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The Heart Sutra by Red Pine
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The Heart Sutra

by Red Pine (Translator and Commentator), Buddha (root text)

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Six-word review: Enlightening explication of Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra.

Comments:

"Emptiness means indivisibility." (page 77)

"...ignorance includes not only the absence of knowledge but also the presence of delusion" (page 110)

When I listen to dharma talks, I often feel as if I understood everything while the teacher was speaking, and afterward I don't remember anything. I just have a recollection of some momentary passing light. This is what the teacher wants, I think: I'm not supposed to hoard the words, much less take notes. Still, while reading this book I didn't even feel as if I were getting whatever I wasn't getting.

Still--still. Something may have seeped through.

Here's why I love Buddhism:

"Fa-tsang says, 'Although the absolute and provisional are both submerged, their two truths are permanently present. Although emptiness and existence are both denied, their one meaning shines forever. True emptiness has never not existed, but by means of existence it is distinguished from emptiness. Illusory existence has been empty from time without beginning, but by means of emptiness it is seen as existing. Because existence is an empty existence, it does not exist. And because emptiness is an existent emptiness, it is not empty. Emptiness which is not empty, does not stop being empty. And existence which does not exist, exists but not forever.'" (pages 69-70) ( )
1 vote Meredy | Feb 26, 2017 |
GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASANGATE BODHI SVAHA ( )
  jefware | Nov 12, 2016 |
The Heart Sūtra is one of the most-studied scriptures in Zen Buddhism; while it’s one of the shortest, it’s packed with references to overloaded terms like emptiness. Red Pine unpacks a lot of the baggage, examining the original Sanskrit writings (and tracking down their variations) and creating his own translation from scratch, then going over it line by line in as much detail as needed to give the context of the words. His perspective seems generally Mahāyāna rather than particularly Zen.

I quite like how he’ll dig into Sanskrit etymology when he feels it’s necessary to examine the details of a verb conjugation to try and get at the original meaning intended by the unknown writer of the sūtra. He also provides the context necessary to see that the Heart Sūtra is as much an academic manifesto as it is a work of Buddhist scripture, and includes historical commentary as well as his own. (He even brings in some of the 7th century monastic infighting, which hilariously look a lot like modern academic pissing contests— I can see why Eihei Dōgen was inspired to start a back-to-basics movement!)

This is an excellent look at the scholarly underpinnings of the Heart Sūtra. It does a fairly good job of not requiring a background in academic Buddhism to understand it, though I want to grab a kyôsaku and smack a lot of these ancient scholars he quotes when they take the logical equivalent of a running broad jump with the word “thus”. ( )
2 vote slothman | Oct 21, 2010 |
Emaho ( )
  MarcMarcMarc | May 25, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pine, RedTranslator and Commentatorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buddharoot textmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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The short text of the Heart Sutra is Buddhism in a nutshell. It has had the most profound and wide-reaching influence of any text in Buddhism. Its full title, Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra, "The Sutra of the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom," explains that this sutra contains the essence of the Buddha's teaching, the core of perfect enlightenment. It is the source of the famous and puzzling declaration, "form is emptiness, emptiness is form." For this new translation into English, Red Pine, translator of Chinese poetry and religious texts, has utilized various Sanskrit and Chinese versions, refining the teachings of dozens of ancient teachers together with his own commentary to offer a profound word-for-word explication. The result is a book of deep teaching destined to become the standard edition of this timeless statement of Mahayana truth.… (more)

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