Nov 5, 2020
Martin Goodson

Podcast: Section from the Diamond Sutra

The 32 Marks of Buddha

The 32 marks were used as living symbols of Buddha and aligned to the creation of the 'practice body' of adherents to deliver beings out of delusion. The power of the Buddha made manifest through teachings, meditation, words and ritual practices.

Subhuti, what do you think? May the Tathagata be perceived by the thirty-two marks [of a great man]?

Subhuti answered: Yes, certainly the Tathagata may be perceived thereby.

Then Buddha said: Subhuti, if the Tathagata may be perceived by such marks any great imperial ruler is the same as the Tathagata.

Subhuti then said to Buddha: World-honoured One, as I understand the meaning of Buddha’s words the Tathagata may not be perceived by the thirty-two marks.

Whereupon the World-honoured One uttered this verse:

Who looks for me in form

Who searches for me in sound

His footsteps go astray

He cannot find the Tathagata.

(Text based on: The Diamond Sutra tr. AF Price & Wong Mou-Lam)


In this podcast:

  • The role of the 32 marks in early Buddhism and later Mahayana

  • Representations of Buddha and changing conceptions of who/what Buddha is?

  • The function of Buddhist art and images in Buddhist practice

  • Contemplation and meditation and embodied realisation

  • Discussion around using images for practice without attachment and idolatry.

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