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Diamond Sutra - Part 14 Unchecked

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked by Sangharakshita, and may contain mistakes and mishearings. Checked and reprinted copies of all seminars will be available as part of the Complete Works Project.

by Sangharakshita

It might be the spiritual equivalent
sent to stand in ~th'e1 o~being
corner for being a bad (boy?)
_____ ~C(AJ you'r~~ making things worse, Bhante! (Laughter)
S.:
It might be the equivalent of a hundred lines, you know, go and set up 200 FWBO
Centres in a lifetime.
S~~~~~~~:There is a tradition that this present age or world system is
quite a dodgy one for a Bodhisattva to encounter ~that
he's advised
to stay clear o~ ;t. Do you know where does this come from?
S.:
I don't remember. Perhaps it's only novice Bodhisattvas who are advised to stay clear
of this particular world system where the influence of Mara is dominant, where relationships
are very strong. But these (1i~as) suggest a quite different spiritual perspective, because if
one thinks of the corresponding or rather the not-so- corresponding Christian pe~spective
what does one find? What are one's spiritual antecedents?
:
You're a miserable sinner!
S.:
Well, there's Adam and the sin of Adam, the'fall'. ~ehind you is the fall in which you
participate, in which you are involved. No doubt we are baptismally regenerated only for a
very short period in- deed. You start sinning again inevitably. Well, it's not that Puddhism
asserts that you do definitely have a wonderful spiritual heritage behind you, but at least there
is the possibility of that. It can even be inferred by the fact that you've come into contact with
the Dharma in this life, and in this particular Sutra the Buddha even goes so far as to say, ~f
you come into contact with the Sutra, if you hear this d~scourse, well, then it must have been
that you've taken the Bodhisattva vow, otherwi~e yo~ould never have come into contact with
such a profound and abstruse teaching as this. So there's a great difference of perspective.
It's much more encour- aging, though of course at the same time it gives one much more to
live up to. There's no cause for complacency. One has got no rea- son at all for bein~ull or
apathetic or in an unskilful mental state or bad way o4 any kind.
Tt reminds me,, this is something I may have quoted before, that
someone who was in Kalimpong, and who knew~a~ot of the people I knew i~ It'~~I~ &a~s
including Dhardo Rimpoche(, he wrote of him in an
article - I think it was published in a German magazine - words to
DS13 this effect - he believed he was-speaking of Dhardo Rimpoche believed that he was an
incarnate ~Odhisattva and acted accordingly. (Laughter) So, one might say, if you really
believed the words of the Buddha in this ,Sutra~ that you could not have come into contact
with the Sutra if~ had not already taken the Bodhisattva vow.
If you believe that, then you must just believe it and act accordingly (laughter). That
makes everything very simple. You are told who you are so you know exactly what you have
to do. You remember this passage in the Saddharmapundarika where the Bodhi- sattva
'~W~.~f~~' goes about tellin~that they are all due for Buddha- hood. Well, what sort of
response does he meet with? Not a very fa~ourable one. It's almost as though people don't
want to contem- plate their glorious spiritual destiny. Reminds me of a passage from a
Chinese Opera translated by Lin Yu Tang. There's a sort of long song, a piece of declamation
put into the mouth of a young girl who is running away from her nunnery and she among
other rather strong things, she says she not only doesn't want to be a nun she doesn't want to
be. a Buddha, and she's not going to become ~uddha, and she's going to run down the hill
away fromfhe nunnery and find her- self a handsome young lover, and she's not going to
become a Buddha she doesn't want to beomce a BV~dha.
So some people seem to contemplate the ProsPect~~f~e~c~ing a Buddha or even o~
being a. Bodhisattva, or being told,%in fact taken the Bodhisattva Vow, with a certain
amount of dismay. (soft laughter)
Certainly we should perhaps get more accustomed to this more positive, more
encouraging really, perspective of the Mahayana. I think anyone born in the West,
practically, is bound almost~to be affected by this tradition of Christian view of man as
descended from Adam and participating in Adam's original sin,and having to be pur- ified of
that by 6aptism. But then, of course, being unable to main- tain this 6aptismal purity. You
know the whole idea that you can be free from original ~in only for a few short weeks
perhaps, ~~~~~~5 a baby, isn't really very encouraging, is it?
