Diamond Sūtra

Category

1. Intro

The Diamond Sūtra is the popular shortened name of the Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, a Mahāyāna Buddhist sūtra from the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtras or 'Perfection of Wisdom' genre.

Translated into a variety of languages over a broad geographic range, the Diamond Sūtra is one of the most influential Mahāyāna Sūtras in East Asia, and it is particularly prominent within the Chan (or Zen) tradition, along with the Heart Sūtra.

A copy of the Tang-dynasty Chinese version of the Diamond Sūtra was found among the Dunhuang manuscripts in 1900:

They are dated back to 11 May 868. It is, according to the British Library, "the earliest complete survival of a dated printed book."

It is also the first creative work with an explicit public domain dedication, as its colophon at the end states that it was created "for universal free distribution."

The Sanskrit title for the sūtra is the Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, which may be translated roughly as the "Vajra Cutter Perfection of Wisdom Sūtra" or "The Perfection of Wisdom Text that Cuts Like a Thunderbolt".

In English, shortened forms such as Diamond Sūtra and Vajra Sūtra are common.

The title relies on the power of the Vajra (diamond or thunderbolt, but also an abstract term for a powerful weapon) to cut things as a metaphor for the type of wisdom that cuts and shatters illusions to get to Ultimate Reality.

The exact date of the composition of the Diamond Sūtra in Sanskrit is uncertain - arguments for the 2-4th centuries CE have been made.

The first Chinese translation dates to the early 5th century, but, by this point, the 4-5th century monks Asaṅga and Vasubandhu seem to have already authored authoritative commentaries on its content.

The Vajracchedikā Sūtra was an influential work in the Mahāyāna Buddhist tradition:

Early translations into a number of languages have been found in locations across Central and East Asia, suggesting that the text was widely studied and translated.

In addition to Chinese translations, translations of the text and commentaries were made into Tibetan, and translations, elaborations, and paraphrases survive in a number of Central Asian languages.

The 1st translation of the Diamond Sūtra into Chinese is thought to have been made in 401 by the venerated and prolific translator Kumārajīva:

The Kumārajīva’s translation has been particularly highly regarded over the centuries, and it is this version that appears on the 868 Dunhuang scroll. It is the most widely used and chanted Chinese version.

2. Diamond Sūtra

Chapter 1

Thus I have heard.

At one time the Buddha was staying in the Jeta Grove of the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Solitary together with a gathering of great Bhikṣus, 1 250 in all.

At that time, at mealtime, the World Honoured One put on his robe, took up his bowl, and entered the great city of Śrāvastī to beg for food.

After he had finished his sequential begging within the city, he returned, ate the food, put away his robe and bowl, washed his feet, arranged his seat, and sat down.

Chapter 2

At that time the Elder Subhūti arose from his seat in the assembly, uncovered his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, put his palms together with respect and said to the Buddha,

“How rare, World Honoured One, is the Tathāgata who remembers and protects all Bodhisattvas and causes them to be well-endowed.”

“World Honoured One, if a good man or good woman resolves his heart on Supreme Enlightenment, how should he dwell, how should he subdue his heart?”

The Buddha said,

“Good indeed, good indeed, Subhūti. It is as you say. The Tathāgata remembers and protects all Bodhisattvas and causes them to be well-endowed. Now listen attentively; I shall tell you.

A good man, or good woman, who resolves his heart on Supreme Enlightenment should thus dwell, should thus subdue his heart.”

“Yes, certainly, World Honoured One, I want to hear. I am delighted to listen.”

Chapter 3

The Buddha told Subhūti, “All Bodhisattvas, Mahāsattvas, should thus subdue their hearts with the vow,

‘I must cause all living beings -

—those born from eggs, born from wombs, born from moisture, born by transformation; those with form, those without form, those with thought, those without thought, those not totally with thought, and those not totally without thought

—to enter Nirvāṇa without residue and be taken across to extinction.’

