Zen Wisdom 214

Remember, the Heart Sutra was spoken by the Buddha for the sake of sentient beings. He is trying to make things understandable for people who have not experienced enlightenment. Ordinary sentient beings still believe in and perceive the five skandhas. The Buddha is saying, "If, like Avalokitesvara, you can perceive that the five skandhas are empty, then you will transcend all suffering." Buddhas and bodhisattvas have perceived that the five skandhas do not exist, but enlightened beings can still see things from an ordinary sentient being's point of view. They know that sentient beings identify with the five skandhas.

The Heart Sutra contains other seemingly contradictory statements. Further on it says that there is no such thing as wisdom or any attainment, and then immediately afterwards it says that because of this, Buddhas attain annutara samyak sambodhi: complete, supreme wisdom. If there is no attainment, how can Buddhas attain wisdom?

The point is, the sutra is spoken for the benefit of sentient beings. Ultimately, there is no wisdom and no attainment. But sentient beings do not realize it because of their attachments, so the Buddha must speak of wisdom and attainment. In fact, annutara samyak sambodhi. the complete, supreme wisdom, is "no wisdom, " "no attainment."