Category Archives: Meditation

The Diamond Sutra (Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra)

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Translated from Kumarajiva’s Chinese [T235] by Charles Patton
Translator’s Note

This original translation has been composed for the express purpose that this text may be made freely available to any and all who should desire to obtain it. With this in mind, the author of this document has granted permission for this translation to be distributed freely, the only conditions being: a) that the content of this document not be altered and b) that all such distributions are gifts requiring nothing in recompense. So long as these conditions are followed, the author wholeheartedly encourages this document to be spread far and wide, in whatever form is convenient, so that myriad beings might come to read it, and grow wiser.

1.

Thus have I heard: One time the Buddha was staying at the garden retreat of Anathapindada, in the Jeta Grove near Sravasti, with a great bhiksu congregation of 1,250 people. At that time, the World Honored One at mealtime donned robes and took his almsbowl into the great city of Sravasti to beg for alms. In the midst of that city, he begged successively and then returned to his personal dwelling to eat his meal. Having put away his robes and bowl, and washed his feet, he prepared his seat and sat.

2.

At that time, the venerable Subhuti was amidst the great congregation. He then rose from his seat, adjusted his robes to one shoulder, and with his right knee touched the ground. With palms joined in reverence, he addressed the Buddha: “Extraordinary, World Honored One, is the tathagata’s skillful mindfulness of the bodhisattvas, and his skillful entrustment to the bodhisattvas. World Honored One, in what should good sons and good daughters initiating the annutara-samyak-sambodhicitta dwell? How should they regulate their thoughts?”

The Buddha replied: “Excellent, excellent! Subhuti, as you have said, the tathagata is skillfully mindful of the bodhisattvas, and skillful in entrusting to the bodhisattvas. If you now listen closely, I shall explain for you in what good sons and good daughters launching the anuttara-samyak-sambodhi mind should thus abide, and how thus they should regulate their thoughts.”

“Yes, World Honored One. Gladly, I shall listen.”

3.

The Buddha told Subhuti: “Bodhisattva-mahasattvas should thus regulate their thoughts: ‘Where there is every single sort of being — whether womb-born, whether egg-born, whether water-born, or born of transformation; whether possessing form or whether without form; whether possessing thought or whether without thought; whether neither possessing thought nor without thought — I will cause all to enter the non-residual nirvana, liberating them. Thus liberating the immeasurably boundless beings, in reality there are no beings attaining that liberation.’ What is the reason? Subhuti, if a bodhisattva has the view of a self, the view of a person, the view of beings, or the view of a soul; then he is not a bodhisattva.

4.

“Furthermore, Subhuti, a bodhisattva in the Dharma should in no place dwell while acting in charity. That is to say, not dwelling in the forms of charity: not dwelling in the sounds, odors, tastes, sensations, or dharmas of charity. Subhuti, a bodhisattva should thus be charitable, not dwelling in appearances. What is the reason? If a bodhisattva does not dwell in the appearances of charity, his blessed virtue cannot be calculated.

“Subhuti, what do you think? To the East, the empty space can be calculated, no?”

“No, World Honored One.”

“Subhuti, to the South, West, North, the four directions between, above and below, the empty space can be calculated, no?”

“No, World Honored One.”

“Subhuti, the blessed virtue of a bodhisattva not dwelling in the appearances of charity is also, again, thus: it cannot be calculated. Subhuti, bodhisattvas should only thus in this teaching dwell.”

5.

“Subhuti, what do you think? One can by means of the bodily signs see the tathagata, no?”

“No, World Honored One. One cannot by means of the bodily signs attain sight of the tathagata. What is the reason? The tathagata has explained that the bodily signs are not bodily signs [of the tathagata].”

The Buddha told Subhuti: “The mortal possession of signs is in every case vacant and delusive. If one sees that the signs are not signs, then one sees the tathagata.”

6.

Subhuti said to the Buddha: “World Honored One, it is doubtful that there are beings who, hearing thus the spoken words in this composition, will give birth to genuine belief, no?”

The Buddha told Subhuti: “Do not compose such a statement. In the last five hundred years after the tathagata’s extinction, there will be the taking up of precepts and cultivation of the blessed. From these paragraphs and phrases, it is possible to give birth to the believing mind because they are true. It should be known that these people [of that age] would not be with one buddha, two buddhas, three, four, or five buddhas when sowing their good roots. They will have completed, with immeasurable tens of millions of buddhas, the sowing of good roots. Hearing these paragraphs and phrases, even for a single recitation, shall give birth to pure belief. Subhuti, the tathagata fully knows and fully sees this of every being attaining thusly the immeasurably blessed virtue. What is the reason? These beings will not return to the views of a self, a person, beings, or a soul. They would be without the views of dharmas and also without the views of non-dharmas. What is the reason? If these beings’ minds were to apprehend appearances, it would then create the clinging to a self, a person, beings, and a soul. If they were to take up the appearances of dharmas, it would then create the clinging to a self, a person, beings, and a soul. What is the reason? If they were to take up the appearances of non-dharmas, it would then create the clinging to a self, a person, beings, and a soul. For this reason, one should not apprehend dharmas, nor should one apprehend non-dharmas. This meaning is the reason the Tathagata always says, ‘You monks! Know that my expounded Dharma is like the bamboo raft. The honored Dharma must be relinquished, how much more so what is not the Dharma?’

7.

“Subhuti, what do you think? Has the tathagata attained the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi? Has the Tathagata a teaching of the Dharma?”

Subhuti replied: “As I have comprehended the Buddha’s express meaning, there is no established dharma called ‘annuttara-samyak-sambodhi’. Also, there is no established dharma which the tathagata can expound. What is the reason? Of the dharmas expounded by the tathagata, none can be grasped or explained, being neither dharmas nor non-dharmas. What is the reason for that? Of every one of the Sages, all via the unconditioned dharma make discriminations.”

8.

“Subhuti, what do you think? If a person filled the billion worlds with the seven treasures for the purpose of charity, this person’s attainment of blessed deeds would become plentiful, no?”

Subhuti replied: “Incredibly plentiful, World Honored One. What is the reason? This blessed deed then would not, again, be of a blessed nature. This is the reason the Tathagata has said that the blessed deeds would become plentiful.”

“If again, there is a person who receives and keeps what is in this sermon, even just four lines of verse, and to another person expounds it, that person’s blessedness would overcome the other’s. What is the reason? Subhuti, every one of the buddhas who reach the buddhas’ annuttara-samyak-sambodhi Dharma are all from this sermon produced. Subhuti, what is called the ‘Buddha’s Dharma,’ then, is not the Buddha’s Dharma.

9.

“Subhuti, what do you think? The stream entrant (srota-apanna) is able to compose this thought — ‘I have attained the stream entrant’s fruit’ — no?”

Subhuti replied: “No, World Honored One. What is the reason? ‘Stream entrant’ is the name for entering the stream [of the holy life], for entering nowhere; not entering forms, sounds, odors, tastes, sensations, or dharmas. This is called ‘stream entrant’.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? The Once More to be Reborn (sakrdagama) is able to compose this thought — ‘I have attained the Once More to be Reborn’s fruit’ — no?”

Subhuti replied: “No, World Honored One. What is the reason? ‘Once More to be Reborn’ is the name for one more arrival [in this mortal world], and really is without future arrival. This is called ‘Once More to be Reborn’.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? The Non-Returner (anagamin) is able to compose this thought — ‘I have attained the Non-Returner’s fruit’ — no?”

Subhuti replied: “No, World Honored One. What is the reason? ‘Non-Returner’ is the name for no more rebirth, and really has no non-rebirth. This is why it is called ‘Non-Returner’.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? The Arhat can compose this thought — ‘I have attained the Arhat’s path’ — no?”

Subhuti replied: “No, World Honored One. What is the reason? Really, there is no existent dharma called ‘Arhat’. World Honored One, if an arhat were to compose this thought — ‘I have attained the Arhat’s reward’ — then it would be because of clinging to a self, a person, sentient beings, and a soul. The Buddha has said that I have attained, without debate, a samadhi which among others is the best. It is the best because of the departure from the desire for Arhatship. I do not compose this thought — ‘I have departed from the desire for Arhatship’. World Honored One, of myself, if I composed this thought — ‘I have attain the arhat’s path’ –the World Honored One would then not have said that Subhuti is this happy woodland practitioner (ie, ascetic), because Subhuti really practices nowhere. And so he is called ‘Subhuti, the happy woodland practitioner.”

10.

The Buddha addressed Subhuti: “What do you think? When the Tathagata was formerly staying with the Buddha Dipamkara, in the Dharma he had attainment, no?”

“No, World Honored One. When the tathagata was staying with the Buddha Dipamkara, in the Dharma he really had no attainment.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? The bodhisattva adorns the buddhaland, no?”

“No, World Honored One. What is the reason? The adornment of the buddhalands is not adornment. This is called ‘adornment’.”

“This is why, Subhuti, that bodhisattva-mahasattvas should thusly give rise to the purified mind. They should not dwell in forms when giving rise to that mind; they should not dwell in sounds, odors, tastes, sensations, or dharmas when giving rise to that mind. They should dwell nowhere while giving rise to their thoughts.

Subhuti, supppose there is a person whose body is like Mount Sumeru. What do you think? This body would be made great, no?”

Subhuti replied: “Incredibly great, World Honored One. What is the reason? The Buddha has said that a non-body is called a great body.”

11.

“Subhuti, suppose there were Ganges Rivers equal in numbers to that of all the sand grains in the Ganges River. What do you think? The sand grains of all those Ganges Rivers would be many, no?”

“Incredibly many, World Honored One. Merely all of those Ganges Rivers would be so many as to be countless. How much more so would be their sand grains?”

“Subhuti, I now will truthfully tell you: if there are good sons and good daughters who fill the billion worlds with the seven treasures with the purpose of charity, themselves numbering like the sands of those Ganges Rivers, they would attain many blessings, no?”

Subhuti replied: “Incredibly many, World Honored One.”

The Buddha addressed Subhuti: “If a good son or good daughter from within this sermon should receive and uphold just four lines of verse, and for another person explain it, the blessed virtue of this person would surpass the former’s blessed virtue.

12.

“Furthermore, Subhuti, where what is said in this sermon is followed, even if just four lines of verse, it should be known that this place in every single world — be it they of gods, men, or asuras — all within should give offerings of support as though it were a Buddhist pagoda or temple. How much more so if there is someone who is able to receive, keep, read, and recite it in its entirety? Subhuti, it should be known that this person will completely accomplish the supreme, best, most extraordinary Dharma. If this canonical sermon resides in his abode, then it would be like the place of a buddha, if it is honored by the disciples.”

13.

At that time, Subhuti said to the Buddha: “World Honored One, what shall be the name of this sermon? How are we to receive and uphold it?”

The Buddha addressed Subhuti: “This sermon’s name is the Diamond Perfection of Wisdom (Vajra Prajna-paramita). By way of the words of this title, you should receive and uphold it. For what reason? Subhuti, the Buddha says that it is the perfection of wisdom, so it is not the perfection of wisdom.

“Subhuti, what do you think? The Tathagata has a teaching of the Dharma, no?”

Subhuti said to the Buddha: “World Honored One, the Tathagata has no teaching.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? The atoms of the billion worlds are many, no?”

Subhuti replied: “Incredibly many, World Honored One.”

“Subhuti, atoms, the Tathagata has said, are not atoms: these are called ‘atoms’. The Tathagata has explained that the worlds are not worlds: these are called ‘worlds’. Subhuti, what do you think? One can by way of the thirty-two signs see the Tathagata, no?”

“No, World Honored One. One cannot by way of the thirty-two signs attain sight of the Tathagata. What is the reason? The Tathagata has explained that the thirty-two signs then are not signs: these are called the ‘thirty-two signs’.”

“Subhuti, suppose there are good sons and good daughters who with their lives equal to the sands of the Ganges River give in charity; and suppose again there is a person who from within this sermon, even if only receiving and keeping four lines of verse and for another person expounds it: his merit would be incredibly more.”

14.

At that time Subhuti, hearing the pronouncement of this sermon, deeply understood its meaning suddenly. He wept and lamented, and then addressed the Buddha, saying: “It is extraordinary, World Honored One, that the Buddha expounds thusly such an incredibly profound canonical sermon. Since formerly coming to obtaining the wisdom-eye, I have never before heard such a sermon. World Honored One, if again there is a person who hears this sermon with a believing mind that is pure, then they will give rise to the sign of reality. It should be known that this person will have entirely accomplished the best, most extraordinary merit. World Honored One, this sign of reality then is a non-sign. This is why the Tathagata has said that it is called the ‘real sign’. World Honored One, having heard thusly this canonical sermon, and sincerely understood it, receiving and upholding it is no longer difficult. If there shall come into the world after five hundred years, beings who hear this sermon with sincere understanding, receiving and upholding it, then they would be made most extraordinary. What is the reason? These people would be without the views of a self, a person, beings, or a soul. Why is that? The view of self then is this non-sign. The views of a person, beings, and a soul then are this non-sign. What is the reason? Departing, from all signs, they then are called Buddhas.”

The Buddha told Subhuti, “Yes, yes. If again there is a person who hears this sermon, and is not astonished, alarmed, or fearful; it should be known that this person would be made most extraordinary. What is the reason? Subhuti, the Tathagata has explained that the first perfection is then not the first perfection: This is called the first perfection. Subhuti, the perfection of perseverance (kshanti), the Tathagata has said, is not the perfection of perseverance. What is the reason? Subhuti, as I had formerly had my body sliced to pieces by King Kalinga, I in that time was without the views of a self, a person, beings, or a soul. What is the reason? When I in that former time had been limb from limb cut apart, if there had been the views of a self, a person, beings, or a soul; there would have arisen in me anger and indignation. Subhuti, further, I recall that in the past five hundred incarnations I had been an ascetic practicing perseverance. In that incarnation, I was without the view of a self, without the view of a person, without the view of beings, and without the view of a soul. Subhuti, bodhisattvas should depart from all signs while initiating the annutara-samyak-sambodhicitta. They should not dwell in forms when giving rise to that thought. They should not dwell in sounds, odors, tastes, sensations, or dharmas when giving rise to that thought. They should dwell nowhere when giving rise to that thought. If in thought they were to have a dwelling, then it would be to become non-dwelling. For this reason, the Buddha has said that the bodhisattva’s thought should not dwell in forms regarding charity. Subhuti, the bodhisattvas creating blessings for every sentient being should thus be charitable. The Tathagata has said that all signs then is the non-sign. Further, he has said that all sentient beings, then are not sentient beings. Subhuti, the Tathagata’s discourses are true, real, thus, not false, and not contradictory. Subhuti, the Dharma that the Tathagata has attained is neither true nor false. Subhuti, if a bodhisattva’s thought dwells in dharmas while practicing charity, it would be like a person entering darkness, and therefore being unable to see anything. If a bodhisattva’s thought does not dwell in dharmas while practicing charity, it would be like a person who, seeing by the sunlight that illumines, sees all the various forms. Subhuti, if it should come into the world that there are good sons and good daughters who are able to receive, keep, read, and recite what is in this sermon, then they will become Tathagatas. Via the Buddha’s sagely wisdom which fully knows and fully sees these people, I can say that that all shall attain the complete accomplishment of the immeasurably boundless merit.

15.

“Subhuti, suppose there are good sons and good daughters who, in the morning, in numbers equaling that of the sand grains of the Ganges, give themselves in charity; who, in the afternoon, in numbers equaling that of the sand grains of the Ganges, give themselves in charity; who, in the evening, in numbers equaling that of the sand grains of the Ganges, give themselves in charity; thusly for immeasurable billions of kalpas gave themselves in charity. Suppose, again, that there is a person who hears this canonical sermon with a believing mind that is not contrary: his blessedness would overcome that of the others. How much more so copying, receiving, upholding, reading, and recited it in its entirety, and then giving comprehensive explanations of it to other people? Subhuti, essentially speaking, this sermon has a meaning which cannot be comprehended, and the boundless merit [of receiving, upholding, et al] cannot be measured. The Tathagata for the sake of setting forth the great vehicle speaks it; for the sake of setting forth the supreme vehicle speaks it. If there is a person who is able to receive, uphold, read, and recite this sermon and widely explain it to others, The Tathagata fully knows and fully sees that such people will all attain entirely the accomplishment of the merit which cannot be measured, cannot be express, has no bounds, and is inconcievable. Thusly such people therefore carry on the Tathagata’s annuttara-samyak-sambodhi. What is the reason? Subhuti, if there is satisfaction found in lesser dharmas, that is attachment to the view of a self, the view of a person, the view of sentient beings, and the view of a soul. Therefore, there could not be compliance with, receiving, upholding, reciting, or explaining for another what is in this sermon. Subhuti, wherever it resides in whatever place, if therein is this sermon, every one of the worlds, be they of gods, humans, or asuras, should give offerings for its support. It should be known that this place then is a pagoda. All should venerate it by circling it clockwise, scattering flowers and incense about its premises.

16.

“Furthermore, Subhuti, good sons and good daughters receiving, upholding, reading, and reciting this sermon; if they should be insulted or despised, they would have in prior lives committed evil acts and accordingly fallen into the path of suffering. Because of that, they in the present life are insulted or despised by others. When the prior life’s evil acts then have been dissolved and extinguished, they shall attain the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Subhuti, I recall in the past measureless asankya kalpa, before having been with the Buddha Dipamkara, I had met eighty-four trillion nayutas of Buddhas, had to their entirety given offerings of support, and had carried on their work without needless error. Suppose, again, there is someone who, in the later superficial age, is capable of receiving, upholding, reading, and reciting this sermon, attaining that merit. The merit of my giving offerings of support to all of those buddhas would not compare to a hundredth of the latter’s merit. Even a billionth of the latter’s merit would be an insufficient estimation. Subhuti, if good sons and good daughters, in the later superficial age, who have received, upheld, read, and recited this sermon; if I were to fully enunciate the extent of their attainment of merit, some of the people’s minds in the audience would be confounded, becoming doubtful and disbelieving. Subhuti, it should be known that this sermon’s meaning is inconceivable. The fruit of its reward is also inconceivable.

17.

At that time, Subhuti said to the Buddha: “World Honored One, in what should good sons and good daughters initiating the annuttara-samyak-sambodhicitta dwell, how should they regulate their thoughts?”

The Buddha told Subhuti: “Goods sons and good daughters initiating the annuttara-samyak-sambodhicitta will give rise to the thought: ‘I shall liberate all sentient beings. Having liberated all of the sentients beings, there are really no existent beings who are liberated.’ What is the reason? Subhuti, if a bodhisattva has the view of a self, the view of a person, the view of sentient beings, or view of a soul; then that is not a bodhisattva. Why is that? Subhuti, really there is no existent annuttara-samyak-sambodhicitta. Subhuti, what do you think? When the Tathagata was with Dipamkara Buddha, he had attained the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi, no?”

“No, World Honored One. As I have understood the Buddha’s express meaning, the Buddha, when with Dipamkara Buddha, did not have any attainment of the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi.”

The Buddha replied: “Yes, yes. Subhuti, really there is no existent dharma that the Tathagata has attained in the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Subhuti, suppose there is a dharma that the Tathagata has attained in the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Dipamkara Buddha, then, would not have given me the prediction ‘You, in a life to come, shall appear as a Buddha named Shakyamuni’. That is because in reality there is no existent dharma in the attainment of annuttara-samyak-sambodhi. For this reason Dipamkara Buddha bestowed onto me prediction, composing the words: ‘You in a life to come shall appear as a buddha named Shakyamuni.’ What is the reason? For one who is a Tathagata, then, the dharmas are of like meaning. Suppose there is a person who says the Tathagata has attained the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Subhuti, really there is no existent dharma in the Buddha’s attaining the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Subhuti, the Tathagata’s attainment of the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi is the middle, being without truth or falsehood. For this reason, the Tathagata says that all of the dharmas are all the buddhadharma. Subhuti, that which is called ‘all of the dharmas,’ then, is not all of the dharmas. This is the reason it is called ‘all of the dharmas.’ Subhuti, for example take the person whose body is ancient and great.”

Subhuti replied: “World Honored One, the Tathagata has said that the person who has a body which is ancient and great, then, does not have a great body. It is called a great body.”

“Subhuti, a bodhisattva is also thus. If one should compose the words ‘I shall liberate the immeasurable beings’ then this is not to be called a bodhisattva. What is the reason? Subhuti, really there is no existent dharma whose name is ‘bodhisattva’. For this reason, the Buddha has said that every one of the dharmas lack a self, lack a person, lack sentient beings, and lack a soul. Subhuti, if a bodhisattva were to compose these words: ‘I shall adorn the buddhaland’; this is not to be called a bodhisattva. What is the reason? The Tathagata has said that the adornment of the buddhaland, then, are not adornment: it is called ‘adornment’. Subhuti, if a bodhisattva penetrates and traverses selflessly the Dharma, the Tathagata has said that he is truthfully called a bodhisattva.”

18.

“Subhuti, what do you think? The Tathagata possesses the flesh-eye, no?”

“Yes, World Honored One. The Tathagata possesses the flesh-eye.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? The Tathagata possesses the heavenly-eye, no?”

“Yes, World Honored One. The Tathagata possesses the heavenly-eye.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? The Tathagata possesses the wisdom-eye, no?”

“Yes, World Honored One. The Tathagata possesses the wisdom-eye.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? The Tathagata possesses the Dharma-eye, no?”

“Yes, World Honored One. The Tathagata possesses the Dharma-eye.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? The Tathagata possesses the Buddha-eye, no?”

“Yes, World Honored One. The Tathagata possesses the Buddha-eye.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? The sand grains in the Ganges River — the Buddha has spoken of these sands, no?”

“Yes, World Honored One. The Tathagata has spoken of these sands.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? As there are sand grains in a single Ganges River, suppose there are Ganges Rivers equal in number to those sands, possessing Buddha realms numbering [in each] like those sand grains. These realms would be made rather many, no?”

“Incredibly many, World Honored One.”

The Buddha said to Subhuti, “In those lands there are sentient beings with various kinds of minds, which the Tathagata fully knows. What is the reason? The Tathagata has said that minds all are not minds, and so are called minds. What is the reason for that? Subhuti, past thoughts are unobtainable, present thoughts are unobtainable, and future thoughts are unobtainable.”

19.

“Subhuti, what do you think? Suppose there is a person who filled the billion worlds with the seven treasures for the purpose of charity. This person, because of these causes and conditions, would obtain many blessings, no?”

“Yes, World Honored One. This person, via these causes and conditions, would obtain incredibly many blessings.”

“Subhuti, if that blessed deed were real, the Tathagata would not have said that this person would obtain many blessings. Since the blessed deed is not, the Tathagata says that the person would obtain many blessings.”

20.

“Subhuti, what do you think? The Buddha can by means of the perfect form of his body be recognized, no?”

“No, World Honored One. The Tathagata should not by means of the perfect form of his body be recognized. What is the reason? The Tathagata has said that the perfect form of his body is not a perfect form of body. It is called a perfect form of body.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? The Tathagata can by means of the perfect signs be recognized, no?”

“No, World Honored One. The Tathagata should not by means of the perfect signs be recognized. What is the reason? The Tathagata has said that the signs which are perfect are not signs which are perfect. They are called signs which are perfect.”

21.

“Subhuti, do not say that the Tathagata composes this thought: ‘I shall have an explanation of the Dharma.’ Do not compose that thought. What is the reason? If a person says that the Tathagata has an explanation of the Dharma, then they have slandered the Buddha, because they are unable to understand the reason for my speaking. Subhuti, the spoken Dharma lacks a Dharma which can be spoken. It is called a spoken Dharma.”

At that time, the Venerable Subhuti said to the Buddha: “World Honored One, it is doubtful that there will be sentient beings in generations yet to come who, hearing of this Dharma, will give birth to the believing mind, no?”

The Buddha replied: “Subhuti, those are not sentient beings, nor are they not sentient beings. What is the reason? Subhuti, the sentient beings who are sentient beings, the Tathagata has said, are not sentient beings. They are called sentient beings.”

22.

Subhuti said to the Buddha: “World Honored One, the Buddha’s attainment of the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi is because of nowhere attaining anything?”

The Buddha replied: “Yes, yes. Subhuti, in my annuttara-samyak-sambodhi, verily, there is not the slightest dharma that can be attained. This is called the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi.”

23.

“Furthermore, Subhuti, the Dharma is level, lacking high or low. This is called the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi. By means of being without self, without person, without sentient beings, and without a soul, cultivation of all the good Dharmas, then, is attaining the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Subhuti, what is said to be the good Dharmas, the Tathagata has explained to be non-Dharmas. They are called good Dharmas.

24.

“Subhuti, suppose that, like the Mount Sumerus of the billion realms, a person has accumulated mounds of the seven treasures of such size and numbers as those Mount Sumerus for the purpose of charity. If a person, via this perfection of wisdom sutra, even just four lines of verse, receives, upholds, reads, and recites, and for another explains it: the former’s blessed deed would not reach a hundredth of the latter’s. A billionth part of the latter’s, even, would be an insufficient estimation of it.

25.

“Subhuti, what do you think? Do you say that the tathagata composes this thought: ‘I shall save the sentient beings’? Subhuti, do not compose that thought. What is the reason? Really, there are no sentient beings the Tathagata saves. If there were beings the Tathagata saved, the Tathagata then would have a self, a personage, beings, and a soul. Subhuti, the Tathagata has explained that an existent self is then not a self. Mortal men regard their persons as being a self. Subhuti, mortal men, the Tathagata has explained, then, are not mortal men. They are called ‘mortal men’.”

26.

“Subhuti, what do you think? One can by means of the thirty-two signs examine the Tathagata, no?”

Subhuti replied: “Yes, yes. By means of the the thirty-two signs, one examines the Tathagata.”

The Buddha said: “Subhuti, if by means of the thirty-two signs one examines the Tathagata, a [Dharma]-wheel turning holy king, then, is this Tathagata.”

Subhuti said to the Buddha: “World Honored One, the Tathagata, as I understand the Buddha’s express meaning, should not be examined by means of the thirty-two signs.”

At that time, the World Honored One proclaimed this gatha, saying:

If via form (one) looks for the Tathagata
Or via the sound of the voice beseeches me,
This person walks a corrupt path
And is unable to recognize the Tathagata.

27.

“Subhuti, suppose you were to compose this thought: ‘Because it is not by means of the perfect signs that the Tathagata has attained the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi’. Subhuti, do not compose that thought: ‘Because it is not by means of the perfect signs that the Tathagata has attained the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi’. Subhuti, if you compose this thought: ‘Initiating the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi is the spoken Dharma of nihilism’. Do not form that thought. What is the reason? Initiating the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi cannot be said to be the dharma of a nihilistic view.

28.

“Subhuti, suppose a bodhisattva filled worlds numbering like the sands of the Ganges River with the seven treasures, and accumulated it for the purpose of charity. Suppose, again, there is a person who knows every dharma is selfless and attains the complete perseverance of them. This bodhisattva would overcome the former bodhisattva’s attainment of merit. Subhuti, the reason is because bodhisattvas do not receive blessed virtue.”

Subhuti addressed the Buddha, saying: “World Honored One, how is it bodhisattvas do not receive blessed virtue?”

“Subhuti, the bodhisattva’s composition of blessed deeds should not be greedily clung to. This is why is it is said ‘not receiving blessed virtue’.

29.

“Subhuti, if there is a person who says the Tathagata comes, goes, sits, or lies down; this person would not understand my express meaning. What is the reason? The Tathagata is without a place from whence to come, and also is without a place to which to go. That is the reason he is called a tathagata.”

30.

“Subhuti, suppose good sons and good daughters were to grind the billion realms to dust grains. What do you think? These grains would become many, no?”

“Incredibly many, World Honored One. What is the reason? If these myriad grains were really existent, the Buddha would not then speak of these myriad grains of dust. What is the reason for that? The Buddha has said the grains are then not grains of dust. These are called grains of dust. World Honored One, the Tathagata has said that the billion realms are then not realms: these are called realms. What is the reason? If the worlds were really existent, then these would appear as a single conglomeration. The Tathagata has said that the appearance of a single conglomeration is not the appearance of a single conglomeration. This is called a single conglomeration.”

“Subhuti, the appearance of a single conglomeration, then, is inexpressible. Only mortal men greedily cling to the doings of their own persons.

31.

“Subhuti, suppose someone says the Buddha has spoken of a view of self, a view of a person, the view of sentient beings, or the view of a soul. Subhuti, what do you think? This person understands my express meaning, no?”

“No, World Honored One. This person would not understand the Tathagata’s express meaning. What is the reason? The World Honored One has said the view of a self, the view of a person, the view of beings, and the view of a soul; then, are not the views of a self, a person, beings, or of a soul.”

“Subhuti, in the annuttara-samyak-sambodhi, all dharmas thusly should be known, thus be viewed, and thus be sincerely understood as the unborn appearances of dharmas. Subhuti, the words ‘dharma appearances,’ the Tathagata has said, then, are not dharma appearances. This is called dharma appearances.

32.

“Subhuti, suppose there is a person who fills immeasurable asankyas of worlds with the seven treasures and accumulates it for the purpose of charity. And suppose there are good sons and good daughters who initiate the bodhicitta, keeping from within this sutra even just four lines of verse; receiving, upholding, reading, reciting, and for others giving extensive explanations of it. Their blessed virtue would overcome the other’s. How would they make for other people extensive explanations? Without grasping the appearances of the absolute, without agitation. What is the reason?

All of the existent, conditioned dharmas
Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows;
Like dew and also like lightning:
Thus should they be contemplated.”

The Buddha having finnished propounding this sutra, the Venerable Subhuti, the bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, and upasikas, and everyone in the worlds of gods, humans, and asuras having heard the Buddha’s exposition were all greatly elated. Sincerely, they received and handed down the practice of the Diamond Perfection of Wisdom Sutra.

Citta and Emptiness

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Theravada Tradition:
Ajahn Maha Bua sees the essential enduring truth of the sentient being as constituted of the indestructible reality of the citta (heart/mind), which is characterized by the attribute of Awareness or Knowingness. This citta, which is intrinsically bright, clear, and Aware, gets superficially tangled up in samsara but ultimately cannot be destroyed by any samsaric phenomenon. Although Bua is often at pains to emphasise the need for meditation upon the non-Self (anatta), he also points out that the citta, while getting caught up in the vortex of conditioned phenomena, is not subject to destruction as are those things which are impermanent, suffering, and non-Self (aniccadukkhaanatta). The citta is ultimately not beholden to these laws of conditioned existence. The citta is bright, radiant, and deathless, and is its own independent reality:
‘Being intrinsically bright and clear, the citta is always ready to make contact with everything of every nature. Although all conditioned phenomena without exception are governed by the three universal laws of anicca, dukkha, and anattã, the citta’s true nature is not subject to these laws. The citta is conditioned by anicca, dukkha, and anattã only because things that are subject to these laws come spinning in to become involved with the citta and so cause it to spin along with them. However, though it spins in unison with conditioned phenomena, the citta never disintegrates or falls apart. It spins following the influence of those forces which have the power to make it spin, but the true power of the citta’s own nature is that it knows and does not die. This deathlessness is a quality that lies beyond disintegration. Being beyond disintegration, it also lies beyond the range of anicca, dukkha, and anattã and the universal laws of nature. ….’[6]
The fundamental problem that besets human beings, according to Bua, is that they have taken fake and false things as their true self and lack the necessary power to be their ‘own true self’; they allow the wiles and deceits of the mental defilements to generate fear and anxiety in their minds. Fear and anxiety are not inherent within the citta; in fact, the citta is ultimately beyond all such things and indeed is beyond time and space. But it needs to be cleansed of its inner defilements (the kilesas) before that truth can be realised. Bua states:
‘Our real problem, our one fundamental problem—which is also the citta’s fundamental problem—is that we lack the power needed to be our own true self. Instead, we have always taken counterfeit things to be the essence of who we really are, so that the citta’s behavior is never in harmony with its true nature. Rather, it expresses itself through the kilesas’ cunning deceits, which cause it to feel anxious and frightened of virtually everything … As a result, the citta is forever full of worries and fears. And although fear and worry are not intrinsic to the citta, they still manage to produce apprehension there. When the citta has been cleansed so that it is absolutely pure and free of all involvement, only then will we see a citta devoid of all fear. Then, neither fear nor courage appear, only the citta’s true nature, existing naturally alone on its own, forever independent of time and space. Only that appears—nothing else. This is the genuine citta’.[7]
Bua goes on to attempt to describe the inner stages and experience of the cleansed citta. When its purgation of defilements is complete, it itself does not disappear – only the impermanent, suffering, and the non-Self disappear. The citta remains, experientially abiding in its own firm foundation, yet ultimately indescribable:
‘Once the Citta has become so well-cleansed that it is always bright and clear, then … even though the citta has not ‘converged’ in samãdhi, the focal point of its awareness is so exceedingly delicate and refined as to be indescribable. This subtle awareness manifests as a radiance that extends forth in all directions around us. We are unconscious of sights, sounds, odors, tastes, and tactile sensations, despite the fact that the citta has not entered samãdhi. Instead, it is actually experiencing its own firm foundation, the very basis of the citta that has been well-cleansed to the point where a mesmerizing, majestic quality of knowing is its most prominent feature.
‘Seeming to exist independent of the physical body, this kind of extremely refined awareness stands out exclusively within the citta. Due to the subtle and pronounced nature of the citta at this stage, its knowing nature completely predominates. No images or visions appear there at all. It is an awareness that stands out exclusively on its own. This is one aspect of the citta.
‘Another aspect is seen when this well-cleansed citta enters meditative calm, not thinking or imagining anything. Ceasing all activity, all movement, it simply rests for awhile. All thought and imagination within the citta come to a complete halt. This is called “the citta entering a state of total calm.” Then, the citta’s essential knowing nature is all that remains. Except for this very refined awareness—an awareness that seems to blanket the entire cosmos—absolutely nothing else appears… Distance is not a factor. To be precise, the citta is beyond the conditions of time and space, which allows it to blanket everything. Far is like near, for concepts of space do not apply. All that appears is a very refined awareness suffusing everything throughout the entire universe. The whole world seems to be filled by this subtle quality of knowing, as though nothing else exists, though things still exist in the world as they always have. The all-encompassing flow of the citta that has been cleansed of the things that cloud and obscure it, this is the citta’s true power.
‘The citta that is absolutely pure is even more difficult to describe. Since it is something that defies definition, I don’t know how I could characterize it. It cannot be expressed in the same way that conventional things in general can be, simply because it is not a conventional phenomenon. It is the sole province of those who have transcended all aspects of conventional reality, and thus realize within themselves that non-conventional nature. For this reason, words cannot describe it.
‘Why do we speak of a “Conventional” Citta and an “absolutely pure” citta? Are they actually two different cittas? Not at all. It remains the same citta. When it is controlled by conventional realities, such as kilesas and ãsavas, that is one condition of the citta. But when the faculty of wisdom has scrubbed it clean until this condition has totally disintegrated, the true citta, the true Dhamma, the one that can stand the test, will not disintegrate and disappear along with it. Only the conditions of anicca, dukkha, and anattã, which infiltrate the citta, actually disappear.
‘No matter how subtle the kilesas may be, they are still conditioned by anicca, dukkha, and anattã, and therefore, must be conventional phenomena. Once these things have completely disintegrated, the true citta, the one that has transcended conventional reality, becomes fully apparent. This is called the citta’s Absolute Freedom, or the citta’s Absolute Purity. All connections continuing from the citta’s previous condition have been severed forever. Now utterly pure, the citta’s essential knowing nature remains alone on its own….
‘Since this refined awareness does not have a point or a center, it is impossible to specifically locate its position. There is only that essential knowing, with absolutely nothing infiltrating it. Although it still exists amid the same khandhas with which it used to intermix, it no longer shares any common characteristics with them. It is a world apart. Only then do we know clearly that the body, the khandhas, and the citta are all distinct and separate realities…’[8]
Some of the notions found here are reminiscent of the Tathagatagarbha tradition – although the latter posits an original, primordial purity to the mind, whereas Bua sees that purity as needing to be established through mental and moral cultivation.[9]
Mahayana Tradition:

THE HEART OF PRAJNA PARAMITA SUTRA

When Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was practicing the profound Prajna Paramita, he illuminated the Five Skandhas and saw that they are all empty, and he crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty.
Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form. Form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is form. So too are feeling, cognition, formation, and consciousness.

Shariputra, all Dharmas are empty of characteristics. They are not produced, not destroyed, not defiled, not pure; and they neither increase nor diminish. Therefore, in emptiness there is no form, feeling, cognition, formation, or consciousness; no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind; no sights, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or Dharmas; no field of the eyes up to and including no field of mind consciousness; and no ignorance or ending of ignorance, up to and including no old age and death or ending of old age and death. There is no suffering, no accumulating, no extinction, and no Way, and no understanding and no attaining.


Because nothing is attained, the Bodhisattva through reliance on Prajna Paramita is unimpeded in his mind. Because there is no impediment, he is not afraid, and he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind. Ultimately Nirvana! All Buddhas of the three periods of time attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi through reliance on Prajna Paramita. Therefore know that Prajna Paramita is a Great Spiritual Mantra, a Great Bright Mantra, a Supreme Mantra, an Unequalled Mantra. It can remove all suffering; it is genuine and not false. That is why the Mantra of Prajna Paramita was spoken. Recite it like this:

Gaté Gaté Paragaté Parasamgaté

Bodhi Svaha!

About Sanna (Perception) – not self

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Of the five groups or aggregates, one is material and four are mind-related. These five comprise a human being.

The first one (called rupa in Pali) is approximately translated as ‘materiality’ and is most evident.

It is so evident that some persons think they are only their body.

Today we wish to talk about one of the five groups, the one that is called sanna in Pali.

In ordinary talk, the most elementary translation of sanna gives “perception” or, perhaps if we think of the past emotional state, we could call it “memory”. In English, we can hardly use “memory” if we think about what might happen tomorrow. For example, we could not say, “I have a memory of tomorrow”, rather we might say, ” I have a perception of tomorrow”.

Perception (sanna) is not-self.

The Buddha said: “If perception, bhikkhus, were self, then this perception would not become painful, and one would be able to say, ‘Let my perception be thus, let my perception not be thus,’ But since perception is not-self, so it becomes painful, and no one can say, ‘Let my perception be thus, let my perception not be thus.'”

By accessing the attainment state of stream enterer (Pali: sotapan) or better, each for himself or herself, most beings can agree with Chandrakirti’s Prasannapada (“Clear Words”) – that the “self” is not separate from the five aggregates of rupa, vedana, sanna, sankara and vinnanam.

The body and mind is a big institution consisting of body (rupa) and four types of mind stuff, namely feeling (vedana); perception (sanna); mental formations (sankhara); and consciousness (vinnana).

Whatever arises in these five aggregates passes away.

When one is entirely free from attachment to the body and mind, one is liberated. So we cultivate strong mindfulness to attain a peaceful state and find what Westerners call “enlightenment”.

There is a type of memory that misreads processes if it is untrained and coarse. This is sanna.

This error of view has to do with the way your present name and form developed through the coarse and fine, wellness or unwellness changes since this very human birth.

If you were wise, you would keep your minds empty of these errors of view by attending to the real – the present changes in wellness or unwellness events.

The foremost meanings of wellness and unwellness are simply stated if we say and know all human beings are subject to a common destiny defined by the process of birth, ageing, sickness and death.

The empty mind knows these facts; it only loses these facts when it becomes closed up with doubt.

The wrong view is to cling to or attach yourself to heavenly beings.

In the interests of our Dhamma practice, the correct view is that little benefit can arise by joining in such types of multifaith exercises where the intent is to get Buddhist practitioners to agree to an implicit atman (Creator God) basis as the correct view.

Dhamma Practitioners ought to avoid interfaith platforms using songs framed in terms of seeking to make a past time real by playing with sanna perception.

How do you train persons who feel guilty or worry about the past?

Our Students were taught the established yoga mental exercise of thinking backwards through the recollection of a particular worry.

By the time a worry has entered into a person’s mind at some intensity, several low intensity events have occurred.

Most persons do not pay enough attention to their present events so they cannot pick up the “precursors” of low intensity which are caused by clinging onto something.

When the Student recalls the events of the day in reverse order, this is contrary to the natural tendency to think forward.

By this backward thinking practice, using sanna perception, worry can be overcome by not grasping what was formerly grasped.

This practice was taught by Padma Sambhava.

So let us use repetition to remember the means of access to thoughts on sanna.

In Buddha Dhamma, you may be interested to know how sanna nestles in the list or framework of the forty meditation subjects:

A. Ten entirety (totalities) (kasina)

B. Ten kinds of foulness (asubha)

C. Ten kinds of recollections (anussati)

D. Four kinds of divine abidings (Brahmavihara)

E. Four kinds of immaterial states (arupa)

F. One perception (sanna)

G. One defining (avathana)

A. The ten kinds of entirety-methods are as follows:

(1) Earth kasina

(2) Water kasina

(3) Fire kasina

(4) Air kasina

(5) Blue kasina

(6) Yellow kasina

(7) Red kasina

(8) White kasina

(9) Light kasina

(10) Limited-space kasina

B. The ten kinds of foulness-methods are as follows:

(1) The bloated body

(2) The livid body

(3) The festered body

(4) The cut-up body

(5) The gnawed body

(6) The scattered body

(7) The hacked and scattered body

(8) The bleeding body

(9) The worm-infested body; and

(10) The skeleton

C. The ten kinds of recollection-methods are as follows:

(1) Recollection of the Buddha

(2) Recollection of Dhamma

(3) Recollection of the Sangha

(4) Recollection of virtue

(5) Recollection of generosity

(6) Recollection of deities

(7) Mindfulness of death

(8) Mindfulness occupied with the body

(9) Mindfulness of breathing; and

(10) Recollection of peace

D. The four kinds of divine abiding are these:

(1) Loving kindness

(2) Compassion

(3) Gladness; and

(4) Equanimity

E. The four kinds of immaterial states are these:

(1) The base consisting of boundless space

(2) The base consisting of boundless consciousness

(3) The base consisting of nothingness

(4) The base consisting of neither perception nor non-perception

F. The one perception is the perception of repulsiveness in nutriment.

G. Finally, the one defining is the defining (analysis) of the four great primary elements.

Next to be examined are the feelings (vedana), memories (sanna), “self” images (sankhara), and also the many types of consciousness (vinnanam) that arise.

We may now realise that passively listening to our Teacher is like vacantly viewing a map. The Teacher produces nothing to be learnt; his or her words only point at what we need to produce in our minds there and then.

The great Master Nagarjuna explained centuries ago that as long as a wrong view of our aggregates (rupam, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnanam) exists, one is bound to the karma of cyclic existence because “self” is the root of all trouble. So cutting the root amounts to realisation of selflessness (anatta).

Today people talk so much about physical exercise; good, but what of our hearts, our minds? We need mental discipline, mental exercise, mental training.

So now let us look at the five groups from a slightly different viewpoint.

The Buddha does not ignore or neglect the body, but he gives pride of place to the human mind. Here you have the five aggregates or groups.

Only one is material, the other four are something to do with the mind. This is matter – rupa, and this is mind – vinnanam consciousness; the other three are – vedana, sanna, and sankara, and these are the contents of the mind.

You say everywhere you see things material.

When you see matter your eyes come into contact with perceivable objects. All those objects that we see are things material. So the world means just the sense objects. Right? When you go deeper you see here there’s colour, and those colours give a shape.

And we get sounds. When two things come together, we get a sound.

So two materials come together and you get a sound.

Smell. Certain pollens come to your nostrils and you get it.

Then here again, your tongue.

You get something material.

And touch. So the entire world is the world of matter. Then we have the world within – this mind and its contents.

See the difference. Today, man with a brain weighing only 3 lbs. has done marvellous things. He has brought under control air, space, gone to the moon. Human beings are not gods, not Brahmas, but just this one fathom long body with a brain and consciousness.

Let us talk about control in fact and fiction.

The more a person tries to control the external world, the more difficult he or she finds it to control himself or herself – that is the problem today.

Please note when the Buddha talks about men he infers the same for women.

The Buddha says, “Man may conquer hundreds and thousands of people in the battlefield. What a waste to conquer thousands and thousands of people if you cannot conquer yourself.”

What a waste to bring about a change in the environment without a change inside us.

So bhavana (meditation) brings about a change inside us. That is the aim of meditation, to look within.

Things are not simple in the real world; they are simple only in fantasy worlds.

It is not easy to understand ourselves.

When two persons come together there are really six persons, although it sounds rather paradoxical.

Each person as he sees himself, each person as another person may see him, each person as he or she really is.

Each person thinking “I am so and so, I am so and so” depending on his or her ego, his or her so-called “I”. You may live together, eat together, work together, sleep together, do everything together, but still you may not understand the other person.

So, in meditation we are trying to find out the real person.

So when you sit down to meditation, am I a man or a woman?

These are only concepts. These disappear; the man/woman business.

You find there is a body in flux. It is not something stationary, something stable and fixed.

All the time it is changing. You cannot knock in the same place again, scientifically speaking, because the particles of matter there, the particles of matter here, the environment, all are changing in vibration.

If you learn physics, it is very easy to understand the Buddha’s flux theory.

So everywhere is changing.

When you sit down, all concept disappears.

We just see here a conflux of mind and body. A body flux and a mind flux.

So it’s a conflux flowing together. So what is this matter and mind?

Just this body is matter and mind.

Scientifically speaking, matter is something tangible or perceptible. But not mind.

Say a thought now comes, a thought of love. You cannot touch it. It is not something material. But there is a way of seeing the thought. Use the mind.

A thought sees a thought.

In meditation you see.

Now there comes a thought of love; pure love; loving-kindness (in Pali: metta).

Who sees it? A thought sees a thought. Now it disappears, now it reappears.

You become aware of all these things in meditation. All concept disappears.

When you are in meditation, you may entertain an ugly thought; an unpleasant and unwholesome thought.

You need not get upset, it is very natural.

So in meditation, when thoughts come you don’t struggle with them.

Just use bare awareness, bare attention.

Don’t be a judge, don’t praise or condemn the thought.

Just the thought, the thought, the thought – come back here. With bare awareness, use bare awareness.

People don’t know how to see a sunset.

The best way to see a sunset is just to be there, bare attention. That’s the best way to see the sunset.

So when you start thinking about the colours and all that, so you see you are distracted, you’re distracted, not seeing the sunset.

When we do the meditation – breathing meditation – then it’s not so easy, you know.

When you try to concentrate, your mind will wander and wander. We know of great meditators.

Sometimes they think that at times they find it difficult to keep their concentration.

Just for five minutes.

That is the nature of mind, but you get used to it. Then keep away the other thoughts and go on with meditation.

The meditation that the Buddha emphasised again and again, was mindfulness.

You know about this discourse on mindfulness.

Be mindful of everything. Be mindful.

Practice it, then you get used to it. Then you see the advantages.

Persons today, because they don’t have mindfulness, must create trouble for themselves unnecessarily.

Because of this lacking of mindfulness they get all sorts of troubles.

You can run mindfully without tension. You go driving your car. You come to traffic lights.

Most persons, you know, when they see green turning to amber, they get agitated. “Oh it is red.”

Impatient. It is red. So the best thing to do, the sensible thing to do when you see red is to not get agitated.

There’s a little rest for you. Leave the wheel, take a deep breath, you see, and patiently wait for the green. No tension. So there are little things that we have to cultivate mindfully.

Also, when we talk about meditation, there is what we call the “Brahma Viharas” – the four sublime states:
Loving kindness, compassion, appreciative or altruistic joy and equanimity.

These four sublime states we call the art of noble living.

This is some meditation that we all must cultivate.

Persons do not know how to love. Their love is so selfish, so that is not love.

“I” and the “My” and the “Mine”, that is selfish.

Let your good thoughts go to all.

May all beings be well and happy, may all beings be well and happy.

No bond, no attachment with others is the way to lighten and widen the mind.

Now parents love their children. There are hundreds and thousands of children.

But when her child is in trouble, she feels so much agony, mental agony. That is why when you are separated you feel sad.

The Buddha says to be separated from the loved is dukkha, meaning suffering.

This can be found out. It cannot be said exactly in words but it can be known.

Sanna is one of the mental factors and the jhana, it is staying with one object. The meditator can use one of the forty meditation objects mentioned earlier.

It is best if you ask a qualified Teacher what suits you best.

Some may use kasina, some may use loving-kindness, and at the highest level some objects cannot send the mind to the highest level.

For example, contemplation of the 32 body parts can give only first jhana, and loving-kindness can give only third jhana. These are general rules to guide you.

If you get too high, you may not understand sanna with ease.

For the fourth jhana, if you want to get it, you must change your object but if you start with kasina, the coloured disc, you don’t need to change it or, if you start with anapanna, you don’t need to change it.

The perception or sanna, the mental factor, is not significant in that consciousness.

But other mental factors are more powerful and it maybe also more powerful but in the original text no one can mention the importance of sanna.

For those more technically proficient in Pali terms we remind you that there is not only sanna, there are also phassa, vedana, sanna, ekaggata, jivitindriya, manasikara. These mental factors are also associated with any consciousness but they are not entitled to be called jhana.

In jhana paccayo, these five factors are entitled to be called jhana paccayo.

Much clarification is required for advanced Students from reading say, the Teacher Sayadaw Dipaloka’s texts when he explains in fine detail to students who ask the technical questions about mental states.

Although we are saying the same thing, they are arising and passing away at any moment.

For the more advanced listeners, we remind you that everything is not the same thing. They are new ones.

Although the name is the same, everything has changed at any moment.

Nimitta is pannatti, it cannot change, but the arammanika, any consciousness and all mental factors are replaced with new ones.

Sanna also is replaced.

Sanna is only one of the concomitant mental factors.

Looking to the imagined future, it is perhaps more likely than unlikely that a pessimistic thought array (sanna) appears: “I shall be content if I go to heaven birth next life”.

For most religious persons, the prospect of acquiring a heaven birth next life would not be termed a pessimistic outlook.

Our Teacher has no intention of disparaging the intellect or motives of other practitioners in using this method, because our Teacher’s polemic cannot accede to a Student’s view that most common persons would disagree with the use of the word “pessimistic” in referring to a next life heavenly situation.

It is because they lack a precise English nomenclature for this “common” view, because the “next-after-next” life expectations suggest that the process state be termed at least: “hidden pessimism”.

You need to overcome “pessimism”.

If this (sanna) perception is nourished and believed as a statement of (absolute) truth; it can be seen why persons may relinquish the perception that “contentment ” is possible to attain here and now in the present human life.

Students were invited to generate sufficient merit by practice to set aside, as a Dhamma obligation, to understand the error-in-view, and understand that holding such a view (even for those desirous of birth in the Pure Land) is not in accord with Buddha Dhamma Vajrayana. “Self generation” and/or “generation in front” is needed to vanquish such “pessimism”.

In some deva worlds, the devas do not care for all basic precepts.

Why would a clear-headed person wish to join a kingdom of beings who hold less than five precepts?

If a person’s former life before this human life was as such a deva or devata, by habit, he or she may practice “atman-adhesion” and hope to “return” to that state.

For complex subjects there are different solution sets generating ways of looking at things within the Buddha Sasene.

Depending on your disposition, you would be wise to think about the views of the two Indian Schools on “self generation”

There were two Indian schools maintaining the identity of “self generation” and “generation in front”.

The first Indian school held that without first separately contemplating “self generation” one convinces himself or herself that he or she (a “self”) is transported to the centre of the mandala of powdered colours, or of the painted one, that is “accomplished” in the “generation in front”.

Having been transported to the centre of the mandala, the person generates the “matrix of natures” and the four factors of becoming.

In the Tibetan Snags rim, this “matrix of natures” is the same as “realm of space” (in Pali: first arupa, meaning formless, jhana).

He or she generates further practices until he or she leaves through the east gate of the mandala.

He or she then presents offerings to the Guru or deity and sees himself or herself as identical to the Guru or deity and receives initiation.

The second Indian school held that if one were to do it that way there would be no method of contemplating the “spheres of purification”, namely birth, death, and the intermediate state, or of contemplating with direct comprehension their concordant natures.

The first method may encourage a person to reinforce their “self” rather than understand the Buddha Dhamma.

In the second Indian school, the Guru or deity is in the centre of the mandala and the practitioner makes offerings, praises, enjoyment of ambrosia (heavenly food) and, having understood anatta, abides in the centre of the mandala.

He or she then generates first arupa jhana (the “matrix of natures”) and the four factors of becoming.

Students were warned that the jeopardy of using these practices with conceit is, if persons visualise themselves and appear by siddhi to be as elevated yogis with multiple bodies, they may forget that their root ground “being as five groups” is still continuing in human birth.

There are cases when persons use a form of dreamtime practice to talk to or dance with heavenly beings.

It is important to remember that inexact forms of practice of dream yoga are still a “human” dreaming.

One Tasmanian native practice was to watch a soft, kindly looking eye.

With higher clarity of vision this turned out to be like a European horse. There were no European horses in Tasmania in ancient times.

Most forms of careless, inexact practice turns out to be like cheap calico – the dye fades quickly.

There is some safety in supposing and/or remembering that all events seen, even with celestial eye, or heard, even with celestial ear, are merely like “clouds” of iddhis sourced from our human birth.

These things are of such a nature that they happen outside this fathom-long body so, no matter how attractive they appear, they cannot provide a basis to bring us the present contentment we are looking for.

Persons must take care not be duped by these iddhi matters and turn away from playing with them.

When the significance of the practice of renunciation of playing with these things is known, each for himself or herself, then the process method that leads to the true experience of contentment becomes trustworthy.

We then come to the position where we get on with living the holy life as a reality as one who can be truly human.

Students who have not practised mindfulness of the body thoroughly and repeatedly may assert that since all conditioned things are transitory, why should they bother to try a method to “gain” contentment because their past experience showed whatever contentment they materialised in the past changed to “loss”.

So it is customary for most persons to have hesitancy arise which expresses itself as: “Is there any technique that will lead me to contentment in a form that can be relied upon?”

Our challenge is to invite Students to attend to learning at the Centre for the rest of their life and then apply what has been learnt within their own Temples or homes or workplaces.

It takes most persons time to understand why this transfer of teaching is of benefit.

Sometimes, if they have practised something similar in past lives a few persons may resolve such reservation speedily.

Such persons can do this because they have qualified by myriad generous actions in his or her past (Pali: kusala kamma) which means they belong to the “genius” student classification having powerful antecedents which can fruit to give the arising of the right contentment.

However, for most students, it is questionable if a firm resolution of this type of question could arise by serendipity.

The sought-after contentment is the outcome of a suitable process.

Supporting factors for this practice include verbal recitation of the Mangala Sutta.

Another supporting factor is a condition for the mental recitation and the mental recitation is for the penetration of the characteristics as in the texts.

Provided a person follows the Dhamma, he or she shall triumph by finding the process of obtaining right understanding of reality.

Mindfulness is a common element in all Dhamma processes.

The subject matters taught needs to be and must be based on our own experience using words in your internal dictionary.

If your internal dictionary lacks 2nd order and 3rd order thought, this must be attended to before analytical reflection upon the constituent parts of the body can gather the insight and reveal the fact that they are devoid of ANY permanent self.

These days, if you measure the appropriate height of your adult body you find it a metric measurement between, say, 1.4 to 1.7 metres or between 5 to 6 feet. The measure is about one fathom = six feet. A few persons may be taller than one fathom.

To understand why mindfulness of body is a basic practice that must be done, you must direct attention and locate the actual volume of your own body.

This is why Ajaans, such as Taungpulu Tawya Kake Aye Sayadaw, refer to the key discourse by the Buddha:

” Oh! Rohitatha. I do not preach that the cessation of the world of suffering can be done without attainment or nirvana.

Within this fathom-long body, with its thoughts and emotions, I declare is found the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world and the path leading to the cessation of the world”.

Many Blessings appear from other options within that framework.

For more detail refer to The Minor Readings, Pali Text Society, Oxford 1991. ISBN 0 86013 023 1, translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli.

May all beings develop mindfulness.

May all beings develop understanding about sanna.

May all beings be well and happy.

This radio script was written and edited by John D. Hughes and Leanne Eames.

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