March 23, 2023

Commentary on the Heart Sutra by Bhante Dhammadipa

Theme and time of the November lectures

During November 2021, Bhante Dhammadípa will continue his lectures via Zoom, this time he will give an interpretation to his translation of the Heart Sutra, one of the most important texts of Mahayana Buddhism and perhaps the most famous Buddhist texts ever. It can be said that this sutra, which contains the punishment of the Prajnaparamita texts – texts about perfect wisdom, goes beyond the scope of individual Buddhist schools in its meaning.

Lectures will take place on Sunday 7/11, 14/11. and 21.11. always from 6:00 p.m. You must be registered to send a link (see below). The link is sent regularly every Sunday before the lecture to everyone registered.

How to register for lectures

Those who signed up for previous lectures on the subject of Kumarajív’s text no longer need to register. Other interested parties must send login details fill this form.

On the Sutra

The sutra is characterized by brevity and precision, its Chinese calligraphy fits on one page. There are two versions (longer and shorter) that match in teaching, the longer text only complements the explanation of the circumstances of the lecture. Bhante Dhammadípa translated a shorter version of the text. The sutra is very popular in the Zen tradition, where it is part of regular recitations.

Heart Sutra in Sanskrit, from which Bhante Dhammadípa tetxt translated into Czech (source wikipedia)

The Heart Sutra is considered the most concise summary of the so-called Prajñāpāramit literature, which was decisively commented on by the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna and according to the opinions of some researchers, he also shaped it. The Chinese translation of the sutra comes from Kumarajiva< /a> from 401 to 402 AD A later translation is by the 7th century master Xuanzang (Genjô in Japanese).

In the sutra, the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara teaches Sāriputra (in Pali Sāriputta, one of the two foremost disciples of the Buddha) about transcendental wisdom (i.e. prajnaparamita). One of the key sentences is most often translated into European languages ​​as “form is emptiness, emptiness is form”, while Bhante Dhammadípa translates this part of the text as “form is nothing but emptiness, emptiness is nothing but form”. The Heart Sutra ends with the mantra: “Gate pāragate pārasamgate bodhi svāhā.” In the Chinese version of the sutra, the mantra is not translated, but merely reproduced in writing in Chinese characters. Bhante Dhammadīpa did the same and left the mantra untranslated.

Sutra translation

The Heart Sutra


(translated from Sanskrit by Bhante Dhammadípa)

Om, I bow to the sublime Prajnaparamita.

When the noble bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was practicing profound transcendental wisdom (Prajnaparamita), he saw the five aggregates of existence and saw them empty in his own essence and said:

“Sāriputra, form is nothing but emptiness, emptiness is nothing but form. Emptiness cannot be distinguished from form, and form from emptiness. That which is form is emptiness, that which is emptiness is form So are sensations, perceptions, the formation of will and consciousness.

Sariputra, in this teaching all phenomena have one quality, the quality of emptiness, they do not arise, they do not cease, they are neither pure nor impure. Nothing is missing in them, nor can anything be added to them.

Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness there is neither form, nor sensation, nor perception, nor factors of will, nor consciousness, nor eye, nor ear, nor nose, nor tongue, nor body, nor mind, nor colors, nor sounds, nor smells, nor tastes, nor objects of touch, nor mental objects. There is not even the element of knowledge of the eye, until the element of knowledge of mental consciousness. There is no unconsciousness, nor the cessation of the unconscious, there is no aging and death, nor the cessation of aging and death. There is neither suffering, nor the cause of suffering, nor the end of suffering, nor the path to the end of suffering, nor knowledge, nor attainment, nor non-attainment.

Sāriputra, because the bodhisattva has nothing to achieve, therefore he dwells in transcendental wisdom unhindered by consciousness. As he has no inhibitions of consciousness, he is fearless and has transcended all delusive illusions.

Because he does not have these delusions, he attains the state of perfect nirvana. All the Buddhas of the three ages have attained the highest awakening based on transcendental wisdom. Therefore, one must know that the mantra of transcendental wisdom is a great mantra, it is a mantra of great science, it is an unsurpassed mantra, it is incomparable to any other mantra. It is the mantra that soothes all suffering. It is true, without falsehood, and therefore we recite this mantra like this: Gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté bodhisvahá.”

Help us continue the lectures

In order to hold the lectures, we had to purchase software and hardware equipment, so please, if it is financially possible for you, you can support this project with a financial donation to account no. 229113660/0600  (recommended contribution of CZK 100 per lecture).

For payments in euros: IBAN CZ6120100000002201698977, BIC FIOBCZPPXXX, bank address Fio banka, a.s., V Celnici 1028/10, 117 21 Prague 1, account holder no. 2201698977/2010: Theravada Buddhism.

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