The Diamond Sutra (short version)

The Diamond Sutra

The Assembly

Thus have I heard: At one time the Buddha dwelt in the Jeta Grove in the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Forlorn, together with a gathering of great followers, twelve hundred fifty in all. At meal time the World Honored One put on his robe, took up his bowl and entered the great city of Shravasti to collect alms. After he had finished his sequential alms-round, he returned to his dwelling. When his meal was complete, he put away his robe and his bowl. After he washed his feet, he arranged his seat and sat down.

Subhuti’s Question

At that time the Elder Subhuti arose from his seat in the great assembly, uncovered his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, joined his palms together respectfully and addressed the Buddha.

“How rare, World Honored One, is the Thus Come One who protects and cares for all Bodhisattvas. World Honored One, if a good man or good woman resolves his mind on Awakening, on what should he rely? How should he subdue his mind?”

How to Subdue One’s Mind

“Very good, very good, Subhuti. It is as you say. The Thus Come One protects and cares well for all Bodhisattvas and well favors all Bodhisattvas. A good man or good woman who resolves his mind on Awakening should thus rely and thus subdue his mind.

“All Bodhisattvas should think thus: ‘I must cause all living beings — those born from eggs, wombs, moisture, by transformation, those with form, without form, with thought, without thought, those not totally endowed with thought, those not totally without thought — to enter Nirvana without residue and be taken across to Cessation.’

“Yet when all living beings have been taken across to Cessation, actually not one living being has been taken across to Cessation. Why? Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva has an appearance of self, of others, of living beings and a life, he is not a Bodhisattva. For what reason? Subhuti, actually there is no such lesson as resolving one’s mind on Awakening.

Correct Giving

“Moreover, Subhuti, as to lessons, a Bodhisattva should not rely on anything when giving. That is to say, when giving, he should neither rely on forms, nor sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, nor lessons. Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should give thus: he should not rely on appearances. Why? If a Bodhisattva does not rely on appearances when giving, his blessings and virtues are inconceivable and immeasurable.

Blessing of Awakened Ones

“Subhuti, what do you think? Is space in the east conceivable and measurable?”

“No, World Honored One.”

“Is space in the south, west, north, or in the intermediate directions, above or below, conceivable and measurable?”

“No, World Honored One.”

“Subhuti, the blessings and virtues of a Bodhisattva who does not rely on appearances when giving are just as inconceivable and immeasurable.

Thoughts of Awakened Ones

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can a Shrotaapana have the thought, ‘Have I attained the Fruition of Shrotaapana?’”

Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. Why? Shrotaapana 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 lessons. Therefore he is called a Shrotaapana.

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can a Sakrdagamin have the thought, ‘Have I attained the Fruition of Sakrdagamin?’”

Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. Why? Sakrdagamin means, ‘One who returns once more.’ But actually he does not return. Therefore he is called a Sakrdagamin.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can an Anagamin have the thought, ‘Have I attained the Fruition of Anagamin?’”

“No, World Honored One. Why? Anagamin means ‘One who does not return.’ But actually he is without not returning. Therefore he is called an Anagamin.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can an Arhat have the thought, ‘Have I attained the Way of the Arhat?’”

“No, World Honored One. Why? Actually there is no lesson called ‘Arhat.’ World Honored One, if an Arhat had the thought, ‘I have attained the Way of the Arhat,’ that would be an attachment to self, to others, to living beings and a life. World Honored One, the Buddha has said that I am foremost in attainment of the No Strife Focus, and I am the foremost Arhat free from desire. Yet, World Honored One, I do not have the thought, ‘I am an Arhat free from desire.’ If I had the thought, ‘I have attained the Way of the Arhat,’ then the World Honored One would not say, ‘Subhuti is foremost of those who delight in practicing Araya.’ Since Subhuti actually does not practice anything, he is called ‘Subhuti who delights in practicing Araya.’”

What the Buddha Attained

Subhuti asked the Buddha, “World Honored One, is it true that the Thus Come One, in attaining Awakening, did not attain anything?”

