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The New Heart of Wisdom

– Profound Teachings from Buddha's Heart

This completely new presentation by the author of Modern Buddhism offers truly liberating insights and advice for the contemporary reader. It reveals the profound meaning of the very heart of Buddha’s teachings - the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras.

The author shows how all our problems and suffering come from our ignorance of the ultimate nature of things, and how we can abandon this ignorance and come to enjoy pure, lasting happiness by developing a special wisdom associated with compassion for all living beings.

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Ebook for other devices (ePub)9781906665166
Ebook for Kindle (Mobi)9781906665449

The New Heart of Wisdom

The New Heart of Wisdom


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The New
Heart of Wisdom

Also by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Meaningful to Behold

Clear Light of Bliss

Universal Compassion

Joyful Path of Good Fortune

Guide to Dakini Land

The Bodhisattva Vow

Heart Jewel

Great Treasury of Merit

Introduction to Buddhism

Understanding the Mind

Tantric Grounds and Paths

Ocean of Nectar

Essence of Vajrayana

Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully

Transform Your Life

The New Meditation Handbook

How to Solve Our Human Problems

Mahamudra Tantra

Modern Buddhism

Profits received from the sale of
this book will be donated to the
NKT-International Temples Project
A Buddhist Charity,
Building for World Peace



The New
Heart of Wisdom




First published as Heart of Wisdom 1986.
Second edition published as Heart of Wisdom 1989.
Third edition revised and reset 1996.
Fourth edition published as Heart of Wisdom with new line illustrations and reset 2001.
Reprinted 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010
Fifth edition substantially revised and published as The New Heart of Wisdom 2012

The right of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
to be identified as author of this work
has been asserted by him in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced
in any form or by any means except for the quotation
of brief passages for the purpose of private
study, research, or review.

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LA12 9QQ, England

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Glen Spey
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Tharpa Publications has offices around the world,
and Tharpa books are published in most major languages
See page 327 for contact details.

Tharpa books are published in most major languages.
See page 325 for details.

© New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union 2012

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012939185

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is
available from the British Library.

ISBN 978 1-90666-50-50 – hardback
ISBN 978 1-90666-50-43 – paperback
ISBN 978 1-90666-51-66 – e-book
ISBN 978 1-90666-51-73 – Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf)

Set in Palatino by Tharpa Publications.

Printed on Munken Pure by
CPI Group (UK) Ltd. Croydon, CR0 4YY



This book is based on an oral commentary to the Essence of Wisdom Sutra (the Heart Sutra), given by the author, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in England. It was originally published under the title Heart of Wisdom, and was substantially revised by the author in 2011 with the title The New Heart of Wisdom.

We thank the author from the depths of our hearts for his great kindness in preparing this complete and authoritative explanation of the Heart Sutra. With this inspired commentary as the key, the reader can unlock all the profound and vast aspects of the meaning of this essential Buddhist Sutra. Without the author’s deep insight into the subject, and his compassionate determination to share this insight, this book could not have been produced.Our appreciation also goes to all the dedicated, senior students of the author who assisted him with the trans­lation and editing, and who prepared the final manuscript for publication.

Kelsang Dornyi, Administrative Director,
Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, October 2011.


I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to give this commentary to the Essence of Wisdom Sutra, or Heart Sutra. Similarly, those who have the opportunity to study the meaning of this Sutra, which is the essence of Buddha’s teachings, are also extremely fortunate. Because of the profound nature of this Sutra it is possible that some people will find certain parts of this commentary difficult to understand. I will try to explain it as clearly as possible, to the limit of my ability, but because this Sutra reveals Buddha’s ultimate view and intention, we must be prepared to encounter some difficulties. Please do not become discouraged: through patient study with effort we will gain a clear understanding of the entire Sutra. As our familiarity with these teachings grows, so too will our understanding.

All Buddha’s teachings are either Sutra, the common teachings, or Tantra, the uncommon teachings; there is not a single scripture of Buddha that is not one of these two. Sutra teachings are divided into two types: Hinayana Sutras and Mahayana Sutras. Of these, the Essence of Wisdom Sutra belongs to the category of


Mahayana Sutras. The Mahayana Sutras themselves comprise many different types of teaching, but the most precious and supreme are the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras (Skt. Prajnaparamitasutra). Buddha’s ultimate intention is to lead each and every living being to the supreme happiness of enlightenment by showing them the Mahayana path. For this purpose he taught the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras.

