July 25, 2013

Chapter 17A: How the Buddha Didn’t and Did Become Emancipated –– THE DIAMOND SUTRA

    Subhuti said once again to the World-Honored One, “How is it that especially fine individuals who hold the aspiration to perfect enlightenment should conduct themselves? What should they be practicing and how are they supposed to handle their minds?”

    The Buddha responded and said, “Subhuti! Fine individuals who aspire to perfect enlightenment, who are wondering what might be the best way to handle themselves, are going to need to establish this way of thinking: 'I shall lead all beings, bringing them to perfect salvation! And as I lead them thus, I shall know that there really isn’t anyone who is being brought to perfect salvation!’

    “Now Subhuti! Tell me why each person aspiring to enlightenment would need to establish such a way of thinking? Well, they wouldn’t be bodhisattvas if they thought there were actually selves existing, beings who are being someone, or eternal personages who seem to digress or become emancipated into higher levels of being!

    “Why do I prod you again on this? Do you think that emancipation is an experience that people go through? Anybody who thinks that is no bodhisattva.

    “So think, Subhuti! It is generally held that I received teaching from the inconceivably dynamic, transcendent-yet-appearing individual, the Buddha Source of Light, and that by following his teaching I attained total and perfect enlightenment—correct?”

    “It is so believed. But according to what you have taught us, World-Honored One, that isn’t how this works. There is no teaching by which receiving or following it one can attain unsurpassed perfect enlightenment.”

    “Yes, Subhuti. That idea that spiritual realization is an actualization of special teachings, that doesn't happen.

   “Had I been holding an idea of establishing enlightenment, then Buddha Source of Light, wouldn’t have prophesied my enlightenment, saying that, ‘In the future you shall become Shakyamuni, a fully enlightened buddha.'

    “So here I am, Shakyamuni Buddha, the fully realized transcendent-yet-appearing individual—which implies I see things as they are in their actuality! People like me never bother imagining that ideas created about processes or states of realization were in themselves actualities.

    “Subhuti! Being a transcendent-yet-appearing individuality (a tathagata) means to see things as they are. Tathagatas are people who are especially acquainted with That Which Is Not Created. A tathagata knows that conceptualities about phenomena never explain what they are. Tathagatas are familiar with the Uncreated Nature behind the myriad objects appearing as our world. To know this Uncreated Nature is to know how things are."

        "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