What if an ancient scroll could change the way you look at reality forever?
In the early 20th Century, a monk unsealed a hidden archive in the Mogao Caves of China. The hidden cache of priceless art included “nearly 50,000 ancient manuscripts, silk banners and paintings, fine silk embroideries and other rare textiles dating from before the early 1000s.”
Among these treasures was a Chinese translation of the Diamond Sutra, one of the most famous sermons attributed to Buddha.
The scroll dates from 868 C.E., the Chinese characters imprinted by carved wooden blocks. The British Library now possesses this ancient manuscript, dubbed “the world’s earliest complete survival of a dated printed book.”
The text features some inspiring meditations on the true nature of reality, some metaphysical speculation that can stand proudly alongside contemporary ideas about simulation theory: “If you understand that everything is empty and illusory, then you cannot be confused by anything. You will not become attached to unreal states,” the text explains.
The Diamond Sutura (PDF link) concludes with four mind-bending metaphors about true nature of reality. What’s your favorite?
Reality is like a bubble: “Bubbles are also basically unreal, and quickly disappear to show their emptiness.”
Reality is like a shadow: “Shadows follow people around. When there is form, then there is a shadow. The form is an actual substance, the shadow is empty.”
Reality is like a dew drop: “If you look outside early in the morning you will find dew, but after sunrise the dew will have disappeared.”
Reality is like a lightning flash: “A lightning flash is also impermanent. You should look upon all conditioned things in this way … The measure of your heart will be as vast as the heavens and as broad as empty space, free of impediments.”