The Buddha said, “So it is, so it is, Subhuti. As to Awakening, there is no predetermined Lesson called Awakening, and there are not any predetermined Lessons which the Thus Come One could speak. Why? All the Lesson which the Thus Come One has spoken can neither be clung to nor spoken of. It is neither Lesson nor non-Lesson. Why is that so? All Worthy Ones and Sages are different because of Unconditioned Lessons.

“Moreover, Subhuti, this Lesson is the common denominator. Nothing is higher or lower. Therefore it is called Awakening. A person free of self, others, living beings and a life, who cultivates all wholesome lessons, attains Awakening. Subhuti, what are called wholesome lessons the Thus Come One says are not wholesome lessons. Therefore they are called wholesome lessons.

“Subhuti, do no maintain that the Thus Come One has this thought: ‘I have spoken Lesson.’ If someone says the Thus Come One has spoken Lesson, he slanders the Buddha due to his inability to understand what I teach. Subhuti, as to speaking Lesson, no Lesson can be spoken. Therefore it is called ‘speaking Lesson.’”

What the Lessons Are

The Buddha said to Subhuti, “What do you think? Did the Thus Come One obtain any Lesson when he was with Burning Lamp Buddha in the past?”

“No, World Honored One. The Thus Come One did not actually obtain any Lesson when he was with Burning Lamp Buddha.”

“So it is, so it is, Subhuti. If the Thus Come One had actually attained the lesson of Awakening, then Burning Lamp Buddha would not have given me the prediction, ‘You will in the future become a Buddha named Shakyamuni.’ Since I did not actually attain the lesson of Awakening, Burning Lamp Buddha did give me the prediction saying, ‘You will in the future become a Buddha with the name Shakyamuni.’ Why? ‘Thus Come One’ means ‘all lessons are “thus”.’

“Therefore the Thus Come One says that all lessons are Buddha-lesson. Subhuti, what are spoken of as ‘all lessons’ are not all lessons. Therefore they are called ‘all lessons.’

Produce a Pure Mind

“Subhuti, a Bodhisattva is also like this. If he said, ‘I should take all living beings across to Cessation,’ then he could not be called a Bodhisattva. Why? Subhuti, there really is no lesson called a Bodhisattva. Therefore the Buddha says that all lessons are without self, others, living beings or a life.

“Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva said, ‘I should adorn Buddhalands,’ he could not be called a Bodhisattva. Why? One who adorns Buddhalands does not adorn anything. Therefore it is called adorning.

“Therefore, Subhuti, all Bodhisattva Mahasattvas should produce a pure mind which does not rely on forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects or lessons. He should produce a mind that does not rely on anything.

“Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva comprehends the Lesson of no self, the Thus Come One calls him a true Bodhisattva.

Contemplating the Buddha’s 32 Physical Appearances

“Subhuti, what do you think? Is it possible to contemplate the Thus Come One in his thirty-two perfect physical appearances?”

Subhuti replied, “So it is, so it is. It is possible to contemplate the Thus Come One in terms of his thirty-two perfect physical appearances.”

“Subhuti, if one could contemplate the Thus Come One in his thirty-two physical appearances, then a Wheel-Turning Sage King would be the Thus Come One.”

Subhuti addressed the Buddha, “World Honored One, as I understand what the Buddha has said, one should not contemplate the Thus Come One in his thirty-two physical appearances.”

At that time the Buddha spoke a verse saying,

One who looks for me in forms
Or seek me in sounds
Practices a deviant path
And will never see the Thus Come One.

Not Contemplating the Buddha’s 32 Physical Appearances

“Subhuti, you might have the thought, ‘It was not because he perfected his physical appearances that the Thus Come One attained Awakening. Subhuti, if you think in that way, then those who have resolved their minds on Awakening affirm the destruction of all lessons. Do not think like that. Why? Those who have resolved their minds on Awakening do not affirm the destruction of all lessons.”

Living Beings In the Future

At that time, upon hearing this Sutra and deeply understanding its purport, Subhuti wept and felt remorse. He addressed the Buddha, `How rare, World Honored One, is this Sutra so profoundly explained by the Buddha. World Honored One, will there be living beings who believe this Sutra in the future?”

