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鈴木 大拙 貞太郎 Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō (1870-1966) > Main Page

Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, D.LITT.


I. Gathas and Prayers
II. The Dharanis
III. The Sutras
IV. From the Chinese Zen Masters

The Ten Oxherding Pictures

V. From the Japanese Zen Masters
VI. The Buddhist Statues and Pictures in a Zen Monastary


Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, D.Litt., Professor of Buddhist Philosophy in the Otani University, Kyoto, was born in 1870. He is probably now the greatest living authority on Buddhist philosophy, and is certainly the greatest authority on Zen Buddhism. His major works in English on the subject of Buddhism number a dozen or more, and of his works in Japanese as yet unknown to the West there are at least eighteen. He is, moreover, as a chronological bibliography of books on Zen in English clearly shows, the pioneer teacher of the subject outside Japan, for except for Kaiten Nukariya's Religion of the Samurai (Luzac and Co., 1913) nothing was known of Zen as a living experience, save to the readers of The Eastern Buddhist (1921-1939), until the publication of Essays in Zen Buddhism (Volume I) in 1927.

Dr. Suzuki writes with authority. Not only has he studied original works in Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese and Japanese, but he has an up-to-date knowledge of Western thought in German and French as well as in the English which he speaks and writes so fluently. He is, moreover, more than a scholar; he is a Buddhist. Though not a priest of any Buddhist sect, he is honoured in every temple in Japan, for his knowledge of spiritual things, as all who have sat at his feet bear witness, is direct and profound. When he speaks of the higher stages of consciousness he speaks as a man who dwells therein, and the impression he makes on those who enter the fringes of his mind is that of a man who seeks for the intellectual symbols wherewith to describe a state of awareness which lies indeed "beyond the intellect".

To those unable to sit at the feet of the Master his writings must be a substitute. All these, however, were Out of print in England by 1940, and all remaining stocks in Japan were destroyed in the fire which consumed three-quarters of Tokyo in 1945. When, therefore, I reached Japan in 1946, I arranged with the author for the Buddhist Society, London--my wife and myself as its nominees--to begin the publication of his Collected Works, reprinting the old favourites, and printing as fast as possible translations of the many new works which the Professor, self-immured in his house at Kyoto, had written during the war.

This undertaking, however, was beyond the powers of the Buddhist Society, and we therefore secured the assistance of Rider and Co., who, backed by the vast resources of the House of Hutchinson, can honour the needs of such a considerable task.

Of Zen itself I need say nothing here, but the increasing sale of books on the subject, such as The Spirit of Zen by Alan Watts (Murray), and the series of original translations of Chinese Zen Scriptures and other works published by the Buddhist Society prove that the interest of the West is rising rapidly. Zen, however, is a subject extremely easy to misunderstand, and it is therefore important that the words of a qualified Master should come readily to hand.

President of the Buddhist Society, London



All references to the Author's Essays in Zen Buddhism, Series One and Two, and to his Introduction to Zen Buddhism, are to the second edition of these works, published in "The Complete Works of D. T. Suzuki."



In my Introduction to Zen Buddhism (published 1934), an outline of Zen teaching is sketched, and in The Training of the Zen Monk (1934) a description of the Meditation Hall and its life is given. To complete a triptych the present Manual has been compiled. The object is to inform the reader of the various literary materials relating to the monastery life. Foreign students often express their desire to know about what the Zen monk reads before the Buddha in his daily service, where his thoughts move in his leisure hours, and what objects of worship he has in the different quarters of his institution. This work will partly, it is hoped, satisfy their desire. Those who find my Essays too bulky or too elaborate may prefer these smaller works on Zen.

August 1935



Gatha is a Sanskrit term meaning "verse" or "hymn". In Buddhist literature it is used to designate the versified portion of the sutras. Chinese scholars have adopted this word for their Versified compositions, which are known as chieh, an abbreviation of chieh-t'o, or as chieh-sang, which is the combination of the Sanskrit and the Chinese. The gathas collected here are not exclusively those of the Zen sect; some belong to general Buddhism.




The Dharma incomparably profound and exquisite
Is rarely met with, even in hundreds of thousands of millions of kalpas;
We are now permitted to see it, to listen to it, to accept and hold it;
May we truly understand the meaning of the Tathagata's words!



All the evil karma ever committed by me since of old,
On account of greed, anger, and folly, which have no beginning,
Born of my body, mouth, and thought--
I now make full open confession of it.



I take refuge in the Buddha;
I take refuge in the Dharma;
I take refuge in the Sangha.
I take refuge in the Buddha, the incomparably honoured one;
I take refuge in the Dharma, honourable for its purity;
I take refuge in the Sangha, honourable for its harmonious life.
I have finished taking refuge in the Buddha;
I have finished taking refuge in the Dharma;
I have finished taking refuge in the Sangha.



However innumerable beings are, I vow to save them;
However inexhaustible the passions are, I vow to extinguish them;
However immeasurable the Dharmas are, I vow to master them;
However incomparable the Buddha-truth is, I vow to attain it.

[1. These vows are recited after every service.]



We prostrate ourselves in all humbleness before the holy Sarira representing the body of Sakyamuni, the Tathagata, who is perfectly endowed with all the virtues, who has the Dharmakaya as the ground of his being, and Dharmadhatu as the stupa dedicated to him. To him we pay our respect with due deference. Manifesting himself in a bodily form for our sakes, the Buddha enters into us and makes us enter into him. His power being added to us, we attain Enlightenment; and [again] dependent on the Buddha's miraculous power, all beings are benefited, become desirous for Enlightenment, discipline themselves in the life of the Bodhisattva, and equally enter into perfect quietude where prevails infinite wisdom of absolute identity. We now prostrate ourselves before him.



Not to commit evils,
But to do all that is good,
And to keep one's thought pure--
This is the teaching of all the Buddhas.



All composite things are impermanent,
They are subject to birth and death;
Put an end to birth and death,
And there is a blissful tranquillity.

[1. For the sake of the second half of this gatha the Buddha is said to have been willing to sacrifice his own life. For this reason this is also known as the "gatha of sacrifice".]



[Adoration to] Kwanzeon!
Adoration to the Buddha!
To the Buddha we are related
In terms of cause and effect.
Depending on the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha,
[Nirvana is possible which is] eternal, ever-blessed, autonomous, and free from defilements.
Every morning our thoughts are on Kwanzeon,
Every evening our thoughts are on Kwanzeon.
Every thought issues from the Mind,
Every thought is not separated from the Mind.

[1. Yemmei means "Prolonging life"; when one daily recites this short document in ten clauses relating to Kwannon, one's health is assured for doing good not only for oneself but for the whole world.]



If one wishes to know all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, one should contemplate the nature of this Dharmadhatu essentially as the creation of Absolute Mind.
Adoration to the Buddhas in the ten quarters;
Adoration to the Dharma pervading the ten quarters; Adoration to the Sangha in the ten quarters;
Adoration to Sakyamuni the Buddha who is our Master; Adoration to Kwanzeon the Bodhisattva, who is the great compassionate and pitying one, ready to save beings from afflictions;
Adoration to Ananda the Arhat who is the expounder of the Teaching.
Namu sabo totogyato boryakite, yen!
Sammola sammola, un!
Namu suryoboya totogyatoya tojito, yen!
Suryo suryo boya suryo boya suryo, somoko!
Namu samanda motonan, ban![1]
Adoration to Hoshin[2] the Tathagata;
Adoration to Taho[3] the Tathagata;
Adoration to Myoshishin[4] the Tathagata;
Adoration to Kohashin[5] the Tathagata;
Adoration to Rifui[6] the Tathagata;
Adoration to Kanroo[7] the Tathagata;
Adoration to Omito[8] the Tathagata.
Namu omitoboya totogyatoya,
Omirito bigyaratei,
Omirito bigyarato gyamini,
Gyagyano shitogyari,

[1. It is difficult to tell how this dharani came to be inserted here. As most dharanis are, it is devoid of sense from the human point of view; but it may not be necessarily so to the hungry ghosts, for whom the prayer is offered.

Can this be restored to the original Sanskrit as follows?

Namah sarva-tathagatavalokite! Om!
Sambala, sambala! Hum!
Namah surupaya tathagataya!
Om, suru[paya], surupaya, surupaya, suru[paya], svaha!
Namah samantabuddhanam, vam!

"Be adored! O all the Tathagatas who are regarded [as our protectors]; Om! Provision, provision! Hum! Adored be the Tathagata Beautifully Formed! Namely: Om! To the Beautifully-formed One! To the Beautifully formed One! To the Beautifully-formed One! Hail! Adored be all the Buddhas! Vam!"

2. "Jewel-excelled" (ratnaketu).

3. "Abundant-in-jewel" (prabhutaratna).

4. "Fine-form-body" (surupakaya).

5. "Broad-wide-body" (vipulakaya).

6. "Freed-from-fear" (abhayankara).

7. "Nectar-king" (amritaraja).

8. "Amida" (amitabha).]


By the supernatural power of this Dharani the food and drink is purified, and this we offer to the spiritual beings as numerous as the sands of the Ganga. We pray that they shall all be fully satisfied and abandon their greed; that they shall all leave their abodes of darkness and be born in the blissful paths of existence; and further that taking refuge in the Triple Treasure they shall awaken the desire for supreme enlightenment and finally come to the realization of it. The merit they thus attain is inexhaustible and will continue on to the end of time, making all beings equally share in this Dharma-food.

O you hosts of spiritual beings, we make this offering of food to you all, which we pray will fill the ten quarters and that all beings of your kind will partake of it.

By the practice of this meritorious deed we pray that we repay what we owe to our parents, who have done all they could for our sakes. May those who are still alive continue to enjoy their happy and prosperous lives for ever, while those who are no more with us be released from suffering and born in the land of bliss.

We pray that all sentient beings in the triple world who are recipients of the fourfold benefaction, together with those beings suffering in the three evil paths of existence and tormented with the eight kinds of calamities, may repent of all their sins and be cleansed of all their sores, so that they may all be released from the cycle of transmigration and be born in the land of purity.

We pray to all the Buddhas, all the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas in the ten quarters, of the past, present, and future, and to Mahaprajna-paramita, that by virtue of this merit universally prevailing, not only we but all beings shall equally attain Buddhahood.

[1. Namo 'mitabhaya tathagataya! Tadyatha, amritodbhave, amritasiddhe, (?)-bhave, amritavikrante, amrita-vikranta-gamine, gaganakirtikare! Svaha!

"Adored be the Tathagata of Infinite Light! Namely: O Nectar-raising one! O Nectar-perfecting one! [O Nectar-] producing one! O One who makes nectar pervade! O One who makes nectar universally pervade! O One who makes nectar known as widely as space! Hail!"]



By the Bhikshus all present here
The mystic formula of Surangama has been recited as above,
Which is now dedicated to all the Nagas and Devas who are protectors of the Dharma,
And also to all the holy assemblies of the spiritual beings who are guardians of this monastery and surrounding district.
May all beings in the three evil paths of existence variously suffering the eight kinds of disasters be thereby released from the afflictions!
May all beings in the triple world who are recipients of the fourfold benefaction thereby participate in the merit!
May the state continue in peaceful prosperity with all its warlike activities stopped!
May the wind blow in time, the rain fall seasonably, and the people live happily!
May the entire congregation sharing in the exercise cherish the higher aspirations!
To go beyond the ten stages with a cap, and this without much difficulty!
May this monastery keep on its quiet life, free from disturbances.
And the patrons and devotees grow not only in faith but in wisdom and bliss!
[We pray this to] all the Buddhas and Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas in the ten quarters, of the past, present, and future, and to Mahaprajna-paramita!

