Sunday, March 27, 2022

Diamond Sutra - Part I - 210a

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Analysis of the Diamond Sutra - A
[Indestructible Perfect Wisdom that cuts through all illusions]
– Part I – Sections 1-8 –

(Six translations)
1st translation: https://diamond-sutra.com/
https://www.lifelonglearningcollaborative.org/silkroads/articles/diamond-sutra-translation.pdf
Recitation on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7oYc9FZDWA

"The Buddha has taught this Sutra as the highest perfection."


[See chapters 1-8 in Part I ]
[See chapters 9-17 in Part II ]
[See chapters 18-32 in Part III ]
[See Another résumé of the 32 sections in Part IV]
[See other analysis of texts on the Blog]

Short table of content of Part I

Short table of content of Part I.

Résumé of the Sutra.

Eight types of sections: A-H.

Preliminary notes about the colors …

Sections of Part I:

  1. [Introduction] - Translating old terms into a more precise modern terminology: U2T, U3S, Uopp, Tetralemma.

  2. Convocation of the Assembly - A large gathering of fearless Bodhisattvas & Mahasattvas. Showing how an enlightened being spends his time on a normal day. This Sutra is only for Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas.

  3. Subhuti Requests the Teaching - The Question

  4. [A] The Awareness of All Living Beings - Correct Bodhicitta without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.

  5. [B] Unattached Practice of Charity - Correct Practice without any grasping / attachment / absolutes. Union of merit & wisdom. Accumulating merit and wisdom together.

  6. [C] Physical Attributes of Buddhahood are Illusive and UnrealCorrect Thinking / Perception / Cognition without any grasping / attachment / absolutes. Understanding and then directly realising the true nature & dynamic of the karmic cycle of subject, action, and object [U3S / U2T-3S]. Directly perceiving the Buddha-nature in everything.

  7. [D] Awaken Faith - Freedom from all extremes & middle without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.

  8. [E] No Attainment, No Teaching - Inconceivable causality without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.

  9. [F] Real Merit has No Merit - Pure acquisition of karma. Inconceivable Good-karma / Blessings / Merit without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.


[Résumé of this Sutra: It is about perceiving / knowing / acting more and more in accord with the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is.]

Question: What should Bodhisattvas do to get to the inconceivable highest liberating truth? This question implicitly assumes that there are sentient beings to liberate, real things to be liberated from; that there are ultimate teachings / Buddha-dharma, and an ultimate Truth to perceive / realise, an ultimate pure state to reach / enlightenment / Buddhahood; and that there is such a thing as a sure causal process / a sure gradual path composed of virtuous actions, practices, stages, to get there – all in absolute terms. In this Sutra, the Buddha will shed light on all of those erroneous implicit assumptions by teaching via the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma -- with nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do or reject / negate / abandon / not-do in absolute terms [T2], just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively [T1]. It is not with better discrimination, nor without any activity / thinking / conceptualisation / discrimination ..., that we ultimately find peace of mind, but by directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the indescribable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T], of the self-conditioning / karmic cycle as it is here & now, the primordial Buddha-nature of everything (the primordial spontaneity, equality, purity, perfection, divinity, completeness, freedom of all dharmas).
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should perform all activities of the body, speech & mind, use valid conventional words / concepts / ideas / teachings / views/truths / methods/practices / goals/fruit, with more and more compassion / bodhicitta & wisdom united; while being more and more in accord with the teachings of this Sutra; without any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification about anything in absolute terms; without falling for any extreme or middle view – extremes like existence / causality / realism, non-existence / nihilism / mere-emptiness, both together / dualism, neither / monism / oneness, or like self / subject / subjectivism, others / object / objectivism, living beings / diversity & opposition / individuality / dualism, or a Cosmic Unity / Life / Oneness / no-individuality / monism –; while being aware of the true nature & dynamic as it is of all dharma [U2T], of the three spheres involved [U3S / U2T-3S], of apparent opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp], and even of the two truths themselves [U2T-2T]; without accepting or rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / intersubjectively.
-
Acting this way could generate an inconceivable amount of super-good-karma / blessings / merit & wisdom united, because it is "acting without acting" – acting more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. It is more and more beneficial because it is getting us closer and closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free of all extremes & middle, the Buddha-nature of everything. It is the way to reaching the Highest Perfect Wisdom, it is the way to becoming a living Buddha, it is the way to realise the primordial Buddha-nature of everything.
-
Reality as it is, the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of everything as it is here & now – of all dharmas, including the three spheres of any type of relations / actions – i. subject / actor, ii. relation / action, iii. object / result –, including the apparent opposites of any dualities / triads / quads / etc., even including the two truths themselves –, is like an inconceivable Union of being empty of inherent existence [T2 - 2nd truth], never separate / independent / universal / absolute / fixed, not really existent / functional / dependently arisen / fixed <==> and being conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1 - 1st truth], merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind [U3S] in dependence of its conditioning / karma, not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless. One aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T - Union of the Two Truths].
-
There is no permanence / continuity / eternity, no impermanence / discontinuity / annihilation, from one moment to the next, from before and after any action / change, from one stage to the next, from one rebirth to the next, from samsara to nirvana.
There is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms.
There are no real three stages of becoming about anything or any being -- i. dependent origination / beginning / birth / coming / before / past, ii. duration / middle / life / resting-change / during / present, iii. cessation / ending / death / going / after / future - or nirvana extinction of the five aggregates –.
-
All dharmas – physical, conceptual, mental; individual, collective, cosmic – are all like illusions / dreams / tricks of the sight / mirages / reflections / echos / Cities of Gandharvas / emanated apparitions: 'there but not there'; not existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless, not both together, not neither [tetralemma]; dependently appearing [T1] but still empty of inherent existence [T2], empty of inherent existence [T2] but still dependently appearing & relatively functional [T1] [U2T].
-
Meaning the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now is 'indescribable / inconceivable' for our flawed dualistic conceptual conditioned ordinary mind(s). It has to be directly perceived / realised / experienced in the here & now.
-
So there is nothing really existing to grasp / to get attached to / to fear / to get rid of / to get obsessed about, to change … in absolute terms; no inherently existent sentient beings (self, others, both / diversity, neither / oneness), perception, faults, views, methods, goals, teachings, practices, truths, causality / production / dependent origination & duration & cessation, emptiness, two truths, merit, stages, karma, bondage & liberation / enlightenment – just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
-
Bodhisattvas should have confidence / faith in the Buddha's Dharma … and in valid conventional truths, methods, goals … without any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere.)


(Note: There are eight types of sections in this Sutra – A to H:

  1. Similar sections (3, 25) about 'Generating Bodhicitta without any attachment. There are no real sentient beings to liberate.'

  2. Similar sections (4, 14, 15, …) about 'Performing actions of the body, speech and mind without any attachment.' This applies to almost all sections.

  3. Similar sections (5, 18, 20, 26) about 'Perception without any attachment: The Union of the three spheres of action / thinking / perception / cognition / acquisition [U3S]; the karmic cycle; directly perceiving the buddha-nature.'

  4. Similar sections (6, 27, 31) about 'Adopting the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle in everything. Extremes like existence / naïve realism, non-existence / nihilism, both together / dualism / diversity, neither / monism / oneness; subject / self, object / other, beings / both together / individuality, cosmic-unity / neither / no-individuality. Etc.'

  5. Similar sections (7, 10, 16, 22) about 'Enlightenment is a direct experience transcending causality. Reality is beyond causality & acausality. Union of the three spheres of causality / production / creation.'

  6. Similar sections (8, 11, 12, 19, 24, 28) about 'Acquiring an inconceivable amount of good-karma / blessings / merit without any attachment.'

  7. Similar sections (9, 13, 21) about 'Using words / names / concepts / ideas / teachings … without any attachment.'

  8. Similar sections (17, 23, 29, 30, 32) about 'The True nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T / U3S / Uopp / U2T-2T]; there are no real origination & duration & cessation; all dharmas are like illusions; the primordial spontaneity / equality / non-duality / purity / perfection / divinity / completeness / freedom of all dharmas.'

After generalisation & homogenisation, the comments of similar sections are usually identical.
So there are only 8 principal blocks of comments for 32 sections.
Each block is identified by the letters A to H.)


Preliminary notes about the colors …:

[Goto TOC]

(Analysis / explanation using colors:
What relates to the first truth: conventional / relative truths, or acting according to valid conventional / relative truths is this color [T1] – ex. cultivating virtues;
What relates to the second truth: emptiness, or acting in accord with emptiness is this color [T2] – ex. without grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification;
What relates to the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is is usually this color [U2T];
What relates to the illusory nature of appearances is usually this color;
What relates to wrong views, wrong actions, wrong methods, wrong paths, extremes … is usually this color;
Highlights of the sections are usually like this.

The two truths are:
T1: conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances, merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma (in cycle), not completely non-existence;
T2: emptiness of inherent existence, not real existence;
U2T: those two truths, like any other pair of apparent opposites, are inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony, in 'Union' <==> thus empty of inherent existence.
They are tools to help us to get to the 'inconceivable' by refuting what 'Reality as it is' is not, all extreme views like: existence / dharma, non-existence / non-dharma, both together, neither; difference / manyness / diversity, identity / oneness / sameness, both together, neither; permanence / continuity, impermanence / discontinuity, both together, neither; individual, collective, cosmic, a combination of those, none of those; subject, relation / action / process, object, a combination of those, none of those; etc.)

Examples:
[This phrase is repeated very often in the Sutra: "A appears but ultimately A is not really existent / it is empty of inherent existence":]
When you see this sequence of colors ____________ or ____________ about something: (and there are a lot of those in these translations)
it is about the Two Truths [2T] about it: conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind [U3S] in dependence of its conditioning / karma (in cycle) <==> and emptiness of inherent existence [T2] [2T].
-
[This phrase is repeated very often in the Sutra: "A is not-A, therefore, it is called A":]
When you see this sequence of colors __________________ or __________________ about something: (and there are a lot of those in these translations) it means the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] about it: that it is like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless <==> and being empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional, never separate / independent / universal / absolute / fixed <==> thus merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind [U3S] in dependence of its conditioning / karma. One aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T]. Meaning it is like an illusion: 'there but not there' [U2T]. Meaning its true nature & dynamic is indescribable / inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. Extremes like: existence, non-existent, both together, neither; etc.
Note: the important point is that even if A is ultimately empty of inherent existence, it is 'OK' to use it conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively, as long as we are aware of its true nature & dynamic: the Inseparability / Interdependence / Harmony / Union of the Two Truths [U2T]. To get stuck in its 'mere-emptiness' is a major fault, and does not bring peace of mind. Emptiness is not the ultimate truth, the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths is.
Note: This is an example showing that Buddhist Logic transcends Classical Logic; statements like 'A is not-A, therefore, it is called A' goes beyond the Law of noncontradiction.

The three spheres: ex.
i. The subject / actor / goer / perceiver / knower / acquirer / owner,
ii. The relation / action / going / perceiving / knowing / acquiring / having
iii. The object / result / destination / perceived / known / acquired / possessions / karma / 5 aggregates / body & speech & mind..

Generalisations:
Whenever it is possible the comments of each section are expressed into a more global context. So they always cover more than just what is said in the various translations. The goal is to make the Big Picture more visible.

Note: All comments within (i.e. …) or [...] are from the commentator (me), not the translators.
Note: The Diamond Sutra was written for beginners, but my comments are for more advanced students.)




Sections of Part I

0. Introduction

 (i.e. Translating old terms into a more precise modern terminology: U2T, U3S, Uopp, Tetralemma.)

[Goto TOC]

[a. Introduction – Alex Johnson:]

The full Sanskrit title of this text is the Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra (The Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra).
The Buddha said this Sutra may be known as "The Diamond that Cuts through Illusion."

Like many Buddhist sūtras, The Diamond Sūtra begins with the famous phrase, "Thus have I heard."
The Buddha finished his daily walk with the monks to gather offerings of food and sat down to rest.
The monk Subhūti comes forth and asks the Buddha a question.
What follows is a dialogue regarding the nature of perception [U3S / U2T-3S].

(i.e. Bodhisattvas are aware of the true nature & dynamic of perception, of the karmic cycle,
aware of the *** Union of the three spheres *** of any type of relation / action [U3S / U2T-3S]:
ex. aware of the true nature & dynamic of the three spheres of perception / cognition [U3S-perception];
of the inseparability / interdependence / co-definition / co-relativity / co-dependence / co-emergence / co-evolution / co-cessation / co-transcendence / non-duality / harmony of the three spheres of perception or cognition – i. subject / actor / perceiver / knower / beings, ii. relation / action / perception / cognition, iii. object / result / perceived / known world / phenomena – [T1] <==> and thus their emptiness of inherent existence [T2] [U2T-3S].
The three spheres are empty of inherent existence [T2-3S], not really existent / functional, never separate / independent / universal / absolute / fixed <==> because conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1-3S], merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind [U3S-3S] in dependence of its conditioning / karma (in cycle), not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless. And vice versa; one aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T-3S].
The three spheres are co-dependent / interdependent with their parts (when applicable), with their causes & conditions (when applicable), with their conceptual opposites (always), and with the mind merely labeling / imputing them (always).
So there are no real three stages of becoming -- i. dependent origination / beginning / birth / coming / before / past, ii. duration / middle / life / resting-change / during / present, iii. cessation / ending / death / going / after / future - or nirvana extinction of the five aggregates –.
So there is no permanence / continuity / eternity, no impermanence / discontinuity / annihilation, from one moment to the next, from before and after any action / change, from one stage to the next, from one rebirth to the next, from samsara to nirvana.
And there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. In that sense, everything is considered as primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms (see tetralemma).
[Tetralemma:] The three spheres are not inherently existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither; not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not both together, not neither; not individual, not collective, not cosmic, not a combination of those, not none of those; not equal / pure / perfect / divine / complete / free / enlightened, not unequal / impure / imperfect / ordinary / incomplete / bound / not-enlightened, not both together, not neither; not this, non-this, not both together, not neither; etc.
Meaning the true nature & dynamic of the three spheres, of Reality as it is, is indescribable / inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. It has to be spontaneously individually non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceived / realised / experienced in the here & now.
All of this applies to all dharmas [U3S], no exception at all, including the three spheres [U3S-3S] of any type of relation / action, the apparent opposites [U3S-opp] of any type of duality / triad / quads / etc., even the two truths themselves [U3S-2T], even the three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma, Sangha –, even everything in this sutra.
Meaning a Bodhisattva should not accept them for what they appear to be, nor reject them completely in absolute terms.
That is the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle.
-
The karmic cycle is this co-evolution of the subject / perceiver / knower and the object / perceived / known / phenomena.
One sphere is conditioned by the others, and is conditioning the others – in a limitless and centerless cycle.
Meaning there is no independent objective world, no independent / universal / absolute concepts / teachings / truths / methods / goals / causes / causality / production / effects / merit /enlightenment, and no really existing sentient beings bound in samsara or to be liberated in nirvana; all of these ideas are alway co-dependent with the mind(s) merely labeling / imputing them in dependence of its/their conditioning / karma. Even the Buddha-dharma is like that; even the teachings of sutras like this one.
This sutra is perfect, indestructible, efficient at bringing incommensurable merit … exactly because it does not teach any independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing whatsoever (concepts, truths, methods, goals, etc.), because it is more in accord with the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now than any other dualistic activities / practices – more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths [U2T], the Union of the three spheres [U3S], the Union of opposites [Uopp], the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle, the tetralemma, etc. It is a perfect vehicle to get us closer and closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T].)

The Buddha often uses paradoxical phrases such as,
"What is called the highest teaching [i.e. 1s truth: conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively efficient ever-changing impermanent appearances, merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind – not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless teachings]
is not the highest teaching [i.e. 2nd truth: empty of inherent existence, not really existent – not independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing teachings – nothing to grasp / get attached to / get obsessed about / become slave to / force upon others]".

(i.e. Bodhisattvas are aware of the *** Union of the Two Truths *** about all dharmas [U2T], including all teachings, and enlightenment;
of the inseparability / interdependence / co-definition / co-relativity / co-dependence / co-emergence / co-evolution / co-cessation / co-transcendence / non-duality / harmony of the two truths about all dharmas – i. dependent origination / causality / relativity / appearances, ii. emptiness of inherent existence [T2] – [U2T].
All dharmas are empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional, never separate / independent / universal / absolute / fixed <==> because conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind [U3S] in dependence of its conditioning / karma (in cycle), not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless. And vice versa; one aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T].
All dharmas are co-dependent / interdependent with their parts (when applicable), with their causes & conditions (when applicable), with their conceptual opposites (always), and with the mind merely labeling / imputing them (always).
So there are no real three stages of becoming -- i. dependent origination / beginning / birth / coming / before / past, ii. duration / middle / life / resting-change / during / present, iii. cessation / ending / death / going / after / future - or nirvana extinction of the five aggregates –.
So there is no permanence / continuity / eternity, no impermanence / discontinuity / annihilation, from one moment to the next, from before and after any action / change, from one stage to the next, from one rebirth to the next, from samsara to nirvana.
And there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. In that sense, everything is considered as primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms (see tetralemma).
[Tetralemma:] All dharmas are not inherently existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither; not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not both together, not neither; not individual, not collective, not cosmic, not a combination of those, not none of those; not equal / pure / perfect / divine / complete / free / enlightened, not unequal / impure / imperfect / ordinary / incomplete / bound / not-enlightened, not both together, not neither; not this, non-this, not both together, not neither; etc.
Meaning the true nature & dynamic of all dharmas, of Reality as it is, is indescribable / inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. It has to be spontaneously individually non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceived / realised / experienced in the here & now.
All of this applies to all dharmas [U2T], no exception at all, including the three spheres [U2T-3S] of any type of relation / action, the apparent opposites [U2T-opp] of any type of duality / triad / quads / etc., even the two truths themselves [U2T-2T], even the three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma, Sangha –, even everything in this sutra.
Meaning a Bodhisattva should not accept them for what they appear to be, nor reject them completely in absolute terms.
That is the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle.)

The Buddha is generally thought to be helping Subhūti
unlearn his preconceived, limited notions of the nature of reality and enlightenment.

(i.e. About how to transcend all conditioning / karma (physical, conceptual, mental), without any acceptation or rejection in absolute terms, simply by understanding and then directly perceiving / realising / experiencing their inconceivable true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T].)

The Diamond Sūtra is a short and well-known Mahāyāna sūtra from the Prajñāpāramitā, or "Perfection of Wisdom" genre,
and it emphasizes the practice of non-abiding and non-attachment.

(i.e. A Bodhisattva always perform all practices / teachings / all-activities of the body, speech & mind
*** without any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere ***, while being fully aware of the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, as pointed by concepts like: the Union of the Two Truths, the Union of the three spheres, the Union of apparent opposites, the Middle Way, the tetralemma, etc. Never discriminating / differentiating in absolute terms. Never acting in absolute terms. With no artificial di-vision between subject / actor, relation / action, and object / result / phenomena. Not accepting / affirming / seeking / adding / doing anything in absolute terms, not rejecting / negating / abandoning / eliminating / subtracting / not-doing anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.)

A list of vivid metaphors for impermanence (i.e. for the Union of the Two Truths) appears in a popular four-line verse at the end of the sūtra:

All conditioned phenomena
Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, or shadows;
Like drops of dew, or flashes of lightning;
(i.e. They are 'there but not there' = not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless, not both together, not neither = appearing but empty, empty but still appearing = Union of the Two Truths  [U2T].)
Thusly should they be contemplated [perceived].

(i.e. Bodhisattvas perceive everything as *** like illusions ***, dreams / tricks of the sight / mirages / reflections / echos / Cities of Gandharvas / emanated apparitions: 'there, but not there'; not existent / functional, not non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither. Appearing but still empty; empty of inherent existence [T2] but still conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1]. Appearance and emptiness simultaneously. [U2T] Beyond all opposition / dualities. Not many, not one, not both together, not neither.)

(i.e. Bodhisattvas are aware of the Non-duality of everything,
aware of the *** Union of apparent opposites *** [Uopp];
of the inseparability / interdependence / co-definition / co-relativity / co-dependence / co-emergence / co-evolution / co-cessation / co-transcendence / non-duality / harmony of apparent opposites [Uopp].
Apparent opposites are always empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional, never separate / independent / universal / absolute / fixed <==> because conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind [U3S] in dependence of its conditioning / karma (in cycle), not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless. And vice versa; one aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T].
Apparent opposites are co-dependent / interdependent with their parts (when applicable), with their causes & conditions (when applicable), with their conceptual opposites (always), and with the mind merely labeling / imputing them (always).
So there are no real three stages of becoming -- i. dependent origination / beginning / birth / coming / before / past, ii. duration / middle / life / resting-change / during / present, iii. cessation / ending / death / going / after / future - or nirvana extinction of the five aggregates –.
So there is no permanence / continuity / eternity, no impermanence / discontinuity / annihilation, from one moment to the next, from before and after any action / change, from one stage to the next, from one rebirth to the next, from samsara to nirvana.
And there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. In that sense, everything is considered as primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms (see tetralemma).
[Tetralemma:] Apparent opposite are not inherently existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither; not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not both together, not neither; not individual, not collective, not cosmic, not a combination of those, not none of those; not equal / pure / perfect / divine / complete / free / enlightened, not unequal / impure / imperfect / ordinary / incomplete / bound / not-enlightened, not both together, not neither; not this, non-this, not both together, not neither; etc.
Meaning the true nature & dynamic of apparent opposites, of Reality as it is, is indescribable / inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. It has to be spontaneously individually non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceived / realised / experienced in the here & now.
All of this applies to all dharmas [Uopp], no exception at all, including the three spheres [Uopp-3S] of any type of relation / action, the apparent opposites [Uopp] of any type of duality / triad / quads / etc., even the two truths themselves [Uopp-2T].
Meaning a Bodhisattva should not accept them for what they appear to be, nor reject them completely in absolute terms.
That is the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle.

Conclusion: A Bodhisattva have confidence / faith in the Buddha's Dharma / teachings, without any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere, because even though they are valid useful conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional ever-changing appearances [T1] <==> they are still empty of inherent existence [T2], merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind [U3S], never independent / universal / absolute [T2], just possible adapted skillful means / rafts [T1]. What is acceptable / useful for one may not be as meaningful for another. There are no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing concepts / teachings / truths / methods / goals / causes / causality / production / effects. The Buddha never taught any absolute.)

A copy of the Chinese version of The Diamond Sūtra, found among the Dunhuang manuscripts in the early 20th century and dating back to May 11, 868 C.E. is considered the earliest complete survival of a woodblock printing folio. This discovered text was made over 500 years before the Gutenberg printing press in 1450 C.E. (The first known movable type system was invented in China around 1040 C.E. by Bi Sheng (990-1051).) …

(Possible résumé of this Sutra :
-
This Sutra is not about emptiness; but about going beyond emptiness. And how to act more and more in accord with this.
Subhuti’s name means 'born of emptiness’. Among the Buddha’s disciples, he was foremost in his understanding of emptiness.
But while his understanding of emptiness had liberated Subhuti from the mundane world, it had imprisoned him in another.
Indeed, even the concept of emptiness is likely to become another delusion and an obstacle to enlightenment.
In this Sutra Subhuti seems to be attached to emptiness as the ultimate definition of reality;
and sees no need to go further … ex. to the emptiness of emptiness, and to the Union of the Two Truths [U2T].
All along this Sutra the Buddha tries to make Subhuti realise his mistake.
In the sutra Subhuti gradually shifts from 'seeing’ with the prajna eye of an arhat [2T] (entertaining a duality / opposition between the two truths, and thinking emptiness [T2] is superior than appearances [T1]) to the dharma eye of a bodhisattva (inseparability / interdependence / co-dependence / harmony / non-duality / Union of the Two Truths [U2T]) (while the Buddha has the inconceivable buddha-eye that transcends all without rejecting anything [directly perceiving U2T + omniscience]). Subhuti gradually shifts from his attachment to emptiness [T2], and his denigration of conventional relative appearances / samsara [T1], to a more realistic vision more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T].
-
What the Buddha is teaching Subhuti in this sutra is that he should not consider the two truthsconventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind, and emptiness of inherent existence [T2] – as different / separate / dual / opposite [2T] (one being superior to the other), nor as identical / the same / one / non-dual [1T] (as one Cosmic Unity),
but more like inseparable / interdependent / co-defined / co-relative / co-dependent / co-emergent / co-evolving / co-ceasing or co-transcended / in harmony, as the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths beyond all extremes & middle. [U2T]
-
Without dharmas there is no need for emptiness, without emptiness there are no dharmas.
One aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other. One cannot exist with / without the other one.
That is why we talk about an inconceivable Union of the Two Truths.
These two truths are not different / separate / two / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth.
Meaning this 'Union’ is indescribable / inconceivable for our flawed dualistic conceptual conditioned ordinary mind(s).
It is not like two separate things coming together; they are more like the two faces of the same coin.
Heart Sutra: "Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness, and emptiness is no other than form. Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form (or the 5 aggregates).”
The Chinese Zen Master Ch’ing-yuan explained it this way: "When I first began to practice, the mountains and rivers were simply mountains and rivers. After I advanced in my practice, the mountains and rivers were no longer mountains and rivers. But when I reached the end of my practice, the mountains and rivers were simply mountains and rivers again.” (Sung Kaosengchuan: 9)
– Quotes from Red Pine’ Book.
-
Basing activities on appearances / causality alone leads to disappointments & suffering.
Basing activities on emptiness alone is a total catastrophe.
What the Buddha is teaching Subhuti in this sutra is that all activities of the body, speech and mind (ex. practicing the four immeasurables, the six paramitas, learning and teaching sutras like this one) should be more and more in accord with this true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is: the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T].
Meaning all activities should be 'acting without acting' according to valid conventional relative truths methods and goals [T1], while never grasping at anything in absolute terms, never getting attached to anything [T2], never becoming slave to anything, never thinking that anything related to those activities is independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing, with inherently existing characteristics / properties / qualities, and in real opposition / relation with other entities (anything physical, conceptual, mental; body, speech, mind; subject, relation / action, object; past, present, future; pure, impure, of samsara or nirvana).
This is acting while being aware of the true nature & dynamic of the three spheres of the activity – subject / actor, relation / action, object / result – [U2T-3S], of any apparent opposites involved [U2T-opp], and even of the two truths themselves. [Union of the three spheres / U3S / U2T-3S]
That is acting while being aware of the true nature & dynamic of apparent opposites / dualities – ex. good & bad, the three spheres, the two truths themselves. [Non-duality / Union of opposites / Uopp / U2T-opp]
-
That is adopting the Middle Way in everything: not accepting, not rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. It is freedom from all extremes & middle, freedom from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, freedom from all defining limitations, freedom from all conditioning / karma.
-
"Buddhas do not arise from emptiness but from this teaching, which liberates us from both delusions and emptiness as well as from the renunciation of delusions and emptiness.”
-
Extremes like:
existence / functionality / causality / karma,
non-existence / non-functionality / acausality / no-karma / mere-emptiness, both together, neither;
real / actual, non-real / illusory, both together, neither;
difference, identity, both together, neither;
many, one, both together, neither;
self, others, both together, neither;
individual, collective, cosmic, a combination of those, none of those;
permanence, impermanence, both together, neither;
continuity, discontinuity, both together, neither;
objectivity, subjectivity, both together, neither;
physical, conceptual, mental, a combination of those, none of those;
good / pure, bad / impure, neutral, a combination of those, none of those;
right, wrong, both together, neither;
high, low, both together, neither;
past, present, future, a combination of those, none of those;
origination / birth / coming / duration / cessation / death / going,
non-origination / non-birth / non-coming / non-duration / non-cessation / non-death / non-going,
a combination of those, none of those;
action / movement, non-action / rest, both together, neither;
change, non-change, both together, neither;
merit, non-merit, both together, neither;
subject, relation / action, object, a combination of those, none of those;
dependent, independent, both together, neither;
empty, non-empty, both together, neither;
conventional / relative, absolute, both together, neither;
appearance / dependent origination [T1], emptiness of inherent existence [T2], both together [2T], neither [1T];
samsara, nirvana, both together, neither; etc.)

[Note: "A reason why travelers along the path fail to comprehend (or even recognize) the Buddha's advanced teachings is that they have not learned to 'see' those teachings properly. This notion is addressed in the Diamond Sutra through the concept of the 5 eyes.

The 5 eyes are

  1. the physical eye (that sees as ordinary people do) [T1-only],

  2. the divine eye (that sees great distances and microscopically) [T1-only but more powerful],

  3. the prajna eye (that sees that all things are empty in a second phase of the path, arhat sense) [2T and preferring T2],

  4. the dharma eye (that sees reality as a bodhisattva does) [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T], and

  5. the buddha eye (that is no different than the spaceless, timeless, no nothingless universe; U2T + non-duality subject & object + omniscience).

In the sutra Subhuti gradually shifts from 'seeing' with the prajna eye of an arhat [2T and preferring T2] to the dharma eye of a bodhisattva [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. This is an important concept in Mahayana Buddhism, for practitioners only understand ('see') the dharma with the eye they 'see' reality with. The repeated returning to the same material in the sutra is associated with these different ways of 'seeing' that material."
– From: https://www.mnzencenter.org/uploads/2/9/5/8/29581455/diamond.pdf
See also: https://www.baus.org/en/publications/dr-shens-collections/the-five-eyes/
-

According to the Maha Prajnaparamita Shastra, "The prajna eye does not see beings, for all common and differentiating characteristics are extinguished. It is free of all attachments and immune to all dharmas, including prajna itself. But because it does not distinguish anything, the prajna eye cannot liberate other beings. Hence, a bodhisattva gives rise to the dharma eye.” The dharma eye perceives the means to liberate others and is only possessed by bodhisattvas. While the prajna eye sees the emptiness of all things, the dharma eye discerns their myriad differences. While the prajna eye is concerned with the truth of emptiness, the dharma eye is concerned with the truth of provisional reality, the reality of appearances. Thus, with their dharma eye, bodhisattvas see the kind of cultivation and level of attainment of other beings as well as the means to liberate them. … According to the Maha Prajnaparamita Shastra, "The dharma eye enables a bodhisattva to cultivate a dharma and to realize a path as well as to know the expedient means by which other beings can do so. The dharma eye, however, is not omniscient in its awareness of the expedient means for liberating beings. Hence, a bodhisattva seeks the buddha eye.” … The buddha eye sees everything, including whatever is seen by the other four eyes. It not only sees things in the present, it also sees them in the past and in the future. With their prajna eye, buddhas see the emptiness of all things [T2], and with their dharma eye, they see their underlying appearance [T1]. But with their buddha eye, they see the [Union /] middle path between these two [U2T], whereby the doctrines of emptiness and dharma reality merge into the path of non-duality. Shakyamuni acquired this eye the night of his Enlightenment. Thus, it is only possessed by buddhas. … The dharma eye sees beyond emptiness to what advances liberation. Delusion and enlightenment are inseparable.
– From Red Pine.)


1. Convocation of the assembly

(i.e. A large gathering of fearless Bodhisattvas & Mahasattvas. Showing how an enlightened being spends his time on a normal day. This Sutra is only for Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas.)

[Goto TOC]

[a. Translation by Alex Johnson – Recitation on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7oYc9FZDWA ]

This is what I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the Jeta Grove, near the city of Sravasti. With him there was a community of 1,250 venerable monks and devoted disciples (i.e. mostly fearless Bodhisattvas & Mahasattvas).

One day before dawn, the Buddha clothed himself, and along with his disciples took up his alms bowl and entered the city to beg for food door to door, as was his custom.

After he had returned and eaten, he put away his bowl and cloak, bathed his feet, and then sat with his legs crossed and body upright upon the seat arranged for him.

He began mindfully fixing his attention in front of himself,
while many monks approached the Buddha, and showing great reverence, seated themselves around him.

——————

(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 1. This is the word as I heard it once when the Lord was staying in Sravasti, in Jeta's Grove, at the monastery of Anåthapindada, together with a large community of monks 1,250 monks strong (i.e. mostly Bodhisattvas & Mahasattvas). Then the Lord got dressed in the morning, took his bowl and robe, and entered the great city of Sråvasti for alms. Then, after walking around the great city of Sravasti for alms, the Lord returned in the afternoon after eating the alms food, washed his feet, and sat down on the seat set out for him with legs crossed, body held erect and attention directed in front of him.
Then a great many monks approached the Lord, and after approaching him they prostrated themselves at the Lord's feet, circumambulated the Lord three times, and sat down to one side.
From: https://hyanniszendo.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/diamondsutra_lettersize1.pdf
See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0j_fAi9RFU)

——————

(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter One: Thus have I heard: Once the Bhagavan was dwelling near Shravasti at Anathapindada Garden in Jeta Forest together with the full assembly of 1250 bhikshus and a great many fearless Bodhisattvas.
One day before noon, the Bhagavan put on his patched robe and picked up his bowl and entered the capital of Shravasti for offerings. After begging for food in the city and eating his meal of rice, he returned from his daily round in the afternoon, put his robe and bowl away, washed his feet, and sat down on the appointed seat. After crossing his legs and adjusting his body, he turned his awareness to what was before him.
A number of bhikshus then came up to where the Bhagavan was sitting. After touching their heads to his feet, they walked around him to the right three times and sat down to one side.
From: https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Diamond-Sutra.pdf
Recitation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2Ekiz9uXIY)
.
(From the book: The division of the text into thirty-two chapters was the work of Prince Chao-ming (501-531). In addition, Chao-ming gave each chapter a title. This first one he called "The Cause and Reason for the Dharma Assembly.”: Hui-neng says, "The lay prime minister Chang Wu-chin said, 'If not for dharmas [T1], there would be no way to discuss emptiness [T2]. If not for wisdom [T2], there would be no way to speak about dharmas[T1] [U2T - Inseparability / Interdependence / Harmony / Union of the Two Truths].’ The multiplicity of the myriad dharmas is what is meant by 'cause.’ And the responsiveness of the one mind is what is meant by 'reason.’ Thus, at the beginning is a chapter on the cause and reason for this dharma assembly.” … As for those who set forth on this path, the Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra says a bodhisattva is "anyone who ceaselessly seeks unexcelled, perfect enlightenment as well as the happiness and welfare of all beings.” This concept underlies the Buddha’s teaching throughout this sutra, which only a bodhisattva can understand and only a bodhisattva dares put into practice, for only a bodhisattva possesses the courage to liberate all beings. The importance of this will become clearer in the chapter three. … The teaching of this sutra is so difficult to accept that those who hear it for the first time are likely to reject it. Only those who have set forth on the bodhisattva path are capable of such prasada (clarity) …)

——————

(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 1. THE SETTING - This is what I heard one time when the Buddha was staying in the monastery in Anathapindika's park in the Jeta Grove near Shravasti with a community of 1,250 bhikshus, fully ordained monks (i.e. mostly Bodhisattvas & Mahasattvas). That day, when it was time to make the round for alms, the Buddha put on his sanghati robe and, holding his bowl, went into the city of Shravasti to seek alms food, going from house to house. When the alms-round was completed, he returned to the monastery to eat the midday meal. Then he put away his sanghati robe and his bowl, washed his feet, arranged his cushion, and sat down.
____________
From: https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Thich%20Nhat%20Hanh%20-%20The%20Diamond%20That%20Cuts%20Through%20I.pdf)

——————

(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 1 - The Reasons for the Dharma Assembly: Thus I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the Jeta Grove of the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Solitary together with a gathering of great bhikshus, twelve hundred fifty in all (i.e. mostly Bodhisattvas & Mahasattvas). At that time, at meal time, the World Honored One put on his robe, took up his bowl, and entered the great city of Sravasti to beg for food. After he had finished his sequential begging within the city, he returned, ate the food, put away his robe and bowl, washed his feet, arranged his seat, and sat down.
____________
From: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/prajparagen2.pdf)

——————

(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013: 1. Convocation of the Assembly: Thus I have heard. Once, the Buddha was staying in the Jetavana Grove in Śrāvastī with a community of 1,250 monks (i.e. mostly Bodhisattvas & Mahasattvas). Then, at mealtime, the World-honored One put on his robe, took his bowl, and went into the great city of Śrāvastī to seek alms food, going from house to house within the city. Finishing, he returned home and took his meal. He then put away his robe and bowl, washed his feet, arranged his seat, and sat down.
From: http://www.acmuller.net/bud-canon/diamond_sutra.html)

——————

(g: Recitation with subtitles of a shorter version of the Sutra:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtYjhRIdCNA)

——————-----------------------------------------

2. Subhuti requests the teaching - The Question

(i.e. Question: What should Bodhisattvas do to get to the inconceivable highest liberating truth?
This question implicitly assumes that there are sentient beings to liberate, real things to be liberated from; that there are ultimate teachings / Buddha-dharma, and an ultimate Truth to perceive / realise, an ultimate pure state to reach / enlightenment / Buddhahood; and that there is such a thing as a sure causal process / a sure gradual path composed of virtuous actions, practices, stages, to get there – all in absolute terms. In this Sutra, the Buddha will shed light on all of those erroneous implicit assumptions by teaching via the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma -- with nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do or reject / negate / abandon / not-do in absolute terms [T2], just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively [T1]. It is not with better discrimination, nor without any activity / thinking / conceptualisation / discrimination ..., that we ultimately find peace of mind, but by directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the indescribable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T], of the self-conditioning / karmic cycle as it is here & now, the primordial Buddha-nature of everything (the primordial spontaneity, equality, purity, perfection, divinity, completeness, freedom of all dharmas).)

[Goto TOC]

[a. Translation by Alex Johnson:]

After a time a most venerable monk named Subhuti, who was sitting in the congregation, rose from his seat. He uncovered his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, and as he joined his palms together he respectfully bowed and then addressed the Buddha:

[Subhuti:]
(i.e. Subhuti: As an arhat, Subhuti has the prajna eye [2T]; he thinks the two truths – appearances & emptiness – are different, separate, in opposition, and that emptiness [T2] is superior to appearances [T1]. In short, he is attached to emptiness, and rejects too much. In this Sutra, as he receives teachings from the Buddha, his position will gradually change.)

"Most Honored One, It is truly majestic how much knowledge and wisdom your monks and disciples (i.e. Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas) have been given through your most inspired teachings! It is remarkable that you look after our welfare so selflessly and so completely.

[QUESTION: What Bodhisattva should do? What is the Mahayana Path?]
"Most Honored One, I have a question to ask you.
If sons and daughters of good families (i.e. Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas) want to
develop the highest, most fulfilled and awakened mind, if they wish to attain the Highest Perfect Wisdom,

WHAT SHOULD THEY DO to help quiet their drifting minds and help subdue their craving thoughts?"
(i.e. Similar question as in section 17.)
(i.e. Subhuti thinks it is about controlling the mind, to stop all karma formation, to reject the conditioned / appearances., to escape / not-return-to samsara, to seek the unconditioned / nirvana. So he is asking what is the Path leading to that. The wording of his questions reflects the understanding of someone on the Hinayana, or Lesser Path. But this is a Mahayana sutra.)

The Buddha then replied:
(i.e. The Buddha has the dharma eye [U2T] + the Buddha eye [omniscience]: with his dharma eye he directly perceives the inconceivable true nature & dynamic as it is of all dharmas, as pointed by the concept of the inseparability / interdependence / co-dependence / harmony / Union of the Two Truths [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. And, as for a Path to Buddhahood, he knows how that one has to act more and more in accord with this [U2T]. In this Sutra, the Buddha is trying to help Subhuti realise his mistakes [2T]; and gain a dharma eye [U2T], an awareness of the inseparability / interdependence / harmony / Union of the Two Truths [U2T]. See section 18 for the 5 eyes.)

"So it is as you say, Subhuti.
Monks and disciples have been favored with the highest favor by the Buddha,
the monks and disciples (i.e. Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas) have been instructed with
the highest instruction by the Buddha.

The Buddha is constantly mindful of the welfare of his followers.
Listen carefully with your full attention, and I will speak to your question.

[ANSWER: Listen carefully to this Sutra.]
"If sons and daughters of good families want to develop the highest, most fulfilled and awakened mind,
if they wish to attain the Highest Perfect Wisdom and quiet their drifting minds while subduing their craving thoughts,
then they should follow what I am about to say to you.
Those who follow what I am about to say here will be able to subdue their discriminative thoughts and craving desires.
It is possible to attain perfect tranquility and clarity of mind
by absorbing and dwelling on the teachings I am about to give."

(i.e. On point: the Buddha did not say that Bodhisattvas should do nothing, drop all activities / thinking / talking / conceptualising / discriminating / differentiating / all paths / the world … even if everything is empty of inherent existence. That by itself should shock all of those nihilists attached to emptiness, and rejecting too much.)

——————

(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 2. Moreover, on that occasion the Venerable Subhuti had joined that particular assembly and was seated with it. Then the Venerable Subhuti rose from his seat, arranged his cloak over one shoulder, went down on his right knee, saluted the Lord with his hands placed together, and said this to the Lord:
"It is a marvelous thing, Lord, just how much Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas have been favored with the highest of favors by the Realized, Worthy and Perfectly Awakened One, just how much Bodhisattvas have been entrusted with the greatest of trusts by the Tathagata.
[QUESTION:] How, Lord, should one who has set out on the Bodhisattva path take his stand,
how should he proceed, how should he control the mind?"
At these words the Lord said this to the Venerable Subhuti: "Well done, Subhuti, well done!
Quite so, Subhuti. Bodhisattvas have been favored with the highest of favors by the Tathagata,
Bodhisattvas have been entrusted with the greatest of trusts by the Tathagata.
Therefore listen, Subhuti, and pay attention closely and carefully.
[ANSWER:] I will tell how one who has set out on the Bodhisattva path should take his stand,
how he should proceed, how he should control the mind."
"Yes, Lord," replied the Venerable Subhuti, signifying his assent to the Lord.)

——————

(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Two: On this occasion, the venerable Subhuti was also present in the assembly. Rising from his seat, he uncovered one shoulder and touched his right knee to the ground. Pressing his palms together and bowing to the Buddha, he said:
"It is rare, Bhagavan, most rare, indeed, Sugata, how the Tathagata, the Arhan,
the Fully-Enlightened One blesses fearless Bodhisattvas with the best of blessings.
And it is rare, Bhagavan,
how the Tathagata, the Arhan, the FullyEnlightened One entrusts fearless Bodhisattvas with the greatest of trusts.
[QUESTION:] "Even so, Bhagavan, if a noble son or daughter should set forth on the Bodhisattva path,
how should they stand, how should they walk, and how should they control their thoughts?"
The Buddha told the venerable Subhuti, "Well said, Subhuti. Well said. So it is, Subhuti. It is as you say.
The Tathagata blesses fearless Bodhisattvas with the best of blessings and entrusts fearless Bodhisattvas with the greatest of trusts.
You should therefore truly listen, Subhuti, and consider this well.
[ANSWER:] I shall tell you how those who set forth on the Bodhisattva path should stand,
how they should walk, and how they should control their thoughts."
The venerable Subhuti answered, "May it be so, Bhagavan," and gave his full attention.)
.
(From the book: "Subhuti Asks for Instruction.” Among the Buddha’s disciples, Subhuti ('born of emptiness’) was foremost in his freedom from passion, for he was the one who best understood the doctrine of emptiness [T2]. On this occasion, he saw in the Buddha’s actions the perfect realization of that doctrine. Thus, he expresses his gratitude for such instruction by example and asks how others, not only monks but anyone who seeks to live an enlightened life, can follow in the Buddha’s footsteps. The wording of his questions, however, reflects the understanding of someone on the Hinayana, or Lesser Path. But this is a Mahayana sutra. … To call a person a buddha, or enlightened one, is to indicate his attainment. To call him a tathagata, or one who appears as he truly is, is to indicate his nature. … Although Subhuti understands the doctrine of emptiness [T2] expressed in the Buddha’s everyday actions, he senses there is something more to buddhahood than emptiness [U2T] and asks for instruction in this matter on his own behalf, as well as that of others. … The path Subhuti asks about is the path of the bodhisattva, and not that of the arhan, the Mahayana path, and not the Hinayana path. …But they also betray the concerns of a follower of the Lesser Path. Subhuti seeks the way to restrict karma-producing actions and thoughts rather than the way to transform them. … the question: 'We have set out to attain the bodhisattva mind, but we do not know how to travel the bodhisattva path.’)

——————

(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 2. Subhuti's question: At that time, the Venerable Subhuti stood up, bared his right shoulder, put his knee on the ground, and, folding his palms respectfully, said to the Buddha,
"World-Honored One, it is rare to find someone like you. You always support and show special confidence in the Bodhisattvas.
[QUESTION:] "World-Honored One, if sons and daughters of good families want to give rise to the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind, what should they rely on and what should they do to master their thinking?"
The Buddha replied, "Well said, Subhuti! What you have said is absolutely correct.
The Tathagata always supports and shows special confidence in the Bodhisattvas.
Please listen with all of your attention and the Tathagata will respond to your question.
If daughters and sons of good families want to give rise to the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind,
[ANSWER:] they should rely on the following and master their thinking in the following way."
The Venerable Subhuti said, "Lord, we are so happy to hear your teachings.")

——————

(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 2 - Subhuti's Request: At that time the Elder Subhuti arose from his seat in the assembly, uncovered his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, put his palms together with respect and said to the Buddha,
"How rare, World Honored One, is the Tathagata who remembers and protects all Bodhisattvas
and causes them to be well-endowed."
[QUESTION:] "World Honored One, if a good man, or good woman, resolves his heart on Anuttarasamyaksambodhi,
how should he dwell, how should he subdue his heart?"
The Buddha said, "Good indeed, good indeed, Subhuti it is as you say.
The Tathagata remembers and protects all bodhisattvas and causes them to be well-endowed.
Now listen attentively; I shall tell you. A good man or good woman who resolves his heart on Anuttarasamyaksambodhi (i.e. Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment)
[ANSWER:] should thus dwell, should thus subdue his heart."
"Yes, certainly, World Honored One. I want to hear. I am delighted to listen.")

——————

(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013: 2. Where should practitioners abide mentally, and how should they control their thoughts? The elder Subhūti, who was in the great assembly, then arose from his seat, stood up, bared his right shoulder, kneeled down with his right knee, clasped his hands together and respectfully addressed the Buddha, saying: "How rare is the World-honored One! The Tathāgata is well mindful of all the bodhisattvas; he keeps them well in his fold. World-honored One, when good sons and good daughters seek peerless perfect enlightenment, in what should they abide, and how should they subdue their thoughts?"
The Buddha said, "Excellent! Excellent! Subhūti, it is as you have said. The Tathāgata is well mindful of all the bodhisattvas, and is skilful at keeping them in his fold. Now you listen well, and I shall explain it for you."
"If good sons and good daughters would like to arouse the mind of peerless perfect enlightenment, they should abide like this and subdue their thoughts like this."
The Venerable Subhūti said: "Yes, please do so, World-honored One. We are listening with great anticipation.")

——————-----------------------------------------

3. [A] The Awareness of all living beings - Correct Bodhicitta without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.

[A. Sections with similar comments / topic: 3, 25.] – Generating Bodhicitta without any attachment. There are no real sentient beings to liberate.
-
[B. Sections with similar comments / topic: 4, 14, 15 …] – Performing all activities of the body & speech & mind [in accord with the 1st truth - T1 - valid useful conventional truths] without any grasping / attachment / absolutes [in accord with the 2nd truth - T2 - emptiness of inherent existence of all dharmas] [ = acting more and more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths - U2T]: ex. generating the motivation of bodhicitta; living / going / causing / producing / fabricating / creating / listening / speaking / thinking / learning / practicing / teaching / perceiving / knowing / conceptualising / discriminating / differentiating / categorising / accepting / rejecting; using words / names / concepts / ideas / relations / causality / teachings / practices / views / methods / goals / adapted skillful means; acquiring realisations / blessings / merit / stages; purifying the body, speech and mind; having confidence / faith; reaching enlightenment … without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.
-
(i.e. Answer: Bodhisattvas should generate the motivation of Bodhicitta, but … while being more and more in accord with the teachings of this Sutrawithout any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere, while being aware of their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U3S / Uopp], not accepting / affirming / seeking / adding / doing anything in absolute terms, not rejecting / negating / abandoning / eliminating / subtracting / not-doing anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
Extremes like: i. existence / functionality / realism / causality, ii. non-existence / non-functionality / nihilism / acausality, iii. both together / dualism / pluralism, iv. neither / monism / oneness; or i. self / subject / subjectivism, ii. other / object / objectivism, iii. living beings / both-together / relation / opposition / variety / individuality, iv. Cosmic Unity / neither / oneness / no-individuality; etc.
-
Acting this way could generate an inconceivable amount of super-good-karma / merit & wisdom united, because it is acting more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. It is more and more beneficial because it is getting us closer and closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free of all extremes & middle, the Buddha-nature of everything.)

