Diamond Sutra – understanding can be sudden, which sweeps away all mental blockages, practice is not sudden, which get perfected in stages
After expounding that real Buddha is beyond image and sound, the all compassionate Buddha reminds us that real Buddha does not mean no image and no sound either, and that we should not satisfy with just the proper understanding of truth and should diligently practice it in our life.
Why did the Buddha say so? Because our mind likes to attach itself to dualistic opposites: when someone say of something, we immediately follows the “something”; when someone say of nothing, we immediately follows the “nothing”. In reality, we are neither “something” or “nothing”, neither the content or context, neither the teaching or non-teaching, this is the essence of Zen (Chan).
Secondly, after getting the above proper understanding, it is tempting for our mind to declare victory and say that, ok, we have got it now, we have arrive the final destination, and that there is no more work need to be done, nor anyone there to do anything anymore. Is it really so? Only your honest self could tell. What we usually find in the history and even nowadays, is that many students and teachers had fallen into this side track understanding, became an “enlightened” person in understanding, but lack honesty, virtue and diligent to make further progress (if not recline). This is why the Buddha said while perfect appearance doesn’t necessary implies Buddhahood, to claim the lack of it (appearance an virtue) is Buddhahood is wrong either.
In actual practice, there are standard stages of transformation one would go through, which are reported by advanced masters across different traditions and geographical regions. In the Buddhist tradition, a detailed report of truth and roadmap towards it is provided in the Shurangama Sutra (see suggested Buddhist readings).
Therefore, the Shurangama Sutra saids, “理即顿悟, 乘悟并消；事非顿除, 因次第尽” (understanding can be sudden, which sweeps away all mental blockages, practice is not sudden, which get perfected in stages).
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NOT DESTROYED NOR ANNIHILATED, TWENTY-SEVEN
“Subhuti, if you have ( in your mind) this thought: ‘The Tathagata does not rely on His possession of characteristics to obtain supreme Enlightenment,’
“Subhuti, banish that thought.
“Subhuti, if you think it while developing the Perfect Enlightenment Mind, you will advocate the annihilation of all Dharmas.
“Do not have such a thought. Why?
“Because one who develops the Supreme Enlightenment Mind, does not advocate the annihilation (of things).