Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Publication: Manuscript Cultures

Manuscript Cultures: Mapping the Field is a new volume from the Manuscript Cultures in Asia project at the University of Hamburg. It contains chapters on manuscript and scribal cultures in Europe, Africa and Asia. Two chapters are dedicated to manuscripts from Dunhuang: "Towards a Tibetan Palaeography" by Sam van Schaik and "Punctuation Marks in Medieval Chinese Manuscripts" by Imre Galambos. The volume is available from the publisher's website.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Diamond Sutra on display: Text panel 4

The whole text of the earliest dated printed book — the Diamond Sutra — will be on display at the British Library for the first time over a period of eighteen months between March 2014 – August 2015.

Following extensive conservation, the Diamond Sutra scroll currently remains in separate panels giving the unique opportunity to show all the panels in turn (see timetable below). Each panel will be on display for two months in the Treasures Gallery at the British Library, open to all and with free admission.

The fourth text panel of the Diamond Sutra on display (November-December 2014) contains the second half of section 15 through to all but the final line of section 17 of the Diamond Sutra.

See the whole of the Diamond Sutra online on the IDP website.

15. The merits of maintaining this sūtra (cont.)

The following English translation of the fourth text panel (by Lapiz Lazuli Texts) is based on Kumārajīva's Chinese translation of the original Sanskrit:

If there are people able to accept, maintain, study, recite, and explain this sūtra to others, then the Tathāgata is always aware of them and always sees them. Thusly, these people are carrying the Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi of the Tathāgata. Why? Subhūti, those who are happy with lesser teachings are attached to views of a self, views of a person, views of a being, and views of a life. They cannot hear, accept, maintain, study, recite, and explain it to others. Subhūti, in every place where this sūtra exists, the devas, humans, and asuras from every world should provide offerings. This place is a shrine to which everyone should respectfully make obeisance and circumambulate, adorning its resting place with flowers and incense.

16. Able to purify obstructions

“Moreover, Subhūti, suppose good men and good women accept, maintain, study, and recite this sūtra. If they are treated badly due to karma from a previous life that would make them fall onto evil paths, then from this treatment by others their karma from previous lives will be eliminated in this lifetime, and they will attain Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi. Subhūti, I remember in the past, innumerable, incalculable eons before Dīpaṃkara Buddha, being able to meet 84,000 countless myriads of buddhas, and providing offerings to honor them all without exception. Suppose someone in the next era is able to accept, maintain, study, and recite this sūtra. The merits of my offerings to all those buddhas are, in comparison to the merits of this person, not even one hundredth as good. They are so vastly inferior that a comparison cannot be made. Subhūti, if there are good men and good women in the next era who accept, maintain, study, and recite this sūtra, and I were to fully explain all the merits attained, the minds of those listening could go mad with confusion, full of doubt and disbelief. Subhūti, understand that just as the meaning of this sūtra is inconceivable, its rewards of karma are also inconceivable.”

17. Ultimately without self

At that time, Subhūti addressed the Buddha, saying, “Bhagavān, when good men and good women develop the mind of Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi, how should their minds dwell? How should they pacify their minds?” The Buddha told Subhūti, “Good men and good women develop Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi by giving rise to a mind thusly: ‘I will liberate all sentient beings. Yet when all sentient beings have been liberated, then truly not even a single sentient being has been liberated.’ Why? Subhūti, a bodhisattva who has a notion of a self, a notion of a person, a notion of a being, or a notion of a life, is not a bodhisattva. Why is this so? Subhūti, there is actually no dharma of one who develops Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi.

“What do you think? When the Tathāgata was with Dīpaṃkara Buddha, was there any dharma of the attainment of Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi?” “No, Bhagavān, and thus do I explain the actual meaning of the Buddha’s teachings: when the Buddha was with Dīpaṃkara Buddha, there was truly no dharma of the attainment of Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi.” The Buddha said, “Thusly, thusly, Subhūti! There was no dharma of the Tathāgata’s attainment of Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi. Subhūti, if there were a dharma of the Tathāgata’s attainment of Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi, then Dīpaṃkara Buddha would not have given me the prediction, ‘In the next era you will become a buddha named Śākyamuni.’ It is because there was no dharma of the attainment of Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi, that Dīpaṃkara Buddha gave me this prediction by saying, ‘In the next era you will become a buddha named Śākyamuni.’ Why? ‘Tathāgata’ denotes the suchness of dharmas. Subhūti, if someone says, ‘The Tathāgata has attained Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi,’ there is no dharma of a buddha’s attainment of Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi.

“Subhūti, the true attainment by the Tathāgata of Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi is neither substantial nor void, and for this reason the Tathāgata says, ‘All dharmas are the Buddha Dharma.’ Subhūti, all dharmas spoken of are actually not all dharmas, and are thus called all dharmas. Subhūti, this is like the body of a person that is tall and great.” Subhūti said, “Bhagavān, the body of a person that the Tathāgata speaks of, tall and great, is not a great body, and is thus called the Great Body.” “Subhūti, for bodhisattvas it is also such as this. If someone says ‘I will liberate and cross over innumerable sentient beings,’ then this is not one to be called a bodhisattva. Why? Subhūti, truly there is no dharma of a bodhisattva, and for this reason the Buddha says, ‘All dharmas are not a self, a person, a being, or a life.’ Subhūti, if a bodhisattva says, ‘I am adorning buddha-lands,’ then this is not one to be called a bodhisattva. Why? The adornments of buddha-lands spoken of by the Tathāgata are not adornments, and are thus called adornments.

‘The Diamond Sutra and Early Printing’

MARCH 2014 – AUGUST 2015

Monday 09.30 - 20.00
Tuesday 09.30 - 20.00
Wednesday 09.30 - 20.00
Thursday 09.30 - 20.00
Friday 09.30 - 18.00
Saturday 09.30 - 17.00
Sunday 11.00 - 17.00
Public holidays 11.00 - 17.00

Sir John Ritblat Gallery
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London, NW1 2DB

November – December 2014

4th panel printed text

January – February 2015

5th panel printed text

March – April 2015

6th panel printed text, including colophon

May – June 2015