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Diamond Sūtra Discussion

The adornment of pure lands 莊嚴淨土分

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The adornment of pure lands 莊嚴淨土


須菩提: 「云何如來然燈佛於法有所得不?」 「世尊如來然燈佛法實無所得。」

Yifa: The Buddha told Subhuti, “What does your mind say? In the past, when the Tathagata was with Dipamkara Buddha, there was some obtainment [gṛhīta] of the Dharma, was there not?”

“World-Honored One, in the past, when the Tathagata was with Dipamkara Buddha, in reality, there was no obtainment of the Dharma.”

Sanskrit: bhagavānāha-tatkiṃ manyase subhūte-asti sa kaściddharmo yastathāgatena dīpaṃkarasya tathāgatasyārhata-samyaksaṃbuddhasyāntikādudgṛhītaḥ ? subhūtirāha- no hīdaṃ bhagavan| nāsti sa kaściddharmo yastathāgatena dīpaṃkarasya tathāgatasyārhataḥ samyaksaṃbuddhasyāntikādudgṛhītaḥ||


Dīpaṃkara (Chinese: 然燈佛), literally lamp (Sanskrit: dipa, Chinese: ) bearer, was the previous Buddha. He bestowed a prediction on Śākyamuni that he would become a Buddha in the future. At that time Śākyamuni Buddha was a bodhisattva called Sumedha. The Cārya-nidāna includes a story of Dīpaṃkara meeting the Buddha in a past life as the Brahmin boy Sumedha. The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines says,

So it is, O Gods! So did I, when I met the Tathagata Dipankara in the bazaar of Dipavati, the royal city, possess the fullness of this perfection of wisdom, so that Dipankara, the Tathagata, predicted that one day I should be fully enlightened, and said to me: "You, young Brahmin, shall in a future period, after incalculable aeons, become a Tathagata, Sakyamuni by name ..."
(Conze, 1973, p102)

The Sanskrit text uses the term samyaksaṃbuddhasyāntikādudgṛhīta, which literally means "supreme enlightenment obtained," and this is the meaning of dharma (Chinese: ) in this context.


須菩提云何菩薩莊嚴佛土?」 「世尊何以莊嚴佛土莊嚴莊嚴。」「是故須菩提諸菩薩摩訶薩如是清淨心應無所住而生其心

Yifa: “Subhuti, what does your mind say? Bodhisattvas adorn [niṣpādayiṣyāmīti] the Buddha Lands [kṣetravyūhā], do they not?”

“No, World-Honored One. Why is this? The adornment of Buddha Lands is not adornment, so it is called adornment.”

“For this reason [tarhi], Subhuti, all bodhisattva mahasattvas should generate a pure, clean [utpādayitavya] mind like this:

They should not rely on sight to generate this mind, they should not rely on sound [śabda], scent [ganda], taste [rasa], touch [spraṣṭavya] or thought to generate this mind. They should generate this mind by not relying on anything.”

Sanskrit: bhagavānāha-yaḥ kaścitsubhūte bodhisattva evaṃ vadet-ahaṃ kṣetravyūhān niṣpādayiṣyāmīti, sa vitathaṃ vadet| tatkasya hetoḥ ? kṣetravyūhāḥ kṣetravyūhā iti subhūte avyūhāste tathāgatena bhāṣitāḥ| tenocyante kṣetravyūhā iti| tasmāttarhi subhūte bodhisattvena mahāsattvena evamapratiṣṭhitaṃ cittamutpādayitavyaṃ yanna kvacitpratiṣṭhitaṃ cittamutpādayitavyam| na rūpapratiṣṭhitaṃ cittamutpādayitavyaṃ na śabdagandharasaspraṣṭavyadharmapratiṣṭhitaṃ cittamutpādayitavyam|


Each of the four instances of the English word mind in this passage translates the Chinese , Sanskrit citta.

The English word adorn translates the Chinese 莊嚴. The word in the Sanskrit is niṣpādayiṣyāmīti, derived from the word niṣpādayati, which Conze translates as create but also notes can mean "accomplish, perfect, achieve, ripen, and mature". (Conze 1958, p44) The word buddha-land translates the Chinese 佛土. Conze translates the phrase " adorn buddha-lands" above as "create harmonious Buddhafields." A similar use of this word occurs many times in the Amitābha Sūtra where the Western Pure Land is ... "adorned with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother-of-pearl, red pearls, and carnelian." (T 12 No. 0366) The point in this passage is to avoid attachment to those adornments.

The Sanskrit used for Buddha-lands worlds is kṣetravyūhā.

The English phrase "give rise to a clear and pure mind" translates the Chinese 清淨心 and Sanskrit compound cittamutpādayitavyam, which is composed of the parts citta (mind) + utpādayitavya (to tame).


須菩提譬如有人須彌山云何身為?」須菩提: 「世尊何以佛說非身大身。」

“Subhuti, suppose someone had a body like the majestic mountain Sumeru. What does your mind say? This body is great, is it not?”

Subhuti replied, “Extremely great, World-Honored One. Why is this? The Buddha says what is not a body is called a great body.”

Sanskrit: tadyathāpi nāma subhūte puruṣo bhavedupetakāyo mahākāyo yattasyaivaṃ rūpa ātmabhāvaḥ syāt tadyathāpi nāma sumeruḥ parvatarājaḥ| tatkiṃ manyase subhūte api nu mahān sa ātmabhāvo bhavet ? subhūtirāha-mahān sa bhagavān, mahān sugata sa ātmabhāvo bhavet| tatkasya hetoḥ ? ātmabhāva ātmabhāva iti bhagavan na bhāvaḥ sa tathāgatena bhāṣitaḥ| tenocyata ātmabhāva iti| na hi bhagavan sa bhāvo nābhāvaḥ| tenocyate ātmabhāva iti||10||


This is a reference to the Vedic god Puruṣa, who sacrificed his body to create the universe. In fact, the Sanskrit text mentions Puruṣa (modified form: puruṣo) directly. Puruṣa had a thousand heads, eyes, and feet and was divided up to form the Universe. (Mittal and Thursby 2006, p 34)

The Sanskrit text uses the compound ātmabhāva five times in this passage, although it is glossed over in the Chinese and English translations. Conze (1958, p 46) translates this as "personal existence." The Sanskrit uses the word parvatarāja (English: King of Mountains), which is not present in the Chinese text.

The physical body and abiding in form are also mentioned in chapters 14, 17, and 20.

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