• Hong Kong University School of Professional and Continuing Education

Buddhism: Diamond Sutra and Zen Meditation

Discover the secrets of the Diamond Sutra and learn how its Buddhist teachings promote living in serenity and ease.

2,849 enrolled on this course

Buddha statue

Buddhism: Diamond Sutra and Zen Meditation

2,849 enrolled on this course

  • 6 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

Explore the meaning of ‘prajñā-pāramitā’ in relation to attaining buddhahood

How can we resolve afflictions?

The Diamond Sutra is one of the most historically important texts in Buddhism. On this course, you will explore the meaning of ‘prajñā-pāramitā’ from the Diamond Sutra. You will learn why and how the zen school uses the teachings of the Diamond Sutra to attain buddhahood.

You will also consider the four stages of buddhahood and what is meant by the ‘adornment of the pure land’.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Most people are not really what they appear to be, we may look happy and confident, but actually we suffer from inner pain, fears, and anger. How can we listen to our inner selves, understand, and attend to those sufferings? The secret to this is in The Diamond Sutra. What is Vajra? What is prajñā? What is pāramitā? The sutra talks about Vajra, prajñā, and pāramitā, what are they? How important is The Diamond Sutra amongst Buddhist sutras? The teachings on meditation in The Diamond Sutra are to unite with the Way. How does the wisdom of The Diamond Sutra enable us to free ourselves from all kinds of attachments and from our egos?

Skip to 1 minute and 6 seconds Why do receiving and holding the four line verses in The Diamond Sutra, and spreading Buddhist teachings enable us to accrue blessings and virtues?


  • Week 1

    Course introduction

    • Course introduction

      In this activity, you are going to watch the introductory video, read the articles that introduce the course and meet our lead educator, Dr Cheung Siu Nang Bruce.

    • Some key concepts of The Diamond Sutra

      In this activity, you are going to learn key concepts of The Diamond Sutra

  • Week 2

    To attain Buddhahood in ‘day-to-day’ experiences

    • Introduction

      Part 1 Introduction

    • Section One: The Reason for the Dharma Assembly

      The Buddha lives in the world, which is no different from how people in general engage in daily life; there is nothing unusual about it.

    • Section Two: The Well-manifested Makes a Request

      Subhuti discovered that the Buddha ‘had such serenity and ease in his everyday life’; this was rare.

    • Section Three: The Orthodox Truth of The Great Vehicle

      The approach to subdue afflictions: There is nothing unusual about the attainment of Buddhahood, it is only to wipe away the differences between all living beings and the Tathagata (the Buddha)

    • Section Four: Marvelous Conduct without Attachment

      The Buddha’s life is like the sun shining upon the entire earth. That is ‘bestowing alms without any attachments’.

  • Week 3

    The Unconditioned Phenomena are the heart of attaining Buddhahood

    • Introduction

      Part 1 Introduction

    • Section Five: Genuine Discernment of Suchness

      When one perceives the thirty-two marks of the Buddha, who wouldn’t start having desires and aspirations? The Buddha says ‘Everything with form is unreal’.

    • Section Six: True Faith is Rare

      If we ‘develop faith in these lines and accept them as embodying the Truth’, we will know the seeds which all buddhas sowed in us are beginning to wake up. We understand the Truth. We should not grasp at non-dharma.

    • Section Seven: Nothing Attained and Nothing Spoken

      The Unconditioned Truth is not speech or thinking, neither is it what is said or thought about. It transcends deliberate efforts and is being in communion with the life of the bigger self.

    • Section Eight: All Things Comply with Dharma

      The ‘scriptural dharma’ is the ‘dharma’ which can be heard (the four-lined verses), it cannot do without language. The four-lined verses are passed on to others through the sense of hearing. All buddhas arise from here.

  • Week 4

    Four stages of Buddhahood and Adornment of the Pure Land

    • Introduction

      Part 1 Introduction

    • Section Nine: The One Form is No Form

      The four stages of liberation: (1) ‘Taking refuge’, (2) ‘The present moment and the growth in joy’, (3) ‘Karma is not a problem’, (4) ‘Everlasting samādhi’

    • Section Ten: Adornment of the Pure Land

      The adornment of the Pure Land is not a matter of form (phenomenon). This is contemplation on equality; ‘Bringing the existence of the world into the sacred experience of the original vow.’ This is contemplation on purity.

  • Week 5

    From a person who ‘receives and holds four-lined verses’, to a buddha who ‘expounds the four-lined verses for to others’

    • Introduction

      Part 1 Introduction

    • Section Eleven: The Supremacy of Unconditioned Blessings

      The original life goal of all living beings is self-awakening (that they themselves are buddhas, and wish to save others); All men of virtue and sages are known as such on account of the Unconditioned Phenomena.

    • Section Twelve: Venerating the True Teaching

      Those who ‘widely disseminate the four-lined verses so that it will spread to all parts of the world’, should be ‘venerated just as if they were the Buddha’.

  • Week 6

    The Unconditioned Phenomena is “The Vájra-cchedikā Prajñā-pāramitā”

    • Introduction

      Part 1 Introduction

    • Section Thirteen: Receiving and Holding the Dharma of Suchness

      This section summarise the ways of having “The Vájra-cchedikā Prajñā-pāramitā”

When would you like to start?

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the concept of ‘emptiness’ in The Diamond Sutra
  • Apply the right thought to practice, so as to understand the Buddha-nature behind the transient aspects of matters
  • Apply the right thought to experience ‘emptiness’ and subdue every affliction in daily life

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in Buddhism, religion, Zen meditation or physical science.

Who will you learn with?

Dr Bruce Siu Nang CHEUNG is Head of College of Life Sciences and Technology, HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education, and the Chairman of Universal Brightness Esoteric Buddhist Seminary.

Who developed the course?

HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education

In fulfilling the mission of The University of Hong Kong in extending lifelong learning opportunities for the community, HKU SPACE aspires to be a world-class centre of excellence.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$69/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 30 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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