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The Essence of the Heart Sutra: The Dalai Lama's Heart of Wisdom Teachings

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  508 ratings  ·  51 reviews
For more than two thousand years, the Heart Sutra has been part of the daily life of millions of Buddhists. This concise text, so rich and laden with meaning, concentrates the very heart of Buddhism into a powerful and evocative teaching on the interdependence of all reality.

In Essence of the Heart Sutra, the Dalai Lama masterfully unpacks the Heart Sutra so that any read
Paperback, 180 pages
Published July 7th 2005 by Wisdom Publications (first published January 1st 2002)
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robin friedman
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Dalai Lama On The Heart Sutra

In its enigmatic 25 lines, the Heart Sutra is one of the most difficult of Buddhist Scriptures but also one of the most rewarding. It is a basic text of Mahayana Buddhism and recited daily in monasteries and by practicing Buddhists throughout the world.

There are many commentaries, ancient and modern, on this text, but I found this recent book by the Dalai Lama, "Essence of the Heart Sutra" an outstanding place for the beginner to start. The Dalai Lama's book also
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very interesting (though not light!) read. It's well written and accessible. I knew very little about Buddhism when I picked up this book, and maybe I still don't know much, but I feel like I have a general sense of the concept of "emptiness" and how it might benefit people. ...more
Mike Zickar
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: zen
This is a good summary of Buddhist theology as it relates to emptiness and the Heart Sutra, though it is largely a scholarly text. There is little personality or personal experience in here that may guide the practitioner.

I suspect that this is a book that would reward additional readings. . .
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
At my local Buddhist Centre, I was once asked to recommend a book to a beginner on Emptiness. Now this is can be a tough one. The subject of Emptiness is a beautiful and unique teaching of Buddhism, but there's no doubt that it's also incredibly profound and a topic that can be easily misunderstood. After much thought, I finally settled on recommending The Essence of the Heart Sutra by H.H the 14th Dalai Lama.

This book deconstructs a relative short sutra, The Heart Sutra, which covers the subjec
Emily Schirmer
Dec 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Overall, this is a very good book. Very informative, as well as inspirational. I do, however, feel that at times it was a bit dense. I appreciate such a thorough breakdown and explanation of the Heart Sutra, but sometimes a more general summary is appreciated. Although the book is careful to explain all aspects of the explanation/breakdown, it still helps to have some basic background education/understanding of Buddhism prior to reading – it just makes it a bit easier to sift through. Other than ...more
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Happiness is all up to you.
S.H. Villa
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised by how short the Heart Sutra is. Only three pages out of 150. How long does to take to say everything is ‘emptiness’?

Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no feelings, no perceptions, no mental formations, and no consciousness. There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, and no mind. There is no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no texture, and no mental objects. There is no eye-element and so on up to no mind-element including up to no element of ment
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A reread: Authoritative analysis of the Heart Sutra. The front and back are fairly dry. The middle is the analysis and definition of emptiness, which is so important. This is where the book shines.
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Everyone says hard to read, but...It was the first Buddhist book that I read.
It fell into my hands by accident, or, by auspicious reason...I could not put it down.
I took more notes than ever in my life, and looked up more references and words than ever in my life too!
Then went with a neighbor to walk atop a hill and I discussed with her finding Mahayana Buddhist Teachers after reading this book. It just happened there was an FPMT very small group starting here in Austin, TX. where we were ble
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! Whenever Jinpa and His Holiness team up, some kind of magic is bound to happen. This is one of those works that, out of nowhere, delivers all kinds of answers and insights into things that have nothing (overtly) to do with the specified topic. It was so inspiring that somehow, I found a way to (similarly) milk a comparative essay out of it...;)
Tom Walsh
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
A Little Technical for the non-Student.

Since this is an effort to parse the rather complicated structure of the Buddhist Belief System, it is understandably complicated. As my interest and attraction to Buddhism is fairly superficial, I can’t say that I made too much of an effort to follow some of the intricate descriptions of the divisions and levels of the system discussed.

I was intrigued, though, by so many similarities between the teachings of the Sutra and the concepts like Form and Substan
Magnus Lidbom
I was looking for deeper practical insight into the mind training, psychology and philosophy of Buddhism. This was not that.