Yet of the immeasurable, boundless numbers of living beings thus taken across to extinction, there is actually no living being taken across to extinction. Why so?

Subhūti, if a Bodhisattva has a mark of self, a mark of others, a mark of living beings, or a mark of a life, he is not a Bodhisattva.”

Chapter 4

 “Moreover, Subhūti, as to dharmas, a Bodhisattva should not dwell anywhere when he gives:

He should not dwell in forms when he gives, nor should he dwell in sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, or dharmas when he gives.

Subhūti, a Bodhisattva should give thus: he should not dwell in marks. Why so? If a Bodhisattva does not dwell in marks when he gives, his blessings and virtues are immeasurable.”

Subhūti, what do you think, is space in the East measurable?”

“No, World Honoured One.”

Subhūti, is space in the south, West, North, or in the Intermediate directions, or above, or below, measurable?”

“No, World Honoured One.”

Subhūti, the blessings and virtue of a Bodhisattva who does not dwell in marks when he gives are just as immeasurable.

Subhūti, a Bodhisattva should only dwell in what is taught thus.”

Chapter 5

Subhūti, what do you think, can the Tathāgata be seen by his physical marks?”

“No, World Honoured One, the Tathāgata cannot be seen by his physical marks. Why so? It is because the physical marks are spoken of by the Tathāgata as no physical marks.”

The Buddha said to Subhūti, “All with marks is empty and false. If you can see all marks as no marks then you see the Tathāgata.”

Chapter 6

Subhūti said to the Buddha, “World Honoured One, will there be living beings in the future, who, when they hear such phrases spoken will truly believe?”

The Buddha told Subhūti, “Do not speak in such a way!

After the Tathāgata’s extinction, in the last 500 years, there will be those who hold the precepts and cultivate blessings, who will believe such phrases and accept them as true.”

“You should know that such people will have planted good roots with not just one Buddha, two Buddhas, three, four, or five Buddhas, but will have planted good roots with measureless millions of Buddhas.

All who hear such phrases and produce even one thought of pure faith are completely known and completely seen by the Tathāgata.

Such living beings thus obtain measureless blessings and virtue. Why so?

Those living beings have no further mark of self, of others, of living beings, or of a life; no mark of dharmas and no mark of no dharmas.

If living beings’ hearts grasp at marks, then that is attachment to self, to others, to living beings and to a life. For that reason you should not grasp at dharmas, nor should you grasp at no dharmas.

Regarding that principle, the Tathāgata often says,

‘All you Bhikṣus should know that the dharma which I speak is like a raft. Even dharmas should be relinquished, how much the more so no dharmas.’”

Chapter 7

 “Subhūti, what do you think? Has the Tathāgata attained Supreme Enlightenment? Has the Tathāgata spoken any dharma?”

Subhūti said, “As I understand what the Buddha has said, there is no concrete dharma called Supreme Enlightenment, and there is no concrete dharma which the Tathāgata has spoken. Why so? The dharmas spoken by the Tathāgata cannot be grasped and cannot be spoken.

They are neither dharmas nor no dharmas. Why so?

Unconditioned dharmas distinguish worthy sages.”

Chapter 8

 “Subhūti, what do you think, if someone filled 3 000 great thousand world systems with the 7 precious gems and gave them as a gift, would he obtain many blessings and virtue?”

Subhūti said, “Very many, World Honoured One. Why so? Such blessings and virtue are not of the nature of blessings and virtue. Therefore the Tathāgata speaks of many blessings and virtue.”

“If, on the other hand, a person were to receive and hold from this Sūtra even so few as 4 lines of verse and speak them for others, his blessings would surpass the previous ones. Why so?

Subhūti, all Buddhas and all Buddhas’ dharma of Supreme Enlightenment come forth from this Sūtra. Subhūti, the Buddha-dharmas spoken are no Buddha-dharmas.”

Chapter 9

 “Subhūti, what do you think, can a Sotāpanna have the thought, ‘I have obtained the fruit of Sotāpanna.’?”

