Heart Sutra Retreat (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Genting View Resort, Malaysia (Archive #1048)

The following are teachings from a Heart Sutra retreat held in Malaysia in 1997.

The teachings include oral transmissions of the Vajrasattva mantra and the Heart Sutra and teachings on rebirth, bodhicitta and emptiness.

Benefits of Teachings on Emptiness; The Essence of Wisdom

[preliminary prayers]

Purified everything, all the obstacles, all the wrong concepts. Nectar beams emitted from the merit field, purified everything, all the wrong concepts, all the obstacles, defilements, negative karmas for oneself, for all sentient beings. A replica from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, from the present founder of the Buddhadharma, the kind compassionate Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, from there down to, from the direct, all the indirect lineage lamas of the path, then direct lineage lamas, a replica absorbed within oneself, as well as all sentient beings. And meditate having received all the blessings, qualities. Visualize that from one's own side generated all the extensive path, method, and profound path, wisdom, achieved dharmakaya, rupakaya, including dharmakaya, rupakaya, actualized within oneself, within the minds of all sentient beings. [pause]

Now making requests to receive realizations of the path to enlightenment, the essence. Please grant me blessings to be able to see spiritual master, to be able to see the guru enlightened being from one's own side, to have detached mind towards samsara, to be able to take the responsibility to liberate the mothers from samsara and receive the glorified unification, the general and particular glorified unification, the mahamudra, the sublime realization. So which includes sutra mahamudra, tantra mahamudra, the clear light, the direct cause of dharmakaya, then also the final attainment, the full enlightenment.

Please grant me blessings my body and you the father's holy body to become one and my speech and you the father's holy speech to become one and my mind and you the father's holy mind to become one.

[Shakyamuni Buddha mantra, short mandala, sang gye cho dang...]

Then think, At any rate, the purpose of my life is to free all sentient beings from all the sufferings and to bring in full enlightenment; therefore I must achieve enlightenment, so as I have the full responsibility to do this, so the only way to accomplish this is, so I have this full responsibility and there's nothing else in my life to do other than benefiting towards other sentient beings. So to be able to do perfect work for the sentient beings, then I need to achieve full enlightenment, therefore I need to actualize the steps of the path to enlightenment. Therefore to cease, the wisdom is the one, wisdom realizing emptiness that is the one, so as regards actualizing the path to enlightenment, the dharmakaya, rupakaya, there's method and wisdom, the wisdom is the wisdom realizing emptiness and that is the main one, that is the only direct remedy towards the delusions.

So without that the defilements cannot be ceased, with just the method alone, all the delusions, the defilements, the disturbing-thought obscurations, which merely obstruct to achieve the liberation from samsara, and the obscurations which mainly interfere to achieve enlightenment for the sentient beings, the subtle obscurations, so the direct remedy to cease all this is only the wisdom and this is the only one which can cut the root of samsara, the ignorance, the unknowing mind, unknowing the ultimate nature, the emptiness, unknowing the ultimate nature of the I, which is called selflessness of the person, and ultimate nature of the aggregates which is called selflessness of the existence. So the wisdom realizing emptiness is the only thing that which can cut the root of the whole entire suffering of samsara and all the karma and delusions, it's the only one, that which can directly cut, to eliminate the very root of all this, the ignorance.

So therefore I need to actualize this and that depends on doing meditation, that depends on listening, reflecting, meditation practice. So therefore I'm going to listen to the holy Dharma, the commentary of the Essence of Wisdom for the benefit of all the sentient beings.

So it is explained that how incredibly precious this listening to teachings on emptiness and revealing teachings on emptiness and especially meditating on emptiness. That, from sutra called the Sutra Condensed of the Jewel Qualities, there it is mentioned that, equaling the number of the sand grains of the River Ganga, so the river in India, so it's a very big river, very, very long, which comes from Mount Kailash from Tibet, so however this huge river and very, very long, so sand grains of the River Ganga means unbelievable number. So that many number, equaling the number of the sand grains of the River Ganga, that many worlds, worlds equaling the number of sand grains of the River Ganga fill up with stupas of Buddha that which is made of, even the stupa is made of seven precious jewels, so that means unbelievable that many number of worlds comopletely filled up with stupas, Buddha's stupa, so building one stupa is unbelievable, it purifies unbelievable, inconceivable negative karma and collects unbelievable extensive merit and directs your mind towards enlightenment, so it's so powerful.

