The Heart Sutra
A Brief Exposition on the Heart Sutra
The Heart Sutra is the apex of the Mahayana Buddhism thought. Buddhism developed from Theravada to Mahayana. Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Laos are essentially Theravada. Vietnam, China, Japan, Korea, Hongkong, Singapore, Taiwan, Tibet and Mongolia are essentially Mahayana.
In this long development of Buddhism, the key concept of emptiness or void (Sũnya in Sanskrist) developed along. Life is non-permanent because everything comes and goes, depending on the law of causation. Life is therefore illusory, not real. In other words, life is emptiness.
This concept of emptiness may easily lead to the negative thought of nihilism. Mahayana Buddhism takes us back out of this extremist concept of emptiness to the middle way. This middle way still commits to the idea that “life is emptiness”; however emptiness here is not different from existence–emptiness is existence, existence is emptiness. This middle way definitely takes away any inkling of nihilist negativism. It is realistic and positive about life.
The Heart Sutra presents this middle way while going swiftly through all teachings of the Buddhist tradition, from Theravada to Mahayana. This sutra is so central to Mahayana Buddhism that it is recited daily by monks and nuns. Studying the Heart Sutra is really the studying of the whole Buddhism.
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