|SECTION XIV - PERFECT PEACE
LIES IN FREEDOM FROM CHARACTERISTIC DISTINCTIONS
Upon the occasion of hearing this Discourse Subhuti had an
interior realization of its meaning and was moved to tears.
Whereupon he addressed the Buddha thus: It is a most
precious thing, World-honored One, that you should deliver
this supremely profound Discourse. Never have I heard such
an exposition since of old my eye of wisdom first opened.
World-honored One, if anyone listens to this Discourse in faith
with a pure, lucid mind, he will thereupon conceive an idea of
Fundamental Reality. We should know that such a one
establishes the most remarkable virtue. World-honored One,
such an idea of Fundamental Reality is not, in fact, a
distinctive idea; therefore the Tathagata teaches: "Idea of
Fundamental Reality" is merely a name.
World-honored One, having listened to this Discourse, I
receive and retain it with faith and understanding.
This is not
difficult for me, but in ages to come - in the last five-hundred
years, if there be men coming to hear this Discourse who
receive and retain it with faith and understanding, they will be
persons of most remarkable achievement. Wherefore?
Because they will be free from the idea of an ego-entity, free
from the idea of a personality, free from the idea of a being,
and free from the idea of a separated individuality. And why?
Because the distinguishing of an ego entity is erroneous.
Likewise the distinguishing of a personality, or a being, or a
separated individuality is erroneous. Consequently those who
have left behind every phenomenal distinction are called
Buddha said to Subhuti: Just as you say! If anyone listens to
this Discourse and is neither filled with alarm nor awe nor
dread, be it known that such a one is of remarkable
Wherefore? Because, Subhuti, the Tathagata teaches that
the First Perfection [the Perfection of Charity] is not, in fact,
the First Perfection: such is merely a name.
Subhuti, the Tathagata teaches likewise that the Perfection
of Patience is not the Perfection of Patience: such is merely a
name. Why so?
It is shown thus, Subhuti:
When the Rajah of Kalinga mutilated my body, I was at that
time free from the idea of an ego-entity, a personality, a being,
and a separated individuality. Wherefore? Because then when
my limbs were cut away piece by piece, had I been bound by
the distinctions aforesaid, feelings of anger and hatred would
have been aroused in me.
Subhuti, I remember that long ago,
sometime during my past five-hundred mortal lives, I was an
ascetic practicing patience. Even then was I free from those
distinctions of separated selfhood.
Therefore, Subhuti, Bodhisattvas should leave behind all
phenomenal distinctions and awaken the thought of the
Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment by not
allowing the mind to depend upon notions evoked by the
sensible world - by not allowing the mind to depend upon
notions evoked by sounds, odors, flavors, touch-contacts, or
The mind should be kept independent of any
thoughts which arise within it. If the mind depends upon
anything it has no sure haven. This is why Buddha teaches that
the mind of a Bodhisattva should not accept the appearances
of things as a basis when exercising charity. Subhuti, as
Bodhisattvas practice charity for the welfare of all living
beings they should do it in this manner.
Just as the Tathagata declares that characteristics are not
characteristics, so He declares that all living beings are not, in
fact, living beings.
Subhuti, the Tathagata is He who declares that which is
true; He who declares that which is fundamental; He who
declares that which is ultimate. He does not declare that which
is deceitful, nor that which is monstrous. Subhuti, that Truth to
which the Tathagata has attained is neither real nor unreal.
Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva practices charity with mind
attached to formal notions he is like unto a man groping
sightless in the gloom; but a Bodhisattva who practices charity
with mind detached from any formal notions is like unto a man
with open eyes in the radiant glory of the morning, to whom all
kinds of objects are clearly visible.
Subhuti, if there be good men and good women in future
ages, able to receive, read and recite this Discourse in its
entirety, the Tathagata will clearly perceive and recognize
them by means of His Buddha-knowledge; and each one of
them will bring immeasurable and incalculable merit to
SECTION XV - THE INCOMPARABLE VALUE OF
Subhuti, if on one hand, a good man or a good woman
performs in the morning as many charitable acts of self-denial
as the sand-grains of the Ganges, and performs as many again
in the noonday and as many again in the evening, and
continues so doing throughout numberless ages, and, on the
other hand, anyone listens to this Discourse with heart of faith
and without contention, the latter would be the more blessed.
But how can any comparison be made with one who writes it
down, receives it, retains it, and explains it to others! Subhuti,
we can summarize the matter by saying that the full value of
this Discourse can neither be conceived nor estimated, nor can
any limit be set to it.
The Tathagata has declared this teaching for the benefit of
initiates of the Great Way; He has declared it for the benefit of
initiates of the Supreme Way. Whosoever can receive and
retain this teaching, study it, recite it and spread it abroad will
be clearly perceived and recognized by the Tathagata and will
achieve a perfection of merit beyond measurement or
calculation - a perfection of merit unlimited and inconceivable.
In every case such a one will exemplify the
TathagataConsummation of the Incomparable Enlightenment.
Wherefore? Because, Subhuti, those who find consolation in
limited doctrines involving the conception of an egoentity, a
personality, a being, or a separated individuality are unable to
accept, receive, study, recite and openly explain this
Subhuti, in every place where this Discourse is to be found
the whole realms of Gods, Men and Titans should offer
worship; for you must know that such a place is sanctified like
a shrine, and should properly be venerated by all with
ceremonial obeisance and circumambulation and with
offerings of flowers and incense.
SECTION XVI - PURGATION THROUGH SUFFERING THE
RETRIBUTION FOR PAST SINS
Furthermore, Subhuti, if it be that good men and good
women who receive and retain this Discourse are
downtrodden, their evil destiny is the inevitable retributive
result of sins committed in their past mortal lives. By virtue of
their present misfortunes the reacting effects of their past will
be thereby worked out, and they will be in a position to attain
the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment.
Subhuti, I remember the infinitely remote past before
Dipankara Buddha. There were 84,000 myriads of
multimillions of Buddhas and to all these I made offerings; yes,
all these I served without the least trace of fault. Nevertheless,
if anyone is able to receive, retain, study and recite this
Discourse at the end of the last [500-year] period, he will gain
such a merit that mine in the service of all the Buddhas could
not be reckoned as one-hundredth part of it, not even one
thousand myriad multi millionth part of it - indeed, no such
comparison is possible.
Subhuti, if I fully detailed the merit gained by good men and
good women coming to receive, retain, study and recite this
Discourse in the last period, my hearers would be filled with
doubt and might become disordered in mind, suspicious and
unbelieving. You should know, Subhuti, that the significance
of this Discourse is beyond conception; likewise the fruit of its
rewards is beyond conception.
SECTION XVII -
NO ONE ATTAINS TRANSCENDENTAL WISDOM
At that time Subhuti addressed Buddha, saying: World honored
One, if good men and good women seek the
Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment, by what
criteria should they abide and how should they control their
Buddha replied to Subhuti: Good men and good
women seeking the Consummation of Incomparable
Enlightenment must create this resolved attitude of mind: I
must liberate all living beings, yet when all have been
liberated, verily not any one is liberated. Wherefore? If a
Bodhisattva cherishes the idea of an egoentity, a personality, a
being, or a separated individuality, he is consequently not a
Bodhisattva, Subhuti. This is because in reality there is no
formula which gives rise to the Consummation of
Subhuti, what do you think? When the Tathagata was with
Dipankara Buddha was there any formula for the attainment of
the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment?
World-honored One, as I understand Buddha's meaning, there
was no formula by which the Tathagata attained the
Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment.
Buddha said: You are right, Subhuti! Verily there was no
formula by which the Tathagata attained the Consummation of
Incomparable Enlightenment. Subhuti, had there been any
such formula, Dipankara Buddha would not have predicted
concerning me: "In the ages of the future you will come to be a
Buddha called Shakyamuni"; but Dipankara Buddha made that
prediction concerning me because there is actually no formula
for the attainment of the Consummation of Incomparable
The reason herein is that Tathagata is a signification
implying all formulas. In case anyone says that the Tathagata
attained the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment, I
tell you truly, Subhuti, that there is no formula by which the
Buddha attained it.
Subhuti, the basis of Tathagata's attainment
of the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment is
wholly beyond; it is neither real nor unreal.
Hence I say that the whole realm of formulations is notreally such, therefore it is called "Realm of formulations."
Subhuti, a comparison may be made with [the idea of] a
gigantic human frame.
Then Subhuti said: The World-honored One has declared
that such is not a great body; "a great body" is just the name
given to it.
Subhuti, it is the same concerning Bodhisattvas. If a
Bodhisattva announces: I will liberate all living creatures, he is
not rightly called a Bodhisattva. Wherefore? Because, Subhuti,
there is really no such condition as that called Bodhisattvaship,
because Buddha teaches that all things are devoid of selfhood,
devoid of separate individuality.
Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva
announces: I will set forth majestic Buddha-lands, one does
not call him a Bodhisattva, because the Tathagata has
declared that the setting forth of majestic Buddha-lands is not
really such: "a majestic setting forth" is just the name given to
Subhuti, Bodhisattvas who are wholly devoid of any
conception of separate selfhood are truthfully called
Sutra - 1|