The Vajra-Prajna-Paramita-Sutra




The Extract

Vajra:  It is a Sanskrit word.  Essentially, Vajra is indestructible, durable, and luminous; usually represented by diamond.  Vajra is identical with the self-nature, which is also indestructible and like a diamond in hardness and brilliance.  The light, which is the characteristic of  Vajra, has the power to break up all darkness, yet protects itself from all destruction.

Prajna:  It is a Sanskrit word.  As the highest form of wisdom, supreme wisdom,  that sentient beings can attain, Prajna is also indestructible.  The heart of wisdom is Prajna, which has neither form nor characteristic.

Paramita:  It is a Sanskrit word with  meaning “as sweet as pineapple,” or “the sweetest of sweets.”  It also means the separation from suffering and attainment of blessing.  Whenever a task is well done, the people of India say it is “Paramita.  When the task has been perfectly accomplished, it is called “Paramita.”  Paramita also means “to the opposite shore.”

Sutra:  Sutras provide a path to travel in cultivation and the attainment  of enlightenment.  One who wishes to walk that path must rely on the Dharma to cultivate.  The Dharma is in the Sutras. The Vajra Sutra itself speaks clearly of “no fixed dharmas.”  Whatever is fixed is not Buddha-dharma.  If a person holds tightly to the view that one is one and two is two, the explanation of the principle becomes lifeless.

All phenomena are impermanent.  All phenomena have no self.  Nothing exists as an isolated self, because it is dependent upon and connected to everything else. The ultimate nature of all phenomena is emptiness.

Without emptiness, the phenomenal world could not exist.  Because  of impermanence, the nature of suffering is empty.  Joy is non-joy, sorrow is non-sorrow.  An enlightened mind sees joy and sorrow together as one.  Suffering is originally empty, while negative karma originally lacks a self-nature.

Nothing we do is permanent.  All forms and phenomena are transitory and illusive.  Everything that is phenomenal, is like dreams, bubbles, and shadows.  It is also like dews and lightnings.  One should always sees it as such.

Without emptiness, we cannot have form; and without form, we cannot have emptiness.  They are inseparable.

When we suffer, part of our negative karma, or karmic debts, melt away like the snow in the hot sun. The Buddha says: “Negative karma, or Karmic debts, can be purified by cultivating virtues without attachments.”   Even the charitable acts should be performed without a view to attaining spiritual benefit.

Tathagata is a synonym for the Buddha.  The Sutra calls Buddha-Nature as “Tathagata,” which is translated as “Thus-Come” in Chinese.  it is because Buddha-Nature comes from nowhere.  It’s our innate goodness.  We are the continuation of the Buddha.  The Tathagata says: “Physical forms have no actuality.  If one can see beyond forms, one sees the Tathagata.”  All forms are delusive.  If one sees that all forms are not forms, one sees the Tathagata.

The Tathagata also says:  “He who identifies me with appearances, and seeks me in sound, has walked off the path, and can never find the Tathagata.”  The Tathagata is one who comes from nowhere and goes to nowhere.  That is the reason that he is called as the Tathagata – neither going away nor coming into existence.

The term “the Buddha” refers to the Dharma Body, the Body of Truth.  It is like an image on the TV screen. The Buddha’s Dharma Body appears when responding to the environment.  The term “Tathagata” refers to the Buddha Mind, which is always with us.

The Dharma revealed by the Tathagata cannot be grasped or spoken because it does not exist (it is empty by nature), nor does it not exist (it is not attached to the emptiness).

The Buddha says: “Do not dwell in the forms of oneself, other self, sentient beings, and longevity.”  The term “longevity” refers to “time – the past, the present, and the future.”

Originally, there were no such names of oneself, other self, sentient beings and longevity.  Those names were given by the non-enlightened mind.  They are just the names that we think.  “Emptiness” is what actually is.  This is the essential point of  the Diamond Sutra.

One who sees the forms of oneself, other self, sentient beings and longevityis not a Bodhisattva.  In other words, looking beyond physical aspects is the correct way to understand these guidelines.

The Buddha’s teachings is about  the universal truth.  It’s the teachings of all sentient beings.  All sentient beings have the Buddha-Nature, which is our innate goodness.  All sentient beings can become Buddhas.  There is no fundamental difference between “one who is Buddha and one who is not a Buddha.”  A Buddha knows, and the non-Buddha does not know that he is a Buddha.

The Buddha says:  “I liberated no sentitent beings.  The sentient beings liberated themselves.  The sentient beings are non-sentient beings.  After making every effort, the sentient beings liberated themselves, and eventually realized their true nature.”

Nothing is really acquired by attaining enlightenment.  The attaining of Buddhahood is not the attaining of anything.  It is no more than the realization of  one’s true nature.  In the full awakening from the dream of existence, and upon the attaining of Buddhahood, nothing is either lost or gained.  There is only the realization of one’s true mind.

The Buddha says: “The mind is formless and cannot be located.  The past mind cannot be found; the present mind cannot be found; and the future mind cannot be found.  Any dwelling of the mind is non-dwelling.”

One should produce a mind that abides nowhere.

