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The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra

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Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. In The Heart of Understanding, Thich Nhat Hanh offers a lucid and engaging interpretation of this core Buddhist text—The Heart Sutra—which is one of the most important sutras, offering subtle and profound teachings on nonduality.


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Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. In The Heart of Understanding, Thich Nhat Hanh offers a lucid and engaging interpretation of this core Buddhist text—The Heart Sutra—which is one of the most important sutras, offering subtle and profound teachings on nonduality.

30 review for The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    my favorite book of last summer. it's short so read it three times in a week. it will help you realize that you are a tree! my favorite book of last summer. it's short so read it three times in a week. it will help you realize that you are a tree!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Blaine

    No one but Thay could make the Abhidharma technicalities and mind-bending paradoxes of emptiness of the Heart Sutra read like simple breathing while looking at clouds. The highest wisdom, prajnaparamita, in Thay's hands shows you its immediacy and practicality for everyday living. After reading and reviewing six different books on the Heart Sutra, his was the one I chose to teach from. Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha! September 2018 Update Don't miss Thay's new version of this book, now No one but Thay could make the Abhidharma technicalities and mind-bending paradoxes of emptiness of the Heart Sutra read like simple breathing while looking at clouds. The highest wisdom, prajnaparamita, in Thay's hands shows you its immediacy and practicality for everyday living. After reading and reviewing six different books on the Heart Sutra, his was the one I chose to teach from. Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha! September 2018 Update Don't miss Thay's new version of this book, now titled The Other Shore: A New Translation of the Heart Sutra with Commentaries. In it Thay provides his new translation and explains why it is needed and how the standard translation (and its variations) has often been the source of misinterpretations and misunderstandings of the central teaching of emptiness.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Garden

    Y0u can't really three-star a sweet little treatise 0n h0w t0 be m0re kind and m0re aware 0f the hearts 0f pe0ple ar0und y0u, s0 this gets f0ur stars, because Thich Nhat Hanh, I like y0u m0re in the0ry than in practice, y0u 0l' dry-t0ngued devil. Y0u can't really three-star a sweet little treatise 0n h0w t0 be m0re kind and m0re aware 0f the hearts 0f pe0ple ar0und y0u, s0 this gets f0ur stars, because Thich Nhat Hanh, I like y0u m0re in the0ry than in practice, y0u 0l' dry-t0ngued devil.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Phuong Vy Le

    "What/ who you think you really know?" Over the past one year, whenever encounter anyone who sounds wise and open, I always ask s/he that question. I wonder whether we ever truly know anything/ anyone in this world, since everything & everyone change every single second. And if we hardly know anyone/anything, why we even bother trying to get-to-know or to learn because mastery of something or truly knowing someone are all illusions. (This question arose from some personal experiences during my 2 "What/ who you think you really know?" Over the past one year, whenever encounter anyone who sounds wise and open, I always ask s/he that question. I wonder whether we ever truly know anything/ anyone in this world, since everything & everyone change every single second. And if we hardly know anyone/anything, why we even bother trying to get-to-know or to learn because mastery of something or truly knowing someone are all illusions. (This question arose from some personal experiences during my 24) Throughout that time, I got different answers: - One talked about the Known, The Unknown, The Unknow-able - Some claim the only one person they know are themselves and the only thing they really know is what they want to do - Some said we know nothing - Some said they know their bff, their mother, their children. - Some just didn't answer And, I stopped questioning since I thought it was enough and it might go nowhere. Getting other's answer doesn't really help me clarify my own. But Thay made it so simple & so clear. “Views, knowledge, and even wisdom are solid, and can block the way of understanding.” "Understanding flows" If I keep trying to know things, I will never know them truly, as they change constantly, and I will feel frustrated. But if I try to understand something, it means that Im aware of the context where it is, be one with it to look deeply into its nature, but never assume that it would remain unchanged. Reading this small book was a really liberating experience for me :)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Oh my gosh. Profound. Everything contains everything else. When you really take the time to absorb the meaning of this book, it's quite life changing. Oh my gosh. Profound. Everything contains everything else. When you really take the time to absorb the meaning of this book, it's quite life changing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    “To be is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone, you have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.” “In the light of Buddhist meditation, love is impossible without understanding. You cannot love someone if you do not understand them. If you do not understand what you love, it is not love— it is something else.”

