Main CategoriesBuddha and BuddhismMahayana Sutras Diamond Sutra, The

Diamond Sutra, The

Product no.: 1-58243-256-2
In The Diamond Sutra: The Perfection of Wisdom, Red Pine offers his translation of the text from both Sanskrit and Chinese, as well as commentary throughout.

Product is in stock

Additional product information

Publisher's Synopsis

No other text is as important to Buddhists, especially Zen Buddhists, and this translation includes commentary from major Chinese and Japanese historical sources. Zen Buddhism is often said to be a practice of "mind-to-mind transmission" without reliance on texts - in fact, some great teachers forbid their students to read or write.

But Buddhism has also inspired some of the greatest philosophical writings of any religion, and two such works lie at the center of Zen: The Heart Sutra, which monks recite all over the world, and The Diamond Sutra, said to contain answers to all questions of delusion and dualism. This is the Buddhist teaching on the "perfection of wisdom" and cuts through all obstacles on the path of practice.

"The various Prajnaparamita, Heart and Diamond Sutras or Perfection of Wisdom texts are compelling masterpieces of double-talk which gravely misinterpreted the Buddha's highly ambiguous teachings on sunyata (emptiness), yet ironically established the superior path of the Bodhisattva, the Eastern counterpart of the Christian Saint. Influenced by Advaita Vedanta, the Hindu school of non-duality, Nagarjuna's misperception of Buddhism further 'refined' the primary tenets of maya (illusion) to claim that even Brahman, the Supreme Being (i.e., a Buddha or Tathagata), was a misnomer."     ~Mandala Books

"It is no small irony that the oldest printed book in the world – a ninth-century block-print of the Diamond Sutra – is a work that seeks systematically to undermine all clinging to words, all reification of conceptual expression, including its own teachings. Indeed the Diamond Sutra is perhaps the most unrelenting example in world literature of what the literary critic Stanley Fish terms 'a self-consuming artefact', a work that succeeds in its purpose only to the extent that it intentionally deconstructs itself.

Presenting itself as Shakyamuni's most profound instruction on the Bodhi-sattva path, this brief, 27-page dialogue between the Buddha and Subhuti plumbs the relationship between language and Reality in a manner that, for all of its apparent abstraction, refers back constantly to the Buddhist ethical imperative of altruistic activity.

After the Heart Sutra, the Diamond Sutra is the best-known of the Mahayana 'Perfection of Wisdom' scriptures. Several English versions are available, offering the authority of scholarship in Edward Conze's translation, and tradition in Thich Nhat Hanh's. Even so, this new translation warrants attention and appreciation because it offers much more than simply another translation of the original.

Here we find a comprehensive sampling of the commentarial literature associated with the Diamond Sutra, along with a personal account of the translator's own efforts to come to terms with this perplexing work. Red Pine is the pen name of Bill Porter, an American who left academia in the midst of graduate work in anthropology and Chinese literature at Columbia University, preferring to immerse himself in traditional Chinese culture and Ch'an (Chinese Zen) practice during an extended residence in China. Already well established as a translator of Chinese Buddhist poetry, Red Pine offers in the present volume the fruit of an engagement with Buddhist Mahayana philosophy and meditation spanning some 30 years.

The volume opens with a bare translation of the Diamond Sutra, followed by a section-by-section synoptic commentary comprising almost 400 pages of selections drawn from more than 60 Diamond Sutra commentaries composed over two millennia. There is no index or bibliography, but the translator does provide a preface explaining his approach to the text and also a useful list of names and terms (with Chinese characters) including brief biographical notes on the various historical commentators. This lack of scholarly apparatus and only the briefest introduction are intended, no doubt, to enable the reader to encounter the sutra and its commentarial tradition as directly as possible."     ~Prof. Alan Sponberg


"Subhuti uses the form of dialectical argument introduced by the Buddha in Chapter Five. This technique of affirming the reality of something by first stripping it of self-nature became the hallmark of the Madhyamaka philosophers, such as Nagarjuna. Essentially, it is the logical equivalent of the concept of shunyata (emptiness)...

The advantage of using the dialectic rather than the concept is that every concept, even the concept of emptiness, is likely to become another delusion and an obstacle to Enlightenment, whereas the dialectic tends to remind those who use it of the futility of attachment to anything, including the result of its own application."

Author Nagarjuna
Translator Red Pine
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 471 pp.
Publisher Counterpoint 2002
Browse these categories as well: Mahayana Sutras, Northern Buddhism, Hinduism: Gurus and Advaita Vedanta, Noteworthy Releases 2002

We also recommend