Translation & Interpretation of the Heart Sutra

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Translated & Interpreted by Master Genevieve Tan Shu Thung during her spiritual lecture in Beijing, CHINA (January 19, 2011)

This is the translation and interpretation of the Buddhist Heart Sutra, outlining the spiritual truth of Reality:

A lotus flower symbolises total detachment. Therefore, “the Jewelled One upon the Lotus” is one who is untainted with impurities and the weather of external circumstances. He / She who dwells deeply in the Ultimate Wisdom of Perfection will ultimately reach the realisation that all the five elements that seemingly exist are in fact, non-existent at all. This realisation is the one responsible for liberating all from suffering and distress.

O Devoted Disciple of the Buddhic (Wisdom) Path,

Know that the Form is not different from the Formless (perceived by the 5 senses as ‘space’). Divinity pervades the entire Universe, including what we see as space. In fact, there is no ‘space’. If divinity is all-pervasive, where is there space and form? Each cannot be known without the other; ie. the formless cannot be known without the form, and vice-versa. All activities, within or without, such as sensations, thoughts, impulses, awareness, feelings, speech and so on, are in fact “nothingness”. These only seem to exist from a limited worldly individual perception. From the view of the Great White Spirit (the Ultimate Whole), these do not exist.

The Supreme Consciousness neither begins, nor does it end. It is never stained, nor is it pure. Nothing is ever gained, nor will it be lost. Therefore, the formless substance (Supreme Consciousness) that has no sensation, thoughts, impulses and awareness pervades all space. Since it is all-pervasive, this Substance too pervades all forms. It is not confined to the 5 senses. It has neither eye, ear, nose, tongue, body nor mind. It is not governed by sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thoughts or even knowledge. IT is all there is; everything, yet nothing.

There is no such thing for IT (Supreme Consciousness) as ignorance, therefore, there is no end for ignorance [Note: Ignorance, bad or good are examples of the terms Man have come up with for daily interaction / communication. Since Supreme Consciousness is all there ever is, it just IS, untainted with any values / terms Man have introduced in attempting to extol the Spiritual Truth]. Since It is neither beginningless nor endless, there is also no such thing as birth, ageing and death. The Supreme Consciousness does not suffer, nor does it cause suffering. Hence, there is no end of suffering. [Note: What does not begin, does not end]. From the State of the Whole, there is no attainment of wisdom, for there is no wisdom to attain.

Knowing and accepting this Transcendental Truth will leave your mind untainted with delusion of a world of duality. With that, there shall be no fear and deluded desires. Remember, IT (Supreme Consciousness) is all there is. IT is all that exist. And because of this, it ceases to exist. Only when there are two will one know that he / she exists. When there is only ONE, it does not even appear to exist. It just IS. This is what we call the state of Nirvana (Enlightenment). Spiritual guides, be it of the past, present and future, have ‘awakened’ from their deep slumber of this multi-faceted dream, realizing this Spiritual Truth. This is the key to be free from all bondages, leading to Ultimate Liberation (also known as Moksha).

觀 自 在 菩 薩
Guan zi zai pu sa
The Jewelled One Upon the Lotus

行 深 般 若 波 羅 蜜 多 時
Xing Shen Bo Ri Bo Lo Mi Duo Shi
Who dwells deeply in the Ultimate Wisdom of Perfection

照 見 五 蘊 皆 空
Zao Jian Wu Yun Jie Kong
Will come to an ultimate realization that all the five elements are *empty (better used as space).

度 一 切 苦 厄
Du yi qie ku er
This realisation will liberate one from all suffering and distress.

舍 利 子
She li zi
(Direct Translation: Shariputra - (This symbolises the devoted Disciple of the Buddhic Path) “O Devoted Disciple of the Buddhic Path”

色 不 異 空 空 不 異 色
Se bu yi kong, kong bu yi se
Know that form does not differ from space, and space does not differ from form.

色 即 是 空 空 即 是 色
Se ji shi kong, kong ji shi se
Form is in fact, space, and space is in fact, form.

受 想 行 識 亦 復 如 是
Shou xiang xing shi yi fu ru shi
Sensations, Thoughts, Impulses, Awareness –all in fact also ARE…

舍 利 子
She li zi
Direct Translation: Shariputra - (This symbolises the devoted Disciple of the Buddhic Path):
“O Devoted Disciple of the Buddhic (Wisdom) Path”

是 諸 法 空 相
Shi zhu fa kong xiang
Despite their seeming existence (manifestation), are all in fact, nothingness.

不 生 不 滅
Bu sheng, bu mie
(Nothing) begins nor ends

不 垢 不 淨
Bu gou, bu jing
(Nothing) is stained, nor pure

不 增 不 減
Bu Zheng Bu Jian
(Nothing) is gained, nor is it lost

是 故 空 中 無 色
(Shi gu) kong zong wu se
Therefore, amidst this space, there is actually no form

無 受 想 行 識
Wu shou xiang xing shi
No sensations, thoughts, impulses, and awareness

無 眼 耳 鼻 舌 身 意
Wu yan er bi she shen yi
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind

無 色 聲 香 味 觸 法
Wu se sheng xiang wei chu fa
No form, sound, smell, taste, touch, and knowledge

無 眼 界 乃 至 無 意 識 界
Wu yan jie nai zhi wu yi shi jie

No realm of sight, nor thoughts

無 無 明 亦 無 無 明 盡
Wu wu ming yi wu wu ming jing

There is no ignorance, nor end of ignorance

乃 至 無 老 死 亦 無 老 死 盡
Nai zhi wu lao si yi wu lao si jing
No ageing and death, hence there is also no end of ageing and death.

無 苦 集 滅 道
Wu ku ji mie dao
No suffering, cause of suffering, and therefore end of suffering, as well as no path to follow

無 智 亦 無 得
Wu zhi yi wu de
No attainment of wisdom, and no wisdom to attain

以 無 所 得 故
Yi wu suo de qu
As nothing is attained, therefore...

菩 提 薩 埵
Pu ti sa duo
Bodhisattvas (Embodiments of Divinity)

依 般 若 波 羅 蜜 多 故
Yī bo ri bo luo mi duo gu
Follow the Prajna Paramita (Perfection of Transcendental Wisdom), which leads to;

心 無 罣 礙
Xin wu gua ai
A mind untainted with delusion...

無 罣 礙 故 
Wu gua ai gu
With no delusion (hindrance or obstruction), therefore;

無 有 恐 怖
Wu you kong bu

There is no fear

遠 離 顛 倒 夢 想
Yuan li dian dao meng xiang
Far away from deluded desire and dreams;

究 竟 涅 槃
Jiu jing nie pan
And eventually attaining the state of Nirvana (Enlightenment).

三 世 諸 佛
San shi zhu fo
All Buddhas (Enlightened beings) of the past, present and future

依 般 若 波 羅 蜜 多 故
Yi bo re bo lu mi duo gu
Follow the path of Prajna Paramita (Transcendental Wisdom) to...

得 阿 耨 多 羅 三 藐 三 菩 提
De a nuo duo luo san miao san pu ti
Realise the Ultimate Truth and are completely awakened!

故 知 般 若 波 羅 蜜 多
Gu zi bo re bo luo mi duo
Therefore, know that the Prajna Paramita (Transcendental Wisdom)...

是 大 神 咒
Shi da shen zhou
Is a great Divine Mantra...

是 大 明 咒
Shi da ming zhou
Is an enlightening Mantra...

是 無 上 咒
Shi wu shang zhou
The Ultimate Mantra (Unsurpassed)...

是 無 等 等 咒
Shi wu deng deng zhou
And an incomparable Mantra...

能 除 一 切 苦
Neng chu yi qie ku
To remove / alleviate all suffering...

真 實 不 虛
Zhen shi bu xu
This is the Ultimate Truth that cannot be doubted.

故 說 般 若 波 羅 蜜 多 咒
Gu shuo bo re bo luo mi duo zhou
Hence the Prajna Paramita propagates..

即 說 咒 曰
Ji shuo zhou yie 
Saying this:

揭 諦 揭 諦 波 羅 揭 諦  
波 羅 僧 揭 諦 菩 提 娑 婆 訶

Jie di jie di bo luo jie di
Bo luo seng jie di pu di sa po he

Ascend beyond,
Ascend beyond altogether,
So be it."