  7. 4 out of 5

    Victor

    This felt like a good introduction, but it's hard to judge its accuracy if I do not know more about what Buddhism is. I appreciate the clarity of Nhat Hanh's arguments for his interpretation, for resolving putative contradictions in the heart sutra. The writing was clear (enough) and concise. As someone trained in analytic philosophy, I have a few complaints. One is the misrepresentation of the Problem of Evil, which cannot be resolved simply by saying that good must coexist with evil if either This felt like a good introduction, but it's hard to judge its accuracy if I do not know more about what Buddhism is. I appreciate the clarity of Nhat Hanh's arguments for his interpretation, for resolving putative contradictions in the heart sutra. The writing was clear (enough) and concise. As someone trained in analytic philosophy, I have a few complaints. One is the misrepresentation of the Problem of Evil, which cannot be resolved simply by saying that good must coexist with evil if either exist. Western philosophy does not have to rule out this possibility, but they probably would not find it as obviously true. Instead, the Problem of Evil is a problem about the coherence of a particular conception of the Christian God (one handed down to us by philosophers of the modern period, and therefore, I don't know if it reflects the God that Christians currently believe in). Another is that I'm still curious about the step from inter-being to its moral psychological significance. Recognizing the essential ways that we are causally connected is not enough to make us care. People are, for example, notoriously bad at recognizing the value of their own future selves, and thereby neglect to plan for their own future well-being. This is so even if it is easy to see how we are connected to our own future selves. If the step from inter-being to some claim of moral significance is supposed to be about how we should react instead of how we do react, psychologically, then I am still left wondering how that argument gets filled out (or attempt to fill it in one day when I have more time). Furthermore, I am not so sure that a teenage prostitute who feels compelled by her circumstances to sell her body will find any comfort in recognizing how her place in the world depends on ours---how she is here because the rest of us are there. Maybe recognizing this inter-being will allow her to see how she should not wallow in self-pity and debilitating doubt because she gets insight into who is blameworthy and responsible and who is not. Maybe it's the way that stoicism might be therapeautic when it tries to distinguish between what we have control over and what we do not. And maybe on the flip side, it is good for us to recognize our culpability in her suffering so that we feel more compelled to change her position relative to ours, since it is because of our position that she is in hers. Perhaps that consoles. More likely, individuals will differ, but I suspect some teenaged prostitutes, or anyone else that is left undignified by our social and political institutions and legacy of domination and oppression, will resent the system that creates her situation and allows her to be abused. That's not to say that this is an irresolvable problem, but I wish more was said. Lastly, I am curious about similarities between Buddhist inter-being and the South African concept of ubuntu (sometimes translated as: "I am, because of you"), since I have been thinking about how to make sense of that. One apparent difference is that ubuntu tends to root these interconnections in terms of humanity, and not in terms of every physical thing. So, it would be easier to leave out animal welfare on the ubuntu view, without some supplement or adjustment, but less so on the blueprint of Buddhist thought that Nhat Hanh presents here. But it wasn't as mysterious as I might have thought (coming from a secular, analytic philosophy perspective) and there were some interesting arguments to dwell on.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    The heart of Buddhism (with Zen leanings) is encapsulated in this slim and poetic volume, but this book is for everyone. If you don't know Buddha from butter, it won't matter. It's probably the best introduction to the fundamental concepts of dependent origination and emptiness I have come across, without the didacticism or defensiveness that often accompanies more scholarly "explanations." It's simple, the way it's supposed to be. The way it is! The heart of Buddhism (with Zen leanings) is encapsulated in this slim and poetic volume, but this book is for everyone. If you don't know Buddha from butter, it won't matter. It's probably the best introduction to the fundamental concepts of dependent origination and emptiness I have come across, without the didacticism or defensiveness that often accompanies more scholarly "explanations." It's simple, the way it's supposed to be. The way it is!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Short, simple, and deeply insightful commentary on the core sutra of mahayana Buddhism. The Heart Sutra is the heart of the prajna paramita literature, the great deepening of the Buddha's original teaching. This work demystifies the concept of "emptiness" by substituting the idea that we "inter-are." no one if us, no concept, nothing exists independent of the rest of us. You could read this book in an hour, and keep returning to it for a lifetime. Short, simple, and deeply insightful commentary on the core sutra of mahayana Buddhism. The Heart Sutra is the heart of the prajna paramita literature, the great deepening of the Buddha's original teaching. This work demystifies the concept of "emptiness" by substituting the idea that we "inter-are." no one if us, no concept, nothing exists independent of the rest of us. You could read this book in an hour, and keep returning to it for a lifetime.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lon

