The Diamond Sutra, traditional
The Diamond Sutra
traditional
0:58 h Buddhist
The Diamond Sutra is one of the most influential Mahayana Buddhist sutras of the Prajñāpāramitā (Perfection of Wisdom) genre, and a scroll dated 11 May 868 is the oldest surviving dated printed work. The sutra takes the form of a dialogue between the Buddha and a senior monk named Subhuti, and expounds upon ideas of freedom from attachments to notions of self and other. This translation was done by F. Max Müller, and was published in volume 49 of his widely known "Sacred Books of the East" series.

ADORATION to the blessed Ārya-prajñā-pāramitā (perfection of wisdom).

I.

Thus it was heard by me: At one time Bhagavat (the blessed Buddha) dwelt in Śrāvastī, in the grove of Jeta, in the garden of Anāthapiṇḍada, together with a large company of Bhikshus (mendicants), viz. with 1250 Bhikshus, with many noble-minded Bodhisattvas.

Then Bhagavat having in the forenoon put on his undergarment, and having taken his bowl and cloak, entered the great city of Śrāvastī to collect alms. Then Bhagavat, after he had gone to the great city of Śrāvastī to collect alms, performed the act of eating, and having returned from his round in the afternoon, he put away his bowl and cloak, washed his feet, and sat down on the seat intended for him, crossing his legs, holding his body upright, and turning his reflection upon himself. Then many Bhikshus approached to where Bhagavat was, saluted his feet with their heads, turned three times round hira to the right, and sat down on one side.

II.

At that time again the venerable Subhūti came to that assembly and sat down. Then rising from his seat and putting his robe over one shoulder, kneeling on the earth with his right knee, he stretched out his folded hands towards Bhagavat and said to him: ‘It is wonderful, O Bhagavat, it is exceedingly wonderful, O Sugata, how much the noble-minded Bodhisattvas have been favoured with the highest favour by the Tathāgata, the holy and fully enlightened! It is wonderful how much the noble-minded Bodhisattvas have been instructed with the highest instruction by the Tathāgata, the holy and fully enlightened! How then, O Bhagavat, should the son or the daughter of a good family, after having entered on the path of the Bodhisattvas, behave, how should he advance, and how should he restrain his thoughts?’

After the venerable Subhūti had thus spoken, Bhagavat said to him: ‘Well said, well said, Subhūti! So it is, Subhūti, so it is, as you say. The noble-minded Bodhisattvas have been favoured with the highest favour by the Tathāgata, the noble-minded Bodhisattvas have been instructed with the highest instruction by the Tathāgata. Therefore, O Subhūti, listen and take it to heart, well and rightly. I shall tell you, how any one who has entered on the path of Bodhisanvas should behave, how he should advance, and how he should restrain his thoughts.’ Then the venerable Subhūti answered the Bhagavat and said: ‘So be it, O Bhagavat.’

III.

Then the Bhagavat thus spoke to him: ‘Any one, O Subhūti, who has entered here on the path of the Bodhisattvas must thus frame his thought: As many beings as there are in this world of beings, comprehended under the term of beings (either born of eggs, or from the womb, or from moisture, or miraculously), with form or without form, with name or without name, or neither with nor without name, as far as any known world of beings is known, all these must be delivered by me in the perfect world of Nirvāṇa. And yet, after I have thus delivered immeasurable beings, not one single being has been delivered. And why? If, O Subhūti, a Bodhisattva had any idea of (belief in) a being, he could not be called a Bodhisattva (one who is fit to become a Buddha). And why? Because, O Subhūti, no one is to be called a Bodhisattva, for whom there should exist the idea of a being, the idea of a living being, or the idea of a person.’

IV.

‘And again, O Subhūti, a gift should not be given by a Bodhisattva, while he believes in objects; a gift should not be given by him, while he believes in anything; a gift should not be given by him, while he believes in form; a gift should not be given by him, while he believes in the special qualities of sound, smell, taste, and touch. For thus, O Subhūti, should a gift be given by a noble-minded Bodhisattva, that he should not believe even in the idea of cause. And why? Because that Bodhisattva, O Subhūti, who gives a gift, without believing in anything, the measure of his stock of merit is not easy to learn.’—’What do you think, O Subhūti, is it easy to learn the measure of space in the eastern quarter?’ Subhūti said: ‘Not indeed, O Bhagavat.’—Bhagavat said: ‘In like manner, is it easy to learn the measure of space in the southern, western, northern quarters, below and above (nadir and zenith), in quarters and subquarters, in the ten quarters all round?’ Subhūti said: ‘Not indeed, O Bhagavat.’ Bhagavat said: ‘In the same manner, O Subhūti, the measure of the stock of merit of a Bodhisattva, who gives a gift without believing in anything, is not easy to learn. And thus indeed, O Subhūti, should one who has entered on the path of Bodhisattvas give a gift, that he should not believe even in the idea of cause.’

