Sutra in Forty-Two Sections
from Chinese into English by the Buddhist Text Translation Society,
Realm Buddhist University, City Of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Leaving Home and Becoming an Arhat
The Buddha said, "People who take
leave of their families and go forth from the householder life, who know their
mind and penetrate to its origin, and who understand the unconditioned Dharma
are called Shramanas. They constantly observe the 250 precepts, and they value
purity in all that they do. By practicing the four true paths, they can become
Eliminating Desire and Ending Seeking
Buddha said, "Those who have left the home-life and become Shramanas cut
off desire, renounce love, and recognize the source of their minds. They penetrate
the Buddha profound principles and awaken to the unconditioned Dharma. Internally
they have no thing to attain, and externally they seek nothing. They are not mentally
bound to the Way, nor are they tied to karma. They are free of thought and action;
they neither cultivate nor attain certification; they do not pass through the
various stages, and yet they are highly revered. This is the meaning of the Way.
Severing Love and Renouncing Greed
said, "Shaving their hair and beards, they become Shramanas who accept the
Dharmas of the Way. They renounce worldly wealth and riches. In receiving alms,
they accept only what enough. They take only one meal a day at noon, pass the
night beneath trees, and are careful not to seek more than that. Craving and desire
are what cause people to be stupid and dull."
Good and Evil
The Buddha said, "Living beings may perform Ten Good Deeds
or Ten Evil Deeds. What are the ten? Three are done with the body, four are done
with the mouth, and three are done with the mind. The three done with the body
are killing, stealing, and lust. The four done with the mouth are duplicity, harsh
speech, lies, and frivolous speech. The three done with the mind are jealousy,
hatred, and stupidity. Thus these ten are not in accord with the Way of Sages
and are called the Ten Evil Deeds. To put a stop to these evils is to perform
the Ten Good Deeds. "
Reducing the Severity
The Buddha said, "If a person has many offenses and does not
repent of them, but cuts off all thought of repentance, the offenses will engulf
him, just as water returning to the sea will gradually become deeper and wider.
If a person has offenses and, realizing they are wrong, reforms and does good,
the offenses will dissolve by themselves, just as a sick person who begins to
perspire will gradually be cured. "
and Avoiding Hatred
The Buddha said, "When an evil person hears about
your goodness and intentionally comes to cause trouble, you should restrain yourself
and not become angry or blame him. Then the one who has come to do evil will do
evil to himself. "
Evil Returns to the Doer
Buddha said, "There was a person who, upon hearing that I observe the Way
and practice great humane kindness, intentionally came to berate me. I was silent
and did not reply. When he finished abusing me, I asked, 'If you are courteous
to people and they do not accept your courtesy, the courtesy returns to you, does
it not? '
Abusing Others Defiles Oneself
said, "An evil person who harms a sage is like one who raises his head and
spits at heaven. Instead of reaching heaven, the spittle falls back on him. It
is the same with someone who throws dust against the wind. Instead of going somewhere
else, the dust returns to defile his own body. The sage can not be harmed. Misdeeds
will inevitably destroy the doer. "
By Returning to
the Source, You Find the Way
The Buddha said, "Deep learning and a love
of the Way make the Way difficult to attain. When you guard your mind and revere
the Way, the Way is truly great! "
The Buddha said, "When you see someone who is practicing
giving, aid him joyfully, and you will obtain vast and great blessings. "
A Shramana asked, s there an end to those blessings? "
said, "Consider the flame of a single torch. Though hundreds and thousands
of people come to light their own torches from it so that they can cook their
food and ward off darkness, the first torch remains the same. Blessings, too,
are like this. "
The Increase in Merit Gained by
The Buddha said, "Giving food to a hundred bad people is
not as good as giving food to a single good person. Giving food to a thousand
good people is not as good as giving food to one person who holds the Five Precepts.
Giving food to ten thousand people who hold the Five Precepts is not as good as
giving food to a single Srotaapanna. Giving food to a million Srotaapannas is
not as good as giving food to a single Sakridagamin. Giving food to ten million
Sakri dagamins is not as good as giving food to a single Anagamin. Giving food
to a hundred million Anaga mins is not as good as giving food to a single Arhat.
Giving food to one billion Arhats is not as good as giving food to a single Pratyekabuddha.
Giving food to ten billion Pratyekabuddhas is not as good as giving food to a
Buddha of the three periods of time. Giving food to a hundred billion Buddhas
of the three periods of time is not as good as giving food to a single person
who is without thoughts, without dwelling, without cultivation, and without accomplishment.
A List of Difficulties and an Exhortation to Cultivate
Buddha said, "People encounter twenty different kinds of difficulties: It
is difficult to give when one is poor. It is difficult to study the Way when one
has wealth and status. It is difficult to abandon life and face the certainty
of death. It is difficult to encounter the Buddhist sutras. It is difficult to
be born at the time of a Buddha. It is difficult to be patient with lust and desire.
It is difficult to see fine things and not seek them. It is difficult to be insulted
and not become angry. It is difficult to have power and not abuse it. It is difficult
to come in contact with things and have no thought of them. It is difficult to
be vastly learned and well-read. It is difficult to get rid of pride. It is difficult
not to slight those who have not yet studied. It is difficult to practice equanimity
of mind. It is difficult not to gossip. It is difficult to meet a Good and Wise
Advisor. It is difficult to see one own nature and study the Way. It is difficult
to teach and save people according to their potentials. It is difficult to see
a state and not be moved by it. It is difficult to have a good understanding of
Questions about the Way and Past
A Shramana asked the Buddha, "What causes and conditions can I know
my past lives and understand the ultimate Way? "
The Buddha said, "Purifying
your mind and preserving your resolve, you can understand the ultimate Way. Just
as when you polish a mirror, the dust vanishes and brightness remains, so too,
if you cut off desire and do not seek, you then can know past lives. "
Asking about Goodness and Greatness
A Shramana asked the
Buddha, "What is goodness? What is the foremost greatness? " The Buddha
practice the Way and uphold the truth is goodness. To unite your will
with the Way is greatness. "
Asking about Strength
A Shramana asked the Buddha, "What is the greatest strength?
What is the utmost brilliance? "
The Buddha said, "Patience under
insult is the greatest strength, because people who are patient do not harbor
hatred, and they gradually grow more peaceful and strong. Patient people, since
they are not evil, will surely gain the respect of others. Then the mind defilements
are gone completely, so that it is pure and untainted, that is the utmost brilliance.
When there is nothing, from before the formation of the heavens and the earth
until now, in any of the ten directions that you do not see, know, or hear; when
you have attained omniscience, that may be called brilliance. "
Casting Aside Love and Attaining the Way
The Buddha said, "People
who cherish love and desire do not see the Way. Just as when you stir clear water
with your hand, those who stand beside it cannot see their reflections, so, too,
people who are entangled in love and desire have turbidity in their minds, and
therefore they cannot see the Way. You Shramanas should cast aside love and desire.
When the stains of love and desire disappear, you will be able to see the Way.
When Light Arrives, Darkness Departs
said, "Those who see the Way are like someone holding a torch who enters
a dark room, dispelling the darkness so that only light remains. When you study
the Way and see the truth, ignorance vanishes and light remains forever. "
Thoughts and So Forth Are Basically Empty
said, y Dharma is the mindfulness that is both mindfulness and non-mindfulness.
It is the practice that is both practice and non-practice. It is words that are
words and non-words, and cultivation that is cultivation and non-cultivation.
Those who understand are near to it; those who are confused are far away, indeed.
It is not accessible by the path of language. It is not hindered by physical objects.
If you are off by a hairsbreadth, you will lose it in an instant. "
Contemplating Both the False and the True
The Buddha said,
"Contemplate heaven and earth, and be mindful of their impermanence. Contemplate
the world, and be mindful of its impermanence. Contem-plate the efficacious, enlightened
nature: it is the Bodhi nature. With this awareness, one quickly attains the Way.
Realize that the Self Is Truly Empty
said, "You should be mindful of the four elements within the body. Though
each has a name, none of them is the self. Since they are not the self, they are
like an illusion. "
Fame Destroys Life Roots
Buddha said, "There are people who follow emotion and desire and seek to
be famous. By the time their reputation is established, they are already dead.
