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Learned Audience, all of us have now declared that we vow to deliver an infinite number of sentient beings; but what does that mean?
It does not mean that I, Hui Neng, am going to deliver them. And who are these sentient beings within our mind?
They are the delusive mind, the deceitful mind, the evil mind, and such like minds -- all these are sentient beings.
Each of them has to deliver himself by means of his own Essence of Mind. Then the deliverance is genuine.
Now, what does it mean to deliver oneself by one's own Essence of Mind?
It means the deliverance of the ignorant, the delusive, and the vexatious beings within our own mind by means of Right Views.
With the aid of Right Views and Prajna-Wisdom the barriers raised by these ignorant and delusive beings may be broken down; so that each of them is in a position to deliver himself by his own efforts. Let the fallacious be delivered by rightness; the deluded by enlightenment; the ignorant by wisdom; and the malevolent by benevolence. Such is genuine deliverance.
Khalil Bodhi wrote: I find much to admire and practice in all of the traditions mentioned parenthetically above but the vow to save all beings makes me uncomfortable whether it is a vow made in earnest or a rhetorical device.
The Buddha told Subhuti, “All Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, should thus subdue their minds with the vow,
‘I must cause all living beings – those born from eggs, born from wombs, born from moisture, born by transformation; those with form, those without form, those with thought, those without thought, those not totally with thought, and those not totally without thought – to enter nirvana without residue and be taken across to extinction.’
Yet of the immeasurable, boundless numbers of living beings thus taken across to extinction, there is actually no living being taken across to extinction.
And why? Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva has a mark of self, a mark of others, a mark of living beings, or a mark of a life, he is not a Bodhisattva.
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, living beings, are spoken of by the Tathagata as no living beings, therefore they are called living beings.”
“Subhuti, what do you think? You should not maintain that the Tathagata has this thought: ‘I shall take living beings across.’
Subhuti, do not have that thought. And why?
There actually are no living beings taken across by the Tathagata. If there were living beings taken across by the Tathagata, then the Tathagata would have the existence of a self, of others, of living beings, and of a life.
Subhuti, the existence of a self spoken of by the Tathagata is no existence of a self, but common people take it as the existence of a self.
Subhuti, common people are spoken of by the Tathagata as no common people, therefore they are called common people.
Khalil Bodhi wrote:Hi Everyone,
In the few traditions I have studied within the Mahayana (Soto Zen, Korean Seon and Kagyu), I have noticed and been uncomfortable with the vows to save all beings. I have often wondered where this comes from as the Lord Buddha himself made no such asseveration (at least according to the Pali canon). I find much to admire and practice in all of the traditions mentioned parenthetically above but the vow to save all beings makes me uncomfortable whether it is a vow made in earnest or a rhetorical device.
I would appreciate your thoughts on the question and my apologies if I have offended anyone. Mettaya!
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