Subhūti said, “No, World Honoured One. Why so?

A Sotāpanna means One Who Has Entered the Flow, and yet he has not entered anything. He has not entered forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, or dharmas. For that reason he is called a Sotāpanna.”

Subhūti, what do you think? Can a Sakadāgāmin have the thought, ‘I have obtained the fruit of Sakadāgāmin.’?”

Subhūti said, “No, World Honoured One. Why so?

A Sakadāgāmin means One Who Returns Once More, but he actually does not have a returning. For that reason, he is called a Sakadāgāmin.”

Subhūti, what do you think? Can an Anāgāmin have the thought, ‘I have obtained the fruit of Anāgāmin.’?”

Subhūti said, “No, World Honoured One. Why so?

Anāgāmin means One Who Does Not Return, but he actually does not have no returning. For that reason, he is called Anāgāmin.”

Subhūti, what do you think? Can an Arhat have the thought, ‘I have obtained Arhatship.’?”

Subhūti said, “No, World Honoured One. Why so?

Actually there is no dharma called an Arhat.

World Honoured One, if an Arhat had the thought, ‘I have attained Arhatship’ that would be attachment to self, to others, to living beings and to a life.

World Honoured One, the Buddha says that in my attainment of the No Strife Samādhi, I am the foremost among men, that I am the foremost Arhat free from desire.

World Honoured One, I do not have the thought, ‘I am an Arhat free from desire.’

If I had the thought, ‘I have attained Arhatship’ then the World Honoured One could not say, ‘Subhūti is the foremost of those who delight in practising Āraṇa.’

Since Subhūti actually has no practice, he is called ‘Subhūti, who delights in practising Āraṇa.’”

Chapter 10

The Buddha said to Subhūti, “What do you think? Was there any dharma which the Tathāgata obtained while with Buddha Dīpankara?”

“No, World Honoured One, there was actually no dharma which the Tathāgata obtained while with Buddha Dīpankara.”

Subhūti, what do you think, does a Bodhisattva adorn Buddha-lands?”

“No, World Honoured One. Why so? The adornment of Buddha-lands is no adornment, therefore it is called adornment.”

“Therefore, Subhūti, the Bodhisattva, Mahāsattva, should thus produce a pure heart:

He should produce that heart without dwelling in forms. He should produce that heart without dwelling in sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, or dharmas.

He should produce that heart without dwelling anywhere.”

Subhūti, suppose a person had a body like Sumeru, King of Mountains. What do you think, would that body be big?”

Subhūti said, “Very big, World Honoured One. Why so?

It is said by the Buddha to be no body. Therefore it is called a big body.”

Chapter 11

 “Subhūti, if there were as many Ganges Rivers as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, what do you think, would the grains of sand in all those Ganges Rivers be many?”

Subhūti said, “Very many, World Honoured One. The Ganges Rivers alone would be incalculable, how much the more so the grains of sand in them.”

Subhūti, I will now tell you the truth:

If a good man, or good woman, used the 7 precious gems to fill 3 000 great thousand world systems equal in number to the grains of sand in all those Ganges Rivers, and gave them as a gift, would he obtain many blessings?”

Subhūti said, “Very many, World Honoured One.”

The Buddha told Subhūti, “If a good man or good woman were to receive and hold from this Sūtra even so few as 4 lines of verse and speak them for others, his blessings and virtue would surpass the former’s blessings and virtue.”

Chapter 12

 “Moreover, Subhūti, you should know that all the gods, men, and Asuras of the world should make offerings to any place at which even so few as 4 lines of verse from this Sūtra are spoken and so forth, just as they would to a Buddha’s shrine or temple;

- how much the more so to any place where people can completely receive, hold, read and recite the Sūtra.

Subhūti, you should know that such people accomplish the foremost and rarest of dharmas. In any place the Sūtra text is found, there is the Buddha or a reverent disciple.”

