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Ep. 181: The Diamond Sutra

Ultraculture With Jason Louv

Release Date: 10/23/2023

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In this episode, Jason gives a dramatic reading of the Diamond Sutra.

The Diamond Sutra, a Mahāyāna Buddhist text, is notable for its influence on East Asian Buddhism, especially within the Chan or Zen tradition. Translated across a wide geographic range, it's revered for its teachings on "perfection of wisdom." Historically significant, it's recognized as one of the earliest dated printed books, with its discovery tracing back to 868 AD; it was also the first book ever released with complete open rights, allowing it to be shared, distributed or copied by anyone. The text's cultural impact is mirrored in a rich tradition of commentary and veneration within East Asian Buddhist cultures, embodying a legacy of religious thought and practice that continues to resonate across the globe​.

The sutra's title metaphorically relates to the Vajra, a powerful weapon, symbolizing wisdom that cuts through illusions to attain ultimate reality. The text's essence, promoting a deeper understanding of reality through wisdom, along with its historical value as an early example of printed literature, highlights its enduring relevance and esteemed position within the Buddhist tradition and world religion​.

The Diamond Sutra had fostered a rich cultural milieu of artwork, veneration, and over 80 commentaries by the end of China's Tang dynasty, indicating a vibrant intellectual engagement with the text. Its teachings continue to inspire Buddhist practitioners and scholars, affirming its timeless value in exploring profound religious and philosophical themes. 

The recording at the opening of the show is of monks chanting at the Buddhist stupa Swayambhunath in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Show Notes

Diamond Sutra (full text free online)

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