[Goto TOC]

[a. Translation by Alex Johnson:]

Then the Buddha addressed the assembly.

"All living beings, whether born from eggs, from the womb, from moisture, or spontaneously;
whether they have form or do not have form;
whether they are aware or unaware,
whether they are not aware or not unaware,
all living beings (objects / recipients) will eventually be led by me (subject / giver) to the final Nirvana,
the final ending [transcendence] of the cycle of birth and death.

And when this unfathomable,
infinite number of living beings have all been liberated [T1 - not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless],
IN TRUTH NOT EVEN A SINGLE BEING HAS ACTUALLY BEEN LIBERATED. [T2 - not really existent / functional] [U2T - Union of the Two Truths]
(i.e. Developing the Bodhicitta motivation with more and more wisdom … without any attachment, without falling for any extreme … thus more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths [U2T]. Not merely in accord with emptiness alone [T2], or in accord with conventional truths alone [T1], or both together [2T], or neither [1T].)

(i.e. ANSWER: Generating Bodhicitta, or liberating sentient beings, without any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere; acting more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, acting more and more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] free from all extremes & middle. The same for all types of Mahayana practices: Bodhicitta, the four immeasurables, the six paramitas, etc. The same for all types of activities of the body, speech & mind all the time.)

(i.e. The subtlety here is that 'detachment' does not mean 'to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do' as if it was inherently 'bad'. It does not mean to get separated from. It just means not being fooled by it, not grasping in absolute terms to it, not being obsessed by it, not being slave to it, being 'free from, not necessarily without'. How? Simply by understanding and then directly realising its true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T].)

(i.e. It is not about dropping all thoughts, all karma producing activities, the self and the world. Bodhisattvas must develop virtuous practices like cultivating the Bodhicitta motivation, the four immeasurable attitudes, the six paramitas … but without any attachment, without grasping at any extreme, without attachment to anything … because: although everything is empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional <==> everything is still conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless, although merely labeled / imputed by the mind [U3S]. And vice versa, one aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other (<=>) [U2T]. Everything is not existent / functional, not non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth. Meaning the true nature of everything is indescribable / inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. Meaning there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. So there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone to get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. That is the Middle Way Path of the Bodhisattvas. Only practices that are more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, by uniting virtuous methods with more and more wisdom, will bring someone closer and closer to the true liberation / enlightenment, creating more and more merit united with wisdom. Everything else is mere bad or neutral karma formation.)

(i.e. Meaning the two aspects / truthsappearances / functionality and emptiness of inherent existenceare not really in opposition / separate / dual; they are two inseparable / interdependent / harmonious aspects of reality as it is here & now. Nor are they identical / one. They are not like two different things coming together. That is why we call this the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas [U2T]. So, even if everything is empty of inherent existence, there are valid / useful conventional / relative concepts, truths, methods, goals, teachings, accumulation of merit & wisdom … as long as we combine them with more and more wisdom about the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, about the Union of the two Truths free from all extremes & middle.
Merely saying 'no this, not that … or yes …’, saying that everything is empty of inherent existence is not enough; that is nihilism.
The two truths are not really in opposition, one is not superior to the other; they are more like inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony <==> thus both empty of inherent existence [U2T-2T]. The two truths are themselves not existent, not non-existent, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; etc. Emptiness is also a conventional truth; emptiness is also empty of inherent existence, not the absolute truth, not the true nature of reality as it is here & now.)

"Why Subhuti?

Because if a disciple still clings to the arbitrary illusions of form or phenomena such as an ego, a personality (object), a self (subject), a separate person (both together / diversity / individuality), or a universal self (neither / oneness / no-individuality) existing eternally (existing independently of the mind),
then that person is not an authentic disciple."

(i.e. Otherwise, if one still grasps at one extreme or another (ex. entertaining extreme views like: self / subject / subjectivism, objects / phenomena / objectivism, both together / dualism / pluralism, neither / oneness; or entertaining extreme views like: existence / functionality / causality / relativity, non-existence / non-functionality / non-causality, both together, neither; or entertaining extreme views like: conventional truths / relativity / causality only [T1], emptiness only [T2], both together and in opposition [2T], neither as in being One [1T] …), then he is not worthy of being called a bodhisattva.)

(i.e. Transcending opposites: Bodhisattvas should not have any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification about any of the four extreme positions about any duality; ex. A, not-A, both-together, neither, and there is no fifth (tetralemma):
It is the same list in sections 3, 6, 9, 14, 15, 17, 23, 25, 31.
This particular list is representing the four related extreme views of the duality subject vs. object: the list varies from one translator to another; so I have 'normalised it to: i. subject / self, ii. object / others, iii. both subject & object together / beings / diversity / manyness / individuality, iv. neither subject nor object / universal self / cosmic unity / life / monism / oneness / no-individuality.
The list can be the four extremes views about any dualistic concept / duality: ex. 'this', 'non-this', both this & non-this together, neither this nor non-this; existence, non-existence, both together, neither; dharma, non-dharma, both together, neither; dependent origination / 1st truth, emptiness / 2nd truth, both truths together / difference & opposition of the two truths / dualism, neither of the two truths / identity of the two truths / monism / oneness; being bounded / samsara, being liberated / nirvana, both together, neither; superior, inferior, average, a combination of those, none of those; subject / subjectivism, relation / action / processism, object / objectivism, a combination of those, none of those; etc. It works with all dualistic concepts / dualities / triad / quads / etc.
The message is "Reality as it is is non-dual, inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle": As long as one clings to, is attached to, is fixating on, is obsessed about, is slave to … one opposite / extreme about any duality / triad / quad / etc. ==> then "that person is not an authentic disciple (3 & 17)", "he would not be able to awaken pure faith (14)", he "will be holding onto something that is non-existent", "that person would not be able to listen to, receive, recite, or explain this Sutra to others (15)", he will not understand the subtle meaning of Sutras like this one (31), he will not conceive the idea that it is the truth (14), he will not benefits from it, he will not accumulate immeasurable merit & wisdom, he will be slave to his poisons – desire, hatred, ignorance – and obsessions / passions.
Meaning Reality as it is is not A, not non-A, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; whatever 'A' is conventionally.
Meaning Reality as it is is indescribable, inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma – physical, conceptual, mental, individual, collective, cosmic –.
So it is never about accepting / affirming / seeking one side of a duality and rejecting / negating / abandoning the other side, not about vice versa, not about accepting both sides together, not about rejecting both sides. It is about understanding and then directly realising their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T].)

——————

(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 3. The Lord said this to them:
[ANSWER:] "In this regard, Subhuti, those who have set out on the Bodhisattva path should have the following thought, 'However many living beings are comprised in the total aggregation of living beings, be they born from eggs, or born from wombs, or born from moisture, or arising spontaneously, whether having physical form or being non-material, whether having apperception, or lacking apperception, or neither having apperception nor lacking apperception — however the realm of living beings is defined when one defines it — I should bring all of them to final extinction in the realm of extinction without substrate remaining.
But after I have brought immeasurable living beings to final extinction in this way [T1],
no living being whatsoever has been brought to extinction. [T2] [U2T]'
[OTHERWISE:] What is the reason for that?
If, Subhuti, the idea of a living being occurs to a Bodhisattva, he should not be called a Bodhisattva. Why is that? Subhuti, anybody to whom the idea of a living being occurs, or the idea of a soul or the idea of a person occurs, should not be called a Bodhisattva.)

——————

(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Three: The Buddha said to him,
[ANSWER:] "Subhuti, those who would now set forth on the Bodhisattva path should thus give birth to this thought: 'However many beings there are in whatever realms of being might exist, whether they are born from an egg or born from a womb, born from the water or born from the air, whether they have form or no form, whether they have perception or no perception or neither perception nor no perception, in whatever conceivable realm of being one might conceive of beings, in the realm of complete nirvana I shall liberate them all [T1].
And though I thus liberate countless beings [T1], not a single being is liberated [T2] [U2T].'
[OTHERWISE:] "And why not?
Subhuti, a Bodhisattva who creates the perception of a being cannot be called a 'Bodhisattva.' And why not? Subhuti, no one can be called a Bodhisattva who creates the perception of a self or who creates the perception of a being, a life, or a soul.")
.
(From the book: [It is not about controlling our thoughts:] "The True Teaching of the Great Path.” Here, the Buddha summarizes how bodhisattvas stand, walk, and control their thoughts, which they do by giving birth to a thought so completely altruistic it includes neither self nor other. … instead of telling us how to conduct our lives and our practice or how to control our thoughts, the Buddha tells us to give birth to a thought. … Only a thought directed towards the liberation of all beings (without any discrimination) will work. Thus, bodhisattvas turn their thoughts into offerings. … "How should those who set forth on the bodhisattva path stand? This verse answers this question.” … Seng-chao says, "Nothing arises on its own. Everything is the result of karma. All it is is karma [U3S]. It possesses no self-nature [T2]. According to the Middle Path, since nothing possesses any self-nature, it does not exist. Yet we give things a name, hence they do not not exist [T1]. Because we do not not give them names, we keep liberating beings. But because their natures are empty, we do not actually liberate anyone. And why don’t we liberate anyone? If the concept of a self existed, we could say that somebody is liberated. But since neither a self nor an other exist, who is liberated? It is only a fiction.” … The Buddha tells Subhuti that the bodhisattva’s practice only succeeds if it is devoted to the liberation of all beings and at the same time detached from the perception of being. … Not only is no one liberated (object), no one liberates (subject). Moreover, there is no liberation (relation / action) [U3S / U2T-3S]. For bodhisattvas are also free of the perceptions of life and rebirth around which liberation turns.)

——————

(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 3. THE FIRST FLASH OF LIGHTNING - The Buddha said to Subhuti,
[ANSWER:] "This is how the Bodhisattva Mahasattvas master their thinking. However many species of living beings there are—whether born from eggs, from the womb, from moisture, or spontaneously; whether they have form or do not have form; whether they have perceptions or do not have perceptions; or whether it cannot be said of them that they have perceptions or that they do not have perceptions, we must lead all these beings to the ultimate nirvana so that they can be liberated [T1].
And when this innumerable, immeasurable, infinite number of beings has become liberated [T1],
we do not, in truth, think that a single being has been liberated [T2] [U2T].
[OTHERWISE:] "Why is this so?
If, Subhuti, a Bodhisattva holds on to the idea that a self, a person, a living being, or a life span exists, that person is not an authentic Bodhisattva.")

——————

(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 3 - The Orthodox Doctrine of the Great Vehicle: The Buddha told Subhuti, [ANSWER:] "all Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, should thus subdue their hearts with the vow, "I must cause all living beings — those born from eggs, born from wombs, born from moisture, born by transformation; those with form, those without form, those with thought, those without thought, those not totally with thought, and those not totally without thought — to enter nirvana without residue and be taken across to extinction.
Yet of the immeasurable, boundless numbers of living beings thus taken across to extinction [T1],
there is actually no living being taken across to extinction [T2] [U2T].
[OTHERWISE:] And why?
Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva has a mark of self, a mark of others, a mark of living beings, or a mark of a life, he is not a Bodhisattva.")

——————

(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013: 3. The Bodhisattva's Vow: The Buddha said to Subhūti:
[ANSWER:] "The bodhisattvas and mahāsattvas should subdue their thoughts like this: All the different types of sentient beings, whether they be born from eggs, born from a womb, born from moisture or born spontaneously; whether or not they have form; whether they abide in perceptions or no perceptions; or without either perceptions or non-perceptions,
I save them by causing them to enter nirvana without remainder.
And when these immeasurable, countless, infinite number of sentient beings have been liberated, in actuality, no sentient being has attained liberation.
Why is this so? Subhūti, If a bodhisattva abides in the signs of self, person, sentient being, or life-span, she or he is not a bodhisattva.")

——————-----------------------------------------

4. [B] Unattached practice of charity - Correct Practice without any grasping / attachment / absolutes. Accumulating merit and wisdom together.

[B. Sections with similar comments / topic: 4, 14, 15 …] – Performing all activities of the body & speech & mind [in accord with the 1st truth - T1 - valid useful conventional truths] without any grasping / attachment / absolutes [in accord with the 2nd truth - T2 - emptiness of inherent existence of all dharmas] [ = acting more and more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths - U2T]: ex. generating the motivation of bodhicitta; living / going / causing / producing / fabricating / creating / listening / speaking / thinking / learning / practicing / teaching / perceiving / knowing / conceptualising / discriminating / differentiating / categorising / accepting / rejecting; using words / names / concepts / ideas / relations / causality / teachings / practices / views / methods / goals / adapted skillful means; acquiring realisations / blessings / merit / stages; purifying the body, speech and mind; having confidence / faith; reaching enlightenment … without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.
-
(i.e. Answer: Bodhisattvas should practice, but … while being more and more in accord with the teachings of this Sutrawithout any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without any di-vision between the three spheres – subject, relation / action, object – … without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere, while being aware of their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T], not accepting / affirming / seeking / adding / doing anything in absolute terms, not rejecting / negating / abandoning / eliminating / subtracting / not-doing anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
Extremes like: i. existence / functionality / realism / causality, ii. non-existence / non-functionality / nihilism / acausality, iii. both together / dualism / pluralism, iv. neither / monism / oneness; or i. self / subject / subjectivism, ii. other / object / objectivism, iii. living beings / both-together / relation / opposition / variety / individuality, iv. Cosmic Unity / neither / oneness / no-individuality; etc.
-
Acting this way could generate an inconceivable amount of super-good-karma / merit & wisdom united, because it is acting more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. It is more and more beneficial because it is getting us closer and closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free of all extremes & middle, the Buddha-nature of everything.
-
And it is the way to reaching the Highest Perfect Wisdom, it is the way to becoming a living Buddha.)

[Goto TOC]

[a. Translation by Alex Johnson:]

[Buddha:]
(i.e. The Buddha has the dharma eye [U2T] + the Buddha eye [omniscience]: with his dharma eye he directly perceives the inconceivable true nature & dynamic as it is of all dharmas, as pointed by the concept of the inseparability / interdependence / co-dependence / harmony / Union of the Two Truths [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. And, as for a Path to Buddhahood, he knows how that one has to act more and more in accord with this [U2T]. In this Sutra, the Buddha is trying to help Subhuti realise his mistakes [2T]; and gain a dharma eye [U2T], an awareness of the inseparability / interdependence / harmony / Union of the Two Truths [U2T]. See section 18 for the 5 eyes.)

"Furthermore, Subhuti,
in the practice of compassion and charity [T1] a disciple should be detached [T2] [U2T].

(i.e. Detached: No attachment to anything related to the three spheres – ex. subject / actor / giver, relation / action / giving, object / result / gift & recipient –; to their existence or non-existence, to their difference / multiplicity or identity / oneness, etc. No attachment to any extremes & middle: ex. to a subject / ego / self / personality / giver, to objects of the senses / other selves / recipient, to both subject & objects together / difference / manyness / dualism / living beings, to neither / identity / Life / Universal self / Cosmic Unity / monism / oneness; no grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification to/of anything at all.)

That is to say,
he should practice compassion and charity [T1] without regard to appearances, without regard to form [T2] [U2T],
without regard to sound, smell, taste, touch, or any quality of any kind. (i.e. detached from all objects of the senses)
Subhuti, this is how the disciple should practice compassion and charity.
(i.e. Practicing compassion & charity with more and more wisdom … without any attachment, without falling for any extreme … thus more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths [U2T]. Not merely in accord with emptiness alone [T2], or in accord with conventional truths alone [T1], or both together [2T], or neither [1T].)

(i.e. ANSWER: Pure acting / practicing compassion & generosity without any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere; more in accord with the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] free from all extremes & middle. The same for all types of Mahayana practices: Bodhicitta, the four immeasurables, the six paramitas, etc. The same for all types of activities of the body, speech & mind all the time.)

(i.e. The subtlety here is that 'detachment' does not mean 'to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do' as if it was inherently 'bad'. It does not mean to get separated from. It just means not being fooled by it, not grasping in absolute terms to it, not being obsessed by it, not being slave to it, being 'free from, not necessarily without'. How? Simply by understanding and then directly realising its true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T].)