[1. This is read, as can be inferred from the text, after the recitation of the Surangama dharani.]



Would that the sound of the bell might go beyond our earth,
And be heard even by all the denizens of the darkness outside the Iron Mountains (cakravala) !
Would that, their organ of hearing becoming pure, beings might attain perfect interfusion [of all the senses],
So that every one of them might come finally to the realization of supreme enlightenment![1]

[1. It is customary in the Zen monastery to recite the Kwannongo while striking the big bell, which is done three times a day. The present gatha is recited when the striking is finished. As will be seen below, from Kwannon issues a sound which is heard by those who sincerely believe in his power of releasing them from every form of disaster. Each sound emitted by the bell is the voice of Kwannon calling on us to purify our sense of hearing, whereby a spiritual experience called "interfusion" will finally take place in us. See under the Ryogonkyo and the Kwannongyo below.]



Properly speaking, the dharani has no legitimate place in Zen. That it has nevertheless crept into its daily service is clue to the general characteristics of Chinese Buddhism of the Sung dynasty, when the Japanese Zen masters visited China and imported it as they found it then, together with the Shingon elements of Chinese Zen. In China the Shingon did not thrive very long but left its traces in Zen.

Dharani, the root of which is dhr, "to hold" or "to convey", is ordinarily translated by the Chinese tsung-ch'ih, "general holder", at neng-ch'ih, "that which holds". A dharani is considered as holding magical power in it or bearing deep meaning. When it is pronounced, whatever evil spirits there are ready to interfere with the spiritual effect of a ritual, are kept away from it.

In the following pages the three most frequently read dharanis are given. When translated they convey no intelligent signification. They mostly consist of invocations and exclamations. The invocation is an appeal to the higher powers, and the exclamation is to frighten away the evil spirits. That the practical result of these utterances is not to be judged objectively goes without saying.




Adoration to all the Buddhas! Adoration to the Teaching that knows no obstructions!
Thus: Om! Khya khya khyahi khyahi (speak, speak)!
Hum hum!
Jvala jvala prajvala prajvala (blaze, blaze)!
Tistha tistha (up, up)!
Stri Stri (?)!
Sphata (burst, burst)!
One who is quiescent!
To the glorious one, hail!



Adoration to the Triple Treasure!
Adoration to Avalokitesvara the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva who is the great compassionate one!
Om, to the one who performs a leap beyond all fears!
Having adored him, may I enter into the heart of the blue-necked one known as the noble adorable Avalokitesvara! It means the completing of all meaning, it is pure, it is that which makes all beings victorious and cleanses the path of existence.
Om, the seer, the world-transcending one!
O Hari the Mahabodhisattva!
All, all!
Defilement, defilement!
The earth, the earth!
It is the heart.
Do, do the work!
Hold fast, hold fast! O great victor!
Hold on, hold on! I hold on.
To Indra the creator I
Move, move, my defilement-free seal!
Come, come!
Hear, hear!
A joy springs up in me!
Speak, speak! Directing!
Hulu, hulu, mala, hulu, hulu, hile!
Sara, Sara! siri, siri! suru, suru!
Be awakened, be awakened!
Have awakened, have awakened!
O merciful one, blue-necked one!
Of daring ones, to the joyous, hail!
To the successful one, hail!
To the great successful one, hail!
To the one who has attained mastery in the discipline, hail!
To the blue-necked one, hail!
To the boar-faced one, hail!
To the one with a lion's head and face, hail!
To the one who holds a weapon in his hand, hail!
To the one who holds a wheel in his hand, hail!
To the one who holds a lotus in his hand, hail!
To the blue-necked far-causing one, hail!
To the beneficient one referred to in this Dharani beginning with "Namah," hail!
Adoration to the Triple Treasure!
Adoration to Avalokitesvara!
May these [prayers] be successful!
To this magical formula, hail!



Adoration to the Blessed One who is the most excellent one in the triple world!
Adoration to the Enlightened One, to the Blessed One!
Om! Cleanse [us], cleanse [us]! O one who is always impartial! One who, being in possession of all-pervading, all-illuminating light, is pure in his self-nature, cleansed of the darkness of the five paths of existence!
Baptize us, O Sugata, with an immortal baptism which consists of the best words, of the great true phrases!
Remove disasters, remove disasters, O one who holds an eternal life!
Cleanse us, cleanse us, O one who is as pure as the sky!
O one who is as pure as the victorious Buddha-crown!
O one who is inflamed with a thousand rays of light!
O all the Tathagatas who look over [the entire world]!
O one who is perfect in the Six Paramitas!
O one who holds the great seal empowered with the spiritual power which emanates from the heart of every Tathagata!
O one whose body is as hard and pure as Vajra!
O one who is thoroughly pure, cleansed of all impediments, all fears, and all the evil paths!
Turn us away [from evils] O one who enjoys a purified life!
O one who empowers us with [the power of] the original covenant! O jewel, jewel, the great jewel! O Suchness which is reality-limit and absolute purity!
O one who is pure in his evolved enlightenment!
Be victorious, be victorious, be ever victorious, be ever victorious!
Bear in mind, bear in mind!
O one who is pure being empowered by all Buddhas!
O Vajragarbha who holds the Vajra! Let my body be like Vajra! Let those of all beings too be like Vajra!
O one who is in possession of an absolutely pure body! O one who is absolutely pure from all the paths of existence! And let me be consoled by all the Tathagatas!
O one who is empowered with the consoling power of all the Tathagatas!
Be enlightened, be enlightened, be ever enlightened, be ever enlightened!
Have them enlightened, have them enlightened, have them ever enlightened, have them ever enlightened!
O one who is most pure in a most thoroughgoing way!
O one who holds a great seal empowered with the spiritual power which emanates from the heart of every Tathagata!



The sutras most read in Zen are the Shingyo (Prajnaparamitahridaya), the Kwannongyo (Samantamukha-parivarta), and the Kongokyo (Vajracchedika). The Shingyo being the shortest is read on almost all occasions. The Ryoga (Lankavatara) is historically significant, but being difficult to understand is very little studied nowadays by followers of Zen. For further information see the author's works on the sutra. The Ryogon (Suramgama) is not so neglected as the Ryoga. It is full of deep thoughts, and was studied very much more in China than in Japan. There are some more sutras of the Mahayana school with which Zen students will do well to become better acquainted, for example, the Kongosammaikyo (Vajrasamadhi), the Yengakukyo (Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment), the Yuimakyo (Vimalakirti-sutra), and the Hannyakyo (Prajnaparamita). None of them have been translated into English, except the Yuima which is difficult to obtain now.




When[1] the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was engaged in the practice of the deep Prajnaparamita, he perceived that there are the five Skandhas;[2] and these he saw in their self-nature to be empty.[3]

"O Sariputra, form is here emptiness,[4] emptiness is form; form is no other than emptiness, emptiness is no other than form; that which is form is emptiness, that which is emptiness is form. The same can be said of sensation, thought, confection, and consciousness.

"O Sariputra, all things here are characterized with emptiness: they are not born, they are not annihilated; they are not tainted, they are not immaculate; they do not increase, they do not decrease. Therefore, O Sariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, no thought, no confection, no consciousness; no eye,[5] ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no form,[6] sound, colour, taste, touch, objects; no Dhatu of vision,[7] till we come to[8] no Dhatu of consciousness; there is no knowledge, no ignorance," till we come to there is no old age and death, no extinction of old age and death; there is no suffering,[10] no accumulation, no annihilation, no path; there is no knowledge, no attainment, [and] no realization,[*] because there is no attainment. In the mind of the Bodhisattva who dwells depending on the Prajnaparamita there are no obstacles;[+] and, going beyond the perverted views, he reaches final Nirvana. All the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, depending on the Prajnaparamita, attain to the highest perfect enlightenment.

"Therefore, one ought to know that the Prajnaparamita is the great Mantram, the Mantram of great wisdom, the highest Mantram, the peerless Mantram, which is capable of allaying all pain; it is truth because it is not falsehood: this is the Mantram proclaimed in the Praynaparamita. It runs: 'Gate, gate, Paragate, parasamgate, bodhi, svaha!' (O Bodhi, gone, gone, gone to the other shore, landed at the other shore , Svaha!)"


1 There are two texts with the title of The Hridaya: the one is known as the Shorter and the other the Larger. The one printed above is the shorter sutra in general use in Japan and China.

The opening passage in the larger text in Sanskrit and Tibetan, which is missing in the shorter one, is as follows: [The Tibetan has this additional passage: "Adoration to the Prajnaparamita, which is beyond words, thought, and praise, whose

[* Nabhisamayah is missing in the Chinese translations as well as in the Horyuji MS.

+ For varana all the Chinese have "obstacle", and this is in full accord with the teaching of the Prajnaparamita. Max Muller's rendering, "envelop", is not good.]

self-nature is, like unto space, neither created nor destroyed, which is a state of wisdom and morality evident to our inner consciousness, and which is the mother of all Excellent Ones of the past, present, and future".] "Thus I heard. At one time World-honoured One dwelt at Rajagriha, on the Mount of the Vulture, together with a large number of Bhikshus and a large number of Bodhisattvas. At that time the World-honoured One was absorbed in a Samadhi (Meditation) known as Deep Enlightenment. And at the same moment the Great Bodhisattva Aryavalokitesvara was practising himself in the deep Prajnaparamita."

The concluding passage, which is also missing in the shorter text, runs as follows:

"O Sariputra, thus should the Bodhisattva practise himself in the deep Prajnaparamita. At that moment, the World-honoured One rose from the Samadhi and gave approval to the Great Bodhisattva Aryavalokitesvara, saying: Well done, well done, noble son! so it is! so should the practice of the deep Prajnaparamita be carried on. As it has been preached by you, it is applauded by Tathagatas and Arhats. Thus spoke the World-honoured One with joyful heart. The venerable Sariputra and the Great Bodhisattva Aryavalokitesvara together with the whole assemblage, and the world of Gods, Men, Asuras, and Gandharvas, all praised the speech of the World-honoured One."

2. From the modern scientific point of view, the conception of Skandha seems to be too vague and indefinite. But we must remember that the Buddhist principle of analysis is not derived from mere scientific interest; it aims at saving us from the idea of an ultimate individual reality which is imagined to exist as such for all the time to come. For when this idea is adhered to as final, the error of attachment is committed, and it is this attachment that forever enslaves us to the tyranny of external things. The five Skandhas ("aggregates" or "elements") are form (rupam), sensation or sense-perception (vedana), thought (samjna), confection or conformation (samskara), and consciousness (vijnana). The first Skandha is the material world or the materiality of things, while the remaining four Skandhas belong to the mind. Vedana is what we get through our senses; samjna corresponds to thought in its broadest sense, or that which mind elaborates; samskara is a very difficult term and there is no exact English equivalent; it means something that gives form, formative principle; vijnana is consciousness or mentation. There arc six forms of mentation, distinguishable as seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking.

3. Hsuan-chuang's translation has this added: "He was delivered from all suffering and misery."

4. "Empty" (sunya) or "emptiness" (sunyata) is one of the most important notions in Mahayana philosophy and at the same time the most puzzling for non-Buddhist readers to comprehend. Emptiness does not mean "relativity", or "phenomenality", or "nothingness", but rather means the Absolute, or something of transcendental nature, although this rendering is also misleading as we shall see later. When Buddhists declare all things to be empty, they are not advocating a nihilistic view; on the contrary an ultimate reality is hinted at, which cannot be subsumed under the categories of logic. With them, to proclaim the conditionality of things is to point to the existence of something altogether unconditioned and transcendent of all determination. Sunyata may thus often be most appropriately rendered by the Absolute. When the sutra says that the five Skandhas have the character of emptiness, or that in emptiness there is neither creation nor destruction, neither defilement nor immaculacy, etc., the sense is: no limiting qualities are to be attributed to the Absolute; while it is immanent in all concrete and particular objects, it is not in itself definable. Universal negation, therefore, in the philosophy of Prajna is an inevitable outcome.

