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Diamond Sutra - Part 4 Unchecked

by Sangharakshita

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

There still seem to be logical inconsistancies. I mean, given that Subhuti is an
arahant and presumably he has seen through a notion of a self and beings anyway, and now
he's being given this teaching which will eventually
Yes, but he's asking on account of when others who remark on the Bodhisattva
presumably he's not necessarily asking on his own behalf.
There still seems to be an inconsistency in the going from, sort of falling back
to the stage of an arahant, the Bodhisattva path.
Well in what sense?
Well, when, supposing that you do give up the Bodhicitta and
Well it seems that~becoming an Arahant in the full sense0~w~Jld see through the
notion of self and beings1~~cL --
S: Well one does up to a point according to the Mahayana because one is"~c'%ncerned with
the classical conception of the arahant, not with what was once called the Arahant perhaps in
the early days of Buddhism. So the ~r~hant has seen through the notion of~~self in as much
as he has seen the self, the so-called self, consists only of dharmas, but he has not seen that
these dharmas are sunyata. So there's a subtle notion of self persisting-from the Mahayana
point of view~ ~rom the point of view of The
Perfection of Wisdom Sutras-and that he has to overcome. But ~vL Subhuti's original
question seems tokbebtasked for the benefit of
H relative beginners, because he praised the Buddha for having helped and having , I mean,
favour~~~ the great Bodhisattvas and he seems to have been asking'~~or the teaching~or the
benefit of those who w~~~ V~ set out on the Bodhisattvas path. And it is that teaching
that the Buddha is now giving for those who want to set out in the Bodhisattva path and who
want to establish thenselves in it. They should not develop the notion of a self, that seems to
be the main point.
On the one hand he should vow to save all beings, but should 6~. not be misled by the notion
of a self.
This is of course not very easy to understand.
It doesn't seem a beginners sort of answer, does it, a relative beginner's~o'-~ ~
S: That also makes it clear that one can't take the Bodhisattva vow literally. That I am
going to do this or that I arr\going to do that. You may say Wose ~~&~ , even in a sense
you~~hink that,
you don't really mean it in a sense. As I said, you know, you see very clearly the need
of beings and you form a whole-hearted wish to devote yourself to the fulfilment of that need.
You see the need so clearly that you cannot do anything except devote yourself to the
fulfilment of that need~ ~he satisfaction of that need. So if one is trying to be a Bodhisattva,
so to speak, even thinking in terms of possibly thinking of being a Bodhisattva or becoming a
Bodhisattva~ well the question arises, how does one see beings at present and how should
one be trying to see them? This really is the basic fundamental practical question. So what is
there wrong about the present way which one sees other beings and how is one to put it right?
It would be more useful to approach things from this angle, because however much the words
of the sutra may spring from the Buddhas spiritual experience, they cannot but seem quite
abstract unless one has advanced a little way on that Bodhisattva path. So what is ther~about
ones present way of looking at beings which is in need of correction, let us say, which is
perverted , and how is one to put it right? Can one gain any clues from this passage about the
way in which one looks at other beings. To me there seems a clue which is pretty obvious,
but let me see if you can see it first, a basic one.
I got the impression some time ago when we were talking about VOL-) that
one needs to go through an incredible process of purification. When we tend to see other
people we do tend to project ourselves onto them, so we actually tend to project our own
thoughts, so we could actually go through this process of purific ation, you haven't really got
those thoughts to project onto them.
But perhaps we need to be even more basic in our 6~.
approach than that.
______________ You see them as people, you see them as separate, you judge their faults
Well people do have faults.
(~x~~L u~~L~b concept of the fault in order to see them (~~ ~A~Aew)
S: Well presumably one has to start off on a quite ordinary common sense basis, because
that is where one is at present. So take it on that basis, what is there wrong about ones
attitude to other beings and what must one do to correct it? I mean in the light of this overall
Bodhisattva Ideal. What is ones overall predominent attitude towards other living beings,
usually, I won't say normally?
~~(orr:That they are things.
S: But does one really think this, does one really think that a person is like a chair or a tree
or a motor car. Does one actually think this, that they're actually things? Does one not see
any difference between a human being and a thing?
One sees them in terms of how one can use them
S: Ah, this I think is the basic point here. Yes, do you think~ -your attitude towards other
people, other beings, is of what use you can make of them? It may not be very blatant, it may
not be very conscious, but this is the s6-rt of, almost instinctive, unconscious tendency that
you make use of them, in one way or ~~th~r~ either practically, materially or
psychologically - and you don't always realise what you're doing. So in other words you look
at beings, or your attitude to beings is determined not by their needs, but by your needs, do
you see this point? And the basic point, taking it on this level, bringing it down to this level,
that the Bodhisattva Ideal
the Bodhisattva Vow seems to be making is that one should ~\4. try at least to see
people not in terms of what you need, but in terms of what they need, this is the great Point.
The Bodhisattva has seen that beings really need to be led to Enlightenment.
Enlightenment is what they need. So he's seeing beings in terms of their needs in the very
highest sense. Whereas our usual attitude towards beings is that we see them in terms of our
needs, in terms of the extent to which they can fulfil or meet our needs of various kinds, and
not even our highest needs. So perhaps this is the basic point which we need to correct. And
of course obviously metta comes in here and we know that~d~evelopment of metta, the
devel~p.ment of
paves the way for the arising of~Bodhi~citta. Of course when you're doing the metta
you're trying to develop love and good--will to other beings for their own sake as it were,
irrespective of whether they fulfil or do not fulfil your particular personal needs.
So really if you're a would--be Bodhisattva then your f4st thought would not be 'I will lead all
these beings to Nirvana' but 'I shall try to see these beings as they are in themselves, I shall try
to see what the needs of these beings are, I shall not be constantly seeking to see how they can
fulfil my needs'. Do you actually see this operating when come into contact with people.
When we meet people, we're sort of thinking or trying to see how they can meet, how they
can fulfil our needs rather than how we can fulfil theirs, or what we can do for them. Do you
actually see this happening? It sometimes even happens in a relatively positive way, but even
if it's positive ground maybe we have an objective need, it needs to be fulfilled, we look
around maybe to see someone who can fulfil it. Well that's all right perhaps, but sometimes
that is too exclusively our preoccupation, we don ~~u4~c£ently in terms of other ~~~.~~
Cat~~L~i people's needs,, ;f we can't meet them ourselves, helping them
to meet their own needs. Clearly we feel our own needs much more strongly than we feel
those of other people. O~ cou~~ this raises a point on an ordinary common sense, basic,
fundamental level; j~o what extent you can preoccupy yourself or concern yourself with
fulfilling the needs of others when,you know~ your own n~eds ~r~~t~~i~gtfl~~~~ ~~~
)OY~ objective , legitimate
~e not being fulfilled. At what point can you make that transition.
Is it possible for you k~ all at once to stop thinkingkof ~5.
your needs and to start thinking in terms of other people's needs and fulfilling other people's
needs. I mean is there any way of ascertaining that point, when your own needs have been
reasonably ful~illed and you can be reasonably expected to start preoccupying yourself
more with the needs of other beings. Is this at all an ascertainable, an identifyable point?
Chakkhupala: It seems more - It's only when you are actually feeling in yourself that your
needs are actually filled that you are capable of appreciating others and so ma\~\r~~ ~~
altruistic~'\~~kc~towards them, so it's not as if there's a
point in time, but rather an occasional condition which
'Occor~ altruistic. ...
When I said ~ point I meant a time when your condition of feeling your own
need to be fulfilled is sort of more or less stabilised. You don't have to think too much- after
that about your own needs being fulfillled. They have been fulfilled ...

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