Monday, March 28, 2022

Diamond Sutra - Part III - 210c

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Analysis of the Diamond Sutra - C
[Indestructible Perfect Wisdom that cuts through all illusions / conditioning / karma]
– Part III – Sections 18-32 –

(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 III

Short table of content of Part III.

Sections of Part III:

  1. All Thoughts Are Intangible  - Pure eye. Correct 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 true Buddha-nature in everything.

  2. No Merit Is Great Merit - Pure acquisition of karma. Inconceivable Good-karma / Blessings / Merit without any grasping / attachment / absolutes. Union of merit & wisdom.

  3. Transcending Physical AttributesPure Perception:  Correct 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 true Buddha-nature in everything.

  4. No Truth Can be SpokenTruthfulness: Correct speaking / teaching / usage of words / names / concepts / ideas / teachings / practices / views / methods / goals … without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.

  5. No Attainment Is Supreme EnlightenmentNo real ultimate realisation / enlightenment. Inconceivable causality without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.

  6. All Dharmas Are Equal  – The Inconceivable true nature & dynamic of all dharmas, of Reality as it is / Suchness / Tathagata / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness … free from all extremes & middle [U2T / U3S / Uopp]. Equality / Non-duality / Union of opposites [Uopp].

  7. The Merits of Transmitting the Sutra - Pure acquisition of karma. Inconceivable Good-karma / Blessings / Merit without any grasping / attachment / absolutes. Union of merit & wisdom.

  8. There Are No Beings to Liberate - Correct Bodhicitta without any grasping / attachment / absolutes. No ordinary being to liberate.

  9. Seek the Buddha Not in Form or SoundCorrect 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.

  10. Avoid Nihilistic Views - Freedom from all extremes & middle without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.

  11. Bodhisattvas Do Not Accumulate Merits - Pure acquisition of karma. Inconceivable Good-karma / Blessings / Merit without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.  Karma / blessings / merit is not merely private. Union of merit & wisdom.

  12. Thata-gata and Tatha-agataThe Inconceivable true nature & dynamic of all dharmas, of Reality as it is / Suchness / Tathagata / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness … free from all extremes & middle [U2T / U3S / Uopp]. The true Buddha does not come & go.

  13. The Nature of the WorldThe Inconceivable true nature & dynamic of all dharmas, of Reality as it is / Suchness / Tathagata / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness … free from all extremes & middle [U2T / U3S / Uopp]. Union of whole & parts, or many & one. Union of the three kayas. [UGM]

  14. Extinction of the Four Views - Freedom from all extremes & middle without any grasping / attachment / absolutes.

  15. All Phenomena Are Illusions - The Inconceivable true nature & dynamic of all dharmas, of Reality as it is / Suchness / Tathagata / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness … free from all extremes & middle [U2T / U3S / Uopp]. All dharmas are like illusions.

A brief history of the Diamond Sutra


[Goto TOC]

(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.)




Sections of Part III

18. All thoughts are intangible - Pure eye. Correct 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 true 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.
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[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].
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(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 / 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.
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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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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.
-
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 / 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.
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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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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]

[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 / U3S / Uopp], 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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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.)

[a. Translation by Alex Johnson:]

The Buddha then asked Subhuti,

"What do you think?
Does the Buddha have human eyes (physical eye) [T1]?"

"Subhuti replied,

 "Yes, he has human eyes."

[Buddha:]

"Does he have the eyes of Enlightenment (divine eye) [T1]?"

[Subhuti:]

"Of course, the Buddha has the eyes of Enlightenment, otherwise he would not be the Buddha."

[Buddha:]

"Does the Buddha have the eyes of transcendent intelligence (prajna eye) [2T]?"

[Subhuti:]

"Yes, the Buddha has the eyes of transcendent intelligence."

“Before one studies Zen, mountains are mountains and waters are waters [T1];
after a first glimpse into the truth of Zen, mountains are no longer mountains and waters are no longer waters [T2] [2T];
after enlightenment, mountains are once again mountains and waters once again waters. [U2T]”
– Dōgen

[Buddha:]

"Does the Buddha have the eyes of spiritual intuition (dharma eye) [U2T]?"

[Subhuti:]

"Yes, Blessed One, the Buddha has the eyes of spiritual intuition."

[Buddha:]

"Does the Buddha have the eyes of love and compassion for all sentient beings (omniscient buddha eye)?"

Subhuti agreed and said,

 "You love all sentient life."

[Buddha:]

"What do you think, Subhuti?
When I referred to the grains of sand in the river Ganges, did I assert that they were truly grains of sand?"

[Subhuti:]

"No blessed One, you only spoke of them as grains of sand."
(i.e. Subhuti usual dualistic answer: 'Yes and/or no'. There are appearances, but ultimately there are no inherently existing grains of sand. 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].)

[Buddha:]

"Subhuti, if there were as many Ganges rivers as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges, and if there were as many buddhalands as there are grains of sand in all those innumerable rivers, would these buddhalands be considered numerous?"
(i.e. Another example of causality that Subhuti should not be able to simply dismiss by saying 'no this, not that ... all is empty’. One can feel there that there is something more than just 'no this, no that ...' / mere-emptiness. There is something inconceivable beyond existence & non-existence, beyond causality & acausality, beyond subject & object, beyond conventional / relative & absolute, beyond appearances & emptiness.)

[Subhuti:]

"Very numerous indeed."
(i.e. Subhuti usual dualistic answer: 'Yes and/or no'. There are appearances, but ultimately there are no inherently existing Buddhalands. 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].)

[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.)

[Power of the Buddha having a dharma eye – with understanding of the inconceivable true nature & dynamic the mind: thoughts, feelings, perception, cognition, acquisition … [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T]. With this omniscience, he is able to use the right adapted skillful means (buddhaland) for each occasion. We are far from mere-causality or mere-emptiness / nihilism here.]

"Subhuti, I know the mind of every sentient being in all the host of universes,
regardless of any modes of thought, conceptions or tendencies.
(i.e. There are not just 5 ways to perceive the world, but an infinity. All sentient beings perceive / interpret the world according to its own conditioning / karma. The omniscient Buddha can understand the way any sentient being perceives the world and adapt his communication & help accordingly, using the appropriate adapted skillful means at the right time. Getting attached to the way we perceive the world is limiting our progress toward enlightenment. Grasping at any word / concept / idea / theory / truth / view / method / goal is our prison; even causality / karma [T1], emptiness [T2], the two truths together and in opposition [2T], a cosmic unity [1T], even the concept of the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] can be a prison. Reality as it is is indescribable / inconceivable in the non-dual sense of those terms: not describable, not indescribable, not both together, not neither; not conceivable, not inconceivable, not both together, not neither. So we can use words / concepts / ideas / theories / truths / views / methods / goals … but with more and more wisdom, as temporary imperfect rafts / tools / adapted skillful means.)
For all modes, conceptions and tendencies of thought are not mind [T2]. And yet they are called 'mind' [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 merely labeled / imputed / perceived by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma. 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.)

Why?
It is impossible to retain a past thought, to seize a future thought, and even to hold onto a present thought [T2]."
(i.e. They conventionally relatively appear, but they are empty of inherent existence, so they are merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind, and used conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.)

——————

(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 18. "What do you think, Subhuti? Does the Tathagata have the eye of the flesh?"
He said, "It is so, Lord, the Tathagata has the eye of the flesh."
The Lord said, "What do you think, Subhuti? Does the Tathagata have the eye of the gods, the eye of insight, the eye of dharma, the eye of the Awakened?"
He said, "It is so, Lord, the Tathagata has the eye of the gods, the eye of insight, the eye of dharma, the eye of the Awakened."
18b The Lord said, "What do you think, Subhuti? If there were as many Ganges Rivers as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, and if there were just as many world-systems as there would be grains of sand in them, would those world-systems be numerous?"
He said, "Quite so, Lord, those world-systems would be numerous."
The Lord said, "Subhuti, as many living beings as there might be in those world-systems, I would know their manifold streams of thought. Why is that?
Those so-called 'streams of thought,' Subhuti, have been preached by the Tathagata as streamless. That is why they are called 'streams of thought.'
(i.e. They conventionally relatively appear, but they are empty of inherent existence, so they are merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind, and used conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively -- with ignorance or wisdom.)
Why is that?
Subhuti, one cannot apprehend a past thought, one cannot apprehend a future thought, one cannot apprehend a present thought.)
From: https://hyanniszendo.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/diamondsutra_lettersize1.pdf

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(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Eighteen:
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata possess a physical eye?"
Subhuti replied, "So he does, Bhagavan. The Tathagata possesses a physical eye."
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata possess a divine eye?"
Subhuti replied, "So he does, Bhagavan. The Tathagata possesses a divine eye."
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata possess a prajna eye?"
Subhuti replied, "So he does, Bhagavan. The Tathagata possesses a prajna eye."
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata possess a dharma eye?"
Subhuti replied, "So he does, Bhagavan. The Tathagata possesses a dharma eye."
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata possess a buddha eye?"
Subhuti replied, "So he does, Bhagavan. The Tathagata possesses a buddha eye."
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, what do you think? As many grains of sand as there are in the great river of the Ganges, does the Tathagata not speak of them as grains of sand?"
Subhuti replied, "So he does, Bhagavan. So he does, Sugata. The Tathagata speaks of them as grains of sand."
The Buddha said, "What do you think, Subhuti? If there were as many rivers as all the grains of sand in the great river of the Ganges and as many worlds as there are grains of sand in all those rivers, would there be many worlds?"
Subhuti replied, "So there would, Bhagavan. So there would, Sugata. There would be many worlds."
The Buddha said, "And as many beings as there might be in those worlds, Subhuti, I would know their myriad streams of thought. And how so?
Streams of thought, Subhuti, what the Tathagata speaks of as 'streams of thought' are no streams. Thus are they called 'streams of thought.'
And how so? Subhuti, a past thought cannot be found. A future thought cannot be found. Nor can a present thought be found.")
From: https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Diamond-Sutra.pdf
.
(From the book: “One Body One Vision.” … the Buddha summons the concept of five eyes, which takes this teaching beyond the limited cultivation of emptiness and personal salvation characteristic of shravaka practitioners, such as Subhuti. For while Subhuti had acquired the first three of these eyes, he had no experience of the last two that see beyond the nihilism of emptiness to the compassionate awareness and liberation of other beings … Seeing that all dharmas are empty and without any self-nature is not enough. The only way bodhisattvas can liberate other beings is by making use of the very selfless dharmas to which beings are attached. Thus, the Buddha introduces us to the dharma eye and the buddha eye. …
The prajna eye perceives objects in the Realm of Formlessness. Hence, it perceives their essential emptiness. The prajna eye is possessed by those who cultivate the shravaka path, but it is also acquired by bodhisattvas and others who see no dharmas, nothing good or bad, nothing created or uncreated, nothing pure or impure, nothing mundane or transcendent. Subhuti had previously acquired the prajna eye due to his comprehension of the doctrine of emptiness. But his understanding of this doctrine was still only that of a shravaka, or follower of the Hinayana path. Hence, though he was aware of the dharma eye and the buddha eye, he had no personal experience of them until now. …
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. … 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 [T1 & T2] of all things, and with their dharma eye, they see their underlying appearance [U2T]. But with their buddha eye, they see the 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.
With his physical eye, the Buddha sees as many worlds as there are grains of sand in rivers as numberless as the grains of sand in the Ganges. With his divine eye, he sees all the beings in those worlds. With his prajna eye, he sees their thoughts. For being delusions, they are empty of any self-nature. But delusion and enlightenment are one and the same, hence with his dharma eye he sees those same thoughts as dharmas, as the means of liberation. And with his buddha eye, he combines all four eyes into one eye that illuminates all these worlds and beings and thoughts and dharmas in one glance. Thus, the first four eyes are often described as the cause and the buddha eye as the result.)

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(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 18. REALITY IS A STEADILY FLOWING STREAM - "Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the human eye?"
Subhuti replied, "Yes, World-Honored One, the Tathagata does have the human eye."
The Buddha asked, "Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the divine eye?"
Subhuti said, "Yes, World-Honored One, the Tathagata does have the divine eye."
"Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the eye of insight?"
Subhuti replied, "Yes, World-Honored One, the Tathagata does have the eye of insight."
"Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the eye of transcendent wisdom?"
"Yes, World-Honored One, the Tathagata does have the eye of transcendent wisdom."
The Buddha asked, "Does the Tathagata have the Buddha eye?"
"Yes, World-Honored One, the Tathagata does have the Buddha eye."
"Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Buddha see the sand in the Ganges as sand?"
Subhuti said, "World-Honored One, the Tathagata also calls it sand."
"Subhuti, if there were as many Ganges Rivers as the number of grains of sand of the Ganges and there was a Buddha land for each grain of sand in all those Ganges Rivers, would those Buddha lands be many?"
"Yes, World-Honored One, very many."
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, however many living beings there are in all these Buddha lands, though they each have a different mentality, the Tathagata understands them all. Why is that?
Subhuti, what the Tathagata calls different mentalities are not in fact different mentalities. That is why they are called different mentalities.
"Why? Subhuti, the past mind cannot be grasped, neither can the present mind or the future mind.")
From: https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Thich%20Nhat%20Hanh%20-%20The%20Diamond%20That%20Cuts%20Through%20I.pdf

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(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 18 - One Substance Regarded as Identical:
"Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the flesh eye?
"So it is, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the flesh eye."
"Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the heavenly eye?"
"So it is, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the heavenly eye."
"Subhuti, what do you think?' Does the Tathagata have the wisdom eye?"
"So it is, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the wisdom eye."
"Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the dharma eye?"
"So it is, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the dharma eye."
"Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the Buddha eye?"
"So it is, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the Buddha eye."
"Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Tathagata spoken of the sand grains in the Ganges River?"
"So it is, World Honored one. The Tathagata has spoken of that sand."
"Subhuti, what do you think? If all the grains of sand in one Ganges River became an equal number of Ganges Rivers, and all the grains of sand in all those Ganges Rivers became that many Buddhalands. Would they be many?"
"Very many, World Honored One."
The Buddha told Subhuti, "all the various thoughts which occur to all the living beings in all those Buddhalands are completely known by the Tathagata. And why?
All thoughts are spoken of by the Tathagata as no thoughts, therefore they are called thoughts.
For what reason? Subhuti, past thought cannot be got at, present thought cannot be got at, and future thought cannot be got at.")
From: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/prajparagen2.pdf

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(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013: 18. Physical and mental faculties are unobtainable:
"Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the physical eye?"
"Yes, World-honored One. The Tathāgata has the physical eye."
"Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the divine eye?"
"Yes, World-honored One, the Tathāgata has the divine eye."
"Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the wisdom eye?"
"Yes, World-honored One, the Tathāgata has the wisdom eye."
"Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the dharma eye?"
"Yes, World-honored One. The Tathāgata has the dharma eye?"
"Subhūti, what do you think? Does the Tathāgata have the buddha eye?"
"Yes, World-honored One. The Tathāgata has the buddha eye."
"Subhūti, what do you think? When discussing the sands in the Ganges river, the Buddha calls these 'sands,' does he not?"
"Yes, World-honored One, the Tathāgata calls them 'sands.'"
"Subhūti, what do you think? If each of the sands in the one Ganges river each contained its own Ganges river, and each grain of sand in all these Ganges rivers represented a buddha-world, would not their number be many?"
"Very many, World-honored One."
The Buddha said to Subhūti: "The Tathāgata is fully aware of the various thoughts of each of the sentient beings dwelling in these buddha worlds. And how so? None of what the Tathāgata calls 'thoughts' are actually thoughts. Therefore they are called thoughts. Why? Because the past thought is unobtainable, the present thought is unobtainable, and the future thought is unobtainable.")

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19. No merit is great merit - Pure acquisition of karma. Inconceivable Good-karma / Blessings / Merit without any grasping / attachment / absolutes. Union of merit & wisdom.

[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.
-
[F. Sections with similar comments / topic: 8, 11, 12, 19, 24, 28.] – Merit. Emptiness of good-karma / blessing / merit, just a figure of speech, merely labeled / imputed by the mind.
-
(i.e. Answer: Bodhisattvas should acquire a relatively immeasurable amount of good-karma / merit from learning, teaching, practicing the teachings in sutras like this one, 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 / 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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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.
-
Karma -- good-karma / blessings / merit, bad-karma, neutral-karma, individual, collective, cosmic -- is also 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].
Karma -- good-karma / blessings / merit, bad-karma, neutral-karma, individual, collective, cosmic -- is like illusions / dreams / tricks of the sight / mirages / reflections / echos / Cities of Gandharvas / emanated apparitions: 'there, but not there'.
Karma is 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.
So there are no real three stages of becoming about karma -- 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 about karma, 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 about karma, 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).
Meaning the true nature & dynamic of karma -- good-karma / blessings / merit, bad-karma, neutral-karma, individual, collective, cosmic --, of the karmic cycle, 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.
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should think in terms of the three spheres of acquisition of karma – ex. i. subject / actor / acquirer, ii. relation / action / acquiring, iii. object / result / effects / karma -- good-karma / blessings / merit, bad-karma, neutral-karma, individual, collective, cosmic --, 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.
-
There are no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing subject / actor / acquirer, relation / action / acquisition, object / result / effects / karma ex. merit; 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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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.
-
Because it is the way to reaching the Highest Perfect Wisdom, it is the way to becoming a living Buddha (4).
Because it is a prelude to pure perception, to directly perceiving the Buddha-nature in everything (5).
Because it is from teachings in this Sutra, that the supreme and perfect awakening of the Tathagatas is born, it is from this that the Buddhas and Lords are born (7).
Because this Sutra does not teach any absolute (13).
Because this Sutra is about understanding and then directly realising this inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now; and acting more and more in accord with it.
So, the more we learn about it, the more we act in accord with the teachings in this Sutra, the more we share it with others, explain it to others, the more we accumulate both merit & wisdom together, and the more we are getting closer and closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth / liberation / enlightenment – conventionally speaking.)

[Goto TOC]

[a. Translation by Alex Johnson:]

The Buddha continued:
(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.)

"What do you think Subhuti?
If a follower were to give away enough treasures to fill 3,000 universes,
would a great blessing and merit incur to him or her?"
(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 replied,
(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. But now he is starting to understand this teaching, but not fully yet …)

"Honored one, such a follower would acquire considerable blessings and merit."
(i.e. Subhuti usual dualistic answer: 'Yes and/or no'. There are appearances, but ultimately there are no inherently existing merits to be gained. 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 said:
(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).)

"Subhuti, if such a blessing had any substantiality [T2],
if it were anything other than a figure of speech [T1],
the Most Honored One would not have used the words 'blessings and merit'. [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 merely labeled / imputed / perceived by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma. 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.)

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(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 19. "What do you think, Subhuti? If someone were to fill this trigalactic megagalactic world system with the seven treasures and give it as a gift, would that gentleman or lady engender a lot of merit on that basis?" He said,
"A lot, Lord. A lot, Blessed One."
The Lord said, "Quite so, Subhuti, quite so. It is a lot. That gentleman or lady would engender a lot of merit on that basis.
If there were a quantity of merit, Subhuti, the Tathagata would not have preached the so-called 'quantity of merit.')

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(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Nineteen: "Subhuti, what do you think? If some noble son or daughter filled the billion worlds of this universe with the seven jewels and gave them as a gift to the tathagatas, the arhans, the fully-enlightened ones, would the body of merit produced as a result by that noble son or daughter be great?"
Subhuti replied, "Great, indeed, Bhagavan. It would be great, Sugata."
The Buddha said, "So it would, Subhuti. So it would. The body of merit produced as a result by that noble son or daughter would be immeasurably, infinitely great. And how so?
A body of merit, Subhuti, a 'body of merit' is spoken of by the Tathagata as no body. Thus is it called a 'body of merit.'
(i.e. They conventionally relatively appear, but they are empty of inherent existence, so they are merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind, and used conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively -- with ignorance or wisdom.)
Subhuti, if there were a body of merit, the Tathagata would not have spoken of a body of merit as a 'body of merit.'")
.
(From the book: “The Teaching That Pervades the Dharma Realm.” He [the Buddha] has another purpose, which is to encourage Subhuti to seek the dharma eye and the buddha eye [U2T]. Not only can a thought of enlightenment not be found, neither does a body of merit exist [T2]. And yet the Buddha speaks of a body of merit [U2T]. … The dharma eye sees beyond emptiness to what advances liberation. Delusion and enlightenment are inseparable.)

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(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 19. GREAT HAPPINESS - "What do you think, Subhuti? If someone were to fill the 3,000 chiliocosms with precious treasures as an act of generosity, would that person bring great happiness by his virtuous act?"
"Yes, very much, World-Honored One."
"Subhuti, if such happiness were conceived as an entity separate from everything else,
the Tathagata would not have said it to be great, but because it is ungraspable, the Tathagata has said that the virtuous act of that person brought about great happiness.")