The Buddha said, “The living beings to whom you refer are neither living beings nor not living beings. Why? Subhuti, all the different kinds of living beings the Thus Come One speaks of are not living beings. Therefore they are called living beings.

About Patience

If someone hears this Sutra and is not frightened, alarmed, or terrified, you should know such a person is most rare. Why? Subhuti, the foremost Paramita spoken of by the Thus Come One is not the foremost Paramita. Therefore it is called the foremost Paramita.

“Subhuti, the Paramita of patience spoken of by the Thus Come One is not the Paramita of patience. Therefore it is called the Paramita of patience. Why? Subhuti, in the past when the King of Kalinga dismembered my body, I had no appearance of self, of others, living beings or a life. Why? When I was cut limb from limb, if I had an appearance of self, an appearance of others, an appearance of living beings or an appearance of a life, I would have been outraged.

Relinquishing Appearances

“Moreover, Subhuti, I recall that in the past, for five hundred lives, I was the Patient Immortal. During all those lives I was without the appearance of self, of others, of living beings or a life. For that reason, Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should relinquish all appearances and bring forth the mind of Awakening. He should bring forth thoughts which do not rely on forms, nor on sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects or lessons. He should bring forth thoughts which do not rely on anything. Any relying of the mind is not relying. Therefore the Buddha says, ‘The Bodhisattva’s mind should not rely on forms when he gives.’ Subhuti, because the Bodhisattva wishes to benefit all living beings he should give in this way.

“Subhuti, the Thus Come One speaks the truth. He speaks factually. He speaks of things as they really are. He never deceives nor are his words peculiar. Subhuti, there is nothing true nor false in the Awakening the Thus Come One attains.

“Subhuti, a Bodhisattva who gives with a mind relying on lessons is like a person in the dark who sees nothing at all. A Bodhisattva who gives with a mind that does not rely on lessons is like a person with eyes who can see all kinds of things in the bright light.

Future Awakened Ones

“If in the last five hundred years after the Thus Come One’s cessation, a person were to realize that all lessons are devoid of self and attain patience, that person has planted good roots not just with one Buddha, two Buddhas, three Buddhas, four or five Buddhas, but he has planted good roots at the places of immeasurable tens of millions of Buddhas.

“The Thus Come One knows and sees all people who hear this Sutra, Subhuti, and have even a single thought of pure faith. Such living beings will thus obtain immeasurable merit and virtues. Why, Subhuti? Because Bodhisattvas do not acquire blessings and virtues.”

Subhuti addressed the Buddha, “World Honored One, how is it that Bodhisattvas do not acquire blessing and virtues?”

“Subhuti, Bodhisattvas should neither be greedy for, nor be attached to the blessings and virtues they foster. Therefore I say they do not acquire blessings and virtues.

Where the Buddha Is

“Subhuti, if someone says that it seems as if the Thus Come One comes and goes, sits or lies down, such a person does not understand the meaning of my teaching. Why? The Thus Come One does not come from anywhere nor does he go anywhere. Therefore he is called the Thus Come One.

The Power of Even Four Lines of This Sutra

“Subhuti, suppose 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?”

“Very many, World Honored One. That many Ganges Rivers alone would be uncountable. How much more the grains of sand contained in them.”

“Subhuti, I am speaking truthfully. Suppose a good man or a good woman had filled with the seven kinds of precious gems as many Threefold Great Thousand World Systems as there are grains of sand in all those Ganges Rivers and gave them as an offering. Would that person obtain many blessings?”

Subhuti said, “Very many, World Honored One.”

The Buddha told Subhuti, “If a good man or a good woman were to accept and uphold even so few as four lines of verse from this Sutra and speak them for others, those blessings and virtues would surpass the previous blessings and virtues.

Subhuti, a good man or a good woman might in the morning give their body away as many times as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, and again at noon give away their body as many times as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, and again in the evening give their body away as many times as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River. They might go on giving their bodies away like that throughout immeasurable hundreds of thousands of billions of cycles. But if someone else were to hear this Sutra and believe it without reservation, his blessings would surpass the blessings of the former person. How much greater the blessings would be if one could write out, accept, uphold, read, recite, and explain this Sutra for others.

