The Diamond Cutter on Flying with Diarrhea

The Diamond Cutter sutra can look daunting at first glance, but it’s practical application is straightforward. It may be beneficial to spend a considerable amount of time meditating on the original texts, but it’s worthwhile and rewarding to have first-hand experience with the principles from a translated source that provides comments. We could talk about the temperature of the pool all day long, but until we jump into the pool, the talking is no substitute for direct experience!


As an introduction to the Diamond Cutter sutra, let’s go over something that happened to me recently and how I applied the wisdom of this timeless sutra to make my life a tad bit easier.

It all started going downhill after I accepted an invitation from a family member to join him for a long weekend trip on the canadian west coast. Reaching the destination involved taking a ferry and driving for a few hours.

It took us half a day to reach the seaside cottage house. A couple of hours into the weekend, I started feeling very weak and all the symptoms I was experiencing pointed towards a bad case of gastroenteritis. It just so happened that I would also be chaining the long weekend trip with an early morning flight to Japan(bummer?). Staring blandly at the ceiling feeling half-dead, I started considered rescheduling my flight.

Perhaps it was irresponsible, but I ended up biting the bullet and taking the flight. I figured that if I could avoid human contact, drink a lot of fluids and sleep a lot, perhaps it wouldn’t be too bad(maybe).

The trip from an island in Canada to my accommodation in Japan ended up taking more than two days of non-stop traveling. It led me to trashing a pair of underwear and a couple of near pukes during my flights. The sound of my stomach growling as the cabin pressure fluctuated was loud enough to be mistaken for the noise of our planes turbines.

It became obvious to me, this was the perfect opportunity to apply the Diamond Cutter sutra. In simple terms, the sutra goes over the notions of the Buddha from the standpoint of emptiness. One of the points brought forward in the sutra is how nothing exists ‘of itself’. For example, if you hate orange juice and your friend happens to love orange juice, how can the orange juice exhibit the property of being hated and liked at the same time? If we give it some thought, we realize that our opinions, views and feelings which we place upon the things that come into under our direct experience come from us and only us.

By realizing this powerful truth I started changing my relationship with the discomfort I was experiencing. I remembered that in the past, as a young kid, being sick meant missing school. This in turn meant I got to play video games at home and skip class! It made me feel happy.

Coming back to my present situation, I was able to relate to my state under a different light. How I thought of the pain could certainly benefit from less complaining. The sickness was still there, but moving forward; it’s about planting seeds that can grow into trees that affirm strength and health. I began planting seeds of acceptance and understanding. I did everything that was in my power to feel better. From drinking peppermint tea, to checking the quality of my stools, nothing was left to chance. With this spirit, the right mindset, things started feeling better within a couple of hours. Don’t get the wrong idea, I still felt like shit, but I answered back in a different manner. Always giving the thought of the emptiness of things a fair chance.

You might think it sounds too simple, but it is also about catching yourself judging a particular situation and questioning your assessment. It takes continuous practice to gain enough awareness about how we see ourselves labeling things. It’s also a matter of being sharp and astute enough to discover the opportunities of challenging our statements(which, by the way, are everywhere). In general, if we criticize, judge, condemn or blame, their is potential for the application of the sutra. Another great hint is feeling disappointment. Which I will let you study.

I was sick for a total of five days, but by changing my view on how I felt, a visible improvement came to pass. Before I knew it I was feeling good again. I can’t solely attribute my getting better to the sutra, but the elimination of inner resistance was clearly a defining factor as to how fast I would recover. And even if I didn’t, the goal was to become comfortable, not to eliminate the sickness. I was ready for months of sickness if that was going to be the case.

To conclude, I invite you to think about how you color your perspectives. From the way you feel approaching people, to how you feel when you act out in a group or how you sometimes feel anger and joy. Dig deep into these states of being, try to see what kind of mind imprint you plant in your head.


If you are interested in knowing more about this sutra, I highly recommend a book called The Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally. It includes examples, exercises and testimonials from working professionals on their use of the sutra and how it has impacted their life.