I don't know whether it's ever been discussed - it must have been- how long that state
of purity lasts. I mean perhaps it doesn't last any longer than the first time the baby loses his
temper or some- thing like that, or clutches his little fists, or gives mother a nasty look - even
cries while he's being 6aptized.
One thing - this is a little bit of a digression - but one thing that has surprised me is
how many people brought up as Christians, whether Protestant or Catholic, know very little
about actual
DS13 Q~~.
Christian teaching. It's as~though it's a sort of general atomosphere, a sort of gloomy
presence. Do you see what I mean? It's like a sort
of black cloud almost. Some people no doubt did go through their catechism, but not much
of it seems to have stuck -(unclear) - Why do they reject it? Perhaps one
d~lib~r~t~l~~ well, not deliberately, but represses the memory of the whole business. But
certainly, as I 5ay~the Buddhist perspective, the background that Buddhism envisages for
bein~is much more positive. Anyway, let's go on to 15c. Would someone like to read the
whole of that section right up to....
6-
~r'L %o~~LsA~'s~~
15c. (1) Moreover, Subhuti, the spot of earth where this Sutra will be revealed, that spot of
earth will be worthy of worship by the whole world with its Gods, men and Asuras, worthy of
being saluted respectfully, worthy of being honoured by circumambulation,- like a shrine will
be that spot of earth.-16a. And yet Subhuti, those sons and daughters of good family, who
will take up these very Sutras, and will bear them in mind, recite and study them, they will be
humbled,- well humbled they will be'. And why? The impure deeds which these beings have
done in their former lives, and which are liable to lead them into the states of woe,- in this
very Iffe they will1 by means of that humiliation, (2) annul those impure deeds of their former
lives, and (3) they will reach the enlightenment of a Buddha.- 16b. With my superknowledge,
Subhuti, I recall that in the past period, l6ng before Dipankara, the Tathagata, Arhat, fully
Enlightened One, during incalculable, quite incalculable aeons, I gave satisfaction by loyal
service to 84,000 million mililards of Buddhas, without ever becoming again estranged from
them. But the heap of merit, Subhuti, from the satisfaction I gave to those Buddhas and Lords
without again becoming estranged from themcompared with the heap of merit of those who in
the_las~t time, the last ep~och, the last five hundred
years, at the time of the collapse of the good doctrine, will take up these very Sutras, bear
them in mind, recite and study them, and will illuminate them in full detail for others, it does
not approach one hundredth part, not one thousandth part, nor a one hundred thousandth part,
not a ten millionth part, nor a one hundred millionth part, nor a 100,000 millionth part. It does
not bear number, nor fraction, nor counting, nor similarity, nor comparison, nor
resemblance.-16c. (4) If moreover, Subhuti, I were to teach the heap of merit of those sons
and daughters of good family, and how great a heap of merit they will at that time beget and
acquire, beings would become frantic and confused. Since, however, Subhuti, the Tathagata
has taught this discourse on Dharma as unthinkable, so Just an unthinkable karma- result
should be expected from it.
~s ~3 S.:
Any new the~s here?
~6~.
$,,~\AM: The humbling.
S.:
Yes. This is quite important. This is why , it is on account of these fewjLinesithat
this Sutra is sometimes recited in connection with, so to speak, purification of sins. You
remember the little ceremony which C~' t refers to in Dhyana for Beginners. If one
becomes conscious of any transgression, any breac*f the precepts, one of the things one can
do is to confess it in front o~ an image of the Buddha, burn incense, light candles and recite
sutras, recite Mahayana Sutras until such time as one feels that one has freed one- self from
the ill effects of those particular un~ilful actions.
16a "And yet, Subhuti, those sons and daughters of good family, who will take up
these very Sutras, and will bear them in mind, recite and study them, they will be humbled,
well humbled they will be!1, It's as though the Buddha is seeking to redress any imbalance
that might have been created ~ of the preceding section. Maybe one has come int0contact with these Sutras because one is in fact a Bodhisattva, a novice Bodhisattva. Perhaps
one has taken the Bodhi- sattva vow in a previo~R life but nonetheless, one is by noineans
per- fect yet. One may also have committed unskilful actions in previous lives. So if that is
the case, then when one take~up the study of these Sutras, one will be humbled;as the result
of being humbled one's impure deeds, will be ...

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