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The Diamond Sutra: Transforming the Way We…

The Diamond Sutra: Transforming the Way We Perceive the World (2000)

by Mu Soeng, Diamond Sutra

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This book consists of a longish introduction, then a translation of and commentary on The Diamond Sutra. The translation is, as Mu Soeng describes it, derived from various other translations with some editing by Mu Soeng. It works very well. It reads smoothly and has very few "translatese" affectations. It is interspersed with the commentary, but is handily repeated in an Appendix without the commentary. I think this may become my preferred Diamond Sutra translation.

The introduction and commentary, however, are a mixed bag. They have some very good parts, usually where the author is explaining Buddhist history or the specific meanings of words and sentences. They become weak when he is explaining philosophy or the deeper meaning of the sutra, where he is inconsistent in viewpoint, prone to go off on tangents, and too fond of New Age jargon.

The parts I found most unsatisfactory were his repeated lengthy attempts to explain the Buddhist concept of emptiness in terms of quantum physics. These are marred by his apparently inadequate grasp of quantum physics and consequent muddled accounts of it. Now meditation teachers are not expected to know quantum physics, so I don't blame the author for lack of expertise, just for failure of judgment. The passages are inaccurate and confusing, and try to make a point that is unconvincing. The partial correspondences between some popularized conclusions of quantum physics and the Buddhist Prajñaparamita teachings are interesting and suggestive, but go only so far. Sunyata (emptiness) is not strictly identifiable with quantum "reality" (as the author likes to call it). These passages should have been edited out. They end up contradicting the teaching of the sutra.

The part I liked best was the translation itself. ( )
  anthonywillard | Jun 21, 2015 |
A truly wonderful work by Mu Soeng. ( )
  dirkjohnson | Jul 30, 2008 |
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Mu Soengprimary authorall editionscalculated
Diamond Sutramain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0861711602, Paperback)

Composed of 32 short chapters, the Diamond Sutra is nonetheless one of the monumental scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. The great Sixth Patriarch of Zen, Huineng, is said to have achieved enlightenment after hearing a single line of this sutra. We can't promise sudden enlightenment, but we can tell you that Mu Soeng's version is one of the best. A former Zen monk, Mu Soeng takes us back in an extensive introduction to the beginnings of Buddhist sutras and traces their development up to the appearance of the Diamond Sutra in the third or fourth century. He also details why Zen Buddhists in particular are attracted to it. The Diamond Sutra is intended as an antidote to suffering, which is achieved through wisdom. It tells us that realizing the emptiness of all things is the key step on this path and that its articulation comes, paradoxically, in the boddhisattva ideal of saving all sentient beings. Paradox is at the heart of this classic sutra, and in extensive commentaries Mu Soeng unravels the paradoxes while explaining the challenging vocabulary. For an authoritative version of the Diamond Sutra, you can't do better, and notice the fluid language:
So you should view all of the fleeting world: A star at dawn, a bubble in the stream; A flash of lightning in a summer cloud; A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
--Brian Bruya

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:06 -0400)

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