Detachment

Four: Detachment

“Furthermore, Subhuti, in the practice of generosity a bodhisattva should be unsupported. He or she should practice all the paramitas without regard to sight, sound, touch, flavor, smell, or any other thought construct that should arise. Subhuti, in this fashion a bodhisattva upholds the paramitas without the supportive notion bearing the mark of any kind of a sign. Why? When a bodhisattva practices the paramitas without the added supportive element of a sign-value, his or her merit will outshine any form of conception. Subhuti, what do you think? Can you measure the vast space extending eastward?”

“No, Blessed One, I cannot.”

“Again, Subhuti, can you measure all the space extending toward the south, or west, or north, or above or even below?

“No, Blessed One, I certainly cannot.”

“So then, Subhuti, it is the same with the merit of a bodhisattva who practices the paramitas without cherishing any notional attributes of a given sign; indeed, it is beyond measure like boundless space itself. Thus, Subhuti, a bodhisattva should always persevere one-pointedly in this instruction.”

He or she should practice the paramitas without regard to sight, sound, touch, flavor, smell, or any other thought construct that should arise: the sutra makes reference to the six paramitas, or six “perfections”: generosity (dana), ethical conduct (shila), patience (kshanti), effort (virya), meditation (Samadhi), and wisdom (prajna). The emphasis here is that the bodhisattva should not practice any of these through the skandhic-lens of the body consciousness, but rather exclusively through their direct spiritually transcendent significance, i.e., through the heightened consciousness (Amalya-vijnana) of the Tathagtas. In this fashion, the bodhisattva is free from all constrictions of the body consciousness.

Subhuti, in this fashion a bodhisattva upholds the paramitas without the supportive notion bearing the mark of any kind of a sign: this is reminiscent of Jesus’ saying that this evil generation always seeks for a “sign”. Within the ken of the Spirit-Mind there is no need of any kind of outward mark (sign) that would actually impinge upon Mind’s direct contact with its essential Thatness—tathata. Jesus referred to this as only one particular kind of a sign need be given—the sign of Jonah; this sign signified his own rising from the tomb, as Jonah once rose from the belly of a whale—meaning, a transcendent spiritual victory over defiled material and sensate phenomena. Thus, the Spirit-Mind is far superior to the Material Mind that is always in need of an external sign that it depends upon to justify its existence and all its actions. That’s why this section of the Diamond Sutra continues by stating that the bodhisattva should not place any merit in the “supportive-element” of any form of sign value.

Again, Subhuti, can you measure all the space extending toward the south, or west, or north, or above or even below?: the Buddha is preparing Subhuti to realize that the spiritual-worth of the paramitas is vast and all-pervasive and devoid of any limited material sign-value; it cannot be measured, it is like boundless space itself.

Thus, Subhuti, a bodhisattva should always persevere one-pointedly in this instruction: the Buddha thus seals this spiritual teaching by assuring all bodhisattvas that, with disciplined dhyana with an emphasis upon one-pointedness of Mind, all former inadequate and supportive notions (like outward sign-values) will pale in comparison to the Unborn-Spirit-Mind that is always sufficient in Itself.

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