Chapter 1: The Buddha Within
Listen to these sutras because these are the most important sutras in the great Buddhist literature. Hence they are called The Heart Sutra; it is the very heart of the Buddhist message.
But I would like to begin from the very beginning. From this point only does Buddhism become relevant: let it be there in your heart that you are a buddha. I know it may look presumptuous, it may look very hypothetical; you cannot trust it totally. That is natural, I understand it. Let it be there, but as a seed. Around that fact many things will start happening, and only around that fact will you be able to understand these sutras. They are immensely powerful - very small, very condensed, seedlike. But with this soil, with this vision in the mind, that you are a buddha, that you are a budding buddha, that you are potentially capable of becoming one, that nothing is lacking, all is ready, things just have to be put in the right order, that a little more awareness is needed, a little more consciousness is needed.. The treasure is there; you have to bring a small lamp inside your house. Once the darkness disappears you will no longer be a beggar, you will be a buddha; you will be a sovereign, an emperor. This whole kingdom is yours and it is just for the asking; you have just to claim it.
But you cannot claim if you believe that you are a beggar. You cannot claim it, you cannot even dream about claiming if you think that you are a beggar. This idea that you are a beggar, that you are ignorant, that you are a sinner, has been preached from so many pulpits down through the ages that it has become a deep hypnosis in you. This hypnosis has to be broken. To break it I start with: I salute the buddha within you.
To me, you are buddhas. All your efforts to become enlightened are ridiculous if you don’t accept this basic fact. This has to become a tacit understanding, that you are it! This is the right beginning, otherwise you go astray. This is the right beginning! Start with this vision, and don’t be worried that this may create some kind of ego - that “I am a buddha.” Don’t be worried, because the whole process of The Heart Sutra will make it clear to you that the ego is the only thing that doesn’t exist - the only thing that doesn’t exist! Everything else is real.
There have been teachers who say the world is illusory and the soul is existential - the “I” is true and all else is illusory, maya. Buddha says just the reverse: he says only the “I” is untrue and everything else is real. And I agree with Buddha more than with the other standpoint. Buddha’s insight is very penetrating, the most penetrating. Nobody has ever penetrated into those realms, depths and heights of reality.
But start with the idea, with this climate around you, with this vision. Let it be declared to your every cell of the body and every thought of your mind; let it be declared to every nook and corner of your existence, that “I am a buddha!” And don’t be worried about the “I”.we will take care of it.