Prayer for Japan

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

I think I can speak for the entire sangha when I say our hearts, and indeed the collective heart of the world, have broken over the recent events in Japan. Images from the various news outlets have shown the utter destruction along the coast of Japan, with a staggering loss of life. Horrific events such as this once again reminded us that nothing is permanent and everything can change in the blink of an eye.

Even now, the people of Japan need our love, our compassion, and our prayers. Please take a moment to sit quietly, open your heart, and visualize yourself sending out a white light of healing to the millions of people that have been affected by this tragedy. Take another moment to send a prayer of gratitude and thanks to the many other people that, in the face of danger, overcame their fears to be of service to those in need. Be inspired by these special beings living amongst us in the world, learn from them.

In the hours following the earthquake and tsunami, His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked Buddhists across the world to recite the Heart Sutra since “Such recitation may not only be helpful for those who have lost their precious lives, but may also help prevent further disasters in the future”. An English translation of the Heart Sutra is printed here for those of you that would like to read or recite it in honor of Japan.

The Exalted One, the Lady of Conquest, the Sutra on the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom

Once I heard this teaching.

The Conqueror was staying on Vulture’s Peak, in the Keep of the King. With him was a great gathering of monks, and a great gathering of warrior saints.

At a certain moment the Conqueror went into deep meditation on the part of the teaching known as the “awareness of the profound.” At that moment too did the realized being, the great warrior, the lord of power, Loving Eyes, see into this one deep practice, the practice of the perfection of wisdom. And he saw perfectly that the five heaps-the five parts of a person-were empty of any nature of their own.

And then, by the power of the Enlightened One, the junior monk named Shari Putra turned and asked this question of the great warrior, Loving Eyes, the realised one, the lord of power:

“If any son or daughter of noble family hoped to follow the deep practice of the perfection of wisdom, what would they have to do?”

This then is the answer that the lord of power, the realized one, the great warrior Loving Eyes gave to the junior monk named Shari Putra:

“Here, Shari Putra, is what any son or daughter of noble family should see who hopes to follow the deep practice of the perfection of wisdom.

“See first all five heaps-all five parts to a person-as being empty of any essence of their own. Your body is empty; emptiness is your body. Emptiness is nothing but your body, and your body is nothing but emptiness.”

“The same is true of your feelings, and your ability to discriminate between things, and the other factors that make you up, and all the different kinds of awareness that you possess: all of them are empty”.

“And thus we can say, Shari Putra, that every existing thing is emptiness. Nothing ever begins.

Nothing ever ends. Nothing is ever impure. Nothing ever becomes pure. Nothing ever gets less, and nothing ever becomes more.”

“And thus can we say, Shari Putra, that with emptiness there is no body. There are no feelings. There is no ability to discriminate. There are none of the other factors that make you up, and there is no awareness.”

“There are no eyes; no ears: no nose: no tongue: no body; no mind; nothing to see; nothing to hear; nothing to smell; nothing to taste; nothing to touch; and nothing to think of.”

“There is no part of you that sees. There is no part of you that is aware of what you see; and this is true all the way up to the part of you that thinks, and the part of you that is aware that you are thinking.”

“There is no misunderstanding your world. There is no stopping this misunderstanding, and the same is true all the way up to your old age and your death, and to stopping your old age and your death.”

“There is no suffering. There is no source of this suffering. There is no stopping this suffering. There is no path to stop this suffering.”

“There is no knowledge. There is nothing to reach. And there is nothing not to reach.”

“Thus it is, Shari Putra, that warrior saints have nothing to reach; and because of this, they are able to practice the perfection of wisdom, and stay in this perfection of wisdom. This frees them of every obstacle in their minds, and this frees them from all fear. They go beyond all wrong ways of thinking, and reach to the ultimate end of nirvana.”

“All the Enlightened Beings of the past, and present, and the future too follow this same perfection of wisdom, and thus bring themselves to perfect enlightenment; to the matchless state of a totally enlightened Buddha.”

“Thus are they the sacred words of the perfection of wisdom, the sacred words of great knowledge; sacred words of the unsurpassable; sacred words that are equal to the One beyond all equal; sacred words that you put a final end to every form of pain; sacred words you should know are true, for false they cannot be; sacred words of the perfection of wisdom, which here I speak for you:

Tadya ta, ga-te ga-te, para ga-te, para sang ga-te, bodhi so ha.

“And thus it is, Shari Putra, that great warrior saints must train themselves in the profound perfection of wisdom.”

With this, the Conqueror stirred himself from his deep state of meditation. He turned to the great warrior, to the realized one, Loving Eyes, the lord of power, and blessed his words, saying, “True.” “True,” he said, and “True” again.

“Thus it is, o son of noble family; and thus is it. One should follow the profound perfection of wisdom just as you have taught it. Every one of Those Gone Thus rejoice in your words as I do.”

And when the Conqueror had spoken thus , the junior monk Shari Putra took joy; and the warrior, the realized one, Loving Eyes, the lord of power, took joy as well.

And all the assembled disciples took joy, and so did the entire world-with its gods, and its men, and near-gods and spirits too-take joy. All sang their praises of what the Conqueror had spoken.


This ends the sutra of the greater way known as The Lady of Conquest, the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom.

It was first translated from Sanskirt by the Indian abbot Vimala Mitra together with a master Tibetan translator, the venerable Rinchen De. It was later checked and standardised by the master translators and editors Gelo and Namka, among others.

The translation into English was completed by the American geshe Gelong Lobsang Chunzin, Michael Roach, with the assistance of the American woman with lifetime vows, Christie McNally.

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