Chapter 13

Then Subhūti said to the Buddha, “World Honoured One, what should the Sūtra be named? How should we respect and hold it?”

The Buddha told Subhūti, “The name of the Sūtra is Vajra Prajñā Pāramitā. You should respect and hold it by that name. Why so?

Subhūti, Prajñā Pāramitā is spoken of by the Buddha as no Prajñā Pāramitā, therefore it is called Prajñā Pāramitā.”

Subhūti, what do you think? Is there any dharma spoken by the Tathāgata?”

Subhūti said to the Buddha, “World Honoured One, nothing has been spoken by the Tathāgata.”

Subhūti, what do you think? Are all the motes of dust in 3 000 great thousand world systems many?”

Subhūti said, “Very many, World Honoured One.”

Subhūti, all motes of dust are spoken of by the Tathāgata as no motes of dust, therefore they are called motes of dust. The world systems are spoken of by the Tathāgata as no world systems, therefore they are called world systems.”

Subhūti, what do you think, can the Tathāgata be seen by means of the 32 marks?”

“No, World Honoured One, one cannot see the Tathāgata by means of the 32 marks. Why so?

The 32 marks are spoken of by the Tathāgata as no 32 marks, therefore they are called 32 marks.”

Subhūti, a good man, or good woman, might give up his life as many times as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River; but if a person were to receive and hold even so few as 4 lines of verse of the Sūtra and explain them for others, his blessings would be greater.”

Chapter 14

Then Subhūti, upon hearing the Sūtra spoken, and deeply understanding its purport, wept and said to the Buddha,

“How rare, World Honoured One, is this Sūtra so profoundly spoken by the Buddha. From the time I obtained the wisdom eye until the present I have never before heard such a Sūtra.

World Honoured One, if someone hears the Sūtra with a pure heart of faith then he produces real mark:

That person should be known to have accomplished the foremost and most rare merit and virtue.”

“World Honoured One, the real mark is no mark, therefore the Tathāgata calls it the real mark.”

“World Honoured One, now as I hear this Sūtra I believe, understand, receive, and hold it without difficulty.

If in the future, in the last 500 years, there are living beings who when they hear this Sūtra believe, understand, receive, and hold it, such people will be foremost and most rare. Why so?

Such people will have no mark of self, no mark of others, no mark of living beings, and no mark of a life. Why so?

The mark of self is no mark. The mark of others, the mark of living beings, and the mark of a life are no marks. Why so? Those who have relinquished all marks are called Buddhas.”

The Buddha told Subhūti, “So it is, so it is. If someone hears this Sūtra and is not frightened, or alarmed, or terrified, you should know that person is most rare. Why so?

Subhūti, the foremost Pāramitā is spoken of by the Tathāgata as no foremost Pāramitā, therefore it is called the foremost Pāramitā.”

Subhūti, the Pāramitā of patience is spoken of by the Tathāgata as no Pāramitā of patience. Therefore it is called the Pāramitā of patience. Why so?

Subhūti, it is as in the past when the King of Kāliṅga dismembered my body, at that time I had no mark of self, no mark of others, no mark of living beings and no mark of a life.”

“Why so? When I was cut limb from limb, if I had a mark of self, a mark of others, a mark of living beings, or a mark of a life, I would have been outraged.”

Subhūti, further I recall that in the past, for 500 lives, I was the Patient Immortal. During all those lives I had no mark of self, no mark of others, no mark of living beings and no mark of a life.

For that reason, Subhūti, a Bodhisattva should, relinquishing all marks, produce the heart of Supreme Enlightenment.

He should produce that heart without dwelling in forms. He should produce that heart without dwelling in sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, or dharmas.

He should produce that heart which does not dwell anywhere.

Any dwelling of the heart is no dwelling. Therefore the Buddha says, ‘The heart of a Bodhisattva should not dwell in forms when he gives.’

Subhūti, a Bodhisattva, to benefit all beings, should give thus. All marks are spoken of by the Tathāgata as no marks, and all living beings are spoken of as no living beings.

