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The Vajra (Diamond) Sutra

January 28 lecture©
as explained by a Buddhist monk
(Listen ‘live’ or recorded at www.wondrousdharma.org)

Q&A Spontaneity, causes and conditions and


karma
Q&A Teaching a person who doesn’t believe in a
future life.
S 25 Transforming without there being anyone
transformed

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Verse for opening a sutra
• Homage to the Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra and the
Vajra assembly of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (3x)

• The unsurpassed, deep, profound, subtle, wonderful


Dharma,
• In a hundred thousand million eons, is difficult to
encounter,
• Now that I’ve come to receive and hold it, within my
sight and hearing,
• I vow to fathom the Thus Come One’s true and
actual meaning.

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Q&A
Question: A person suddenly becomes terminally ill. This
person has lived a healthy lifestyle and is a good natured
person. Yet he is now diagnosed as having a terminal
illness. How do we explain for this unfortunate situation?”
Answer:
• This unfortunate situation is falsely thought to occur
randomly or spontaneously.

• Non Buddhists or atheist share the same view that the


terminal disease was spontaneous that he was randomly
exposed to air borne, water borne or some other
contaminations.

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Q&A
• Random and spontaneous occurrence seems to be
plausible explanation for those who don’t understand
that we have been born and reborn for many countless
lives.

• Then the Buddha introduces the principle of causes and


conditions. That the cause of his terminal illness is due
to causes planted in the past which may be in past lives
such that the person is now undergoing a retribution for
a seed planted in the past caused by his own actions.

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Q&A
• After introducing this teaching on conditioned existence,
the Buddha then also explained unconditioned
existence. (S 7 of the Vajra Sutra)

• The Buddha began to explain that “the Appearance of


Reality is without appearance.” (S 14 of the Vajra Sutra)

• Every cause in the first place has no cause. The cause


arose out of ignorance.

• When you are awakened to your inherent wisdom, you


will not create cause for the occurrence of conditioned
existence.
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Q&A
• Therefore causes and conditions is half of reality; the
other half is that there is no cause in the first place.

• This is the true meaning of the law of karma in that


karma is created either in ignorance or without ignorance
anymore.

• The cause of his terminal illness is due to karma; it was


a ripening of ignorant action in the past.

• Yet we should not ignore conditioned existence and cling


onto the unconditioned or emptiness.

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Q&A
• The Buddha finally introduces the wisdom of the
Buddha that this teaching is level and equal; without
high or low. (S23 of the Vajra Sutra)

• Conditioned existence is treated equally as the


unconditioned so long as you understand and take both
existences for what they are.

• This is prajna wisdom. This is true emptiness.

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Q&A
Question: Someone I know don’t believe that there is cycle of
birth and rebirth. He believes that there is no life after the
end of this life. How do I convince him?
Answer:
• Here the person subscribes to erroneous view of
annihilation.

• Because he erroneously claim there are no future


lifetimes, he is putting people as no different than
grasses and trees which are naturally born and naturally
die.

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Q&A

• He fails to understand that the reason why we are born


in future lifetimes is because of the karma we create
being carried forward into future lifetimes.

• Because he believes in annihilation, he sees this


lifetime as existing; he only claims there is no future
lifetimes.

• There is therefore a tendency to avoid doing


wholesome deeds and tends to be self benefiting.

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Q&A
• It is unclear whether this person is refuting cause or
refuting effect or refuting both cause and effect within
this life time.

• If this is the case, ask him how would he explain for the
scenario of the previous question?

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Q&A
• Does he belief that when a person studies diligently,
then he will have more better grades and better
education and thus better job opportunities?

• If so, then he should subscribe to cause and effect

• causes takes time and situation to ripen and thereby


opens up the acceptance of future lifetimes.

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Q&A

• People do not understand that this physical body is a


retribution body.

• Our body is an appearance when conditions ripen; and


so it will disappear when conditions end. This is the
reason why the Buddha says in s14…

• s 14 “all living beings are actually not living beings.


Subhuti, the Thus Come One speaks the truth. He
speaks factually. He speaks of things as they really are.
He never deceives nor are his words peculiar.

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Q&A
• Therefore this present lifetime is empty because we
bring along our karma but not our present body.

• Yet if we overturned ignorance into wisdom, then we are


no longer bound by this samsaric cycle of birth and
rebirth though there could be some residual defilement
maturing.

• Because there is no ignorance, we no longer create


karma for birth in the cycle of birth and rebirth.

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Q&A

• Nevertheless having learned prajna wisdom, we don’t


have any expectation in teaching others because true
emptiness is not to refute his erroneous views nor to
overturn his erroneous views.

• We teach but we should produce a mind that does not


attach to anything (s10)

14
Q&A
• True emptiness is to take matters for what they are without
rejecting the false nor claiming the true is superior over the
false. S13 on the principle of the Middle Way applies here.

• This principle accords with the anuttarasamyaksambodhi


where everything is level and equal without high or low (s23)

• And “all dharmas are Buddhadharma” (s17) meaning it is a


matter of how ultimate your understanding is; even the not
so ultimate is within Buddhadharma.

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Q&A
• Here is a Buddha’s teaching on King Mahanaman:
• The King said to the Buddha: “The population of
Kapilavastu is huge. Sometimes when I encounter a
speeding chariot, a runaway horse, a berserk elephant,
or battling people, I lose focused on mindfulness of the
Buddha. At these times, I think to myself, “If I died now,
where would I be reborn?”
• The Buddha told the king:
“You should not be frightened or fearful. At such time,
you would not be reborn in one of the evil destinies. You
would certainly be reborn in a good place. This is
analogous to a tree which has always leaned well to the
east. If there is someone who cuts it down, it will
certainly fall toward the east.”
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Q&A

• The situation is identical in the case of a person who is


good. In an instance where the body is destroyed and
one then dies, because throughout the long night, the
mental (karmic) consciousness of the wholesome mind
has imbued the mind with faith, morality, learning, giving,
and wisdom, one will certainly gain benefit of it and thus
attain rebirth in the heavens”

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S 25 Transforming without there being anyone transformed.
Sutra: Subhuti, although the Thus Come One speaks of
the existence of a self, there is really no self that
exists.
Comments:
• When the Buddha “speaks of the existence of a self” he
is referring to the “self without a self”.
• The self in this context is merely a description.

• Why is there no self?


• This retribution body is a possession; not our true self.
• We change our retribution body from life to life
depending upon the karma but our true self remains the
same.
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S 25 Transforming without there being anyone transformed.

Sutra: Subhuti, although the Thus Come One speaks of


the existence of a self, there is really no self that
exists.
Comments:
• There is really no self that exists” is teaching the
principle of emptiness of people.
• In the Sutra on the encounter of King Bimbisara: The
Buddha told the great king:
• When form is produced, it is only emptiness which is
being produced.
• When form is destroyed, it is only emptiness which is
being destroyed.
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S 25 Transforming without there being anyone transformed.

• When karmic conditions are produced, it is only


emptiness which is being produced.

• When karmic conditions end, it is only emptiness which


is being destroyed.

• There is herein no self, no person, and no spiritual soul.

• There is no person who goes from this life into future life
except for the cause and effect.

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S 25 Transforming without there being anyone transformed.

• This being or person [in this present life] consists only of


names and such.

• The foolish person pursues reality by chasing after


names.”

• This foolish person is referred to as the common people


in the following sentence.

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S 25 Transforming without there being anyone transformed.

Sutra: However, common people think they have a self.


Comments:
• People mistakenly think that this body is a true self.

• And so they guard their reputation as if a yak caring for


its tail.

• Getting out of the samsaric cycle of birth and rebirth


requires us to revamp our thinking. We have to put down
the false and the true will be revealed by itself.

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S 25 Transforming without there being anyone transformed.
Sutra: Subhuti, the common people that the Thus Come
One speaks of are not common people. Therefore
they are called common people.
Comments:
• Common people are not really common people; they are
just confused people clinging onto a false self.

• Common people think they have a self; there is no self


but a possession; a retribution body.

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S 25 Transforming without there being anyone transformed.

• A retribution body appears or comes into being when


conditions arise; and disappears when conditions end.
S14 says that
• Hence the Buddha says, common people are not
common people.
• This is similar to s 14 “all living beings are actually not
living beings. Subhuti, the Thus Come One speaks the
truth. He speaks factually. He speaks of things as they
really are. He never deceives nor are his words peculiar.
• Because this misperception is commonly held, such
people are called common people

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S 25 Transforming without there being anyone transformed.
Sutra: Why? In fact the Thus Come One does not save any
living beings. If the Thus Come One saved living beings,
then the Thus Come One would have a sense of a self,
others, living beings and a life.
Comments:
• Equivalent in s 3 – “Yet of the immeasurable, numberless,
boundless numbers of living beings thus taken across to
Cessation, there is actually no living beings taken across
to Cessation. Why? Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva has an
appearance of self, others, living beings or a life, he is not
a Bodhisattva.”
• Equivalent in s 17 – Yet when all living beings has been
taken across to Cessation, actually no living beings has
been taken across to Cessation. Why? Subhuti, if a
Bodhisattva has an appearance of self, others, living 25
beings or a life, he is not a Bodhisattva.”
“If the Buddha S 3 Orthodox S 17 Ultimately there is S 25 Transforming
saved living doctrine of the no self without there
beings, he Great Vehicle being anyone
would have the transformed
4 appearances. (there is no self) (there is no others)
There are 3 He is not a He is not a bodhisattva if There is really no
sections of the bodhisattva if he he has 4 appearances self that exists.
Vajra Sutra has 4 when saving living beings. This is just a false
where it states appearances retribution body.
the equivalent when saving living Perceive living
beings. beings as no beings.
of
“The Buddha did Because all living
not save living beings have the inherent
beings” But each wisdom; so there should
section reveals not be 4 appearances.
different There is no such thing
principles as bodhi resolve in the
first place
Note: the 4 Not only there is no 4
appearances are appearances, there is no
the mark of self, such thing as a
others, living bodhisattva in the first 26
beings and a life place.
S 25 Transforming without there being anyone transformed.
Question: Why are we analyzing the principles of the Vajra Sutra?
Answer by Nagajurna Bodhisattva:
• In some cases, there may be those who gain a penetrative
understanding of the true character of dharmas entirely apart
from the practice of the other 5 Paramitas, this being
accomplished simply through:
1. Listening,
2. Reading,
3. Reciting
4. Contemplating and
5. analyzing.
• In a case such as this, it is based on these provisional
approaches to developing wisdom that prajna paramita is born.
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Dedication of merit
• May every living beings,
• Our minds as one and radiant with light
• Share the fruits of peace, with heart of goodness
luminous and bright.
• If people hear and see, how hands and hearts can find in
giving unity
• May their minds awake, to great compassion, wisdom
and to joy.
• May kindness find reward; may all who sorrow leave their
grief and pain;
• May this boundless light break the darkness of their
endless night.
• Because our hearts are one, this world of pain turns into
paradise;
• May all become compassionate and wise (2x) 28