Heart Sutra Traceable With Hiragana and Meanings

The Heart Sutra is heard and seen everywhere in Japan. Some of the kanji however, are a little archaic. Also, as I have found, the text is full of long strings of kanji used purely phonetically to represent Buddhist names and terms from Sanskrit. Also, it would appear that this whole text is actually Chinese, from around the year 600.

This is my attempt to decipher and memorize the whole thing.

Once that is completed, I will post a nice PDF where you can trace the Sutra as you do at many temples.

This will be a work in progress over the next few weeks.

I have found a few good videos. The one below is romaji, but I will post some with kanji and hiragana

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_Sutra

  2. http://www.andrew-may.com/zendynamics/heart.htm

  3. https://www.theartofcalligraphy.com/heart-sutra-in-japanese

  4. http://www.vincentpoon.com/heart-sutra-buddhism.html

  5. http://hannya.kakukaku-sikajika.com/reading/

First, here is a list of the kanji and what they mean, with some notes. I used カタカナ for purely phonetic kanji. I will be working on this document a little more.

佛 	ぶっ 	Buddha 	Buddha 	Usually 佛 in Heart Sutra, but commonly 仏.
説 	せつ 	theory 	佛説 Buddha’s teaching 	
摩 	マ 	chafe 	 	
訶 	か 	scold 	マハ great 	
般 	ハン 	generally 		
若 	二ゃ 	young 		
波 	ハ 	wave 	 	
羅 	ラ 	spread out 	 	
蜜 	ミッ 	honey 	 	is 密 an alternative?
多 	タ 	many  ハン二ゃハラミッタ Prajnaparamita , the perfection of wisdom. This whole text is a discourse on this concept of the essential emptiness of existence. 	
心 	しん 	heart 	heart 	
経 	ぎょう 	passage of time 	sutra 	

