the Diamond Sutra

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I just read the Diamond Sutra for the first time. I'd been hearing it is one of the most important sutras. So as a person who has been on the path for nearly two decades I figured I should check it out.


I was really surprised to find out there was aabsolutely no content other than two guys talking in circles about how great this Sutra they were in the middle of is.


Its a total crock of s!#t.


Here is a quick impersonation-




"Yes your magnificent Lord of all lords and fully enlightened one, the Tathagata Buddha? "


"Is there a lot of salt in the 250 million oceans in the 85 million galaxies?"


"Yes magnificent Lord, and fully enlightened glorious one, there are certainly lots and lots and lots of salt particles in the 250 million oceans in the 85 million galaxies. This is indeed a magnificent observation and true to the fullest oh Lord Tathagata. "


Well then subhuti, tell me, if a monk were to give as much gold as there is salt in the 250 million oceans in the85 million galaxies to a beggars child would he not then receive a million times the amount of gold he gave to the beggars son in the form of merit and blessings?"


"Yes oh Lord Buddha, fully enlightened blessed being who is free from all shackles and is freed of coming and going, as much merit and blessings would rain down on him as there are atoms in all the universe if he were to give as much gold to a beggars son as there are salt particles in the 250 million oceans in the 85galaxies."


"Oh but Subhuti,  I tell Thee that if a person were to read just two lines of this, the greatest Sutra of all, that as we speak has not even been written yet, to anyone than that person would receive as much salt is there is in all the  oceans in universes within the multiverse multiplied by the amount of star dust in the whole cosmos squared times the amount of dust in the Sahara desert divided by 4 times a million Google in blessings and merit. Then a cloud of rainbow vapor will appear in that spot, all beings in the area will enter into nirvana and the very ground will become a holy place for all eternity. It will be that way permanently and forever!"


"Oh wow holiest of the magnificent immortal ones who lived as lords throughout the 7 ages of Gopor and who have sacrificed there own lives in order that all sentient beings be saved, and honorable golden sphere of light to those suffering in the 13 hells of darkness that sure is a whole bunch of merit and blessings Tathagata! "


"You think so huh Subhuti? "


"Yes Lord Buddha, the Tathagata,  the holy one who is neither here nor there, I do indeed think it's a whole bunch of blessings and merit oh Lord."


"Well Subhuti, I have news for you, it's not! I am only saying this just to say this, and the truth is these are merely words I'm using to get my point across, but that's all they are, just words."


At this Subhuti exploded in a cloud of holy enlightenment and no trace of him was ever found. At that the Buddha looked at the multitudes who were watching in disbelief. He said "that did not really just happen." and pointed to a flower. When the multitudes were all gazing at the flower wondering what this teaching meant, the Buddha snuck out the back to get out of dodge.




And that seems to be the entire content repeated over and over.


They kept mentioning "this sutra" but the actual Sutra is just them mentioning the Sutra without ever getting into the Dharma.there was no Dharma or anything except circular logic making reference to something that never actually began.


Change my mind.

Edited by ion

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hmm... no interest in swaying, teaching, cajoling or changing you, or you mind.

though your sharing has prompted my offer of these words from my experience, heart and mind:


finger points to moon


finger is not moon


yet finger and moon, unseparate

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Yea but big deal, I remember having a discussion with a couple friends in high school about the same thing.


I'm not saying I didn't get the little tidbits of information that were buried under mountains of adverbs and continual references to extremeties, I'm saying that it shouldn't even be a Sutra, let alone such a highly reversed one.


Its like a piece of artless art that because a particular person said it was great, everyone started to look deep into t until they could say "yes, yes, I can see it now, this is truly one of the greatest artworks of all time. " and suddenly everyone is saying "I see it to, yea I get it, don't you? What's wrong with you that you don't see it?"


Empowers new clothes.


Btw, change my mind is merely an expression sing words, but they are jut words LOL.


We all know that and the Diamond Sutra teaches that over and over.


All I'm saying is If there's something I don't see and you do shed some light please. We all know the mind can't be changed, but also it is never ever made up.

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Well said mate!


Your authentic sharing is as welcome to me right now as a breeze on a muggy afternoon!  I'm grateful for this.


Who can determine to you, what has value?  Are there a string of words that I, or anyone, or any book, could deliver to you to alter your sense of this sutra's value?


