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Thread: Diamond Sutra Lecture

  1. #1

    Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Hi All,

    I've lately been studying the Diamond Sutra and came across an excellent series of video lectures:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 637795347#

    I'm sorry if this has been posted before. I searched the forums but found no reference to it. The lecture is by Hyon Gak Sunim, an American monk who lives and teaches at the Seoul International Zen Center in South Korea. He is one of my favorite teachers, not only for his ability to communicate Buddhist texts to Western audiences, but also because of his engaging voice and often humorous delivery style.

    Any way, it's quite long, but very interesting and revealing. I think he does a better job of explaining the first chapter's deep significance than Thich Nhat Hahn, whose book "The Diamond That Cuts Through Illusion" I am currently reading.

    Cheers,
    --
    Matt

  2. #2

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for posting the link. I haven't seen these lectures.

    gassho,

    JohnH

  3. #3

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Thank you. I am listening to the first talk now.

    I met this particular teacher a few years ago, and he is very talented, wise and quite funny. Ya gotta love the Dharma taught with a New Jersey accent too.

    Gassho, J

  4. #4

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Yep, much recommended video's, straightforward, clear words,
    easy to grasp, even when you are - like me - no native English speaker,
    _()_
    Peter

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Just finished part 1. Lighthearted and very Interesting lecture, thanks for sharing.
    Gassho ~ Dave.

  6. #6

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Quote Originally Posted by Matto
    Hi All,

    I've lately been studying the Diamond Sutra and came across an excellent series of video lectures:

    They been around for a while in the internet, but I always come back to them. I know he has made other presentations. Thanks for the reminders!

  7. #7

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Yes, these are great. Thanks for the info.

  8. #8

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    These were the first Buddhist lectures I have ever seen when I first started looking into Buddhism. I was like "WOW, this is awesome!." I do want ti re-watch to see how much will strike me again.

  9. #9
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    "It's so simple it's stupid!"
    Love it!

  10. #10

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Thanks Matt,
    I an really enjoying these lectures

    Gassho

    Joe

  11. #11

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Thanks for bringing these to my attention.

  12. #12

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    "It's so simple it's stupid!"
    Love it!
    Having watched the first video, I noted his comments on babies/young children (sleep when they want, eat when they want) sounded somewhat "over-simplified". If only real-life babies were that simple! The point about the first chapter of the Diamond Sutra containing the whole sutra sounds over-simplified too but someone who's a monk and studied for years in a monastery must be right, right? I've read the sutra a few times and it seemed like there's much more to ponder in the following chapters.

    I like entertaining speakers but am also a bit wary. Will view the other videos and re-read the book at the same time. Thanks again for the link (it's provided some relief after hitting that Keizan/Hixon brick wall!)

    JohnH

  13. #13

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    I noticed the same thing. It felt like a monastic's abstract conceptualization of what children must be like without actually having spent much time around them. I was a bit more doubtful of everything he said afterward because of that.

  14. #14

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Of course, let's be mindful that he does say upfront that he is just a zen monk riffing on the Diamond Sutra, not speaking as a scholar, and probably will make many mistakes. So. Caveat Emptor! :wink:

  15. #15

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Having watched the first video, I noted his comments on babies/young children (sleep when they want, eat when they want) sounded somewhat "over-simplified". If only real-life babies were that simple! The point about the first chapter of the Diamond Sutra containing the whole sutra sounds over-simplified too but someone who's a monk and studied for years in a monastery must be right, right? I've read the sutra a few times and it seemed like there's much more to ponder in the following chapters.

    I like entertaining speakers but am also a bit wary. Will view the other videos and re-read the book at the same time. Thanks again for the link (it's provided some relief after hitting that Keizan/Hixon brick wall!)

    JohnH
    I take this to mean more that when they are hungry or sleepy, they don't make good-or-bad about. No "I shouldn't eat this, I'm too fat", or "I shouldn't sleep now, I'm so lazy."

    No mental discrimination. Like the old definition of Zen: when hungry, eat. When tired, sleep.

    He is big on hyperbole, though. I've noticed this in other talks too.

    Cheers,
    Matt

  16. #16

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Quote Originally Posted by Matto
    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Having watched the first video, I noted his comments on babies/young children (sleep when they want, eat when they want) sounded somewhat "over-simplified". If only real-life babies were that simple! The point about the first chapter of the Diamond Sutra containing the whole sutra sounds over-simplified too but someone who's a monk and studied for years in a monastery must be right, right? I've read the sutra a few times and it seemed like there's much more to ponder in the following chapters.

    I like entertaining speakers but am also a bit wary. Will view the other videos and re-read the book at the same time. Thanks again for the link (it's provided some relief after hitting that Keizan/Hixon brick wall!)

    JohnH
    I take this to mean more that when they are hungry or sleepy, they don't make good-or-bad about. No "I shouldn't eat this, I'm too fat", or "I shouldn't sleep now, I'm so lazy."
    No, they're more like "I won't eat tomato sauce 'cause it's poison," or "I won't eat green beans 'cause they're green." I think there's a danger (although not a very great one) in idealizing anything, even children. Or zen. If it doesn't ring true it sours the rest of the message, and people might think "what do these people who live behind monastery walls, who stare at walls all day long and only read words written hundred or thousands of years ago, know about MY life, my kids, my marriage, my wants and needs, my suffering?"

  17. #17

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    In fairness to to the speaker, Gautama was a pretty wretched husband and father.

