The Diamond Sutra and The Sutra of Hui-neng

The Diamond Sutra and The Sutra of Hui-neng

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by A. F. Price
     
 

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The Diamond Sutra, composed in India in the fourth century CE, is one of the most treasured works of Buddhist literature and is the oldest existing printed book in the world. It is known as the Diamond Sutra because its teachings are said to be like diamonds that cut away all dualistic thought, releasing one from the attachment to objects and

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Overview

The Diamond Sutra, composed in India in the fourth century CE, is one of the most treasured works of Buddhist literature and is the oldest existing printed book in the world. It is known as the Diamond Sutra because its teachings are said to be like diamonds that cut away all dualistic thought, releasing one from the attachment to objects and bringing one to the further shore of enlightenment. The format of this important sutra is presented as a conversation between the Buddha and one of his disciples. The Sutra of Hui-neng, also known as the Platform Sutra, contains the autobiography of a pivotal figure in Zen history and some of the most profound passages of Zen literature. Hui-neng (638–713) was the sixth patriarch of Zen in China, but is often regarded as the true father of the Zen tradition. He was a poor, illiterate woodcutter who is said to have attained enlightenment upon hearing a recitation of the Diamond Sutra. Together, these two scriptures present the central teaching of the Zen Buddhist tradition and are essential reading for all students of Buddhism.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780834826090
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
08/28/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
799,121
File size:
1 MB

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Chapter 5: Dhyana

The patriarch [one day] preached to the assembly as follows:

In our system of meditation, we neither dwell upon the mind [in contradistinction to the essence of mind] nor upon purity. Nor do we approve of nonactivity. As to dwelling upon the mind, the mind is primarily delusive; and when we realize that it is only a phantasm there is no need to dwell on it. As to dwelling upon purity, our nature is intrinsically pure, and so far as we get rid of all delusive ideas there will be nothing but purity in our nature, for it is the delusive idea that obscures tathata [suchness]. If we direct our mind to dwell upon purity we are only creating another delusion, the delusion of purity. Since delusion has no abiding place, it is delusive to dwell upon it. Purity has neither shape nor form; but some people go so far as to invent the "form of purity," and treat it as a problem for solution. Holding such an opinion, these people are purity-ridden, and their essence of mind is thereby obscured.

Learned Audience, those who train themselves for imperturbability should, in their contact with all types of men, ignore the faults of others. They should be indifferent to others' merit or demerit, good or evil, for such an attitude accords with the imperturbability of the essence of mind. Learned Audience, a man unenlightened may be unperturbed physically, but as soon as he opens his mouth he criticizes others and talks about their merits or demerits, ability or weakness, good or evil; thus he deviates from the right course. On the other hand, to dwell upon our own mind or upon purity is also a stumbling block in the path.

The patriarch on another occasion preached to the assembly as follows:

Learned Audience, what is sitting for meditation? In our school, to sit means to gain absolute freedom and to be mentally unperturbed in all outward circumstances, be they good or otherwise. To meditate means to realize inwardly the imperturbability of the essence of mind.

Learned Audience, what are dhyana and samadhi? Dhyana means to be free from attachment to outer objects, and samadhi means to attain inner peace. If we are attached to outer objects, our inner mind will be perturbed. When we are free from attachment to all outer objects, the mind will be in peace. Our essence of mind is intrinsically pure, and the reason why we are perturbed is because we allow ourselves to be carried away by the circumstances we are in. He who is able to keep his mind unperturbed, irrespective of circumstances, has attained samadhi.

To be free from attachment to all outer objects is dhyana, and to attain inner peace is samadhi. When we are in a position to deal with dhyana and to keep our inner mind in samadhi, then we are said to have attained dhyana and samadhi. The Bodhisattva-shilasutra says, "Our essence of mind is intrinsically pure." Learned Audience, let us realize this for ourselves at all times. Let us train ourselves, practice it by ourselves, and attain buddhahood by our own effort.

Chapter 25: The Illusion of Ego

Subhuti, what do you think? Let no one say the Tathagata cherishes the idea "I must liberate all living beings." Allow no such thought, Subhuti. Wherefore? Because in reality there are no living beings to be liberated by the Tathagata. If there were living beings for the Tathagata to liberate, he would partake in the idea of selfhood, personality, ego entity, and separate individuality.

Subhuti, though the common people accept egoity as real, the Tathagata declares that ego is not different from nonego. Subhuti, those whom the Tathagata referred to as "common people" are not really common people; such is merely a name.

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