48 Vows of Amitabha Buddha


        In Infinite Life Sutra, 無量壽經 or Larger Pure Land Sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha spoke of how the Bodhisattva Dharmakara, after witnessing the suffering of sentient beings, spent five eons studying all the Buddha lands.

        Dharmakara then made forty-eight vows, the fulfillment of which would create the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. He declared that he would not attain Buddhahood unless his vows for a perfect pure land, where all beings would advance along the Buddhist path and never again fall back into suffering, were accomplished.

        Once his vows were accomplished, Dharmakara Bodhisattva became Amitabha Buddha. He is now speaking the Dharma in his Pure Land and helping all who are truly sincere in their personal vows to be reborn there.

        The 18th vow is among the most important as it forms a basic tenet of the Pure Land school. This vow is most commonly known as 十念必生願 (shí niàn bì shēng yuàn) because it states that

         ..if a sentient being makes even “ten recitations” (十念 shí niàn) of the Amitabha Buddha’s name they will attain “certain rebirth” (必生 bì shēng) into the Pure Land.


        These are the 48 Great Vows that Dharmakara made before he ascended to Buddhahood: 

         1.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, there should be in my land a hell, a realm of hungry spirits or a realm of animals, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

         2.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should after death fall again into three evil realms, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

         3.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not all be the color of pure gold, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

        4.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not all be of one appearance, and should there be any difference in beauty, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

        5.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not remember all their previous lives, not knowing even the events which occurred during the previous hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

        6.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the divine eye of seeing even a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of the Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

        7.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the divine ear of hearing the teachings of at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddhas and should not remember all of them, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

        8.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the faculty of knowing the thoughts of others, at least those of all sentient beings living in a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

        9.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the supernatural power of travelling anywhere in one instant, even beyond a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

        10.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should give rise to thoughts of self-attachment, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

        11.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not dwell in the Definitely Assured State and unfailingly reach Nirvana, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        12.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, my light should be limited, unable to illuminate at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        13.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, my lifespan should be limited, even to the extent of hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        14.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, the number of the shravavakas in my land could be known, even if all the beings and pratyekabuddhas living in this universe of a thousand million worlds should count them during a hundred thousand kalpas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        15.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should have limited lifespan, except when they wish to shorten them in accordance with their original vows, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        16.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should even hear of any wrongdoing, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        17.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, innumerable Buddhas in the land of the ten quarters should not praise and glorify my Name, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        18.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten quarters who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, desire to be born in my land, and call my Name, even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. Excluded, however, are those who commit the five greatest offenses, abuse the right Dharma. 

        19.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten quarters, who awaken aspiration for Enlightenment, do meritorious deeds and sincerely desire to be born in my land, should not, at their death, see me appear before them surrounded by multitude of sages, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        20.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of ten quarters who, having heard my Name, concentrate their thoughts on my land, do various meritorious deeds and sincerely transfer the merits towards my land with a desire to be born there, should not eventually fulfill their aspiration, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        21.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, human and devas in my land should not all be endowed with the thirty two physical characteristics of a Great Man, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        22.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in the Buddha-lands of other quarters who visit my land should not ultimately and unfailingly reach the Stage of Becoming a Buddha after one more life, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. Excepted are those who wish to teach and guide sentient beings in accordance with their original vows. For they wear the armour of great vows, accumulate merits, deliver all beings from birth-and-death, visit Buddha-lands to perform the Bodhisattva practices, make offerings to Buddhas, Tathagatas, throughout the ten quarters, enlighten uncountable sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges, and establish them in the highest, perfect Enlightenment. Such Bodhisattvas transcend the course of practice of the ordinary Bodhisattva stages, manifest the practices of all the Bodhisattva stages and actually cultivate the virtues of Samantabhadra. 

        23.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in my land, in order to make offerings to Buddhas through my transcendent power, should not be able to reach immeasurable and innumerable kotis of nayuta of Buddha-lans in a short a time as it takes to eat a meal, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        24.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in my land should not be able, as they wish, to perform meritorious acts of worshipping the Buddhas with the offerings of their choice, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        25.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in my land should not be able to expound the Dharma with the all-knowing wisdom, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        26.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, there should be any Bodhisattva in my land not endowed with the body of the Vajra-god Narayana, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        27.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings should be able, even with the divine eye, to distinguish by Name and calculate by number all the myriads of manifestations provided for the humans and devas in my land, which are glorious and resplendent and have exquisite details beyond description, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        28.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in my land, even those with little store of merits, should not be able to see the Bodhi-tree which has countless colors and is four million li in height, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        29.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in my land should not acquire eloquence and wisdom in upholding sutras and reciting and expounding them, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        30.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, the wisdom and eloquence of Bodhisattvas in my land should be limited, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        31.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, my land should not be resplendent, revealing in its light all the immeasurable, innumerable and inconceivable Buddha-lands, like images reflected in a clear mirror, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        32.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, all the myriads of manifestations in my land, from the ground to the sky, such as palaces, pavillions, ponds, streams and trees, should not be composed of both countless treasures, which surpass in supreme excellence anything in the worlds of human and devas, and of a hundred thousand kinds of aromatic wood, whose fragrance pervades all the worlds of the ten quarters, causing all Bodhisattvas who sense it to perform Buddhist practice, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        33.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters who have been touched by my light, should not feel peace and happiness in their bodies and minds surpassing those of humans and devas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        34.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters who have heard my Name , should not gain the Bodhisattva’s insight into the non-arising of all Dharmas and should not acquire various profound dharanis, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        35.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, women in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters who, having heard my Name, rejoice in faith, awaken aspiration for the Enlightenment and wish to renounce womanhood, should after death be reborn again as women, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        36.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters, who have heard my Name, should not, after the end of their lives, always perform sacred practices until they reach Buddhahood, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        37.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters, who having heard my Name, prostrate themselves on the ground to revere and worship me, rejoice in faith, and perform Bodhisattva practices, should not be respected by all the devas and people of the world, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        38.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not obtain clothing, as soon as such a desire arises in their minds, and if the fine robes as prescribed and praised by the Buddhas should not be spontaneously provided for them to wear, and if these clothes should need sewing, bleaching, dyeing or washing, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        39.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, human and devas in my land should not enjoy happiness and pleasure comparable to that of a monk who has exhausted all the positions, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        40.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in my land who wish to see the immeasurable glorious Buddha-lands of the ten quarters, should not be able to view all of them reflected in the jewelled trees, just as one sees one’s face reflected in a clear mirror, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        41.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in the lands of the other quarters who hear my Name should, at any time before becoming Buddhas, have impaired, inferior or incomplete sense organs, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        42.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in the lands of the other quarters who hear my Name should not all attain the samadhi called ‘pure emancipation’ and, while dwelling therein, without losing concentration, should not be able to make offerings in one instant to immeasurable and inconceivable Buddhas, World Honored One, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        43.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in the lands of the other quarters who hear my Name should not be reborn into noble families after their death, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        44.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in the lands of the other quarters who hear my Name should not rejoice so greatly as to dance and perform the Bodhisattva practices and should not acquire stores of merits, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        45.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in the lands of the other quarters who hear my Name should not all attain the samadhi called ‘universal equality’ and, while dwelling therein, should not always be able to see all the immeasurable and inconceivable Tathagatas until those Bodhisattvas, too become Buddhas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        46.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in my land should not be able to hear spontaneously whatever teachings they may wish, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        47.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in the lands of the other quarters who hear my Name should not instantly reach the Stage of Non-retrogression, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. 

        48.  If, when I attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas in the lands of the other quarters who hear my Name should not instantly gain the first, second and third insights into the nature of Dharmas and firmly abide in the Truths realized by all the Buddhas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.  



Enlightened Bodhisattva and unfaithful man

Translated by Quang Hue, new translation  

        Late night, there is one man facing an enlightened Bodhisattva, Bodhisattva is sitting down and man standing.  

        Man:  Hi respectful Bodhisattva with great compassion and great wisdom, I am a married man, but currently I am loving other woman very much, I really do not know what to do. 

        Bodhisattva:  Are you certain the current woman who you are in love with (are) the last woman in your life? 

        Man:  Yes. 

        Bodhisattva:  You divorce your wife, then marry that woman ... 

        Man:  But my current wife is a meek, honest and virtuous woman.  When I leave her, am I too much pitiless and immoral, respectful Bodhisattva? 

        Bodhisattva:  A marriage without love is indeed pitiless and immoral.  You are in love with other woman currently and do not love your wife.  You are right with such love. 

        Man:  But she loves me very much, she loves me very much indeed, respectful Bodhisattva. 

        Bodhisattva:  So your wife is cherished. 

        Man:  After I divorce her for other woman, my wife will suffer, why is she cherished, respectful Bodhisattva? 

        Bodhisattva:  In marriage, your wife still has love for you, but your love for her is lost.  Because you have already loved other woman, because of happiness, losing it is suffering, so you are the one who suffer. 

        Man:  But I leave her behind, then marry other woman, so she loses me, so she is the one who suffers. 

        Bodhisattva:  You are wrong, you are a person who your wife actually loves in marriage only.  When such a person like you do not exist, then your wife's sincere loves will be transferred to another man, because your wife's sincere loves in marriage is never lost so far, then your wife is the one who is happy, you are the one who suffer.

        Man:  My wife used to say, she loves me only in this lifetime, she will never love any other men. 

        Bodhisattva:  Did you ever say such words? 

        Man:  I ... i ... i ... 

        Bodhisattva:  Now look at the three different candles in the tray in front of you, which one is the brightest? 

        Man:  I really do not know, they seem to have equal brightness. 

        Bodhisattva:  These three different candles are like three different women.  One of them is the woman that you are currently in love with.  There are countless human, there are not only ten millions women or one hundred millions women ...  Even one in three candles, which one is the brightest you just do not know, you also cannot find the current woman that you are in love with, how can you know for certain that the woman who you are currently in love with (are) the last and only woman in your life? 

        Man:  I ... i ... i ... 

        Bodhisattva:  Now hold a candle in front of you, see which candle is the brightest? 

        Man:  Of course, the candle I am holding is the brightest. 

        Bodhisattva:  Now put it back to where it belongs, see which candle is the brightest? 

        Man:  I really cannot see which candle is the brightest. 

        Bodhisattva:  Actually, the candle that you just held like the last woman who you are currently in love with, love originates from the heart, when you feel love it, look at it closely, you will view it as the brightest, when you put it back to where it belongs, you can not find any feelings of its brightest light.  Such your last and only love is mere flower in mirror or moon under the lake, given careful thought then it is a zero number only, an empty love. 

        Man:  Oh, I see, Bodhisattva do not tell me to divorce my wife.  You are preaching Dharma so I can realize the Truth. 

        Bodhisattva:  When you realize the Truth, I do not have to explain more, bye bye! 

        Man:  Now I really understand who I love.  That person is my wife, respectful Bodhisattva. 

        Bodhisattva smiles quietly ... 


According to Buddhism for the Youth 



Comparasion of the earth and the World of Ultimate Bliss of Amitabha Buddha

Excerpt from the book of Venerable Thich Han Hien, translated by Quang Hue, new translation     

        In Amitabha Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha taught "Sentient beings in Pure Land do not have a single suffering, always enjoy pure and happy things."  Now I compare the Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land or Pure Land with this world, there will be quite differences:

        This world: Flesh body with blood and pus, conscious mind attaches to mother's womb, nine months of sufferings inside womb are equal to twenty years of sufferings from outside world. When born, body is squeezed with great pain. That is being said when there is birth then there is suffering.

        Pure Land: Conscious mind attaches into a lotus which is very large like a golden world, going back and forth easily with pleasure, cultivations at will, all afflictions and karmas are eliminated, great scents of lotus, that is being said when the body is born from the precious lotus therefore there is no suffering by birth.

        This world: Human body is getting old and getting sick gradually every minutes and every seconds, until eyes are blur and ears are deaf, hair is gray and teeth are loosen, cheeks are sunk, skins have scales, limbs are shaken, body is weaken, that is being said getting old is suffering.

        Pure Land: Everyone has diamond body with 32 auspicious marks, 80 notable physical characteristics, splendid like Mani gem, shiny gold skin, youthful blue hair, pretty appearance, there is not forms of old age forever, therefore there is not sufferings from old age.

        This world: When there is inharmonious working of the four elements in the body, there will be one or more of 440 different ailments, e.g. headache, toothache, stomachache, weak lung, crying because of pain, etc. Those are sufferings of sickness.

        Pure Land: Mind is always healthy, pure with great perfumes, therefore there are not sufferings because of sickness.

        This world: Impermanence happens quick, there is rarely no one who can live until 80 years old, there is dry whistle of the king of death's fatal shears, with pitiful moan of people who compete to earn a living, those saturate the worldly earth with a sad curtain. Shadows of ghosts float slowly somewhere as if they try to take unlucky human to the hades or King Yama's palace.

        Pure Land: Dharma King Amitabha Buddha live indefinitely, boundlessly, with countless lives, from the time He became a Buddha to now is 10 great cosmic era of the world (Mahàkalpa in Sanskrit). His inhabitants also live forever. That Pure Land has no king of death's fatal shears which disappeared very long time ago and the boat of life and death was also destroyed into pieces. Names of wicked ghosts and devils are not heard on that Pure Land any more, how can a king of death exist to take conscious minds to the hades, that is being said a Pure Land practitioner can continue to cultivate until becoming a Buddha, therefore there is not suffering of death.

        This world: Loves is attached therefore separation from love ones is sorrowful scene, the mind of the cycle of rebirths traveler is sad, countless people cry because of separation from love ones. Accents people have verse:

         "I would rather die than
         Accepting separation from love ones when I still live."

        That is being said there is suffering from separation from love ones.

        Pure Land: Everyone has supernatural, is able to know other's wishes, does not need radio and television; when raising the footstep then they can fly extremely fast to all ten directions, there is no more separations. They travel countless Buddhas' Pure Lands in the morning, make offerings of fresh flowers to Buddhas; returning to their Pure Land at noon, having foods and walking for reciting Amitabha Buddha's name, there is no more sorrow, crying because of separation from love ones. Everyone has no Parents, wife or husband and children, how can one suffer of separation from love ones ?

        This world: Hatred increases more, facing each other often happens, is there any worse suffering? That is being said hating each other but seeing each other is suffering.

