Diamond Wisdom Transcendence Sutra

Popularly known as the Diamond Sutra

Under imperial order translated into Chinese By
Tripitaka Dharma Master Kumarajiva
Of Yao Qin Dynasty

Section Division by Xiao Tong
The Crown Prince Zhao Ming of Liang Dynasty

Translated from Chinese into English
By Dr. Yutang Lin


Table of Contents

01. Origination of the Dharma Assembly

02. Auspicious Appearance's Supplication

03. Right Doctrine of Mahayana

04. Wondrous Activities without Abiding

05. Genuine Witness in Accordance with Truth

06. Right Faith Being Rare

07. Neither Attainment Nor Saying

08. Arising According to the Teachings

09. Formless Being the Form of Oneness

10. Adorning Pureland

11. Non-contrivance Being Superior in Merits

12. To Revere the Right Teaching

13. To Receive and Abide According to the Teachings

14. Tranquil Cessation beyond Form

15. Merits of Abiding by this Sutra

16. Capable of Purifying Karmic Hindrances

17. Ultimately No Self

18. Equal View in Oneness

19. Dharmadhatu Wholly Alms-given

20. Beyond Form and beyond Features

21. Not Saying What Was Said

22. Nothing to be Obtained

23. Practicing Good Deeds with a Pure Mind

24. Incomparable Merits and Wisdom

25. Conversion without Beings Converted

26. Dharmakaya beyond Form

27. Neither Interrupted Nor Extinguished
28. Neither Accepting nor Clinging
29. Tranquil Bearing
30. The Ideal of Oneness-of-all

31. Cognitive Views not Born

32. Conversion without Reality



1. Origination of the Dharma Assembly

Thus I heard: once the Buddha stayed in the garden of the alms-giving elder Anathapindaka that contains Jeta's grove, located in the country of Sravasti. He was accompanied by the assembly of great monks that were one thousand two hundred and fifty in number. At that time it was the Buddha's mealtime, so he put on his robe and held his bowl, then entered the great city of Sravasti to beg for food. In the city he begged from house to house, and then he returned to where he originally stayed. After he had finished the meal, he put away the robe and the bowl. Then, having washed his feet, he arranged a seat and sat down.


2. Auspicious Appearance's Supplication

Then Elder Subhuti was among the assembly. He rose up from his seat, exposed his right shoulder as a gesture of respect, and knelt on his right knee. With his palms folded in reverence he addressed the Buddha, "Precious World Honored One! Tathagata well looks after the Bodhisattvas, and well advises the Bodhisattvas. World Honored One, for those good men and good women that have raised aspiration toward the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment, how should they abide? How should they tame their minds?" The Buddha said, "Good, good! Subhuti, just as what you said, Tathagata well looks after the Bodhisattvas, and well advises the Bodhisattvas. Now you listen attentively, for your sake I would expound on how those good men and good women that have raised aspiration toward the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment should thus abide and thus tame their minds." "Certainly, World Honored One, I am eager and happy to hear about it."


3. Right Doctrine of Mahayana

The Buddha told Subhuti, "All Great Bodhisattvas should thus tame their minds: 'All sorts of sentient beings, be they oviparous, viviparous, born of moisture, born through transformation, with form, without form, with thoughts, without thoughts, or neither with thoughts nor without thoughts, I would let all of them enter Nirvana without remains so as to rescue them through cessation of sufferings. Thus rescue through cessation of sufferings immeasurably, countlessly, and boundlessly many sentient beings, and yet in reality there are no sentient beings that obtained rescue through cessation of sufferings.' Why is it so? Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva has a notion of self, a notion of person, a notion of sentient being, or a notion of living being, then not a Bodhisattva."


4. Wondrous Activities without Abiding

"Furthermore, Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should not abide in anything. Applying this to alms-giving, it would be called as 'alms-giving without abiding in color, without abiding in sound, odor, flavor, touch, or impression'. Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should practice alms-giving like this, without abiding in form. Why is it so? If a Bodhisattva practices alms-giving without abiding in form, the resulting meritorious virtues are inconceivable. Subhuti, what do you think, can the empty space to the east be conceivable or not?" "No, World Honored One." "Subhuti, can the empty space to the south, west, north, or above or below the four cardinal directions be conceivable or not?" "No, World Honored One." "Subhuti, when a Bodhisattva practices alms-giving without abiding in form, the meritorious virtues are also likewise inconceivable. Subhuti, Bodhisattvas should abide only in accordance with this teaching."