    Thich Nhat Hanh's gift as a poet illuminates what might otherwise be impenetrable and abstruse. Emptiness, the central insight of the sutra, is a key to freeing us from concepts that get us stuck in life, such as the notion of impermanence or the notion of an independent and enduring self. This edition has been supplanted in the Plum Village community by The Other Shore, which treats the same subject matter but uses Hanh's 2014 translation of the Heart Sutra, retitled The Insight that Leads Us t Thich Nhat Hanh's gift as a poet illuminates what might otherwise be impenetrable and abstruse. Emptiness, the central insight of the sutra, is a key to freeing us from concepts that get us stuck in life, such as the notion of impermanence or the notion of an independent and enduring self. This edition has been supplanted in the Plum Village community by The Other Shore, which treats the same subject matter but uses Hanh's 2014 translation of the Heart Sutra, retitled The Insight that Leads Us to the Other Shore. There's much to commend the new rephrased sutra and I appreciate the desire to use language less likely to be misapprehended, but I have misgivings about calling it a new translation. Where Hanh believes the sutra's lines could lead to misunderstanding, he takes the liberty of changing them. This pre-2014 rendering remains more faithful to the text of the Heart Sutra as it has come to us across the centuries and is known and chanted throughout much of the Mahayana Buddhist world.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I always read books like these and wish I could be more spiritual than I am. Or maybe not even more spiritual, but more able to harness these messages in my daily life. I love the ideas of Buddhism, but I'm pretty solidly enmeshed in my passions. :) In any case, it's good to keep reading and thinking and trying. This little book has a lot about emptiness and interbeing--how everything contains everything else within it and nothing could exist without everything else. I like it. I always read books like these and wish I could be more spiritual than I am. Or maybe not even more spiritual, but more able to harness these messages in my daily life. I love the ideas of Buddhism, but I'm pretty solidly enmeshed in my passions. :) In any case, it's good to keep reading and thinking and trying. This little book has a lot about emptiness and interbeing--how everything contains everything else within it and nothing could exist without everything else. I like it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Levi Pierpont

    A short and thoughtful commentary on a sacred text that definitely needs commentary to be understood in any capacity as a modern reader with limited knowledge of Buddhist philosophy. Worth reading, as Thích Nhat Hanh's explanation and analogies are as poignant as ever in this little book. *I listened to this book.* A short and thoughtful commentary on a sacred text that definitely needs commentary to be understood in any capacity as a modern reader with limited knowledge of Buddhist philosophy. Worth reading, as Thích Nhat Hanh's explanation and analogies are as poignant as ever in this little book. *I listened to this book.*

