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Diamond Sutra - Part 8 Unchecked

by Sangharakshita

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

seem that certain masters have the ability to spark off a I 14 1. large number of people rather
than not even just one, but others seem to have been able to spark off only a few. ~ seem
quite difficult to understand that. Its almost that they come in waves. Are some masters more
enlightened than others? Are some Buddhas more Buddha-like than others? Are some
Bodhisattvas more skilfull in their use of skilfull means? Of course there are Bodhisattvas of
different status but... Maybe sometimes circumstances do help or hinder aL mate.
When the FWBO was started some people came along to us "~ ,~~t~~. because we looked a
bit hippy-like,cr~\L~£~ they could seeL~f we had not looked a bit hippy-like maybe they
would not have come along to us. If we had been solidly identified with asceticism and
puritanism and middle-class value perhaps they would not have come. Perhaps they
were~~rong in identifying us with hippidom, as certain other people were in identifying
Buddhism with ouritanism and asceticism. But at least that identification although mistaken,
enabled them to come along and make contact with us.
___________ So is:~it perhaps that with enlightened teachers they perhaps, there is some
particular quality which they do posses which does~actually go attracting people ;~ ~a~
~When people, you could posses qualities which woul~, what ~ &o i~ actually
possess a quite large range of qualities which would attract people from different spheres.
That doesn't help because then people think that you are inconsistent. Well you are
behaving in one way with some people, another way with 50T~~~ ~e~~~eeple~ p~le don't
__ know where they stand with y. ~'~ tw,-c~~~ s~a'A£ ~~~ ) o' ~hat you aedefiniely
0'- following a devotional line ,~ that you are definitely following ~~
intellectual line, you are definitely ascetic, or definitely hedonistic It confuses them if you are
now this and now that~ one thing at one time and another thing at another time. So in a way
you cannot but~ to some extent ~have a sort of
narrow range of appeal it would seem. Do you see what I mean? You can't win, but on the
other hand you have to; perhaps we should leave it there.
We got as far as chapter 7 so would someone read that
and the following comments right down to but not including 2dc.
2db. The Dharmabody as the res~tt of Gnosis
The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, is there any dharma which the Tathagata
has fully known as 'the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment', or is there any dharma which
the Tathagata has demonstrated ?- Subhuti replied: No, not as I understand what the Lord has
said. And why? This dharma which the Tathagata has fully known or demonstrated-it cannot
be grasped, it cannot be talked about, it is neither a dharma nor a no-dharma. And why?
Because an Absolute exalts the Holy Persons.
Mahayanists are fond of saying that the Buddha's enlighten- ment is not a real fact,
and that likewise the Dharma preached by the Buddha should not be misunderstood as a
definite teaching of definite facts. In the large Praj~a~paramita~ S~fras the theme of this
chapter has been treated at much greater length. A few parallels from the 'Version in 8,000Lines' may throw light on it, and - show the connection with the basic doctrines of (I) the
markiessness of all things, of (z) their emptiness, and (3) of their Suchness.
A viii 192 Subhuti asks: 'All dharmas have therefore really not been fully known by the
Tathagata?' The Lord replies: 'It is just through their own essential nature that those dharmas
are not something definite. Their true nature is a nonature, and their nonature is their true
nature; for all dharmas have one mark only, i.e. no mark. It is for this reason that all dharmas
have really not been fully known by the Tathagata. For there are not two natures of dharma,
but just one single is the nature of all dharmas. And the true nature of all dharmas is a
nonature, and their no-nature is their true nature. It is thus that all points of possible
attachment are abandoned.' (2) As for emptiness, we have A xvi 313-14. Subhuti asks: 'How
can the Lord say that full enlightenment is hard to win, exceedingly hard to win, when there is
no one who can possibly win it? For, owing to the - emp~tiness of ~all~ dha?inas, no dharma
ex~~ts~tha~ would be capable of winning enlightenment. If all dharmas are empty, then also
that dharma cannot exist which, as a result of the demonstration of Dharma, we are meant to
forsake. And also that dharma which would, or should, be enlightened in full enlightenment,
