And why? Because, Subhuti, in these bodhisattvas no perception of a self takes place, no perception of a being, no perception of a soul, no perception of a person. Nor do these bodhisattvas have a perception of a dharma, or a perception of a no-dharma. No perception or non-perception takes place in them.
And why? If, Subhuti, these bodhisattvas, should have a perception of either a dharma, or a no-dharma, they would thereby seize on a self, on a being, on a soul, on a person.
And why? Because a bodhisattva should not seize on either a dharma or a no-dharma. Therefore this saying has been taught by the Tathagata with a hidden meaning: “By those who know the discourse on dharma as like unto a raft, dharmas should be forsaken, still more so, no-dharmas.”
The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, is there any dharma which the Tathagata has fully known as “the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment,” or is there any dharma which the Tathagata has demonstrated?
Subhuti replied: No, not as I understand what the Lord has said. And why? This dharma which the Tathagata has fully known or demonstrated – it cannot be grasped, it cannot be talked about, it is neither a dharma nor a no-dharma. And why? Because an absolute exalts the holy persons.
To recapitulate…in the last sutra Subhuti asked: “Will there be any beings in the last epoch, at the time of the collapse of the good doctrine, who will be able to understand the dharma?”
Buddha said: “Do not speak thus, Subhuti! Yes, even then there will be beings who will understand the truth. Even one single thought of serene faith is enough to transform a man.” Known they are, Subhuti, to the Tathagata through his Buddha-cognition. Seen they are, Subhuti, by the Tathagata with his Buddha-eye, fully known, Subhuti, they are to the Tathagata.
A few things to be understood, then it will be easy to enter into today’s sutra. First, the good doctrine, the dharma. Buddha calls a doctrine good if it is not a doctrine. If it is a doctrine it is not a good doctrine. Buddha calls a philosophy good philosophy if it is not a philosophy. If it is a philosophy then it is not good philosophy.
A doctrine is a set, fixed phenomenon. The universe is in flux; no doctrine can contain it. No doctrine can be just to it, no doctrine can do justice to existence. All doctrines fall short.
So Buddha says: “My doctrine is not a doctrine but just a vision. I have not given you any set rules, I have not given you a system.” He says: “I have only given you an approach towards reality. I have only given you the keys to open the door. I have not said anything about what you will see when you open the door. Nothing can be said about it.”
Just think of a man who has lived always in a dark cave, who knows nothing of light, who knows nothing of color, who has never seen the sun or the moon. How can you tell him about the rainbows? How can you talk to him about stars? How can you describe roses to him? It is impossible. And whatsoever you say to him, if he understands it, it will be wrong. He will create a doctrine and that will be wrong.