19 January 2018

The Chinese Origins of the Heart Sutra Revisited

In 1992, Jan Nattier published the watershed article in which she made a very strong argument that the Heart Sutra was compiled/composed in China. As I have discussed, the reaction in Japan was one of horror, denial, and rejection. Not much of this has filtered through to the English-speaking world, except through the Zen-based commentaries of Red Pine and Kazuaki Tanahashi. I'm working on quantifying the proportions, but most English-speaking scholars accept or at least do not reject the thesis, while some remain sceptical and on the fence (largely because there has been little follow up).

This essay will outline the case as it stands now; i.e., as stated by Jan Nattier in 1992 and extended by Huifeng in 2014, and by me in 2015 and 2017 (though I will also draw on an article that is out for peer review and two more that I'm working on that I hope to submit in 2018). There are two main areas of interest: 1. where the Heart Sutra is a quotation from the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā-sūtra (Pañc) or "Perfection of Wisdom in 25,000 Lines" and 2. where it is an original composition. Nattier compared the words and sentence structure mainly from the former, but Huifeng and I have each extended this analysis into the conclusion.

Nattier compared four texts and showed that the most plausible way understanding their history was like this

Pañc (Sanskrit)
Pañc (Chinese)
Heart Sutra (Chinese)
Heart Sutra (Sanskrit)

The result is that the Sanskrit Heart Sutra often paraphrases Pañc. You can get a sense of what this process is like by getting Google translator to translate "form is not different from emptiness" into Mandarin, and then have Bing translator translate it back into English (note Babelfish does much less well).

There are some complications such as the potential confusion between Pañc as it appears in the Sūtra translation (T223) and as it appears embedded in the Upadeśa or commentary (T1509). But these are minor and do not affect the accuracy of the thesis.

Below are ten clues to the Chinese origins of the Heart Sutra. Since the text itself is only about 250 words, this is a very dense cluster of evidence. No.8

Core Section

In this section I will show the text as it appears in the Gilgit manuscript of Pañc, followed by Kumārajīva's translation of a similar Pañc text, followed by the parallel passage in the Sanskrit Heart Sutra. And then summarise how this contributes to the Chinese origins thesis. 

1. Form is no different from emptiness

nānyad rūpaṃ anyā śūnyatā 
rūpān na pṛthak śūnyatā

If we were being pedantic, then na anya X anya Y means "X is not one thing and Y another"; whereas X na pṛthak Y means "X is not different from Y". Two ways of saying that X and Y are the same. However, although it is grammatically correct, the X na pṛthak Y  idiom is not found in the Sanskrit Prajñāpāramitā literature, whereas the na anya X anya Y idiom is. (Nattier).

Some confusion arises because there are two Chinese ways of writing this idea: 1. 非色異空 and 2. 色不異空. Version 1 negates 非 the phrase 色異空 "form is different from emptiness". Version 2 only negates the verb/adjective 異 "is different from". To distinguish them we might translate 1 as, "it is not the case that form is different from emptiness" and 2 as, "Form is not different from emptiness". T250 uses 1 and T251 uses 2.

Some older editions of the Chinese Tripiṭaka use 2 in Kumārajīva's translation of the Large Sutra, but Taishō uses 1. Taishō has 2 in the Upadeśa. It's not entirely clear what this means, but it is possible that the whole quoted text in the Heart Sutra comes from the Upadeśa.

2. All dharmas are marked with emptiness

yā śūnyatā na sā utpadyate... 
是諸 法空相不生不滅 
sarva-dharmāḥ śūnyatā-lakṣaṇā anutpannā

In Pañc it is emptiness itself that doesn't arise, etc, and "all dharmas" are not mentioned (the same is true of the later Nepalese manuscripts). However, Kumārajīva's Chinese translation introduces "all dharmas", 諸 法, and syntactically makes them the subject of the sentence, changing the meaning substantially. The Heart Sutra follows Kumārajīva's Chinese translation rather than the Sanskrit text it supposedly quotes from.

