The Heart Sutra in English

Thus have I heard. Once the Blessed One was dwelling in Rajagriha at Vulture Peak mountain, together with a great gathering of the sangha of monks and a great gathering of the sangha of bodhisattvas. At that time the Blessed One entered the samadhi that expresses the dharma called "profound illumination," and at the same time noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, while practicing the profound prajnaparamita, saw in this way : he saw the five skandhas to be empty of nature.

Then, through the power of the Buddha, venerable Shariputra said to noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, "How should a son or daughter of noble family train, who wishes to practice the profound prajnaparamita?"

Addressed in this way, noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, said to venerable Shariputra, "O Shariputra, a son or daughter of noble family who wishes to practice the profound prajnaparamita should see in this way : seeing the five skandhas to be empty of nature. Form is emptiness; emptiness also is form. Emptiness is no other than form; form is no other than emptiness. In the same way, feeling, perception, formation, and consciousness are emptiness. Thus, Shariputra, all dharmas are emptiness. There are no characteristics. There is no birth and no cessation. There is no impurity and no purity. There is no decrease and no increase. Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness, there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no formation, no consciousness; no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no appearance, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no dharmas, no eye dhatu up to no mind dhatu, no dhatu of dharmas, no mind consciousness dhatu; no ignorance, no end of ignorance up to no old age and death, no end of old age and death; no suffering, no origin of suffering, no cessation of suffering, no path, no wisdom, no attainment, and no non-attainment. Therefore, Shariputra, since the bodhisattvas have no attainment, they abide by means of prajnaparamita.

Since there is no obscuration of mind, there is no fear. They transcend falsity and attain complete nirvana. All the buddhas of the three times, by means of prajnaparamita, fully awaken to unsurpassable, true, complete enlightenment. Therefore, the great mantra of prajnaparamita, the mantra of great insight, the unsurpassed mantra, the unequaled mantra, the mantra that calms all suffering, should be known as truth, since there is no deception. The prajnaparamita mantra is said in this way :

OM  GATE  GATE  PARAGATE  PARASAMGATE  BODHI  SWAHA

Beyond - Beyond - Beyond the Beyond - Totally Beyond the Beyond - Awakening - So Be It

Thus, Shariputra, the bodhisattva mahasattva should train in the profound prajnaparamita.

Then the Blessed One arose from that samadhi and praised noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, saying, "Good, good, O son of noble family; thus it is, O son of noble family, thus it is. One should practice the profound prajnaparamita just as you have taught and all the tathagatas will rejoice."

When the Blessed One had said this, venerable Shariputra and noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, that whole assembly and the world with its gods, humans, asuras, and gandharvas rejoiced and praised the words of the Blessed One.

The Prajnaparamita-Sutra is regarded as the holy mother that feeds the bodhisattva with the amrita (nectar) of prajna (transcendental wisdom), and guides him to paramita (the other shore). ["The How to Get to the Other Shore - guide !"]. It is the "utmost great perfection" which gives full enlightenment to the bodhisattva after he has successfully completed the other five paramitas: dana (charity), sila (morality), ksanti (patience, forbearance), virya (energy), and dhyana (concentration).

Lotsawa Bhikshu Rinchen De translated this text into Tibetan with the Indian pandita Vimalamitra. It was edited by the great editor-lotsawas Gelong Namkha and others. This Tibetan text was copied from the fresco in Gegye Chemaling at the glorious Samye vihara. It has been translated into English by the Nalanda Translation Committee, with reference to several Sanskrit editions.

OM  GATE  GATE  PARAGATE  PARASAMGATE  BODHI  SWAHA

Beyond - Beyond - Beyond the Beyond - Totally Beyond the Beyond - Awakening - So Be It

The translation, which follows, is made directly from the original Sanskrit.

The complete text of the Large Sutra of Prajnaparamita was ruthlessly destroyed by Muslim incendiaries in the conflagration of the Buddhist University of Nalanda. Millions of Buddhist and Hindu manuscripts were burnt in this great fire along with the monks and artifacts. Because the original Prajnaparamita is reputed to have consisted of a hundred thousand stanzas it was called Satasahasrika Prajna-paramita. It is primarily intended for memorizing, and is believed to protect the aspirant who knows it by heart.

The Heart Sutra: Prajnaparamita-Hridaya-Sutra

Om namo bhagavatyai arya-prajnaparamitayai!