Subhūti, the Tathāgata is one who speaks the truth, who speaks the actual, who speaks what is so, who does not speak what is false, who does not speak what is not so.”

Subhūti, the dharma obtained by the Tathāgata is neither true nor false.”

Subhūti, a Bodhisattva whose heart dwells in dharmas when he gives is like a man who enters darkness, who cannot see a thing.

A Bodhisattva whose heart does not dwell in dharmas when he gives is like a man with eyes in the bright sunlight who can see all kinds of forms.”

Subhūti, in the future, if a good man, or good woman, can receive, hold, read, and recite this Sūtra, then the Tathāgata by means of all Buddha-wisdom, will completely know and see that person. That person accomplishes measureless and boundless merit and virtue.”

Chapter 15

Subhūti, a good man, or good woman, might in the morning give up as many bodies as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River,

and again at noon might give up as many bodies as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, and again in the evening might give up as many bodies as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River,

- giving up bodies in that way throughout measureless millions of kalpas.

But if someone else were to hear this Sūtra and believe it with no reservations, his blessings would surpass the former one’s. How much the more so if people can write out, receive, hold, read, recite and explain it for others.

Subhūti, the merit and virtue of this Sūtra are inexpressible, inconceivable, boundless, and beyond all praise. It is spoken by the Tathāgata for those who have set out on the Great Vehicle, those who have set out on the Supreme Vehicle.

If people can receive, hold, read, recite and speak it for others, they are completely known by the Tathāgata; they are completely seen by the Tathāgata.

Such people accomplish immeasurable, inexpressible, boundless, inconceivable merit and virtue and thus sustain the Tathāgata’s Supreme Enlightenment.”

“Why so? Subhūti, one who delights in lesser dharmas is attached to a view of self, a view of others, a view of living beings, and a view of a life. He cannot hear, receive, hold, read, or recite the Sūtra or explain it for others.”

Subhūti, the gods, the men, and the Asuras of the world make offerings at any place where this Sūtra is found. You should know such a place is a Stūpa where everyone should respectfully bow, circumambulate, and scatter incense and flowers.”

Chapter 16

 “Moreover, Subhūti, if a good man, or good woman, receives, holds, reads, and recites this Sūtra and if people ridicule him, that man has karmic offences from previous lives which destine him for the evil paths.

But because in his present life he is ridiculed by others, his previous karmic offences are destroyed and he will attain Supreme Enlightenment.”

Subhūti, I recall that in the past for limitless Asaṁkhyeya kalpas prior to Buddha Dīpankara, I encountered 84 000 of millions of billions of nayutas of Buddhas, and made offerings to them all, and served them all without exception.

But if there is a person in the final period who can receive, hold, read and recite this Sūtra, the merit and virtue he obtains is a hundred times more,

a thousand times more, a million, billion times more, to the point of being so great it exceeds all calculation and comparison, than the merit and virtue I gained from making offerings to all those Buddhas.”

Subhūti, if I were to express thoroughly the merit and virtue of a good man, or good woman, who in the final period receives, holds, reads, and recites the Sūtra, those who heard might go insane, and disbelieve.

Subhūti, you should know that this Sūtra’s meaning is inconceivable, and that its resulting retribution is also inconceivable.”

Chapter 17

Then Subhūti said to the Buddha, “World Honoured One, if a good man, or good woman, resolves his heart on Supreme Enlightenment, how should he dwell, how should he subdue his heart?”

The Buddha told Subhūti, “A good man, or good woman, who has resolved his heart on Supreme Enlightenment, should think thus:

‘I should take all living beings across to extinction.

Yet when all living beings have been taken across to extinction, there actually is not a single living being who has been taken across to extinction.’ Why so?

Subhūti, if a Bodhisattva has a mark of self, a mark of others, a mark of living beings or a mark of a life, then he is not a Bodhisattva. For what reason?

