Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

New Translation of Heart Sutra by TNH

zenguitarzenguitar Bad BuddhistNew England Veteran

Namaste. Our noble Sangha may find this new translation of the Heart Sutra by Thich Nhat Hanh (with explanation) most rewarding to contemplate:

http://plumvillage.org/news/thich-nhat-hanh-new-heart-sutra-translation/

JeffreyEarthninja

Comments

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited September 2014

    So far the only problem I see is when the Bikkhu comes to visit Tue Trung and implies that there is no form in empty space. We have proven that empty space is a kind of form as it indeed has properties. If space was nothing then there would be no space nor pause.

    Edit to say I finished reading and now see why Thay brought it up. I agree with him, lol.

    zenguitar
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran Veteran

    Oh, I love it that the venerable TNH felt strongly enough about the beloved Heart Sutra to take a place in the illustrious company with his own commentary.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran

    I like it, but am not so sure it is better. Saying 'no attainment' is an immediate antidote to clinging to attainment. It is the realization that there is nothing there to attain. I don't like 'there is neither a being attainment or a non-being attainment because it is very cumbersome compared to 'no attainment and thus no fear'. I do agree that the heart sutra is in need of interpretation. There isn't literally 'no attainment'. If that were true we could just forget all about Buddhism. But it is skillful means to say 'no path' 'no wisdom' because these expressions are like a hot stove that makes us let go.

    BuddhadragonCinorjerzenguitar
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    In the world of words of course there is going to be some misinterpretations.

    @Jeffrey‌ he says that one who sees this has nothing to attain. You already are what you have always been, what is there to attain?

    For us deluded beings we have something to attain, or rather get rid of.

    I heard a quote from mooji recently. A guy was in front of him crying saying I want to be free more than anything in the world.

    Mooji replied: "you already are"

    zenguitarJeffrey
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @zenguitar said:
    Namaste. Our noble Sangha may find this new translation of the Heart Sutra by Thich Nhat Hanh (with explanation) most rewarding to contemplate:

    http://plumvillage.org/news/thich-nhat-hanh-new-heart-sutra-translation/

    I found it a bit clunky to read, but maybe clearer in parts than some other translations.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran Veteran
    edited September 2014

    Reading a new or different version of some sutra always reminds me that most people have no idea how much poetic license and even guesswork goes into translating. The Heart Sutra never mentions "emptiness" for instance, but in the original Sanskrit goes on and on about something called "shunyata". There are no native speakers of Sanskrit to explain what that word means and no exact match with English, so like Dukkha itself, we have to figure it out from the context, how it's used in other sutras, and past translations into other languages like Chinese.

    I guess what I'm saying is, TNH's version is as valid as any. It's his own understanding of how the mystical Heart Sutra resonates with his own teachings.

    zenguitar
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited September 2014

    @Jeffrey said:
    I do agree that the heart sutra is in need of interpretation.

    Dude, people have been "interpreting" the Heart Sutra for for more than 1000 years. The last thing we need is more of it. What we need is understanding.

    There isn't literally 'no attainment'.

    Many translation say "in emptiness" there is no attainment.

    That said, I really like the wording of this translation.

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran

    @Cinorjer said:
    Reading a new or different version of some sutra always reminds me that most people have no idea how much poetic license and even guesswork goes into translating. The Heart Sutra never mentions "emptiness" for instance, but in the original Sanskrit goes on and on about something called "shunyata". There are no native speakers of Sanskrit to explain what that word means and no exact match with English, so like Dukkha itself, we have to figure it out from the context, how it's used in other sutras, and past translations into other languages like Chinese

    All teachers Ive read, studied ot practices with say that Shunyata = emptiness.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran Veteran

    @Chaz said:
    All teachers Ive read, studied ot practices with say that Shunyata = emptiness.

    Yes, that's the standard translation. And in context, it seems to work well enough. But, we're talking about a concept that exists only in our minds, and that means we fool ourselves if we think what we can be certain that what we call emptiness is the same thing the writers of the sutras were talking about, and so on.

    The online dictionary gives three definitions for shunyata: emptiness, loneliness, and desolate. We can take a word that means "chair" and know exactly what the ancient writer meant by it. Even Dukkha is almost universally translated as suffering, but it's not really what we mean by that word, is it?

    In the case of shunyata, I always ask, "empty of what?" Saying emptiness is a thing in itself is treating an adjective as a noun.

  • SarahTSarahT Time ... space ... joy South Coast, UK Veteran

    This is the first time I have read the heart sutra (yes, I am a newbie). What seems so different to me is that Conze's translation says:

    He beheld but five heaps, and He saw that in their own-being they were empty

    whereas Thich Nhat Hanh's translation says:

    all of the five Skandhas are equally empty

    To me, "equally empty" is the same as "equally full". I understand it not as saying that form is empty, but that emptiness (shunyata) is as full as/as empty as form (and therefor the other four heaps/skandhas also). Kind of saying, for example, that consciousness is nothing special, no more so than any other phenomenon.

