念佛能治煩惱心病
地清法師

一般大眾生活中幾乎都跟著煩惱打轉,從家庭、事業、感情、人際關係、財富、教育、健康到生活品質的追求、個人相貌美醜胖瘦的要求,乃至對時事、政治立場角度的不同等等,在生老病死中所演生出來的種種哀怨情仇,無不充塞於胸,進而煩惱亂心,方寸失維。因此,今日要進一步跟諸位印證念佛對生活中一切煩惱有很大的幫助。

我們都知道,煩惱無明的來由大概都為業障所影響,相信大家都很清楚,煩惱無明現前幾乎沒人有定力放得下想得開,進而排解。可是大家卻不知道念佛的功德有此能力。

怎麼說呢?生活中若肯精進念佛,便可得到念佛的功德力,可是一般人並不了解念佛的利益,也不夠深入,更不肯念佛,因此無法得到念佛的功德。所以圓瑛大師告訴我們佛號能治一切煩惱病。

一代高僧圓瑛大師在其開示法彙中有講到念佛能治一切煩惱的方法。

一、「一句佛名,具有不可思議神力。能治一切煩惱心病。」

這段文讓我們聯想到《佛說阿彌陀經》中,釋迦牟尼佛跟我們介紹極樂淨土四種不可思議的功德莊嚴。第一、極樂國土依報莊嚴,不可思議。第二、極樂國土神通莊嚴,不可思議。第三、極樂國土法音莊嚴,不可思議。第四、極樂國土壽命莊嚴,不可思議。

佛陀告訴我們極樂國土有如是等不可思議的功德莊嚴,但凡夫心地粗劣,著境生相,難能信入,故一時無法接受一句佛號具有不可思議的威神力能治一切煩惱心病。

二、「當逆境之來,心生煩惱,遂即經行念佛,四步一聲佛號,循環往復,念之數匣,漸覺心地清涼,熱惱自息。

當我們逆境考驗,境界現前時,內心生起了煩惱,乃至火燒功德林,這時馬上生起正念,經行念佛,四步一聲佛號,來回反覆,念一段時間後,漸漸感到心地清涼,煩惱心自然消除。

說到這裡,讓我想到過去很容易起煩惱,當下爆發力非常激烈,有時甚至無法做主。有次我又起煩惱,這時一位居士取笑我說:「法師,枉費你那麼精進、用功又苦行,當煩惱生起時也如同魔鬼、煩惱鬼,你的煩惱這麼重,佛號還念得下去嗎?」

這句話如當頭棒喝,內心生起很大的感受,迴光一念,自己在台上每每鼓勵人家說念佛可以消除煩惱無明,結果自己煩惱生起,竟無法迴光返照,提不起這句佛號的正念。當下馬上生起了慚愧心。對啊!自己怎麼不懂得藉這句佛號消除煩惱心呢?

有了這次經驗,體悟善知識一句話的鼓勵,讓自己即時拉回正念很有幫助。一個人若是肯斷煩惱、除無明,肯消這些業障,會有很多好因緣,差別在你惜不惜這個緣。圓瑛大師說,假使我們煩惱生起,逆境障礙爆發,就要有一股正念持名念佛,慢慢透過念佛的加持,心地就轉為清涼,煩惱自然消除。

人難免有煩惱,難免有貪瞋痴細微的障礙,但若肯一念迴光返照,生起正念思惟,就像佛經所說的,煩惱化做菩提,所以菩提心的基礎肥料就是煩惱。一個人的菩提果要能開得漂亮、堅固,必得經過煩惱的酵素肥料灌溉,如同蓮花開在污泥上,外表生長在污泥中,但是自性、佛性、心地並沒有污染,所謂蓮花「吃」汙泥而不染。同樣,我們的菩提心經過煩惱的磨練後,方顯茁壯堅固。

