Prajmaparamita Sutra (10/23/15)
(My article on becoming the Yidam/Deity is worth reading as it adds extra thoughts not included in this editorial)
Dating back over 2500 years, they say this ultimate truth was realized by Shakyamuni Buddha. He entrusted this wisdom to the ocean dwelling Nagas who then protected the texts in their watery depths until humanity was ready. They offered them back to the earthly world, around approximately 100BCE. For many hundreds of years this sutra was bending peoples' mind until it bridged the disciplines of intellectual conceptualization to Tantric visualizations, personifying this ultimate truth of reality in exquisite form with the wordless language of figurative symbol. There was now another way practitioners could learn to understand this Perfect Wisdom. By devotion, reverence and embodiment of the creative divine feminine and Immortal Mother.
As most of us know today, at the absolute core of our reality, nothing recognizable to us exists. That is to say, that at the fundamental level everything is energetic and does not hold form inherently. In fact, according to today's discoveries, some of the smallest measurable particles do not even seem to reside in this reality for more than a milli flash of a moment, vanishing as fast as they reappear; giving a possible modern scientific validity to the "realms of existence" as understood by the ancients.
Embodying the Heart Sutra of Prajnaparamita is embodying the heart of this reality.
A conversation about Prajnaparmita is a discussion on the fundamental nature of reality. So here is a simple analogy on emptiness and embodiment.
There is an analogy about consciousness being like water. Water is water. It fills a container assuming its shape, but remains water even once the container breaks. It has the ability to remain H2O even under external circumstances that require it to adapt its state to that of solid or vapor. Thus water is often the analogy for the experience of emotions and sometimes of reincarnation.
I also have an analogy of air. And balloons. Air is typically the analogy for intellect and spirit. Air in this case I'm using it to represent something like the other side of the Plank constant if you will, beyond the photon, maybe even slipping into the 96% 'dark universe' and ambiguously dancing between the veil of all realities. The void. The Śūnyatā. Our formless true nature beyond intellect, feelings, consciousness, in fact beyond anything we regard as 'real' or anything we can grasp with words.
Unlike water, air is invisible to the naked eye and we can not hold it. We only perceive its influence and on occasion see the debris it carries or vapor sucked into its vortex. We know we need it to be alive. We know that within this closed biosphere called Earth, there's not one breath we breath that has not passed and processed through every organic entity on this planet since its creation. It changes vitesse from stillness to utterly destructive maelstrom. But it is always still simply air.
Air does not change state. It is as it always is, even with fluctuating chemical measurement or whirlwind speed, it is still air. Always air.
Now think of a balloon. Air fills it. The balloon is now identifiable as independent and tangible. Then eventually, one day, it explodes or deflates and the balloon is no longer. But the air is still there and now free again. It was always invisible unchanging air that simply held form for a while.
The essence of the Heart Sutra states that nothing inherently exists.
"Existence" only appears and typically experienced when adopting form. Quantum Mechanics' discoveries suggests a very similar thing. In fact, at the quantum level existence as we recognize it only seems to take form when the wave function collapses into particle. Before then, the wave is everywhere and invisible, and similarly, to our limited senses, air would seem non existent were it not for its effects. Or the balloon it fills.
Balloons, in all their diversity, need to be filled and experienced (and hopefully enjoyed) for it is only when fully inflated does the balloon truly fulfill its purpose of experience as that particular balloon. Some balloons even get transformed into cool shapes or intertwined with other balloons to make something extra complex. Some are decorated, some are small some are extra big, and all have differing colours. QM and the Heart Sutra underlines the fact that "form" is necessary in this plane. However it is transitory and superficial, differences and boundaries are merely masks and illusion and of course, the balloon is only a construct of chemical composition therefore cannot inherently exist either.
And air continues to always exist. Within as well as without of the balloon.
However there is something about the air in the balloon.
We breath in oxygen rich air, but when we exhale into the balloon, it is loaded with carbon dioxide and it can't escape.
Our life on earth is like time spent in a balloon, our organic meat-sacks called bodies and our experiences, emotional ups and downs, all those 'Kleshas' we are so attached to and guilty of, are like the 'toxic gas' in the balloon. Once we are aware of this, we want to transmute it to clean air, so that our contribution is as clean and pure as it can be, for ourselves as well as our reintegration to the whole when our balloon breaks. After all, as we know, polluted air is no fun for anyone.
Adopting the consciousness of the Prajnaparamita Sutra is the understanding of ultimately being nothing but 'air'. Of being everywhere yet invisible until you take form in your biological 'balloon'. We should fill our 'oxygen rich balloon' with as much wisdom, training and creative intellect as possible. Fill it to its maximum. But only when it explodes will our minds be liberated again. Like a high pressure valve being released. When this occurs during a life span, we transcend intellect, discover wordless wisdom and the magnificent simplicity of Being.
One day, even a balloon will feel too dense for us to embody, too heavy and its opaque bright colour a distraction that obscures our true inner nature and a translucent 'soap bubble' maybe more appropriate as the next form we'd adopt. A sky full of diverse multi coloured balloons is fun, stimulating and impressive, for a while, but a sky full of ascending pellucid, coruscating, pearly iridescent soapy bubbles with all their fragility, is sheer awe inspiring otherworldly magic.
Prajnaparamita reminds us irrelevant of form however, we are all still 'air'. Always. And we really do want to make the air as clean and oxygen rich for us ALL to thrive.
This Perfect Wisdom became personified as a beautiful evolved woman. She is older than a typical yidam, as she should be. Wisdom comes with experience typically associated with time.
She is the mother of all Buddhas because only when you begin to understand her truth can anyone start to become enlightened.
She carries her Perfect Wisdom scriptures on a pink lotus but she is born of the blue lotus of transcended wisdom.
She holds the Dorje, symbolic of clear diamond cutting wisdom.
The traditional mantra associated with the Prajnaparamita sutra is "Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha" essentially saying that everything is gone, Gone, way beyond our conceptual understanding of mundane reality.
But her real mantra is the untranslatable sound of Ultimate Wisdom
Om Ah Dhih Hum Svaha
With much gratitude to the life time's work of Dr Edward Conze who was largely responsible for his extensive research into 'rescuing' as well as translating the scriptures of Prajnaparamita, this once widely celebrated, deeply loved and highly venerated Dharmakaya Goddess, as much of her had been lost to the ravages of religious conquest.