Sutras (Sanskrit): Are Buddhist scriptures, consisting of discourses by the Buddha and his disciples. They are basically teachings of the Buddha. Here are some of the most well known sutras :

Heart Sutra

“Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sutra “

The Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra or Heart Sutra is a well-known Mahāyāna Buddhist sutra that is very popular among Mahayana Buddhists both for its brevity and depth of meaning. It is the best known and most popular of all Buddhist scriptures.
The sutra is in a small class of sutras not attributed to the Buddha.
This is a brief translation from “ The Dharma Realm Buddhist Association “:

When Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was practicing the profound Prajna Paramita, he illuminated the Five Skandhas and saw that they are all empty, and he crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty.
Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form. Form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is form. So too are feeling, cognition, formation, and consciousness.
Shariputra, all Dharmas are empty of characteristics. They are not produced, not destroyed, not defiled, not pure; and they neither increase nor diminish. Therefore, in emptiness there is no form, feeling, cognition, formation, or consciousness; no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind; no sights, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or Dharmas; no field of the eyes up to and including no field of mind consciousness; and no ignorance or ending of ignorance, up to and including no old age and death or ending of old age and death. There is no suffering, no accumulating, no extinction, and no Way, and no understanding and no attaining.
Because nothing is attained, the Bodhisattva through reliance on Prajna Paramita is unimpeded in his mind. Because there is no impediment, he is not afraid, and he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind. Ultimately Nirvana! All Buddhas of the three periods of time attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi through reliance on Prajna Paramita. Therefore know that Prajna Paramita is a Great Spiritual Mantra, a Great Bright Mantra, a Supreme Mantra, an Unequalled Mantra. It can remove all suffering; it is genuine and not false. That is why the Mantra of Prajna Paramita was spoken. Recite it like this:
Gaté Gaté Paragaté Parasamgaté



The Buddhist text known around the world as the Diamond Sutra is a short Mahayana sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom (prajna-paramita) genre, which teaches the practice of the avoidance of abiding in extremes of mental attachment."
The Diamond Sutra, like many sutras, begins with the famous phrase "Thus have I heard" . In the sutra the Buddha has finished his daily walk with the monks to gather offerings of food and sits down to rest. One of the more senior monks, Subhuti, comes forth and asks the Buddha a question.
What follows is an often repetitive dialogue regarding the nature of perception. The Buddha often uses paradoxical phrases like "What is called the highest teaching is not the highest teaching".
The Buddha is trying to help Subhuti unlearn his preconceived, limited notions of the nature of reality, enlightenment, and compassion. At one notable point the Buddha teaches Subhuti that what makes a Bodhisattva so great is that the Bodhisattva does not take pride in his work to save others, nor is his compassion calculated or contrived. The Bodhisattva practices sincere compassion that comes from deep within, without any sense of ego or gain.
In another section, Subhuti expresses concern that the Diamond Sutra will be forgotten 500 years after it is. The Buddha assures Subhuti that well after he is gone there will be some who can grasp the meaning of the Diamond Sutra and put it into practice. This section seems to reflect a concern found in other Buddhist texts that the teachings of the Buddha would eventually fade and become corrupted.
In section 18 it is stated that the Tathagata does have the human eye as well as the divine eye, the eye of insight, the eye of transcendent wisdom and the Buddha eye.
A famous four-line verse appears at the end of the sutra, a list of vivid metaphors for impermanence:
Thus shall you think of this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

In Practice
Since it can be read in approximately forty minutes, the Diamond Sutra is often memorized and chanted in Buddhist monasteries. This sutra has retained significant popularity in the Mahāyāna Buddhist tradition for over a millennium, especially in East Asia, and most importantly within the East Asian meditation tradition (Zen and related disciplines), where it is extensively recited, taught, and commented upon even today.
It is repeatedly stated in the Diamond Sutra that if a person embodies even four lines of the sutra within his sadhana (spiritual practice), he will be blessed.

A copy of the Diamond Sutra, found among the Dunhuang manuscripts in the early 20th century, is, in the words of the British Library, "the earliest complete survival of a dated printed book


Frontpiece of the earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra, dated 868.

It was was discovered in a cave temple at Tun-huang. A scroll about sixteen feet long., bearing a date equivalent to 868. The quality of the printing is remarkably high.