I can not consider your reaction to these words wrong, or misguided in any way.  You are absolutely correct in your assessment.  I can't imagine desiring to find a collection of words that would sway the unswayable truth of your sense of it.


Though it seems you desire the words to reflect for you in a manner other than they currently do... or you seem to desire that this sutra not be exalted the way it is, by others who find immense value in it?


who determines the value and usefulness of a thing?



Maybe allow the words, ineffective and obtruse as they are... to just settle for now.  Be as they are.

If something is not useful, why carry it along on your journey?  Release it and let it be as it is.  No need to struggle with an unnecessary burden...


Perhaps, if still drawn... revisit it in a few cycles of the seasons and see how they resonate then? 


I have experienced considerable angst over many of the old writings.  Sometimes the very wrongness of it, was what the teaching was... for in the experience of the wrongness... truth was revealed through the experience of what truth was not.


Perhaps that which this sutra speaks to, is not a place of usefulness and value to you now... is this improper? 

Is it improper that this sutra is of immense value to me and many others?


In all the many resonances of phenomena and noumena... who determines what is valuable, useful, right and wrong?


Thanks again for nudging me into these ponderings... such questions are an unimaginable joy to me.




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No text can offer more than the reader is willing to gain from it. 


Diamond sutra may optionally offer unbreakable liberation. Perhaps only the Upanishads and Dao-de-Jing translations evoked spontaneous tears of joy to word count ratios. 


None of the patterns of symbol/letter arrangement creates the joy of liberation in itself, but through relating aspects to this one fleeting moment between conception and death. 


Unlimited Love, 


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2 hours ago, ion said:

anything except circular logic making reference to something that never actually began.


Isn't this the issue with all rational thought to begin with?


Let's assume following

1. You are not your thoughts

2. thoughts are just maps, not the territory


- Why read a book filled with thoughts to further your path?


I mean it can give your mind more ideas to feed upon, but it creates more levels or barriers from my point of view.

Similar to the saying of "adding to Maya";

and warned against in "the first shall be the last".


The more you learn, the more you'll have to unlearn.



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And this is always the type of defense that always rises to any questioning of the Diamond sutra


No text can offer more than the reader is willing to gain from it. "


In other words "maybe it's you?" AKA an attack on the character of the observer rather than anything definite or relevant about the text of the Diamond Sutra.


Or something like 


"Isn't this the issue with all rational thought to begin with?" And then to argue the logic of that as a way of defending the Diamond Sutra instead of offering any insight into the sutra itself as though it's contents speak for itself.


and btw according to the Dharma, right thinking and right view DO NOT contain  and ARE NOT conditioned by circular logic but all existing things can be seen and understood by the conditions of their origination.


like ALOT of members here I have no trouble reading, deciphering and translating esoteric text with mundane and ultra mundane meanings. Tons of people here can derive and explain their interpretations of tons of religious texts.


a good portion of this group is devoted to doing just that with the DDJ to mention just one but no one can approach a tangible explanation of the Diamond sutra?


not even "two sentences can be explained"?


I have mainly focussed on the text the Word of Buddha which describes the 4 noble truths, 8 fold path, dependent arising of suffering, dependent arising of consciousness and the three marks of existence. 


The verses written by Nagarjuna are the other text I've studied the most heavily but have read, understood and identified with many other Buddhist texts as well as with Zen text, and of course the DDJ, some of that by great effort some with ease, but the Diamond Sutra nothing like any of them.


for one thing like the DDJ most,Buddhist text avoid exaggerated terms and thinking in terms,of extremities. 


it has hints and nuances of an,understanding of emptiness but also says things that imply that things are,not empty.


I thought it seemed like the Buddha and Subhuti were reading a different sutra that to us the contents were hidden, and the Diamond Sutra is just a written recording of two guys talking about how great some other book was, without telling us what was in that other book.


as though if it were now a days, someone filmed two guys looking at a book, and you could see they were astonished by the book, and heard them making proclamations ad to how great and powerful the book but they never read aloud from the book and the camera never zooms in on the text.


that's what it seemed like to me, and I'm a guy who lives "homeless", sits in full lotus for no less than 40 minutes,a,day but usually more than an hour and who other wise also lives his life 100% as a path and according to and what he sees as the Dharma, and ALOT of that is at least influenced by the impact understanding the deeper meanings of spiritual teachings have had on me.


other wise all the insight in the DS amounts to this-


"in some countries it's,called a gato, in others It's known as a cat, but these are just conceptualizations and neither name is what it actually is."


knowing that everything is empty does not lead to enlightenment, but understanding why things are empty is worthy of great consideration.


the DDJ says in line 1 chapter one everything the Diamond Sutra said and tried to say without burying it in several pages of distracting exaggerations, and references to extremities which is 95% of all that the DS is.

