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The Heart Sutra (般若心經; Skt. Prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya; Kr. Banya simgyeong)
The Heart Sutra is the most often recited sutra at Korean Dharma assemblies and Buddhist services. Consisting of 260 Chinese characters, it is a short sutra that succinctly explains the main points of the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra.
The core concept of the Heart Sutra is emptiness (空; Skt. śūnyatā). The true nature of all phenomena is emptiness. In essence, the sutra says: “Phenomena (dharma) are devoid of permanent substance. All things change ceaselessly.”
Form does not differ from emptiness,
Emptiness does not differ from form.
Form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is form.
So too are feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness.
The Heart Sutra espouses the “Middle Way,” the heart of the Buddha’s teachings. The sutra neither negates form in its affirmation of emptiness, nor does it negate emptiness in its affirmation of form, thus integrating form and emptiness. In addition, neither the Heart Sutra nor Buddhist doctrine expound that nothing exists; in other words, they don’t teach the negative understanding of emptiness called “nihilistic emptiness (斷滅空).”
- excerpt from Buddhist English (Intermediate 2) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism