bamboo path

The Diamond Sutra

There are various translations of The Diamond Sutra. Here is one which has been posted on Usenet, and then links to several others.

Diamond Sutra

1. Thus have I heard.

At one time the Buddha stayed at Anathapindaka's Garden in the grove of jeta in the kingdom of Sravasti; he was together with 1,250 great Bhikshus. When the meal time came the World-honoured One put on his cloak and, holding his bowl, entered the great city of Sravasti, where he begged for food. Having finished his begging from door to door, he came back to his own place, and took his meal. When this was done, he put away his cloak and bowl, washed his feet, spread his feet, and sat down.

2. Then the Venerable Subhuti, who was among the assembly, rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, set his right knee on the ground, and, respectfully folding his hands, addressed the Buddha thus:

"It is wonderful, World-honoured One, that the Tathagata thinks so much of all the Bodhisattvas, and so instructs them so well. World-honoured One, in case good men and good women ever raise the desire for the Supreme Enlightenment, how would they abide in it? How would they keep their thoughts under control?"

The Buddha said: "Well said, indeed, O Subhuti! As you say, the Tathagata thinks very much of all the Bodhisattvas, and so instructs them well. But now listen attentively and I will tell you. In case good men and good women raise the desire for the Supreme Enlightenment, they should thus abide in it, they should thus keep their thoughts under control."

"So be it, World-honoured One, I wish to listen to you."

3. The Buddha said to Subhuti:

"All the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas should thus keep their thoughts under control. All kinds of beings such as the egg-born, the womb-born, the moisture born, the miraculously-born, those with form, those without form, those with consciousness, those without consciousness, those with no-consciousness and those without no-consciousness - they are all led by me to enter Nirvana that leaves nothing behind and to attain final emancipation. Though thus beings immeasurable, innumerable, and unlimited are emancipated, there are in reality no beings that are ever emancipated. Why, Subhuti? If a Bodhisattva retains the thought of an ego, a person, a being, or a soul, he is no more a Bodhisattva.

4. "Again, Subhuti, when a Bodhisattva practices charity he should not be cherishing any idea, that is to say, he is not to cherish the idea of a form when practising charity, nor is he to cherish the idea of a sound, an odour, a touch, or a quality. Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should thus practice charity without cherishing any idea of form, his merit will be beyond conception. Subhuti, what do you think? Can you have the conception of space extending eastward?"

"No, World-honoured One, I cannot."

Subhuti, can you have the conception of space extending towards the south, or west, or north, or above, or below?"

"No, World-honoured One, I cannot."

"Subhuti, so it is with the merit of a Bodhisattva who practices charity without cherishing any idea of form; it is beyond conception. Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should cherish only that which is taught to him.

5. "Subhuti, what do you think? Is the Tathagata to be recognised after a body-form?"

"No, World-honoured One, he is not to be recognised after a body-form. Why? According to the Tathagata, a body-form is not a body-form."

The Buddha said to Subhuti, "All that has a form is an illusive existence. When it is perceived that all form is no-form, the Tathagata is recognised."

6. Subhuti said to the Buddha: "World-honoured One, if beings hear such words and statements, would they have a true faith in them?"

The Buddha said to Subhuti: "Do not talk that way. In the last five hundred years after the passing of the Tathagata, there may be beings who, having practised rules of morality and, being thus possessed of merit, happen to hear of these statements and rouse a true faith in them. Such beings, you must know, are those who have planted their root of merit not only under one, two, three, four, or five Buddhas, but already under thousands of myriads of asamkhyeyas of Buddhas have they planted their root of merit of all kinds. Those who hearing these statements rouse even one thought of pure faith, Subhuti, are all known to the Tathagata, and recognised by him as having acquired such an immeasurable amount of merit. Why? Because all these beings are free from the idea of an ego, a person, a being, or a soul; they are free from the idea of a dharma as well as from that of a no-dharma. Why? Because if they cherish in their minds the idea of a form, they are attached to an ego, a person, a being, or a soul. If they cherish the idea of a dharma, they are attached to an ego, a person, a being, or a soul. Why? If they cherish the idea of a no-dharma, they are attached to an ego, a person, a being, or a soul. Therefore, do not cherish the idea of a dharma, nor that of a no-dharma. For this reason, the Tathagata always preaches thus: `O you Bhikshus, know that my teaching is to be likened unto a raft. Even a dharma is cast aside, much more a no-dharma.'

7. "Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Tathagata attained the supreme enlightenment? Has he something about which he would preach?"

