Courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources
The Heart of the Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom
from the Words of the Buddha
In the language of India: bhagavatī prajñāpāramitā hṛdaya
In the language of Tibet: bcom ldan 'das ma shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i snying po
In the English language: The Blessed Mother, the Heart of the Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom.
In a single segment.
Homage to the Bhagavatī Prajñāpāramitā!
Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One was dwelling in Rājgṛha at Vulture Peak mountain, together with a great community of monks and a great community of bodhisattvas.
At that time, the Blessed One entered an absorption on categories of phenomena called ‘perception of the profound’. At the same time, noble Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva and great being, beheld the practice of the profound perfection of wisdom, and saw that the five aggregates are empty of nature. Then, through the Buddha's power, venerable Śāriputra said to noble Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva and great being: “How should a child of noble family who wishes to practise the profound perfection of wisdom train?”
This is what he said, and the noble Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva and great being, replied to venerable Śāriputra as follows: “O Śāriputra, a son of noble family or daughter of noble family who wishes to practise the profound perfection of wisdom should regard things in this way: they should see the five aggregates to be empty of nature. Form is empty; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form is not other than emptiness. In the same way, sensation, recognition, conditioning factors, and consciousness are emptiness. Therefore, Śāriputra, all dharmas are emptiness; they are without characteristics; they are unarisen and unceasing; they are not tainted and not untainted; they are not deficient and not complete. Therefore, Śāriputra, in emptiness, there is no form, no sensation, no recognition, no conditioning factors, no consciousness; no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no visible form, no sound, no odour, no taste, no texture and no mental objects; there is no eye element up to no mind element and as far as no mental consciousness element; there is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance up to no old age and death, no extinction of old age and death. Likewise, there is no suffering, no origin, no cessation and no path, no wisdom, no attainment, and no non-attainment. Therefore, Śāriputra, since bodhisattvas have no attainment, they rely on and abide by the perfection of wisdom. Since their minds are unobscured, they have no fear. They completely transcend error and reach the ultimate nirvāṇa. All the buddhas throughout the three times fully awaken to unsurpassed, genuine and complete enlightenment by means of the perfection of wisdom. Therefore, the mantra of the perfection of wisdom—the mantra of great insight, the unsurpassed mantra, the mantra that equals the unequalled, the mantra that pacifies all suffering—is not false and should thus be understood as true. The mantra of the perfection of wisdom is proclaimed as follows:
[oṃ] gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhisvāhā.
Śāriputra, a bodhisattva and great being should train in the profound perfection of wisdom in this way.”
Thereupon, the Blessed One arose from that absorption and commended Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva and great being: “Excellent, excellent indeed, O son of noble family, that is how it is. That is just how it is. One should practise the profound perfection of wisdom just as you have taught and then even the tathāgatas will rejoice.”
When the Blessed One had said this, venerable Śāriputra, and noble Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva and great being, together with the whole assembly and the world of gods, human beings, asuras and gandharvas rejoiced and praised the speech of the Blessed One.
Thus concludes the Mahāyāna Sūtra of the Blessed Mother, the Heart of the Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom.
| Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2019.
- "Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i snying po" in bKa' 'gyur (dpe bsdur ma (TBRC W1PD96682). Vol. 34: 426–429. Beijing: Krung go'i bod rig pa'i dpe skrun khang /, 2006-2009.
- Dalai Lama, the Fourteenth. Essence of the Heart Sutra: The Dalai Lama's Heart of Wisdom Teachings. Translated and edited by Geshe Thupten Jinpa. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2002.
- Lopez, Jr., Donald S. Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sūtra. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.
- ———. The Heart Sūtra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries. Albany: State University of New York Press. 1988.