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The Heart Sutra: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classic of Mahayana Buddhism

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  123 ratings  ·  13 reviews
An illuminating in-depth study of one of the most well-known and recited of all the Buddhist texts--by the renowned modern translator.

The Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra is among the best known of all the Buddhist scriptures. Chanted daily by many Zen practitioners, it is also studied extensively in the Tibetan tradition, and it has been regarded with interest more recently
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 13th 2015 by Shambhala (first published May 13th 2014)
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Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is a new English translation and in-depth exposition of the Heart Sutra, a foundational work of Mahayana Buddhism and a major work of human thought on the Buddhist concept of emptiness. In a scholarly, thorough, and loving treatment of the topic, Tanahashi guides us through the history of the sutra, theories of its shrouded origin, the history of its many translations and translators, its spread throughout Asia and the world, and its role in contemporary Buddhism. We learn the context ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite reference to the Heart Sutra. It is not only my favorite translation of the sutra, but the writing was surprisingly engaging. I was expecting a dry or academic translation of the sutra but what I found was a highly engaging and --yes-- warm re-telling and explanation of the sutra.

It was not clear if Joan H was his wife, if she translated the entire book or just gave help with the sutra. Maybe I missed the explanation but I was not clear about her role.

This book makes the sut
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: emptiness, buddhism
This is a wonderful and thorough addition to the body of work on this profound text. I have studied and recited this text for many years and there is always a new revelation, whether intellectually or through a glimpse of wisdom beyond wisdom. Kazuaki Tanahashi's collection of the different translations is remarkable and a tremendous gift. His line by line, word for word translation is invaluable and a tremendous addition to understanding the sutra. Deeply grateful to Kazuaki Tanahashi.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Heart Sutra was always a puzzle to me, hearing multiple Zen teachers say it encapsulates everything you really need to know about (Mahayana) Buddhism, and yet it's pretty much impossible to understand on your first reading and still difficult to understand on your 100th. I read this book to try and resolve that issue.

The author's + editor's alternate translation of the sutra (which can be easily found online) was pretty mindblowing in helping me with that. Of course, it's still hard to under
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Nice to have as a reference text if the text is important in your religious practice and the terms and concepts section is handy, but a rather strange book in terms of structure. The new translation of the sutra provided is informative but I’m not sure “boundless” is necessarily an improvement over “emptiness” and certainly reads less smoothly than either Suzuki or Conze translations. Still, I learnt a fair deal.
Jason Gregory
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is the most thorough on the background of the Heart Sutra. Tanahashi goes to great lengths to trace the history of the Heart Sutra and explain the lives of its authors and many translations. It is quite amazing how Tanahashi put this all together, but somehow he did. If you are a student of Mahayana Buddhism or have a general interest in the Heart Sutra, you cannot go past this book.
Zack Becker
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Kaz Tanahashi reveals himself as an astute scholar, historian and linguist in this remarkable book. Although it can read a bit dry at times, interested readers will get a deep dive into the history of the "Heart Sutra" and the linguistic choices Kaz and his collaborator Joan Hallifax made when producing their new, illuminating translation. A must read for serious Buddhist studies students.
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
There are highly valuable parts for linguists, scientists, historians etc. And it is interesting to some degree go get more knowledgeable in the regard on how the heart sutra possibly evolved in between regions, translations etc., but this is it. Is it enough or not, it is up to reader.
Ric Poh Peng Wang
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A pretty interesting read of the history of the heart sutra - the explanation was a little complicated but nevertheless a good read for one who wants to understand the heart sutra better, deeper.
See Jayarava's review:

"People often ask me what book I would recommend and I keep having to say that I cannot recommend any book on the Heart Sutra. Indeed I find myself warning people not to read books. Don't read Red Pine, for example. Don't read Conze, D T Suzuki, or Mu Seong. Don't, because the books are poorly researched and written. They won't help you understand the text or put the words into practice and they will certainly mislead you in ways that
Greg Schmidt
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhist-studies
In depth study of the Heart Sutra and it's origins.
The inclusion of multiple versions in multiple languages as an appendix is incredibly helpful when attempting to understand the evolution of this text.
Andy Tran
May 05, 2015 marked it as to-read
This book is very interesting.
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Kazuaki Tanahashi, born and trained in Japan and active in the United States since 1977, has had solo exhibitions of his calligraphic paintings internationally. He has taught East Asian calligraphy at eight international conferences of calligraphy and lettering arts. Also a peace and environmental worker for decades, he is a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.

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