  18. #18

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Hi,

    I watched video 2. It's excellent (and also entertaining). For me, the value is that Hyon Gak Sunim is explaining the text in a basic and understandable way. His teaching style is very engaging, he wants his audience to be interested and to understand. I liked the story of the frogs and glimpsed the meaning of something I've always struggled to understand; there is no I.

    gassho,

    JohnH

  19. #19
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    I'm up to video 5 and scribbling all over my TNH text. In places I like TNH better, but in other places I like him better. "Like" means having meaning to me, so that will be different for you. Anyway, the benefit is balancing the two; it's a not one, not two sort of thing. As per usual.

  20. #20

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    No, they're more like "I won't eat tomato sauce 'cause it's poison," or "I won't eat green beans 'cause they're green."
    Sorry, I should qualify my comments. I was thinking more in terms of very young children, i.e. before they acquire language--an important distinction considering Zen's emphasis on rationalizing. So you are right, my 3-year-old does think tomato sauce is poison, but my 5-month-old just eats and just sleeps

  21. #21
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Of course, let's be mindful that he does say upfront that he is just a zen monk riffing on the Diamond Sutra, not speaking as a scholar, and probably will make many mistakes. So. Caveat Emptor! :wink:
    Thank you Matt for this..I enjoyed the talk.

    Also, I agree with you Erik...in some ways I feel this way about all teachers.

    Someone :wink: once said "After examination, believe what you yourself have tested and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto."

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  22. #22

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    His children example was just an example of the non-discriminating mind. hungry; just eat and so on, I don't think he meant for it to be a literal example. That is just his style of teaching, and I think when watching these one should keep in mind that he is trying to explain something that really can't be explain by words, but can only be understood through direct experience. Lets not get caught up in the language per se. since all words are essentially empty. words are simply sounds. the meaning comes from us.
    And ( in my own personal view) I do not think there is any deeper meaning to the diamond sutra. The sutra is profound enough. It is what it is. because it is so simple and clear, it is hard to grasp. Just like our practice. So simple; yet so hard at the same time.

    Gassho


    Rafael

  23. #23
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    What translation is he using? It has some interesting differences between it and the TNH version I am using to follow along.

  24. #24

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    What translation is he using? It has some interesting differences between it and the TNH version I am using to follow along.
    I wondered the same thing. I sent him an email with that question, so we'll see...

    Quote Originally Posted by unofficialsamurai
    His children example was just an example of the non-discriminating mind. hungry; just eat and so on, I don't think he meant for it to be a literal example. That is just his style of teaching, and I think when watching these one should keep in mind that he is trying to explain something that really can't be explain by words, but can only be understood through direct experience. Lets not get caught up in the language per se. since all words are essentially empty. words are simply sounds. the meaning comes from us.
    And ( in my own personal view) I do not think there is any deeper meaning to the diamond sutra. The sutra is profound enough. It is what it is. because it is so simple and clear, it is hard to grasp. Just like our practice. So simple; yet so hard at the same time.
    Well said.

  25. #25

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    What translation is he using? It has some interesting differences between it and the TNH version I am using to follow along.
    I've been reading along with the video. Translation by A.F. Price and Wong Mou-lam. The copy I have is published by Shambala (and includes the Sutra of Hui Neng).

    Translation and interpretation are another reason why words aren't sufficient. There's a section that talks of 'sacrificing many lives' and I wondered what that meant in the Buddhist context. In the video, the phrase is interpreted as 'becomming monks and nuns', that is the 'sacrifice' in Hyon Gak Sunim's interpretation. I don't know if that's the correct interpretation or not.

    I'm up to video 6.

    Just as an aside, the writer(s) of the Diamond Sutra include many sentences decribing the 'incomparable value' of the sutra, just like the section in the Heart Sutra describing it as 'sacred, luminuos, supreme and incomparable'. I wonder if the product promotion was added later by the advertising people or if sutra writers might have had a competitive streak :shock: .

    Gassho,

    JohnH

  26. #26
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Thanks for the translation info, John. The biggest translation difference that I've seen is that wherever TNH writes "happiness" he reads "merit," and that's a big difference. It makes me wonder if the original word is one of those words that doesn't translate very well so it can have all sorts of meanings. Buddhism is filled with those words. Ironically, he mentions a number of times to throw away the words, which is fine, but I'd like to know what I'm throwing away :?

    As for the product placement comment, while I wasn't thinking of it in those terms, I was wondering along similar lines.

  27. #27

    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    ...The biggest translation difference that I've seen is that wherever TNH writes "happiness" he reads "merit," and that's a big difference. It makes me wonder if the original word is one of those words that doesn't translate very well so it can have all sorts of meanings. Buddhism is filled with those words. Ironically, he mentions a number of times to throw away the words, which is fine, but I'd like to know what I'm throwing away :?
    ...
    Hi Alan,

    And without the original document and the ability to read it we'll never really know.

    I'm still watching, up to lecture 7. Lecture 6 got a bit "rough" in places. He rushes through some sections, repeats commentary, yells a fair bit, swears ... almost to the point of confronting the audience rather than engaging them. Like a solid whack with a verbal stick. Lecture 7 (a week later I assume) is much tamer and reminded me of the phrase 'things as it is' from the Sandokai. Loved his comment on meditation (it's mostly visual you'll have to watch!)

    Gassho,

    JohnH

  28. #28
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Diamond Sutra Lecture

    Thanks for this link Matt. Really good at times.
    Gassho,
    Soen

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