Edited by ion

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Since this is a forum, sooner or later someone is going to fall for the temptation of saying "neener neener neener". 


Isn't the Diamond sutra the one where they analyze the Buddhas trip in to town to get breakfast, four or five times, like koncentric circles? 


I read it, 20 years ago. 

Gave it away ten years ago with a bunch of other books I failed to comprehend. 

I still fail to have any use of the Cleary collection of daoist books, too many murky terms. 


The Wallis translation of the Recognition sutras on the other hand fits very well with where I am now. 😁 

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“Furthermore, Subhuti, in the practice of compassion and charity a disciple should be detached. That is to say, he should practice compassion and charity without regard to appearances, without regard to form, without regard to sound, smell, taste, touch, or any quality of any kind. Subhuti, this is how the disciple should practice compassion and charity. Why? Because practicing compassion and charity without attachment is the way to reaching the Highest Perfect Wisdom, it is the way to becoming a living Buddha.”

“Subhuti, do you think that you can measure all of the space in the Eastern Heavens?”

“No, Most Honored One. One cannot possibly measure all of the space in the Eastern Heavens.”

“Subhuti, can space in all the Western, Southern, and Northern Heavens, both above and below, be measured?”

“No, Most Honored One. One cannot possibly measure all the space in the Western, Southern, and Northern Heavens.”

“Well, Subhuti, the same is true of the merit of the disciple who practices compassion and charity without any attachment to appearances, without cherishing any idea of form. It is impossible to measure the merit they will accrue. Subhuti, my disciples should let their minds absorb and dwell in the teachings I have just given.”

Taken from Chapter 4 of Diamond Sutra.

Don't know 'bout you but to me this sounds just perfect and is really most profound. 

Btw I really enjoyed reading your mock version of the sutra. :D Sometimes they get sooo tedious and boring with the repetition and stuff. Also thx for making me read it.

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I'm glad you liked my parody. It was all in good fun, and remember they were merely words just for the sake of describing something so they could not possibly offend the Buddha, just like Subhuti's ravishing the Buddha with labels and titles couldn't possibly honor the Buddha. 


Sure, that's true. But what use is it to say to someone "show people compassion fairly and equally without distinction and you are on the road to enlightenment"? It s not true that to act any particular way will lead to enlightenment if someone's actions are based on being told to act that way.




Highest good is like water.
Because water excels in
benefiting the myriad creatures
without contending with them,
and settles where none would like to be,
it comes close to the Way.




A truly good man is not aware of his goodness,
and therefore has virtue. A man of the lowest virtue
never strays from virtue and that is why he is without virtue.

A truly good man does nothing,
yet leaves nothing undone.
A foolish man is always doing,
yet much is left undone.

A man of the highest rectitude acts, but from ulterior motive.
A man most conversant in the rites acts, but when no one responds,
rolls up his sleeve and resorts to persuasion by force.

Hence when the Way was lost there was virtue;
when virtue was lost there was benevolence;
when benevolence was lost there was rectitude;
when rectitude was lost there were the rites.

The rites are the wearing thin of loyalty and good faith
and the beginning of disorder;
foreknowledge is the flowery embellishment of the Way
and the beginning of folly.

Hence the man of large mind abides in the real,
and not in what is on the surface,
in the fruit, not in the flower.

Therefore accept the one, and reject the other.

An alternative translation=

When the Way is lost, there is goodness;
when goodness is lost, there is kindness;
when kindness is lost, there is morality;
when morality is lost, there is ritual.


That is what is true about that.


The Buddha's teaching on the subject goes to the root. He teaches that all the varieties of distinctions, likes and dislikes, opinions and biases, and dualistic labels the mind project onto other when a person is seen such as pretty/ugly, racial, classification, classification by weight, social stratum, or any other are the symptoms of a wandering mind through a fairytale land under the influence of total delusion; he taught that all things are emptiness, nondual, and all characteristics are without self and dependent on "other" for its existence.


He taught in a way to help you understand both why and how.