5. Genuine Witness in Accordance with Truth

"Subhuti, what do you think, can Tathagata be seen through bodily form or not?" "No, World Honored One, Tathagata cannot be seen through bodily form. Why is it so? Bodily form as referred to by Tathagata is not bodily form in itself." The Buddha told Subhuti, "Each and every form is illusive. If it is comprehended that forms are not forms in themselves, then Tathagata is witnessed."


6. Right Faith Being Rare

Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, would there be many sentient beings that, upon hearing such sayings or reading such statements, raise solid faith or not?" The Buddha told Subhuti, "Don't talk like that. After Tathagata will have entered Nirvana, five hundred years later there will be someone, who abides by Buddhist rules of conducts and cultivates merits, that will raise faith in these statements, and consider them as truths. You should know that such a person not only has planted good roots under the guidance of one Buddha, two Buddhas, three, four or five Buddhas, but also has planted all sorts of good roots under the guidance of immeasurably many thousands of myriads of Buddhas. Upon hearing such statements, even if only one thought of pure faith arises in a person, Subhuti, Tathagata completely knows and completely sees that all such sentient beings attain such immeasurable meritorious virtues. Why is it so? All these sentient beings no longer have any notion of self, any notion of person, any notion of sentient being, or any notion of living being. They have neither a notion of a thing nor a notion of not-a-thing. Why is it so? All these sentient beings, if their minds hold on to notions, then they are grasping to notions of self, person, sentient being, and living being. If they hold on to a notion of a thing, then they are grasping to notions of self, person, sentient being, and living being. Why is it so? If they hold on to a notion of not-a-thing, then they are grasping to notions of self, person, sentient being, and living being. Therefore, one should not hold on to a notion of a thing, and should not hold on to a notion of not-a-thing. Due to this reason Tathagata often said, 'All of you monks know that the teachings I expounded are likened to rafts.' Even teachings should eventually be renounced, not to mention things that are not teachings."


7. Neither Attainment Nor Saying

"Subhuti, what do you think, has Tathagata attained the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment? Are there sayings of Tathagata that are teachings?" Subhuti said, "According to my understanding of the meaning of what the Buddha said, there is neither a definite thing named as 'the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment', nor definite teachings that Tathagata could say. Why is it so? The teachings as said by Tathagata are all neither to be adopted nor to be said, neither teachings nor non-teachings. Why is it so? All virtuous ones and holy ones employ uncontrived teachings through various approaches."


8. Arising According to the Teachings

"Subhuti, what do you think, if a person uses seven kinds of treasures fulfilling a great-thousand world system consisting of thousand-cube worlds for alms-giving, would the meritorious virtues accrued by such a person be numerous or not?" Subhuti said, "Exceedingly numerous, World Honored One. Why is it so? These meritorious virtues are not meritorious virtues by nature, therefore Tathagata said that the meritorious virtues are much." "If, in addition, there is someone that adheres to the teachings of this Sutra and expounds them to others, even though only a gatha of four sentences is covered, the merit of such a person surpasses that of the former. Why is it so? Subhuti, all Buddhas and their teachings on the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment all originate from this Sutra. Subhuti, what are referred to as 'Buddhas' teachings' are not Buddhas' teachings in themselves."


