The Diamond Sutra (4)
26. The Dharma Body Is Formless
The Buddha said to Subhuti: “One could image the Tathagata‘s Dharma Body by means of contemplating his or her mind, but not seeing with his or her eyes. And, one could not see nor contemplate the Tathagata‘s thirty-two holy appearances.”
Then, the Buddha said the following verses:
“If one sees me by form; if one seeks me in sound; he practices a deviant path, and he would never see the trueTathagata.”
The thirty-two holy appearances, or the perfect holy appearance, is not the Tathagata‘s Dharma Body. The Dharma Body is the Body of Truth which has no form. If one seeks the Tathagata’s Dharma Body by the path other than the Middle Way, one would never find it.
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, 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.
The thirty-two holy appearances, or 32 marks of a great man, are level feet, a divinely straight frame, and so on.
27. The Middle Way
“Subhuti! You may have the thought that the Tathagata attained the Supreme Enlightenment not by reasons of his perfect holy appearance. Subhuti! Do not think that the Tathagata did not depend on his perfect holy appearance to attain the Supreme Enlightenment. You should also never have such thought that anyone who attained the Supreme Enlightenment would end all the teaching of Dharma. Why? It is because that anyone who already attained the Supreme Enlightenment would not reject the teaching of Dharma.”
The attainment of Supreme Enlightenment does not mean that Dharma no longer exists. One should never fall into the extreme view when practicing Dharma. One who attains the Supreme Enlightenment always affirms the ultimate meaning of the Middle Way.
The views of non-existence and permanence are extreme views They are not the Buddha-Dharma. So, one who practices Dharma should understand the Middle Way, and not to maintain the extreme views.
Aftering attaining the Supreme Enlightenment, the Bodhisattvas still remain in the human world to help others to learn the Dharmas and uncover their Buddha Mind.
In the fundamentals of the Middle Way, the Buddha in some sense equates unenlightened existence and enlightened existence. An enlightened being, originally, was an unenlightened being. We should not have the impression that there is any fundamental difference of innate nature between the enlightened and unenlightened beings. Only a state of mind, or a quality of mind, differentiates the enlightened and unlightened beings.
The Middle Way changes our way of perceiving reality. It encourages us to awaken the inner strength that exists in everyone without exception, including you and me. When we feel lonely, when we feel hopeless, our inner strength helps us sit and rest in the middle, not in any extreme situation. We begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness. We don’t feel fearful.
29. Ultimate Tranquility
“Subhuti! If anyone should say that the Tathagata looked like coming or going; looked like sitting up or lying down, he or she did not completely understand my teachings. Why? Tathagata, which is translated as THUS COME in Chinese, represents our Buddha Nature. Our Buddha Nature comes from nowhere, goes to nowhere. The Buddha Nature is our original goodness. That is the reason that he is called THE TATHAGATA. Like the Tathagata, our Buddha Mind is always with us; is not coming from anywhere, nor is going to anywhere.”
This Sutra calls Buddha Nature as Tathagata because Buddha Nature comes from nowhere. It’s our original goodness. We need to bring out our original goodness. Each of us needs to find our way to be whole and free from fears.
“There is no form, no emptiness, and no non-emptiness.” This is the true mark of the Tathagata. Pay no attention to forms. Our Buddha Nature has always existed.
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.
30. The Totality of Principle
“Subhuti! If a good man or a good woman were to grind all the planets in the Galaxy World into dust, which are too small to be seen by the human eyes, would the resulting tiniest particles of dust be many?”
Subhuti relied: “Many indeed! World-Honored One! Why? If the mass of tiniest particles should really exist, the Buddha would not speak of it as mass of tiniest particles. The mass of tiniest particles which is spoken of by the Buddha are non-‘mass of tiniest particles.’ But, they are just called that name. Emptiness is what actually is.”
“Also, World-Honored One! The Galaxy World that is spoken of by the Tathagata is non-‘Galaxy World.’ But, it is called the Galaxy World. Why? If it really exists, it would be a self-existent cosmos. And the Tathagata says that a self-existent cosmos is non-‘self-existent cosmos.’ There is really no such thing. But, it is just called that name.”
Then, the Buddha said: “Subhuti! The real nature of a cosmos is profound and cannot be explained in words. The nature of truth has no substance. But, the average people are so attached to their thoughts and desires and say with their deluded minds.”
Those tiniest particles were extremely small, eventually becoming zero, emptiness. So, The Buddha says: “The ultimate nature of all phenomena is emptiness.”
Imagining in a world without particles of dust, we see nothing. The light can be reflected because of the existence of the particles of dust.
No good deed is too small; and no bad deed is too small either. Do good deed even if it’s small; do no bad deed even if it’s small.
