The Essential Scriptures of the Buddha and Patriarchs
The Diamond Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra
At that time, Subhuti heard the preaching of this sūtra and profoundly understood its meaning; bursting into tears and weeping emotionally, he addressed the Buddha, saying, “How rare it is, World Honored One, for the Buddha to have preached such an incredibly profound sūtra. I have never before heard such a sūtra through the wisdom eye that I attained so long ago. World Honored One, if furthermore there were a person who hears this sūtra and whose faith is pure, he then and there will generate the mark of reality. You should know that that person accomplishes the rarest of merit. World Honored One, this mark of reality is in fact not a mark; for this reason, the Tathāgata calls it a mark of reality. World Honored One, having now heard such a sūtra, I have not the slightest difficulty in believing, understanding, receiving, and keeping it. If, in a future age, during the final five-hundred years, there is a sentient being who is able to hear this sūtra and believe, understand, accept, and keep it, he will be the rarest of beings. Why is this? Because that person will have no conception of a self, a person, a living being, and a soul. What is the reason for this? Because a conception of a self is not a conception; conceptions of a person, a living being, and a soul are not conceptions. And why is this? Because leaving behind all conceptions is what is called a buddha.”
The Buddha addressed Subhuti, “So it is; so it is. If, furthermore, there were a person who heard this sūtra and was not startled, frightened, or afraid of it, you should know that that person is extremely rare. Why is this? Subhuti, the Tathāgata has explained that the foremost pāramitā is not the foremost pāramitā; this is called the foremost pāramitā.
“Subhuti, the Tathāgata has explained that the pāramitā of forbearance is not the pāramitā of forbearance; this is called the pāramitā of forbearance. Why is this? Subhuti, long ago when King Kaliṅga was dismembering my body, at that time, I retained no conception of a self, no conception of a person, no conception of a living being, no conception of a soul. Why is this? Long ago, at the time I was being torn limb from limb, if I had retained any conception of a self, a person, a living being, or a soul, I would have felt anger and animosity. Subhuti, I also recall that in the past, five-hundred lifetimes ago, I was reborn as the sage Kṣāntivādin. During that lifetime, I retained no conception of a self, no conception of a person, no conception of a living being, and no conception of a soul. For this reason, Subhuti, bodhisattvas should leave behind all conceptions and generate the aspiration for anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi. They should not generate states of mind that are fixed on visual objects; they should not generate states of mind that are fixed on auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and tactile objects. They generate states of mind that, even while responding, are not fixed on anything. If the mind is fixed, this in fact is not being fixed. For this reason, the Buddha explains to the bodhisattvas that they should not make offerings in a state of mind that is fixed on materiality. Subhuti, bodhisattvas should make offerings in this wise so as to benefit all sentient beings. The Tathāgata has explained that all characteristics are in fact free from characteristics. He has furthermore explained that all sentient beings are in fact not sentient beings.
“Subhuti, the Tathāgata is one who speaks the truth and speaks of reality; he speaks of things as they are, speaks without deception, and speaks without idiosyncrasy. Subhuti, as for the dharma attained by the Tathāgata, this dharma is free from both reality and falsity. Subhuti, if a bodhisattva practices giving while fixing his thoughts on sensory objects (dharma), he is like a person who cannot see anything when he is plunged into darkness. If a bodhisattva practices giving without fixing his thoughts on sensory objects, he is like a sighted person who is able to see all sorts of visual objects in the bright sunlight. Subhuti, in future generations, if there are gentlemen and gentlewomen who are able to accept, keep, read, and recite this sūtra, the Tathāgata will fully know and see with his Buddha wisdom that these people have all accomplished immeasurable, boundless merit.