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The Heart Sutra of Prajna Paramita

The Heart Sutra of Prajna Paramita

The Heart Sutra of Prajna Paramita is the shortest of all the sutras, only 260 characters in the Chinese translation. However, the sutra explains the core teaching of Buddhism — Emptiness. The realization of nothingness is not a negative zero-ness. It conveys the importance of not attached to anything, especially one’s own perceptions, judgements, feelings, desires etc., so that one can see the world wisely and clearly and be able to embrace the joyful and eternal life. The Heart Sutra is very profound and hard to understand, and one can always get better understanding as one keeps observing and practicing it.

Below, we list the Heart Sutra of Prajna Paramita and its meaning.


般若波罗蜜多心经
The Heart Sutra of Prajna Paramita

观自在菩萨,行深般若波罗蜜多时,照见五蕴皆空,度一切苦厄。
When Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara deeply practices Prajna Paramita (the wisdom of life and death transcendence), he clearly sees all emptiness of the Five Aggregates and is able to cross beyond all sufferings and distressed situations.

舍利子,色不异空,空不异色,色即是空,空即是色。
Shariputra,substance does not differ from emptiness; emptiness doesn’t differ from substance; substance exactly is emptiness and emptiness exactly is substance.

受想行识,亦复如是。
Perception, thinking, doing and knowledge are also like this (Perception, thinking, doing and consciousness don’t differ from emptiness; Perception, thinking, doing and consciousness exactly are emptiness).

舍利子,是诸法空相,
Shariputra, the appearances of emptiness of all ways are

不生不灭,不垢不净,不增不减,
(They) do not produce, not extinguish, not become filthy, not become pure, not increase and not decrease.

是故空中无色,无受想行识,
Therefore, within emptiness, there is no substance (as well as) no perception, thinking, doing and consciousness.

无眼耳鼻舌身意,无色声香味触法,无眼界,
There is no eye, ear, nose, tongue,body and consciousness; there is no color, sound, fragrance, smell, sense of touching and Buddhist teaching; there is no boundary of eyes.

乃至无意识界,无无明,亦无无明尽,
It goes as far as to the involuntary(unconscious ) boundary, without ignorance, and also without the extremity of ignorance.

乃至无老死,亦无老死尽。
It goes as far as to no aging and dying, as well as no extremity of aging and dying.

无苦集灭道,无智亦无得,以无所得故。
There is no accumulation of suffering, no extinguish of the Way; there is no wisdom as well as no gains because of none to attain.

菩提萨埵,依般若波罗蜜多故,心无挂碍。
Bodhisattva, due to Prajna Paramita , has no worries in his heart.

无挂碍故,无有恐怖,远离颠倒梦想,究竟涅槃。
Because of no worrying, there is nothing that can frighten him. Therefore, he is able to keep away from distorted dreams, and is able to achieve Nirvana after all.

三世诸佛,依般若波罗蜜多故,得阿耨多罗三藐三菩提。
Buddhas of the past, present and future, due to Prajna Paramita , obtains Supreme Perfect Enlightenment.

故知般若波罗蜜多,是大神咒,是大明咒,
Therefore, we understand that Prajna Paramita is the great wondrous mantra, is the great bright mantra.

是无上咒,是无等等咒。能除一切苦,真实不虚。
It is the supreme manta, the unparalleled mantra that can get rid of all sufferings, and it is real and not false.

故说般若波罗蜜多咒。
Therefore, he utters Mantra of the Prajna Paramita

即说咒曰:
The mantra is recited:

揭谛揭谛,波罗揭谛,波罗僧揭谛,菩提萨婆诃。
Go, go, go beyond and transcend, go utterly beyond, awakened, well said.