Monday, May 3, 2010

Learning the Heart Sutra at Kopan Monastery, Nepal

Kopan Monastery
If there was only one teaching that I had to choose from the Tibetan Buddhism tradition that would be the Heart Sutra.

During my stay at Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal I asked one of the Buddhist monks that I would like somebody to teach me how to recite the Heart Sutra like the monks do, although this was not part of the regular program.

He put me in contact with one of the Tantra School Monks and soon I started to learn the Heart Sutra together with my roommate from Estonia.

I never really managed to learn to recite the Heart Sutra, especially to recite it the way the monks do, using this throat singing technique.  But at least I managed to learn the Heart Sutra mantra: "Tayata Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Buddhi Svaha".

The monk wrote it in my journal. It means something like "gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, oh what an awakening, All hail!"

If you have seen the movie "Little Buddha" you might remember that one of the monks started to sing this mantra while they were at Gita's mother house and almost the whole Heart Sutra was recited when the main Buddhist Lama passed away.

Actually, this was the movie that inspired me to learn this sutra, it was the first time that I heard it. I remember tears came to my eyes just by listening to it... and they still do. Hmmm.... now that I think about it I realize that it made indeed a great impact in my life.

After I watched the movie Little Buddha I searched for the book just to find the sutra.

I wrote it down in a paper and put it inside my wallet and I have kept it there for many years, and although many of my friends from time to time have opened my wallet, nobody has ever found it, at least not yet.

I wrote it down in Spanish, my mother tongue, but have included here the English translation (as in the movie) in case you are interested in learning it.
...Oh Shariputra,
form is empty
emptiness is form
no eye, ear, nose, tongue
body, mind,
no color, sound, smell, taste
touch, existing thing... old age and death
no end to old age and death
no suffering,
no cause or end to suffering
no path
no wisdom
and no gain, no gain
Thus the boddhisatvas live
in perfect understanding
with no hindrance of mind
no hindrance, therefore no fear
far beyond deluted thoughts
This is Nirvana....

Here you can see a short video of my attempt to learn the Heart Sutra at Kopan Monastery. We were sitting on the rooftop above the monastery library. I'm covering part of my face with the cap of my sweater because the sun was really strong.

And here is a great video that I found on YouTube a long time ago from a Buddhist monk chanting the Heart Sutra. It is really amazing

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