Commentary on Chapter 20 "Apart
from Form and Apart from Marks"
"Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be seen
in the perfection of his physical form?"
"No, World Honored One. The Tathagata cannot be seen in the perfection of his
physical form. And why? The perfection of physical form is spoken of by the
Tathagata as no perfection of physical form, therefore it is called the
perfection of physical form."
"Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be seen
in the perfection of marks?"
"No, World Honored One. The Tathagata cannot be seen in the perfection of his physical form. And why? The perfection of physical form is spoken of by the Tathagata as no perfection of physical form, therefore it is called the perfection of physical form."
"Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be seen in the perfection of marks?"
"No, World Honored One. The Tathagata cannot be seen in the perfection of marks.
And why? The perfection of marks is spoken of by the Tathaga
ta as no perfection of marks. Therefore it is called the perfection of marks."
In seeing the perfect physical body and appearance of the Buddha, Subhuti doubted whether it was the effect of attaining Buddhahood. However, the Buddha reiterated, from the point of view of actual truth, that there was no living being to be taken across, and no Buddhaland to be adorned, which meant that there was no cause, thus no effect to be a Buddha whatsoever. In this chapter, the Buddha pointed out that the Tathagata should not be perceived by means of his perfect physical appearance.
It should be noted that the perfect physical appearance is the fully complete reward body of the Tathagata, but is not his genuine Dharma body. In other words, from the point of view of common truth, the perfection of physical form exists. However, from the point of view of actual truth, there is no perfection of the form body. It is only when speaking from the point of view of the Middle Way that there is a false designation called “the perfection of physical form?
Similarly, the Tathagata could not be seen by means of the thirty-two marks because the Tathagata spoke of the perfection of marks and those who could not transcend common truth took it as real. From the point of view of actual truth, there is no perfection of marks. It is only when speaking from the point of view of the Middle Way that there is a name given to be “perfection of marks? and that is all.
Commentary on Chapter 21 "Spoken yet not Spoken"
"Subhuti, do not say the Tathagata has the thought, 'I have spoken dharma.'
Do not think that way.
And why? If someone says the Tathagata has spoken dharma he slanders the
Buddha due to his inability to understand what
I say. Subhuti, in the dharma spoken there is no dharma which can be spoken,
therefore it is called the dharma spoken."
Then the sagacious Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One,
will there be living beings in the future who will believe this
Sutra when they hear it spoken?"
Then the sagacious Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, will there be living beings in the future who will believe this Sutra when they hear it spoken?"
The Buddha said, "Subhuti, they are neither living beings nor no living beings.
And why? Subhuti, living beings, those living beings, are spoken of by the
Tathagata as no living beings, therefore they are called living beings."
Subhuti doubted that if the Buddha had no forms to be seen, who was speaking the Dharma. In this chapter, the Buddha cut off this doubt by saying that there was really no Dharma to expound.
Dharma is spoken because living beings make discriminations. If we make no discriminations, there will be no Dharma to speak. Moreover, the Buddha speaks Dharma and sweeps it away simultaneously, so that nothing remains. If someone says that the Buddha spoke Dharma, he does not thoroughly understand that the Dharma the Buddha spoke is without any real substance. He only expediently broke up living beings? wrong views and stopped them from making wrong thoughts.
It is interesting to note and important to understand that to deviate from the sutras by one word is to practise the speech of demons; yet to attach to the sutras when speaking is equivalent to slandering the Buddha.
The Buddha is free from all marks, how can one say that “The Buddha speaks Dharma?
The profound Dharma was eventually understood by Subhuti. However, the living beings in future may not believe and receive it. The Buddha cut off Subhuti’s doubt explaining the non-existence of living beings.
As Subhuti had not relinquish his views of the realty of birth and death, past and future, he thought of future living beings. The Buddha pointed out that living beings were fundamentally the absolute and were the same as the Dharma.
Bearing in mind that living beings have the causal conditions to become living beings, therefore they are spoken of by the Buddha as no living beings. They have no real substance and are non-existent on their own, but are called “living beings? and that is all.
Commentary on Chapter 22 "There is no Dharma which
can be Obtained"
Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, is it that the Tathagata in attaining Anuttarasamyaksambodhi did not attain anything?"
The Buddha said, "So it is, so it is, Subhuti. As to Anuttarasamyaksambodhi,
there is not even the slightest Anuttarasamyaksambodhi dharma
which I could attain, therefore it is called Anuttarasamyaksambodhi."
If the Dharma body of the Tathagata had no forms and if no Dharma could be acquired, why was it said that the practices of all good virtues enabled one to attain enlightenment, i.e. Anuttarasamyaksambodhi? In this chapter, the Buddha indicated that there was not even the slightest Dharma which one could attain because the Buddha and living beings were the same and were neither two nor different. Anuttarasamyaksambodhi means this and nothing else.
If something is attainable, it must have been lost. If it was certain that Anuttarasamyaksambodhi had been lost, then one could retrieve it. But actually, one have not lost it. It is what one has always had - one’s own nature, one’s inherent treasure! Therefore, there is nothing that can be obtained.
Commentary on Chapter 23 "The Pure Heart
"Moreover, Subhuti, this dharma is level and equal, with no high or low. Therefore it is called Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. To cultivate all good
dharmas with no self, no others, no living beings, and no life is to attain
Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Subhuti, good dharmas are spoken of by the Tathagata
as no good dharmas. Therefore they are called good dharmas."
Elaborating the concept of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, the Buddha said to Subhuti that there was nothing higher than this Dharma, and there was nothing lower. As this Dharma is level and equal with no high or low, therefore it is called Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.
Although it is called the Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment, it is a Dharma without a mark of self, of others, of living beings and of a life. It is devoid of attachment to self, attachment to Dharmas, and attachment to emptiness.
If we cultivate good and cut off evil, our good roots will increase and grow, Anuttarasamyaksambodhi will be obtained naturally. However, we must not have an attachment to good Dharma either, as it is merely a false name given.
Speaking from the point of view of the Buddha, there are no good Dharmas. Everything is taken as an illusion, a transformation, a dream, a bubble, or shadow - as unreal.