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Diamond Sutra - Part 13 Unchecked

by Sangharakshita

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

DS 12 Q4~. You certainly wouldn't say that it was a pretty thunderstorm. Do
you see what I mean?
Dhirananda: The sanskrit word or Pali word 'Subha', does that have exclusively the meaning
of beauty, or does it also...?
S.: No that is much more beauty.. .pur ,eauty
't connote S', anything like the
sublimeL. There 5 somethingait like it in the
various Ragas connected with music. There is the (vebhara) which is the terrible, that is a bit
like the sublime. For instance among artists, Michaelangelo is said to be celebrated for his
sublimity. His figures are sublime more often than they are beautiful. I mean, even where one
would think that perhaps beauty was more appropriate
he's introduced sublimity.
Perhaps one could think in terms of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. There's the
peaceful deities as beautiful and the wrathful ones as sublime. That might make the whole
thing, the distinction more accessible. (Pause) And also one could say that it is one of the
signs that on~~~ay taken this teaching or understood this teaching not merely
intel~~lectually, that it move one emotionally - even that one sheds tears in the way that
Subhuti did. I think in the songs of Milarepa or the life of Milarepa, there's quite a lot of
tear-shedding, isn't there? In Tibetan Buddhism generally, perhaps, the Tibetans are relatively
free with their tears.
Dhirananada: In the Par;~nirvan?1~~~a~~ it's said that when the Buddha passes away, the
monks were,Larahants)were crying.... (S.: Then?) Subhuti was crying in th~s scripture
So? But it's a different thing, it's a different situation, isn't
(Dhirananda: Yes, it is.) Because what is happening at the time of the Par~nirvana is
simply that the Buddha's physical body is begin- ning to be removed, beginning to disappear.
The arahants presum- ably did not feel any separation from the Buddha thereby. Only those
who were relatively unenlightened felt any separation, any loss. I mean, the general sort of
Hinayana or Theravada view of the ~rahant is that the &rahant is sort of impassive, incapable
of emotion. That doesn't seem to be the Mahayana view though, judwing by this passage. In
any case he's moved by something beyond arahantship, yea? That's why he's moved. There's
a rev~elation of something even more sublime than the Nirvana that he so far, has
presumably attained. It's as though he stood on a sort of peak and he thought that was
14~ the highest peak of all, but then the mist clears and he looks up and there S another peak
still towering above him, of course, so he's moved by the sublimity of the spectacle* You
may also remember if
~w~. ~~1~~~~ ;~I~ODO you've read it that towards the end of
here is
the story of the Bodhisattva 5~~~p' ~~~~~~~ . Do you remember that? Has anyone read it?
Oh dear! Sada is 'always', p~~~~~~~~ 'neans weeping', greatly weeping. It's the
ever-weeping Bodhisattva. And what's he weeping for? It's because he's moved by the
Dharma. So Subhuti is only an ~rahant so he just sheds a few tears bu~ ~his Sada 4aru~ita is
a Bodhisattva so he goes on weeping all the time. Anyway, let's go on to 14d.
The Lord said: So it is, Subhuti. Most wonderfully blest will be
those beings who, on hearing this Sutra, will not tremble, nor be frightened, or terrified. And
why? The Tathagata has taught this as the highest (pararn~) perfection (paramiUa). And what
the Tathagata teaches as the highest perfection, that also the innumerable (aparima~na)
Blessed Buddhas do teach. Therefore is it called the~'highest perfection'.
½~sotF &&~ ~~ ~'qAhh~' ~ ~~
--. e,*'-' ,c S.: So how does this d~ffer, I mean one isn'
frightened or ~{AL S~,~~ So -p '£ ~~~4 L~~~j ~~~s~~ply terrified well, one isn't
5~~~flgtf~~~ sublime as sublime or isn't seeing the Dharma as sublime. I mean what is one
seeing it as?
Xoice: Threatening.
S.: Simply threatening, simply destructive of oneself. It's just as with the wrathful
Buddhas, if you yourself are not in a very skilful state of mind you see them merely as
wrathful, merely as threatening. But if you are in a more positive frame of mind you see them
as awe-inspiring, as wonderful, sublime, heroic, impressive and very inspiring, huh?
There's the story about Turner the ~ainter. Turner often depicted in his paintings sea
scenes including thunder storms, and apparently he used to get himself taken out in a ~u
know, during a thunder
kt cc~& storm and have himself lashed to the mastk
make notes on his sketch
pad. No doubt there would be da~ger of being drowned on that sort of occasion, 50 one
