Several interested sangha met in early April with the express intent of clarifying which translation our community would use for the Heart Sutra which is the central sutra of all Buddhism. We began comparing several versions and discussion led us to commit to a full study of the Heart Sutra in several different translations over the next three months.

We decided to meet twice a month during April, May and three times in June, looking at different translations including those from the San Francisco Zen Center, the Village Zendo, and those done by Kaz Tanahashi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Red Pine and the Tibetan Nalanda Committee.

One of the points that came up in our discussion was that we do not want to let this conversation be merely intellectual: we want to approach it as a light shining on and evocative of our own true selves, individually and as a sangha. Therefore, I suggest one method of approaching these translations will be to sit for a few minutes in zazen before reading them. Then take one translation at a time, breaking each one down into segments, or take one part of the sutra and see how it is expressed in different translations, and as you read, circle words that stand out for you and elicit a bit of feeling from you. It would also be a further enhancement to allowing ourselves to be immersed in the Sutra to keep a personal journal of what each segment means to you, in terms of your own life and your own heart/mind.

At one point in this first discussion, I was asked to summarize the Heart Sutra in one sentence, and I replied, “Listen to your heart.” As in fact with all our practice, listening to our heart is of the essence of Zen, most especially as we consider that the Chinese/Japanese character for heart refers to what we in Western civilization call our heart as well as our mind. We might keep tucked away a reminder, therefore that this central sutra of Buddhism might be called “The Heart/Mind Sutra,” for it leads us beyond the frequent divisions between thought and feeling to an awareness beyond conceptualization. 

We earnestly invite all of you to take part in this study, joining us in our face to face meetings. We will meet at Empty Hand on the following Saturdays, 10 a.m. - Noon: 

April 7, and 28

May 12, and 26

June 2, 16, and 30

There is no charge for this workshop, but donations are gladly received!

An updated (4/29/18) comparison among nine translations of the Heart Sutra is linked here. <= UPDATED!

Please join us in this project and allow yourself to be swallowed and completely held by this ancient text!

In gassho,