Diamond Sutra,Vajracchedika-Prajna-Paramita Sutra  


he iamond utra
( he ajrac hedika-rajna-aramita utra)
is is undoubtedly one of the most popular Sutras among the
Chinese. Almost every Buddhist has heard of or read it, though
the number of those who are able to comprehend its full mean-
ing are very small indeed. It is believed that the merit for those
who assiduously study this doctrine is immeasurable and even
without comprehension of its highest meaning, a measureless
efficacy is ascribed to recitation of the words of this Sutra in
devout faith. is explains for the great popularity of the Sutra
with the people so that almost every Buddhist home has a copy
of it. e most famous amongst all the translations from San-
skrit into Chinese is that of KUMARAJIVA and here is its version
which was translated by Upasaka Lu Kuan-Yu.
us have I heard. Once upon a time, the Buddha sojourned in
the Jetavana park near Sravasti with an assembly of twelve hun-
dred and fifty bhiksus.
One day, at mealtime, the World Honoured One put on His
robe, took His bowl, and entered the great town of Sravasti to
beg for His food. After He had begged from door to door, He
returned to His place. When He had taken His meal, He put
away His robe and bowl, washed His feet, arranged His seat and
sat down.
At the time, the elder Subhuti who was in the assembly, rose
from his seat, uncovered his right shoulder, knelt upon his right
knee, respectful y joined the palms of his hands and said to the
Buddha: `It is very rare, O World Honoured One! how well the


Tathagata protects and thinks of all Bodhisat vas; how well He
instructs all the Bodhisat vas.
"O World Honoured One, when virtuous men or women de-
velop the supreme-enlightenment mind, how should their minds
abide and how should they be subdued?"
e Buddha said: `Excel ent, excel ent, Subhuti! As you say,
the Tathagata protects, cherishes and instructs Bodhisat vas so
wel . Now listen at entively and I will tell you how the minds of
virtuous men and women, who develop the supreme enlighten-
ment mind, should thus abide and be subdued'.
(Subhuti replied:) `Oh yes, World Honoured One, I shall be
glad to hear (your instruction)'.
e Buddha said: `Subhuti, al Bodhisat vas and Maha-
sat vas should subdue their minds as fol ows: Al living beings
born from eggs, wombs, humidity or by transformation, with
or without form, either thoughtful or thoughtless, and neither
thoughtful nor thoughtless are al led by me to the final nirvana
for the extinction of reincarnation. Although immeasurable, un-
countable and unlimitable numbers of living beings are thus led
to (the final nirvana for) the extinction of reincarnation, it is true
that not a living being is led there. Why so, Subhuti? (Because) if
a Bodhisat va (stil ) clings to the false notion (laksana) of an ego,
a personality, a being and a life, he is not (a true) Bodhisat va.
`Furthermore, Subhuti a Bodhisat va's mind should not abide
anywhere when giving alms; that is to say, he should give with-
out a mind abiding in form, or he should give without a mind
abiding in sound, or in smel , or in taste, or in touch or in things.
Subhuti, thus a Bodhisat va should give alms without a mind
abiding in false notions of form laksana.


`Why? (Because) if a Bodhisat va's mind does not abide in
forms (laksanas) when practising charity (dana), his merit will
be inconceivable and immeasurable. Subhuti, what do you think?
Can you think of and measure the extent of space in the East?'
`I cannot, World Honoured One!'
`Subhuti, can you think of and measure (al ) the extent of
space in the South, West and North, as well as in the intermedi-
ate directions, including the zenith and nadir?'
`I cannot, World Honoured One!'
`Subhuti, (when) a Bodhisat va practises charity without a
mind abiding in forms, his merit is equal y inconceivable and
immeasurable'.
`Subhuti, a Bodhisat va's mind should THUS abide as taught.
`Subhuti, what do you think! Can the Tathagata be seen by
means of His bodily form?'
`No, World Honoured One, the Tathagata cannot be seen by
means of His bodily form. Why? Because when the Tathagata
speaks of bodily form, it is not (real) form'.
e Buddha said to Subhuti: `Everything with form is unreal;
if all forms are seen as unreal, the Tathagata will be perceived'.
Subhuti said to the Buddha: `World Honoured One, wil
there be living beings who can develop a true belief in these words,
sentences and chapters when they are expounded to them?'
e Buddha said: `Subhuti, do not speak like that. In the
last 500 years, before the final passing of the Tathagata, there
will be those who will observe the rules of morality and perform
good actions which will result in blessing. ese people will be
able to develop a faith in these sentences (which they will con-
sider as) embodying the Truth. You should know that they will


