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Diamond Sūtra Discussion

Of a single unified perception 一體同觀分

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Of a single unified perception 一體同觀


須菩提云何如來肉眼?」 「如是世尊如來肉眼。」 「須菩提云何如來天眼?」 「如是世尊如來天眼。」 「須菩提云何如來慧眼?」 「如是世尊如來慧眼。」 「須菩提云何如來有法?」 「如是世尊如來有法。」 「須菩提云何如來佛眼?」 「如是世尊如來佛眼。」

“Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the Physical Eye [māṃsacakṣu]?” “Thusly, Bhagavān, the Tathāgata has the Physical Eye.” “Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the Divine Eye [divyaṃ cakṣu]?” “Thusly, Bhagavān, the Tathāgata has the Divine Eye.” “Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the Prajñā Eye [prajñācakṣu]?” “Thusly, Bhagavān, the Tathāgata has the Prajñā Eye.” “Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the Dharma Eye [dharmacakṣu]?” “Thusly, Bhagavān, the Tathāgata has the Dharma Eye.” “Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the Buddha Eye [buddhacakṣu]?” “Thusly, Bhagavān, the Tathāgata has the Buddha Eye.”

Sanskrit: bhagavānāha-tatkiṃ manyase subhūte-saṃvidyate tathāgatasya māṃsacakṣuḥ ? subhūtirāha- evametadbhagavan, saṃvidyate tathāgatasya māṃsacakṣuḥ| bhagavānāha-tatkiṃ manyase subhūte saṃvidyate tathāgatasya divyaṃ cakṣuḥ ? subhūtirāha-evametadbhagavan, saṃvidyate tathāgatasya divyaṃ cakṣuḥ| bhagavānāha-tatkiṃ manyase subhūte saṃvidyate tathāgatasya prajñācakṣuḥ ? subhūtirāha-evametadbhagavan, saṃvidyate tathāgatasya prajñācakṣuḥ| bhagavānāha-tatkiṃ manyase subhūte saṃvidyate tathāgatasya dharmacakṣuḥ ? subhūtirāha-evametadbhagavan, saṃvidyate tathāgatasya dharmacakṣuḥ| bhagavānāha- tatkiṃ manyase subhūte saṃvidyate tathāgatasya buddhacakṣuḥ ? subhūtirāha-evametadbhagavan, saṃvidyate tathāgata buddhacakṣuḥ|


The five pairs of eyes refer to different states of vision through which we can see much more than our physical eyes normally can (Hsing Yun 2012, p 147-148). The five types of eyes are: (1) Physical eyes(Chinese 肉眼, Sanskrit māṃsacakṣu): the kind of vision that people normally possess for physical sight. (2) Heavenly eyes (Chinese 天眼, Sanskrit divyaṃ cakṣu): possessed by heavenly beings or obtained by people through meditation. Can see all physical objects whether or not hidden by barriers, such as walls. (3) Wisdom eyes (Chinese 慧眼, Sanskrit prajñācakṣu): possessed by śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, vision imbued with wisdom but lacks compassion. (4) Dhárma eyes (Chinese 法眼, Sanskrit dharmacakṣu): possessed by bodhisattvas, can adapt to different circumstances to liberate sentient beings. (5) Buddha eyes (Chinese 佛眼, Sanskrit buddhacakṣu): possessed by Buddhas, includes all the previous types of vision and perceives the truth of all phenomena. The are explained in the Mahā Prajñāpāramitā Śāstra by Nāgārjuna.

In his commentary on the Diamond Sūtra Vasubandu says,

Again the doubt arises, as it was previously said that bodhisattvas see no beings are those who see no self and do not see pure buddhalands, and that those who do not see any dharmas are called buddhas, someone might think buddhas and tathagatas do not see any dharmas. To resolve this doubt, the sutra brings up the five eyes.
(Red Pine 2009, p 309 translating Vasubandu Vajracchedika-prajbaparamitopadewa. T 1511)


須菩提云何恆河所有佛說?」 「如是世尊如來。」 「須菩提云何恆河所有有如恆河恆河所有佛世界如是?」「甚多世尊!」

“Subhūti, what do you think? Regarding the sand [vālukā] grains of the Ganges [gaṅgā] River [mahānada], does the Buddha speak of these grains of sand [vālukā]?” “Thusly, Bhagavān, the Tathāgata speaks of these grains of sand [vālukā].” “If there were as many Ganges Rivers [gaṅgā] as there are sand [vālukā] grains in the Ganges River [gaṅgā], and there were such buddha world realms as there were sand [vālukā] grains in all those Ganges Rivers [gaṅgā], would their number be very many [tāvat]?” “It would be extremely many, Bhagavān.”

