Shingyo: Reflections on Translating The Heart Sutra

BY Seiho - M.J. Sullivan


The Heart Sutra is the most popular of all the Buddhist texts. M.J. Sullivan’s Shingyō reminds us of the original Zen of Bodhidharma and Rinzai.  This challenging book will long be an important, if controversial, addition to the Heart Sutra literature.



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PRAISE FOR "Shingyo"


        ". . . (Shingyō) is both a work of art and a significant contribution to scholarship on the Heart Sutra. Sullivan wears his erudition lightly, but this book contains not only a distillation of scholarly literature concerning the translation of the sutra. . . but also a deep engagement with hermeneutical issues around the text itself. . . an important resource for anyone for whom the Heart Sutra is of Spiritual Significance"

Charles W. Swain, Ph.D. Professor of Religion (retired), Florida State University

". . . (Shingyō is) wonderful, simply wonderful. (It) constantly reminds one of the stillness empty. There is no better Buddhist teaching for all of us."

Donn Hayes, L.Ac





Before a dramatic mid-life course correction while in Japan, young Michael Justin Sullivan had been a sailing captain, delivering yachts from the Northeast to Fort Lauderdale, the Bahamas and beyond into the Caribbean. These were the last days of canvas sail, teak decks and navigating by sextant, a time in the ‘50s and ‘60s when Ft. Lauderdale was still a sleepy Florida city and there were but a few paved roads on the Out Islands.


This is the era captured by Three-Strand Cordage, a novel of one man’s life in three interwoven tales. Against the tranquil background of this vanished era, he finds himself caught up in kidnapping and a murderous shootout, deceived and betrayed in a gun-smuggling plot by anti-Castro Cubans, and fleeing from drug smugglers with his daughter, only to sail into Hurricane Agnes.


In his mid-30s, M.J. Sullivan became a champion Japanese swordsman. As Seiho his calligraphy has twice won the Kampō Prize, as well as the prestigious Nippon Shuji Prize.
His novel, In This Living Body, is twinned with his Shingyō: Reflections on Translating the Heart Sutra, both now available on Amazon.


With a Masters in Asian Studies, three of his calligraphy workbooks have been published in Japan. His classic book on Japanese swordsmanship, Sword and Psyche, led to WAZA, his first novel about Japanese Buddhism and the martial arts, which received the CoVisions Recognition Award for Literature in 1994.


Now primarily a literary author, he still teaches the Zen of swordsmanship and custom brushes calligraphy for clients and collectors from his studio in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.