Heart Sutra Traceable With Hiragana and Meanings

This is a great project to do!

My interest in Japanese actually came from Buddhism. My mother is Nichiren buddhist, so I grew up hearing my mother chanting 題目(だいもく) and gongyo morning and evening. I’ve ended up more philosophically Buddhist rather than practising, but I went to Buddhist summer camps and study meetings as a child, so was familiar with the Lotus Sutra. A friend at work has been encouraging me to read the Heart Sutra, so I really must some time.


I tried to 写経 the Heart Sutra once, I got three hours to write the whole thing. I think I made it to about 2/3s of the way through.


So, nice work on the second meaning column. :+1: Makes it a lot easier for those who aren’t familiar with it (yet) to get some more out of this thread, besides of course a glimpse into their WK future/past and an amuzing 漢文かんぶん dissection.

Since we’re talking about this in the context of Japanese buddhism, I’d suggest using Kannon - the deity’s common Japanese name - instead of/or alongside the Sanskrit name Avaloketisvara.

Now, (un)fortunately, being an「蟻槍アリやり *」I must nitpick. In the pronunciation column, several are listed as short, though they are long:

法 ほ = ほう
相 そ = そう
生 しょ = しょう
増 ぞ = ぞう
中 ちゅ = ちゅう
想 そ = そう
行 じょ = ぎょう
舌 ぜ = ぜつ (or to stay consistent, ぜっ)
聲 しょ = しょう、a.k.a. 声 (b.t.w. WK column says ふ instead of “voice”)
香 こ = こう
法 ほ = ほう

also: 触 has a pretty neat 旧字きゅうじ old version (used in 3 out of 4 of copies I got): 觸

edit: forgot to mention “Keep up the good work :vulcan_salute:
edit2: and also “How do you keep those columns straight? :thinking:


OK, long story short; this is my (pretty old) attempt at a multilingual pun.

In Dutch, “nitpicking” is often called :ant: :point_right: :ok_hand: or “ant fckng”… hence アリやり (noun / no-adj. - spread the word to all your Japanese friends!). But when looking up the English etymology, I discovered a “nit” is actually a louse egg, which is practically invisible and thus fairly hard to pick. Surely this would be easier if you had an ant[sized] spear! :sweat_smile: (well, at least the kanji are cooler)

Anyway, I also looked up what the real Japanese equivalent is for this and found
重箱じゅうばこすみを(楊枝ようじで)穿るほじくつつく -or- 重箱の隅を楊枝であら

I.e. to pick at (or wash) the corners of a jūbako (with a toothpick) [= a tiered lacquer ware box used to store or serve food]. :bento: :chopsticks:


I am so delighted that there are a few other people here actually interested in this! This is why I love Wanikani!

  1. @Joeni I have read before that Buddhism is Hinduism packaged for export outside if India. It makes sense that Buddhism is then also packaged for export outside of religion entirely, into the realm of philosophy, psychology, etc …
    a. I am not very familiar with 日蓮 Buddhism, but I just read a little about it, and I will read some more. I have come to consider myself a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist, but how I got there is a whole long story.
    b. Maybe I will do the Lotus Sutra next. :slight_smile:

  2. @Saida Maybe now, after some years of kanji study, you could write out the entirety. I really am going to post some PDFs that can be traced. One with hiragana, one without.

  3. @Shinobusagi I am grateful for the 蟻槍! I was secretly hoping that you would supply some. :slight_smile: I have only been devoting fifteen or twenty minutes of concentration to this each day. Right now I am more impatient to decipher each line than I am to get everything correct. But it is my goal to get everything just right once it is finished, and also spend some time researching some of the individual or alternate kanji. I will add your edits when I sit down tomorrow morning. I respect your knowledge, and am glad for your fun Japanese/English wordplay. I am so happy that other people are interested in this!

  4. I am playing around with the best format for this. Keeping it kanji by kanji and syllable by syllable keeps it closer to how it is actually presented. But I feel that in the end, a person should be able to write it or recite it with an actual understanding of the meaning and logic of the symbols.

  5. [quote=“Shinobusagi, post:24, topic:45350”]
    How do you keep those columns straight?
    You can make html lists here. But there is also a thing called markdown (I think) which is formatting shortcuts.
    a. | animal | color | number of legs |
    b. | — | — | — |
    c. | dog | red | 4 |
    d. | birb | blue | 2 |

all together:

animal color number of legs
dog red 4
birb blue 2

I had watched a short TV series about Buddhism and it’s origins and it sounded like Buddism is to Hinduism as Christianity is to Judaism - Buddha was Hindu, but disagreed with some of the teachings/practices/philosophies, so developed a new philosophy.


Yah, Markdown is a programming language, basically a lighter version of a markup language that’s easier for people like your average forum poster to work with.

That kinda sounds more like Islam-to-Christianity rather than Christianity-to-Judaism. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Off topic

Jesus was Jewish, he threw the money-lenders out of the temple, preached that God was loving, not vengeful, etc. etc. and voila a new religion.