(i.e. It is not about dropping all thoughts, all karma producing activities, the self and the world. Bodhisattvas must develop virtuous practices like cultivating the Bodhicitta motivation, the four immeasurable attitudes, the six paramitas … but without any attachment, without grasping at any extreme, without attachment to anything … because: although everything is empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional <==> everything is still conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless, although merely labeled / imputed by the mind [U3S]. And vice versa, one aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other (<=>) [U2T]. Everything is not existent / functional, not non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth. Meaning the true nature of everything is indescribable / inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. Meaning there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. So there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone to get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. That is the Middle Way Path of the Bodhisattvas. Only practices that are more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, by uniting virtuous methods with more and more wisdom, will bring someone closer and closer to the true liberation / enlightenment, creating more and more merit united with wisdom. Everything else is mere bad or neutral karma formation.)

(i.e. Meaning the two aspects / truthsappearances / functionality and emptiness of inherent existenceare not really in opposition / separate / dual; they are two inseparable / interdependent / harmonious aspects of reality as it is here & now. Nor are they identical / one. They are not like two different things coming together. That is why we call this the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas [U2T]. So, even if everything is empty of inherent existence, there are valid / useful conventional / relative concepts, truths, methods, goals, teachings, accumulation of merit & wisdom … as long as we combine them with more and more wisdom about the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, about the Union of the two Truths free from all extremes & middle.
Merely saying 'no this, not that … or yes …’, saying that everything is empty of inherent existence is not enough; that is nihilism.
The two truths are not really in opposition, one is not superior to the other; they are more like inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony <==> thus both empty of inherent existence [U2T-2T]. The two truths are themselves not existent, not non-existent, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; etc. Emptiness is also a conventional truth; emptiness is also empty of inherent existence, not the absolute truth, not the true nature of reality as it is here & now.)

[Buddha:]

WHY?
Because practicing compassion and charity [T1] without attachment [T2] [U2T]
*** is the way to reaching the Highest Perfect Wisdom, it is the way to becoming a living Buddha. ***

(i.e. Meaning there is something beyond emptiness: the true Buddha, the Buddha-nature of everything, the true nature of Reality as it is here & now. Subhuti should not be able to simply say that the Buddha in front of him is just empty, not existent. He should not be able to simply discard all causality / production of enlightenment, all paths.)

(i.e. Because acting this way is more and more in accord with the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, more and more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T], because it is the way to directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the Buddha-nature in everything.)

[Buddha:]

"Subhuti, do you think that you can measure all of the space in the Eastern Heavens?"

(i.e. Using the metaphor of 'Space' to describe the immeasurability of Merit united with Wisdom. The two accumulations united; thus more and more in accord with the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now as pointed by the concept of the Union of the Two Truths [U2T / U2T-3SW / U2T-opp].)

[Subhuti:]

"No, Most Honored One. One cannot possibly measure all of the space in the Eastern Heavens."

[Buddha:]

"Subhuti, can space in all the Western, Southern, and Northern Heavens, both above and below, be measured?"

"No, Most Honored One. One cannot possibly measure all the space in the Western, Southern, and Northern Heavens."

"Well, Subhuti, the same is true of the MERIT of the disciple who
practices compassion and charity [T1]
without any attachment to appearances, without cherishing any idea of form. [T2] [U2T]
It is impossible to measure the MERIT they will accrue.
(i.e. Acquisition of merit: Introducing an example of causality / production that Subhuti should not be able to simply dismiss by saying either ‘yes’ or 'no this, no that ... all is empty’. One can feel there that there is something more than just ‘yes’ or 'no this, no that ... all is empty'. There is something inconceivable beyond existence / functionality & non-existence / non-functionality, beyond causality & non-causality, beyond production & non-production, beyond subject & object, beyond the conventional / relative & the absolute, beyond appearances [T1] & emptiness [T2] & both together [2T] & neither [1T], beyond all extremes positions about any duality / triad / quad / etc.: ex. this, non-this, both together, neither.)

(i.e. An antidote to the extreme of mere-emptiness: The Buddha is affirming that, even if everything is empty of inherent existence [T2], there is still the possibility of relatively getting to enlightenment through the accumulation of merit and wisdom together [T1], as long as one does not grasp at any individual, teachings, merit or enlightenment. Emptiness does not deny conventional concepts, truths, methods, goals; and vice versa. The two truths are in harmony, one supporting the other. Acting more and more in accord with it is the way to recognise the Buddha-nature in everything. Getting involved more and more with this Sutra is of great help -- because it is the embodiment of the true nature of reality as it is here & now, of the Buddha-nature in everything, of the trikaya. The proof is that although everything is empty of inherent existence, "all Buddhas and all the teachings and values of the highest, most fulfilled, most awakened minds (result / effect / enlightenment) arise from (caused by) the teachings in this Sutra (causes / teachings)”.)

(i.e. It is about accumulating merit & wisdom together – one alone is not enough –. It is not giving material gifts that brings great progress / results, but practicing virtuous methods without any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere, accumulating merit and wisdom together, gradually realising the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, and acting more and more in accord with it. Anything that brings someone closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T] has Great Merit. Any activity of the body, speech & mind done without attachment is pure, with attachment it is impure.)

Subhuti, my disciples should let their minds absorb and dwell in the teachings I have just given."

(i.e. Conclusion: It is not about rejecting / negating / abandoning / getting-rid-of thoughts and of the three spheres, but about becoming fully aware of their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3SW / U2T-opp], while living in the same Reality as it is as before.)

——————

(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 4.
[ANSWER:] "However, a Bodhisattva should not give a gift [T1] while fixing on an object [T2] [U2T], Subhuti.
He should not give a gift [T1] while fixing on anything [T2] [U2T].
He should not give a gift while fixing on physical forms.
He should not give a gift while fixing on sounds, smells, tastes or objects of touch or on dharmas.
For this is the way, Subhuti,
a Bodhisattva should give a gift [T1],
so that he does not fix on the idea of the distinctive features (of any object) [T2] [U2T].

WHY is that? [ ==> immeasurable merit]
Subhuti, it is not easy to take the measure of the quantity of MERIT, Subhuti, of
the Bodhisattva who gives a gift [T1] without fixation [T2] [U2T].
What do you think, Subhuti, is it easy to take the measure of space in the east?"
Subhuti said, "Indeed not, Lord."
"Similarly, is it easy to take the measure of space in the south, west, north, nadir, zenith, all the intermediate directions and any direction besides them, in the ten directions?
"Subhuti said, "Indeed not, Lord."
The Lord said, "Quite so, Subhuti. Quite so, Subhuti.
It is not easy to take the measure of the quantity of MERIT
of the Bodhisattva who gives a gift [T1] without fixation [T2] [U2T].
However, this is the way a Bodhisattva should give a gift, Subhuti,
as an instance of the meritorious activity which consists in giving.)

——————

(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Four:
[ANSWER:] "Moreover, Subhuti, when Bodhisattvas give a gift [T1], they should not be attached to a thing [T2] [U2T].
When they give a gift [T1], they should not be attached to anything at all [T2] [U2T].
They should not be attached to a sight when they give a gift.
Nor should they be attached to a sound, a smell, a taste, a touch, or a dharma when they give a gift.
Thus, Subhuti, fearless Bodhisattvas should give a gift [T1]
without being attached to the perception of an object [T2] [U2T].

And why? [ ==> immeasurable merit]
Subhuti, the body of MERIT of those Bodhisattvas who give a gift [T1] without being attached [T2] [U2T] is not easy to measure.
What do you think, Subhuti, is the space to the east easy to measure?"
Subhuti replied, "No, it is not, Bhagavan."
The Buddha said, "Likewise, is the space to the south, to the west, to the north, in between, above, below, or in any of the ten directions easy to measure?"
Subhuti replied, "No, it is not, Bhagavan."
The Buddha said, "So it is, Subhuti.
The body of MERIT of those Bodhisattvas who give a gift [T1] without being attached [T2] [U2T] is not easy to measure.
Thus, Subhuti, those who set forth on the Bodhisattva path should
give a gift [T1] without being attached to the perception of an object [T2] [U2T].")
.
(From the book: "The Wonderful Practice of No Attachment.” Having stepped onto the bodhisattva path without such baggage as a self, a being, a life, or a soul, noble sons and daughters are now advised how to walk that path, which they do by practicing the perfection of charity, for the compassionate aspiration to save (action) other beings (object) is essentially an act of charity, and charity is the only member of the six perfections that by itself results in merit. For it is the only member directed exclusively at liberating others. Thus, it is the first step on the bodhisattva path. It is also the last step. For by liberating others, bodhisattvas liberate themselves(subject). But liberation is only possible if there is no attachment of any kind (subject, action, objects), including attachment to the gift of liberation (object). … In practicing charity, or any of the perfections, the Buddha warns against attachment to three things: the practitioner (in this case, the person who gives(subject)); the beneficiary (the recipient (object)); and the practice (the giving of the gift (relation / action)) (the the gift (object)). … as with charity, so do we also practice the other five paramitas. … Chiang Wei-nung says, "The Buddha says we should not be attached to the six senses. He does not tell us to eliminate the six senses. Cultivation takes place in the world. It does not deny the world. We have to depend on the world to practice. Charity and merit show us where to begin our practice.” … Tao-yuan says, "The Buddha is afraid that when people practice non-attachment to anything they will fall into the trap of nothingness. Hence, he tells them they will reap immeasurable merit. This is not nothingness. People who read the Diamond Sutra should realize the absence of the four perceptions does not result in nothingness. For the absence of perceptions is inexpressible existence. But to reap immeasurable merit, they must practice without attachment to any reward.” … If people cultivate merit and don’t cultivate wisdom, their dharma body will not be perfect. If they cultivate wisdom and don’t cultivate merit, their reward and apparition bodies will not be perfect.)

——————

(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 4. THE GREATEST GIFT -
[ANSWER:] "Moreover, Subhuti,
when a Bodhisattva practices generosity [T1], he does not rely on any object  [T2] [U2T]
—that is to say he does not rely on any form, sound, smell, taste, tactile object, or dharma—to practice generosity.
That, Subhuti, is the spirit in which a Bodhisattva should
practice generosity [T1], not relying on signs [T2] [U2T].

Why? [ ==> immeasurable merit]
If a Bodhisattva practices generosity [T1] without relying on signs [T2] [U2T],
the happiness that results cannot be conceived of or measured.
Subhuti, do you think that the space in the Eastern Quarter can be measured?"
"No, World-Honored One."
"Subhuti, can space in the Western, Southern, and Northern Quarters, above and below be measured?"
"No, World-Honored One."
"Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva does not rely on any concept [T2] when practicing generosity [T1] [U2T],
then the happiness that results from that virtuous act is as great as space. It cannot be measured.
Subhuti, the Bodhisattvas should let their minds dwell in the teachings I have just given.")

——————

(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 4 - Wonderful Conduct without Dwelling:
[ANSWER:] "Moreover, Subhuti, as to dharmas, a Bodhisattva should not dwell anywhere [T2] when he gives [T1] [U2T].
He should not dwell in forms when he gives, nor should he dwell in sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, or dharmas when he gives.
Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should give thus [T1[: he should not dwell in marks [T2] [U2T].

And why? [ ==> immeasurable merit]
If a Bodhisattva does not dwell in marks [T2] when he gives [T1] [U2T], his blessings and virtues are immeasurable.
"Subhuti, what do you think, is space in the east measurable?"
"No, World Honored One." "Subhuti, is space in the south, west, north, or in the intermediate directions, or above, or below, measurable?"
"No, World Honored One."
"Subhuti, the blessings and virtue of a Bodhisattva who does not dwell in marks [T2] when he gives [T1] [U2T]
are just as immeasurable.
Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should only dwell in what is taught thus.")

——————

(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013: 4. Unattached practice of charity: "Furthermore Subhūti,
when bodhisattvas practice charity, they should not abide [in the notion that they are practicing charity].
This is what is called 'practicing charity while not abiding in form,' and
'practicing charity while not abiding in sound, odor, taste, touch, or conceptions.' Why?
If bodhisattvas practice charity while not abiding in signs of charity, their merit will be incalculable.
Subhūti, what do you think? The space in the easterly direction is incalculable, is it not?"
"You are right, World-honored One, it is not calculable."
"Subhūti, is all of the space in the four cardinal directions, the four intermediate directions, the zenith, and the nadir calculable?"
"It is incalculable, World-honored One."
"Subhūti, the merits attained by bodhisattvas who practice charity without abiding in its signs are also incalculable like this. Subhūti, the bodhisattvas need only focus themselves on this teaching.")

——————-----------------------------------------

5. [C] Physical attributes of buddhahood are illusive and unrealCorrect Thinking / Perception / Cognition without any grasping / attachment / absolutes. Understanding and then directly realising the true nature & dynamic of the karmic cycle of subject, action, and object [U3S / U2T-3S]. Directly perceiving the Buddha-nature in everything.