The grammatical form also changes. Verbs are replaced by adjectives. See 3.

3.  Emptiness does not arise or pass away

na sā utpadyate, no nirudyate, na saṃkliśyate, na vyavadāyate, na hīyate, no vardhate 
不生 不滅不垢不淨不增不減 
anutpannā aniruddhā, amalā avimalā, anūnā aparipūrṇāḥ.

In the Sanskrit Heart Sutra a series of finite verbs in the 3rd person singular utpadyate are replaced by a series of adjectives in the masculine plural (to go with the noun dharmāḥ). 

And this is precisely the kind of confusion that medieval Chinese introduces. A character like 生 can be used as a verb, utpadyate, or as an adjective, utpanna, or for any other nominal or verbal derivative of ut√pad and probably a number of other verbal roots. How we read it is up to us. Without a very detailed knowledge of the Prajñāpāramita idiom in Sanskrit, we are likely to make the wrong choice in this circumstance. And the translator does. 

Note also that some of the adjectives in the Heart Sutra have similar meanings, but have changed roots. For example, na hīyate, "does not fall short" (< √) is translated as 不增, but then back-translated as an-ūna "not deficient". 

The list in Pañc is used frequently (in part and in full), with the same verbal roots used in this order but with different derivatives (past participles and action nouns). The list in the Heart Sutra is not found elsewhere, meaning that it was created ad hoc, rather than following the usual Buddhist practice of giving standard lists. (Nattier)

This is very strong evidence for the Chinese origins thesis but is often overlooked in discussions of Nattier's article.

4. Negated lists
na cakṣur na śrotraṃ na ghrāṇaṃ na jihvā na kāyo na manaḥ 
na caksuḥ-śrotra-ghrāṇa-jihvā-kāya-manāṃsi

Such lists are frequent and often combined into one long compound. However, in Pañc the compounded form is only used for positive forms. Where the terms are negated, as here, Pañc always negates each individually. On the other hand, in Chinese we see the convention of supplying one negative particle for the list as a compound.

The Sanskrit Heart Sutra follows the Chinese convention rather than the Sanskrit convention.  The fact that we find a Chinese convention in a Sanskrit text is again a strong argument for the Heart Sutra being composed in Chinese (Nattier).

5. Na jñānam. Na prāptir

In the extant texts of Pañc this is na prāptir nābhisamayo “no attainment, no realisation”. The same wording is found in Mokṣala T221: 亦無所逮得 亦無須陀洹 (8.6a11-12) and in Xuánzàng T220-2: 無得 無現觀 (7.14a23).

Only two Chinese texts have 無智亦無得: the Heart Sutra and the Dàjīng (T223). This quirk shows that this passage in the Heart Sutra was copied from the Dàjīng (T223) and not from any other version of the text in either Sanskrit or Chinese.

Conclusion Section

Leaving behind the quoted section, we move onto the original composition. Since this section was composed in Chinese, arrows go away from the Chinese. Below the Chinese is the received translation. Above the Chinese, the Sanskrit word/phrase marked by an * is an attempt at conveying the meaning of the Chinese more accurately in the light of modern research. If you like, it is how the translator ought to have translated the text if they were more familiar with Sanskrit Prajñāpāramitā texts. On occasion, we can trace parts of the conclusion to Pañc as well. 

6. Practising non-apprehension

Kumārajīva uses 得 to represent a verbal noun from pra√āp, i.e., prāptiḥ. The author immediately uses the same character in the next phrase and it was, naturally, assumed to denote another word derived from pra√āp, i.e., aprāpritvād. However, Huifeng showed that Kumārajīva invariably translated the Sanskrit phrase anupalambhayogena using this Chinese phrase 以無所得故. The translation aprāptitvād could not have been composed in India because it relies on the ambiguity of the Chinese characters.

