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Transcribing the oral tradition...

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Diamond Sutra - Part 6 Unchecked

by Sangharakshita

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

from home into the homeless life he would become a Buddha and if he didn't he would
become a universal monarch. So what does this suggest to one, to go into this a little bit.
Doesn't it at f~t sight seem an extraordinary thing that to someome as spiritually gifted as the
Buddha, the two possib'~i't~kS should be open? That if he wasn't to become a Buddha he
become a Chakravartin raja, doesn't that suggest that the Chakravartin 6 raja is the next higest thing to a Buddha? The Chaktavartin raja
is a ruler and he's if you like a politician. He's concerned with the external world, with
society, with the state, doesn't that seem rather strange? You might have thought and you
(~~O~u~~r~ if someone doesn't becoxtie spiritually enlightened well perhaps they become a
great poet or a great novelist instead, or a great painter or musician. But you'd hardly think of
he didn't become enlightened he'd become the prime minister of his country instead, because
one doesn't think of that sort of function as standing in very close relation to spiritual
~ightenment . So what do you think of this sort of close association of EnlightenmeflL and
universal rulership, being a~~~~~ and Chakravatin)raj a~
Dhirananda: In both cases he's leading mankind.
Yes in both cases he's concerned with mankind; as a Buddha he's more
concerned or predominantly concerned with inciting each individual to make an individual
spiritual effort; but~a Chakravatin~aja~~~ course encourages the observance of the 10 kusala
dharmas is more concerned with the setting up of the helpful external conditions. It's as
though its very difficult to do both. In that respect the Chakravatinraja functions very much
like a ~~'nv except that the ~~~V comes at the beginning of things and lays doun the
original basis for society: He's the primeval law giver. It's as though the Chakravatinraja
keeps the whole thing going, keeps that sort of system going, maintains it in a pro er working
order. You could in a way ,,,,,
'~~- say ,- this is an ideaL that in~ heMahayana the con
ception of Amitabha and his pure land sort of reconciles the two. That he is a Buddha and he
sets up an ideal situation, a pure land and within the conext of that pure land, he himself
teaches the Dharma. It's almost as if the tw~ figures of the Buddha
and theC6akravatinraja have been fused , have been bought together &
I O~
on a perhaps higher level. And of course in Tibet quite consciously they have tried to bring
together the two ideals in the so-called theocracy of Tibet and it's interesting that in iconic
represen- tations of the Dala L~~s they are represented holding a golden ~
They are
Bodhisattvas representing wheel,,,of the
the Buddha yet at the same time they are Chakravatinrajas. Again the two have come
together. Anyway that does represent a bit of a digression doesn't it, because there is still this
question that you can't recognise a Buddha from his marks. Well put it this way, the Buddha
is more than simply the possessor
of those marks There is something in the idea if you like, 6 usc C 'fbc~~- the conceptkof
Buddhahood which is not fully expressed or
conveyed or communicated by those 32 marks. The 32 marks don't say anything about
Wisdom or Compassion do they? Not that I remember, they are quite external, they're
bodily,,,though it may be bodily in a subtle rather than a gross material sense. Other great
people may possess some at least of thostmarks. Itthink, I don't remember, I think in certain
later traditions or elaborations great disciples are said to possesss ,,,~any of these marks and
eVen Arahants so many of these marks, do you see what I mean? But perhaps~we can
approach it in a more simple everyday way, via say our knowledge of other human beings.
Supposing you ask about somebody, supposing you want to know about him, find out about
M4.#t "'~ ~ him,(his readiness or rina ion.
So suppose you ask about him, and you're told, well he's six foot tall, he's fair haired. he's 32years of age, he's got a mole on his right shoulder. Would that tell you very much about him,
',,;0uld it? That he had bright blue eyes and an agreeable smile, would that really tell you
very much about him! Would you really get, so to speak, to the essence of that person, get to
his inner nature, get to his inner character? So perhaps one can think of not ever being able to
recognise the Buddha by the possession of his marks to begin with, in that rather simple