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sienna

    Lovely short meditation on indivisibility.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I'm mostly unfamiliar with Buddhism, and don't consider myself a philosopher, so maybe I didn't understand this book. I started out at three stars, and the more I wrote the more frustrated I became until I brought it down to two. But here are my thoughts (would love commentary if anyone reads this, any time): If we were not empty (of a separate self, which makes us full of the combined elements of life such as perception, feeling, etc.) then we would be matter. Form is emptiness (of a separate se I'm mostly unfamiliar with Buddhism, and don't consider myself a philosopher, so maybe I didn't understand this book. I started out at three stars, and the more I wrote the more frustrated I became until I brought it down to two. But here are my thoughts (would love commentary if anyone reads this, any time): If we were not empty (of a separate self, which makes us full of the combined elements of life such as perception, feeling, etc.) then we would be matter. Form is emptiness (of a separate self), and emptiness is form. So the wave is the ocean, the ocean the wave. But then what exactly is matter if not an inanimate object? He says if were not empty, we would be matter, incapable of thought or feeling. Yet we inter-be with all sorts of things that don't have that ability. Except of course, the leaf is capable of experiencing excitement as it hurtles to the ground to become a tree all over again. So I don't understand what matter is, apparently nothing is, and there are no inanimate objects. So I also have to ask, what DOES have separate self, because apparently nothing does? Thich insists it is science, not philosophy, that we have been birds and rocks and clouds in past lives because if you go back far enough, we all evolved from something. We ARE these things, we inter-be with them, because we have some of them inside of us, and we couldn't all exist without one another. But I'm still not a water molecule, and haven't been for some time. Scientifically. I have water in me, and that may be my origin story, but what are we actually trying to get at here? I'm not a cloud no matter how much cloud I have in me. In that same vein, he says we can never be born, because we existed in our mother and father "half" before we were born. Nah. I was not Lisa before I was born, there were two separate elements that combined to make something new. Yes, those elements have been around forever and so I am connected to everything, but I still wasn't Lisa until I was, potential does not equal existence. This version of those aspects has never existed before and never will again. In that sense I am born even if my being wasn't created from nothing. Over and over, there is the equating of having an origin to not being a separate or individual entity. I am not a fish, no matter if my ancestors were once fish and I still have fishy DNA. He goes onto talk about how what is immaculate and reviled is just perception, with a rose and garbage. Roses become garbage, which is used as fertilizer, making more roses. One and the same! Let's change rose to just a normal pile of trash. It smells bad to us, not to raccoons. Why? Because there is a biological basis for keeping us away from the garbage, it can harm us. Disgust is not always about perception, and if you fill your vase with medical waste you might get sick, because it's not a damn rose. Then there is the bit about people dying very happy, peaceful deaths because they know they're coming back as something new and ~exciting~. What about the pain of life and death? It's one thing to say existence in some form doesn't end, maybe that comforts some. But life, for humans, is often full of physical pain. Are you saying that there will not be physical pain when I'm a leaf? He says the ocean waves no feel no fear, that means they're not sentient. But the leaf can wave goodbye to the tree, happy it's going to be seen again soon? Unless that wasn't a real conversation he had with the leaf. Again, I have to ask is ANYTHING matter, or is everything sentient? If the leaf is sentient, it can feel pain, which means my existence as a leaf might not be free of pain, in which case I'm not drifting off peacefully. If it's not sentient, does it really matter that I get to "be" a leaf? I won't realize I'm a leaf. Which means this version of me, as I know it, is DEAD. No one KNOWS what happens when we die, and that's just the truth of it. Energy not being able to be destroyed doesn't mean we have a never ending consciousness. I actually got angry at the part about the child prostitute. She will take comfort in knowing her suffering in life is reflective of the failings of other humans in more well off positions - and then feel no shame, because she is oppressed only because they created a system of success linked to her oppression, therefore their hands are not clean and ta-da!: they are the same. This sameness should erase her shame. Thich has never had to have sex with dudes for money before, because shame is the least of that kids problems. No, it's not comforting, and it doesn't fix anything, unless those who create the system take on the burden of fixing it upon hearing this amazing revelation. But then, there is nothing to fix. Because he states, once you choose sides, you're trying to eliminate half of reality. Evil is about perception, man, and those we label as evil see us as evil. Everything is relative. In fact, when describing the pimp who makes the little girl a sex slave, he doesn't refer to him as evil, or bad, or even something as gentle as misguided. He calls him CLEVER. Oh yes, how smart of this older man to see the value in the flesh of someone else's suffering! Not like it's the oldest profession, nah, Mr. Pimp is super industrious over here. Are you for real right now? Well, put me firmly in the camp with those who want to erase the half of reality that thinks child prostitution is not evil. I'm dying on that hill. And probably not peacefully, for the record. Is this why some monks set themselves on fire, to prove the point that once you stop assigning value judgements to things you're completely free of suffering, even physical pain? Get rid of good and evil, human and object, desire and attainment, and suddenly this all just becomes a little jaunt through the forest where we admire the scenery before becoming rocks again. Yeah, in that mindset, I can see why you'd be free of suffering. In general, the idea that we're connected IS nice, and very real, and I think helps us be more empathetic. But I found his arguments supporting that sloppy, unless I'm just not getting it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Tentatively three-starred since I am, at the moment, unable to agree with the author's writings. Or perhaps it is more of a matter of understanding. I can see how a piece of paper encompass the sun, trees, a speck of dust. So can I see the farmer's toil, his time, her sweat, a bull's labour, the sun's energy, the rain, in every grain of rice I eat. But I am unable to see me myself in others, others in me. Though this much I know: that I am defined by everything else in the universe - my siblings, Tentatively three-starred since I am, at the moment, unable to agree with the author's writings. Or perhaps it is more of a matter of understanding. I can see how a piece of paper encompass the sun, trees, a speck of dust. So can I see the farmer's toil, his time, her sweat, a bull's labour, the sun's energy, the rain, in every grain of rice I eat. But I am unable to see me myself in others, others in me. Though this much I know: that I am defined by everything else in the universe - my siblings, friends, colleagues, family - as is the universe by me. Maybe that is what the author meant. P.S.: I have a nagging thought that the author may have read Derrida's writings. Or that Derrida had a Buddhist influence. I'll be damned if inter-be is not differance.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Trina