9. Formless Being the Form of Oneness

"Subhuti, what do you think, could a Srota-apanna raise the thought: 'I have attained the fruit of Srota-apanna' or not?" Subhuti said, "No, World Honored One. Why is it so? A Srota-apanna is named as 'Stream Enterer', but there is nothing entered. Not entering color, sound, odor, flavor, touch, or impression, that is named as 'Srota-apanna'." "Subhuti, what do you think, could a Sakrdagamin raise the thought: 'I have attained the fruit of Sakrdagamin' or not?" Subhuti said, "No, World Honored One. Why is it so? A Sakrdagamin is named as 'Once Returner', but in reality there is neither going nor coming, that is named as 'Sakrdagamin'." "Subhuti, what do you think, could an Anagamin raise the thought: 'I have attained the fruit of Anagamin' or not?" Subhuti said, "No, World Honored One. Why is it so? An Anagamin is named as 'Never Returner', but in reality there is no never-returning, therefore that is named as 'Anagamin'." "Subhuti, what do you think, could an Arhat raise the thought: 'I have attained the path of Arhat' or not?" Subhuti said, "No, World Honored One. Why is it so? In reality there is not a thing, that is named as 'Arhat'. World Honored One, if an Arhat raised the thought: 'I have attained the path of Arhat,' that would constitute grasping to notions of self, person, sentient being, and living being. World Honored One, the Buddha said that I attained the Samadhi of Non-arguing, thus being foremost among persons, and am the foremost desires-free Arhat. World Honored One, I do not raise this thought: 'I am a desires-free Arhat.' World Honored One, had I raised this thought: 'I have attained the path of Arhat,' then the World Honored One would not have said, 'Subhuti is one that enjoys the practice of non-arguing.' Since Subhuti indeed makes no contrived activities, he named Subhuti as 'enjoying the practice of non-arguing'."


10. Adorning Pureland

The Buddha said to Subhuti, "What do you think, in the past while Tathagata was attending Buddha Kindled Lamp did he obtain teachings or not?" "No, World Honored One. From Buddha Kindled Lamp Tathagata in reality obtained nothing as teachings." "Subhuti, what do you think, do Bodhisattvas adorn Buddha Land or not?" "No, World Honored One. Why is it so? What is referred to as adorning Buddha Land is not adorning in itself, but is named as 'adorning'." "Therefore, Subhuti, all Great Bodhisattvas should thus raise pure intentions: 'They should not raise intentions that are abiding in color, nor intentions that are abiding in sound, odor, flavor, touch, or impression; they should raise intentions without abiding anywhere.' Subhuti, suppose someone had a body as huge as the Mountain King Sumeru, what do you think, is such a body huge or not?" Subhuti said, "Exceedingly huge, World Honored One. Why is it so? What the Buddha referred to is not a body in itself, but is named as a 'huge body'."


11. Non-contrivance Being Superior in Merits

"Subhuti, for as many Ganges Rivers as the number of sands in the Ganges River, what do you think, are sands in all those Ganges Rivers numerous or not?" Subhuti said, "Exceedingly numerous, World Honored One. Just those Ganges Rivers are already numerous beyond counting, not to mention their sands." "Subhuti, now I tell you in truth that, if there would be a good man or good woman that fulfills as many great-thousand world systems consisting of thousand-cube worlds as the number of sands in all those Ganges Rivers with seven kinds of treasures, and uses them for alms-giving, would the merits accrued be much?" Subhuti said, "Exceedingly much, World Honored One." The Buddha told Subhuti, "If a good man or good woman would abide by this Sutra and preach to others for even just a gatha of four sentences therein, then such meritorious virtues would be superior to the meritorious virtues of the previous deeds."


12. To Revere the Right Teaching

"Furthermore, Subhuti, wherever this Sutra is expounded, even if only a gatha of four sentences therefrom is alluded to, then you should know that such a place should be sustained as a Buddhist pagoda or monastery by all worldly heavenly beings, humans and Asuras. Not to mention where there is someone who can comprehend, abide by, read and recite the Sutra completely. Subhuti, you should know that such a person has accomplished the most superior and foremost rare teaching. If a place has this Sutra, then there is Buddha's presence, and you should conduct yourself as a reverent disciple."