What's more, Huifeng argued that this word really goes with the quoted section. This qualifier moves us away from metaphysics and towards and epistemic reading of the text. (Huifeng) That is, it tells us that being in the state of emptiness and practising non-apprehension of dharmas is the only time that "no form" applies. (Attwood)

7.  His mind does not become attached

*asya cittaṃ na kvacit sajjati 
viharaty acittāvaraṇaḥ

Huifeng showed that cittāvaraṇa is simply the wrong translation here. 心無罣礙 translates "mind without attachment", where 罣礙 is a verb rather than a noun. He proposed to read 罣礙 as "hang", but I argued that it was more straightforward to read it as "attached". Similarly, the Sanskrit verb sajjati means "attach" or "become attached".  So, āvaraṇa, "impediment", is also clearly the wrong translation.

The phrase na kvacit sajjati occurs in both Aṣṭa and Pañcaviṃśāti. So, even though this is not a quote, we have a clear view of how Kumārajīva used this combination of characters (though Kumārajīva could be inconsistent, as we have seen). Āvaraṇa is not a bad guess, but it's not consistent with the Prajñāpāramitā idiom. Which argues against composition in India. (Huifeng).

There is nothing in the Chinese that could be read as viharati "he dwells". My supposition is that the translator was struggling for a word here, especially having read 罣礙 as a noun instead of a verb, and did not know the verb sajjati. They had to improvise and this was the best they could do.

8. Not being attached


If 心無罣礙 translates "mind without attachments", then 無罣礙故 means "because [it] is without attachments". The Sanskrit Heart Sutra renders this, "because of the non-existence of mental impediments". The construction nāstitvād "because of the non-existence of" is very strange and appears to be a one-off in Sanskrit. A Sanskrit-reader can see what it means, but there are simpler and more elegant ways to negate a noun (i.e., by adding the negative prefix a-). This construction implies someone familiar with the rules of Sanskrit, who did not feel bound by the conventions of idiom. It also continues the misreading that begins above.

9. Buddhas of the Three Times

atītānāgatapratyutpannā buddhā
tryadhvavyavasthitāḥ sarvabuddhāḥ

This is the smoking gun. All being well, I'll be publishing something on this in 2018, but this phrase in the Sanskrit Heart Sutra could only have come from translating a Chinese text because it involves an idiom that developed in Chinese and is never seen elsewhere in Indian Buddhist Sanskrit texts.

Now published as:
Attwood, Jayarava. (2018). 'The Buddhas of the Three Times and the Chinese Origins of the Heart Sutra.' Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. 15: 9-27.

10.  Prajñāpāramita is a vidyā

mahavidyeyaṃ bhagavan yaduta prajñāpāramitā | anuttareyaṃ bhagavan vidyā yaduta prajñāpāramitā asamasameyaṃ bhagavan vidyā yaduta prajñāpāramitā 
T250: 故知般若波羅蜜是大明呪 無上明呪 無等等明呪 (8.847.c24)
prajñāpāramitā mahāmantro mahāvidyāmantro anuttaramantro ‘samasamamantraḥ

In the passage from PañcPrajñāpāramitā was described as a great vidyā (mahāvidyā 大明呪 ) and unsurpassed vidyā (anuttarā vidyā 無上明呪) and an unequalled vidyā (無等等明呪). Kumārajīva uses 明呪 to translate vidyā. But it is mistaken for two words, 明呪 "bright dhāraṇī". 

After the advent of Tantric Buddhism in China (7th C) 呪 is used to translate mantra. Tantra subsumed the previously existing spell practices under the category of mantra. This makes no sense from the perspective of a few centuries early where dhāraṇī existed entirely outside the Tantric milieu. Therefore, the Sanskrit Heart Sutra came into being after the advent of Tantra when mantra chanting was finally accepted as a Buddhist practice. That said, Woncheuk (613–696) makes brief mention of having a Sanskrit text, though he does not treat it as authoritative.

