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

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

4.2 11
by Dalai Lama, Thupten Jinpa
 

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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

Overview

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 reader can benefit from its teachings - teachings meant to help us release ourselves from suffering and live with true compassion. Comprised of his ""Heart of Wisdom"" talks, originally delivered to thousands of listeners in 2001, the book offers the Dalai Lama's commentary as well as his easy-to-follow overview of Buddhist philosophy that places the sutra within its historical and philosophical context. With additional contributions by scholar and translator Thupten Jinpa, Essence of the Heart Sutra is the authoritative presentation of a text seminal to the world's religious heritage.

Editorial Reviews

NAPRA ReVIEW
"In this volume, the Dalai Lama demonstrates how the core teachings of Buddhism and other major schools of thought are contained within the text of the Heart Sutra. [In fact,] the worldview in these ancient teachings has an eerie resemblance to the world as described by 20th-century quantum physics. ... With his usual penetrating intelligence, simple humanity, humor and compassion, he advocates that we should maintain our own spiritual traditions (Hindu, Christian, etc) while learning from others. 'In family life, social life, working life, and political life, inner disarmament is, above all, what humanity needs.'"
Spirituality and Health
"In the spring of 2001, the Dalai Lama spoke to an audience of 8,000 people in California. This book is a translation of that teaching. He begins with a morally stirring defense of the spiritual practice of unity saying that we are not strangers—all of us are human beings: 'Differences in belief, just like differences in experience, are minor compared to our common humanity. The essential thing is that we are all the same in being human—thinking, feeling and being aware. We all share this one planet and we are all members of one big human family.' Courageous words from a spiritual leader in exile. Stirring words from a wisdom teacher who refuses to give in to tribal hatreds and violence afoot all around the world. The Dalai Lama believes that all the world's religions must speak out in support of compassion, forgiveness, brotherhood, and sisterhood. That is why he also calls for global participation in inner disarmament by individuals and communities. In the second half of this volume, the Dalai Lama talks about the Heart Sutra and its emphasis upon emptiness as a prelude to compassion."
Brian Bruya
"In Essence of the Heart Sutra, the Dalai Lama translates and interprets a central teaching of Buddhism with his trademark precision and straight talk. In the Heart Sutra, the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara describes how to train in the perfection of wisdom by seeing through the illusions of all things. The Dalai Lama goes through the text passage by passage, after an extensive introduction to the basics of Buddhism and the Mahayana tradition's emphasis on emptiness, and shows how understanding emptiness is a key to happiness and liberation from suffering. Who better to explain it than the man reported to be the present-day incarnation of Avalokiteshvara himself?"—

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780861719808
Publisher:
Wisdom Publications MA
Publication date:
09/10/2005
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
597,702
File size:
967 KB

Read an Excerpt


Editor’s Preface

The short Buddhist scripture entitled the Heart of Wisdom, the basis of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings presented in this book, is one of the most sacred texts of Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddhism that traditionally flourished in India, China, Tibet, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, and many regions of central Asia, including what is today modern Afghanistan. For more than two millennia this scripture has played an extremely important role in the religious lives of millions of Buddhists. It has been memorized, chanted, studied, and meditated upon by those aspiring to attain what Mahayana Buddhism describes as the perfection of wisdom. Even today, the chanting of this sutra can be heard in the Tibetan monasteries, where it is recited in the characteristically deep overtone voice, in Japanese Zen temples, where the chanting is done in tune with rhythmic beating of a drum, and in the Chinese and the Vietnamese temples, where it is sung in melodious tunes.

Often referred to by its short title, the Heart Sutra, the interpretation of the subtle meaning of the various passages of this sacred text has produced numerous commentarial treatises over the centuries. In His Holiness’ discourse, we are brought face to face with the rich history of textual interpretation that exists in a great spiritual- tradition like Buddhism. So richly textured is the Dalai Lama’s discourse presented here that this book effectively serves as a comprehensive introduction to the central teachings of Mahayana Buddhism.