三、「有時事多心憂,更深不能成寐,亦專稱佛號,歷時少頃,即心身安定,便能睡著,無諸夢想。」

人在世間過於追求生活享樂或優越品質,致生活負擔重,又俗事塵勞多如牛毛,難免影響心情生起憂愁煩惱,乃至於影響晚上無法入睡。圓瑛大師教我們生起正念,專稱專念佛號,經片刻後,絕對身心安定,一覺到天亮,不會顛倒妄想。

過去在外弘法因緣很不好,常影響到身心不平衡而生出諸多障礙,乃至顛倒,後來看到這些經法和高僧們的修行風範,繼而跟隨他們的腳步,學到很多好方法。每個人的業力因緣不同,有人善根福報俱足,有人業障重重,因此,我鼓勵他們發大願,將今日一柱香供養佛,一杯茶、一盞燈乃至讚佛恭敬禮拜的功德,利用晚上睡前迴向:

「弟子今日願供香、供茶、供水果、供佛、禮佛、念佛功德,所造一切隨喜功德,迴向給冤親債主、一切眾生及過去現在父母親眷屬,離苦得樂,業障消除。」因為我常在外弘法,受到法界眾生的護持,所以又多一句:「願以今日所做一切功德,至心懇切迴向所見護法者、護持者、布施者、發心者、事故者、病苦者、障礙者、亡者等,離苦得樂,業障消除,同生淨土。」

迴向是布施的一個根本,日積月累就會產生力量。

第二、你也可以這麼迴向:願菩薩加持,讓我晚上心得安穩,不顛倒,精神安樂,一覺到天亮。第三、有個加持的方法較少人知道,你可以持一杯大悲咒水擺在房間,有時房裡空氣乾燥也會令人難以入睡,也有可能你的業障,磁場不好,這時你可以持一杯大悲咒水,不要上蓋,放在房間的桌上,自然大悲咒水的水分會滋潤乾燥的空氣,並且無形中會昇華加持你。

台中有位蓮友,夫妻倆參加大陸旅遊,通常外地的房間乾不乾淨我們不知道,但是他知道我這要領,懂得去浴室拿杯子裝水持幾遍大悲咒,求菩薩加持。結果這趟大陸之旅,他們睡得很安穩,都沒什麼異樣,反觀其他團員好幾位都有夜不能眠被掐的情形。

這是我順便附帶說明的方法,假使你晚上不好睡,可以持一杯大悲咒水,喝一些也可以,但留一些擺在床頭,如果房內有盆栽也可倒一些到盆內,水氣中有大悲咒水就有加持,很好睡。諸位可以學著做看看,甚至如果有孩子或親朋好友住院,因為醫院較複雜,你也可以持一杯大悲咒水放在他身邊,以不打翻為原則,天亮起床可以將其喝下,非常不錯。

四、「當寫經時,一筆一句佛號,精神不散,妄念不起,寫久亦不覺辛苦。」

高僧很有經驗,實修的人、真正用功的人,行住坐臥都離不開佛號,連寫經書也離不開念佛。圓瑛大師告訴我們說,如果我們能夠相信念佛法門,專心稱念不間斷,念到心空境寂,煩惱自然不會生起。大師鼓勵我們一心念佛,專心念佛,堅持到底,自然中我們的心地意境就會愈來愈清淨,愈放得開,最後煩惱自然斷除,道業成就。

非常慈悲,無量壽佛這句佛號圓滿一切眾生,實在功德無量,但願諸位能夠依教奉行,精進念佛,共成佛道。

Ven Di Qing (地清法師) 1.

This primordial ground is present in the mindstreams of all sentient beings, but it is tightly constricted by dualistic grasping; and it is regarded as external, firm, and solid. This is like water in its natural, fluid state freezing in a cold wind. It is due to dualistic grasping onto subjects and objects that the ground, which is naturally free, becomes frozen into the appearances of things.

— Dudjom Lingpa

Magical Nectar: Advice for a Disciple
by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche

Namo!
Gracious Lord of all the Buddha Families,
The nature and embodiment of every refuge,
To you, the Lotus-Born, my jeweled crown, I bow in homage!

