The second portion of the Diamond Sutra – Abridged and Reworded by M Todd
Preface: Innumerable readings of this precious gift yield new insights – it is a book to be read for the duration of one’s life; a spiritual manuscript.
“Subhuti – any decent person who is misunderstood or slandered for reciting these words – insulted, hated or reviled; consider that as atonement for transgressions in previous lives and maintain earnestness. When the treasure inherent in these transmissions finally brings one to enlightenment, they have worn away their debt. They are prepared for enlightenment.”
“Even I myself, having lived innumerable lives of servitude, needed patience and help; I received this from the Buddha Dipankara. Reciting the wisdom you have attained is not temporal; it is not limited to one moment. The wisdom inherent in it that is shared, wisdom beyond even mathematical notions of infinity, grows outward and continues forever (like a flame that is lit from another). The meaning of this discussion is beyond words, concepts, forms and dialogue – it exists of its own volition (Of what we cannot speak, we must remain silent – Wittgenstein).
The fruit yielded upon practice of these notions goes forward – conditions, causes and complexities will give rise to your effort to an infinite degree; beyond comprehension.
May I ask you a question again? If we wish to attain the Highest Perfect Wisdom, what should do do to help quiet our drifting minds and master our thinking?”
The Buddha replied:
“Help to lead all beings to the shore of awakening, but, after these beings have become liberated, in truth I know that not even a single being has been liberated.’
“How can this be? Because, to believe in this thing would be to create a duality. There are no dualities. In fact there is no independently existing object of mind called the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind.”
“What do you think, Subhuti? In ancient times, when the Buddha was living with Dipankara Buddha (his teacher), did he attain anything called the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind?”
“No. According to what I understand from the teachings of the Buddha, there is no attaining of anything called the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind.”
The Buddha said:
“You are correct, Subhuti. In fact, there does not exist any so-called highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind that the Buddha attains. Because if there had been any such thing, Dipankara Buddha would not have predicted of me, ‘In the future, you will come to be a Buddha known as The Most Honored One’. This prediction was made because there is, in fact, nothing to be attained. Someone would be mistaken to say that the Buddha has attained the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind because there is no such thing as a highest, most fulfilled, or awakened mind to be attained.”
“Subhuti – when I use a word to describe a form, what am I describing?”
“Words only. I would understand that the words carried merely an imaginary meaning. When the Buddha speaks this or that, he uses the words only as words.”
A true disciple knows that all things are devoid of selfhood, devoid of any separate individuality.”
To make this teaching even more emphatic, the lord Buddha continued,
“If a disciple were to speak as follows, ‘I have to create a serene and beautiful Buddha field’, that person is not yet truly a disciple. Why? What the Buddha calls a ‘serene and beautiful Buddha field’ is not in fact a serene and beautiful Buddha field. And that is why it is called a serene and beautiful Buddha field. Subhuti, only a disciple who is wholly devoid of any conception of separate selfhood is worthy of being called a disciple.”
“What do you think? Does the Buddha have human eyes?”
“”Yes, he has human eyes.”
“Does he have the eyes of Enlightenment?”
“… of transcendent intelligence?”
“… of spiritual intuition?”
“…the eyes of love and compassion for all sentient beings?”
“Yes, you love all sentient life.”
“When I referred to the infiniteness of the galaxies, did I refer to them as galaxies?”
“No blessed lord, you only spoke of them as galaxies.”
“Subhuti, if there were as many galaxies as there are grains of sand in ocean, and if paradise was as broad an open as this area, would this be considered large?”
“Indeed, lord Buddha.”
“Subhuti, in the infinite emptiness of true awareness, paradise is as broad as this area.”
The Buddha continued:
“If a kind man gave away enough possession to fill every galaxy, would he be blessed?”
Such a follower would acquire considerable blessings and merit.”
The lord Buddha said:
“Subhuti, if such a blessing man had any substantiality, if he were anything other than a figure of speech, the Most Honored One would not have used the words ‘blessings and merit’.”
