The Diamond Sutra (2)
8. The Giving of Dharma
The Buddha asked: “Subhuti! What do you think? If a person bestowed the universe with the seven treasures (which are gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, red pears and cornelian) and gave them away for charity. Would he or she receive great blessings and merits?
Subhuti said: “Very much indeed! World-Honored One! Why? It is because blessings and merits are not the real nature of blessings and merits. It is just a name. Emptiness is what actually is. The Tathagata says that there are great blessings and merits to help clarify any confusion.”
Then, the Buddha said: “On the other hand, if a person studied as little as four verses of this Sutra, and taught them to others, his or her blessings and merits would be much greater than the one who gave away his or her wealth. Why? Subhuti! It is because the sacred Sutra serves as the basis of all Buddhas and all Buddha-Dharmas of the Supreme Enlightenment.”
“Subhuti! What is called Buddha-Dharmas is, in fact, not Buddha-Dharmas. It is because that the Buddha-Dharmas which I have spoken of has no fixed Dharmas.”
There are many kinds of giving. The giving of Dharma is the most supreme one, and it surpasses the giving of wealth. Right practice is to do good deeds and not to be attached to them.
The sharing of true Dharma readings and publications with your friends and loved ones is also excellent.
9. Real Form is Non-Form
“Subhuti! What do you think? Can an Arhat have the thought that he has attained the Perfect Arhatship or Supreme Enlightenment?” Subhuti said: “No! World-Honored One! And why? It is because there is, in fact, no fixed Dharma called Perfect Arhatship. If he said that he had attained it, then, he would be attached to the forms of oneself, other self, sentient beings and longevity.”
“World-Honored One! The Buddha said that I am the foremost Arhat who is free from desires or passions. World-Honored One! I do not have this thought. If I had such a thought, I would not be free from desires or passions. And, the Buddha would not speak in that way.”
Subhuti said: “Because I do not actually do anything, my mind is pure; and although I had certified to the fourth fruit of Arhatship, I had actually obtained nothing. Therefore, the Buddha said that Subhuti delights in practicing Arhatship. His mind is pure and free from desires.”
An Arhat is one who has reached the highest state of peace and enlightenment. There is no passing away nor coming into existence upon attaining Supreme Enlightenment. Nothing is really acquired by attaining full enlightenment.
True enlightenment is nothing but when the nature of one’s own self is fully realized. The nature of one’s own self refers to our inner radiant nature of the mind, our innate goodness. When this is fully actualized, one is enlightened with a true Buddhahood.
10. The Adornment of The Pure Lands
The Buddha said: “Subhuti! What do you think? Did the Tathagata attain any fixed teaching of Dharma while he was with Burning Lamp Buddha in a previous life?” “No! World-Honored One! There was, in fact, no fixed teaching of Dharma that the Tathagata attained while with Burning Lamp Buddha.”
“Subhuti! What do you think? Do Bodhisattvas adorn the Buddha Lands with their virtuous acts?” “No! World-Honored One! Why not? Although they adorn the Buddha Lands, there is, in fact, no adornment. Why? If they had such thought, they would not have realized the emptiness of Dharmas. The adornment of Buddha Lands is, in fact, a name and nothing more. It has no real substance. Emptiness is what actually is. Therefore, Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas should develop a pure mind which is free of attachments. They should not attach to the sound, smell, taste, touch and any substance.”
The Buddha said: “For example! Suppose a person had a body like Mt. Sumeru, King of Mountains. Would that body be big?” Subhuti replied: “Huge indeed! World-Honored One! This is said by the Buddha to be No Body. Therefore it is called a Big Body. If there is a measurement for it, then the body is not really big. No Body, a body without measurement, is truly a Big Body.”
Anyone can build a house of wood or bricks, but the Buddha teaches us that that kind of home is not our real home. Our real home is inner peace.
When your body begins to run down with age, don’t resist that; but don’t let your mind deteriorate with it. Keep the mind separate. Give energy to the mind by realizing the truth of the way things are. Look at the body with wisdom and realize it. Your inner peace will always be with you.
What you learn from studying and reading books is knowledge, not wisdom. The wisdom that the Buddha talks about is our inner wisdom, without beginning, something naturally wise. A natural gift that we have, a natural ability we have.
By relaxing the mind, you can reconnect with your inner, true wisdom, which is completely pure and simple. True wisdom arises from purity of mind and is the function of our self-nature. When you awaken to the truth, you simply find yourself in the realm of complete and thorough reality.
An enlightened mind sees that birth and death are just one thing. It’s like a tree: When there is a root, there must be branches. For actually birth is death, death is birth. If there were no birth, there would be no death. Don’t think a lot. Just think: “This is the way things are.” It’s your work, your duty. All that can help you now is correct awareness.
Where is the Pure Land for a Buddhist practitioner? It is in performing lowly tasks. It is in the love for and salvation of others. It is also in the transformation of one’s surroundings. Simply stated, the Pure Land is within us and is not found outside of our minds.
11. The Giving of Ultimate Truth
The Buddha asked: “Subhuti! How many grains of sand in the Ganges River (in India) could you estimate? Those sand grains are as fine as flour; so tiny that it cannot even be seen with the naked eye. Suppose each sand grain became a Ganges River. Then, how many Ganges Rivers would there be? The number of sand grains and Ganges Rivers would both be innumerable.”
Subhuti replied: “Very many indeed! World-Honored One! Even the Ganges Rivers would be innumerable, how much more so would be those sand grains in the rivers.”
“Subhuti! I will give you a truth now. If a good man or a good woman filled the universe with seven treasures equal in numbers to those sand grains, and then gave them away for charity. Would he or she receive much blessings and merits?”
Subhuti answered: “Very much indeed. World-Honored One!”
Then, the Buddha said to Subhuti: “If a good man or a good woman studied with faith as little as four verses of this Sutra, then taught them to others, his or her blessings and merits would be much greater than the one who gave away his or her wealth.”
One should perform good deeds without attaching to it. Among the different kinds of good deeds, the teaching of true Dharma is the best. The sharing of true Dharma readings and publications is also a great deed.
12. The Venerable True Dharma
“Furthermore, Subhuti! You should know that whereever this Sutra is preached, by even as little as four verses, that place becomes a Buddha’s shrine, just like a Buddha’s stupa. All celestials, sentient beings and Asuras should pay deep homage and make offerings to that place. How much more so to any place where good men and good women recite and abide by this teaching?”
“Subhuti! You should also know that good men and good women, who preach this Sutra, perform what is the most supreme and precious act. Whereever this Sutra is found; it symbolizes the presence of the Buddha. And, there are his followers worthy of honor.”
The historical Buddha is no longer with us, but the true Buddha is within all of us. The true Buddha –the Buddha that is clear, radiant, and knowing — we can still experience and meet today, and we do, the heart is one.
The true Buddha — the one who knows, the one who is awake, and the radiant one — we can meet today by studying and practicing the teachings of the Buddha.
13. Observing and Practicing This Teaching
Then, Subhuti asked the Buddha what name should this Sutra be called? The Buddha answered: “This Sutra should be called as the VAJRA-PRAJNA-PARAMITA-SUTRA, or the Perfection of Transcendental Wisdom. You should observe and practice it under this name. Why? The Buddha names it as “the Perfection of Transcendental Wisdom” which is the same as Non-‘Perfection of Transcendental Wisdom.’ It is just a name.”
“Subhuti! What do you think? Has the Tathagata spoken of any Dharma? Could one see the Tathagata by his thirty-two holy appearances?” Subhuti answered: “No! World-Honored One! One could not! Why! It is because Tathagata says that his thirty-two holy appearances were the same as non-‘thirty-two holy appearances.’ It is just a name. Emptiness is what actually is.”
The diamond cuts into all other materials, yet it cannot be cut into by any of them. When the diamond is clean, it shines brilliantly in rainbow colors.
The reason that you don’t realize Buddhahood is that you have “everything.” If you did not have “anything,” you could realize Buddhahood. “Everything” refers to the attachments which you cannot let go of.
Anything and everything is constantly changing. That’s the real life. Not attached to any kind of values. No self is a dharma treasure. When you don’t perceive no self, suffering is waiting for you; when you see no self, there is peace, or Nirvana.
The thirty-two holy appearances, or 32 marks of a great man, are level feet, a divinely straight frame and so on.
The Tathagata‘s thirty-two holy appearances is what we think; emptiness is what actually is. You can image the Buddha’s Dharma Body by means of contemplating your mind, but not seeing with your eyes.
14. Perfect Serenity Without Dwelling (or Attachments)
The Buddha said to Subhuti: “If someone listened to this Sutra and did not feel astonished, freightened, he or she was truly a precious person, because an ordinary person had always attached to the forms of self and ego.”
“Subhuti! In my previous lifetime, when my limbs were cut away by the King Kaliraja, I was free from all the attachments. If I was attached to the forms of oneself, other self, sentient beings and longevity, I would have the feelings of anger and hatred.”
“Subhuti! I remember that during my five hundred years previous lives, I was already not attached to the forms of oneself, other self, sentient beings and longevity. So, I was able to endure all kinds of sufferings and face any difficult situations.”
“Subhuti! A Bodhisattva, who practices charitable acts with attachments, is like a man entering a dark room and seeing nothing. A Bodhisattva, who practices charitable acts without any attachments, is like a man with keen eyesight that is as good as the shining sun and can see through the truths.”
“Subhuti! In the future lifetime, any good man and good woman, who practices the teachings of this Sutra, will be blessed by the Tathagata for their accomplishment of boundless merits.”
True emptiness does not obstruct wonderful existence. And, wonderful existence does not obstruct true emptiness. All those who seek enlightenment should maintain a calm mind even in a difficult situation.
Enlightenment or spiritual freedom is not a gift that someone can give to you, nor is the seed for enlightenment something that is owned by someone else. It is within all beings. The potential for enlightenment exists naturally in all of us.