Called the Heart Sutra because it represents the heart of the great wisdom, it was written between the first and the sixth century A.D. Common to all the different forms of budhhism, it is certainly the most well known of the sutras. The bodhisattva Avalokitesvara gives teaching to Sariputra about the emptiness of every being and every object, because none of these posess a fixed or substantial character. Everything is impermanent and exists in interdependence, not in isolation.
The sutra is sung after zazen. It is sung in Kanbun, (a phonetic version in an old sanscrit-chinese).
TEXT IN KANBUN
TEXT IN PHONETIC KANBUN
MAKA HANNYA HARAMITA SHINGYO
Essence of the Sutra of Great Wisdom which permits us to go further
The bodhisattva of the true freedom, through the deep practice of the Great Wisdom,
understands that the body and the five skandhas (feeling, perception, thought, activity, consciousness) are nothing more than emptiness (ku) and through this understanding he helps all those who suffer.
Oh, Sariputra, phenomena are no different to emptiness; emptiness is no different to phenomena.
Phenomena return to emptiness; emptiness becomes phenomena. (Form is emptiness, emptiness is form). The five skandhas are also phenomena.
Oh, Sariputra, all existence is ku (emptiness). There is no birth, no beginning, no purity, no blemish, no increase, no decrease.
Because of this, in ku, there is no form or skandha, no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no consciouness.
There is no colour, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of thought.
There is no wisdom, no ignorance, no illusion or the cessation of illusion, no decay or death,
no end to decay, no cessation of suffering.
There is no knowledge, no benefit, nor no benefit.
For the bodhisattva, thanks to this wisdom that leads us to the other side, fear and dread do not exist.
All illusion and all attachment has been cut, and he can understand the ultimate end of life, Nirvana.
All the budhhas of the past, the present and the future,
can reach the understandiing of this supreme wisdom which frees us from suffering and allows us to find reality.
This incomparable mantra tells us:
"On, on, together, further than beyond, to the shore of satori."