The form found in T250 can only have come from T223, while T251 has been modified to reflect the wording of Xuanzang's translation in T220 while keeping Kumārajīva's phrasing.

Note: Mantra recitation is still seen as non-Buddhist and frowned on in Aṣṭa. It doesn't become a feature of Buddhism until the mid-7th Century in India and about a century later in China.

11. True and not hollow

*satyā na tucchakā
satyam amithyatvāt

These are adjectives of prajñāpāramitā and should be in the feminine gender. The translator seems to have misread them as related to a mantra (grammatically neuter). He also misread 虛 which means "hollow, empty, vain" for which tucchaka is a more obvious translation than mithyā "contrarily, incorrectly, improperly".

The translator has a penchant for abstract nouns in the ablative case, which adds the sense of "because of being in the state of [the noun]". So satyam amithyatvāt literally means "truth because there is no contrariness". If these are not adjectives then this is not a well-formed sentence.


We can now conclusively say that the Heart Sutra was composed in China without any equivocation or hedging. Not only is there a weight of evidence, but No.8 is the clincher. The "three times" idiom in the Heart Sutra can only be Chinese. It is not simply that there are some suspicious looking paraphrases, but that there are passages that look like Sanskrit translations of Chinese phrases. In the case of the three times, there is no other way to construe it. The Sanskrit is definitely a translation from Chinese. 

Again, we can unequivocally say that the Heart Sutra is an apocryphon. But then so are all Mahāyāna texts. Arguably all Buddhist texts are apocryphal. There is no Buddhist equivalent of divine revelation or the preserved word of god. The best a believer could argue is that the sutras were based on a true story. There is a great deal more internal contradiction and incoherence in the literature than is usually admitted and this militates against a single source. For example, the Pāḷi suttas clearly came from multiple sources.

We can also say that the person who translated the text from Chinese into Sanskrit was unfamiliar with the idioms of the Sanskrit Prajñāpāramitā literature. They had a bias for taking active sentences in Chinese and rendering them as a series of compound adjectives, and a preference for using abstract nouns in the ablative case, even when this was inelegant. They seem to have been forced to improvise on several occasions, by a limited Sanskrit vocabulary. Lastly, they produced a unique form of Chinese influenced Sanskrit—preserving Chinese literary conventions in Sanskrit translation—which to my knowledge has no parallel. In this sense, the Heart Sutra is unique.

To my eye, this does not look like the work of someone who translated millions of words of Sanskrit Prajñāpāramitā texts into Chinese and who is still acknowledged as a master of the art of translation. In other words, the idea that Xuanzang produced this shoddy work is not really credible. It is clearly the work of an inferior and parochial mind whose point of reference for the Prajñāpāramitā tradition was Kumārajīva's Chinese translations. Which ought not to surprise us, because Kumārajīva's translations have always been more popular that Xuanzang's. 

As for Tanahashi's idea that Avalokiteśvara transmitted the text of T251 to Xuanzang in India as a divine revelation (allowing him to claim that it is an "Indian text"), we would want to know why either the bodhisatva or the expert translator would only change a few key terms in Kumārajīva's text, while leaving the worst features—the mistakes—of it intact. This is not credible. 

Of course, I will need to properly frame these ideas and present the evidence to my "peers" in academia. I expect this to happen in due course. I'm hoping to get the last of the necessary corrections published this year along with one or two other papers about the text. Though getting published is less than half the battle. 80% of all articles in the humanities are never cited by another article. To date, I don't think any of my work on the Heart Sutra has been cited. There is little or no interest in the Heart Sutra in academia and little or no interest in critical scholarship amongst Buddhists. 


12 January 2018

Types of Errors in the Heart Sutra

For a short and popular text, the Heart Sutra is poorly understood (or widely misunderstood) and poorly studied. A lot of basic research on the Heart Sutra has been left undone, presumably because it is hard to get funding for this kind of thing.

