The text,

No ignorance, and no end of ignorance.
No old age and death, and no end to old age and death.
No suffering, no cause of suffering,
no termination of suffering, and no way.

Today's text begins with the words, no ignorance. Ignorance means not knowing or lack of knowledge. However, the words of the text say 'no ignorance'. These words are pointing to the fact that each person is complete as-they-are. Each person with nothing lacking, and nothing in excess. And if we continue with our practice, quiet practice or meditation, and practice in activity, our daily life. We will know this for ourselves. Perhaps now we may think that we are lacking something, or that there is some deficiency. However, we are fine as-we-are. And in Buddhism, there are the words of the Buddhist Master Dizang. Master Dizang once said, "Not knowing is most intimate." Or "Not knowing is nearest." It is alright not to know. In a place of not-knowing, we work, we study, and we rest. In this place of not-knowing we live our daily life. And "not-knowing is most intimate, or nearest." We do not know exactly what the future will bring. However, in a place of not-knowing we do our best each and every day. Living wisely with cause, in the present. And this wisely, making right efforts in the present, will bring its effects. This will positively condition our future.

'And no end of ignorance.' These words are saying that our present condition of not-knowing will not suddenly change into wisdom. As if suddenly ignorance will disappear and we will know everything. It is not this, it is not an end to ignorance. If we continue with our practice there will come a time that we realize clearly for ourselves that we are complete as-we-are, right now. And that from the beginning we were complete, with nothing special to seek for. And then there is enlightenment. We realize that we are fine as-we-are. Our present condition. And then we will be able to learn from all things in life. And then, instead of thinking that, in life things are just good, or just bad. Instead of thinking that our experience in life is just good or just bad, we will see that every thing is real. And we will learn from our life. We will learn from the good things. And we will also learn from the bitter things in life. It is not just a good world. There are both good things and bad things in the world. And so, as there are many bad things in life also, we should be careful with our life. And we should wisely try to do our best. And realizing for ourselves that we are fine as-we-are, we will understand clearly that things we like, we like. Things that we dislike, we dislike. If we like clothing that is the color brown. We can wear brown clothing. If we do not like some different colored clothing, we will not wear such clothing. Also, we will not be deceived or deluded by things in the world. For example, we will not be unreasonably carried away by anger, causing ourselves and other people troubles unnecessarily. Similarly, we will not be carried away unreasonably by greed, or by illegal drugs, or by speeding automobiles. Instead, we can do our best each day in the Way, so that our life can improve.

'No old age and death, and no end to old age and death.' Old age and death refer to two of the Four Sufferings. In Buddhism, we teach of the Four Sufferings.

The Four Sufferings are:

  1. Birth (or life).
  2. Old age.
  3. Sickness.
  4. Death

These are called the Four Sufferings. Old age and death refer to two of these sufferings that human beings may meet with in our life. If we think of old age and death, perhaps we may feel some sadness. Or if we think of growing old and dying, it may cause people some suffering. Of course, many people hope to live a long life, this is quite natural. And to wish or hope for a long life is fine. For followers of the Buddhist Way, our practice is to live wisely in the present. Our entire lives we live in the present. Of course, we can think of the past, and think of the future. However, our existence is always the present moment. And so there is our practice. When we work, we earnestly work. When we study, we earnestly study. When we drive in our car, we carefully, safely drive our car. Doing things, doing everything at the risk of our life. Wholeheartedly. And during our free time, when we rest, we can wholeheartedly rest or relax, appropriately. Like this, earnestly doing our best in he present and being diligent, we can surely be liberated from the suffering or anxieties that may arise in relation to old age and death. The important point for us is to esteem each day of life. To esteem mean to treat with importance. Or to use well. When we are living, to really be alive. Then, living wisely and taking good care of ourselves, we will not be worried unreasonably by old age and death.

'No end to old age and death.' As human beings, each year we grow older. However, this in itself will not cause us any special problems. If we take good care of ourselves, and if we do our best, paying attention to the details of our life, old age as-it-is, will not be a great problem. The important point for us is a life of no separation. Being one with our life, year by year. And living in the way of diligent progress. Being active, and really being alive each day. And concerning death, which we spoke of a few weeks ago, most people in the present moment do not know their own death. Of course, as adults we understand that this body may not last forever. However, we do not know our own death. And so, if we are living wholeheartedly in the present, we may not be unreasonably worried about death.

'No suffering, no cause of suffering, no termination of suffering, and no way.' These words are concerned with the Four Noble Truths. Again, these words are spoken by a person who has attained liberation. Attained liberation from the sufferings of existence. Attaining liberation is certainly possible for all of us, if we earnestly continue with our practice. Continuing with our practice, we will be able to forget the practice itself, and our daily life will become the Way. We can go beyond the Four Noble Truths. So that our daily life becomes the Way, and then each and every thing becomes important. And all of the details of our life become important. Our health, our food, our work, our clothing, our friends, and our own heart. Every thing becomes important.