        Pure Land: All of your friends are never-receding and upper wholesome Bodhisattvas, who already eliminated all hatred and ignorance, is there anyone to hate?  Therefore there is not suffering of hating each other but seeing each other.

         This world: Are there any wishes that can become real? Or they are just in vain? How suffering ! That is being said wishes that cannot be fulfilled is suffering.

        Pure Land: Pure Land is pure and solemn, all wishes appear for the wisher, therefore there are not waiting for and hopelessness.

         This world: Human has sufferings of the five aggregates.

        Pure Land: There is not Satkàyadrsti (Sangskrit language), Satkàyadrsti is the illusion that the body, or self is real and not simply a compound of the five skandhas; one of the five wrong views. Mind is always pure, therefore there are not sufferings of the five aggregates.

        This world: Human is afraid of dark, Winter night.

        Pure Land: Amitabha Buddha's halo always shines radiantly all the time, therefore there are not days and nights.

        This world: Human's physical body is ugly and impure, one person has this bad habit while the other has other bad habit.

        Pure Land: The reward body of Pure Land inhabitants (Sambhoga-kàya in Sanskrit) is solemn, pretty, brilliant, there is not bad habits for these inhabitants.

        This world: Hungers and thirsts are always a threat, therefore humans must compete to earn a living.

        Pure Land: There is Water of eight merits and virtues to make reward body fresh and healthy, when inhabitant want to have foods then there will be best foods, when inhabitant want to wear clothes then there will be best natural garments.

        This world: There are many holes in the earth, spikes, thorns, stones, gravels, mud.

        Pure Land: Land is made of purest gold, there is not dust, the roads is paved with precious gems, smoothy as glass, we cannot see any single spike or thorn.

        This world: Castles and palaces will be damaged gradually by storms by time.

        Pure Land: Castles and palaces are naturally made from gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother of pearl, red pearls, agate.

        This world: Human beings are sunk in suffering sea of the cycle of rebirths with the three realms of Saha world: Desires, form, formless; in other words, six realms of rebirths: Hell, hungry ghost, animal, human being, Asura, God.

        Pure Land: Cultivators' lifetime attain the Nirvana truth of no birth therefore no death, live indefinitely and boundlessly of countless lives until become a Buddha, there is no more births and deaths of any kinds.

        This world: There are sufferings in hell realm, hungry ghost realm and animal realm.

        Pure Land: There are not worries about falling into the three evil realms. The nouns of the three evil realms do not exist in Pure Land let alone the three evil realms exist.

        This world: Heights of mountains are different, forests are resided by high worldly spirits, water is poisonous, valleys are very deep, there are many bad spikes and thorns.

        Pure Land: Land is made of purest gold, precious-gemmed trees are very tall, castles and palaces are magnificent and made by gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother of pearl, red pearls, agate; flowers are bloom in all four seasons, there are not bad and dirty things.

        This world: Our Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha entered Para-Nirvana, but the Buddha of the Future for this earth, currently is Maitreya Bodhisattva in Tusita heaven has not appeared yet.

        Pure Land: Our Compassionate Father Amitabha Buddha are preaching to enlighten Living beings in that Land.

        This world: Living beings wish to see Avolokiteshvara Mahasattva Bodhisattva and Great Strength Mahasattva Bodhisattva.

        Pure Land: Living beings are near Avolokiteshvara Mahasattva Bodhisattva and Great Strength Mahasattva Bodhisattva who are Their wholesome and noble friends.

        This world: Bad religions, ghosts, demons harass, try to prevent righteous cultivations of cultivator.

        Pure Land: There is only Amitabha Buddha preaches, transforms and rules all Living beings, there are absolutely not wicked ghosts and non-buddhist religions.

        This world: Cosmetics beautify girl with an attractive prettiness, a pretty girl smiles freshly, glances sideways to invite lust, makes cultivator easily fall into sexual misconduct place.

        Pure Land: Every Living being always has pure reward body and pure mind, His two forms of karma resulting from one's past: Being the resultant person, and being the dependent condition, or environment, e.g. country, family, possessions, etc. are always solemn. The noun female person does not exist, let alone there is an appearance of a pretty girl who harasses a cultivator's cultivations.

        This world: Human beings terrify and are sick of the strange noises of demons and vicious beasts.

        Pure Land: Birds sing soundly and loudly, streams are babbling, forests are whispering. Everything sounds lovely, noble and wonderful Dharma.

        When we compare this world and Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land, conditions and scenes are quite different.

        Wonderful scenes of Pure Land can keep Living beings' mind pure.

        Wonderful conditions of Pure Land can support cultivators to have more strength.

        QUESTION: Why do you select Amitabha Buddha while all Buddhas of ten directions can be near sentient beings?

        ANSWER: There are three reasons that we should select Amitabha Buddha:

        01. Amitabha Buddha's great vows are very profound.
        02. Sentient beings in Saha world have causes and conditions with Him.
        03. The preaching and transformations of Shakyamuni Buddha and Amitabha Buddha are relating to each other and four great vows to enlighten all sentient beings.



The Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra

 

THE REASONS FOR THE DHARMA ASSEMBLY, ONE

Thus I have heard, at one time the Buddha dwelt at Shravasti in the Jeta Grove in the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Forlorn, together with a gathering of great Bhikshus, twelve hundred fifty in all. At meal time the World Honored One put on his robe, took up his bowl and entered the great city of Shravasti to collect alms. After he had finished his sequential alms-round, he returned to his dwelling. When his meal was completed, he put his robe and bowl away. After he washed his feet, he arranged his seat and sat down.

 

SUBHUTI'S REQUEST, TWO

At that time the Elder Subhuti arose from his seat in the great assembly, uncovered his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, joined his palms together respectfully and addressed the Buddha, "How rare, World Honored One, is the Thus Come One who protects and cares well for all Bodhisattvas and well favors all Bodhisattvas. World Honored One, if a good man or good woman resolves his mind on Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, on what should he rely? How should he subdue his mind?" The Buddha said, "Very good, very good Subhuti. It is as you say. The Thus Come One protects and cares well for all Bodhisattvas and well favors all Bodhisattvas. Now listen attentively; I shall tell you. A good man or good woman who resolves his mind on Anuttarasamyaksambodhi should thus rely and thus subdue his mind." "Yes indeed, World Honored One. I am delighted and wish to listen."

 

THE ORTHODOX DOCTRINE OF THE GREAT VEHICLE, THREE

The Buddha told Subhuti, "All Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, should subdue their minds thus: 'I must cause all living beings--those born from eggs, wombs, moisture, by transformation; those with form, those without form, those with thought, those without thought, those not totally endowed with thought, and those not totally without thought--to enter Nirvana without residue and be taken across to Cessation. Yet of the immeasurable, numberless, boundless numbers of living beings thus taken across to Cessation, there is actually no living being taken across to Cessation.' Why? Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva has an appearance of self, others, living beings, or a life, he is not a Bodhisattva."

 

WONDERFUL PRACTICE IS TO NOT RELY ON ANYTHING, FOUR

" Moreover, Subhuti, as to dharmas, a Bodhisattva should not rely on anything when giving. That is to say, when giving, he should neither rely on forms, nor sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects or dharmas. Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should give thus: he should not rely on appearances. Why? If a Bodhisattva does not rely on appearances when giving, his blessings and virtues are inconceivable and immeasurable. "Subhuti, what do you think, is space in the east conceivable or measurable?" "No World Honored One." "Subhuti, is space in the south, west, north, or in the intermediate directions, above or below conceivable or measurable?" "No, World Honored One." "Subhuti, the blessings and virtues of a Bodhisattva who does not rely on appearances when giving, are just as inconceivable and immeasurable. Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should rely only on the teachings."

 

GENUINE DISCERNMENT OF THE PRINCIPLE OF SUCHNESS, FIVE

"Subhuti, what do you think, is it possible to see the Thus Come One in his physical appearances?" "No World Honored One, it is not possible to see Thus Come One in his physical appearances. Why? Because the physical appearances mentioned by the Thus Come One are not physical appearances." The Buddha said to Subhuti, "All appearances are empty and false. If one sees all appearances as no appearances, then one sees the Thus Come One."

 

PROPER FAITH IS RARE, SIX

Subhuti addressed the Buddha, "World Honored One, in the future will there be living beings who truly believe upon hearing such phrases?" The Buddha told Subhuti, "Do not say that! In the last five hundred years after the Thus Come One's Cessation, there will be those who, holding the moral precepts and cultivating blessings, will believe such phrases and accept them as true. You should know that such people have not planted good roots with just one Buddha, two Buddhas, three Buddhas, four, or five Buddhas, but they have planted good roots at the places of immeasurable tens of millions of Buddhas. The Thus Come One knows and sees all people who hear these phrases, Subhuti, and have even a single thought of pure faith. Such living beings will thus obtain immeasurable blessings and virtues. Why? Because those living beings no longer cling to the appearances of self, others, living beings, or a life, nor to the appearances of dharmas or non-dharmas. Why? If those living beings' minds cling to appearances, that would be attachment to a self, others, living beings and a life. If they cling to appearances of dharmas, that would be attachment to a self, others, living beings and a life. Why? If they cling to the appearances of non-dharmas, that would be attachment to a self, others, living beings and a life. Therefore, you should not cling to dharmas; you should not cling to non-dharmas. Because of this principle the Thus Come One always says, 'Bhikshus, you should all know that the Dharma I speak is like a raft. You must let go of dharmas. Even more so let go of non-dharmas.'"

 

 NOTHING ATTAINED, NOTHING SPOKEN, SEVEN

"Subhuti, what do you think, did the Thus Come One attain Anuttarasamyaksambodhi? Did the Thus Come One speak any Dharma?" Subhuti answered, "As I understand what the Buddha has said, there is no predetermined Dharma called Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, and there are not any predetermined Dharmas which the Thus Come One could speak. Why? All the Dharma which the Thus Come One has spoken can neither be clung to nor spoken of. It is neither Dharma nor non-dharma. Why is that so? All Worthy Ones and Sages are different because of Unconditioned Dharmas."

 

 THEY ARISE FROM DHARMA, EIGHT

"Subhuti, what do you think, if a person gave as a gift the seven kinds of precious gems in quantity enough to fill up a Threefold Great Thousand World System, would such a person obtain many blessings and virtues?" Subhuti said, "Very many World Honored One. Why? These blessings and virtues do not refer to the essential nature of blessings and virtues. Therefore, the Thus Come One says they are many blessings and virtues." "If on the other hand, a person were to accept and uphold even so few as four lines of verse from this Sutra and speak them for others, this person's blessings would surpass the blessings of the individual mentioned above. Why? Subhuti, all Buddhas and their Dharma of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi come from this Sutra. Subhuti, by this I mean the Buddha and the Dharma are not the Buddha and the Dharma."

 

 THE ONE APPEARANCE IS BEYOND APPEARANCES, NINE

"Subhuti, what do you think, can a Shrotaapana have the thought, 'Have I attained the Fruition of Shrotaapana'?" Subhuti said, "No World Honored One. Why? Shrotaapana means 'one who has entered the flow.' And yet, he has not entered anything. He has not entered forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects or dharmas. Therefore he is called a Shrotaapana." "Subhuti, what do you think, can a Sakrdagamin have the thought, 'Have I attained the Fruition of Sakrdagamin'?" Subhuti said, "No World Honored One. Why? Sakrdagamin means 'one who returns once more,' but actually he does not return. Therefore he is called a Sakrdagamin." "Subhuti, what do you think, can an Anagamin have the thought, 'Have I attained the Fruition of Anagamin?'" Subhuti said, "No World Honored One. Why? Anagamin means 'one who does not return,' but actually he is without not returning. Therefore he is called an Anagamin." "Subhuti, what do you think, can an Arhat have the thought, 'Have I attained the Way of the Arhat?'" Subhuti said, "No World Honored One. Why? Actually there is no dharma called 'Arhat.' World Honored One, if an Arhat had the thought, 'I have attained the Way of the Arhat,' that would be an attachment to self, others, living beings and to a life. World Honored One, the Buddha has said that I am foremost in the attainment of the No Strife Samadhi, and I am the foremost Arhat free from desire. Yet, World Honored One, I do not have the thought, 'I am an Arhat free from desire.' If I had the thought, 'I have attained the Way of the Arhat,' then the World Honored One would not say, 'Subhuti is foremost of those who delight in practicing Aranya.' Since Subhuti actually does not practice anything, he is called, 'Subhuti who delights in practicing Aranya.'"

 

 ADORNING PURE LANDS, TEN

The Buddha said to Subhuti, "What do you think? Did the Thus Come One obtain any Dharma when he was with Burning Lamp Buddha in the past?" "No World Honored One, the Thus Come One did not actually obtain any Dharma when he was with Burning Lamp Buddha." "Subhuti what do you think? Does a Bodhisattva adorn Buddhalands?" "No World Honored One. Why? One who adorns Buddhalands does not adorn anything. Therefore it is called adorning." "Therefore Subhuti, all Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas should thus produce a pure mind which does not rely on forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects or dharmas. He should produce a mind which does not rely on anything. Subhuti, suppose a person had a body like Sumeru, king of mountains. What do you think? Would that body be big?" Subhuti addressed the Buddha, "Very big World Honored One. Why? The Buddha says it is not a body. Therefore it is called a big body."

 

 THE SUPREMACY OF UNCONDITIONED BLESSINGS, ELEVEN

"Subhuti, suppose there were as many Ganges Rivers as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River. What do you think, would the grains of sand in all those Ganges Rivers be many?" Subhuti said, "Very many World Honored One. That many Ganges rivers alone would be uncountable, how much the more so the grains of sands contained in them. "Subhuti, I am speaking truthfully. Suppose a good man or good woman had filled with the Seven Kinds of Precious Gems as many Threefold Great Thousand World Systems as there are grains of sand in all those Ganges Rivers and gave them as an offering. Would that person obtain many blessings?" Subhuti said, "Very many World Honored One." The Buddha told Subhuti, "If a good man or good woman were to accept and uphold even so few as four lines of verse from this Sutra and speak them for others, those blessings and virtues would surpass the previous blessings and virtues."