There are several Perfection of Wisdom Sutras of varying lengths. The most extensive is the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in One Hundred Thousand Lines, which in the Tibetan translation occupies twelve volumes. There is also a medium length Sutra of twenty-five thousand lines in three volumes, and a short, single-volume Sutra of eight thousand lines. In addition, there is an even shorter Sutra in eight chapters of verse known as the Condensed Perfection of Wisdom Sutra. The Perfection of Wisdom Sutras explain all the stages of the paths of wisdom and method. ‘Wisdom’ refers to a realization that releases our Buddha nature from obstructions, and ‘method’ refers to a realization that ripens our Buddha nature. In particular, in these Sutras Buddha reveals his ultimate view and intention, and thus among Sutras the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras are held to be supreme.

The Essence of Wisdom Sutra is much shorter than the other Perfection of Wisdom Sutras but it contains explicitly or implicitly the entire meaning of the longer Sutras. It is because it contains the very essence of the perfection of wisdom teachings that it is known as the


Essence of Wisdom Sutra. Through the study and practice of this Sutra we can gain a perfect understanding of the ultimate nature of all phenomena, overcome hindrances and difficulties in our daily life, and finally overcome the obstacles preventing our full awakening and thereby attain the enlightened state of a Buddha. We are indeed fortunate to have met these essential teachings of Buddha.

The subject matter of these teachings is training in the perfection of wisdom. Wisdom is a virtuous intelligent mind whose function is to dispel the inner darkness of ignorance. With wisdom we can know how things really are. Normally we do not understand the real nature of things; nor do we understand that suffering comes from non-virtuous actions and happiness from virtuous actions. All this is ignorance. Because of this lack of understanding, even though we do not want to suffer we create our own suffering by performing non-virtuous actions. And although we want to be happy all the time, we destroy our own happiness by developing anger, negative views and wrong intentions. We should know that this is our normal situation.

All our suffering and problems come from our ignorance, and because of ignorance we have experienced suffering and problems in life after life, since beginningless time until this life. Now is the time to abandon ignorance permanently, while we have the precious opportunity to listen to and practise Buddhadharma. The only method to abandon our ignorance and attain the supreme happiness of


enlightenment is to accomplish the realization of the perfection of wisdom in general, and especially the realization of the higher perfection of wisdom.

The perfection of wisdom is wisdom that is associated with the mind of compassion for all living beings. This wisdom enables us to gain victory over maras – the outer and inner obstructing demons – and become a fully enlightened being like Buddha Shakyamuni. How wonderful!.

The New Heart of Wisdom

Printed 2012

352 pages includes 21 line illustrations

Language: English (UK)
ISBN: 9781906665043
Size: 19.8 x12.9 x 1.9cm
The New Heart of Wisdom

Printed 2012

352 pages includes 21 line illustrations

Language: English (UK)
ISBN: 9781906665050
Size: 19.8 x12.9 x 2cm
The New Heart of Wisdom - eBook
Ebook for other devices (ePub)
Details: Please note, this format is not suitable for Amazon Kindles
Language: English (UK)
ISBN: 9781906665166
The New Heart of Wisdom - eBook
Ebook for Kindle (Mobi)
Language: English (UK)
ISBN: 9781906665449
Review by leigh on 22/07/2012
Well written and easy to understand book
Having read the original version I was suprised how different this book was. The presentation of emptiness seems much clearer and easier to understand than the original. Also it seems to much more geared towards being a practical guide rather than a set of intellectual exercises.
Review by Andrew on 13/07/2012
What a gift!
I've just recently gotten my hands on the hardback edition of this book, and am enjoying it thoroughly. It's based on the Heart Sutra, one of the most hauntingly beautiful of Buddha's teachings, but brings out all kinds of hidden and wonderful teachings from the text. The main teaching on emptiness has been thoroughly re-written, and it feels like the text naturally guides you into meditation. Even people who've never read or heard any of these teachings before will find that the meaning is made very clear. After presenting the teachings on emptiness, Geshe Kelsang shows how all the other main teachings and meditations given by Buddha are hidden in the Heart Sutra. Even the appendix is full of all kinds of wisdom-gems. I would recommend this book to anyone; new people will find a complete and straightforward presentation of how to find happiness and inner peace, and those who are familiar with the teachings will find especially clear answers to all of their questions about the profound subject of emptiness.
Review by alex mclaren on 13/07/2012
improving on perfection?
I've known and loved the previous edition for many years. now, the author has achieved something i honestly thought impossible: The New Heart of Wisdom is even *more* accessible. clear and practical than the previous edition! i don't think there's any more qualified or authoritative work on this profound subject available anywhere: if you want to know reality, and how to find real peace and wisdom in your life. you need this book.

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