Digital Garden

The Heart Sutra


The following are resources to look into regarding the Heart Sutra

Red Pine

Red Pine in his commentary on the Heart Sutra offers both a look at the history and meaning behind the piece.


  • Authorship unknown; title added later in China; possibly considered a summarization of longer sutras and darmas.
  • Connected to the Sarvastivada from Northern India sometime around 100-200 B.C.
  • Agamas
  • Discussion on shastras and sutras; latter teaching vs teachings originating from Bhuddha.
  • The Abhidharma, the higher darmas. Story of the mango tree. Taught to Santushita on Mount Sumeru during the monsoon with summaries provided to Shariputra.
  • Collapse of Sui in China (581-618) leads to Hseu-tsueng taking refuge in Szechuan before going on 10,000 mile journey through the Kushan Empire. Said to have recited the sutra along his way to ward of dangers. Orgin of Journey into the West
  • Kushan Empire. Northern India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan etc.
  • Silk road connection. Expansion of Bhuddism into China.


  • Broken into three parts, lines 1-11, 12-20, and 29-35.
  • pra = before, jna = to know. Jnaa = knowledge, prajna = wisdom. Related to beginner's mind.
  • Three levels of wisdom. Level one, the mundane wisdom, taken in my appearances. Level two, dialectics and philosophy, what appears pure is impure; what appears to have self has no self; what appears permanent is impermenent. Level three, transcendent wisdom; neither permanent nor impermenent; pure or impure; having self or no self.
  • Pranjaperimita = "She who has gone beyond"

External References

  1. Pine, Red. The Heart Sutra: The Womb of Bhuddas / Translation from Sanksrit with Commentary. Counterpoint, 2004.
  2. Warner, Brad. Hardcore Zen. Wisdom Publications, 2004.
  3. Bartok, Josh. The Heart Sutra -- Part One. BoundlessWay Zen. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  4. Hanh, Thich Nhat. The Heart of Understanding. ParallaxPress, 2009.
  5. Gyatso, Tenzin. Dalai Lama reciting prajna paramita heart sutra mantra - gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha. Youtube. Retrieved 2021-02-19.

Linked References