Sutra text from last issue:
Ananda, when these good men are replete with spiritual penetrations, have done the Buddhas’
work, are totally pure and absolutely true, and are apart from
obstacles and calamities, they take living beings across while
casting aside the appearance of taking them across. They turn
the unconditioned mind toward the path of Nirvana. This is
called the Transference of Saving and Protecting Living Beings, While Apart from the Appearance of Living Beings.
Having done the Buddhas' work, they are totally pure and absolutely true; they have reached the level of total purity and absolute truth, and
they are apart from obstacles and calamities. They are far from all hindrances.
Then they take living beings across while casting aside the appearance of taking them across.
They rescue those whom they should rescue without having any thought of having rescued them. As Shakyamuni Buddha says in the Vajra Sutra: "I should take all beings across to Nirvana, and yet when all beings are thus taken across, there should not be any beings taken across to Nirvana." Why? Because there is no appearance of "taking across." This means one must not be attached and think, "I did this, I did that." For example, after a temple is built, one thinks, "Oh! I built this temple. I'm one of the people who established this temple in the beginning. I accrued so much merit then!" To think like that is to be attached to appearances. "They take living beings across while casting aside the appearance of taking them across." This means you don't look upon the deed as something you did, but rather as something you were supposed to do. It was your responsibility in the first place; why would you need to let anyone know it had been done? If you brag about what you've done, it implies that it was something you didn't have to do.
For example, in China there are some people who say, "I didn't steal anything or kill anyone in this life. I've never done anything bad, so why aren't things better for me?" They make it sound as if they were supposed to steal and kill but refrained from doing so; their tone of voice is indignant, as if they have been treated unfairly. Their words imply that they were supposed to murder people, and since they haven't, they feel they've taken a loss and are short of capital. They say they haven't done anything bad, implying that their duty was to do bad things. This is a mistaken point of view. Here, they take living beings across without any appearance of taking living beings across. That is, "They take living beings across while casting aside the appearance of taking them across."
They turn the unconditioned mind toward the path of Nirvana.
They turn the unconditioned mind of the Small Vehicle toward the Great Vehicle's path of Nirvana. This is called the Transference of Saving and Protecting Living Beings, While Apart from the Appearance of Living Beings. One must separate from the appearance of living beings. When you rescue living beings, that is simply your responsibility, and you should not be attached to the appearance of having rescued them. You should not think, "Now that I've saved some living beings, my merit must certainly be considerable! I have tremendous merit and virtue now!" Don't entertain such thoughts. It is your responsibility to teach and transform living beings; you're supposed to rescue living beings, so you shouldn't think that you are earning merit when you rescue them.
"Does that mean there isn't any merit and virtue involved in rescuing living beings?" There is merit and virtue; rescuing living beings certainly does bring merit, but you shouldn't dwell on it. What's past is past. Don't hold on to the idea of having rescued living beings. This is not to say that you should not rescue beings; it's to say that you shouldn't harbor the appearance of having rescued them.
To destroy what should be destroyed and to stay away from what should be left behind is called the Transference of Indestructibility.
To destroy what should be destroyed means to get rid of the things that one should not want or keep. What are the things one should not keep? No matter how much we talk, it always comes back to the same things: Karmic obstacles should not be kept; ignorance should not be kept; and afflictions should not be kept. Destroy these. Get rid of them.
To stay away from what should be left behind
means to keep away from the things you should remove yourself from. "To stay away from what should be left behind" and "to destroy what should be destroyed" refers to your faults. For instance, people who cultivate the Way should not have any greed, anger, or stupidity. You should destroy them. Greed, anger, and stupidity are also vices we should all keep away from; we should leave them behind. Generally speaking, all wholesome dharmas should be preserved. All unwholesome dharmas should be destroyed.
Get them far behind you. This is called the Transference of Indestructibility.
What is not destroyed? Your inherent good roots are not destroyed. Your originally existent enlightened nature is not destroyed. With the Transference of Indestructibility, you have to destroy what should be destroyed and keep what is indestructible.
To be continued