The Heart Sutra is one of the most important texts of Buddhist classics. It is a concise exposition of emptiness, interdependence of all things, presented in the Buddhist Perfection of Wisdom sutras (Prajnaparamita) to which this particular sutra belongs. According to a deeper, “hidden” level of understanding offered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Heart Sutra reveals successive stages of spiritual growth leading to full enlightenment.
The Heart Sutra is available in its original Sanskrit version, as well as in Chinese and Tibetan translations. It was subsequently translated into many ancient and modern languages. The Heart Sutra is part of the daily recitation practice of the Buddhist communities in Tibet, Mongolia, and Russia, as well as in China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan and other countries, mainly those following Mahayana Buddhism.The recitation of the Heart Sutra in various languages traditionally precedes the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in different countries. In recent years the Heart Sutra can be heard in Buryat, Kalmyk and Tuvan languages in addition to other Asian and European languages.
The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas is one of the most renown text in Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It is a beautiful devotional poem written in praise of ideals and practices of Bodhisattvas, those who commit themselves to achieve full enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. In its 37 verses it gives key instructions for those who are willing to enter the path of limitless compassion and love to all without exception.
The author of the 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas is an outstandingTibetan yogi and thinker Gyalsey Thogmey Zangpo. From an early age, he was famous for being primarily interested in helping all sentient beings. As a child, he would even become cross at people if they did not help others. Eventually, he became a monk and studied with and relied on various lamas, practiced both sutra and tantra and became a very learned, realized practitioner.
As His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains, he was most famous for his development of bodhichitta, and this he did mostly through the teachings on equalizing and exchanging self with others.
«In fact, if we try to think of a bodhisattva, Togmey Zangpo is one who comes to mind immediately as an example. He was such type of great person, truly a special being. Whenever anyone came to listen to his teachings, for instance, they would become very subdued, quiet, and calm», − says His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Spiritual practices described by Gyalsey Thogmey Zangpo belong to lojong, or methods of transforming the mind to overcome self-cherishing and develop an altruistic concern of all sentient beings. Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche said that the 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas represent a medium exposition of mind-transforming techniques (a short version being Eight Verses of Training the Mind by Geshe Langri Thangpa and an extensive one − Bodhicharyavatara by Shantideva).
A remarkable Buddhist teacher of Drikung Kagyu tradition, Garchen Rinpoche, who has maintained great compassion to all sentient beings despite all the atrocities of Chinese gulags, always recommends his followers to rely upon the 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas.
«I highly recommend all my followers to carefully study and contemplate the meaning of the 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas. This text is nothing other than my substitute. This is the main heart advice I give to my students. If you manage to tune your way of acting to the 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas and never deviate from it, that will bring great benefit to you personally and to all sentient beings», − says Garchen Rinpoche.
His words are echoing those of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who often teaches the text both in Tibetan community in India and in the West:
«As Gyalsey Thogme Zangpo wrote about these thirty-seven practices in order to help us all, we need to try to examine these teachings over and again. We say we are Mahayana practitioners, but if we do not always examine the actual Mahayana practices, this would never do. Therefore, we need to try to examine ourselves in terms of these thirty-seven practices and see if, in fact, we do accord our actions with them.»