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Thread: Heart Sutra Mantra Question

  1. #1

    Heart Sutra Mantra Question


    This is my very first post!
    Iīve searched for this topic, but havenīt found the answer so I hope itīs ok
    posting it here.

    The Heart Sutra Mantra is: (Gate!Gate! Paragate! Parasamgate! Bodhi! Svaha!" )

    Iīve found another last word in the mantra on some websites spelling "Soha!" instead of the common "Svaha!"

    Are there different versions of this mantra ?


    Last edited by Buddhahood; 05-22-2013 at 02:11 PM. Reason: Wrong spelling

  2. #2
    Hej Fredrik and welcome to the forums!

    Svaha is the Sanskrit version of the word, in Tibetan it is often written as Soha and in Japanese Sowaka as you will see in the Treeleaf chant book.


  3. #3
    Thank you!


  4. #4
    "no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, thing,"

    Very freeing.
    Welcome to Treeleaf, brother.


  5. #5
    Thank you for your kind welcome.


  6. #6
    Welcome Fredrik! I'm still new myself and I can tell you joining Treeleaf has been one of the best decisions of my life. Jundo and Taigu are amazing teachers. The members of the Sangha are helpful and kind. I just finished reading a version of the Heart Sutra with commentary myself, now I'm reading it again and taking notes. The mantra at the end can be translated, but it's not meant to be. There are Exoteric Teachings, which can be understood rationally and explained such as the Sutras. Then there are Esoteric Teachings such as mantras which are not within the reach of the intellect. This allows the one reciting it to experience expansiveness of the mind without clinging to the concepts behind the words. Hope you enjoy it here!


  7. #7

    Welcome Again,

    Yes, very often in Buddhism, a Mantra was traditionally very much like a magic incantation, often not even understood for its meaning, whereby the sound alone could work wonders. So, perhaps it was a little silly when, centuries ago, the Chinese and others even translated this Mantra from the original Indian-Sanskrit language and pronunciation (gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!) into Chinese (jie di jie di, bo luo jie di, bo luo send jie di, pu ti sa bo ho), Korean (aje aje bara-aje baraseung-aje moji sabaha) or Sino-Japanese (gya tei gya tei ha ra gya tei ha ra so gya tei bo ji so wa ka). So, I guess we might as well translate it into English!

    I use the following translation based both on the Heart Sutra's own Teachings on Emptiness, and the way of perceiving the "other shore" and the "raft" as here, there and everywhere which we happened to discuss on another thread yesterday (LINK HERE)

    Gate! Gate! (Already Gone, Gone)
    Paragate! (Already Gone Beyond)
    Parasamgate! (Already Fully Beyond)
    Bodhi! Svaha! * (Awakening, Rejoice)

    The great old English translator Edware Conze had "gone gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, all hail!"

    But perhaps in Master Dogen's way of being, "gone" is simultaneously timeless is going is coming. "Beyond" is here and in the very exertion of rafting the river to the other shore when all is encountered as empty. There is no "other shore", the "other shore" in on this side of the river and in the middle, and seeing clearly that truth is arriving at the "other shore" in Emptiness. In other words, coming is going is gone gone gone.

    Furthermore, a funny aspect about the Heart Sutra mantra is that ... since the teaching of the Heart Sutra is on "Emptiness" ... even the Mantra and the "hocus-pocus" is Empty! In other words, one teaching of the Heart Sutra itself is that even the belief in some "magic spell to get some benefit" is Empty ... so the REAL MAGIC is in the Emptiness itself with nothing in need of getting! Thus, the Heart Sutra Mantra is a little different from the typical "hocus-pocus". **

    ** you may know you have been around Treeleaf too long when the above few sentences start to make sense to you!

    That is why the Sutra seems to be saying that the "real" Mantra and "magic" of the Sutra (endlessly more powerful than pulling a rabbit out of a hat or walking on water) is not at the end, but is "Prajna Paramita" (the Perfection of Wisdom) ... i.e., piercing Emptiness is the real "power". We chant:

    Therefore know that Prajna Paramita
    is the sacred mantra, the luminous mantra,
    the supreme mantra, the incomparable mantra
    by which all suffering is clear.

    Nothing is more powerful than that, for such is freeing from all need and desire! What more can one ask?

    Most Buddhists in the world (including traditional Zen Buddhists) probably accepted Mantra as some kind of "magic charm". Or it could serve as a simple reminder or focus of the mind on some subtle spiritual truth while calming and steadying the heart&mind in repeating the Manta. Modernist Zen Buddhists (I am one) tend to back away from the former magical meaning. If you would like to read a bit more about Mantra and the related "Dharani", we have this post ...

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-23-2013 at 03:16 AM.

  8. #8
    Thank you for your explanation, Jundo!


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