 

 REVERING THE PROPER TEACHING, TWELVE

"Moreover, Subhuti, know that all the gods, humans and asuras of the world should make offerings to any place where even as few as four lines of verse from this Sutra have been spoken, just as they would make offerings to a Buddha, a stupa or a temple. How much the more should they make offerings to any place where there are people who can completely accept, uphold, read and recite this Sutra. Subhuti you should know that such people accomplish the supreme, foremost and most rare of dharmas. Wherever this Sutra is found, there is a Buddha or reverent disciple."

 

 ACCEPTING AND UPHOLDING THE DHARMA OF "THUSNESS", THIRTEEN

Then Subhuti addressed the Buddha, "World Honored One, what name should we give this Sutra, and how should we uphold it?" The Buddha told Subhuti, "The name of this Sutra is Vajra Prajna Paramita. You should uphold it by that name. Why? The Buddha said that Prajna Paramita is not Prajna Paramita. Therefore it is called Prajna Paramita. "Subhuti, what do you think, has the Thus Come One spoken any Dharma?" Subhuti addressed the Buddha, "The Thus Come One has not spoken any Dharma." "Subhuti, what do you think, are there many particles of dust in a Threefold Great Thousand World System?" Subhuti said, "Very many World Honored One." "Subhuti, the Thus Come One says that particles of dust are not particles of dust. Therefore they are called particles of dust. The Thus Come One says that world systems are not world systems. Therefore they are called world systems. "Subhuti, what do you think, is it possible to see the Thus Come One in his Thirty-two Physical Appearances?" "No World Honored One, it is not possible see the Thus Come One in his Thirty-two Physical Appearances. Why? The Thus Come One says that the Thirty-two Physical Appearances are not physical appearances. Therefore they are called the Thirty-two Physical Appearances." "Subhuti, a good man or good woman might give away his body as many times as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, but if another person were to accept and uphold even as few as four lines of verse of this Sutra and explain them for others, that person's blessings would be greater."

 

 LEAVING APPEARANCES AND STILL CESSATION, FOURTEEN

At that time, upon hearing this sutra and deeply understanding its purport, Subhuti wept and felt remorse, and addressed the Buddha, "How rare, World Honored One, is this Sutra so profoundly explained by the Buddha. From the time I attained the eye of wisdom until the present, I have never heard such a Sutra. World Honored One, if someone listens to this Sutra with a mind of pure faith and can bring forth the Appearance of Reality, know that such a person has accomplished foremost and rare merit and virtue. "World Honored One, the Appearance of Reality is without appearance. Therefore the Thus Come One calls it the Appearance of Reality. "World Honored One, now as I listen to this Sutra, I believe, understand, accept and uphold it without difficulty. In the future, in the last five hundred years, if there are living beings who when they hear this Sutra, believe, understand, accept and uphold it, they will be outstanding and most rare. Why? Such people will be without the appearance of a self, the appearance of others, the appearance of living beings, and the appearance of a life. Why? The appearance of self is actually no appearance. The appearance of others, the appearance of living beings and the appearance of a life are actually not appearances. Why? All those who are called Buddhas have relinquished all appearances." The Buddha told Subhuti, "So it is, so it is. If someone hears this Sutra and is not frightened, alarmed, or terrified, you should know such a person is most rare. Why? Subhuti, the foremost Paramita spoken of by the Thus Come One is not the foremost Paramita. Therefore it is called the foremost Paramita. "Subhuti, the Paramita of patience spoken of by the Thus Come One is not the Paramita of patience. Therefore it is called the Paramita of patience. Why? Subhuti, in the past when the King of Kalinga dismembered my body, I had no appearance of a self, of others, of living beings or of a life. Why? When I was cut limb from limb, if I had an appearance of a self, an appearance of others, an appearance of living beings or an appearance of a life, I would have been outraged. "Moreover Subhuti, I recall that in the past, for five hundred lives, I was the Patient Immortal. During all those lives I was without the appearance of a self, others, living beings or a life. For that reason, Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should relinquish all appearances and bring forth the mind of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. He should bring forth thoughts which do not rely on forms or which do not rely on sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, or dharmas. He should bring forth thoughts which do not rely on anything. Any relying of the mind is not relying. Therefore the Buddha says, 'The Bodhisattva's mind should not rely on forms when he gives.' Subhuti, because the Bodhisattva wishes to benefit all living beings, he should give in this way. "The Thus Come One says that all appearances are actually not appearances, and that all living beings are actually not living beings. Subhuti, the Thus Come One speaks the truth. He speaks factually. He speaks of things as they really are. He never deceives nor are his words peculiar. Subhuti, the Dharma the Thus Come One obtained is neither true nor false. "Subhuti, a Bodhisattva who gives with a mind relying on dharmas is like a person in the dark who sees nothing at all. A Bodhisattva who gives with a mind that does not rely on dharmas is like a person with eyes who can see all kinds of things in the bright sunlight. "Subhuti, if in the future there is a good man or good woman who can accept, uphold, read or recite this Sutra, then the Thus Come One using his Buddha-wisdom will thoroughly know and thoroughly see such a person. That person will obtain immeasurable and boundless merit and virtue."

 

 THE MERIT AND VIRTUE GAINED FROM UPHOLDING THIS SUTRA, FIFTEEN

"Subhuti, a good man or good woman might in the morning give away as many bodies as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, and again at noon give away as many bodies as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, and again in the evening give away as many bodies as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, giving away bodies like that throughout immeasurable hundreds of thousands of billions of kalpas. But if someone else were to hear this Sutra and believe it without reservation, his blessings would surpass the blessings of the former person. How much greater the blessings would be if one could write out, accept, uphold, read, recite and explain this Sutra for others. "Subhuti, to sum it up, the merit and virtue of this Sutra is inconceivable, incalculable and boundless. The Thus Come One spoke it for those intent on the Great Vehicle, for those intent on the foremost vehicle. The Thus Come One knows and sees all people who can accept, uphold, read, recite and extensively explain this Sutra for others. Such people perfect immeasurable, incalculable, boundless and inconceivable merit and virtue and sustain the Thus Come One's Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Why? Subhuti, one who delights in lesser dharmas is attached to a view of a self, a view of others, a view of living beings and a view of a life. This person cannot hear, accept, uphold, read or recite this Sutra or explain it for others. "Subhuti, the gods, humans, and asuras of the world should make offerings wherever this Sutra is found. Know that this place is a Stupa. All beings should pay respect, worship, circumambulate and decorate it with incense and flowers."

 

 KARMIC OBSTRUCTIONS CAN BE PURIFIED, SIXTEEN

"Moreover Subhuti, if a good man or good woman who accepts, upholds, reads or recites this Sutra, is ridiculed, that is because that person has karmic offenses from past lives which destine him for the evil paths. But as a result of the ridicule he receives from others in his present life, his previous karmic offenses are destroyed and he will attain Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. "Subhuti, I recall that in the past, for immeasurable asamkhyeya kalpas, prior to Dipankara Buddha, I encountered eighty-four trillion nayutas of Buddhas. I made offerings to and served them all without exception. If there are others in the Final Period who can accept, uphold, read or recite this Sutra, the merit and virtue they obtain is a hundred times more, a thousand times more, ten thousand times more, or a million times more than the merit and virtue I gained from making offerings to all those Buddhas. It is so great that it exceeds all calculations and comparisons. "Subhuti, if I were to explain in detail the merit and virtue of a good man or good woman, who in the Final Period, accepts, upholds, reads or recites this Sutra, then those who hear might go insane or disbelieve. Subhuti, you should know that the principles in this Sutra are inconceivable. So too are the rewards it generates."

 

 ULTIMATELY THERE IS NO SELF, SEVENTEEN

Then Subhuti addressed the Buddha, "World Honored One, if a good man or good woman resolves his mind on Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, on what should he rely? How should he subdue his mind?" The Buddha told Subhuti, "A good man or good woman who resolves his mind on Anuttarasamyaksambodhi should think thus: 'I should take all living beings across to Cessation. Yet when all living beings have been taken across to Cessation, actually not one living being has been taken across to Cessation.' Why? Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva has an appearance of self, others, living beings or a life, he is not a Bodhisattva. For what reason? Subhuti, actually there is no such dharma as resolving one's mind on Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. "Subhuti, what do you think, when the Thus Come One was with Burning Lamp Buddha, did he attain the dharma of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi?" "No World Honored One. As I understand what the Buddha has said, when the Buddha was with Burning Lamp Buddha, he did not attain the dharma of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi." The Buddha said, "So it is, so it is Subhuti. The Thus Come One did not actually attain the dharma of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Subhuti, if the Thus Come One had actually attained the dharma of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, then Burning Lamp Buddha would not have given me the prediction: 'You will in the future become a Buddha with the name Shakyamuni.' Since I did not actually attain the dharma of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, Burning Lamp Buddha gave me the prediction saying these words, 'You will in the future become a Buddha with the name Shakyamuni.' Why? 'Thus Come One' means 'all dharmas are "thus".' Someone might say the Thus Come One attained Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, Subhuti, but actually the Buddha did not attain the dharma of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Subhuti, there is nothing true nor false in the Anuttarasamyaksambodhi the Thus Come One attains. Therefore, the Thus Come One says that all dharmas are Buddhadharma. Subhuti, what are spoken of as 'all dharmas', are not all dharmas. Therefore they are called 'all dharmas.' "Subhuti, suppose there is a person with a big body." Subhuti said, "World Honored One, the Thus Come One speaks of a big body as not being a big body. Therefore it is called a big body." "Subhuti, a Bodhisattva is also like this. If he said, 'I should take across immeasurable living beings to Cessation,' then he could not be called a Bodhisattva. Why? Subhuti, there is really no dharma called a Bodhisattva. Therefore the Buddha says that all dharmas are without self, others, living beings or a life. "Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva said, 'I should adorn Buddhalands,' he could not be called a Bodhisattva. Why? What the Thus Come One speaks of as adorning Buddhalands is not adorning Buddhalands. Therefore it is called adorning Buddhalands. Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva comprehends the dharma of no self, the Thus Come One calls him a true Bodhisattva."

 

 CONTEMPLATING THE ONENESS OF EVERYTHING, EIGHTEEN

"Subhuti, what do you think, does the Thus Come One have the Flesh Eye?" "So it is World Honored One. The Thus Come One has the Flesh Eye." "Subhuti, what do you think, does the Thus Come One have the Heavenly Eye?" "So it is World Honored One. The Thus Come One has the Heavenly Eye." "Subhuti, what do you think, does the Thus Come One have the Wisdom Eye?" "So it is World Honored One. The Thus Come One has the Wisdom Eye." "Subhuti, what do you think, does the Thus Come One have the Dharma Eye?" "So it is World Honored One. The Thus Come One has the Dharma Eye." "Subhuti, what do you think, does the Thus Come One have the Buddha Eye?" "So it is World Honored One. The Thus Come One has the Buddha Eye." "Subhuti, what do you think, has the Thus Come One said that all the sand of the Ganges River is sand?" "So it is World Honored One. The Thus Come One has said that all that sand is sand." "Subhuti, what do you think, if there were as many Ganges rivers as there are grains of sand in one Ganges River, and there were as many Buddhalands as there were grains of sand in all those Ganges rivers, would that be many Buddhalands?" "Very many, World Honored One." The Buddha told Subhuti, "The Thus Come One thoroughly knows all the various thoughts that occur to every living being in each of those Buddhalands. Why? The Thus Come One says that all thoughts are not thoughts. Therefore they are called thoughts. For what reason? Subhuti, you cannot recover past thoughts, you cannot hold on to present thoughts, and you cannot obtain future thoughts."

 

UNDERSTANDING AND TRANSFORMING THE DHARMA REALM, NINETEEN

"Subhuti, what do you think, would a person because of the causes and conditions of filling a threefold great thousand world system with the seven kinds of precious gems and giving them as an offering, obtain many blessings?" "So it is World Honored One. That person on account of his giving would obtain very many blessings." "Subhuti, if these blessings and virtues are real, the Thus Come One would not speak about obtaining many blessings. But because these blessings and virtues do not exist, the Thus Come One speaks of obtaining many blessings."

 

 LEAVING BOTH FORM AND APPEARANCES, TWENTY

"Subhuti, what do you think, should one look for Buddha in his perfect physical body?" "No, World Honored One, one should not look for Thus Come One in his perfect physical body. Why? The Thus Come One has said that the perfect physical body is not the perfect physical body. Therefore it is called the perfect physical body." "Subhuti, what do you think, should one look for Thus Come One in all his perfect appearances?" "No World Honored One, one should not look for Thus Come One in all his perfect appearances. Why? The Thus Come One has said perfect appearances are not perfect appearances. Therefore they are called perfect appearances."

 

 WHAT IS SPOKEN IS NOT SPOKEN, TWENTY-ONE

"Subhuti, do not maintain that the Thus Come One has this thought: 'I have spoken Dharma.' Do not think that way. Why? If someone says the Thus Come One has spoken Dharma, he slanders the Buddha due to his inability to understand what I teach. Subhuti, as to speaking Dharma, no Dharma can be spoken. Therefore it is called 'speaking Dharma'." At that time Subhuti, the wise elder, addressed the Buddha, "World Honored One, will there be living beings in the future who believe in this Sutra when they hear it?" The Buddha said, "The living beings to whom you refer are neither living beings nor not living beings. Why? Subhuti, all the different kinds of living beings the Thus Come One speaks of are not living beings. Therefore they are called living beings."

 

 NO DHARMA CAN BE OBTAINED, TWENTY-TWO

Subhuti addressed the Buddha, "World Honored One, is it true that the Thus Come One, in attaining Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, did not attain anything?" The Buddha said, "So it is, so it is, Subhuti. As to Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, there is not the slightest dharma which I could attain. Therefore it is called Anuttarasamyaksambodhi."

 

 A PURE MIND DOES WHOLESOME DEEDS, TWENTY-THREE

"Moreover, Subhuti, this Dharma is the common denominator; nothing is higher or lower. Therefore it is called Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. A person free of self, others, living beings and a life, who cultivates all wholesome dharmas, attains Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Subhuti, what are called wholesome dharmas, the Thus Come One says are not wholesome dharmas. Therefore they are called wholesome dharmas."

