Svaha! : Heart Sutra
Just finished teaching the last lesson of a series of four weekly classes on the Heart Sutra. This last lesson began an hour earlier at 6.30pm, and ended at 9.30pm. Last week, I had to request the class to grant me another extra hour for this lesson, so as to better pace it, to give a final summary and to tie up any loose ends. I was a little worried about the possibility of running out of stamina or voice during the three-hour non-stop teaching. But surprisingly, it went much smoother than expected, though the delivery can still be improved (of course). In fact, this lesson felt more fluent than many previous Dharma lessons I conducted.
How is this so? I have only one possible explanation for this. In the course of preparing for this last lesson, I had immersed my mind into the Prajna Paramita (perfection of wisdom) teachings, the commentaries of which keep emphasising on the importance of abiding neither in forms (or any of the other four aggregates – feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness) nor emptiness (of permanence and ‘self’). The Sutra also speaks of ‘non-attainment’ or non-attachment to having anything to achieve spiritually.
While delivering the lesson on these very subjects, my mind correspondingly dwelled less than usual on the aggregates or emptiness, or on the aim of ‘attaining’ the end of the lesson in any special way. With little tension thus, the lesson went smooth. There was little exhaustion too, though I spoke quite fast (as usual). It’s interesting that in the process of preparing and sharing on the Heart Sutra, this very preparing and sharing became part of how I practised the spirit of its teachings. When the class ended, there was little sense of ‘attainment’ of any goal, though the general feedback was more positive than many past lessons. There was no inner echo of ‘Yes! Mission accomplished!’ There was an equanimous joy instead.
Comparing this ‘ordinary mind’ (ping2 chang2 xin1) with the seemingly more ‘substantial’ sense of relief and achievement (due to attachment to results?) after having finished sharing a shorter series on the Heart Sutra a few years ago, there is some spiritual growth. Phew! As with the repeated sharing of any sutras, I grew in learning from the sutra too, from further internalising the Dharma. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn and share the Dharma. Thank you, those who were interested enough to sign up for the course. This would not have been possible without your support. (I hope the 200+ slides plus 60+ pages of notes were not overwhelming.) ‘Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha!’ (Coming up tomorrow, a full day Pure Land retreat… Amituofo!)