So now here, that many number of worlds, world equaling the number of sand grains of the River Ganga, completely you fill up with stupas, Buddha's stupa, even the stupa is made of seven precious jewels and so then how many sentient beings there are in those worlds, all those sentient beings do nothing except making flower offerings to the stupas, incense, and three times a day paint stupa and for eons, all those people. Then not only that even the devas they make offerings, so all, so that much merit, how many human beings, devas make offering to the stupa, all those stupas, that much merit and then somebody write this Prajnaparamita text, Buddha's teaching, so I'm not going word by word the quotation because _________, just the essence, so Buddha's teaching on emptiness, so you make scripture, writing the Buddha's teaching on emptiness such as the Heart Sutra and so forth, write down or keep the text and make offering to the scripture, so one thing is to write down, keep and make, use for offering, to make offering, making flowers or respect, paint or respect, so even just this, this is without talking listening, revealing, meditating on emptiness, just this, so the merit is far more greater than all those other, building that many number of worlds equaling the number of sand grains of the River Ganga completely covered with stupas and made of seven precious jewels, so second thing is even the stupas are made of seven precious jewels, and on top of that all those people in all those worlds making offering, do nothing except making offering, painting, all these stupas, then devas, on top, devas also make offering, so all those merits become smaller than the merit writing down Prajnaparamita, Buddha's teaching on emptiness, to write and then to keep and make offering, even unbelievable.

So that it is mentioned that also in the sutra teaching, I think it's called, I don't remember the full title, but sutra which is called Roaring Sound of the Lion, that practicing the paramita of charity, morality, patience, perseverance, concentration, these five paramitas practicing for ten thousand eons, that much merit, and revealing, listening to the teaching on emptiness, listening to teachings on emptiness is far more greater merit than ten thousand eons practicing, having practiced five paramitas. So it's unbelievable. Then, ten thousand eons listening to teachings on emptiness and teaching others, giving teaching on emptiness to other sentient beings, so giving teachings on emptiness to other sentient beings, so even one stanza collects far more greater merit than ten thousand eons listening to teachings on emptiness.

Now, next one, meditating on emptiness for one second collects far more greater merit than ten thousand eons explaining the teachings on emptiness towards other sentient beings. So it's, so even one second just meditating on emptiness has unbelievable power, purification and means of collecting extensive merit. So the benefit is beyond our concept.

So, even just having faith in this Dharma, emptiness or teaching of emptiness, the ten non-virtuous actions and the five uninterrupted negative karmas, having killed father and mother, arhat, even harmed Buddha and caused disunity among the Sangha, even those very heavy karmas get purified, and purified broke morality, precepts, vows, so all those heavy negative karmas get purified, explained from the sutra, it has infinite benefits. So it is is emphasizing that therefore it is extremely important at least to put a lot of imprint, to stabilize on the mental continuum.

So the minute you understand what means dependent arising, because things are dependent arising so therefore things are empty, that's the reason why things are empty, so just having the mere understanding, just mere idea of the meaning of dependent arising, even that starts, even that begins you to be liberated from samsara, just by even having the idea the meaning of dependent arising, it starts, it begins, just by this it begins you to be liberated from samsara, to be free from all the suffering realm samsara forever. So people when their cancer recovered completely they think it's marvellous, fantastic, get so excited and so happy, unbelievable, some disease, something heavy disease, something like that, so this is not talking all the sicknesses, just one sickness, and that doesn't mean you will never get cancer again in this life or it doesn't mean that you never get cancer in the future lives. But even this time, one time you recovered cancer get so, that person, so fortunate, so happy, so fortunate, like kind of like dream. But here it's talking about by listening to teachings of emptiness, studying, that just even having the correct idea of the meaning of dependent arising, that starts, even with this idea it starts you to be liberated from samsara forever, so that means no question liberated forever from all the 424 diseases, and that's just one problem, from the oceans of suffering of samsara it's just one.

