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Diamond Sutra - Part 5 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

... in a natural free and disinterested way. It is a bit clearer with
a notion of a being, but being supported by a notion of a sign, I don't see the connection so
S: Well a notip;riof a sign is sort of a fixed idea almost. It is as though there is a sort of a
double barrier, the barrier of beings them- selves and the barrier of the signs indicating the
presence of beings in that narrow limited sense.
___________________ Is it also that one sees that dana paramita itself the actual giving as
such of something fixed, certain, this is dana paramita practice ?
S: Yes, if you do this, well than that's dana. one could look at it in that way. In other words it
ties up a little perhaps with the third fetter the sila you sort of go through the
motions, well th1% is what dana is supposed to be, this is the sign that you are practising
dana if you do this, if you do that. It doesn't really become then something free and
spontaneous and natural and even creative. you' ve got a certain fixed idea about dana and you
proceed to act in accordance with that.
ds4 ____________ I din't quite follow what you said about there being a double barrier.
S: Well first of all there are as it were, "things", and then there are "thoughts about things"
and the words corresponding to those thoughts. So its as though the signs represent the
second barrier and the beings, sattvas, represent the first. They are barriers in the sense that
they stand between you and reality; it is not only your perception of things which stand
between you and reality, but the words which you attach to your perception of things. They
~f~rm another sort of perhaps even subtler barrier standing between you and reality. You not
only mistake
'IOU ~\s~~~~~
_______________ Your
mistaking things for realities isn't simply because you have got
confused by language ?
S: Well it can be sometimes; but even apart from language you have a perception of things as
things, but that can be certainly strengthened be reinforced by language which anyway
embodies that kind of perception, that kind of confusion even. It is not that if there was no
language, you would percieve things as they are, you would still perceive things, and things
are not realities, But one does not only percieve things but also uses words in relation to
things and that sort of reinforces one's view of those things, those beings as representing
realities. Though of course origionally it was that kind of perception that gave rise to that kind
of language, not maybe individually, but with people in general.
Just taking the words literally as they stand, "who gives a gift should not be
suported by a thing", that seems relat- ively straightforward ; "nor should he be supported
anywhere", what is being said in addition there ?
S: Well, " when he gives gifts he should not be supported by sight- objects~r by sounds", in
other words, he should not be supported in any particular way, in respect of any particular
sense organ, even the mind. (pause)
There is also this question of the amount so to speak of merit being relatedto the
extent to which the Bodhisa~tva does not give supported by a thing, or with a notion of a
sign. How is one to bring this down so to speak to a common sense level ? Well, the more
you function disinterestedly, the more you give disinterestedly,the more positive becomes
your emotional state. It seems to be as simple as that on this level.
______________________ just going back to this thing about being supporte
ds 4 - -
~"",~~ctd:by objects etc, to become unsupported must be quite agradul process
although you can actually acknowledge that everything
around you actually supports and determines the way you see yourself, you can't actually just
sort of say, "well I'm not going to be deter- mined by this", you have to start with quite small
. Well this is obviously this whole question of path of 'fision and the path of
transformation a glimpse of the truth, at least no more than a glimpse to begin with and
then only gradually do you bring your whole being, the rest of your bt ng into alignment with
that vi5i0n~th~t insight, that perception.
_____________: I was thinking that you could actually look for very small things in your life,
just quite insignificant things, things which actually atill do determine you. You can actually
look at those quite clearly and you can start on that basis actually trying to break those
perceptions down.
S: They give a concrete example in the case of this perfection of
giving It should be quite easy.
__________________: Sorry I have lost you somewhere.
S: Well, give a concrete example of the sort of thing you have in mind.
SL~~?r~\o~~ .... perhaps this looking in the mirror when I get up in the morning, I find I've
got }bit of a habit of actually looking in the mirror to sort of establish I'm still there
(laughter) It maintains my view of myself - so, a way of getting round that would be to
actually stop that habit...
S: Assuming you were in a sufficiently positive emotional state to be able to do without it, so
that it didn't lead to a sense of self- alienation that you weren't there any more, which wouldn't
be very positive. No , I was thinking ~ relation to dana.
Christmas presents and presents and birthdays and so on.
S: Yes you give Christmas presents, just because it is Christmas, ~v'& other people are
giving, other people are observing Christmas, it is in the air, advertistr~ k encouraging you,
every shop is begging you to buy something to give as a Christmas present. Yes. If you just
go along with that, it isn't exactly dana paramita. That is a little habit one could well break.
Develop the more positive or skillful habit of giving one's presents in connection with Wesak
ds 4 ~7.
______________ It seems important that when we give we actually feel generous, or we feel
S:That is important, but I think we mustn't forget the needs of the per person to whom we are
giving.~~~is most important&that he should get what he needsLtha~ you should feel good
giving it. Do you see what I mean ? Yes I think If one gives, well~ one need not bother too
much about the feeling, the~must be some feeling there, presumably but some people won't
and they don't want to give until they really feel an absolutely uncontrollable urge to give,
meanwhile the wretched person that they were thinking of giving to might be either dying of
starvation or freezing with cold or whatever. I think, oh yes you should have a genuine feeling
to give but you should be very careful that you don't attach too much importance in
connection with dana ~ feeling really good about giving. I mean in a sense who careS how
you feel the important thing is that the deed should be done, the gift should be given. 0 e
mustn't be too unduely subjective in ones approach. It is like the doctor, a doctor might get up
one morning, might feel in a really grumpy mood, not feel like helping humanity at all, but
does that mean he should not go into his surgery , not attend to his patients ?
One thing that this whole chapter seems to be getting at in a way one could say is that
in a sense there shouldn't be a sort of sep- arate specifically religious life, labelled as such.
I've mentioned before a criticism by the Egyptians of the Greeks ,~< one of the criticisms they
had many criticisms of the Greeks, they didn't have much respect for the Greeks at all because
they weren't the ancient Greeks in those days, they were the very young (~e~ "~\~~r~ sort of
Greeks7~ one of their criticisms was that the Greeks had gymnasia , do you remember my
mentioning this. So why did they think it a weakness that the Greeks had such things as
Gymnasia ?
: Well in the course of your everyday life you were not getting sufficient excercise.
S: Well exactly. So you had to set aside a separate establishment in an entirely artificial
manner you had to go and take excercise because you were living in a basically unhealthy
unbalanced way. This was the Egyptian view. So I could say in the same way there should
not be a separate religious life~ a religious life separate from the rest of ~0~T life there
shouldn't be specifically religious acts, your whole life should be an em bodiment of
skilfuness, dana, giving shouldn't be
ds 4 S(ctd): the sort of a way you act in a hightly self conscious manner on special occasions. It
should be something quite natural to you which you are doing all the time, without thinking
about it, as a flower blooms without thinking about it presumably. Not that you are of course
unconscious, unaware as a flower is, but you don't think very much in a way of what you are
doing, of your so called generosity, it is not the practising a paramita, it is just you being
yourself. You are doing what seems a perfectly natural, simple straightforward sort of thing;
someone hasn't got any money, you have got some, you give them some, well, there is no
great deal in that, nothing very special, you have got, he hasn't got, of course you share it,
you don't think in terms of yourself being a great Bodhisattva practi ing a great virtue or
paramita. So ...

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