My translation of chapter 26 of Diamond Sutra (Dharma body is not a form)
Subhuti, What do you think? Can you use 32 forms (presentations) of enlightenment achievements to judge whether Tathagata (Enlightenment) is being attained?
Subhuti: In our practice, we always use achievements of these 32 forms as guide-posts to work towards Enlightenment (or being Tathagata).
Buddha: If you're right, then highest Merit men like Zhuan Lun sheng Wang 轉輪聖王 will be Tathagata.
Subhuti: In my view then, the achievement of 32 physical forms is not the definitive practice to being Tathagata.
During this time, Buddha said his essential verse:
Seek me not in form
Seek me not in voice
Not Buddha's way
Seek Buddha not
Paul's comment: This is a mythical chapter. Buddhist thinking is that the Buddha can be seen in 32 different forms to signify different levels of Enlightenment. And in practice, as Subhuti mentioned one has to follow these steps of the Buddha's way. Since the Diamond Sutra is the ultimate enlightenment sacred document, the Buddha always looked at the final form for the highest level of Enlightenment. And the final or highest form is no form! Therefore he said: Seek me not in form! On the other hand, he didn't mean one should not take the route of form seeking in the process! Those who "believe" themselves to be highly intelligent oftentimes wrongly believe they can achieve this highest level without going through the steps (the mistakes, unfortunately of many "Zen" practitioners, before, now and in the future!)
One question: Didn't the Buddha and Zen grandmasters talked about instant Enlightenment? Can one get such instant Enlightenment? The way I see it is: One needs to follow the steps, but yet the final ultimate step is still instant Enlightenment. Figuratively speaking, one need the final courage to jump, yet one must be there, at the jumpable ground, in order one has the opportunity to jump! Those who "talk zen" (口頭禪) only were and are never there in the first place!