There Is No Suffering 121

All of the teachings in the Heart Sutra address human concerns. They are forever timely and relevant, for they describe our condition. In following its principles, we learn what it is to be human, and as we do so, we also gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Dharma; this helps us to further refine and cultivate ourselves. We learn to become more human by generating the bodhi-mind, and by studying and practicing the contemplations presented in the Heart Sutra: the five skandhas, the twelve links of conditioned arising, the eighteen realms, and the four noble truths. We thus cultivate wisdom. In generating the bodhi-mind, we keep compassion and loving-kindness in the forefront of our minds, living in accordance with the four noble truths and the eight-fold path.

The Heart Sutra teaches that suffering comes from ignorance, attachment to self, and confusion caused by afflictions; it also teaches us how to live with purpose, to ultimately fulfill the four great vows and to cultivate a non-abiding mind. But we are stubborn and refuse to give up our afflictions easily, for ignorance and self-attachment are at the roots our perceived existence. Nevertheless, it is through our will and our vows, the wellsprings of action, that we arouse the bodhi-mind , and begin the process of enlightenment. This willingness is crucial, because it is not easy to change our old ways, however destructive or comforting they may be. But the choice, as always, is ours. By following the bodhisattva path to its end, we will ultimately exhaust all ignorance, cross the ocean of suffering, and reach anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. This is the far-reaching and profound message of the Heart Sutra.