That is the title, now it starts. Some times I hear the chanting start on the “まか” above, and sometimes on the “はんにゃ”, but usually it starts on the line below.
観 	カン 	view 	
自 	ジ  self 	
在 	ザイ 	exist 	-Avalokita – 観音, かんのん in Japan. This is Kannon speaking! 	
菩 	ぼ 	sacred tree 		
薩 	さつ 	salvation, Buddha 	菩薩 bodhisattva 	
行 	ぎょう 	go 	practice 	
深 	じん 	deep 		
般 	ハン 	
若 	二ゃ 			
波 	ハ 		 	
羅 	ラ 	 	 	
蜜 	ミッ  	 	
多 	タ 	
時 	じ 	time 	now 	
照 	しょう 	illuminate 	clearly 	
見 	けん 	see 	sees 	
五 	ご 	five 	five 	
蘊 	うん 	pile up 	五蘊 the five aggregates 	the 五蘊 are 色, 受,想,行,識. Suffering arises when a being clings to these aggregates.
皆 	かい 	all 	all 	
空 	くう 	sky 	empty 	
度 	ど 	degrees 	free from 	
一 	いっ 	one 		
切 	さい 	cut 	all 	
苦 	く 	suffering 	suffering 	
厄 	やく 	unlucky 	unhappiness 	
舎 	シャ 	cottage 	
利 	り 	profit 		
子 	シ 	child 	Sariputra one of the Buddhas two main disciples. Usually written as 舎利弗 , しゃりほつ. 舎利仏 is receiving this teaching.
色 	しき 	color 	form 	
不 	ふ 	not 	not 	
異 	い 	differ 	different 	
空 	くう 	sky 	emptiness 	
空 	くう 	sky 	emptiness 	
不 	ふ 	not 	not 	
異 	い 	differ 	different 	
色 	しき 	color 	form 	
色 	しき 	color 	form 	
即 	そく 	instant 	then 	
是 	ぜ 	absolutely 	is 	
空 	くう 	sky 	emptiness 	
空 	くう 	sky 	emptiness 	
即 	そく 	instant 	then 	
是 	ぜ 	absolutely 	is 	
色 	しき 	color 	form 	
受 	じゅ 	accept 	feeling 	
想 	そう 	concept 	perception 	
行 	ぎょう 	go 	volition 	
識 	しき 	discerning 	consciousness 	
亦 	やく 	also 	also 	
復 	ぶ 	restore 	again 	
如 	にょ 	likeness 	same 	
是 	ぜ 	absolutely 	are 	
舎 	シャ 	
利 	リ		
子 	シ 		Sariputra 	
是 	ぜ 	absolutely 	are 	
諸 	しょ 	various 	all 	
法 	ほう 	method 	dharmas 	Dharma is a complex term, difficult to define or translate. The common definition of “cosmic law” works fine here.
空 	くう 	sky 	empty 	
相 	そう 	mutual 	appearances 	
不 	ふ 	not 	not 	
生 	しょう 	life 	born 	
不 	ふ 	not 	not 	
滅 	めつ 	destroy 	destroyed 	
不 	ふ 	not 	not 	
垢 	く 	dirt 	dirty 	
不 	ふ 	not 	not 	
浄 	じょう 	cleanse 	clean 	
不 	ふ 	not 	not 	
増 	ぞう 	increase 	increasing 	
不 	ふ 	not 	not 	
減 	げん 	decrease 	decreasing 	
是 	ぜ 	absolutely 		
故 	こ 	circumstance 	is 	
空 	くう 	sky 	emptiness 	
中 	ちゅう 	middle 	within 	
無 	む 	nothing 	no 	
色 	しき 	color 	form 	
無 	む 	nothing 	no 	
受 	じゅ 	accept 	feeling 	
想 	そう 	concept 	perception 	
行 	じょう 	go 	volition 	
識 	しき 	discerning 	consciousness 	
無 	む 	no 	no 	
眼 	げん 	eyeball 	eye 	
耳 	に 	ear 	ear 	
鼻 	び 	nose 	nose 	
舌 	ぜっ 	tongue 	tongue 	
身 	しん 	somebody 	body 	
意 	い 	idea 	mind 	
無 	む 	no 	no 	
色 	しき 	color 	color 	
聲 	しょう 	voice 	sound 	声 in WK
香 	こう 	fragrance 	smell 	
味 	み 	flavor 	taste 	
触 	そく 	touch 	touch 	
法 	ほう 	method 	dharma
This next section is where I officially leave the realm of easy translation. I have been freely borrowing from a variety of translations from the internet. So far, I have understood the logic of the translations well enough to be confident in them without turning this into a major research project. The 限界 and the 識界 are the first and last of the Eighteen Dhatus, 18 classifications of all knowable things. So the 乃至 is used here (and other places) as “etc.” “and so on.” The Sutra presumes we just understand this because of our extensive training Buddhism. I don’t know what these terms are in Japanese, or even if there are any, and it is well beyond the scope of this project.
Earlier, we had the five aggregates, form, feeling, volition, perception, and consciousness listed out in entirety. Later, we will have more lists not entirely spelled out.
無 	む 	no 	no 	
眼 	げん 	eyeball 	sensory 	
界 	かい 	world 	realms 	
乃 	ない 	from 		
至 	し 	attain 		
無 	む 	no 		
意 	い 	idea 		
識 	しき 	discerning 	consciousness 	
界 	かい 	world 	realm 	
無 	む 	no 	no 	
無 	む 	no 	no 	
明 	みょう 	bright 	wisdom 	as a word 明 is みょう, wisdom. The beginning of another list.
亦 	やく 	also 	also 	alternate form of 又
無 	む 	no 	no 	
無 	む 	no 	no 	
明 	みょう 	bright 	wisdom 	
盡 	じん 	不 	exhaust 	jinmeiyo kanji
乃 	ない 	from 	and so on 	
至 	し 	attain 	until 	
無 	む 	no 	no 	
老 	ろう 	elderly 		
死 	し 	death 		
亦 	やく 	also 		
無 	む 	no 		
老 	ろう 	elderly 		
死 	し 	death 		
盡 	じん 	exhaust 	Here is the end of our next non-elucidated list. The first of the 12 links of dependent origination is ignorance, the last is old age and death. This passage negates all of them.	
無 	む 	no 	no 	
苦 	く 	suffering 	suffering 	
集 	しゅう 	collect 	origin 	
滅 	めつ 	destroy 	cessation 	
道 	どう 	road 	path 	My copy of The Teaching of the Buddha gives 苦諦, 集諦, 滅諦, and 道諦 as the four noble truths.
無 	む 	no 	no 	
智 	ち 	wisdom 	wisdom 	
亦 	やく 	不 	also 	
無 	む 	no 	no 	
得 	とく 	gain 	attainment 	
以 	い 	from 	because 	
無 	む 	no 	no 	
所 	しょう 	place 		
得 	とく 	acquire 		
故 	こ 	circumstance 		
菩 	ぼ 	不 		
提 	だい 	present 		
薩 	さっ 	不 		
埵 	た 	不 		
依 	え 	reliant 		
般 	ハン 		
若 	二ゃ 	 		
波 	ハ 	 	 	
羅 	ラ 	 	 	
蜜 	ミッ  	 	
多 	タ 		
故 	こ 	circumstance 		
心 	しん 	heart 		
無 	む 	no 	no 	
罣 	けい 	不 	hinder 	
礙 	げ 	不 	obstruct 	
無 	む 	no 	no 	
罣 	けい 	不 	hinder 	
礙 	げ 	不 	obstruct 	
故 	こ 	circumstance 		
無 	む 	no 	no 	
有 	う 	have 		
恐 	く 	fear 		
怖 	ふ 	scary 		
遠 	おん 	scooter 		
離 	り 	detach 		
一 	いっ 	one 		
切 	さい 	cut 		
顚 	てん 	不 	peak 	now written as 顛 or 転
倒 	どう 	overthrow 		
夢 	む 	dream 		
想 	そう 	concept 		
究 	く 	research 		
竟 	きょう 	不 	end 	究竟 after all, in the end
涅 	ネ 	不 	black soil 	
槃 	ハン 	不 	tub ネハン = nirvana
三 	さん 	three		
世 	ぜ 	world		
諸 	しょ 	various all	
佛 	ぶつ 	Bhudda  Buddhas	
依 	え 	reliant follow
般 	ハン 	
若 	二ゃ 	
波 	ハ 	
羅 	ラ 	 	
蜜 	ミッ 	
多 	タ 				
故 	こ circumstance
得 	とく  acquire
阿 	アノ 			
耨 	ク 			
多 	タ 			
羅 	ラ 			
三   サン
藐 	ミャ 			
三 	サン 			
菩   ボ
提 	ダイ Anuttara samyaksambodhi, nirvana		
故 	こ circumstance
知 	ち know		
般 	ハン 		
若 	二ゃ 		
波 	ハ 		
羅 	ラ 		 	
蜜 	ミッ 	
多 	タ 		
是 	ぜ absolutely	
大 	だい big		
神 	しん 	god		
咒 	しゅ 	curse mantra 呪 in WK
是 	ぜ absolutely		
大 	だい big	
明 	みょう bright		
咒 	しゅ 	mantra
是 	ぜ absolutely		
無 	む no			
上 	じょう above higher		
咒 	しゅ mantra			
是 	ぜ absolutely			
無 	む no			
等 	とう equal
等  どう equal what a great japanese word to find in an essentially Chinese text.  等々 is usually とうとう.  
咒 	しゅ mantra		
能 	のう ability	
除 	じょ  exclude
一 	いっ 	one
切   さい  cut 一切 all
苦 	く 	suffering
真 	しん  reality 			
實 	じつ 	truth	
不 	ふ 	not		
虚 	こ 	void	
故 	こ 	circumstance		
説 	せつ  theory			
般 	ハン 	
若 	二ゃ 	 		
波 	ハ 	 	 	
羅 	ラ 	 	 	
蜜 	ミッ  	 	
多 	タ 	 			
咒 	しゅ mantra			
即 	そく instant		
説 	せつ theory	
咒 	しゅ mantra		
曰 	わつ 	say 		not in WK
羯   ギャ
諦 	テイ 			
羯 	ギャ 			
諦 	テイ 
波   ハ
羅 	ラ 			
羯 	ギャ 			
諦 	テイ 
波   ハ
羅 	ラ 			
僧 	ソウ 			
羯 	ギャ 			
諦 	テイ 
菩   ボ
提   ジ
薩 	ソ 			
婆 	ワ 			
訶 	カ 			
般 	ハン 			
若 	ニャ 			
心 	しん 			
經 	ぎょう 		