Om! Salutation to the blessed and noble one! (who has reached the other shore of the most excellent transcendental wisdom).

(In this invocation the perfection of transcendental wisdom is personified as the compassionate mother of bodhi -- wisdom -- who bestows enlightenment upon the bodhisattvas who had vigilantly followed the course prescribed for the aspirant to full enlightenment -- samyak sambodhi.)

Verse 1

arya-avalokitesvaro bodhisattvo gambhiram prajnaparamitacaryam caramano vyavalokayati sma: panca-skandhas tams ca svabhavasunyan pasyati sma.

The noble bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara, being engaged in practicing the deep transcendental wisdom-discipline, looked down from above upon the five skandhas (aggregates), and saw that in their svabhava (self-being) they are devoid of substance.

Verse 2

iha sariputra rupam sunyata sunyataiva rupam, rupan na prithak sunyata sunyataya na prithag rupam, yad rupam sa sunyata ya sunyata tad rupam; evam eva vedana-samjna-samskara-vijnanam.

Here, O Sariputra, bodily-form is voidness; verily, voidness is bodily-form. Apart from bodily-form there is no voidness; so apart from voidness there is no bodily-form. That which is voidness is bodily-form; that which is bodily-form is voidness. Likewise (the four aggregates) feeling, perception, mental imaging, and consciousness (are devoid of substance).

Verse 3

iha sariputra sarva-dharmah sunyata-laksala, anutpanna aniruddha, amala avimala, anuna aparipurnah.

Here, O Sariputra, all phenomena of existence are characterized by voidness: neither born nor annihilated, neither blemished nor immaculate, neither deficient nor overfilled.

Verse 4

tasmac chariputra sunyatayam na rupam na vedana na samjna na samskarah na vijnanam. na caksuh-srotra-ghrana-jihva-kaya-manamsi. na rupa-sabda-gandha-rasa-sprastavya-dharmah. na caksur-dhatur yavan na manovijnana-dhatuh. na-avidya na-avidya-ksayo yavan na jaramaranam na jara-marana-ksayo. na duhkha-samudaya-nirodha-marga. na jnanam, na praptir na-apraptih.

Therefore, O Sariputra, in voidness there is no bodily-form, no feeling, no mental imaging, no consciousness; no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, or mind; no sense objects of bodily-form, sound, smell, taste, or touchable states; no visual element, and so forth, until one comes to no mind-cognition element. There is no ignorance, nor extinction of ignorance, until we come to: no aging and death, nor extinction of aging and death. There is no suffering, no origination, no cessation, no path; there is no higher knowledge, no attainment (of nirvana), no nonattainment.

Verse 5

tasmac chariputra apraptitvad bodhisattvasya prajnaparamitam asritya vibaraty acittavaranah. cittavarana-nastitvad atrasto viparyasa-ati-kranto nistha-nirvana-praptah.

Therefore, O Sariputra, by reason of his nonattainment (of nirvana), the bodhisattva, having resorted to prajnaparamita (transcendental wisdom), dwells serenely with perfect mental freedom. By his non-possession of mental impediments (the bodhisattva) without fear, having surpassed all perversions, attains the unattainable (bliss of) nirvana.

Verse 6

tryadhva-vyavasthitah sarva-buddhah prajnaparamitam asritya-anut-taram samyaksambodhim abhisambuddhah.

All Buddhas, self-appointed to appear in the three periods of time (past, present, and future), having resorted to the incomparable prajnaparamita, have become fully awake to samyak sambodhi (absolute perfect enlightenment).

Verse 7

tasmaj jnatavyam: prajnaparamita maha-mantro mahavidya-mantro 'nuttara-mantro samasama-mantrah, sarva-duhkha-prasamanah, satyam amithyatvat. prajnaparamitayam ukto mantrah. tadyatha: gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha. iti prajnaparamita-hridayam sa-maptam.

Therefore prajnaparamita should be recognized as the great mantra, the mantra of great wisdom, the most sublime mantra, the incomparable mantra and the alleviator of all suffering; it is truth by reason of its being nonfalsehood. This is the mantra proclaimed in prajnaparamita. It is:

gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!

Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond (to the other shore)! O enlightenment! Be it so! Hail!

This concludes Prajnaparamita-Hridaya-Sutra.

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