Historically, the Heart of Wisdom belongs to a well-known class of Buddhist scriptures known as the Perfection of Wisdom sutras, which the noted European scholar Edward Conze, who dedicated much of his life in translating these scriptures, has suggested was composed some time between 100 B.C.E. to 600 C.E.1 On the surface, these scriptures deal with the topic of the perfection of wisdom, which articulates the deep insight into what Buddhists call emptiness. However, as can be seen from both the Dalai Lama’s discourse on the text and from the fifteenth-century Tibetan commentary provided in the appendix, there is a further, “hidden” level of meaning to the text that pertains to the progressive stages of spiritual development eventually culminating in the attainment of full enlightenment. Furthermore, these commentaries also demonstrate how the altruistic intention to attain buddhahood for the benefit of all beings, which is the fundamental motive behind a Mahayana Buddhist’s spiritual quest, is deeply embedded in the meaning of the Heart Sutra. In other words, the central theme of these Perfection of Wisdom sutras is found to be a profound union of compassion and wisdom.

Perhaps to a reader unfamiliar with the Mahayana tradition, it may seem perplexing that a text such as the Heart Sutra, whose core message is a string of negative statements, can be a source of such deep spiritual inspiration to so many people. To dissolve this perplexity it is necessary to have some understanding of the role the language of negation plays in these Buddhist scriptures. From its earliest evolution, one of the central teachings of Buddhism has been to gain freedom from our bondage to clinging, especially to a belief in some kind of enduring reality, whether it be the external world or the internal world of one’s own personal existence. According to Buddhism, the source of our suffering lies in a deeply embedded tendency to grasp at enduring realities where there are none, particularly the tendency to grasp at an enduring sense of self. It is this grasping that gives rise to dysfunction in our interaction with our fellow beings and with the world around us. Since this tendency is deeply rooted in the psyche, nothing short of a radical deconstruction of our naive understanding of self and world can lead us to true spiritual freedom. The Heart Sutra’s categorical negation of the intrinsic existence of all things, especially the five personal aggregates, can be seen not only as an extension of this key Buddhist wisdom but in fact as a supreme example of such wisdom. This is the key to the overwhelming veneration of this short text in the Mahayana Buddhist world.

In addition to being utilized for deep meditative contemplation on emptiness, the sutra is often chanted as a means of overcoming various factors that obstruct spiritual progress. For example, it is customary in the Tibetan tradition to recite the sutra at the beginning of every teaching session. I remember with fondness the palpable sense of anticipation I used to feel as a teenager when the Heart Sutra was recited at the large congregation of monks and lay people attending the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Dharamsala, India in the early 1970s. The recitation concludes with the statement “May all obstacles be averted; may they be no more; may they be pacified,” which is recited while clapping three times.. The idea is that much of what we perceive as obstacles actually stem from the deeply ingrained clinging to our own existence and to the self-centeredness this produces. By reflecting deeply upon the essentially empty nature of all things, we undercut any basis for the so-called obstacles to take root within us. Thus meditation on emptiness, undertaken often on the basis of reciting the Heart Sutra, is considered a powerful method for overcoming obstacles.

Today, I am deeply honored to serve as the translator for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s authoritative discourse on this sacred Buddhist text. I feel that, in my humble role as the Dalai Lama’s translator, I have been given a precious opportunity to be part of a noble initiative to help enable others, especially millions of fellow Buddhists worldwide, to appreciate the deep insights embodied in this short sacred text.
Whatever merits there might be in this endeavor, may they help alleviate the suffering of all beings; may they help us humans to create a more peaceful world.—Thupten Jinpa, Montreal, 2002

Meet the Author

Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He frequently describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. Born in northeastern Tibet in 1935, he was as a toddler recognized as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and brought to Tibet's capital, Lhasa. In 1950, Mao Zedong's Communist forces made their first incursions into eastern Tibet, shortly after which the young Dalai Lama assumed the political leadership of his country. He passed his scholastic examinations with honors at the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa in 1959, the same year Chinese forces occupied the city, forcing His Holiness to escape to India. There he set up the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, working to secure the welfare of the more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles and prevent the destruction of Tibetan culture. In his capacity as a spiritual and political leader, he has traveled to more than sixty-two countries on six continents and met with presidents, popes, and leading scientists to foster dialogue and create a better world. In recognition of his tireless work for the nonviolent liberation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In 2012, he relinquished political authority in his exile government and turned it over to democratically elected representatives.

