Diamond Sutra – The direct transmission of Mind,

Diamond Sutra – The direct transmission of Mind – 金刚经 – 如是住,如是降伏其心

In the Zen/Chan Buddhist tradition, there is an emphasis on cultivating and transmitting of Mind beyond forms.  In the actual happening of such incidences, the knowledge/experience/realization of the teacher is transmitted directly to the student without the aid of words.   Such was the attempt of the Buddha when asked by his prominent disciple Subhuti in this part of the Diamond Sutra.

Subhuti asked, for those who make their intention to realize full enlightenment, how to subdue their mind? and where to abide?  The Buddha replied, the mind should thus abide and be subdued. .  However, Subhuti did not receive (the non-verbal transmission of the Mind), and followed up saying that he was ready to hear further (the teachings).

In another occasion, in the beginning of another Buddha’s assembly, when everyone was waiting for, and anticipating the Buddha to start speaking, the Buddha raised his hand holding a lotus flower.  Everyone was confused, but the first Patriarch of  Zen/Chan Buddhism, Mahakasyapa, smile back to the Buddha.  Such was the first incidence of Zen/Chan’s direct transmission of Mind.

The Zen/Chan non-verbal transmission, therefore, represents the final stroke of awakening often after prolonged period of study, preparation, and practice.  It is not to be imitated by beginning practitioners, nor can be it imitated successfully.  There is so much truth words and teachings can convey, and beyond that, lies upon the blessings of oneself, the teacher and the universe.

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At the time, the elder Subhuti who was in the assembly, rose from his seat, uncovered his right shoulder, knelt upon his right knee, respectfully joined the palms of his hands and said to the Buddha: “It is very rare, O World Honoured One! how well the Tathagata protects and thinks of all Bodhisattvas; how well He instructs all the Bodhisattvas. O World Honoured One, when virtuous men or women develop the supreme-enlightenment mind, how should their minds abide and how should they be subdued?”

The Buddha said: “Excellent, excellent, Subhuti! “As you say, the Tathagata protects, cherishes and instructs Bodhisattvas so well. Now listen attentively and I will tell you how the minds of virtuous men and women, who develop the supreme enlightenment mind, should thus abide and be subdued.”

(Subhuti replied:) “Oh yes, World Honored One, I shall be glad to hear (your instruction).”在佛家禅宗的传统,其一重点在于不立文字,教外别传。为什么?因为文字虽然只是一种媒体,但在成熟的阶段,单单文字的传播是不足的。老师能直接的传他的知识/经验/直理,到成熟的学生里,这就是佛陀在这段“金刚经“对须菩提的问题(应如何住,如何降伏其心)的最初答覆:




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5 responses to “Diamond Sutra – The direct transmission of Mind – 金刚经 – 如是住,如是降伏其心”

  1. 妮姬 Avatar

    If one opens one’s self up (allows one’s self) to “tune in” to teachings conveyed in silence… them must one also be careful for one will be more open (vulnerable) to receiving other energies as well?

    1. That depends on what channel you are tuning in! Tune in to the Buddha channel, and you will receive Buddha’s vibration; tune in to the Laozi’s channel, and you will receive Laozi’s vibration. Sensitivity to different types of energy though, seems to be an inevitable part of the journey towards Truth, as one seeks to re-own and embrace all towards the source. Steady development of one’s wisdom (mind) and capability to compassionately accept (heart), therefore, are essential to such endeavor.

  2. 妮姬 Avatar

    OK… one opens one’s self up so as to better “tune-in” to those worthy teachings taught in silence, regardless from what tradition they come from. Understood. In this case one chooses to “tune-in” to the teaching or “allow” the teaching to be received… but the question is – does this also put one in a more vulnerable situation where one may be “open” to receiving thoughts/ teachings that one did not intend to tune-in to…. possibly even undesirable transmissions. Is this question pointless and silly for truly how can one receive a teaching in silence that one does not intentionally allow one’s self to receive?

    1. These are legitimate concerns. As one opens up, if one does not have some basic information on what one will, or might encounter, then there will be doubts or fears on what might come out which could block the process. Therefore, a firm realization of one’s center, and some understanding on potential side tracks and temptations, such as described in Chapter 9 of Buddhist’s Shurangama Sutra, will be helpful in dissolving these doubts.

  3. […] to the realization that Mahakasyapa had when Buddha raised the Lotus Flower (see earlier post: Direct Transmission of the Mind).  This is the same realization of all Buddhas and therefore is the source of all their […]

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