    Sogyal Rinpoche says (rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Emptiness):

    "Unfortunately, the word ‘emptiness’, which is used to translate the Sanskrit term shunyata, carries a connotation of a nothing-ness, or a void. Happily, there is a wonderful definition in Tibetan that captures its true meaning: Tib. རྟག་ཆད་དང་བྲལ་བ་, tak ché dang dralwa, which translates as: ‘free from permanence and non-existence'.

    So, a nose (whether tweaked or not) is as free from permanence and non-existence as a vacuum. Neither is distinctively empty or full. They are equal.

    Have a feeling I am missing something. Would be grateful for this learned Sangha's comments.

    Cinorjer
  • SarahTSarahT Time ... space ... joy South Coast, UK Veteran

    What I love most is the words:

    the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore

    for prajnaparamita.

    The Qabala speaks of opening to the light. I can do this whatever my circumstances. They are irrelevant. They are as impermanent and free of existence/non-existence as "I" am. With this realisation, I am free to reach the other shore - just as Mooji tells me. :om:  

    zenguitar
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited September 2014

    I think shunyata means the absence of independent existence. All phenomena are dependently arisen.

    As THN puts it: "...not separate self entities".

    ChazCinorjerBuddhadragon
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited September 2014

    Emptiness gets mistaken for nothingness quite often so it's no wonder Thay wants to make the distinction for his students.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran Veteran

    Adding to the wonderful mystique is that scholars are now pretty certain that the Heart Sutra was first written in China, in the Chinese language, and then imported to India and translated into Sanskrit. At that stage the beginning and ending was tacked on since Indian Buddhism was much more mystical than Chinese Chan. If you read the sutra, it does seem the ending kinda feels like "OK, that was the marvelous, poetical insight on the nature of the human mind. Now never mind all that, here's a magical chant that will do the same thing."

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran

    @Cinorjer said:
    Adding to the wonderful mystique is that scholars are now pretty certain that the Heart Sutra was first written in China, in the Chinese language, and then imported to India and translated into Sanskrit. At that stage the beginning and ending was tacked on since Indian Buddhism was much more mystical than Chinese Chan. If you read the sutra, it does seem the ending kinda feels like "OK, that was the marvelous, poetical insight on the nature of the human mind. Now never mind all that, here's a magical chant that will do the same thing."

    I love the Heart Sutra. I mean LOVE.

    I don't care where it was written, when, or by who.

    It is a thing of beauty. Truth with a captial T.

    OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI FRIKKIN SOHA

    I've never read any sutra more meaningful to me, or that has offered or given me more insight.

    I especially like the Tibetan versions, which tend to be longer, because stuff was tacked on to beginning that sets the stage so beatifully.

    When I make my pilgrimage to Bodhgaya, I plan on making a side trip to Rajgriha to walk, stand and then sit on the ground where the sutra's words were fist spoken.

    It will be awesome.

    CinorjerBuddhadragon
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited September 2014

    @Chaz said:

    It's still my favourite sutra, and the most profound thing I've ever read or expect to read. Even now it sends a little shiver up my spine!
    I originally learned this version by Sangharakshita:
    http://www.fwbo-news.org/resources/heart_sutra.pdf

    Chaz
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran Veteran

    I agree, there's a reason it quickly became a hugely popular sutra in the Buddhist world. Some religious writings transcend the message. This is one of them.

    Buddhadragon
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    edited September 2014

    My teacher says that emptiness is not a complicated thing to understand. Or at least that is not her emphasis. She points out right in our consciousness (and 'life') there is emptiness right there which she calls 'spaciousness'. So we have in our own basic experience a quality of space. Walking from A to B we experience space. Here is shunyata. Right here. It can be your 10000th hour of meditation or your first 5 minutes.

    robotCinorjerBuddhadragon
  • mfranzdorfmfranzdorf Veteran Veteran

    @zenguitar Thanks for sharing this. I haven't been very active with my practice lately and this was the kick I needed to reevaluate some things. I've let the "daily grind" kinda take over and I take this opportunity to let TNH focus me. It is a beautiful translation.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:

    She points out right in our consciousness (and 'life') there is emptiness right there which she calls 'spaciousness'. So we have in our own basic experience a quality of space. Walking from A to B we experience space.

    But isn't that just empty space rather than shunyata?

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran

    No she is saying 'spacious' rather than 'empty'. So you can say it is not space. But then you could equally say it is not emptiness. 'Space' is a pointing out instruction for our meditation. It has nothing to do with the space dhyana, incidentally.

    Space is in the here and now. If that word doesn't work for you then find another! But others have gone before you and found the spacious quality of the mind. The spacious quality is the 'opening' quality of mind. Something is in the awareness and you turn towards whatever is in the awareness and open. This is basically the opposite of ignorance/avidya.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    I can relate to spaciousness as a quality of mind, but I'm still struggling to see how it relates to shunyata?

Sign In or Register to comment.