Next, here are the paper flashcards, done for now. Three of the kanji do not have stroke order, because they do not exist in stroke order font. Just use your normal rules …

Finally, here is the \LaTeX code if your are interested:

I use the flacards class because it is super simple. The xeCJK package is the way to go to typeset kanji.

Finally, here is a printout to trace (it reads in columns, right to let):

Please print it out and give it a try!

Still to do:

  • further kanji research
  • compose banjo accompaniment
  • write up tablature for banjo
  • record
40 Likes

I attended a service at Saiho-ji in Kyoto a few years back as part of being allowed to view their moss gardens, and they chanted some kind of sutra. Might have been the heart sutra, but I’d have to dig out the… uh… libretto (for want of a better word) that they gave us to be sure. I definitely couldn’t follow along at. all.

Just a tad. Not to mention the lack of anything aside from kanji. :stuck_out_tongue:

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A few years ago, I also attended a service, but couldn’t speak Japanese at all at that time. It was a relaxing experience but I was a bit sad to not understand what they were chanting…
Well, looking at that karaoke version, I’m a bit relieved to discover it’s also complete nonsense for Japanese people too :stuck_out_tongue:

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I might be wrong, but I think I once read that these are actually Chinese texts, just pronounced in all-on’yomi by Japanese monks/priests. Therefore it would make sense that this is basically gibberish for Japanese, too.

