The Heart Sutra states that it contains the absolute essence of Buddha’s teachings. It states that what is revealed in it is the absolute highest Truth, with no second or equal. It states that all avenues of pursuing truth invariably culminate into only one essential truth, which the Heart Sutra contains.
Wow, what a bold claim, I thought. So I made a song with it and turned it into a ‘looper’ so that I can self-indoctrinate myself with the Truth. Have a listen to my beautiful wife Peni singing while you continue reading.
This piece is made to be put in a loop.
Before you read on, lets hear the full sales pitch that Buddha gives for this Highest Truth:
“There is no greater teaching than this teaching I’m about to tell you. There has never been a greater teaching than this, and there will never be a greater teaching than this. This is the highest possible teaching. No teaching is greater. No teaching is more eminent. No teaching is more integral, vital, or essential. This can be said to be the final teaching that all teachings are aimed at arriving at. All the countless Buddhas in all the countless Universes know this very Teaching, that I am about to tell you, to be the highest possible teaching. No one has ever been realized who did not first understand this Highest Teaching. No one currently realized does not know this teaching to be the Highest Teaching. And no future realized one will disagree that this teaching is, indeed, the Highest Teaching. There never was and there never will be a Higher Teaching than this. This Truth I’m about to tell you is the end of all teaching. This Truth, that I’m about to tell you, is what makes all lower truths nothing but ‘expedient means’—i.e. bullshit.
The word Heart as used in this sutra also stands for “essence” “core” “utmost” and “nucleus.” Therefore, the Heart Sutra is one of the shortest sutras. Here it is in its entirety, in (written) sanskrit.
The way you read this sutra is like any other sutra. In the ancient wisdom traditions, it is understood that all sutras are structured in a very particular order. Sutras are always structured so that the first sentence of the first paragraph of the first chapter contains the most essential core teaching in the entire text. Thus, what I have done is boil the heart sutra down even further to its bare bone essence. These lines form the absolute essence of the Heart Sutra:
panca-skandhās tāṃś ca svābhava śūnyān paśyati sma.
rūpaṃ śūnyatā śūnyataiva rūpaṃ;
rūpān na pṛthak śūnyatā śunyatāyā na pṛthag rūpaṃ;
yad rūpaṃ sā śūnyatā; ya śūnyatā tad rūpaṃ.
evam eva vedanā saṃjñā saṃskāra vijñānaṃ.
In Chinese and Korean it goes like this:
vyavalokayati sma panca-skandhās tāṃś ca svābhava śūnyān paśyati sma.
If REALITY were seen as it actually is, the five sense organs would be seen correctly to be altogether empty, nil & void. The five Skandas are the system or aparatus of how we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. The Buddha is saying that our five sensory systems are all empty, zero, nil, void, and false. In other words, all your five sense organs have been lying to you your entire life. Not only were your five sense organs lying about all the ‘information’ you have ever received through them, but they are altogether nonexistent in and of themselves as well.
Among Buddha’s disciples, Sariputra is probably the most often mentioned disciple in the Sutras.
rūpaṃ śūnyatā śūnyataiva rūpaṃ; rūpān na pṛthak śūnyatā śunyatāyā na pṛthag rūpaṃ; yad rūpaṃ sā śūnyatā; ya śūnyatā tad rūpaṃ. evam eva vedanā saṃjñā saṃskāra vijñānaṃ.
色不異空 空不異色 色卽是空 空卽是色 受想行識 亦復如是
색불이공 공불이색 색즉시공 공즉시색 수상행식 역부여시
색Sek(rūpaṃ, form, color, data, information)
is not different than
공Kong(śūnyatā, nil, zero, emptiness, void).
공Kong is not different from 색Sek.
공Kong itself is 색Sek.
색Sek itself is 공Kong.
The same formula can be applied to the others as well: 수Su(feeling, receiving, experience) 상Sang(concept, thought, image) 행Heng(do, deed, doing, action), and 식Shik(saṃskāra, accumulated sanskaras, the way we seeing, the way we thinking, the accumulated experiences that determine how we see, smell, hear, taste, and touch).
Thus, it reads as follows:
수(Su)Feeling is not different from Nil.