 

 BLESSINGS AND WISDOM BEYOND COMPARE, TWENTY-FOUR

"Subhuti, suppose someone were to take mounds of the seven precious gems piled as high as all the Sumerus, kings of mountains, in a threefold great thousand world system and give them as an offering. And further suppose someone else were to accept, uphold, read or recite and speak for others as few as four lines of verse from this Prajna Paramita Sutra . The former person's blessings and virtues would not equal one percent of the other person's blessings and virtues, neither one tenth of a percent, nor one hundredth of a percent, nor one thousandth of a percent, nor any fraction that could be calculated or expressed by analogy."

 

 TRANSFORMING WITHOUT THERE BEING ANYONE TRANSFORMED, TWENTY-FIVE

"Subhuti, what do you think? None of you should maintain that the Thus Come One has this thought: 'I shall save living beings.' Subhuti, do not think that way. Why? In fact the Thus Come One does not save any living beings. If the Thus Come One saved living beings, then the Thus Come One would have a sense of a self, others, living beings, and a life. "Subhuti, although the Thus Come One speaks of the existence of a self, there is really no self that exists. However, common people think they have a self. Subhuti, the common people that the Thus Come One speaks of are not common people. Therefore they are called common people."

 

 THE DHARMA BODY IS NOT APPEARANCES, TWENTY-SIX

"Subhuti, what do you think, is it possible to contemplate the Thus Come One in his Thirty-two Physical Appearances?" Subhuti said, "So it is, so it is. It is possible to contemplate the Thus Come One in his Thirty-two Physical Appearances." The Buddha said, "Subhuti, if one could contemplate the Thus Come One in his Thirty-two Physical Appearances, then a Wheel Turning Sage King would be the Thus Come One." Subhuti addressed the Buddha, "World Honored One, as I understand what the Buddha has said, one should not contemplate the Thus Come One in his Thirty-two Physical Appearances." At that time the World Honored One spoke a verse saying, One who looks for me in forms, Or seeks me in sounds, Practices a deviant path And will never see the Thus Come One.

 

 NOT DESTROYED NOR ANNIHILATED, TWENTY-SEVEN

"Subhuti, you might have the thought, 'It was not because he perfected his Physical Appearances that the Thus Come One attained Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.' Subhuti, do not think, 'It was not because he perfected his Physical Appearances that the Thus Come One attained Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.' Subhuti, if you think in that way, then those who have resolved their minds on Anuttarasamyaksambodhi would affirm the destruction of all dharmas. Do not think like that. Why? Those who have resolved their minds on Anuttarasamyaksambodhi do not affirm the destruction of the appearances of all dharmas."

 

 NO GREED AND NOTHING ACQUIRED, TWENTY EIGHT

"Subhuti, a Bodhisattva might fill up world systems equal in number to the grains of sand in the Ganges River with the seven kinds of precious gems and give them as gift. But if another person were to realize that all dharmas are devoid of self and attain patience, that Bodhisattva's merit and virtues would surpass the merit and virtues of the previous Bodhisattva. Why, Subhuti? Because Bodhisattvas do not acquire blessings and virtues." Subhuti addressed the Buddha, "World Honored One, how is it that Bodhisattvas do not acquire blessings and virtues?" "Subhuti, Bodhisattvas should neither be greedy for, nor be attached to the blessings and virtues which they foster. Therefore I say they do not acquire blessings and virtues."

 

 THE QUIESCENCE OF HIS AWESOME DEMEANOR, TWENTY-NINE

"Subhuti, if someone says that it seems as if the Thus Come One comes and goes, sits or lies down, such a person does not understand the meaning of my teaching. Why? The Thus Come One does not come from anywhere nor does he go anywhere. Therefore he is called the Thus Come One."

 

 THE PRINCIPLE OF A UNITY OF APPEARANCES, THIRTY

"Subhuti, suppose a good man or good woman were to pulverize a threefold great thousand world system into fine particles of dust. What do you think, would those fine particles of dust be many?" Subhuti said, "Very many World Honored One. Why? If those fine particles of dust did exist, the Buddha would not have called them fine particles of dust. Why is this? What the Buddha speaks of as fine particles of dust are not fine particles of dust. Therefore they are called fine particles of dust. "World Honored One, what the Buddha spoke of as a threefold great thousand world system is not a world system. Therefore it is called a world system. Why? If world systems actually existed, that would constitute a unity of appearances. What the Thus Come One speaks of as a unity of appearances is not a unity of appearances. Therefore it is called a unity of appearances." "Subhuti, a unity of appearances cannot really be expressed, but common people become greedily attached to such things."

 

 KNOWLEDGE AND VIEWS ARE NOT PRODUCED, THIRTY-ONE

"Subhuti, suppose someone were to say that the Buddha spoke of the view of self, the view of others, the view of living beings and the view of a life. Subhuti, what do you think, does that person understand the meaning of my teachings?" "No, World Honored One, that person does not understand the meaning of the Thus Come One's teachings. Why? What the World Honored One spoke of as the view of self, view of others, view of living beings and view of a life is not the view of self, view of others, view of living beings and view of a life. Therefore they are called the view of self, view of others, view of living beings and the view of a life." "Subhuti, those who have resolved their minds on Anuttarasamyaksambodhi should, in regards to all dharmas, thus know, thus perceive, and thus believe and understand and not set up appearances of dharmas. Subhuti, what the Thus Come One speaks of as appearances of dharmas are not appearances of dharmas. Therefore they are called appearances of dharmas."

 

 RESPONSES AND TRANSFORMATIONS ARE UNREAL, THIRTY-TWO

"Subhuti, suppose someone were to fill measureless asamkhyeyas of world systems with the seven precious jewels and give them as an offering. Further, if a good man or good woman who has resolved his mind on Bodhi were to receive, uphold, read or recite and extensively explain for others as little as four lines of verse from this Sutra, the latter person's blessings would surpass those of the former person. "How should this Sutra be explained for others? By not grasping at appearances and being in unmoving thusness. Why? All conditioned dharmas Are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble or a shadow, Like dew or like a lightning flash. Contemplate them thus." After the Buddha spoke this Sutra, the Elder Subhuti, all the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, upasakas and upasikas, and all the gods, humans, and asuras, and others from all the worlds, having heard what the Buddha had said, were extremely happy, faithfully accepted it, and put it into practice.

 

End of the Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra 




Contents

Chapter 1 : Action and Intention
Chapter 2 : Prajna
Chapter 3 : Doubts and Questions
Chapter 4 : Concentration and Wisdom
Chapter 5 : Sitting in Ch'an
Chapter 6 : Repentance and Reform
Chapter 7 : Opportunities and Conditions
Chapter 8 : Sudden and Gradual
Chapter 9 : Proclamations
Chapter 10 : Final Instructions 


Chapter 1
Action and Intention

At one time the Great Master arrived at Pao Lin. Magistrate Wei Ch'u of Shao Chou and other local officials climbed the mountain and invited the Master to come into the city to the lecture hall of the Ta Fan Temple to speak the Dharma to the assembly.

When the Master had taken his seat, the Magistrate and over thirty other officials, more than thirty Confucian scholars, and more than one thousand Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Taoists, and laypeople, all made obeisance at the same time, wishing to hear the essentials of Dharma.

The Great Master said to the assembly, "Good Knowing Advisors, the self-nature of Bodhi is originally clear and pure. Simply use that mind, and you will straightaway accomplish Buddhahood. Good Knowing Advisors, listen while I tell you about the actions and intentions by which Hui Neng obtained the Dharma." 

"Hui Neng's stern father was originally from Fan Yang. He was banished to Hsin Chou in Ling Nan, where he became a commoner. Unfortunately, his father soon died, and his aging mother was left alone. They moved to Nan Hai and, poor and in bitter straits, Hui Neng sold wood in the market place." 

Once a customer bought firewood and ordered it delivered to his shop. When the delivery had been made, and Hui Neng had received the money, he went outside the gate, where he noticed a customer reciting a Sutra. Upon once hearing the words of this Sutra: "One should produce that thought which is nowhere supported." Hui Neng's mind immediately opened to enlightenment. 

Thereupon he asked the customer what Sutra he was reciting. The customer replied, "The Diamond Sutra.

Then again he asked, "Where do you come from, and why do you recite this Sutra?" 

The customer said, "I come from Tung Ch'an Monastery in Ch'i Chou, Huang Mei Province. There the Fifth Patriarch, the Great Master Hung Jen dwells, teaching over one thousand disciples. I went there to make obeisance and heard and received this Sutra." 

"The Great Master constantly exhorts the Sangha and laity only to uphold The Diamond Sutra. Then, they may see their own nature and straightaway achieve Buddhahood." 

Hui Neng heard this and desired to go and seek the Dharma, but he recalled that his mother had no support. 

From past lives there were karmic conditions which led another man to give Hui Neng a pound of silver, so that he could provide clothing and food for his aging mother. The man instructed him further to go to Huang Mei to call upon and bow to the Fifth Patriarch. 

After Hui Neng had made arrangements for his mother's welfare, he took his leave. In less than thirty days he arrived at Huang Mei and made obeisance to the Fifth Patriarch, who asked him, "Where are you from and what do you seek?" 

Hui Neng replied, "Your disciple is a commoner from Hsin Chou in Ling Nan and comes from afar to bow to the Master, seeking only to be a Buddha, and nothing else." 

The Patriarch said, "You are from Ling Nan and are therefore a barbarian, so how can you become a Buddha?" 

Hui Neng said, "Although there are people from the north and people from the south, there is ultimately no north or south in the Buddha nature. The body of the barbarian and that of the High Master are not the same, but what distinction is there in the Buddha nature?" 

The Fifth Patriarch wished to continue the conversation, but seeing his disciples gathering on all sides, he ordered his visitor to follow the group off to work. Hui Neng said, "Hui Neng informs the High Master that this disciple's mind constantly produces wisdom and is not separate from the self nature. That, itself, is the field of blessing. It has not yet been decided what work the High Master will instruct me to do." 

The Fifth Patriarch said, "Barbarian, your faculties are too sharp. Do not speak further, but go to the back courtyard." Hui Neng withdrew to the back courtyard where a cultivator ordered him to split firewood and thresh rice. 

More than eight months had passed when the Patriarch one day suddenly saw Hui Neng and said, "I think these views of yours can be of use but fear that evil people may harm you. For that reason I have not spoken with you. Did you understand the situation?" 

Hui Neng replied, "Your disciple knew the Master's intention and has stayed out of the front hall, so that others might not notice him." 

One day the Patriarch summoned his disciples together and said, "I have something to say to you: for people in the world, the matter of birth and death is a great one. 

"All day long you seek fields of blessings only; you do not try to get out of the bitter sea of birth and death. If you are confused about your self-nature, how can blessings save you?" 

"Each of you go back and look into your own wisdom and use the Prajna-nature of your own original mind to compose a verse. Submit it to me so that I may look at it.  

"If you understand the great meaning, the robe and Dharma will be passed on to you and you will become the sixth patriarch. Hurry off! Do not delay! Thinking and considering is of no use in this matter. When seeing your own nature it is necessary to see it at the very moment of speaking. One who does that perceives as does one who wields a sword in the height of battle." 

The assembly received this order and withdrew, saying to one another, "We of the assembly do not need to clear our minds and use our intellect to compose a verse to submit to the High Master. What use would there be in this?" 

"Shen Hsiu is our senior instructor and teaching transmitter. Certainly he should be the one to obtain it. It would be not only improper for us to compose a verse, but a waste of effort as well." 

Hearing this, everyone put his mind to rest, and said, "Henceforth, we will rely on Master Shen Hsiu. Why vex ourselves writing verses?" 

Shen Hsiu then thought, "The others are not submitting verses because I am their teaching transmitter. I must compose a verse and submit it to the High Master. 

"If I do not submit a verse, how will the High Master know whether the views and understanding in my mind are deep or shallow? 

"If my intention in submitting the verse is to seek the Dharma, that is good. But if it is to grasp the patriarchate, that is bad, for how would that be different from the mind of a common person coveting the holy position? But, if I do not submit a verse, in the end I will not obtain the Dharma. This is a terrible difficulty!" 

In front of the Fifth Patriarch's hall were three corridors. Their walls were to be frescoed by Court Artist Lu Chen with stories from the Lankavatara Sutra and with pictures portraying in detail the lives of the five patriarchs, so that the patriarchs might be venerated by future generations. 

 After composing his verse, Shen Hsiu made several attempts to submit it. But whenever he reached the front hall, his mind became agitated and distraught, and his entire body became covered with perspiration. He did not dare submit it, although in the course of four days he made thirteen attempts.  

Then he thought, "This is not as good as writing it on the wall so that the High Master might see it suddenly. If he says it is good, I will come forward, bow, and say, 'Hsiu did it.' If it does not pass, then I have spent my years on this mountain in vain, receiving veneration from others. And as to further cultivation -- what can I say?" 

That night, in the third watch, holding a candle he secretly wrote the verse on the wall of the South corridor, to show what his mind had seen. 

Verse:

The body is a Bodhi tree,
The mind like a bright mirror stand.
Time and again brush it clean,
And let no dust alight.

After writing this verse, Shen Hsiu returned to his room, and the others did not know what he had done. 

Then he thought, "If the Fifth Patriarch sees the verse tomorrow and is pleased, it will mean that I have an affinity with the Dharma. If he says that it does not pass, it will mean that I am confused by heavy karmic obstacles from past lives, and that I am not fit to obtain the Dharma. It is difficult to fathom the sage's intentions." 

In his room he thought it over and could not sit or sleep peacefully right through to the fifth watch. 

The Patriarch already knew that Shen Hsiu had not yet entered the gate and seen his own nature. At daybreak, the Patriarch called Court Artist Lu Chen to fresco the wall of the south corridor. Suddenly he saw the verse and said to the court artist, "There is no need to paint. I am sorry that you have been wearied by coming so far, but The Diamond Sutra says, 'Whatever has marks is empty and false.' Instead leave this verse for people to recite and uphold. Those who cultivate in accordance with this verse will not fall into the evil destinies and will attain great merit." 

He then ordered the disciples to light incense and bow before it, and to recite it, thus enabling them to see their own nature. The disciples all recited it and exclaimed, "Excellent!" 

At the third watch, the Patriarch called Shen Hsiu into the hall and asked him, "Did you write this verse?" 

Shen Hsiu said, "Yes, in fact, Hsiu did it. He does not dare lay claim to the position of Patriarch, but hopes the High Master will be compassionate and see whether or not this disciple has a little bit of wisdom." 