    It's possible to read this slim book in one hour, but not to assimilate it. Tich Nhat Hanh does his best to simplify the heart sutra for western readers. Maybe oversimplify is a better word. Some of his insights into Buddhist teaching are marvelous and clear; others are maddening. 'This is, because that is' does little to explain, e.g., how wealth consists of poverty and vice versa except in the grand sense of everything being part of everything else. Still, there are many lessons worth learning It's possible to read this slim book in one hour, but not to assimilate it. Tich Nhat Hanh does his best to simplify the heart sutra for western readers. Maybe oversimplify is a better word. Some of his insights into Buddhist teaching are marvelous and clear; others are maddening. 'This is, because that is' does little to explain, e.g., how wealth consists of poverty and vice versa except in the grand sense of everything being part of everything else. Still, there are many lessons worth learning from the zen masters if we stay open and enter deeply into the things we want to understand.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robbie Blair

    While not a flawless book, this rendition and discussion of the Heart Sutra is an accessible entry-point for some of Buddhism's key philosophies. For those who find those philosophies resonant, this work is also replenishing and profound. While not a flawless book, this rendition and discussion of the Heart Sutra is an accessible entry-point for some of Buddhism's key philosophies. For those who find those philosophies resonant, this work is also replenishing and profound.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Weathervane

    Key Buddhist text. Lovely.