Nil is not different from Feeling
Feeling itself is Nil.
Nil itself is Feeling.
All the way down to:
식(Shik)Sanskaras is not different from Nil.
Nil is not different from Sanskaras
Sanskaras itself is Nil.
Nil itself is Sanskaras.
Thus, the Buddha is saying that Sanskaras do not exist, never have, and never will. After 84,000 sutras about Karma and Sanskaras, suddenly the Buddha turns the corner and calls bullshit on all his own teachings.
So the burning question has to be:
“how does this open one’s heart?”
This is the burning question that I would like to address in this article. Here is how it works. Baba tells us that Love for God is the key to God-realization, that the path of Love is the fastest and surest path to God. So all we have to do is love God aright. On the surface this seems very simple. However, to love God in order to get something (like God-realization) in return, is not love, now is it? We all know that, love given for a measure in return, ain’t love to begin with. Love must love for no reason at all, and must be based on no conditions. So the question then becomes, how do we love God for no possible gain, when there is so much to gain by loving him. Baba puts it this way ” I have come to free your love from the cages of reason.” But how?
As long as there is a Universe that is happening, and being sustained by God, who provides for all our needs, we have no less than a gazillion reasons for loving God, do we not? This is the crux of the problem. How do we love God for no possible gain, in the face of all these reasons for loving God? When you are dependent on someone for your needs and wants, one can feel a sense of obligation to love that someone. These factors condition one’s love. When you feel obligated to love God, that is not loving God.
Every reason or condition for loving, can be deducted from that love’s sincerity.
The best reason for loving God is for no reason at all.
This is where the highest Truth comes in. Baba tells us in no uncertain terms that “Nothing is happening, nothing has ever happened, and nothing will ever happen.” Have you ever asked the question, if nothing is happening how is spiritual progress even possible? If nothing is happening, that means nothing can happen including spiritual progress. If nothing is indeed happening, then we either have to be already God-realized, or we will never be God-realized. In other words, if it is true that nothing is happening, we are either all already realized, or there is no god, and we will never be realized because Nothing is happening, not even thought, feeling, experience, and all content of any kind. To summarize, if nothing is indeed happening, then we must either be already realized, or there is no God.
In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha addresses this question with this statement:
Kae 개 (皆) : this word means “absolutely everything” = all souls = every sentient being
Ey 이 (已): this word means “in the past” = already
Song 성 (成): this word means “achieved” = accomplished = completed = finished
Bul-Do 불도 (佛道): this word means “became Buddha” = God-realization.
“The realization of all souls has already been completed.”
Baba puts it this way in the Nothing and the Everything:
“Until Everything awakened fully (infinitely)
and asked itself, “WHO AM I?”
and asnwered, “I AM GOD,”
the states of Infinite Consciousness
and Infinite Unconsciousness were not established
and creation did not begin.” – page 31
In other words, he finished it before ‘creation even began’.
The reason why nothing is happening, is because God finished it. If God has infinite knowledge, power, and intelligence, how could he not have finished it? Infinite ability can finish any task no matter how large in literally no-time, with negligible effort. The reason why nothing has ever happened is because, infinite ability accomplished it so fast that the ‘end’ literally butted up against the ‘beginning’ not even allowing time to form. Thus nothing has ever happened. This is what is meant by ‘infinite power, knowledge, and intelligence. In God Speaks, Baba says that it was done in an ‘instant.’ However, he says ‘instant’ is not a good enough word because it is too long. He says it was even faster than that. In other words, the End butted up against the Beginning, allowing Nothing even to Happen. Thats pretty fast!
If indeed God, as our father, already finished it ALL and left nothing undone, then surely nothing must be happening – period. Now we can love God for no possible gain. This love for God springs purely from a sense of gratitude. I have come to see that Bliss is none other than emense gratitude.
Thank you Baba, God, Buddha for finishing it all for me, all my loved ones, and all sentient beings are safe and sound in their realized state, in you. Now I can love you for no possible gain. Now I can love you as you aught to be loved — for no reason at all. I love you for no reason, and out of gratitude only. I am just so thankful that you took it upon yourself to save us all.
Until ‘Nothing is happening’ is firmly assimilated and established in our world view, we cannot even begin to love God. All the loving that I have done thus far was for reasons and conditions, and thus not really love.
