The Diamond Sutra (3)
16. Negative Karma Can Be Purified
“Furthermore, Subhuti! If good men and good women who observed and practiced this profound Sutra, but they were looked down for doing so by others. Why would good men and good women be looked down while studying or reciting this wonderful Sutra? Why? It is because that the good men and good women had negative karma, or karmic debts, from their previous lives. By being looked down while studying or reciting this Sutra, part of their negative karma, or karmic debts, had been purified. The good men and good women, who were looked down for observing and practicing this Sutra, should realize that part of their negative karma, or karmic debts, had been purified. They were one step closer to attaining the Supreme Enlightenment.”
“Subhuti! In the last kalpa of this world, if I were to fully explain and praise the merits gained by the good men and good women who observed and practiced this Sutra, they would be filled with doubt, confusion, and would not believe in it. Subhuti! You should know that the essential points of this Sutra are beyond comprehension or expression; and its rewards is unimaginable.”
One of the most important teachings of the Buddha is the Law of Karma , or cause and effect. Everything else is a cause for something else. Everything is connected in one way or another. There are direct causes and indirect causes, all working together; cause and effect are one.
Karma, actions and its results, manifests in a series of lifetimes. Karma is just like “gravity.” It’s simply the way that things naturally function. We don’t say it’s unfair that an object falls down and not up. None of us can escape from the activity of Karma.
When we suffer, part of our negative karma, or karmic debts, melt away like the snow in the hot sun. When under insult, being naturally silent is a way of cultivating patience.
Maintain your mind in the state of simplicity. If you encounter happiness, success, or other favorable conditions, consider them as dreams and illusions, and do not get attached to them, but share your success and good fortune with others.
If you are stricken by illness, deprivation, or misfortune, do not let yourself get discouraged, but rekindle your compassion and generate the wish that through your suffering all beings’ sufferings may be exhausted. Whatever circumstances arise, do not dwell in it, but stay free and comfortable, in unshakable serenity.
17. No Dharma Is Dharma
The Buddha said to Subhuti: “The good men and good women who seek to attain the Supreme Enlightenment should develop their minds to liberate all sentient beings and also help them attain freedom of mind. Yet, after having done so, there is, in fact, not a single sentient being had ever been liberated!”
“Subhuti! If a Bodhisattva, who already attained the Supreme Enlightenment, attached to the forms of oneself, other self, sentient beings and longevity; he or she is not a Bodhisattva. Subhuti! This is because there is, in fact, no fixed Dharma for them to practice and seek to attain the Supreme Enlightenment.”
“If someone were to say that the Tathagata attained the Supreme Enlightenment. Subhuti! There is, in fact, no Dharma of Supreme Enlightenment, which the Tathagata attained. Subhuti! The Dharma of Supreme Enlightenment, which the Tathagata attained, is neither form nor emptiness. Therefore, the Tathagata says that all Dharmas are Buddha-Dharmas, all Dharmas which are spoken of are non-Dharmas, but they are just called Buddha-Dharmas. Subhuti! It is like a man of Big Body,”
Subhuti said to the Buddha: “World-Honored One! The Tathagata says that a man of Big Body is not a man of Great Body, but is just called a man of Big Body.”
What appears to be Dharmas is really emptiness, yet that emptiness also has Dharmas. The essential point is to have abiding faith in Dharmas. The Dharmas, which are spoken of, are about the truths of life and the universe. From the point of view of truths, no Dharmas exist. Therefore, all Dharmas, which are spoken of, are non-Dharmas.
Although it says there is no Dharmas which can be attained, nevertheless, there is not one Dharma, which is not Buddha-Dharma; and since the Buddha-Dharma is ultimately unattainable, how could a single Dharma be attained.
If a Bodhisattva cherished the idea of an ego entity, he or she is consequently not a Bodhisattva.
A man of Big Body (big in frame and figure) is not the same as a man of Great Body (great in mind and heart).
The essential point in the Buddha’s teachings is equating “an unenlightened existence with suffering“ and “anenlightened existence without suffering.” An enlightened being, originally, was an unenlightened being.
18. The True Nature of Mind
“Subhuti! What do you think? Does the Tathagata possess the human eyes?” “Yes! World-Honored One! The Tathagata has the human eyes.”
“Subhuti! What do you think? Does the Tathagata possess the divine eyes (or supernatural eyes)?” “Yes! World-Honored One! The Tathagata has the divine eyes.”
“Subhuti! What do you think? Does the Tathagata possess the wisdom eyes (or eyes of penetrating intelligence)?” “Yes! World-Honored One! The Tathagata has the wisdom eyes.”
“Subhuti! What do you think? Does the Tathagata possess the Dharma eyes (or eyes of seeing through the truths)?” “Yes! World-Honored One! The Tathagata has the Dharma eyes.”
The Buddha then asked: “Subhuti! What do you think? If there were as many Ganges Rivers (in India) as there were sand grains of the Ganges Rivers; and if each sand grain in all those Ganges Rivers was transformed into a Ganges River; and then, if each sand grain in those Rivers was transformed into a Buddha Land. Would there be numerous Buddha Lands?”
“Many indeed! World-Honored One!”
The Buddha said to Subhuti: “Although there are several kinds of mind, the Tathagata perceives them all. Why? It is because the Tathagata says that the minds in all sentient beings are non-minds. They are just names. The mind that the Tathagata speaks of has no actuality. Subhuti! The past mind cannot be found; the present mind cannot be found; and the future mind cannot be found.”
