The Bodhisattvas depend on Prajna Paramita and their minds are no hindrance. Without any hindrance no fears exist. Far apart from any deluded view they dwell in Nirvana.
When I read this first line in my head I always connect it to the last phrase of the previous section. With nothing to attain the Bodhisattvas depend on Prajna Paramita and there minds are no hinderance. This makes sense to me because I see the persistant drive to attain something, that nawing in our heads that I must have or be this or that, as fundimental to our normal way of thinking and manifests as a kind of suffering is the antithisis of of how a Bodhisattva sees and thinks about the world. Of course Avalokitesvara is not the only Bodhisattva. The world is filled with Bodhisattva's. We might say that when anyone acts without regard for self with compassion and kindness they are Bodhisattvas, and when anyone acts with regard to an idea of an individual self and attainment they are just human. We might also say that this dropping the self and the consiquent drive for attainment is Prajna Paramita. And the practice of Prajna Paramita is the practice of dropping the self and attainment and not just the recitation of a mantra. This is not a conventional point of view but it is not wrong.
How do we drop our whole way of thinking about things based on the idea of individuality? That comes from the type of deep experience of non-discrimination I wrote about in the previous blogs. That deep experience manifests a multitude of consequences. The experience manifests itself in many qualities. We can say that one of it's qualities is non-discrimination, but it also manifests as an experience of non-duality. It is also an experience of the mind being quiet, but maybe not completely quiet, yet clear and fully awake. It is also without attachments and desires. It is without our normal inner dialogue and emotions that constantly reinforces our sense of an individual self. It can have the quality of being sensually panoramic because it does not filter our sensations when relaxed yet if concentrated attention is applied it is deep and one pointed. It can also manifest feelings of deeply emotional connection. Lastly it is undeniable in giving a truer understanding of the world then our normal self centered dualistic understanding.
It is the undeniability of the non-dualistic vision that has the transformative power. It changes the whole way we think. It does not diminish our discriminative powers but now we are no longer attached to any version of right and wrong because in our non-dualistic understanding everything could not be but what it is. We may see the delusions that people suffer from but now we also see them as enlightened. Because we have stopped believing in an individual self we find ourselves not attached to our individual desires, and emotions. No longer are we driven by individual attainment but we do find ourselves motivated by selfless emotions of love and compassion. These are just some of the consequences of non-dualistic understanding.
Traditionally one becomes a Bodhisattva by taking the four Bodhisattva vows, to liberate all sentient beings, to eliminate all desires, to master all dharmas, and to become the Buddha way. This intention is just a first step on the Bodhisattva path and not as yet does this Bodhisattva know how to depend on Prajna Paramita. It is only with this experience of non-discrimination that I have been writing about does one become a Bodhisattva as understood in the Heart Sutra. This Bodhisattva depends on Prajna Paramita in two ways. The first way is that He/she depends directly on the experience of non-discrimination, an experience which through practice can be repeated over and over again and eventually can integrate into everyday life. One eventually finds they can function in the midst if this experience. This state of non-discrimination becomes both a refuge and the source of a deepening non-dual wisdom
A Bodhisattva does not live full time in the midst of non-discrimination. He/she returns to the world of multiplicity and dualistic thinking but now this world has been transformed by the understanding of non-duality. Dualism exists within non-duality not in distinction to it. The Bodhisattva sees a world of multiplicity with individual people and individual things knowing they are just temporary manifestations within the non-dual whole. And yet also the Bodhisattva also feels a deep intimacy with all other beings knowing there is nothing that really separates him/her self from other beings This is the second way a Bodhisattva depends on Prajna Paramita.
The Bodhisattva feels a deep harmony with the world around him/her and is not bothered by all those feelings and thoughts that most people suffer with. Most importantly he/she is not bothered by fear of death. Why? The Bodhisattva does not think of him/her self as actually being alive as an individual. Or if he/she does he/she knows better. The Bodhisattva thinks of his/her life as the life of the whole Universe which is without birth and death. This whole way of experiencing and understanding which begins with the experience of non-discrimination is nothing other then dwelling in Nirvana.
As I write this a tragic accident has touched my family. My wife, daughter, and granddaughter are very upset. I see a fear in my wife caused by the sharp reminder of death. The fear of death both for one's self and others we are extremely close to such as family is natural, something deeper then verbal thought. We suffer with these deep emotions and yet we might ask why would we want to stop them? Are these emotions not what make us human? Why would we want to become detached from the suffering of family, friends and the rest of humanity? My experience is, yes a Bodhisattva does carry around an element of detachment but is not by any means emotionally dead. He/she does not fear death for him/her self and others but does experience a intimacy and identification with others which transforms emotions with which we normally suffer into emotions of love and compassion. I write this as an authorized teacher of Zen who has had the experiences I am writing about and am not basing my arguments and descriptions from a purely intellectual understanding, yet I do not know how I will respond to the imminence of my own death or the death of those I am closest to. I cannot know. But still this is my experience to this point in time.