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The Diamond Sutra

1. Thus have I heard: at one time in the Garden of Jeta and Anathapindada, near the city of Shravasti, the Buddha dwelt together with twelve hundred and fifty monks. At mealtime, putting on his robe and taking his bowl, the World-honored One entered the city of Shravasti to beg for food. Going from door to door in order, he then returned and ate his meal. He put away his robe and bowl, bathed his feet, arranged his seat and sat down.
 
2. Then the Elder Subhuti rose from his seat; uncovering his right shoulder, he knelt on his right knee and joined his palms together. Respectfully he asked the Buddha, “How rare it is, World-honored One, to encounter the Thus Come One who has protected, taught and provided well for all Bodhisattvas. World-honored One, if good men or good women should seek complete and perfect enlightenment, how should they abide and how should they discipline their thoughts?”

 

The Buddha said: “Well spoken, Subhuti. The Thus Come One has protected, taught and provided well for all the Bodhisattvas. Now listen attentively and I will explain how good men or good women who seek complete and perfect enlightenment should abide and discipline their thoughts.”


Subhuti responded, “Please do, World-honored One. Joyfully we wish to hear.”
 
3. Then the Buddha told Subhuti, “All Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas should discipline their minds as follows: all living beings whether born of egg, womb, moisture or transformation, whether with form or non-form, whether with thought or non-thought or beyond both thought and non-thought, I will take across to the perfect, uncreated Nirvana. Yet of the vast multitude thus taken across, there is no living being thus taken across. Why? Subhuti, it is because Bodhisattvas do not rely upon concepts of self, multitude, living being or life-span. Only worldly beings think in these terms.
 
4. Also, Subhuti, following the Dharma, a Bodhisattva practices charity without attachment. True Bodhisattvas do not rely upon forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touch, or other dharmas. Thus, Subhuti, a Bodhisattva practices good works without abiding. Why? Without relying on appearances, when a Bodhisattva practices good works the merit and virtue are immeasurable.”

 

“Subhuti,” the Buddha asked, “What do you think? Can the space in the East be measured?”

 

“No, World-honored One, it cannot.”

 

“Subhuti, can the space in the South, West, North, zenith or nadir be measured?”

 

“No, World-honored One, it cannot.”

 

“Subhuti, likewise beyond measure is the merit and virtue of Bodhisattvas who do not rely on appearances when practicing charity. A Bodhisattva should abide only in what is taught.”
 
5. “Subhuti,” the Buddha then asked, “What do you think? Can the Buddha be known by some physical mark?”

 

“No, World-honored One, the Thus Come One cannot be known by some physical mark. Why? The marks spoken of by the Thus Come One are in truth non-marks.”

 

Then the Buddha said to Subhuti. “All marks are indeed illusory phantoms. When all marks are regarded as non-marks, then the Thus Come One is seen.”
 
6. Subhuti asked the Buddha, “World-honored One, in the future will living beings upon hearing these teachings be able to truly believe them?”

 

The Buddha said, “Subhuti, do not speak so. In the last five hundred year period after the Thus Come One's passing into Nirvana, there will be living beings who keeping the precepts and having planted good roots not just under one Buddha or two Buddhas, or three or four or five Buddhas, but under a multitude of Buddhas, will truly believe these teachings. Beings who hear this Dharma and have even a single moment of faith, are all known to the Thus Come One and attain immeasurable merit and virtue. Why? Because those beings no longer rely upon concepts of self, multitude, living being or lifespan, nor upon the appearance or non-appearance of dharmas. Why? If the mind depends on appearance it is attached to concepts of self, multitude, living being or lifespan. If the mind depends on non-appearance it is also attached to concepts of self, multitude, living being or lifespan. Therefore the mind should not be attached to the appearance or non-appearance of dharmas. Thus the Thus Come One often says, 'Bhikshus, my teachings are a raft. [Once carried safely across] the raft must be abandoned. The mind should be kept independent of the right dharma much less the wrong dharma.


7. “What do you think, Subhuti, has the Thus Come One attained complete and perfect enlightenment? Has the Thus Come One spoken any Dharma?”

