‘This Unformulated Principle’


From the Diamond Sūtra:

‘Truth is uncontainable and inexpressible. It neither ‘Is’ nor ‘Is Not’. Thus it is that this Unformulated Principle is the foundation of the different systems of all the sages’.

Does this line make any sense to you? Not to worry. [Worry, only if it does. It means you don’t understand it.]


‘Unformulated Principle’? The essence of Principle is formulation. Sounds like a sneaky Self-Eating Expression right there.

‘Is and Is-Not’ is a reference to the grounding pillars, the twin posts, that are the basis of modeled intellection. What is a Model? We get to it shortly.

This line is tucked away at the corner of an early verse. And never repeated, not even referred to, again in the entire Sūtra. There is meaning to this benign neglect.

The above is the A.F.Price; Wong Mou-Lam translation from the Chinese [1947], a brilliant and insightful selection of words to carry the difficult intuition of what is being said.

Edward Conze, the other rigorous translator [from the Sanskrit] chooses to interpret ‘Asamskrtaprabhavita hy aryapudgalah’ as: ‘An Absolute exalts the Holy Persons’. But the word ‘Absolute’ risks giving it a religious spin which can seriously derail the reader. [In fact the word likely originated from Indian commentaries which have tried to reroute the Sūtra as a Vedanthic extension as evident in the larger commentaries.]

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