Yet this uniquely written text that is hidden in extravagance vaguely points at acting a certain way to enjoy the fruits and it's considered to be one of the Buddha's most very important doctrines???


Two things I keep thinking I should mention.


First when I was reading it, I did feel like I was "getting something" but I almost felt like I was realizing the whole of religious Buddhism was a manipulativehoax, and that the proof was some how magically being expressed to the psyche by reading that absurd text. But I don't know what the feeling really was about, it was weird and I thought I remembered hearing about this non-empty magical powers that the text seem to have on people.


I remember in that book 

Hardcore Zen, that Brad Warner who I think of as a phony said he became enlightened merely be hearing the Diamond Sutra, (maybe it was the heart sutra?) Which I think is bogus.


Second thing I wanted to mention per another post is that "circular logic" is to say that a thing is "self existing."


It is to say that something exist merely because it does.


That is in direct opposition to Buddhist thinking.





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Some random thoughts


I think we all connect with different things at different times based on various causes and conditions.

I appreciate your candor and passion but convincing yourself that the teaching is worthless, calling it a crock of shit, what value is there in that? It shuts the door on something that may hold something valuable, whether for you or someone else. Just my perspective.


None of us gets everything. 

If something makes no sense, I suggest it's best to let it go and move on.

If others benefit from it, good for them, no need to invalidate their experience.


My teacher once suggested that when we encounter things that make no sense, accept that, let it go, and be open enough that we may come to appreciate it in the future. I had that experience once with a book on Taijiquan. Started it and it made no sense. Came back to it a year later and it clicked. Re-read it a few years after that and felt like it got to the deepest aspects of Taijiquan of any book I'd read. It wasn't until I'd had some degree of hands on experience that each successive level made sense. The funny thing is that we file away volumes of things we understand, always tending to focus more on what we don't... Better perhaps to focus more on what does make sense and use it to gain deeper understanding.


I personally like that approach. 

I also prefer the experiential approach over the conceptual one.


Trying to "get it" through sutras doesn't work all that well for me - especially some of those old Buddhist sutras. That's some challenging stuff. No doubt in my mind that with the right perspective, preparation, dedication, and intention it can be quite powerful stuff but many of these things are referred to as self-secret. Secrecy is maintained passively, perhaps they written intentionally in this way. And if you really want to see if there is some meat in the Diamond Sutra you may consider looking at some of the classic commentaries written on it. I read Nan Huai-chin's commentary on it and learned so much. I'm sure there are other good commentaries as well. I haven't read it but I think Thich Nhat Hanh has also written a book about it - he tends to be very clear. 


Or just leave it be, there is so much more to work with...




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I once heard this quote something along these lines, and I loved it.


A treasure gem appears like shit to those whose eyes of wisdom are unopened.


I'd recommend you to take a read of the book Diamond Sutra Explained (non-referee link) by the enlightened master Nan Huai Chin. Then maybe you can see how even Subhuti didn't even realize the Buddha finished his lecture within the first few stanzas.

Edited by taoguy
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Those who are truly wise see treasure gems for what they really are; rocks that have been,made valuable by social convention.


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9 hours ago, ion said:

Those who are truly wise see treasure gems for what they really are; rocks that have been,made valuable by social convention.



That's an excellent point and applies to all scripture, to anything in fact.

There is also the perspective that all is sacred and we can learn and grow through everything we touch, if we are open enough.

For most of us, however, there seems to be certain things we encounter that truly affect us, irrespective of social convention.

And other things that do not.

At least that is my experience.

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Posted (edited)

Let me first say that I have not personally read the Diamond Sutra, except in occasional excerpts that I've encountered.  What I've encountered did not make me want to read the Sutra, because it sounded exactly like your parady, Ion. 

My understanding is that the sixth patriarch of Zen in China, Huineng, experienced an awakening of some sort on hearing a line from the Diamond Sutra read out loud by an itinerant monk in a market place in China (I don't know about Brad Warner).  The line Huineng heard is reputed to be this:

"Let the mind be present without an abode."

(from the Diamond Sutra, translation by Venerable Master Hsing Yun from "The Rabbit's Horn: A Commentary on the Platform Sutra", Buddha's Light Publishing pg 60)

That line, I find to be significant.  We have this passage from the Pali Suttanta:

That which we will..., and that which we intend to do and that wherewithal we are occupied:--this becomes an object for the persistance of consciousness. The object being there, there comes to be a station of consciousness. Consciousness being stationed and growing, rebirth of renewed existance takes place in the future, and here from birth, decay, and death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow, and despair come to pass. Such is the uprising of this mass of ill.