[B. Sections with similar comments / topic: 4, 14, 15 …] – Performing all activities of the body & speech & mind [in accord with the 1st truth - T1 - valid useful conventional truths] without any grasping / attachment / absolutes [in accord with the 2nd truth - T2 - emptiness of inherent existence of all dharmas] [ = acting more and more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths - U2T]: ex. generating the motivation of bodhicitta; living / going / causing / producing / fabricating / creating / listening / speaking / thinking / learning / practicing / teaching / perceiving / knowing / conceptualising / discriminating / differentiating / categorising / accepting / rejecting; using words / names / concepts / ideas / relations / causality / teachings / practices / views / methods / goals / adapted skillful means; acquiring realisations / blessings / merit / stages; purifying the body, speech and mind; having confidence / faith; reaching enlightenment … without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.
-
[C. Sections with similar comments / topic: 5, 18, 20, 26.] – Correct perception: Perceiving / knowing / experiencing the true nature & dynamic of all dharmas while using them: the Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas [U2T], the Union of opposites [Uopp], the illusory nature of all dharmas: 'there but not there', the Buddha-nature in everything. Being aware of the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of the limitless & centerless karmic cycle = Inseparability / Interdependence / Co-evolution / Union of the three spheres of action / thinking / perception / cognition / acquisition … [U3S / U2T-3S].
-
(i.e. Answer: Bodhisattvas should think / perceive / know the world / live in the world – ex. the 5 aggregates / body & speech & mind / three spheres / two truths –, but … while being more and more in accord with the teachings of this Sutrawithout any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without any di-vision between the three spheres – subject, relation / action, object – … without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere, while being aware of their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T], not accepting / affirming / seeking / adding / doing anything in absolute terms, not rejecting / negating / abandoning / eliminating / subtracting / not-doing anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
Extremes like: i. existence / functionality / realism / causality, ii. non-existence / non-functionality / nihilism / acausality, iii. both together / dualism / pluralism, iv. neither / monism / oneness; or i. self / subject / subjectivism, ii. other / object / objectivism, iii. living beings / both-together / relation / opposition / variety / individuality, iv. Cosmic Unity / neither / oneness / no-individuality; etc.
-
Acting this way could generate an inconceivable amount of super-good-karma / merit & wisdom united, because it is acting more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. It is more and more beneficial because it is getting us closer and closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free of all extremes & middle, the Buddha-nature of everything.
-
-
All sentient beings think / perceive / know the world in accordance with their accumulated conditioning / karma – good-karma / merit, bad-karma, neutral-karma; individual, collective, cosmic –. There is no objective world existing independently of the mind(s), and no independent mind. The three spheres of any action / thinking / perception / cognition / acquisition – ex. subject / actor / thinker / perceiver / knower / acquirer, relation / action / thinking / perception / cognition / acquisition, object / result / thought / perceived / known / acquired – are inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended <==> thus empty of inherent existence. They are merely labeled / imputed / imagined by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma. They are like illusions: 'there but not there'. So we cannot reduce everything to either the subject / mind, the objects / phenomena, or the relations / actions / processes, or any combination of them, or none of them.
The karmic cycle is this inseparability / interdependence / co-emergence / co-evolution of the three spheres: subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena / apparent world. One sphere is conditioned-by & conditioning the others in cycle. The object / result / thought / perceived / known / acquired becomes part of the karma of the subject / actor / thinker / perceiver / knower / acquirer and conditions the next motivation & action. It is the limitless and centerless cycle of the five aggregates. The wisdom of enlightenment will not stop / annihilate this limitless and centerless causal cycle, it will only makes Bodhisattvas free from it, not slave to it. Karma will have no more absolute grip on them; they will master their karma.
Knowing this Bodhisattvas can become free from all illusions / conditioning / karma, from the world – not accepting it for what it seems to be, not completely rejecting it either.
-
Perceiving something, or part of it, is no proof of its inherent existence.
What makes something pure & perfect? Purifying appearances is done with the direct wisdom of knowing their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T]. Because everything is not impure / imperfect, not pure / perfect, not both together, not neither; we say that everything is primordially pure / perfect, as an imperfect temporary antidote to our usual position.
-
Impure perception: Something is perceived as 'impure' if one does not know its inconceivable true nature & dynamic as it is here & now.
Pure perception: Something is perceived as 'pure' if one does know its inconceivable true nature & dynamic as it is here & now.
Purification: So the world is purified by purifying the mind and the actions, and vice versa, by gaining more and more wisdom about the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres – subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena / world. In other words, there is no real purification; no real opposition pure vs. impure, or subject / mind vs. relation / action vs. object / phenomena / world …, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. Apparent opposites are more like inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony <==> thus empty of inherent existence.
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should think / perceive / know everything as like illusions 'there but not there'; not existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless …; dependently appearing but still empty of inherent existence, empty of inherent existence but still dependently appearing & relatively functional.
-
-
The Buddha speaks / teaches about a diversity of conventional / relative / inter-subjective things (conventional truths, methods, goals)
(ex. the five aggregates, the body, speech and mind with their components and functionalities, the 32 marks, good bad and neutral-karma, the four noble truths, the three marks of existence, the 12 links of dependent origination, the two truths, world-systems, solid-masses, atoms, right and wrong views, wholesome and unwholesome actions, grasping, attachment, obsessions, passions, subject & object & relation / action, difference & identity, separation & union, manyness & oneness, duality & non-duality, permanence & impermanence, continuity & discontinuity, eternity & annihilation, equality & inequality, purity & impurity, perfection & imperfection, freedom & bondage, samsara & nirvana, etc.),
but Bodhisattvas know that those things – ex. the three spheres of action / acquisition / ownership: subject / actor / acquirer / owner, relation / action / acquisition / ownership, object / result / acquired / possessions / 5 aggregates / body speech and mind / blessing and merit / karma; or the three spheres of thinking / perception / cognition: subject / actor / thinker / perceiver / knower, relation / action / thinking / perception / cognition, object / result / thought / perceived / known / karma; or the three spheres of causality: subject / cause, relation / action / causality, object / effect –
although conventionally appearing / perceptible and relatively functional, not completely non-existent [T1 - 1st truth], are not really existent / functional in absolute terms; they are empty of inherent existence, not really existent [T2 - 2nd truth], are merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma [U3S]. They are dependently co-appearing and relatively functional, but still empty of inherent existence; empty but still appearing. One aspect implies / proves / enables the other [U2T - Inseparability / Interdependence / Harmony / Union of the Two Truths]. They are like illusions: 'there but not there'; not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless … [tetralemma].
Understanding / perceiving / realising this is perceiving the true Buddha / trikaya, the Buddha-nature, the inconceivable unborn unconditioned unchanging unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now.
-
-
Each sentient being thinks / perceives / knows 'reality as it is' according to his evolving conditioning / karma, or level of awakening. Some have ordinary eyes [T1-only]; some have more acute eyes (gods), some have nihilistic eyes [T2-only], some perceive the two truths as different and in opposition (arhats) [2T], some perceive the two truths as identical / one [1T], some of them directly perceive the inseparability / interdependence / harmony / Union of the Two truths (Bodhisattvas & Buddhas) (the two truths being not different, not identical, not both together, not neither) [U2T], and then there is the inconceivable Buddha eye.
Having transcended all conditioning / karma with direct wisdom into their true nature & dynamic, Buddha can understand the way all sentient beings of the Universe think / perceive / know 'Reality as it is' in accordance with their particular conditioning / karma; this way he can adapt his communication / teachings to the mentality of each of them – always using adapted skillful means because there are no absolute ideas, words, concepts, truths, methods, goals.
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should think / perceive / know the Union of the Two Truths about everything. That is perceiving the dependent / causal aspect and the emptiness aspect together, as inseparable, interdependence, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended <==> thus themselves empty of inherent existence. Perceiving only one aspect is not enough. Grasping at mere-causality / mere-karmic-cycle is a fault. Grasping at mere-emptiness is much worse. Grasping at the two truths as different / opposite / dual, or as identical / one is not quite it. The true meaning of the 'Union of the Two Truths' is subtle, inconceivable; it has to be directly perceived.
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should think in terms of the three spheres of action / thinking / perception / cognition / acquisition – ex. subject / actor / thinker / perceiver / knower / acquirer, relation / action / thinking / perception / cognition / acquisition, object / result / thought / perceived / known / acquired –, but … while being more and more in accord with the teachings of this Sutrawithout any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere, while being aware of their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T], not accepting / affirming / seeking / adding / doing anything in absolute terms, not rejecting / negating / abandoning / eliminating / subtracting / not-doing anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
Extremes like: i. existence / functionality / realism / causality, ii. non-existence / non-functionality / nihilism / acausality, iii. both together / dualism / pluralism, iv. neither / monism / oneness; or i. self / subject / subjectivism, ii. other / object / objectivism, iii. living beings / both-together / relation / opposition / variety / individuality, iv. Cosmic Unity / neither / oneness / no-individuality; etc.
-
There are no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing subject / actor / thinker / perceiver / knower / acquirer, relation / action / thinking / perception / cognition / acquisition, object / result / thought / perceived / known / acquiredt; just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
-
Acting this way could generate an inconceivable amount of super-good-karma / merit & wisdom united, because it is acting more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. It is more and more beneficial because it is getting us closer and closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free of all extremes & middle, the Buddha-nature of everything.
And it is a prelude to pure perception, to directly perceiving the Buddha-nature in everything.)

[Goto TOC]

[a. Translation by Alex Johnson:]

[Buddha: A trick question that reveals Subhuti mistaken attachment to emptiness [T2]? ]

"Subhuti, what do you think?
Can the Buddha be recognized by means of his bodily form (nirmanakaya)?"
(i.e. The Buddha’s three inseparable kayas: Introducing an example of causality / production that Subhuti should not be able to simply dismiss by saying either ‘yes’ or 'no this, no that ... all is empty’. One can feel there that there is something more than just ‘yes’ or 'no this, no that ... all is empty'. There is something inconceivable beyond existence / functionality & non-existence / non-functionality, beyond causality & non-causality, beyond production & non-production, beyond subject & object, beyond the conventional / relative & the absolute, beyond appearances [T1] & emptiness [T2] & both together [2T] & neither [1T], beyond all extremes positions about any duality / triad / quad / etc.: ex. this, non-this, both together, neither.)

(i.e Or: How can empty causes – accumulation of merit through practice without attachment – generate meritorious effects like the Buddha's 32 physical attributes & 80 minor characteristics gained by causes / merit? Answer: Empty causes produce empty effects. And conditioned meritorious appearances [T1] are not the true buddha, the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is; emptiness [T2] is not the true Buddha, both together [2T] is not the true Buddha, neither [1T] is not the true Buddha. We cannot perceive the Tathagata through grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification. Perception has to be pure, without attachment, to perceive the Tathagata. We can see the Tathagata from form but it has to be pure perception. Buddha is everywhere. Everything is the Buddha when purely seen; that is with the Buddha eye. Everything has the Buddha-nature. No need to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate forms … just be aware of their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T]. All forms, pure or impure, are natural spontaneous displays of the inconceivable Ground, of inconceivable Reality as it is, of the inconceivable Buddha. Perceiving like this is perceiving the true Buddha.)

(i.e. ANSWER: Pure acting / perceiving / knowing / talking / teaching without any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere; more in accord with the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] free from all extremes & middle. The same for all types of activities of the body, speech & mind all the time.)

(i.e. The subtlety here is that 'detachment' does not mean 'to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do' as if it was inherently 'bad'. It does not mean to get separated from. It just means not being fooled by it, not grasping in absolute terms to it, not being obsessed by it, not being slave to it, being 'free from, not necessarily without'. How? Simply by understanding and then directly realising its true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T].)

(i.e. It is not about dropping all perceptions, all karma producing activities, the self and the world. Bodhisattvas can live in the same world or another world … but without any attachment, without grasping at any extreme, without attachment to anything … because: although everything is empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional <==> everything is still conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless, although merely labeled / imputed by the mind [U3S]. And vice versa, one aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other (<=>) [U2T]. Everything is not existent / functional, not non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth. Meaning the true nature of everything is indescribable / inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. Meaning there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. So there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone to get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. That is the Middle Way Path of the Bodhisattvas. Only practices that are more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, by uniting virtuous methods with more and more wisdom, will bring someone closer and closer to the true liberation / enlightenment, creating more and more merit united with wisdom. Everything else is mere bad or neutral karma formation.)

(i.e. Meaning the two aspects / truthsappearances / functionality and emptiness of inherent existenceare not really in opposition / separate / dual; they are two inseparable / interdependent / harmonious aspects of reality as it is here & now. Nor are they identical / one. They are not like two different things coming together. That is why we call this the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas [U2T]. So, even if everything is empty of inherent existence, there are valid / useful conventional / relative concepts, truths, methods, goals, teachings, accumulation of merit & wisdom … as long as we combine them with more and more wisdom about the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, about the Union of the two Truths free from all extremes & middle.
Merely saying 'no this, not that … or yes …’, saying that everything is empty of inherent existence is not enough; that is nihilism.
The two truths are not really in opposition, one is not superior to the other; they are more like inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony <==> thus both empty of inherent existence [U2T-2T]. The two truths are themselves not existent, not non-existent, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; etc. Emptiness is also a conventional truth; emptiness is also empty of inherent existence, not the absolute truth, not the true nature of reality as it is here & now.)

[Subhuti:]
(i.e. Subhuti: As an arhat, Subhuti has the prajna eye [2T]; he thinks the two truths – appearances & emptiness – are different, separate, in opposition, and that emptiness [T2] is superior to appearances [T1]. In short, he is attached to emptiness, and rejects too much. In this Sutra, as he receives teachings from the Buddha, his position will gradually change.)

"No, Most Honored One, the Buddha cannot be recognized by means of his bodily form.
Why? Because
when the Buddha speaks of bodily form [T1], it is not a real form [T2], but only an illusion. [2T]"
(i.e. Subhuti’s usual dualistic answer: 'Yes and/or no'. There are appearances, but ultimately there are no inherently existing bodily forms / nirmanakayas. All falsely appearing, but ultimately truthfully empty of inherent existence. Subhuti entertains the two truths simultaneously, and in opposition, appearances being false, and emptiness being the ultimate truth [2T].)

The Buddha then spoke to Subhuti:
(i.e. The Buddha has the dharma eye [U2T] + the Buddha eye [omniscience]: with his dharma eye he directly perceives the inconceivable true nature & dynamic as it is of all dharmas, as pointed by the concept of the inseparability / interdependence / co-dependence / harmony / Union of the Two Truths [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. And, as for a Path to Buddhahood, he knows how that one has to act more and more in accord with this [U2T]. In this Sutra, the Buddha is trying to help Subhuti realise his mistakes [2T]; and gain a dharma eye [U2T], an awareness of the inseparability / interdependence / harmony / Union of the Two Truths [U2T]. See section 18 for the 5 eyes.)
(i.e. The Buddha corrects Subhuti, trying to move him from grasping at emptiness [from having the prajna eye - 2T] to the Union of the Two Truths [to get the dharma eye - U2T]. Subhuti must realize that not only everything is empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional <==> exactly because conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], merely labeled / imputed by the mind; but also that everything is conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], merely labeled / imputed by the mind [U3S], not completely non-existent / non-functional <==> exactly because everything is empty of inherent existence, not really existent / functional. One aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other one (<==>) [U2T]. Those two truths are inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony <==> thus themselves empty of inherent existence [U2T-2T]. Those two truths are not separate / different / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Meaning the Union of the Two truths is indescribable / inconceivable for our flawed dualistic conceptual ordinary mind(s).)

"All that has a form [T1] is illusive [like illusions]
and unreal [empty of inherent existence] [T2].
When you see that all forms [T1] are illusive (like illusions)
and unreal (empty of inherent existence) [T2],
*** then you will begin to perceive your true Buddha-nature [U2T]." ***
(i.e. Right answer: The Middle Way free from all extremes & middle; not yes, not no, not both together, not neither; not existence / functionality / causality, not non-existence / non-functionality / non-causality, not both together, not neither; not T1, not T2, not 2T, not 1T. An even better answer: silence! Because it is indescribable / inconceivable.)
(i.e. Clarification __________________ : Everything is appearing / dependent / ever-changing / impermanent [T1], merely labeled / imputed by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma [U3S] ==> thus empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional ==> but still appearing / useful / meaningful [T1], not completely non-existent / non-functional. One truth implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T]. Everything is like illusions: 'there but not there'. Understanding / perceiving / realising / experiencing this is directly perceiving the inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unconditioned unchanging unceasing pristine Ground / Basis / Source / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / True nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now / the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] free from all extremes & middle / the three inseparable pure kayas (trikaya) of a Buddha, the true Buddha.)
(i.e. Perceiving / knowing with more and more wisdom … without any attachment, without falling for any extreme … thus more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths [U2T]. Not merely in accord with emptiness alone [T2], or in accord with conventional truths alone [T1], or both together [2T], or neither [1T].)
(i.e. Meaning there is something beyond emptiness: the true Buddha, the Buddha-nature of everything, the true nature of Reality as it is here & now. Subhuti should not be able to simply say that the Buddha in front of him is just empty, not existent.)

(i.e. The true Buddha, the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, cannot be perceived with the ordinary conditioned sense organs – which are conditioning / karma. Buddha is not within / without its five aggregates. Appearances that are perceived by ordinary sense organs [T1] are not the true Buddha, not the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now. Nor is emptiness [T2] the true Buddha either. Not both together [2T], nor neither [1T].

All dharmas – physical, conceptual, mental; including the three spheres of any relation / action, including the apparent opposites of any duality / triad / quad / etc., including the two truths themselves – are conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], merely labeled / imputed by the mind, not completely non-existent / non-functional <==> thus empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional. And vice versa, one aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T]. All dharmas are like illusions 'there but not there'; not existent, not completely non-existent, not both together, not neither …

Directly perceiving / realising / experiencing 'this’ is directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the tathagata, the true Buddha, the Buddha-nature in everything, the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now / Suchness / Ground / Basis / Source / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu, the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T], the inseparable three pure kayas (trikaya).)

——————

(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 5. "What do you think, Subhuti,
can a Tathagata be seen by virtue of the possession of distinctive features?"
Subhuti said, "A Tathagata cannot be seen by virtue of the possession of distinctive features. Why is that?
The very thing which the Tathagata has preached as the possession of distinctive features [T1]
lacks any possession of distinctive features. [T2] [2T]"
At these words the Lord said this to the Venerable Subhuti,
"Subhuti, as long as there is any distinctive feature there is falsehood (like illusions),
and as long as there is no distinctive feature there is no falsehood.
Accordingly it is by virtue of [T1] the featurelessness of his distinctive features [T2]
that a Tathagata can be seen [Buddha-nature] [U2T].")

