This is a bit like saying football mainly is about tackling. Yes, there is tackling, but other things are going on too, like passing and touchdowns.
I came across this today in an otherwise interesting article by Conrad Walters, who co-authored a book called Journeys on the Silk Road: A Desert Explorer, Buddha's Secret Library, and the Unearthing of the World's Oldest Printed Book. The world's oldest printed book -- actually a scroll -- is a copy of the Diamond Sutra believed to have been printed in 868 CE.
This scroll was one of many found in a cave in Gansu Province, China, in 1900. The cave had been sealed for centuries and was discovered when the abbot of a nearby monastery noticed an odd crack that turned out to be the sealed door. In 1907 a Hungarian-British explorer was allowed to see inside the cave and take a few scrolls. He chose randomly, and one of the scrolls he happened to choose was the 868 printing of the Diamond Sutra.
Eventually the scroll was taken to London and housed in the British Museum, where it is today. You can see the whole scroll on the British Museum website. But it took European scholars many years to appreciate exactly what had been found.
The Conrad Walters article linked above comes with a video that examines the scroll's well-preserved illustration in some detail, and if Buddhist art interests you at all, it's worth taking a look.
Anyway, Walters says,
The Diamond Sutra, one of Buddhism's most popular teachings, is said to recount a conversation between the Buddha and Subhuti in which the central message is that nothing is permanent. Or, as a poetic line in the sutra puts it, the reality we perceive is as insubstantial as "a bubble in a stream."
Yes, sorta kinda, but not exactly. The "bubble in a stream" is a reference to the famous short verse at the end of the sutra. But some scholars argue that the verse isn't directly connected to the Diamond Sutra at all but sort of wandered into the text from another of the Prajnamaramita Sutras. Possibly some ancient copyist thought the Diamond needed a stronger ending.
So there's that. But even the short verse isn't exactly about impermanence. Here is Edward Conze's translation from the Sanskrit --
Taraka timiram dipo
Supinam vidyud abhram ca
Evam drastavyam samskrtam.
As stars, a fault of vision, as a lamp,
A mock show, dew drops, or a bubble,
A dream, a lightning flash, or cloud,
So should one view what is conditioned.
There's a lot to reflect on in that gatha, and it seems too glib to say it is just about impermanence.
I have more to say, but I think I will save it for the next post.