At that time the venerable Subhuti came to that assembly and sat down.
One of the great disciples of Buddha is Subhuti. Then he rose from his seat, says Ananda—and again he repeats the whole thing, because Subhuti is also no ordinary man. He is almost a Buddha, just on the verge of it. Any moment he is going to become a Buddha. So Ananda repeats again:
Then he rose from his seat, put his upper robe over one shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, bent forth his folded hands towards the Lord, and said to the Lord:
‘It is wonderful, O Lord, it is exceedingly wonderful, O well-gone, how much the Bodhisattvas, the great beings, have been helped with the greatest help by the Tathagata.
How then, O Lord, should one who has set out in the bodhisattva-vehicle, Stand, how progress, how control the thoughts?’
Subhuti is almost close to Buddhahood. He is a bodhisattva. Bodhisattva means one who is ready to become a Buddha, who has come almost close to it; one step more and he will become a Buddha. Bodhisattva means bodhi-essence, bodhi-being: ready ninety-nine degrees—and on the hundredth degree he will evaporate. But a bodhisattva is one who tries to remain a little longer at ninety-nine degrees so that he can help people out of his compassion, because once he has jumped the hundred degrees, he has gone beyond…. gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhiswaha. Then he has gone and gone beyond and beyond. Then it will be very difficult to make contact with the people who live on this shore. The greatest help is possible from those who are at the ninety-nine degree point. Why?—because they are still not enlightened. They know the ways of the people who are unenlightened. They know the language of the people who are unenlightened. They are yet with them, and yet in another sense ninety-nine percent they have gone beyond. That one percent keeps them linked, bridged.
So a bodhisattva is one who is close to Buddhahood but is trying to remain on this shore a little longer so that he can help people. He has arrived; he would like to share his arrival. He has known; he would like to share what he has known. Others are stumbling in darkness; he would like to share his light with them, his love with them.
Subhuti is a bodhisattva. Ananda reports about him also in the same way as he reports about Buddha.
Then he rose from his seat…. Just imagine, visualize, a bodhisattva arising. He is utter awareness. He is not just rising like a robot. Each breath is known, fully known.
Nothing passes unknown. He is watchful. What the Catholic tradition calls recollectedness, that is what Buddhists call sammasati—right mindfulness. Mindfulness or recollection, to be recollected, to live recollectedly: sammasati—not to do a single act unconsciously.
He rose from his seat, put his upper robe over one shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, bent forth his folded hand towards the Lord and said to the Lord…
And remember, even a bodhisattva, who has come very close to becoming a Buddha, bows down to the Buddha in utter gratitude.
‘It is wonderful, O Lord, it is exceedingly wonderful, O well-gone….’
Well-gone means one who has gone to the other shore. Subhuti is on this shore, Buddha is on that shore. Subhuti has come to that understanding: he can see the other shore; he can see Buddha on the other shore. ‘O well-gone…’
This word ‘well-gone’ has many meanings. One: one who has reached to the other shore.
Another, one who has reached to the ultimate of meditation. Buddha has said that there are eight steps towards ultimate meditation. One who has reached to the eighth is called ‘well-gone’. But it is the same. One who has reached samadhi, the ultimate samadhi; he has gone to the other shore. He is no more—that is what is meant by ‘well-gone’. Gone, utterly gone. He is no more, he is just an emptiness. The self has disappeared, evaporated.
‘O well-gone, it is wonderful, it is exceedingly wonderful, how much the bodhisattvas, the great beings, have been helped with the greatest help by the Tathagata.
Tathagata is the Buddhist word which means well-gone. Subhuti says, “How much help has been given, how wonderful it is—it is exceedingly wonderful, it is unbelievable how much you have given to us. And you go on giving, and we don’t even deserve it.”
‘… wonderful, O Lord, it is exceedingly wonderful, O well-gone, how much the bodhisattvas, the great beings, have been helped by the Tathagata.
How then, O Lord, should one who has set out in the bodhisattva-vehicle…
One who has decided to remain on this shore a little longer to help people.
… How should he stand, how progress, how control the thoughts?’
What is he asking? He is asking a question which may not be relevant to many of you, because it becomes relevant only when you have become a bodhisattva. But some day, some day or other, you will be becoming bodhisattvas. Some day or other the question will be relevant. It is better to think about it, it is better to meditate over it. He says, “Those who have decided to be bodhisattvas, how should they stand?” He is saying, “The attraction of the other shore is so much, the pull of the other shore is so much—how should they stand on this shore? We would like to help people, but how? The pull is such, the magnetic pull is such—the other shore is calling. So teach us how we can stand here, how we can become again rooted on this shore. We have become uprooted; in this world we don’t have any roots. Ninety-nine percent of the roots are gone.”
Just think of a tree — ninety-nine percent of the roots are gone; only one percent of the roots are there. The tree is asking, “How should I stand now? I am going to fall, and I understand that if I can stay a little longer I will be of immense help to people, and they need it. I was in need—you helped me. Now, others are in need—I should help.” That is the only way a disciple can pay his debt to the master. There is no other way. The master has helped you; the master needs no help—how to pay the debt? What to do? The only thing to do is help somebody who is still stumbling, groping in the dark. Do whatsoever the master has done for you to others, and you have paid your debt.