So Lama Tsongkhapa said in The Good Explanation, the Praise to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha which is called the Praise, Good Explanation, maybe put it this way, the Essence of the Praise, Good Explanation, Even just, even one has rough, even one found the definite understanding just rough, some idea, even this gives supreme bliss. What Lama Tsongkhapa is saying is that due to you the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's teaching that talked about dependent arising, the presenting the emptiness by explaining the dependent arising, that which Guru Shakyamuni Buddha what you have realized.

Then, Aryadeva said, Those who have small merit, then doesn't get even the doubt in this Dharma. Even just by having doubt, even by having the mere doubt, the samsara get broken in pieces.

Then Lama Tsongkhapa said, in the Praise to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha Lama Tsongkhapa said, The life facing towards the Lord of Death, the continuity of life facing towards the Lord of Death, but the continuity of the life facing towards the Lord of Death is not stopped and having a small faith to you, even this one should think fortunate. One should think fortunate even with this, having a little faith to you, to the Buddha.

So what it is saying is our life is constantly, our life is day and night, all the time, facing towards the Lord of Death, running towards, constantly, like car driving, like criminal person brought to the place to be executed, constantly getting near to the place to be killed, constantly, by being taken in the car. So like that similar, our life is constantly going to the Lord of Death, so fast going to the Lord of Death, day and night, constantly, so fast, as the minutes or seconds goes past, like that, the life constantly get near, goes so fast towards the Lord of Death. So like this, that's the nature of the life, but hasn't stopped yet, the life hasn't stopped yet, this life, this human life, the continuation of this life hasn't stopped yet. So during this very short time, the life span, then having small faith to Buddha, to you the Buddha who have realization of unification of dependent arising and emptiness, that which is the only method to cut, to liberate, the sentient beings that they can be liberated from samsara, but cutting the ignorance, so who taught this, who revealed this precious teaching to us sentient beings. So even having found a little faith to Buddha, to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, then even this one should feel fortunate.

Yeah, then, now here, the Essence of the Wisdom. [long pause] The Essence of, the Heart Sutra, the Essence of Wisdom, so that is this, the whole entire Dharma, as it is mentioned in Bodhicaryavatara, the whole entire Dharma taught by Buddha, even the method, even the teachings that which are method, everything that Buddha taught is to actualize the wisdom, in order to actualize the wisdom. The whole teaching of Buddha to actualize the wisdom, that which…

… the teaching that, called ?Yu-um, then ?Mi-ti, Twenty Thousand stanzas, Mi-ti, then ?Tri-ke-donpa, the Eighty Thousand Stanzas, Eighty Thousand and One, One Thousand might be. Then, the next short one is Eight Thousand Stanzas. So this is just one volume, the others, the first one has, I don't remember, maybe twelve volumes, I don't remember exactly now the different volumes, so those twenty thousand stanzas and eighty thousand stanzas, eighty thousand and one, I think, stanzas, so those are like four volumes or five volumes, different volumes, the last one is one volume.

Then, more condensed than that is, the condensed sutra, there's a text called Condensed Sutra, which I read so many times when I was very small, I think six, seven, around those times, my teacher, my very kind teacher, who is my uncle, who was a fully ordained monk and passed away. So due to his kindness, my first, my second alphabet teacher, due to his kindness so he let me to read this for months and months and months, I don't know how long but, for a long time, so all day long read, all day long he let me to read this, except there's a few times for meals and then sometimes I spent a little bit of time when I go for pipi outside , so spent a little bit of time hanging round. Anyway , so extremely kind, that time I didn't know the benefits, so now I think, of course it takes so much purification and collecting merit for so many years, lifetimes, so many years, to actually realize emptiness, that but having a little, tiny idea what means dependent arising and emptiness, that tiny idea that which gives unshakable, which gives faith to Lama Tsongkhapa's the way he explained the emptiness. So that is some imprint left, not, yes, might be from past lives but also from this life, in early life, my teachers let me to read the teachings on emptiness, Buddha's teachings over and over, even one day so many times, so for such a long time.

