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Diamond Sutra - Part 3 Unchecked

by Sangharakshita

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

DS 2 41the great Bodhisattvas with the greatest teaching and the lesser people
with just a smaller so that when we re dealing with,say, Mitras or just regulars at classes, that
we do n't sort of overwhelm them with some great weight of experience.
Right. Yes, yes. Sometimes it can be a bit too much, mind you
don't scare them of f or scare them away~~Th~~~:~ to develop a degree S:
of receptivity to where they're at -~degree of awareness of where they
are actually at. I mean I have heard from mitras that sometimes Order members leading
beginners' meditation classes, say too much. They try to explain too much. They tell too
many things, but that tends to con- fuse the new person. On some occasions apparently, they
start talking about their own experiences on retreat and things like that. I mean with the good
intention of sort of encouraging and inspiring, but it doesn't always work like that. The actual
beginner needs a few very simple, plain, straight-forward instructions just about how to get
into the meditation, and how to co~~ntrate.
Voice: Do you think then that initial beginners' classes should simply r
be inst~ction into basic meditation and perhaps discussion about any
problems that peole have actually had in their practice as opposed to combining say,
instruction in meditation on with basic Buddhism courses?
S.: Well, I think you must be quite clear about what you're setting out to do. If you're
actually taking simply a meditation class to which people have come along as a meditation
class because they want to learn to meditate that is what you should stick to. If it is
ameditation and Dharma couse, all right, this is what people have come along for, - this is
what you give them. But you must be clear in your own mind, in any case even when it is a
Dharma course, not give them, not feed them so much material because you enjoy talking
about these things, that they become confused. Perhaps it is not easy to remember what it's
like to have been a beginner or to put oneself in the person's position when everything is very
new, very unfamiliar, very strange. So if they've just come along to learn meditation, well it's
enough at first~ust to teach them the Mindfulness of breathing and take them through it very
slowly, carefully and steadily, but not to start talking about all the different kinds of Buddhist
meditation - these wonderful Tantric pract- ices (chuckels ). Well that would just confuse
them, make them feel, well this field of Buddhism is so vast that they haven't got a hope of
being able to cover it. They might just as well give up. And don't forget
that people are very literal-minded. You might say to be encouraging:
DS 2 "Well even if you don't get much experience from the meditation, well, it could sort of come
unexpectedly, might even happen when you're in the office". Then they might think,"Well
suppose it happens in the office. Suppose I go into a trance when I'm in the office. What will
I do? What will people think?" (Chuckles) Do you see what I mean?. people do take what
you say quite literally sometimes. So be/~~~~~~l what you say. Too much can be just as
harmful as too little. (Long Pause) Any further point?
'~ I'm not quite clear why "stand'.~~progress.~control ) ?~rk~~~1stand
Well, yes. Conze explains, 'stands' as abiding: refers to the II
determination to reach enlightenment. Presumably that is remaining con
stant, remaining faithful to the original objective, the original goal. Being firmly established,
though that, nonetheless, does seem to over- lap with"'progress1~ to ~~:L steady growth in
concentrationa'v'~wisdom because if he was steadily growing in concentration and wisdom,
sumably he
establish~~~~be standing. Maybe would~at the same time
it's how
should he establish himself? How should he become firmly established in his
basic aspirations ~ where progress seems to refer more to specific practices, concentration
and wisdom are mentioned. (Long pause) a. I
And there is, of course, Subhuti
says: So befflit, 0 Lord, and 'listened". That's quite important too. (Long Pause) I suppose
people are familiar with this idea of Buddha-field or Buddha (chatha What about
you? What do you understand by Buddha-field? What is a Buddha- field?
Is it a sphere of influence?
I~ is a sphere of influence. (Long Pause)
Shantiprabha: Traditionally could you only have one Buddha per world system? Could you
have more than one Buddha?
