Further to the earlier part of the Sutra “Buddha beyond form and appearance” and “There is no Buddha who attained enlightenment“, this chapter further describes that real Buddha cannot be recognized by its specific 32 characteristics in appearance, and that Buddha has not taught anything.
While some Buddhist scriptures describe Buddha to have 32 characteristics in appearance, it is also a well known scenario that whenever something genuine desired thing (like luxury goods) is known to the world, counterfeit appears as wolf covers in sheep’s clothes. Therefore, when we see a Buddha/Bodhisattva comes with matching characteristics of what the scripture describes, be extra cautous: it could be a genuine perception, or it could be a demon appearing to test you! (refer to Chinese classic fiction – Journey to the West for some example of tests). The Buddha foresaw this and therefore warned us ahead of time not to fall prey to these unreal imagination and counterfeit.
With 40+ years of teaching on earth, the Buddha has left with us many teachings perceived in sounds, words and languages. While sound, words and languages are convenient ways that help us improve and proceed towards truth, ultimate teachings is beyond words and no word, and is beyond the describable “something” that was transmitted between the physical Buddha and his students. Therefore, from the absolute point of view, it is wrong to say that the Buddha had taught us anything, which imply a definable Buddha taught us some limited knowledge!
Real Buddha is beyond form, and no-form;
Real truth is beyond words, and no-word.
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ACCEPTING AND UPHOLDING THE DHARMA OF “THUSNESS”, THIRTEEN
Subhuti then asked the Buddha: World Honoured One, what name should be given to this sutra and how should we receive and hold it (in mind)?”
The Buddha said:This sutra should be called ‘The Diamond prajna-paramita’ under which name you should receive and hold it.
“Why? Because, Subhuti,
the Prajna- paramita as expounded by the Buddha, is not Prajna- paramita but is (merely) so called.
“Subhuti, what do you think Does the Tathagata expound the Dharma?”
Subhuti said: “World Honoured One, the Tathagata does not expound anything.”
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“Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be perceived by means of His thirty-two physical characteristics ( laksanas )?”
“’No, World Honoured One. The Tathagata cannot be perceived by them.
“Why? Because the Tathagata says they are not real but are (merely) called the thirty-two physical characteristics.”