So however that saved, which saved life from the wrong view, which saved life or which is great protection, which is the great safety, like safety belt, anyway , like that anyway, greatest safety from the wrong view, from the wrong idea of emptiness, from the wrong view, protected.

Because one can spend the whole life, one can spend, even one met Dharma, spiritual path, even one met Dharma one can spend the whole life meditating on emptiness which is not emptiness. You can waste the whole life. This is very subtle, this is extremely subtle point, very delicate or very subtle point. So therefore, yes, I mean of course, and also another thing is you need a lot of merit and everybody doesn't have, just anybody doesn't have the karma to, actually even to hear the correct explanation of emptiness or even to reflect or to meditate, so generally speaking the situation in the world is like this. There's so many wrong views, that which is not ultimate, anyway, right view, so many different explanations of emptiness. So that's why usually I say, anyway, maybe stop there. This is not, this doesn't mean arrogance or anything but this is talking the nature, what is in the world.

So now, so then more condensed than that is this one, this teaching, so this is the shortest one. So therefore, now this is the heart, you can say, not only this is, not only the teachings of Prajnaparamita, the Perfection of Wisdom is heart of the whole entire Dharma, so of course this teaching is the heart of the whole entire Dharma, not only that, but this is the heart of also the teachings on the Perfection of Wisdom, the Wisdom Gone Beyond. So another meaning of the Essence of Wisdom that is, the clear light nature of the mind, that which is Buddha-nature, each of us sentient being's clear light nature of the mind, which is Buddha-nature, the potential to be Buddha. So in some other traditions, this clear light nature of the mind is labeled Buddha, dharmakaya, like that. however us sentient beings by realizing that your own clear light nature of mind, then liberates you, by realizing that liberates you from all the defilements, from all the suffering of samsara, from all the defilements which mainly interfere to achieve liberation from samsara, which mainly interferes to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, so not only that, so by realizing this, so this wisdom makes you to go beyond from the defilements, disturbing thoughts, defilements, then achieve sorrowless state and also go beyond from the subtle defilements and achieve enlightenment.

So Essence of Wisdom, here another meaning is clear light nature of the mind. The ultimate, there are two types of nature of mind, one is conventional nature, one is ultimate nature, so here it's talking about the ultimate nature, the clear light nature of the mind, so your own clear light nature of mind, so essence of the wisdom. So that is the essence, then when you realize that, then you have the wisdom, the essence of wisdom. So I mentioned what that wisdom does, I explained before, does to you.

So this essence of wisdom is like, if the heart, the most important organ here in the body [pause], maybe put it this way. That the mind which pervades the whole body, the very center place of the mind in the body, the very center, even though the mind pervades the whole body, but there's a main place, center place in the body of the mind, so that is called heart, not the physical heart, bumping one, not that one, heart from where, you can tell from there from where attachment rises, from where anger rises. Doesn't come from the brain, anger doesn't come from the brain down like this. Attachment doesn't come from the brain, it doesn't come down from the brain , like that. Pride, so forth, so when you feel compassion, loving kindness, it doesn't come from the brain, doesn't come down from the brain. You feel from here. Same thing, pride, attachment, anger, you feel from here. So that is the central place of the mind, so that is called heart, where all these things, positive thoughts, where you feel rising, where negative thoughts you feel rising, that place, that point of the body, the heart. So, like that, this teaching is like that, the heart of the whole entire Buddhadharma.

So now, so this starts, here in the Tibetan, what am I saying! Here the, this Tibetan text there's more, with more evolution, longer prayer, I think in the, what I heard in the Heart Sutra in Chinese, it seems it did not have the evolution part, just the main part of the subject. There are different divisions or subjects, so it seems the main subject but not the other part. So ______ in the Indian language, the Sanskrit, Bhagavati Prajnaparamita Hrdaya, the reason why begins, the text begins with the Sanskrit, the name of the text, the subject that is because that is divine language, so also teachings are given this way, so therefore it's kept as a blessing. Because all the mantras recited in the Sanskrit and there's a purpose for that. You don't translate into another language and recite. All the mantras kept in the original Sanskrit.

