The Diamond Sutra

‘The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, is there any dharma which the Tathagata has fully known as ‘the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment’, or is there any dharma which the Tathagata has demonstrated? Subhuti replied: No, not as I understand what the Lord has said. And why? This dharma which the Tathagata has fully known or demonstrated – it cannot be grasped, it cannot be talked about, it is neither a dharma nor a no-dharma. And why? Because an Absolute exalts the Holy Persons.’

I was reading Dale Wright’s chapter on the perfection of wisdom and this passage came to mind, specifically the aphoristic quality of the last line, which, as with much of Conze’s translation that we recite at Zen Center, has wonderful lyricism, even if in this case I struggled to understand what it means (actually, that’s the point, but shh!) How, I wondered, did Red Pine translate that line?

‘Because sages arise from what is uncreated’ is the answer, and this summarises the premise of the Diamond Sutra very well: ‘If someone else were to take from this discourse on dharma but one stanza of four lines, and would demonstrate and illuminate it in full detail to others, then he would on the strength of that beget a greater heap of merit, immeasurable and incalculable. And why? Because from it has issued the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment of the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully Enlightened Ones, and from it have issued the Buddhas, the Lords.’

If this is not clear, it is the same thing Shohaku will outline in tomorrow’s post.

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