Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The wisdom of Diamond Sutra - chapter 30



須菩提言:甚多,世尊。何以故?若是微塵眾實有者,佛即不說是微塵眾。所以者何?佛說微塵眾,即非微塵眾,是名微塵眾。世尊,如來所說 三千大千世界,即非世界,是名世界。何以故?若世界實有者,即非世界,是名世界。何以故?若世界實有者,即是一合相。如來說一合相,即非一合相,是名一合相。須菩提,一合相者,即是不可說,但凡夫之人,貪著其事。

My translation of chapter 30 of the Diamond Sutra: Transiency

Subhuti, if good men and women can view the entire physical world as ashes, do you think there are lots of ashes?

World Holiness, a lot.

If ashes are meant to be fixed and fundamental elements, then Buddha won’t say "ashes". Buddha says ashes, He means at the same time they are not ashes (as a fixed and fundamental concept), but only named as ashes (for the sake of convenience in communication). In the same way, what I just refer to as the entire physical world (previously), I do not mean it as a fixed element, but only named and viewed as such (again for the sake of easier communication). When I refer to the physical world as real, I also mean it to be transient, or a certain label I refer to something changing. If the physical world is considered real, it is real in the sense that its transiency as a result of interacting entities (一合相). Even when Tathagata speaks of Transiency as a result of interacting entities (一合相), He is not talking about a rule or wisdom that is being non-transient. Therefore, the concept of transiency (一合相) is itself a transient concept and a label to facilitate communication only. Subhuti, since everything is transient, it is no use saying anything! But ordinary people covet to listen to teachings of Enlightenment.

Paul's comment: This chapter introduced the Buddhist concept of transiency (一合相). A concept discussed more fully in Avataṃsaka Sūtra ( 華嚴經大疏演義鈔曰:「一合相者,眾緣和合故。攬眾微以成於色,合五陰等,以成於人,名一合相。」). The Buddha understood the impossibility of depending on language to get enlightened. Yet, it seems that common people like to learn the Dharma through language. The Buddha wittily used the word "covet" to describe such inclination! Perhaps He had the foresight to see all "coveting" readers (including me) who study the Diamond Sutra, futilely hoping to get enlightened by reading/memorizing (if not getting actually confused in the process!) a few pages of the Sutra!

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