  19. 4 out of 5

    mia moraru

    simply incredible. quietly profound, changing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Veena Gokhale

    I was glad to read this book again after a gap of at least a decade. Thich Nhat Hanh, the renowned and revered Buddhist monk, teacher, peace activist and "engaged Buddhist" who combines various Buddhist traditions in his practice and teaching, illuminates here a foundational text. This is a lucid, beautiful, deeply touching and wise work. Inter-being, a central concept in this book, says that every thing is connected, intimately so. The example given is that of a single sheet of paper which is her I was glad to read this book again after a gap of at least a decade. Thich Nhat Hanh, the renowned and revered Buddhist monk, teacher, peace activist and "engaged Buddhist" who combines various Buddhist traditions in his practice and teaching, illuminates here a foundational text. This is a lucid, beautiful, deeply touching and wise work. Inter-being, a central concept in this book, says that every thing is connected, intimately so. The example given is that of a single sheet of paper which is here because of clouds and rain and sunshine and trees and the logger who chopped the tree and the mother who fed him and so on. This leads Hanh to talk about the concept of emptiness which essentially says that everything is empty of a separate self in that everything is co-existent and inter-dependent. Later in the book he takes the example of a prostiute who would not be if the "unsullied" young girl from a honourable family did not exist. Similarly right could not exist without left, and even though he does not explicitly say so, he is referring here to ideology. Later we arrive at the idea that the Buddha is made up of non Buddha elements (!) Purity cannot exist if we embrace inter-being as a fact. The deep insight into and understanding of inter-being and emptiness (the wave in only water) will lead to a lack of fear, it is said, because birth and death cannot scare us as they are a rolling, ongoing process which stretches back and forward infinitely and we are always part of the universe, which, after all, will always go on (OK, OK, let's not split hairs here!) Conscious, peaceful living with ourselves and the world is the best contribution (only?!) we can make: that's how the book ends. Phew!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ernie Truman

    Short, simple and concise. I have heard a couple people talk about how systematic Buddhist thought is, and reading a lot literature about it I began to agree. Then I read Thich Nhat Hanh, and although I didn't absorb his message fully with his other books, as my views have matured I have started seeing that everything in Buddhist practice is made of everything else. For example, I always thought that by following The Noble Eightfold Path you had to do things in a specific order, but now I see it Short, simple and concise. I have heard a couple people talk about how systematic Buddhist thought is, and reading a lot literature about it I began to agree. Then I read Thich Nhat Hanh, and although I didn't absorb his message fully with his other books, as my views have matured I have started seeing that everything in Buddhist practice is made of everything else. For example, I always thought that by following The Noble Eightfold Path you had to do things in a specific order, but now I see it in another way. One principle or practice of that path contains all the others. Fail at one and the whole thing doesn't work. You don't develop one practice on its own. In this book Thich Nhat Hanh illustrates this by showing us a translation of the Heart Sutra and then gives some commentary on what the ideas point to in a way that is simple and easy to understand. I always struggled with the idea that emptiness is form and form is emptiness but now I have a good grasp on to see it. This book will take very little time to read but if you concentrate and look deeply into what he is saying I believe it will invite some great insight. It's affordable on Kindle but I do believe I will buy a physical copy if I can find one. A real treasure. I am also reading The Other Shore by Thich Nhat Hanh where he goes more in depth to this subject. However this one is less money and is a great presentation on how he views the Heart Sutra. If you're strapped for cash this will probably be more economical for you (when I bought it I think I spent 5.99 on Kindle). Enjoy!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Richard Thompson

