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Diamond Sutra - Part 3 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

... we can - hence the new society~ it ties up
ver~uch with that. (Long Pause) So, any other point on what we have done today?
Shantiprabha: Is Subhuti an Arahant in this Sutra?
S.:
Presumably.
Subhuti:
Definitely, indeed!
S.:
Is it stated later? (Subhuti: Oh, yes, yea (Laughter) Oh well, then there's no doubt
about it!
~ala:Just one point, taking~p the point you were saying earlier abut the difference between an
enlightened beitn~and a Buddha having a cosmic universal significance. Is that to say that in
periods leading immediately before the emergence of the Buddha there aren't enlightened
people as such because that would indicate thatkDharma) thw teach- ing1was still in
existence in as much as it was embodied in enlightened beings, or is it that because of their
incapacity or unwillingness to teach - to open the way-that it is to all intents and purposes
DS 2 practically dead?
ws.
S.: Tradition doesn't seem to exclude the possibility of PratyekaBuddhas existing in these
sort of intermediate periods, but certainly there is v'o trace left of the Dharma of the previous
Buddha. That is to say, there is no-one ~nlightened as a result of following his teaching.
Also even the knowledge of the doctrine on ~~ intellectual level has disappeared~ and even
the relics of the Buddha have disappeared. That would seem not to preclude the possibility of
there being around Pratyekabuddhas who had attained Enlightenment by their own efforts,
therefore, not as a result of the teaching of that previous Buddha in the full sense, but who of
course, did not teach. I don't know that that is explicitly stated but that would seem to be the
positiion. So the new Buddha, so to speak, has to make what amounts to an entirely new
effort, a new approach, make a new discovery. But the whol~ subject of Pratyekabuddhas is
.'~
Perhaps the concept(comes)a little too seriously you know, from a Spiritual point of
view. (Pause) Let's leve it there then.
(End of Tape 2)
The Diamond Sutra.
4~.
Chapter 2.
Page 24.
2.' THE BODHtSATTVA S cAREER
Chapters 3 to 5 now eal with the career of a Bodhisattva, its
beginning, middle an end. That career begins with the 'Vow', which expresses
his-~edsion to win enlightenment, not only for himself, but in the intef~tion of benefiting
others (chapter 3). This is followed by the practice of the six perfections, which extends over
many aeons (chapter 4)' The last stage of a sattva's journey is finally reached with the
attainment of dhahoo:i (chapter 5)
24.
The Vow of a Bodhisattva
Chapter 3 describes, the Vow of the Bodhisattva from four points of view: (i) As
vast-in so far as it refers to 'all beings'; (2) as suprem~because it leads beings to the supreme
goal, to perfect Nirvana; (3) objectively as absdute-'in reality no being exists'; (4) subjectively
as unperverted-unmarred by false views about self, beings, and so on. This chapter is taken
- -
from the large Prajna~ararnita, and the earlier version can be consulted in 55 no. 87.
3.
The Lord said: Here, Subbuti, someone who has set out in the vehicle of a Bodhisattva
should produce a thought in this manner: 'As many beings as there are In the universe of
beings, comprehended under the term "beings"egg.born, born from a- womb, moisture-born,
or miraculously born; with or without form; with per- ception, without p~rception, and with
neither ~rception nor non-perception,~as far as any conceivable form of being6 is' conceived:
all these 1 must lead tO Nirvana, into that Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind.
And - yet, although innumerable beings have thus been led to Nirvana, no being at all has
been led to Nirvana.' And why? If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a 'being' should - - take
place, he could not be called ~a 'Bodhi-being'. 'An4 - why? He is not to be called a
Bodhi-being, in whbrn the notlpn of a sell or of a being should take place, or the notion of a
living soul or of a person.'
-The~phrase should produce a thought sounds rather clumsy in English. The Sanskrit,
i.e. cittant '~tpatdayitavyam. alludes to the technical term cillotpada, the 'thought of
enlightenment', which marks the beginning of a Bodhisattva's career.
