Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra

Vajra Sutra (Diamond Sutra)

■ Detailed Exposition by Living Buddha Lian-Sheng, Grandmaster Sheng-yen Lu

■ Translated into English by True Buddha School Vajra Sutra Translation Team

Two—Subhuti's Request

At that time, the venerable elder Subhuti was present at the assembly. He rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, knelt on his right knee, and with palms joined, respectfully bowed and addressed the Buddha saying, “World-honored One, the Tathagata's sublime mindfulness and entrustment to the bodhisattvas is indeed extraordinary. 

“World-honored One, when good men and good women give rise to the mind of anuttara samyaksambodhi and strive for perfect enlightenment, how should they dwell in their minds and how should they master their minds?”

The Buddha said, “Excellent, Subhuti. As you said, the Tathagata is mindful of the bodhisattvas and entrusts the bodhisattvas. Now listen carefully while I tell you how the mind of good men and women should abide when they strive for the perfect enlightenment of anuttara samyaksambodhi and how they should master their minds.”

“Wonderful indeed is your teaching, World-honored One. I will pay heed to what you say.”

Now I would like to expound on [the Vajra Sutra] Chapter Two—Subhuti's Request.

At that time, the venerable elder Subhuti was present in the assembly. He arose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, knelt on right knee, and with his palms joined respectfully bowed and addressed the Buddha.

Baring the right shoulder and kneeling on the right knee was a tradition in ancient India; it connotes the proper path, the right path and not the deviant or the wrong path.

“World-honored One, the Tathagata sublime mindfulness and entrustment to the bodhisattvas is indeed extraordinary. World-honored One, when good men and good women give rise to the mind of anuttara samyaksambodhi and strive for perfect enlightenment, how should they dwell in their minds and how should they master their minds?”

This question was asked by Subhuti. It means that it is rare indeed that Sakyamuni Buddha was alive in the world. The buddhas always support and help all the bodhisattvas.

“Sakyamuni Buddha, all the good men and good women who give rise to the mind of …” refers to the many devotees who give rise to anuttara samyaksambodhi.

Let me ask everyone. What is the anuttara samyaksambodhi mind? The answer is in four [Chinese] words, and you will receive a gift if you are right. [One master in the audience replied, “Zheng deng zheng jue,” meaning the perfect and highest enlightenment and realization. Grandmaster looked for a gift and gave a prayer bracelet to the master while saying,] And these prayer beads are for you.

Anuttara samyaksambodhi is the unequalled, perfect and highest enlightenment and realization. In this sutra there are many references to the anuttara samyaksambodhi mind, which refers to the mind that strives for the perfect enlightenment. We should generate such mind.

“How should they dwell in their mind? And how should they master their minds?” Subhuti asked. The key here is: where should they dwell in their minds? And how should they master their minds? [Grandmaster repeated anuttara samyaksambodhi in Taiwanese the way his mother said it.] The anuttara samyaksambodhi mind means the mind that strives for perfect enlightenment.

What are good men and good women? Those who give rise to the mind of anuttara samyaksambodhi are referred as “good men and good women.” If one has not given rise to the mind of anuttara samyaksambodhi yet one attempts for the highest enlightenment, then they are not called good men and good women. The meaning of this term “good men and good women” is extremely broad. 

There is also the term upasaka and upasika. Upasaka refers to male buddhist practitioners and upasika to female buddhist practitioners. So any upasaka and upasika who believes in buddhism is referred as good men and good women.

“How should they dwell in their mind? And how should they master their minds?” Subhuti asked. The Buddha replied, “Excellent Subhuti! As you said, the Tathagata is mindful of the bodhisattvas and entrusted to the bodhisattvas. Now listen carefully while I tell you how the mind of good men and good women should abide. When good men and good women give rise to the mind of anuttara samyaksambodhi and strive for perfect enlightenment, how should they dwell in their minds and how should they master their minds.”

Subhuti answered, “Wonderful indeed is your teaching, World-honored One. I will pay heed to what you say.” I am willing and very pleased to hear Sakyamuni Buddha answering my questions.

Regarding supporting and entrusting all the bodhisattvas, Sakyamuni Buddha himself was the Master Adjustor [purusa-damya-sarathi], calling back the ones who got off the track and the ones who were off on deviant paths. What needs to be done for those who did not want to get back on the right track? Let them be! Just like letting the cows graze the grass.

Say, the ghost witch; she wants to worship ghosts. Frankly speaking, I felt sorry for her; she had been cultivating for years on the right path beforehand, then by chance she encountered ghosts and was entranced by them. She took ghost tablets from the ghost temple and brought them back to her residence in Guosing. After Master Lian Dong's father finished renovation at her new place, she moved the tablets to the new place. There were two bhikkunis taking care of the ghost tablets in Guo Hsing and they died! Everyone knows they've died. Dead, right? Selamat? The Indonesian word “selamat” sounds like “is it dead?” [in Chinese]. Selamat as in selamat pagi. Selamat, selamat. [laughter]

Master Lian Dong's father was the one who transported the ghost tablets. He then also got attached by the ghosts. He shaved his head to mimic a samurai—all shaven on the side with a stick [little tuff] of hair on the top. He also burned all the statues from his own altar at home. You know, I needed to spend so much effort and energy to cure him! He had lost his mind! [Grandmaster shook his head with pity.] The ghost tablets are now enshrined in the Guanyin Village, Taoyuan County, Taiwan; it is located inside a protector hall, a room inside one of the two buildings built by the ghost witch. The ghost tablet is now placed there.

She's gotten off the right track and got on the wicked path; she's on the ghost path. I called her back [to the right path], but she did not want to. Since she does not want to return to the right path, then what can we do? [Nothing.] So I just let it be, let the cows graze the grass. You could've corrected yourself and come back, it would've been fine. Right?

That is called the mindfulness, protection and support of the Master Adjustor, who calls upon those on the wrong path and correct those who are off the track. This is what the proper mindfulness and entrustments refer to.

Is there anyone who is not clear on this excerpt? [Grandmaster is asking the audience.]

Good men and good women refer to upasaka and upasika, not just kind people with good hearts. Do not mistake it. You may think that “good men” refers to men with good hearts, and “good women” to kind women. No, good men and good women refer to upasaka and upasika—the ones purposedly trained in the authentic buddhadharma; the ones on the path to attain the highest enlightenment in the future.

People elaborate anuttara samyaksambodhi in various ways. In one example, in Chinese, samyaksambodhi contains the character “three,” so some people associate anuttara samyaksambodhi with the three dantians, i.e., the upper, middle and lower dantian. Some say it is the three kayas, i.e., dharmakaya, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya. Three bodhicitta. Some explained samyaksambodhi as Vairocana Buddha, Locana Buddha and Sakyamuni Buddha.

However, the real meaning of anuttara samyaksambodhi is perfect enlightenment. Don't make it more complicated than what it should be!

[Grandmaster continued with a joke then finished the discourse of the day.]

Om mani padme hum.

 

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