Diamond Sutra – Transcending vs. Enduring Hatred
One day, when the Buddha was meditating as a Bodhisattva, king Kaliraja came test the Buddha. He said, ok, now you are practicing the 6 paramitas (charity, precepts, endurance, diligent, concentration, wisdom), let see how enduring and charitable you are! And he start cutting off Buddha’s limbs one by one. The Buddha did not resist, and let Kaliraja cut off his limbs one by one. Not only so, he declared that if Bodhisattva’s compassion is real, the body will resemble by itself. And instantaneously, the body resembled.
How could it be so? In this section of the Sutra, the Buddha explained that at the moment of Kaliraja cutting off his limbs, in his awareness, there was no abiding in the false notion of self, others, beings and immortals (see early post Diamond Sutra – self, others, beings, immortals). Together with high level of practice in concentration and wisdom, the Buddha was not moved and therefore not affected during the test of disembodiment.
Therefore, the Buddha explained that in real endurance, there is actually no “one” enduring any “thing/feeling”, and therefore there is no anger and hatred. In the Daoist tradition, Laozi also recommend transcending hatred over enduring hatred (see earlier post “Daodejing79 – Hatred meditate vs. not rising“.
You may ask, did the Buddha feel the pain? In the process of transcendence, the feeling or sensation could still be there, but there is no “self” who get involved or participate in the process.
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LEAVING APPEARANCES AND STILL CESSATION, FOURTEEN
The Buddha said: “Just so! Subhuti, just so!
If on the one hand, there be a man who listens to this sutra and is not filled with alarm, fear, or dread, you should know that such a person is most rare.
Why? Because, Subhuti, as the Tathagata says,
the first perfection ( paramita) is not so (but) is (merely) called the first perfection (paramita.)
Subhuti, the Tathagata speaks of the Perfection of Patience (ksanti paramita) which is not but is called the Perfection of Patience.
Why? Because, Subhuti, in (a) past (life) when my body was mutilated by Kaliraja,
I had at that time no notion of an ego, a personality, a being and a life.
Why? Because, in the past, when my body was dismembered, if I (still) held the conception of an ego, a personality, a being and a life, I would have been stirred by feelings of anger and hatred.
Is this story meant to illustrate the concept of “non-attahment” and beyond “non-attachment”? “Non-attachment” in the sense of having the ability to fully choose how we react to any given situation as apposed to simply emotionally responding and beyond that in the sense
of if there are no boundaries or differences in any thing or action, but that all is the same, then what does it matter what happens?
If this is the idea, then given that humans have a tremendous potential to make change happen, then how does one resolve the seeming discrepancy between doing and not doing? Surely the example of disembodiment is an extreme example of not doing…. what is the point of this story? He (the Buddha) could… so he did… choose to react as he did?
Remained centered and choose to react or not, yes. Non-attachment to body and self, yes. No boundaries and no difference, all the same – yes only in Buddha’s state of awareness. But not appropriate to be applied readily in the relative world of duality and form (the universal wisdom will take into account the relative rules in the world too, to be universally loving).
If enlightenment implies no-action, then Buddha wouldn’t respond to the king’s aggression, and Laozi wouldn’t leave us any teachings. The point of this story is to illustrate to us, in an extreme and personal way, that one could attain mastery over one’s body and one’s self.
In such state, one transcend the limitation of body and self, and therefore can act according to the divine and natural flow of the universe. If it is the universe’s will for a person to act to make a difference, then it will happen via the person, and vice versa. All we need to do is to let go of our self’s involvement and bias, and to dedicate our actions to the highest good, then all will be done perfectly (Thy Will be done).
Is this story like trying to explain to a line or a square what a sphere looks like? Unless you live in three dimensions, it is difficult to completely comprehend? Unless you are a Buddha, it is difficult to completely understand what the world looks like through the Buddha’s eyes?
The story and the Sutra are actually the line and square which are mentioned to illustrate what a sphere is.
Until we realize we are the sphere that consists of lines and squares, we get stuck in lines and squares.
Until we realize we are the Reality which consists of our limited body, mind and self, we get stuck in them likewise.