Source: Sandhya Maarga Organisation

Copyright © 2012 Sandhya Maarga Holistic Living Resources
Holistic Living Annex (Volume 1, Issue 2 - MAR 2012 Edn)

16 Responses for “ Translation & Interpretation of the Heart Sutra”

  1. Cindy says:

    Dear Genevieve,
    Thank you so much for the interpretation of the heart sutra..I love the way you interpret it..thanks for the video u added in, i have been looking for that particular mantra for sometimes already and here i found it..

  2. Anonymous says:

    I like the way you interpret it.. Very profound!!

  3. George Lee says:

    The best that I have seen so far. The interpretation is very deep and it is quite difficult to digest. Nonetheless, they are indeed words of wisdom. Thx

  4. Paema Shri says:

    Guruji, it is very enlightening. However, I am yet to experience the oneness between the form and formless. And I did not quite understand your statement, "From the State of the Whole, there is no attainment of wisdom, for there is no wisdom to attain."

    I thought we were all supposed to cultivate the wisdom of spirituality so that we can realise that we are the absolute Atma? Please do explain.

  5. 双佳佳 says:

    谢谢妳姝彤师傅。 妳说得对!心经太重要了。 如果全部人都会明白心经的意思的话,世界就太平了!不是吗?我们就没必要伤心因为全部都不是真的。。 我们现在活在梦里。。 全部都是一场梦而已。心经说:“色不異空,空不異色” 我们所看到的都是错觉!放菩萨在心理,我们才会起来。 你会再回来北京教我们坐禅吗?

  6. Goh Chui Ling says:

    Master, I would like to second Paema Shri's question. In the last paragraph, you mentioned "Knowing and accepting this Transcendental Truth", doesn't Transcendental Truth in this context implies divine wisdom? You have always taught us all these years that we must live by our innate wisdom. How then can there be no wisdom to attain as a spiritual being?

  7. mandygirl says:

    isn't this post an old one? why has it been reposted? pls post other lectures of yours so that i may add to my collection. :)

  8. 黄晶玉 says:

    佳佳。你真的在北京见过师傅吗? 他是不是住在中国? 我住在上海。你可以给我她的地址吗? 我也很想学坐禅。

  9. Kiki Wong says:

    佳佳, 陈大师她不在中国。 听说,她现在是在印度。 妳可以试下找陈大师的上海弟子。 我相信他们也会把陈大师所教的一切交给你。如果妳有兴趣的话,我可以帮你和他们联络。

  10. Sumetha Padmini says:

    To Paema & Goh, I remember Guruji said once in her lecture in India that when we have merged with the divine whole, everything else exists within us. She also mentioned that we are the creator, creation and the process of creating itself. So, being the absolute, there is nothing that is not. From my humble opinion, I think she was referring to the fact that since we are the Self and not our individual bodies, there is nothing for us to chase on the outside and that includes wisdom.

  11. Nirmala Mahalingam says:

    I found a quote in my notebook. I hope this helps!

    Master Genevieve said "We are All, yet we are the One and only (Great White Spirit). In deep slumber, Man thinks that he has so much to crave for and accomplish. You are the very Source of creation, so where is there the need for craving and accomplishment? You are the creator, creation and the process of creating itself. There is nothing Atma is not. Nevertheless, so long Man exists in a physical form governed by a limited ego-self, no doubt he is to live the best he can and shape his life according to Dharma using his inner power abiding by his inner calling."

  12. Alex Wu Chen Hao says:

    Impressive interpretation there. The Buddhist scripture is so profound, yet very few understand it. I am happy to know someone actually does! After all, we are here to escape the cycle of Samsara, and the only way is to rise beyond our five senses.

  13. Lovely are Thy words of wisdom that fill my soul. Thank you.

  14. Prasanna says:

    Tat Twam Aasi. Thou Art That. We are the everlasting Brahman, infinity itself. I loved the Master's quote Nirmala. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Shirley Yang says:

    Dearest Master, then can I ask what is living actually for since nothing really exists. I find it difficult to digest the spiritual wisdom that you have taught us all these years.

  16. Jimmy says:

    The best interpretation that I have come across yet on this sutra.


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