“If you see the non-characteristic amongst all characteristics, you truly see the Tathagata.”
Excerpts from Mastering the School Tenets of The Diamond Sutra
Vennerable Xiao Pingshi
The Buddha said to Subhūti that of all characteristics, regardless of what dharma, itself is already false dharma. If we can differentiate that which does not possess any characteristics amongst all characteristics, then we truly see the Tathagata.
Because the Diamond Sutra expounds on the doctrines of the diamond-like dharma, it denotes a Buddha that will never cease to exist. However, the five aggregates of the Buddha’s transformation body will eventually vanish. Obviously, it is not the Buddha or the Tathagata explicated in the Diamond Sutra. Therefore, what Buddha must we see to consider ourselves to have truly seen the Buddha? If we see the Buddha’s five-aggregate body, we see the Buddha’s transformation body. Apparently, this does not constitute what it means to “truly see” the Buddha, as cited in the Sutra.
Toward this end, if we see—among all characteristics of the five aggregates (i.e., the form, consciousness, sensation, perception, and formation aggregates)—another that is non-characteristic, such a signless existence denotes Tathagata. Only then can this be called the true Tathagata.
What, then, denotes that which is truly non-characteristic? It must be completely devoid of the six sense objects because without contacting them, there would be no comprehension of these objects. Hence, it will have neither any characteristics of seeing, hearing, feeling, or knowing nor the notions of suffering, pleasure, or neutrality. Being such denotes the true meaning of being non-characteristic.
Mastering the School Tenets of The Diamond Sutra, Vol. 1, pp. 211-217