He asked “How to stand?”—it is difficult, it is almost impossible — and “How to progress, how to start helping people?”—because that too is difficult. Now we understand their miseries are all false. Now we understand that they are suffering just nightmares; their miseries are not true. Now we know they are afraid only of a rope, thinking that it is a snake. Now it is very difficult to help these people. It is ridiculous.
And we know that they need help, because we know our own past. We were trembling, crying, screaming. We know how much we have suffered, although now we know that all suffering was just like a dream, it was illusory; it was maya.”
Just think, if you know that the other person is just talking nonsense, that he has no wounds…. Once a man was brought to me. He had got the idea somehow that two flies had entered into his stomach—because he sleeps with an open mouth. And the flies kept on revolving in his stomach. Naturally, if they have entered they will revolve. He was continuously worried and he was not even able to sit in one posture. He would move to this side and that and he would say, “They have gone to this side, and now they have gone to that side.” He was almost mad.
Now, he had been to all the doctors and nobody was of any help, and they all laughed; they said, “You are just imagining.” But just to say to a person that he is imagining his misery is not of much help, because he is suffering. It may be imaginary to you, but to him it makes no difference whether the suffering is imaginary or real; he is suffering all the same. What you call it makes no difference.
I touched his stomach and then said, “Yes, they are there.” He was very happy. He touched my feet, he said, “You are the only man. I have been to many doctors and physicians—ayurvedic and allopathic and homeopathic—and they are all fools! And they go on insisting on one thing. I tell them, “If you don’t have any medicine simply say that you don’t have any medicine, but why do you go on saying that I am imagining? Now here you are. Can’t you see?”
I said, “I can see perfectly—they are there. I deal in such problems.” I said, “You have come to the right person. This is my whole work—I deal in such problems which don’t exist really. I am an expert in dealing with problems which are not.” I said, “You just lie down and close your eyes. I will have to blindfold you, and I will take them out. And you open your mouth and I will call them. A great mantra is needed.”
He was very happy. He said, “This is how it should be done.” I blindfolded him, told him to open his mouth, and he was lying there, very happy, waiting for the flies to come out. And I rushed into the house to find two flies. It was difficult because I have never caught flies before, but somehow I managed it, and when he opened his eyes and saw those two flies in the bottle he said, “Now give this bottle to me. I will go to those fools.” And he was perfectly okay. But it is very difficult to help such people, very difficult, because you know that their difficulty is all false.
Subhuti is asking, “Lord, first tell us how to stand here, because our roots are gone, we don’t belong to this world any more. Our attachments are gone—they are the roots. And how to progress, to work?—because we now know that this is all just nonsense; people are imagining all their miseries. And how to control thoughts?”
What does he mean? Because a bodhisattva has no thoughts ordinarily—not the thoughts that you have. Now there is only one thought, and that thought is of the other shore… and the other shore continuously pulls. The door is open, you can enter into utter bliss, and you are holding yourself at the door—and the door is open.
First you were searching for many lives for where the door is; then you were knocking and knocking for many lives—now the door is open. And Buddha says, “You wait, you remain outside the door. There are many who have to be helped.” Naturally a great desire to enter, a great passion to enter through the door will arise. That’s what he is asking.
After these words, the Lord said to Subhuti:
‘Therefore, Subhuti, listen well and attentively. Someone who has set out in the vehicle of a bodhisattva should produce a thought in this manner;’
It does not look very good in the English translation. The Sanskrit word is chittopad.
One should create such a mind, such a decision; one should create such a great decision, determination—chittopad in this manner:
‘”As many beings as there are in the universe of beings, comprehended under the term ‘beings’, all these I must lead to nirvana...”‘
“Not one or two, Subhuti, not one or two, but all the beings — men, women, animals, birds, trees, rocks, all the beings in the world. One should create such a determination that ‘I will lead all of them into Nirvana.'”
‘… Into that realm of nirvana which leaves nothing behind. And yet, although innumerable beings have thus been led to nirvana; no being at all has been led to nirvana.’
That too you have to remember, you should not forget; otherwise, leading others, you will fall into ignorance again.
All the beings have to be led to the other shore, and still you have to remember that their miseries are false, so your remedies are also false. And you have to remember that they have no selves; neither do you have any self. So don’t forget; don’t think that you are helping people, that you are a great helper, this and that, otherwise you will fall again.
Again you will grow roots on this shore. So two things have to be remembered. You have to remain on this shore with great determination, otherwise you will be pulled by the other; and yet you are not to grow roots, again otherwise you will not be of any help. You will destroy yourself, you will fall into the dream again.
‘And why? If in a bodhisattva the notion of a “being” should take place, he could not be called a “bodhi-being”. And why? He is not called a “bodhi-being” in whom the notion of a self or a being should take place, or the notion of a living soul or of a person.’
“So you have to remember, Subhuti, two things. One, that you have to lead all the beings to the other shore, and still you have to remember that nobody has a being—neither you nor they. All egos are false and illusory.
“Go on remembering this and go on with great determination. Help people to the other shore. They are already there; you just have to make them alert and aware. But don’t get lost, don’t become a saviour—these two things.”
And again and again Buddha will repeat in this sutra The Vehicle of the Bodhisattva. I would like you all to become bodhisattvas.
Enough for today.
Excerpt from The Diamond Sutra, Discourse #1
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