The DIAMOND SUTRA EXPLAINED
- 著述：Master Nan
- ISBN： 978-986-06130-7-0
- ◎Master Nan guides us through the Diamond Sutra providing students with a framework that combines understanding with practical
◎cultivation… Master Nan’s teachings are unique among contemporary and historical interpretations…
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This work was translated by Pia Giammasi, a long-time student of Master Nan. Pia uses an informal and personable style that attempts to capture the beauty and the cadence of the original teaching material.
I first met Master Nan in March of 1989 in Hong Kong. It was my great fortune to be living on the same street as he was and a Buddhist nun, Ven. Hong Ren, arranged for me to meet him.. Master Nan can be described as a distinguished looking Chinese gentleman with a petite frame and strong features. He usually wears a dark blue, traditional long Chinese long gown or “chang pao" for men, and on his feet you can usually find a pair of cloth kung fu slippers. There is always a cup of hot Oolong tea, bowl of salted peanuts and a tiny folded wet towel for finger wiping on the table next to his chair – the chair in which only Master Nan sits! As to the quality of Master Nan’s voice, it is something very special. It has many moods - sometimes calm and smooth like a lake, sometimes like a babbling stream and sometimes like the roaring ocean. In any case, the sound of his voice is deep and sonorous.
In my first conversation with Master Nan, he asked me if I was having any difficulty in my meditation practice. I told him that thoughts would often disturb my mental quiet. Master Nan then asked me where the thoughts came from and I looked and saw that thoughts come out of nowhere. I told this to Master Nan and he asked me where the thoughts went after they left. Again I looked inside and saw that they simply disappeared back into nowhere. After reporting this finding, Master Nan looked me straight in the eye and said, “Right, so don’t worry about them.”
After meeting him, during that period of time, I would go every evening to his house where he would give teachings. At that time my Chinese was very poor, but somehow he was able to communicate much to me and the other students did their best to help me understand his teachings. Over the weeks and months, Master Nan gently poked holes into my ideas of what Buddhism, spiritual cultivation and enlightenment were all about, and pushed open my mental walls of limitations. He taught me to stop grasping at thoughts. It is difficult to put into words all that I have learned from Master Nan. The wisdom of his teachings continually unfolds within my life. For example, he taught me to see things for what they are - to unwrap things from their cultural packaging or from my preconceived notions and prejudices and most importantly, to distinguish the appearance of something from its essence and function.
Master Nan always encouraged his students to be clear on the role that they play in life. Many problems occur because people are not clear about the role that they ought to be playing. If one wants to be a lay practitioner, then one must balance one's responsibility to work and family with one’s commitment to practice. One must learn how to include one’s work and family in one’s spiritual practice. If one has a calling to live a monastic life and one’s conditions allow for one to do so, then one should put all their effort into living the true spirit of a monastic. Since I have played many roles, this teaching has been important and helpful in aligning my energy in relation to the priorities each role demands.
Master Nan sets an incredible example having played each of the roles in his life with great wisdom and compassion. He has gone from riches to rags to riches many times in his life and whether he be rich or poor, Master Nan is always generous to the extent of his means. He has a magnanimous heart and spends all of his time, energy and money helping people any way he can. Master Nan treats his students like his own children, caring for their health and well being as well as their spiritual progress. Although Master Nan plays all roles to his best, he is not attached to any of them and so there is always a light, playfulness in all of his actions. Thus he teaches us to be serious about what we do but to not take ourselves too seriously.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to listen to many of Master Nan’s lectures and teachings and to read his books. Master Nan always placed great importance on the Diamond Sutra, as did many Chan/Zen masters throughout the ages. At the time I decided to translate this commentary, there were not many translations of the Diamond Sutra in English. The ones that were available had many discrepancies among them and I thought that by translating Master Nan’s commentary on the Diamond Sutra, it would help to bring about a more insightful translation of the original text.
I do not expect that my work will in any way be the final translation of the Diamond Sutra but I do hope that this commentary will provide a useful tool which will help future generations in their spiritual cultivation. It is up to these generations to achieve higher levels of spiritual attainment and verify the quality of this translation based on their personal experience. Having been a student of Master Nan for many years, I did my best to retain the flavor and the feeling of his teaching in the translation and to balance cultural originality with ‘understandability’. I hope that the reader will forgive me for any faults in the translation and I must take consolation in knowing that no matter how hard you try, nothing will ever be perfect!