——————

(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Five: "What do you think, Subhuti,
can the Tathagata be seen by means of the possession of attributes?"
Subhuti replied, "No, indeed, Bhagavan, the Tathagata cannot be seen by means of the possession of attributes. And why not? Bhagavan, what the Tathagata says is the possession of attributes [T1] is no possession of attributes [T2] [2T]."
This having been said, the Buddha told the venerable Subhuti,
"Since the possession of attributes is [like] an illusion,
Subhuti, and no possession of attributes is no illusion,
by means of attributes [T1] that are no attributes [T2]
the Tathagata can, indeed, be seen [Buddha-nature] [U2T].")
.
(From the book: "The Meaning of Truth and the Appearance of Reality. [U2T]” … (i.e. In short, dependently arisen conditioned impermanent illusory appearances / phenomena are not the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, not the true Buddha. Nor is emptiness. The true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is inconceivable, but still pointed by the concept of the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T] free from all extremes & middle.) … "If the Tathagata could be seen by means of bodily attributes, his disciples would have become attached to [conditioned, impermanent, illusory] form.” … Although Subhuti’s answer reveals his understanding of the logical technique used to express this doctrine [of emptiness], he has not yet penetrated the emptiness of emptiness. On this occasion, however, the Buddha wants Subhuti to look beyond his physical and spiritual bodies to his real body, which is free of all attributes, including the attribute of emptiness [U2T]. To see that an entity is no entity [T2] is not enough. At this point, Subhuti presents the Hinayana view of emptiness [2T], not the Mahayana view [U2T], which sees emptiness as also empty. Thus, the Buddha adds to Subhuti’s response in order to complete the dialectic for him. … The Buddha’s point is that while we can view the attributes of a body as an illusion, if we can see them as no attributes, as not severed from the seamless fabric of reality, we see the Buddha’s true body, which necessarily includes the very attributes whose reality was just denied (includes the two aspects / truths in Union). Thus, the arhan’s denial of reality becomes the bodhisattva’s affirmation. (i.e. Reality as it is is beyond acceptation / affirmation / existence and rejection / negation / non-existence.))

——————

(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 5. SIGNLESSNESS - "What do you think, Subhuti?
Is it possible to grasp the Tathagata by means of bodily signs?"
"No, World-Honored One.
When the Tathagata speaks of bodily signs [T1], there are no signs being talked about [T2] [2T]."
The Buddha said to Subhuti,
"In a place where there is something that can be distinguished by signs [T1], in that place there is deception (like illusions).
If you can see the signless [T2] nature of signs [T1],
then you can see the Tathagata [Buddha-nature] [U2T].")

——————

(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 5 - The "Thus" Principle of Genuine Seeing:
"Subhuti, what do you think, can the Tathagata be seen by his physical marks?"
"No, World Honored One, the Tathagata cannot be seen by his physical marks and why?
It is because the physical marks [T1] are spoken of by the Tathagata as no physical marks [T2] [2T]."
The Buddha said to Subhuti, "all with marks [T1] is empty [T2] and false (illusory).
If you can see all marks [T1] as no marks [T2] then you see the Tathagata [Buddha-nature] [U2T].")

——————

(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013: 5. Physical Characteristics of Buddhahood: "Subhūti, what do you say?
Can one discern the Tathāgata by means of his bodily characteristics?"
"No, World-honored One. One cannot see the Tathāgata by means of bodily characteristics. Why not?
The bodily characteristics taught by the Tathāgata [T1] are actually not bodily characteristics. [T2] [2T]"
The Buddha said to Subhūti: "All things that have characteristics are false and ephemeral.
If you see all characteristics to be non-characteristics, then you see the Tathāgata [Buddha-nature] [U2T].")

——————-----------------------------------------

6. [D] Awaken faith - Freedom from all extremes & middle without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.

[B. Sections with similar comments / topic: 4, 14, 15 …] – Performing all activities of the body & speech & mind [in accord with the 1st truth - T1 - valid useful conventional truths] without any grasping / attachment / absolutes [in accord with the 2nd truth - T2 - emptiness of inherent existence of all dharmas] [ = acting more and more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths - U2T]: ex. generating the motivation of bodhicitta; living / going / causing / producing / fabricating / creating / listening / speaking / thinking / learning / practicing / teaching / perceiving / knowing / conceptualising / discriminating / differentiating / categorising / accepting / rejecting; using words / names / concepts / ideas / relations / causality / teachings / practices / views / methods / goals / adapted skillful means; acquiring realisations / blessings / merit / stages; purifying the body, speech and mind; having confidence / faith; reaching enlightenment … without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.
-
[D. Sections with similar comments / topic: 6, 27, 31.] – The Middle Way free from all extremes & middle. Extremes like existence / causality / naïve realism, non-existence / nihilism / mere-emptiness, both together / dualism / diversity, neither / monism / oneness; subject / self / subjectivism, object / other / objectivism, beings / both together / dualism / pluralism, cosmic-unity / neither / monism / oneness.
-
(i.e. Answer: Bodhisattvas should not cling to any extreme or middle: ex. dharmas / existence / functionality / causality, non-dharmas / non-existence / non-functionality / mere-emptiness, both together, neither.
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should use words / names / concepts / ideas / teachings / practices / views / methods / goals, but … while being more and more in accord with the teachings of this Sutrawithout any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without any di-vision between the three spheres – subject, relation / action, object – … without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere, while being aware of their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T], not accepting / affirming / seeking / adding / doing anything in absolute terms, not rejecting / negating / abandoning / eliminating / subtracting / not-doing anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
Extremes like: i. existence / functionality / realism / causality, ii. non-existence / non-functionality / nihilism / acausality, iii. both together / dualism / pluralism, iv. neither / monism / oneness; or i. self / subject / subjectivism, ii. other / object / objectivism, iii. living beings / both-together / relation / opposition / variety / individuality, iv. Cosmic Unity / neither / oneness / no-individuality; etc.
-
Acting this way could generate an inconceivable amount of super-good-karma / merit & wisdom united, because it is acting more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. It is more and more beneficial because it is getting us closer and closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free of all extremes & middle, the Buddha-nature of everything.
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should transcend all extremes views like: existence / functionality / naïve realism, non-existence / non-functionality / nihilism, both existence / functionality & non-existence / non-functionality together / dualism, neither existence not non-existence / monism / oneness; difference / diversity / manyness, identity / sameness / monism / oneness, both together, neither; subject-only / subjectivism, object-only / objectivism, relation-only / process-only / relationism / processism, a combination of those, none of those; causality / karma, acausality / no-karma, both together, neither; perception, non-perception, both together, neither; thinking / idea, non-thinking / no-idea, both together, neither; 1st-truth-only / mere-causality, 2nd-truth-only / mere-emptiness, both truths together as different and in opposition / duality, neither of the two truths / monism / oneness; etc.
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should adopt the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle in everything. Ex. Transcending in the sense of not accepting / affirming / seeking / adding / doing any words / names / concepts / ideas / teachings / practices / views / methods / goals in absolute terms, not rejecting / negating / abandoning / eliminating / subtracting / not-doing any concepts / ideas / teachings / practices /views / methods / goals in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone to get closer to the inconceivable liberation Truth [U2T], as possible imperfect temporary adapted skillful means / rafts.
-
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should have confidence / faith in the Buddha's Dharma … but … while being more and more in accord with the teachings of this Sutrawithout any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere, while being aware of their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T], not accepting / affirming / seeking / adding / doing anything in absolute terms, not rejecting / negating / abandoning / eliminating / subtracting / not-doing anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
Extremes like: i. existence / functionality / realism / causality, ii. non-existence / non-functionality / nihilism / acausality, iii. both together / dualism / pluralism, iv. neither / monism / oneness; or i. self / subject / subjectivism, ii. other / object / objectivism, iii. living beings / both-together / relation / opposition / variety / individuality, iv. Cosmic Unity / neither / oneness / no-individuality; etc.
-
Acting this way could generate an inconceivable amount of super-good-karma / merit & wisdom united, because it is acting more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. It is more and more beneficial because it is getting us closer and closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free of all extremes & middle, the Buddha-nature of everything.)

[Goto TOC]

[a. Translation by Alex Johnson:]

Subhuti respectfully asked the Buddha,
(i.e. Subhuti: As an arhat, Subhuti has the prajna eye [2T]; he thinks the two truths – appearances & emptiness – are different, separate, in opposition, and that emptiness [T2] is superior to appearances [T1]. In short, he is attached to emptiness, and rejects too much. In this Sutra, as he receives teachings from the Buddha, his position will gradually change.)

"Most Honored One! In the future, if a person hears this teaching, even if it is only a phrase or sentence,
is it possible for that person to have a true faith and knowledge of Enlightenment awaken in their mind?"
(i.e. Subhuti finds the explanation of the Buddha about the Union of the Two Truths hard to digest. He is worried that at some point in time, without the presence of a Buddha, nobody will get it / have faith in it.) (same as section 21)

[Buddha:]
(i.e. The Buddha has the dharma eye [U2T] + the Buddha eye [omniscience]: with his dharma eye he directly perceives the inconceivable true nature & dynamic as it is of all dharmas, as pointed by the concept of the inseparability / interdependence / co-dependence / harmony / Union of the Two Truths [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. And, as for a Path to Buddhahood, he knows how that one has to act more and more in accord with this [U2T]. In this Sutra, the Buddha is trying to help Subhuti realise his mistakes [2T]; and gain a dharma eye [U2T], an awareness of the inseparability / interdependence / harmony / Union of the Two Truths [U2T]. See section 18 for the 5 eyes.)

"Without a doubt, Subhuti. Even 500 years after the Enlightenment of this Buddha there will be some who are virtuous and wise; and while practicing compassion and charity, they will believe in the words and phrases of this Sutra and will awaken their minds purely. After they come to hear these teachings, they will be inspired with belief. This is because, when some people hear these words, they will have understood intuitively that these words are the truth.

"But you must also remember, Subhuti, that such persons have long ago planted the seeds of goodness and merit that lead to this realization. They have planted the seeds of good deeds and charity not simply before one Buddhist temple, or two temples, or five, but before hundreds of thousands of Buddhas and temples. So when a person who hears the words and phrases of this Sutra is ready for it to happen, a pure faith and clarity can awaken within their minds.

"Subhuti, any person who awakens faith upon hearing the words or phrases of this Sutra
will accumulate countless blessings and merit. (i.e. Union of merit & wisdom.)
(i.e. Acquisition of merit: Introducing an example of causality / production that Subhuti should not be able to simply dismiss by saying either ‘yes’ or 'no this, no that ... all is empty’. One can feel there that there is something more than just ‘yes’ or 'no this, no that ... all is empty'. There is something inconceivable beyond existence / functionality & non-existence / non-functionality, beyond causality & non-causality, beyond production & non-production, beyond subject & object, beyond the conventional / relative & the absolute, beyond appearances [T1] & emptiness [T2] & both together [2T] & neither [1T], beyond all extremes positions about any duality / triad / quad / etc.: ex. this, non-this, both together, neither.)

(i.e. An antidote to the extreme of mere-emptiness: The Buddha is affirming that, even if everything is empty of inherent existence [T2], there is still the possibility of relatively getting to enlightenment through the accumulation of merit and wisdom together [T1], as long as one does not grasp at any individual, teachings, merit or enlightenment. Emptiness does not deny conventional concepts, truths, methods, goals; and vice versa. The two truths are in harmony, one supporting the other. Acting more and more in accord with it is the way to recognise the Buddha-nature in everything. Getting involved more and more with this Sutra is of great help -- because it is the embodiment of the true nature of reality as it is here & now, of the Buddha-nature in everything, of the trikaya. The proof is that although everything is empty of inherent existence, "all Buddhas and all the teachings and values of the highest, most fulfilled, most awakened minds (result / effect / enlightenment) arise from (caused by) the teachings in this Sutra (causes / teachings)”.)

(i.e. It is about accumulating merit & wisdom together – one alone is not enough –. It is not giving material gifts that brings great progress / results, but practicing virtuous methods without any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere, accumulating merit and wisdom together, gradually realising the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, and acting more and more in accord with it. Anything that brings someone closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T] has Great Merit. Any activity of the body, speech & mind done without attachment is pure, with attachment it is impure.)

"How do I know this? (i.e. Only a Bodhisattva already free from all extremes & middle about the self can understand this Sutra.)
Because this person must have discarded [transcended]
all arbitrary notions of the existence of a personal self (subject),
of other people (object & both together / diversity / individuality),
or of a universal self (neither / oneness / no-individuality).
Otherwise their minds would still grasp after such relative conceptions.

Furthermore, these people must have already discarded [transcended]
all arbitrary notions of the non-existence of a personal self (subject),
other people (diversity of objects), or a universal self.
Otherwise, their minds would still be grasping at such notions.

Therefore anyone who seeks total Enlightenment
should discard [transcend] not only all conceptions (existence / functionality) of their own selfhood (subject), of other selves (object & both together / diversity) or of a universal self (neither / oneness / no-individuality) [T2],
but they should also discard [transcend] all notions of the non-existence (emptiness) of such concepts [T1] [U2T].
(i.e. Right answer: The Middle Way free from all extremes & middle; not yes, not no, not both together, not neither; not existence / functionality / causality, not non-existence / non-functionality / non-causality, not both together, not neither; not T1, not T2, not 2T, not 1T. An even better answer: silence! Because it is indescribable / inconceivable.)
(i.e. Clarification __________________ : Everything is appearing / dependent / ever-changing / impermanent [T1], merely labeled / imputed by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma [U3S] ==> thus empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional ==> but still appearing / useful / meaningful [T1], not completely non-existent / non-functional. One truth implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T]. Everything is like illusions: 'there but not there'. Understanding / perceiving / realising / experiencing this is directly perceiving the inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unconditioned unchanging unceasing pristine Ground / Basis / Source / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / True nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now / the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] free from all extremes & middle / the three inseparable pure kayas (trikaya) of a Buddha, the true Buddha.)

(i.e. Otherwise, if one still grasps at one extreme or another (ex. entertaining extreme views like: self / subject / subjectivism, objects / phenomena / objectivism, both together / dualism / pluralism, neither / oneness; or entertaining extreme views like: existence / functionality / causality / relativity, non-existence / non-functionality / non-causality, both together, neither; or entertaining extreme views like: conventional truths / relativity / causality only [T1], emptiness only [T2], both together and in opposition [2T], neither as in being One [1T] …), then he is not worthy of being called a bodhisattva.)

(i.e. Transcending opposites: Bodhisattvas should not have any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification about any of the four extreme positions about any duality; ex. A, not-A, both-together, neither, and there is no fifth (tetralemma):
It is the same list in sections 3, 6, 9, 14, 15, 17, 23, 25, 31.
This particular list is representing the four related extreme views of the duality subject vs. object: the list varies from one translator to another; so I have 'normalised it to: i. subject / self, ii. object / others, iii. both subject & object together / beings / diversity / manyness / individuality, iv. neither subject nor object / universal self / cosmic unity / life / monism / oneness / no-individuality.
The list can be the four extremes views about any dualistic concept / duality: ex. 'this', 'non-this', both this & non-this together, neither this nor non-this; existence, non-existence, both together, neither; dharma, non-dharma, both together, neither; dependent origination / 1st truth, emptiness / 2nd truth, both truths together / difference & opposition of the two truths / dualism, neither of the two truths / identity of the two truths / monism / oneness; being bounded / samsara, being liberated / nirvana, both together, neither; superior, inferior, average, a combination of those, none of those; subject / subjectivism, relation / action / processism, object / objectivism, a combination of those, none of those; etc. It works with all dualistic concepts / dualities / triad / quads / etc.
The message is "Reality as it is is non-dual, inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle": As long as one clings to, is attached to, is fixating on, is obsessed about, is slave to … one opposite / extreme about any duality / triad / quad / etc. ==> then "that person is not an authentic disciple (3 & 17)", "he would not be able to awaken pure faith (14)", he "will be holding onto something that is non-existent", "that person would not be able to listen to, receive, recite, or explain this Sutra to others (15)", he will not understand the subtle meaning of Sutras like this one (31), he will not conceive the idea that it is the truth (14), he will not benefits from it, he will not accumulate immeasurable merit & wisdom, he will be slave to his poisons – desire, hatred, ignorance – and obsessions / passions.
Meaning Reality as it is is not A, not non-A, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; whatever 'A' is conventionally.
Meaning Reality as it is is indescribable, inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma – physical, conceptual, mental, individual, collective, cosmic –.
So it is never about accepting / affirming / seeking one side of a duality and rejecting / negating / abandoning the other side, not about vice versa, not about accepting both sides together, not about rejecting both sides. It is about understanding and then directly realising their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T].)

"When the Buddha explains these things using such concepts and ideas [T1],
people should remember the unreality [non existence / emptiness] of all such concepts and ideas [emptiness of appearances / extremes] [T2].

They should recall that in teaching spiritual truths the Buddha
always uses these concepts and ideas in the way that a RAFT is used to cross a river [T1].
Once the river has been crossed over, the raft is of no more use,
and should be discarded [transcended] [T2] [U2T].

