The Diamond Sutra

Sections XXI-XXV
Translated by A.F. Price and Wong Mou-Lam

Section XXI. Words cannot express Truth. That which Words Express is not Truth

Subhuti, do not say that the Tathagata conceives the idea: I must set forth a Teaching. For if anyone says that the Tathagata sets forth a Teaching he really slanders Buddha and is unable to explain what I teach. As to any Truth-declaring system, Truth is undeclarable; so "an enunciation of Truth" is just the name given to it.

Thereupon, Subhuti spoke these words to Buddha: World-honored One, in the ages of the future will there be men coming to hear a declaration of this Teaching who will be inspired with belief?

And Buddha answered:Subhuti, those to whom you refer are neither living beings nor not-living beings. Wherefore? Because "living beings," Subhuti, these "living beings" are not really such; they are just called by that name.


Section XXII. It Cannot be Said that Anything is Attainable

Then Subhuti asked Buddha: World-honored One, in the attainment of the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment did Buddha make no acquisition whatsoever?

Buddha replied:Just so, Subhuti. Through the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment I acquired not even the least thing; therefore it is called "Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment."


Section XXIII. The Practice of Good Works Purifies the Mind

Furthermore, Subhuti, This is altogether everywhere, without differentiation or degree; therefore it is called "Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment." It is straightly attained by freedom from separate personal selfhood and by cultivating all kinds of goodness.

Subhuti, though we speak of "goodness", the Tathagata declares that there is no goodness; such is merely a name.


Section XXIV. The Incomparable Merit of This Teaching

Subhuti, if there be one who gives away in gifts of alms a mass of the seven treasures equal in extent to as many mighty Mount Sumerus as there would be in three thousand galaxies of worlds, and if there be another who selects even only four lines from this Discourse upon the Perfection of Transcendental Wisdom, receives and retains them, and clearly expounds them to others, the merit of the latter will be so far greater than that of the former that no conceivable comparison can be made between them.

Section XXV. The Illusion of Ego

Subhuti, what do you think? Let no one say the Tathagata cherishes the idea: I must liberate all living beings. Allow no such thought, Subhuti. Wherefore? Because in reality there are no living beings to be liberated by the Tathagata. If there were living beings for the Tathagata to liberate, He would partake in the idea of selfhood, personality entity, and separate individuality.

Subhuti, though the common people accept egoity as real, the Tathagata declares that ego is not different from non-ego. Subhuti, those whom the Tathagata referred to as "common people" are not really common people; such is merely a name.


Sections: I-V, VI-X, XI-XV, XVI-XX
XXI-XXV, XXVI-XXXII

Heart Sutra