Subhūti, actually there is no dharma of resolving the heart on Supreme Enlightenment.”

Subhūti, what do you think? While the Tathāgata was with Buddha Dīpankara, was there any dharma of Supreme Enlightenment attained?”

“No, World Honoured One. As I understand what the Buddha has said, while the Buddha was with Buddha Dīpankara there was no Supreme Enlightenment attained.”

The Buddha said, “So it is, so it is, Subhūti. There actually was no dharma of Supreme Enlightenment which the Tathāgata attained.

Subhūti, if there had been a dharma of Supreme Enlightenment which the Tathāgata attained, then Buddha Dīpankara would not have given me the prediction, ‘You will in the future attain Buddhahood and be named Śākyamuni.

Since there actually was no dharma of Supreme Enlightenment attained, Buddha Dīpankara gave me the prediction saying these words, ‘You will in the future attain Buddhahood and be named Śākyamuni.’”

“Why so? ‘Tathāgata’ means thus-ness of all dharmas.

If someone were to say the Tathāgata attains Supreme Enlightenment, Subhūti, actually there is no dharma of Supreme Enlightenment which the Buddha attains.

Subhūti, the Supreme Enlightenment which the Tathāgata attains, in that, there is neither true nor false. For that reason the Tathāgata speaks of all dharmas as Buddha-dharmas.

Subhūti, all dharmas are spoken of as no dharmas. Therefore they are called dharmas.”

Subhūti, it is like a person’s big body.”

Subhūti said, “World Honoured One, the person’s big body is spoken of by the Tathāgata as no big body, therefore it is called a big body.”

Subhūti, a Bodhisattva is also thus. If he were to say, ‘I should take measureless living beings across to extinction,’ then he would not be called a Bodhisattva. Why so?

Subhūti, there actually is no dharma called a Bodhisattva.

For that reason the Buddha spoke of all dharmas as devoid of self, devoid of others, devoid of living beings, and devoid of a life.”

Subhūti, if a Bodhisattva were to say, ‘I shall adorn Buddha-lands,’ he would not be called a Bodhisattva. Why so? The adornment of Buddha-lands is spoken of by the Tathāgata as no adornment. Therefore it is called adornment.

Subhūti, if a Bodhisattva comprehends that all dharmas are devoid of self, the Tathāgata calls him a true Bodhisattva.”

Chapter 18

 “Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the flesh eye?”
“So it is, World Honoured One. The Tathāgata has the flesh eye.”
“Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the heavenly eye?”
“So it is, World Honoured One. The Tathāgata has the heavenly eye.”
“Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the wisdom eye?”
“So it is, World Honoured One. The Tathāgata has the wisdom eye.”
“Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the dharma eye?”
“So it is, World Honoured One. The Tathāgata has the dharma eye.”
“Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the Buddha eye?”
“So it is, World Honoured One. The Tathāgata has the Buddha eye.”
“Subhūti, what do you think? Is the Tathāgata spoken of the sand grains in the Ganges River?”
“So it is, World Honoured One. The Tathāgata has spoken of that sand.”

Subhūti, what do you think? If all the grains of sand in one Ganges River became an equal number of Ganges Rivers, and all the grains of sand in all those Ganges Rivers became that many Buddha-lands, would they be many?”

“Very many, World Honoured One.”

The Buddha told Subhūti, “All the various thoughts which occur to all the living beings in all those Buddha-lands are completely known by the Tathāgata. Why so?

All thoughts are spoken of by the Tathāgata as no thought, therefore they are called thoughts. For what reason?

Subhūti, past thought cannot be got at, present thought cannot be got at, and future thought cannot be got at.”

Chapter 19

 “Subhūti, what do you think? If someone filled the 3 000 great thousand worlds with the 7 precious gems and gave them as a gift, would that person for that reason obtain many blessings?”

“So it is, World Honoured One. That person would for that reason obtain very many blessings.”