If I were to instruct others in the excellent way, who on earth would listen? For I am wholly without discrimination and cannot be a guide even for myself! Still, you see me with pure vision and you did ask. So rather than being a disappointment, I will say a few things as they come to mind.

All success, great and small, whether in spiritual or temporal affairs, derives from your stock of merit. So never neglect even the slightest positive deed. Just do it. In the same way, don’t dismiss your little faults as unimportant; just restrain yourself! Make an effort to accumulate merit: make offerings and give in charity. Strive with a good heart to do everything that benefits others. Follow in the footsteps of the wise and examine finely everything you do. Do not be the slave of unexamined fashions. Be sparing with your words. Be thoughtful rather, and examine situations carefully. For the roots of discrimination must be nourished: the desire to do all that should be done and to abandon all that should be abandoned.

Do not criticise the wise or be sarcastic about them. Rid yourself completely of every feeling of jealous rivalry. Do not despise the ignorant, turning away from them with haughty arrogance. Give up your pride. Give up your self-importance. All this is essential. Understand that you owe your life to the kindness of your parents. Therefore do not grieve them but fulfill their wishes. Show courtesy and consideration to all who depend on you. Instill in them a sense of goodness and instruct them in the practice of virtue and the avoidance of evil. Be patient with their little shortcomings and restrain your bad temper, remembering that it only takes the tiniest thing to ruin a good situation.

Do not consort with narrow-minded people, nor place your trust in new and untried companions. Make friends with honest people who are intelligent and prudent and have a sense of propriety and courtesy. Don’t keep company with bad people, who care nothing about karma, who lie and cheat and steal. Distance yourself, but do it skillfully. Do not rely on people who say sweet things to your face and do the reverse behind your back.

As for yourself, be constant amid the ebb and flow of happiness and suffering. Be friendly and even with others. Unguarded, intemperate chatter will put you in their power; excessive silence may leave them unclear as to what you mean. So keep a middle course: don’t swagger with self-confidence, but don’t be a doormat either. Don’t run after gossip without examining the truth of it. People who know how to keep their mouths shut are rare. So don’t chatter about your wishes and intentions; keep them to yourself. And whether you are speaking to an enemy, an acquaintance or a friend, never break a confidence.

Be welcoming with people, and smile and talk pleasantly. And keep to your position. Be respectful towards your superiors, even when things do not go well for them. Don’t scorn them. At the same time, don’t bow and scrape before the vulgar, even when they are proud and full of themselves.

Be skillful in not making promises that you know you cannot keep. By the same token, honour the promises you have made, and never dismiss them as unimportant. Do not be depressed by misfortune and the failure to get what you want. Instead be careful to see where your real profit and loss lie.

All such worldly conduct, adopted with proper discrimination, will result in this life’s fortune and prosperity and, so it is said, a speedy passage to the divine realms.

If, however, you want to get out of samsara completely, here is some advice that should help you on your way to liberation.

If you have no contentment, you are poor no matter how much money you have. So decide that you have enough, and rid yourself of yearning and attachment. It’s a rare person indeed who knows that wealth is passing and unstable and who can therefore practice perfect generosity. For even those who do practice it, generosity is often soiled by the three impurities and is wasted, like good food mixed with poison.

Apart from the beings agonising in hell, there is no one in samsara who does not cherish life. Now, of the seven excellencies of the higher realms, longevity is a karmic effect similar to its cause. Therefore, if you want to live long protect the lives of others; concentrate on doing this!

Cultivate faith and devotion to the Three Jewels and to your teacher! Strive in the ten virtues and combine clear intelligence with extensive learning. And nurture a sense of personal integrity and propriety with regard to others. With these seven sublime riches you will always be happy!

