Sunday, July 22, 2007

Heart Sutra chant in English

Like most Zen groups, at the International Zen Association we chant the Heart Sutra in Japanese - or in archaic Sino-Indo-Japanese to be more accurate. It certainly gives a sense of something significant and exotic, arcane even and the act of chanting itself is good concentration. However, in my humble opinion, the meaning is important and is best understood in the context of practice rather than reading dry translations afterwards. So I can see a good case for chanting it in English. There are of course many English translations of this sutra, but mostly into prose.

So, by cross-referencing several translations I've produced this Heart Sutra chant in English - I may tweak it over time, so if anyone has any comments on my interpretation I'd appreciate hearing them.

Gassho

Heart – of the – Great – Perfection of – Wisdom – Sutra

A-va-lo-kiteshva-ra-Bodhi-satt-va
While-practicing-deep-Perfection-of-Wisdom
Saw-all-five-skan-dhas-are-empty-of-self
ending-all-suffering
Sha-ri-put-ra-form-is-not-different-from-emptiness
Emptiness-not-different-from-form
form-is-emptiness-emptiness-is-form
Feel-ings-per-cep-tions-vol-i-tions-consciousness-the-same-is-true-of-these
Sha-ri-put-ra-all-dhar-mas-are-marked-with-emptiness
They-are-not-born-nor-dest-royed
are-not-im-pure-nor-pure
do-not-in-crease-nor-de-crease
There-fore-in-emptiness-no-form
no-feel-ings-per-cep-tions-vol-i-tion-consciousness
no-eye-ear-nose-tongue-body-mind
no-col-our-sound-smell-taste-touch-ment-al-ob-ject
no-sight-sub-stance-and-so-forth-un-til-no-consciousness-sub-stance
no-ignorance-and-no-end-of-ignorance
no-ag-ing-and-death-and-no-end-of-ag-ing-and-death
no-suffering-nor-origin-of-suffering
nor-end-of-suffering-nor-path-to-end-suffering
no-know-ledge-and-no-att-ain-ment
With-no-thing-to-att-ain
the-Bodhi-satt-va-fol-lows-Per-fect-Wis-dom
has-no-ill-u-sion
with-no-ill-u-sion-no-fear-exists
far-from-every-false-view
he-realis-es-per-fect-Nir-va-na
All-Buddh-as-in-the-past-present-and-fut-ure
there-fore-att-ain-com-plete-self-realised-liberation
So-know-the-Per-fection-of-Wis-dom
is-the-great-tran-scendent-man-tra
is-the-great-bright-man-tra
is-the-high-est-man-tra
is-the-ut-most-man-tra
can-re-move-all-suffering-al-so-true-not-false
so-speak-the-Per-fection-of-Wis-dom-man-tra
speak-the-mantra-that-says
gone-gone-gone-beyond
gone-fully-beyond-Awake-hooray!
Heart-of-Wis-dom-su-tra

3 comments:

  1. Beautiful! The only line I might expand upon is:

    "no-suffering-origin-cess-a-tion-way"

    to:

    "no-suffering-nor-origin-of-suffering"
    "nor-cess-a-tion-nor-way-to-the-cess-a-tion"
    "of-suffering"

    Just because it is so profound in the context of 'basic' Buddhism. Perhaps something more graceful formula (a middle way between the one-liner and my three) could be found.

    I'd love to see the Sanskrit though. If it is something like, "na dukkha ca na samudaya ca na nirodha ca na marga...." no, just checked online (http://www.io.com/~snewton/zen/sanskrit.html)

    and it's:

    "na duhkha samudaya nirdoha margajna"

    So you're translation is right on:)

    Anyhow - great work!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think your version is clear and accurate in terms of meaning, while mine is more literally correct. But, in this case, clarity trumps literalism I think.

    ReplyDelete