S.: At a time. Yes. According to Theravada , according to the Hina- yana tradition generally,
I think, this particular Kalpa is called the (Bhadra) Kalpa because ~~ differentftimes and
different ages T'0 five Buddhas will appear. They will only appear though when the teaching of their
predecessor has altogether disappeared. According to the Mahayana, though there are 1000Buddhas in this (Bhadra) Kalpa, this auspicious era, but appearing at different times.
DS 2 Voice: is that the next Buddha wil1t~a\pYpear and 43.
teachJ~e~ %&previous one has &LS~~~&. ~ut isn't it also said that Maitreya shall appear
when Buddhism is once spread over the whole world?
S.: No, this is not said in any Buddhist text. But the theosophists and others have taken up
this idea of Maitreya and sort of developed and interpreted i4Ln their own way. For instance,
Mrs. Bessant and the Theosophists announced Krishnamurti as Maitreya. There have been
many Maitreyas in fact or people claiming to Maitreya - and she announced herself and
(Leadbeater and Allan Dell) and various other people as their 12 Arahant disciples. Oh yes,
there was an extraordinary fiasco almost, one V~ight say. She really went ~it mad
(Chuckles). That's when a~ot of people left the Theosophical Soc~e~ , ii'cluding those
people, those friends of mine, I mentioned the other evening. They started (united ~~)
o~~eoso~~s\s which would have nothing to do with all those developments. And you know,
they were rather unhappy with the increasing influence of Hinduism and Christianity within
the Theosophical Society. I mean their belief was that Theosophy i~ its origins was
muc#loser to Buddhism, or that Madame Blavatsky had been much closer to Buddhism.
Well, she did in fact take the Refuges andkPrecepts, that is undeniable. Took them publicly.
She and Colonel Allcot would seem to have been the first Europeans publicly to take the
Refuges and Pre- cepts~which they did in Ceylon. Whereas Mrs. Bessant firstJa~u~the
influence of Leadbeater then under the influence of someone called (Shak- yavati) h~
introduced more and more Hinduism and more of Christianity, more and more Hinduism into
the Theosophical Sodiety - into the Theo- sophical Movement. (Leadbeater) developed
~#~s u~Ae~~b esoteric
Christianity~ Catholic Church ~~ ~e VJts~ . But
quite a few Theosophists weren't happy with it. But yes, Krishnamurti was the one those
recognized as, if not claiming to be - Maitreya Buddha. But the Buddhist tradition is that he
will come only when the teaching of Gautama the Buddha or traces of that teaching ha~
altogether dis
Not that he will come on the crest of a great wave of Buddhist
But a Buddha in that sense, by very definition appears when there is no
Buddhism~because by definition he is one who rediscovers the Path at a time when all
knowledge of it has been lost. That is what I'V~ callfll his sort of cosmic function or his
historical function. You can be enlightened without being a Buddha in the sense that you can
be enlight- ened, spiritually enlightened but without performing that particular cosmic or
historical function.
DS2 Shantiprabha: Is it actually possible to have a pure Buddha-field or am I just taking the terms
too literally and if so, how does it, how can a pure Buddha-field actually become impure?
I don't remember it ever being said anywhere that a pure Buddha- field becomeS
impure, though of course, there are instances apparently of impure Buddha-fields becoming
pure. But Buddha-fields become pure by
~aspiration, it would seem, of the Buddha who presides over them as in the case of Amitabha
~v' Sukhavati. Q~~ ~as this sort of belief-
which is
strange from a modern point of view as someone being able
by force of sheer creative imagination, actually to sort of call a whole world or rather a whole
universe into existence which other beings can actually perceive and experience, can be
reborn into . It's a quite staggering sort of conception if you take it literally. Not so
difficult if one sort of takes it metaphorically. For instance i~ you read the works of Dickens,
you enter into his world. You rea&the Sutras of Buddhism, you enter into the world of the
Buddha. But the Mahayana Sutras don't mean the idea of a Pure Land, a pure Buddha-field to
be taken in this sense. They believe that it exists as concretely and literally as this Earth itself
exists, as this human world itself exists How justified that is is something that we can't go
into now. It cert- ainly represents a sort of ideal realm and no doubt we ought to try to make
our present impure Buddha-field as pure as ...

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