The Heart of The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra – W6 (Final week)

Like usual, we’ll start with a short meditation and then we will go through some of the points regarding Heart Sutra in general, then we will go with questions  and answers. So I will be looking forward to have some questions and answers based on the topic that we’re going to these days. And you can storm any questions that you have or find any question that you have in your mind. Yes, I’ll say it in Tibetan so that you can just read in English, so this way you get to see the meaning at the same time you get to hear it in a different language.

(Lama reading the Heart Sutra in Tibetan)

You were really nice to go through the Heart Sutra – in last, perhaps, four- five classes – earlier, quite quick. So there will always be something new to learn about emptiness, it’s quite vast and profound, so we should never be satisfied with this meaning because one can go as deep as one wishes to. Even if aperson go like for 10 – 20 years into the Heart Sutra, there will still be a  lot of places or parts of Heart Sutra to explore. So today we will try to set some directions or maybe we will talk on some points. First, I will talk briefly about how we should see the sutra; second how we can implement, how we can use the Heart Sutra in our day-to-day life or the meaning of Heart Sutra in our day-to-day life.

So first before that I just want to share this because I was reflecting on this afternoon and I  thought to share that whatever sutra you study, whatever sutra it is that you read or practice, you have to make sure that you bring the sutra not just to your mind, you bring the sutra not as an object of knowledge, but we have to make sure that we bring this sutra to implement the meaning of sutra in our day-to-day life, so that is the purpose of each and every sutras. So each and every teachings that Buddha gave is not just there to know, but it is there to know for the sake of transforming ourselves.

At the end of the day, understanding such a profound sutra should be really very much helpful. People say that this Heart Sutra is the essence of all the sutras, so this sutra should be able to transform in a way that no other sutra has transformed us. We have to make sure if it is the essence of sutra, if it is the main sutra, the core meanings or a nectar of all the sutras, then this should be able to bring such a positive result  that we are able to bring. If this is the most special sutra, then it should be able to bring the biggest change within us. So that’s what we have to   expect and of course, as I said in earlier, this is Heart Sutra, the essence of sutras, the reason why it’s called essence of sutras if happiness is all we desire in many forms.

Some people say that “Oh, if I achieve enlightenment that is the happiness and that’s what I want is unlimited happiness”, some people might say that “Oh, I want to be born in heaven, that’s the ultimate happiness and I wanna achieve that”, some people might say that “Oh I wish to be born in some realms or maybe a pure land or in a God realm or any other realm by believing that if I were born there, so that’s when the real ultimate happiness is and if I were born there, then I would achieve all the happiness”, whatever people believe, however  they wish to achieve this happiness at the end of the day.

All it shows is that we wish to achieve happiness, the long lasting happiness and nobody wishes to suffer. If we don’t wish to suffer, if we wish to achieve happiness, then there are things, like as I said earlier, if you need a certain result or let’s see an apple fruit, you have to plant an apple tree. So similarly, if you wish to achieve happiness, then you have to get rid of the sufferings, if you want to get rid of the sufferings, you have to understand suffering as a sort of a bad fruit or poisonous fruit. If you don’t want poisonous fruits, then you have to remove the flower, because every fruit grows after a flower except one or two fruits, it has to be a flower before the fruit grows. So that flower is the negative action, that flower is the negative action, so the branch is negative thought, that branch grows from a trunk, so the trunk is more like exaggeration.

The trunk grows from a root, so that root is ignorance, ignorance of the nature of phenomena,  ignorance of oneself, ignorance of the nature of one’s own mind, so this ignorance is like a root from where the trunk grows, from trunk the branches grow, from branches the flowers grow, from flower the fruit grows, which is what we don’t wish if it is a fruit of sufferings. So to get rid of the root which is ignorance, the only way is through understanding the emptiness, the real nature of phenomena, the ultimate nature of phenomena which is the reason why the Heart Sutra is so very important, and which is why it attains among all the other sutras in such a way and which is also the reason why it is being known as an essence of sutras. Even if you cut the branch, if there is a root, if there is a trunk, the branch will grow again and then flower grows again and  the fruit grows again. So cutting a flower of the poisonous fruit, cutting the branch of a poisonous fruit, or even cutting a trunk of a poisonous fruit is not the best way to get rid of the fruit because eventually it will grow again, unless you transform, unless you remove that ignorance, unless you remove those ignorance, attachment and aversion.