However, over recent years, Jan Nattier, Matt Orsborn (aka Huifeng), and I have all contributed to a reassessment of the basic text in Chinese and Sanskrit and the relations between the two. I'm hoping to publish the last of the necessary corrections in 2018, though this will leave a number of aesthetic issues and "would-be-nice" corrections to be made. Had I been in academia, the series of articles I've published since 2015 would have been my PhD thesis. Hopefully it will be a book soon.

There are several different kinds of error in the Heart Sutra. In this essay, I review the types of error that I have encountered while studying the sutra and give examples of each. There is a spectrum from errors that are matters of aesthetics to those which render passages unintelligible. And all this in a text of barely 250 words, just imagine what state the rest of the Buddhist Canon is in. 

1. Scribal Errors

These are only relevant for people who read manuscripts (and I may be the only person doing this currently for the Heart Sutra). Some may recall that in 2015 I identified a previously undescribed Heart Sutra manuscript in a newly digitised cache from Nepal. Transcribing and editing it required 142 footnotes to describe all the errors, most of which were simply due to being copied by generations of careless scribes who did not know Sanskrit. 

To give credit where it is due, Conze (1948, 1967) fixed a huge number of scribal errors found in the dozen or so manuscripts he used for his critical edition. Müller (1884) fixed some of the errors in his diplomatic edition of Hōryū-ji manuscript, though ironically many Japanese seem to prefer the uncorrected version.

2. Punctuation Errors in CBETA

CBETA, the electronic version of the Taishō edition of the Chinese Tripitaka, is notorious for its punctuation errors. There's only one big problem in the Heart Sutra, which is between the boundary of section V and VI (Huifeng 2014).

The standard version has: V... 無智,亦無得。VI. 以無所得故,菩提薩埵...
It should be:                      V... 無智,亦無得,以無所得故。VI. 菩提薩埵...

This one is understandable, since 亦無得 marks the end of the quote from T223, but Huifeng (2014) showed that 以無所得故 is, in fact, intended to go with section V. This makes quite a big difference to how we read this section and is key to understanding the meaning of the quoted section. It was also mistranslated into Sanskrit, and this may have been the source of the punctuation errors. I will deal with the Sanskrit errors and how to translate this passage under heading 4.

3. Conze's Editorial Errors

Conze made two main errors in his edition. In section II he read pañcaskandha as nominative plural pañcaskandhāḥ and vyavalokayati sma "he examined" as an intransitive verb (i.e., one that has no patient or object). Instead, the word should be in the accusative plural: pañcaskandhān, and is the object of the verb; i.e., Avalokiteśvara is examining the five skandhas. (Attwood 2015)

Conze also tacitly changed the Buddhist Sanskrit spellings, which are entirely regular across Mahāyāna manuscripts, to classical Sanskrit spellings that are not used by Buddhists: āryya → ārya; and bodhisatva → bodhisattva.

Section II, with sandhi rules applied and Buddhist spelling, should read
II. Āryyāvalokiteśvaro bodhisatvo gambhīrāṃ prajñāpāramitācaryāṃ caramāṇo vyavalokayati sma pañcaskandhāṃs tāṃś ca svabhāvaśūnyān paśyati sma. 
In Section VI Conze wrongly inserts a full stop after acittāvaraṇaḥ, breaking the sentence and creating a second non-sentence. (Attwood 2018; forthcoming)
VI. Tasmāt śāriputra aprāptitvād bodhisattvo prajñāpāramitām āśritya viharaty acittāvaraṇaḥ. Cittāvaraṇa-nāstitvād atrasto viparyāsa-atikrānto nishṭhā-nirvāṇa-prāptaḥ. 
Should read
VI. Tasmāt śāriputra aprāptitvād bodhisattvo prajñāpāramitām āśritya viharaty acittāvaraṇaḥ cittāvaraṇa-nāstitvād atrasto viparyāsa-atikrānto nishṭhā-nirvāṇa-prāptaḥ. 
However, even with the errors corrected, this is a bad translation. I show why in the next section. 