The Patriarch said, "The verse which you wrote shows that you have not yet seen your original nature but are still outside the gate. With such views and understanding you may seek supreme Bodhi, but in the end will not obtain it. Supreme Bodhi must be obtained at the very moment of speaking. In recognizing the original mind, at all times, in every thought, you yourself will see that the ten thousand Dharmas are unblocked; in one truth is all truth and the ten thousand states are of themselves 'thus,' as they are. The 'thusness' of the mind, just that is true reality. If seen in this way, it is indeed the self nature of supreme Bodhi." 

"Go and think it over for a day or two. Compose another verse and bring it to me to see. If you have been able to enter the gate, I will transmit the robe and Dharma to you." 

Shen Hsiu made obeisance and left. Several days passed, but he was unable to compose a verse. His mind was agitated and confused and his thoughts and mood were uneasy. He was as if in a dream; whether walking or sitting down, he could not be happy. 

Two days later, a young boy chanting that verse passed by the threshing room. Hearing it for the first time, Hui Neng knew that the writer had not yet seen his original nature. Although he had not yet received a transmission of the teaching, he already understood its profound meaning. He asked the boy, "What verse are you reciting?" 

"Barbarian, you know nothing," replied the boy. "The Great Master has said that birth and death are a profound concern for people in the world. Desiring to transmit the robe and Dharma, he ordered his disciples to compose verses and bring them to him to see. The person who has awakened to the profound meaning will inherit the robe and Dharma and become the Sixth Patriarch. Our senior, Shen Hsiu, wrote this 'verse without marks' on the wall of the south corridor. The Great Master ordered everyone to recite it, for to cultivate in accord with this verse is to avoid falling into the evil destinies and is of great merit." 

Hui Neng said, "I, too, would like to recite it to create an affinity. Superior One, I have been pounding rice here for over eight months and have not yet been to the front hall. I hope that the Superior One will lead me before the verse to pay homage." The boy then led him to the verse to bow. 

Hui Neng said, "Hui Neng cannot read. Please, Superior One, read it to me." Then an official from Chiang Chou, named Chang Jih Yung, read it loudly. After hearing it, Hui Neng said, "I, too, have a verse. Will the official please write it for me?" 

The official replied, "You, too, can write a verse? That is strange!" 

Hui Neng said to the official, "If you wish to study the supreme Bodhi, do not slight the beginner. The lowest people may have the highest wisdom; the highest people may have the least wisdom. If you slight others, you create limitless, unbounded offenses." 

The official said, "Recite your verse and I will write it out for you. If you obtain the Dharma you must take me across first. Do not forget these words." 

Hui Neng's verse reads:

Originally Bodhi has no tree,
The bright mirror has no stand.
Originally there is not a single thing:
Where can dust alight?

When this verse had been written, the followers all were startled and without exception cried out to one another, "Strange indeed! One cannot judge a person by his appearance. How can it be that, after so little time, he has become a Bodhisattva in the flesh?" 

The Fifth Patriarch saw the astonished assembly and feared that they might become dangerous. Accordingly, he erased the verse with his shoe saying, "This one, too, has not yet seen his nature." 

The assembly agreed. 

The next day the Patriarch secretly came to the threshing floor where he saw Hui Neng pounding rice with a stone tied around his waist, and he said, "A seeker of the Way would forget his very life for the Dharma. Is this not the case?" 

Then the Fifth Patriarch asked, "Is the rice ready?" 

Hui Neng replied, "The rice has long been ready. It is now waiting only for the sieve." 

The Patriarch rapped the pestle three times with his staff and left. Hui Neng then knew the Patriarch's intention, and at the third watch he went into the Patriarch's room. 

The Patriarch covered them with his precept sash so they could not be seen, and he explained The Diamond Sutra for him down to the line, "One should produce a thought that is nowhere supported." 

At the moment he heard those words, Hui Neng experienced the great enlightenment and he knew that all the ten thousand dharmas are not separate from the self-nature. He said to the Patriarch:

How unexpected? The self-nature is
     originally pure in itself.
How unexpected! The self-nature is
     originally neither produced nor destroyed.
How unexpected! The self nature is
     originally complete in itself.
How unexpected! The self nature is
     originally without movement.
How unexpected! The self nature
     can produce the ten thousand dharmas.

The Fifth Patriarch knew of Hui Neng's enlightenment to his original nature and said to him, "Studying the Dharma without recognizing the original mind is of no benefit. If one recognizes one's own original mind and sees one's original nature, then one is called a great hero, a teacher of gods and humans, a Buddha." 

He received the Dharma in the third watch and no one knew about it. The Fifth Patriarch also transmitted the Sudden Teaching and the robe and bowl saying, "You are the Sixth Patriarch. Protect yourself carefully. Take living beings across by every method and spread the teaching for the sake of those who will live in the future. Do not let it be cut off." 

Listen to my verse:

With feeling comes the planting of the seed.
Because of the ground, the fruit is born again.
Without feeling there is no seed at all.
Without that nature there is no birth either.

The Patriarch further said, "In the past, when the First Patriarch Great Master Bodhidharma first came to this land and people did not believe in him yet, he transmitted this robe as a symbol of faith to be handed down from generation to generation. The Dharma is transmitted from mind to mind, leading everyone to self-awakening and self-enlightenment." 

"From ancient times, Buddha only transmits the original substance to Buddha; master secretly transmits the original mind to master. Since the robe is a source of contention, it should stop with you. Do not transmit it, for if you do, your life will hang by a thread." 

"You must go quickly for I fear that people might harm you." 

Hui Neng asked, "Where shall I go?" 

The Patriarch replied, "Stop at Huai and hide at Hui." 

Hui Neng received the robe and bowl in the third watch. He said, "Hui Neng is a Southerner and does not know these mountain roads. How does one reach the mouth of the river?" 

The Fifth Patriarch said, "You need not worry. I will accompany you." 

The Fifth Patriarch escorted him to the Chiu Chiang courier station and ordered him to board a boat. The Fifth Patriarch took up the oars and rowed. Hui Neng said, "Please, High Master, sit down. It is fitting that your disciple take the oars." 

The Patriarch replied, "It is fitting that I take you across." 

Hui Neng said, "When someone is deluded, his master takes him across, but when he is enlightened, he takes himself across. Although the term 'taking across' is the same in each case, the function is not the same." 

"Hui Neng was born in the frontier regions and his pronunciation is incorrect, yet he has received the Dharma transmission from the Master. Now that enlightenment has been attained, it is only fitting that he take his own nature across." 

The Patriarch replied, "So it is, so it is. Hereafter because of you, the Buddhadharma will be widely practiced. Three years after your departure I will leave this world. Start on your journey now and go south as fast as possible. Do not speak too soon, for the Buddhadharma arises from difficulty." 

After Hui Neng took leave of the Patriarch, he set out on foot for the South. In two months he reached the Ta Yu Mountains. 

The Fifth Patriarch returned to the monastery but for several days he did not enter the hall. The assembly was concerned and went to ask: "Has the Master some slight illness or problem?" 

"There is no illness," came the reply, "but the robe and Dharma have already gone south." 

"Who received the transmission?" they asked. 

"The Able One obtained it," said the Patriarch. 

The assembly then understood, and soon several hundred people took up pursuit, all hoping to steal the robe and bowl. 

One Bhikshu, Hui Ming, a coarse-natured man whose lay name had been Ch'en, had formerly been a fourth class military official. He was intent in his search and ahead of the others. When he had almost caught up with Hui Neng the latter tossed the robe and bowl onto a rock, saying, "This robe and bowl are tokens of faith. How can they be taken by force?" Hui Neng then hid in a thicket. 

When Hui Ming arrived, he tried to pick them up, but found he could not move them. He cried out, "Cultivator, Cultivator, I have come for the Dharma, not for the robe!" 

Hui Neng then came out and sat cross-legged on a rock. Hui Ming made obeisance and said, "I hope that the Cultivator will teach the Dharma for my sake." 

Hui Neng said, "Since you have come for the Dharma, you may put aside all conditions. Do not give rise to a single thought and I will teach it to you clearly." After a time, Hui Neng said, "With no thoughts of good and with no thoughts of evil, at just this moment, what is Superior One Hui Ming's original face?" At these words, Hui Ming was greatly enlightened. 

Hui Ming asked further, "Apart from the secret speech and secret meanings just spoken, is there yet another secret meaning?" 

Hui Neng said, "What has been spoken to you is not secret. If you turn the illumination inward, the secret is with you." 

Hui Ming said, "Although Hui Ming was at Huang Mei he had not yet awakened to his original face. Now that he has been favored with this instruction he is like one who drinks water and knows for himself whether it is cold or warm. The cultivator is now Hui Ming's master." 

"If you feel that way," said Hui Neng, "then you and I have the same master, Huang Mei. Protect yourself well." 

Hui Ming asked further, "Where should I go now?" 

Hui Neng said, "Stop at Yuan and dwell at Meng." 

Hui Ming bowed and left. Reaching the foot of the mountain, he said to the pursuers. "Up above there is only a rocky, trackless height. We must find another path." The pursuers all agreed. Afterwards, Hui Ming changed his name to Tao Ming to avoid using Hui Neng's first name. 

Hui Neng arrived at Ts'ao Hsi where he was again pursued by men with evil intentions. To avoid difficulty, he went to Szu Hui and lived among hunters for fifteen years, at times teaching Dharma to them in an appropriate manner. 

The hunters often told him to watch their nets, but whenever he saw beings who were still living he released them. At mealtime he cooked vegetables in the pot alongside the meat. When he was questioned about it, he would answer "I only eat vegetables alongside the meat." 

One day Hui Neng thought, "The time has come to spread the Dharma. I cannot stay in hiding forever." Accordingly, he went to Fa Hsing Monastery in Kuang Chou where Dharma Master Yin Tsung was giving lectures on The Nirvana Sutra

At that time there were two bhikshus who were discussing the topic of the wind and a flag. One said, "The wind is moving." The other said,"The flag is moving." They argued incessantly. Hui Neng stepped forward and said, "The wind is not moving, nor is the flag. Your minds, Kind Sirs, are moving." Everyone was startled. 

Dharma Master Yin Tsung invited him to take a seat of honor and sought to ask him about the hidden meaning. Seeing that Hui Neng's exposition of the true principles was concise and to the point and not based on written words, Yin Tsung said, "The cultivator is certainly no ordinary man. I heard long ago that Huang Mei's robe and bowl had come south. Cultivator, is it not you?" 

Hui Neng said, "I dare not presume such a thing." 

Yin Tsung then made obeisance and requested that the transmitted robe and bowl be brought forth and shown to the assembly. 

He further asked, "How was Huang Mei's doctrine transmitted?" 

"There was no transmission," replied Hui Neng. "We merely discussed seeing the nature. There was no discussion of Dhyana samadhi or liberation." 

Yin Tsung asked, "Why was there no discussion of Dhyana samadhi or liberation?" 

Hui Neng said, "These are dualistic dharmas. They are not the Buddhadharma. The Buddhadharma is a Dharma of non-dualism." 

Yin Tsung asked further, "What is this Buddhadharma which is the Dharma of non-dualism?" 

Hui Neng said, "The Dharma Master has been lecturing The Nirvana Sutra which says that to understand the Buddha-nature is the Buddhadharma which is the Dharma of non-dualism. As Kao Kuei Te Wang Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, 'Does violating the four serious prohibitions, committing the five rebellious acts, or being an icchantika and the like cut off the good roots and the Buddha-nature?' 

"The Buddha replied, 'There are two kinds of good roots: the first, permanent; the second impermanent. The Buddha-nature is neither permanent nor impermanent. Therefore it is not cut off.' 

"That is what is meant by non-dualistic. The first is good and the second is not good. The Buddha-nature is neither good nor bad. That is what is meant by non-dualistic. Common people think of the heaps and realms as dualistic. The wise man comprehends that they are non-dualistic in nature. The non-dualistic nature is the Buddha-nature." 

Hearing this explanation, Yin Tsung was delighted. He joined his palms and said, "My explanation of Sutras is like broken tile, whereas your discussion of the meaning, Kind Sir, is like pure gold." 

He then shaved Hui Neng's head and asked Hui Neng to be his master. Accordingly, under that Bodhi tree, Hui Neng explained the Tung Shan Dharma-door. 

"Hui Neng obtained the Dharma at Tung Shan and has undergone much suffering, his life hanging as if by a thread. 

"Today, in this gathering of the magistrate and officials, of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Taoists, and laymen, there is not one of you who is not here because of accumulated ages of karmic conditions. Because in past lives you have made offerings to the Buddhas and planted good roots in common, you now have the opportunity to hear the Sudden Teaching, which is a cause of obtaining the Dharma. 

"This teaching has been handed down by former sages; it is not Hui Neng's own wisdom. You who wish to hear the teaching of the former sages should first purify your minds. After hearing it, cast aside your doubts, and that way you will be no different from the sages of the past." 

Hearing this Dharma, the entire assembly was delighted, made obeisance, and withdrew.

 

 

Chapter 2
Prajna

The following day, at the invitation of Magistrate Wei, the Master took his seat and said to the great assembly, "All of you purify your minds and think about Maha Prajna Paramita."

He then said, "Good Knowing Advisors, the wisdom of Bodhi and Prajna is originally possessed by worldly people themselves. It is only because their minds are confused that they are unable to enlighten themselves and must rely on a great Good Knowing Advisor who can lead them to see their Buddha-nature. You should know that the Buddha-nature of stupid and wise people is basically not different. It is only because confusion and enlightenment are different that some are stupid and some are wise. I will now explain for you the Maha Prajna Paramita Dharma in order that each of you may become wise. Pay careful attention, and I will explain it to you.

"Good Knowing Advisors, worldly people recite 'Prajna' with their mouths all day long and yet do not recognize the Prajna of their self-nature. Just as talking about food will not make you full, so, too, if you only speak of emptiness you will not see your own nature in ten thousand ages. In the end you will not have obtained any benefit.

"Good Knowing Advisors, Maha Prajna Paramita is a Sanskrit word which means 'great wisdom which has arrived at the other shore.' It must be practiced in the mind, and not just recited in words. When the mouth recites and the mind does not practice, it is like an illusion, a transformation, dew drops, or lightning. However, when the mouth recites and the mind practices, then mind and mouth are in mutual accord. One's own original nature is Buddha; apart from the nature there is no other Buddha."

