Because a bodhisattva who gives a gift should not be supported by a thing, nor should he be supported anywhere…. The great being should give gifts in such a way that he is not supported by the notion of a sign.
And why? Because the heap of merit of that bodhi-being, who unsupported gives a gift, is not easy to measure….
The Lord continued: What do you think, Subhuti, can the Tathagata be seen by the possession of his marks?
Subhuti replied: No indeed, O Lord. And why? What has been taught by the Tathagata as the possession of marks, that is truly a no-possession of no-marks.
The Lord said: Wherever there is possession of marks, there is fraud; wherever there is no-possession of no-marks, there is no fraud. Hence the Tathagata is to be seen from no-marks as marks.
Subhuti asked: Will there be any beings in the future period, in the last time, in the last epoch, in the last five hundred years, at the time of the collapse of the good doctrine who, when these words of the sutra are being taught, will understand their truth?
The Lord replied: Do not speak thus, Subhuti! Yes, even then there will be beings who, when these words of the sutra are being taught, will understand their truth.
For even at that time, Subhuti, there will be bodhisattvas…. And these bodhisattvas, Subhuti, will not be such as have honored only one single Buddha, nor such as have planted their roots of merit under one single Buddha only.
On the contrary, Subhuti, those bodhisattvas who, when these words of the sutra are being taught, will find even one single thought of serene faith, be such as have honored many hundreds of thousands of buddhas, such as have planted their roots of merit under many hundreds of thousands of buddhas.
Known they are, Subhuti, to the Tathagata through his Buddha-cognition. Seen they are, Subhuti, by the Tathagata with his Buddha-eye, fully known they are, Subhuti, to the Tathagata.
And they all, Subhuti, will beget and acquire an immeasurable and incalculable heap of merit.
Therefore, Subhuti, listen well and attentively, says Gautama the Buddha. These are strange words – strange, because Buddha is addressing a bodhisattva. They would not have been strange if they were addressed to an ordinary human being. One can understand that the ordinary human being needs to listen well. To listen is so difficult. To listen means to be herenow. To listen means to be without any thought. To listen means to be alert and aware. If these conditions are fulfilled, only then you listen.
The mind goes on like a maniac inside, a raving maniac. The mind goes on spinning a thousand and one thoughts, and the mind goes on moving all over the world – in the past, in the future. How can you listen? And howsoever you listen, it will not be right listening at all. You will listen to something else which has not been said at all, you will go on missing that which is said – because you will not be in tune. You will listen to the words of course, because you are not deaf, but just that much is not listening.
That’s why Jesus goes on saying to his disciples, “If you have ears, listen. If you have eyes, see.” Those disciples were neither blind nor deaf. They had eyes as healthy as you have, ears as good as you have. But Jesus’ words are not strange; they are relevant. He is talking to ordinary people; he has to bring their attention, he has to shout. But Buddha’s words are strange – he is addressing a bodhisattva, a great being, a bodhi-being; one who is just on the verge of becoming a buddha.