Heart Sutra

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Heart Sutra (Skt. prajñāpāramitā hṛdaya; Tib. ཤེས་རབ་ཀྱི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པའི་སྙིང་པོ་, Wyl. shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i snying po), aka The Twenty-Five Verses on the Perfection of Wisdom — the most popular sutra of the prajñaparamita collection and indeed of the mahayana as a whole. Although the sutra primarily consists of a dialogue between Shariputra and the great bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, their words are inspired by the blessings of the Buddha, who remains absorbed in samadhi meditation until the end of the discussion. As with all the prajñaparamita sutras, the teaching took place at Vulture's Peak near Rajagriha.

Related to the Five Paths

In the various commentaries, there are different explanations as to how the sutra can be related to the five paths.


The sutra includes the mantra tadyatha om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha (oṃ gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā). Atisha explained that the mantra encapsulates the entire teaching of the Heart Sutra for the benefit of those of the sharpest faculties.[1]


The Heart Sutra is often recited together with a supplemental section for dokpa, the practice of averting harm and negativity.




  • Gungthang Tenpé Drönmé, shes rab snying po'i sngags kyi rnam bshad sbas don gsal ba sgron me
  • Jamyang Gawé Lodrö
  • Ngawang Tendar, Light of the Jewel (shes rab snying po'i 'grel pa don gsal nor bu'i 'od)
  • Taranatha, Word Commentary (Tib. ཤེར་སྙིང་གི་ཚིག་འགྲེལ་, sher snying gi tshig 'grel)
TBRC-tag.png ཤེར་སྙིང་གི་ཚིག་འགྲེལ་, sher snying gi tshig 'grel


  • Dalai Lama, Essence of the Heart Sutra (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2002), includes a commentary by Jamyang Gawé Lodrö 1429-1503.
  • Garchen Rinpoche, Oral Commentaries on the Heart Sutra in Relation to Shamatha and Vipassana Meditation And Seven Point Mind Training, San Francisco 2001 (San Francisco Ratna Shri Sangha).
  • Geshe Sonam Rinchen, The Heart Sutra (translated and edited by Ruth Sonam). Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2003.
  • Rabten, Geshe, Echoes of Voidness (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1983)
  • Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra (Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1988, 2009)


  • Edward Conze, The Short Prajnaparamita Texts, London: Luzac & Co, 1973

Famous Quotations

གཟུགས་སྟོང་པའོ། སྟོང་པ་ཉིད་གཟུགས་སོ།



Form is emptiness; emptiness also is form.
Emptiness is no other than form,
Form is no other than emptiness.

Buddha Shakyamuni, Heart Sutra


  1. Lopez (1996), p.170

Teachings on the Heart Sutra Given to the Rigpa Sangha

Further Reading

  • Conze, Edward. The Prajñāpāramitā Literature (1960)
  • Lopez, Donald S. The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries, Abany: SUNY, 1988
  • Lopez, Donald S. "Inscribing the Bodhisattva's Speech: On the "Heart Sutra's" Mantra" in History of Religions, Vol. 29, No. 4. (May, 1990), pp. 351-372
  • Lopez, Donald S. Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sūtra. Princeton University Press, 1996
  • Silk, Jonathan. The Heart Sūtra in Tibetan: A Critical Edition of the Two Recensions Contained in the Kanjur, Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, Universitāt Wien (Vienna 1994).

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