Penetrate the true meaning of the Heart Sutra and nothing will be the same again. The secret is to make it personal. There is no doubt that the Heart Sutra is the most frequently used and recited text in the entire Mahayana Buddhist tradition, which still flourishes today, all around the world. Many people have said many different things about what the Heart Sutra is and what it is not, such as being the heart of wisdom, a statement of how things truly are, the key teaching of the Mahayana, a condensation of all the Prajnaparamita Sutras (the Buddha’s second turning of the wheel of dharma), or an explanation of emptiness in a nutshell.
Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, meditating deeply on Perfection of Wisdom, saw clearly that the five aspects of human existence are empty, and so released himself from suffering. Answering the monk Sariputra, he said this:
Body is nothing more than emptiness, emptiness is nothing more than body. The body is exactly empty, and emptiness is exactly body. The other four aspects of human existence -- feeling, thought, will, and consciousness -- are likewise nothing more than emptiness, and emptiness nothing more than they.
All things are empty: Nothing is born, nothing dies, nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases.
So, in emptiness, there is no body, no feeling, no thought, no will, no consciousness. There are no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind. There is no seeing, no hearing, no smelling, no tasting, no touching, no imagining. There is nothing seen, nor heard, nor smelled, nor tasted,
nor touched, nor imagined.
There is no ignorance, and no end to ignorance. There is no old age and death, and no end to old age and death. There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no end to suffering, no path to follow. There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.
The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom, and so with no delusions, they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now.
All the Buddhas, past, present, and future, rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and live in full enlightenment.
The Perfection of Wisdom is the greatest mantra. It is the clearest mantra, the highest mantra,