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  • Writer's pictureAkiko Murakami

The Heart sutra (3) in English

I found a new English version of the Heart Sutra translated by Hideo Levy (リービ英雄) , an America-born author in Japanese. I first knew him by one of his famous translation works of "Man Yoshu (万葉集)".

”Man Yosyu” , literally "Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves", is the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, compiled sometime after 759 AD during the Nara period. (I should write about this in another blog..)


The Heart Sūtra, belonging to the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā) category of Mahāyāna Buddhism literature.

Here is the translation.!


Ma ka han nya ha ra mi ta sin gyo

The core sutra of perfect wisdom

by which to reach the other shore.

(translation by Hideo Levy )

Kanjizai Bosatu,

who freely perceives all thing,

practicing the perfect wisdom,

cast the light of perception

on the five elements that compose all world

and saw that they are all emptiness,

and thus overcame

all affliction and disasters,

and spoke:are

Oh Sharishi,

form is none other than emptiness,

emptiness is none other than form.

Form -it is, in fact, emptiness.

(Everything is nothing.)

Emptiness -it is, in fact, form.

(Nothing is something.)

To sense,

to imagine,

to will,

to conceive-

they too are all like this.

Thus, Sharishi,

all these

are,in character,emptiness

They are not mere things

that appear or disappear.

Nor are they things impure or pure.

Nor do they merely increase or decrease.

And so, within that emptiness,

there is no form,

there is no sensing,

no imagining,

no willing,

no conceiving.

There are no eyes,

no ears,

no nose,

no tongue,

no body,

no mind.

There are no sights,

no sounds,

no smells,

no tastes,

no objects felt,

no realms conceived.

There are no worlds,

from "there is no world of eyes"

to "there is no world conceived by mind."

There are no twelve causes of pain,

from "there is no ignorance,

and there is no extinction of ignorance"

to "there is no decay and death,

and there is no extinction of decay and death."

There are no four truth-

of pain,

of desire that is the origin of pain,

of the obliteration of that desire

of the path to that oblitera.

There is no enlightenment,

and there is no attaining of enlightenment,

because there is no attaining of enlightenment.

Because one who quests for enlightenment

relies on the Perfect Wisdom,

his heart is free from obstacles,

he has no fear.

Released from all inverted thought

and dreamlike delusion,

he enters into the ultimate Nirvana.

All Buddhas,

all awakened beings of past,

present and future,

relying on the Perfect Wisdom,

attain the supremely correct,

universal wisdom,

and thus realize

that the Perfect Wisdom

is the great mantra,

the great mantra of enlightenment,

is the peerless mantra,

the mantra beyond compare.

It can relieve all suffering.

It is true,

it is not mistaken.

And so he chants the mantra of Perfect Wisdom.

Thus does he chant:

Gone,gone across, you who have gone across,

across to the other shore,

you who have reached the other shore.

Blessed be wisdom!



<in Chinese version>

觀自在菩薩。行深般若波羅蜜多時。照見五蘊皆空。度一切苦厄。 舍利子。色不異空。空不異色。色即是空。空即是色。受想行識亦復如是。 舍利子。是諸法空相。不生不滅。不垢不淨不増不減。 是故空中。無色。無受想行識。無眼耳鼻舌身意。無色聲香味觸法。無眼界。乃至無意識界。 無無明。亦無無明盡。乃至無老死。亦無老死盡。無苦集滅道。無智亦無得。 以無所得故。菩提薩埵。依般若波羅蜜多故。心無罣礙。無罣礙故。無有恐怖。遠離顛倒夢想。究竟涅槃。 三世諸佛。依般若波羅蜜多故。得阿耨多羅三藐三菩提。 故知般若波羅蜜多。是大神咒。是大明咒是無上咒。是無等等咒。能除一切苦。眞實不虚故。説般若波羅蜜多咒即説咒曰 掲帝掲帝 般羅掲帝 般羅僧掲帝 菩提僧莎訶




The literal meaning of "Heart Sutra " is difficult to grasp.. since this is talking about the "Truth"!

Truth, or the reality of the world is something that human have been searching for ever since we existed, I think.

As far as I understand, such ultimate truth cannot be transmitted by words. One can only get to know it, by one's own direct experience through such as deep meditation or during a special state of mind.

Enlightened person is the one who have profound wisdom and come to know the truth after a long time of self mastery. Many religious or spiritual practices had been developed to achieve the same goal, "to know the truth".

Who am I ?

Where do we come from?

Where do we go after death?

What is the purpose of life?

Regardless of the nationality, sex, age, religious beliefs, or any sort of physical differences, we are spiritual beings with an individual Soul, and we are all part of the grand universe.

According to the Bible, Jesus said,

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The more we study different religious beliefs, the more we come to know, that in deep down, we are the same Earth humans with a physical body as a temporary vehicle. And someday, we all leave our body.

Buddha's teachings were mainly focused on the path for awakening to the illusions of the world. ..

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