To gain peace and happiness for oneself is the hinayana approach of the Shravakas and Pratyekabuddhas. The altruism of bodhichitta is the path of beings of great potential. Therefore train yourself in the deeds of bodhisattvas, and do this on a grand scale! Shoulder the responsibility of freeing all beings from samsara. Of all the eighty-four thousand sections of the Buddha’s teachings, there is nothing more profound than bodhichitta. Therefore make every effort on the path, uniting absolute and relative bodhichitta, which distills the essence of all the sutras and the tantras. The subduing of one’s own mind is the root of dharma. When the mind is controlled, defilements naturally subside.

Do not allow yourself to become impervious and blasé with regard to the dharma; do not lead yourself astray. Let the profound dharma sink into your mind. Now that you have obtained this excellent life, so hard to find, now that you have the freedom to practice the teachings, don’t waste your time. Strive to accomplish the supreme, unchanging goal. For life is passing, and there is no certainty about the time of death. Even if you are to die tomorrow, you should have confidence and be without regret.

Therefore, cultivate a real devotion for your root teacher, and love your vajra kindred, cultivating pure perception in their regard. Fortunate are those disciples who at all times keep their samaya and vows as dearly as their lives. They gain accomplishment quickly.

Ignorance, the five poisons, doubt and dualistic clinging are the roots of samsara, and the sufferings of the three realms. To this there is one antidote that removes or “liberates” everything in a single stroke. It is spontaneous wisdom, the primal wisdom of awareness. Be confident, therefore, in the generation stage: appearances, sounds and thoughts are but the primordial display of deity, mantra and primal wisdom. Then settle in the “subsequent” (anuyoga) path of the three specific perceptions, the perfection stage, the state of bliss and emptiness.

Take your stand on the ultimate practice of the Heart Essence — samsara and nirvana are the display of awareness. Without distraction, without meditation, in a state of natural relaxation, constantly remain in the pure, all-penetrating nakedness of ultimate reality.

Dudjom Rinpoche 5.

Unborn, without aspect, changeless, luminous, unequalled, infinite, non-conceptual, without characteristics, just like space, without anything to look at, it is seen by great beings.

— Bhāvaviveka

命運,無論任何時候,我們都有機會改變它
十七世大寶法王

通常,我們會認為命運如影隨形地跟著我們,沒有任何機會改變它,但事實上完全不是這樣,無論任何時候,我們都有機會改變它。所以,我們無須花太多的時間去解釋過去,某人曾經做了什麼,說了什麼,因此他是個什麼樣的人。我們不應該這樣想,而是必須認識每個人都有改變的能力,就像是密勒日巴一樣,他在前半生殺害許多人,造作嚴重的惡業,但在下半生,卻能精進修行,獲得偉大的成就。我們也有同樣的機會,我們需要認識到自己擁有的這個機會,真正把握它,努力善用這個機會,這很重要。

如果我們認為自己沒有這樣的機會,老是指責別人為難我們,這個人對我做了這事,那個人對我做了那事,他障礙我,她障礙我等等,總是期待別人或外在的情況能夠改變,這就好比是當新的政府官員、新的總理上任時,我們期待新的領袖會做出新的改變一樣,總是對外尋找一個我們可以向他抱怨的人、一個可以做革新的人。

但事實上,改變必須從自身開始。我們才該向自己抱怨,我們需要給自己這個機會,如果自己不給自己機會,自己不改變自己,那麼沒有其他人會這麼做,而這是最糟的情況。因為如果是別人障礙我們的話,我們還可以向別人抱怨,但如果是自己障礙自己的話,沒有人會來向我們抱怨,也沒有人會改變我們的情況。

所以,在抱怨別人前,我們首先要向自己抱怨,將這個機會給自己,改變自己。

往往,我們會覺得自己事事不順,遭遇困難,別人具有優勢,總是一帆風順,而無論自己怎麼做,總是無法出人頭地,總有困難,總是失敗,以至於有時我們會放棄。

事實上,遇到困難時,我們不應該將它視為困難,而應該視它為機會。困難愈大,機會愈大。過去許多偉人,都是從困境中出頭。因為這些困難,他們才有機會成為不平凡的人。他們能夠將困難轉為學習、教育和咨詢的來源,真正地用心受教,所以能夠成為偉人。

