Listen to a zen master’s beautiful recitation of the Heart Sutra
Here is Deshimaru Roshi, Dharma heir of the great zen master Kodo Sawaki, leading the Maka Hannya Haramita Shingyo (Heart Sutra) sometime in the 1970s, probably in Paris. The call to chant lasts for about a minute, then Deshimaru begins at 1.29. By the four minute mark, you’re flying.
The Heart Sutra is all about Avalokiteshvara (variously known in other cultures as Chenrezig, Tara, The Dalai Lama, Nātha, Cundi, or Chandi) telling one of the Buddha’s most faithful students (Sariputra) the low-down on reality, form and emptiness.
The Bodhisattva of true compassion,
Through deep practice in Great Wisdom,
Understands that the body and the five skandas are only emptiness.
And with this understanding, he helps all who suffer.
Phenomena is no different than ku, ku no different from phenomena.
Phenomena becomes ku, ku becomes phenomena.
The five skandas too are only phenomena.
All things are ku.
There is no birth, no death,
No purity, no impurity,
No increase, no decrease.
This is why in ku there is no form, no skandas,
No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind.
There is no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no thought.
There is no knowing, no ignorance, no illusion, no cessation of illusion.
No withering, no death, no end to withering and death.
There is no beginning to suffering, no end to suffering.
There is no knowledge, no profit, no non-profit.
Because of this wisdom which leads beyond, the Bodhisattva is fearless.
All illusion and all attachment are dropped off, and he can grasp the final end to life, nirvana.
All Buddhas of the past, of the present and of the future,
Through this incomparable, unparalleled and authentic incantation,
Can attain understanding of this supreme wisdom which frees us from suffering
As it does away with all suffering, it allows us to find reality, true ku.
Go, go, go together, beyond, fully beyond, to the shore of satori.
Text via American Zen Association.
(For more: Roshi Joan Halifax’s commentary on the Heart Sutra.)