The Buddha said that the mind is formless, and it cannot be found in form. It is neither inside, outside, nor in between. The mind penetrates all things and all spaces. There is nowhere without mind, and there is also no time it does not exist. It is in all places, and is present at all times; yet it is in no places and is present at no time. So, the Buddha told Subhuti that one cannot locate the mind from the past, present, or future.
When one sees through the truth of impemanence and emptiness; one attains freedom of mind, a mind that is carefree and free from fears.
Everything, including our experience of suffering and happiness, is nothing but the projection of our mind.
“Joy is non-joy; sorrow is non-sorrow.” A mind with an understanding of emptiness sees joy and sorrow together as one.
21. Spoken Yet Not Spoken
“Subhuti! You should not think that the Tathagata ever has thought that he has spoken of Dharma. You should never have such thought. If someone said that the Tathagata had spoken of Dharma, he or she would slander the Buddha; and he or she did not really understand the essence of my teachings.”
“Subhuti! The Buddha has spoken of Dharma. There is, in fact, no Dharma has ever been spoken of. Therefore, ‘speaking of Dharma’ is just the name given to it. Truth is un-declarable and cannot be expressed in words. That can be expressed in words is not truth.”
Then, the Venerable Subhuti respectfully asked the Buddha: “World-Honored One! In the future lifetime, would there be sentient beings, upon hearing this Sutra, inspired and awakened with sincere belief?”
The Buddha answered: “These sentient beings whom you mentioned about are neither sentient beings, nor non-‘sentient beings.’ Why? Subhuti! It is because these sentient beings are not really such; they are just given that name.”
“Dharma,” when capitalized, means the ultimate truth of life and the universe. The universal truth is beyond expression in words.
“dharma,” when in lower case, is anything that can be thought of, which is close to the meaning of “phenomena.”
They were certainly not regular sentient beings, because they had already attained freedom of mind. Yet, their cultivation were still not perfect, so they were not non-‘sentient beings.’ With a deeper understanding of the truth and diligent practice, eventually they would realize their potential to attain full enlightenment.
The Buddha in some sense equates unenlightened existence and enlightened existence. We should not have the impression that there is difference of innate nature between the enlightened beings and unenlightened beings. Only a state of mind, or a quality of mind, differentiates the enlightened and unenlightened beings. A state of mind, or a quality of mind, refers to an understanding or knowledge of emptiness and impermanence.
22. Nothing Is Attained Because Nothing Has Ever Been Lost
Then, Subhuti respectfully asked the Buddha: “World-Honored One! Is it true that upon the attainment of Supreme Enlightenment, the Buddha has, in fact, attained nothing?”
The Buddha replied: “Exactly! Exactly! There is not even the least thing that has been attained upon my attainment of Supreme Enlightenment.”
If you want to know if something had been attained, you need to find out if such thing had been lost in the first place. Basically, you have never lost your true nature. It is what you have always had within, you just need to uncover it. Your true nature, your innate goodness, and your family treasure are certainly not something that can be attained from outside.
The 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 original good qualities. When this is fully actualized, one is enlightened with a true Buddhahood.
23. Cultivating Virtues Without Attachments
“Furthermore, Subhuti! The Supreme Enlightenment discriminates no one. It treats all sentient beings equally. That is the reason that it is called the Supreme Enlightenment. Any person, who cultivates virtues without attaching to the forms of oneself, other self, sentient beings and longevity, can naturally attain the Supreme Enlightenment. Subhuti! The Tathagata says that cultivating virtues is non-‘cultivating virtues.’ Virtues also have no actuality. It is just the name given to it.”
“Cultivating virtues” is just a name that we think; emptiness is what actually is. Thus, we should cultivate compassion in a wise and unconditional way.
From the point of view of the Tathagata, there are good dharmas that can be attained; but we should have no attachments to any forms, including good dharmas.
The Buddha teaches us not to carry anything with us; grasping or clinging to nothing. Don’t worry about the past or the future. When there is no self, no “me” or “mine,” you attain the inner peace.
25. No One Had Been Liberated
“Subhuti! What do you think? No one should say that the Tathagata thinks himself had liberated all sentient beings. Subhuti! No one should ever have such thought. Why? There is, in fact, no sentient beings had been liberated by the Tathagata.”
“If the Tathagata had the thought that he had liberated the sentient beings, then he was attached to the forms of oneself, other self, sentient beings and longevity. The Tathagata says ‘I have’ is non-‘I have,’ even though the sentient beings think that the Tathagata has done so. The sentient beings are non-‘sentient beings.’ But, they are just called sentient beings. The potential for enlightenment exists naturally in all sentient beings.”
The Tathagata, which is the Buddha Nature, and the sentient beings are one. The Buddha sees the Buddha Nature of all sentient beings, but the sentient beings do not know that they themselves also have the potential to become Buddhas. True enlightenment is nothing but when the nature of one’s original goodness, the Buddha Nature, is fully realized. When this is fully actualized, one is enlightened with a true Buddhahood.
The essential point in the teachings of the Buddha is equating “an undisciplined state of mind with suffering” and “a disciplined state of mind with highest state of happiness.” An enlightened being, originally, was an unenlightened being.