偉人並不是一出生就是偉人。他們之能夠成為偉人,並不是因為生活幸福快樂,而因為面臨重大的困難和痛苦。一個人是否能夠成為偉人,取決於他如何面對困難。普通人遇到困難,便垂頭喪氣,俯首稱臣。偉人拒絕視痛苦為痛苦,而是視痛苦為機會,從錯誤和困難中學習,轉困難為自己的朋友,利用它來提升自己。

所以,我們不應該將困難視為敵人,而應將它視為朋友。這樣,我們便可以利用它來改善自己。例如,沒有遭遇到困難,事事順利的話,我們就不需要努力精進。如果我們想要修忍辱,但沒有遭遇任何困難,也就沒有修持忍辱的對象。這就好比是有人給我們好吃的東西,我們就好好的地享用,不需要修忍辱,而且如果不享用它的話,反倒是自己的損失。

所以,順境中沒有修持的機會,只有在逆境時,我們才有機會真正展現自己的力量。這就好比是一個柔道高手,如果對手是個普通人,他就沒有機會提升自己的功夫,展現自己真正的力量。唯有對手與自己旗鼓相當,或是比自己還高明時,他才有機會展露自己的功力,或是開創新的招數。

因此,我們真的應該將困難視為是一個機會,它可以提升、增強我們的力量,莊嚴我們。幫助我們展現真正的本色的,正是這些困難。

阻止我們改變的,是我們的傲慢。我們對自己的現況感到滿意、高興,覺得自己贏家,但事實上這是不行的。傲慢在藏文中是獲勝、戰勝的意思,但這裡我們需要戰勝的是自己的傲慢。我們可能會覺得自己過去的表現還不錯,但是我們需要精益求精,更上層樓。如果對現況感到自滿,那麼就沒有改變的機會。

17th Karmapa 53.

The teachings are for living in this world — for having fewer problems and fewer tensions. Many people speak now about world peace. What does that mean? How can we have world peace if we don’t have peace in ourselves? We are each members of society — society meaning all of us together, not as individuals. Since many individuals make up society, it means that the individuals must have a kind of evolution. Although we have power and military might, and sometimes there are provisional changes, in the real sense it never changes.

Society is made up of individuals each having their point of view, their feelings, and their sensations. If we want to develop society so that there is more peace and happiness, each one of us must work with our condition. For example, our society is like numbers. When we count, we must always begin with the number “1.” If I think about society, I must start with myself as “number one.”

— Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

A Commentary on the Heart Sutra
by Geshe Lama Konchog

The subject we are going to discuss today is the most essential point of the 84,000 sets of teachings that the Buddha gave — the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra (Heart Sutra). This sutra has various levels which are called the extensive, the intermediate and the short levels. It is called the most essential point because it contains the condensed meaning of all three levels of the Prajnaparamita sutras.

We will begin with a discussion of the two categories of this sutra — the common and the uncommon. The common category explains the four excellent qualities, which are the explanations of the excellent times, the excellent teaching, the excellent teacher and the excellent disciple.

The root text begins: “Thus have I heard … at that time.” This indicates the excellent time. The place where this teaching was given was Rajagriha on Vulture’s Peak, which was considered to be an excellent place. When Buddha taught this particular discourse, infinite bodhisattvas descended into this world system to receive these teachings. They were the disciples of the buddhas from the ten directions and this shows the excellent retinues that were there at that time.

While the Buddha was teaching the bodhisattvas, they emanated infinite light from their bodies, which illuminated the darkness of the three world systems. The three universal world systems are comprised of billions of other world systems and this was the place where Shakyamuni Buddha performed the twelve holy deeds. We might think that Shakyamuni Buddha only performed these holy deeds in this world and nowhere else, however, in reality Buddha performed all the twelve holy deeds to many world systems — particularly the deeds of providing Dharma teachings.