Whatever you do, you go  to the mountain and stay by yourself, you live somewhere just by yourself by thinking that “Oh, this is where I’m gonna achieve all the peace”, you will never be in peace unless you remove that ignorance. Because the ignorance induces the exaggeration and exaggeration let us have the attachment, greed, anger, and so forth and that continuously let us engage in the negativity and that give us suffering even if we don’t wishes to. Some people when there so stressed out, depressed and all these issues, they go to the bar or start to drink drink, smoke or they do these kind of things, it’s more like you’re trying   to just hide. It’s more like the poison in a fruit, if it is harming you, it’s more like you’re just closing your eyes, you may not see it or just pushing it away for a little bit of time, as long as you don’t get rid of that desire to have that fruit.

There’s no way that can help us to eliminate the problem that we face, which is why the Heart Sutra is so very important and which is why it is one of the known sutras among all the other teachings of   Buddha. So by understanding the Heart Sutra and the meaning of Heart Sutra which is emptiness and also by knowing the emptiness, because of the interdependence as the two sides of the coin, it is emptiness, nothing permanently, inherently by itself without dependent on anything exists, that shows that everything is interdependence. So when we know this interdependence, there are lots of benefits, we can apply these teachings into our day-to-day life in all the different ways.

With some points just to touch the point so that you can explore or you can meditate on these points to transform our life and to bring some changes in our life. There are lots of nowadays stress, depression, anxiety or there are many cases of suicides all around the world, unfortunately. One of the main causes of suicide is when they encounter with some really difficult situations, when they come up with some terrible circumstances, when they have such some negative results, when they don’t achieve what they achieved, when they have to separate from things that they don’t want to.

These are the causes why people just lost the whole hope of their life and they take such a very sad step like suicide. The understanding of emptiness and understanding of interdependence help us in a way that there is no difficult time that cannot be changed, each and every difficult time is caused by many causes and conditions, it is interdependent. So when it is interdependent, if one of the causes or conditions collapses, the problem can collapse, the problem won’t be a problem anymore. So there is nothing which exists by its own without depending on any cause and condition, so everything is caused by a cause and condition. So it doesn’t matter how difficult the circumstances is, it can change, it isn’t a nature of change, doesn’t matter how big the negative result, or doesn’t matter how strong you see the failure, or anything, doesn’t matter even if you have to detach from things, doesn’t matter even if you encounter with such a situation which you think that there is no hope, there is no way to change, doesn’t matter how bad or how wrong it is being with you, everything can change. All the bad thing has end, all the worst things has its own way to get rid of it. The way it is, it is more like there is a sunny day after each and every cloudy night, there is always something positive coming out after each and every negative time or a difficult time that you pass through. No negativity is entirely negative, there is  always something to carry on, there is always something to learn, there is always something which is positive in each and every negativity, there is a certain amount compassion in  each and every person, each and every family, doesn’t matter how hard it is on, how hard to get rid of it. Because each and every difficult time is composed of many causes and conditions, so when the conditions collapse the bad things or a wrong time, a difficult time finish.

And this also can imply with or implement towards the good time, towards the time when you are having a wonderful status, a very good high position, all favorable conditions you might have, but we also have to think that even if we are very famous, we are very powerful with some powers or we have a wonderful status or circumstances or whatever it is; doesn’t matter how good or wonderful  conditions you have right now, we also have to think that these are all because of  lots of causes and conditions, so if any of these causes and conditions collapse, we we might not have that situation that we are having right now. You might have the best of health right now when we really never know the next moment we might be the one in the worst condition.

A person might be the richest in this country or in this world, we really don’t know whether we can die at such a   status. Doesn’t matter how nice or wonderful a person look today, you really don’t know how a person might look tomorrow  and also the appearance in this world, unfortunately, many people seems to be so attached to the way people look. This small part [face] of the body, I don’t know what I should say sickness or disease or maybe there is something called ‘Bell’s palsy’ where sudden part sudden part of your face doesn’t function, and at that time it literally falls down. It’s not like we have a product of some  wonderful company who guarantees that nothing will happen for this and  that, our human body is designing in such a way that it can collapse any moment and there is no guarantee or warranty to human body.

So there is nothing to be proud whether is a wealth, whether is an appearance, whether is a name, fame or anything else. So by understanding that to live very humble life, to live by respecting others, to live by caring about others is the best way to live a simple life. I’m not telling all of you to become a monk but just to live a simple life, you can just keep it the way you live, but a simple happier life.

If you be kind to others, even if it is a small insect or a small bird or people who live around you oryour family or friends, if you are kind, compassionate, loving, understanding, no ego, no jealous, everybody will like you, even the birds and animals can sense that. So by understanding the emptiness and interdependence we have to understand that our happiness very much related to other’s happiness. Our well-eing also very much depends on others well-beings because today if all the doctors in this world gets sick, tomorrow oh our small sickness can literally cause all the problems. So other’s happiness is the cause of our happiness. When others are happy and fine and all these things, then the farmers will work, continue work for the bread that we eat, all these people will work to sew the clothes that we wear, all these people will continue planting trees and vegetables so that we can have the oxygen to  breathe and many more.

