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Knowing The Heart Sūtra by Heart

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Chapter Summary

A text that many Buddhists know by heart is the Heart Sūtra. The sūtra distills the essence of its predecessors, the Prajnāpāramitā [Perfection of Wisdom] Sūtras in eight thousand, twenty-five thousand, and one hundred thousand lines. Christians who learn the Heart Sūtra by heart are thus not merely embracing a set of ideas but are taking a step towards a heart-knowledge of that alien yet insistently appealing tradition called Buddhism, striking up acquaintance with the cultures and peoples amid which this little text forged its way. The sūtra culminates not in the doctrine of emptiness but in the emergence of the figures of bodhisattvas and Buddhas born of the practice of perfect wisdom. The Heart Sūtra aims not to convey insights on emptiness but to induce people into the bodhisattva mode of being.

Keywords: bodhisattva; Buddhism; Buddhist-Christian theologians; doctrine of emptiness; Heart Sūtra; Perfection of Wisdom



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