The Heart Sutra

The Heart Sutra is one of the most well-known Buddhist scriptures. Although it is short, it is rich in meaning and history; it contains the essential concepts of Buddhist beliefs or philosophies. It is generally agreed that it was written in the first century CE by a Sarvastivadin monk named Shariputra, making it one of the oldest Buddhist works of literature.

The Heart Sutra is commonly chanted for such occasions as morning services, meditation practice, routine meetings, and funerals. It is frequently taught in Mahayana or Zen Buddhist temples and centers, which are located around the world, but most especially in China, Tibet, Japan and Korea.

At the core of the Heart Sutra is the teaching that, “ form is emptiness; emptiness is form,” which is a central concept of Buddhist philosophy. The Heart Sutra also advises the practice of deep meditation to gain wisdom and enlightenment, and the realization of the emptiness of form, feeling, perceptions, volitions, and consciousness.


The Heart Sutra in Tibetan: The Heart Sutra in Tibetan Script

Heart Sutra: Tibetan-English translation, complete with sound clips in Tibetan

Kwan Um School of Zen--The Heart Sutra: The Heart Sutra in Korean

Heart of Perfect Wisdom: Translated into both English and French

Heart Sutra - Spanish: The Heart Sutra, translated into Spanish

The Heart Sutra: Heart Sutra--A Japanese translation

Heart of Perfect Wisdom: Translated into both English and French

Heart Sutra in Pinyin/Chinese: Contains a version in both Chinese characters and Pinyin transliteration

Background and Commentary

The Heart Sutra-A Commentary: A background article on the Heart Sutra by Dr John Crook, from lectures given to the Bristol Chan Group

Heart Sutra: An introduction and discussion of its meaning and use

Heart Sutra and Commentary: Openness and Compassion: A translation and commentary by Ryuei Michael McCormick based on a presentation given at a Unitarian Church.

Heart Sutra with Commentary: Question and answer format, written by Zenmar, the Dark Zen Mystic.

Dharma Fellowship: Library - On The Heart Sutra, a Commentary: Discusses its language, historical structure, and translation.

Heart Sutra Commentary: This commentary is written by Brian Ruhe, from the Theravada Buddhist Community of Vancouver.

Heart Sutra: Translated into modern English, with some explanation of terms.

Suttas & Sutras quiz: Test your knowledge of the Heart and other Sutras and Suttas

Heart Sutra Meditation: Explains a simple method for using the Heart Sutra to achieve inner peace and balance.

Heart Sutra: In-depth analysis and explanation of the concepts taught in the Heart Sutra and other Buddhist teachings.

Mythology and Personal Transformation: Heart Sutra: An Aural and Visual Interpretation from the Triple Nine Society.

Shambhala - Buddhism Basics: A commentary by Zen Master Seung Sahn, adapted from The Compass of Zen.

The Heart Sutra and Zen Practice: By Rev. Kongo Langlois, Roshi of the Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago.

Whether you are thinking of becoming a Buddhist, or just interested in Asian culture and beliefs, studying the Heart Sutra is an interesting pastime. You may even be able to use your knowledge of this interesting work of literature to impress someone you’re dating or your yoga class or meditation group.

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