The following text is Part of The Diamond Sutra :
After a time a most venerable monk named Subhuti, who was sitting in the congregation, rose from his seat.
He uncovered his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, and as he joined his palms together he respectfully bowed and then addressed the Buddha:
"Most Honored One, It is truly majestic how much knowledge and wisdom your monks and disciples have been given through your most inspired teachings! It is remarkable that you look after our welfare so selflessly and so completely."
"Most Honored One, I have a question to ask you. If sons and daughters of good families want to develop the highest, most fulfilled and awakened mind, if they wish to attain the Highest Perfect Wisdom, what should they do to help quiet their drifting minds and help subdue their craving thoughts?"
The Buddha then replied:
"So it is as you say, Subhuti. Monks and disciples have been favored with the highest favor by the Buddha, the monks and disciples have been instructed with the highest instruction by the Buddha. The Buddha is constantly mindful of the welfare of his followers. Listen carefully with your full attention, and I will speak to your question."
"If sons and daughters of good families want to develop the highest, most fulfilled and awakened mind, if they wish to attain the Highest Perfect Wisdom and quiet their drifting minds while subduing their craving thoughts, then they should follow what I am about to say to you. Those who follow what I am about to say here will be able to subdue their discriminative thoughts and craving desires. It is possible to attain perfect tranquility and clarity of mind by absorbing and dwelling on the teachings I am about to give."
Then the Buddha addressed the assembly.
All living beings, whether born from eggs, from the womb, from moisture, or spontaneously; whether they have form or do not have form; whether they are aware or unaware, whether they are not aware or not unaware, all living beings will eventually be led by me to the final Nirvana, the final ending of the cycle of birth and death. And when this unfathomable, infinite number of living beings have all been liberated, in truth not even a single being has actually been liberated."
"Why Subhuti? Because if a disciple still clings to the arbitrary illusions of form or phenomena such as an ego, a personality, a self, a separate person, or a universal self existing eternally, then that person is not an authentic disciple."
"Furthermore, Subhuti, in the practice of compassion and charity a disciple should be detached. That is to say, he should practice compassion and charity without regard to appearances, without regard to form, without regard to sound, smell, taste, touch, or any quality of any kind. Subhuti, this is how the disciple should practice compassion and charity. Why? Because practicing compassion and charity without attachment is the way to reaching the Highest Perfect Wisdom, it is the way to becoming a living Buddha."
"Subhuti, do you think that you can measure all of the space in the Eastern Heavens?"
"No, Most Honored One. One cannot possibly measure all of the space in the Eastern Heavens."
"Subhuti, can space in all the Western, Southern, and Northern Heavens, both above and below, be measured?"
"No, Most Honored One. One cannot possibly measure all the space in the Western, Southern, and Northern Heavens."
"Well, Subhuti, the same is true of the merit of the disciple who practices compassion and charity without any attachment to appearances, without cherishing any idea of form. It is impossible to measure the merit they will accrue. Subhuti, my disciples should let their minds absorb and dwell in the teachings I have just given."

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Lotus Sutra


The Lotus Sutra or Sutra on the White Lotus of the Sublime Dharma is one of the most popular and influential Mahayana sutras in Asia, and the basis on which the Tien Tai and Nichiren sects of Buddhism were established. It is the second of three sutras. The entire work is called The Threefold Lotus Sutra. The three titles are: The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings, The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law and The Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue
It was probably compiled in the first century BCE in Kashmir, India some 500 years after the death of Shakyamuni Buddha.
The Lotus Sutra purports to be a discourse delivered by the Buddha toward the end of his life. The tradition in Mahayana states that the sutra was written down at the time of the Buddha and stored for five hundred years in a realm of dragons

The following passage is key one for the development of the idea of the cosmic form of the Buddha. Note that "Tathagata" "(which means "Thus Gone", ie, having achieved Nirvana) is one of the titles of Buddha :

¨Fully enlightened for ever so long, the Tathagata has an endless span of life, he lasts for ever. Although the Tathagata has not entered Nirvana, he makes a show of entering Nirvana, for the sake of those who have to be educated. And even today my ancient course as a Bodhisattva is still incomplete, and my life span is not yet ended. From today onwards still twice as many hundreds of thousands of Nayutas of Kotis of aeons must elapse before my life span is complete. Although therefore I do not at present enter into Nirvana (or extinction), nevertheless I announce my Nirvana. For by this method I bring beings to maturity. Because it might be that, if I stayed here too long and could be seen too often, beings who have performed no meritorious actions, who are without merit, a poorly lot, eager for sensuous pleasures, blind, and wrapped in the net of false views, would, in the knowledge that the Tathagata stays (here all the time), get the notion that life is a mere sport, and would not conceive the notion that the (sight of the) Tathagata is hard to obtain. In the conviction that the Tathagata is always at hand they would not exert their vigor for the purpose of escaping from the triple world, and they would not conceive of the Tathagata as hard to obtain.
Hence the Tathagata, in his skill in means, .has uttered to those beings the saying that ''Rarely O monks, do Tathagatas appear in the world." Because during many hundreds of thousands of Nayutas of Kotis of aeons those beings may have the sight of a Tathagata, or they may not. And therefore, basing my statement on this fact, I say that "Rarely, O monks do Tathagatas appear in the world." To the extent that they understand the rarity of a Tathagata's appearance, to that extent they will wonder (at his appearance), and sorrow (at his disappearance), and when they do not see the Tathagata, they will long for the sight of him. The wholesome roots, which result from their turning their attention towards the Tathagata as towards an objective basis, will for a long time tend to their weal, benefit and happiness. Considering this the Tathagata, although he does not actually enter Nirvana, announces his entering into Nirvana, f or the sake of those to be educated. And that is a discourse on Dharma by the Tathagata himself.. When he utters it, there is in it no false speech on the part of the Tathagata.
[Lotus Sutra: 15, 268-272]