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Diamond Sutra

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Frontispiece, Diamond Sutra from Cave 17, Dunh...

Frontispiece, Diamond Sutra from Cave 17, Dunhuang, ink on paper. British Library Or.8210/ P.2 A page from the Diamond Sutra, printed in the 9th year of Xiantong Era of the Tang Dynasty, i.e. 868 CE. Currently located in the British Library, London. British Library Or.8210/P.2 According to the British Library, it is “the earliest complete survival of a dated printed book.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Diamond Sutra is a well-known Buddhist work of thirty-two chapters, taking the form of a dialogue between the Sakyamuni Buddha and the disciple, Subhuti. It comes from a Mahayana school of Buddhism known as the perfection of wisdom school (Prajñāpāramitā), and therefore is also known as part of the Prajñāpāramitā Sutras.

The Diamond Sutra or “Diamond Cutter” is unique in that it involves a dialogue between an enlightened being and a mere disciple, whereas other dialogues within the collection are usually between the Buddha and other achieved bodhisattvas

A copy in Chinese translation is, according to the British Museum, the earliest surviving complete book with a date (May 11, 868 CE), and it’s the only surviving copy we have of this text.²

Contextually, the Diamond Sutra purports that all of what we take for reality is said to be a projection of the mind. True reality, it claims, is sunyata (emptiness). It also advocates other Buddhist staples like detachment and non-abiding (avoiding conditioned mental constructs).

¹ S. G. F. Brandon ed., A Dictionary of Comparative Religion (1971), p. 507.


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