There Is No Suffering 116

Actually, the last two lines are not in the original sutra. Furthermore, the last line ("Gate, Gate, etc.") is not a true mantra, though it is in the form of a mantra. True mantras, being the seeds of words, are composed of pure sounds, such as ‘aum.’ Although mantras can have rich and varied meanings, they are usually not specific. And they are usually not translatable. This line, however, consists of Sanskrit words that have specific meanings, which when recited, sound like a mantra.

This ‘mantra’ says that prajnaparamita empowers us to transcend all sufferings and attain buddhahood. ‘Gate’ (ga-tay) means, ‘go.’ ‘Paragate’ means ‘to the shore beyond,’ or “pass over to ultimate nirvana.” ‘Parasamagate’ further means that all of us are to cross over together. So, “In the spirit of a bodhisattva, I do not wish to cross the ocean alone; I want all sentient beings to cross.” ‘Bodhi’ is awakening or enlightenment; ‘svaha’ is complete or perfect. All together: “Go, go, go to the shore beyond (nirvana); all together go to the shore beyond, and complete the bodhi path.”

As Buddhists, we should view this entire sutra as the mantra of wisdom and power. When we recite the Heart Sutra every day, we immerse ourselves in the core teaching of Buddhism. The sutra shows us the way to leave behind affliction and delusion, and to give birth to genuine compassion. It is a sure path to our own awakening of buddhahood.