Subhūti, if blessings and virtue were real, the Tathāgata would not have spoken of obtaining many blessings. It is because blessings and virtue do not exist that the Tathāgata has spoken of obtaining many blessings.”

Chapter 20

 “Subhūti, what do you think? Can the Tathāgata be seen in the perfection of his physical form?”

“No, World Honoured One. The Tathāgata cannot be seen in the perfection of his physical form.

Why so? The perfection of physical form is spoken of by the Tathāgata as no perfection of physical form; therefore it is called the perfection of physical form.”

Subhūti, what do you think? Can the Tathāgata be seen in the perfection of marks?”

“No, World Honoured One. The Tathāgata cannot be seen in the perfection of marks.

Why so? The perfection of marks is spoken of by the Tathāgata as no perfection of marks. Therefore it is called the perfection of marks.”

Chapter 21

Subhūti, do not say the Tathāgata has the thought, ‘I have spoken dharma’. Do not think that way. Why so?

If someone says the Tathāgata has spoken dharma he slanders the Buddha due to his inability to understand what I say.

Subhūti, in the dharma spoken there is no dharma which can be spoken; therefore it is called the dharma spoken.”

Then the sagacious Subhūti said to the Buddha, “World Honoured One, will there be living beings in the future who will believe this Sūtra when they hear it spoken?”

The Buddha said, “Subhūti, they are neither living beings nor no living beings. Why so? Subhūti, living beings, living beings, are spoken of by the Tathāgata as no living beings, therefore they are called living beings.”

Chapter 22

Subhūti said to the Buddha, “World Honoured One, is it that the Tathāgata in attaining Supreme Enlightenment did not attain anything?”

The Buddha said, “So it is, so it is, Subhūti. As to Supreme Enlightenment, there is not even the slightest dharma which I could attain; therefore it is called Supreme Enlightenment.”

Chapter 23

 “Moreover, Subhūti, this dharma is level and equal, with no high or low. Therefore it is called Supreme Enlightenment. To cultivate all good dharmas with no self, no others, no living beings and no life is to attain Supreme Enlightenment.

Subhūti, good dharmas are spoken of by the Tathāgata as no good dharmas. Therefore they are called good dharmas.”

Chapter 24

Subhūti, if there were heaps of the 7 precious gems equal in amount to all the Sumerus, Kings of Mountains, in 3 000 great thousand world systems, and someone gave them as a gift,

and if someone else were to take from this Prajñā Pāramitā Sūtra as few as 4 lines of verse, and receive, hold, read, recite and speak them for others,

his blessings and virtue would surpass the previous one’s by more hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of times than either calculation or analogy could express.”

Chapter 25

 “Subhūti, what do you think? You should not maintain that the Tathāgata has this thought: ‘I shall take living beings across.’ Subhūti, do not have that thought. Why so?

There actually are no living beings taken across by the Tathāgata.

If there were living beings taken across by the Tathāgata, then the Tathāgata would have the existence of a self, of others, of living beings, and of a life.

Subhūti, the existence of a self, spoken of by the Tathāgata, is no existence of a self, but common people take it as the existence of a self.

Subhūti, common people are spoken of by the Tathāgata as no common people, therefore they are called common people.”

Chapter 26

Subhūti, what do you think? Can one contemplate the Tathāgata by means of the 32 marks?”

Subhūti said, “So it is, so it is, World Honoured One. One can contemplate the Tathāgata by means of the 32 marks.”

The Buddha said, “Subhūti, if one could contemplate the Tathāgata by means of the 32 marks, then a Sagely Wheel-turning King would be a Tathāgata.”

Subhūti said to the Buddha, “World Honoured One, as I understand what the Buddha has said, one should not contemplate the Tathāgata by means of the 32 marks.”

At that time the World Honoured One spoke a gāthā, which says:

If one sees me in forms,
If one seeks me in sounds,
He practices a deviant way,
And cannot see the Tathāgata
.

