Chapter 4: Heart
Note to the reader: In Both Pali and Sanskrit, the word `Citta` represents all the mental functions of humans, including feelings and emotions as well as the intellect. Most Chinese versions of Buddhist scriptures were based on the early translation system, which used the Chinese character hsin/xin for `Citta.` In the Chinese language, the character hsin or xin includes both the `head` and the `heart,` as well as the spirit, soul, conscience, and more. So when you see the word `heart` or `mind` or similar words in the text, please remember this point.
A very good evening to all masters and practitioners! Today, we will continue with the Maha Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra. We will discuss the significance of the word `heart.`
Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Master Lian Han for mentioning the importance of lineage. When he stresses the importance of lineage, it is like selling melons. When we sell melons, we should always say that our melons are sweetest. We cannot be saying, `The melons at the other stall are sweeter! Our melons are not sweet at all!` If we did that, we would go broke! And we, True Buddha School, would be history.
There is one point that I want to stress over and over again: when I said that I had been to the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds and had seen it with the Eighteen Padmakumaras, I was not lying. Even today, I still have the strong conviction that the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds exists. I can vouch for my words with my life, speech and behavior and everything that I possess - this is 100% true. I hold this belief and will never change. Once, when I was traveling through the heavenly realms I received lineage transmission in the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds. When I came back to this human realm, I founded the True Buddha School. I want to assure you that this is an authentic lineage. My experience in the heavenly realms was real, and up until now there has been no other Buddhist sect which is more authentic than our True Buddha School. At present, all other Buddhist sects trace their roots and lineages back to Shakyamuni Buddha 2,500 years ago. On the other hand, the teachings that I am propagating are teachings which comes directly from the Western Paradise. I have been to the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds and received my initiations there, and then passed this lineage on to everyone else. This lineage - having its roots in the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds - is the nearest and the most authentic.
We have been talking about the Heart Sutra, and what I have just said coincides with the meaning of the word `heart` in the Heart Sutra. The word `heart` in the Heart Sutra denotes another meaning - true or authentic. It means `true` as in True Buddha School. Thus the whole meaning of the title of this sutra is now revealed - An Authentic Sutra on Obtaining Great Wisdom and Reaching the Other Shore.
Talking about `heart,` actually right now my heart is palpitating with fear. That is because simple and honest men like me are always being taken advantage of by calculating people. But haven`t I said that `heart` means `genuine?` So how can I be fooled by a `genuine` heart? Everyone knows about the heart of the Buddha. It is true, without any falsity whatsoever. It is permanent and does not change. But the hearts of humans are different. They are always changing. Fortunately, I possess the divine eye and the wisdom eye, which allow me to read other people`s hearts and minds and saved me from being cheated.
I wrote in my 97th book, Love Letter Written to a Monk, how once a lady said to Grand Master, `I have written you a love letter, please reply to it.` When I heard that, I was almost scared to death and my heart was palpating with fear. When I refused to reply to her letter, she said to me, `Grand Master, I wish to have a date with you!` I was so frightened that my heart almost leaped out of my mouth, and I could not utter a word. She told me, `My heart for you is true. I would not harm you! Look closely at my face! Do I look like someone who is going to harm you?` After hearing her words, I was half dead. Because I knew in my heart that I should not write to her, not even a single letter. I knew that I should not believe her, and it would be disastrous if I were to go out with her. It was true that her heart for me was true. Her heart was true, without any falsity. However, when she would wake up the next day, her heart would not be true any more. If you believe that her heart is true, you will be dead the next day!
I am sure that all of you read the weather forecast. The weather is always changing. Sometimes it is sunny, sometimes it is cloudy or rainy. That is also the case with the human heart - it`s always changing and unreliable. What should I do to this? What should I do to that? A person may be infatuated with you today, but tomorrow he or she may hate you so much that he or she would not hesitate to bite you. This kind of heart is not the heart of the `Heart Sutra.` It is a heart that is laced with lust and emotions, varying all the time. That is why monks must be very careful and observe their own conduct closely. It`s like a game of chess. You must be very vigilant. One negligent, wrong move and you may lose the whole game. You may not mean it, but others mean it. It just takes one mistake for the consequences to be disastrous and irreversible.
To explain the heart is a Herculean task. In Buddhist scriptures, four types of heart are discussed. The first type of heart is the organ in our body, known as `a lump of meat heart,` which is self-explanatory. It is just the pump which circulates blood in your body, like the engine in a car.
Another heart is called `the heart of predestined fate and consciousness.` This heart refers to all our actions. The six faculties, namely the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and thoughts, are controlled by this heart.
Another heart is known as `the heart of thoughts.` Why is it called `the heart of thoughts?` This heart is also known as `the heart of self` because it is in this heart that the concept of self exists. The very existence of `the heart of thoughts` depends on the concept of self. This kind of heart, as well as `the heart of predestined fate and consciousness,` exists in sentient beings.
In the Buddhist scriptures a heart known as `the hidden heart` is also mentioned. It refers to the consciousness hidden deep down in your self, where seeds from your past deeds are stored. The hidden heart is inherited at birth. All the seeds from your past deeds and the karma from your previous lives are stored inside this `hidden heart.` In other words, all the past karma causes the existence of this heart.
Now I will talk about `the authentic heart,` which also refers to the heart in the Heart Sutra. So what is `the authentic heart?` It is the heart of an enlightened being. Buddha Shakyamuni once said that this heart is not outside of you, neither is it inside of you. It is also nowhere in between outside and inside of you. Why is this so? It is large and devoid of the concept of outside; yet, at the same time, it is small, devoid of the concept of inside. This heart can become so tiny that it cannot be found inside of you. That is why it is also known as `the perfect heart`. This kind of heart cannot be expressed in words and is very difficult to explain. The `heart` of the Heart Sutra means `the authentic heart,` but the essence of this heart cannot be illuminated by a single sentence.
There is also another interpretation to the word `heart.` Some people interpret `heart` as `essence,` instead of `genuine` or `authentic.` In Vajrayana, there are three types of mantras. Let`s take Grand Master`s mantra as an example. There is the long mantra, `Om ah hum, gu-ru-bei, ah-ha-sa-sa-ma-ha, Lian-sheng sih-dee hum` and the heart or short mantra, Om Guru Lian Sheng Sih-dee Hum. The heart mantra is the essence of the long mantra. Some then deduce that the meaning of the Maha Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra is `The Sutra On Obtaining Great Wisdom and Reaching The Other Shore.`
Mantras such as the Hundred Syllable Mantra are very long. From the beginning to the end, there is a total of a hundred syllables. But actually the mantra, ``Om be-dza, sah-do-ah hum pei`, captures the gist of the whole mantra, so it is also a heart mantra.
To recapitulate everything that has been said, the word `heart` has two meanings: `authentic or genuine` and `essence`. When you add these two concepts, you have the concept of `heart.`
I wish that everyone will be able to transform their heart from the heart of a sentient being to the authentic heart of the Buddha. Perhaps, 2,500 years ago Shakyamuni Buddha also came to the samsara to disseminate the same teaching. This is the heart of the Buddha`s teachings, the essence of the Buddha`s teachings, which are authentic in every sense.
Om Mani Padme Hum
Chapter 4: Heart