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The Heart Sutra, a mere 35 lines, is one of Buddhism's best-known teachings, "Buddhism in a nutshell," according to Red Pine, an award-winning translator of Chinese poetry and religious writings. But when he was asked to prepare a fresh translation, he found himself reconsidering its origins, reexamining every word, and reassessing every nuance. The result is a meticulous line-by-line interpretation that will radically deepen readers' understanding of not only the sutra but also Buddhism's underlying structure, Abhidharma, or the Matrix of Reality. Red Pine begins by noting that while no one knows where the Heart Sutra came from or who composed it, he has come to believe that its roots are in Northern India, and that "the noble Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva" named in the first line is none other than an incarnation of Maya, the Buddha's mother. Red Pine then proceeds to explicate the Heart Sutra in its concentrated entirety, including its most cited pronouncement, "form is emptiness, emptiness is form," a feat that will engage and enlighten every serious student of the Dharma. Donna Seaman
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