"What is meant by Maha? Maha means 'great.' The capacity of the mind is vast and great like empty space, and has no boundaries. It is not square or round, great or small. Neither is it blue, yellow, red or white. It is not above or below, or long or short. It is without anger, without joy, without right, without wrong, without good, without evil, and it has no head or tail.

"All Buddha-lands are ultimately the same as empty space. The wonderful nature of worldly people is originally empty, and there is not a single dharma which can be obtained. The true emptiness of the self-nature is also like this.

"Good Knowing Advisors, do not listen to my explanation of emptiness and then become attached to emptiness. The most important thing is to avoid becoming attached to emptiness. If you sit still with an empty mind you will become attached to undifferentiated emptiness."

"Good Knowing Advisors, the emptiness of the universe is able to contain the forms and shapes of the ten thousand things: the sun, moon, and stars; the mountains, rivers, and the great earth; the fountains, springs, streams, torrents, grasses, trees, thickets, and forests; good and bad people, good and bad dharmas, the heavens and the hells, all the great seas, Sumeru and all mountains - all are contained within emptiness. The emptiness of the nature of worldly men is also like this.

"Good Knowing Advisors, the ability of one's own nature to contain the ten thousand dharmas is what is meant by 'great.' The myriad dharmas are within the nature of all people. If you regard all people, the bad as well as the good, without grasping or rejecting, without producing a defiling attachment, your mind will be like empty space. Therefore it is said to be 'great,' 'Maha.'"

"Good Knowing Advisors, the mouth of the confused person speaks, but the mind of the wise person practices. There are deluded men who sit still with empty minds, vainly thinking of nothing and declaring that to be something great. One should not speak with these people because of their deviant views.

"Good Knowing Advisors, the capacity of the mind is vast and great, encompassing the Dharma realm. Its function is to understand clearly and distinctly. Its correct function is to know all. All is one; one is all. Coming and going freely, the mind's substance is unobstructed. That is Prajna."

"Good Knowing Advisors, all Prajna wisdom is produced from one's own nature; it does not enter from the outside. Using the intellect correctly is called the natural function of one's true nature. One truth is all truth. The mind has the capacity for great things, and is not meant for practicing petty ways. Do not talk about emptiness with your mouth all day and in your mind fail to cultivate the conduct that you talk of. That would be like a common person calling himself the king of a country, which cannot be. People like that are not my disciples."

"Good Knowing Advisors, what is meant by 'Prajna?' Prajna in our language means wisdom. Everywhere and at all times, in thought after thought, remain undeluded and practice wisdom constantly; that is Prajna conduct. Prajna is cut off by a single deluded thought. By one wise thought, Prajna is produced. Worldly men, deluded and confused, do not see Prajna. They speak of it with their mouths, but their minds are always deluded. They constantly say of themselves, 'I cultivate Prajna!' and though they continually speak of emptiness, they are unaware of true emptiness. Prajna, without form or mark, is just the wisdom mind. If thus explained, just this is Prajna wisdom."

"What is meant by Paramita? It is a Sanskrit word which in our language means 'arrived at the other shore,' and is explained as 'apart from production and extinction.' When one is attached to states of being, production and extinction arise like waves on water. That is what is meant by 'this shore.' To be apart from states of being, with no production or extinction, is to be like freely flowing water. That is what is meant by 'the other shore.' Therefore it is called 'Paramita'.

"Good Knowing Advisors, deluded people recite with their mouths, but while they recite they live in falsehood and in error. When there is practice in every thought, that is the true nature. You should understand this dharma, which is the Prajna dharma; and cultivate this conduct, which is the Prajna conduct. Not to cultivate is to be a common person, but in a single thought of cultivation, you are equal to the Buddhas."

"Good Knowing Advisors, common people are Buddhas and affliction is Bodhi. Past thoughts deluded are the thoughts of a common person. Future thoughts enlightened are the thoughts of a Buddha. Past thoughts attached to states of being are afflictions, and future thoughts separate from states of being are Bodhi."

"Good Knowing Advisors, Maha Prajna Paramita is the most honored, the most supreme, the foremost. It does not stay; it does not come or go. All Buddhas of the three periods of time emerge from it. You should use great wisdom to destroy affliction, defilement, and the five skandhic heaps. With such cultivation as that you will certainly realize the Buddha Way, transforming the three poisons into morality, concentration, and wisdom.

"Good Knowing Advisors, my Dharma-door produces 84,000 wisdoms from the one Prajna. Why? Because worldly people have 84,000 kinds of defilement. In the absence of defilement, wisdom is always present, since it is not separate from the self-nature.

"Understand that this dharma is just no-thought, no-remembrance, non-attachment, and the non-production of falsehood and error. Use your own true-suchness nature, and, by means of wisdom, contemplate and, illuminate all dharmas without grasping or rejecting them. That is to see one's own nature and realize the Buddha Way.

"Good Knowing Advisors, if you wish to enter the extremely deep Dharma realm and the Prajna samadhi, you must cultivate the practice of Prajna. Hold and recite The Diamond Prajna Sutra and that way you will see your own nature."

"You should know that the merit and virtue of this Sutra is immeasurable, unbounded, and indescribable, as the Sutra text itself clearly states.

"This Dharma-door is the Superior Vehicle, taught for people of great wisdom and superior faculties. When people of limited faculties and wisdom hear it, their minds give rise to doubt.

"Why is that? Take for example the rain which the heavenly dragons shower on Jambudvipa. Cities and villages drift about in the flood like thorns and leaves. But if the rain falls on the great sea, its waters neither increase nor decrease.

"If people of the Great Vehicle, the Most Superior Vehicle, hear The Diamond Sutra, their minds open up, awaken, and understand. They then know that their original nature itself possesses the wisdom of Prajna. Because they themselves use this wisdom constantly to contemplate and illuminate, they do not rely on written words.

"Take for example the rain water. It does not come from the sky. The truth is that the dragons cause it to fall in order that all living beings, all plants and trees, all those with feeling and those without feeling may receive its moisture. In a hundred streams it flows into the great sea and there unites in one substance. The wisdom of the Prajna of the original nature of living beings acts the same way."

"Good Knowing Advisors, when people of limited faculties hear this Sudden Teaching, they are like the plants and trees with shallow roots which, washed away by the great rain, are unable to grow. But at the same time, the Prajna wisdom which people of limited faculties possess is fundamentally no different from the Prajna that men of great wisdom possess.

"Hearing this Dharma, why do they not become enlightened? It is because the obstacle of their deviant views is a formidable one and the root of their afflictions is deep. It is like when thick clouds cover the sun: if the wind does not blow, the sunlight will not be visible.

Prajna wisdom is itself neither great nor small. Living beings differ because their own minds are either confused or enlightened. Those of confused mind look outwardly to cultivate in search of the Buddha. Not having awakened to their self-nature yet, they have small roots.

"When you become enlightened to the Sudden Teaching, you do not grasp onto the cultivation of external things. When your own mind constantly gives rise to right views, afflictions and defilement can never stain you. That is what is meant by seeing your own nature."

"Good Knowing Advisors, the ability to cultivate the conduct of not dwelling inwardly or outwardly, of coming and going freely, of casting away the grasping mind, and of unobstructed penetration, is basically no different from The Prajna Sutra."

"Good Knowing Advisors, all Sutras and writings of the Great and Small Vehicles, the twelve divisions of Sutras, have been devised because of people and established because of the nature of wisdom. If there were no people the ten thousand dharmas would not exist. Therefore you should know that all dharmas are originally postulated because of people, and all Sutras are spoken for their sakes."

"Some people are deluded and some are wise; the deluded are small people and the wise are great people. The deluded question the wise and the wise teach Dharma to the deluded. When the deluded people suddenly awaken and understand, their minds open to enlightenment and they are no longer different from the wise.

"Good Knowing Advisors, unenlightened, the Buddha is a living being. At the time of a single
enlightened thought, the living being is a Buddha.

"Therefore you should know that the ten thousand dharmas exist totally within your own mind. Why don't you, from within your own mind, suddenly see the true suchness of your original nature?

"The Bodhisattva-shila Sutra says, 'Our fundamental self-nature is clear and pure.' If we recognize our own mind and see the nature, we shall all perfect the Buddha Way. The Vimalakirti Nirdesha Sutra says, 'Just then, suddenly regain your original mind.'"

"Good Knowing Advisors, when I was with the High Master Jen, I was enlightened as soon as I heard his Words, and suddenly saw the true suchness of my own original nature. That is why I am spreading this method of teaching which leads students of the Way to become enlightened suddenly to Bodhi as each contemplates his own mind and sees his own original nature."

"If you are unable to enlighten yourself, you must seek out a great Good Knowing Advisor, one who understands the Dharma of the Most Superior Vehicle and who will direct you to the right road.

"Such a Good Knowing Advisor possesses great karmic conditions, which is to say that he will transform you and guide you and lead you to see your nature. It is because of the Good Knowing Advisor that all wholesome Dharmas can arise. All the Buddhas of the three periods of time, and the twelve divisions of Sutra texts as well, exist within the nature of people, originally complete within them. If you are unable to enlighten yourself, you should seek out the instruction of a Good Knowing Advisor who will lead you to see your nature."

"If you are one who enlightens himself, you need not seek a teacher outside. If you insist that it is necessary to seek a Good Knowing Advisor in the hope of obtaining liberation, you are mistaken. Why? Within your own mind there is self-enlightenment which is a Knowing Advisor.

"But if you give rise to deviant confusion, false thoughts, and perversions, although a Good Knowing Advisor external to you instructs you, he cannot save you."

"If you give rise to genuine Prajna contemplation and illumination, in the space of an instant all false thoughts are extinguished. If you recognize your self-nature, in a single moment of enlightenment you will arrive at the stage of a Buddha."

"Good Knowing Advisor, when you contemplate and illuminate with the wisdom which brightly penetrates within and without, you recognize your original mind.

"The recognition of your original mind is the original liberation. The attainment of liberation is the Prajna Samadhi, is no-thought."

"What is meant by 'no-thought?' No-thought means to view all dharmas with a mind undefiled by attachment. The function pervades all places but is nowhere attached. Merely purify your original mind and cause the six consciousnesses to go out the six gates, to be undefiled and unmixed among the six objects, to come and go freely and to penetrate without obstruction. That is the Prajna Samadhi and freedom and liberation, and it is called the practice of no-thought."

"Not thinking of the hundred things and constantly causing your thought to be cut off is called Dharma-bondage and is an extremist view."

"Good Knowing Advisors, one who awakens to the no-thought dharma completely penetrates the ten thousand dharmas; one who awakens to the no-thought dharma sees all Buddha realms; one who awakens to the no-thought dharma arrives at the Buddha position."

"Good Knowing Advisors, those of future generations who obtain my Dharma should take up this Sudden Teaching Dharma door and with those of like views and like practice they should vow to receive and uphold it as if serving the Buddhas. To the end of their lives they should not retreat, and they will certainly enter the holy position. In this way it should be transmitted from generation to generation. It is silently transmitted. Do not hide away the orthodox Dharma and do not transmit it to those of different views and different practice who believe in other teachings, since it will harm them and ultimately be of no benefit."

"I fear that deluded people may misunderstand and slander this Dharma-door, and will cut off their nature which possesses the seed of Buddhahood for hundreds of ages and thousands of lifetimes.

"Good Knowing Advisors, I have a verse of no-mark which you should all recite. Those at home and those who have left home should cultivate according to it. If you do not cultivate it, memorizing it will be of no use. Listen to my verse:

          With speech and mind both understood,
          Like the sun whose place is in space,
          Just spread the 'seeing-the-nature way'
          Appear in the world to destroy false doctrines.

          Dharma is neither sudden nor gradual,
          Delusion and awakening are slow and quick
          But deluded people cannot comprehend
          This Dharma-door of seeing-the-nature.

          Although it is said in ten thousand ways,
          United, the principles return to one;
          In the dark dwelling of defilements,
          Always produce the sunlight of wisdom.

          The deviant comes and affliction arrives,
          The right comes and affliction goes.
          The false and true both cast aside,
          In clear purity the state of no residue is attained.

          Bodhi is the original self-nature;
          Giving rise to a thought is wrong;
          The pure mind is within the false:
          Only the right is without the three obstructions.

          If people in the world practice the Way,
          They are not hindered by anything.
          By constantly seeing their own transgressions, 
          They are in accord with the Way. 

          Each kind of form has its own way
          Without hindering one another;
          Leaving the Way to seek another way
          To the end of life is not to see the Way.

          A frantic passage through a life,
          Will bring regret when it comes to its end.
          Should you wish for a vision of the true Way,
          Right practice is the Way.

          If you don't have a mind for the Way,
          You walk in darkness blind to the Way;
          If you truly walk the Way,
          You are blind to the faults of the world.

          If you attend to others' faults,
          Your fault-finding itself is wrong;
          Others' faults I do not treat as wrong;
          My faults are my own transgressions.

          Simply cast out the mind that finds fault,
          Once cast away, troubles are gone;
          When hate and love don't block the mind,
          Stretch out both legs and then lie down.

          If you hope and intend to transform others,
          You must perfect expedient means.
          Don't cause them to have doubts, and then
          Their self-nature will appear.

          The Buddhadharma is here in the world;
          Enlightenment is not apart from the world.
          To search for Bodhi apart from the world
          Is like looking for a hare with horns.

          Right views are transcendental;
          Deviant views are all mundane.
          Deviant and right completely destroyed:
          The Bodhi nature appears spontaneously.

          This verse is the Sudden Teaching,
          Also called the great Dharma boat.
          Hear in confusion, pass through ages,
          In an instant's space, enlightenment."


The Master said further, "In the Ta Fan Temple I have just now spoken the Sudden Teaching, making the universal vow that all living beings of the Dharma-realm will see their nature and realize Buddhahood as they hear these words."

Then among Magistrate Wei and the officials, Taoists and lay-people who heard what the Master said, there were none who did not awaken. Together they made obeisance and exclaimed with delight, "Good indeed! Who would have thought that in Ling Nan a Buddha would appear in the world?"

 

 

Chapter 3
Doubts and Questions

One day, Magistrate Wei arranged a great vegetarian feast on behalf of the Master.