Subhuti said:

"World-honoured One, as I understand the teaching of the Buddha, there is no fixed doctrine about which the Tathagata would preach. Why? Because the doctrine he preaches is not to be adhered to, nor is it to be preached about; it is neither a dharma nor a no-dharma. How is it so? Because all wise men belong to the category known as non-doing (asamskara), and yet they are distinct from one another.

8. "Subhuti, what do you think? If a man should fill the three thousand chilocosms with the seven precious treasures and give them all away for charity, would not the merit he thus obtains be great?"

Subhuti said:

"Very great, indeed, World-honoured One."

"Why? Because their merit is characterised with the quality of not being a merit. Therefore, the Tathagata speaks of the merit as being great. If again there is a man who, holding even the four lines in this sutra, preaches about it to others, his merit will be superior to the one just mentioned. Because, Subhuti, all the Buddhas and their supreme enlightenment issue from this sutra. Subhuti, what is known as the teaching of the Buddha is not the teaching of the Buddha.

9. "Subhuti, what do you think? Does a Srotapanna think in this wise: `I have obtained the fruit of Srotappatti'?"

Subhuti said:

"No, World-honoured One, he does not. Why? Because while Srotapanna means `entering the stream' there is no entering here. He is called a Srotapanna who does not enter (a world of) form, sound, odour, taste, touch, and quality.

"Subhuti, what do you think? Does a Sakridagamin think in this wise, `I have obtained the fruit of a Sakridagamin'?"

Subhuti said:

"No, World-honoured One, he does not. Why? Because while Sakridagamin means 'going-and-coming for once', there is really no going-and-coming here, and he is then called a Sakridagamin."

"Subhuti, what do you think? Does an Anagamin think in this wise: `I have obtained the fruit of an Anagamin'?"

Subhuti said:

"No, World-honoured One, he does not. Why? Because while Anagamin means `not-coming' there is really no not-coming and therefore he is called an Anagamin."

"Subhuti, what do you think? Does an Arhat think in this wise: 'I have obtained Arhatship'?"

Subhuti said:

"No, World-honoured One, he does not. Why? Because there is no dharma to be called Arhat. If, World-honoured One, an Arhat thinks in this wise: `I have obtained Arhatship,' this means that he is attached to an ego, a person, a being, or a soul. Although the Buddha says that I am the foremost of those who have attained Arana-samadhi, that I am the foremost of those Arhats who are liberated from evil desires, World-honoured One, I cherish no such thought that I have attained Arhatship. World-honoured One, (if I did,) you would not tell me: `O Subhuti, you are one who enjoys the life of non-resistance.' Just because Subhuti is not at all attached to this life, he is said to be the one who enjoys the life of non-resistance."

10. The Buddha said to Subhuti:

"What do you think? When the Tathagata was anciently with Dipankara Buddha did he have an attainment in the dharma?"

"No, World-honoured One, he did not. The Tathagata while with Dipankara Buddha had no attainment whatever in the dharma."

"Subhuti, what do you think? Does a Bodhisattva set any Buddha land in array?"

"No, World-honoured One, he does not."

"Why? Because to set a Buddha land in array is not to set it in array, and therefore it is known as setting it in array. Therefore, Subhuti, all the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas should thus rouse a pure thought. They should not cherish any thought dwelling on form; they should not cherish any thought dwelling on sound, odour, taste, touch, and quality; they should cherish thoughts dwelling on nothing whatever. Subhuti, it is like unto a human body equal in size to Mount Sumeru; what do you think? Is not this body large?"

Subhuti said:

"Very large indeed, World-honoured One. Why? Because the Buddha teaches that that which is no-body is known as a large body."

11. "Subhuti, regarding the sands of the Ganga, suppose there as many Ganga rivers as those sands, what do you think? Are not the sands of all those Ganga rivers many?"

Subhuti said:

"Very many, indeed, World-honoured One."

Buddha said to Subhuti:

"If a good man or a good woman holding even four lines from this sutra preach it to others, this merit is much larger than the preceding one.

12. "Again, Subhuti, wherever this sutra or even four lines of it are preached, this place will be respected by all beings including Devas, Asuras, etc., as if it were the Buddha's own shrine or chaitya; how much more a person who can hold and recite this sutra! Subhuti, you should know that such a person achieves the highest, foremost, and most wonderful deed. Wherever this sutra is kept, the place is to be regarded as if the Buddha or a venerable disciple of his were present."

13. At that time, Subhuti said to the Buddha:

"World-honoured One, what will this sutra be called? How should we hold it?"

