Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra

Vajra Sutra (Diamond Sutra)

■ Detailed Exposition by Living Buddha Lian-Sheng, Grandmaster Sheng-yen Lu

■ Translated into English by True Buddha School Vajra Sutra Translation Team


Vajra Sutra - Detailed Exposition by Living Buddha Lian-Sheng

Homage to the most precious Root Guru, the embodiment of all dharma realms.

Homage to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Translator’s Preface

The Diamond Sutra! Why is it also called the Vajra Sutra? What happened? Is it because the full name of the sutra is Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra, and it was shortened to Vajra Sutra? Yes and no.

The title Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra means the profound teaching of the Buddha on the indestructible wisdom that annihilates everything and enables supreme perfect attainment. It is the king of sutras.

Nowadays, many people are acquainted with the term Vajra. But what does “Vajra” really mean? Vajra was a weapon in ancient India that was unbreakable and could destroy anything. Vajra symbolizes this sutra, which reveals the indestructible truth that destroys everything—our views, our minds, our attachments, our worlds and everything else.

“The Vajra Sutra destroys everything!”

This daunting statement—first revealed by the spiritual leader and lineage root guru of the True Buddha School, H.H. Living Buddha Lian-Sheng—is earth-shattering! H.H. Living Buddha Lian-Sheng is the one and only Buddhist teacher in the world to ever make such a bold statement. So why did he declare that the essence of the Vajra Sutra is to destroy everything?

Does this mean we will also be destroyed? We know we will eventually die, and that our family, houses, cars and money will also be gone one day. Our views and thoughts also change with time. Worlds, the earth and the universe have all undergone many transformations.

Living Buddha Lian-Sheng challenges us to think beyond our normal mindset. What does it mean to be good or bad? The Vajra Sutra states that everything, whether good or bad, will be annihilated. If you understand this statement, you have grasped the meaning of the Vajra Sutra. Even if you understand the essence of the Vajra Sutra, his discourse still contains many new and astounding revelations. Unique and profound, light and humorous, it is rich with liberating anecdotes. It is a precious jewel in this dharma-ending age. Ripe spiritual minds are destined to gain liberation and attain perfect enlightenment. The Vajra Sutra can only be explained by one who has reached perfect understanding of the Truth, and His Holiness is one of them.

His Holiness attained the ultimate perfect enlightenment of anuttara samyaksambodhi 

through half a century of arduous practice spanning Christianity, Taoism, Zen, Mahayana Buddhism and Tantrayana Buddhism. He integrated these various teachings into extremely effective, simple and brief practices especially well-suited for modern spiritual seekers. His teachings are known as the True Buddha Tantric Dharma. By practicing these teachings, his millions of followers have experienced profound spiritual attainment and fruition. He is venerated as a Living Buddha by countless rinpoches, and his disciples address him fondly as Grandmaster Lu or Shizun.

His perfect embodiment of the dharma realms enables him to transcend the ordinary in a way that is inconceivable to common people. He is White Mahapadmakumara in human form, an emanation of Amitabha Buddha. He had also been reincarnated as prominent gurus and mahasiddhas in his past lives. The profundity of his sublime realization empowers him to present the teachings of the Buddha in a new light, as if he is “re-packaging” the authentic Buddhadharma for modern times. He has written 285 books and continues to write and teach every day. His vow to liberate every sentient being at the cost of his own life manifests powerfully in his compassion and wisdom.

The Vajra Sutra has been translated into English numerous times by notable experts around the world and has been translated into many different languages over the centuries. This humble translator learns from all her predecessors and peers. She has strived to faithfully present the teachings of His Holiness. In this exposition of the Vajra Sutra, she intends to use new terms in place of some familiar terminology to reflect her root guru’s profound understanding and simple explanation. She takes full responsibility for any defects in her interpretation, transcription or translation, and only prays that any mistakes will be repaired by the power of blessings from our accomplished guru who transcends words and language to reach his earnest disciples and bring complete understanding. After all, these teachings are but a tool, and a tool or a raft must be discarded upon reaching the other shore.

May all sentient beings attain higher understanding and gain liberation.

Om Guru Lian-Sheng Siddhi Hum



Azure Sky Retreat

Redmond, WA

Translated into English by True Buddha School Vajra Sutra Translation Team

Prologue 2021-07-24 

Today, we concluded the discourse on Lamdre. I will now begin my exposition on the Vajra Sutra. Lamdre is very difficult to explain, and in this modern era, no one has explained it in depth. Many masters have discussed the Vajra Sutra, but I consider the Vajra Sutra even more difficult to explain than Lamdre. Those expounding the Vajra Sutra nowadays are just at a kindergarten level. [laughter] Well, maybe it's not fair to say they are all at the kindergarten level. [laughter] The Vajra Sutra is a truly magnificent sutra! Very few people can reveal its essential meaning. For this reason, I will begin a detailed exposition of the Vajra Sutra.

