In Tibetan Buddhism, there is a tradition that on the 29th day of the twelfth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, everyone will chant the Heart Sutra’s dokpa liturgy of averting harm and negativity. This is done in order to avoid all hindrances from evil spirits during the coming year by relying on the power of emptiness from the Heart Sutra.
Shortly before Buddha Shakyamuni was to enter nirvana, he passed on the eighty-four thousand teachings to Ananda. He then solemnly addressed him, declaring, “I will not fault you if you forget entirely, or if you blemish completely, the eighty-four thousand teachings, except for the Perfection of Wisdom. But if you misplace a single line of the Perfection of Wisdom, I will hold you accountable.” This passage illustrates the importance of the Perfection of Wisdom.
The Prajnaparamita-Hrdaya Sutra, commonly known as the Heart Sutra, is the shortest scripture on the Perfection of Wisdom and encapsulates the essential meaning of all the Prajnaparamita sutras. It is the essence, the heart, and the core of the Buddhadharma. Specifically, the content of the Heart Sutra actually covers all of the eighty-four thousand teachings. It is the scripture with the shortest text, yet its doctrinal principles are the deepest and subtlest. Indeed, it can be described as “a mustard seed containing Mount Meru”.
The Heart Sutra has always been and continues to be cherished, recited and practiced by Dharma practitioners from a variety of Buddhist schools. In Tibetan Buddhism, for example, whether it is the Gelug, Sakya, Kagyu, Nyingma, or the Jonang, all attach great importance to this Sutra. It is an indispensable scripture in any master’s treasury of teachings and practices. Most Dharma practitioners include it in their collection of daily recitations.
Anyone who genuinely wishes to understand the aspects of conventional phenomena and ultimate reality should study this sutra. As Khenpo Sodargye Rinpoche said when he was giving this teaching, “Our lifespan and energy are limited. Therefore, even if we wish to study the entire eighty-four thousand teachings, we will find it impossible to fathom the entire Buddhadharma thoroughly and without obstructions. However, if we grasp the main points, we could then effectively apprehend the essentials. From this perspective, to study the Heart Sutra is the wisest option.”
Whether or not you are Buddhist, if you chant the Heart Sutra you will develop an auspicious connection with the teachings on emptiness.
If we meet with adverse conditions, hardship or any form of suffering during our practice, we should try to concentrate on the meaning of emptiness and then chant the Heart Sutra, in this way we can overcome any kind of obscurations.
The blessings of the Heart Sutra come from the power of emptiness and the power of the Buddha, and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, as well as the power of ultimate truth, and the confidence that we ourselves have in the Heart Sutra.