From The Archives: Brief Dharma Lecture 2006

Brief Dharma Lecture by H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Dorje Chang

March 19, 2006

Triple Gem, Two Truths, and the Heart Sutra

Translator: Dr. Jeffery Schoening

Transcribed by Ogyen Choezom

We gather here at the Monastery in order to practice wholesome activities. Also, to better understand what are unwholesome activities. The topic for today is the object of refuge, and the objects of refuge in Buddhism are the Three Jewels, that is, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

We gather here to do the Praises of the Buddha, and on page 15, we have a three-fold practice that we do as followers of Lord Buddha. This is a practice that we do with the meditative concentration on the Three Doors of Liberation. There’s an ultimate reality and a conventional reality, and with the Three Doors of Liberation, we talk about the object, the cause, and result. These are referring to the conventional reality.

So, in the abbreviated Heart Sutra practice that we have, the opening four lines: “Beyond words, thought, and description, the Prajnaparamita; unborn, unceasing, an essential nature of space.

Experienced by the wisdom of personal realization, Mother of the Buddhasof the three times, to you I pay homage.” This combines all of the teaching of the Heart Sutra within these four lines.

So, then for the first line, “Beyond word, thought, and description, the Prajnaparamita,” there’s this brief explanation that goes as proclaimed in chanting the names of Manjushri, “the one who abandons speaking with words.” That’s the quote from the ones chanting the names of Manjushri; the one who abandons speaking with words. Even if one thinks to state in words the complete subject matter of the Great Mother, Prajnaparamita, there is no verbally describing the true meaning.

With the second line,the “Unborn, unceasing, an essential nature of space,” the commentary says that the nature of the mind is empty from the beginning. The freedom from the eight extremes of the consequentialist middle-way, explained by teaching master Buddhapalita is like space, free of arising, abiding and ceasing. But it is not free from the conventional designations of…

  1. Empty space giving the opportunity for the journey of planets and stars and etc.
  2. The result arising from the cause.
  3. Adopting virtue and abandoning evil deeds.

With the third line, “Experienced by the wisdom of personal realization,” the commentary says that the special wisdom taught in the Prajnaparamita text is the experience of only the wisdom that realizes emptiness born in the mindstream of the yogis who adventured on the Mahayana path. But it is not realized by the individuals who venture onto the paths of Hearers or Solitary Buddhas. According to the explanations of the great Prajnaparamita treatises, here the text is the Prajnparamita, the path is the Prajnparamita, the result is the Prajnaparamita, and the essential meaning is the Prajnaparamita. Dividing into four is the system of commenting, explaining, and interpreting; and I hope you all know Prajnaparamita means “perfection of wisdom” or “perfection of discriminating insight.”

Finally, the fourth line: “Mother of the Buddhas of the Three Times, to you I pay homage.” The commentary is that all the Buddhas of the Three Times, having relied on the Great Mother––the Prajnaparamita––were enlightened. So, to this Prajnaparamita, who is like a mother to all the Buddhas, I pay homage. And that completes our commentary on these four lines.

We do this abbreviated Heart Sutra practice here at the Monastery now, not the longer version. And as a part of this short, abbreviated practice, we do this repulsion of obstacles. When we do that, that part of the practice, we clap our hands, “Repel, vanish, eliminated, utterly eliminated…”  This is to repel all obstacles. Obstacles that are inner, outer, secret and so on. And, all of these obstacles we repel. This is part of the Prajnaparamita practice.

For most of the obstacles, it has to do with our thinking, our conceptualizations. What goes with our conceptualizations, such as doubts about what is wholesome, what is not wholesome; and all these sorts of problems that we have, that arises from our conceptualizations. This is an obstacle too. This practice helps to eliminate these sorts of obstacles.

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