Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The mantra of the Heart Prajna Paramita Sutra

Referring to my previous blog below (and thank you for the person's comment) and since I donot know how to post a reply comment in my own blog... how ignorant and stupid of me, huh? :) ... I will just post it as a "new post".

Well...Choden Rinpoche used the traditional English translation of the Tibetan text. Not the Eastern Mahayana text used by Chinese Mahayana Masters such as Venerable Master Hsuan Hua and others like him. That paragraph where Arya Avalokiteshvara explained how to train by "correctly and repeatedly" is significantly missing from the Eastern Mahayana version I mentioned.

Choden Rinpoche was basically explaining line by line or paragraph by paragraph of the Tibetan version of the Heart Sutra. When he came to that particular sentence, it came clear to me that we are being asked to contemplate on the explanation by Arya Avalokiteshvara to Venerable Sariputra. And since a mantra was given at the end of the Sutra, it seems to me that perhaps we should use it as a meditation word to focus our concentration (samatha meditation) while alternating it in between the analytical meditation of the explanation on emptiness. If you think about the structure of the Heart Sutra, the emptiness of the five aggregates are first explained, then the Four Noble Truths, followed by others. This is done in a systematic way until “He overcame all fears – ultimately beyond Nirvana”. Therefore, I started to pen down the method that I outlined in my earlier blog.

Whoever is interested in the Heart Sutra should also read “Echoes of Voidness” by Geshe Rabten. There the entire Heart Sutra is explained in a concise way. In that book, he explained the heart mantra of prajna paramita – the “Tayatha Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgata Bodhi Svaha” that it functions both as a mantra on a mundane level as well as function as a summary pointing to the way to attaining supreme Buddhahood . And the way is by cultivating the five paths of accumulation, preparation, seeing, meditation and no-more-learning. The five paths are signified by each syllable of the mantra: if I recall correctly “Gate” signifies the first path, and the next “Gate” as the second path and so on. The fifth path being “Bodhi Svaha”. “Bodhi Svaha” captures the essence of having realized the Buddhahood on attaining the path of no-more-learning. Sorry, I have forgotten the exact order. You need to refer to the book. But I am clear the mantra was pointing out as signifying the five paths. “Tayatha” simply means “It goes like this”, and “Om” is a pre-fix mantra signifying the primodial nature of the universe. Something like that. So, the mantra functions in both ways, i.e. mundane level as well as supramundane level.

The very reason it is so powerful (as stated in the Sutra) is because this mantra (and the Sutra) actually points the way to liberation and realising the heart of Supreme Buddhahood is by following the Five Paths. But the Sutra, including the mantra can also be used on a mundane level to be recited to benefit sentient beings. It will create such a powerful impact on the mind. Even if we cannot see any significant things happening physically, in reality, many spiritual positive vibes are created when we recite this Sutra and/or mantra. It is only when we manage to "cut through" our mental obstacle and connect with the Guru or Buddha, or whatever deity mantra you are reciting, will a mantra's power be demonstrated physically. That was why Kyabje Lama Zopa has requested people to recite the Heart Prajna Paramita Sutra for one of the members of FPMT in New Zealand, who got involved in a nasty accident earlier this year.

I have read, for example, that someone had observed that a bowl of water turned green when a friend next to him recited the Green Tara mantra in full concentration and faith. There was also a moment, many years ago, when I witnessed someone's small magnetic plastic plate stucked on the granite wall of his room when he reached the mantra part while reciting the Heart Prajna Paramita Sutra. He got a bit of a shocked for a moment. Even though the magnetic plastic plate (it is just like those magnetic things you tag on your fridge) has an image of Sai Baba, in his mind he was thinking of Arya Avalokiteshvara (Kuan Yin). Hence, upon analysis, he does not know whether it was the mantra, Sai Baba's powers or Kuan Yin's powers, or was it his mind that just got connected to all of the aforementioned and thus, invoked the mantra's powers. This person was just toying with the Sai Baba magnetic plate by putting it against the wall while he recited the Heart Sutra. But the surface has nothing made of steel or iron, so there was no way it could have got stucked there. It stucked there for several minutes. Then it dropped off. I have forgotten whether he tried it for a second time, and it stucked for a less-than-the-first-time, and after that, it never stucked again even though he tried it for the third time, fourth time, never after that, .... or, it never stucked at all after that first time. What I know from witnessing this "strange phenomena" is his magnetic plastic plate never until today ever sticks to wall made of bricks and cement. But it still sticks to steel and iron surfaces as it should.

If a mantra can be invoked and shows just a little of its powers that defied the conventional laws of nature, can you imagine what it can do, if we can invoke its blessings to be used to benefit sentient beings? So, put your faith in mantras, but donot repeat it mechnically like a tape recorder or parrot! It'll be of no use. It must connect to your own Buddha nature. These kind of incidences as above definitely had put a lot of faith on my side in the truth of the Buddha's teachings.

So, I will end this blog with the mantra and wish everyone to be quickly liberated from misery:


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