Sanskrit: bhagavānāha-tatkiṃ manyase subhūte yāvantyo gaṅgāyāṃ mahānadyāṃ vālukāḥ, api nu tā vālukāstathāgatena bhāṣitāḥ ? subhūtirāha-evametadbhagavan, evametat sugata| bhāṣitāstathāgatena vālukāḥ| bhagavānāha-tatkiṃ manyase subhūte yāvatyo gaṅgāyāṃ mahānadyāṃ vālukāḥ, tāvatya eva gaṅgānadyo bhaveyuḥ, tāsu vā vālukāḥ, tāvantaśca lokadhātavo bhaveyuḥ, kaccidbahavaste lokadhātavo bhaveyuḥ ? subhūtirāha-evametadbhagavan, evametat sugata| bahavaste lokadhātavo bhaveyuḥ|


The Sanskrit text adds mahānada, literally great river, after gaṅgā to emphasize the great size.


須菩提: 「國土所有眾生若干如來悉知何以如來名為所以者何須菩提過去心不可得現在心不可得未來心不可得

The Buddha told Subhūti, “Such a number of lands possess [lokadhātuṣu] a multitude of sentient beings, and their minds [cittadhārā] are fully known by the Tathāgata. Why? The minds [cittadhārā] that the Tathāgata speaks of are not minds [cittadhārā], and are thus called minds [cittadhārā]. Why is this so? Subhūti, past [atīta] mind [citta] cannot be grasped, present [pratyutpanna] mind [citta] cannot be grasped, and future [anāgata] mind [citta] cannot be grasped.

Sanskrit: bhagavānāha-yāvantaḥ subhūte teṣu lokadhātuṣu sattvāḥ, teṣāmahaṃ nānābhāvāṃ cittadhārāṃ prajānāmi| tatkasya hetoḥ ? cittadhārā cittadhāreti subhūte adhāraiṣā tathāgatena bhāṣitā, tenocyate cittadhāreti| tatkasya hetoḥ ? atītaṃ subhūte cittaṃ nopalabhyate| anāgataṃ cittaṃ nopalabhyate| pratyutpannaṃ cittaṃ nopalabhyate||18||

Vasubandhu Commentary on Past, Present, and Future Mind (T25, No. 1511, Scroll 3 p0792c02-0792c03, 0792c04-0792c16)


The mind cannot be obtained if it is in either the past or the future. The mind of the present cannot be obtained because it falsely discriminates. In a mind that dwells in delusion all its knowledge is not based on observing the three time periods [past, present, and future], so is false.
[Original translation]


The Sanskrit text uses the term cittadhārā, literally mind stream but that is rendered simply as mind in English and Chinese . The Sanskrit text uses the word nānābhāvā (English: various, Chinese: ) to describe the many different kinds of minds of the multitude of sentient beings (nānābhāvāṃ cittadhārāṃ).

The Sanskrit word lokadhātuṣu is the locative case, plural form for the stem form lokadhātu, so it means "in other worlds." The Chinese word 國土 would be better translated to English as a land than a world.

The passage at the end of the chapter on the past, present, and future mind is one of the most frequently quoted passages from the Diamond Sūtra. It is a vivid but difficult to understand passage. Vasubhandu's explaination helps but it is difficult to understand in itself. The English translation of Vasubhandu's comments uses the term delusion, which translates the Sanskrit term viparyāsa (Chinese: 顛倒). There are four kinds of viparyāsa: (1) viewing suffering as pleasure, (2) viewing what is impermanent as permanent, (3) viewing what is impure as pure, (4) viewing what is devoid of self as having self. (Buswell and Lopez, entry on viparyāsa) So, trying to stop time and replay it in slow motion is delusion number two of the four kinds.


Our own minds are probably the dearest thing to each of us. The passage at the end paints a rich picture of time and the mind. You may think someone trying to stop time and watch it again in slow motion. This brings up the following discussion points:

  • Is it scary that the mind if so subject to impermanence?

  • Do you often try to replay past events again and again in rour mind? Do you often worry about what will happen in the future, even when you have no control over it?

  • What are some modern kinds of delusion and how do they relate to viparyāsa?

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