“Subhuti, to sum it up, the merit and virtue of this Sutra is inconceivable, incalculable, and boundless. The Thus Come One spoke it for those intent on the Great Vehicle, the Foremost Vehicle. The Thus Come One knows and sees all people who can accept, uphold, read, recite, and extensively explain this Sutra for others. Such people perfect immeasurable, incalculable, boundless and inconceivable merit and virtue and sustain the Thus Come One’s Awakening. Why? Subhuti, one who delights in lesser lessons is attached to a view of self, of others, of living beings and a life. That person cannot hear, accept, uphold, read or recite this Sutra or explain it for others.

“Subhuti, the gods, humans and demigods of the world should make offerings wherever this Sutra is found. Know that such a place is a shrine. All beings should pay respect, worship, circumambulate and decorate it with incense and flowers. Wherever this Sutra is found there is a Buddha or reverent disciple.

“Moreover, Subhuti, if a good man or good woman who accepts, upholds, reads or recites this Sutra is ridiculed, that is because that person has karmic offenses from past lives which destine him for the evil paths. But as a result of the ridicule he receives from others in his present life, his karmic offenses are destroyed and he will attain Awakening.

“Subhuti, if I were to explain in detail the merit and virtue of a good man or good woman who in the Final Period accepts, upholds, reads or recites this Sutra, then those who hear might go insane or disbelieve. Subhuti, you should know that the principles in this Sutra are inconceivable. So too are the rewards it generates.”

The Name of This Sutra

Then Subhuti addressed the Buddha, “World Honored One, what name should we give this Sutra and how should we uphold it?”

The Buddha told Subhuti, “The name of this Sutra is Diamond-Flash Wisdom of Crossing to the Far Shore. You should uphold it by that name. Why? The Buddha said that Crossing Wisdom is not Crossing Wisdom. Therefore it is called Crossing Wisdom.

Final Overview

“Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Thus Come One spoken any Lesson?”

Subhuti addressed the Buddha, “The Thus Come One has not spoken any Lesson.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Are there many particles of dust in a Threefold Great Thousand World System?”

Subhuti said, “Very many, World Honored One.”

“Subhuti, the Thus Come One says that particles of dust are not particles of dust. Therefore they are called particles of dust. The Thus Come One says that world systems are not world systems. Therefore they are called world systems.

“Subhuti, what do you think, is it possible to see the Thus Come One in his thirty-two physical appearances?”

“No, World Honored One. It is not possible to see the Thus Come One in his thirty-two physical appearances. Why? The Thus Come One says that the thirty-two physical appearances are not physical appearances. Therefore they are called physical appearances.”

“Subhuti, suppose someone were to say that the Buddha spoke of the view of self, the view of others, the view of living beings and the view of a life. What do you think, does that person understand the meaning of my teachings?”

“No, World Honored One. That person does not understand the meaning of the Thus Come One’s teachings. Why? What the World Honored One spoke of as the view of self, of others, of living beings and of a life are not the view of self, of others, of living beings and of a life. Therefore they are called the view of self, of others, of living beings and of a life.”

“Subhuti, those who have resolved their minds on Awakening should, in regards to all lessons, thus know, thus perceive, thus believe and understand, and not set up appearances of lessons. Subhuti, what the Thus Come One speaks of as appearances of lessons are not appearances of lessons. Therefore they are called appearances of lessons.

“Subhuti, suppose someone were to fill measureless billions of world systems with the seven precious gems and give them as an offering. If a good man or good woman who has resolved his mind on Awakening were to receive, uphold, read or recite and extensively explain of others as little as four lines of verse from this Sutra, the latter person’s blessings would surpass those of the former person.”

Final

“How should this Sutra be explained for others? By not grasping at appearances and being in unmoving thusness. Why? All conditioned lessons are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble or a shadow, like dew or like a lightning flash. Contemplate them thus.”

After the Buddha spoke this Sutra, the Elder Subhuti, all the monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen, and all the gods, humans, and demigods and others from all the worlds, were extremely happy, faithfully accepted it, and put it into practice.

End of the Reconstructed Diamond Sutra

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