13. To Receive and Abide According to the Teachings

Then Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, what should be the name for this Sutra? How should those of us adhere to it?" The Buddha told Subhuti, "This Sutra is named as 'Diamond Wisdom Transcendence'; by this name should all of you adhere to. Why is it so? Subhuti, what the Buddha referred to as wisdom transcendence is not wisdom transcendence in itself, but is named as 'wisdom transcendence'. Subhuti, what do you think, has Tathagata any spoken teaching or not?" Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, Tathagata has nothing spoken." "Subhuti, what do you think, all tiny dusts in a great-thousand world system consisting of thousand-cube worlds, are those numerous or not?" Subhuti said, "Exceedingly numerous, World Honored One." "Subhuti, those tiny dusts Tathagata says that they are not tiny dusts in themselves, but are named as 'tiny dusts'. What Tathagata referred to as a world is not a world in itself, but is named as a 'world'. Subhuti, what do you think, can Tathagata be recognized by the thirty-two features or not?" "No, World Honored One, Tathagata cannot be recognized by the thirty-two features. Why is it so? What Tathagata says as the thirty-two features are not features in themselves, but are named as 'thirty-two features'." "Subhuti, if there would be a good man or good woman that uses as many bodies and lives as sands of the Ganges River for alms-giving, and in addition there would be a person that adheres to, from within this Sutra, even if only a gatha of four sentences, and expounds it to others, then the merits of the latter is exceedingly much."


14. Tranquil Cessation beyond Form

At this juncture Subhuti, having heard this Sutra, profoundly comprehended its essential significance, and shedding tears in sad weeping he said to the Buddha, "Precious World Honored One! The Buddha spoke such exceedingly profound Sutra, even to the wisdom eye that I have attained since the past, there was never before an opportunity to hear Sutras like this. World Honored One, if there would be someone else that has the opportunity to hear this Sutra and receive it with pure faith, then appearance of reality would arise; one should know that such a person would have accomplished the foremost rare merits. World Honored One, such appearance of reality is not appearance in itself, therefore Tathagata says that it is named as 'appearance of reality'. World Honored One, now I have had the opportunity to hear such a Sutra, and it would not be difficult for me to have faith in, comprehend, accept and abide by it. If in the future, five hundred years later, there would be some sentient being that has the opportunity to hear this Sutra, and has faith in, comprehends, accepts and abides by it, then such a person would be foremost rare. Why is it so? This person is free from any notion of self, any notion of person, any notion of sentient being and any notion of living being. Why is it so? A notion of self is not a notion in itself; a notion of person, a notion of sentient being, or a notion of living being, is not a notion in itself. Why is it so? Being free from all forms is named as the 'Buddhas'." The Buddha told Subhuti, "As such, as such! If there would be someone else that has the opportunity to hear this Sutra and yet not startled, not scared, and not afraid, then you should know that such a person is exceedingly rare. Why is it so? Subhuti, what Tathagata says as the First Transcendence (through alms-giving) is not the First Transcendence in itself, but is named as 'the First Transcendence'. Subhuti, Patience Transcendence, Tathagata says that it is not Patience Transcendence in itself. Why is it so? Subhuti, for example, in the past when my body was cut into pieces by King Kali, at that juncture I had neither any notion of self, nor any notion of person, nor any notion of sentient being, nor any notion of living being. Why is it so? In the past while my body was being cut into pieces, had I had any notion of self, any notion of person, any notion of sentient being, or any notion of living being, I ought to have raised anger and hatred. Subhuti, again I recall that in the past I was for five hundred lives a patient fairy, and during all those lives I had had neither any notion of self, nor any notion of person, nor any notion of sentient being, nor any notion of living being. Therefore, Subhuti, Bodhisattvas should raise aspiration toward the unsurpassable full and right enlightenment in the absence of all forms; they should not raise intentions while abiding in color, nor should they raise intentions while abiding in sound, odor, flavor, touch, or impression. They should raise intentions without any abiding. If the mind abides somewhere, then that constitutes improper abiding. Therefore, the Buddha says, 'The mind of a Bodhisattva should not abide in color while practicing alms-giving.' Subhuti, in order to benefit all sentient beings a Bodhisattva should thus practice alms-giving. Tathagata says, 'All forms are not forms in themselves,' also says, 'All sentient beings are not sentient beings in themselves.' Subhuti, Tathagata is one that speaks the truth, one that says the substance, one that is as spoken, one that does not lie, and one that does not change his sayings. Subhuti, the thing that Tathagata attains is something that is neither real nor unreal. Subhuti, if the mind of a Bodhisattva abides on something while practicing alms-giving, then it would be like a man entering darkness and sees nothing. If the mind of a Bodhisattva does not abide on anything while practicing alms-giving, then it would be like a man with eyes, under bright sunlight, sees all sorts of colors. Subhuti, in the future if there would be good men or good women that can accept, abide by, read and recite this Sutra, then all such persons would be completely known and completely seen by Tathagata through Buddha's wisdom to be capable of accomplishing immeasurable and boundless merits."


