My translation of Chapter 23 of Diamond Sutra: Morality without the burden of morality
Moreover, Subhuti, all Dharma-routes to Enlightenment are equal, no higher, no lower. They are all called Bodhi Enlightenment. As long as one keeps the state of being no self, no people, no sentient being, no longevity, any Dharma route based on morality can ultimately enable one to attain Bodhi Enlightenment.
However Subhuti, please be reminded that, when I say any Dharma route based on morality, I also mean one must not have the feeling of being on high-moral ground, I just use the label to point to the right direction.
Paul's comment: This is an important chapter easily overlooked by casual readers. Two important issues are raised:
1. In Buddhist teachings there are two methods: The instant/quick method (頓法) vs. The step-by-step/slow method (漸法). The Diamond Sutra belongs to the former. Although it was said to be targeted to the most intelligent, here the Buddha put its value to be on-par with step-by-step slower method for the average Buddhists. It has however to be reminded that The instant/quick method has two aspects: One intellectual and one experiential. The Diamond Sutra belongs to the former. Experiential refers to meditative practice.
2. Two fundamental requirements of Buddhist practice are stressed: firstly, without fixation to anything (no self, no people, no sentient being, no longevity). It echoes the following important verse in Chapter five of the Diamond Sutra (凡所有相,皆是虛妄,若見諸相非相,即見如來。):
Every perception is illusion
instead of absolute
You are in one with Tathagata, when
you can see illusion out of absolute
Secondly, morality is a prerequisite to any Enlightenment. A corollary is that the following ability is not a necessary conditions of being intellectually enlightened: I mean the ability to invent/create/say witty Zen-like, Tao-like or wisdom-like talks - which incidentally, for whatever reasons, is quite prevalent among contemporary intellectuals who love to be considered by others as on spiritual high-ground!