To me much of it read like an attempt at a god proof, except that he was trying to prove his version of Buddhism to be correct or how some cryptic statements should be interpreted. Tons of long sections of tortured logic apparently based on some assumptions about how certain parts of Buddhist doctrine can be assumed to be correct because they can be assumed be be written b
Bob Woodley
Feb 28, 2020 rated it liked it
In this book, the Heart Sutra is used to guide an overview of Mahayana Buddhism. Since the Sutra deals with Emptiness the Dalai Lama has to add a post-script covering Boddhichitta to balance out the narrative.

Sometimes avoiding any Sanskrit words makes the text less pithy and more vague at least to me. Is "Heart of Wisdom" really better than Prajñāpāramitā? Is "aggregate" really better than Skanda?

Mahayana teachings are completely revolutionary and are transforming contemporary society. So why
John Stepper
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I continue to be amazed at how the Dali Lama makes the seemingly impenetrable wisdom of ancient texts so simple and clear. For example, I never thought I would understand “Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form.” - and even wrote it off as unnecessarily obtuse - until I read this book.

Also, this is yet another wonderful translation of HHDL’s work into English by Thutpen Jinpa.

Now to look for more of these enlightening texts! (Pun intended, alas.)
Cassandra Giovanni
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I prefer Thich Nhat Hahn's review of the Heart Sutra. The Lama's explanation is muddy and is not written an an inspirational way. It feels scientific and unconnected to the reader. While the heart sutra is about emptiness and intrinsic reality, the Lama makes it very convoluted. I'd recommend Thich Nhat Hahn's book, but not this one. ...more
Dec 31, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of the four commentaries I've used to better study the Prajñāpāramitāhrdaya, or "Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom" sutra, this was the least helpful to me right now. Two stars for the book, but the introductory chapter reflecting on fruitful approaches to religion shone with wisdom and grace and I'll be returning to it from time to time. ...more
May 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A really beautiful book and nicely structured text. Although I am still a little overwhelmed by the idea of emptiness this book has helped me a lot as it is concise and more accessible than some of the other texts I have read on this subject. I recommended reading a chapter then meditating on it.

I can’t stand Richard Gere as an actor but I am very thankful for this book.
Richard Pickett
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
Excellent for being short and too the point on understanding some of the differences of beliefs in various forms of Buddhism at a high level and a handful of valuable insights on what is meant by "emptiness". ...more
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent explanation of the the Heart Sutra! The chapters on how Chittamtra and Madhyamaka differ in their interpretation and the hidden teaching on the Five Paths were particularly concise and helpful to my understanding.
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have carefully, and methodically, attempted to digest the teachings based on the Heart Sutra. It is my belief that i can spend a lifetime and never attain the Buddha's words. The journey is in the striving. ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
They try to blend a bit of history with the spirit of the sutra and fail to achieve both goals. I never felt more uninspired after reading a book about the heart sutra.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wisdom teaching truly. Beautiful read
Adwitiya Patro
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Compassion is the key.
Robert Terrill
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the miraculous mantra.
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading this for the second time, I realised that the Heart Sutra will make a lot of sense if we deepen our meditation practice as taught by the Buddha.
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Masterful explanation of Buddhist beliefs, practices and the meaning of the Heart Sutra - one to reread many times
michael lequire
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's a favorite of mine. A good translation of the Heart Sutra and there is a tremendous knowledge contained within a few pages. ...more
Ursin Raffainer
Sep 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I found the book very interessting up to a point. It then starts to become very repetitive, so I really had to struggle to finish it.

In general, i think one gets a good impression of what some of the main topics and goals of Buddhism are and the philosophy that lies behind it.
The first few chapters are also very informative and give a good context to the discused sutra, but after that, the complexity grows very fast.
I understand that the philosophical concepts are a complex and deeply layerd mat
Michael Chrobak
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Definitely not a good place for someone to begin their examination of the doctrines of Buddhist theology. However, for those who have a perfunctory knowledge, or who have a more advanced understanding of the language and concepts of philosophy, this is an excellent writing.
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"The Essence of the Heart Sutra" is His Holiness the Dalai Lama's commentary on this fundamental Mahayana text, wonderfully translated and annotated by Thupten Jinpa.

Beginning with a call to interreligious dialogue and mutual enrichment between different faiths, His Holiness proceeds to explain emptiness, the main topic of the Heart Sutra, with both a depth and clarity without comparison. Each line's both explicit and implicit meanings are put forward, while the most common mistakes in dealing w
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Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (born Lhamo Döndrub), the 14th Dalai Lama, is a practicing member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is influential as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the world's most famous Buddhist monk, and the leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India.

Tenzin Gyatso was the fifth of sixteen children born to a farming family. He was proclaimed the

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