15. Merits of Abiding by this Sutra

"Subhuti, suppose there is a good man or good woman that, in the morning, uses as many bodies as sands in the Ganges River for alms-giving, at noon again uses as many bodies as sands in the Ganges River for alms-giving, and in the afternoon also uses as many bodies as sands in the Ganges River for alms-giving, and thus practices alms-giving of bodies for immeasurably many hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of kalpas. If, in addition, there is someone that, upon hearing this Sutra, raises faith without regress, then the latter's merits would be superior to those of the former, not to mention to copy, write, accept, abide by, read and recite the Sutra and to expound it to others. Subhuti, succinctly speaking, this Sutra possesses inconceivable, immeasurable, and boundless merits. Tathagata says it for those that have raised aspiration toward the Mahayana, and for those that have raised aspiration toward the most superior vehicle. If there be someone that can accept, abide by, read and recite it, and extensively expound it to others, then Tathagata completely knows such a person, completely sees such a person to be capable of accomplishing immeasurable, indescribable, boundless, and inconceivable merits. Such persons would be carrying Tathagata's unsurpassable right and full enlightenment. Why is it so? Subhuti, for those who like the minor teachings they would be under some notion of self, some notion of person, some notion of sentient being, and some notion of living being, and hence with regard to this Sutra they could not listen to, accept, read, recite, or expound it to others. Subhuti, wherever it may be, if there is a copy of this Sutra, then all worldly heavenly beings, humans, Asuras should make offerings to sustain it. You should know that this place is the pagoda of Buddha, and all should reverently make obeisance to it and circumambulate it, and scatter all kinds of flowers and incenses around it."


16. Capable of Purifying Karmic Hindrances

"Furthermore, Subhuti, if a good man or good woman accepts, abides by, reads and recites this Sutra, and if such a person is treated contemptuously by others, this person's sinful karmas from past lives should have resulted in a falling into some bad realm, through the contemptuous treatment received from others in this life those sinful karmas from past lives would be extinguished, and this person would attain the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment. Subhuti, I recall that in the past for immeasurably, boundlessly, and numberlessly many kalpas, before Buddha Kindled Lamp, I had encountered eight hundred and four thousands of myriads of millions of billions of Buddhas, and I made offerings to and attended to all of them without fail. If there would be someone, in the degenerate period in the future, that can accept, abide by, read and recite this Sutra, then the merits accrued, compared with the merits that I accumulated through serving and making offerings to all those Buddhas, will exceed one hundredfold, one thousandfold, one myriadfold, one billionfold, and will even be inexpressible through numbers or analogies. Subhuti, if a good man or good woman in the degenerate period in the future would actually accept, abide by, read and recite this Sutra, then as to the merits attained, if I completely describe them, and someone happens to hear about them, that person's mind would be wildly confused and become suspicious and doubtful. Subhuti, you should know that the meaning of this Sutra is inconceivable, and the fruitful retribution related to it is also inconceivable."


