3 Oct 2007

Study of The Vajra Sutra, a true wisdom

Part of The Vajra Sutra, Tang Dysnaty, AD 868, found in Dunhuang (敦煌) in 1900, now in the British Museum

The complete name of The Vajra Sutra is The Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra , 【金剛般若波羅密經】. It is also named The Diamond Sutra. This sutra is extremely important in Buddhist studies because through its dialogue form it introduces us the true Buddhist wisdom. This wisdom is nothing about worshiping gods; it is a teaching that guides us to look into our very own self and build up strong will so that we can perceive this subjective world with a true objective mind. This wisdom, though Buddhist, is beyond Buddhism; it is a philosophy that applies to everyone, regardless of ethnic, cultural, and religious background, who lives in this material world. Reciting and contemplating on it would help us look at whatever happened with objectivity which means we will not again use our subjective eyes to interpret any physical existence.

Indeed, when we stop interpreting things subjectively, we start to see new possibilities that are blocked by our subjective mind before. Subjectivity is nothing that we can truly abandon. We are human beings with the ability to think, and therefore we can never be truly objective. A subjective mind is always about what we desire. When desire stays in our mind, all we want is to fulfill this desire and the experience of it is loss and unhappiness. Because of the unhappiness caused by loss, we crave more and we are further away from the true wisdom. Lord Buddha stated that clearly in this sutra, and therefore he constantly told his disciple to give up this habit of trying to use our senses to perceive the meaning of dharma. Dharma is such a great wisdom that only when we try our best to be objective could we have the chance to be enlightened by it. This is why Lord Buddha taught us to give up our subjectivity, to learn to be objective. In his opinion, dharma is not a thing that we can crave and get; it is hidden inside all of us. It is a wisdom which we can develop through our contemplation on who we are and what we are.

Being a Buddhist believing in the teaching of Lord Buddha, I have the habit of reciting sutras and mantras. I don't see myself a very clever person who can easily pick up the meaning of these words, but I try my best to learn and understand them. It took me two years to study The Vajra Sutra. I recite it every day and contemplate on the meaning of the verses while I recite them. It truly helps me get rid of my old habit of being extremely subjective. It calms me down and now I seem to be more peaceful than before. I don't get angry easily, and I don't really crave for material satisfaction now. If you put it in a kind of superstitious way of speaking, my studies on Buddhism truly transforms me to be a better person, and it does make my life more easier. However, I firmly believe it is my understanding of these words and verses that leads me to look at myself and the world with different perspectives.

I found these two four-line verses in The Vajra Sutra very interesting and highly inspiring:

One who looks for me [the Buddha or Dharma] in forms,
Or seeks me in sounds,
[Would be] Practices a deviant path
And will never see the Thus Come One [be enlightened by dharma]

All conditioned dharmas
Are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble or a shadow,
Like dew or like a lightning flash.
Contemplate them thus

I am still on my way to be more objective. This is a long journey for personal development. I have started it, and my studies on Buddhism has given me a good belief on it.

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