Do you know that many people, when explaining the Vajra Sutra (Diamond Sutra), first explain the title “Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra,” then plainly state, “Translated during the Later Qin Dynasty by Kumarajiva, Master of Tripitaka?”

Let me tell you a fact: the buddhist sutras were spoken by Sakyamuni Buddha. But who authored them? Who actually wrote down the sutras? For the most part, the authors of the Mahayana sutras are unknown. Kumarajiva translated the Diamond Sutra, but who authored it? There was no author. That was the case for almost all Mahayana sutras. There were no authors, only translators. 

But for Tantrayana texts, this is not the case. Have you noticed? All Tantrayana texts name their authors and translators. For instance, who authored this text? Virupa was the author of Lamdre, the translator was someone else. Regarding Tantric Buddhist texts, one can always ask, “who was the author?” Tsongkapa authored Ngakrim Chenmo (Stages of Development on the Tantric Path) and Lamrim Chenmo (Stages of Development on the Bodhi Path). The Five Major Treatises have authors as well. For instance, there are treatises authored by Maitreya Bodhisattva. For Yogacara, the authors were Asanga and Vasubandu. Madyamaka was authored by Nagarjuna and Aryadeva. The treatises had authors. Only Mahayana sutras were anonymous, they stated neither names nor authors. Only the names of translators were given. The Tantrayana texts include the names of authors and translators. This is a matter worth further discussion.

The sutras, of course, were all spoken by Sakyamuni Buddha. But in ancient India, it would be unthinkable for the audience to take notes while Sakyamuni Buddha was speaking; that would be disrespectful. In ancient India, that would have been impolite. So when Sakyamuni Buddha gave dharma teachings, it would have been unacceptable for his disciples to take notes while he was talking. Nowadays this would be perfectly acceptable, but this wasn't acceptable in that era. Thus, there were the so-called first, second, third and fourth compilations of what people heard and believed the Buddha said. 

Ananda had an exceptional memory. He could remember very well and could narrate what he heard. Other disciples would confirm that these words were actually spoken by the Buddha; only then would the words be recorded. Nowadays, who has such powerful memory? I have given dharma teachings for a very long time, and I myself have forgotten a lot of them. Among all of you sitting here today, can anyone remember all the dharma talks Grandmaster [referring to himself] had given from the very beginning up to now? Anyone? If you remember them all, please tell me. In the past, you would have been Ananda. [laughter] 

Where did I give my first dharma teaching? At Thau-pan-khenn River in Taichung. We had gone swimming, and afterwards, I put my clothes on, climbed on top of a water tower and gave my first teaching. Whilst on top of the water tower, I spoke on the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra (Lotus Sutra). Is there anyone here who was present at that time? Masters Lian Shi and Lian Zhu were there, they are long-time disciples. Did you two also go swimming? [Grandmaster is talking to the masters who are present in the audience.] 

I had given a fengshui consultation, and afterwards we went swimming in the Thau-pan-khenn River. I love to swim, and everyone followed me in. Afterwards, we had time, so we all sat up on the water tower and I expounded the Lotus Sutra. Since then, is there anyone here who can remember all my dharma teachings? Or ever since taking refuge, is there anyone here who could remember every word of my dharma teachings? If so, you must be a reincarnation of Ananda. It's very difficult to find such a person, for such a person is very rare.

Om Mani Padme Hum

Today is the beginning of the Vajra Sutra exposition and we will talk about the word “vajra.” What is a vajra? Have you seen the movie “King Kong?” ['King Kong shares the same characters as Vajra in Chinese]. King Kong is a gorilla, so is vajra an ape? That was in the movie. A vajra, however, is not King Kong.

In ancient India, a vajra was a weapon used in battles between warring countries. So what is a vajra? A vajra is embroidered right here [on Grandmaster’s Dragon Robe]. This is a vajra! [pointing to the shape] This is also a vajra! [lifting a vajra scepter] Vajras were used as weapons in ancient India. It’s strong and indestructible. What was its function? Its function was to destroy anything and everything. In ancient India, the vajra was used to destroy one’s enemies.