Since the topic of the discourse on the Prajnaparamita (the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra) is so precious and so unique, the infinite bodhisattvas asked if they could also attend the teachings that Buddha was giving to the different worlds.

The buddhas gave their permission to their disciple bodhisattvas because they made so many offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha while he was teaching them. In fact, the buddhas recommended that while the bodhisattvas were listening to the teachings they were to be seen as good examples and therefore must act correctly. The reason why they were given this advice was because human beings in this world system were not conducting themselves well at all and needed to be shown by example.

So not only was the Buddha giving the discourse on Vulture’s Peak to countless bodhisattvas from the ten directions, at the same time he was able to train and subdue many more disciples. This was a most extraordinary time. It was extraordinarily fortunate to have all these extraordinary and supreme disciples in one place at one time, and they were being taught the extraordinary teachings on the Prajnaparamita, The Wisdom Gone Beyond by the Buddha himself.

At that time Buddha was teaching in the aspect of being absorbed into the concentration of profound illumination. It was while he was showing the aspect of being absorbed into this particular concentration, that a discussion occurred between Avalokiteshvara and Shariputra.

It was due to the power of the blessing that was given to Avalokiteshvara by Shakyamuni Buddha that Avalokiteshvara was able to look perfectly at the practice of the emptiness of inherent existence of the five aggregates. He was then able to engage in an investigation of all phenomena.

Then through the power of the Buddha, the Venerable Shariputra said to Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva, the great being: “How should a child of the lineage train, who wishes to train in the practice of the profound wisdom gone beyond?”

Now, there are many questions within this question, for instance, how did the initial bodhisattvas train on the meditational path of accumulation, the path of preparation, the path of seeing, and so forth? That question comprised many different kinds of questions relating to how the practitioner — whether a beginner, middle or superior being — should train on the path.

There are two categories of beings who should follow the practices of the Prajnaparamita — those who are of less intelligence and those of greater intelligence. For those of less intelligence, Avalokiteshvara asked how he should investigate and analyse the profound view of those who hold the lineage of this particular tradition.

Then the noble Avalokiteshvara replied to the venerable Shariputra as follows: “Shariputra, whatever son or daughter of the lineage wishes to engage in the practice of the profound perfection of the wisdom gone beyond, should do it exactly like this. Analyse perfectly and correctly the nature of the five aggregates, which are by nature empty.”

This is the short answer. Initially he gave this brief answer, then later on, he elaborated on it by saying: “Form is empty, emptiness is form. Emptiness is no other than form and form is no other than emptiness.”

Our physical body is composed of the four elements, the twelve constituents and so forth, and due to the aggregation of all these elements, we are able to label this body “physical”. We are able to say that it is form. However, there is nothing inherently existing in that form from its own side. It is said that the physical form or the form aggregate, lacks inherent existence, but we appear as a physical form. Therefore, the nature of form is equal to the nature of emptiness and emptiness is equal to the nature of form.

These two are considered to be of one nature, yet different in the sense that they are conceptually isolated. This also shows how existence is free from permanence. This is because although the physical form appears, it is empty.

Who posited this physical existence? This physical form was posited by the consciousness. The mind or consciousness posited this physical form, and because the physical form appears to the mind, it therefore lacks inherent, or true, existence.

Due to gaining some understanding of emptiness, we can then eliminate the belief in inherent existence and also by having an understanding of the impermanence of physical form, we can eliminate the thought of eternalism. When we talk about a lack of inherent existence, or say that things do not exist inherently, this itself shows the nominal existence of conventional existence.

From now on the root text describes the practices on the paths of accumulation and preparation. These discussions are based on the fact that we have already generated bodhicitta and we are training in an understanding of emptiness.

The Heart Sutra tells us how we should first understand the importance of having a realisation of emptiness, and then generate bodhicitta. This is necessary because initially we meditate on the seven instructions of cause and effect to generate bodhicitta. We start to recognise that all sentient beings are our mother and by remembering this kindness, we then want to repay that love, compassion and that extraordinary attitude.