For me it’s fun to try to read along and see how many kanji I’d be able to read the same way, allowing for the occasional archaic pronunciation.

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I am still having trouble getting links and furigana working together …

Actually, much of it makes sense, in a non-sense kind of way. Look at a passage like this:

no-sense also no no sense or no wisdom also no no wisdom

I am comparing the versions that I find. I will compare it with the Chinese versions too, in the end.

I feel the same way. It is such a beautiful communal thing.
Also, it is so wonderful (and healthy) for people to come together and speak of emptiness.

The Heart Sutra contains some of the core views of Buddhism. Interestingly, although the original 禅宗 masters spoke against the reciting of sutras, many of their teachings still concern coming to grips with this concept of emptiness.

The fact that it is neither sense nor non-sense is just one more layer of fun. :crazy_face:

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First I’ve heard of it.

Ah, that’s why, I guess.

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There is an online Heart Sutra calligraphy class, if you’re interested. Friday 8.15pm Dutch time, so Friday late morning, early afternoon US time.

Taught by a Japanese 8th dan calligrapher, so class is in Japanese/English.

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Yes, temples are where one generally finds sutras.

This is why you missed 佛 on the 漢字検定, and all of your 一年生 knew the correct answer. :slight_smile:

It takes me a day or two for a clever comeback.

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What do you think of how I am doing the chart up top? I have reformatted it about a dozen times, then I decided that it is cleanest in just a single column with the pronunciation and the single WK meaning of the kanji.

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@Shinobusagi won’t you take a look at this thread?

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Cool project. :vulcan_salute:

Since you’re dissecting the sutra kanji by kanji, not by word/phrase, I think this is indeed the cleanest format. Just some suggestions though:

  • 漢字 column: because some characters are archaic (or Sanscrit ateji), maybe you could add the alternatives? E.g. 佛・仏、蜜・密、聲・声、顚・顛 etc.
  • かな column: 照 is read as しょう、and 異 is just い。
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Very good idea. :slight_smile:

I will fix the readings. I have been messing around with a nice format, and making errors!

I see from your bio that you are interested in the Shikoku pilgrimage. One of my current goals is to retire on May 25, 2038, the day before I turn 70, and leave for Japan the very next day to start and hopefully complete the pilgrimage. An implicit part of this goal is that I will still be able to make many steep climbs at that point of my life. (^-^)

Thank you for advice on this project. :slight_smile:

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Oh, that’s a great thing to have among your goals. Stay healthy and study Japanese then! :vulcan_salute: :pray:

I’ve walked the pilgrimage in two parts: first half with my university professor (of Japanese religion) and close friends in 2008 and the second half alone in 2018. Both have been absolute highlights of life’s journey far. If you have any questions about the whole thing, feel free to ask.

PS: I do tour guiding in Japan, so if by 2038 you need a ‘younger’ person along for the trip… :innocent: :grin:

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I’d like to do the Shikoku Pilgrimage someday, but I don’t entirely know if I’m sufficiently outdoorsy to spend the required two months doing it.

I had a mini practice run with a third of the Chichibu 34 Kanon last year, and it wasn’t too bad. (Would have been two-thirds of it, but Hagibis put a stop to that.)

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I can think of many questions right now, so be prepared. :slight_smile:

I managed to meet two separate friends from WK on my trip to Japan this February.
Who knows what may happen …

I really will have some questions about the pilgrimage some time, if you don’t mind.

@Belthazar, do you mean to say that these pilgrimages are out of doors? No one told me that!
The Chichibu 34 looks interesting. Maybe I will just retire early and become a full-time wandering mendicant.

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Yeah, there’s pilgrimages like that practically all over. The Shikoku 88 just happens to be probably the most famous.

Actually, one of the Chichibu temples has a mini version of the Shikoku 88, so I guess I can say I’ve done it already. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I am gradually getting the hang of reading this thing. The text is a combination of phonetic Sanskrit names and terms, held together by Japanese text. The secret is to tell what is what.
Take the very opening, for instance:
かんじざい Avalokita
ぼさつ Bodhisattva 菩薩
ぎょうじん practices deep 行深
はんにゃはらみた prajnaparamita (perfection of wisdom)

Most of it is 当て字. But it makes perfect sense once you sort it all out, and stop looking for meaning in 当て字!

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Aye, I admit I was a bit perplexed as to what you were hoping to learn by definiting each kanji individually.

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:stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

写経, しゃきょう, the practice of copying sutras.

This page has a download to trace:

In a few days, I will have my own version in Stroke Order Font.
Also, there are common sense rules for posture and mental attitude while tracing sutras.

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