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In this new edition of The Heart of Understanding, venerable Thich Nhat Hanh offers a completely new translation of the Prajñaparamita Sutra, regarded as the essence of Buddhist teaching. The ancient sutra is given a contemporary treatment, offering subtle and profound teachings on non-duality and the letting go of all preconceived notions so that one remains open to all the wonders of life. The commentary is one of the most simple, clear, concise, and understandable treatments of this very important Buddhist sutra and has not changed in this new edition.
The Heart Sutra is recited daily in Mahayana temples and practice centers throughout the world. Thich Nhat Hanh’s translation and commentary are the fruit of the author’s more than sixty years of monastic study and practice. He describes the sutra as a precious gift to us, the gift of fearlessness.”
In this new translation, Nhat Hanh reinterprets the most misunderstood of the Buddha's teachings. Instead of the usual formulation of the sutra: in emptiness there is no form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, or consciousness,” Nhat Hanh says what the Buddha really meant is that, in emptiness, form, feelings, and so on, are not separate self entities.” Emptiness of self doesn’t mean the nonbeing of self, just as the emptiness of all phenomena doesn’t mean the nonexistence of phenomena. All phenomena are products of interdependent co-arising; this is the main point of the prajñaparamita teaching. A flower is made only of non-flower elements, so we can say that the flower is empty of a separate existence. But that doesn't mean that the flower is not there.
The Heart Sutra is Buddhism in a nutshell, containing only 632 characters in the traditional Chinese translation. Despite its brevity, it covers more of the Buddha’s teachings than any other scripture and has had the most profound and wide-reaching influence of any text in Buddhism.
Thich Nhat Hanh is among the most influential spiritual leaders in the world today. A Buddhist monk, poet, scholar, and human rights activist, Nhat Hanh was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.He is author of more than one hundred books, and has sold over 2 million copies in the US alone. Previous best selling books include Being Peace and Happiness. He lives at Plum Village, his meditation center in France, where he's been teaching the art of mindful living for more than fifty years.