Chapter 27

Subhūti, you may have the thought that the Tathāgata did not attain Supreme Enlightenment by means of the perfection of marks.

Subhūti, do not think that the Tathāgata did not attain Supreme Enlightenment by means of the perfection of marks.

Subhūti, you should not think that those who have resolved their hearts on Supreme Enlightenment affirm the annihilation of all dharmas.

Do not have that thought. Why so? Those who have resolved their hearts on Supreme Enlightenment do not affirm the annihilation of marks.”

Chapter 28

 “Subhūti, a Bodhisattva might fill world systems equal to Ganges River’s sands with the 7 precious gems and give them as a gift.

But if another person were to know that all dharmas are devoid of self and accomplish patience, that Bodhisattva’s merit and virtue would surpass that of the previous Bodhisattva. Why so?

Subhūti, it is because Bodhisattvas do not receive blessings and virtue.”

Subhūti said to the Buddha, “World Honoured One, how is it that Bodhisattvas do not receive blessings and virtue?”

Subhūti, since Bodhisattvas cannot be greedily attached to the blessings and virtue which they foster, they are said not to receive blessings and virtue.”

Chapter 29

 “Subhūti, if someone were to say the Tathāgata either comes or goes, either sits or lies down, that person would not understand the meaning of my teaching. Why so?

The Tathāgata does not come from anywhere, nor does he go anywhere. Therefore he is called the Tathāgata.”

Chapter 30

 “Subhūti, if a good man or good woman were to pulverize 3 000 great thousand world systems into motes of fine dust, what do you think, would that mass of fine dust be large?”

Subhūti said, “Large, World Honoured One. Why so? If that mass of fine dust motes actually existed, the Buddha would not speak of it as a mass of fine dust motes. Why so?

The mass of fine dust motes is spoken of by the Buddha as no mass of fine dust motes. Therefore it is called a mass of fine dust motes.

World Honoured One, the 3 000 great thousand world systems are spoken of by the Tathāgata as no world systems, therefore they are called world systems. Why so?

If world systems actually existed, then there would be a totality of marks. The totality of marks is spoken of by the Tathāgata as no totality of marks. Therefore it is called a totality of marks.”

Subhūti, the totality of marks cannot be spoken of, but people of the common sort greedily attach to such things.”

Chapter 31

Subhūti, if someone were to say that the view of a self, the view of others, the view of living beings, and the view of a life are spoken of by the Buddha, Subhūti, what do you think? Does that person understand the meaning of my teaching?”

“No, World Honoured One, that person does not understand the meaning of the Tathāgata’s teaching. Why so?

The view of a self, the view of others, the view of livings beings and the view of a life are spoken of by the World Honoured One as no view of self, no view of others, no view of living beings, and no view of a life.

Therefore they are called the view of self, the view of others, the view of living beings, and the view of a life.”

Subhūti, those who have resolved their hearts on Supreme Enlightenment should thus know, thus view, thus believe and understand all dharmas, and not produce the marks of dharmas.

Subhūti, the marks of dharmas are spoken of by the Tathāgata as no marks of dharmas; therefore they are called the marks of dharmas.”

Chapter 32

Subhūti, someone might fill measureless Asaṁkhyeyas of world systems with the 7 precious gems and give them as a gift.

But if a good man, or good woman, who has resolved his heart on Bodhi were to take from this Sūtra even as few as 4 lines of verse and receive, hold, read, recite and extensively explain them for others, his blessings would surpass the other’s.”

How should it be explained to others? With no grasping at marks: thus, thus, unmoving. Why so?

All conditioned dharmas
Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows,
Like dew drops and a lightning flash:
Contemplate them thus
.

After the Buddha spoke this Sūtra the Elder Subhūti, all the Bhikṣus, Bhikṣuṇīs, Upāsakas, Upāsikās, and the world with its gods, men, and Asuras, heard what the Buddha had said, rejoiced, believed, received, revered, and practised.

End of the Vajra Prajñā Pāramitā Sūtra.