5. No eye, no ear, etc., refer to the six senses. In Buddhist philosophy, mind (manovijnana) is the special sense-organ for the apprehension of dharma, or objects of thought.

6. No form, no sound, etc., are the six qualities of the external world, which become objects of the six senses.

7. "Dhatu of vision etc." refer to the eighteen Dhatus or elements of existence, which include the six senses (indriya), the six qualities (vishaya), and the six consciousnesses (vijnana).

8. "Till we come to" (yavat in Sanskrit, and nai chih in Chinese) is quite frequently met with in Buddhist literature to avoid repetition of well-known subjects. These classifications may seem somewhat confusing and overlapping.

9. "There is no knowledge, no ignorance, etc." is the wholesale denial of the Twelvefold Chain of Causation (pratityasamutpada), which are ignorance (avidya), deed (samskara), consciousness (vijnana), name and form (namarupa), six sense-organs (sadayatana), contact (sparsa), sense-perception (vedana), desire (trishna), attachment (upadana), being (bhava), birth (jati), and old age and death (jaramarana). This Chain of Twelve has been a subject of much discussion among Buddhist scholars.

10. The allusion is of course to the Fourfold Noble Truth (satya): 1. Life is suffering (duhkha); 2. Because of the accumulation (samudaya) of evil karma; 3. The cause of suffering can be annihilated (nirodha); 4. And for this there is the path (marga).



At that time Mujinni[2] Bosatsu rose from his seat, and, baring his right shoulder, turned, with his hands folded, towards the Buddha, and said this: World-honoured One, for what reason is Kwanzeon Bosatsu so named?

The Buddha said to Mujinni Bosatsu: Good man, when those innumerable numbers of beings--hundred-thousands of myriads of kotis of them--who are suffering all kinds of annoyances, hearing of this Kwanzeon Bosatsu, will utter his name with singleness of mind, they will instantly hear his voice and be released.

Even when people fall into a great fire, if they hold the name of Kwanzeon Bosatsu, the fire will not scorch them because of the spiritual power of this Bosatsu. When they are

[1. Generally known as Kwannon-gyo in Japanese and Kuan-yin Ching in Chinese. It forms the Twenty-fifth Chapter in Kumarajiva's translation of the Saddharma-pundarika, "the Lotus of the Good Law". Its Sanskrit title is Samantamukha Parivarta. It is one of the most popular sutras in Japan, especially among followers of the Holy Path, including Zen, Tendai, Shingon, Nichiren, etc.

The Sanskrit for Kwannon seems, according to some Japanese authorities, originally to have been Avalokitasvara, and not Avalokitesvara. If so, Kwannon is a more literal rendering than Kwanzeon (Kuan-shih-yin) or Kwanjizai (Kuan-tzu-tsai). The Bodhisattva Avalokitasvara is "the owner of voice which is viewed or heard". From him issues a voice which is variously heard and interpreted by all beings, and it is by this hearing that the latter are emancipated from whatever troubles they are in.

The present translation is from Kumarajiva's Chinese. In the reading of the proper names, the Japanese way of pronunciation has been retained.

2. Bodhisattva Akshayamati in Sanskrit, that is, Bodhisattva of Inexhaustible Intelligence.]

tossed up and down in the surging waves, if they pronounce his name they will get into a shallower place.

When hundred-thousands of myriads of kotis of people go out into the great ocean in order to seek such treasures as gold, silver, lapis lazuli, conch shells, cornelian, coral, amber, pearls, and other precious stones, their boats may be wrecked by black storms, and they may find themselves thrown up into the island of the Rakshasas; if among them there is even a single person who will utter the name of Kwanzeon Bosatsu all the people will be released from the disaster [which is likely to befall them at the hand] of the Rakshasas. For this reason the Bosatsu is called Kwanzeon.

When, again, a man is about to suffer an injury, if he will utter the name of Kwanzeon Bosatsu, the sword or the stick that is held [by the executioner] will be at once broken to pieces and the man be released.

When all the Yakshas and Rakshasas filling the three thousand chiliocosms come and annoy a man, they may hear him utter the name of Kwanzeon Bosatsu, and no wicked spirits will dare look at him with their evil eyes, much less inflict injuries on him.

When again a man, whether guilty or innocent, finds himself bound in chains or held with manacles, he uttering the name of Kwanzeon Bosatsu will see all these broken to pieces and be released.

When all the lands in the three thousand chiliocosms are filled with enemies, a merchant and his caravan loaded with precious treasures may travel through the dangerous passes. One of the company will say to the others: "O good men, have no fear; only with singleness of thought utter the name of Kwanzeon Bosatsu. As this Bosatsu gives us fearlessness, utter his name and you will be delivered from your enemies." Hearing this, all the company join in the recitation, saying, "Kwanzeon Bosatsu be adored!" Because of this uttering the name of the Bosatsu they will be released. O Mujinni, such is the awe-inspiring spiritual power of Kwanzeon Bosatsu Makasatsu.

When people are possessed of excessive lust, let them always reverentially think of Kwanzeon Bosatsu and they will be freed from it. If they are possessed of excessive anger, let them always reverentially think of Kwanzeon Bosatsu, and they will be freed from it. When they are possessed of excessive folly let them always reverentially think of Kwanzeon Bosatsu, and they will be freed from it. O Mujinni, of such magnitude is his spiritual power which is full of blessings. Therefore, let all beings always think of him.

If a woman desire a male child, let her worship and make offerings to Kwanzeon Bosatsu, and she will have a male child fully endowed with bliss and wisdom. If she desire a female child, she will have one graceful in features and in possession of all the characteristics (of noble womanhood], and because of her having planted the root of merit the child will be loved and respected by all beings. O Mujinni, such is the power of Kwanzeon Bosatsu.

If all beings worship and make offerings to Kwanzeon Bosatsu, they will derive benefits unfailingly from this. Therefore, let all beings hold the name of Kwanzeon Bosatsu. O Mujinni, if there is a man who holds the names of all the Bodhisattvas equal in number to sixty-two billion times as many as the sands of the Ganga, and till the end of his life makes them offerings of food and drink, clothing and bedding and medicine, what do you think? Is not the merit accumulated by such a man very great?

Mujinni said: Very great, indeed, World-honoured One!

The Buddha said: Here is another man; if he should hold the name of Kwanzeon Bosatsu even for a while and make offerings to the Bosatsu, the merit so attained by this one is fully equal to that [of the previous one], and will not be exhausted even to the end of hundred-thousands of myriads of kotis of kalpas. Those who hold the name of Kwanzeon Bosatsu gain such immeasurable and innumerable masses of blissful merit.

Mujinni Bosatsu said to the Buddha: "World-honoured One, how does Kwanzeon Bosatsu visit this Saha world?[1]

[1. That is, sahaloka, world of patience.]

How does he preach the Dharma to all beings? What is the extent of his skilful means?

The Buddha said to Mujinni Bosatsu: O good man, if there are beings in any country who are to be saved by his assuming a Buddha-form, Kwanzeon Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a Buddha and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a Pratyekabuddha-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a Pratyekabuddha and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a Sravaka-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a Sravaka and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a Brahma-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a Brahma and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a Sakrendra-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a Sakrendra and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming an Isvara-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of an Isvara and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a Mahesvara-form, he will manifest himself in the form of a Mahesvara and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a Chakravartin-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a Chakravartin and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a Vaisravana-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a Vaisravana and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming the form of a Provincial chief, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a provincial chief and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a householder's form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a householder and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a lay-disciple's form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a lay-disciple and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a state-officer's form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a state-officer and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a Brahman-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself to them in the form of a Brahman and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a Bhikshu-form, or a Bhikshuni-, or an Upasaka-, or an Upasika-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a Bhikshu, or a Bhikshuni, or an Upasaka, or an Upasika, and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a female form of the family of a householder, or a lay-disciple, or a state-officer, or a Brahman, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of such a female and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a youth- or a maiden-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of a youth or a maiden and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a Deva-, Naga-, Yaksha-, Gandharva-, Asura-, Garuda-, Kinnara-, Mahoraga-, Manushya-, or Amanushya-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in any of these forms and preach them the Dharma.

If beings are to be saved by his assuming a Vajrapani-form, the Bosatsu will manifest himself in the form of Vajrapani and preach them the Dharma.

O Mujinni, this Kwanzeon Bosatsu performs such meritorious deeds by assuming varieties of forms, and by visiting different lands saves and releases beings. Therefore, you will make offerings with singleness of thought to Kwanzeon Bosatsu. In the midst of fears, perils, and disasters, it is he who gives us fearlessness,[1] and for this reason he is called in this Saha world the one who gives fearlessness.

Mujinni Bosatsu said to the Buddha: I wish now to make

[1. "Safety", or better "faith".]

offering to Kwanzeon Bosatsu. So saying, he took off his necklace strung with all kinds of precious gems worth hundreds of thousands of gold pieces, and presented it to Kwanzeon Bosatsu with this word: Venerable Sir, accept this necklace of precious gems as a Dharma offering.

Kwanzeon Bosatsu refused to accept it, whereupon Mujinni said to him: Venerable Sir, Pray accept this out of compassion for us all.

Then the Buddha said to Kwanzeon Bosatsu: Out of compassion for Mujinni Bosatsu and all the four classes of beings, and also for the Devas, Nagas, Yakshas, Gandharvas, Asuras, Garudas, Kinnaras, Mahoragas, Manushyas, Amanushyas and others, accept, O Kwanzeon Bosatsu, this necklace of his.

Then because of his compassion for all the four classes of beings and for Devas, Nagas, Manushyas, Amanushyas and others, Kwanzeon Bosatsu accepted the necklace, and dividing it into two parts he presented the one to Shakamunibutsu (Sakyamuni Buddha) and the other to the shrine of Tahobutsu (Prabhutaratna Buddha).

O Mujinni, Kwanzeon Bosatsu who is the possessor of such a miraculous spiritual power, visits in this wise this Saha world.

At that time Mujinni Bosatsu asked in verse, saying:

O World-honoured One who is in possession of exquisite features, I now again ask him: For what reason is the son of the Buddha called Kwanzeon?

The Honoured One in possession of exquisite features answered Mujinni in verse: just listen to the life of Kwanzeon! He is always ready to respond to calls from all quarters. His universal vows are as deep as the ocean. For ages beyond conception, he has served myriads of Buddhas and made great vows of purity.

I will briefly tell you about them. When people hear his name and see his body and think of him in their minds not vainly, they will see every form of ill effaced in all the worlds.

If an enemy wishing to harm a man pushes him down to a pit of great fire, let his thought dwell on the power of Kwannon and the fiery pit will be transformed into a pond.

Or if drifting in the vast ocean a man is about to be swallowed up by the Nagas, fishes, or evil beings, let his thought dwell on the power of Kwannon, and the waves will not drown him.

Or if from the top of Mount Sumeru a man is hurled down by an enemy, let his thought dwell on the power of Kwannon, and he will stay in the air like the sun.

Or if pursued by wicked persons a man falls on the Vajra mountain, let his thought dwell on the power of Kwannon, and not a hair on him will be injured.

Or if surrounded by an army of enemies a man is threatened by them, each of whom with a sword in hand is about to injure him, let his thought dwell on the power of Kwannon, and the enemies will cherish a compassionate heart.