The Buddha said to Subhuti:

"This sutra will be called the Vajra-prajna-paramita, and by this title you will hold it. The reason is, Subhuti, that, according to the teaching of the Buddha, Prajnaparamita is not Prajnaparamita and therefore it is called Prajnaparamita. Subhuti, what do you think? Is there anything about which the Tathagata preaches?"

Subhuti said to the Buddha:

"World-honoured One, there is nothing about which the Tathagata preaches."

"Subhuti, what do you think? Is the Tathagata to be recognised by the thirty-two marks (of a great man)?"

"No, World-honoured One, he is not."

"The Tathagata is not to be recognised by the thirty-two marks because what are said to be the thirty-two marks are told by the Tathagata to be no-marks and therefore to be the thirty-two marks. Subhuti, if there be a good man or a good woman who gives away his or her lives as many as the sands of the Ganga, his or her merit thus gained does not exceed that of one who, holding even one gatha of four lines from this sutra, preaches them for others."

14. At that time Subhuti, listening to this sutra, had a deep understanding of its significance, and, filled with tears of gratitude, said this to the Buddha:

"Wonderful, indeed, World-honoured One, that the Buddha teaches us this sutra full of deep sense. Such a sutra has never been heard by me even with an eye of wisdom acquired in my past lives. World-honoured One, if there be a man who listening to this sutra acquires a true believing heart he will then have a true idea of things. This one is to be known as having achieved a most wonderful virtue. World-honoured One, what is known as a true idea is no-idea, and for this reason it is called a true idea.

"World-honoured One, it is not difficult for me to believe, to understand, and to hold this sutra to which I have now listened; but in the ages to come, in the next five hundred years, if there are beings who listening to this sutra are able to believe, to understand, and to hold it, they will indeed be most wonderful beings. Why? Because they will have no idea of an ego, of a person, of a being, or of a soul. For what reason? The idea of an ego is no-idea (of ego), the idea of a person, a being, or a soul is no-idea (of a person, a being, or a soul). For what reason? They are Buddhas who are free from all kinds of ideas."

The Buddha said to Subhuti,

"It is just as you say. If there be a man who, listening to this sutra, is neither frightened nor alarmed nor disturbed, you should know him as a wonderful person. Why? Subhuti, it is taught by the Tathagata that the first Paramita is no-first-Paramita and therefore it is called the first Paramita. Subhuti, the Paramita of humility is no-Paramita of humility and therefore it is called the Paramita of humility . Why? Subhuti, anciently, when my body was cut to pieces by the King of Kalinga, I had neither the idea of an ego, nor the idea of a person, nor the idea of a being, nor the idea of a soul. Why? When at that time my body was dismembered, limb after limb, joint after joint, if I had the idea of an ego, or of a person, or of a being, or of a soul, the feeling of anger and ill-will would have been awakened in me. Subhuti, I remember in my past hundred births, I was a rishi called Kshanti, and during those times I had neither the idea of an ego, nor that of a person, nor that of a being, nor that of a soul.

"Therefore, Subhuti, you should, detaching yourself from all ideas, rouse the desire for the supreme enlightenment. You should cherish thoughts without dwelling on form, you should cherish thoughts without dwelling on sound, odour, taste, touch, or quality. Whatever thoughts you may have, they are not to dwell on anything. If a thought dwells on anything, this is said to be no-dwelling. Therefore, the Buddha teaches that a Bodhisattva is not to practice charity by dwelling on form. Subhuti, the reason he practices charity is to benefit all beings.

"The Tathagata teaches that all ideas are no-ideas, and again that all beings are no-beings. Subhuti, the Tathagata is the one who speaks what is true, the one who speaks what is real, the one whose words are as they are, the one who does not speak falsehood, the one who does not speak equivocally.

"Subhuti, in the Dharma attained by the Tathagata there is neither truth nor falsehood. Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva should practice charity, cherishing a thought which dwells on the Dharma, he is like unto a person who enters the darkness, he sees nothing. If he should practice charity without cherishing a thought that dwells on the Dharma, he is like unto a person with eyes, he sees all kinds of forms illumined by the sunlight.

"Subhuti, if there are good men and good women in the time to come who hold and recite this sutra, they will be seen and recognised by the Tathagata with his Buddha-knowledge, and they will all mature immeasurable and innumerable merit.

