Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Heart Sutra

Michael Thaler, being awake to unreality, truly endeavoured to see and to portray life as it was, lens cap off, stripped of the pretence with which people, in our small and pathetic search for meaning, would like to imbue it. The following is an interpretive translation of the Heart Sutra, translated specifically with Michael in mind and dedicated to his memory.

The Heart Sutra of the Transcendent Accomplishment of Unobstructed Seeing

When Bodhisattva Viewing Freely went deeply, one foot after the other, to the far shore of unobstructed seeing, he reflected that reduction of human existence to five separate elements is totally futile. He has gone beyond all suffering and evil. Nancy, dear! The forms and colours he edited are nothing but emptiness, and emptiness is nothing but those forms and colours -- the photos are emptiness itself, and emptiness is just the photos. The same applies not only to form and colour but also to the other four elements: feeling, ideas, patterns of doing, and consciousness. Nancy, dear! All these things that really exist are manifesting themselves as they are -- bare, raw, empty, devoid of meaning. They are neither arising nor ceasing, neither tainted nor pure, neither growing nor diminishing. Because they are devoid of meaning, there is no separate element of form, and no feeling, ideation, doing, or consciousness. There are no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or sense centre. There are no sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile or kinaesthetic sensations. No vision nor any other sensory sphere: no sphere of proprioceptive consciousness. No ignorance nor ending of ignorance nor any other causal process: no aging and death and no end to aging and death. No suffering, accumulation, cessation, or Way. No wisdom and no attainment. Because there is nothing to attain, the bodhisattva relies on the transcendent accomplishment of unobstructed seeing. Therefore his heart and mind is free of attachment. Because he is without attachment, he is without fear. He has left far behind all his former dreams, which were upside down, and finally arrived at the peace of nirvana. The buddhas of the three times rely on the transcendent accomplishment of unobstructed seeing and so they attain the supreme integral truth of full awakening. So remember: the transcendent accomplishment of unobstructed seeing, prajna-paramita, is a great and mystical invocation. It is a great and luminous invocation. It is an invocation which is supreme, but without prejudice or bias -- it is equality without equal. It can clear away all discontent. It is truly real, not empty. Therefore we invoke the spell of the transcendent accomplishment of unobstructed seeing -- prajna-paramita. We invoke it as follows:

Gate. Gate. Paragate. Parasangate. Bodhi svaha!

Gone. Gone. Gone beyond. Gone completely beyond.
Praise be to the awakening of a buddha!

The Heart Sutra of Unobstructed Seeing