 

Subhuti answered, “As I understand what the Buddha has said, there is no fixed truth known as complete and perfect enlightenment and there is no fixed Dharma to teach. Why? The Dharma taught by the Thus Come One can neither be contained nor expressed. It is neither the appearance nor non-appearance of the Dharma. Why? This Dharma, detached and pristine, is attained by all the noble ones who act without the thought of acting.”
 
8. “What do you think, Subhuti? If one offered to the Buddhas three thousand greater world systems filled with the seven treasures would the merit and virtue be great?”

 

Subhuti replied, “Great indeed, World-honored One. Why? Merit and virtue are in truth non-merit and non-virtue. Thus the Thus Come One declares them to be great.”

 

"If on the other hand, a person should receive and observe as little as four lines of this sutra, studying them and sharing them with others, the merit and virtue gained would be greater than that of the former. Why? All Buddhas and Dharmas of perfect and complete enlightenment come from this sutra. Subbhuti, in truth Buddha and Dharma are non-Buddha and non-Dharma."
 
9. “Subhuti, what do you think? Can one who enters the stream have the thought, I have obtained the fruit of entering the stream?”

 

Subhuti replied, “No World-honored One. Why? One who enters the stream has not entered into anything, not into forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touch or dharmas. Therefore it is called entering the stream.”

 

“Can one who returns but once have the thought, I have obtained the fruit of once-returning?”

 

Subhuti replied, “No World-honored One. Why? One who returns but once does not in truth return. Thus it is called once-returning.”

 

“Can a non-returner have the thought, I have attained the fruit of non-returning?”

 

“No, World-honored One. Why? There is in truth no non-return. Therefore it is called non-returning.”

 

“Can an Arhat have the thought, I have attained the Way?”

 

“No, World-honored One. Why? There is in truth no way to attain. Therefore it is called attaining the Way. If an Arhat had the thought 'I have attained the Way' there would be attachment to self, multitude, living being and lifespan. World-honored one, you have said that I excel among Arhats in the attainment of the Samadhi of No Conflict and abiding in seclusion in the forest. However I do not say within myself, such among the holy Arhats am I. If I had the thought, such am I, then you would not declare, abiding nowhere, Subhuti excels among Arhats in the attainment of the Samadhi of No Conflict and abiding in seclusion in the forest.”
 
10. “What do you think, Subhuti? When, in the past, the Thus Come One was with Dipamkara Buddha, was any Dharma attained?”

“No, World-honored One. No Dharmas were attained when the Thus Come One was with Dipamkara Buddha.”

 

“What do you think, Subhuti? Do Bodhisattvas adorn any Buddha-lands?”

 

“No, World-honored One. Why? Adorning the Buddha-lands is non-adorning. Therefore it is called adorning.”

 

“Thus establishing a pure mind, Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas do not depend upon form, sound, smell, taste, touch or dharma. The mind does not depend upon anything at all. Subhuti, if a human form was as large as the Polar Mountain, would that form be large?”

 

“Very large, World-honored One. The form spoken of by the Buddha is non-form, therefore it is called a great form.”
 
11. “Subhuti, if the number of Ganges Rivers equaled the number of sand-grains in the Ganges River, would the sand-grains in all those rivers be many?”

“Very many indeed, World Honored One. The number of Ganges Rivers would be incalculable and even more so their number of sand-grains.”

 

“Subhuti, if a good man or good woman offered [to the Buddhas] as many three thousand greater world-systems as sand grains in all those rivers each filled with the seven precious jewels, would the merit be great?”

 

Subhuti replied, “Indeed the merit would be great, World-honored One.”

 

The Buddha then said, “Truthfully I tell you, Subhuti, if a good man or good woman keeps and practices this Sutra, even as little as four lines of it, teaching and explaining it to others, the resulting merit will indeed be greater still.
 
12. Also, Subhuti, the place where this Sutra is taught, even as little as four lines of it, will be frequented by humans, heavenly beings and asuras and there they will make offerings as though it were Buddha’s shrine; how much more will this be the case where this Sutra is held, practiced, studied and recited. Subhuti, those who hold, practice, studies and recites this sutra have truly attained the supreme and foremost Dharma. Wherever this Sutra appears, there is a Buddha and disciples worthy of offerings.
 
