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Diamond Sutra - Part 9 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

DS9. 1 6 1 it's
~~ ~~ &
..S: (cont.) like if you do exercise and you re rewarded for that by an increase of your
muscles. Do you see what I mean ? It's not a reward, it's the natural result with which you
are left - you are changed, you are different, your muscles are bigger. So in the same way, if
you perform skilful actions that changes you, it modifies your being, you are left with some
positive gain, and that positive gain is what we call merit, punya. You become a more
positive person, a better person. One can look at it in that way too.
Greg Harman: It does seem that er, through, um this word merit seems to be like that. I mean
if you give um ... sometking in return ...
S:
Well, in a sense there is a return in the sense that there is a result, there is a positive
result, something does ~cc~to you, your actions do affect you, they rebound upon you, so
something rebounds to you, to your credit. Obviously one shouldn't think too much in these
terms - some Buddhists do. They're keen on their merit. Bhikkhus as potential sources of
merit, provided they're good bhikkhus. Some laymen in some Buddhist countries seem to
regard bhikkhus as sort of merit-making machines. Put a penny or
a rupee in the slot, and out comes the packet of merit. (laughter) __________: I've heard that
somewhere they sold their merit.
S:
Yes, that's true. That is an incident mentioned in the 'Survey' , where a Jain - not a
Buddhist - a Jain ascetic, who practised asceticism for many years, then decided he wasn't
going to continue the spiritual life, but he'd accumulated a lot of merit, so he sold it to another
ascetic (laughter) and with the proceeds he set himself up in business (laughter). I actually
heard this story in India. (pause) The Jains are even more literalistic than are the
~ra~mins,(~~ some ~~~\v~~~~L ~s~ou\&~?~. It's not perhaps beside the point that Bhagavan
Rajneesh was born and brought up as a Jain .. (unclear) ... ~e's possibly still reacting
against his faith. (pause)
Vessantara:
The popular version of this idea of merit seems to leave aside the state of mind
with which you actually perform the action.
S: Yes.
Yes, it seems to be regarded as an almost mechanical
process.
(pause) There's a curious conception which I've never
I~~.
S:
(cont.) been able to investigate. I've heard of it in, I think it must be in
popular Theravada, of the punyadevata: the merit-god. There's a sort of punyadevata
hovering over you. I remember my friend Sangharatna referring to the punyadevata, every
now and then. I don't know whether it's a canonical conception, I rather doubt it. But the
concept of your merit as calling into being a sort of punyadevata.
_________: An individual ...
S:
Apparently an individual one~a sort of guardian angel, because he protects you.
I've not had the opportunity of investigating all this. (pause)
~~~~~&: It's a sort of poetic idea, i~£ ~o~-. -
S:
Yes, indeed, yes. But you know, the Theravadins are really good at spoiling poetry
by taking everything literally (laughter).
Subhuti:
What about the last, "And why ? For ...", why does that arise, in fact
S:
The last sentence ? That seems very inconsequential indeed, doesn't it ?
Subhuti:
Yes, yes.
S:
"And why ? Because from it has issued the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment
of the Tathagatas ... and from it have issued the Buddhas, the Lords." That's fair enough.
"And why? For the Tathagata has taught that the ~harmas special to the Buddhas are not just
a Buddha's special dharmas. That is why they are called 'the dharmas special to the Buddhas'
" It seems a complete inconsequentiality there. Perhaps there is some thread of spiritual
connection ? (Yes) they're called 'Buddhadharmas', these special attributes of the Buddha,
mm ? ( ~harma \'erc
the Buddha, a~~~~ts ~~~~~
Vessantara:
Seems to be almost a sort of common Perfection of Wisdom version of the
syllogism, seems to be a sort of 'A is not A, therefore it's A'
S: Mm
(pause)
Subhuti:
Something else is suggested by this. Conze heads this
section, 'the Dharmabody as the result of merit'.
~sc'.
t~3.
S:
Yes, yes, I noticed that
Subhuti:
I'll just, just, it just occurred to me
S:
... quite beside the point.
Subhuti:
Unless, unless what he's
S:
... (unclear) beside the point.
Subhuti:
Unless what he's taken it to be is sort of the special dharmas of a Buddha, are,
a~it were his, the attributes of a Buddha are the sort of consequences of, of the merit of the
Buddha, in some sense.
