The Lord then said: Yes, Subhuti…. For the Tathagata has taught that the dharmas special to the buddhas are just not a buddha’s special dharmas. That is why they are called the dharmas special to the buddhas.
The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, does it occur to the streamwinner, “By me has the fruit of a streamwinner been attained”?
Subhuti replied: No indeed, O Lord. And why? Because, O Lord, he has not won any dharma. Therefore is he called a streamwinner. No sight-object has been won, no sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, or objects of mind. That is why he is called a streamwinner.
If, O Lord, it would occur to a streamwinner, “By me has a streamwinner’s fruit been attained,” then that would be in him a seizing on a self, seizing on a being, seizing on a soul, seizing on a person….
The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, does it then occur to the arhat, “By me has arhatship been attained”?
Subhuti: No indeed, O Lord. And why? Because no dharma is called arhat. That is why he is called an arhat…. And why? I am, O Lord, the one whom the Tathagata…has pointed out as the foremost of those who dwell in peace. I am O Lord, an arhat free from greed. And yet, O Lord, it does not occur to me, “An arhat am I and free from greed.”
If, O Lord, it could occur to me that I have attained arhatship, then the Tathagata would not have declared of me that “Subhuti, this son of good family, who is the foremost of those who dwell in peace, does not dwell anywhere; that is why he is called a dweller in peace, a dweller in peace.”
The Diamond Sutra will appear to most of you as absurd, as mad. It is irrational but not anti-rational. It is something beyond the reason, that’s why it is so difficult to express it in words.
Once a whisky drinking, chain-smoking and popcorn munching American priest was staying with me. Roaming in my library, accidentally he found The Diamond Sutra. For just ten to fifteen minutes he looked into it here and there, then he came to me and said, “This man Buddha must have been mad. And not only was he mad, he had mad followers too.”
I can understand his statement. Buddha will look mad to you too, because he is trying to say that which cannot be said, he is trying to catch hold of something which is essentially elusive. Hence all these strange sayings – they are strange. They are strange because the way they are put, the way they are expressed, is not logical. It does not make any sense, not at least on the surface.
And if you have not felt something of the beyond it is very difficult for you to understand what Buddha is trying to do. We can understand only that which we have experienced, if not in toto then at least in part. Otherwise our understanding remains rooted in our experience.
It happened: Charlie had been to school that morning for the first time. When he came home his mother said, “Well, Charlie, how do you like school?”