common-sense sort of way. You can't even know an ordinary human being by his marks,
humble though his marks may be.
I think you can tell to a certain degree in that people do shape themselves, but
it's more like an indication.
But has one never been deceived? Someone might have an
honest smiling sort of face and you might feel you can really trust them, but they turn out to
be an absolute, well card-. sharp, swindler, cheat etc. You are taken in. And in any case can
you fathom the depth without really knowing them by intimate acquaintance? There's so
much, so to speak, in the concept of Buddhahood which cannot be adequately expressed by
means of any amount of external marks or bodily signs. So as a result o~ his (good) actions
in previous lives the Buddha may well be equipped with all these extraordinary featu~. But
though they can convey to ypu that he has practised the five paramitas do they really give any
hint of the Wisdom, the Prajna, the Mahaprajna, the Mahakaruna in the possession of which
the Buddha essentually consists, do they give one any adequate idea of that? Conze
distinguishes I've said, rather sharply between what is seen by the eye of Faith, i.e. the
Buddha as possessing marks, and what is seen by ~eans of wisdom: That is to say the
Buddha as not possessing these marks, the Buddha
Dharma . But it does occur to me, I mean Conze implicitly contrasts popular faith
with Wisdom in the true sense, so one could say that both faith and Wisdom can be looked at
in that sort of way. You could a aith which a sort of unsophis- ticated belief in Buddhas
and Bodhisattvas and believes~that they are sort of supernormal beings and if you pray to
them you'll
get blessings etc. And t~re's also faith
e emotional %-%'& ~b£~\h~ ~~ counterpa'-'- of
wisdom,~~ L ~~hAL scholastic
Abhidharma sense of an intellectual understanding and Wisdom in the higher sense of a
direct, as it were intu tive perception of the truth of things. So it isn't really fair to sort of
play off faith)Ln the popular sense against wisdom in the more philosophical sense, ~o
yo.%~~~~~.~~hat I mean? And this is what Conze appears to d~~ "~~"'t"h'~ is not always
just popular devotion and wisdom is not always the actual transcendental faculty of that
Shantiprabha: You gave quite a food definition of faith in 'The Survey' - I think 1ou were
quoting, is it Phillip Erfan or Phillip Ifan - I can't remember exactly the quote but it was
Yes, he quotes from Shin man I think, the Shin - Jodo Shin Chu tradition that faith is
an instant of egolessness - yes. And there you know here clearly fait\' is the emotional
1 04,
of wisdom. While we1re on this subject of this bit say devotion and faith, one notices this in
the case of the Buddhism of Ceylon. One notices that the monks are very often scholarly
learned people with quite well developed minds, but they're also a bit sceptical and they don't
have much faith and devotion and they're not spiritually developed. On the other hand all the
lay people have got lots of faith, including faith in the Bhikkhus~but it's faith of the popular
variety and very easily extends over in the direction of Hindu/Muslim goddesses as well. Do
you see what I mean? In the Buddhism of Ceylon we ve got learning on the one hand,
learning as represented by the ~~kkhus and this popular faith and devotion of a not very
profound type as represented by the lay people. Well what you really need is to bring the two
together and I think that the Mahayana generally wth perhaps the help of the Vajryana does
that much more succesfully, largely with the help of the Bodhisattva Ideal.
Is it not the case that Nagarjuna apart from writing some of the Prajnaparamita
also wrote quite a lot of stuff for the faith schools.
Well, this is true, he is credited with the authorship of certain hymns but even that I
would say is not enough, not that you must be, you know, as it were having intellectual
responses, on the one hand and deVotional responses on the other, The two must be ~ught
together. I think Shantideva does that much more successfully~ and Milarepa does it in his
songs; there's great faith and devotion with great wisdom. One gets this sort of
combination of qualities in a rather different sort of way in the Vimilakirti Nirdesa Sutra.
Where there's a very strong emotional content, archetypal content,~us~very lofty~ ene
hesitates to call it intellectual or even cognitive, we don't really have a term, you might say
gnostic element.
Do you feel that Nargajuna was unsuccessful in bringing those two together~
Well if he was the author of those hymns, and it's not certain that he was, but if he was
the author of those ...

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