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FOUR LINES OF GATHA

Translated into Chinese by Kumarajiva (344 - 413, Eastern Jin Dynasty)
English translation: Fo Guang Shan International Translation Center

All conditioned phenomena

Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows;

Like dew and lightning.

One should contemplate them in this way

All MARKS AS NO MARKS
English translation: You Zai and Siew-Hsiang Chow

All with marks are false and empty.

If one sees all marks as no marks

Then one sees the Tathagata.

── from Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra (Diamond Sutra)

PARABLE: A newly-wed couple originally lived in harmony. To celebrate their anniversary, the husband asked his wife to get some wine from the cellar. But when the wife opened the wine jar, she was shocked to find a beautiful lady her husband hid inside the jar.

She angrily asked her husband, “Why is there a woman hidden in the jar?” Her husband denied such a statement and went to examine the jar himself, but instead saw a man hidden in the jar! As a result, the couple had an unresolvable dispute that they finally decided to ask a Venerable to be the judge.

After understanding the entire incident, the Venerable shattered the jar with a stone. The wine bursted forth and both the woman and man inside were gone.

Hence, it is said that “all with marks are false and empty.” In daily life, afflictions arise when we are attached to form and take delusions to be real. The Diamond Sutra is mainly a discussion on “emptiness.” Emptiness is Right View, Dependent Origination, and can help us to realize the Truth without being kept in the dark.