1. Religions are very important to human cultures.
If comparing cultures to a building, then religions belong to the ground level of the building.
Among the many reasons, one is because religions are sources of values.
Human decisions and actions are, more often than not, governed by values.
Values in the moral realm are expressed in ethical codes.
Therefore, to understand a person, peoples or cultures, it is very important to have a basic grasp of their religions.
2. According to one legend, Buddhism arrived in China during the Eastern Han period (25-220 CE) of Emperor Ming (28-75 CE) in 67 CE.
The first two orders of businesses for Buddhism in China were the translation of Buddhist texts into Chinese and the organization of monasteries for Buddhist monks.
I suspect translation of Buddhist texts was the more difficult of the two.
It took a few hundred years to complete.
Since many Buddhist concepts have no counterparts in Chinese, the early translators borrowed vocabulary from Taoism to express Buddhist concepts.
The intermingling of different concepts using the same vocabulary worked to the detriment of Buddhism.
Early Chinese Buddhism had difficulties differentiating their brand from the local Taoism.
It was not until a few hundred years later that indigenous versions of Buddhism began to sprang up in China during the Six Dynasties (220-589 CE), Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 CE) and Sui Dynasty (589-618 CE).
Notable among these are Pure Land Buddhism, Tiantai Buddhism, Huayan School, and Chan (Zen) Buddhism.
Buddhism probably reached its zenith of influence in China during mid-Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) and was in decline after the state repression of 845 CE.
According to Wikipedia, up till the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE), the Heart Sutra ("心經") has been translated into Chinese 11 times with 9 of those translations still extant.
The version commonly known today is the translation by the monk Xuanzang of Tang.
I suppose every Chinese knows about Monk Xuanzang through the novel Journey to the West.
3. Although pass the zenith of its influence in China, the cultural effect of Buddhism on Chinese is still pervasive.
The song Heart Sutra ("心經") is a testament to that influence.
("Heart Sutra", Wikipedia):
"The Heart Sūtra has been set to music a number of times. Many singers solo this sutra. The Buddhist Audio Visual Production Centre (佛教視聽製作中心) produced a Cantonese album of recordings of the Heart Sūtra in 1995 featuring a number of Hong Kong pop singers, including Alan Tam, Anita Mui and Faye Wong and composer by Andrew Lam Man Chung (林敏聰) to raise money to rebuild the Chi Lin Nunnery. Other Hong Kong pop singers, such as the Four Heavenly Kings sang the Heart Sūtra to raise money for relief efforts related to the 1999 Chichi earthquake. An alternative Mandarin version was performed by Faye Wong in 2009 at the Famen Temple and its recording subsequently used in the 2010 Chinese blockbuster Aftershock. Shaolin Monk Shifu Shi Yan Ming also recites the Sutra at the end of the song 'Life Changes' by the Wu-Tang Clan, in remembrance of the deceased member ODB. The outro of the b-side song Ghetto Defendant by the British first wave punk band The Clash also features the Heart Sūtra, recited by American beat poet Allen Ginsberg. A slightly edited version is used as the lyrics for Yoshimitsu's theme in the PlayStation 2 game Tekken Tag Tournament. An Indian styled version was also created by Bombay Jayashri title named - Ji Project. It was also recorded and arranged by Malaysian singer/composer Imee Ooi."
4. The Heart Sutra by Anita Mui in Cantonese.
(Anita Mui mentioned in the introduction that she has not recovered from a cold.)
The music starts at the 3:45 minutes mark:
5. Other versions by Anita Mui:
6. The Heart Sutra by various artists.
The Heart Sutra by Alan Tam:
The Heart Sutra by Jacky Cheung:
The Heart Sutra by Sally Yeh:
The Heart Sutra by Faye Wong in Mandarin:
The Heart Sutra by Faye Wong and Julian Cheung in Cantonese:
The Heart Sutra by Hacken Lee:
The Heart Sutra by Andy Lau:
The Heart Sutra by Joey Yung:
The Heart Sutra by Eason Chan:
7. The Heart Sutra sung to a different melody by Chyi Yu in Mandarin:
8. The Text of the Heart Sutra in Traditional Chinese:
觀自在菩薩，行深般若波羅蜜多時，照見五蘊皆空，度一切苦厄。舍利子，色不異空，空不異色；色即是空，空即是色。受、想、行、識，亦復如是。 舍利子，是諸法空相，不生不滅，不垢不淨，不增不減，是故空中無色，無受、想、行、識；無眼、耳、鼻、舌、身、意；無色、聲、香、味、觸、法；無眼界，乃至無意識界；無無明，亦無無明盡；乃至無老死，亦無老死盡。無苦、集、滅、道，無智亦無得，以無所得故。菩提薩埵， 依般若波羅蜜多故，心無罣礙，無罣礙故，無有恐怖，遠離顛倒夢想，究竟涅槃。三世諸佛，依般若波羅蜜多故，得阿耨多羅三藐三菩提。故知般若波羅蜜多，是大神咒，是大明咒，是無上咒，是無等等咒，能除一切苦，真實不虛。故說般若波羅蜜多咒，即說咒曰：揭諦、揭諦，波羅揭諦，波羅僧揭諦，菩提薩婆訶。
9. The Text of the Heart Sutra in Simplified Chinese:
观自在菩萨，行深般若波罗蜜多时，照见五蕴皆空，度一切苦厄。舍利子，色不异空，空不异色；色即是空，空即是色。受、想、行、识，亦复如是。 舍利子，是诸法空相，不生不灭，不垢不净，不增不减，是故空中无色，无受、想、行、识；无眼、耳、鼻、舌、身、意；无色、声、香、味、触、法；无眼界，乃至无意识界；无无明，亦无无明尽；乃至无老死，亦无老死尽。无苦、集、灭、道，无智亦无得，以无所得故。菩提萨埵， 依般若波罗蜜多故，心无挂碍，无挂碍故，无有恐怖，远离颠倒梦想，究竟涅槃。三世诸佛，依般若波罗蜜多故，得阿耨多罗三藐三菩提。故知般若波罗蜜多，是大神咒，是大明咒，是无上咒，是无等等咒，能除一切苦，真实不虚。故说般若波罗蜜多咒，即说咒曰：揭谛、揭谛，波罗揭谛，波罗僧揭谛，菩提萨婆诃。
10. Names, Words and Phrases:
Alan Tam (Traditional Chinese: 譚詠麟; Simplified Chinese: 谭咏麟).
Andy Lau (Traditional: 劉德華; Simplified: 刘德华)
Anita Mui (Traditional: 梅艷芳; Simplified: 梅艳芳).
Chan (Zen) Buddhism (Traditional: 禪宗; Simplified: 禅宗).
Chyi Yu (Traditional: 齊豫; Simplified: 齐豫).
Eason Chan (Traditional: 陳奕迅; Simplified: 陈奕迅).
Eastern Han (Traditional: 東漢; Simplified: 东汉).
Emperor Ming of Han (Traditional: 漢明帝; Simplified: 汉明帝).
Faye Wong (Traditional: 王菲; Simplified: 王菲).
Hacken Lee (Traditional: 李克勤; Simplified: 李克勤).
Huayan School (Traditional: 華嚴宗; Simplified: 华严宗).
Jacky Cheung (Traditional: 張學友; Simplified: 张学友).
Joey Yung (Traditional: 容祖兒; Simplified: 容祖儿).
Journey to the West (Traditional: 西遊記; Simplified: 西游记).
Julian Cheung (Traditional: 張智霖; Simplified: 张智霖).
Pure Land Buddhism (Traditional: 淨土宗; Simplified: 净土宗).
Sally Yeh (Traditional: 葉蒨文; Simplified: 叶倩文).
Six Dynasties (Traditional: 六朝; Simplified: 六朝).
Southern and Northern Dynasties (Traditional: 南北朝; Simplified: 南北朝).
Sui Dynasty (Traditional: 隋朝; Simplified: 隋朝).
Tang Dynasty (Traditional: 唐朝; Simplified: 唐朝).
Tiantai Buddhism (Traditional: 天台宗; Simplified: 天台宗).
Xuanzang (Traditional: 玄奘; Simplified: 玄奘).
"Chinese Buddhism", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
"Heart Sutra", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
"Journey to the West", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
"Xuanzang", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
"摩訶般若波羅蜜多心經", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,