The Diamond Sutra
The Lotus Sutra
The Diamond Sutra was written in India in the 4th century. It takes the form of a conversation between the Gautama Buddha and his disciple Subhuti in front of the monastery students, after they have finished their daily walk to beg for food. In front of the assembled monks, Subhuti asks the Buddha a question, and there follows a conversation about those who seek enlightenment (the Tathagata) and those who have attained enlightenment (the Bodhisattva). The underlying theme of the work is the unity of all things, and the quest of the monk to directly see and experience this unity. The title of the Sutra refers to the multiple facets of a diamond, which each reflect the whole.
In the 5th century, the Diamond Sutra was translated into Chinese by the Indian scholar Kumarajiva. A copy of this translation, printed with carved wood blocks, is in the possession of the British Library. It bears the inscription "Reverently produced for free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his parents, on the 15th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong". This dates the copy to May 868 CE, during the T'ang Dynasty, making it the oldest known complete printed book which bears a date-almost 600 years older than Gutenberg's Bible.