2015. Heart Murmurs: Some Problems with Conze’s Prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies.

2017. ‘Epithets of the Mantra’ in the Heart Sutra. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 12, 26–57.

2017. Form is (Not) Emptiness: The Enigma at the Heart of the Heart Sutra. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 13, 52–80.

2018. A Note on Niṣṭhānirvāṇa in the Heart Sutra. Journal of the Oxford Centre For Buddhist Studies, 14: 10-17.

2018. ‘The Buddhas of the Three Times and the Chinese Origins of the Heart Sutra.’ Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. 15.

Blog Posts

Far from systematic, this collection of essays are my notes from several years of studying this text and its antecedents in the light of Jan Nattier’s landmark, 1992 article (see the first essay on the list).

These essays have appeared on my blog. For more essays on Prajñāpāramitā see my blog page


The Heart Sūtra – Indian or Chinese? (17 Sep 2007) Precis of Jan Nattier’s 1992 article on the provenance of the Heart Sutra.


Words in mantras that end in -e (6 Mar 2009) The Grammatical function of the -e case marker in mantras, suggesting that this is from Prakrit and indicates a masculine nominative singular.


Tadyathā in the Heart Sūtra. (13 Nov 2009) Grammar and syntax of tadyathā in relationship to mantras. Not originally intended to be included in recitation.


Some Additional Notes: The -e ending in mantras. (30 Jul 2010) Further note on the -e ending which shows that it was in widespread us as nominative singular in Northern India [Signe Cohen].


Heart Sutra Syntax .(23 Nov 2012) Initial notes on a grammatical error discovered in Conze’s critical edition of the Sanskrit Heart Sutra, with proposed changes to the text. Now submitted to an academic journal.


Heart Sutra: Horiuzi Palm-leaf mss. Transcription (5 Dec 2012) An important Sanskrit manuscript of the Heart Sutra.


Emptiness for Beginners. (14 Feb 2013) Brief explanation of the concept of emptiness based on close study of Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamkakārikā.


Heart Sutra Mantra. (30 Aug 2013) Detailed notes on the source texts for the mantra found in the Heart Sutra. Definition of mantra vs dhāraṇī with suggestion that the “mantra” is in fact a dhāraṇī.


Heart Sutra Mantra Epithets. (6 Sep 2013) Notes on the epithets often associated with the mantra. Shows that “mantra” is probably the wrong Sanskrit word, and that the source texts, particularly Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra has “vidyā“. Epithets are in fact unrelated to the dhāraṇī and refer to prajñāpāramitā more generally.


Who Translated the Heart Sutra into Sanskrit? (13 Sep 2013). Using idiosyncrasies in the language to place limits on who could have translated it from Chinese to Sanskrit.


Fixing Problems in the Sanskrit Heart Sūtra. (20 Sep 2013). Given the problems created by translating from Chinese into Sanskrit, how would we improve on the present sutra.


A New Sanskrit Heart Sutra. (27 Sep 2013). A revision of the edition of the Heart Sutra by Edward Conze, with some back story, notes and a new translation.


An Alternate Sanskrit Heart Sutra. (11 Oct 2013). A speculative text based on extracts of the Gilgit manuscript of the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra.


Why is there a Dhāraṇī in the Heart Sūtra? (18 Oct 2013) Looking at dhāraṇī, attitudes of scholars and the role of magic in Buddhism through the lens of Ariel Glucklich’s work.


Variations in the Heart Sutra in Chinese. (25 Oct 2013) Examining a critique of Jan Nattier’s Chinese origins thesis on the basis of variant readings in the Chinese Tripiṭaka.
The Act of Truth in Relation to the Heart Sutra. (1 Nov 2013) Description of the satyakiriyaor act of truth, an obscure branch of Buddhist lore and how it might inform the use of a text like the Heart Sutra.


Roots of the Heart Sutra. (15 Aug 2014). A possible source text for the epithets passage in theHṛdaya in the form of a verse from the Ratnaguṇasaṃcayagāthā.
New Heart Sutra Manuscript. (26 Dec 2014). Diplomatic edition of EAP676/2/5: Ārya Pañcaviṁśatikā Prajñāpāramitā Mantranāma Dhāraṇī (aka the long text Heart Sutra).


Chinese Heart Sutra: Dates and Attributions. (3 April 2015). A critical review of Jan Nattier’s arguments about the chronology of the Heart Sutra, in the light of a 2003 article by Dan Lusthaus presenting evidence which he argues poses a serious challenge to Nattier’s theory.


Avalokiteśvara & the Heart Sutra. (24 Apr 2015) Forensic examination of the name in Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan, along with some notes about the role of the bodhisatva in thePrajñāpāramitāhṛdaya.


The Heart Sutra in Middle Chinese. (15 May 2015). A transcription of the Xīnjīng or the Heart Sutra according to the Baxter & Sagart reconstruction of Middle Chinese. This is the Heart Sutra as it might have sounded at the time it was composed.


Form is Emptiness. Part I: Establishing the Text. (17 Jul 2015) First part of this essay works through the process of establishing the text to be commented on. The method involves examining the manuscript/ epigraphical tradition of Sanskrit and the canonical Chinese texts as well as versions of the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā-sūtra in both languages.


Form is Emptiness. Part II: Commentary. (24 Jul 2015) In the second part of this essay we briefly consider the traditional commentaries, then move on to treating the Aṣṭasāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā-sūtra as a commentary on the famous passage from the Heart Sutra, providing an authoritative alternative to the common Zen inspired readings of the text.


Form is Emptiness. Part III: Commentary continued. (31 Jul 2015). In the third and final part of this essay we discover that the phraserūpam śūnyatā śūnytaiva rūpaṃ has in fact been altered. In the Aṣṭa it is rūpameva māyā māyaiva rūpam. We explore the implications of this, and sum up the whole project.


I’ve prepared a pdf of the three essays on form is emptinesscombined.