Vajra has many meanings. We can also say this [vajra scepter] is a vajra, or this [embroidered symbol] is a vajra. It represents indestructibility. It is strong and formidable and does not deteriorate. It can destroy anything and everything, it annihilates everything. We hold a vajra like this, using the Wrathful Mudra to hold the vajra scepter, thus becoming a wrathful vajra/heruka. [Vajra is also translated as heruka when it refers to a few specific wrathful deities.] Our True Buddha School’s Mahabala—the Heruka with Great Power—can destroy everything. Dorje Shugden is a heruka with great power. He is also called Mahabala. Check out the Heruka with Great Power on your own if you’d like.

There are many people who are not aware of the true meaning of the Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra. What is the real meaning of the sutra? The title of the sutra itself reveals the meaning of the sutra; it means the annihilation of everything. This sutra is more commonly known as the Diamond Sutra; Vajra Sutra is the shortened title. [Vajra is often translated as diamond or thunderbolt in English.] Everything is destroyed. For this reason, when Bodhidharma gave his dharma teaching, he went to his seat, slapped the table one time, then got off his seat. That was it. His exposition on the Vajra Sutra was finished. As for my discourse on the Vajra Sutra today, what is there to discourse when everything has been destroyed? Forget about discoursing. [laughter] When the dharma itself is destroyed, what dharma is there to discourse?

No one has ever expounded or talked about the Vajra Sutra this way. Speakers usually speak at great length, leaving the audience entirely baffled. What is being talked about? I am saying that the essential meaning of the Vajra Sutra is the destruction of everything! Even the buddhadharma itself is destroyed.

Think it over. Let me ask you, if you had become a buddha, say, Adharma Buddha, Vairocana Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, Medicine Tathagata, Aksobhya Buddha, Ratnasambhava Buddha or Amogasiddhi Buddha, would you still practice the buddhadharma every day? Would you need to? [Grandmaster asked the audience.] Right, it is the realm of no-practice. In the realm of no-practice, the buddhadharma can be discarded because you have become a buddha, correct? So practicing is the same as not practicing; not practicing is practicing. The essential meaning of the Vajra Sutra is the destruction of everything. This is attainment. If you had attained buddhahood, would you still be performing homa? To whom would you offer? Is there a deity who is not, in 

fact, you yourself? If you are still performing homa after becoming a buddha, then to whom are you offering? Ordinary human beings? What is there to offer? There is no longer a need to offer anything. One should be receiving offerings, not making offerings. Do you understand?

What is prajnaparamita? Wisdom. We know that prajna means wisdom, but prajna does not refer to ordinary wisdom. Prajna is the wisdom of the buddhas, not conventional wisdom or knowledge of the world. Prajna does not belong to worldly knowledge; it is non-worldly knowledge used to leave the world. Prajna is the wisdom one needs to leave the world. When this wisdom is perfected, it becomes the realm of emptiness, where everything has been wiped out.

Paramita. In the past we have often mentioned the words paramita and prajnaparamita. Paramitayana refers to Mahayana, the vast and boundless greater vehicle. Vajra means “to annihilate everything.” The Vajra Sutra means the supreme tathagata wisdom that annihilates everything by means of the vast and boundless greater vehicle. Take note, prajna is wisdom that annihilates everything and paramita is vast and boundless. This is the meaning of the sutra.

My explanation is different from that of others, they may not explain it this way. However, there may be some people who would say that the wisdom is indestructible because vajra is indestructible; indestructible wisdom, vast and boundless sutra. Paramita refers to Paramitayana which is Mahayana. “What do you practice?” [Someone replies] “Mahayana, the greater vehicle.” Hinayana is the smaller vehicle, “the small potato” vehicle. [chuckled] Thus, indestructible wisdom, vast and boundless sutra; or we can say, the greatest sutra, the vastest and most boundless sutra. The sutra reveals wisdom that annihilates everything and reaches the fruition of buddhahood. Buddhahood, not the buddha field (pureland). [homophone]

[There is a kind of fruit called jackfruit, whose name sounds the same as the translation of “paramita” in Chinese.] Have you tasted jackfruit? How can this kind of fruit be called paramita? Where does it come from? Southeast Asia? Is it tasty? It has a strange taste, and I don’t really care for it.

Today, we have been talking about names. Vajra means both indestructible and annihilation. Prajna means wisdom. Paramita has several meanings, including vast and boundless, arriving at the other shore and attainment of buddha fruition. The sutra name [the extrapolation of the title] is quite long.

The translator was Kumarajiva, Master of Tripitaka, who lived during the Later Qin Dynasty. You can check the internet regarding the translator to find more information about him. He was, of course, an Indian. Or was he? Could he have been a Chinese that immigrated to India, became an Indian and returned home? [laughter] There actually was such a dharma teacher, Sri Singha, the guru of Guru Padmasambhava. He was a Han Chinese who traveled to India to learn buddhadharma. Guru Padmasambhava took refuge in him as his guru. He was a Han Chinese who went to India and became an Indian. Sri Singha transmitted the buddhadharma to Guru Padmasambhava, who was Indian.

