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.