Or if persecuted by a tyrant a man is about to end his life at the place of execution, let his thought dwell on the power of Kwannon, and the executioner's sword will at once be broken to pieces.

Or if a man should find himself imprisoned and enchained with his hands and feet manacled and fettered, let his thought dwell on the power of Kwannon, and he will be released from the shackles.

If harm is going to be done to a man by means of magic or poisonous herbs, let his thought dwell on the power of Kwannon, and the curse will revert to the people from whom it started.

Or if a man should encounter a party of Rakshasas, or Nagas exhaling poison, or evil spirits, let his thought dwell on the power of Kwannon, and no harm will ever be done to him.

If a man is surrounded by wild beasts whose sharp teeth and claws are to be dreaded, let his thought dwell on the power of Kwannon, and they will quickly run away in all directions.

If a man is attacked by venomous snakes and scorpions breathing poisonous gas ready to scorch him, let his thought the power of Kwannon, and they will all turn away from him shrieking.

When thunder-clouds burst with flashes of lightning, a storm of hailstones or pouring rain in torrents, thought dwell on the power of Kwannon and the storm will in no time clear away.

If a calamity falls on beings and they are tortured with interminable pain, [let them resort to] Kwannon who, being endowed with the mysterious power of wisdom, will save them from all troubles in the world.

Kwannon is the possessor of miraculous powers, widely disciplined in knowledge and skilful means, and in all the lands of the ten quarters there is not a place where he does not manifest himself.

The various evil paths of existence such as hells, evil spirits, beastly creatures, etc., and the pains arising from birth, old age, disease, and death--they will all by degrees be annihilated.

[Kwannon is] the one who views the world in truth, free from defilement, with knowledge extending far, and full of love and compassion; he is to be always prayed to and always adored.

He is a pure, spotless light and, like the sun, dispels all darkness with wisdom, and also subverts the disastrous effects of wind and fire; his all-illuminating light fills the world.

His body of love he keeps under control like thunder that shakes the world; his thought of compassion resembles a great mass of cloud from which a rain of the Dharma comes down like nectar, destroying the flames of evil passions.

If a man is held at court with a case against him, or if he is intimidated at a military camp, let his thought dwell on the power of Kwannon, and all his enemies will beat retreat.

[His is] a most exquisite voice, a voice that surveys the World, the voice of Brahma, the voice of the ocean-one that excels all the voices of the world. For this reason let our thought always dwell on him.

Let us never cherish thoughts of doubt about Kwanzeon who is thoroughly pure and holy and is really a refuge and protector in trouble, grief, death, and disaster.

He is in possession of all merits, regards all things with an eye of compassion, and like the ocean holds in himself an inestimable mass of virtues. For this reason he is to be adored.

At that time Jiji Bosatsu[1] rose from his seat, and standing before the Buddha said: World-honoured One, they are truly furnished with no small amount of merit who listen to his Chapter on Kwanzeon Bosatsu, in which his life of perfect activities is described--the life of one who endowed with miraculous powers, manifests himself in all directions.

When the Buddha finished preaching this Chapter on the All-sided One all the people in the assembly, amounting to 84,000 in number, cherished the desire for the supreme enlightenment with which there is nothing to compare.



1. Thus I have heard.

At one time the Buddha stayed at Anathapindaka's Garden in the grove of Jeta in the kingdom of Sravasti; he was together with 1,250 great Bhikshus. When the meal time came the World-honoured One put on his cloak and, holding his bowl, entered the great city of Sravasti, where he begged for food. Having finished his begging from door to door, he came back to his own place, and took his meal.

[1. Dharanindhara in Sanskrit, "the supporter of the earth".

2 Kongokyo in Japanese. The full title in Sanskrit is Vajracchedika-prajna-paramita-sutra. It belongs to the Prajna class of Mahayana literature. Those who are not accustomed to this kind of reasoning may wonder what is the ultimate signification of all these negations. The Prajna dialectic means to lead us to a higher affirmation by contradicting a simple direct statement. It differs from the Hegelian in its directness and intuitiveness.

The present English translation is from Kumarajiva's Chinese version made between 402-412 C.E.]

When this was done, he put away his cloak and bowl, washed his feet, spread his seat, and sat down.

2. Then the Venerable Subhuti, who was among the assembly, rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, set his right knee on the ground, and, respectfully folding his hands, addressed the Buddha thus:

"It is wonderful, World-honoured One, that the Tathagata thinks so much of all the Bodhisattvas and instructs them so well. World-honoured One, in case good men and good women ever raise the desire for the Supreme Enlightenment, how would they abide in it? how would they keep their thoughts under control?"

The Buddha said: "Well said, indeed, O Subhuti! As you say, the Tathagata thinks very much of all the Bodhisattvas, and so instructs them well. But now listen attentively and I will tell you. In case good men and good women raise the desire for the Supreme Enlightenment, they should thus abide in it, they should thus keep their thoughts under control."

"So be it, World-honoured One, I wish to listen to You."

3. The Buddha said to Subhuti: "All the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas should thus keep their thoughts under control. All kinds of beings such as the egg-born, the womb-born, the moisture-born, the miraculously-born, those with form, those without form, those with consciousness, those without consciousness, those with no-consciousness, and those without no-consciousness--they are all led by me to enter Nirvana that leaves nothing behind and to attain final emancipation. Though thus beings immeasurable, innumerable, and unlimited are emancipated, there are in reality no beings that are ever emancipated. Why, Subhuti? If a Bodhisattva retains the thought of an ego, a person, a being, or a soul, he is no more a Bodhisattva.

4. "Again, Subhuti, when a Bodhisattva practises charity he should not be cherishing any idea, that is to say, he is not to cherish the idea of a form when practising charity, nor is he to cherish the idea of a sound, an odour, a touch, or a quality.[1] Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should thus practise charity without cherishing any idea of form. Why? When a Bodhisattva practises charity without cherishing any idea of form, his merit will be beyond conception. Subhuti, what do you think? Can you have the conception of space extending eastward?"

"No, World-honoured One ' I cannot."

"Subhuti, can you have the conception of space extending towards the south, or west, or north, or above, or below?"

"No, World-honoured One, I cannot."

"Subhuti, so it is with the merit of a Bodhisattva who practises charity without cherishing any idea of form; it is beyond conception. Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should cherish only that which is taught to him.

5. "Subhuti, what do you think? Is the Tathagata to be recognized after a body-form?"

"No, World-honoured One, he is not to be recognized after a body-form. Why? According to the Tathagata, a body-form is not a body-form."

The Buddha said to Subhuti, "All that has a form is an illusive existence. When it is perceived that all form is no-form, the Tathagata is recognized."

6. Subhuti said to the Buddha: "World-honoured One, if beings hear such words and statements, would they have a true faith in them?"

The Buddha said to Subhuti: "Do not talk that way. In the last five hundred years after the passing of the Tathagata, there may be beings who, having practised rules of morality and, being thus possessed of merit, happen to hear of these statements and rouse a true faith in them. Such beings, you must know, are those who have planted their root of merit not only under one, two, three, four, or five Buddhas, but already under thousands of myriads of asamkhyeyas of Buddhas have they planted their root of merit of all kinds. Those who hearing these statements rouse even one thought

[1. Dharma, that is, the object of manovijnana, thought, as form (rupa) is the object of the visual sense, sound that of the auditory sense, odour that of the olfactory sense, and so forth.]

of pure faith, Subhuti, are all known to the Tathagata, and recognized by him as having acquired such an immeasurable amount of merit. Why? Because all these beings are free from the idea of an ego, a person, a being, or a soul; they are free from the idea of a dharma as well as from that of a no-dharma. Why? Because if they cherish in their minds the ,idea of a form, they are attached to an ego, a person, a being, or a soul. If they cherish the idea of a dharma, they are attached to an ego, a person, a being, or a soul. Why? If they cherish the idea of a no-dharma, they are attached to an ego, a person, a being, or a soul. Therefore, do not cherish the idea of a dharma, nor that of a no-dharma. For this reason, the Tathagata always preaches thus: 'O you Bhikshus, know that my teaching is to be likened unto a raft. Even a dharma is cast aside, much more a no-dharma.'

7. "Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Tathagata attained the supreme enlightenment? Has he something about which he would preach?"

Subhuti said: "World-honoured One, as I understand the teaching of the Buddha, there is no fixed doctrine about which the Tathagata would preach. Why? Because the doctrine he preaches is not to be adhered to, nor is it to be preached about; it is neither a dharma nor a no-dharma. 'How is it so? Because all wise men belong to the category known as non-doing (asamskara), and yet they are distinct from one another.

8. "Subhuti, what do you think? If a man should fill the three thousand chiliocosms with the seven precious treasures and give them all away for charity, would not the merit he thus obtains be great?"

Subhuti said: "Very great, indeed, World-honoured One."

"Why? Because their merit is characterized with the quality of not being a merit. Therefore, the Tathagata speaks of the merit as being great. If again there is a man who, holding even the four lines in this sutra, preaches about it to Others, his merit will be superior to the one just mentioned. Because, Subhuti, all the Buddhas and their supreme enlightenment issue from this sutra. Subhuti, what is known as the teaching of the Buddha is not the teaching of the Buddha.

9. "Subhuti, what do you think? Does a Srotapanna think in this wise: 'I have obtained the fruit of Srotapatti'?"

Subhuti said: "No, World-honoured One, he does not. Why? Because while Srotapanna means 'entering the stream' there is no entering here. He is called a Srotaparma who does not enter [a world of] form, sound, odour, taste, touch, and quality.

"Subhuti, what do you think? Does a Sakridagamin think in this wise, 'I have obtained the fruit of a Sakridagamin'?"

Subhuti said: "No, World-honoured One, he does not. Why? Because while Sakridagamin means 'going-and-coming for once', there is really no going-and-coming here, and he is then called a Sakridagamin."

"Subhuti, what do you think? Does an Anagamin think in this wise: 'I have obtained the fruit of an Anagamin'?"

Subhuti said: "No, World-honoured One, he does not. Why? Because while Anagamin means 'not-coming' there is really no not-coming and therefore he is called an Anagamin."

"Subhuti, what do you think? Does an Arhat think in this wise: 'I have obtained Arhatship'?"

Subhuti said: "No, World-honoured One, he does not. Why? Because there is no dharma to be called Arhat. If, World-honoured One, an Arhat thinks in this wise: 'I have obtained Arhatship,' this means that he is attached to an ego, a person, a being, or a soul. Although the Buddha says that I am the foremost of those who have attained Aranasamadhi,[1] that I am the foremost of those Arhats who are liberated from evil desires, World-honoured One, I cherish no such thought that I have attained Arhatship. World-honoured One, [if I did,] you would not tell me: 'O Subhuti,

[1. That is, Samadhi of non-resistance. Arana also means a forest where the Yogin retires to practise his meditation.]

are one who enjoys the life of non-resistance.' Just because Subhuti is not at all attached to this life, he is said to be the one who enjoys the life of non-resistance."

10. The Buddha said to Subhuti: "What do you think?

When the Tathagata was anciently with Dipankara Buddha did he have an attainment in the Dharma?"

"No, World-honoured One, he did not. The Tathagata while with Dipankara Buddha had no attainment whatever the Dharma."

"Subhuti, what do you think? Does a Bodhisattva set any Buddha-land in array?"

"No, World-honoured One, he does not."

"Why? Because to set a Buddha-land in array is not to set it in array, and therefore it is known as setting it in array. Therefore, Subhuti, all the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas should thus rouse a pure thought. They should not cherish any thought dwelling on form; they should -not cherish any thought dwelling on sound, odour, taste, touch, and quality; they should cherish thoughts dwelling on nothing whatever. Subhuti, it is like unto a human body equal in size to Mount Sumeru; what do you think? Is not this body large?"

