five other senses work or eyes may not work, but then he  can create a form in his mind, he imagines some forms in his mind, so even if the eyes don’t see, he can still have the form visualizing in his mind, I’ll have to ask the blind. 

It is very difficult because your eyes can see only color and shape, there’s nothing that eyes can see if it is not a color, if it is not a shape, then the eyes simply cannot see. So a person blind from a birth, he never have seen a color, he never seen a shape. The shape maybe you can understand by your hands perhaps, and then you can visualize a shape in your mind, but the color, I don’t know. Like to someone who never see a color, how would you explain color? I don’t know. Ah, that’s a very good question, next time, I’ll try to know. 

By the merits that we accumulate from meditating on the disadvantages of selfishness, discussing about selfishness and universal responsibility, and also about the emptiness,

May it helps us to become a better person,
May it helps us to transform ourselves into a better person so that we can help and Influence the world into something better,

May the merits that we accumulate from studying and contemplating such things, may it bring world peace,

May the whole world free from diseases and chronic diseases like covid and so forth, 

May the whole world be free from cancer and all the diseases that haven’t been cured yet, 

May they find a cure and may whole the sentient beings remain in the state of please in happiness, 

May the beings who don’t have food get the  food,

May the being still don’t have water get the water,

May the beings who don’t have knowledge and understanding have knowledge and understanding and together we all may we be able to create happiness in this world peace.

Noted down from the Dharma Talk of Lama Nawang Kunphel on 22 June 2021, organized by”On the Road of Yoga”