The Heart-Essence of the Far-Reaching Perfection of Sublime Gnosis, the Transcendent Conqueror Goddess (The Heart Sutra)
Beyond word, thought, and expression, the far-reaching perfection of Sublime Gnosis
Is unborn, unceasing, the very essence of space,
The experiential dimension of one’s own self-cognizing primal awareness:
Adoration to the Mother of the Victorious Ones of the Three Times.
In the Indian Language [Sanskrit]: Bhagavati Prajnaparamita Hridaya
In the Tibetan language: Chomdendayma Sheyrab kyi Pharoltuchinpa’i Nyingpo (bcom ldan ‘das ma shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i snying po)
In English: The Heart-Essence of the Far-Reaching Perfection of Sublime Gnosis, the Transcendent Conqueror Goddess
Thus have I heard: At one time, the Transcendent and Accomplished Conqueror was dwelling at Vulture’s Peak Mountain in Rajagriha, together in one company with a great sangha of fully-ordained monks and a great sangha of bodhisattvas.
At that time, the Transcendent and Accomplished Conqueror was resting evenly in the state of meditative absorption which enumerates the Dharma known as “Illumination of the Profound”.
Furthermore, at that time the bodhisattva mahasattva Arya Avalokiteshvara was intensely observing the practice of the profound Sublime Gnosis itself, and comprehensively perceived that the five mind-body aggregates are empty of self-nature.
Thereupon, through the power of the Buddha, the Venerable Shariputra addressed the bodhisattva mahasattva Arya Avalokiteshvara in the following words:
“In what way would any son of the lineage or daughter of the lineage who wishes to engage in the practice of the profound far-reaching perfection of Sublime Gnosis train?”
He spoke thus, and the bodhisattva mahasattva Arya Avalokiteshvara spoke the following words to the Venerable Shariputra:
“Shariputra! Any son of the lineage or daughter of the lineage who wishes to engage in the practice of the profound far-reaching perfection of Sublime Gnosis should intensely observe in this way: authentically and intimately perceiving that even the five mind-body aggregates are completely empty of self-nature.”
“Form is empty. Emptiness is form. Form is not other than emptiness; emptiness too is not other than form. In the same way, sensations, perceptions, mental patterns, and consciousness are empty.”
“Shariputra! In this way, all phenomena are emptiness. They are without defining characteristics, are unborn, are unceasing, are not distorted, are free from defects, do not diminish, and do not increase.”
“Shariputra! This being so, in emptiness, there is no form, no sensation, no perception, no mental pattern, and no consciousness.”
“There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, and no mind.”
“There are no forms, no sounds, no smells, no tastes, no tactile objects, and no objects of mind-consciousness.”
“There is no sphere of the visual faculty, up to no sphere of the mental faculty, all the way up to and including no sphere of mental-consciousness.”
“There is no ignorance. There is no extinction of ignorance, up to no old age and death, all the way up to and including no extinction of old age and death.”
“Likewise, there is no suffering, no origination of suffering, no final annihilation of suffering, and no path. There is no exalted wisdom. There is no attainment. There is also no lack of attainment.”
“Shariputra! Therefore, because bodhisattvas have no attainment, they rely on and abide within the far-reaching perfection of Sublime Gnosis. Since their minds are not obscured, they are without fear. They entirely transcend all misconceptions, and in the end they consummate Nirvana.”
“All Buddhas who abide throughout the three times also awaken to the unsurpassed, perfectly complete actualization of enlightenment and become complete Buddhas through relying on this far-reaching perfection of Sublime Gnosis.”
“Therefore, since the mantra of the far-reaching perfection of Sublime Gnosis, the mantra of great awareness, the unparalleled mantra, the mantra which equals the unequal, the mantra which thoroughly pacifies all suffering, is not false, it shall be known as being true.”
“Recite the mantra of the far-reaching perfection of Sublime Gnosis thus:
TADYATHA GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA
“Shariputra! A bodhisattva mahasattva should train in the profound far-reaching perfection of Sublime Gnosis in that way.”
Then, the Transcendent and Accomplished Conqueror arose from his state of meditative absorption, and bestowed a confirmation of excellence upon the bodhisattva mahasattva Arya Avalokiteshvara:
“Well done! Well done! O son of noble spiritual heritage, it is so. It is so. In that way, the far-reaching perfection of Sublime Gnosis should be practiced in just the manner you have described; and even the Tathagatas shall rejoice.”
After the Transcendent and Accomplished Conqueror had given instruction with those words, the Venerable Shariputra, the bodhisattva mahasattva Arya Avalokiteshvara, those manifold retinues, and the entire universe with its gods, humans, demi-gods, and gandharvas rejoiced, and deeply praised that spoken by the Bhagavan, the Transcendent and Accomplished Conqueror.
THE HEART-ESSENCE OF THE FAR-REACHING PERFECTION OF SUBLIME GNOSIS IS COMPLETE.
If you want to practice this sutra, visualize that in the space in front of you is the One Gone to Suchness, the Tathagata. He is displaying the mudra of “Subduing Mara”, and is surrounded by Avalokiteshvara and Shariputra, who are exchanging questions and answers and so on, and a retinue of the sanghas of the Greater and Lesser Vehicles.
While contemplating the meaning of emptiness in your mind, recite the profound sutra up to seven times, or as many times as you like, and recite the awareness-mantra as many times as is appropriate.
Finally, to turn back the maras:
I pay homage to the Buddha!
I pay homage to the Dharma!
I pay homage to the Sangha!
I pay homage to the Great Mother, the Far-Reaching Perfection of Sublime Gnosis!
May my words of truth by accomplished!
Just as in the past the powerful lord of the gods, Indra, reflected upon the profound meaning of the Far-Reaching Perfection of Sublime Gnosis in his mind, recited these words aloud, and through this turned back maras, destructive forces, and all disharmonious circumstances, in that same way, may I, through reflecting upon the profound meaning of the Far-Reaching Perfection of Sublime Gnosis and reciting these words aloud, turn back the maras, destructive forces, and all disharmonious circumstances!
May they be obliterated!
May the be pacified!
May they be entirely pacified!
And in conclusion:
Whatever arises interdependently
Is unceasing and unborn,
Is uninterrupted, yet not permanent,
Does not come, and does not go,
Is not manifold, yet is not singular:
This is the complete pacification of elaborations.
This pacification is revealed by the speech of perfect and complete Buddhas, and to this sacred truth, I pay homage!
And with this, recite dedications and auspicious aspirations.
Translated from the Tibetan by Erick Tsiknopoulos, 2008.