Subhuti said: "Very large indeed, World-honoured One. Why? Because the Buddha teaches that that which is no-body is known as a large body."

11. "Subhuti, regarding the sands of the Ganga, suppose there are as many Ganga rivers as those sands, what do you think? Are not the sands of all those Ganga rivers many?"

Subhuti said: "Very many, indeed, World-honoured one."

"Considering such Gangas alone, they must be said to be numberless; how much more the sands of all those Ganga rivers! Subhuti, I will truly ask you now. If there is a good man or a good woman who, filling all the worlds in the three thousand chiliocosms--all the worlds as many as the sands of these Ganga rivers--with the seven precious treasures, Uses them all for charity, would not this merit be very large?"

Subhuti said: "Very large indeed, World-honoured One."

Buddha said to Subhuti: "If a good man or a good woman holding even four lines from this sutra preach it to others, this merit is much larger than the preceding one.

12. "Again, Subhuti, wherever this sutra or even four lines of it are preached, this place will be respected by all beings including Devas, Asuras, etc., as if it were the Buddha's own shrine or chaitya; how much more a person who can hold and recite this sutra! Subhuti, you should know that such a person achieves the highest, foremost, and most wonderful deed. Wherever this sutra is kept, the place is to be regarded as if the Buddha or a venerable disciple of his were present."

13. At that time, Subhuti said to the Buddha: "World-honoured One, what will this sutra be called? How should we hold it?"

The Buddha said to Subhuti: "This sutra will be called the Vajra-prajna-paramita, and by this title you will hold it. The reason is, Subhuti, that, according to the teaching of the Buddha, Prajnaparamita is not Prajnaparamita and therefore it is called Prajnaparamita. Subhuti, what do you think? Is there anything about which the Tathagata preaches?"

Subhuti said to the Buddha: "World-honoured One, there is nothing about which the Tathagata preaches."

"Subhuti, what do you think? Are there many particles of dust in the three thousand chiliocosms?"

Subhuti said: "Indeed, there are many, World-honoured One."

"Subhuti, the Tathagata teaches that all these many particles of dust are no-particles of dust and therefore that they are called particles of dust; he teaches that the world is no-world and therefore that the world is called the world.

"Subhuti, what do you think? Is the Tathagata to be recognized by the thirty-two marks [of a great man]?"

"No, World-honoured One, he is not."

"The Tathagata is not to be recognized by the thirty-two marks, because what are said to be the thirty-two marks are told by the Tathagata to be no-marks and therefore to the thirty-two marks. Subhuti, if there be a good man or a good woman who gives away his or her lives as many as the sands of the Ganga, his or her merit thus gained does not exceed that of one who, holding even one gatha of four lines from this sutra, preaches them for others."

14. At that time Subhuti, listening to this sutra, had a deep understanding of its signification, and, filled with tears of gratitude, said this to the Buddha: "Wonderful, indeed, World-honoured One, that the Buddha teaches us this sutra full of deep sense. Such a sutra has never been heard by me even with an eye of wisdom acquired in my past lives. World-honoured One, if there be a man who listening to this sutra acquires a pure believing heart he will then have a true idea of things. This one is to be known as having achieved a most wonderful virtue. World-honoured One, what is known as a true idea is no-idea, and for this reason it is called a true idea.

"World-honoured One, it is not difficult for me to believe, to understand, and to hold this sutra to which I have now listened; but in the ages to come, in the next five hundred years, if there are beings who listening to this sutra are able to believe, to understand, and to hold it, they will indeed be most wonderful beings. Why? Because they will have no idea of an ego, of a person, of a being, or of a soul. For what reason? The idea of an ego is no-idea [of ego], the idea of a person, a being, or a soul is no-idea [of a person, a being, or a soul]. For what reason? They are Buddhas who are free from all kinds of ideas."

The Buddha said to Subhuti, "It is just as you say. If there be a man who, listening to this sutra, is neither frightened nor alarmed nor disturbed, you should know him as a wonderful person. Why? Subhuti, it is taught by the Tathagata that the first Paramita is no-first-Paramita and therefore it is called the first Paramita. Subhuti, the Paramita of humility (patience) is said by the Tathagata to be no-Paramita of humility, and therefore it is the Paramita of humility. Why? Subhuti, anciently, when my body was cut to pieces by the King of Kalinga, I had neither the idea of an ego, nor the idea of a person, nor the idea of a being, nor the idea of a soul. Why? When at that time my body was dismembered, limb after limb, joint after joint, if I had the idea either of an ego, or of a person, or of a being, or a soul, the feeling of anger and ill-will would have been awakened in me. Subhuti, I remember, in my past five hundred births, I was a rishi called Kshanti, and during those times I had neither the idea of an ego, nor that of a person, nor that of a being, nor that of a soul.

"Therefore, Subhuti, you should, detaching yourself from all ideas, rouse the desire for the supreme enlightenment. You should cherish thoughts without dwelling on form, you should cherish thoughts without dwelling on sound, odour, taste, touch, or quality. Whatever thoughts you may have, they are not to dwell on anything. If a thought dwells on anything, this is said to be no-dwelling. Therefore, the Buddha teaches that a Bodhisattva is not to practise charity by dwelling on form. Subhuti, the reason he practises charity is to benefit all beings.

"The Tathagata teaches that all ideas are no-ideas, and again that all beings are no-beings. Subhuti, the Tathagata is the one who speaks what is true, the one who speaks what is real, the one whose words are as they are, the one who does not speak falsehood, the one who does not speak equivocally.

"Subhuti, in the Dharma attained by the Tathagata there is neither truth nor falsehood. Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva should practise charity, cherishing a thought which dwells on the Dharma he is like unto a person who enters the darkness, he sees nothing. If he should practise charity without cherishing a thought that dwells on the Dharma, he is like unto a person with eyes, he sees all kinds of forms illumined by the sunlight.

"Subhuti, if there are good men and good women in the time to come who hold and recite this sutra, they will be seen and recognized by the Tathagata with his Buddha-knowledge, and they will all mature immeasurable and innumerable merit.

15. "Subhuti, if there is a good man or a good woman who would in the first part of the day sacrifice as many bodies of his or hers as the sands of the Ganga, and again in the middle part of the day sacrifice as many bodies of his or hers as the sands of the Ganga, and again in the latter part of the day sacrifice as many bodies of his or hers as the sands of the Ganga, and keep up these sacrifices through hundred-thousands of myriads of kotis of kalpas; and if there were another who listening to this sutra would accept it with a believing heart, the merit the latter would acquire would far exceed that of the former. How much more the merit of one who would copy, hold, learn, and recite and expound it for others!

"Subhuti, to sum up, there is in this sutra a mass of merit, immeasurable, innumerable, and incomprehensible. The Tathagata has preached this for those who were awakened in the Mahayana (great vehicle), he has preached it for those who were awakened in the Sreshthayana (highest Vehicle). If there were beings who would hold and learn and expound it for others, they would all be known to the Tathagata and recognized by him, and acquire merit which is unmeasured, immeasurable, innumerable, and incomprehensible. Such beings are known to be carrying the supreme enlightenment attained by the Tathagata. 'Why? Subhuti, those who desire inferior doctrines are attached to the idea of an ego, a person, a being, and a soul. They are unable to hear, hold, learn, recite, and for others expound this sutra. Subhuti, wherever this sutra is preserved, there all beings, including Devas and Asuras, will come and worship it. This place will have to be known as a chaitya, the object of worship and obeisance, where the devotees gather around, scatter flowers, and burn incense.

16. "Again, Subhuti, there are some good men and good women who will be despised for their holding and reciting this sutra. This is due to their previous evil karma for the reason of which they were to fall into the evil paths of existence; but because of their being despised in the present life, whatever evil karma they produced in their previous lives will be thereby destroyed, and they will be able to attain the supreme enlightenment.

"Subhuti, as I remember, in my past lives innumerable asamkhyeya kalpas ago I was with Dipankara Buddha, and at that time I saw Buddhas as many as eighty-four hundred. thousands of myriads of nayutas and made offerings to them and respectfully served them all, and not one of them was passed by me.

"If again in the last [five hundred] years, there have been people who hold and recite and learn this sutra, the merit they thus attain [would be beyond calculation], for when this is compared with the merit I have attained by serving all the Buddhas, the latter will not exceed one hundredth part of the former, no, not one hundred thousand ten millionth part. No, it is indeed beyond calculation, beyond analogy.

"Subhuti, if there have been good men and good women in the last five hundred years who hold, recite, and learn this sutra, the merit they attain thereby I cannot begin to enumerate in detail. If I did, those who listen to it would lose their minds, cherish grave doubts, and not believe at all how beyond comprehension is the significance of this sutra and how also beyond comprehension the rewards are."[1]

18. The Buddha said to Subhuti: "Of all beings in those innumerable lands, the Tathagata knows well all their mental traits. Why? Because the Tathagata teaches that all those mental traits are no-traits and therefore they are

[1. This finishes the first part of the Diamond Sutra as it is usually divided here and passes on to the second part. The text goes on in a similar strain through its remaining section. Indeed, there are some scholars who think that the second part is really a repetition of the first, or that they are merely different copies of one and the same original text, and that whatever variations there are in these two copies arc the result of the glosses mixed into the text itself. While I cannot wholly subscribe to this view, the fact is that passages containing similar thoughts recur throughout the whole Prajnaparamita literature. In view of this I quote in the following only such ideas as have not fully been expressed in the first part.]

known to be mental traits. Subhuti, thoughts[1] of the past are beyond grasp, thoughts of the present are beyond grasp, and thoughts of the future are beyond grasp."

23. "Again, Subhuti, this Dharma is even and has neither elevation nor depression; and it is called supreme enlightenment. Because a man practises everything that is good, without cherishing the thought of an ego, a person, a being, and a soul, he attains the supreme enlightenment. Subhuti, what is called good is no-good, and therefore it is known as good."

26. "Subhuti, what do you think? Can a man see the Tathagata by the thirty-two marks [of a great man]?"

Subhuti said: "So it is, so it is. The Tathagata is seen by his thirty-two marks."

The Buddha said to Subhuti, "If the Tathagata is to be seen by his thirty-two marks, can the Cakravartin be a Tathagata?"

Subhuti said to the Buddha: "World-honoured One, as I understand the teaching of the Buddha, the Tathagata is not to be seen by the thirty-two marks."

Then the World-honoured One uttered this gatha:

"If any one by form sees me,
By voice seeks me,
This one walks the false path,
And cannot see the Tathagata."

29. "Subhuti, if a man should declare that the Tathagata is the one who comes, or goes, or sits, or lies, he does not understand the meaning of my teaching. Why? The Tathagata does not come from anywhere, and does not depart to anywhere; therefore he is called the Tathagata.

[1. Citta stands for both mind and thought. The idea expressed here is that there is no particularly determined entity in us which is psychologically designated as mind or thought. The moment we think we have taken hold of a thought, it is no more with us. So with the idea of a soul, or an ego, or a being, or a Person, there is no such particular entity objectively to be so distinguished, and which remains as such eternally separated from the subject who so thinks. This ungraspability of a mind or thought, which is tantamount to saying that there is no soul-substance as a solitary unrelated "thing" in the recesses of consciousness, is one of the basic doctrines of Buddhism, Mahayana and Hinayana.]

32. "How does a man expound it for others? When one is not attached to form, it is of Suchness remaining unmoved. Why?

"All composite things (samskrita)
Are like a dream, a phantasm, a bubble, and a shadow,
Are like a dew-drop and a flash of lightning;
They are thus to be regarded."



