Heart Sutra. It is about what Buddhists call emptiness. Things exist, but they are empty – just as a dream can feel very real, but is only a dream. In other words, things are not really real, but they are.
Heart Sutra – Prajnaparamita – The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom
The Heart Sutra is perhaps the most important text of Buddhism. The Vulture Peak Mountain in Rajgir in the present-day Indian state of Bihar is mentioned as the place of origin. The text contains the answer of Avalokiteshvara to a question of Shariputra, while the Buddha stayed in deep Samadhi.
I was already fascinated by this text when I did not understand it; as chaotic, as crazy as a text of Dadaism or Surrealism. It shows what is, and what is not. No nose, no eye, no enlightenment. Even the most obvious things, and even the most sacred things of Buddhism should not exist? Just crazy. It says that everything exists, and yet does not exist.
In essence, the Heart Sutra says:
“Form is emptiness. And emptiness also is form. Emptiness is no other than form. Form is no other than emptiness. In the same way, feeling, perception, formation, and consciousness are empty. All things in this world are empty. There are no characteristics, there is no birth and no cessation. There is no impurity and no purity, no decrease and no increase.
In emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no formation, no consciousness, no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind, no appearance, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, there is nothing we can perceive. There is nothing we can recognize. There is no ignorance and no end of ignorance, no old age and no death and no end of old age and death.
There is no suffering, no origin of suffering and no end of suffering. There is no path, no wisdom, no attainment and no non-attaiment.”
It is incredible. It makes no sense at all. Everything we think to be true is questioned. What we see, everything we perceive, does not exist. And then it says, things do exist.
And all these Buddhist truths. That we all become old and will die, that we cannot prevent suffering, but that there is a way out of all this misery. All this is supposed to be nonsense?
And finally, there is a mantra:
GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA.
(Gone, gone, gone beyond – completely exposed, awake – so be it.)
Our concepts are smashed. It is about what Buddhists call emptiness. Things exist, but they are empty – just as a dream can feel very real, but is only a dream. In other words, things are not really real, but they are.
One of the most profound texts of Buddhism.