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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 34, 20 November 2021 - Chapter Twelve—Revering the Right Teaching (continued) 


Twelve—Revering the Right Teaching

“Furthermore, Subhuti! If any person at any place teaches even only the four-line verse of this sutra, all the worldly, celestial, human, and asura beings should make offerings to the place in the same way as to the buddhas, pagodas, and temples. Especially if the person can completely uphold and recite it.

“Subhuti! Know that this is the first and foremost, unexcelled, and rare dharma to allow one to reach attainment. At the place where the sutra is, there is a buddha, and [also] respectful disciples.”

 

Now, we will expound the Vajra Sutra’s Chapter Twelve—Revering the Right Teaching. So, what is the right teaching? It is the four-line verse stated in the Vajra Sutra. The verse is the non-phenomena of self, others, sentient beings, and lifespan. This is the right teaching of the Buddha, which you must respect: the non-phenomena of self, others, sentient beings, and lifespan. 

It is said here… At the place where this sutra is, there is a buddha, and [also] respectful disciples. 

Many people asked me what “respect[1] refers to in this text. Does it mean that we should respect disciples? No, the phrase refers to respectful disciples. Let me ask you now: what does it mean by respectful disciples? Anyone? We have many chanting beads here [laughter]. Many people recite the Vajra Sutra, but when they reach this part, they wonder what it means. So, no raised hands? Well, let me tell you then; it is simple. By adding a few words to the phrase, I will clarify its meaning. Disciples who are respectful toward the right teaching. It is that simple, very easy. So, no one gets any of these chanting beads. 

Everybody has recited the Vajra Sutra, right? It is frequently chanted during bardo deliverances, joyous occasions, and even funerals. [You read] chapter after chapter, yet you don’t understand these few words. This phrase respectful disciples refers to disciples who are respectful toward the right teaching. By respecting the right teaching you become a respectful disciple. Now, do you understand? Respectful disciples are disciples who are respectful toward the right teaching of the Buddha, such as the non-phenomena of self, others, sentient beings, and lifespan in the Vajra Sutra. This is the right teaching that you should revere.

At the place [where the four-line verse of this sutra is taught], all beings—worldly, celestial, human, and asura should make offerings… Celestial beings are those who reside in the heavenly realms of desire, form, and formlessness. The realm of the asuras is a part of the heavenly realms and still belongs in the rebirth cycle. All these beings should make offerings to the non-phenomena of self, others, sentient beings, and lifespan in the way they do to the pagodas and temples. Offerings are typically made to the buddhas, pagodas, and temples, like when people bring offerings to the Seattle Lei Tsang Temple. That is called making offerings.

In Tantric Buddhism, to whom do we present such offerings? To the buddhas’ body, speech, and mind. You need to make offerings to the body, speech, and mind of the tathagatas.

What is the buddha’s body? There are symbols for the buddha’s body [such as statues, tangkas, paintings, pictures, symbols, etc] We have statues of the Seven Buddhas above us at the Seattle Lei Tsang Temple. Whenever we see them, we join our palms. [We can say,] “With palms folded, I bow and take refuge in the Susiddhi (precepts).” So, you join your palms and bow your head. Grandmaster does too.

Whenever I enter the Seattle Lei Tsang Temple cafeteria, I join my palms and greet “Pindola” and “Namo Sakyamuni Buddha, the Fundamental Teacher.” I always join my palms because the Venerable Pindola is there in his statue, while the tangka of Sakyamuni Buddha hangs behind him. As I walk past them after meals, I join my palms again. This is called revering the buddha’s body because images of buddha symbolize the body of the buddhas. You must respect the Seven Buddhas seated at the top and all the deities and protectors below them [at the altar of the Seattle Lei Tsang Temple]. You join your palms to show respect to the buddhas; this is also considered an offering. By joining your palms to the images of buddha, you make offerings to the buddhas’ body.

You also need to revere the buddhas’ speech and make offerings to it. What is the buddha’s speech? The buddha’s speech is represented by the sutras—the dharma. You must respect all teachings of the buddhas, which are encapsulated in the sutras, and especially respect the Vajra Sutra. It is mentioned here in this chapter …in the same way as to the pagodas or temples. Inside temples, there are buddha images that symbolize the body of the buddhas and buddhist sutras, which represent the buddhas’ speech. The speech of the buddhas—the dharma, the sutras—must be respected.

What is a pagoda? A pagoda houses sariras of the buddhas, which represent the mind of the buddhas. In India, there are many buddhist pagodas and inside each pagoda are sariras of the Buddha. In the sutras, it is mentioned that a pagoda is equivalent to the presence of a buddha inside it. Both the pagodas and sariras represent the mind of the buddhas.

We respect the body of the buddha, the speech of the buddha, and the mind of the buddha. The sutras or the dharma is the speech of the buddha, images such as statues of the buddhas represent the body of the buddhas, and buddhist pagodas symbolize the mind of the buddhas.

Especially if the person can recite and completely uphold it. 

We should not only revere the sutra but also uphold and recite it. Reciting the sutra and upholding the non-phenomena of self, others, sentient beings, and lifespan is the first and foremost, unexcelled, and rare dharma to allow one to reach attainment. The four non-phenomena of self, others, sentient beings, and lifespan are the first and foremost, unexcelled, and rare dharma. That is why the Vajra Sutra is also revered as the first and foremost, unexcelled, and rare sutra.

 

At the place where this sutra is... wherever there is a Vajra Sutra, there is a buddha. Wherever there is a sutra, there is a buddha and disciples who respect the right teaching. Many people recite the Vajra Sutra, but whenever I ask what the phrase “respectful disciples” means, nobody can answer it. [They asked] “Why do we have to respect disciples?” No, it’s not that. The phrase refers to disciples who are respectful toward the buddhas’ body, speech, and mind, the Vajra Sutra, and the non-phenomena of self, others, sentient beings, and lifespan. Now you are very clear about this part.

As Buddhists, we join our palms whenever we see a pagoda, big or small. I once visited a buddhist pagoda in the Palgong Mountain in Korea. Around it, many people made tiny pagodas by stacking rocks—larger stones at the lower layers, medium ones in the middle, and smaller ones on top. Why do they build these small pagodas? Because they are respectful toward the buddha’s pagoda. Inside the pagodas, there are sariras. Where there is a pagoda, there is a buddha. When we went there, we joined our palms. 

When we see an image or statue of the buddhas, a place where a sutra is, or when we see a pagoda, we join our palms, bow, and pay homage. The buddhas’ images are the body of the buddhas, the sutras are the speech of the buddhas, and the pagodas are the mind of the buddhas. And we should highly respect the body, speech, and mind of the buddhas.

After my explanation today, you should understand this excerpt. We should respect the right teaching. We are all considered respectful disciples, as we revere the buddhas’ body, speech, and mind. In Tantric Buddhism, we frequently refer to the body, speech, and mind. We purify our body, speech, and mind through spiritual cultivation. Then we offer our purified body, speech, and mind to revere the buddhas’ body, speech, and mind. If you can be respectful in this way, you have attained the first and foremost, unexcelled, and rare dharma, the dharma of non-phenomena of self, others, sentient beings, and lifespan. 

That’s all for today. Om mani padme hum.





[1] The word 尊重 is ambiguous in the Chinese text, it can mean to respect, respecting, respected, or respectful. 



Next discourse on the Vajra Sutra: Discourse 35, 21 November 2021 - Chapter Thirteen—Upholding According to the Dharma


Previous discourse on the Vajra Sutra:  
Discourse 33, 14 November 2021 - Chapter Twelve—Revering the Right Teaching


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


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Full webcast of 2021.11.20 Avalokitesvara Group Practice (Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Redmond, USA) and dharma discourse with English interpretation: https://youtu.be/f6HMhRzT2g0



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