Bát Nhã Tâm Kinh (English/Vietnamese)
A Brief Exposition on Bát Nhã Tâm Kinh
Bát Nhã Tâm Kinh is the apex of the Mahayana Buddhism thought (Phật giáo đại thừa). Buddhism developed from Theravada (Phật giáo nguyên thủy, or tiểu thừa) to Mahayana (Đại thừa). Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Laos are essentially Theravada. Vietnam, China, Japan, Korea, Hongkong, Singapore, Taiwan, Tibet and Mongolia are essentially Mahayana. However, Theravada has also had its presence in Vietnam as early as Mahayana.
In this long development of Buddhism, the key concept of Không (Sũnya in Sanskrist, “emptiness” or “void” in English) developed along. Life is non-permanent (vô thường) because everything comes and goes, depending on nhân duyên (the law of causation). Life is therefore illusory, not real. In other words, life is không or hư không.
This concept of Không may easily lead to the negative thought of nihilism. Mahayana Buddhism takes us back out of this extremist concept of Không to the middle way (trung đạo). This middle way still commits to the idea that “life is Không”; however không here is not different from có (existence), “không mà là có, có mà là không” (emptiness is existence, existence is emptiness). This middle way definitely takes away any inkling of nihilist negativism. It is realistic and positive about life.
Bát Nhã Tâm Kinh presents this middle way while going swiftly through all teachings of the Buddhist tradition, from Theravada to Mahayana. Studying Bát Nhã Tâm Kinh is really the studying of the whole Buddhism.
Bát Nhã Tâm Kinh is so central to Phật giáo đại thừa (Mahayana) that it is recited daily (kinh nhật tụng) by monks and nuns. In Vietnam, Bát Nhã Tâm Kinh is recited in hán việt (the Vietnamese transliteration of Chinese language). The hán việt version has the advantage of being a beautiful poem with good rhythm and sound and very concise language, therefore it is easy to memorize. The problem is that it is still a foreign language to most Vietnamese. However, since most Vietnamese Buddhist terms are hán việt anyway, it would be better for students of Buddhism to be familiar with some hán việt. For these reasons, in this study, we will use the hán việt version as the main version, along with the Vietnamese and English translations to facilitate the understanding.
Continue reading and down load at: bat-nha-tam-kinh_english_tdh
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