could have merely been overwhelmed by fear but Turner was not overwhelmed with fear I \'e
was just impressed and inspired by the sublimity of the scene. So that is the difference. If you
are merely concerned about your own destruction then the sublime appears as the destructive,
the threatening, but if you are not concerned about your own destruction,~y0u can rise above
that, then you can experience the sublime as sublime, you can experience it as inspiring.
DS 12 own So if you are over-preoccupied with the safety of your/'-xistence, your own continual
existence as you are, then teachings like that of the Diamond Sutra will merely terrify you out
o~ your wits, if you manage to understand them that is. I mean sometimes you are too stupid
to understand them, just as sone people are so stupid so that even if there 5 a thunderstorm at
sea they are not afraid because they haven't got enough imagination even to think what might
happen; or blind faith in the ship or the ship~ captain.
So it's quite a healthy sign in a way if one is terrified by the teaching of the Sutra
because it shows one has understood it to some extent. (Pause), But if you are mo'red by it~a5Subhuti was, well, so much the better because you've started to appreciate its greatness and
sublimity. If ~\~~ Dharma appears to you as beautiful, then it means you have just risen to
the level of a Buddha. (Laughter)
So you could say that to worldly people the Dharma appears terrifying, to
Bodhisattvas it appears sublime and awe-inspiring and to Buddhas it appears beautiful,
Hmm? (Pause) You could apply this even on a much lower level to the question of living in
commun- ities, especially men 5 communities. To the ordinary man in the street the idea of
living in a men1 5 community is just, well, frightening, terrifying even; maybe to a Sort of
regular friend or someone who has just become a mitra, who hasn't perhaps even left home,
who has still got a job, well, to him maybe the idea of living in a men 5 community is rather
aweiinspiringjbut at the same time it's a bit attractive, though he feels a bit afraid too, still.
But to some one who is actually living in a men's community and has been th~ a long time,
it's just beautiful, because he realizes from his own experience it's the best possible way to
Gerry: Or even the prospect of coming to 11 Convento for three months.
S.: Yes, that too. ~~~:~~be ~i~tle threatening. Yes, Indeed. But on ce you're here... k.
(Laughter) Well that's threatening in a different way for different reasons entirely.
There is a bit of a play on words~ here also that "The Tathagata has taught this as
thhe~~erasmta)per~ection (paramita). And what the Tathagata teaches as the highest
perfection, that also the innumerable (~parimana) Blessed Buddhas do tea~h. Therefore is it
called the 'highest perfection'." These are not very scientific ~mologies, but they do throw
some light on the term 'paramita'
DS 12 ~4~. In principle all Buddhas teach the same thing because they have
achieved or realized the same reality, the same truth, the same ab- solute, the eame
unconditioned. (Pause) Anyway, let's go on to 5c.:
s~ Pat~-~ and perfect inmr frad~m
14.. Moreover, Subhuti, the Tathagata's perfection of patience is really no perf~on. And why?
Because, Snbhuti, when the king of Kalinga cut my flesh from every limb, at that time I had
no perception of a self, of a being, of a soul, or a person. And why? If, Subhuti, at that time 1had had a perception of self, I would also have had a perception of rn-will at that time. And
so, III had had a perception of a being, of a soul, or of a person. With my superknowledge I
recall that in the past I have for five hundred bihths led the Ilfe of a sage devoted to patience.
Then aiso have I had no perception of a self, a being, a soul, or a person. Therefore then,
Subhuti, the Bodhi-being, the great being, after he has got rid of ail perceptions, should raise
his thought to the utmost, right and perfect enlighten- ment He should produce a thought
which is unsupported by forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, or mind- objects,
unsupported by dharma, unsupported by no- dharma, unsupported by anything. And why? All
supports have actually no support. It is for this reason that the Tathagata teaches: By an
unsupported Bodhisattva should a gift be given, not by one who is supported by forms,
sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, or mind- objects.
S.: Hmm. So a new subject has been introdtced , a new paramita which is that of Ksanti
paramita, and the Buddha is referring to an inCident ...

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