The traditional
classification of living beings is a threefold one:
(a)
By their mode of conception four kinds of organisms are distinguished: (I)
Those hatched from eggs; (2) those born from a womb; (3) those generated from - warm
humidity, such as worms, insects and butterflies; (4) those who a~re'~~iraculousl,y born, and
appear all at once, without concep-tion or -embryonic growth, with all their limbs fully grown
from"-- ;the --ye:"" start. Miraculous or apparitional birth is the lot cf~gods. i-nfe~rnal
beings. beings in the intermediary world, and ~ever~-returners. This - -
class is said to be
much more numerous than the others.
(b)
According to whether they are material or immaterial.
(I)
Matenal, with form, are all living beings, except those which are (2) immaterial,
without form,~i.e. the highest classes of Gods, who correspond to the f~ur formless trances.
(c)
According to whether they can, or cannot, perceive.
4Th
(i)
With perception, all organisms with sense~rgans. (2) With- out perception, a class of
gods, or angels, living in one of the heavens which correspond to the fourth dhyana. (3) With
neither perception nor non-perception, the very highest immaterial gods, corresponding to the
fourth formless dhyana.
The Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind, - literally: 'Nirvana without
remainder, or substratum.' Buddhist - tradition distinguishes two kinds of Nirvana: (I) The
Nirvana with substratum, which is attained when all defflements, such as greed, ignorance,
etc., are given up. The Buddha reached that at the time of his enlightenment under the
Bodhi-tree. But, since he still had a physical body and mental processes. there remained to
him the 'substratum' of the five skandhas. This state gave way, at his death, to (2) the Nirvana
without substratum. Even the five skandhas disappeared, and Nirvana alone remained.
Candrakirti compares the 'Nirvana without substratum' to a city which, after all the criminal
gangs in it have been executed, has now itself been razed to the ground.
S:
Let's go through this- then. "Chapters 3 to 5", that is t~ say of the text, " now deal
with the career of the Bodhisattva, it's beginning, middle and end." Though the word which
Conze renders as career is caria. Career is not perhaps a very good equivalent, has perhaps
the wr~ng connotation for us. Caria is from carity a verb ILteaning to walk or fare, so Caria
is really a walking or course. Course would be better than career, the course of a
Bodhisattva. Anyone suggest: another equivalent~ There's course of practice. Also cariay
is 'practice' in Pali, 'conduct'.
(Pause) So that.. 'I
Career begins with the "Vow", whicli expresses his decision to win enlightenment, not only
for himself, but in the intention of benefiting others (chapter 3). This is followed by the
practice of the six perfections, which e~tends over many eeons (chapter 4) The last stage of a
Bodhisattvas journey is finally reached with the attainment of Buddhahood (chapter5). '
I've dealt with these three great stages in detail in The Three Jewels, you remember.
The vow of the Bodhisattva from four points of view: (1) As vast - in so far as it refers to 'all
beings1; (2) as supteme - because it; leads bein 5 to a su reme oal to erfect Nirvana; (3)
ob~ectivel as absolute - in reality no being exists'; (4X subjectively as unperverted -
unmarred by f~~se views about self, beings, and so on. This chapter is taken from the large
Prainaparamita, and the earlier version can be consulted in SS no. 87.
Then the text itself.
The Lord said: Here, Subhuti, someone who has set out in the vehicle of a Bodhisattva should
produce a thought in this manner.
I' I
Conze comments that the phrase should produce a thought1 sounds rather clumsy in English.
The Sanskrit ~s~- cittam
\6 the technical term- citto~ ~,k~ the thou ht of enli htenment That is literally the
arising of the thought. One could transiate it not as just 'produce the thought of
enlightenment', like producing out of a conjurer's hat, as it were but really 'to make arise', to
make arise the, the thought of enlightenment, or the th0~~ht~~~n this manner .
As many beings as there are in the universe of beings, -comprehended under the term
"beings" - egg-born, born from a womb, moisture- born, or miraculously born:
Again there's a cosniment on 'miraculously born'. I think the expression 'miraculously born'
can be quite misleading, because again the word miraculous has all sorts of connotations for
people in the West. A miracle really represents the direct intervention of God into mundane
affairs, suspending the operation of natural causes, so, this is a perfectly normal mode of
birth. As Conze says, the 'class of those who are born miraculously is said to be much more
numerous than the others'. So it isn't a question of miraculous birth, sometimes it's translated
as 'apparitional birth', but ag'~n that suggests something insubstantial, something ...

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