The Rice Seedling and its Fruit

From a seed comes a sprout, from a sprout a leaf, from a leaf a stem, from a stem a pedicel, from a pedicel a pistil, from a pistil a flower, and from a flower comes a fruit. If there is no seed, the sprout cannot arise and so on, until finally, without the flower, the fruit cannot arise. – The Rice Seedling [1.11]

In January 2018, 84000 published The Rice Seedling, one of the most important sūtras on the topic of dependent arising. In the sūtra, Śāriputra asks Maitreya to explain a statement that the Buddha had made earlier that day while gazing at a rice seedling: “Whoever sees dependent arising sees the Dharma. Whoever sees the Dharma sees the Buddha.” What follows is a brief and poignant description of the twelve links of dependent arising, the eightfold path of the noble ones, and their relation to outer and inner causes and conditions.

Do Tulku, representing the Dharmasāgara Translation Group, introduces the text in the following very charming three-minute video (transcript below):

Translator Do Tulku on The Rice Seedling
More videos available on our Youtube and Vimeo channels.

Hello. Tashi Delek. My name is Do Tulku and I speak here on behalf of our translation group, the Dharmasāgara Translation Group. We are a translation team working for the 84000 project. Recently, one of our translations was published and used as an English translation during a teaching of His Holiness Dalai Lama in Bodhgaya, India, for which we are extremely thankful and happy!

So the sūtra is called The Rice Seedling sūtra or, in Tibetan, sā lu’i ljang pa’i mdo, and, as the name suggests, it is a sūtra based on a very short teaching given by Buddha Śākyamuni while gazing at a rice seedling. It mostly deals with the twelve links of dependent origination. Personally, I think it is like a bridge between the two yānas — practitioners from Theravāda and Mahāyāna both can find this sūtra appealing since it carries such a neutral tone.

Needless to say, this sūtra is so important, as reflected by the fact that it is so frequently quoted in Tibetan commentaries and Indian commentaries — so much so that modern Sanskrit scholars could reconstruct almost 90% of the sūtra just by collecting the fragments of it from different commentaries!

So, it is a very important sūtra and we tried to do our best, although it is impossible to have a perfect translation. But we are sure and we hope that this will not be the final version of it. And it will be revised again and again. Please visit the 84000 Reading Room and have a look at our translation, The Rice Seedling sūtra. Tashi Delek!

The Rice Seedling has many different versions, editions, translations, and commentaries in numerous different languages; this particular translation is mainly based on the Tibetan version in the Degé Kangyur collection and the Pedurma (dpe bsdur ma) comparative edition of the Kangyur (More on this in the Introduction). As there are numerous resources from which to draw for those interested in teaching the sūtra, we are particularly thrilled that the H. H. Dalai Lama chose to use the 84000 edition for his Bodhgaya teaching in January of 2018.

H.H. Dalai Lama’s teaching is available on video here: Sūtra on The Four Noble Truths & Sūtra on Dependent Origination and editorial coverage provided by the Office of the Dalai Lama of the three-day event here:

Day 1: The Sūtra of the Wheel of Dharma and the Rice Seedling Sūtra

Day 2: Second Day of Teachings for the Nalanda Shiksha

Day 3: Third Day of Teachings for the Nalanda Shiksha & Release of the First Volume of ‘Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics’

Posted: 7 Apr 2018