17. Ultimately No Self

Then Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, for a good man or good woman that has raised aspiration toward the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment, how should the person abide by? How should the person's mind be tamed?" The Buddha told Subhuti, "A good man or good woman, that has raised aspiration toward the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment, should raise such an intention: 'I should rescue all sentient beings through cessation of sufferings; after all sentient beings have been rescued through cessation of sufferings there is not even one sentient being that, in reality, has been rescued through cessation of sufferings.' Why is it so? Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva has a notion of self, a notion of person, a notion of sentient being, or a notion of living being, then not a Bodhisattva. Why is it so? Subhuti, to a person that has raised aspiration toward the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment there is in reality not a thing. Subhuti, what do you think, while Tathagata was beside Buddha Kindled Lamp, was there a way to attain the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment or not?" "No, World Honored One. If I understood the meaning of what the Buddha had said, while the Buddha was beside Buddha Kindled Lamp, there was no way to attain the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment." The Buddha said, "As such, as such! Subhuti, in reality there is no such thing as Tathagata's attaining the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment. Subhuti, if there were a way to attain the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment, then Buddha Kindled Lamp would not have granted me the foretelling: 'In the future you will become a Buddha with the epithet "Sakyamuni".' Since in reality there is no way to attain the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment, therefore, Buddha Kindled Lamp granted me the foretelling by saying the following: 'In the future you will become a Buddha with the epithet "Sakyamuni".' Why is it so? 'Tathagata' means all things are as such. Suppose someone says, 'Tathagata attained the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment,' Subhuti, in reality there is no such thing as Buddha's attaining the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment. Subhuti, the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment that Tathagata had attained is in itself neither real nor unreal. Therefore, Tathagata says, 'All things are all Buddha's things.' Subhuti, what is said as all things is not all things in itself, therefore is named as 'all things'. Subhuti, for example, a tall and huge human body." Subhuti said, "World Honored One, what Tathagata said as a tall and huge human body is not a huge body in itself, but is named as a 'huge body'." "Subhuti, likewise for a Bodhisattva; if this statement is made: 'I should rescue immeasurably many sentient beings through cessation of sufferings,' then not named as a 'Bodhisattva'. Why is it so? Subhuti, in reality there is not a thing, that is named as a 'Bodhisattva'. Therefore, the Buddha said, 'In all things there is neither self, nor person, nor sentient being, nor living being.' Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva makes the statement: 'I should adorn Buddha Land,' then not named as a 'Bodhisattva'. Why is it so? What Tathagata says as adorning Buddha Land is not adorning in itself, but is named as 'adorning'. Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva thoroughly comprehends that things are without self, Tathagata says the name is 'truly a Bodhisattva'."


18. Equal View in Oneness

"Subhuti, what do you think, does Tathagata have flesh eyes or not?" "As such, World Honored One, Tathagata has flesh eyes." "Subhuti, what do you think, does Tathagata have heaven eyes or not?" "As such, World Honored One, Tathagata has heaven eyes." "Subhuti, what do you think, does Tathagata have wisdom eyes or not?" "As such, World Honored One, Tathagata has wisdom eyes." "Subhuti, what do you think, does Tathagata have Dharma eyes or not?" "As such, World Honored One, Tathagata has Dharma eyes." "Subhuti, what do you think, does Tathagata have Buddha eyes or not?" "As such, World Honored One, Tathagata has Buddha eyes." "Subhuti, what do you think, as to all sands in the Ganges River, does the Buddha say them to be sands or not?" "As such, World Honored One, Tathagata says them to be sands." "Subhuti, what do you think, as numerous as all sands in one Ganges River, there are such a number of Ganges Rivers, for as numerous as all sands in all these Ganges Rivers, would such a number of Buddha worlds be numerous or not?" "Exceedingly numerous, World Honored One." The Buddha told Subhuti, "In all those lands, how many kinds of minds there are of all sentient beings, Tathagata knows completely. Why is it so? What Tathagata says as all those minds are not minds in themselves, but are named as 'minds'. Why is it so? Subhuti, minds in the past were unattainable, minds at present are unattainable, minds in the future will be unattainable."


19. Dharmadhatu Wholly Alms-given

"Subhuti, what do you think, if there be a person that uses seven kinds of treasures fulfilling a great-thousand world system consisting of thousand-cube worlds for alms-giving, then such a person due to such causal conditions would obtain much merits or not?" "As such, World Honored One, this person due to such causal conditions would obtain exceedingly much merits." "Subhuti, if meritorious virtues were substantial, Tathagata would not say that meritorious virtues obtained are numerous; since meritorious virtues are non-substantial, Tathagata says that numerous meritorious virtues are obtained."


