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Diamond Sutra (금강경)

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Writer Jogye Date17 Aug 2015 Read2,115 Comment0

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The Diamond Sutra (金剛經; Ch. Jingang jing; Kr. Geumgang gyeong)

금강경

The Diamond Sutra is much revered by Korean Buddhists as a foundational sutra of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Its Korean title Geumgang gyeong (金剛經) is condensed from its fuller title Geumgang banya baramil gyeong (金剛般若波羅蜜經; Skt. Vajracchedikā-prajñāpāramitā Sūtra). Its pithy text is thought to express the basic concepts of Mahayana Buddhism. It belongs to the Prajñāpāramitā (般若部) category of scriptures. The Buddha taught the content of this sutra at the Jetavana Monastery in Śrāvastī.

The Diamond Sutra is presented as a dialogue between the Buddha and Subhūti. It says that all things, including the world of perception, are void of substance and self-nature, and that all things (and people) are intrinsically empty and without an inherent self. It is said that the Sixth Patriarch Huineng attained great awakening upon hearing the passage from this sutra which says, “Let the mind arise without dwelling on anything (應無所住 而生其心).”

The Diamond Sutra is a Mahayana text which was compiled in India about 500 years after the Buddha entered nirvana. It was first translated into Chinese by Kumārajījva (鳩摩羅什) in the 5th century. Of the many versions rendered by different translators, that of Xuanzang (玄奘) is also well known along with that of Kumārajījva. Since its first translation, many virtuous teachers have written commentaries to clarify its text, and as a result, various commentaries on the Diamond Sutra exist. During the time of the Sixth Patriarch, more than 800 commentaries were said to exist. One of the most often recited passages from the Diamond Sutra is the four-line verse below.

Things that arise and cease from all conditioned phenomena
Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows,
Dew and lightning
Such is how one should contemplate and observe. 

The Jogye Order’s Institute of Buddhist Studies published the Standard Diamond Sutra of the Jogye Order (Jogyejong pyojun geumgang gyeong) in 2009. This was an effort to overcome the undesirable situation where devotees were reciting from different versions of the Diamond Sutra because there were so many versions of the Chinese and Korean texts. Researchers compared different versions of the Chinese translation of the Diamond Sutra for two years and collated them with the Sanskrit version from which the Chinese version was translated. In this way they tried to reflect the original meaning of the sutra and express it in modern Korean language.


- excerpt from Buddhist English (Intermediate 2) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism
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