13. Then Subhuti asked, “World-honored One, by what name should we call this Sutra and how should it be kept and upheld?"
 
The Buddha said to Subhuti, “The Sutra is called the Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra. By that name it should be kept and upheld. Why? Subhuti, the Prajna Paramita taught by the Buddha is not Prajna Paramita. Thus it is called Prajna Paramita."
 
“Subhuti, what do you think, has the Thus Come One proclaimed any Dharma?”
 
Subhuti said, “Not so, World-honored One. The Thus Come One has nothing to proclaim.”
 
“Subhuti, tell me, are there many motes of dust in three thousand greater world-systems?”
 
“Many indeed, World-honored One,” Subhuti replied.
 
“Subhuti, the Thus Come One teaches that those motes of dust are in truth not motes of dust. Hence they are called motes of dust. The Thus Come One also teaches that world-systems are in truth not world-systems. Hence they are called world-systems."
 
“Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Thus Come One be seen by the thirty-two physical marks?”
 
“Not so, World-honored One. In this manner the Thus Come One is not seen. Why? The Thus Come One has taught that the thirty-two physical marks are not marks. Hence they are called the thirty-two physical marks."
 
“Subhuti, if a good man or good woman should dedicated his or her life [for the welfare of others] as many times as there are sand-grains in the Ganges River, having done so for immeasurable eons, and another person should receive and uphold as little as four lines of this Sutra and teach them to others, the latter's merit would be greater.
 
14. Upon hearing this Sutra and understanding it, being deeply moved, Subhuti cried and spoke to the Buddha, “Hard to encounter is this Sutra, World-honored One, expounded by the Thus Come One so exquisite and profound. Since my eye of wisdom first opened, I have not heard such a Sutra. World-honored One, one who is able to receive this Sutra with confidence, will perceive Reality-As-It-Is and attain the supreme merit and virtue. World-honored One, Reality-As-It-Is is without intrinsic form. Therefore it is called Reality-As-It-Is.”

 

“World-honored One, as I now hear this Sutra, I am able to receive, practice and comprehends its purport without obstruction. In time to come, during the last five-hundred year period, those who are able to receive, practice and comprehend this Sutra will be most difficult to find. Why? Because they will go beyond the concept of self, the concept of multitude, the concept of living being and the concept of life-span. Why? The concept of self is without foundation, as are the concepts of multitude, living being and lifespan. One who has abandoned all marks is a Buddha.”

 

Buddha then spoke to Subhuti, “Thus it is. One who receives this Sutra without fear or intimidation is difficult to find. Why? The supreme Perfection taught by the Thus Come One is not the supreme perfection. Thus it is called the supreme perfection.

“Subhuti, the perfection of patience taught by the Thus Come One is likewise not the perfection of patience. Why? Subhuti, when my body was dismembered by the King of Kalinga I had already gone beyond the concepts of self, multitude, living being and lifespan. Why? If I had not gone beyond these concepts, I would have given rise to feelings of anger and ill will as my body was cut into pieces."

“Subhuti, I also remember in my past five hundred lifetimes, I once was the rishi Kshanti, who bore insult and practiced patience without the concepts of self, multitude, living being or life span. Thus, Subhuti, a bodhisattva should abandon all marks and establish the mind of complete and perfect enlightenment, not depending on sight, sound, smell, taste, touch or thoughts which arise. The mind should not depend on anything at all. Depending upon anything at all, the mind is without foundation."

Buddha continued, “Thus a bodhisattva gives without depending upon form. Freely benefiting all living beings, Subhuti, a bodhisattva should give in this way. The Thus Come One teaches that all marks are not marks and that all living beings are not living beings. Subhuti, the Thus Come One teaches what is true without discrimination; he reveals Reality-As-It-Is. He neither deceives nor misleads. Subhuti, the Dharma attained by the Thus Come One is neither real nor unreal."