S:
The Dharmabody in the sense of the Dharmakaya cannot be the result of merit ( as we
saw in previous sections ). The Dharmabody can only be the result of prajna. Perhaps he
regards these eighteen Buddhadharmas as makinup the sort of Dharmakaya, which could be
the connection~aL~ produced by Prajnaparamita
(pause).
is of course somewhat confused rather than 'I
clarified by saying that o~e, the aharmas special to the Buddhas III
" is why
they arQ~not the Buddha's special dharmas, and that~,,That
are called the'dharmas special to the Buddhas'. It could be that there's some sort of
conception sort of~limmering in the background, jRtBuddha's eighteen special dharmas as
being the result, being the product, being the outcome of the Prajnaparamita which he has
realised~ ~kis e~lightenment.
: Seems like a more subtle form of the thirty-two marks.
S:
Mm, yes~a~~C~\~\&t a4~~
(That they~~egat~~~ .~
S:
Transcendental counterpart. The thirty-two marks are the product of punya, but these
eighteen attributes presumably are the product of prajna. (pause)
~s9.
164 Side two.
S:
If someone would like to read 3a. "The Four Great Saints" down to the end of 3b.
"The Bodhisattva's thought of Enlightenment"
3.
THE RANGE OP THE SPIRITUAL LIFE
so far about the first eight chapters. In chapters 9 to 12, the orchestra plays the same tune once
again, but with some variations and in a different key. The Sutra ffrst considers (3a) the four
great, or main, Saints of the Hinayana (chapter 9), and after that the Mahayanistic Bodhisattva
first (3b) at the beginnir~g of hi~ career (chapter ica), then (3c) near i;ts end (chapter lob),
and finally (3d) at its very end (chapter ioc). This again, as in chaPters 6 to 8, leads us to the
Dharmabody (chapter ioc), and to the merit with which that is bound up (chapter ii, 12).
~.
The four Great Sai?sis
Chapter 7 already referred to 'the saintly persons', and claimed that they have all gone beyond
karmic coefficients and the distinctions of conditioned life. Elsewhere, however, the
Scriptures tell us that Streamwiuners, etc., obtain a distinctive fruit of their conduct. How can
this contradiction be resolved? The answer lies in the statement, also found in chapter 7, that
no dharma can be grasped or expressed in words. - In conse~uence none of the saints can
grasp a fruit as his own. For the true nature of any object a Saint could obtain is
unconditioned emptiness, and the assumption of a separate subject, or 'self', as the partaker or
owner of the fruit, would alsO be clearly erroneous.
9a.
The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, does it occur to the Streamwinner, 'by
me has the fruit of a Streamwinner been aflained'? Subhuti replied : No indeed, o Lord. And
why? Because, 0 Lord, he has not won any dharma. Therefore is he cailed a Stream-winner.
No sight-object has been won, no sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, or objects of mind. That
is why he Is called a 'Streamwinner'. If, 0 Lord, it would occur to a Stream- winner, 'by me
has a Streamwinner's fruit been attained', then that would be in him a seizing on a self, seizing
on a being, seizing on a soul, seizing on a person-9b. The Lord asked: What do you think,
Subhuti, does it then occur to the Once-Returner, 'by me has the fruit of a Once-Returner been
atttined'?-Subhuti replied: No indeed, 0 Lord. And why? Because there is not any dharma that
has won Once-Returnership. That is why he is called a 'Onco-Returner'.-9c. The Lord asked:
What do you think, Subhuti, does it then occur to the Never- Returner 'by me has the fruit of a
Never-Returner been attained' ?-5ubhuti replied: No indeed, 0 Lord. And why? - flecause
there is not any dharma that has won Never Retuftership. Therefore is he called a
'Never-Returner'. -9d. The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, does it then occur to the
Arhat, 'by me has Arhatship been attained'?-Subhuti: No indeed, 0 Lord. And why? Because
no dharma is called 'Arhat'. That is why he is called an Arhat. If, 0 Lord, it would occur to an
Arhat, 'by me has Arhatship been attained', then that would be in him a seizing on a self,
seizing on a being, seizing on a
soul, sei::~in~g o% a person.-9e. And w~hY? t am,~o tord, ~S¶.
the one whom the
Tathagata, the Arhat, the Fully En- - t ~ 5. lightened One has pointed out as the foremost of
those who dwell in Peace. I am, 0 Lord, an Arhat free from
greed. And yet, 0 Lord, it
does not occur to me, 'an Arhat
am I and free from greed'. If, 0 Lord, ...

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