V.

‘Now, what do you think, O Subhūti, should a Tathāgata be seen (known) by the possession of signs?’ Subhūti said: ‘Not indeed, O Bhagavat, a Tathāgata is not to be seen (known) by the possession of signs. And why? Because what has been preached by the Tathāgata as the possession of signs, that is indeed the possession of no-signs.’

After this, Bhagavat spoke thus to the venerable Subhūti: ‘Wherever there is, O Subhūti, the possession of signs, there is falsehood; wherever there is no possession of signs, there is no falsehood. Hence the Tathāgata is to be seen (known) from no-signs as signs.’

VI.

After this, the venerable Subhūti spoke thus to the Bhagavat: ‘Forsooth, O Bhagavat, will there be any beings in the future, in the last time, in the last moment, in the last 500 years, during the time of the decay of the good Law, who, when these very words of the Sūtras are being preached, will frame a true idea?’ The Bhagavat said: ‘Do not speak thus, Subhūti. Yes, there will be some beings in the future, in the last time, in the last moment, in the last 500 years, during the decay of the good Law, who will frame a true idea when these very words are being preached.

‘And again, O Subhūti, there will be noble-minded Bodhisattvas, in the future, in the last time, in the last moment, in the last 500 years, during the decay of the good Law, there will be strong and good and wise beings, who, when these very words of the Sūtras are being preached, will frame a true idea. But those noble-minded Bodhisattvas, O Subhūti, will not have served one Buddha only, and the stock of their merit will not have been accumulated under one Buddha only; on the contrary, O Subhūti, those noble-minded Bodhisattvas will have served many hundred thousands of Buddhas, and the stock of their merit will have been accumulated under many hundred thousands of Buddhas; and they, when these very words of the Sūtras are being preached, will obtain one and the same faith. They are known, O Subhūti, by the Tathāgata through his Buddha-knowledge; they are seen, O Subhūti, by the Tathāgata through his Buddha-eye; they are understood, O Subhūti, by the Tathāgata. All these, O Subhūti, will produce and will hold fast an immeasurable and innumerable stock of merit. And why? Because, O Subhūti, there does not exist in those noble-minded Bodhisattvas the idea of self, there does not exist the idea of a being, the idea of a living being, the idea of a person. Nor does there exist, O Subhūti, for these noble-minded Bodhisattvas the idea of quality (dharma), nor of no-quality. Neither does there exist, O Subhūti, any idea (saṃjñā) or no-idea. And why? Because, O Subhūti, if there existed for these noble-minded Bodhisattvas the idea of quality, then they would believe in a self, they would believe in a being, they would believe in a living being, they would believe in a person. And if there existed for them the idea of no-quality, even then they would believe in a self, they would believe in a being, they would believe in a living being, they would believe in a person. And why? Because, O Subhūti, neither quality nor no-quality is to be accepted by a noble-minded Bodhisattva. Therefore this hidden saying has been preached by the Tathāgata: “By those who know the teaching of the Law, as like unto a raft, all qualities indeed must be abandoned; much more no-qualities”’

VII.

And again Bhagavat spoke thus to the venerable Subhūti: ‘What do you think, O Subhūti, is there anything (dharma) that was known by the Tathāgata under the name of the highest perfect knowledge, or anything that was taught by the Tathāgata?’

After these words, the venerable Subhūti spoke thus to Bhagavat: ‘As I, O Bhagavat, understand the meaning of the preaching of the Bhagavat, there is nothing that was known by the Tathāgata under the name of the highest perfect knowledge, nor is there anything that is taught by the Tathāgata. And why? Because that thing which was known or taught by the Tathāgata is incomprehensible and inexpressible. It is neither a thing nor no-thing. And why? Because the holy persons are of imperfect power.’

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