(The Sutra of Perfection of Wisdom of the Diamond that Cuts through Illusion: excerpts from this teaching dialogue in which the Buddha questions his disciple, Subhuti).
Q1. Though all the sentient beings to be delivered by me are innumerable and without limit, / in reality, / there are no sentient beings to be delivered. / Why?
A1. Because should there exist in the minds of Bodhisattvas / arbitrary conceptions of phenomena / such as the existence of one’s self / or the self of another / or selfness as divided into beings / or selfness as unified into one universal self existing eternally, / they would be unworthy to be called Bodhisattvas.
Q2. When the Buddha speaks of great universes / does he have in mind any definite idea?
A2. No, When the Buddha uses the words great universes / he does not assert any definite idea. / He merely uses the words as words.
Q3. Is this true for the words Buddha and Dharma?
A3. There are no Buddhas and there are no Dharmas.
Q4. Should a disciple strive to attain Buddhahood?
A4. No, that would mean the disciple is striving to attain something limited. / as in perfect-supreme-wisdom; / but true Buddhahood, whose essence is identical with the essence of all things, / is inconceivable / and beyond all striving.
Q5. How is it possible to explain this sutra without ideas of things and dharmas?
A5. This sutra can only be explained / by keeping the mind in perfect oneness and tranquility.
Q6. Should a Bodhisattva make an assertion / such as “I have entered the stream?”
A6. No. Because / he has not entered anything / nor has his mind entered any idea / such as form sound, taste. odor or touch.
Q7. Because of his virtue / will Buddha be reborn either in this world or any other world?
A7. No. / There will be no rebirth / either in this world / or in any other world. / It is because he knows this / the Buddha is called a Buddha.
Q8. Is there any one who is a fully enlightened one?
A8. No. Should a disciple cherish in his mind an idea such as / “I have become enlightened,” / he would soon be grasping after things / such as his own selfhood, / or other selves, / or a universal self.
Q9. If there is no distinction between one’s own self and the selfhood of others, / how do we practice kindness?
A9. We practice kindness / by giving not only objective gifts / but the selfless gifts of kindness and sympathy.
Q10. Is there any merit for acts of kindness?
A10. Bodhisattvas never seek merit / nor look upon kind acts as private possessions / but as the common possessions of all animate beings.
Q11. What does it mean to say there is no such thing as supreme-perfect-wisdom / and that the Buddha does not teach any fixed dharma?
A11. This means Bodhisattvas are not enlightened by an fixed teaching / but by an intuitive process / that is spontaneous and natural.
Q12. What does it mean to say the Buddha has come or has gone?
A12. This means the Buddha is never coming from anywhere / nor is he going anywhere. / The name Buddha is merely a word.
Q13. Why does the Buddha use words and ideas in his teachings?
A13. The Buddha uses words and ideas in his teaching / in resemblance to a raft, / of use only to cross a river. / As the raft is of no use after the river is crossed, / it should be discarded./ So too ideas about things should be given up as one attains enlightenment.
Q14. Has the Buddha given us any definite teaching in this sutra?
A14. No. The Buddha has not given us any definite teaching in this sutra.
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
“Like a meteor, like darkness,
as a flickering lamp, an illusion,
like hoar frost, or a bubble,
like clouds, a flash of lightning,
or a dream.
So all conditioned existence is to be seen.”