The Diamond Sutra: Chapter 1

This is what I heard.
At one time the Buddha was staying in the Jeta Grove, near the city of Sravasti.
With him there was a community of 1,250 followers.
One day early in the morning, the Buddha got dressed and went to the city with his followers to beg for food, which was the custom.
After returning and eating, he put away his bowl and robe, washed his feet and sat in the lotus position.

He became mindfully aware of his surroundings as many monks approached, bowed, and sat around him.

This might sound strange to us, but it isn’t. It was normal in that time and place for spiritual teachers to beg for their food, in the same way that many ministers and priests today are paid a salary from the donations from their congregations.
This is an introduction that will put the rest of the sutra in context for us.

What is The Diamond Sutra?

The Diamond Sutra is one of the most well known and beloved Mahayana Buddhist texts. It is said that hearing just a few lines from it can stir the seed of Enlightenment that is within us.

The Diamond Sutra is a Mahayana Buddhist text from the Prajnaparamita or “Perfection of Wisdom” collection. The full Sanskrit title of this text is the Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra.

It’s sometimes called the Diamond Cutter of Wisdom or the Diamond Cutter Sutra. I prefer to call it simply the Diamond Sutra.

It’s importance to the Ch’an tradition can’t be overestimated. Huineng the 6th Patriarch attained Enlightenment almost exclusively because of what he learned from the Diamond Sutra.

It’s a series of dialogues between the Buddha and one of his students, a man named Subhuti, regarding the nature of perception. In it, the Buddha is trying to help Subhuti put down his limited preconceived notions about the nature of reality. The Buddha emphasizes that all forms, thoughts and conceptions are ultimately empty, he teaches that true enlightenment cannot be grasped through them, that we must challenge our preconceptions and subvert the dominant paradigm.

I’m going to write my own line by line commentary of the Diamond Sutra. I’m hoping it’s something I can add to each week, but we’ll see if I can find the time.

I am excited about it.