Now that the seed of “Nothing is happening”
you planted in my heart
has taken root
I begin to love you as you should be loved.
This, is how the heart sutra opens up our hearts so that we can love God (my daddy), Buddha (my daddy), Baba(my sugar daddy) as he should be loved. Until ‘Nothing is happening’ dominates ones world view, any real love for God is absolutely impossible. As long as something is happening in our minds, the door of our heart is locked from the inside, barring love for God from entering. Baba tells us that God is shy of strangers in our hearts. I didn’t know he meant I have to empty the entire world out of my heart completely. When Baba says that ‘you either have your back turned toward the world and are facing God, or you have your back turned toward God and are facing the world.’ There is no middle ground. You either want to escape ‘prison'(the world) or just make prison a more comfortable and fun place under the guise of wanting to escape prison. Its one or the other, unless you are comfortable in cognitive dissonance.
So, is it really true that NOTHING IS HAPPENING?
Lets turn to Science for this question. Especially Quantum Physics. Baba did say that ‘science has its role to play.’ Well, I’m pretty sure this is one of its MAJOR roles. Let me start by telling a story.
In Zen Temples in Korea, now-a-days there are so many westerners studying Buddhism. A big majority of them are physicists and mathematicians with degrees from reputable universities like Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Stanford. Curious, the Korean Zen monks have over the years asked many of them, as to what brought them all the way to Korea to study Buddhism? What the monks are told is that what the Buddha teaches is exactly what scientists have been discovering in their laboratories. This has drawn many westerners ,who were otherwise staunch atheists, to Buddha.
The famous ‘double slit’ experiment has shown that Matter is a byproduct of Consciousness. Traditional scientists erroneously maintain that Consciousness is nothing but an emergent phenomena of matter randomly interacting with each other. But since 1915, imperical evidence for Consciousness being the ground of being upon which matter resides, has become irrefutable. Thus materialism is dead. Why they even still teach it in schools, should cause pause in us. Materialism actually died almost 100 years ago, with the dawn of Quantim Physics. Einstein, sitting together on a bench in Vienna, once asked Neils Bohr “Are you really saying that the moon is not there, unless I look at it?” To this, Bohr answered calmly “Do you have any evidence to contradict this?” Einstein, who was a materialist at the time, had no answer. By the end of his life, Einstein himself had to admit that: “…for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.”
If Time and Space are illusions, then ‘Nothing is happening’ because Nothing is there. We are living in a perfectly substance-less universe. All substance is perfectly substance-less. All substance exist as non-existence in the imagination of consciousness only. In other words, it is not your consciousness that is contained in your body, but your body that is contained in your consciousness. As Baba says: ‘Its not that its totally BS that you are in the Universe, its just that it is MORE TRUE that the Universe is within you.”
If you want to have no intellectual doubt that indeed Nothing is even there. Please watch this very well made video:
Trying to maintain a materialist view despite the mountain of imperial evidence that contradicts it causes cognitive dissonance. As if Baba saw this type of ‘infinite regress’ occurring in modern physicists coming in the near future, he states in the Discourses(1950’s): “The human mind cannot reconcile itself to infinite regress in its search for the origin of the world, … “
Now a days, physicists are proposing theories like Holographic universe theory, Simulation hypothesis, or Calculation hypothesis. The word hologram refers to an ‘appearance’ of something existing when it ACTUALLY doesn’t exist.
Baba(Buddha) my sugar daddy makes it even clearer:
“Universal Mind, Universal Energy and Universal body are because of the existence of God’s Imagination which exists as Non-existence within the Infinite Eternal and All-pervading EXISTENCE (God).” — Meher Baba (Everything and the Nothing)
Just let that line sink in. Mmmmmmm…
Now, Armed with the CERTAINTY that ‘Nothing is Happening’ I can love God as he should be loved — for no possible gain — for no reason at all — for there is nothing to gain — thank you God for finishing it all leaving absolutely NOTHING Undone.
In conclusion, Baba says that the world is a Mighty Joke. It is only in the Mighty Joke of ‘Nothing is Happening’ that our Love for God can be born — Real Love, Love free from the cages of reason.