Diamond Sutra – how does Bodhisattva do charity?
Last week we learn that Bodhisattva does not cling to the notion of self, others, beings, and immortality. This week we learn that Bodhisattva not only transcends the above 4, but also continue to serve through charity.
In Buddhism continuous service and virtue are essential to complete the process of cultivation and enlightenment, even for enlightened beings such as Bodhisattva. How does one serve without the notion of a self serving? Here we can use our knowledge of non-doing from Taoism: doing without the selfish idea of someone doing the charity. Internally, the process could be observed as follows:
1) Conditions/invitations to service
2) agree or alignment to service
3) completion of service and move on
Let’s say one see an old lady crossing the street needing help. One approaches and offer the help, helps the old lady to cross the street, and then smiles good bye to the old lady after crossing the street. The self could be presence, but one is driven by intention to serve which is beyond one’s self, i.e. one does not drive the action, one merely agrees, surrenders into it, and then retires when the action is done.
Therefore, if one maintains centered and focused throughout the process, it is possible that service be done without the intervention of, or claiming credit by the self. This is how charity work is done by Bodhisattva and Taoist sages.
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WONDERFUL PRACTICE IS TO NOT RELY ON ANYTHING, FOUR
“Furthermore, Subhuti, a Bodhisattva’s mind should not abide anywhere when giving alms; that is to say, he should give without a mind abiding in form, or he should give without a mind abiding in sound, or in smell, or in taste, or in touch or in things. Subhuti thus a Bodhisattva should give alms without a mind abiding in false notions of form (laksana) “Why? (Because) if a Bodhisattva’s mind does not abide in forms. (laksanas) when practicing charity (dana), his merit will be inconceivable and immeasurable. Subhuti, what do you think? Can you think of and measure the extent of space in the East?”
“I cannot, World Honored One!
“Subhuti, can you think of and measure (all) the extent of space in the South, West and North, as well as in the intermediate directions, including the zenith and nadir?”
“I cannot, World Honoured One!”
“Subhuti, (when) a Bodhisattva practices charity without a mind abiding in forms, his merit is equally inconceivable and immeasurable. Subhuti, a Bodhisattva’s mind should thus abide as taught.