This mantra is from the Heart Sutra, also know as Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra. It is often chanted in services and is a wonderful addition to read or recite in daily practice.
The Heart Sutra (or Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra):
”Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara when practicing deeply the Prajna Paramita perceives that all five skandhas are empty and is saved from all suffering and distress.
Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form.
Form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is form. So too are cognition, feeling, formation, and consciousness.
Shariputra, all dharmas are marked with emptiness; they do not appear or disappear, are not tainted or pure, do not increase or decrease.
Therefore, in emptiness there is no form, cognition, feeling, formation, or consciousness. There is no eye, no nose, no ear, no tongue, no body, no mind; no visible form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no object of touch, no mental phenomenon.
There is no ignorance or ending of ignorance, up to and including no old age and death or ending of old age and death. Likewise, there is no suffering, no origin, no cessation, and no path; no exalted wisdom, no attainment, and also no nonattainment.
Because nothing is attained, the Bodhisattva through reliance on Prajna Paramita is unimpeded in his mind. Because there is no impediment, the Bodhisattva is not afraid, and he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind. Ultimately Nirvana! All Buddhas of the three periods of time attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi through reliance on Prajna Paramita.
Therefore, know that Prajna Paramita is the great transcendent mantra, is the great bright mantra, is the utmost mantra, is the greatest mantra which is able to relieve all suffering and is true, not false.
That is why the Mantra of Prajna Paramita was spoken. So He utters the mantra:
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.”
Although the Heart Sutra primarily consists of a dialogue between Shariputra (one of two chief male disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha) and the great Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, their words are inspired by the blessings of the Buddha, who remains absorbed in a state of intense concentration (samadhi meditation) until the end of the discussion.
Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha – Prajnaparamita mantra translation:
“Gone, gone, gone to the Other Shore, attained the Other Shore having never left.”
”Gone, gone, gone beyond altogether beyond, Awakening, fulfilled!”
- Gate translates as ”gone.” Gone from forgetfulness to mindfulness. Gone from suffering to the liberation of suffering. Gone from duality into non-duality.
- Gate gate translates as ”gone, gone.”
- Paragate translates as ”Path of insight.”
- Parasamgate – the syllable ”sam” translates as ”the sangha” or ”everyone,” the entire community of beings. So, parasamgate means ”everyone gone over to the other shore.”
- The Sanskrit syllable Bodhi represents the light inside, awakening, or enlightenment.
- Svaha translates as “welcome.”
Atisha, one of the major figures in the spread of Vajrayana and Mahayana Buddhism in Asia, explained that Prajnaparamita mantra encapsulates the entire teaching of the Heart Sutra for the benefit of the individuals of the sharpest faculties.