not have planted good roots in just one, two, three, four, or five
Buddha lands. ey will have planted them in countless thou-
sands and tens of thousands of Buddha lands. Upon hearing
these sentences, there will arise in them a single thought of pure
faith. Subhuti, the Tathagata knows and sees al ; these living
beings will thus acquire immeasurable merits. Why? (Because)
they will have wiped out false notions of an ego, a personality, a
being and a life, of Dharma and NotDharma. Why? (Because)
if their minds grasp form (laksana), they will (stil ) cling to the
notion of an ego, a personality, a being and a life. If their minds
grasp the Dharma, they will (stil ) cling to the notion of an ego,
a personality, a being and a life. Why? (Because) if their minds
grasp the Not-Dharma, they will (stil ) cling to the notion of an
ego, a personality, a being and a life. erefore, one should not
grasp and hold on to the notion of Dharma as well as that of Not-
Dharma. is is why, the Tathagata always said: "Ye Bhiksus,
should know that the Dharma I expound is likened to a raft"
Even the Dharma should be cast aside; hove much more so the
Not-Dharma?
`Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Tathagata (in fact) ob-
tained Supreme Enlightenment (Anubodhi): Does the Tathagata
(in fact) expound the Dharma?'
Subhuti replied: `As I understand the meaning of the Buddha's
teaching, there is no fixed Dharma cal ed Supreme Enlighten-
ment and there is also no fixed Dharma the Tathagata can ex-
pound. Why? (Because) the Dharma the Tathagata expounds
cannot be clung to and cannot be expressed (in words); it is nei-
ther Dharma nor Not-Dharma. Why is this? All Bhadras and
Aryas differ on account of the Eternal Asamskrta Dharma!


`Subhuti' what do you think? If someone fil ed the Universe
with the seven treasures and gave them all as alms, would his
merit be great?'
Subhuti replied: `Very great, World Honoured One. Why?
Because this merit is not the nature of merit, the Tathagata says
it is great'.
`Subhuti, if on the other hand, someone received and kept
even a four line stanza of this sutra and expounded it to others,
his merit would surpass that (of the giver of treasures). Why? (Be-
cause), Subhuti, all Buddha and their Supreme-Enlightenment-
Dharma originate from this sutra. Subhuti the so-cal ed Buddhas
and Dharmas are not real Buddhas and Dharmas'.
`Subhuti, what do you think? Can one who has entered the
stream (srota-apanna) have this thought (in his mind): I have
obtained the fruit of entering the stream?'
Subhuti replied: `No, World Honoured One. Why? Because
srota-apanna means `entering the stream', but actual y there is
no entry into either form, sound, smel , taste, touch or dharma.
erefore, he is cal ed srota-apanna'.
`Subhuti, what do you think? Can a Sakrdagamin have this
thought (in his mind): I have obtained the fruit of a Sakrdagamin?'
Subhuti replied: `No, World Honoured One. Why? Because
Sakrdagamin means "once more to come", but actual y there is
neither coming nor going. erefore, he is cal ed a Sakrdagamin!
`Subhuti, what do you think? Can an Anagamin have this
thought (in his mind): I have obtained the fruit of an Anagamin?'
Subhuti replied: `No, World Honoured One. Why? Because
Anagamin means "no-coming" but actual y there is no such a
thing as no-coming. erefore, he is cal ed an Anagamin'.


`Subhuti, what do you think? Can an Arhat have this thought
(in his mind): I have obtained the enlightenment of an Arhat?'
Subhuti replied: `No, World Honoured One. Why? Because
there is no Dharma which is cal ed Arhatship. World Honoured
One, if an Arhat thinks "I have obtained the enlightenment of an
Arhat". he wil stil grasp and hold on to the notion of an ego, a
personality, a being and a life. World Honoured One, the Buddha
has declared that I have obtained the Passionless Samadhi and
that I surpass al men. I am, therefore, the highest passionless
Arhat. World Honoured One, I do not think "I am a passion-
less Arhat" for, World Honoured One, if I had thought "I have
at ained Arhatship", the World Honoured One would not have
said: "Subhuti takes delight in the calm and quiet, free from temp-
tation and distress." e fact that Subhuti does not act (mental y)
is cal ed the calm and quiet in which Subhuti takes delight'.
e Buddha said to Subbuti: `What do you think? Did the
Tathagata obtain anything from the Dharma, when in the past
He was with Dipankara Buddha?'
`No, World Honoured One. When the Tathagata was with
Dipankara, He did not obtain anything from the Dharma'.
`Subhuti, what do you think? Do Bodhisat vas adorn Buddha
lands (by their moral actions)?'
`No. World Honoured One. Why? Because this is not real
adornment; it is (merely) cal ed the adornment of Buddha lands'.
`Subhuti, this is why all Bodhisat vas and Mahasat vas should
thus develop a pure and clean mind which should not abide in
form, sound, smel , taste, touch and dharma. ey should de-
velop a mind which does not abide in anything.


