| photos of the event | teachings & speeches index |

The Heart Sutra
A Series of 5 Teachings by
Venerable Khensur Rinpoche
former Abbot of the Namgyal Monasteries in Dharamsala, India
and Ithaca, New York

Khensur Rinpoche

The Heart Sutra

The Heart Sutra, the Maha Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra, is an ancient scripture from the Mahayana sutras belonging to the collection of the Prajnaparamita sutras.  The explicit subject matter of the sutra is the doctrine of emptiness, and it is written in the form a dialogue between Shariputra (one of the two principal disciples of the Buddha Shakyamuni) and the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.  It is an insight into the nature of ultimate reality through intuitive wisdom and is regarded as the essence of Buddhist teaching.  It is recited daily in Mahayana temples and practice centers throughout the world.  Following is the text of The Heart Sutra.

Thus I have heard:  once the Blessed One was dwelling in Rajargriha on Vulture’s Peak, together with a great assembly of monks and Bodhisattvas.  At that time, the Blessed One was totally absorbed in the concentration that examines all phenomena called “Profound Illumination.”  And at the same time, the Noble Avalokiteshvara—the Bodhisattva Mahasattva—was looking a the profound practice of the Wisdom Gone Beyond, analyzing the five aggregates, by nature empty.

Then, through the inspiration of Buddha, the Venerable Shariputra spoke to the Noble Avalokiteshvara—the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, saying, “How should those of good family learn who wish to follow the profound practice of the Wisdom Gone Beyond?”

Thus he spoke and the noble Avalokitshvara—the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, replied to the Venerable Shariputra, “Oh Shariputra, whatever son or daughter of a good family wishes to follow the profound practice of the Wisdom Gone Beyond should look at it like this, analyzing the five aggregates, by nature empty.

“Form is empty; emptiness is form.  Emptiness is no other than form; form is no other than emptiness.  In the same way feeling, perception, karmic formations, and consciousness are all empty.  Therefore, Shariputra, all phenomena are empty, without characteristics.  They are unborn and unceasing; they are neither impure nor free from impurity.  They neither decrease nor increase.

“Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no karmic formations, no consciousness:  there is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind.  There are no spheres of the eyes . . . up to no spheres of the mind . . . there are none of these all the way up the spheres of mental consciousness.  There is no ignorance, nor is there destruction of ignorance. . . there are none of these all the way up to there is no old age and death.  Thus, there is no suffering no cause of suffering, no cessation of suffering, and no path.  There is no wisdom, no attainment and non-attainment.

Therefore, Shariputra, because there is no attainment, all Bodhisattvas hold to the Wisdom Gone Beyond; and because there is no obscurity of mind they have no fear.  Passing utterly beyond falsity, they reach beyond the bounds of sorrow.

“All the Buddhas who dwell in the three times, by relying on the Wisdom Gone Beyond, fully and clearly awaken to the unsurpassed, most perfect and complete Enlightenment.  Therefore, the mantra of the Wisdom Gone Beyond, the mantra of great insight, the unsurpassed mantra, the unequaled mantra, the mantra that calms all suffering should be known as the truth, for there is no deception.”

The mantra of the Wisdom Gone Beyond is proclaimed:

Ta dya tha—Om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
(Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond, Gone Completely Beyond, Awakened.  So Be It!)

“O Shariputra, this is how a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva should learn the profound Wisdom Gone Beyond.”

Then the Blessed One arose from that concentration and praised the Noble Avalokiteshvara—the Bodhisattva Mahasattva—saying, “Very good, very good, oh Son of good family.  It is exactly like that. The profound Wisdom Gone Beyond should be practiced exactly as you have said and the Tathagatas will rejoice.”

When the Blessed One had said this, the Venerable Shariputra, the Noble Avalokiteshvara—the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, that whole gathering, and the world with its gods, men, anti-gods, and spirits, their hearts full of joy, praised the Blessed One.

So ends the noble discourse on the essence of the Wisdom Gone Beyond.

Biography of Khensur Rinpoche

Lobsang Tenzin Geshe Wangdak, Khensur Rinpoche, was born in 1934 in the Kham province in Tibet. At age ten he entered Ba Zingon Monastery there.  At 18, Rinpoche journeyed to central Tibet and joined  the Loseling College at Drepung Monastery near Lhasa, where he  studied until 1959.

In 1960, after fleeing to India, he resumed his studies at Buxa, where a temporary monastery was established. In 1970, he moved to the newly relocated Drepung Monastic University in Mundgod, south India.  After two years of intensive study and practice he moved to Sarnath, studying there until 1977. Rinpoche returned to Drepung to take his Geshe exams, and his scholastic achievement earned him the Geshe Lharampa degree.

Soon after completing his Geshe exams, he was invited to teach at Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala, India, where he was senior teacher for 14 years, teaching both sutra and tantra.  While at Namgyal, Rinpoche received initiations and teachings of tantric practices if all four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

In 1991, he was appointed Abbot of the monastery by H.H. the Dalai Lama, a position he held until 1994. In 1995, His Holiness appointed Khensur Rinpoche Abbot and Senior Resident Teacher at Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, NY.  He retired from Ithaca in 1998, and now resides at the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center in Middletown, Connecticut.

Besides his studies in the core curriculum under his tutor at Drepung, Pema Jetsun, Khensur Rinpoche received tantric initiations from H.H. the Dalai Lama; from His Holiness' two tutors, Ling Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche; and other esteemed scholars including Zong Rinpoche.

| photos of the event | teachings & speeches index |