(This is contradictory but does not imply a lack of compassion or the infinite worth of compassion; rather it implies that compassion with ego is fruitless.)
“Should one look for Buddha in a statue or aesthetic perfection?”
“No, Perfectly Enlightened One, one should not. Why? The Buddha has said that aesthetic perfection is not aesthetic perfection. Therefore it is only called aesthetic perfection.”
“Should one look for Buddha in appearances?”
“No, not in appearances. Why? Appearances are not perfect appearances they are forms. Therefore they are called perfect appearances.”
(We should not seek refuge in form or appearance.)
“Subhuti, when I say ‘I have spoken spiritual truths.’ Do not believe this. Why? If someone says this, he slanders the Buddha due to his inability to understand what the Buddha teaches. Subhuti, as to speaking truth, no truth can be spoken. Therefore it is called ‘speaking truth’.”
“Will there be living beings in the future who believe in this Sutra when they hear it?” 🙂
The Buddha said:
“The living beings to whom you refer are neither living beings nor not living beings. Why? Subhuti, all the different kinds of living beings the Buddha speaks of are not living beings. But they are referred to as living beings.” (Words, thoughts, forms, appearances and senses are empty forms of wisdom).
When you attained complete Enlightenment, did you feel in your mind that nothing had been acquired?”
The Buddha replied:
“That is it exactly, Subhuti. When I attained total Enlightenment, I did not feel, as the mind feels, any arbitrary conception of spiritual truth, not even the slightest. Even the words ‘total Enlightenment’ are merely words, they are used merely as a figure of speech.”
“Furthermore, what I have attained in total Enlightenment is the same as what all others have attained. It is undifferentiated, regarded neither as a high state, nor a low state. It is wholly independent of any definite or arbitrary conceptions of an individual self, other selves, living beings, or a universal self.”
“Subhuti, when someone is selflessly charitable, they should also practice being ethical by remembering that there is no distinction between one’s self and the selfhood of others. Thus one practices charity by giving not only gifts, but through kindness and sympathy. Practice kindness and charity without attachment and you can become fully enlightened.”
“for kindness is, after all, only a word and charity needs to be spontaneous and selfless, done without regard for appearances.”
The Buddha continued:
“Subhuti, if a person collected treasures as high as 3,000 of the highest mountains, and gave them all to others, their merit would be less than what would accrue to another person who simply observed and studied this Sutra and, out of kindness, explained it to others. The latter person would accumulate hundreds of times the merit, hundreds of thousands of millions of times the merit. There is no conceivable comparison.” (Obliteration of the ego yields the way to true compassion – that IS true compassion.)
“Don’t believe I will lead you to enlightenment.’ Do not think that way, Subhuti.
In truth there is not one single being for the Buddha to lead to Enlightenment. If the Buddha were to think there was, he would be caught in the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a universal self. Subhuti, what the Buddha calls a self essentially has no self in the way that ordinary persons think there is a self. Subhuti, the Buddha does not regard anyone as an ordinary person. That is why he can speak of them as ordinary persons.”
Is it possible to recognize the Buddha by some particular markings?”
“Yes, the Buddha may thus be recognized.”
“If that were true, then anything with those markings would be called the Buddha!”
Then Subhuti, realizing his error, said, “Now I realize that the Buddha cannot be recognized.
The Buddha then said:
“Should anyone, looking at an image or likeness of the Buddha, claim to know the Buddha and worship him, that person would be mistaken, not knowing the true Buddha.”
“Don’t misunderstand me, though. One who gives rise to the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind does not contend that all objects of mind are nonexistent and cut off from life. That is not what I say.” (The ultimate paradox in imperfect Buddhist, and many Existential or Nihilistic thinking systems is the denial of what is truly, physically around us. The Buddha transcends this duality – the objects you see are truly empty, but obviously there!)
“If someone gives treasures equal to the number of universes in the multi-verse, and if another, having realized the ego-lessness (Freud introduced the word Ego to English) of all things, and thereby understands selflessness, the latter would be more blessed than the one who practiced external charity. Why? Because great disciples do not see blessings and merit as a private possession, as something to be gained.” (Altruistic behaviour can’t be practiced with an Ego)
Subhuti inquired “What do you mean ‘great disciples do not see blessings and merit as a private possession’?”