Learn to be mindful of the precious “present moment.”   Use this present moment  to cultivate inner strength and compassion without attachments.  We should always practice mindfulness, which will turn our ignorance into enlightenment.

Truth is un-declarable, uncontainable and inexpressible.  It is neither Dharma nor non-Dharma.  What is Dharma is non-Dharma.  What is non-Dharma is Dharma.  An enlightened mind sees no difference between them.

All dharmas are impermanent, because they have no permanent nature.  All dharmas are without bliss, because there is nothing which can be blissful.  All dharmas are without self, because they have no substance.  All dharmas cannot be found, because they are formless. Existent dharmas are non-existent dharmas.  Non-existent dharmas are not non-existent dharmas.  Non-existence and not non-existence is the principle and tendency of  the Middle Way.

All sentient beings are the storehouse of proper Dharma, which is our original goodness.  All sentient beings are the storehouse of wonderful karma.  All sentient beings are the storehouse of the Tathagata, which is the Buddha-Nature.

The practice of “no practice” is “true practice, and the attainment of “no attainment” is “true attainment.”

All phenomena are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow, like dew and lightning.  Thus should you meditate on them.

Above, below and around you, all is spontaneously existing, for there is nowhere which is outside Buddha-Mind.

The Buddha says:  “I gained nothing at all from Supreme Enlightenment, and for that very reason it is called Supreme Enlightenment.”

In Conclusion

Two thousand five hundred years ago, the Buddha may have learned from the Moon, which teaches us about the cycle of birth and death as it waxes and wanes in the evening sky.  The Moon also teaches us that change is a certainty of life and that nothing is truly permanent.

Tathagata being one of the names for the Buddha, Chinese Chan defined Tathagata and Tatha-agata.  One is “Thus-coming,” and the other is “Thus-going.”  It originated in India — Indian Buddhism already had this concept.  It’s a moving activity, so it is “Thus-coming, Thus-going.”  This moving activity never stops.  And then, all the time it’s smoothly proceeding.

Buddha made it clearly  that Karma is the activity of “Thus-coming” and “Thus-going.”  Buddha defined it clearly and then he realized that none of us can escape from the activity of Karma.

The Diamond Sutra stresses that everyday reality is an illusion.  “Form is no other than emptiness; emptiness no other than form.”

What appears as form is really emptiness, but that emptiness also has form.  Both form and emptiness are impermanent and changeable.  When proper conditions and factors become ripened, the changes occur.

The Three Dharma Seals:  Impermanence, No self, and Nirvana (or peace).

“What we see inside and outside together as one.” — that’s what the Buddha awakens to.

“If you have read me, you have met me.” – The Buddha.

All phenomena are without self; all sentient beings are without self.  All phenomena, all sentient beings arise dependent on one another.    They are made of many components that create a substantial existence.  Once those parts are separated, no real self can be found anywhere.

Nirvana is the Buddha Nature that all sentient beings possess.  All sentient beings everywhere possess the wisdom and virtues of the Buddha.

Since suffering is caused by delusion;  Nirvana is the cessation of delusion.  Since suffering is caused by the belief in duality; Nirvana is the cessation of duality and cessation of the belief in a substantial self.

When the Buddha was enlightened, he realized that his understanding was contrary to what others understood.  All beings regard sensual pleasure as real, whereas the Buddha regards sensual pleasure as unreal.  All sentient beings regard the Buddha-nature as nonexistent, whereas the Buddha regard it as existent.

The Buddha-nature doesn’t have form, yet, at the same time, it appears in all forms.  Everyone has the capacity to become a Buddha and that the Buddha-nature is the basis for peaceful action.

As far as Buddha-Nature is concerned, there is no difference between an enlightened man and an ignorant one.  What makes the difference is that one realizes it, while the other is ignorant of it.

Enlightened men understand that they are not dual in nature.  Buddha-Nature is nonduality.

Sutras are printed on paper, but only true mind beholds the true dharma.  The most precious sutra is not printed on paper, but is contained in our minds.

One should not depend on written or spoken language, but instead, rely on the everyday mind, which is the path to Buddhahood.

True dharma is anything that helps us to cut through the false sense of permanent identity and security that is the basic cause of suffering.

The seed of enlightenment latent in every being must be watered by self-cultivation, that no teacher, human or divine, can do the work on our behalf.

One who wants to study Buddha Dharma must study mind.  The Pure Land is no other than Pure Mind, that condition of all minds when purged of ego-born obscurations.

Detaching to all material things; cutting away all dualistic thought, one feels calm, strong inside and has no fears.  One sees suffering and happiness together as one.  Duality doesn’t simply refer to two, but to the multiplicities in the phenomenal world.

The Buddha’s teaching reveals the implication of impermanence and the Law of Karma .  It helps us discover the causes of suffering.  We will not feel and reside in fears.  We have the power to transform and heal the sufferings, and attain freedom of mind and heart.

Understanding the impermanence and emptiness, we will transcend all dualities, and have a world that is more open and profound.  Realizing the impermanence and emptiness, we will be at harmony with all phenomena in the universe.

By studying and reflecting these truths, we learn about the preciousness of human life, and the power of awakening mind, heart and energy.