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Diamond Sūtra Discussion

Emerging from the Dharma 依法出生分

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Emerging from the Dharma 依法出生



Yifa: “Subhuti, what does your mind say? If someone filled a great trichiliocosm with the seven treasures and used them to practice giving, the rewards this person obtained would be many, would they not?”

Subhuti replied, “Extremely many World-Honored One. Why is this? Because these rewards are not rewards by their nature. For this reason, the Tathagata says the rewards are many.”

Sanskrit: bhagavānāha- tatkiṃ manyase subhūte yaḥ kaścitkulaputro vā kuladuhitā vā imaṃ trisāhasramahāsāhasraṃ lokadhātuṃ saptaratnaparipūrṇaṃ kṛtvā tathāgatebhyo'rhadbhayaḥ samyaksaṃbuddhebhyo dānaṃ dadyāt, api nu sa kulaputro vā kuladuhitā vā tatonidānaṃ bahu puṇyaskandhaṃ prasunuyāt| subhūtirāha-bahu bhagavan, bahu sugata sa kulaputro vā kuladuhitā vā tatonidānaṃ puṇyaskandhaṃ prasunuyāt| tatkasya hetoḥ ? yo'sau bhagavan puṇyaskandhastathāgatena bhāṣitaḥ, askandhaḥ sa tathāgatena bhāṣitaḥ| tasmāttathāgato bhāṣate- puṇyaskandhaḥ puṇyaskandha iti|


A three thousand great thousand-world system, also known as a great chiliocosm, is 3,000,000,000 world-systems (Chinese: 三千大千世界). The Sanskrit compound trisāhasramahāsāhasraṃ lokadhātuṃ is broken down as tri (three) sāhasra (thousand) mahā (great) sāhasra (thousand) lokadhātu (worlds). This is the ancient Indian understanding of the cosmos. There are 1,000,000,000 each small, medium, and large sized worlds totalling 3,000,000,000. It could be interpreted as an unlimited number of worlds or as the actual number. Each individual world has a Mount Sumeru (Chinese: 須彌山) standing at the center, The four great continents, and Nine Mountains and Eight Seas surround Mount Sumeru making one world. The Moon, the Sun, and the heavens are above. The Nine Mountains and Eight Seas (Chinese: 九山八海) are the total of all the mountains and seas in the ancient Indian world view. [Fo Guang Shan Online Dictionary]

The word trichiliocosm is actually reconstructed from the Greek [from tri three + chilioi thousand + kosmos world]. It is very interesting that the ancient Indians had such a grand view of the Universe while Europeans thought that the Earth was at the center of the world until two thousand years later at around the time of Copernicus (1473 – 1543). Copernicus mathematician and astronomer who proved that the planets orbited the Sun based on careful astronomical observations. Copernicus was attacked for overturning previous European ideas of the Universe. The moral to learn is not to think too small or don't be stingy and narrow-minded.

The phrase Seven [sapta] Precious [paripūrṇa] Jewels [ratna] translates the Sanskrit compound saptaratnaparipūrṇaṃ (Chinese 七寶). The are (1) gold, (2) silver, (3) lapis lazuli, (4) crystal, (5) agate, (6) ruby, and (7) jade or cornelian. What would you do with that many jewels anyway? Isn't a little wisdom more valuable?

In the Vaccha Sutta the Buddha explains the differences in the merit of giving,

I tell you, Vaccha, even if a person throws the rinsings of a bowl or a cup into a village pool or pond, thinking, 'May whatever animals live here feed on this,' that would be a source of merit, to say nothing of what is given to human beings. But I do say that what is given to a virtuous person is of great fruit, and not so much what is given to an unvirtuous person.
(AN 3.57)1



Yifa: “If, however, there was someone who received and retained even just four lines of verse from this sutra, and explained them to others, the rewards would surpass those.

Why is this, Subhuti? Each and every Buddha and all of their anuttara-samyak-sambodhi dharma come from this sutra.”

“Subhuti, what is called Buddha Dharma is not Buddha Dharma.”

Sanskrit: bhagavānāha-yaśca khalu punaḥ subhūte kulaputro vā kuladuhitā va imaṃ trisāhasramahāsāhasraṃ lokadhātuṃ saptaratnaparipūrṇaṃ kṛtvā tathāgatebhyo'rhadbhyaḥ samyaksaṃbuddhebhyo dānaṃ dadyāt, yaśca ito dharmaparyāyādantaśaścatuṣpādikāmapi gāthāmudgṛhya parebhyo vistareṇa deśayet saṃprakāśayet, ayameva tatonidānaṃ bahutaraṃ puṇyaskandhaṃ prasunuyādaprameyasaṃkhyeyam| tatkasya hetoḥ ? atonirjātā hi subhūte tathāgatānāmarhatāṃ samyaksaṃbuddhānāmanuttarā samyaksaṃbodhiḥ, atonirjātāśca buddhā bhagavantaḥ| tatkasya hetoḥ ? buddhadharmā buddhadharmā iti subhūte abuddhadharmāścaiva te tathāgatena bhāṣitāḥ| tenocyante buddhadharmā iti||8||


A gāthā (Chinese ) is a verse or stanza. A four line gāthā (四句偈) is an especially common form.

The English word "surpass" translates the Chinese (Sanskrit: bahutara).

The Buddha is making a nearly inconceivable comparison. How can it be so? In the Sakka Sutta the Buddha explains that there is no way that wealth can bring us permanent happiness because the things that it brings are impermanent. He says,

"Now what do you think: earning one hundred, one thousand kahapanas a day; saving up his gains, living for one hundred years, would a man arrive at a great mass of wealth?"

"Yes, lord."

"Now what do you think: would that man, because of that wealth, on account of that wealth, with that wealth as the cause, live sensitive to unalloyed bliss for a day, a night, half a day, or half a night?"

"No, lord. And why is that? Sensual pleasures are inconstant, hollow, false, deceptive by nature."
(AN 10.462)

The Buddha's conclusion follows logically from the comparison of giving without attachment to the infinite amount of space to the north, east, south, and west in Chapter 4. On the one hand are terms describing dharmas in the world and on the other hand the spiritual action of practicing this Sūtra transcends the mundane world. Another way to understand this is that the impact when you give without expecting anything in return is greater than any other kind of giving because the joy brought is unlimited. Furthermore, the Buddha says that this is the foundation for Buddhahood. In other words, Prajñāpāramitā is the mother of all Buddhas.


  1. "Vaccha Sutta: To Vaccha" (AN 3.57), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013,
  2. "Sakka Sutta: To the Sakyans (on the Uposatha)" (AN 10.46), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013,

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