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
The Buddha asked Subhuti, “What do you think? Did the Tathagata obtain anything from the dharma at Dipamkara Buddha’s place?”
Subhuti replied, “No, World-honored One. When the Tathagata was with Dipamkara Buddha, he did not obtain anything from the dharma.”
“Subhuti, what do you think? Do the bodhisattvas adorn the buddhaland?”
Subhuti replied, “No, World-honored One. Why? Because adorning is not adorning; it is [merely] called adorning.
“That is so, Subhuti. All bodhisattvas and mahasattvas should generate this pure mind, they should not give rise to the mind which dwells on forms, nor on sound, smell, taste, touch, nor anything at all. They should instead give rise to the mind which does not dwell on anything.
“Subhuti, if someone has a body as big as Mount Meru, is his body big? What do you think?”
Subhuti replied, “Very big indeed, World-honored One. [However,] the Buddha says that [only a] non-body is called a big body.”
Now, we will expound the Vajra Sutra’s Chapter Ten—Magnificent Pureland.
“That is so, Subhuti. All bodhisattvas and mahasattvas should generate this pure mind, they should not give rise to the mind which dwells on forms, nor on sound, smell, taste, touch, or anything at all. They should instead give rise to the mind which does not dwell on anything.”
We will expound this part today, as the excerpt following it is of a different [topic]. A very famous phrase is in today’s excerpt: “Should give rise to the mind which does not dwell on anything.”
There is a story behind this famous phrase. The Sixth Patriarch Huineng heard his neighbor chanting the Vajra Sutra. When he heard the phrase should give rise to the mind which does not dwell on anything, he was awakened and immediately gained an understanding. We with the surname Lu, are amazing. The Sixth Patriarch also had the surname Lu, and he was referred as Cultivator Lu. He immediately gained enlightenment upon hearing the phrase should give rise to the mind which does not dwell on anything.
In this world, is there anyone who never makes any mistakes? The Ksitigarbha Sutra states that any action and any thought arising in the mind of sentient beings are karmic. Even the slightest movement of thoughts and emotions are karmic. Is there anybody who has never made any mistakes? If there is, please raise your hand.
I trust nobody dares to raise their hand. Because only one type of people will never make any mistakes—dead people. [The audience laughs. Someone jokes that Amoghasiddhi Buddha raises his hand because his mudra looks as if he is raising his hand.] Okay, now I understand you; it was just a joke.
Of course, the buddhas do not make any mistake, because the buddhas give rise to the mind that does not dwell on anything. As for human beings, the only ones that cannot make any mistakes is a dead person. He cannot move, he is just lying there, so of course he does not generate karma. How can he generate karma? Therefore, he does not make mistakes.
Let me continue. This part is difficult.
“That is so, Subhuti. All bodhisattvas and mahasattvas should generate this pure mind, they should not give rise to the mind which dwells on forms, nor on sound, smell, taste, touch or anything at all.”
Who is in the state of “no-mind”? Every human being has a mind, and they all have thoughts. I remember hearing a dharma teacher’s discourse, and he talked about how somebody was chanting “Namo Amitabha, Namo Amitabha, Namo Amitabha...” [with his eyes closed]. When he opened his eyes, he saw a beautiful girl walking by and exclaimed, “Amitabha, such a beauty!” [chuckles] He was affected by sight! [The thought that arose] in his mind dwelled on sight.
He continued chanting “Namo Amitabha, Namo Amitabha, Namo Amitabha…” and mouth-watering aromas wafted from the temple kitchen. “Hmm, this is my favorite stinky tofu.” His mind, affected by the sense of smell arose accordingly. This is [an example of] a mind that arises by dwelling on smell.
Then he chanted again, “Namo Amitabha, Namo Amitabha, Namo Amitabha…” and he heard a song, “Thinking of you, you are far at the horizon. Thinking of you, you are right in front of my eyes. Thinking of you, you are on my mind. Thinking of you, you are in my heart.” A thought arose, “Wow such a nice song!" This mind still dwelled on sound.
Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and anything—these six dusts will affect your mind. It is the same case even for someone who recites Amitabha [epithet].
The Buddha said, “That is so, Subhuti. All bodhisattvas and mahasattvas should generate this pure mind, they should not give rise to the mind which dwells on forms, nor on sound, smell, taste, touch or anything at all. They should instead give rise to the mind which does not dwell on anything.”
That is extremely difficult to do. If you can train your mind to arise without dwelling on anything, then you are a bodhisattva.
You asked, “Grandmaster, you have five million [meaning very many] disciples. Why don’t you build your own Lei Tsang Temple? Even the ghost witch of San Francisco has her own temple. Why can’t you? You can! As soon as your disciples know they will make offerings and help pay for it, then you can build a huge temple. How great it would be if you have your own temple, right?
But my mind does not arise because of it; I have no such thought. Do you understand now? I do not dwell on the mind of having my own temple. I do not at all.
One may say, “Now you are transmitting the buddhadharma.” Transmitting buddhadharma is also a mind. After I transmit the buddhadharma, I forget it. Someone may ask, “Did you not give a dharma teaching? You gave dharma teachings to deliver sentient beings, so did you not have the mind to deliver sentient beings?” No. I give my teaching and whether you listen or not, it is up to you.
Someone asked, “In the future, how many disciples will you have?” I don’t care, [it is] always five million. It does not increase nor decrease. “What if all your disciples go away?” That is okay too. No problem. My mind does not dwell on any of these. This is called a “non-dwelling mind.”
Had my mind dwelled on it, I would have wanted to build my own Lei Tsang Temple. I would have built it by now, and a huge one too. Which temple would be the biggest? Sheng-Yen Lu’s Lei Tsang Temple would be the biggest. It would be my own and it would be named Sheng-Yen Lu Lei Tsang Temple. Is that [called] big? No, that is not “big”.
I do not dwell on any of these. I do not dwell on name or fame. What fame is there? Think often that you are a dead person. What does a dead person have? Nothing at all. “Then what are you doing now?” I just do what I am supposed [destined] to do.
There is a Chinese idiom, wu wei er wei—doing without motive and exertion. This effortless and motiveless action is equivalent to giving rise to the mind which does not dwell on anything. This is how I am now. I do many things, but my mind does not dwell on them. I do them for no reason whatsoever. Only a bodhisattva is this way.
Many people do charity today and tomorrow they will check to see whether it is reported. They have done a great charity and they immediately want to check the television and newspaper. That is acting with motive and intent. It is not non-dwelling.
You should forget what you have done. Jesus was amazing; he also said, “Do not let the left hand know the good thing that the right hand does.” This is giving rise to the mind which does not dwell on anything. Remember, you want to be a bodhisattva. You do things for no particular reason: not for yourself, not for others, and not for any reason. You just do it. Not for fame either. Also not for sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, or anything at all. Your mind arises without dwelling on anything.
Back then, Cultivator Lu—the Sixth Patriarch Huineng—was immediately enlightened upon hearing this statement. Yet, many people do not understand it. They do not understand what it means to give rise to the mind that does not dwell on anything.
It is exactly what Jesus had said, “Do not let the left hand know the good thing that the right hand does.” Grandmaster Lu is a high adept with no-mind. Whatever I do, whatever articles I write, I just throw it [to the back of my mind] afterwards. I cannot say, “I have written two hundred and eighty-seven books and I am now writing the two hundred eighty-eighth book.” I could have thought, “Wow, two hundred and eighty-eight books! I am remarkable. Who can compare? Who else has written more than two hundred eighty-eight books?” You cannot think like that; it would be the wrong thought.
After you do it, [you must] forget about it. It does not matter how well-known you are, it is useless. People in the world seek fame and gain. If your mind dwells on gain, then you’d try to get money from people. If your mind dwells on fame, then you’d pursue status and recognition. However, if you perform acts of giving without dwelling on fame and gain, then you are a bodhisattva. It is very simple.
My guru warned me, “Never ever ask for money from anybody. That is your precept.” This is not dwelling on gain. Never desire reputation, such as wanting to be known as a savior. Such thoughts should be abolished. The Ghost Witch wrote in the Purple Lotus Magazine that Jesus told her, “You should tell everybody that you are a messiah.” The Ghost Witch is a messiah?! The idea of a savior never even crossed my mind. It is good enough that I can save myself. If you cannot even save yourself, how can you save the world? Pei! [chuckles]
In Tantric Buddhism, we say the syllable “pei” for dispersal. By saying this one syllable, we disperse [the wrong idea]. I do not dwell on fame or gain. No matter what, I can never ask for money. If I were to ask, then I would be a turtle that crawls on the ground. [chuckles] It is that simple, right? If Grandmaster ever opens his mouth and asks for money, then you can point to my nose and say, “You have broken your precept.” What would I want money for?
If one gives rise to the mind which does not dwell anything, one is a bodhisattva. There are no whys! Yet as a bodhisattva you still perform acts of giving and help sentient beings. In addition, even the thought that you are a bodhisattva should be relinquished! Otherwise, you are not a bodhisattva. Only when there is no thought of being a bodhisattva that you are a bodhisattva. This is the meaning of the Vajra Sutra. It is very important.
Today, I explained [the phrase] should give rise to the mind which does not dwell on anything. Anything you do is done without motives; there are no whys! You just do. Even on the work of delivering sentient beings, you just do it without [dwelling on] any reasons. This is giving rise to the mind that does not dwell on anything. The above is my explanation on this statement.
Om mani padme hum.
Version 18 Feb 2022
Next discourse on the Vajra Sutra: Discourse 31, 7 November 2021 - Chapter Ten—Magnificent Pureland (continued)
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