One of the interesting things about Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s translation of the Heart Sutra, is that it appears the beginning and end are essentially saying the same thing. Where the ending says “We all become free together,” the beginning says the same thing, while explaining why this is the case: “Inherently, all beings share the same life, the same mind, the same body. They work together as one, freely giving and receiving whatever is needed.”
To me, this is saying that we all form part of the same whole. And as such, there’s no one we can exclude. There’s no we can look down upon. To the extent we behave like that, we cut ourselves off from the whole. It would be like chopping off one hand, and then complaining because we can’t open the jam.
This habit, this desire, to see others as less than ourselves is actually poisonous. It holds us back from awakening. It probably served some function at lower levels of existence, but it isn’t anything that can take us further. And as Daehaeng Kun Sunim said in the opening, not to know this connection to all beings and states of existence and nonexistence is to walk the path of suffering. So let’s work hard at letting go of all these discriminations and go forward on the path of freedom.
with palms together,
(the end of the Heart Sutra)
Taking the path that’s no fixed path,
leaving no traces behind,
hurry, hurry, and become free.
We all become free together.
Let go of discriminations
between this world
and the next,
hurry and become free.
The enlightenment of one mind
is always shining brightly,
so now everyone,
let’s all become free,
hurry and become free,
all become free.
(The opening of the Heart Sutra)
deep all-embracing wisdom shining forth,
functioning freely throughout
all realms of the living and the dead.
Its light reveals the truth of all realms
seen and unseen:
all beings share the same life,
the same mind,
the same body.
They work together as one,
freely giving and receiving whatever is needed,
ceaselessly manifesting and changing.
But because they don’t know this,
they walk the path of suffering.