So that has the purpose, yeah, anyway, so like this, here name mentioned in Sanskrit to bless the mind, it's a divine language, blessed language, so it's to bless the mind of the sentient beings.

So in Tibetan language the translation of that, chom den de ma ________ nyingpo, Bhagawati, chom den de ma, chom is having destroyed, not just delusions, having destroyed just only the delusions, the disturbing thoughts, that is arhat, but here not just that, having destroyed also the subtle defilements, so that is only Buddha, chom, having destoyed. Den, qualified, so there are six qualities, so maybe can be mentioned later; de is gone beyond, so that is gone beyond from lower nirvana, gone beyond from the subtle obsucurations, so chom den de, bhagawati, chom den de ma, so ma is mother, chom den de ma, so it's saying the mother of the Buddha, chom den de is that is the name of the Buddha, so who is that is Buddha, who has these qualifications, chom den de, that is Buddha, and ma is mother, chom den de ma.

Then who is that mother? Then comes sherab kyi _____ ______ nyingpo, the essence of the gone beyond wisdom or essence of the gone beyond of the wisdom. So this is the mother, so like this, from the wisdom realizing emptiness, then from there one can achieve the Hearer-Listener, the Lesser Vehicle [pause], the sorrowless state, nirvana of the Lesser Vehicle path, the Hearer-Listener, those beings, the arhats, and the Solitary Realizer, the nirvana, sorrowless state, so both come from the wisdom realizing emptiness, they both, the nirvana, sorrowless state.

Then, from the wisdom realizing emptiness comes also the great liberation, the full enlightenment, which is cessation of all the mistakes of the mind, the completion of all the realizations comes from the wisdom realizing emptiness. So from the wisdom realizing emptiness, so therefore Buddha is born from that, from the wisdom. For example, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, by actualizing wisdom, realized emptiness, then ceased, by developing that then ceased all the obscurations, the two types of defilements and become Buddha. So Buddha came from that wisdom, wisdom realizing emptiness. So all the past, all the present, all the future Buddhas came from the wisdom realizing emptiness; so therefore, why it's called mother, why the wisdom is called mother is that, so chom den de ma. To make it simple, Buddha's mother.

Then, who is that? The heart of the, yeah [pause], who is that is the gone beyond of the wisdom. So what is the gone beyond of the wisdom, so now this has, gone beyond of wisdom, base and path and attainment. So, the phenomena such as the mind, I, so forth, phenomena, they are gone beyond from inherent existence, so talking gone beyond as - I made a mistake - that, ultimate should be said, ultimate nature of the mind, I , so forth, the phenomena, gone beyond from the inherent existence. They don't have inherent existence, they are gone beyond from the inherent existence, so that's one meaning.

The other thing is the gone beyond wisdom that is a path, path that you travel to enlightenment. Maybe put it this way, path that you, path which leads you to enlightenment, put it this way, path which leads you to enlightenment, so that is the wisdom, that is the realization itself, the wisdom realizing emptiness itself, which makes you to go beyond, which makes you to go to enlightenment, beyond from the defilements. So gone beyond wisdom, which means, the second one is path itself, the wisdom itself, which makes you to go beyond from the defilements to enlightenment, from samsara, from the oceans of samsara, to go beyond from that and to go from even the subtle defilements and that leads you to enlightenment.

So the other one is the attainment, the result, so there's the path, there's the base gone beyond of wisdom, base, path gone beyond wisdom, there's result gone beyond of wisdom, so that is Buddha's transcendental wisdom, dharmakaya, the omnisicient mind, that which directly sees the two truths at the same time. All the ultimate nature and conventional nature, for example, ultimate nature of the I, the I itself has conventional nature, then the very nature of that is ultimate nature, ultimate truth, so like this, becomes the wisdom directly perceiving all the two truths at the same time, that which is free from all the stains. So that is result gone beyond wisdom.