and that which would, or should, cognize (the utmost reality) -all these dharmas are empty. In
this manner I am inclined to think that full enlightenment is easy to win, not hard to win.' The
Lord replies: 'Full enlightenment is indeed hard to win, because (for lack of a cause) it cannot
possibly come about, because in reality it cannot take place, because it offers no foothold to
discrimination, and because it does not lend itself
to the fabrication of fictitious appearances.' (3) The connection -with Suchness is explained at
A xxvii 453, where Subhuti asks:
I ~~
'If, 0 Lord, outside Suchness no separate dharma can be - - apprehended, then what is that
dharma that will stand firmly in Suchness, or that will know this full enlightenment, or that
will demonstrate this dharma?' And the Lord replies: 'Outside Suchness no separate dharma
can be apprehended, that could stand firmly in Suchness. The very Suchness, to begin with,
cannot be apprehended, how much less that which can stand firmly in it. Suchness does not
know full enlightenment and on the dharmic plane no one can be found who has either known
full enlightenment, will know it, or does know it. Suchness does not demonstrate dharma, and
on the dilanmic plane no one can be found who could demonstrate it.' These three quotations
should suffice to make the teaching perfectly clear. This dharma, i.e. the ultimate reality, in
both its objective and subjective form, cannot be grasped, i.e. at the time when it is heard one
cannot seize upon it as either a dharma or a n~dharma. It cannot be talked about, i.e. at the
time when it is preached, one must remain aware that the talk aims at something so high and
transcendental that words cannot ever reach it. It is not a dharma, not a separate thing
accessible to discriminative thought. It is not a no-dharma, it is not the negation of a dharma.
Psychologically, a negation gives sense only when warding off an attempted affirmation.
Where there is no temptation to make positive statements, negations likewise lose their
meaning. In other words, dharmas, as strictly empty, cannot_even be denied.
-- The last
sentence of the ~ha~pter fittingly concludes this argument by indicating the conclusive reason
behind it, i.e. the fact that 'this Dharma which the Tathagata has fully known and
demonstrated' is the ultimate and unconditioned reality. Because an Absolute exalts the Holy
Persons. The Sanskrit defies translation, and reads: asamsk~prabhavita hy aiya- pudg~a.
The Holy Persons are traditionally eight, i.e. Streamwinners, Once-Returners,
Never-Returners and Arhats (see chapter 9), each one considered either at the moment of
entering on his 'Path', or at that of reaping his 'Fruit'. They are called 'holy' in contradistinction
to the 'foolish common people', about whom more will be heard at chapter 25 and 3ob.
Buddhist tradition, in fact, distinguishes two classes of people, the 'common world- lings' and
the 'saints' (a~ya), who occupy two distinct planes of existence, respectively known as the
'worldly' and the 'supra- mundane'. The saints alone are truly alive, while the worldlings just
vegetate along in a sort of dull and aimless bewilderment. Not content with being born in the
normal way, the saints have undergone a spiritual rebirth, which is technically known as the
'winning of the Path'. In other words, they have detached themse~lves from conditioned
things to such an extent that they can now effectively turn to the Path which leads to Nirvana.
Only they can really be said to 'tread the path' in any proper sense of the term. The worldling's
vision of Nirvana is obstructed by the things of the world which he takes far too seriously.
Through prolong--e~~~~d~:neditation he c~a~n~~~~ho~~w~e~v~er~ rea6h a state
W'4 where, each time a worldly object rises up in front of him, he rejects it wholeheartedly as
a mere hindrance or nuisance. Once this aversion has become an ingrained habit, he can at
last take Nirvana, the unconditioned, for his object, 'he ceases to belong to the common
people', and 'becomes one of the family of the Aryans'. So Buddhaghosa, who explains the
situation in great detail and with admirable lucidity in chapters 21 and 22 of his Path of
Pi'rsftcation. Thereafter the disciple is less and less impelled by the motives of ordinary
people like us, i.e. by motives which are a compound of self-interest and a niisguided belief in
the reality of sensory things, and which contain a strong dosage of greed, hate and
delusion._The contrast with the vision of Nirvana reveals the ins%giuficance and triviality &f
all these worldly concerns, and Nirvana itself increasingly becomes the motivating force
behind whatever is done. In this way the Unconditioned ...

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