Many thousands of people chant the Heart Sutra daily, as it is possibly the most fundamental of the teachings of the Buddha. Ironically, it is about emptiness; and someone who understands it, must wonder of the vast throng, “What is it about emptiness that you don’t understand?!”
In its context, one of the Buddha’s disciples is explaining to another disciple the profound depth of the realization of the totality of emptiness; or, put another way, that the totality is emptiness. Buddha, hearing this disciple’s level of understanding, exclaims: “Excellent…it is just so…just as you have revealed.”
Avalokiteshvara, to Shariputra: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form; emptiness is not other than form, form too is not other than emptiness. Likewise, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness are all empty. Therefore, Shariputra, all phenomena are emptiness… Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no feelings, no perceptions, no mental formations and no consciousness…no body and no mind…no mental objects.
Did you get that? All phenomena (apparent forms, which are impermanent) are empty; in emptiness, there is no form, or phenomena—“reality,” as we know it.
If, in truth “the body” is empty of reality, then what of “the mind”, and “thoughts”, perceptions and conceptions, “feelings”—of all “consciousness”, in general?
Gate, gate: gone, gone! “All are empty.” Oh. Then what has become of the self: “you”?
The Dalai Lama has written that if it is understood that the self is empty—along with body, mind and consciousness—then those things which the self relates to are also void of content, or reality.
If one understands emptiness…there is simply no basis for grasping onto selfhood to arise. From this practical perspective…emptiness constitutes the highest and most subtle understanding of the Buddha’s teaching of no self.
And since the ‘I,’ the individual, is devoid of intrinsic existence, devoid of self, so too are all things that are ‘mine’ devoid of intrinsic existence…
No self. Hmm. Then what about the things (phenomena) I seem to experience? He gives the example of our meditation practice, which could mean spiritual seeking in general.
Thus, meditative practice is negated. Next, the fruition of this practice is negated—“there is no wisdom, no attainment”—by affirming the emptiness of the subjective experience.
What remains for one for whom “emptiness constitutes the highest and most subtle understanding”? “Emptiness of mind” in recognizing that there is no mind, in reality, to begin with!
All of the qualities of the ‘mind’…are empty, and are negated here…thus, the emptiness of the mind is said to be the basis of nirvana. [or under another name, sahaja Samadhi].
This is what is meant, in the scriptures, by “no mind”.