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The Heart Sutra’s Essay

The Heart Sutra’s full name is the Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra is one of the shortest of all Sutras. As the name implies, it’s aim is to show what lies at the heart of perfect wisdom. The sutra claims that perfect wisdom is made possible by acceptance of the fact that there is no seperation between an individual and the rest of existence despite common belief to the contrary. It goes further than simply claiming a connection between humanity and everything else, rather the claim is that humanity and everything else are one and the same.

Any seeming seperations are misinterpretions which provide a barrier to reaching perfect wisdom, or Nirvana. It is told in story form of the Buddha practicing the Dharma and he had the epipany that the five Skandhas, form, feelings, perceptions, volitions and consciousness, are empty and in this manner he was able to be free of all worldly ills and concerns. The Buddha then goes on to interpret how this occurred and how the Prajna Paramita can allow an individual to reach enlightenment and improve their cuurent life in this manner.

In the context of the Heart Sutra, Emptiness is the acceptance of the fact that humanity and everything else are one and all seeming concerns which fill the lives of humans and act as a barrier between ourselves and all other substance is false. In this manner, our minds if we give up these false concerns will be empty and by being empty we can hold our rightful place in the web of substance rather than raising ourselves above and seperating ourselves from our true place. In accepting that we of the same kind as any other entity we are freed from concerns engendered by our feelings of specialness and protection of this.

In Christianity, the individual is responsible for their own fate. We are given a special elevated place and in this manner we are able to save ourselves by renouncement of sin. This implies that the individual is free to renounce sin and by their individual agency they can change the course of their own fate. However, humanity is the only entity which is suseptible to sin therefore to renounce sin is to become more like all other things which are not suseptible to sin. In this manner, the concept of salvation is akin to Buddhist teachings.

Adam and Eve brought sin into the world and it is now each individual human’s job to maintain to a sinless state in a sinful world. Atonement, literally at-one-ment, is the returning of an individual to the state before sin entered the Garden of Eden. Christ atoned for the sins of humanity and opened up the way for salvation and Christ made is possible for humans to participate in divine nature. Therefore Christ was a prerequisite for Nirvana in a Buddhist sense in addition to the acceptance of humanity’s place in the universe. 4/ Personal Reflection: What is the meaning of Religious Belief to you? Religious belief


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