We can look at our own room,  none of the books I’ve created, I made, I don’t even know how to do that, it’s all others. Whatever we have in my room like there is pretty much nothing that I made or everything that I use, everything that makes my life easier or everything that helps me to do things up quicker any machine.

In earlier times, monks really have to spend a lot of time meditating so that they can literally fly or listen to the teachings from like thousands of miles away, or give a teaching thousands of miles away, they literally have to achieve some special powers to do certain things. Nowadays you don’t need to do any practice, you just buy a ticket and fly to the other part of the world in like 11 hours. So it is all because of other’s hard work. There are many researchers who are doing the research on a single cell so that our cancer can be cured.

There are many people who like literally sacrificed their whole life to try to explore if there is any breakthrough in the cell, I heard that a person who studied about the cell for last 20 years, so that they can try to find a cure to cancer or something, and there are many people who are working over there to find a solution to cure some diseases which are not curable nowadays, for example COVID, there are many people who literally spend day and night, month and month,  year, now more than a year, almost two years working for all of us.

So this is interdependence, that’s why living a very simple life, a kind compassionate life is the best way to live, and this is something that we can learn from the Heart Sutra, from the meaning of Heart Sutra.

And also the emptiness help us, the understanding of interdependence help us – the difference between appearance and the way it exists, the reality and appearance are never the same, 90% the appearance are no reality because we always exaggerate, you can think that all the appearances are not true, because there is always certain amount of exaggeration in there – and also this help us to select a good friend and a bad friend, a good company and a bad company.

Many people that we think: “He’s or she’s a very good friend of mine”, many of them maybe are sugarcoated poison, we have to think whether being with a person help us to progress, help us to be more positive, helps us to be happier, if so you can say it’s a good friend, but being with a person makes us negative, being with a person makes us unhappy, being with a person literally stressed us all the time, then more you can see them as a sugarcoated poison. I know a woman who suicide because she was not happy with the parents, the family and the husband, so much issues and she eventually suicide, that family for her is like a sugarcoated poison, even there is many poisons who don’t kill. So it’s very important to check whether being with the person help us to grow, then you can say it’s a good friend.

If being with that person don’t help us to grow but it literally causes us to be more worse or bad or it causes us to do things which are more bad, which are more harmful to the society or even oneself, then you can consider not a good friend. So understanding of emptiness and Heart Sutra also help us to differentiate the appearance in the reality.

There are some factory products, I won’t name any country or anything, but there are some products which looks very nice on the outside, not only the packing but the thing itself looks very nice, but then it doesn’t last, you use like 3-4 times and then it breaks. There are things that may not look really nice on the surface level, but it is really promising, so this is also something that we can check up from the Heart Sutra.

And also we should never take the whole critique of anything, again because it is emptiness and it is interdependence, there’s nothing that we can do just by ourselves, all the achievement is because of lots of causes and conditions. To give critique to others as well, even if you are a part of that, is the way to live happier life, is a way to solve all the problems automatically. If you are good, you have done something good, people will remember, there’s no need to remind people. So from your side, it’s always good to give critique to others, and also there’s no point of having any ego or pride, of having anything else, there’s no food that is made up one ingredient, there is no fruit that is again made up one ingredient, so like that there is no achievement that has been achieved by one person.

Interdependence also help us to know how important the nature is, how important the others well-being is, how important the inner mind is, because the physical body is very much dependent, so we have to care about involvement, we have to care about others happiness, about the family members, about our own body, about our own mind, because it’s all interdependent, if these things collapse, we’ll collapse.

Interdependence and emptiness, when we say this mantra ‘GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI’ which says that there is a potential in us to become positive, more positive and then positive even more positive and then ultimately we can achieve Buddhahood, until we achieve Buddhahood, we can always progress. It’s just the way, doesn’t matter how bad the habit is, what kind of worse habit you have, you can always get rid of such a habit, doesn’t matter how short temper are you,  you can always get rid of that, doesn’t matter whatever the  negative thing that you have within you, there is always a way to get rid of it.

It may not be able to change overnight, but if you give the time thing can be transformed, thing can be changed, changed and changed, improved, improved and improved. Some scientists may say that you can improve your brain until 2435 whatever. But in Buddhism we have like hundreds of examples which says that you can improve even if you are 110 years old, you can even enhance your brain even if you are 110 years old. So there is always that no time is late to improve oneself, to progress and also to transform ourselves into someone positive.

