Commentary on The Heart Sutra

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The Heart Sutra is a Mahayana Buddhist text. Mahayana means “The Great Vehicle” (41). This refers to the bodhisattva vow and path, which involves developing the ten perfections. The Heart Sutra is a text centered on the training to develop the perfection of wisdom. At the heart of this training is the realization about the truth about emptiness.
Buddhist scholarship involves commentary on the sutras. In Tibetan Buddhism, there is a practice of acknowledging one’s teacher and monastic lineage so as to provide legitimacy and authenticity to the teachings. In what follows, I shall give my own commentary of the Heart Sutra, and thus I shall acknowledge the lineage through which this information passed down to me. My knowledge of the Heart Sutra comes from the commentary of the Dali Lama (3-52, 63-147) and the rest comes from commentary from Jamyang Gawai Lodro (151-164). Both of these commentaries are in a volume entitled Essence of the Heart Sutra translated by Geshe Thuptn Jipa. This is also where I read the words of the Sutra itself (59-61).
My own personal commentary shall emphasize the ultimate truth about emptiness is realizing all is empty, even the knowledge and practices that allow us to realize it. In this way, Buddhism turns in on itself, negating the existence of its own essence. I also pay special attention to the training of the bodhisattva, who has gained superior insight, and therefore practices the perfection of wisdom in a particular way.
The Heart Sutra can be divided into different parts. Following the work of Lordo, I parse it into four main parts. The first section is the Introduction, consisting of two phrases that constitute a dedication, a declaration and a demonstration of dependency. The de...

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...he Buddha, which is indicated and then reinforced through the Sangha’s praise.
My commentary has been focused on how the Heart Sutra explains the ultimate truth about emptiness. There are many other commentaries on this important text. However, if one wishes to become enlightened, we should be recall the worlds of the Buddha when he advocates for insight through direct experience. Buddhism has a long tradition of scholarship, as the commentaries and interpretations of the Heart Sutra demonstrate, but even scholarship is empty and we must not forget the need for direct experience on which insight is also dependent. Wisdom is perfected through practice, not intellectual understanding alone.

Works Cited

Tenzin, Gyatso and Jamyang Gawai Lodro. Essence of the Heart Sutra. Trans. Geshe Thupte Jinpa. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2002. i-xii, 1-179. Print.
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