20. Beyond Form and beyond Features

"Subhuti, what do you think, can the Buddha be seen through a well-formed physical body or not?" "No, World Honored One, Tathagata should not be seen through a well-formed physical body. Why is it so? What Tathagata says as a well-formed physical body is not a well-formed physical body in itself, but is named as a 'well-formed physical body'." "Subhuti, what do you think, can Tathagata be seen through a complete set of features or not?" "No, World Honored One, Tathagata should not be seen through a complete set of features. Why is it so? What Tathagata says as possessing complete features is not possessing complete features in itself, but is named as 'possessing complete features'."


21. Not Saying What Was Said

"Subhuti, you should not say that Tathagata raised the thought: 'I should preach some teachings.' Do not raise such a thought. Why is it so? If someone says, 'Tathagata has preached some teachings,' then that constitutes slandering the Buddha, due to inability to understand what I had said. Subhuti, what is referred to as preaching teachings has no teachings in themselves to say, but is named as 'preaching teachings'." At this juncture Wisdom Life Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, will there be many sentient beings that, upon hearing this teaching in the future, will raise faith or not?" The Buddha said, "Subhuti, those are neither sentient beings nor non-sentient beings. Why is it so? Subhuti, all those that are referred to as sentient beings, Tathagata says that they are not sentient beings in themselves, but are named as 'sentient beings'."


22. Nothing to be Obtained

Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, as to the Buddha's attaining the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment, was there nothing to be obtained?" The Buddha said, "As such, as such. Subhuti, as to the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment, I had had not even a little something that was obtainable, that is named as 'the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment'."


23. Practicing Good Deeds with a Pure Mind

"Furthermore, Subhuti, this thing is of equality, without high or low, and is named as 'the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment'. Practice all good deeds without any notion of self, without any notion of person, without any notion of sentient being, and without any notion of living being, then one would attain the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment. Subhuti, what are said as good deeds, Tathagata says that they are not good deeds in themselves, but are named as 'good deeds'."


24. Incomparable Merits and Wisdom

"Subhuti, Suppose that, for all the Sumerus, Kings of Mountains, in a great-thousand world system consisting of thousand-cube worlds, someone uses as large and as numerous piles of seven kinds of treasures for alms-giving. If a person accepts, abides by, reads and recites this Wisdom Transcendence Sutra, or even just a gatha of four sentences therein, and expounds it to others, then the meritorious virtues of this person as compared with those of the former will exceed one-hundred fold, one-thousand fold, one-myriad fold, one-billion fold, and will even be inexpressible through numbers or analogies."


25. Conversion without Beings Converted

"Subhuti, what do you think, all of you should not say that Tathagata raised this thought: 'I should convert sentient beings.' Subhuti, do not raise such a thought. Why is it so? In reality there are no sentient beings that Tathagata converted. If there were sentient beings that Tathagata converted, Tathagata would have had notions of self, person, sentient being, and living being. Subhuti, what Tathagata says as having a notion of self, is not having a notion of self in itself, but worldly persons take it as having a notion of self. Subhuti, what is referred to as a worldly person, Tathagata says is not a worldly person in itself, but is named as a 'worldly person'."


26. Dharmakaya beyond Form

"Subhuti, what do you think, can Tathagata be seen through the thirty-two features or not?" Subhuti said, "As such, as such, one sees Tathagata through the thirty-two features." The Buddha said, "Subhuti, if Tathagata were to be seen through the thirty-two features, a wheel-turning saintly king would be a Tathagata." Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, if I comprehend the meaning of what the Buddha said, one should not see Tathagata through the thirty-two features." Then the World Honored One said the gatha:

If one sees me through colors and shapes, and seeks me through sounds and voices,
Such a person practices a devious path, and cannot thereby comprehend Tathagata.


27. Neither Interrupted Nor Extinguished

"Subhuti, if you raised this thought: 'Tathagata is not by possessing complete features to have attained the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment.' Subhuti, do not raise this thought: 'Tathagata is not by possessing complete features to have attained the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment.' Subhuti, if you raised this thought: 'Those who have raised aspiration toward the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment say that all things will be interrupted or extinguished'; do not raise such a thought. Why is it so? Those who have raised aspiration toward the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment do not say that things appear to be interrupted or extinguished."


