My rendition of chapter 14: Nirvana without Absolute
Upon hearing this sermon, Subhuti was moved to tears, having deeply understood its meaning and significance. He said to the Buddha: “How remarkable, World Honored One! You have taught us such a profound Sutra. Even though I have long attained the Wisdom Eye, I have never heard such a teaching before. World Honored One, if someone who hears this Sutra gives rise to pure faith, and thus attains the "The true nature of reality" (實相), we should know that this person has achieved the most extraordinary virtue. World Honored One, the "True nature of reality" means it is an Illusion (非相). This is why the Tathagata calls it "True nature of reality".
“World Honored One, having just heard this Sutra, I have no difficulty in believing, comprehending, and following it. But in the ages to come, in the "Last five hundred years" (後五百歲）(Paul's comment: conceptually referring to a future era when consciousness dominates over and above spirituality, like our present time), if there are sentient beings who hear this Sutra, believe, comprehend, and follow it, they will be most remarkable beings. Why? These beings will not be constrained by the false absolute conceptions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or an elder. Why? Because Self is only an illusion. The absolute appearances of a person, a sentient being, and an elder are likewise illusory. Why? Those who can perceive absolutes as illusions are being Buddhas in nature.”
The Buddha said to Subhuti: “So it is, so it is. You should know that if someone who hears the teaching of this Sutra is neither shocked, frightened, nor disturbed, this person is extremely rare. And why? Subhuti, the Tathagata teaches highest Paramita (Paul's comment: Prajñā pāramitā (智慧波羅蜜), wisdom: the highest level of perfection) there is actually no teaching leading to the highest Paramita. Therefore it can be called the highest Paramita. Subhuti, when the Tathagata teaches Kshanti pāramitā (Paul's comment: the third level of perfection: Tolerance 忍辱波羅蜜) there is actually no teaching leading to Kshanti pāramitā. Therefore it can be called Kshanti pāramitā. Why? Subhuti, in a former lifetime my body was mutilated by King Kalinga. At that time, I didn't hold the perception of a (absolute) self, a (absolute) person, a (absolute) sentient being, or a (absolute) elder. Why not? If I had held to an absolute conception of a self, a person, a sentient being, or an elder, when my body was dismembered limb after limb, I would have given rise to feelings of resentment and hatred.
“Subhuti, I also recall that in my past five hundred lifetimes when I was a Rishi-of-tolerance [忍辱仙人] (Paul's comment: in pursuit of Kshanti pāramitā: the third level of perfection: Tolerance 忍辱波羅蜜, the previous reference of mutilation by King Kalinga happened during these 500 lifetimes of seeking perfection in tolerance). At that time, I was also free from the absolute conception of a self, a person, a sentient being, or an elder. Therefore, Subhuti, Bodhisattvas should relinquish all illusory appearances and notions in their resolve to attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment. They should not give rise to any thought or emotion attached to absolute form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or Dharma. They should give rise to a mind without attachments. When a mind takes a certain perspective, it doesn't attach to it as an absolute perspective (Paul's comment: but view it as a transient or illusory perspective). Therefore the Buddha says that a Bodhisattva should practice charity with a mind unattached to any absolute Form. Subhuti, to benefit all sentient beings, a Bodhisattva should practice charity in this way. The Tathagata teaches that all appearances and notions are illusory, and that all sentient beings are not absolute sentient beings.
“Subhuti, what the Tathagata speaks is true, real, and as it is. His words are neither deceptive nor contradictory. Subhuti, the Tathagata's Dharma is neither Absolute nor Empty （無實無虛）. Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva practices charity with attachments, he is like a person in the dark who cannot see anything. If a Bodhisattva practices charity without any attachments, he is like a person under the bright sun with eyes open, seeing all things clearly. Subhuti, if in a future time there are good men and women who are able to recite, remember, comprehend, and follow this Sutra, the Tathagata, with his Buddha-wisdom, will clearly perceive and recognize each one of them as they all achieve immeasurable and infinite virtues.”
Paul's comment: Important lessons
1. This chapter serves a summary to previous chapters
2. This chapter lays down the importance of Tolerance in achieving perfection in Enlightenment
3. This chapter puts forward the important concept of "the Tathagata's Dharma is neither Absolute nor Empty （無實無虛）".