What You Will Learn in Each Lesson
The Heart Sutra is an enigma—a millennium-old enigma that is yet to be solved. In this first lesson of the course, Kaz and Roshi introduce their translation of the Heart Sutra and begin to unpack the enigma. You will have an opportunity to chant the sutra and consider your own first encounter with this scripture.
Heart / Wisdom Beyond Wisdom
The main part of the shorter version Heart Sutra corresponds to a tiny portion of the 25,000-line Prajna Paramita scripture. That means the main part of the Heart Sutra—the teaching of wisdom beyond wisdom—is nearly 2,000 years old. In this lesson you will explore this teaching of wisdom beyond wisdom.
Bodhisattva / Avalokiteshvara
This lesson dives deeper into the history of the Heart Sutra and examines a recent theory of its origin. You will examine the linguistic origins of bodhisattva and Avalokiteshvara and consider their personal meanings for you. You will also experience Kaz and Roshi’s new translation of the Ten-Line Life-Affirming Sutra of Avalokiteshvara.
Zeroness / Boundlessness
Shunyata, or “zeroness,” in Mahayana Buddhism means the lack of concrete boundaries among things and the lack of completely independent existence. All things are interconnected. In this lesson, you will explore shunyata and contemplate the translation that Kaz and Roshi offer for the word “boundlessness.”
An experience of wisdom beyond wisdom is to become free from our normal view of the world. The freedom that the Heart Sutra calls for is freedom from duality and, at the same time, freedom from nonduality. In this lesson, you will consider the cultural basis of the negative expressions common to traditional translations of the Heart Sutra and examine how this type of negation can be an expression of freedom.
The Heart Sutra says, “Realizing wisdom beyond wisdom is no other than this wondrous mantra.” In other words, the Heart Sutra claims that the practice of wisdom beyond wisdom can be condensed into the chanting of the mantra found at its end. This final lesson of the course provides an opportunity to deepen your understanding and experience of this mantra.