Then, the next one is talking about perfect [pause], that so there are five sections, the first one is time, perfect time. How this teaching, how this Essence of Wisdom teaching happened, this teaching of Buddha how it happened, talking about the story. So the purpose of this is that, the purpose of explaining the evolution, how this happened, so after Buddha passed away, then there are three disciples who heard Buddha's specific heart teachings, then they gathered, before that there was nothing written, that so three disciples gathered and then they explained teachings, collected the teachings, so three main disciples gathered and each one collected the teachings of Buddha from their heart, teachings what they heard during Buddha's time. So then they explained. So Ananda, Kungawo, Buddha's attendant Kungawo, so he is one who collected Buddha's teachings, so he's one who collected the vinaya and, maybe it's Abhidharma, sutra, vinaya. So each, the Abhidharma Sutra, these divisions of sutra teachings by Ananda, Kungawo, collected, this pile of teachings by Kungawo. And then Vinaya Sutra collected by, Buddha's teaching, Vinaya Sutra collected by, I don't know how it's called in Sanskrit name, ?Nyoko in Tibetan. The third one I don't remember. The third one maybe sutra one, in Tibetan Do _________. So that I don't remember who collected.

So after Buddha passed away, next year during the abiding in the summer retreat, then Ananda, Kungawo, then he faced, when he was collecting the teachings, __________ ______, the Abhidharma, the sutra text, so he faced towards Sravasti, where Buddha gave the teaching, the Essence of Wisdom teachings, it's one place, it's place where Buddha lived, I think one place five years, the main place, I've forgotten, anyway, in the whole that area, the main place where there's many, many disciples, temples there, where they lived, very large monasteries, so there, very close to another place where Buddha lived three years, something like that, the whole total of twenty-four or twenty-five years, it's the place in India where Buddha lived most. So this is where Buddha gave teachings in the past, where this teaching happened with the Essence of Wisdom. So then Kungawo faced towards that, put palms together, then he said this, so this one I remember, without looking the English , so, this first one, Thus I have heard at one time - right? That one I easily remember. Thus I have heard at one time, so this is the very first evolution. So this shows the perfect timing. So the purpose of bringing up the, how this Essence of Wisdom happened, talking about bringing up the evolution, story, that is the Ananda, who collected these teachings, who gathered these teachings heard the teachings, understood the meanings without extra, without missing and without extra. The listeners, yeah, because of that then the listeners to pay attention, to pay their ear, anyway , to listen well, the listeners to pay the ear or to listen well, to pay attention and listen well, so that is the purpose why bringing up the evolution of these teachings.

The next is talking about, so it starts, chom den de again, so that shows the perfect founder, so now, I think become a little bit strange. So maybe stop here and , I think we have Heart Sutra breakfast . Some idea, without some idea, foundation, what is the thing that has to be realized empty, that which is empty.

…we wouldn't know, because we have been regarding Heart Sutra, I think, very common to recite Heart Sutra, so many people reciting so many years, going over just the words, it's good but what you need to know is, the whole point is this, if this is not clear in the mind then you are lost, what is the thing that you have to realize is empty, the false and truth, if you don't know that, if you don't have clear idea of this then whether you read the Heart Sutra, whether you read big volumes of Perfection of Wisdom, lost, there's no way how to meditate on emptiness, like that. So however trying to give idea [inaudible] here. So therefore need to meditate on suffering [inaudible] how important it is, like more you feel unbearable with your disease then you feel how important to take the medicine, so similar, so this is only one point to, all these so many volumes, Heart Sutra, then so many volumes teachings on emptiness, but the whole thing is to recognize, in order to realize emptiness, ______ ______ false, what is the false I and false object that we are not aware, that which is false and which makes, which we believe that is true. That our mind is hallucinated.

So once you have got unmistaken idea of this, this point, then one knows how to meditate, this, because you have to know this point, the object to be refuted. So once you have some correct idea of this, then you know how to meditate, then you know where to use the word "no," from beginning, through the whole text, where, Heart Sutra and other teachings on ?wisdom, so many no's, many, many pages of "no" , so you know "no" which is like atomic bomb, so where to, then you know where to use on the right point, on the right target, on the object of ignorance. Otherwise then it becomes like parrot reciting Heart Sutra. Of course still it's worthwhile because as I mentioned before the benefits, so like that.

So please enjoy the breakfast.