Guide to Conduct and Ceremony
Appendix: Ceremonial Texts
Part One: Scriptural Texts for General Use
8. The Diamond Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra
Section 1: Thus I heard. At one time, the Buddha was dwelling at Śrāastī in Jetṛ’ Grove in Anāhapiṇḍda’s Park, together with a congregation of 1,250 great bhikṣs. At that time, when it became time for the meal, the World Honored One donned his robes, picked up his alms’ bowl, and entered the great city of Śrāastīo to collect alms. After he had finished his sequential alms round in the city, he returned to his residence and, after finishing his meal, he put away his robes and bowl, washed his feet, and, arranging his seat, sat down.
Section 2: At that time, the Elder (sthavira) Subhuti got up from his seat amid the great congregation. Arranging his robe so as to expose his right shoulder, placing his right knee on the ground, and putting his hands together out of respect, he addressed the Buddha, saying, “How marvelous it is, World Honored One, that the Tathāgata shows such great concern for all bodhisattvas and so well favors all bodhisattvas. World Honored One. How should gentlemen and gentlewomen abide in order to generate the aspiration for anuttarasamyaksaṃodhi? How should they quell their minds?” The Buddha replied, “Excellent, excellent, Subhuti. As you have said, the Tathāgata does indeed show such great concern for all bodhisattvas and so well favors all bodhisattvas. You now should listen carefully and I will explain this for you. In this wise should gentlemen and gentlewomen abide in order to generate the aspiration for anuttarasamyaksaṃodhi; in this wise should they quell their minds.”
“So be it, World Honored One; we are delighted and look forward to listening.”
Section 3: The Buddha addressed Subhuti, “All bodhisattva-mahāsattvas should in this wise quell their minds: all species of sentient beings, whether oviparous, viviparous, moisture-born, or spontaneously generated, whether material or immaterial, conscious, unconscious, or neither conscious nor unconscious—I will ferry them all across to extinction by enabling them to access the nirvāṇ that is without remainder (anupadiśeṣnirvāṇ). I will in this wise ferry across to extinction limitless, innumerable, and boundless numbers of sentient beings, but in reality there are no sentient beings to be ferried across to extinction. Why is this? Subhuti, if bodhisattvas retain any conception of a self (āmasaṃñā), a person (pudgalasaṃñā), a living being (sattvasaṃñā), or a soul (jīvasaṃñā lit. “possessing a lifespan”), they are in fact not bodhisattvas.
Section 4: “Moreover, Subhuti. Bodhisattvas should not stay fixed on any sensory object (dharma) during the practice of giving. This is to say, do not stay fixed on visual objects when making offerings; do not stay fixed on auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, or mental objects when making offerings. Bodhisattvas should make offerings in this manner, without staying fixed on any characteristic of an object. Why is this? If bodhisattvas make offerings without staying fixed on any characteristic, the amount of merit they accrue will be inconceivable. Subhuti, what do you think, is the amount of space in the east conceivable, or not?”
“It is not, World Honored One.”
“Subhuti, is the amount of space to the south, west, or north, to the intermediate directions, and to the zenith or nadir, conceivable, or not?”
“It is not, World Honored One.”
“Subhuti, it is exactly the same with the amount of merit accrued by bodhisattvas who make offerings without staying fixed on characteristics: it is inconceivable. Subhuti, bodhisattvas should abide just as I have instructed.
Section 5: “Subhuti, what do you think? Are you able to see the Tathāgata through his physical characteristics?”
“No, World Honored One, it is not possible to see the Tathāgata through his physical characteristics. Why is this? This is because the physical characteristics discussed by the Tathāgata are in fact not physical characteristics.”
The Buddha addressed Subhuti, “Whatever characteristics there may be, all of those are spurious. But if you see that all characteristics are free from characteristics, you will see the Tathāgata.”