Katagiri Roshi gave a series of forty-five lectures on the Diamond Sutra during 1979 and 1980. At the time of writing, these seven are present in the online audio archive.
May 9, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
Katagiri Roshi begins a series of talks on the Diamond Sutra by discussing the fundamental point that it teaches: “A is A, but A is not A, this means A is really A.” He explains the meaning of negation in Buddhism, how it relates to interconnection, and why emptiness means that we have to practice. He also talks about where the sutras originated, and the Indian preference for using huge numbers and concepts to teach about emptiness. In addition, he addresses the question, “If we are sitting in order to help ourselves, should we stop sitting?”
July 25, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
Why should we not be disappointed with this world, if there seems to be nothing to help us? To answer this question, Katagiri Roshi examines the aspect of Buddhist teaching that is no perception of self and no perception of object. Going further, he explains why we shouldn’t attach to either a perception of an object or perception of no-object. This leads to an explanation of provisional being, and also empathy, which is universal consciousness. This is how we can relate warmly to self and object. Does the morning sun have a mind? The answer may surprise you. Also: What to do if some king insists on chopping you to bits.
August 1, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
What is a buddha, and what does a buddha experience? Katagiri Roshi describes three kinds of enlightenment: kaku (awareness), satori, and shō (realization or verification). He explains three aspects of the utmost, right, perfect enlightenment from the Diamond Sutra: the marklessness of all things, the marklessness of their emptiness, and the marklessness of their suchness. Also: Why we exist, how to experience spiritual security, and why we shouldn’t get too caught up in Buddhist psychology.
August 8, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
Why is the perfection of generosity the most important quality in Mahayana Buddhism? What is true generosity, and true love? Katagiri Roshi explains how generosity relates to emptiness, or vastness, by sharing a poem from the Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke. Embracing the words of the poem, he says that human destiny is not something that forces us to be always “face to face,” trying to “get” something from each-other, but that we can also know a different way to live, to sit side by side in peace and harmony. Illustrating the problems we create when we are “face to face,” he tells a story about adult children living with their parents in Japan, and a story about his own experience attending Hiroshima Day in Omaha, Nebraska.
August 15, 1979 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
If, as the Diamond Sutra says, there is no dharma which the Buddha Shakyamuni has experienced, no dharma which the Buddha Shakyamuni has preached, then how does the Buddha experience and preach the dharma? Katagiri Roshi addresses this question in relation to the practice of giving. He begins by discussing seven ways we can be giving, even if we don’t have the ability to give a material gift or preach the dharma. To explain how the ungraspable can be taught, he talks about the three divisions of the Buddha body: nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and dharmakaya. This helps explain the role of virtue and merit, and also knowledge, in Buddhism. (Those looking for an explanation of Bodhidharma’s famous statement of “no merit” would be wise to refer to this talk, in conjunction with the next two.) There is more about the Rilke poem, and why we have to experience a “big shock” to realize the dharma. Also: is enlightenment forgetfulness?
July 16, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
How do we teach Buddhism? Molding life into ideas or philosophy is backwards; the words must come from our own life, or they won’t connect with people. Our understanding of the world based on causation is empty, but the world itself is not; that is why the Prajnaparamita Sutra says “emptiness is form.” We should digest the teachings thoroughly in our life, and then the words to explain will come naturally. Happiness and peace cannot be found by rushing to the destination.
July 23, 1980 Dharma Talk by Dainin Katagiri Roshi
Katagiri Roshi concludes his series of talks on the Diamond Sutra by examining the famous verse at the end, which tells us to view the conditioned world “as stars, a fault of vision, a lamp, a mock show, dew drops, a bubble, a dream, a lightning flash, a cloud.” The nine perspectives in the verse reveal different aspects of our experience. Overall, it means that we should respect the law of causation, our past life and its consequences, without being stuck in it. While still being humble, we can move bravely toward the future, toward a beautiful ideal image of human life.