One of the major daily chants at the Zen Mountain Monastery is the Heart Sutra, considered by many as capturing the essence of Buddhism in several short verses and well crafted lines.

I was drawn to study this Sutra because of its seemingly high emphasis on negation (no this, no that etc) and the concept of “emptiness”, when in fact it is a powerful positive affirmation for living in the “here and now”. For a deeper explanation of this Sutra I would suggest the Dalai Lama’s book “The Essence of the Heart Sutra“.

The text follows below and is also available as a downloadable PDF.


MAHA PRAJNA PARAMITA HEART SUTRA

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, doing deep Prajna Paramita,
clearly saw emptiness of all the five conditions,
thus completely relieving misfortune and pain.

Oh Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form.
Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form.
Sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness are likewise like this.

Oh Shariputra, all dharmas are forms of emptiness,
not born, not destroyed, not stained, not pure, without loss, without gain.

So in emptiness there is no form; no sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness
no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind
no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena
no realm of sight, no realm of consciousness
no ignorance and no end to ignorance
no old age and death and no end to old age and death
no suffering, no cause of suffering
no extinguishing, no path, no wisdom and no gain.

No gain and thus the Bodhisattva lives Prajna Paramita
with no hindrance in the mind,
no hindrance therefore no fear.

Far beyond deluded thoughts; this is Nirvana.
All past, present, and future Buddhas live Prajna Paramita and therefore attain
anuttara-samyaksambodhi.

Therefore know Prajna Paramita is the great mantra,
the vivid mantra,
the best mantra,
the unsurpassable mantra.
It completely clears all pain. This is the truth, not a lie.

So set forth the Prajna Paramita mantra, set forth this mantra and say,

Gate! Gate!
Paragate!  Parasamgate!
Bodhi Svaha!
Prajna Heart Sutra.