Even if we do not will, or intend to do, and yet are occupied with something, this too becomes an object for the persistance of consciousness... whence birth... takes place.


But if we neither will, nor intend to do, nor are occupied about something, there is no becoming of an object for the persistance of consciousness. The object being absent, there comes to be no station of consciousness. Consciousness not being stationed and growing, no rebirth of renewed existence takes place in the future, and herefrom birth, decay-and-death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow and despair cease. Such is the ceasing of this entire mass of ill.

(SN II 65 "Kindred Sayings on Cause" XII, 4, chapter 38 "Will", Pali Text Society vol. 2 pg 45)

It's a declension of the origin of suffering, beginning from intention, will, or deliberation, and progressing to suffering.  The more usual declension begins with ignorance:

“Conditioned by ignorance activities come to pass; conditioned by activities consciousness, conditioned by consciousness name-and-shape, conditioned by name-and-shape sense, conditioned by sense contact, conditioned by contact feeling, conditioned by feeling craving, conditioned by craving grasping, conditioned by grasping becoming, conditioned by becoming birth, conditioned by birth old age-and-death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow, despair come to pass. Such is the uprising of this entire mass of ill.”

(SN II 2, Pali Text Society Vol II pg 2)

The activities in this declension are precisely intentional or "determinative" action, of speech, body, or mind (AN III 415, PTS Vol III pg 294 and SN II 3, PTS Vol II pg 4), and this is what ceases, gradually, in the meditative states. 


In the unusual declension up above, Gautama moves directly from intentional or willful activity to a station of consciousness, to suffering.  I would say a station of consciousness is the opposite of a mind that is present without abode. 

In my writing, I put forward a practice for engaging the experience of the mind that is present without abode:


The practice I have in mind is a practice that everybody is already familiar with, even if they don’t think of it as a practice. What I’m referring to is waking up in the morning, or falling asleep at night; if you’ve ever had a hard time waking up or falling asleep, then you know that there can indeed be a practice! In my experience, the practice is the same, whether I am waking up or falling asleep: when I realize my physical sense of location in space, and realize it as it occurs from one moment to the next, then I wake up or fall asleep as appropriate.

... Just before I fall asleep, my awareness can move very readily, and my sense of where I am tends to move with it. This is also true when I am waking up, although it can be harder to recognize (I tend to live through my eyes in the daytime, and associate my sense of place with them). When my awareness shifts readily, I realize that my ability to feel my location in space is made possible in part by the freedom of my awareness to move.

("Waking Up and Falling Asleep", A Natural Mindfulness pg 5, yours truly)

Here's koun Franz talking about the same thing:


“Okay... So, have your hands in the cosmic mudra, palms up, thumbs touching, and there's this common instruction: place your mind here. Different people interpret this differently. Some people will say this means to place your attention here, meaning to keep your attention on your hands. It's a way of turning the lens to where you are in space so that you're not looking out here and out here and out here. It's the positive version, perhaps, of "navel gazing.


The other way to understand this is to literally place your mind where your hands are--to relocate mind (let's not say your mind) to your centre of gravity, so that mind is operating from a place other than your brain. Some traditions take this very seriously, this idea of moving your consciousness around the body. I wouldn't recommend dedicating your life to it, but as an experiment, I recommend trying it, sitting in this posture and trying to feel what it's like to let your mind, to let the base of your consciousness, move away from your head. One thing you'll find, or that I have found, at least, is that you can't will it to happen, because you're willing it from your head. To the extent that you can do it, it's an act of letting go--and a fascinating one.”


("No Struggle (Zazen Yojinki, Part 6)", by Koun Franz, from Koun's "Nyoho Zen" site:

Is "let the mind be present without an abode" actually from the Diamond Sutra?--as I said, I've never actually read the Diamond Sutra.  I know a lot depends on the particular translator/translation. 


For myself, there's a great deal more involved when it comes to sitting the lotus 40 minutes in the morning (or 40 minutes in the evening, when I can manage it).  That may be because I wasn't raised sitting the lotus, and I wasn't the most coordinated kid--I don't know.  For a lot of folks, apparently all they require to experience "the mind without abode" is one line at exactly the right moment.

Edited by Mark Foote
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