The Heart Sutra
The Aurora Borealis is a magical display flashing in the empty sky: all phenomena are ultimately thus

sNying mDo

The heart essence of unconventional wisdom

The Heart Sutra is a condensed statement of the whole of the Buddhist view of the nature of reality. Its subject, the non-duality of form and emptiness, is central to all Buddhism, particularly Dzogchen. It is called sNying mDo in Tibetan and Prajñaparamitahridaya Sutra in Sanskrit. This translation of its essential meaning (i.e. not word-for-word) is by Ngak’chang Rinpoche.

Chenrézigs—absorbed in the contemplation of unconventional wisdom—perceived duality as empty. Seeing this directly, he turned to Shariputra saying:

“Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.”

Then—in order to clarify his statement—he continued: “Form is not different from emptiness, emptiness not different from form.

That which appears as emptiness is form, and that which appears as form is emptiness.

You will not find emptiness apart from form; nor form apart from emptiness.

The psychology of duality – sensation, sense connections, thought, and consciousness – these are also both emptiness and form.

So Shariputra – you can only characterise form in terms of emptiness. You can only characterise emptiness in terms of form.

The phenomena of reality are neither existent, nor non-existent. They are neither pure, nor impure. They neither increase, nor decrease.

Psychological attributes are neither existent, nor non-existent. The perceptions of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind – are both reality and illusion. Likewise form, sound, colour, taste, touch, and objects. Likewise the dimension of vision and awareness.

There is neither understanding, nor absence of understanding. There is no suffering, old age, or death – nor do they end. There is neither merit, nor accumulation of merit. There is no annihilation, no path, and no wisdom. There is neither realisation nor non-realisation. There is neither attainment nor absence of attainment.

Because the Mind-warrior’s awareness is characterised by this unconventional wisdom, even the four philosophical extremes are not perceived as dualism. Likewise all those who realise non-duality—in the past, present, and future—dwell in the knowledge of unconventional wisdom which is the none other than rigpa.

So—Shariputra—relax. Relax in the knowledge that unconventional wisdom is the great mantra, the mantra of completion, the mantra of totality, the mantra which expresses everything. Unconventional wisdom dissolves all struggles. It is true, simply because it lacks the complication of falsity. This is the essence of unconventional wisdom.”


A: Ga-té, Ga-té, Para Ga-té,

Para-sam Ga-té, Bodhi Svaha A:

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