Tonight, we celebrated the birth of Dipankara Buddha, who was an ancient Buddha who prophesized the enlightenment of Sakyamuni Buddha during one of his past lives eons ago.
In his sharing tonight, Acho Rinpoche stressed the importance of the Diamond Sutra again, saying that it is even more so to a Mahayanist. A Mahayanist who does not understand the teachings expounded in the Diamond Sutra has not truly entered the door of the Dharma. Acho Rinpoche also stressed the importance of the Heart Sutra which has been incorporated into our daily practice. Heart Sutra is the path to enlightenment; a practitioner who has not attained the profound wisdom expounded in the Heart Sutra will never reach the state of enlightenment. One who understands the teachings expounded in the Heart Sutra will also comprehend the teachings expounded in the Diamond Sutra as well as the Great Wisdom Sutra; it shows the importance of the Heart Sutra. All Buddhas actually attained the state of enlightenment expounded in the Heart Sutra.
We extracted two chapters from the Diamond Sutra for sharing here.
(Diamond Sutra: Chapter 10 The Sublimity of A Pureland
Sakyamuni Buddha asked Subhuti, “Did I gain anything from Dipankara Buddha in the past when I met him? What is your view on this?” Subhuti replied, “No. You did not gain anything from Dipankara Buddha in the past.” Sakyamuni Buddha asked again, “Subhuti, does a Bodhisattva sublime a pureland? Subhuti replied, “No. A sublime pureland is actually not what it appears to be but it is merely named as such.” Sakyamuni Buddha said, “Indeed so. Subhuti, all the Bodhisttvas and the Mahabodhisattvas should dwell in their pristine state of awareness undefiled by the mental fabrications caused by the appearance of form, sound, smell, taste, touch and concepts which are composite existence transient in nature. They should not let their minds be fixated on the appearance of such phenomena and thought that they truly existed. Subhuti, for instance, if a man’s body is as huge as Mt. Sumeru, would you think that his body is indeed huge?” Subhuti answered, “Yes, it is indeed huge. Why did I say so? It is because the Buddha has explained that the body of a man is not what it appears to be but it is merely named as such.”)
The Diamond Sutra interprets every worldly phenomenon in three different perspectives: 1) that which appears to be; 2) is actually not what it appears to be; 3) it is just named as what it appears to be. It helps us understand the true existence of phenomena - they are more than meet the eye. A phenomenon will first be cognized, then denied, in order to help us understand its inherent nature of emptiness free of the notion of an independent “self”. The notion of “self” is actually a misperception of our true state of existence. The Zen parables are actually hinting to us the state of true existence beyond our conventional perception. Sakyamuni Buddha gave his teachings in three periods, with the teachings given in the second period being the hardest to comprehend as they were related to the notion of emptiness.
Actually, the final stage of practice is about familiarizing ourselves with our innate state of awareness free of mental fabrications. By then we will understand that, ultimately speaking, there is no one attaining enlightenment and there is no “suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and the path that frees us from suffering”. Therefore, a practitioner only starts embarking on the journey of true practice after he has truly understood the meaning of emptiness. One who has attained the state of emptiness would have eradicated his sense of ego and, therefore, will not fall under the temptations of the evil. So, when we are doing a prayer here, we are actually not doing a prayer here, thus we are doing a prayer here. The teaching of emptiness is indeed too profound to be trusted, let alone comprehended by the sentient beings.
(Diamond Sutra: Chapter 17 The Ultimate State of Selflessness
At the time, Subhuti asked Sakyamuni Budda for advice, “How should the good men and women who aspire to attain the state of enlightenment maintain their state of mind and take control of their mental activities appropriately?”
The Buddha replied, “All good men and women who aspire to attain the state of enlightenment should think as such, ‘I will help all sentient beings attain the state of enlightenment but I will not take their corporeal existence as real, thus there is ultimately no single sentient being who has attained the state of enlightenment.’ Why so? A Bodhisattva who perceives the self, a man, sentient beings and age as real is not qualified to be called a Bodhisattva. Why so? Subhuti, ‘one who aspires to attain the state of enlightenment’ does not truly exist. Subhuti, did I gain the state of enlightenment when I met Dipankara Buddha in the past?”
Subhuti answered, “No. As I understand your teaching, you did not actually gain the state of enlightenment when you met Dipankara Buddha.”
Sakyamuni Buddha said, “Indeed so. Indeed so. Subhuti, I did not gain the state of enlightenment. Subhuti, had I thought that I had gained the state of enlightenment, Dipankara Buddha would not have prophesized that I would become a Buddha in future and be known as Sakyamkuni Buddha. As I had not gained the state of enlightenment, thus Dipakara Buddha prophesized that ‘You would become a Buddha in future and you would be known as Sakyamuni Buddha.’ Why so? All phenomena are inherent of the same nature. If someone says that ‘the Buddha had gained enlightenment’ - he is wrong. Subhuti, I did not gain the state of enlightenment. Subhuti, the state of enlightenment gained by the Buddha is beyond a dualistic view of existence and non-existence. Thus, I say that all phenomena are just the Dharma. Subhuti, that which appears to be is actually not what it appears to be, but merely named as what it appears to be. Subhuiti, for instance, a huge body…”
Subhuti said, “Buddha has said that a huge body is actually not what it appears to be but it is merely named as what it appears to be.”
The Buddha said, “Subhuti, it is the same for a Bodhisattva. If he proclaims that ‘I will help all sentient beings gain the state of enlightenment’, then he is not qualified as a Bodhisattva. Why so? Subhuti, ‘a Bodhisattva’ is actually not what it appears to be. Thus, the notions of a self, a man, sentient beings and age are actually not what they appear to be. Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva proclaims that ‘I will sublime a pureland’, he is not qualified to be called a Bodhisattva. Why so? It is because the sublimity of a pureland is actually not what it appears to be, but it is merely named as such.” Subhuti, a Bodhisattva who has finally attained the state of selflessness is indeed a true Bodhisattva.”)
We should view all worldly phenomena as dreams and illusions including our daily activities such as working, eating, walking, resting, sitting and lying down. We need to be mindful about viewing all phenomena as illusory and train our mind to think in such manner. We have been too used to viewing all phenomena in life as real, so it will take a long time for us to eradicate the old habit. When we feel the sense of pain, we should learn to view it as empty in nature, which does not truly exist and therefore do not be bothered by it. Ultimately speaking, we will need to return to our real home one day – the state of emptiness; only then will we truly attain the state of ultimate liberation.
Acho Rinpoche has gone through a painful period of illness lately. However, he views his illness as a normal routine of a human life which will start with birth and end with aging, falling sick and finally death. He views his physical pain as a dream and illusion, and his body as such too. We need to learn to let go of our attachment to our body, in order to attain the state of liberation. Even if all the sentient beings appeal to a Buddha to live on perpetually in this world, one day he must still pass away and leave this world behind. So, we should focus our attention on the practice which is more important than to lament on our illness. We should learn to view all phenomena as empty in nature and even enjoy the sickness when it comes. Acho Rinpoche said that if he does not fall sick, how could he cure others of their illnesses; he will need to take on the sufferings of others when he blesses them, thus freeing them from sufferings.
On a separate note, Acho Rinpoche reminded us that a Vajrayanist should never assume that his personal spiritual attainment could ever surpass that of his root guru; otherwise he will certainly fall into the evil path. In fact, a root guru is the source of all blessings received by a student. This is indeed a very unique teaching of the Vajrayana.
Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 15-10-2016