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Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra 

Vajra Sutra (Diamond Sutra) 


Detailed Exposition by Living Buddha Lian-Sheng, Grandmaster Sheng-yen Lu

Translated into English by True Buddha School Vajra Sutra Translation Team



Discourse 17, 19 September 2021

Six—The Right Faith is Extremely Rare

Subhuti asked the Buddha: “World-honored One, if sentient beings hear words and phrases of this teaching, will they generate real faith in them?”

The Buddha told Subhuti: “Do not speak this way. During the five hundred years after Tathagata’s parinirvana, there will be precept-holding people who are blessed, they will have faith in this truth and regard it as reality. Know that these people have planted good seeds not only with one buddha, two buddhas, or three, four, five buddhas, but countless buddhas. When they hear these statements, immediately they give rise to pure faith. 

“Subhuti, even if only for a moment, they will be seen and known by the Tathagata and they will obtain immeasurable blessings and merits. Why? Because they do not have views of self, others, sentient beings and lifespan.

“No view of dharma, and no view of non-dharma. Why? Because if sentient beings hold onto phenomena, then they are grasping at self, others, sentient beings and lifespan.

“If they hold the view of dharma, then they are attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan. If they hold the view of non-dharma, then all the same they are also attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan. Why? Because one should not uphold dharma and one should also not uphold non-dharma.

“This profundity is often spoken by the Tathagata: ‘Bhikkus and all of you, know that my dharma teaching is like a raft. Even the dharma should be abandoned, let alone the non-dharma.


Now we will expound the Vajra Sutra. 
 
This excerpt is exceptionally profound. Do not underestimate it! It is very deep, indeed. Many people chant the Vajra Sutra, but you must understand its true meaning. If you understand this excerpt, that’s already very remarkable, for it is extremely profound! I shall explain this piece in detail.

To have a view, to grasp, or to hold onto a phenomenon is certainly wrong, but holding onto non-phenomenon is also wrong. What does this mean? The answer is here in this excerpt. 

[Grandmaster explains the excerpt in detail]

How did Subhuti ask the Buddha? 

Subhuti asked the Buddha: “World-honored One, if sentient beings hear words and phrases of this teaching, will they generate real faith in them?” 

He asked, “Sakyamuni Buddha, if there is a sentient being who hears your words and phrases, will they generate real faith?” Real faith means the right faith. Will they generate real faith? And Sakyamuni Buddha told Subhuti not to speak this way. 

…During the five hundred years after Tathagata’s parinirvana…

This refers to the five hundred years after Sakyamuni Buddha’s passing.

…there will be precept-holding people who are blessed, they will have faith in this truth and regard it as reality…

[Precept-holding people] will be able to generate faith in Sakyamuni Buddha’s teachings and treat it as the real truth. This is the right faith. 

…Know that these people have planted good seeds not only with one buddha, two buddhas, or three, four, five buddhas, but countless buddhas... 

Only when you have good roots could you encounter a buddha. If you understand real phenomena as non-phenomena and you have the right faith, that is equivalent to having planted good seeds with a myriad of buddhas. Your good roots would have to be very deep and strong for you to be able to meet countless buddhas. 

…When they hear these statements, immediately they give rise to pure faith… 

Pure faith is a completely immaculate faith.

…Subhuti, even if only for a moment, they will be seen and known by the Tathagata…

If you comprehend the real phenomena is non-phenomena, the Buddha will see and know you.

...and they will obtain immeasurable blessings and merits…

These kinds of sentient beings have immeasurable merits and blessings.

…Why? Because they do not have views of self, others, sentient beings and lifespan…

Why? Because this kind of sentient beings do not have views of self or “I,” no views of others, no views of beings of the saha world, and no views of lifespan. Some people live long lives and some people live short ones. 

…No view of dharma, and no view of non-dharma…

This is the most profound part. 

…No view of dharma, and no view of non-dharma. Why? Because if sentient beings hold onto phenomena, then they are grasping at self, others, sentient beings and lifespan.

If they hold the view of dharma, then they are attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan. If they hold the view of non-dharma, then all the same they are also attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan... 

This is the deepest part. The [Chinese] character here “to hold”[1] is very important. To hold the view of dharma… What is dharma? In this case, “dharma” refers to the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, everything really. If you think that everything exists, you “hold” the view of dharma. If you do not think that they exist, you “hold” the view of non-dharma. In both cases, you still attach yourself to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan; you are attached to phenomena. The point here is in the word “hold.” In the instant such “hold” exists, there is an instance of “I.” If the “I” does not exist, what is there to “hold?!”

When you recite the sutra, you are just mumbling:
“…immediately they give rise to pure faith.
Subhuti, even if for a moment, they will be seen and known by the Tathagata and they will obtain immeasurable blessings and merits. Why? Because they do not have views of self, others, sentient beings and lifespan.

No view of dharma, and no view of non-dharma. Why? Because if sentient beings hold onto phenomena, then they are grasping at self, others, sentient beings and lifespan.

If they hold the view of dharma, then they are attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan. If they hold the view of non-dharma, then all the same they are also attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan. Why? Because one should not uphold dharma and one should also not uphold non-dharma.

This profundity is often spoken by the Tathagata: ‘Bhikkus and all of you, know that my dharma teaching is like a raft. Even the dharma should be abandoned, let alone the non-dharma.”

The words have been recited, yet you don’t understand its meaning! Why shouldn’t you hold the view of self? Because there is No Self.[2] As I explained earlier about who Sheng-yen Lu really is. There is no one called Sheng-yen Lu. I have shown you a photograph; is that Sheng-yen Lu? No, that’s me in the past! Then you ask, whether this one is Sheng-yen Lu? [Grandmaster is pointing to himself.] No, he will be the past too! So which one is Sheng-yen Lu? Is he the one in the Twin Lotus Columbarium? No, that’s his ashes; or perhaps relics or sarira. None of them are Sheng-yen Lu! So where is Sheng-yen Lu? Actually, there’s no such thing! Where is Sheng-yen Lu? Is the person giving dharma teaching Sheng-yen Lu? No! Let’s say for instance, we’re doing homa here again tomorrow, [Grandmaster is laughing] let me tell you that I will not come. Why do I make myself so busy every day? Don’t exhaust this old man. Even if I come, it’s not certain that all of you will be here; some might not come. [Some would say] we just had homa on Sunday, and we want another the next day? I am not coming. [Sunday homa and Monday homa would have been different.] Things are everchanging, they are dynamic and always moving. They will never stay the same. 

About thoughts in your brain, which one is your thinking? It also keeps changing. One moment you think a person is good, and then you think he’s an SOB. [laughing at the “eggs”] Today you praise her, then you scold her the day after. Your thoughts are always changing. Do you know that? It's very scary! Let’s say you love someone, but then tomorrow she suddenly hates you; yet, you love her to death. This is bad because if she doesn’t love you back, you’d want her dead. This thought is very frightening. Do you love her? Yes, the most in fact! The person you love most will be the one you’ll hate the most. When you don’t love her anymore someday, you’ll see for yourself. In romantic love, it is easy to get involved but hard to break up. Breaking up is a big lesson! If you don’t break up well with her and she still loves you to death, she will want you dead. It’s very dangerous. You think romantic love is sweet? It’s actually a source of suffering; it can create lots of misery. You didn’t know; well, I have told you.

Because if sentient beings hold onto phenomena, then they are grasping at self, others, sentient beings and lifespan.

If they hold the view of dharma, then they are attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan. If they hold the view of non-dharma, then all the same they are also attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan. Why? Because one should not uphold dharma and one should also not uphold non-dharma.

Let’s talk about this part first. 
…One should not uphold dharma and one should also not uphold non-dharma…

This is the highest realm. According to the Buddha, you should not uphold love and should also not uphold hatred. You should not uphold the good nor the bad. This is the highest spiritual realm.

There is a saying in Zen Buddhism spoken by the sixth patriarch, “Do not think about the good, and do not think about the bad.” It’s that moment when you do not think about the good or the bad. The sixth patriarch, Huineng was very intelligent. He did not go to school and was illiterate, well, only ghosts would believe that, in fact, he could understand such concept of not to think about goodness or badness. This is the [meaning of the] Vajra Sutra. It’s extremely profound, unspeakable and at this level, could not be put into words or described with any languages. You should not uphold dharma and you should not uphold non-dharma. You should not think about the good, and you should not think about the bad.

The word “hold” is important because once you “hold,” it indicates that you have the notion of self or “I.” What is there to “hold” when there is no “I?” Who is “holding?” This is a very high attainment. If you don’t think about good and bad, then you don’t create any karma. [On the other hand] if you create good karma, you will raise to heavens, which is only a small fruition in the human and heavenly realms. If you create bad karma, you will descend to the three lower realms to suffer the retributions. Therefore, you do good yet you don’t know that it is good. 

This is what Jesus, my guru said, “The good deeds done by the right hand should not be let known to the left hand.” I think Jesus must have read the Vajra Sutra! He comprehends it! The good deeds done by the right hand, should not be known by the left hand. He does not attach to goodness nor badness, he does not attach to anything and not to the phenomena nor non-phenomena of all things.

Only this will allow the attainment of buddhahood. This detail is of key importance in the lesson I have taught you today. I haven’t finished this chapter, so next time don’t tell me to start Chapter Seven–Nothing Attained, Nothing Spoken. Let me tell you, nothing attained, nothing spoken means just this!

[Grandmaster is sharing jokes.]
A couple is in a gallery, the wife has severe shortsightedness; all of a sudden she exclaimed loudly, “This is the ugliest painting I have ever seen!” The husband replied, “Speak softer, you are just looking into a mirror.” That is having a view.

“A lion saw a mad dog and walked around him. The lion cub said, “Dad, you dare to fight with tigers and leopards yet you are avoiding a mad dog. What a shame!” The father lion replied, “Is there anything to be proud of to defeat a mad dog?” The cub shook his head. "Then is it unlucky to be bitten by a mad  dog?" questioned the father lion. The cub nodded. The father lion added, “Why bother provoking a mad dog? Not everyone is worthy to be your opponent. Don’t argue with those unworthy. Smile slightly, stay away, don’t get bitten. You must understand this because nowadays there are many people who fight with mad dogs.” 

That’s why in Buddhism, there is the statement, “just ignore it.” Ignore it! My statement can be described in three [Chinese] characters—None of my business! [The audience is clapping.] Just ignore it! The matter is still there, but [treat it as] none of my business!

Whether or not the True Buddha School exists in the future no longer concerns me once I, Sheng-yen Lu, passes away. I would already be dead! Selamat pagi, selamat malam! [Grandmaster enjoys speaking these greetings in Indonesian. “Selamat” sounds like "Si Le Ma” in Mandarin which means “are you dead?”] Are you dead? One day, I will die. How will the True Buddha School concern you? It won’t be. Does the True Buddha School exist? That’s none of my business. What about if the True Buddha School does not exist anymore? None of my business, it’s not related to me at all. Even “I” doesn’t concern me, why would “I” be concerned for the True Buddha School? Think about it. What relationship does Sheng-yen Lu have with True Buddha School? Nothing.

True Buddha School is just a name, and Sheng-yen Lu is just a name too. All are just names; they are really nothing. There has never been anything to start with. And if they are gone in the future, that is as it should be. It does not matter. That’s why I am always at peace and at ease, I have no such thought.

There are many reporters and interviewers asking me, “what’s your plan? What would you do in the future? What kind of developments will the True Buddha School have? How many books will you write? How many paintings will you paint? What kinds of attainments, etc.?” I just shook my head saying, “Nothing. I don’t care.” [Grandmaster is shaking his head.] That’s none of my business. That’s it. That’s all I can say for the analogy.

Om mani padme hum. 

Version 2021.10.08



[1] 取 means to take, to hold, to grab, to grasp, and more. 

[2] No Self is a realm where one has no more notionof “self” or “I” 



Next discourse on the Vajra Sutra: Discourse 18, 25 September 2021


Previous discourse on the Vajra Sutra: 
Discourse 16, 18 September 2021


Index of links to all discourse on the Vajra Sutra: https://en.tbsn.org/guidem/detail/2265/ 


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Full webcast of 2021.09.19 Maha Mayuri Vidyarajni Homa Ceremony (Rainbow Temple, North Bend, USA) and dharma discourse with English interpretation: https://youtu.be/sc8xEfGmCOM 



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