His Holiness frequently states that his life is guided by three major commitments: the promotion of basic human values or secular ethics in the interest of human happiness, the fostering of interreligious harmony, and securing the welfare of the Tibetan people, focusing on the survival of their identity, culture, and religion. As a superior scholar trained in the classical texts of the Nalanda tradition of Indian Buddhism, he is able to distill the central tenets of Buddhist philosophy in clear and inspiring language, his gift for pedagogy imbued with his infectious joy. Connecting scientists with Buddhist scholars, he helps unite contemplative and modern modes of investigation, bringing ancient tools and insights to bear on the acute problems facing the contemporary world. His efforts to foster dialogue among leaders of the world's faiths envision a future where people of different beliefs can share the planet in harmony. Wisdom Publications is proud to be the premier publisher of the Dalai Lama's more serious and in-depth works.

Thupten Jinpa Langri was educated in the classical Tibetan monastic academia and received the highest academic degree of Geshe Lharam (equivalent to a doctorate in divinity). Jinpa also holds a BA in philosophy and a PhD in religious studies, both from the University of Cambridge, England. Since 1985, he has been the principal translator to the Dalai Lama, accompanying him to the United States, Canada, and Europe. He has translated and edited many books by the Dalai Lama, including The World of Tibetan Buddhism, Essence of the Heart Sutra, and the New York Times bestseller Ethics for the New Millennium.

Jinpa has published scholarly articles on various aspects of Tibetan culture, Buddhism, and philosophy, and books such as Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Poems of Awakening and Insight (co-authored) and Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Thought. He serves on the advisory board of numerous educational and cultural organizations in North America, Europe, and India. He is currently the president and the editor-in-chief of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to translating key Tibetan classics into contemporary languages. He also currently chairs the Mind and Life Institute.
Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Born in northeastern Tibet in 1935, he was as a toddler recognized as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and brought to Tibet's capital, Lhasa. In 1950, Mao Zedong's Communist forces made their first incursions into eastern Tibet, shortly after which the young Dalai Lama assumed the political leadership of his country. In 1959, Chinese forces occupied the city, forcing His Holiness to escape to India. There he set up the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, working to secure the welfare of the more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles and prevent the destruction of Tibetan culture. In his capacity as a spiritual and political leader, he has traveled to more than sixty-two countries on six continents and met with presidents, popes, and leading scientists to foster dialogue and create a better world. In recognition of his tireless work for the nonviolent liberation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In 2012, he relinquished political authority in his exile government and turned it over to democratically elected representatives. He is the author of numerous books, including The Good Heart, The Meaning of Life, The World of Tibetan Buddhism, and The Compassionate Life.
Thupten Jinpa Langri was educated in the classical Tibetan monastic academia and received the highest academic degree of Geshe Lharam (equivalent to a doctorate in divinity). Jinpa also holds a BA in philosophy and a PhD in religious studies, both from the University of Cambridge, England. Since 1985, he has been the principal English-language translator to the Dalai Lama. He has translated and edited many books by the Dalai Lama, including The World of Tibetan Buddhism, Essence of the Heart Sutra, and Ethics for the New Millennium. Jinpa has published scholarly articles on various aspects of Tibetan culture, Buddhism, and philosophy, and books such as Songs of Spiritual Experience (co-authored) and Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Thought. He serves on the advisory board of numerous educational and cultural organizations in North America, Europe, and India. He is currently the president and the editor-in-chief of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to translating key Tibetan classics into contemporary languages. He also currently chairs the Mind and Life Institute.

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Essence of the Heart Sutra: The Dalai Lama's Heart of Wisdom Teachings 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
FaceMan More than 1 year ago
Excellent inscribed. It reads as if one was in a conversation with the Honorable Dalia Lama himself. This is a great text to supplement one's reading about Buddhism in general and illumines the essence of the Heart S¿tra ¿¿¿¿¿. It is an engaging rad and brisk, per se, i.e., it is not bogged down to heavy insights or hard to decipher Koans, which as re great, but for "newcomers" to Buddhism, will be confusing and a "turn-off" due to the lack of understandability that K¿ans ¿¿ propagate or put forth to the reader (purposefully). Please enjoy and Namaste ¿¿¿¿¿¿.
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