Mother of the Buddhas

Lex Hixon

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THE PRAJNAPARAMITA SUTRA is considered the originating text of Mahayana Buddhism. Scholars agree that it began to emerge into prominence in India from about 100 B.C.E., about four hundred years after the final nirvana of Shakyamuni Buddha. The original Prajnaparamita, the Great Mother: The Prajnaparamita of 100,000 Lines, purports to record the full audience given by Shakyamuni on Vulture Peak with the greatest explicitness and completeness, though even it falls short of a full record, which would have run to many hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of lines. Over the centuries eighteen abridged versions have emerged including the very short One Letter Sutra, the Heart Sutra, the Diamond-cutting Sutra, and the 8,000 Line Sutra—Lex Hixon used this last sutra in its many translations as the basis for his own interpretation.

Mother of the Buddhas
does not pretend to be an exercise in erudition, but instead relies on Hixon's essential scholarly understanding and his intimate knowledge of the great Tibetan Tsong Khapa Lo Sang Drakpa's (1357-1419) teachings on voidness. The essence of Tsong Khapa's insight was that voidness does not mean nothingness, but rather that all things lack intrinsic reality, intrinsic objectivity, intrinsic identity, or intrinsic referentiality. Once they are so thoroughly relative, there is no limit to their being creatively reshaped by enlightened beings. This insight enabled Hixon not to fall for the simplistic misinterpretation of critical wisdom as nihilistic dialectics; instead, it has allowed him to transcend earlier versions where the sutra was interpreted as reducing the world to a chaotic rubble. These meditations provide a beginning for the real translation of the Prajnaparamita.

—Robert A. F. Thurman


The following is a discussion between Shakyamuni Buddha and his close disciple Ananda about the Six Transcendent Perfections:

Ananda: The omniscient Lord Buddha, embodiment of universal enlightenment, does not single out for praise the Perfection of Generosity, the Perfection of Goodness, the Perfection of Patience, the Perfection of Commitment, or the Perfection of Meditation. Only the peerless Perfection of Wisdom, transcendent insight into the insubstantiality and transparent functioning of all possible phenomena, does Lord Buddha continuously mention, ecstatically praise, intensively teach, and radiantly transmit.

Lord Buddha: You have observed accurately, beloved Ananda. The Perfection of Wisdom alone generates and sustains the other five transcendent Perfections that constitute the way of the bodhisattva, the transformation or translation into selflessness of the conventional, egocentric universe.

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