4. Ancient Sanskrit Translation Errors

Here, we are not speaking of the many paraphrases found in the quoted sections of the Sanskrit Pañcaviṃśati-prajñāpāramitā-sūtra that occur because of translating back and forth between Sanskrit and Chinese. These are actual mistakes.

In Section V aprāptitvād translates 以無所得故, but Huifeng (2014) showed that it should have been anulambhayogena, "engaged in non-apprehension [of dharmas]." It was confusing because in the previous word the character 得 is used to mean prāptiḥ. And note that since 以無所得故 is not part of the quote, it was the choice of the Chinese author of the Heart Sutra. That said, this usage is in line with the idioms used by Kumārajīva. Early commentaries by Kuījī and Woncheuk suggest that this passage was misread by the end of the 7th Century.

This changes the whole tenor of the quoted passage. Now it reads "In emptiness, by practising non-apprehension of dharmas, there is no form, sensation, recognition, volition, or cognition". In other words emptiness is not an entity or a quality, it is a state. In that state, attained by practising non-apprehension of dharmas, the experiential world ceases for the meditator. In other words this is an epistemology of deep samādhi rather than an every day ontology. No one is saying that form doesn't exist, they are saying that when someone is not-apprehending form, then for them there is no experience of form. And this changes everything.

Section VI required a major rewrite in two steps. Corrections to Conze's errors are above. Below is the fully corrected Sanskrit incorporating insights from Huifeng (2014), the argument for which will be in Attwood (forthcoming 2018c).
Yo bodhisatvaḥ prajñāpāramitām āśritya asya cittaṃ na kvacit sajjati, asaktvā so atrasto viparyāsa-māyāṃ ca samatikrāmati nirvāṇa-paryavasānaṃ |
The mind of the bodhisatva who relies on perfect gnosis is not attached anywhere; being unattached, [the bodhisatva] is unafraid and goes beyond delusions and illusions to the final extinction [of craving]. 

5. Ancient Editorial Errors

In Section III we see the addition of the phrase: yad rūpaṃ sā śūnyatā | yā śūnyatā tad rūpaṃ. As Nattier (1992) noted this passage has no parallel in any Chinese text, except those translated from a Sanskrit version with this addition. We can simply eliminate this line.

Note that Kazuaki Tanahashi (2014) eliminates the wrong phrase, and leaves in this one, causing him to mismatch the remaining phrases in Chinese and Sanskrit. It seems that the "translator" could not, in fact, read Sanskrit, which would explain his many other errors in that language. 

In Section VI, especially in the highly influential Hōryū-ji manuscript, we should have
na-avidyā, na-avidyā-kṣayo yāvan na jarā-maraṇaṃ na jarā-maraṇa-kṣayo
Instead we see (with additions in bold)
na vidyā na-avidyā na vidyākṣayo na-avidyāksāyo yāvan na jarāmaraṇaṃ na jarāmaraṇakṣayo
It's as though some later editor confused the point of this part of the sūtra as being about mere negation and also did not recognise the nidānas as a set. 

Also, in Conze's text: na jñānam, na prāptir becomes na jñānamna prāptir na-aprāptiḥ. Some of the manuscripts have this, so it is considered under this heading rather than as Conze's mistake, even though he did fail to correct it. There is a further problem here that comes under Heading no.8.

6. Errors in Modern Translations

Conze mistranslated vyalokayati sma as "looked down" when it means "examined". It's also a transitive verb and so requires an object; the subject has to be examining something, and in this case it is the skandhas.

Most of the modern translations mistranslate śūnyatā in an effort to shoehorn their modern Zen ideology into the text. The word means "emptiness" or perhaps "absence". It does not mean "openness" or any of the other wishy-washy attempts to get ahead of readers misconceptions. The latter seems pointless. I've yet to meet any Buddhist that mistakes emptiness for non-existence precisely because it is drummed into them from the outset.

