“If you’re invested in security and certainty,
you are on the wrong planet.” 
– Pema Chödrön


The Wisdom Within the Heart Sutra – Prasadachitta

Apr 7, 2024

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What does it mean to go beyond separation as described in the Heart Sutra?

Prasadachitta prefaces this rich talk by asking us to consider all the ways we are steeped in separation. This is evidenced by our language’s practice of adding -ism to a tradition or condition to define ourselves or others — a practice that can serve as a judgment that fosters separation.

He goes on to state that the word dharma can have multiple meanings:

  1. Realizing the nature of reality as sentient beings experience it.
  2. The teachings of the Buddha
  3. The lifestyle that a practitioner follows after taking precepts.

He describes ‘taking on’ precepts as accepting a challenge, an ethical code that is often uncomfortable, but changes how we move through the world.

He then recites and expands upon the Heart Sutra. It describes attaining release from suffering and attachment by letting go of duality. He frames it as a conversation between a fully realized being, the Bodhisattva of Compassion (Avalokiteshvara with 1,000 arms), and Sariputra – a wise student who intellectually knows all the teachings yet is still not free.
Prasadachitta was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 2011 and he became the Chair of the San Francisco Buddhist Center in April 2022. He was born on a “back to the land” commune in rural Northern California and that background has inspired his engagement with others in building the SFBC’s rural meditation center called Dharmadhara. He also helped to establish a community of sangha members who support the retreats there. He supports himself as a documentary filmmaker and photographer but his real life’s work is training others who want to practice Buddhism within the Triratna Buddhist Community.