The text,

No wisdom and no attainment.
Because there is nothing to be attained.
Bodhisattvas relying on PRAJNAPARAMITA
have no attachment and hindrance in their minds.
No attachment and hindrance, therefore no fear.

No wisdom means that there is no special, or perhaps we can say, no supernatural thing called wisdom. Wisdom is what we know, and what we have learned from our own experience in life. For example, we know that if we are always causing other people troubles, we will not be able to live so peacefully or happily. However, if we follow the Buddhist teachings and if we do our best not harming other people, with some goodwill in our hearts. If we practice the FOUR WISDOMS, then surely, we will be able to exist peacefully with other people and we will know some well-being and mutual benefit. Now and again, I hear unusual stories. Somewhat comical stories. We can read and hear of neighbors, people living close to each other, and the neighbors are not so friendly. And at times, one neighbor will dump their garbage into their neighbor's garden. Causing troubles for other people, and causing troubles for themselves. Thankfully, we have the Buddhist teaching of Identification that we are the same as other people. And that if we pinch another person, we are pinching ourselves. If we cause other people troubles, we are causing ourselves troubles. And so, without such comical or troublesome behavior, it may be possible to offer our neighbors some tea or some kind words, for mutual benefit. And mutual peace. And these ordinary things, like offering tea, and kind words, which we learn in life are real wisdom. This is true wisdom. The wisdom of Buddha.

'No attainment.' Again this means that we are complete as-we-are. Enlightenment is not a matter of attaining to some special state of mind, or attaining to something different. Enlightenment is to be one with our condition. And it is to see clearly that we are fine as-we-are. When we really know this for ourselves, that we are complete, and there is nothing special to seek for, then there is enlightenment.

'Because there is nothing to be attained,
Bodhisattvas relying on PRAJNAPARMITA
Have no attachment and hindrance in their minds.'

As there is nothing to be attained, we are able to earnestly work, to earnestly study, to earnestly rest. And we are able to really do our best, each and every day. As there is nothing to be attained, we can be content with our circumstances, doing our best in this world of cause and effect. Like this, little by little, our lives can improve. And free from unreasonable attachments and hindrances, we can live peacefully. And be without special fears. For example, if we are attached to greed, if we are unreasonably greedy, we may know some fear. As it is reported in the newspapers recently, if we deceive other people, with some selfishness, we will probably have some fears. However, if we are not unreasonably attached to greed, we will be able to earnestly do our best, and be free from fear.

The text,

Far beyond deluded thoughts, this is NIRVANA.
The Buddhas of past, present, and future, also by relying on
PRAJNAPARAMITA attain supreme enlightenment.

Nirvana refers to a quiet condition. Quietly living in the present, being diligent, and not wasting time. It is not to be reckless, or rash. It is to be careful. Careful of effects, that are troublesome, or that cause suffering.

'Far beyond deluded thoughts.' Deluded thoughts of getting carried away by anger, by rage, or by illegal drugs, or by tricking people for selfish gain or profit. Beyond such deluded thoughts, earnestly, we can do our best. And all of the Buddhas have realized this for themselves. For the well-being of each person, it is better not to get carried away by anger. And it is better to be diligent, not being lazy or negligent. It is better to live wisely, and carefully, rather than being reckless or foolish.

The text,

Therefore, realize the PRAJNAPARAMITA in the Great Mantra, the Supreme mantra, the unequaled mantra. It can eradicate all suffering. It is true, not false. Therefore set forth the PRAJNAPARAMITA mantra, saying GATE, GATE, PARAGATE, PARASAMGATE, BODHISVAHA, PRAJNAPARAMITA Sutra.

Again, the PRAJNAPARAMITA refers to the wisdom to cross over to the other shore. The wisdom perfection. If we walk in the Way of Wisdom, surely, we can know well-being in life. And the word mantra appears. The word mantra is an old word, and it now has many meanings. The word mantra literally means to preserve and uphold the Buddhist teachings. So we can say that the word mantra refers to a way. A way to know some relief from suffering, and to know well-being. This is the Way of the Buddha, it is not false.

'GATE, GATE,' GATE means gone. Gone, gone.
'PARAGATE' means gone across, gone over. Crossed over to the other shore.
'PARASAMGATE', SAM means everyone. Everyone crossing over.
'BODHI' means enlightenment.
'SVAHA' is an exclamation. A shout of excitement, a cry of emotion.

These words are about the attainment of liberation or enlightenment which is surely possible for each person. Gone, gone, gone over to the other shore, everyone crossing over, enlightenment, SVAHA.

Here we will end the explanation of the Great Wisdom Heart Sutra.