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Diamond Sutra - Part 12 Unchecked

by Sangharakshita

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked, and may contain mistakes and mishearings.

221 S:
truth as being written down, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, in one
particular book and in one
particular form of words.( in no danger of that whatever, even the though some Buddhists
have tried to commit that mistake unclear
for instance, they've tried to set up the pundarika sutra into
a sort of Bible but not with any great success so far as the rest of the Buddhist world is
concerned. Even they have not been able to ignore at least some of the other Mahayana
sutras, they have to give them some sort of position, tradition has been too strong even for
them. Even in the case of the Theravadins, even though they do adopt a rather rigid attitude
towards the
Ti pitika - well it's an attitude they've developed towards a whole series of books not
just one book, almost a small library of literature. So we're in no danger of being able to
hold up some small text or tract or little volume - and saying it's all here, this is all you've got
to read, this is all you've got to know, this contains your salvation, we re not in that position.
We have to piece it all together from many sources, many texts, many works, comparing this
with that, which is in a way quite a good intellectual exercise and also helps us to maintain a
sense of spiritual proportion and guards against such things as fanatacism and dogmatism.
One may have one's favourite Buddhist text but that is quite ~~ "'~ o"&i another matter.
Even whole schools study
particular texts, but that again is another matter. Buddhism has no creeds really -
Christmas Humphries has managed best with his fourteen principles but they haven't exactly
caught on, especially as one or two of them ~t ~
especially the one about all life being one~~regar~ed as very
dubious by practically all Buddhists.
It means that we do get texts like the Diamond Sutra which according to Conze is in any case,
a compilation from the larger works of the same name but it goes along all right for so many
chapters and then it seems to come to an end and then for no apparent reason it starts up
again. It seems to be repeating itself, the order of ideas doesn't seem altogether clear, and the
text perhaps is in a state of confusion, we're not even sure of that. It may be in a state of
confusion, but it may be that we1re too obtuse to see the connectionLthe various arguments,
the various themes - all of which again does make life rather difficult, but perhaps it keeps the
more studious Buddhist at least on his toes. No doubt one should always bear in mind that a
Sutra like this is not a systematic treatise. It's not really meant to satisfy the requirements of
the logical mind. It's just like a series of sledge-hammer blows trying to break through your
fundamental delusion. It's attacking you from this side and that, and it's no4going to make
things easy for the logical mind by putting things in a logical form. Of course it's going to be
confusing, of course it's going to be rather irritating and ann0yin~~0f course it's going to be
rather unsatisfactory to the logical mind, perhaps one can't expect anything else. If it was set
forth all neatly and logically and arranged in such a way that the logical mind could
understand it practically and clearly and there were no loose ends at all, you might be in
danger then of thinking that you'd grasped the Perfection of Wisdom.
I remember years ago when I was giving some of my lectures at Centre House, one of
my old friends ca~along to listen to the lectures, she used to enjoy them very much. She was
an old lady of
well over eighty - she's still alive actually, well over ninety now but anyway, at the end of one
of the lectures she said to me that she'd enjoyed the lecture very, very much and she said,
'You make everything so clear that we think we have understood'. (Laughter.) So you might
say the Buddha doesn't commit that mistake - he doesn't make things in the Diamond Sutra so
clear that people think they have understood. Pause.
Anyway, Conze has left quite a chunk of the Sutra now without any commentary 50)c s~t~
kuL to struggle through it as best we can taking up such points as we can here grasp with our
feeble intelligences. And when we do come back to a bit of commentary well we can go
through that too. No doubt we shall be able to glean some little points ~~
Voice: When did this Sutra acquire the title of Vajracchedika?
Well, certainly by the time t~at(~ula1;~~~ translated it which I think was in the fifth
It does occur to me, and this is only a passing thought, that Part Two can possibly represent
an alternative version of the Sutra, if it was a compilation in large part, perhaps the second
part represents an earlier, perhaps less successful, effort which came to be tacked on to the
later more successful effort as a sort of Part Two. This is of course, in a sense, a quite
profane suggestion, quite untraditional. Again it could be that the
connection has escaped people so far.
I mean
regarded Part Two as dealing with more subtle
Part one deals with grosser &ou~ts. I think he even produces a list of them - eighteen gross
~u~~ and eighteen subtle
which is rather v'~V. ~
Anyway would someone like to read on. Just read 5a and we'll see if there's anything there
that calls for discussion.
The dia~cti~ nature of reatity.
And why? Just that which the Tathagata has taught as the wisdom which ha. gone
beyond, just that He has taught as not gone beyond. Therefore is it called 'Wisdom which has
gone beyond'. 13b. What do you think, Subhuti, is there any dharma which the Tathagata has
taught?- Subhuti replied: No indeed, 0 Lord, there is not.- 13c. The Lord said: When, Subhutl,
you consider the number of particies of dust in this world system of 1,000 million
worlds-would they be many?~ubhutl replied: Yes, 0 Lord. Because what was taught as par-
ticieS of dust by the Tathagata, as no-particles that was taught by the Tathagata. Therefore are
they called 'partides of dust'. And this world-system the Tathagata has taught as no-system.
Therefore is it called a 'world system'.-13d. The Lord asked: What do you think, - Subhutl,
can the Tathagata be seen by means of the thirty- - two marks of the superman?-Subhuti
replied: No indeed, 0 Lord. And why? Because those thirty-two marks of the superman which
were taught by the Tatha- gata, they are really no-marks. Therefore are they called 'the
thirty-two marks of the superman.
Well is~here anything new here or does it cover ground which
which is in a sense familar? - These examples all illustrate the principle of the
abrogation of the law of contrad*ion. Are you familiar with this law of ~~ntradiction, a form
of logic?
S~~~~~\~~&:Not that familar.
Well the law of c.ontradiction doesn't it state that 'A' is 'A1,
~hat 'A' cannot be both 'A' and not 'A' at the same time. But - i~ve'r~& Co~~~A~s- the
'logic'~of the Perfection of Wisdom asserts the direct
contrary. That 'A' is 'A' because it is not 'A'. In other words the principle of
contradiction is abrogated 1ogic itself is abrogated or is suspended. In other words when one
comes to express translogic~matters in terms of logic one can only express them in terms of
contradictions or paradoxes. Really one needs to reflect upon this. One needs to meditate
upon this - that something is what it is because it is what it is not. Or~ everything is what it
is because of emptiness. Clearly here is matter for reflection. It doesn't become
immediately obvious. You have something because you do not have 3L
it, for instance The Buddha has theLmarks of the superman -
why does he have them? Because he does not have them. His having them is a
no-having them. On the level of logical discourse this is nonsense. But does the nonsense
convey any glimmer of translogical meaning? Does one have a faint little sort of insight into
what the Buddha might be getting at, or is it/just a complete blank, just apparently complete
vnosV o~~~
n0~V o~~~
Y~8r.-- You can understand the form
of the words but it doesn't convey any glimmer of meaning usually. Sometimes it
does but as soon as you start thinking about it the glimmer of meaning disappears. So
perhaps it is something to be taken up in the context of meditation. It can't be sort of
reasoned about.
We haven't had 'particles of dust' before have we? But the principle is the same. We haven't
had 'world system'
bef0re~but again the principle is the same.
cD'M~~ 'iou ~~~
Voice: I was thinking about the~ ?
very early on, that first of
all you see things as mountains and streams and then after a while you don't see them as
mountains and streams and then when you are Enlightened you see them again as mountains
and streams. I thought that was maybe - was part of it. Pause.
Anyway, be that as it all may, there's no doubt about what the next section is called
'The Supreme excellence ...

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