Thread: Heart Sutra
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Old 04-26-2007, 03:29 PM   #9
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Re: Heart Sutra

Reggie Townley wrote: View Post
In terms of having something to do with Aikido: One of Stevens Sensei's books said that O Sensei chanted the heart sutra every day. I believe it was Secrets of Aikido that said this. Besides that, the Heart Sutra is considered by many to be the heart of all sutras. It is the heart essence, the distillation of all the prajnaparamita (transcendent wisdom) sutras. Transcendent wisdom is one of the two wings of enlightenment, the other being Bodhiccita, or infinite love. Further, one gives birth to the other, they cross cultivate, and the realization of the deepest truths of the heart sutra, i.e. transcendent wisdom, will automatically awaken infinite love because they are impossible to separate. In terms of Aikido, on a philosophical point, that is what it is a all about. We cultivate a non violent art. At the highest level, we lose our self grasping and generate a concern for the attacker. We wish that that attacker may attain realization, rather than percieve that persona as a threat to be destroyed. We try to help that attacker to the other side, to awakening, while protecting life. This is both Bodhicitta and Transcendent wisdom. I am not yet there, but at this point, I believe this is correct view. We'll see how my outlook develops over the years. Thank you all. Many blessings, Much love, May you attain supreme awakening and fullest realization of infinite peace.
If you have not already, you should take the opportunity to read Aelred Graham's Zen Catholicism. It very much tracks the theme laid here in parallels of Buddhist teaching to very orthodox Christian theology. His exploration of the concepts from the standpoint of traditional revealed faith may aid in explaining or bridging any cultural misunderstandings or possible discomfort among any of your students who are so inclined.

"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 Jn 4:16).

Holy Wisdom is identified as the Logos, the Divine Word, a concept that predated Christianity, and this Hellenic concept made have had some influence in pre-Christian times over the development of esoteric Buddhism as it melded with Hellenic culture in central asia, and also, in Christian times, as it melded with Chinese culture further east.

Oriental orthodox Christianity passed over the Silk Road at the same time as the doctrines that were brought to Japan as mikkyo -- Shingon ("true word") and Tendai forms of Vajrayana Buddhism. Shingon may have influenced the concepts of kotodama ("word spirit") at the same time as the Kojiki (the primary Shinto text used by O Sensei) was being assembled into its present form. Shingon was then being introduced to Japan by Kobaidashi (Kukai).

In any event, O Sensei was early schooled in Shingon mikikyo, and later developed his own understanding and system of kotodama. He explicitly identified his root "word spirit" both with the doctrine of Logos in Christian teaching, and also with the chief Kami Ame no Minakanushi, of the Shinto creation Trinity described in the Kojiki.

In Christian teaching, Christ Jesus is simultaneously the incarnation of Holy Wisdom and the embodiment of the Love of God. Union with Him may be similarly attained through either path of approach -- reason or love, which always complement one another.

For a fascinating direct Christian parallel to the Heart Sutra:
Pseudo-Dionysius (St. Denys the Areopagite) wrote:
So this is what we say. The Cause of all is above all and is not inexistent, lifeless, speechless, mindless. It is not a material body, and hence has neither shape nor form, quality, quantity, or weight. It is not in any place and can neither be seen nor be touched. It is neither perceived nor is it perceptible. It suffers neither disorder nor disturbance and is overwhelmed by no earthly passion. It is not powerless and subject to the disturbances cause by sense perception. It endures no deprivation of light. It passes through no change, decay, division, loss, no ebb and flow, nothing of which the sense may be aware. None of all this can either be identified with it nor attributed to it.

Again, as we climb higher we say this. It is not soul or mind, nor does it possess imagination, conviction, speech, or understanding. Nor is it speech per se, understanding per se. it cannot be spoken of and it cannot be grasped by understanding. It is not number or order, greatness or smallness, equality or inequality, similarity or dissimilarity. It is not immovable, moving or at rest. It has no power, it is not power, nor is it light. It does not live nor is it life. It is not a substance, nor is it eternity or time. It cannot be grasped by the understanding since it is neither one nor oneness, divinity nor goodness. Nor is it a spirit, in the sense in which we understand that term. It is not sonship or fatherhood and it is nothing known to us or to any other being. It falls neither within the predicate of nonbeing nor of being. Existing beings do not know it as it actually is and it does not know them as they are. There is no speaking of it, nor name nor knowledge of it. Darkness and light, error and truth—it is none of these. It is beyond assertion and denial. We make assertions and denials of what is next to it, but never of it, for it is both beyond every assertion, being the perfect and unique cause of all things, and, by virtue its preeminently simple and absolute nature, free of every limitation, beyond every limitation; it is also beyond every denial.
The Heart Sutra wrote:
. . Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva
when practicing deeply the Prajna Paramita [the perfection of wisdom]
perceived that all five skandhas are empty
and was saved from all suffering and distress.
Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness [the indescribability of divine Reality]; emptiness does not differ from form.
That which is form is emptiness;
that which is emptiness, form.
The same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness.
Shariputra, all dharmas [phenomena] are marked with emptiness;
they do not appear nor disappear,
are not tainted or pure, do not increase or decrease.
Therefore in emptiness, no form, no feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness; no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind;
no realm of eyes and so forth until no realm of mind-consciousness;
no ignorance and also no extinction of it, and so forth until no old age and death and also no extinction of them;
no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path;
no cognition, also no attainment.
With nothing to attain
the bodhisattva depends on Prajna Paramita
and his mind is no hindrance.
Without any hindrance no fears exist;
far apart from every inverted view he dwells in nirvana [Reality].
In the three worlds all buddhas depend on Prajna Paramita
and attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi [complete and perfect enlightenment].
Therefore know the Prajna Paramita is the great transcendent mantra,
is the great bright mantra,
is the utmost mantra,
is the supreme mantra,
which is able to relieve all suffering
and is true, not false.
So proclaim the Prajna Paramita mantra, proclaim the mantra that says:

Gaté, gaté paragaté, parasamgaté! Bodhi! Svaha!
[Gone, gone, completely gone, all completely gone in awakening, Hallelujah!]
The love of God and the God of love has most recently been laid out in orthodox terms in Pope Benedict's teaching. While he is the head of the Catholic Church, there is little in his encyclical Deus Caritas est ("God is Love) that cannot be embraced by any Christian believer. It makes a good companion to the Heart Sutra in considering Buddhist teaching of self-negation in comparison with orthodox Christian ideas on self-donation as the practice of the via negativa given above.

This site may be of interest, generally.

And more specifically :

My favorite parallel quote is this:

Dhammapada 1:3-5 wrote:
"He was angry with me, he attacked me, he defeated me, he robbed me"—those who dwell on such thoughts will never be free from hatred.
"He was angry with me, he attacked me, he defeated me, he robbed me"—those who do not dwell on such thoughts will surely be free from hatred.
For hatred can never put an end to hatred. Love alone can. This is an unalterable law.
St. Luke 6:27-28, 32, 35 wrote:
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. . . . If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. . . . Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. . . . You will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. —

Last edited by Erick Mead : 04-26-2007 at 03:44 PM.


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