When we generate this extraordinary attitude, the unusual thought of leading all sentient beings to the state of everlasting happiness by ourselves alone is generated. At this time, we then investigate whether it is possible to achieve the state of enlightenment. The reason for doing this is so that we, alone, can lead others out of the state of suffering. But first of all we must be freed from that state ourselves.

Then we investigate whether or not it is possible to be completely freed from all suffering. We need to come to the understanding that when we are able to remove all defilements and delusions from our mental continuum, it is possible to get out of cyclic existence, the state of suffering.

Delusions are caused by the self-grasping attitude. When we realise that we can eliminate this self-grasping attitude, we can get out of the state of suffering. We then come to know that defilements are removable and that the state of liberation or enlightenment is attainable.

In the tradition of Lama Tsongkhapa and his teaching on the graduated path to enlightenment, the lam-rim, he says that first of all we need to generate bodhicitta, then follow this with the realisation of emptiness. However, Lama Tsongkhapa also says that we must keep the doctrine secret, so initially in this tradition, this topic was hidden until the practitioner generated bodhicitta.

In our case, we feel this sense of I and on that basis we designate the five aggregates. However, the I or the self is merely labelled and is only imputed on the basis of the five aggregates. There is no independent I that arises from the five aggregates.

Upon investigation, we find that there is no I arising independently from the five aggregates, yet we cherish the I and cling to it more and more, even though it is unfindable. We cherish that I as if it were solid and permanent.

We have this attachment to the I, therefore we accumulate friends who support and benefit us and we generate attachment towards them. We consider those who harm us and provide us with difficult situations our enemies, and we generate anger towards them. This keeps us in samsara, in the state of suffering.

The self-grasping attitude does not recognise the emptiness of the I and cannot realise that it is merely labelled. It grasps at something that is completely non-inherently existent and because of this self-grasping attitude, the object is misconceived. This self-grasping attitude is known as ignorance. This attitude is also called the changeable view or the transient view. As long as we have this self-grasping ignorance, we shall remain in samsara.

When we replace this self-grasping ignorance with the correct wisdom, this is generated initially through the path of accumulation. During this training, we generate the wisdom of hearing the subject. We also generate the wisdom of contemplation on the subject, then due to generating this wisdom, we can identify selflessness. Due to having the right identification, we should try to become habituated with that concept. During the path of preparation, we contemplate and meditate on this.

“Form is empty, emptiness is form. Emptiness is no other than form and form is no other than emptiness.” This refers to the aggregate of form alone. The same reference is then made to feeling, recognition, karmic formations and so forth.

After the part “Form is empty … consciousness are all empty,” the sutra shows how to train on the paths of accumulation and preparation. At this point, emptiness is understood or recognised by applying these antidotes. When we train in emptiness on the path of seeing, the other antidotes, such as the eight antidotes and so on, are applied.

Shariputra was told that all phenomena are empty, without characteristics. They have no defilements and no separation from defilements; they have no increase and no decrease, and so forth. This indicates that those who are training on the path of seeing eliminate the eight types of object negation.

In “true” or inherent, there is no decrease and no increase. The whole eight objects are negated during the path of seeing and we train in developing the wisdom that is required during the path of seeing.

So by telling Shariputra that in emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no discrimination, down to no eye and so forth, this indicates how we should train ourselves on the path of meditation. On this path, the consciousness is one with the object, emptiness — like water being poured into water. There is complete oneness, without duality.

If this non-dual wisdom that only perceives emptiness could also see physical form, then this would be inherently existing or truly existing. Therefore, for those who are absorbed in meditation on emptiness, in that wisdom, conventional existence cannot be seen. If conventional existence is seen by that wisdom, then the lack of inherent existence does not apply. This would mean that there should be inherent or true existence.

