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Diamond Sutra - Part 16 Unchecked

by Sangharakshita

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

DS 16 301.
connection has that got
with -samyak sammbuddhahood' as distinct from that
arahantship? i~~'~'&v'~~this has ever been explained in the texts. It's
as though from that point on you don't take anything seriously, on tologically speaking. It's
all like a dream, a vision, not that you don't perceive it, but you see through it quite
thoroughly. It's like having a dream and knowing that it' s a dream. In the same way your
mundane experience or your experience of the mundane, of condi tioned existence is quite
vivid , perhaps it's more vivid tha n ever, but you're less misle d by it than ever, you're mot
misle d by it all in fact. Perhaps it's at this point that you see not only that there
are no beings to save but among
- the so-called beings there's yourself,
there's no question
of any self to save. So perhaps from that point
on, even the possibility of thinking in terms 0£ a so-called individual eman- cipation no
longer exists. One could say, from that point onwards you genuinely see no difference
between yourself and others , they're all equally dream-like and as it were illusory. It's all just
like a game, you no longer mind which particular game you play. But putting it as it were
more posi- tively: It's just like a play in another sense, a sort of spontaneous cream- tive
expression, perhaps I should say am spontaneous expression of creativity. (pause of am
minute) So if one - an interesting question arises - if one thinks of irreversibility in that way,
in those terms,and if the irreversi- bility of the bodhisattva is analagous to, at least analagous
to, the irre-
~~~~~ '~
~--'v ~ versibility\is much the same thing, broadly
speaking,~ ~comparative ck~ stre~entry,what bearing has this notion of anuttCanr~dharma
ksanti and so on got on the subject of stream-entry~~' s as though the bearing is in connection
with the first of those fetters; Sakayam Ditthi. It's as though in both cases you're no longer
thinking that there is in fact anybody to be saved, or anybody to be delivered in the ultimate
sense,whether yourself
or anybody else. That aspect isn't stressed in the case of the so-called the Hinayana path.
Certainly in the case of~Hinamyana path there is no metaphysi
cal emphasis. It's all quite practical, straightforward, and in am sense
DS 16 psychological. (Pause)
Then the Buddha says:
"Moreover, Subhuti, th-e Bodhisattva should not
acquire a heap of merit.-Subhuti said: 'Surely, O Lord, the Bodhi- sattva should acquire a
heap of merit?-The Lord said: 'Should acquire',
. ' Subhuti, not 'should seize
upon . Therefore it is said 'should acquire ' In other words, the Buddha seems to make a
distinction between ac
quiring merit and seizing upon merit. There's no harm if merit is acquired, as it were
spontane ously produced, but one mustn't be pre- occupied with the thought of merit, nor
think that merit is a real thing7~that the acquisition of merit is a real acquisition by a real
person, who really does acquire. Let's go on to ch._29.
Whosoever says that the Tathagata goes or comes, stands, sits or lies down, he does
not understand the meaning of my teaching. And why? 'Tathagata' is called one who has not
gone anywhere, nor come from any- where. Therefore is he called 'the Tathagata, the Arhat,
the fully Enlightened One'.
S.: The word'Tathagata' can be understood literally as either meaning 'the one who has gone
th~~~ or 'come thus. The usual Theravada interpret- -ation is quite plain and straightforward,
not to say prosaic: that he is one who has gone to or come from the state of enlightenment, as
to'~or predecessors have gone
come from it. In other words, the Tath-
agata means: one
who has attained enlightenment in the same way as ai~o~-& his
predecessors'. That is the meaning. The Mahayanists ofte n try to
give a profounder meaning. One explanation is that the Buddha has gone to a state of
enlightenment through Wisdom,and come from it, i.e. back into the world of Samsara through
Compassion. Tathagata means, 'thus come, or 'thus gone', according to how you divide the
word. You can either make it Tatha-gata which mean, 'thus gone, or Tatha-agata, which
means 'thus come. If you join together Tatha-gata and Tatha-agata, they both make
So the Sutra says, the Tathagata, despite the literal meaning of his title, neither comes
nor goes, sits or lies down' . In other words, one could look at it as meaning in the firsijplace
that the Buddha is not to be identified with his physical body, not with his rupakaya but with
