The Diamond Sutra and The Work [Random Viewpoints]
We’ve never featured ‘The Work’ of Byron Katie on NDA before and I am not sure why as she has been helping folks for years! The following excerpt is from her latest newsletter, which someone recently passed along to us. I liked the fact that they featured the Diamond Sutra. Below this you will find her commentary.
If you are new to ‘The Work’ or like what you read here, then please check out her site and many resources.
Subhuti said, “Sir, will there always be mature people who, when they hear these words, have a clear insight into the truth?”
The Buddha said, “Of course there will, Subhuti! Even thousands of years from now, there will many people who penetrate into the truth just by hearing these words and contemplating them. People like this, though they may not be aware of it, have not cultivated mental clarity as disciples of only one buddha; they have cultivated mental clarity as disciples of hundreds of thousands of buddhas. When they hear these words and contemplate them, they will see reality in a single moment, clearly, just as it is. Subhuti, the Buddha fully knows and appreciates these people as they wake up to their own true nature.
“How do they do this? Once they see reality clearly, these people never again attach to concepts of self or other. Nor do they attach to concepts of truth or non-truth. If these people’s minds attach to concepts of separate things, they will attach to concepts of self and other. If they deny the existence of things, they will still be attaching to concepts of self and other. So you should not attach to concepts of separate things, and you should not attach to the denial of separate things.
“That is why I tell people, ‘My teaching is like a raft.’ A raft is meant to get you across the sea; once you have crossed the sea, you leave the raft behind on the shore. If even correct teachings must be left behind, how much more so incorrect teachings!”
Commentary [Byron Katie]
The Buddha says that mature people will “see reality in a single moment, clearly, just as it is.” When they see reality just as it is, they immediately realize that there is no such thing as a past or a future. So the hundreds of thousands of buddhas they have studied with all exist in the present moment; these buddhas are the hundreds of thousands of unquestioned thoughts they have noticed and are noticing in their own minds. Each thought is itself; each thought is the Buddha, showing you where not to go. Love meets these illusions, these figments of the imagination, and sings the song of “Not this, not that.” That’s why a mature disciple bows in reverence to every thought as it returns to the nothingness it came from.
The Buddha’s communication in this sutra is impeccable. It is so accurate and fine-tuned that any other words are unnecessary. As I listen to Stephen reading his version to me, I find myself sitting at the Buddha’s feet. I also sit at the feet of anyone who comes to me, and I sit at the feet of a blade of grass, an ant, a speck of dust. When you realize that you are the Buddha sitting at the feet of the Buddha, you find freedom from it all. This clear mind is exquisite. There’s nothing to add or subtract. It’s always here for the student who resides within the Buddha, without a way of residing.
It’s true that there is no self or other. It’s true that there is no truth or non-truth. There are no separate things, and there are no non-separate things. There is no world outside you, and also no world inside you, because until you think there’s a “you,” you haven’t created a world. If you believe there’s a world, you have two: you and the world, and if you believe there’s no world outside yourself, you still have two. But there aren’t two. Two is a creation of the confused mind. There’s only one, and not even that. No world, no self, no substance, only awareness without a name.
There aren’t any truths. There’s just the thing that is true for you in the moment. And if you investigated that, you would lose it too. If you honor the thing that’s true for you in the moment, you live a life without problems. If you don’t honor it, you’re a walking disease. Honoring the truth is a simply matter of keeping to your own integrity.
So-called universal truths fall away too. There aren’t any of those either. The last truth (I call it the last judgment) is “God is everything, God is good.” (I use the word God as a synonym for reality, because reality rules.) You could also say, “Mind is everything, mind is good.” Keep that one, if you like, and have a wonderful life. Anything that opposes it hurts. It’s like a compass that always points toward the center.
The Buddha compares his teaching to a raft that brings people from the shore of suffering to the shore of freedom. He says that that’s its only purpose. When you reach the other shore, you leave the raft behind; it would be ridiculous to strap it onto your back and carry it around as you walk. It’s the same with teachings, he says, even the clearest of them, even this sutra. I love how the Buddha undercuts his own words and leaves you with no ground to stand on.
The Work too is a raft. The four questions and the turnarounds help you move from confusion to clarity. Eventually, through practice, you no longer impose your thinking onto reality, and you can experience everything as it really is: as pure grace. At that point the questions themselves become unnecessary. They are replaced by a wordless questioning that undoes every stressful thought as it arises. It’s a way of meeting the mind with understanding. The raft has been left behind. You have become the questions; they’ve become as natural as breathing, so there’s no longer any need to ask them.
When we reach the other shore, we realize that we have never left the shore we started out from. There’s only one shore, and we are all there, though some may not have realized it yet. We think that we need to get from here to there, but there turns out to be here. It was here all along. When you sit in the state of contemplation, seeing what actually exists, excluding everything remembered or anticipated, the Buddha mind becomes apparent, and you wake up as the unborn. Peace is beyond life and death. If you really want peace, if you understand that self-inquiry goes beyond life and death, then your practice will leave you on the other shore, which turns out not to be the other but the only shore. Thoughts of a different shore were imagination, and when you recognize this, you realize that you have always been on the shore that the Buddha points to.
No raft is needed.