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Diamond Sūtra Discussion

Leaving appearances: Nirvāṇa 離相寂滅分

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Leaving appearances: Nirvāṇa 離相寂滅


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爾時須菩提聞說解義涕淚悲泣白佛:「希有世尊佛說如是甚深經典所得慧眼未曾如是世尊有人信心清淨實相成就第一希有功德世尊實相則是是故如來名實

At that time, Subhūti, hearing this sūtra being spoken, had a profound understanding of its essential meaning, and burst into tears. He then addressed the Buddha, saying, “How exceptional, Bhagavān, is the Buddha who thus speaks this profound sūtra! Since attaining the Eye of Prajñā, I have never heard such a sūtra! Bhagavān, if there are again people who are able to hear [śrutvā] this sūtra thusly, with a mind of clean and clear belief, giving rise to the true [bhūta] appearance [saṃjñā], then this is a person with the most extraordinary [parameṇa] merits. Bhagavān, the true [bhūta] appearance is not an appearance, and for this reason the Tathāgata speaks of a true appearance [bhāṣatebhūtasaṃjñā].

Sanskrit: atha khalvāyuṣmān subhūtirdharmavegenāśrūṇi prāmuñcat| so'śrūṇi pramṛjya bhagavantametadavocat-āścaryaṃ bhagavan, paramāścaryaṃ sugata, yāvadayaṃ dharmaparyāyastathāgatena bhāṣito'grayānasaṃprasthitānāṃ sattvānāmarthāya, śreṣṭhayānasaṃprasthitānāmarthāya, yato me bhagavan jñānamutpannam| na mayā bhagavan jātvevaṃrūpo dharmaparyāyaḥ śrutapūrvaḥ| parameṇa te bhagavan āścaryeṇa samanvāgatā bodhisattvā bhaviṣyanti, ye iha sūtre bhāṣyamāṇe śrutvā bhūtasaṃjñāmutpādayiṣyanti| tatkasya hetoḥ ? yā caiṣā bhagavan bhūtasaṃjñā, saiva abhūtasaṃjñā| tasmāttathāgato bhāṣatebhūtasaṃjñā bhūtasaṃjñeti||


Comments


Red Pine explains that Subhūti is moved to tears because he only now understands it. (Red Pine 2009, p 225) After Subhūti followed the Buddha he became an Arhat but now he understands the Bodhisattva path.

The Sanskrit compound bhāṣatebhūtasaṃjñā used here is formed from three parts: bhāṣate (he speaks) + bhūta (true) + saṃjñā (appearance). The word bhāṣate is a third person, plural form of the verb with root √bhāṣ (to speak). The Sanskrit word śrutvā is a gerund meaning "having heard'.

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世尊如是經典信解受持不足為難當來後五眾生信解受持第一希有何以無我人相眾生相壽者相所以者何我相即是人相眾生相壽者相即是何以離一切諸相諸佛。」 須菩提:「如是如是有人不畏甚為希有何以須菩提如來第一波羅蜜第一波羅蜜第一波羅蜜

“Bhagavān, being able to hear this sūtra thusly, I do not find it difficult to believe, understand, accept, and maintain it. However, in the next era, five hundred years from now, if there are sentient beings who are able to hear this sūtra and believe, understand, accept, and maintain it, then they will be most extraordinary. Why? This is because such a person has no notions of a self, notions of a person, notions of a being, or notions of a life [jīva]. Why? The appearance of a self is not a true [bhūta] appearance; appearances of a person, a being, and a life [jīva], are also not true [bhūta] appearances. Those who have departed from all appearances are called buddhas.” The Buddha told Subhūti, “Thusly, thusly! If there are again people who are able to hear this sūtra, and are not startled, terrified, or fearful, know that the existence of such a person is extremely rare. Why? Subhūti, this foremost pāramitā [paramapāramitā] that the Tathāgata speaks of is not a foremost pāramitā, and is thus called the foremost pāramitā.

Sanskrit: na mama bhagavan āścaryaṃ yadahamimaṃ dharmaparyāyaṃ bhāṣyamāṇamavakalpayāmi adhimucye| ye'pi te bhagavan sattvā bhaviṣyantyanāgate'dhvani paścime kāle paścime samaye paścimāyāṃ pañcaśatyāṃ saddharmavipralope vartamāne, ye imaṃ bhagavan dharmaparyāyamudgrahīṣyanti dhārayiṣyanti vācayiṣyanti paryavāpsyanti, parebhyaśca vistareṇa saṃprakāśayiṣyanti, te paramāścaryeṇa samanvāgatā bhaviṣyanti| api tu khalu punarbhagavan na teṣāmātmasaṃjñā pravartiṣyate, na sattvasaṃjñā na jīvasaṃjñā na pudgalasaṃjñā pravartiṣyate, nāpi teṣāṃ kācitsaṃjñā nāsaṃjñā pravartate| tatkasya hetoḥ ? yā sā bhagavan ātmasaṃjñā, saivāsaṃjñā| yā sattvasaṃjñā jīvasaṃjñā pudgalasaṃjñā, saivāsaṃjñā| tatkasya hetoḥ ? sarvasaṃjñāpagatā hi buddha bhagavantaḥ||

evamukte bhagavānāyuṣmantaṃ subhūtimetadavocat-evametat subhūte, evametat| paramāścaryasamanvāgatāste sattvā bhaviṣyanti, ye iha subhūte sūtre bhāṣyamāṇe notrasiṣyanti na saṃtrasiṣyanti na saṃtrāsamāpatsyante| tatkasya hetoḥ ? paramapāramiteyaṃ subhūte tathāgatena bhāṣitā yadutāpāramitā| yāṃ ca subhūte tathāgataḥ paramapāramitāṃ bhāṣate, tāmaparimāṇā api buddhā bhagavanto bhāṣante| tenocyante paramapāramiteti||


Comments


In Chapter 6 the Buddha says that 500 years after his passing there will be people that will be able to understand and uphold this sūtra. Here he elaborates.

Hui Neng comments,

During the last 500 years when the end of the Dharma is approaching and the age of sages is in the distant past, all that exists is the teaching of the written word. If someone has a doubt there is nowhere to go to resolve it ... At such a time as this, those who hear this profound sutra and believe it with a pure heart and realise the truth of birthlessness are truly remarkable.
(Red Pine 2009, p 229 quoting Hui Neng Exegesis on the Diamond Sūtra, Manji 0459)


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須菩提忍辱波羅蜜如來忍辱波羅蜜何以須菩提歌利王身體爾時無我無人眾生相壽者相何以往昔節節支解我相人相眾生相壽者相瞋恨須菩提過去五百忍辱仙人無我無人眾生相壽者相

“Subhūti, the Pāramitā of Forbearance [kṣāntipāramitā] that the Tathāgata speaks of is not a pāramitā [apāramitā] of forbearance. Why? Subhūti, this is like in the past when [yadā] my body was cut apart by the Kalirāja: there were no notions of a self, notions of a person, notions of a being, or notions of a life. In the past, when I [tasmin] was being hacked limb [aṅga] from limb, if there were notions of a self, notions of a person, notions of a being, or notions of a life [jīva], then I would have [abhaviṣyat] responded with hatred and anger. Remember also that I was the Ṛṣi of Forbearance for five hundred lifetimes in the past. Over so many lifetimes there were no notions of a self [nātmasaṃjñā], notions of a person [pudgalasaṃjñā], notions of a being [sattvasaṃjñā], or notions of a life [jīvasaṃjñā].

Sanskrit: api tu khalu punaḥ subhute yā tathāgatasya kṣāntipāramitā, saiva apāramitā| tatkasya hetoḥ ? yadā me subhūte kalirājā aṅgapratyaṅgamāṃsānyacchaitsīt, nāsīnme tasmin samaye ātmasaṃjñā vā sattvasaṃjñā vā jīvasaṃjñā vā pudgalasaṃjñā vā, nāpi me kācitsaṃjñā vā asaṃjñā vā babhūva| tatkasya hetoḥ ? sacenme subhūte tasmin samaye ātmasaṃjñā abhaviṣyat, vyāpādasaṃjñāpi me tasmin samaye'bhaviṣyat| sacetsattvasaṃjñā jīvasaṃjñā pudgalasaṃjñābhaviṣyat, vyāpādasaṃjñāpi me tasmin samaye'bhaviṣyat| tatkasya hetoḥ ? abhijānāmyahaṃ subhūte atīte'dhvani pañca jātiśatāni yadahaṃ kṣāntivādī ṛṣirabhūvam| tatrāpi me nātmasaṃjñā babhūva, na sattvasaṃjñā, na jīvasaṃjñā, na pudgalasaṃjñā babhūva|


Comments


Kalirāja or King Kali (Chinese: 歌利王, Sanskrit: kalirājā) was a king that cut Śākyamuni Buddha's limbs off in a previous life. This is an extreme example. The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines gives a more moderate example, saying,

When he hears someone else speaking to him harshly and offensively
The wise Bodhisattva remains quite at ease and contented.
[He thinks:] 'Who speaks? Who hears? How, to whom, by whom?'
The discerning is [then] devoted to the foremost perfection of patience.
(Conze 1973, p67)


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是故須菩提菩薩應離一切相發阿耨多羅三藐三菩提心香味住心是故佛說:『菩薩心布施。』 「須菩提菩薩利益一切眾生如是布施如來:『一切諸相即是。』:『一切眾生眾生。』「須菩提如來真語實語語者不誑語語者

“Therefore [tarhi], Subhūti, bodhisattvas should depart from all appearances [sarvasaṃjñā] in order to develop the mind [citta] of Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi. They should give rise to a mind [citta] which does not dwell [pratiṣṭhita] in form [rūpa]. They should give rise to a mind [citta] which does not dwell in sounds, scents, tastes, sensations, or dharmas. They should give rise to a mind [citta] which does not dwell. In anything that dwells in the mind [citta], one should not dwell, and for this reason the Buddha says that the minds [citta] of bodhisattvas should not dwell in form when practicing giving. Subhūti, bodhisattvas should give thusly because it benefits all sentient beings. The Tathāgata teaches that all characteristics are not characteristics, and all sentient beings are not sentient beings [asattvāḥ]. Subhūti, the Tathāgata is one who speaks what is true [bhūtavādī], one who speaks what is real [satyavādī], one who speaks what is thus [tathāvādī], and is not a deceiver or one who speaks to the contrary [vitathavādī].

Sanskrit: tasmāttarhi subhūte bodhisattvena mahāsattvena sarvasaṃjñā vivarjayitvā anuttarāyāṃ samyaksaṃbodhau cittamutpādayitavyam| na rūpapratiṣṭhitaṃ cittamutpādayitavyam, na śabdagandharasaspraṣṭavyadharmapratiṣṭhitaṃ cittamutpādayitavyam, na dharmapratiṣṭhitaṃ cittamutpādayitavyam, nādharmapratiṣṭhitaṃ cittamutpādayitavyam, na kvacitpratiṣṭhitaṃ cittamutpādayitavyam| tatkasya hetoḥ ? yatpratiṣṭhitaṃ tadevāpratiṣṭhitam| tasmādeva tathāgato bhāṣate-apratiṣṭhitena bodhisattvena dānaṃ dātavyam| na rūpaśabdagandharasasparśadharmapratiṣṭhitena dānaṃ dātavyam||

Sanskrit: api tu khalu punaḥ subhūte bodhisattvena evaṃrūpo dānaparityāgaḥ kartavyaḥ sarvasattvānāmarthāya| tatkasya hetoḥ ? yā caiṣā subhūte sattvasaṃjñā, saiva asaṃjñā| ya evaṃ te sarvasattvāstathāgatena bhāṣitāsta eva asattvāḥ| tatkasya hetoḥ ? bhūtavādī subhūte tathāgataḥ, satyavādī tathāvādī ananyathāvādī tathāgataḥ, na vitathavādī tathāgataḥ||


Comments


Here the Buddha explains how important understanding of emptiness is to meditation, in particular, progressing to attain Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi or supreme enlightenment. It seems self evident that dwelling on appearances, sounds, scents, tastes, senstations, and other things will distract a person from concentration during meditation.

The English term "all appearances" is a translation of the Chinese phrase 一切 (Sanskrit: sarvasaṃjñā). Each of the instances of the English word mind in this paragraph translates the Chinese (Sanskrit: citta).

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須菩提如來所得須菩提菩薩心布施所見菩薩心不住布施日光種種。「須菩提當來善男子善女人受持讀誦如來佛智悉知成就無量無邊功德

“Subhūti, the Dharma attained by the Tathāgata is neither substantial nor void. Subhūti, if the mind of a bodhisattva dwells in dharmas when practicing giving, then this is like a person in darkness who is unable to see anything. However, if the mind of a bodhisattva does not dwell in dharmas when practicing giving, then this is like a person who is able to see, for whom sunlight clearly illuminates [prabhātāyā] the perception of various forms. Subhūti, in the next era, if there are good men [kulaputra] or good women [kuladuhitā] capable of accepting, maintaining, studying, and reciting this sūtra, then the Tathāgata by means of his buddha-wisdom [buddhajñānena] is always aware of them and always sees them. These people all obtain immeasurable [amasaṃkhyeya], limitless merit.

Sanskrit: api tu khalu punaḥ subhūte yastathāgatena dharmo'bhisaṃbuddho deśito nidhyātaḥ, na tatra satyaṃ na mṛṣā| tadyathāpi nāma subhūte puruṣo'ndhakārapraviṣṭo na kiṃcidapi paśyet, evaṃ vastupatito bodhisattvo draṣṭavyo yo vastupatito dānaṃ parityajati| tadyathāpi nāma subhūte cakṣuṣmān puruṣaḥ prabhātāyāṃ rātrau sūrye'bhyudgate nānavidhāni rūpāṇi paśyet, evamavastupatito bodhisattvo draṣṭavyo yo'vastupatito dānaṃ parityajati||

Sanskrit: api tu khalu punaḥ subhūte ye kulaputrā vā kuladuhitaro vā imaṃ dharmaparyāyamudgrahīṣyanti dhārayiṣyanti vācayiṣyanti paryavāpsyanti, parebhyaśca vistareṇa saṃprakāśayiṣyanti, jñātāste subhūte tathāgatena buddhajñānena, dṛṣṭāste subhūte tathāgatena buddhacakṣuṣā, buddhāste tathāgatena| sarve te subhūte sattvā aprameyamasaṃkhyeyaṃ puṇyaskandhaṃ prasaviṣyanti pratigrahīṣyanti||14||


Comments


In this passage the English word immeasurable translates the Chinese 無量. In the Sanskrit text amasaṃkhyeya is used, which is a very large number (approx. 10140).

Merit is mentioned again in chapters 15, 16, 19, and 28. Rewards (福德 and ) is mentioned in chapters 4, 6, 8, 11, 19, 24, and 28. The concept of merit and rewards was discussed in more detail in Chapter 4.

The physical body and abiding in form are also mentioned in chapters 10, 17, and 20.

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