Those who are greedy for worldly fame and do not study the Way simply waste their
effort and wear themselves out. By way of analogy, although burning incense gives
off fragrance, when it has burned down, the remaining embers bring the danger
of a fire that can burn one up. "
Sex Cause Suffering
The Buddha said, "People are unable to renounce wealth
and sex. They are just like a child who cannot resist honey on the blade of a
knife. Even though the amount is not even enough for a single meal serving , he
will lick it and risk cutting his tongue in the process. "
A Family Is Worse than a Prison
The Buddha said, "People are bound
to their families and homes to such an extent that these are worse than a prison.
Eventually one is released from prison, but people never think of leaving their
families. Don?t they fear the control that emotion, love, and sex have over them?
Although they are in a tiger jaws, their hearts are blissfully oblivious. Because
they throw themselves into a swamp and drown, they are known as ordinary people.
Pass through the gateway! Get out of the defilement and become an Arhat! "
Sexual Desire Obstructs the Way
The Buddha said, "f
all longings and desires, there is none as strong as sex. Sexual desire has no
equal. Fortunately, it is one of a kind. If there were something else like it,
no one in the entire world would be able to cultivate the Way. "
The Fire of Desire Burns
The Buddha said, "Person with love and
desire is like one who carries a torch while walking against the wind: he is certain
to burn his hand. "
Demons from the Heavens Try
to Tempt the Buddha
The heaven spirit offered beautiful maidens to the Buddha,
hoping to destroy his resolve. The Buddha said, What have you skin-bags full of
filth come here for? Go away, I've got no use for you. "
Then the heaven
spirit became very respectful and asked about the meaning of the Way. The Buddha
explained it for him, and he immediately attained the fruition of Srotaapanna.
One Attains the Way after Letting Go of Attachments
Buddha said, "Person who follows the Way is like a floating piece of wood
that courses along with the current. If it does not touch either shore; if people
do not pluck it out; if ghosts and spirits do not intercept it; if it is not trapped
in whirlpools; and if it does not rot, I guarantee that the piece of wood will
reach the sea. If students of the Way are not deluded by emotion and desire, and
if they are not caught up in the many crooked views, but are vigorous in their
cultivation of the unconditioned, I guarantee that they will certainly attain
the Way. "
Don Indulge the Wild Mind
said, "Be careful not to believe your own mind; your mind is not to be believed.
Be careful not to get involved with sex; involvement with sex leads to disaster.
After you have attained Arhatship, you can believe your own mind. "
Proper Contemplation Counteracts Sexual Desire
said, "Be careful not to look at women, and do not talk with them. If you
must speak with them, be properly mindful and think, am a Shramana living in a
turbid world. I should be like the lotus flower, which is not stained by the mud.
' Think of elderly women as your mothers, of those who are older than you as your
elder sisters, of those who are younger as your younger sisters, and of very young
girls as your daughters. Bring forth thoughts to rescue them, and put an end to
Stay Far Away from the Fire of Desire
Buddha said, "People who cultivate the Way are like dry grass: it is essential
to keep it away from an oncoming fire. People who cultivate the Way look upon
desire as something they must stay far away from."
the Mind Is Still, Desire Is Dispelled
The Buddha said, "There was once
someone who was plagued by ceaseless sexual desire and wished to castrate himself.
The Buddha said to him," o cut off your sexual organ would not be as good
as to cut off your mind. Your mind is like a supervisor: if the supervisor stops,
his employees will also quit. If the deviant mind is not stopped, what good does
it do to cut off the organ? '"
The Buddha spoke a verse for him:
is born from your intentions.
Intentions are born from thoughts.
both aspects of the mind are still,
There is neither form nor activity.
The Buddha said, his verse was spoken by the Buddha Kashyapa. "
Emptying out the Self Quells Fear
The Buddha said, "People worry
because of love and desire. That worry then leads to fear. If you transcend love,
what worries will there be? What will be left to fear? "
Wisdom and Clarity Defeat the Demons
The Buddha said, "People who
cultivate the Way are like a soldier who goes into battle alone against ten thousand
enemies. He dons his armor and goes out the gate. He may prove to be a coward;
he may get halfway to the battlefield and retreat; he may be killed in combat;
or he may return victorious. Shramanas who study the Way must make their minds
resolute and be vigorous, courageous, and valiant. Not fearing what lies ahead,
they should defeat the hordes of demons and obtain the fruition of the Way. "
By Staying in the Middle, One Attains the Way
a Shramana was reciting the Sutra of the Teaching Bequeathed by the Buddha Kashyapa.
