Finding the Heart Sutra

Finding the Heart Sutra

Guided by a Magician, an Art Collector and Buddhist Sages from Tibet to Japan

Summary

'An erudite and charming book . . . both a primer and a paean to one of the central texts of Buddhism, known as the Heart Sutra. . . Alex Kerr delves into the Japanese soul' Literary Review

The material world is itself emptiness.
Emptiness is itself the material world.

Powerful, mystical and concise, the Heart Sutra is believed to contain the condensed essence of all Buddhist wisdom. This brief poem on emptiness has exerted immense influence throughout Asia since the seventh century and is woven into the fabric of daily life. Yet even though it rivals the teachings of Laozi and Confucius in importance, this ancient Buddhist scripture remains barely known in the West.

During the many years he has spent living in Japan, Alex Kerr has been on a quest after the secrets of the Heart Sutra. Travelling from Japan, Korea, and China, to India, Mongolia, Tibet and Vietnam, this book brings together Buddhist teaching, talks with friends and mentors, and acute cultural insights to probe the universe of thought contained within this short but intense philosophical work.

'Marvellous ... a life's work ... a brilliant literary form, weaving reflections of the sutra with those on Alex's own magical mystery tour' Alexandra Munroe, Asian Art scholar and curator

Reviews

  • Panoramic . . . what Kerr does so well as a writer is delve into the smaller details that other scribes overlook . . . the best books are about the reader, mindful of their wants and needs, while the author remains in the background where he or she can more effectively transmit the story and its meaning. Kerr excels at this, even while telling what is a highly personal story
    Amy Chavez, Books on Asia

About the author

Alex Kerr

Alex Kerr is an American writer and Japanologist whose previous books include Lost Japan and Another Kyoto (with Kathy Arlyn Sokol). He was the first foreigner to be awarded the Shincho Gakugei Literature Prize for the best work of non-fiction published in Japan.
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