This sutra is said to have been given by Bodhidharma to his chief disciple Hui-k'e as containing the essential teaching of Zen. Since then it has been studied chiefly by Zen philosophers. But being full of difficult technical terms in combination with a rugged style of writing, the text has not been so popular for study as other Mahayana sutras, for instance, the Pundarika, the Vimalakirti, or the Vajracchedika.

The chief interlocutor is a Bodhisattva called Mahamati, and varied subjects of philosophical speculation are discussed against a background of deep religious concern. The topic most interesting for the reader of this book is that of svapratyatmagati, i.e. self-realization of the highest truth.

Some of the terms may be explained here: "Birth and death" (samsara in Sanskrit) always stands contrasted to "Nirvana". Nirvana is the highest truth and the norm of existence while birth and death is a world of particulars governed by karma and causation. As long as we are subject to karma we go from one birth to another, and suffer all the ills necessarily attached to this kind of life, though it is a form of immortality. What Buddhists want is not this.

"Mind only" (cittamatra) is an uncouth term. It means absolute mind, to be distinguished from an empirical mind which is the subject of psychological study. When it begins with a capital letter, it is the ultimate reality on which the entire world of individual objects depends for its value. To realise this truth is the aim of the Buddhist life.

By "what is seen of the Mind-only" is meant this visible world including that which is generally known as mind. Our ordinary experience takes this world for something that has its "self-nature", i.e. existing by itself. But a higher intuition tells us that this is not so, that it is an illusion, and that what really exists is Mind, which being absolute knows no second. All that we see and hear and think of as objects of the vijnanas are what rise and disappear in and of the Mind-only.

This absolute Mind is also called in the Lankavatara the Dharma of Solitude (vivikta-dhama), because it stands by itself. It also signifies the Dharma's being absolutely quiescent.

There is no "discrimination" in this Dharma of Solitude, which means that discrimination belongs to this side of existence where multiplicities obtain and causation rules. Indeed, without this discrimination no world is possible.

Discrimination is born of "habit-energy" or "memory", which lies latently preserved in the "alayavijnana" or all-conserving consciousness. This consciousness alone has no power to act by itself. It is altogether passive, and remains Inactive until a particularizing agency touches it. The appearance of this agency is a great mystery which is not to be solved by the intellect; it is something to be accepted simply as such. It is awakened "all of a sudden", according to Asvaghosha.

To understand what this suddenness means is the function of "noble wisdom" (aryajnana). But as a matter of experience, the sudden awakening of discrimination has no meaning behind it. The fact is simply that it is awakened, and no more; it is not an expression pointing to something else.

When the Alayavijnana or the all-conserving consciousness is considered a store-house, or better, a creative matrix from which all the Tathagatas issue, it is called "Tathagata-garbha". The Garbha is the womb.

Ordinarily, all our cognitive apparatus is made to work outwardly in a world of relativity, and for this reason we become deeply involved in it so that we fail to realize the freedom we all intrinsically possess, and as a result we are annoyed on all sides. To turn away from all this, what may psychologically be called a "revulsion" or "revolution" must take place in our inmost consciousness. This is not however a mere empirical psychological fact to be explained in terms of consciousness. It takes place in the deepest recesses of our being. The original Sanskrit is paravrittasraya.

The following extracts are from my English translation (1932) of the original Sanskrit text edited by Bunyu Nanjo, 1923.


Further, Mahamati, those who, afraid of sufferings arising from the discrimination of birth and death, seek for Nirvana, do not know that birth and death and Nirvana are not to be separated the one from the other; and, seeing that all things subject to discrimination have no reality, imagine that Nirvana consists in the further annihilation of the senses and their fields. They are not aware, Mahamati, of the fact that Nirvana is the Alayavijnana where a revulsion takes place by self-realization. Therefore, Mahamati, those who are stupid talk of the trinity of vehicles and not of the state of Mind-only where there are no shadows. Therefore, Mahamati, those who do not understand the teachings of the Tathagatas of the past, present, and future, concerning the external world, which is of Mind itself, cling to the notion that there is a world outside what is seen of the Mind and, Mahamati, go on rolling themselves along the wheel of birth and death.


Further, Mahamati, according to the teaching of the Tathagatas of the past, present, and future, all things are unborn. Why? Because they have no reality, being manifestations of Mind itself; and, Mahamati, as they are not born of being and non-being, they are unborn. Mahamati, all things are like the horns of the hare, horse, donkey, or camel, but the ignorant and simple-minded, who are given up to their false and erroneous imaginations, discriminate things where they are not; therefore, all things are unborn. That all things are in their self-nature unborn, Mahamati, belongs to the realm of self-realization attained by noble wisdom, and does not belong essentially to the realm of dualistic discrimination cherished by the ignorant and simple-minded.

The self-nature and the characteristic marks of body, property, and abode evolve when the Alayavijnana is conceived of by the ignorant as grasping and grasped; and then they fall into a dualistic view of existence where they recognize its rise, abiding, and disappearance, cherishing the idea that all things are born and subject to discrimination as to being and non-being. Therefore, Mahamati, you should discipline yourself therein [i.e. in self-realization].


Further again, Mahamati, let the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva have a thorough understanding as to the nature of the twofold egolessness. Mahamati, what is this twofold egolessness? [It is the egolessness of persons and the egolessness of things. What is meant by egolessness of persons? It means that] in the collection of the Skandhas, Dhatus, and Ayatanas there is no ego-substance, nor anything belonging to it; the Vijnana is originated by ignorance, deed, and desire, and keeps up its function by grasping objects by means of the sense-organs, such as the eye, etc., and by clinging to them as real; while a world of objects and bodies is manifested owing to the discrimination that takes place in the world which is of Mind itself, that is, in the Alayavijnana.

By reason of the habit-energy stored up by false imagination since beginningless time, this world (vishaya) is subject to change and destruction from moment to moment; it is like a river, a seed, a lamp, wind, a cloud; [while the Vijnana itself is] like a monkey who is always restless, like a fly who is ever in search of unclean things and defiled places, like a fire which is never satisfied. Again, it is like a water-drawing wheel or a machine, it [i.e. the Vijnana] goes on rolling the wheel of transmigration, carrying varieties of bodies and forms, resuscitating the dead like the demon Vetala, causing the wooden figures to move about as a magician moves them. Mahamati, a thorough understanding concerning these phenomena is called comprehending the egolessness of persons.

Now, Mahamati, what is meant by the egolessness of things? It is to realize that the Skandhas, Dhatus, and Ayatanas are characterized with the nature of false discrimination. Mahamati, since the Skandhas, Dhatus, and Ayatanas are destitute of an ego-substance, being no more than an aggregation of the Skandhas, and subject to the conditions of mutual origination which are causally bound up with the string of desire and deed; and since thus there is no creating agent in them, Mahamati, the Skandhas are even destitute of the marks of individuality and generality-, and the ignorant, owing to their erroneous discrimination, imagine here the multiplicity of phenomena; the wise, however, do not. Recognizing, Mahamati, that all things are devoid of the Citta, Manas, Manovijnana, the five Dharmas, and the [three] Svabhavas, the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, will well understand what is meant by the egolessness of things.

Again, Mahamati, when the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva has a good understanding as regards the egolessness of things, before long he will attain the first stage [of the Bodhisattvahood], when he gets a definite cognition of the ageless. When a definite acquisition is obtained regarding aspect of the stages [of Bodhisattvahood], the Bodhisattva will experience joy, and, gradually and successively going the scale, will reach the ninth stage where his insight is perfected, and [finally the tenth stage known as] Great Dharma-megha.

Establishing himself here, he will be seated in the great Jewel palace known as "Great Lotus Throne" which is in the shape of a lotus and is adorned with various sorts of jewels and pearls; he will then acquire and complete a world of Maya-nature; surrounded by Bodhisattvas of the same character and anointed like the son of the Cakravarti by the hands of the Buddhas coming from all the Buddha-lands, he will go beyond the last stage of Bodhisattvahood, attain the noble truth of self-realization, and become a Tathagata endowed with the perfect freedom of the Dharmakaya, because of his insight into the egolessness of things. This, Mahamati, is what is meant by the egolessness of all things, and in this you and other Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas should well exercise yourselves.


At that time, Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva said this to the Blessed One: Now the Blessed One makes mention of the Tathagata-garbha in the sutras, and verily it is described by you as by nature bright and pure, as primarily unspotted, endowed with the thirty-two marks of excellence, hidden in the body of every being like a gem of great value, which is enwrapped in a dirty garment, enveloped in the garment of the Skandhas, Dhatus, and Ayatanas, and soiled with the dirt of greed, anger, folly, and false imagination, while it is described by the Blessed One to be eternal, permanent, auspicious, and unchangeable. Is not this Tathagata-garbha taught by the Blessed One the same as the ego-substance taught by the philosophers? The ego as taught in the systems of the philosophers is an eternal creator, unqualified, omnipresent, and imperishable.

The Blessed One replied: No, Mahamati, my Tathagata-garbha is not the same as the ego taught by the philosophers; for what the Tathagatas teach is the Tathagata-garbha in the sense, Mahamati, that it is emptiness, reality-limit, Nirvana, being unborn, unqualified, and devoid of will-effort; the reason why the Tathagatas, who are Arhats and Fully-Enlightened Ones, teach the doctrine pointing to the Tathagata-garbha is to make the ignorant cast aside their fear when they listen to the teaching of egolessness and to have them realize the state of non-discrimination and imagelessness.

I also wish, Mahamati, that the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas of the present and future would not attach themselves to the idea of an ego [imagining it to be a soul]. Mahamati, it is like a potter who manufactures various vessels out of a mass of clay of one sort by his own manual skill and labour combined with a rod, water, and thread, Mahamati, that the Tathagatas preach the egolessness of things which removes all the traces of discrimination by various skilful means issuing from their transcendental wisdom; that is, sometimes by the doctrine of the Tathagata-garbha, sometimes by that of egolessness, and like a potter, by means of various terms, expressions, and synonyms. For this reason, Mahamati, the philosophers' doctrine of an ego-substance is not the same as the teaching of the Tathagata-garbha.

Thus, Mahamati, the doctrine of the Tathagata-garbha is disclosed in order to awaken the philosophers from their clinging to the idea of the ego, so that those minds that have fallen into the views imagining the non-existent ego as real, and also into the notion that the triple emancipation is final, may rapidly be awakened to the state of supreme enlightenment. Accordingly, Mahamati, the Tathagatas who are Arhats and Fully-Enlightened Ones disclose the doctrine of the Tathagata-garbha, which is thus not to be known as identical with the philosopher's notion of an ego-substance.

Therefore, Mahamati, in order to abandon the misconception cherished by the philosophers, you must strive after the teaching of egolessness and the Tathagata-garbha.


At that time, Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva again said this to the Blessed One:

Pray tell me, Blessed One, about the attainment of self-realization by noble wisdom, which does not belong to the path and the usage of the philosophers;

Which is devoid of [all such predicates as] being and non-being, oneness and otherness, bothness and not-bothness, existence and non-existence, eternity and non-eternity;

Which has nothing to do with the false imagination, nor with individuality and generality; which manifests itself as the truth of highest reality;

Which, going up continuously by degrees the stages of purification, enters upon the stage of Tathagatahood;

Which, because of the original vows unattended by any striving, will perform its works in infinite worlds like a gem reflecting a variety of colours;

And which is manifested [when one perceives how] signs of individuation rise in all things as one realizes the course and realm of what is seen of Mind itself, and thereby I and other Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas are enabled to survey things from the point of view which is not hampered by marks of individuality and generality nor by anything of the false imagination, and may quickly attain supreme enlightenment and enable all beings to achieve the perfection of all their virtues.