The sound of his voice was mournful as he reflected remorsefully on his wish to
retreat in cultivation. The Buddha asked him, "In the past when you were
a householder, what did you do? " He replied, "I was fond of playing
the lute. " The Buddha said, "What happened when the strings were slack?
" He replied, "They didn't sound. " What happened when they were
too tight? " He replied, "The sounds were cut short. " What happened
when they were tuned just right between slack and tight? " He replied, "The
sounds carried. " The Buddha said, "It is the same with a Shramana who
studies the Way. If his mind is harmonious, he can attain the Way. If he is impetuous
about the Way, his impetuousness will tire out his body; and if his body is tired,
his mind will become afflicted. If his mind becomes afflicted, then he will retreat
from his practice. If he retreats from his practice, his offenses will certainly
increase. You need only be pure, peaceful, and happy, and you will not lose the
When One Is Purified of Defilements, the Brilliance
The Buddha said,"People smelt metal by burning the dross out of
it in order to make high quality implements. It is the same with people who study
the Way: first they must get rid of the defilements in their minds; then their
practice becomes pure. "
The Sequence that Leads
The Buddha said, "It is difficult for one to leave the evil
destinies and become a human being.
Even if one does become a human being,
it is still difficult to become a man rather than a woman.
Even if one does
become a man, it is still difficult to have the six sense organs complete and
Even if the six sense organs are complete and perfect, it is still
difficult for one to be born in a central country.
Even if one is born in
a central country, it is still difficult to be born at a time when there is a
Buddha in the world.
Even if one is born at a time when there is a Buddha
in the world, it is still difficult to encounter the Way.
Even if one does
encounter the Way, it is still difficult to bring forth faith.
Even if one
brings forth faith, it is still difficult to resolve one mind on Bodhi.
if one does resolve one mind on Bodhi, it is still difficult to be beyond cultivation
and attainment. "
Staying Mindful of Moral Precepts
Brings Us Close to the Way
The Buddha said, "My disciples may be several
thousand miles away from me, but if they remember my moral precepts, they will
certainly attain the fruition of the Way. If those who are by my side do not follow
my moral precepts, they may see me constantly, but in the end they will not attain
the Way. "
Birth Leads to Death
The Buddha asked
a Shramana, "How long is the human life span? " He replied, few days.
" The Buddha said, "You have not yet understood the Way. "
asked another Shramana, "How long is the human life span? " The reply
was, he space of a meal. " The Buddha said, "You have not yet understood
the Way. "
He asked another Shramana, "How long is the human life
span? " He replied, he length of a single breath. " The Buddha said,
"Excellent. You have understood the Way. "
Buddha Instructions Are Not Biased
The Buddha said, "Students of the Buddha
Way should believe in and accord with everything that the Buddha teaches. When
you eat honey, it is sweet on the surface and sweet in the center; it is the same
with my sutras. "
The Way Is Practiced in the Mind
Buddha said, "Shramana who practices the Way should not be like an ox turning
a millstone. Such a one walks the Way with his body, but his mind is not on the
Way. If the mind is concentrated on the Way, what further need is there to practice?
A Straight Mind Gets Rid of Desire
said, "One who practices the Way is like an ox pulling a heavy load through
deep mud. The ox is so extremely exhausted that it dares not glance to the left
or right. Only when it gets out of the mud can it rest. The Shramana should regard
emotion and desire as being worse than deep mud; and with an undeviating mind,
he should be mindful of the Way. Then he can avoid suffering. "
Understanding that the World Is Illusory
The Buddha said, "Look
upon royalty and high positions as upon the dust that floats through a crack.
upon treasures of gold and jade as upon broken tiles. I look upon fine
silk clothing as upon cheap cotton. I
look upon a great thousand-world universe
as upon a small nut kernel. I look upon the waters of the
Anavatapta Lake as
upon oil used to anoint the feet. "