January 3, 2014

Chapter 13: The Lowdown on Perfection of Wisdom Teachings Like The Diamond Teaching ––THE DIAMOND SUTRA

    “World-Honored One! What would you like us to call this teaching you’re giving us? And do you have any suggestions as to how best we can expound it?”

    “Sure, Subhuti! This is in a category of the highest type of teaching, a perfection of wisdom teaching—a final word on how things be. The best way to try to comprehend this kind of teaching is to study it with a goal of trying to uncover just why teachings like these are called 'perfection of wisdom teachings.'

    “Now, regarding this particular perfection of wisdom teaching, why don’t you call it The Diamond Teaching! Because in order to understand a perfection of wisdom teaching like this you're going to need to be able to cut through all ideas, including any that resemble perfect wisdom!

    “So Subhuti! Does the Awakened One have a teaching that he tries to impart?”

    Subhuti responded, “No, World-Honored One, you aren't trying to impart a teaching.”

    “Subhuti! Would you say there are an enormous number of particles in a quadrillion-world universe?”

    Subhuti answered, “Yes, World-Honored One, there certainly are a humongous number of particles in a quadrillion-world universe, though you would say that what seems to be going on, in the sense that there are particles, isn't really happening. You would also say a quadrillion-world universe, although known to be a quadrillion-world universe, isn't one."

    The Buddha then spoke, “Can you identify someone to be an awakened individual by noting that they are distinguished by thirty-two buddha-characteristics?”

    “No, World-Honored One. You can’t be certain someone is an awakened individual just because you see that they have the thirty-two buddha-characteristics. That would be a false conclusion to make, because when it comes to those thirty-two characteristics that identify an awakened individual—those aren’t characteristics. They are, however, known as the characteristics of awakened individuals.”

    “Subhuti! Let’s say that a fine person gave up all he had so to benefit beings, repeating this in lifetime after lifetime for as many eons as there are particles in the mud of the Ganges riverbed. If there was someone who, on the other hand, was able to begin to understand this teaching and then tried to help someone else to ascertain the meaning of a few lines of it, the results for this person would be outrageously, immeasurably better!"

        "The Diamond Teaching"  (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
                tr. by Sol Ta Triane
                Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
                Recorded by the disciple, Ananda  

(this chapter was originally published at the Dog Zen Koans, 4-19-2012)