Replied the Blessed One: Well done, well done, Mahamati! and again, well done, indeed, Mahamati! Because of your compassion for the world, for the benefit of many people, for the happiness of many people, for the welfare, benefit, happiness of many people, both of celestial beings and humankind, Mahamati, you present yourself before me and make this request. Therefore, Mahamati, listen well and truly, and reflect, for I will tell you.

Assuredly, said Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, and gave ear to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said this to him: Mahamati, since the ignorant and the simple-minded, not knowing that the world is what is seen of Mind itself, cling to the multitudinousness of external objects, cling to the notions of being and nonbeing, oneness and otherness, bothness and not-bothness, existence and non-existence, eternity and non-eternity, as having the character of self-substance (svabhava), which idea rises from discrimination based on habit-energy, they are addicted to false imaginings.

Mahamati, it is like a mirage in which the springs are seen as if they were real. They are imagined so by the animals who, thirsty from the heat of the season, would run after them. Not knowing that the springs are their own mental illusions, the animals do not realize that there are no such springs. In the same way, Mahamati, the ignorant and simple-minded with their minds impressed by various erroneous speculations and discriminations since beginningless time; with their minds burning with the fire of greed, anger, and folly; delighted in a world of multitudinous forms; with their thoughts saturated with the ideas of birth, destruction, and subsistence; not understanding well what is meant by existent and non-existent, by inner and outer, these ignorant and simple-minded fall into the way of grasping at oneness and otherness, being and non-being [as realities].

Mahamati, it is like the city of the Gandharvas which the unwitted take for a real city, though it is not so in fact. This city appears in essence owing to their attachment to the memory of a city preserved in seed from beginningless time. This city is thus neither existent nor non-existent. In the same way, Mahamati, clinging to the memory (vasana) of erroneous speculations and doctrines since beginningless time, they hold fast to ideas such as oneness and otherness, being and non-being, and their thoughts are not at all clear about what is seen of Mind-only.

Mahamati, it is like a man, who, dreaming in his sleep of a country variously filled with women, men, elephants, horses, cars, pedestrians, villages, towns, hamlets, cows, buffalos, mansions, woods, mountains, rivers, and lakes, enters into its inner apartments and is awakened. While awakened thus, he recollects the city and its inner apartments. What do you think, Mahamati? Is this person to be regarded as wise, who is recollecting the various unrealities he has seen in his dream?

Said Mahamati: Indeed, he is not, Blessed One.

The Blessed One continued: In the same way the ignorant and simple-minded who are bitten by erroneous views and inclined towards the philosophers, do not recognize that things seen of the Mind itself are like a dream, and are held fast by the notions of oneness and otherness, of being and non-being.

Mahamati, it is like the painter's canvas on which there is neither depression nor elevation as imagined by the ignorant. In the same way, Mahamati, there may be in the future some people brought up in the habit-energy, mentality, and imagination based on the philosophers' erroneous views; clinging to the ideas of oneness and otherness, or bothness and not-bothness, they may bring themselves and others to ruin; they may declare those people nihilists who hold the doctrine of no-birth apart from the category of being and non-being. They [argue against] cause and effect, they are followers of the wicked views whereby they uproot meritorious causes of unstained purity. They are to be kept away by those whose desires are for things excellent. They are those whose thoughts are entangled in the error of self, other, and both, entangled in the error of imagining being and non-being, assertion and refutation; and hell will be their final resort.

Mahamati, it is like the dim-eyed ones who, seeing a hair-net, would exclaim to one another, saying: "It is wonderful! it is wonderful! Look, O honourable sirs!" And the said hair-net has never been brought into existence. It is in fact neither an entity nor a non-entity, because it is seen and not seen. In the same manner, Mahamati, those whose minds are addicted to discrimination of the erroneous views as cherished by the philosophers, and who are also given up to the realistic ideas of being and non-being, oneness and otherness, bothness and not-bothness, will contradict the good Dharma, ending in the destruction of themselves and others.

Mahamati, it is like a firebrand-wheel which is no real wheel but which is imagined to be of such character by the ignorant, but not by the wise. In the same manner, Mahamati, those whose minds have fallen into the erroneous views of the philosophers will falsely imagine in the rise of all beings [the reality of] oneness and otherness, bothness and not-bothness.

Mahamati, it is like those water-bubbles in a rainfall which have the appearance of crystal gems, and the ignorant taking them for real crystal gems run after them. Mahamati, they are no more than water-bubbles, they are not gems, nor are they not-gems, because of their being so comprehended [by one party] and being not so comprehended [by another] - In the same manner, Mahamati, those whose minds are impressed by the habit-energy of the philosophical views and discriminations will regard things born as non-existent and those destroyed by causation as existent.


Further, Mahamati, there are four kinds of Dhyanas. What are the four? They are: (1) The Dhyana practised by the ignorant, (2) the Dhyana devoted to the examination of meaning, (3) the Dhyana with Suchness for its object, and (4) the Dhyana of the Tathagatas.

What is meant by the Dhyana practised by the ignorant? It is the one resorted to by the Yogins exercising themselves the discipline of the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas, who perceiving that there is no ego-substance, that things are characterized with individuality and generality, that the body is a shadow and a skeleton which is transient, full of suffering, and is impure, persistently cling to these notions which are regarded as just so and not otherwise, and who starting from them successively advance until they reach the cessation where there arc no thoughts. This is called the Dhyana practised by the ignorant.

Mahamati, what then is the Dhyana devoted to the examination of meaning? It is the one [practised by those who,] having gone beyond the egolessness of things, individuality and generality, the untenability of such ideas as self, other, and both, which are held by the philosophers, proceed to examine and follow up the meaning of the [various] aspects of the egolessness of things and the stages of Bodhisattvahood. This is the Dhyana devoted to the examination of meaning.

What, Mahamati, is the Dhyana with Tathata for its object? When [the Yogin recognizes that] the discrimination of the two forms of egolessness is mere imagination, and that where he establishes himself in the reality of suchness (yathabhuta) there is no rising of discrimination, I call it the Dhyana with Tathata for its object.

What, Mahamati, is the Dhyana of the Tathagata? When [the Yogin], entering upon the stage of Tathagatahood and abiding in the triple bliss which characterizes self-realization attained by noble wisdom, devotes himself, for the sake of all beings to the [accomplishment of] incomprehensible works, I call it the Dhyana of the Tathagatas. Therefore, it is said:

There are the Dhyana for the examination of meaning, the Dhyana practised by the ignorant, the Dhyana with Tathata for its object, and the pure Dhyana of the Tathagata.

The Yogin, while in the exercise, sees the form of the sun or the moon, or something looking like a lotus, or the underworld, or various forms like sky, fire, etc.

All these appearances lead him to the way of the philosophers; they throw him down into the state of Sravakahood, into the realm of the Pratyekabuddhas.

When all these are tossed aside and there is a state of imagelessness, then a condition in conformity with Tathata presents itself; and the Buddhas will come together from all their countries and with their shining hands will stroke the head of this benefactor.


At the time, Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva asked the Blessed One to explain concerning the deep-seated attachment to the existence of all things and the way of emancipation, saying: Pray tell me, Blessed One, pray tell me Tathagata, Arhat, Fully-Enlightened One, concerning the characteristics of our deep attachment to existence and of our detachment from it.

When I and other Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas understand well the distinction between attachment and detachment, we shall know what is the skilful means concerning them, and shall no more become attached to words according to which we grasp meaning.

When we understand well what is meant by attachment to the existence of all things and the detachment from them we shall destroy our discrimination of words and letters; and, by means of our wisdom (buddhi), enter into all the Buddha-lands and assemblies; be well stamped with the stamp of the powers, the self-control, the psychic faculties, and the Dharanis; and, well furnished with the wisdom (buddhi) in the ten inexhaustible vows, and shining with varieties of rays pertaining to the Transformation Body, behave ourselves with effortlessness like the moon, the sun, the jewel, and the elements; and hold such views at every stage as are free from all the signs of self-discrimination; and, seeing that all things are like a dream, like Maya, etc., [shall be able to] enter the stage and abode of Buddhahood, and deliver discourses on the Dharma in the world of all beings and in accordance with their needs, and free them from the dualistic notion of being and non-being in the contemplation of all things which are like a dream and Maya, and free them also from the false discrimination of birth and destruction; and, finally, [shall be able to] establish ourselves where there is a revulsion at the deepest recesses [of our consciousness], which is more than words [Can express].

Said the Blessed One: Well said, well said, Mahamati! Listen well to me then, Mahamati, and reflect well within yourself; I will tell you.

Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva: said: Certainly, I will, Blessed One; and gave ear to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said to him thus: Mahamati, immeasurable is our deep-seated attachment to the existence of all things the significance of which we try to understand with words. For instance, there are the deep-seated attachments to signs of individuality, to causation, to the notion of being and non-being, to the discrimination of birth and no-birth, to the discrimination of cessation and no-cessation, to the discrimination of vehicle and no-vehicle, of Samskrita and Asamskrita, of the characteristics of the stages and no-stages. There is the attachment to discrimination itself, and to that arising from enlightenment the attachment to the discrimination of being and non-being on which the philosophers are so dependent, and the attachment to the triple vehicle and the one vehicle, which they discriminate.

These and others, Mahamati, are the deep-seated attachments to their discriminations cherished by the ignorant and simple-minded. Tenaciously attaching themselves to these, the ignorant and simple-minded go on ever discriminating like the silkworms, which, with their own thread of discrimination and attachment, enwrap not only themselves but others and are charmed with the thread; and thus they are ever tenaciously attached to the notions of existence and non-existence. [But really] Mahamati, there are no signs here of deep-seated attachment or detachment. All things are to be seen as abiding in Solitude where there is no evolving of discrimination. Mahamati, the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva should have his abode where he can see all things from the viewpoint of Solitude.

Further, Mahamati, when the existence and nonexistence of the external world are understood to be due to the seeing of the Mind itself in these signs, [the Bodhisattva] can enter upon the state of imagelessness where Mind-only is, and [there] see into the Solitude which underlies the discrimination of all things as being and non-being, and the deep-seated attachments resulting therefrom. This being so, there are in all things no signs of a deep-rooted attachment or of detachment. Here Mahamati, is nobody in bondage, nobody in emancipation, except those who by reason of their perverted wisdom recognize bondage and emancipation. Why? Because in all things neither being nor non-being is to be taken hold of.

Further, Mahamati, there are three attachments deep-seated in the minds of the ignorant and simple-minded. They are greed, anger, and folly; and thus there is desire which is procreative and is accompanied by joy and greed; closely attached to this there takes place a succession of births in the [five] paths. Thus there are the five paths of existence for all beings who are found closely attached [to greed, anger, and folly]. When one is cut off from this attachment, no signs will be seen indicative of attachment or of non-attachment.



There are in the Chinese Tripitaka two sutras bearing the title, "Surangama", but they are entirely different in contents. The first one was translated into Chinese by

[1. "Sutra of Heroic Deed".]

Kumarajiva between 402-412 and consists of two fascicles. The second one in ten fascicles was translated by Paramiti in 705, and this is the one used by the Zen and also by the Shingon. The reason why it is used by the Shingon is because it contains the description of a mandala and a mantram called "Sitatarapatala" (white umbrella), the recitation of which, while practising the Samadhi, is supposed to help the Yogin, as the Buddhas and gods will guard him from the intrusion of the evil spirits. But the general trend of thought as followed in this sutra is Zen rather than Shingon. It was quite natural that all the commentaries of it belong to the Zen school. The terms used here are somewhat unusual--especially those describing the Mind. The sutra is perhaps one of the later Mahayana works developed in India. It treats of highly abstruse subjects. Below is a synopsis of it.