15. "Subhuti, if there is a good man or a good woman who would in the first part of the day sacrifice as many bodies of his or hers as the sands of the Ganga, and again in the middle part of the day sacrifice as many bodies of his or hers as the sands of the Ganga, and again in the latter part of the day sacrifice as many bodies of his or hers as the sands of the Ganga, and keep up these sacrifices through hundred-thousands of myriads of kotis of kalpas; and if there were another who listened to this sutra would accept it with a believing heart, the merit the latter would acquire would far exceed that of the former. How much more the merit of one who would copy, hold, learn, and recite and expound it for others!

"Subhuti, to sum up, there is in this sutra a mass of merit, immeasurable, innumerable, and incomprehensible. The Tathagata has preached this for those who were awakened in the Mahayana (great vehicle), he has preached it for those who were awakened in the Sreshthayana (highest vehicle). If there were beings who would hold and learn and expound it for others, they would all be known to the Tathagata and recognised by him, and acquire merit which is unmeasured, immeasurable, innumerable, and incomprehensible. Such beings are known to be carrying the supreme enlightenment attained by the Tathagata. Why? Subhuti, those who desire inferior doctrines are attached to the idea of an ego, a person, a being, and a soul. They are unable to hear, hold, learn, recite, and for others expound this sutra. Subhuti, wherever this sutra is preserved, there all beings, including Devas and Asuras, will come and worship it. This place will have to be known as a chaitya, the object of worship and obeisance, where the devotees gather around, scatter flowers, and burn incense.

16. "Again, Subhuti, there are some good men and good women who will be despised for their holding and reciting this sutra. This is due to their previous evil karma for the reason of which they were to fall into the evil paths of existence; but because of their being despised in the present life, whatever evil karma they produced in their previous lives will be thereby destroyed, and they will be able to obtain the supreme enlightenment.

"Subhuti, as I remember, in my past lives innumerable asamkhyeya kalpas ago I was with Dipankara Buddha, and at that time I saw Buddhas as many as eighty-four hundred-thousands of myriads of nayutas and made offerings to them and respectfully served them all, and not one of them was passed by me.

If again in the last (five hundred) years, there have been people who hold and recite and learn this sutra, the merit they thus attain (would be beyond calculation), for when this is compared with the merit I have attained by serving all the Buddhas, the latter will not exceed one hundredth part of the former, no, not one hundred thousand ten millionth part. No, it is indeed beyond calculation, beyond analogy.

"Subhuti, if there have been good men and good women in the last five hundred years who hold, recite, and learn this sutra, the merit they attain thereby I cannot begin to enumerate in detail. If I did, those who listen to it would lose their minds, cherish grave doubts, and not believe at all how beyond comprehension is the significance of this sutra and also how also beyond comprehension the rewards are."

18. The Buddha said to Subhuti:

"Of all beings in those innumerable lands, the Tathagata knows well all their mental traits. Why? Because the Tathagata teaches that all those mental traits are no-traits and therefore they are known to be mental traits. Subhuti, thoughts of the past are beyond grasp, thoughts of the present are beyond grasp, and thoughts of the future are beyond grasp."

23. "Again, Subhuti, this Dharma is even and has neither elevation nor depression; and it is called supreme enlightenment. Because a man practices everything that is good, without cherishing the thought of an ego, a person, a being, and a soul, he attains the supreme enlightenment. Subhuti, what is called good is no-good, and therefore it is known as good."

26. "Subhuti what do you think? Can a man see the Tathagata by the thirty-two marks (of a great man)?"

Subhuti said:

"So it is, so it is. The Tathagata is seen by his thirty-two marks."

The Buddha said to Subhuti:

"If the Tathagata is to been seen by his thirty-two marks, can the Cakravartin be a Tathagata?"

Subhuti said to the Buddha:

"World-honoured One, as I understand the teaching of the Buddha, the Tathagata is not to be seen by the thirty-two marks."

Then the World-honoured One uttered this gatha:

"If any one by form sees me,
By voice seeks me,
This one walks the false path,
And cannot see the Tathagata."

29. "Subhuti, if a man should declare that the Tathagata is the one who comes, or goes, or sits, or lies, he does not understand the meaning of my teachings. Why? The Tathagata does not come from anywhere, and does not depart to anywhere; therefore he is called the Tathagata.

32. "How does a man expound it for others? When one is not attached to form, it is of Suchness remaining unmoved. Why?

"All composite things (samskrita)
Are like a dream, a phantasm, a bubble, and a shadow,
Are like a dew-drop and a flash of lightening;
They are thus to be regarded."


Links to some other Versions and Information about the Diamond Sutra