After the meal, the Magistrate asked the Master to take his seat. Together with officials, scholars, and the assembly, he bowed reverently and asked, "Your disciple has heard the High Master explain the Dharma. It is truly inconceivable. I now have a few doubts and hope you will be compassionate and resolve them for me."

The Master said, "If you have any doubts, please ask me and I will explain."

The Honorable Wei said, "Is not what the Master speaks the same as the doctrine of Bodhidharma?"

The Master replied, "It is."

The Magistrate asked, "Your disciple has heard that when Bodhidharma first instructed the Emperor Wu of Liang, the Emperor asked him, 'All my life I have built temples, given sanction to the Sangha, practiced giving, and arranged vegetarian feasts. What merit and virtue have I gained?'

"Bodhidharma said, 'There was actually no merit and Virtue.'

"I, your disciple, have not yet understood this principle and hope that the High Master will explain it."

The Master said, "There actually was no merit and virtue. Do not doubt the words of a sage. Emperor Wu of Liang's mind was wrong; he did not know the right Dharma. Building temples and giving sanction to the Sangha, practicing giving and arranging vegetarian feasts is called 'seeking blessings'. Do not mistake blessings for merit and virtue. Merit and virtue are in the Dharma body, not in the cultivation of blessings."

The Master said further, "Seeing your own nature is merit, and equanimity is virtue. To be unobstructed in every thought, constantly seeing the true, real, wonderful function of your original nature is called merit and virtue."

"Inner humility is merit and the outer practice of reverence is virtue. Your self-nature establishing the ten thousand dharmas is merit and the mind-substance separate from thought is virtue. Not being separate from the self-nature is merit, and the correct use of the undefiled (self-nature) is virtue. If you seek the merit and virtue of the Dharma body, simply act according to these principles, for this is true merit and virtue."

"Those who cultivate merit and virtue in their thoughts do not slight others, but always respect them. Those who slight others and do not cut off the 'me and mine' are without merit. The vain and unreal self-nature is without virtue, because of the 'me and mine,' because of the greatness of the 'self,' and because of the constant slighting of others."

"Good Knowing Advisors, continuity of thought is merit, and the mind practicing equality and directness is virtue. Self-cultivation of one's nature is merit, and self-cultivation of the body is virtue."

"Good Knowing Advisors, merit and virtue should be seen within one's own nature, not sought through giving and making offerings. That is the difference between blessings and merit and virtue. Emperor Wu did not know the true principle. Our Patriarch was not in error."

The Magistrate asked further, "Your disciple has often seen the Sangha and laity reciting 'Amitabha Buddha,' vowing to be reborn in the West. Will the High Master please tell me if they will obtain rebirth there, and so dispel my doubts?"

The Master said, "Magistrate, listen well. Hui Neng will explain it for you. When the World Honored One was in Shravasti City, he spoke of being led to rebirth in the West. The Sutra text clearly states, 'It is not far from here.' If we discuss its appearance, it is 108,000 miles away, but in immediate terms, it is just beyond the ten evils and the eight deviations within us. It is explained as far distant for those of inferior roots and as nearby for those of superior wisdom."

"There are two kinds of people, not two kinds of Dharma. Enlightenment and confusion differ, and seeing can be quick or slow. The deluded person recites the Buddha's name, seeking rebirth there, while the enlightened person purifies his own mind. Therefore the Buddha said, 'As the mind is purified, the Buddhaland is purified.'"

"Magistrate, if the person of the East merely purifies his mind, he is without offense. Even though one may be of the West, if his mind is impure he is at fault. The person of the East commits offenses and recites the Buddha's name, seeking rebirth in the West. When the person of the West commits offenses and recites the Buddha's name, in what country does he seek rebirth?"

"Common, deluded people do not understand their self-nature and do not know that the Pure Land is within themselves. Therefore they make vows for the East and vows for the West. To enlightened people, all places are the same. As the Buddha said, 'In whatever place one dwells, there is constant peace and happiness.'

"Magistrate, if the mind-ground is only without unwholesomeness, the West is not far from here. If one harbors unwholesome thoughts, one may recite the Buddha's name, but it will be difficult to attain that rebirth.

"Good Knowing Advisors, I now exhort you all to get rid of the ten evils first and you will have walked one hundred thousand miles. Next get rid of the eight deviations and you will have gone eight thousand miles. If in every thought you see your own nature and always practice impartiality and straightforwardness, you will arrive in a finger-snap and see Amitabha.

"Magistrate, merely practice the ten wholesome acts; then what need will there be for you to vow to be reborn there? But if you do not rid the mind of the ten evils, what Buddha will come to welcome you?"

"If you become enlightened to the sudden dharma of the unproduced, you will see the West in an instant. Unenlightened, you may recite the Buddha's name seeking rebirth, but since the road is so long, how can you traverse it?

"Hui Neng will move the West here in the space of an instant so that you may see it right before your eyes. Do you wish to see it?"

The entire assembly bowed and said, "If we could see it here, what need would there be to vow to be reborn there? Please, High Master, be compassionate and make the West appear so that we might see it."

The Master said: "Great assembly, the worldly person's own physical body is the city, and the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body are the gates. Outside there are five gates and inside there is the gate of the mind. The mind is the 'ground' and one's nature is the 'king'. The 'king' dwells on the mind 'ground.' When the nature is present, the king is present, but when the nature is absent, there is no king. When the nature is present, the body and mind remain, but when the nature is absent, the body and mind are destroyed. The Buddha is made within the self-nature. Do not seek outside the body. Confused, the self-nature is a living being: enlightened, it is a Buddha."

"'Kindness and compassion' are Avalokiteshvara and 'sympathetic joy and giving' are Mahasthamaprapta. 'Purification' is Shakyamuni, and 'equanimity and directness' are Amitabha. 'Others and self' are Mount Sumeru and 'deviant thoughts' are ocean water. 'Afflictions' are the waves. 'Cruelty' is an evil dragon. 'Empty falseness' is ghosts and spirits. 'Defilement' is fish and turtles, 'greed and hatred' are hell, and 'delusion' is animals.

"Good Knowing Advisors, always practice the ten good practices and the heavens can easily be reached. Get rid of others and self, and Mount Sumeru topples. Do away with deviant thought, and the ocean waters dry up. Without defilements, the waves cease. End cruelty, and there are no fish or dragons. The Tathagata of the enlightened nature is on your own mind-ground, emitting a great bright light which outwardly illuminates and purifies the six gates and breaks through the six desire-heavens. Inwardly, it illuminates the self-nature and casts out the three poisons. The hells and all such offenses are destroyed at once. Inwardly and outwardly there is bright penetration. This is no different from the West. But if you do not cultivate, how can you go there?"

On hearing this speech, the members of the great assembly clearly saw their own natures. They bowed together and exclaimed, "This is indeed good! May all living beings of the Dharma Realm who have heard this awaken at once and understand!"

The Master said, "Good Knowing Advisors, if you wish to cultivate, you may do so at home. You need not be in a monastery. If you live at home and practice, you are like the person of the East whose mind is good. If you dwell in a monastery but do not cultivate, you are like the person of the West whose mind is evil. Merely purify your mind; that is the 'West' of your self-nature."

The Honorable Wei asked further: "How should those at home cultivate? Please instruct us."

The Master said, "I have composed a markless verse for the great assembly. Merely rely on it to cultivate and you will be as if always by my side. If you cut your hair and leave home, but do not cultivate, it will be of no benefit in pursuing the Way. The verse runs:

          The mind made straight, why toil following rules?
          The practice sure, of what use is Dhyana meditation?
          Filial deeds support the father and mother.
          Right conduct is in harmony with those above and below.
          Deference: the honored and the lowly in accord with each other.
          Patience: no rumors of the evils of the crowd.
          If drilling wood can spin smoke into fire,
          A red-petalled lotus can surely spring from mud.
          Good medicine is bitter to the taste.
          Words hard against the ear must be good advice.
          Correcting failings gives birth to wisdom.
          Guarded errors expose a petty mind.
          Persist daily in just, benevolent deeds.
          Charity is not the means to attain the Way.
          Search out Bodhi only in the mind.
          Why toil outside in search of the profound?
          Just as you hear these words, so practice:
          Heaven then appears, right before your eyes.


The Master continued, "Good Knowing Advisors, you in this assembly should cultivate according to this verse to see and make contact with your self-nature and to realize the Buddha Way directly. The Dharma does not wait. The assembly may now disperse. I shall now return to Ts'ao Hsi. If you have questions come quickly and ask."

At that time, Magistrate Wei, the officials, and the good men and faithful women of the assembly all attained understanding, faithfully accepted, honored the teaching and practiced it. 

 

 

Chapter 4
Concentration and Wisdom

The Master instructed the assembly: "Good Knowing Advisors, this Dharma-door of mine has concentration and wisdom as its foundation. Great assembly, do not be confused and say that concentration and wisdom are different. Concentration and wisdom are one substance, not two. Concentration is the substance of wisdom, and wisdom is the function of concentration. Where there is wisdom, concentration is in the wisdom. Where there is concentration, wisdom is in the concentration. If you understand this principle, you understand the balanced study of concentration and wisdom.

"Students of the Way, do not say that first there is concentration, which produces wisdom, or that first there is wisdom, which produces concentration: do not say that the two are different. To hold this view implies a duality of dharma-If your speech is good, but your mind is not, then concentration and wisdom are useless because they are not equal. If mind and speech are both good, the inner and outer are alike, and concentration and wisdom are equal.

"Self-enlightenment, cultivation, and practice are not a matter for debate. If you debate which comes first, then you are like a confused man who does not cut off ideas of victory and defeat, but magnifies the notion of self and dharmas, and does not disassociate himself from the four mark."

"Good Knowing Advisors, what are concentration and wisdom like? They are like a lamp and its light. With the lamp, there is light. Without the lamp, there is darkness. The lamp is the substance of the light and the light is the function of the lamp. Although there are two names, there is one fundamental substance. The dharma of concentration and wisdom is also thus."

The Master instructed the assembly: "Good Knowing Advisors, the Single Conduct Samadhi is the constant practice of maintaining a direct, straightforward mind in all places, whether one is walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. As the Vimalakirti Sutra says, 'The straight mind is the Bodhimandala; the straight mind is the Pure Land.'

"Do not speak of straightness with the mouth only, while the mind and practice are crooked nor speak of the Single Conduct Samadhi without maintaining a straight mind. Simply practice keeping a straight mind and have no attachment to any dharma.

"The confused person is attached to the marks of dharmas, while holding to the Single Conduct Samadhi and saying, 'I sit unmoving and falseness does not arise in my mind. That is the Single Conduct Samadhi.' Such an interpretation serves to make him insensate and obstructs the causes and conditions for attaining the Way.

"Good bowing Advisors, the Way must penetrate and flow. How can it be impeded? If the mind does not dwell in dharmas, the Way will penetrate and flow. The mind that dwells in dharmas is in self-bondage. To say that sitting unmoving is correct is to be like Shariputra who sat quietly in the forest but was scolded by Vimalakirti."

"Good Knowing Advisors, there are those who teach people to sit looking at the mind and contemplating stillness, without moving or arising. They claim that it has merit. Confused men, not understanding, easily become attached and go insane. There are many such people. Therefore you should know that teaching of this kind is a great error.

The Master instructed the assembly: "Good knowing Advisors, the right teaching is basically without a division into 'sudden' and 'gradual.' People's natures themselves are sharp or dull. When the confused person who gradually cultivates and the enlightened person who suddenly connects each recognize the original mind and see the original nature, they are no different.

"Therefore, the terms sudden and gradual are shown to be false names.

"Good Knowing Advisors, this Dharma-door of mine, from the past onwards, has been established from the first with no-thought as its doctrine, no-mark as its substance, and no-dwelling as its basis. No-mark means to be apart from marks while in the midst of marks. No-thought means to be without thought while in the midst of thought. No-dwelling is the basic nature of human beings.

"In the world of good and evil, attractiveness and ugliness, friendliness and hostility, when faced with language which is offensive, critical, or argumentative, you should treat it all as empty and have no thought of revenge. In every thought, do not think of former states. If past, present, and future thoughts succeed one another without interruption, it is bondage. Not to dwell in dharmas from thought to thought is to be free from bondage. That is to take no-dwelling as the basis.

"Good Knowing Advisors, to be separate from all outward marks is called 'no-mark.' The ability to be separate from marks is the purity of the Dharma's substance. It is to take no-marks as the substance.

"Good Knowing Advisors, the non-defilement of the mind in all states is called 'no-thought.' In your thoughts you should always be separate from states; do not give rise to thought about them."

"If you merely do not think of the hundred things, and so completely rid yourself of thought, then as the last thought ceases, you die and undergo rebirth in another place. That is a great mistake, of which students of the Way should take heed.

"To misinterpret the Dharma and make a mistake yourself might be acceptable, but to exhort others to do the same is unacceptable. In your own confusion you do not see and, moreover you slander the Buddha's Sutras. Therefore no-thought is established as the doctrine.

"Good Knowing Advisors, why is no-thought established as the doctrine? Because there are confused people who speak of seeing their own nature, and yet they produce thought with regard to states. Their thoughts cause deviant views to arise, and from that all defilement and false thinking are created. Originally, not one single dharma can be obtained in the self-nature .If there is something to attain or false talk of misfortune and blessing, that is just defilement and deviant views. Therefore, this Dharma-door establishes no-thought as its doctrine.

"Good Knowing Advisors, 'No' means no what? 'Thought' means thought of what? 'No' means no two marks, no thought of defilement. 'Thought' means thought of the original nature of True Suchness. True Suchness is the substance of thought and thought is the function of True Suchness.

"The True Suchness self-nature gives rise to thought. It is not the eye, ear, nose, or tongue which can think. The True suchness possesses a nature and therefore gives rise to thought. Without True suchness, the eye, ear, forms, and sounds immediately go bad.

"Good Knowing Advisors, the True Suchness self-nature gives rise to thought, and the six faculties, although they see, hear, feel, and know, are not defiled by the ten thousand states. Your true nature is eternally independent. Therefore, the Vimalakirti Sutra says, 'If one is well able to discriminate all dharma marks, then, in the primary meaning, one does not move.'"

 

 

Chapter 5
Sitting in Ch'an (meditation)

The Master instructed the assembly: "The door of sitting in Ch'an consists fundamentally of attaching oneself neither to the mind nor to purity; it is not non-movement. One might speak of becoming attached to the mind, and yet the mind is fundamentally false. You should know that the mind is like an illusion, and therefore there is nothing to which you can become attached."

