One of the symptoms or characteristics of psychopathic psychology is total self-absorption. Even a little criticism will send a psychopath into a rage of wild self-defense. They are dead serious about themselves and think they know it all, so when anyone suggests otherwise, they totally lose control. This is the modus operandi of Bill Cassidy, the man who wants to be tulku.
Several days ago Cassidy flew into one of his periodic rages and went into a two day rant on Twitter. Then, as is his habit, he locked all his pseudonymous accounts so that no replies could be made to his rants. The next day he put up a post on his blog to continue his self-defense by invoking his usual explanation for everything when people call him on it, namely that everything is emptiness and therefore doesn’t exist, so it doesn’t matter what he says or does. This is a sad perversion of the Dharma. But what is worse, he then quotes the Diamond Sutra in his defense, except that it is really not the Diamond Sutra at all that he quotes. Instead he has had the chutzpah to rewrite the sutra so that it appears to justify his antisocial behavior.
Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying near Savatthi in the Jeta Wood at Anathapindika’s monastery. On that occasion the Lord was instructing, rousing, inspiring, and gladdening the bhikkhus with a Dhamma talk connected with Nibbana, and those bhikkhus, being receptive and attentive and concentrating the whole mind, were intent on listening to Dhamma.
Then, on realizing its significance, the Lord uttered on that occasion this inspired utterance:
“There is, bhikkhus, that base where there is no earth, no water, no fire, no air; no base consisting of the infinity of space, no base consisting of the infinity of consciousness, no base consisting of nothingness, no base consisting of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; neither this world nor another world nor both; neither sun nor moon. Here, bhikkhus, I say there is no coming, no going, no staying, no deceasing, no uprising. Not fixed, not movable, it has no support. Just this is the end of suffering.
This is not the Diamond Sutra.
The actual sutra reads as follows:
This is what I heard one time when the Buddha was staying in the monastery in Anathapindika’s park in the Jeta Grove near Sravasti with a community of 1,250 bhiksus, fully ordained monks. That day, when it was time to make the round for alms, the Buddha put on his sanghati robe and, holding his bowl, went into the city of Sravasti to seek alms food, going from house to house. When the alms round was completed, he returned to the monastery to eat the midday meal. Then he put away his sanghati robe and his bowl, washed his feet, arranged his cushion, and sat down.
At that time, the Venerable Subhuti stood up, bared his right shoulder, put his knee on the ground, and, folding his palms respectfully, said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, it is rare to find someone like you. You always support and show special confidence in the bodhisattvas.
“World-Honored One, if sons and daughters of good families want to give rise to the highest, most fulfilled awakened mind, what should they rely on and what should they do to master their thinking?”… The Buddha said to Subhuti, “This is how the bodhisattva mahasattvas master their thinking.” However many species of living beings there are — whether born from eggs, from the womb, from moisture, or spontaneously; whether they have form or do not have form; whether they have perceptions or do not have perceptions; or whether it cannot be said of them that they have perceptions or that they do not have perceptions, we must lead all these beings to the ultimate nirvana so that they can be liberated. And when this innumerable, immeasurable, infinite number of beings has become liberated, we do not, in truth, think that a single being has been liberated.’ “Why is this so? If, Subhuti, a bodhisattva holds on to the idea that a self, a person, a living being, or a life span exists, that person is not an authentic bodhisattva…”
The point of this passage of the sutra, called The Vajracchedika Prajñaparamita Sutra, is not to show that emptiness = nothingness. That is nihilism, which was specifically denied by Lord Buddha. Note that the Buddha here is talking about the existence of a self, not the existence of the elements or the world or the sun and the moon. Emptiness as taught by Lord Buddha has to do with the direct experience of reality without condition or filter, not that nothing is real and thus doesn’t matter. What he is teaching here is that the self does not exist, not that the world does not exist. The self is the product of our own deluded perception. In other words, it has no existence outside of our belief that it does. Cassidy twists the meaning to say that nothing exists, not the four elements, not the world, not the sun and the moon. If that were so, it would make the perfect excuse to get away with anything on the grounds that nothing really matters ultimately. Nothing, however, could be further from what the Buddha actually taught.
Note also that in the original there was not even any mention of the four elements, the world, or the sun and moon. Pure fabrication on Cassidy’s part. Not only do the subtleties of the original sutra escape Cassidy, but he chooses to ignore them and create his own fabrication in the name of the Buddha!
It is truly sad to see such a perversion of the Dharma as taught by Lord Buddha, and what is most sickening about this post is the extreme megalomania of any individual who would rewrite the sutras to serve his own selfish ends. Bill Cassidy knows no limits in pursuing his endless attempts at self-justification in the face of his total ignorance of the essence of the Dharma. It also illustrates how dangerous he can be when confronted with his own illness. Cassidy might have benefited from reading on a few paragraphs below the passage he subverted. There it says:
Five hundred years after the Tathagata has passed away, there will still be people who enjoy the happiness that comes from observing the precepts. When such people hear these words, they will have faith and confidence that here is the truth. We should know that such people have sown seeds not only during the lifetime of one Buddha, or even two, three, four, or five Buddhas, but have, in truth, planted wholesome seeds during the lifetimes of tens of thousands of Buddhas. Anyone who, for only a second, gives rise to a pure and clear confidence upon hearing these words of the Tathagata, the Tathagata sees and knows that person, and he or she will attain immeasurable happiness because of this understanding. Why?
“Because that kind of person is not caught up in the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a life span. They are not caught up in the idea of a dharma or the idea of a non-dharma. They are not caught up in the notion that this is a sign and that is not a sign. Why? If you are caught up in the idea of a dharma, you are also caught up in the ideas of a self, a person, a living being, and a life span. If you are caught up in the idea that there is no dharma, you are still caught up in the ideas of a self, a person, a living being, and a life span. That is why we should not get caught up in dharmas or in the idea that dharmas do not exist…”