The Buddha replied:
“Because those blessings and merit have never been sought after by those great disciples, they do not see them as private possessions, but they see them as the common possession of all beings.” (This is because, as they are enlightened, they are not trapped in the realm of duality)
The Buddha said:
“I am not coming or going, or sitting up or lying down – to believe this is to misunderstand the principle I have been teaching. Why? Because while the expression ‘Buddha’ means ‘he who has thus come, thus gone,’ the true Buddha is never coming from anywhere or going anywhere. The name ‘Buddha’ is merely an expression, a figure of speech.” (Ages later, Einstein proved this notion – he called it the Theory of Relativity!)
If any good person, either man or woman, were to take 3,000 galaxies and grind them into microscopic powder and blow it into space, what do you think, would this powder have any individual existence?”
“It might be said to have a relative existence, but as you use words, it has no existence. The words are used only as a figure of speech. Otherwise the words would imply a belief in the existence of matter as an independent and self-existent thing, which it is not.” (All things are co-existent – the 3,000 galaxies and the crushed matter blown into the universe are the same thing in different forms!)
“Furthermore, when the Most Honored One refers to the ‘3,000 galaxies,’ he could only do so as a figure of speech. Why? Because if the 3,000 galaxies really existed, their only reality would consist in their cosmic unity. Whether as microscopic powder or as galaxies, what does it matter? Only in the sense of the cosmic unity of ultimate being can the Buddha rightfully refer to it.” (As I said previously – they are the same thing; only transformed in appearance – as are all things. What weighs more, a ton of bricks, or a ton of feathers?)
“People have always grasped after an arbitrary conception of matter and galaxies, the concept has no true basis; it is an illusion of the mortal mind. Even when it is referred to as ‘cosmic unity’ it is unthinkable and unknowable.”
The lord Buddha continued:
“If any person were to say that the Buddha, in his teachings, has constantly referred to himself, to other selves, to living beings, or to a universal self, what do you think, would that person have understood my meaning?”
No! That person would not have understood the meaning of your teachings. For when you refer to those things, you are not referring to their actual existence, you only use the words as figures of speech, as symbols. Only in that sense can words be used, for conceptions, ideas, limited truths, and spiritual truths have no more reality than have matter or phenomena.”
(Here is a very important excerpt)
“When people begin their practice of seeking to attaining total Enlightenment, they ought to see, to perceive, to know, to understand, and to realize that all things and all spiritual truths are no-things, and, therefore, they ought not to conceive within their minds any arbitrary conceptions whatsoever.” (To think of becoming enlightened is to draw a distinction between your current state and another – just as the metaphor of the galaxies and the dust portrayed. This would be a logic mistake; you are already enlightened, form changes and appearance does – and those are products of the mind).
The Final Chapter will be transmitted with no Changes as it is the definition of Perfection:
“Subhuti, if anyone gave to the Buddha an immeasurable quantity of the seven treasures sufficient to fill the whole universe; and if another person, whether a man or woman, in seeking to attain complete Enlightenment were to earnestly and faithfully observe and study even a single section of this Sutra and explain it to others, the accumulated blessing and merit of that latter person would be far greater.”
“Subhuti, how can one explain this Sutra to others without holding in mind any arbitrary conception of forms or phenomena or spiritual truths? It can only be done, Subhuti, by keeping the mind in perfect tranquility and free from any attachment to appearances.”
“Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.”
“So is all conditioned existence to be seen.”
Thus spoke Buddha.
2 thoughts on “The Diamond Sutra; Volumes 16 – 32 (By Michael Todd)”
I have a difficult time understanding the Buddhas concept of ego
with the modern day concept of healthy self-understanding.
I like the eyes of love and compassion he speaks of.
Why must one practice kindness and charity without attachment?
With or without attachment, kindness and charity speak for