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(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 19 - The Dharma Realm Penetrated & Transformed: "Subhuti, what do you think? If someone filled the three thousand great thousand worlds with the seven precious gems and gave them as a gift, would that person for that reason obtain many blessings?"
"So it is, World Honored One. That person would for that reason obtain very many blessings.
"Subhuti, if blessings and virtue were real, the Tathagata would not have spoken of obtaining many blessings.
It is because blessings and virtue do not exist that the Tathagata has spoken of obtaining many blessings.")

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(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013:  19. No merit is great merit: "Subhūti, what do you think? If there were a person who was able to take enough of the seven jewels to fill all the worlds of the three galaxies, and gave them away for charity, would not, based on these causes and conditions, this person's merit be great?"
"Yes, World-honored One, based on these causes and conditions this person's merit would be extremely great."
"Subhūti, if this merit were real, the Tathāgata would not say that there was attainment of great merit. It is because this merit is non-existent that the Tathāgata says that the merit is great.")

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20. Transcending physical attributes Pure Perception:  Correct Thinking / Perception without any grasping / attachment / absolutes. The karmic cycle of subject, action, and object. Directly perceiving the true 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.
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[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].
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(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 / 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.
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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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 / 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.
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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.
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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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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:]
(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.)

"Subhuti, what do you think,
should one look for Buddha in his perfect physical body?"
(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.)

[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. But now he is starting to understand this teaching, but not fully yet …)

"No, Perfectly Enlightened One, one should not look for Buddha in his perfect physical body.
Why?
The Buddha has said that
the perfect physical body [T1] is not the perfect physical body (nirmanakaya) [T2] [U2T].
Therefore it is called the perfect physical body."
(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 merely labeled / imputed / perceived by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma. 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.)

[Buddha:]

"Subhuti, what do you think,
should one look for Buddha in all his perfect appearances?"

[Subhuti:]

"No Most Honored One, one should not look for Buddha in all his perfect appearances.
Why?
The Buddha has said
perfect appearances [T1] are not perfect appearances (sambhogakaya) [T2] [U2T].
Therefore they are called perfect appearances."
(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 merely labeled / imputed / perceived by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma. 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. 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.)

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(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 20. "What do you think, Subhuti? Can a Tathagata be seen by virtue of the perfection of his physical body?" He said, "No, Lord, a Tathagata cannot be seen by virtue of the perfection of his physical body. Why is that? The so-called 'perfection of the physical body' has been preached by the Tathagata as perfectionless. That is why it is called the 'perfection of the physical body.'"
(i.e. They conventionally relatively appear, but they are empty of inherent existence, so they are merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind, and used conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively -- with ignorance or wisdom.)
20b The Lord said, "What do you think, Subhuti? Can a Tathagata be seen by virtue of the possession of distinctive features?" He said, "No, Lord, a Tathagata cannot be seen by virtue of the possession of distinctive features. Why is that?
What the Tathagata has preached as the possession of distinctive features has been preached by the Tathagata as lacking the possession of distinctive features. That is why it is called the possession of distinctive features.")
(i.e. They conventionally relatively appear, but they are empty of inherent existence, so they are merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind, and used conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively -- with ignorance or wisdom.)

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(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Twenty: "Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be seen by means of the perfect development of the physical body?"
Subhuti replied, "No, indeed, Bhagavan. The Tathagata cannot be seen by means of the perfect development of the physical body. And why not?
The perfect development of the physical body, Bhagavan, the 'perfect development of the physical body' is spoken of by the Tathagata as no development. Thus is it called the 'perfect development of the physical body.'"
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, what do you think? 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 speaks of as the possession of attributes is spoken of by the Tathagata as no possession of attributes. Thus is it called the 'possession of attributes.'"
.
(From the book: “Transcending Form, Transcending Appearance.” Subhuti continues to rely on his prajna, or wisdom, eye. Hence, his awareness is limited to the essential emptiness of things. Thus, he sees that just as the body of merit of the previous chapter is no body, so, too, is the Buddha’s reward body no body. For although it is ultimately one with the Buddha’s real body, Subhuti sees only that aspect which is the result of causes and conditions and which therefore lacks any self-nature. … Just as he earlier asked Subhuti to consider the reality of the universe and the specks of dust of which it is made, the Buddha asks Subhuti to apply the same logic of emptiness to his own reward body and the attributes of which it is composed. Since his reward body and its perfect attributes both depend on one another for their existence, neither is real. The reality of the Buddha’s reward body and its attributes consists in their being manifestations, albeit formless manifestations, of the Buddha’s dharma body. … The attribute that is not possessed is the only visible attribute of the Buddha’s real body. In fact, it is the Buddha’s real body. Such an attribute, though, is not visible to the physical, divine, or prajna eyes but only to the dharma and buddha eyes. Since Subhuti only possesses the first three, he only perceives the essential emptiness of such attributes, not their reality. In Chapter Five, the Buddha tells Subhuti, “Subhuti, since the possession of attributes is thus an illusion, and no possession of attributes is no illusion, the Tathagata can, indeed, be seen but by means of attributes that are no attributes.” But such vision requires the dharma eye, which Subhuti has not yet realized.)

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(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 20. THIRTY-TWO MARKS - "Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be perceived by his perfectly formed body?"
"No, World-Honored One. What the Tathagata calls a perfectly formed body is not in fact a perfectly formed body. That is why it is called a perfectly formed body."
"What do you think, Subhuti? Can the Tathagata be perceived by his perfectly formed physiognomy?"
"No, World-Honored One. It is impossible to perceive the Tathagata by any perfectly formed physiognomy. Why?
Because what the Tathagata calls perfectly formed physiognomy is not in fact perfectly formed physiognomy. That is why it is called perfectly formed physiognomy.")

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(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 20 - Apart from Form & Apart from Marks:
"Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be seen in the perfection of his physical form
"No, World Honored One. The Tathagata cannot be seen in the perfection of his physical form. And why?
The perfection of physical form is spoken of by the Tathagata as no perfection of physical form, therefore it is called the perfection of physical form."
"Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be seen in the perfection of marks?"
"No, World Honored One. The Tathagata cannot be seen in the perfection of marks. And why?
The perfection of marks is spoken of by the Tathagata as no perfection of marks, therefore it is called the perfection of marks.")

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(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013:  20. Discerning the Buddha by his body:
"Subhūti, what do you think? Can the Buddha be discerned by seeing his perfectly-formed body?"
"No, World-honored One. The Tathāgata cannot be discerned by seeing his perfectly-formed body. Why? What the Tathāgata calls a perfectly-formed body is not a perfectly-formed body. Hence it is called a perfectly-formed body."
"Subhūti, what do you think? Can the Tathāgata be discerned by his perfect bodily characteristics?"
"No, World-honored One. The Tathāgata cannot be discerned by his perfect bodily characteristics. Why? Those characteristics that the Tathāgata has called 'perfect' are actually not perfect. Therefore he says that these characteristics are perfect.")

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21. No truth can be spokenTruthfulness: Correct speaking / teaching / usage of words / names / concepts / ideas / teachings / practices / views / methods / goals … 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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[G. Sections with similar comments / topic: 9, 13, 21.] – Correct utilisation of words, names, concepts, ideas, teachings … No ultimate truth.
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(i.e. Answer: Bodhisattvas should speak / teach / 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 / 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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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.
-
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.
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas could use words / names / concepts / ideas / teachings / practices / views / methods / goals like: subject / self, object / others, beings / diversity, life / oneness, relations / actions, change / evolution, rebirths, stages of realisation, and liberation / enlightenment, 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.
-
Those words / names / concepts / ideas and their referents are all empty of inherent existence <==> because dependently co-arisen, merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind. They are all 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.
-
Everything is merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind, but not from the mind only. No word / name / concept / idea has a definitive / fixed / independent / universal / absolute meaning / signification. Each individual interprets them according to his conditioning / karma. No word / name / concept / idea can really capture the true nature & dynamic of anything, the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now. We cannot use the conditioned to describe what is beyond the conditioned & unconditioned. But, still, we have no choice but to use them to communicate / cooperate with others. We have to be able to tolerate the uncertainty of everything.
-
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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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:]

[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.)

"Subhuti, do not maintain that the Buddha has this thought: 'I have spoken spiritual truths.'
Do not think that way.
Why?
If someone says the Buddha has spoken spiritual truths, he slanders the Buddha due to his inability to understand what the Buddha teaches.
Subhuti, as to speaking truth [T1], no truth can be spoken (in absolute terms) [T2].
Therefore it is called 'speaking truth'. [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 merely labeled / imputed / perceived by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma. 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. 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]. All of those are mere pointers to the moon, not the moon itself.)

(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.)

At that time Subhuti, the wise elder, addressed 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. But now he is starting to understand this teaching, but not fully yet …)

 "Most Honored One, will there be living beings in the future who believe in this Sutra when they hear it?"
(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 6)

The Buddha said:

"The living beings to whom you refer are neither living beings nor not living beings.
Why? Subhuti,
all the different kinds of living beings the Buddha speaks of are not living beings.
But they are referred to as living beings."
(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 merely labeled / imputed / perceived by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma. 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.)

——————

(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 21. The Lord said, "What do you think, Subhuti?
Does it occur to the Tathagata that he has taught the dharma?
Subhuti, anybody who would say such things as 'The Tathagata has taught the dharma' would misrepresent me, Subhuti, on account of wrong learning. Why is that?
As for the so-called 'teaching of the dharma,' Subhuti, there exists no dharma whatsoever which can be apprehended called the teaching of the dharma."
21b He said, "Can it be, Lord, that there will be be any living beings at a future time who will hear such dharmas as these being preached and have faith in them?"
The Lord said, "Subhuti, they are not beings, nor are they non-beings. Why is that?
'All beings,' Subhuti, have been preached by the Tathagata as beingless. That is why they are called 'all beings.')
(i.e. They conventionally relatively appear, but they are empty of inherent existence, so they are merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind, and used conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively -- with ignorance or wisdom.)

——————

(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Twenty-one: The Buddha said, "Subhuti, what do you think?
Does it occur to the Tathagata: 'I teach a dharma'?"
Subhuti replied, "No, indeed, Bhagavan. It does not occur to the Tathagata: 'I teach a dharma.'"
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, if someone should claim, 'The Tathagata teaches a dharma,' such a claim would be untrue. Such a view of me, Subhuti, would be a misconception. And how so?
In the teaching of a dharma, Subhuti, in the 'teaching of a dharma' there is no such dharma to be found as the 'teaching of a dharma.'"
Upon hearing this, 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 hear a dharma such as this and believe it?"
The Buddha said, "Neither beings, Subhuti, nor no beings. And how so?
Beings, Subhuti, 'beings' are all spoken of by the Tathagata, Subhuti, as no beings. Thus are they called 'beings.'")
.
(From the book: “Not Teaching What One Teaches.” … buddhas do not teach dharmas, much less no dharmas. … Subhuti wonders if people who live long after the Buddha’s time can possibly believe a teaching that isn’t taught. The Buddha answers that, indeed, there shall be such beings, but only those who are no beings. For not only are the teacher and the teaching empty names, so too are the beings who hear, believe, and practice such a teaching. No buddha, no dharma, no sangha.)

——————

(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 21. INSIGHT-LIFE - "Subhuti, do not say that the Tathagata conceives the idea 'I will give a teaching.' Do not think that way. Why?
If anyone says that the Tathagata has something to teach, that person slanders the Buddha because he does not understand what I say.
Subhuti, giving a Dharma talk in fact means that no talk is given. This is truly a Dharma talk."
Then, Insight-Life Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, in the future, will there be living beings who will feel complete confidence when they hear these words?"
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, those living beings are neither living beings nor non-living beings. Why is that?
Subhuti, what the Tathagata calls non-living beings are truly living beings.")

——————

(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 21 - Spoken Yet Not Spoken:
"Subhuti, do not say the Tathagata has the thought, 'I have spoken Dharma.' Do not think that way. And why?
If someone says the Tathagata has spoken Dharma he slanders the Buddha due to his inability to understand what I say.
Subhuti, in the Dharma spoken there is no Dharma which can be spoken, therefore it is called the Dharma spoken."
Then the sagacious Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, will there be living beings in the future who will believe this Sutra when they hear it spoken?"
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, they are neither living beings nor no living beings. And why?
Subhuti, living beings, living beings, are spoken of by the Tathagata as no living beings, therefore they are called living beings.")

——————

(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013: 21. No dharma is dharma; non-sentient beings are sentient beings:
Subhūti, do not think such a thought as "I [the Tathāgata] have something to teach." Do not even think such a thing. Why not? If someone says that the Tathāgata has a teaching to offer then he is slandering the Buddha, because he does not understand what I am teaching. Subhūti, in the teaching of the dharma, there is no dharma that can be taught. This is called teaching the dharma.
Then Wisdom-Life Subhūti said to the Buddha: "World-honored One. Might there at some time in the future be sentient beings who will gain faith upon hearing this discourse?"
The Buddha said, "Subhūti, they will not be sentient beings, and they will not be non-sentient beings. Why? Subhūti, the Tathāgata has taught that 'sentient beings' are not sentient beings. Thus they are called sentient beings." )

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

22. No attainment is supreme enlightenmentNo 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.
-
[E. Sections with similar comments / topic: 7, 10, 16, 22] – Direct experience. Not existence, not non-existence … of causes, causality / production / creation, and effects / merit / enlightenment.
-
(i.e. Answer: Bodhisattvas should know that "Buddhas and disciples are not enlightened (result / effect) by a set method of teachings (causes)".
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should know that enlightenment is not a real effect / product; it is not like acquiring something new, an ultimate superior truth or state. Enlightenment is just a word / concept / adapted skillful means.
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should think in terms of the three spheres of causality, universal laws & space & time – ex. i. subject / causes & conditions / teachings, ii. relation / action / causality, iii. object / result / effects / merit / enlightenment, 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 / 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.
-
There are no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing causes & conditions / teachings, causality / production, product / effects / merit / enlightenment, universal laws, space & time; just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. So, there is no absolute causality / production / creation or complete non-causality / non-production / non-creation.
-
The three spheres of causality – ex. i. subject / cause / the Buddha-dharma / teachings of Sutras like this one, ii. relation / action / causality / production, and iii. object / result / effect / fruit / karma (good-karma / blessings / merit, bad-karma, neutral-karma; individual, collective, cosmic) and liberation or enlightenmentare 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].
The three spheres of causality are like illusions / dreams / tricks of the sight / mirages / reflections / echos / Cities of Gandharvas / emanated apparitions: 'there, but not there'.
They 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.
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).
Meaning the true nature & dynamic of the three spheres of causality, 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.
-
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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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 again asked,
(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. But now he is starting to understand this teaching, but not fully yet …)

"Blessed One, when you attained complete Enlightenment,
did you feel in your mind that nothing had been acquired?"

The Buddha 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.)

"That is it exactly, Subhuti. When I attained total Enlightenment,
I did not feel, as the mind feels, any arbitrary conception of spiritual truth, not even the slightest.
Even the words 'total Enlightenment' are merely words, they are used merely as a figure of speech."
(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 merely labeled / imputed / perceived by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma. 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.)

——————

(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 22. "What do you think, Subhuti?
Does any dharma at all exist to which the Tathagata became fully awakened as supreme and perfect awakening?"
He said,
"No dharma whatsoever exists to which the Tathagata became fully awakened as supreme and perfect awakening."
The Lord said, "Quite so, Subhuti, quite so.
Not even a fine or minute dharma is to be found or apprehended in it. That is why.

——————

(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Twenty-two: "Subhuti, what do you think?
Did the Tathagata realize any such dharma as unexcelled, perfect enlightenment?"
The venerable Subhuti replied, "No, indeed, Bhagavan.
The Tathagata did not realize any such dharma, Bhagavan, as unexcelled, perfect enlightenment."
The Buddha said, "So it is, Subhuti. So it is.
The slightest dharma is neither obtained nor found therein. Thus is it called 'unexcelled, perfect enlightenment.'")
.
(From the book: “No Dharma to Realize.” the Buddha denies that he obtained or found anything at all. The teacher teaches no teaching because he learned nothing. And he learned nothing because the teaching contains no teaching. … When the Buddha realized the dharma body of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment, he not only did not find the greatest of dharmas, he did not find the slightest, most insignificant of dharmas. He did not find even an atom of reality. But what is devoid of even an atom of reality is reality itself, which is the Buddha’s dharma body. The awareness of this is what the Buddha means by “unexcelled, perfect enlightenment.”)

——————

(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 22. THE SUNFLOWER - Subhuti asked the Buddha,
"World-Honored One, is the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind that the Buddha attained the unattainable?"
The Buddha said, "That is right, Subhuti. Regarding the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind.")

——————

(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 22 - There is No Dharma which can be Obtained:
Subhuti said to the Buddha,
"World Honored One, is it that the Tathagata in attaining Anuttarasamyaksambodhi (i.e. Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment) did not attain anything?"
The Buddha said, "So it is, so it is, Subhuti.
As to Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, there is not even the slightest dharma which I could attain, therefore it is called Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.")

——————

(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013:  22. The attainability of peerless perfect enlightenment:
Subhūti said to the Buddha: "World-honored One. When the buddhas attain peerless perfect enlightenment, is it the case that actually nothing is attained?"
"Exactly right. Subhūti, as far as peerless perfect enlightenment is concerned, I have not attained the slightest thing. This is why it is called peerless perfect enlightenment.")

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

23. All Dharmas are equalThe Inconceivable true nature & dynamic of all dharmas, of Reality as it is / Suchness / Tathagata / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness … free from all extremes & middle [U2T / U3S / Uopp]. Equality / Non-duality / Union of opposites [Uopp].

[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.
-
[H. Sections with similar comments / topic: 17, 23, 29, 32.] – The True nature & dynamic of Reality as it is: Equality / Non-duality / Union of opposites [Uopp].
-
(i.e. Answer: While performing any activity of the body, speech and mind, bodhisattvas should be aware aware of the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, of all dharmas – subject, relation / action, object; physical, conceptual, mental; individual, collective, cosmic –: the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2], the Union of the three spheres [U3S], the Union of opposites [Uopp]. And because of this there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. There is no real opposition between good & bad, superiority &. inferiority, subject & object, self & others, diversity & unity, individuality & no-individuality, conventional / relative truths vs. ultimate truth / emptiness, samsara & nirvana. In that sense, everything is considered to be primordially EQUAL / non-dual, pure, perfect … – in the non-dual sense of those terms (see tetralemma). Meaning there is nothing to accept, nothing to reject in absolute terms.
-
All dharmas in both samsara & nirvana – including the 5 aggregates, the body speech & mind, apparent opposites, the three spheres of relation / opposition / action / causality / production / creation / perception / feeling / thinking / cognition / acquisition / etc., even the two truths themselves – 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 like illusions / dreams / tricks of the sight / mirages / reflections / echos / Cities of Gandharvas / emanated apparitions: 'there, but not there'.
They 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.
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).
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.
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should perform all activities of the body & speech & mind / generate Bodhicitta / practice / perceive / conceptualise / discriminate / have faith / acquired good-karma - merit / progress / think / learn / teach this Sutrawhile 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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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:]

[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, what I have attained in total Enlightenment is the same as (equal to / non-dual with) what all others have attained. It is undifferentiated, regarded neither as a high state, nor a low state.
It is wholly independent of any definite or arbitrary conceptions of an individual self (subject), other selves (object), living beings (both together / diversity / individuality), or a universal self (neither / oneness / no-individuality)."

(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 / U3S / Uopp].)

"Subhuti, when someone is selflessly charitable, they should also
practice being ethical by remembering that there is no distinction between one's self and the selfhood of others.
Thus one practices charity by giving not only gifts, but through kindness and sympathy.

Practice kindness and charity [T1] without attachment [T2] [U2T]
and you can become fully enlightened."

"Subhuti, what I just said about kindness does not mean that when someone is being charitable they should hold onto arbitrary conceptions about kindness, for kindness is, after all, only a word
and charity needs to be spontaneous and selfless, done without regard for appearances."
(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 merely labeled / imputed / perceived by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma. 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. Practicing morality, kindness and 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 morality, kindness & 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.)

——————

(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 23.
"However, Subhuti, that dharma is the same as any other (sama), and there is nothing at all different (visama) about it.
That is why it is called 'supreme and perfect (samyak) awakening.'
[Practicing] By virtue of being devoid of a soul, being devoid of a living being and being devoid of a person,
that supreme and perfect awakening is fully awakened
to as being the same as all wholesome dharmas.
These so-called 'wholesome dharmas,' Subhuti, have been preached by the Tathagata as being indeed dharmaless. That is why they are called 'wholesome dharmas.')
(i.e. They conventionally relatively appear, but they are empty of inherent existence, so they are merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind, and used conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively -- with ignorance or wisdom.)

——————

(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Twenty-three:
"Furthermore, Subhuti, undifferentiated is this dharma in which nothing is differentiated. Thus is it called 'unexcelled, perfect enlightenment.'
[Practicing] Without a self, without a being, without a life, without a soul, undifferentiated
is this unexcelled, perfect enlightenment by means of which all auspicious dharmas are realized.
And how so?
Auspicious dharmas, Subhuti, 'auspicious dharmas' are spoken of by the Tathagata as 'no dharmas.' Thus are they called 'auspicious dharmas.'")
.
(From the book: “With a Pure Mind Cultivate What Is Auspicious.” Here, he explains that unexcelled, perfect enlightenment cannot be realized because it possesses no features, no qualities, no aspects, nothing that can be differentiated. Nor is there within it something greater: no greater self, no greater being, no greater life, no greater soul. It is, instead, the Great Leveler. And yet it is precisely because it contains nothing that can be differentiated that it is the source of all auspicious dharmas, which are those dharmas used in the work of liberation and which are the focus of the second half of this sutra. And yet they are only auspicious because they contain nothing. They are no dharmas. The Buddha also calls such dharmas “buddha dharmas.”)

——————

(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 23. THE MOON IS JUST THE MOON:
"Furthermore, Subhuti, that mind is everywhere equally.
Because it is neither high nor low, it is called the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind.
The fruit of the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind is realized through
the practice of all wholesome actions in the spirit of non self, non person, non living being, and non life span.
Subhuti, what are called wholesome actions are in fact not wholesome actions. That is why they are called wholesome actions.")

——————

(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 23 - The Pure Heart Practices Good:
"Moreover, Subhuti, this dharma is level and equal, with no high or low. Therefore it is called Anuttarasamyaksambodhi (i.e. Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment).
To cultivate all good dharmas with no self, no others, no living beings, and no life
is to attain Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.
Subhuti, good dharmas are spoken of by the Tathagata as no good dharmas. Therefore they are called good dharmas.)

——————

(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013:  23. The role of good factors: "Furthermore, Subhūti, this state is equal, having neither high or low. Therefore it is called peerless perfect enlightenment. When one, not abiding in the notions of self, person, sentient being, and lifespan, cultivates all kinds of good factors, then one attains peerless perfect enlightenment. Subhūti, the Tathāgata says that these so-called 'good factors' are not good factors. Therefore they are called good factors.")

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

24. The merits of transmitting the sutra - Pure acquisition of karma. Inconceivable Good-karma / Blessings / Merit without any grasping / attachment / absolutes. Union of merit & wisdom.

[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.
-
[F. Sections with similar comments / topic: 8, 11, 12, 19, 24, 28.] – Merit. Gaining an incomparable amount of good-karma / blessings / merit from this Sutra.
-
(i.e. Answer: Bodhisattvas should acquire a relatively immeasurable amount of good-karma / merit from learning, teaching, practicing the teachings in sutras like this one, 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 / 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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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.
-
Karma -- good-karma / blessings / merit, bad-karma, neutral-karma, individual, collective, cosmic -- is also 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].
Karma -- good-karma / blessings / merit, bad-karma, neutral-karma, individual, collective, cosmic -- is like illusions / dreams / tricks of the sight / mirages / reflections / echos / Cities of Gandharvas / emanated apparitions: 'there, but not there'.
Karma is 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.
So there are no real three stages of becoming about karma -- 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 about karma, 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 about karma, 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).
Meaning the true nature & dynamic of karma -- good-karma / blessings / merit, bad-karma, neutral-karma, individual, collective, cosmic --, of the karmic cycle, 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.
-
Answer: Bodhisattvas should think in terms of the three spheres of acquisition of karma – ex. i. subject / actor / acquirer, ii. relation / action / acquiring, iii. object / result / effects / karma -- good-karma / blessings / merit, bad-karma, neutral-karma, individual, collective, cosmic --, 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.
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There are no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing subject / actor / acquirer, relation / action / acquisition, object / result / effects / karma ex. merit; just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
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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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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.
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Because it is the way to reaching the Highest Perfect Wisdom, it is the way to becoming a living Buddha (4).
Because it is a prelude to pure perception, to directly perceiving the Buddha-nature in everything (5).
Because it is from teachings in this Sutra, that the supreme and perfect awakening of the Tathagatas is born, it is from this that the Buddhas and Lords are born (7).
Because this Sutra does not teach any absolute (13).
Because this Sutra is about understanding and then directly realising this inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now; and acting more and more in accord with it.
So, the more we learn about it, the more we act in accord with the teachings in this Sutra, the more we share it with others, explain it to others, the more we accumulate both merit & wisdom together, and the more we are getting closer and closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth / liberation / enlightenment – conventionally speaking.)

[Goto TOC]

[a. Translation by Alex Johnson:]

The Buddha continued:
(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.)

"Subhuti, if a person collected treasures as high as 3,000 of the highest mountains and gave them all to others, their merit would be less than what would accrue to another person who simply observed and studied this Sutra and, out of kindness, explained it to others. The latter person would accumulate hundreds of times the merit, hundreds of thousands of millions of times the merit. There is no conceivable comparison."
(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.)

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(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 24. "If, however, someone were to amass piles of the seven treasures as high as all the Sumerus, kings of all mountains, in the trigalactic megagalactic world-system and give them as a gift, Subhuti, and if someone else were to do no more than learn just a four-lined verse from this Perfection of Insight and teach it to others, then the former quantity of merit, Subhuti, does not approach even a hundredth part of the latter quantity of merit and so on, until nor does it even permit of any analogy.)

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(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Twenty-four: "Moreover, Subhuti, if a man or woman brought together as many piles of the seven jewels as all the Mount Sumerus in the billion worlds of the universe and gave them as a gift to the tathagatas, the arhans, the fully-enlightened ones, and a noble son or daughter grasped but a single four-line gatha of this dharma teaching of the perfection of wisdom and made it known to others, Subhuti, their body of merit would be greater by more than a hundredfold, indeed, by an amount beyond comparison.")
.
(From the book: “Merit and Wisdom beyond Compare.” … the Buddha is concerned that those who don’t understand the differences among the five eyes might now choose to ignore the cultivation of a body of merit and the cultivation and dissemination of this teaching. Hence, he once again reminds Subhuti of the merit that results from understanding and making the “mother of buddhas” known to others. What could be more auspicious and yet at the same time transcend the limits of auspiciousness? Again, the emphasis is on skill-in-means in realizing the realization that is no realization and in teaching the teaching that is no teaching. Only such a realization and such a teaching can be called auspicious, and only a body that results from such realization and teaching is beyond comparison.)

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(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 24. THE MOST VIRTUOUS ACT - "Subhuti, if someone were to fill the 3,000 chiliocosms with piles of the seven precious treasures as high as Mount Sumeru as an act of generosity, the happiness resulting from this is much less than that of another person who knows how to accept, practice, and explain the Vajracchedika Prajñaparamita Sutra to others. The happiness resulting from the virtue of a person who practices this sutra, even if it is only a gatha of four lines, cannot be described by using examples or mathematics.")

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(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 24 - Blessings & Wisdom Beyond Compare: "Subhuti, if there were heaps of the seven precious gems equal in amount to all the Sumerus, Kings of Mountains, in three thousand great thousand world systems, and someone gave them as a gift, and if someone else were to take from this Prajna Paramita Sutra as few as four lines of verse, and receive, hold, read, recite, and speak them for others, his blessings and virtue would surpass the previous ones by more hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of times than either calculation or analogy could express.")

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(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013:  24. Merits of transmitting the sūtra: far greater than those of charity: "Subhūti, if there were a person who accumulated the seven jewels in mounds equivalent to all the Mt. Sumerus in the worlds of three thousand galaxies and gave them away charitably, the merit gained by such a person, compared to that of someone who memorized, recited, and explained to others as much as a four-line verse of this scripture of transcendent wisdom, would not amount to a hundredth. Nor would it amount to a billionth part. In fact, no metaphor of number is capable of describing this difference in merit.")

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25. There are no beings to liberate - Correct Bodhicitta without any grasping / attachment / absolutes. No ordinary being to liberate.

[A. Sections with similar comments / topic: 3, 25.] – Generating Bodhicitta without any attachment. There are no real sentient beings to liberate.
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[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 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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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:]

[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.)

"Subhuti, do not say that the Buddha has the idea, 'I will lead all sentient beings to Nirvana.'
Do not think that way, Subhuti. Why?
In truth there is not one single being for the Buddha to lead to Enlightenment.
(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.)

If the Buddha were to think there was, he would be caught in the idea of a self (subject), a person (object), a living being (both together / diversity / individuality), or a universal self (neither / oneness / no-individuality).

(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 / U3S / Uopp].)

Subhuti, what the Buddha calls a self essentially has no self in the way that ordinary persons think there is a self.
Subhuti, the Buddha does not regard anyone as an ordinary person.
That is why he can speak of them as ordinary persons."
(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 merely labeled / imputed / perceived by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma. 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.)

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(b. Translation by Paul Harrison - 2006: 25.
"What do you think, Subhuti? Does it occur to the Tathagata that he has liberated living beings?
This is again not the way one should see things, Subhuti. Why is that?
There is no living being whatsoever who has been liberated by the Tathagata.
If moreover there were any living being who was liberated by the Tathagata, Subhuti,
that would constitute seizing upon a self on his part, seizing upon a living being, seizing upon a soul, seizing upon a person.
This 'seizing upon a self,' Subhuti, has been preached by the Tathagata as devoid of seizing, but it is learned by foolish ordinary people.
(i.e. They conventionally relatively appear, but they are empty of inherent existence, so they are merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind, and used conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively -- with ignorance or wisdom.)
These 'foolish ordinary people,' Subhuti, have been preached by the Tathagata as peopleless. That is why they are called 'foolish ordinary people.')
(i.e. They conventionally relatively appear, but they are empty of inherent existence, so they are merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind, and used conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively -- with ignorance or wisdom.)

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(c. Translation by Red Pine - 2002: Chapter Twenty-five:
"Subhuti, what do you think? Does it occur to the Tathagata: 'I rescue beings'?
Surely, Subhuti, you should hold no such view. And why not?
Subhuti, the being does not exist who is rescued by the Tathagata.
Subhuti, if any being were rescued by the Tathagata, the Tathagata would be attached to a self.
He would be attached to a being, attached to a life, and attached to a soul.
'Attachment to a self,' Subhuti, is said by the Tathagata to be no attachment. Yet foolish people remain attached.
And 'foolish people,' Subhuti, are said by the Tathagata to be no people. Thus are they called 'foolish people.'")
.
(From the book: “Instructing without Instructing.” Just as a bodhisattva liberates no beings, neither does a buddha rescue beings, for to do so would amount to belief in an entity and thus an attachment. But because neither the subject who is attached nor the object of attachment is real, every attachment is essentially no attachment. And yet people are attached. Thus, such people are called “foolish” because they do not see that their attachments are empty of any self-nature and therefore “no attachments.” Still, even though they are foolish in clinging to what isn’t real, they are but a thought away from buddhahood. Thus, buddhas rescue no one. Foolish people rescue foolish people. … Another crucial difference is that previously the emphasis was on the point of view of a bodhisattva. Here, the point of view is that of a buddha. … All attachments are manifestations of attachment to a self. The self is the only reality of which we are aware since birth. All other realities are simply reflections and transformations of this one underlying reality. At least, we assume this reality to be real. Yet when we examine our self in the light of wisdom, it is found to be without any basis at all. This is the only obstruction standing between foolish people and buddhas. If foolish people realized that they are not people, much less foolish, they would be buddhas. As long as they don’t, they remain foolish people.)

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(d. Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh - 2006: 25. ORGANIC LOVE -
"Subhuti, do not say that the Tathagata has the idea, 'I will bring living beings to the shore of liberation.'
Do not think that way, Subhuti. Why?
In truth there is not one single being for the Tathagata to bring to the other shore.
If the Tathagata were to think there was, he would be caught in the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a life span.
Subhuti, what the Tathagata calls a self essentially has no self in the way that ordinary persons think there is a self.
Subhuti, the Tathagata does not regard anyone as an ordinary person. That is why he can call them ordinary persons.")

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(e. Translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society - 1974: Chapter 25 - Transformations without what is Transformed:
"Subhuti, what do you think? You should not maintain that the Tathagata has this thought: 'I shall take living beings across'.
Subhuti, do not have that thought. And why?
There actually are no living beings taken across by the Tathagata.
If there were living beings taken across by the Tathagata, then the Tathagata would have the existence of a self,
of others, of living beings, and of a life.
Subhuti, the existence of a self spoken of by the Tathagata is no existence of a self, but common people take it as the existence of a self.
Subhuti, common people are spoken of by the Tathagata as no common people, therefore they are called common people.")

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(f. Translation by A. Charles Muller - 2013:  25. No sentient beings for the Tathāgata to save: "Subhūti, what do you think? You should not claim that the Tathāgata thinks 'I will save sentient beings.' Subhūti, do not think such a thing. Why? There are in fact no sentient beings for the Tathāgata to save. If there were sentient beings for the Tathāgata to save, it would mean that the Tathāgata holds the notions of self, person, sentient being, and life span. Subhūti, when the Tathāgata says 'I,' there is actually no 'I.' Yet immature beings take this to be an 'I.' Subhūti, as far as immature beings are concerned, the Tathāgata says that they are not immature beings.")

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26. Seek the buddha not in form or soundCorrect 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.
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[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].
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(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 / 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.
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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 / U3S / Uopp]. 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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