    There is nothing new here. It's all standard Buddhist thought that anyone with the most passing familiarity with Buddhism already knows. But that didn't make this book bad or too simple. There was beauty in its simplicity, and I was calmed by the familiarity of the message. I can't truly say that I have learned the lessons here in the way that this book says that I should in order to have true knowledge. I probably never will. But the very idea that there is nothing new and that most of us will There is nothing new here. It's all standard Buddhist thought that anyone with the most passing familiarity with Buddhism already knows. But that didn't make this book bad or too simple. There was beauty in its simplicity, and I was calmed by the familiarity of the message. I can't truly say that I have learned the lessons here in the way that this book says that I should in order to have true knowledge. I probably never will. But the very idea that there is nothing new and that most of us will never truly learn these teachings is a key part of what this book is all about. But the book also tells us that this should be grounds for joy, not despair. One of the possible paths to learning these lessons is repetition and reinforcement. As I walked through the world today, I was seeing things in the world around me much more than I usually do as part of their context in the great flow of existence. I'll probably forget to do that tomorrow, but maybe with a little practice I can begin to cultivate it as more of a habit. Apart from the content of the message, Thich Nhat Hanh delivers his teachings in a wonderfully calming voice and style that was enough by itself to pull me into a meditative state. This is a book that could be could be read again and again without losing its power.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dan Nguyen

    I have never thought that I will have another point of view in Buddhism. First thing first, I'm not Buddhist and i read this book due to talking world religion class. The book is full of logical things in an advanced level. One of the point, Thay said "this is like this, because that is like that", which is so true. We live in a society, love to judge things, to differentiate things into 2 extremes. We want to define things good and bad, ugly and beautiful, pure and impure. Once asking human to I have never thought that I will have another point of view in Buddhism. First thing first, I'm not Buddhist and i read this book due to talking world religion class. The book is full of logical things in an advanced level. One of the point, Thay said "this is like this, because that is like that", which is so true. We live in a society, love to judge things, to differentiate things into 2 extremes. We want to define things good and bad, ugly and beautiful, pure and impure. Once asking human to give a definition of beauty or ugliness, who are able to do that? As a person, we tend to like the best, the nicest, the most beautiful things whether it's a fresh rose or an delicious dish. We clings to the impermanent things in the earth. We have a craving. Craving to be richer, to have more and more and more. It is never enough for us. But once we realize things are interconnected, what you did today affect yourself and your generation, your children, your grandchildren later, once you realize things are impermanent, you will get older, sicker and once day you die. When you have a awareness of those above things, you can easily let go the unnecessary things, to live fullfilly, to laugh more, to appreciate the world and suddenly have a much wonderful life.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Hahaha, I'm guilted into not putting this below 4 stars. It touches the heart AND THUS BINDS IT. Thich Nhat Hanh is the pocketbook version of ancient wisdom. Not literally the author himself. In a way one could say he was the words in the book, the pages and the mental formations while reading it. Most of Thich's books are short and easy. This does not betray the efforts of his translation as it is often very difficult to bridge certain gaps of understanding. Those of us in the West are notori Hahaha, I'm guilted into not putting this below 4 stars. It touches the heart AND THUS BINDS IT. Thich Nhat Hanh is the pocketbook version of ancient wisdom. Not literally the author himself. In a way one could say he was the words in the book, the pages and the mental formations while reading it. Most of Thich's books are short and easy. This does not betray the efforts of his translation as it is often very difficult to bridge certain gaps of understanding. Those of us in the West are notorious (mostly in theory) for lacking said understanding. For me, perhaps it's a vision of nonduality, there is no version of wisdom that cannot be understood when plainly set. It's the shared humanity. The Heart of Understanding. *mic drop for title drop* Simple, overpriced read. I doubt the money is going directly to the author though. The wisdom is timeless and priceless so...Okay. This is a wrap. You already know if this stuff is your shindig. If you're on a journey, best of luck, and if you are just interested this is no where near a long read so give it a try. See ya :D

  25. 5 out of 5

    HOA NGUYEN

    Thay introduces the notion of 'inter-being' to gain understanding, empathy and compassion between ourselves with other creatures in daily life. The goal is to create inner peace and societal peace, to reduce discrimination mindset and behaves which cause conflicts and violence in society. I agree with the author that the content, lessons in the book are not about to put on the alter. It is supposed to be a tool. We, if wanting to understand it, require to practice inter-being thinking in daily me Thay introduces the notion of 'inter-being' to gain understanding, empathy and compassion between ourselves with other creatures in daily life. The goal is to create inner peace and societal peace, to reduce discrimination mindset and behaves which cause conflicts and violence in society. I agree with the author that the content, lessons in the book are not about to put on the alter. It is supposed to be a tool. We, if wanting to understand it, require to practice inter-being thinking in daily meditation and mindfulness rather than treating the notion theoretically. I desire to apply inter-being tool to improve holistic/system thinking and seek the truth from surrounding noise caused by fuzzy information.

  26. 4 out of 5

    C.K. Shaw

    I studied Buddhism in college, but always struggled to understand the meaning of the Heart Sutra. In this book Thich Nat Han provides a step-by-step analysis of the elusive elements of this sutra, including emptiness, interdependence, and impermanence. His explanations are extremely clear and his illustrations are impressively effective. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the Heart Sutra. This book is so clear and well-written that I think it would even be a great I studied Buddhism in college, but always struggled to understand the meaning of the Heart Sutra. In this book Thich Nat Han provides a step-by-step analysis of the elusive elements of this sutra, including emptiness, interdependence, and impermanence. His explanations are extremely clear and his illustrations are impressively effective. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the Heart Sutra. This book is so clear and well-written that I think it would even be a great introduction to Buddhism for someone without any experience.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andreea Ureche

    Small reminder of what we should think about as humans and how our heart needs to be healed with every breath we take. How we should take care of us and others, how we should spread love and kindness, how we should think before talk about others and how we should think that a rose indeed can come out of garbage and will go to garbage sooner or later and this makes garbage important too. We should see the forest and what it is instead of checking up every tree. An important lesson in simple and mi Small reminder of what we should think about as humans and how our heart needs to be healed with every breath we take. How we should take care of us and others, how we should spread love and kindness, how we should think before talk about others and how we should think that a rose indeed can come out of garbage and will go to garbage sooner or later and this makes garbage important too. We should see the forest and what it is instead of checking up every tree. An important lesson in simple and mindful words.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Niklas Braun

    Thich Nhat Hanh has explained the lines of the Heart Sutra as I have never heard before, and expounded a lot of clarity where my understanding was hazy at best. I am always astonished at the abaility of Thich Nhat Hanh to clarify subjects with few words, yet weave them together poetically as he does. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to get into Sutra study. It's like he is teaching in person, since he seemed to answer all of my questions as they came to mind. Thich Nhat Hanh has explained the lines of the Heart Sutra as I have never heard before, and expounded a lot of clarity where my understanding was hazy at best. I am always astonished at the abaility of Thich Nhat Hanh to clarify subjects with few words, yet weave them together poetically as he does. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to get into Sutra study. It's like he is teaching in person, since he seemed to answer all of my questions as they came to mind.

  29. 5 out of 5

    hoffnarr

    Called a new translation of the Heart Sutra but Hanh offers his own innovations by, in a way, adding his own material to the sutra to avoid “misunderstandings” His commentaries include fun anecdotes and this is a work very much aimed at practitioners but also includes engagement with Sanskrit and Chinese Buddhist terminology which vary from clear explanations of these terms to modern revisions of Buddhist ideas. My newer edition has the new name, “The Other Shore”

  30. 5 out of 5

    James Somers

    This book was a once-through - picked it up and didn't put it down until it was done. Thich Nhat Hanh has a way of conveying the difficult-to-understand and pseudo-mystical concepts of Buddhism in a very real-world and down-to-earth way. This book, in particular, was particularly powerful for me in his explanation of where we come from before we are born and where we go when we die. A profound read that I would recommend to anyone. This book was a once-through - picked it up and didn't put it down until it was done. Thich Nhat Hanh has a way of conveying the difficult-to-understand and pseudo-mystical concepts of Buddhism in a very real-world and down-to-earth way. This book, in particular, was particularly powerful for me in his explanation of where we come from before we are born and where we go when we die. A profound read that I would recommend to anyone.

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