“Subhuti, a bodhisattva who gives with a mind depending on concepts of giving is like one who wanders in darkness unable to see. However a bodhisattva who gives with a mind not depending on anything at all is like one in the clear light of day to whom all things are readily seen. Subhuti, in time to come, if there are good men or good women who receive, read and recite this Sutra, they will all be clearly seen by the Thus Come One and bring to fruition boundless merit and virtue.”
 
15. “Subhuti, if a good man or woman performed selfless acts as numerous as the sand-grains of the Ganges River in the morning, again at noon and again in the evening for an immeasurable length of time and if another person upon hearing this Sutra, accepted it with confidence, the merit of the latter would be greater than the former. Greater still is the merit of one who can write it out, receive it, hold it, study it, recite it and teach it to others.

  “Subhuti, in summary, the merit and virtue of this Sutra are truly immense. This teaching has been proclaimed for those of the Great Vehicle, the Supreme Vehicle. The Thus Come One clearly perceives and recognizes those who able receive, uphold, study, recite and teach this Sutra to others. The merit and virtue such people bring to completion are immense, immeasurable and vast. They will sustain complete and perfect enlightenment. Why? To delight in the lesser vehicle is to depend upon concepts of self, multitude, living being or lifespan. Those who delight in a lesser vehicle are unable to receive, uphold, study, recite and teach this Sutra to others.”

“Subhuti, every place where this Sutra is found is a place worthy of offerings and should be thus regarded by humans, heavenly beings and asuras. There they should gather, circumambulate [the Buddha shrine] and offer flowers and incense.
 
16. Also, Subhuti, if a good man or good woman receives, upholds, studies or recites this Sutra and is disparaged by others, his or her past karma leading toward rebirth in the three evil paths will hereby be removed and complete and perfect enlightenment will subsequently be obtained.”

“Subhuti, in the immeasurable past, before the time of Dipamkara Buddha, there were eighty-four thousand multitudes of innumerable Buddhas to which I made superb offerings without slighting even one. However at the end of the last five-hundred year period, one who is able to receive, uphold, study or recite this Sutra will obtain such merit and virtue, that the merit and virtue I gained in service to all those Buddhas cannot compare.

“Subhuti, if I should fully expound upon the merit and virtue of one who in the last dharma age receives, up holds, studies or recites this Sutra, the mind of those who hear might become disbelieving and confused. The fundamentals of this Sutra, Subhuti, like its rewards, are immense.
 
17. Then Subhuti asked the Buddha, “World-honored One, if good men or good women seek complete and perfect enlightenment, how should they compose their minds and how should they control their thoughts?”
 
The Buddha said to Subhuti, “A good man or good woman, seeking complete and perfect enlightenment should thus reflect, “I must lead across all living beings, yet when I have lead across all living beings, in truth, no living being will have been lead across.”
 
“Why? A bodhisattva who depends upon concepts of self, multitude, living being or lifespan is not rightly called a bodhisattva."
 
“Why? Subhuti, there is no fixed teaching which leads to complete and perfect enlightenment."
 
“Subhuti, what do you think? When the Thus Come One was with Dipamkara Buddha, was there any fixed teaching leading to complete and perfect enlightenment?”
 
“No World-honored One. As I understand the Thus Come One, when he was with Dipamkara Buddha there was no fixed teaching leading to complete and perfect enlightenment.”
 
Buddha said, “You are correct, Subhuti. There was no fixed teaching leading the Thus Come One to complete and perfect enlightenment. Had there been such a teaching, Dipamkara Buddha would not have predicted, 'In the future you will be a Buddha called Shakyamuni.' Why? Thus Come One means thusness of all teachings. While it may be said the Thus Come One attained complete and perfect enlightenment, there was no fixed teaching leading to complete and perfect enlightenment. Complete and perfect enlightenment is wholly beyond all dichotomy. Thus, the Thus Come One says all teachings are Buddha-teachings for in truth all teachings spoken by Buddha are not all teachings. Therefore they are called all teachings.
 
“Subhuti, similarly with the idea of a large body...”

 

Subhuti replied, “The World-honored One has taught that a large body is not really a large body. Thus it is called a large body."
 