These arbitrary concepts and ideas about spiritual things
need to be explained to us as we seek to attain Enlightenment [T1].
However, ultimately these arbitrary conceptions
can be discarded [transcended] [T2] [U2T].
(i.e. Right answer: The Middle Way free from all extremes & middle; not yes, not no, not both together, not neither; not existence / functionality / causality, not non-existence / non-functionality / non-causality, not both together, not neither; not T1, not T2, not 2T, not 1T. An even better answer: silence! Because it is indescribable / inconceivable.)
(i.e. Clarification __________________ : Everything is appearing / dependent / ever-changing / impermanent [T1], merely labeled / imputed by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma [U3S] ==> thus empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional ==> but still appearing / useful / meaningful [T1], not completely non-existent / non-functional. One truth implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T]. Everything is like illusions: 'there but not there'. Understanding / perceiving / realising / experiencing this is directly perceiving the inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unconditioned unchanging unceasing pristine Ground / Basis / Source / Dharmata / Dharmadhatu / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / True nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now / the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] free from all extremes & middle / the three inseparable pure kayas (trikaya) of a Buddha, the true Buddha.)

Think Subhuti, isn't it even more obvious that
we should also give up our conceptions of non-existent things [emptiness of emptiness]? [T1] [U2T]"

(i.e. ANSWER: Pure acting / using concepts, ideas, teachings, truths, methods, goals, rafts … without any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere; more in accord with the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] free from all extremes & middle. The same for all types of activities of the body, speech & mind all the time.)

(i.e. The subtlety here is that 'detachment' does not mean 'to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do' as if it was inherently 'bad'. It does not mean to get separated from. It just means not being fooled by it, not grasping in absolute terms to it, not being obsessed by it, not being slave to it, being 'free from, not necessarily without'. How? Simply by understanding and then directly realising its true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T].)

(i.e. It is not about dropping all concepts, ideas, teachings, truths, methods, goals, rafts, all karma producing activities, the self and the world. Bodhisattvas can live in the same world or another world … but without any attachment, without grasping at any extreme, without attachment to anything … because: although everything is empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / functional <==> everything is still conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], not completely non-existent / non-functional / useless / meaningless, although merely labeled / imputed by the mind [U3S]. And vice versa, one aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other (<=>) [U2T]. Everything is not existent / functional, not non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth. Meaning the true nature of everything is indescribable / inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. Meaning there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. So there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone to get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. That is the Middle Way Path of the Bodhisattvas. Only practices that are more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, by uniting virtuous methods with more and more wisdom, will bring someone closer and closer to the true liberation / enlightenment, creating more and more merit united with wisdom. Everything else is mere bad or neutral karma formation.)

(i.e. Meaning the two aspects / truthsappearances / functionality and emptiness of inherent existenceare not really in opposition / separate / dual; they are two inseparable / interdependent / harmonious aspects of reality as it is here & now. Nor are they identical / one. They are not like two different things coming together. That is why we call this the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas [U2T]. So, even if everything is empty of inherent existence, there are valid / useful conventional / relative concepts, truths, methods, goals, teachings, accumulation of merit & wisdom … as long as we combine them with more and more wisdom about the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, about the Union of the two Truths free from all extremes & middle.
Merely saying 'no this, not that … or yes …’, saying that everything is empty of inherent existence is not enough; that is nihilism.
The two truths are not really in opposition, one is not superior to the other; they are more like inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony <==> thus both empty of inherent existence [U2T-2T]. The two truths are themselves not existent, not non-existent, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; etc. Emptiness is also a conventional truth; emptiness is also empty of inherent existence, not the absolute truth, not the true nature of reality as it is here & now.)

(i.e. Reality as it is, the Buddha-dharma, the path, the fruit / enlightenment, are all inconceivable. Bodhisattvas should not fall into the extremes of non-existence / mere-emptiness / nothingness / no-thought / no-feeling / no-idea / no-conceptualisation / no-discrimination / no-activity / no-path / no-self / no-other / no-world … Bodhisattvas should have confidence / faith in the Buddha's Dharma … without any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere. Acting – action of the body, speech & mind – more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, more and more in accord with the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T] free from all extremes & middle. Accumulating both merit and wisdom together.)

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(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 6. At these words the Venerable Subhuti said this to the Lord, "Can it be, Lord, that there will be any living beings at a future time, when the final five hundred years come to pass, who, when the words of such discourses as these are being spoken, will conceive the idea that they are the truth?"
The Lord said, "Subhuti, you must not say things like 'Can it be that there will be any living beings at a future time, when the final five hundred years come to pass, who, when the words of such discourses as these are being spoken, will conceive the idea that they are the truth?'
On the contrary, Subhuti, there will be Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas at a future time, when in the final five hundred years the destruction of the true dharma is coming to pass, who will be endowed with moral conduct, good qualities, and insight.
Moreover it is not the case, Subhuti, that the Bodhisattvas will have served a single Buddha, or that they will have planted the roots of goodness under a single Buddha.
On the contrary, Subhuti, they will have served many Buddhas, they will have planted the roots of goodness under many Buddhas.
As for those who, when the words of such discourses as these are being spoken,
will experience the serenity of faith, even if it is for no more than a single thought,
the Tathagata knows them, Subhuti, the Tathagata sees them, Subhuti.
They will all generate and come to be endowed with an immeasurable quantity of merit.

Why is that?
Because, Subhuti, the idea of a self will not occur to those Bodhisattvas,
nor will the idea of a living being, or the idea of a soul, or the idea of a person occur to them.
Not even the idea of a dharma (i.e. existence) will occur to those Bodhisattvas, Subhuti,
nor the idea of a non-dharma (i.e. non-existence); not even an idea or a non-idea will occur to them. Why is that?
If, Subhuti, the idea of a dharma should occur to those Bodhisattvas, for them that would constitute
seizing upon a self, it would constitute seizing upon a living being, seizing upon a soul, seizing upon a person.
If the idea of a non-dharma should occur, for them that would constitute seizing upon a self, seizing upon a living being, seizing upon a soul, seizing upon a person.

Why is that?
One should moreover not take up any dharma (existence / functionality), Subhuti, or any non-dharma (non-existence / non-functionality).
It was therefore with this in mind that the Tathagata said that
those who understand the round of teachings of the Simile of the RAFT
should let go of the dharmas (existence / functionality) themselves, to say nothing of the non-dharmas (non-existence / non-functionality).")

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(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Six: This having been said, the venerable Subhuti asked the Buddha, "Bhagavan, will there be any beings in the future, in the final epoch, in the final period, in the final five hundred years of the dharma-ending age, who give birth to a perception of the truth of the words of a sutra such as that spoken here?'
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, do not ask 'Will there be any beings in the future, in the final epoch, in the final period, in the final five hundred years of the dharma-ending age, who give birth to a perception of the truth of the words of a sutra such as that spoken here?'
Surely, Subhuti, in the future, in the final epoch, in the final period, in the final five hundred years of the dharma-ending age, there will be fearless Bodhisattvas who are capable, virtuous, and wise who give birth to a perception of the truth of the words of a sutra such as that spoken here.
"Indeed, Subhuti, such fearless Bodhisattvas will have honored not just one buddha, and they will have planted auspicious roots before not just one buddha.
Surely, Subhuti, such fearless Bodhisattvas will have honored countless hundreds and thousands of buddhas, and they will have planted auspicious roots before countless hundreds and thousands of buddhas.
In the words of a sutra such as that spoken here, they are sure to gain perfect clarity of mind.
The Tathagata knows them, Subhuti, by means of his buddha knowledge.
And the Tathagata sees them, Subhuti, by means of his buddha vision. The Tathagata is aware of them, Subhuti.
For they all produce and receive a measureless, infinite body of merit.

"And how so?
Because, Subhuti, these fearless Bodhisattvas do not create the perception of a self.
Nor do they create the perception of a being, a life, or a soul.
Nor, Subhuti, do these fearless Bodhisattvas create the perception of a dharma,
much less the perception of no dharma.
Subhuti, they do not create a perception nor no perception.

"And why not?
Because, Subhuti, if these fearless Bodhisattvas created the perception of a dharma, they would be attached to a self, a being, a life, and a soul. Likewise, if they created the perception of no dharma, they would be attached to a self, a being, a life, and a soul. "And why not? Because surely, Subhuti, fearless Bodhisattvas
do not cling to a dharma (existence / functionality), much less to no dharma (non-existence / non-functionality).
This is the meaning behind the Tathagata's saying, 'A dharma teaching is like a RAFT.
If you should let go of dharmas (existence / functionality), how much more so no-dharmas (non-existence / non-functionality).'")
.
(From the book: "The Rarity of True Belief.’ This sutra has just begun, and Subhuti is already speaking as if it were over. Ranked foremost among the Buddha’s disciples for his understanding of emptiness, and having just heard the Buddha proclaim that only by seeing the emptiness of emptiness can we have a true perception of reality, Subhuti’s understanding has been shaken, if not turned inside out. What more could the Buddha possibly say? But the Buddha is just beginning. Still, Subhuti has resolved to set forth on the bodhisattva path, and he wonders about beings in the future. How can they possibly grasp a teaching that proclaims appearances to be empty of any self-nature and then proclaims that by means of such emptiness we perceive their real nature? Such a teaching must necessarily be difficult to accept, much less understand. But while arhans see no need to look beyond emptiness, bodhisattvas see emptiness as a raft they can use to cross the River of Impermanence. Morever, despite turning nodharmas into dharmas, bodhisattvas remain unattached to both. … Such a teaching is, indeed, difficult to believe and difficult to understand, and it surpasses the reach of Subhuti’s own understanding. Hence, while Subhuti is concerned about how others will be able to believe such a teaching, implicit in his question is his own difficulty in grasping it. … In the previous chapter, Subhuti does not see the real Buddha, only emptiness. Here, he does not understand the nature of the real Sangha (Buddhist order) either. … But the Buddha rebukes Subhuti and says there will surely be beings in the future who believe this teaching. They are called bodhisattvas. … The teaching of this sutra is so difficult to accept that those who hear it for the first time are likely to reject it. Only those who have set forth on the bodhisattva path are capable of such prasada (clarity) …
[Freedom from all extreme & middle:] According to Conze, belief in the reality of the first four perceptions (self, being, life, and soul) was common among members of other religious sects in ancient India, and belief in the reality of the last four (dharma, no dharma, perception, no perception) was common among members of the more idealistic and nihilistic sects of Buddhism. Bodhisattvas, meanwhile, produce and obtain an infinite body of merit because they are free of all such perceptions. … Asanga says, "Perceptions of a soul and dharma are extinguished. Thus do the wise dispatch all eight perceptions.” (9) Asanga now comments on the third of the three qualities (capable, virtuous, and wise) that make such belief possible. The eight perceptions are the four that include self, being, life, and soul and the four that concern the existence or nonexistence of dharmas and perceptions. The next verse lists the first four of these, and the following verse lists the second four.)

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(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 6. A ROSE IS NOT A ROSE - The Venerable Subhuti said to the Buddha, "In times to come, will there be people who, when they hear these teachings, have real faith and confidence in them?"
The Buddha replied, "Do not speak that way,
Subhuti. Five hundred years after the Tathagata has passed away, there will still be people who enjoy the happiness that comes from observing the precepts. When such people hear these words, they will have faith and confidence that here is the truth.
We should know that such people have sown seeds not only during the lifetime of one Buddha, or even two, three, four, or five Buddhas, but have, in truth, planted wholesome seeds during the lifetimes of tens of thousands of Buddhas.
Anyone who, for only a second, gives rise to a pure and clear confidence upon hearing these words of the Tathagata,
the Tathagata sees and knows that person, and
he or she will attain immeasurable happiness because of this understanding.

Why?
"Because that kind of person is not caught up in the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a life span.
They are not caught up in the idea of a dharma or the idea of a non-dharma.
They are not caught up in the notion that this is a sign and that is not a sign.
Why?
If you are caught up in the idea of a dharma,
you are also caught up in the ideas of a self, a person, a living being, and a life span.
If you are caught up in the idea that there is no dharma,
you are still caught up in the ideas of a self, a person, a living being, and a life span.
That is why we should not get caught up in dharmas (existence / functionality) or in the idea that dharmas do not exist (non-existence / non-functionality).
This is the hidden meaning when the Tathagata says,
'Bhikshus, you should know that all of the teachings I give to you are a RAFT.'
All teachings (existence / functionality) must be abandoned, not to mention non-teachings (non-existence / non-functionality).")

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(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 6 - Proper Belief is Rare: Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, in the future will there be living beings, who, when they hear such phrases spoken will truly believe?"
The Buddha told Subhuti, "do not speak in such a way!
After the Tathagata's extinction, in the last five hundred years, there will be those who hold the precepts and cultivate blessings who will believe such phrases and accept them as true.
"You should know that such people will have planted good roots with not just one Buddha, two Buddhas, three, four, or five Buddhas, but will have planted good roots with measureless millions of Buddhas.
All who hear such phrases and produce even one thought of pure faith are completely known and completely seen by the Tathagata. Such living beings thus obtain measureless blessings and virtue.

And why?
Those living beings have no further mark of self, of others, of living beings, or of a life;
no mark of dharmas and no mark of no dharmas.
If living beings' hearts grasp at marks, then that is attachment to self, to others, to living beings, and to a life.
For that reason you should not grasp at dharmas (existence / functionality),
nor should you grasp at no dharmas (non-existence / non-functionality).
Regarding that principle, the Tathagata often says, 'all you bhikùus should know that the Dharma which I speak is like a RAFT.
Even dharmas (existence / functionality) should be relinquished,
how much the more so no-dharmas (non-existence / non-functionality).'")

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(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013: 6. The merit of true faith: Subhūti addressed the Buddha, saying: "World-honored One, will there be sentient beings who are able, upon hearing these words and sentences, to give rise to true faith?"
The Buddha said to Subhūti,"Do not even say such a thing. Five hundred lifetimes after my passing away, there will be those who observe moral discipline and cultivate merit, who will be able to give rise to the mental state of faith and take these words to be the truth. You should know that these people have not merely cultivated wholesome roots with one buddha, two buddhas, three, four, or five buddhas. They have cultivated all kinds of wholesome roots with countless hundreds of thousands of buddhas. Hearing these passages, in a single moment they give rise to pure faith. Subhūti, the Tathāgata fully knows and fully sees these sentient beings as they attain these countless merits."
Why is this? It is because these sentient beings do not again [abide in] the notions of self, person, sentient being, or life span. Nor do they abide in the notions of the dharma, or the notions of non-dharma. Why? If the minds of these sentient beings grasp to these notions, then they will cling to self, person, sentient being, and life-span.
If they grasp to the notions of phenomena (existence), they will attach to self, person, sentient being, and life span. Why?
If they grasp to the denial of phenomena (non-existence), then they will attach to self, person, sentient being, and life span.
Therefore one should not grasp to phenomena (existence),
and one should not deny phenomena (non-existence).
Expressing this, the Tathāgata always teaches: 'Monks, understand my correct teachings to be like a raft.'
If even my correct teachings are to be abandoned, how much more incorrect teachings?)

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7. [E] No attainment, no teachings - No real ultimate realisation / enlightenment. Inconceivable causality without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.

[B. Sections with similar comments / topic: 4, 14, 15 …] – Performing all activities of the body & speech & mind [in accord with the 1st truth - T1 - valid useful conventional truths] without any grasping / attachment / absolutes [in accord with the 2nd truth - T2 - emptiness of inherent existence of all dharmas] [ = acting more and more in accord with the Union of the Two Truths - U2T]: ex. generating the motivation of bodhicitta; living / going / causing / producing / fabricating / creating / listening / speaking / thinking / learning / practicing / teaching / perceiving / knowing / conceptualising / discriminating / differentiating / categorising / accepting / rejecting; using words / names / concepts / ideas / relations / causality / teachings / practices / views / methods / goals / adapted skillful means; acquiring realisations / blessings / merit / stages; purifying the body, speech and mind; having confidence / faith; reaching enlightenment … without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.
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(i.e. Answer: Bodhisattvas should learn from the various Mahayana teachings, but … while being more and more in accord with the teachings of this Sutrawithout any grasping / attachment / obsession / fixation / reification, without any di-vision between the three spheres – subject, relation / action, object – … without falling for any extreme or middle about any notion / concept / duality / sphere, while being aware of their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T], not accepting / affirming / seeking / adding / doing anything in absolute terms, not rejecting / negating / abandoning / eliminating / subtracting / not-doing anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
Extremes like: