Finding the Heart Sutra
‘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
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 * Compelling, beautiful . . . Alex Kerr finds humor at the heart of wisdom and enlightenment -- J.J. O'Donoghue * Japan Times * Playful and accessible . . . superb calligraphy . . . those who loved Kerr's Lost Japan or his most recent Bangkok Found will remember, as they read this latest offering, the reasons they have enjoyed his work: Kerr's deep understanding of culture and his refined aesthetic sensibilities, qualities that allow him to capture the world he writes about in a way that is always compelling -- Leanne Ogasawara * Kyoto Journal * An erudite and charming book . . . Alex Kerr delves into the Japanese soul in Finding the Heart Sutra . . . both a primer and a paean to one of the central texts to Buddhism * Literary Review *
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