“Likewise with bodhisattvas, Subhuti. If a bodhisattva proclaims, 'I will lead across the innumerable multitude' then that bodhisattva is not a true bodhisattva. Why? There is in truth no being called a bodhisattva. Thus Buddha teaches that all things are without self, multitude, living being or lifespan."
 
“Subhuti, the one who declares “I will adorn Buddha-lands” is not to be called a bodhisattva for the Thus Come One has taught that adorning Buddha-lands is not really adorning Buddha-lands and therefore is called adorning the Buddha-lands. Subhuti, the one who abandons all concepts of self, that one the Thus Come One will call a bodhisattva."
 
18. “Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Thus Come One have the human eye?”'

 

“Yes, World-honored One, he does.”
 
“Does he have the heavenly eye?”
 
“Yes, World-honored One, he does.”
 
“Does he have the wisdom eye?”
 
“Yes, World-honored One, he does.”
 
“Does he have the Dharma eye?”
 
“Yes, World-honored One, he does.”
 
“Does he possess the Buddha eye?”
 
“Yes, World-honored One, he does.”
 
“Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Thus Come One spoken of Ganges River sand?”
 
“Yes, the World-honored One has spoken of Ganges River sand.”
 
“Subhuti, if each grain of Ganges River sand was itself a river as great as the Ganges River, and for each grain of sand in all those rivers, there was a Buddha-land, would those Buddha-lands be many?"
 
“Innumerable, World-honored One.”
 
"Buddha said, “Subhuti, as many beings as they are in all those Buddha-lands each with their own thoughts, these are all known to the Thus Come One for in truth all thoughts are non-thoughts and are thus called thoughts. Know, Subhuti,
 
Prior thought cannot be held.
Present thought cannot be held.
Future thought cannot be held.
 
19. “Subhuti if one was to offer [to the Buddhas] three thousand greater world-systems filled with the seven treasures, would the merit gained be great?”

 

“Great indeed, World-honored One. The merit would be great.”
 
”Yet, Subhuti, if merit were real the Thus Come One would not speak of it as being great. Without basis in reality, the Thus Come One declares it to be great."
 
20. “Subhuti, can the Buddha be known by his perfect marks?”
 
“No, World-honored One. The Thus Come One cannot be known by his perfect marks. Why? Because the Thus Come One has said that the perfect marks are not perfect marks. Therefore they are called perfect marks.”
 
“Subhhuti, can the Buddha be apprehended by his outward appearance?”

 

“Not so, World-honored One, for outward appearance is not outward appearance. Therefore it is called outward appearance.
 
21. Subhuti, do not hold the thought, 'I have taught the Dharma'. Go beyond all such thinking. To say the Thus Come One has taught the Dharma slanders the Buddha and fails to understand what I have taught. The Dharma is wholly beyond. It is neither real nor unreal. Therefore it is called teaching the Dharma.
 
Then Subhuti asked the Buddha, “World-honored One, will the multitude in time to come believe this sutra upon hearing it?”

 

“The multitude of which you speak is neither multitude nor non-multitude. The multitude spoken of by the Thus Come One is non-multitude. Therefore it is called the multitude.
 
22. Then Subhuti inquired of the Buddha, “World-honored One, in his fulfillment of incomparable enlightenment, did the Thus Come One make no attainment whatsoever?”

 

“Exactly, Subhuti,” the Buddha replied. “I did not attain even the least of things. Therefore it is called incomparable enlightenment.”
 
23. Furthermore, Subhuti, equally abiding everywhere without dichotomy, this Dharma is called complete and perfect enlightenment. Free from ideas of self, multitude, living being or life-span, it is rightly attained by the one who cultivates all good Dharmas. Subhuti, the good Dharmas taught by the Thus Come One are not good dharmas. Thus they are called good Dharmas.

 

 

24.“Subhuti, if one offers up heaps of the seven treasures as large as innumerable Polar Mountains, and another hears and upholds as little as four lines from this Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, the merit of the latter will be inconceivably greater than that of the former so that no comparison can be made between the two.
 