his dhar makaya. And clearly the dharmakaya neither comes nor goes, and the dharmakaya
certainly doesn't sit or lie down or stand.
But one could understand it even more deeply than that. That even the phenomenal
personality of the Buddha in an ultimate sense, doesn't come or go, because in the ultimate
sense there's no coming or going
~o3. at all, any more than there is any arising or destruction of dharmas. Sometimes it
is said, I'm not sure i~ it's in the perfection of Wi~- dom itself, that everything remain in a
state of, as it were, immobil- ity in the ultimate sense - that's perhaps a difficult concept.
There's another little thought that occurs to me, just seeing how much more we have
to do I am reminded of the fact that the Sutra has 32 chapters, according to the traditional
division. Do you think that this is entirely coincidental or whether there is any meaning in it?
Voice: - the 32 wnarks...
S.: There's the 32 vnarks. So, it's as it each of the chapters is like a ~ark. But, can you
recognize the Buddha from his ~arks? Can you recognize the Perfect ion of Wisdom from
the~e 32 chapters? (Laughter) One might say that was quite a question. I can't believe that
the coincidence is not deliberate. And if it is deliberate, it must have some such meaning. It
must be a sort of spiritual joke, not to say a transcendental joke. (Laughter)
Is this ~ traditional way of breaking the text up? It's not something that
Conze has done, is it?
S.: No, it would seem not. No. It would seem that traditbnally there are these 32 chapters. 1don't know whether in the very be- ginning but I~hink, -I don't know whether Conze says
anything about this- but I think, I have a vague recollection that Kumarajiva divided the text
into 32 sections or that his translation was divided into 32 sections. I'll have to check. But I
don'tthink Conze has, so to speak, invented these sub-divi~ns. Perhaps his Rome edition of
the text will give information. We hav~or S ould have ~opy of that at Padmaloka. 1 ~~
ha'k~~a copy. It mightbenone of the books that disappeared when all the library was at
Aryatara. We definitely had one. 14 * has disappeared,~we don't know where, we should try
to get one though i~ probably out of print. So it seems there's a kind of play on the title
'Tathagata'; that the Buddha is called Tathagata because he does not come and does not go.
Now we've come to the 8th Section of ~~~ translation. "Advice to the Imperfect"
which may or may not be relevant!
30o. And again, Subhuti, if a son or daughter of good family were to grind as many world
systems as there are particles of dust in this great world system of 1,000 million worlds, as
finely as they can be ground with incalculable vigour, and in fact reduce them to some- tbing
like a collection of atomic quantities, what do you thnk, Subhuti, would that be an enormous
collection of atomic quantities?-Subhuti replied: So it is, 0 Lord, so it is, 0 Well-Gone,
enormous would that collection of atomic quantities be! And why? If, 0 Lord, there had been
an enormous collection of atomic quantities, the Lord would not have called it an 'enormous
collection of atomic quantities'. And why? What was taught by the Tathagata as a 'collection
of atomic quantities', as a no-collection that was taught by the Tathagata. There- fore is it
called a 'collection of atomic quantities'. 30b. And what the Tathagata taught as 'the world
system of 1,000 million worlds', that he has taught as a no- system. Therefore is it called 'the
world system of 1,000 million worlds'. And why? If, 0 Lord, there had been a world system,
that would have been a case of seizing o~ a material object, and what was taught as 'seizing
on a material object' by the Tathagata, just as a no-seizing was that taught by the Tathagata.
Therefore is it called 'seizing on a materJ~~ob~Ject'.-The Lord added: And also, - - Subhuti,
that 'seizing on a material object' is a matter of linguistic convention, a verbal expression
without factual content. It is not a dharma nor a no-dharma. And yet the foolish common
people have seized upon it.
The principle of the simultaneity of contradictions is now extended to the material
world. Overawed by the immensity of the universe outside us, we may well despair of
reducing it to emptiness. And our spirit is often weighed down by the mere thought of the
mass of matter which seems to escape the spiritual laws in which it feels at home. Spiritual
aspirations threaten to be swallowed up by this senseless bulk into a sort of nightmare of
meaninglessness. The ...

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