Therefore, the practitioner who resides on the path of meditation needs to abandon all obscurations by applying the direct antidote found on the ten bhumis or grounds. For those who observe the meditation on emptiness, all conventional phenomena cease to exist.

At the end of the paragraph it says: “There is no attainment and no non-attainment.” At this point the practitioner who is on the path of meditation absorbs into the vajra-like concentration. Bodhisattvas rely on and abide in the perfection of wisdom. Their minds have no obstructions and no fear, because they have attained the final state beyond sorrow.

At this point the sutra is talking about the different categories of emptiness. Up to this point it is about how the less intelligent practitioners train in the wisdom gone beyond.

By the power of mantra alone, the most intelligent practitioners are able to train in the perfection of wisdom. The mantra of the perfection of wisdom, the mantra of unsurpassed knowledge does not refer to the mantras we find in tantra. It is, however, called “mantra” because it has the same power as tantric mantras. Profound emptiness has the same power and potential to destroy all wrong concepts.

So all these mantras — the mantras that pacify all sufferings, that pass beyond all falsity, should be known as the truth. They have the same power as we find in secret mantras, therefore they are all labelled “mantra”.

By this mantra alone, the most intelligent ones can understand the entire practice:

TADYATHA OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA.

TADYATHA is “thus” or “it is like this”.

GATE GATE means “go, go”. So, go to the path of accumulation, go to the path of preparation. This refers to the two initial paths.

PARAGATE refers to going to the path of seeing.

PARASAMGATE refers to the path of meditation.

BODHI refers to the Buddha. It means going towards buddhahood.

“Go, go to the path of accumulation, to the path of preparation, to the path of seeing, to the path of meditation — go towards buddhahood.”

So, the entire discussion between Noble Avalokiteshvara and the Venerable Shariputra, in condensed form, is included within this mantra.

Shariputra was told to train in the perfection of wisdom, which is the instruction known as the power of the blessings of the buddhas. The instruction or teaching on rejoicing is given with permission to allow others to compose.

“Then the Blessed One arose from that concentration…” This part is said to be a direct verbal instruction. This is to encourage us to follow the practice as it is described in this text. Then we should rejoice, to increase the virtues [merit].

There are two ways to carry on the recitation of the Heart Sutra — one is the normal recitation and the other is the particular recitation done by the Kadampas.

Visualisation for the recitation of the Heart Sutra

The procedure for recitation done by the Kadampa masters is to visualise the wisdom mother at the heart of Shakyamuni Buddha. At her heart, visualise the syllable AH, and surrounding this is the Heart Sutra mantra. While reciting the mantra, infinite light emanates from the mantra. Then imagine oneself and all other sentient beings gaining a realisation of emptiness.

Another method is to visualise oneself and others arising in the form of Shakyamuni Buddha, then offer praises to Shakyamuni Buddha, make offerings and so forth. However, it is still alright to follow the normal way of recitation.

Just by having the conviction that this prayer contains the entire collection of excellent qualities, you can follow the simple recitation.

It is said that if we are able to recite this Perfection of Wisdom sutra, there is a type of substance we can gain that will protect us from being harmed by animals such as snakes, as well as giving protection from spirits and other interferers. They will not come near us.

Verses at the beginning of teachings:

I prostrate to the gatherings of dakinis in the three chakras, who abide in the holy yoga of using space.

By your powers of clairvoyance and magical emanation,
Look after practitioners like a mother looks after her child.

AH KHA SAMA RAJA SADHA RASA MARAYA PHAT (21 times)

TADYATHA OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA.

By the truth of the existence of the Three Jewels,
May all inner and outer hindrances and adversities be overcome.
May they become non-existent! (CLAP)
May they be pacified! (CLAP)
May they be completely pacified! (CLAP)
May all negative forces opposed to the Dharma be completely pacified.
May the eighty-four thousand kinds of hindrances be pacified.
May all sentient beings be separated from discordant, harmful conditions.
May all be harmonious, excellent and auspicious in the future.