25. “Subhuti, what do you think? Let no one hold the idea that the Thus Come One possesses the thought, 'I shall lead across the innumerable multitude' for in truth there is no multitude to lead across. If the Thus Come One led across the innumerable multitude, then there would be concepts of self, multitude, living being or life-span. Subhuti, the self spoken of by the Thus Come One lacks inherent existence but the Thus Come One speaks of it to accord with the notions of common people. These common people are not common people. Therefore they are called common people.
 
26. “Subhuti, do you suppose the Thus Come One can be contemplated on by the thirty two marks?”

“No, World-honored One. The Thus Come One cannot be contemplated upon thereby.”
 
“So true, Subhuti, for if the Buddha could be contemplated thus then the Wheel Turning King would be his equal.”
 
Subhuti then replied, “Then in truth, World-honored One, understanding what the Buddha has taught, the Thus Come One can not be thus contemplated. 

 

Then the World-honored One spoke in verse, saying:
Seeking to see me in sight,
Seeking to find me in sound,
one wanders lost and confused.
The Buddha remains unknown.
 
Subhuti, you should neither think that the perfect marks are the originating cause of the Thus Come One's attainment of complete and perfect enlightenment nor that in the attainment of complete and perfect enlightenment, all marks are abandoned. Why? Having resolved their hearts on the attainment of complete and perfect enlightenment, one does not affirm any kind of nihilism."
 
28.“Subhuti, if a bodhisattva should offer up as many world -systems filled with heaps of the seven treasures as there are sand-grains in the Ganges, and another realizes that all phenomena are empty of self-existence, the merit and virtue of the latter exceeds the former. How so, Subhuti? It is because bodhisattvas do not depend upon the merit and virtue that they acquire.”

 

Subhuti then asked, “How is it, World-honored One, that Bodhisattvas do not depend upon the merit and virtue that they acquire?”

 

“Subhuti, bodhisattvas are not greedy and do not attach to ideas of merit and virtue. Therefore they do not depend upon the merit and virtue that they acquire.”
 
29. “Subhuti, the one who declares that the Thus Come One comes or goes, sits or reposes, fails to understand my teaching. Wherefore? In truth the Thus Come One has neither coming nor going. Therefore he is called the Thus Come One.”

30. “Subhuti, if a good man or woman reduced infinite world-systems to fine powder, would the resulting quantity of particles of matter be many?”

 

Subhuti replied, “Very many, World-honored One. Wherefore? The fine particles of matter spoken of by the Thus Come One are not fine particles and thus are called fine particles. "

“World-honored One, when the Thus Come One speak of three thousand greater world systems, there are no three thousand greater world systems for if there were, these would constitute an existent self.
 
Reality cannot be expressed in words yet, desperate, the multitude depend upon such things."
 
31. “Subhuti, if someone declares that the Buddha teaches concepts of self, do you think that he or she understands what the Buddha has taught?”

 

“No, World Honored One. Such a person would not understand what the Buddha had taught. Why? The Buddha has taught that the concepts of self, multitude, living being and life-span are false. Therefore they are called concepts of self, multitude, living being and life-span.”
 
“Subhuti, those who seek complete and perfect enlightenment should know and accept all phenomena in this way. They should not give rise to dependent thoughts. Subhuti, what the Thus Come One calls dependent thoughts are not dependent thoughts; thus they are called dependent thoughts.

32. Subhuti, the merit of one who has filled countless world-systems with the seven treasures and offered them [to the Buddhas] is less than the merit of one who seeks complete and perfect enlightenment and who receives and retains as few as four lines from this sutra, depending upon them and expounding them for others. How should this sutra be taught? Neither coming nor going, but knowing all compounded things to be illusory like images in a dream, keeping the mind independent of phenomena, thus should you regard this world:

As sea foam or drops of dew
disappearing at the dawn,
as a shadow or lightning
appearing quickly then gone.”
 
After Buddha had spoken, the Venerable Subhuti, the other bhikshus, bhikshunis, lay men and lay woman, beings from heavenly realms, and others, who having heard, accepted the teaching and rejoiced; placing their palms together paying homage, they withdrew.