Could you explain the Islam reference (I know all 3 share the same God and key characters, but I’m not aware of a direct link of Christianity developing from Islam)?


Jesus was also the fulfillment of Judaism, and had been prophesied since day one. If I were to explain the connection between Judaism and Christianity with a short, humorous and completely irreverent skit, it’d go something like this:

Jesus: Hello!
Jewish leaders: Sit down, please. We’re waiting for the Messiah, and we don’t want to miss him.
Jesus: Yeah, I know.
Jewish leaders: Also, Elijah is supposed to come first.
John the Baptist: You rang?

Islam’s formation is along the lines of God spoke to Muhammad while he was meditating in a cave, in which he explained that basically, they’d been doing it all wrong.

Though if you do want to avoid the potential minefield that conversations about Islam could represent, maybe use Protestantism as a metaphor? :slightly_smiling_face:

Off topic - sorry to RoseWagsBlue for derailing the thread

That kinda sounds more like Islam-to-Christianity

I still don’t get how a comparison of Buddism to Hinduism is like a comparison of Islam to Christianity rather than to Judaism, in that the first listed was derived from the second… :confused:


Well, it’s complicated, and hardly a one-to-one comparison, but one of the fundamentals of Islam is a specific rejection of the Christian doctrine of God-as-Trinity (as well as the polytheism of other religions in the region at the time), plus the existence of the Christian clergy. Jesus is a great prophet in Islam too, but just a prophet, not the son of God.

Like I said previously, the Reformation may perhaps be a closer match, though admittedly, most Protestants don’t regard Martin Luther being a particularly enlightened being. :stuck_out_tongue:


Realistically, neither am I. I understand Buddhism very much in an osmosis kind of way, in the same way you might experience Christianity if you just went to church, and didn’t read the bible.

I think philosophical is perhaps the wrong word; I follow Buddhist teachings and consider myself Buddhis. I don’t think the term non-practicing can ever really fit into Buddhism because if you believe in karma and strive to live in a way which fosters a bodhisattva nature, you are still walking the path of Buddhism. I guess maybe non-participating is perhaps the right term :slight_smile:


Since religious services the whole world wide are largely cancelled, I suppose we are all non-participating now …

I think that this is a good guiding principle for life as a human. I also have come to gauge my life in this way. In one way it is motivating to look at your life and see how you could live more compassionately. In another it is humbling to realize how many lifetimes you are away from being a bodhisattva. It seems presumptuous to even speak of such a thing. Yet living such an existence is the core of Buddhism. As I get older (mid-fifties now) it is more and more of a guiding principle of my life.

I am glad to have some conversation about this here. When I have some time later, I will share more about my own experience with Buddhism.

Also, I am going to post a fun quiz to find how far you are from being a bodhisattva. :slight_smile:

Off-topic on the Islam-to-Christianity topic

I think this is a misunderstanding. When Belthazar made the comparison, he made it in the style of

“Leaf is to tree, as hair is to body.”
“Buddhism is to Hinduism, as Islam is to Christianity.”

In both comparisons the first comes from the second. So Christianity was the basis for Islam, as Hinduism was the basis for Buddhism. Or, as stated by

off topic - Islam/Christianity

Thank you for restating that Christianity was the basis for Islam - it drove home that I needed to look up when Islam was founded, and it turns out I was woefully ignorant of the fact that it was founded after Christianity. I had always presumed it to be much older.

Everything that Belthazar wrote makes complete sense now, thank you!


Oh yeah, Islam is the baby of the family. At least until Rastafarianism came along…

Excuse you. Everything I write always makes sense. :stuck_out_tongue:


As a Buddhist, who’s practice is one of his core reasons for learning Japanese, this is excellent for me.


Well, as I explained further up, the Trinity. And the clergy. And presumably other things.

It’s not clear from my casual Wikipedia-based research whether or not pre-Islam Muhammad was Christian, but he’d certainly had exposure to Christian monks, and he was generally regarded as a spiritual person even in his early life. The generally-accepted reason he entered the cave where he received his revelations was because he was there praying, and if he wasn’t praying to God at the time, he definitely would have been surprised when the angel Gabriel dropped by. Either way, he certainly wasn’t a Jew.

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Thanks! I am going to slowly keep working on it. When it is all done, we could possibly make a Wiki to translate the Lotus Sutra as a group effort.

Japanese Buddhism has always been a major motivating factor for me to learn the language. We are a pretty small group, even here on WK, but it is a good feeling to find others out there with similar interests. :slight_smile:

:heart: Also, please to all of you that are having another conversation here about religion please be careful not to let it turn into an argument or attract someone who wants to make it an argument. :heart:


Recently I’ve been interested in learning more about Buddhism in general, and Zen Buddhism in particular. To those of you who are further along the path, do you have any recommendations of resources for beginners? :slightly_smiling_face: