The Essential Scriptures of the Buddha and Patriarchs
The Diamond Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra
At that time, Subhuti addressed the Buddha, saying, “World Honored One. How should a gentleman or gentlewoman who aspires to anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi abide? How should he or she subdue his or her mind?” The Buddha replied to Subhuti, “If a gentleman or gentlewoman aspires to anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi, he or she should generate this sort of thought: ‘I should ferry all sentient beings across to extinction; but even after ferrying all sentient beings across to extinction, there is not a single sentient being who has in fact been ferried across to extinction .’ Why is this? If a bodhisattva retains a conception of a self, a conception of a person, a conception of a living being, or a conception of a soul, then he or she is in fact not a bodhisattva. What is the reason for this? Subhuti, there is in reality no dharma that would generate this aspiration for anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi.
;Subhuti, what do you think? When the Tathāgata was in the presence of Dīpaṃkara Buddha, did he receive any dharma through which he attained anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi, or not?” “No, World Honored One. As I understand the meaning of what the Buddha has said, in the presence of Dīpaṃkara Buddha, he received no dharma through which he attained anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi.” The Buddha said, “So it is, so it is. Subhuti, in reality there is no dharma through which the Tathāgata attained anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi. Subhuti, if there were a dharma through which the Tathāgata attained anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi, Dīpaṃkara Buddha would not have made this prediction for me: ‘In a future life, you will become a buddha by the name of Śākyamuni.’ But since there was no dharma through which I attained anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi, Dīpaṃkara Buddha therefore gave me this prediction with these words: ‘In a future life, you will become a buddha by the name of Śākyamuni.’ Why is this? A ‘tathāgata,’ a ‘thus come one,’ is one for whom all dharmas have the meaning of being ‘thus.’ There might be a person who says that the Tathāgata attains anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi, Subhuti, but in reality there is no dharma through which the Buddha attains anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi . Subhuti, in the anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi that the Tathāgata attains, there is nothing that is either real or false. For this reason, the Tathāgata says, ‘All dharmas are buddhadharmas.’ Subhuti, ‘all dharmas’ are in fact not all dharmas; therefore, they are called ‘all dharmas.’
“Subhuti, it is like a person whose body is huge.” Subhuti said, “World Honored One. The Tathāgata has explained that a person whose body is huge does not in fact have a large body; this is what is called a large body.” “Subhuti, it is exactly the same with a bodhisattva: if he or she were to claim, ‘I will ferry across to extinction immeasurable numbers of sentient beings,’ he would not in fact be called a bodhisattva. Why is this? Subhuti, it is because in reality there is no dharma called ‘bodhisattva.’ For this reason, the Buddha explains that all dharmas are devoid of self, person, living being, and soul. Subhuti, if a bodhisattva were to say, ‘I will adorn the buddha-land,’ he would not be called a bodhisattva. Why is this? Because the Tathāgata explains that adorning the buddha-land is in fact not adorning anything; this is called adorning. Subhuti, if a bodhisattva fully comprehends that dharmas lack selfhood the Tathāgata says that he genuinely may be called a bodhisattva.