It’s hard to find the right words when speaking of unspeakable tragedies, such as the disaster unfolding in Japan.
For this reason, yogis may take heart in borrowing ancient words of healing in mantra form on behalf of the earthquake and tsunami-stricken country, now under a threat of nuclear radiation. His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently released a statement, taken from a letter written to the Prime Minister of Japan when the devastation first occurred, in which he expresses his condolences and recommends that Japanese Buddhists recite the Heart Sutra. The sutra’s Sanskrit name Prajnaparamita Hrdaya translates to mean “Heart of the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom” (not to be confused with the Yoga Sutras). If you would like to read, recite, or chant the Heart Sutra with and for the people of Japan, you can find text and commentary, here. There are also several audio tracks and podcasts on iTunes, if you would prefer to listen to the chant and, perhaps, send your own prayers and thoughts to those in need. The Heart Sutra’s last and most recognizable line makes a beautiful mantra:
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha, translating to mean “Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond. O, what an awakening/realization.”
Our prayer is that the suffering of the Japanese comes to an end soon, and their collective hearts begin to heal.
Thank you to one of my teachers, the esteemed Patricia Walden, for directing me toward the Dalai Lama’s statement.