Sunday, May 17, 2009

Diamond Sutra: Chapters 17-20

The Diamond Sutra: The Perfection of Wisdom The Diamond Sutra
by Red Pine

Chapter 17

Hui-neng says, "If there is no self at all, how can there be others? But in order to liberate people, we establish a provisional self. Thus follows a chapter on ultimate selflessness." (Red Pine p. 286)

I like that, "provisional self." That self only exists when we stop to ponder it. Always in motion, all the pieces of this 'self' are unfocused until brought to bear. Right now, this self-bundle remembers, thinks, types. But you, the reader, relate only to a past self-bundle that related these words. It is like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

Tao-yuan says, "What follows discusses how we should begin our journey on the road of practice--practice that depends on our understanding of what has gone before and that does not begin until we have achieved such understanding. The words here are the same, but the meaning is different." (Red Pine p. 287)

Conze dismisses these chapters as repetitions. Red Pine takes them more in the manner of Tao-yuan. As a practitioner, I ask, "What does it matter?" At my temple, for years as part of our meal verse we recited, "In the beginning the mallet strikes the Buddha on the foot. At the end it strikes the Buddha on the head." (or something like that) When the Soto-shu English translations became available, we learned these were liner notes...instructions on how to chant the meal verse, and where to strike wood on wood, and we weren't actually supposed to recite them. Yet over the years, some people had found profound meaning in those instructions. Ironic or a cosmic joke? Or Dharma?

Sheng-yi says, "When controlling our thoughts is discussed in the first half of the sutra, it means controlling thoughts that involve attachment to a self. When this is discussed in the second half, it means controlling thoughts that involve attachment to a teaching. If a bodhisattva falls in love with a teaching, this a bodhisattva's worst folly."

Huang-po says, "Buddhas and beings share the same identical mind. It's like space: it doesn't contain anything and isn't affected by anything. ...Here, the buddha says to save all beings in order to get rid of the delusion of liberation so that we can see our true nature." (Red Pine p. 288)

In the beginning we seek to be like the Buddha. We get somewhere with that, we gain understanding in the provisional nature of the self. At some point we have to give up the notion of the buddha looking a certain way, or that the buddha is anything other than a human being. The multiplicity becomes apparent, as does the not-two-ness of our 'identical mind.'

But what, after all, is liberated? As the Sanskrit makes clear here, bodhisattvas must be free of yavat pudgala-sanjna (even the perception of a soul), even the perception of an entity subject to liberation from rebirth. (Red Pine p. 289)

Perceptions are still perceptions, even if of liberation and buddhahood.

Hui-neng says, "By the 'reality' of all dharmas, the Buddha is referring to the ability to discriminate with skill among the six sensations of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and thought while remaining unperturbed, unaffected, unattached, unchanged, immovable as space, perfectly clear, and existing for kalpas. This is the meaning of the 'reality' of all dharmas." (Red Pine p. 298)

Clarity and calm, understanding while remaining unperturbed.

Thich Nhat Hanh says, "If those who teach Buddhism in the West keep in mind that all dharmas are Buddhadharma, they will not feel like a drop of oil in a glass of water. If you practice in exactly the same way we practice in Vietnam, Tibet, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Japan, or Korea, the oil drops will always remain separate from the water." (Red Pine p. 300)

Could be that has something to do with this.

And there is no such dharma as a bodhi-sattva (enlightened being), because there is no such dharma as a sattva (being). And there is no being because no being or any other dharma comes into existence. This is how bodhisattvas control their thoughts. (Red Pine p. 303)

What we think of as coming into existence is the wrapping of identity around karma.

Hui-neng says, "If bodhisattvas say, 'I can create a world,' they're not bodhisattvas. Although they create worlds, if they think about a subject or object, they are not bodhisattvas. On the other hand, even if they zealously create worlds, as long as they don't give birth to thoughts of a subject or object, they're called bodhisattvas." (Red Pine p. 305)

There is no plan to the plan. It is just meeting each moment with what is needed, this is to create worlds without giving birth to thoughts of subject or object.

Chapter 18

Seeing that all dharmas are empty and without any self-nature is not enough. The only way bodhisattvas can liberate other beings is by making use of the very selfless dharmas to which beings are attached. Thus, the Buddha introduces us to the dharma eye and the buddha eye. (Red Pine p. 309)

from notes, Red Pine and from class:
physical eye --> sensory world; sees outside, not inside; world of dukkha; 1st watch under the Bodhi tree
divine (deva) eye --> internal world; therapists' eye; sees how past lives affect the current, how karmic knots entangle and unentangle; 2nd watch under the Bodhi tree
prajna eye --> world of emptiness; end of suffering; nirvana/cessation; 3rd watch under the Bodhi tree
dharma eye --> myriad possibilities; upaya/skillful means/appropriate response eye; 4th watch under the Bodhi tree
buddha eye --> prajna and dharma eye merge; integrated eye; not attached to a particular view, not concerned with being a teacher, liberator, or emptiness; no attachment, flow without opposition

Closely related to the 5 ranks.

Chapter 19

Chi-fo says, "This is the sixth time the Buddha has mentioned an offering of the seven jewels.... And in this chapter, he says making an offering of the seven jewels does not compare with detachment from form, for attachment to form creates a karmic seed that can never produce a non-karmic fruit." (Red Pine p. 323)

The Buddha uses the conditional sacet abhavishyat (if their were) to stress the non-existence of the body of merit in order to accentuate the fearlessness of the bodhisattva's use of the dharma eye. Whereas the prajna eye sees only non-existence, the dharma eye sees connections, in this case a non-existing body of merit's connections with liberation. The Buddha speaks of what doesn't exist because what doesn't exist obstructs our path to enlightenment. (Red Pine pp. 325-6)

Let go, let go let go let go, let go. Why be obstructed by something that doesn't exist? ha!

Chapter 20

Hui-neng says, "If you only care about the Tathagata's thirty-two attributes and don't cultivate the thirty-two pure practices within yourself, it is not the perfectly developed physical body. Whereas, if you don't care about the Tathagata's body but are able to observe the pure practices, this is called realizing the perfectly developed physical body." (Red Pine pp. 329-30)

Tao-ch'uan says, "Officially, there's not enough room for a needle, Privately, carts and horses are able to pass through. My song goes: 'Please look up and see the sky/ far and wide and without tracks/ turn your body around a bit/ everything is right before you.'" (Red Pine pp. 335-6)

So simple and so close. And yet so difficult to find because we keep trying to look.

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