AG: Okay, the Bodhisattva Vows and the PrajnaparamitaSutra or statement are the basis for Zen Buddhism, which is Mahayana, and Tibetan Buddhism, which is Mahayana. (The Prajnaparamita Sutra) probably should be understood both as a piece of poetic literature, which it is, and also a general philosophy, and also a basis to understand this area of poetic mind. It’s the Prajnaparamita or Highest Perfect Wisdom, no less – highest perfect wisdom. Does anybody else have the chutzpah? Yeah, it’s actually an insight akin to much poetic insight that you’ll run into in the Romantic and modern poets.
It runs approximately as follows. It’s generally chanted monosyllabically in Zen temples in the morning (or before meditation) in a style something like [Allen begins to chant the sutra] – “Kan-Ji Zai Bo Satsu Gyo Jin Han Nya Ha Ra Mit Ta Ji Sho Ken Go Un Kai Ku Do Isai Ku Yaku Sha Ri Shi Shiki Fu I Shiki Shiki Soku Ze Ku Ku Soku Ze Shiki Ju So Gyo Shiki Yaku..” – I forgot. Something like that. But you get that monosyllabic chanting, (in) both Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, and, originally, somewhat like that (in) Sanskrit, or Pali.
The English translation by Suzuki Roshi of the San Francisco Soto Zen Center is sort of telegraph-ese monosyllabic and is pretty coherent, and there is an excellent translation done by Francesca Fremantle and Chogyam Trungpa (Rinpoche), which is chanted in the Dorje Dzong upstairs meditation room every day. Suzuki Roshi’s version is something like – “Avalokitesvara bodhisattva” (“bodhisattva”, (as) you know, is someone who has taken the vows of the bodhisattva, the four vows, “Avalokitesvara is that aspect of wakened mind which is down-glancing compassion, the aspect of empathetic compassion, glancing downward from some watchful height. “Down-glancing space-warrior, down-glancing space-enterer” or “Avalokitesvara bodhisattva” practiced highest perfect wisdom meditation..” (which is what we were for ten minutes, just paying attention to breath or empty mind) “..practiced highest perfect wisdom meditation when he perceived the five heaps of appearances all empty”..”(it) relieved every suffering, (the) five skandhas, five heaps of appearance
(It’s another matter we’ll go into if you ever want – just say, “the heaps of appearance all empty”). When he perceived the heaps of appearances empty, it relieved every suffering. Sariputra ((a) student, who was enquiring), (realized) Form is no different than emptiness, Emptiness is no different than form. Form is the emptiness. Emptiness is the form. “Sensation, feeling, form, feeling…” – let’s see now, “form, feelings, reactions” – well, see, there are several different translations, so I’m trying to make an approximation now. So, “Form, feeling reaction, solidification of feeling reaction, habit reaction, and continuation of consciousness are all like this – empty, Sariputra, this is the original nature of everything – not born, not annihilated, not tainted, not pure, does not increase, does not decrease. Therefore, in emptiness, no form, no feeling, no sensation habit, no fixation (of) thought, no continuity of consciousness. Sariputra, this is the original character of everything – no form, no feeling, no sensation, no consciousness. No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind, no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of touch. no eye, no world of eyes until we come along these categories of no world of consciousness. No ignorance also, no combat against ignorance. No suffering, no cause of suffering. No nirvana. No path, no wisdom. Also attainment, because no attainment. Every Buddha depends upon highest perfect wisdom, because mind is no obstacle. Because of no obstacle, fear doesn’t exist. Therefore attain complete perfect enlightenment”.
[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-nine-and-a-quarter minutes in]
[Allen Ginsberg and Ed Sanders deliver the Prajnaparamita Sutra at the funeral service for Carl Solomon]