The Wisdom Path
(formerly known as the Heart Sutra Inscription)
map is not drawn in scale
In June 2002, the
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region received the donation of an original
calligraphy featuring the "Prajna Paramita Hrdaya Sutra" (Heart
Sutra) from Professor Jao Tsung-I, an internationally renowned master
with outstanding achievements in both academic research and art, who wished
to have the calligraphy transformed into an outdoor large-scale carving.
The masterpiece is reproduced in the form of a large-scale outdoor wood
inscription on a natural slope at the foot of Lantau Peak near Ngong Ping
of Lantau Island. The tranquillity of the natural environment of the site
would enable visitors to appreciate the masterpiece which combines art
The project was completed
in May 2005.
Details of the
While on a visit to
China in 1980, Professor Jao Tsung-I saw the Buddhist stone carvings of
the Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra on Mount Taishan in Shandong.
This inspired Professor Jao to create a monumental calligraphic work of
the Heart Sutra. The Heart Sutra is a treasured text revered
by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists alike. It is written in a simple
and concise manner, yet its message is truly profound.
Professor Jao completed
this calligraphy of Heart Sutra in 2002, and dedicated it to the
people of Hong Kong in June the same year. The work is now presented in
the form of a large-scale wood inscription display in an outdoor environment.
The calligraphy has been carved on to wooden columns reminiscent of bamboo
tiles (zhujian) used for writing in ancient times.
In order to reflect
the profound wisdom of the Heart Sutra and to impose the two-dimensional
calligraphy into a three-dimensional architecture naturally, the thirty-eight
timber columns with inscription of the Heart Sutra have been arranged
to correspond to the topography of the landscape, and in a figure-of-eight
configuration (i.e. the symbol of infinty "∞") symbolising infinity.
The column located at the highest point of the hill is left blank to suggest
the concept of "emptiness" (Sunyata), a key theme in
the Heart Sutra.
Layout of Heart Sutra timber columns (Chinese version only)
to the Heart Sutra
The full title of
this sutra is Prajna-paramita Heart Sutra of which Prajna-paramita
is a Sanskrit term. Prajna means wisdom, paramita means
perfection; accordingly, Prajna-paramita means "the perfection
of Wisdom". This sutra is more briefly named the Heart
Sutra. It is called the "Heart" in as much as it subsumes
the essence of the Perfection of Wisdom of the Buddha. It is the best
known Mahayana sutra, and, at 260 words, it is also the shortest.
The Heart Sutra
articulates the doctrine of "emptiness". But this "emptiness" must not
be understood as the denial of phenomenal existence - it is not nihilism.
What it teaches is that everything is dependently arisen from conditions:
an event (a "thing") occurs if and only if the adequacy of conditions
obtains. Since everything is dependently arisen, there is no such thing
as an eternally abiding entity. The doctrine of emptiness also spells
out the relativity of all views. When one acquires this Wisdom of "emptiness",
one will realise that all physical and mental events are in a constant
process of change, and accordingly everything can be changed by modifying
the conditions. Understanding the relativity of all standpoints will also
prevent one from becoming irrationally attached to things. In this way,
one will come to be free from all mental obstructions, and attain to perfect
harmony and bliss. At the same time, with the understanding that all are
dependently arisen, one will treasure and make good use of the conditions
that are available, realising the ideal of benefiting oneself and others.
of Heart Sutra
Professor Jao Tsung-I (1917-2018) was a scholar, poet, qin (zither) player, painter and calligrapher.
He was highly regarded for his talents which seamlessly embody the essence
of Chinese culture. His attainments in art and scholastic cultivation
were equally admirable. He absorbed the spirit of the ancient masters
and enriched traditional Chinese calligraphy by developing a uniquely
personal style of writing. To find out more about Professor Jao, his paintings, calligraphy and academic achievements, visitors can visit the Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole, The University of Hong Kong and the Jao Tsung-I Academy.
The profoundest teaching
of the Heart Sutra is "non attachment or unhindered-ness of
the mind", truly exemplified in the qualities of modesty and open-mindedness
we find in Professor Jao. The original size of each character measures
two feet by two feet. Professor Jao used a huge goat's hair brush to create
unrestricted and vigorous brushstrokes that reveal an open and free heart
in harmony with the whole cosmo.
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