1. The sutra opens with Ananda's adventure with an enchantress called Matanga who, by her magic charm, entices him to her abode. The Buddha, seeing this with his supernatural sight, sends Manjusri to save him and bring him back to the Buddha. Ananda is thoroughly penitent and wishes to be further instructed in the art of controlling the mind. The Buddha tells him that all spiritual discipline must grow out of a sincere heart and that much learning has no practical value in life, especially when one's religious experience is concerned. Ananda had enough learning, but no Samadhi to stand against the influence of a sorceress.

2. The reason why we go through the eternal cycle of birth and death and suffer ills incident to it is our ignorance as to the source of birth and death, that is, because Mind-essence is forgotten in the midst of causal nexus which governs this world of particular objects.

This Mind-essence is variously characterized as something original, mysterious, mysteriously bright, illumining, true, perfect, clear as a jewel, etc. It is not to be confused with our empirical mind, for it is not an object of intellectual discrimination.

Ananda is asked to locate this Mind-essence. But, as his mind moves along the line of our relative experience, he fails to give a satisfactory answer. He pursues objective events which are subject to birth and death; he never reflects within himself to try to find the Mind bright and illumining which makes all his experiences possible.

3. Even the Bodhisattva cannot pick up this mysteriously transparent Essence out of a world of individual things. He cannot demonstrate its reality by means of his discerning intelligence. It is not there. But that the Essence is there is evident from the fact that the eye sees, the ear hears, and the mind thinks. Only it is not discoverable as an individual object or idea, objective or subjective; for it has no existence in the way we talk of a tree or a sun, of a virtue or a thought. On he other hand, all these objects and thoughts are in the Mind-essence, true and original and mysteriously bright. Our body and mind is possible only when thought of in connection with it.

4. Because since the beginningless past we are running after objects, not knowing where our Self is, we lose track of the Original Mind and are tormented all the time by the threatening objective world, regarding it as good or bad, true or false, agreeable or disagreeable. We are thus slaves of things and circumstances. The Buddha advises that our real position ought to be exactly the other way. Let things follow us and wait our commands. Let the true Self give directions in all our dealings with the world. Then we shall all be Tathagatas. Our body and mind will retain its original virtue bright and shining. While not moving away from this seat of enlightenment, we shall make all the worlds in the ten quarters reveal themselves even at the tip of a hair.

5. Manjusri is Manjusri; he is absolute as he is; he is neither to be asserted nor to be negated. All assertions and negations start from the truth of this absolute identity, and this is no other than the originally illuminating Mind-essence. Based on this Essence, all the conditions that make up this world of the senses are fulfilled: we see, we hear, we feel, we learn, and we think.

6. Causation belongs to a world of opposites. It cannot be applied to the originally bright and illumining Essence. Nor can one ascribe to it "spontaneous activity", for this also presupposes the existence of an individual concrete substance of which it is an attribute. If the Essence is anything of which we can make any statements either affirmative or negative, it is no more the Essence. It is independent of all forms and ideas, and yet we cannot speak of it as not dependent on them. It is absolute Emptiness, sunyata, and for this very reason all things are possible in it.

7. The world including the mind is divisible into five Skandha (aggregates), six Pravesha (entrances), twelve Ayatana (seats), and eighteen Dhatu (kingdoms). They all come into existence when conditions are matured, and disappear when they cease. All these existences and conditions take place illusively in the Tathagata-garbha which is another name for the Mind-essence. It is the latter alone that eternally abides as Suchness bright, illumining, all-pervading, and immovable. In this Essence of eternal truth there is indeed neither going nor coming, neither becoming confused nor being enlightened, neither dying nor being born; it is absolutely unattainable and unexplainable by the intellect, for it lies beyond all the categories of thought.

8. The Tathagata-garbha is in itself thoroughly pure and all-pervading, and in it this formula holds: form is emptiness and emptiness is form. Rupam sunyata, sunyateva rupam. This being so, the Essence which is the Tathagata-garbha reveals itself in accordance with thoughts and dispositions of all beings, in response to their infinitely-varied degrees of knowledge, and also to their karma. In spite of its being involved in the evolution of a world of multiplicities, the Essence in itself never loses its original purity, brilliance .or emptiness, all of which terms are synonymous.

9. The knowledge of an objective world does not come from objects, nor from the senses; nor is it mere accident; nor is it an illusion. A combination of the several conditions or factors is necessary to produce the knowledge. But mere combination is not enough. This combination must take place in the originally pure, bright, illuminating Essence, which is the source of knowledge.

When this is realized, all the worlds in the ten quarters including one's own existence are perceived as so many particles of dust, floating, rising, and disappearing like foam, in the vast emptiness of space which the one illuminative Mind-essence eternally pervades.

10. The question: When the Tathagata-garbha is in itself so pure and undefiled, how is it possible that we have this world of mountains, rivers, and all other composite forms which are subject to constant changes and transformations?

This doubt comes from not understanding the absolute nature of the purity of the Essence. For by purity is not meant relative purity, which is only possible by establishing a dualistic conception of reality. The Essence is neither in the world nor of the world, nor is it outside the world. Therefore the question, which is based on a dualistic interpretation of reality, is altogether irrelevant when applied to the nature of the Essence and its relation to the world.

Hence this remarkable statement: The Tathagata-garbha, which is mysteriously bright and illuminating as the Mind-Essence, is neither to be identified nor not to be identified [with the world]; it is at once this and not-this.

11. Yajnadatta, a citizen of Sravasti, one morning looked into the mirror and found there a face with the most charming features. He thought his own head disappeared and thereby went crazy. This story is used to illustrate the stupidity of clinging to relative knowledge which rises from the opposition of subject and object. As we cling to it as having absolute value, a world of topsyturviness comes to extend before us. The original bright and charming face is possessed by every one of us only when we realize the fact by reflecting within ourselves, instead of running after unrealities.

12. Now Ananda wants to know how to get into the palatial mansion, which he is told to be his own. He is not in possession of the key wherewith he can open the entrance door. The Buddha teaches him in this way. There are two methods to effect the entrance, both of which being complementary must be practised conjointly. The one is Samatha and the other Vipasyana. Samatha means "tranquillization" and vipasyana "contemplation".

By Samatha the world of forms is shut out of one's consciousness so that an approach is prepared for the realization of the final stage of enlightenment. When one's mind is full of confusion and distraction, it is no fit organ for contemplation. By Vipasyana is meant that the Yogin is first to awaken the desire for enlightenment, to be firmly determined in living the life of Bodhisattvahood, and to have an illuminating idea as regards the source of the evil passions which are always ready to assert themselves in the Tathagata-garbha.

13. When this source is penetrated by means of Prajna, the entrance is effected to the inner sanctuary, where all the six senses are merged in one. Let the Prajna penetration enter through the auditory sense as was the case with Kwannon Bosatsu, and the distinctions of the six senses will thereby be effaced; that is to say, there will then take place an experience called "perfect interfusion". The car not only hears but sees, smells, and feels. All the barriers between the Sensory functions are removed, and there is a perfect interfusion running between them; each Vijnana then functions for the others.

The Buddha tells Rahula to strike the bell and asks the assembly what they hear. They all say that they hear the bell. The bell is struck again, and they again say that there is a sound which they hear; and that when the bell ceases to ring there is no sound. This questioning and answering .is repeated for a few times, and finally the Buddha declares that they are all wrong, for they are just pursuing what does not properly belong to them, forgetting altogether their inner Essence which functions through those objective mediums or conditions. The Essence is to be grasped and riot the hearing, nor the sound. To take the latter for reality is the result of confused mentality. By the practice of Vipasyana this is to be wiped off so that the Mind-essence is always recognized in all the functions of an empirical mind as- well as in all the phenomena of the so-called objective world. By thus taking hold of the Mind-essence, there is a "perfect interfusion" of all the six Vijnanas, which constitutes enlightenment.

14. The root of birth and death is in the six Vijnanas and what makes one come to the realization of perfect interfusion is also in the six Vijnanas. To seek enlightenment or emancipation or Nirvana is not to make it something separate from or independent of those particularizing agents called senses. If it is sought outside them, it nowhere exists, or rather it becomes one of particular objects and ceases to be what in itself it is. This is why the unattainability of Sunyata is so much talked about in all the Mahayana sutras.

In the true Essence there is neither samskrita (created) nor asamskrita (uncreated); they are like Maya or flowers born of hallucination. When you attempt to manifest what is true by means of what is erroneous, you make both untrue. When you endeavour to explain object by subject and subject by object, you create a world of an endless series of opposites, and nothing real is grasped. To experience perfect interfusion, let all the opposites, or knots as they are called, be dissolved and a release takes place. But when there is anywhere any clinging of any sort, and an ego-mind is asserted, the Essence is no more there, the mysterious Lotus fades.

15. The Buddha then makes some of the principal persons in the assembly relate their experience of perfect interfusion. That of Kwannon among them is regarded as most remarkable. His comes from the auditory sense as his name implies. It leads him up to the enlightened state of consciousness attained by all the Buddhas, and he is now Love incarnate. But at the same time he identifies himself with all beings in the six paths of existence whereby he knows all their inner feelings and aspirations reaching up towards the love of the Buddha. Kwannon is thus able to reveal himself anywhere his help is needed, or to any being who hears him. The whole content of the Kwannon sutra is here fully confirmed.

16. Learning is not of much avail in the study of Buddhism as is proved by the case of Amanda, who being enticed by the magical charm of a courtesan was about to commit one of the gravest offences. In the practice of Samadhi the control of mind is most needed., which is Sila (moral precept). Sila consists in doing away with the sexual impulse, the impulse to kill living beings, the impulse to take things not belonging to oneself, and the desire to eat meat. When these impulses are kept successfully under restraint, one can really practise meditation from which Prajna grows; and it is Prajna that leads one to the Essence when the perfect interfusion of all the six Vijnanas is experienced.

17. We here come to the esoteric part of the Surangama Sutra where the establishment of the mandala is described, together with the mantram. In this mandala the Samadhi is practised for three weeks or for one hundred days, at the end of which those richly endowed may be able to realize Srotapannahood.

18. Next follows the description of more than fifty stages of attainment leading to final enlightenment and Nirvana; then effects of various karma by which beings undergo several forms of torture in hell are explained; then the causes are given by which beings are transformed into varieties of evil spirits and of beast forms. They, however, come back to the human world when all their sins are expiated. There are beings who turn into ascetics or heavenly beings.

19. While disciplining himself in meditation the Yogin is liable to be visited by all kinds of evil beings whereby he is . constantly assailed by hallucinations of various natures. These are all due to highly-accentuated nervous derangements, and the Yogin is advised to guard himself against them.

When the Yogin has all these mental disturbances well under control, his mind acquires a state of tranquillity in which his consciousness retains its identity through his waking and sleeping hours. The modern psychologist would say that he is no more troubled with ideas which are buried, deeply repressed, in his unconsciousness; in other words, he has no dreams. His mental life is thoroughly clear and calm like the blue sky where there are no threatening clouds. The world with its expansion of earth, its towering mountains, its surging waves, its meandering rivers, and with its infinitely variegated colours and forms is serenely reflected in the mind-mirror of the Yogin. The mirror accepts them all and yet there are no traces or stains left in it-just one Essence bright and illuminating. The source of birth and death is plainly revealed here. The Yogin knows where he is; he is emancipated.

20. But this is not yet all. The Yogin must be philosophically trained with all his experiences and intuitions to have a clear, logical, penetrating understanding of the Essence. When this is properly directed, he will have no more confused ideas introduced by misguided philosophers. Along with the training in Samatha, the cultivation of Vipasyana is to be greatly encouraged.