Cause and condition are the main things, very important, specially when we understand the emptiness and the interdependence because it’s the cause and condition which make all the changes. So because of this we have to care of the causes and conditions. Here, our parents are our causes, the food we eat is condition, the air we breath is condition, the water we drink is condition, our body is pretty much accumulation of something from parents, something from air, something from food, something from water.

So we have to take care of it, not to waste and not to take things for granted, and also it is very important to meditate sometimes on things that you take it for granted. There’re many things in our life that we take it for granted and it is very important to try to meditate and to find what are the things that I take for granted, because remember, there is always a thing in everybody life you take it for granted, so we have to understand what are the things that we take it for granted understanding not to feel guilty but to improve.

And to respect or to respond in a way that it deserves, doesn’t matter whether it’s a air or whether it is a food or the water, we can take care of water, we can plant trees for the air, we can help the farmers and many more. Then, so you can imply it to anything that you take it for granted, because I’m sure there is always a thing in your life that you take it for granted, I do meditate on that and I would recommend the sense to all of you too.

And also one of the thing, when I meet with many people, I have a lot of questions over there  like for example, Instagram, there is some common questions that I find in people which is, they say that “Oh I’m having distress, I’m having stress, stress and stress or  depression or uncomfortable like anxiety and all these things. What are the ways to get rid of those things?”

First, what would I say is when they have these things that literally lost the value of their life, so what I would say that can be helpful that has a relation with the meaning of Heart Sutra, is that we have to think what is the most important in our life? What is the thing which is most important for you in your life? And by thinking that, you can understand those things which are not so important in your life, and because of those things which are not so important in your life, don’t just stress out. There’s no point of being depressed because when you stress out when you depress, you get also weaker to achieve which is most important in your life.

It’s more like to get one piece of Apple, you are literally destroying the apple tree. So by understanding and also to know what is the most important for me, other’s well-being is the most important thing in the life, so when I think the other’s well-being  is the most important thing that I wish to achieve in my life and that is in my life, then many of my problem is already solved, because I see happiness, I find happiness , I see that life is meaningful, the time is meaningful when I get to use it for the sake of others well being.

Many of things which are problem for others is not anymore problem for me. So I think each and everyone of you have something very positive which is the most important thing in your life. So I think it’s very important to activate it again and again so that you can literally eliminate  or get rid of many of the issues and the problems that you have in your life. So I think out time, I’m very happy to be able to share some of the points that I just thought of.

Questions and Answers

 1. Our emotionslike anxiety, fear, stress… how to analyze, to break them down and to find their illusion like nature.
 2. Why do we cry and what does it mean when we cry?

When we have such emotions like anxiety, fear and some strong emotions, try to find where those emotions are and whether you feel such an emotion in some other situation, whether you feel such an emotion or  when it is with some other people, as I said, when the anxiety, anger, jealousy, envy, ego, fear, stress all these things have lots of exaggeration, so try to calm the mind and try to analyze it.

And also the reason why we cry is surely because of this emotion, the one of the positive reasons why we cry is because of love and compassion. There is something very positive and also when we feel like crying very strongly within our mind, the tears rolling out of the eyes is just a way of expressing, that just the way to bring out the emotion that you have in your mind. But the emotion itself if it is positive, because of some positive emotions like love or compassion, this and that, then it is very good, but then we should use that force into solving it. If you think that person is so suffering, that sentient being or the poor animal is so suffering, if we’re crying, we have cried because of that, then we should make sure that when we have such a strong energy, very strong emotion which makes us cry, we should make sure it is very a perfect time to make some commitment to do something for those animals. There are two kind of people, who just cry and wait, but  there are people who cry and makes them stronger and do things for others.

If it is the negative emotions, it can be any negative emotion, it can be like fear, it can be like axiety, depression, stress or suffering or a pain of separating from things that you wish to be or wish to achieve, not getting things that we wish, like this is how in the case of the small baby infants, they often cry when they don’t get what they want. But if it happened to us, then we should try our best to use that force into something very positive.

I know someone who say that in her college many people get jealous on her, earlier she used to cry, cry and cry. Now when she encountered with such a situation where others are bullying her, others are making fun of her, others are getting jealous of her, she go to her room, close the room and read certain book, makes a limit level “OK, I’m going to read like hundred pages”.

So it’s more like you are literally transforming that strong emotion and energy into building oneself, enhancing one’s knowledge, and then when you read like 40-50 pages, you have to go through a lot of meanings and there is also very good for you to distract.

I’m looking forward to have more questions. I would really be happy to go through any of those things. Thank you very much for the questions, thank you very much for organizing the class, truly appreciate. This is also interdependence, each and every one of you is a condition or a cause for this class to happen, so thank you very much ./.

The Note from the Dharma Talk by Lama Nawang Kunphel on 18 Jul 2021, organized by “On The Road of Yoga”.