Buddhism Knowledge and Interpretation(1)

Author: Charles Yeung

Translated by: Yuda Shyu & Peter Shyu

Recently, there’s a report said that someone calls himself a Bodhisattva. For this, ratification is needed especially here to show the public opinion:
『Diamond Sutra』 says:「Subhuti, in like manner, if a Bodhisattva says: “I should lead uncountable living beings to put a stop (to reincarnation) and escape (from suffering)”, he cannot be called a Bodhisattva. Why? Because there is really no dharma called the Bodhisattva (stage). Therefore, the Buddha says: Of all dharma, there is not a single one which possesses an ego, a personality, a being and a life. Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva says:“I should adorn Buddha lands”, he cannot be called a Bodhisattva. Why? Because when the Tathagata speaks of such adornment it is not, but is (expediently) called adornment. Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva is thoroughly versed in (the doctrine of) the unreality of ego and of things (dharma), the Tathagata will call him a true Bodhisattva. 」 (From http://www.xuefo.net/nr/article1/7446.html)

This means: 「Sakyamuni Buddha told his student, Subhuti, that Bodhisattva should also look like the above example. If one thinks or says that one needs to liberate countless living beings, this kind of person actually is not a Bodhisattva. Why? Subhuti, should understand that there’s really no dharma called Bodhisattva. That’s how the Buddha explains dharma; there is not a single one which possesses an ego, a personality, a being and a life. In other words, what Buddha said that dharma should not have any thought of ego, personality, being, time and should not have the idea of space, of course. If a Bodhisattva says: “I should adorn Buddha lands”, he is not qualified as a Bodhisattva. Why? Because Tathagata said that the one who adorns Buddha lands can just do it and let it go after it’s done. One cannot keep thinking that they have adorned Buddha lands before. (Author’s note: what is adorning Buddha lands? Worshiping and respecting Buddha is adorning Buddha lands. Praising Tathagata is adorning Buddha lands. Widely offering, confession of karma baffle, alms-deed of following suit, pleading Buddha to turn the dharma wheel, pleading Buddha to stay in the Saha World, often learning Buddhism, always accommodating to sentient beings, and universal dedication of merits are all adorning Buddha lands. Lenience, mercy, joy and letting go are adorning Buddha lands. Six parami is also adorning Buddha lands.) If a Bodhisattva thoroughly understands the unreality of ego and of things, then the Tathagata will call him a true Bodhisattva.」
Regarding good deeds, should one let people know or not let people know? Vastly different opinions still exists in society.
Confucius’ pupil, Tsze-Kung, paid for the freedom of a slave from Lu Koa with his own money, but refused to accept an official award.
Confucius disliked the above action and said: “Ts’ze has made a mistake. Whatever sages do, they could improve social manners and traditions, could teach public lessens, not just suitable for themselves. Now, there’s more poor than rich in Lu Koa. If people think that it’s a kind of greed to receive an award, how are people going to continue to free slaves? From now on, no one is going to liberate slaves from feudatories.”
Confucius thought, after he heard what Tsze-Kung did, that it’s not right and said: “Tsze-Kung did this wrong. All the sages, no matter what they did, can improve public manners, can teach and guide people how to be good people, and not just feel comfortable for themselves. Now, Lu Koa has less rich than poor. If receiving an award is treated as greed, then, for those people who don’t like to be thought of as greedy and who are not rich, will not liberate slaves any more. Only rich people will do that. If this is so, there’ll be no more money paid to feudatories for releasing people from now on.”
Another pupil, Tsze-Lu, saved a drowning person and accepted cattle from the thankful person. Confucius complimented Tsze-Lu:“More people will be saved from the water in Lu Koa now.” This is saying that more people will be willing to save drowning people from the deep and wide rivers in Lu Koa now!
For the above two events, in a secular point of view, it’s good for Tsze-Kung not to accept an award and bad for Tsze-Lu to accept cattle. Unexpectedly, Confucius praised Tsze-Lu and blamed Tsze-Kung, and said: “Tsze-Lu accepted reward in order to promote morale, while Tsze-Kung showed humility to end a good deed.” According to this view, when someone does good things, to not just watch current effects, but also need to pay attention if their actions will generate spreading drawback; not just talk about the influence for the moment, but need to see the advantage or disadvantage for the long term; not just care for personal gains and loses, but should think over its affects on the public also.
It seems different point of views exist between Confucius and the Diamond Sutra. What are the reasons? It’s not that the sage’s opinions are different, but the public’s characters are different – “There are no expensive or cheap medicines, those that can cure are good; no high or low in dharma, those that fit are good.” This is saying that the price doesn’t decide if the medicine is precious or not, only that when it can cure illness, it’s good medicine. On the same token, there’s no high or low in sage’s dharma, it only depends on if they can solve people’s psychological problems. Those that can resolve people’s mental trouble are good means. Everything lies in “prescribe the right medicine”.
Therefore, people have eighty four thousand worries; there will be different annoyance and suffering in different time and in different place. Buddha established eighty four thousand methodologies to “prescribe the right medicine”.

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