28. Neither Accepting nor Clinging

"Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva uses seven kinds of treasures fulfilling as numerous worlds as sands in the Ganges River for alms-giving, and if, in addition, there is someone who knows that all things are without self and that attainment is achieved through tolerance, then the merits of this Bodhisattva surpasses those obtained by the former Bodhisattva. Why is it so? Subhuti, it is because that Bodhisattvas do not accept meritorious virtues." Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, why do Bodhisattvas not accept meritorious virtues?" "Subhuti, meritorious virtues produced by Bodhisattvas should not be attached to; therefore it is said as 'not accepting meritorious virtues.'"


29. Tranquil Bearing

"Subhuti, if someone says, 'Tathagata comes or goes, sits or lies down,' such a person does not understand the meaning of what I said. Why is it so? What is referred to as Tathagata comes from nowhere and leaves for nowhere, therefore is named as 'Tathagata' (Thus Come)."


30. The Ideal of Oneness-of-all

"Subhuti, if a good man or good woman broke a great-thousand world system consisting of thousand-cube worlds into tiny dusts, what do you think, would the multitude of those tiny dusts be numerous or not?" Subhuti said, "Exceedingly numerous, World Honored One. Why is it so? Had the multitude of those tiny dusts existed in reality, the Buddha would not have called them to be the multitude of those tiny dusts. Why is it so? What the Buddha says as a multitude of tiny dusts is not a multitude of tiny dusts in itself, but is named as a 'multitude of tiny dusts'. World Honored One, the great-thousand world system consisting of thousand-cube worlds as referred to by Tathagata is not a world system in itself, but is named as a 'world system'. Why is it so? Had a world system existed in reality, it would be the oneness of all phenomena. What Tathagata says as the oneness of all phenomena is not the oneness of all phenomena in itself, but is named as 'the oneness of all phenomena'." "Subhuti, what is referred to as the oneness of all phenomena is beyond expression, but worldly persons would be attached to this matter."


31. Cognitive Views not Born

"Subhuti, if someone says, 'The Buddha mentioned the notion of self, the notion of person, the notion of sentient being, and the notion of living being,' Subhuti, what do you think, does such a person understand the meaning of what I said or not?" "No, World Honored One, such a person does not understand the meaning of what Tathagata said. Why is it so? What the World Honored One says as the notion of self, the notion of person, the notion of sentient being, or the notion of living being, is not in itself the notion of self, the notion of person, the notion of sentient being, or the notion of living being, but is named as 'the notion of self', 'the notion of person', 'the notion of sentient being', or 'the notion of living being'." "Subhuti, as regards all things, those who have raised aspiration toward the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment should thus know, thus view, thus believe and thus understand, without raising the notion of a thing. Subhuti, what is referred to as the notion of a thing, Tathagata says that it is not the notion of a thing in itself, but is named as 'the notion of a thing'."


32. Conversion without Reality

"Subhuti, if there be someone that uses seven kinds of treasures fulfilling immeasurably and numberlessly many worlds for alms-giving, and if there be a good man or good woman, who has raised the Bodhicitta, that upholds this Sutra, even only a gatha of four sentences therein, by accepting, abiding by, reading and reciting it, and expounding it to others, then meritwise the latter surpasses the former. How to expound it to others? Not grasping to forms, remain as such without swaying. Why is it so?

All things born of contrivance are similar to dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows,
Like dewdrops and resemble lightning, one should view them all as such matters.

The Buddha had finished speaking this Sutra. The Elder Subhuti and those monks, nuns, male lay disciples, female lay disciples, and all worldly heavenly beings, humans, Asuras, having heard what the Buddha said, were all greatly overjoyed. They accepted the teachings with faith and henceforth practiced accordingly.

End of the Sutra


After about three months, the translation completed on March 22, 2003
El Cerrito, California


[Home][Back to list][Back to Chinese versions]