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

Three—The Right and Ultimate Meaning of the Great Vehicle

The Buddha told Subhuti, “All bodhisattvas should master their minds in the following way: 

“All sentient beings, whether they are born from eggs or wombs, through moisture or transformation, whether they have forms or not, with or without thoughts, or not completely with thoughts nor without thoughts, I liberate and deliver them to nirvana without remainder. And yet, of the innumerable sentient beings being liberated and delivered, there really is no sentient beings that are liberated and delivered. Why is this, Subhuti?”

Who initiated the tradition of being vegetarian and marking incense scars on the top of a monk's head? None other than Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty. It's all because of Emperor Wu that vegetarianism and incense scarring exist in Chinese Buddhism.

Now onto “born through transformation.” What is meant by born through transformations? They are transformed from the air. The Covid-19 virus comes from the air. It transforms; it is capable of mutations. If you isolate yourself at home, you mutate to become fat and swollen [which is a homophone of mutation]. [Laughter] When different factors combined, transformations take place. That's born through transformation. 

Moreover, there are births from wombs. We humans are born from a womb, as are many animals. Some are born from eggs, such as most birds. Animals are either born from wombs, eggs, or through moisture. Why does the sutra mention the four forms of birth? This has to do with “equality.”

…whether they have forms or not, with or without thoughts, or without thoughts and no-thoughts, I will liberate and deliver them to nirvana without remainder.

It is about equality—the equality of liberation and deliverance. What is nirvana without remainder? I have talked about this. Who will raise their hand to answer what is nirvana without remainder? I have talked about it! You don't remember what it is? In nirvana without remainder, there are no causes and conditions to be born or to die, that is one will never be born again, therefore one will never die. This is called “nirvana without remainder.” Your memory is even worse than this old man sitting here, who has bad memory. [sigh]

…whether they have forms…

What does “form” mean? Here, form does not refer to lust. [Grandmaster jokes in Cantonese about loving sex or tasting good, as they sound similar.] Tangible means with form. Intangible means without form. What doesn't have form? Something like viruses or germs. Can you see viruses and germs with the naked eye? They are intangible. However, we now know coronavirus does have a form. It's round and it wears a crown. You can see it under a microscope. At one time, the coronavirus was considered intangible. A ghost also has no form. The bardo spirits are also formless.

…with or without thoughts… 

Those with thought and those without thought. What sort of things are without thoughts? Even plants have thoughts. Rocks have no thoughts, or have they? Strictly speaking, they do have thoughts. Look at gems and jewels. They have a magnetic field. If you cut them in half, their magnetic field will decrease. They won't shine anymore, or half will shine and the other half won't. This can be proven scientifically. It's hard to find anything that is without thought. 

…without thoughts and no-thoughts…

It is not with thoughts, and it is also not without thoughts. It's in between. Or sometimes with thoughts, sometimes without. 

Sakyamuni Buddha liberates and delivers them to nirvana without remainder. I just explained the meaning of nirvana without remainder as no causes and conditions to be born or to die. Liberation means extinction, [extinction or ending of suffering] which is one of the Four Noble Truth. 

…liberate and deliver...

Talking about the last phrase in this excerpt, “liberate” is like the extinction in the Four Noble Truth, and “deliver” is the guiding of sentient beings onto the path. 

…I will liberate and deliver innumerable sentient beings...

The number of sentient beings liberated and delivered were innumerable, infinite and boundless. There was a person, a bodhisattva who wanted to do just the same. Who was that? He vowed in front of numerous buddhas, “I want to deliver all sentient beings. If I don't deliver them, if I don't carry out this vow, may my head split open.” 

It was Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva who made this vow before all the buddhas! It is said that the number of buddhas present was equal to one billion kotis. One koti equals to one hundred million. In front of these innumerable buddhas, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva vowed to deliver all sentient beings. He further vowed that if he should fail and abandon this vow, his head would split into ten pieces. Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva made this vow. He is extremely compassionate, and he delivers the most sentient beings. 

That's all for today. Om mani padme hum.