The Heart Sutra (long form)
4:00 m
The Heart Sutra is probably the most widely used Mahayana Buddhist text. The earliest dated extant version of the Sutra is a Chinese translation by Xuanzang, from a stone tablet dated 661 C.E. The tablet exists in two versions, a long version and a short version, with the long version containing additional introductory and closing paragraphs, which are common features in Buddhist sutras. It's full title, Pragñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra, is often translated as "Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom." As with all sutras of the Pragñāpāramitā genre, it treats on the Mahayana ideal of emptiness, famously stating that "Form is emptiness." The long form of the sutra is used especially in Tibetan and other schools of Vajrayana Buddhism. This translation was done by F. Max Müller, and was published in volume 49 of his widely known "Sacred Books of the East" series.

The Larger Prajñā-Pāramitā-Hṛdaya-Sūtra


This I heard: At one time the Bhagavat dwelt at Rājagṛha, on the hill Gṛdhrakūṭa,together with a large number of Bhikshus and a large number of Bodhisattvas.

At that time the Bhagavat was absorbed in a meditation, called Gambhīrāvasambodha. And at the same time the great Bodhisattva Āryāvalokiteśvara, performing his study in the deep Prajñāpāramitā, thought thus: ‘There are the five Skandhas, and those he (the Buddha?) considered as something by nature empty.’

Then the venerable Śāriputra, through Buddha’s power, thus spoke to the Bodhisattva Āryāvalokiteśvara: ‘If the son or daughter of a family wishes to perform the study in the deep Prajñāpāramitā, how is he to be taught?’

On this the great Bodhisattva Āryāvalokiteśvara thus spoke to the venerable Śāriputra: ‘If the son or daughter of a family wishes to perform the study in the deep Prajñāpāramitā, he must think thus:

‘There are five Skandhas, and these he considered as by their nature empty. Form is emptiness, and emptiness indeed is form. Emptiness is not different from form, form is not different from emptiness. What is form that is emptiness, what is emptiness that is form. Thus perception, name, conception, and knowledge also are emptiness. Thus, O Śāriputra, all things have the character of emptiness, they have no beginning, no end, they are faultless and not faultless, they are not imperfect and not perfect. Therefore, O Śāriputra, here in this emptiness there is no form, no perception, no name, no concept, no knowledge. No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. No form, sound, smell, taste, touch, and objects. There is no eye,’ &c.,till we come to ‘there is no mind, no objects, no mind-knowledge. There is no knowledge, no ignorance, no destruction (of ignorance),’ till we come to ‘there is no decay and death, no destruction of decay and death; there are not (the Four Truths, viz.) that there is pain, origin of pain, stoppage of pain, and the path to it. There is no knowledge, no obtaining, no not-obtaining of Nirvāṇa. Therefore, O Śāriputra, as there is no obtaining (of Nirvāṇa), a man who has approached the Prajñāpāramitā of the Bodhisattvas, dwells (for a time) enveloped in consciousness. But when the envelopment of consciousness has been annihilated, then he becomes free of all fear, beyond the reach of change, enjoying final Nirvāṇa.

‘All Buddhas of the past, present, and future, after approaching the Prajñāpāramitā, have awoke to the highest perfect knowledge.

‘Therefore we ought to know the great verse of the Prajñāpāramitā, the verse of the great wisdom, the unsurpassed verse, the verse which appeases all pain—it is truth, because it is not false—the verse proclaimed in the Prajñāpāramitā: “O wisdom, gone, gone, gone to the other shore, landed at the other shore, Svāhā!”

‘Thus, O Sāriputra, should a Bodhisattva teach in the study of the deep Prajñāpāramitā.’

Then when the Bhagavat had risen from that meditation, he gave his approval to the venerable Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, saying: ‘Well done, well done, noble son! So it is, noble son. So indeed must this study of the deep Prajñāpāramitā be performed. As it has been described by thee, it is applauded by Arhat Tathāgatas.’ Thus spoke Bhagavat with joyful mind. And the venerable Sāriputra, and the honourable Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and the whole assembly, and the world of gods, men, demons, and fairies praised the speech of the Bhagavat.

Here ends the Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasūtra.