Sans Karma

Twenty-four: Sans Karma

“Again, Subhuti, if one were to pile up seven precious treasures in the three thousand chiliocosms and give them away as a gift, the merit resulting from such an act would be less than that of someone who was to memorize but one stanza from this Vajrachedika Prajna-Paramita and teach it to others. The merit of the latter would indeed be so great that no comparison could be made.”

seven precious treasures: Gold, silver, pearls, coral, cornelian, glass, and crystal

The Buddha now turns to what could be more meritorious than transcending any form of merit itself? Sheng-yi comments:

“To gather as many jewels as all the Mount Sumerus and use them as an offering naturally results in great merit. But it is an offering by the self, and the resulting merit is obtained by the self. This is karmic merit, and such merit doesn’t last. By reciting we gain merit, and by upholding we gain wisdom. By using merit to aid wisdom, we can see the marvelous reality of the dharma body. And after we see our nature, if we explain this to others, others will be able to see their Buddha-nature. The merit from seeing our nature and becoming a Buddha is everlasting and free of karma. It is inexhaustible and endless. How can karmic-merit from an offering of seven jewels compare?” (Red Pine, Diamond Sutra, pg. 365)

This is quite a profound insight; indeed, the greatest of all possible meritorious actions is still an “action” and thus karmic in scope. It will only incur more karma. What possible “action” therefore would not be considered an attribute of karma? Upholding and conveying the import of the Buddhadharma to others is the ultimate “un-action” since it does not stem from one’s personal karmic-self , but rather is a direct intervention by the Tathatic-Spirit Itself. As Bodhidharma says, if one tries to seek outside Mind for Mind it will prove to be a futile undertaking; the Unborn Buddha-Mind is prior to any kind of phenomenal imaginings. One’s Buddha-nature Is As It Is in Itself; realization of this is a direct “turn-about” from all meanderings of the karmic mind and Recollecting the Tathatic-mind. This kind of transcendent-meritorious-seeing is truly “inexhaustible and endless.” The sands of personal-actions, whatever their value, just slip through one’s fingers and pale in comparison; what is everlasting, sans karma, Alone and Absolute, is what matters.

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