7. Ancient Chinese Translation Errors

Kumārajīva incorrectly translated the end of Section V. All of the other text, Chinese and Sanskrit have na prāptir na-abhisamayo. For some reason Kumārajīva switched these two and chose an ambiguous translation for abhisamaya that ended up being mistaken for jñāna.

8. Errors in Exegesis

Technically this is not a problem with the text, but a problem with those who interpret it. Between them, D. T. Suzuki and Conze  thoroughly poisoned the well with Theosophy inspired mysticism. We are led to believe that the text does not make sense. Clearly, it does make sense, but only if one understands the context and can eliminate all the accumulated errors. I've included this because it gave rise to persistent errors and obscured many of the other kinds of errors from scholars who might otherwise have fixed the text decades ago.

In this category we might also mention Thich Nhat Hahn's "correction" to the Heart Sutra, which I have already commented on previously. And those comments now attract a solid Vietnamese readership - some of whom wish to inform me that there are no mistakes in the Heart Sutra and that TNH never said there were, and some of whom seem to want to discredit TNH. 


I'm not qualified to comment on the Tibetan text, though I am aware that the Canonical text does contain at least one editorial error that appears to have been transmitted from a faulty Indian Sanskrit manuscript. Instead of verbs "look" and "see", from vyava√lok and √paś, in the introduction, Tibetan has a verb corresponding to vyava√lok twice. (Attwood 2015)

Until the underlying text of the Heart Sutra is sorted out there is no point in continuing to translate it into English. Yet, no doubt, two or three erroneous translations will appear in 2018 to swell the bookshelves of Buddhist bibliophiles. It is likely that they will be produced by charismatic Buddhist "leaders". They may offer a "new translation" of the Sanskrit text, though chances are the translator is unlikely to know any Sanskrit apart from common jargon terms. 

Because the text is full of errors of all these kinds, we can say with confidence that all of the existing translations are wrong and need revising. The alarming truth is that those religious leaders who have translated it to date have been ignorant of most, if not all, of these errors. They have not read the text with an understanding of the context or even the language it is in. They pretend to understand the text because that is what is expected of them by their followers.

The result is that, for some centuries now, the Heart Sutra has been on a procrustean bed in which all kinds of sectarian Buddhists have stretched it to fit their belief system, whatever that happens to be. 



Attwood, Jayarava. (2015). 'Heart Murmurs: Some Problems with Conze’s Prajñā-pāramitāhṛdaya.' Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 8, 28-48. http://jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/article/view/104 [open access] 

Attwood, Jayarava. (2017a).  ‘Epithets of the Mantra’ in the Heart SutraJournal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 12, 26–57. http://jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/article/view/155 [Subscription required until May 2018]

Attwood, Jayarava. (2017b) 'Form is (Not) Emptiness: The Enigma at the Heart of the Heart Sutra. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies', 13, 52–80. http://jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/article/view/164. [sub required until Nov 2018]

Attwood, Jayarava. (forthcoming 2018a). 'A note on Niṣṭhānirvāṇaḥ in the Sanskrit Heart Sutra.' [submitted for peer-review Jan 2018]

Attwood, Jayarava. (forthcoming 2018b). 'The Buddhas of the Three Times and the Chinese Origins of the Heart Sutra.'

Attwood, Jayarava. (forthcoming 2018c). 'Problems with Section VI of the Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya or Heart Sutra.'

Huifeng, Shi. (2014). 'Apocryphal Treatment for Conze’s Heart Problems: “Non-attainment”, “Apprehension”, and “Mental Hanging” in the Prajñāpāramitā.' Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. 6: 72-105. http://www.ocbs.org/ojs/index.php/jocbs/article/view/75 [open access]

Nattier, Jan (1992). ‘The Heart Sūtra: a Chinese apocryphal text?’ Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. 15 (2) 153-223. Online: http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/index.php/jiabs/article/view/8800/2707
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