`Subhhuti, supposing a man has a body as great as Mount
Sumeru, what do you think? Would such a body be great?'
Subhuti replied: `Very great, World Honoured One. Why?
Because the Buddha says it is not the real body but is (merely)
cal ed a great body'.
`Subhuti, if there were as many rivers like the Ganges as
there are grains of sand in the Ganges, would the total of grains
of sand in all these rivers be very great?'
Subhuti replied: `Very great, World Honoured One! ese
rivers would be innumerable; how much more so would be their
sand-grains'.
`Subhuti, I now tell you truly. If a virtuous man or woman
fil ed a number of universes, as great as the number of sand-
grains in all these rivers, with the seven treasures, and gave them
all away in alms (dana), would his or her merit be great?'
Subhuti replied: `Very great, World Honoured One!'
e Buddha said to Subhuti: `If a virtuous man or woman
receives and holds (in mind) even a four-line stanza of this sutra
and expounds it to others, his or her merit will surpass that of
the almsgiver. Furthermore, Subhuti, wheresoever this sutra or
even one of its four-line stanzas is expounded, you should know
that all devas, men and asuras should make their offerings there
as if the place as a Buddha stupa or a Buddha temple. How
much more so if someone is able to receive, hold (in mind), read
and recite the whole sutra! Subhuti, you should know that such
a person will achieve the highest and rarest Dharma. Where-
soever this sutra may be found, the Buddha and His respected
disciples will be there also'.


Subhuti then asked the Buddha: `World Honoured One,
what name should be given to this sutra and how should we re-
ceive and hold it (in mind)?'
e Buddha said: `is sutra should be cal ed "e Diamond
prajna-paramita" under which name you should receive and hold
it. Why? Because, Subhuti, the Prajna-paramita as expounded
by the Buddha, is not Prajna-paramita but is (merely) so cal ed'.
`Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata expound
the Dharma?'
Subhuti said: `World Honoured One, the Tathagata does not
expound anything'.
`Subhuti, what do you think? Are there many particles of
dust in the universe?'
Subhuti replied: `Many, World Honoured One!'
`Subhuti, the Tathagata says these particles of dust are not
(real), (but) are (merely) cal ed particles of dust. e Tathagata
says the universe is not (real), but it is (merely) cal ed the
universe'.
`Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be perceived
by means of His thirty-two physical characteristics (laksanas)?'
`No, World Honoured One. e Tathagata cannot be perceived
by them. Why? Because the Tathagata says they are not real but
are (merely) cal ed the thirty-two physical characteristics'.
`Subhuti, if on the one hand, a virtuous man or woman, in
giving alms (dana), sacrifices as many lives as there are sand-
grains in the Ganges, and on the other hand, someone receives
and holds (in mind) even a four-line stanza of this sutra, and
expounds it to others, the merit resulting from the lat er will be
greater'.


At that time, after listening to this sutra, Subhuti had under-
stood its profound meaning and was moved to tears. He said to
the Buddha: `How rare, O World Honoured One! e Buddha
has expounded such a very profound sutra. Since I have acquired
the wisdom eye, I have not heard of such a sutra. World Hon-
oured One, if someone after listening to this sutra believes that
his mind is clean and pure, he will realize reality. We should
know that such a person will achieve the highest and rarest
merit. World Honoured One, this Reality is not Reality but
the Tathagata cal s it Reality. World Honoured One, as I now
listen to this sutra I have no difficulty in believing, understand-
ing, receiving and holding it, but in the last epoch, the last five
hundred year period if there be a man who (happens to) listen to
this sutra, believes, understands, receives and holds it, he will be
most rare. Why? Because he will no longer (think in terms of)
an ego, a personality, a being and a life. Why? Because the forms
of an ego, a personality, a being and a life are not forms. Why?
Because when he has rejected all forms he is cal ed a Buddha'.
e Buddha said: `Just so! Subhuti, just so! If on the one
hand, there be a man who listens to this sutra and is not fil ed
with alarm, fear, or dread, you should know that such a person
is most rare. Why? Because, Subhuti, as the Tathagata says, the
first perfection (paramita) is not so (but) is (merely) cal ed the
first perfection (paramita).
`Subhuti, the Tathagata speaks of the Perfection of Patience
(ksanti-paramita) which is not but is cal ed the Perfection of
Patience. Why? Because, Subhuti, in (a) past (life) when my
body was mutilated by Kaliraja, I had at that time no notion of
an ego, a personality a being and a life. Why? Because, in the

BACK |INDEX| NEXT