That’s all for today.

Om Mani Padme Hum

Today, we will talk about the Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra. Vajra was an indestructible weapon in ancient India. This is Vajra [Grandmaster Lu is lifting a vajra scepter]. Do you believe that it is indestructible? If you throw it against the wall or smash it against the ground, it doesn’t break; it keeps its shape. It was a kind of weapon in ancient India, and it represents the Vajrayana. We use this weapon to symbolize indestructibility, and that’s what this Vajra Sutra is all about. It is to destroy everything.

The Vajra Sutra is an indestructible wisdom that annihilates everything in order to arrive at the highest attainment. I have explained the meaning of the Vajra Sutra. The full name is Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra. It entails the highest attainment.

Paramita represents Mahayana. It also represents unparalleled attainment. This is a sutra of the wisdom of the indestructible vajra that annihilates everything to allow the attainment of highest enlightenment. Is that clear?

Let me tell you, I related this sutra to Kalachakra. Who emanated Kalachakra? Sakyamuni Buddha transformed to be Kalachakra. In South India, at Sri Dhanyakataka Stupa, Kalachakra Dharma was transmitted to the King of Shambala, King Suchandra.

What does Kalachakra mean? The wheel of time. As it turns, everything is destroyed, no exception. Would the lifespan of houses, like those of True Buddha Tantric Quarter, be longer than Grandmaster’s? Houses have longer lifespans, right? Some of them even have a lifespan of a hundred, two hundred or even a few hundred years. They become ancient buildings and they still exist. But will they eventually be destroyed? Yes, as time passes, the wheel of time turns, and everything will disappear.

The real meaning of Kalachakra is that the gigantic wheel of time will destroy everything eventually. Can cars be broken? Yes. Can houses be destroyed? Yes. Can human beings be destroyed? Yes. How? Through time. You’re born as a baby, grow to be a child, then youth, middle aged, old aged and then you die. You’re gone. What is it that makes you go away? The wheel of time. Time. Amidst time.

We learn from physics that the earth has gone through seven transformations in the past seven hundred million years. The mountains became fields, the fields became mountains; the oceans became mountains, and the mountains became the seas. As time goes, nothing stays. Everything will be annihilated. Kalachakra or the wheel of time also annihilates everything.

Remember, Bodhidharma went to Tibet and his name became Dampa Sangye. Dampa Sangye transmitted to Machig Labdron a dharma called Body Severance (Chod). It is a dharma to cut off or cut through. What is cutting? It’s the act to destroy. You’d cut your own head, or like the Japanese samurai would use harakiri to cut their own stomachs. The Samurai have three kinds of knives – long, medium and short. The short knife is used to commit suicide after failure or disgrace. They would kill themselves by cutting their stomachs. It’s called seppuku if I remember correctly. My dad often talked about it. How do you say it? Is it really seppuku? [A Japanese disciple in the audience confirmed.] I guess I still remember then. My dad used to carry a very thick wooden sword and beat me until the sword broke. That’s why Grandmaster has an iron body and bronze bones. He used to beat me like that. Crack! And the sword was broken.

Dampa Sangye transmitted to Machig Labdron the Body Severance Dharma Practice, which is the dharma of cutting through. You offer your own body to all buddhas of the three times in the ten directions, all bodhisattvas and mahasattvas, as well as all sentient beings of the six rebirth realms. That’s the spirit of forsaking and offering. A spiritual cultivator must have such spirits to have attainments.

Today, you have heard of my exposition on the Vajra Sutra. You must sever everything, including good and bad thoughts. Don’t keep them in mind, whether it’s good or bad. Don’t keep any issues on your mind. Wipe everything out. Just because someone said something, you’re upset for three days. It’s not worth it! You are a spiritual cultivator; you don’t keep all this garbage inside you. Instead, you want to take out the garbage. Money, career, romantic love, familial love, wealth and riches, including your own bodies, they all should be discarded completely. That’s Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra.

Now, do you understand the sutra? Did someone’s words make you sad for days? Or some small matter? Because of it you said that you don’t want to come here anymore. [Grandmaster is imitating an upset person.] “I will not go there anymore. I don’t want to give dharma teachings anymore. I’m not pleased.” [laughter] Would that do? Remember, everything is a good thing. I have said it. Everything is the best arrangement. However, the best arrangement means there is still something that matters; this best arrangement too should be discarded. My exposition on Vajra Sutra is different from others. I have talked about the title “Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra” alone for quite some time.

-To be continued-


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