Sometimes, during the sitting-meditation periods, I give a few short words of teaching. I try to limit it as much as possible, to stay out of the way, to not be a “presence” in this short, essential opportunity people have to look inside in silence and non-duality. The short talks during sittings are never theoretical or philosophical or humorous: they are only meant to drive the effort in the room. Sometimes I sense that the room could use some encouragement, or a sharpening of their view, especially after the lunch, when there tends to be a little droopiness (even in my own practice!).
During a 2-day retreat June 27-28 at Synthesis Center in Athens, these words got recorded. I believe it is a vital point that needed to be shared here, one that really boils down the matter of “how” we should sit, a point I often use in teaching: “Simply have the same relationship to your arising and disappearing thoughts as you do to the arising and disappearing of sounds during meditation.” So totally grateful to be assisted in these video expressions by Ioannis Papadopoulakis [Vajra Vlito Studios] and Matt Semke, of www.catswilleatyou.com.
I am traveling to Athens tomorrow to begin two weeks of Zen practice and Ashtanga training, at two wonderful yoga shalas: Synthesis Yoga (Athens) and Prajna Shala (Thessaloniki). During that time, supporting our sitting practice, we will be practicing the chanting of “The Heart Sutra,” in the Greek language. This is a powerful chant, in any language, and every language version has its own unique power and rhythm. I really like chanting this in Greek, because the rolling, wave-like feel of the chant actually does feel like waves in an infinite ocean.
This is a recording we made last year (2018) in Thessaloniki. We were joined by a group of over 20 Koreans, so the depth and texture is, well, unique and nuanced in unexpected ways.
Here is the chant, followed by the anglicized text. Chant your hearts out:
Maha Prajna Paramita Hrdiya Sutra
O botisatva Avalokiteshvara me ti vathia askisi tis Prajna Paramita siniditopi-ise pos ta pente sti-hi-a ine kena, dinontas telos se kathe pono.
O Sariputra, I morfi den thyaferi apo tin kenotita, i kenotita den thyaferi apo tin morfi i morfi ine kenotita, i kenotita ine morfi. To ithio is-hi-i ke gya ta alla tessera sti-hia, tin esthisi, tin adilipsi, tin thyakrisi, tin sinidisi.
O Sariputra, ola ta dharma ine kena, diladi den e-hun ute arhi ute telos. Den ine ute akatharta ute agna, ute afxanonte ute miononte, epomenos, ola ta pragmata ine kena.
Den iparhi ute morfi, ute esthisi, ute adilipsi, ute parormisi, ute sinidisi. Den iparhi orasi, a-ko-i, osfrisi, logos, soma, nus. Den iparhi ute hroma, ute ihos, mi-ro-thya, gefsi, afi, fenomena. Den iparhi ute o kosmos tis orasis, ute o kosmos tis sinidisis.
Den iparhi to skotadi tis agnias, ute telos se afto. Ute giras ute thanatos, ute telos sto giras ke sto thanato.
Den iparhun i tesseris alithyes. O ponos, i e-ti-a tu ponu, to telos tu ponu, to oktaplo monopati, Den iparhi sofia, ute pro-odos stin opia iparhi epitefxi.
O Bodisatva thya mesu tis Prajna Paramita xeperna ola ta ebodia ke ine eleftheros. Ontas eleftheros den iparhi pya fovos, ta lathi ke i pse-vthe-sthi-sis fevgun makria, ke pragmatonete i nirvana.
Oli i Vudes tu parelthodos, tu parodos ke tu mellodos thya mesu tis Prajna Paramita e-pi-tin-ha-nun tin telia fotisi.
Ya afto to mantra tis Prajna Paramita ine to megalo mantra, to mantra tis megalis thya-vgi-as, to anipervlito mantra,
to asigrito mantra. Dio-chni makria kathe odini. Ine alithya ke ohi psema.
Gate gate paragate para sam gate bodhi svaha gate gate paragate para sam gate bodhi svaha gate gate paragate para sam gate bodhi svaha
(“Prajna Paramita” can be translated as “meditation”, Zen)