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5 x 7"

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My Heart Sutra

A World in 260 Characters

Frederik L. Schodt


Author Frederik L. Schodt has had a mysterious, half-century-long fascination with the simple mantra that is chanted at the end of the Buddhist “Heart Sutra.” On a normally routine flight that unexpectedly developed mechanical difficulties, he resolved to memorize the sutra and to finally seriously study it.

The Heart Sutra, beloved by millions in East Asia for over 1,400 years, is used as solace, protection, and a gateway to another mode of thinking. Schodt realized that it could also be his entry into a world of faith.

In My Heart Sutra, Schodt explores his lifelong fascination with the sutra: its mesmerizing mantra, its ancient history, the “emptiness" theory, and the way it is used around the world as a metaphysical tool to overcome chaos and confusion and reach a new understanding of reality--a perfection of wisdom. 

To help put this ancient sutra into a modern context, Schodt's journey takes him to caves in China, American beats declaiming poetry, speculations into the sutra's true origins, and even a robot Avalokiteśvara at a Kyoto temple.

"This is not merely a book about the Heart Sutra. It’s about the stories that grew up around it, its journey through human civilization like a self-replicating meme, a scrap of wisdom whispering in temples, shopping malls, and movies."

Jonathan Clements, author of A Brief History of China

"Frederik L. Schodt skillfully weaves together personal anecdotes, details of Buddhist teaching and history, and many other facts and stories, giving readers a compelling reason to study the Heart Sutra and make the wisdom of Emptiness part of their lives."

Daigaku Rummé, Sōtō Zen priest at the Confluence Zen Center St. Louis

"Reading My Heart Sutra, I imagined pulling a loose thread at the end of a one-page sutra and unraveling enough yarn to weave together a life, with enough left to make a new robe for the Buddha."

Red Pine, author of The Heart Sutra: The Womb of Buddhas

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About the Author(s)

Frederik L. Schodt

Frederik L. Schodt

Fluent in spoken and written Japanese, is an author and translator of impressive breadth. He has written extensively on Japanese manga, as well as on pop culture, technology, and history.