“I” and buddhahood cannot exist together. Once the buddhahood becomes revealed the “I” disappears, just like darkness disappears when you bring a light in.
Before entering into the sutras, it will be helpful to understand a little framework, a little structure.
The ancient Buddhist scriptures talk about seven temples. Just as Sufis talk about seven valleys, and Hindus talk about seven chakras, Buddhists talk about seven temples.
The first temple is the physical, the second temple is psychosomatic, the third temple is psychological, the fourth temple is psycho-spiritual, the fifth temple is spiritual, the sixth temple is spiritual-transcendental, and the seventh temple and the ultimate – the temple of temples – is the transcendental.
The sutras belong to the seventh. These are declarations of someone who has entered the seventh temple, the transcendental, the absolute. That is the meaning of the Sanskrit word, pragyaparamita – the wisdom of the beyond, from the beyond, in the beyond; the wisdom that comes only when you have transcended all kinds of identifications – lower or higher, this worldly or that worldly; when you have transcended all kinds of identifications, when you are not identified at all, when there is only a pure flame of awareness left with no smoke around it. That’s why Buddhists worship this small book, this very, very small book; and they have called it The Heart Sutra – the very heart of religion, the very core.
The first temple, the physical, can correspond to the Hindu map with the muladhar chakra; the second, the psychosomatic, with svadisthan chakra; the third, the psychological, with manipura; the fourth, the psycho-spiritual, with anahatta; the fifth, the spiritual, with vishudha; the sixth, the spiritual-transcendental, with agya; and the seventh, the transcendental, with sahasrar. Sahasrar means one-thousand-petaled lotus. That is the symbol of the ultimate flowering: nothing has remained hidden, all has become unhidden, manifest. The thousand-petaled lotus has opened, the whole sky is filled with its fragrance, its beauty, its benediction.
In the modern world a great work has started in search of the innermost core of the human being. It will be good to understand how far modern efforts lead us.