Everything is impermanent and constantly changing. Even though we talk about “now.” There is no such thing. The fact is, “now” is already gone. We mix this up. We should not mix up the fact of life with our thoughts about life.
31. Emptiness and Existence
“Subhuti! If anyone should say that the Buddha has spoken of the ‘VIEWS of oneself, other self, sentient beings and longevity,’ do you think he or she would understand my teaching?”
“No! World-Honored One! That person would not have really understood the Tathagata‘s teaching. Why? It is because the ‘VIEWS of oneself, other self, sentient beings and longevity’ that are spoken of by the World-Honored One is, in fact, non-‘VIEWS of oneself, other self, sentient beings and longevity.’ But, they are just given such name. Emptiness is what actually is.”
“Subhuti! Any person who practices to seek the Supreme Enlightenment should recognize and understand all Dharmas in the same way and have no discriminating mind, and do not attach to any fixed Dharmas.”
“Subhuti! The VIEWS of Dharma teaching that are spoken of by the Tathagata is, in fact, non-‘VIEWS of Dharma teaching.’ But, they are just given such name. Emptiness is what actually is. All phenomena are impermanent. The ultimate nature of all phenomena is emptiness.”
The word “VIEWS” refers to the mind.
A name is just a form, it’s just a name that we think. Emptiness is what actually is. What appears as form is really emptiness; yet that emptiness also has form. All phenomena, including existence and emptiness, are impermanent, constantly changing.
The word “longevity” refers to “time – the past, the present, and the future.”
The Buddha says that do not dwell in the past nor the future. Learn to be mindful of the precious present moment. He also says that It is possible for us to be peaceful and happy in the present moment. We don’t have to go to the future in order to be able to really be happy.
Dharma-Body is a transformed and empty body. Awakened to the Dharma-Body, there is emptiness. The Dharma-Body, the Body of Truth, also represents the Dharma door of equality. The Dharma door opens to all sentient beings without discrimination.
“What we see Inside and outside together as one.” — that’s what the Buddha awakens to.
“What is emptiness? Emptiness is existence. What is existence? Existence is emptiness.” You may be confused about this verse. An enlightened mind sees emptiness and existence together as one. When there is existence, then emptiness manifests; when there is emptiness, then existence is apparent. If there is no emptiness, there will be no existence.
When you perceive with full clarity the emptiness of absolutely everything there is, will you be able to understand that even the Dharma teachings are ultimately empty, since there is no entity, no concept whatsoever that is not empty in its own nature. When understanding dawns, you will know that all Dharma teachings must be laid aside, for how Nirvana be accessible to those who cling to forms and concepts.
32. All Phenomena are Impermanent
“Subhuti! Someone might fill up the galaxy world with the seven precious gems, then gave all away as gifts. But, if a good man or a good woman who awakened and practiced this Sutra, then taught and explained even only four verses of this Sutra to others, he or she would cultivate more blessings and virtues than the person who gave away his or her wealth.”
“Now, in what manner one should practice the giving of Dharma? One should abide by the real truth and detach from any conditions, not affected by external factors. Why? It is because all conditioned Dharmas are like dreams, bubbles, and shadows. They are also like dew drops and lightnings. We should look upon all conditioned things in this way.”
When the Buddha finished this discourse, the elder Venerable Subhuti, together with the Bhikshus (monks), Bhikshunis (nuns), all disciples, and the whole realm of gods, men, women and spirits, were filled with great joys by his teaching. They all faithfully abided by the Buddha’s teachings.
All phenomena in the world will eventually decay and become extinct. Nothing in the world has a substantial existence. If you look up all conditioned things this way, then your mind is carefree.
Nothing exists as an isolated self, because it is dependent upon and connected to everything else.
Cultivate abiding faith in Dharmas. Sharing true Dharma readings and publications with your friends and loved ones. Among of all kinds of giving, the giving of Dharma is the greatest.
By always being mindful of impermanence, we let go of all worries and unnecessary attachments, and attain freedom of mind, free from fears.
Spring water is soft and fluid. Winter ice is hard and sharp. We cannot say that they are identical, but neither can we say that they are different, because ice is only solidified water and water is only melted ice.
The same applies to our perception of the world around us. To be attached to the material things creates a solidity in the mind. We need to melt the ice of concepts and forms into the living water of freedom within.
All phenomena arise like dreams, bubbles, and rainbows, which is devoid of any tangible existence. Once you have recognized the true nature of reality which is empty, and at the same time appears as the phenomenal world, your mind will cease to be under the power of delusion.
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.
Spring wind and summer rain can nurture; however, autumn frost and winter snow are also necessary for the growth of all things. So, whatever circumstances arise, do not dwell in it, but stay free and comfortable, in unshakable serenity and use your wisdom to overcome any obstacles.