"One might say that to practice Ch'an is to attach oneself to purity, yet the nature of people is basically pure. It is because of false thinking that the True Suchness is obscured. Simply have no false thinking, and the nature will be pure of itself.

"If an attachment to purity arises in your mind, a deluded idea of purity will result. What is delusory does not exist, and the attachment is false. Purity has no form or mark and yet there are those who set up the mark of purity as an achievement. Those with this view obstruct their own original nature and become bound by purity.

"Good Knowing Advisors, one who cultivates non-movement does not notice whether other people are right or wrong, good or bad, or whether they have other faults. That is the non-movement of the self-nature.

"Good Knowing Advisors, although the body of the confused person may not move, as soon as he opens his mouth he speaks of what is right and wrong about others, of their good points and shortcomings, and so he turns his back on the Way. Attachment to the mind and attachment to purity are obstructions to the Way."

The Master instructed the assembly, "Good Knowing Advisors, what is meant by 'sitting in Ch'an?' In this unobstructed and unimpeded Dharma-door, the mind's thoughts do not arise with respect to any good or evil external state. That is what 'sitting' is. To see the unmoving self-nature inwardly is Ch'an.

"Good Knowing Advisors, what is meant by 'Ch'an concentration?' Being separate from external marks is 'Ch'an.' Not being confused inwardly is 'concentration.'

"If you become attached to external marks, your mind will be confused inwardly. If you are separate from external marks, inwardly your mind will be unconfused. The original nature is naturally pure, in a natural state of concentration. Confusion arises merely because states are seen and attended to. If the mind remains unconfused when any state is encountered, that is true concentration."

"Good Knowing Advisors, being separate from all external marks is Ch'an and being inwardly unconfused is concentration. External Ch'an and inward concentration are Ch'an concentration. The Vimalakirti Sutra says, 'Just then, suddenly return and regain the original mind.' The Bodhisattva-shila Sutra says, 'Our basic nature is pure of itself.' Good Knowing Advisors, in every thought, see your own clear and pure original nature. Cultivate, practice, realize the Buddha Way!"

 

 

Chapter 6
Repentance and Reform

Seeing the scholars and common people of Kuang Chou and Shao Kuan and the four directions assembled on the mountain to hear the Dharma, the Great Master took his seat and spoke to the assembly, saying:

"Come, each of you Good Knowing Advisors! This work must begin within your self-nature. At all times, in every thought, purify your own mind, cultivate your own conduct, see your own Dharma-body and the Buddha of your own mind. Take yourself across; discipline yourself. Only then will your coming here have not been in vain. You have come from afar to attend this gathering because we have karmic affinities in common. Now all of you kneel and I will first transmit to you the five-fold Dharma-body refuge of the self-nature, and then the markless repentance and reform." 

The assembly knelt and the Master said, "The first is the morality-refuge, which is simply your own mind when free from error, evil, jealousy, greed, hatred and hostility. 

"The second is the concentration-refuge, which is just your own mind which does not become confused when d seeing the marks of all good and evil conditions. 

"The third is the wisdom-refuge, which is simply your own mind when it is unobstructed and when it constantly uses wisdom to contemplate and illuminate the self-nature, when it does no evil, does good without becoming attached, and is respectful of superiors, considerate of inferiors, and sympathetic towards orphans and widows." 

"The fourth is the liberation-refuge, which is simply your own mind independent of conditions, not thinking of good or evil, and free and unobstructed. 

"The fifth is the refuge of knowledge and views. Which is simply your own mind when it is independent of good and evil conditions and when it does not dwell in emptiness or cling to stillness. You should then study in detail, listen a great deal, recognize your original mind and penetrate the true principle of all the Buddhas. You should welcome and be in harmony with living creatures; and, without the idea of self or other, arrive directly at Bodhi, the unchanging true nature." 

"Good Knowing Advisors, the incense of these refuges perfumes each of you within. Do not seek outside. I will now transmit to you the markless repentance and reform to destroy the offensive actions done within the three periods of time and to purify the three karmas." 

"Good Knowing Advisors, repeat after me: 'May this disciple be, in past, present, and future thought, in every thought, unstained by stupidity and confusion. May it be wiped away at once and never arise again.'" 

"'May this disciple be, in past, present, and future thought, in every thought, unstained by arrogance and deceit. Now I completely repent of and reform all bad actions done in the past out of arrogance and deceit and other such offenses. May their effects be wiped away at once and may they never be perpetrated again!'" 

"'May this disciple be in past, present, and future thought, in every thought unstained by jealousy. Now I completely repent of and reform all bad actions done in the past out of jealousy and other such offenses. May they be wiped away at once and never arise again.'" 

"Good Knowing Advisors, the above has been the markless repentance and reform. What is repentance and what is reform? Repentance is to repent of past errors, to repent so completely of all bad actions done in the past out of stupidity, confusion, arrogance, deceit, jealousy, and other such of offense, that they never arise again. Reform is to refrain from such transgressions in the future. Awakening and cutting off such offenses completely and never committing them again is called repentance and reform. 

"Common people, stupid and confused, know only how to repent of former errors and do not know how to reform and refrain from transgressions in the future. Because they do not reform, their former errors are not wiped away, and they will occur in the future. If former errors are not wiped away and transgressions are again committed, how can that be called repentance and reform? 

"Good Knowing Advisors, as you have repented and reformed, I will now teach you to make the four all-encompassing vows.

I vow to take across the limitless living beings of my own mind.
I vow to cut off the inexhaustible afflictions of my own mind.
I vow to study the immeasurable Dharma-doors of my own nature.
I vow to realize the supreme Buddha Way of my own nature.

"Good Knowing Advisors, did all of you not just say, 'I vow to take across the limitless living beings'? What does it mean? You should remember that it is not Hui Neng who takes them across. Good Knowing Advisors, the 'living beings' within your mind are deviant and confused thoughts, deceitful and false thoughts, unwholesome thoughts, jealous thoughts, vicious thoughts: all these thoughts are 'living beings.' The self-nature of each one of them must take itself across. That is true crossing over." 

"What is meant by 'the self nature taking itself across'? It is to take across by means of right views the living beings of deviant views, affliction, and delusion within your own mind. Once you have right views, use Prajna Wisdom to destroy the living beings of delusion, confusion, and falsehood. Each one takes itself across. Enlightenment takes confusion across, wisdom takes delusion across, goodness takes evil across. Such crossing over is a true crossing. 

"Further, 'I vow to cut off inexhaustible afflictions.' That is to use the Prajna Wisdom of your own self-nature to cast out the vain and false thoughts in your mind. 

"Further, 'I vow to study the immeasurable Dharma-doors.' You must see your own nature and always practice the right Dharma. That is true study. 

"Further, 'I vow to realize the supreme Buddha way,' and with humble mind to always practice the true and the proper. Separate yourself from both confusion and enlightenment, and always give rise to Prajna. When you cast out the true and the false, you see your nature and realize the Buddha-way at the very moment it is spoken of. Always be mindful; cultivate the Dharma that possesses the power of this vow." 

"Good knowing Advisors, now that you have made the four all-encompassing vows, I will transmit the precepts of the triple refuge that has no mark. Good Knowing Advisors, take refuge with the enlightened, the honored, the doubly complete. Take refuge with the right, the honored that is apart from desire. Take refuge with the pure, the honored among the multitudes." 

"'From this day forward, we call enlightenment our master and will never again take refuge with deviant demons or outside religions. We constantly enlighten ourselves by means of the Triple Jewel of our own self-nature.' 

"Good Knowing Advisors, I exhort you all to take refuge with the Triple Jewel of your own nature: the a Buddha, which is enlightenment, the Dharma, which is right, and the Sangha, which is pure. 

"When your mind takes refuge with enlightenment, deviant confusion does not arise. Desire decreases, so that you know contentment and are able to keep away from wealth and from the opposite sex. That is called the honored, the doubly complete. 

"When your own mind takes refuge with what is right, there are no deviant views in any of your thoughts. Because there are no deviant views, there is no self, other, arrogance, greed, love, or attachment. That is called the honored that is apart from desire. 

"When your own mind takes refuge with the pure, your self-nature is not stained by attachment to any state of defilement, desire or love. That is called the honored among the multitudes." 

"If you cultivate this practice, you take refuge with yourself. 

"Common people do not understand that, and so, from morning to night, they take the triple-refuge precepts. They say they take refuge with the Buddha, but where is the Buddha? If they cannot see the Buddha, how can they return to him? Their talk is absurd. 

"Good knowing Advisors, each of you examine yourselves. Do not make wrong use of the mind. The Avatamsaka Sutra clearly states that you should take refuge with your own Buddha, not with some other Buddha. If you do not take refuge with the Buddha in yourself, there is no one you can rely on. 

"Now that you are self-awakened, you should each take refuge with the Triple Jewel of your own mind.  

"Within yourself, regulate your mind and nature; outside yourself, respect others. That is to take refuge with yourself." 

"Good Knowing Advisors, now that you have taken refuge with the Triple Jewel, you should listen carefully while I explain to you the three bodies of a single substance, the self-nature of the Buddha, so that you may see the three bodies and become completely enlightened to your own self-nature. 

"Repeat after me, 

     I take refuge with the clear, pure Dharma-body of the Buddha within my own body.
     I take refuge with the hundred thousand myriad Transformation-bodies of the Buddha within my own body.

   I take refuge with the complete and full Reward body of the Buddha within my own body.

"Good Knowing Advisors, the form-body is an inn; it cannot be returned to. The three bodies of the Buddha exist within the self-nature of worldly people, but because they are confused, they do not see the nature within them and so seek the three bodies of the Tathagata outside themselves. They do not see that the three bodies of the Buddha are within their own bodies. 

"Listen to what I say, for it can cause you to see the three bodies of your own self-nature within your own body. The three bodies of the Buddha arise from your own self-nature and are not obtained from outside. 

"What is the clear, pure Dharma-body Buddha? The worldly person's nature is basically clear and pure, and the ten thousand dharmas are produced from it. The thought of evil produces evil actions and the thought of good produces good actions. Thus all dharmas exist within the self-nature. This is like the sky which is always clear, and the sun and moon which are always bright, so that if they are obscured by floating clouds it is bright above the clouds and dark below them. But if the wind suddenly blows and scatters the clouds, there is brightness above and below, and the myriad forms appear. The worldly person's nature constantly drifts l like those clouds in the sky. 

"Good Knowing Advisors, intelligence is like the sun and wisdom is like the moon. Intelligence and wisdom are constantly bright, but if you are attached to external states, the floating clouds of false thought cover the self-nature so that it cannot shine. 

"If you meet a Good Knowing Advisor, if you listen to the true and right Dharma and cast out your own confusion and falseness, then inside and out there will be penetrating brightness, and within the self-nature all the ten thousand dharmas will appear. That is how it is with those who see their own nature. It is called the clear, pure Dharma-body of the Buddha." 

"Good Knowing Advisors, when your own mind takes refuge with your self-nature, it takes refuge with the true Buddha. To take refuge is to rid your self-nature of egotism and unwholesome thoughts as well as of jealousy, obsequiousness, deceitfulness, contempt, pride, conceit, and deviant views, and all other unwholesome tendencies whenever they arise. 

"To take refuge is to be always aware of your own transgressions and never to speak of other people's good or bad traits. Always to be humble and polite is to have penetrated to the self-nature without any obstacle. That is taking refuge. 

"What is the perfect, full Reward-body of the Buddha? Just as one lamp can disperse the darkness of a thousand years, one thought of wisdom can destroy ten thousand years of delusion. 

"Do not think of the past; it is gone and can never be recovered. Instead think always of the future and in every thought, perfect and clear, see your own original nature. Although good and evil differ, the original nature is non-dual. That non-dual nature is the real nature. Undefiled by either good or evil, it is the perfect, full Reward-body of the Buddha. 

"One evil thought arising from the self-nature destroys ten thousand eons' worth of good karma. One good thought arising from the self-nature ends evils as numerous as the sand-grains in the Ganges River. To reach the unsurpassed Bodhi directly, see it for yourself in every thought and do not lose the original thought. That is the Reward-body of the Buddha." 

"What are the hundred thousand myriad Transformation bodies of the Buddha? If you are free of any thought of the ten thousand dharmas, then your nature is basically like emptiness, but in one thought of calculation, transformation occurs. Evil thoughts are transformed into hell-beings and good thoughts into heavenly beings. Viciousness is transformed into dragons and snakes, and compassion into Bodhisattvas. Wisdom is transformed into the upper realms, and delusion into the lower realms. The transformations of the self-nature are extremely many, and yet the confused person, unawakened to that truth, continually gives rise to evil and walks evil paths. Turn a single thought back to goodness, and wisdom is produced. That is the Transformation-body of the Buddha within your self-nature." 

"Good Knowing Advisors, the Dharma body of the Buddha is basically complete. To see your own nature in every thought is the Reward body of the Buddha. When the Reward body thinks and calculates, it is the Transformation Body of the Buddha. Awaken and cultivate by your own efforts the merit and virtue of your self-nature. That is truly taking refuge.  

"The skin and flesh of the physical body are like an inn to which you cannot return. Simply awaken to the three bodies of your self-nature and you will understand the self-nature Buddha." 

"I have a verse without marks. If you can recite and memorize it, it will wipe away-accumulated eons of confusion and offenses as soon as the words are spoken. The verse runs:  

A confused person will foster blessings,
     but not cultivate the Way;
And say, "To practice for the blessings
     is practice o f the Way."

While giving and making offerings
     brings blessings without limit,
It is in the mind that the three evils
     have their origin.

By seeking blessings you may wish
     to obliterate offenses;
But in the future, though you are blessed,
     offenses still remain.

You ought to simply strike the evil
     conditions from your mind;
By true repentance and reform
     within your own self-nature.

A sudden awakening: the true repentance and
     reform of the Great Vehicle;
You must cast out the deviant, and practice
     the right, to be without offense.

To study the Way, always look
     within your own self-nature;
You are then the same in kind
     and lineage as all Buddhas.

Our Patriarch passed along only
     this Sudden Teaching;
Wishing that all might see the nature
     and be of one substance.

In the future if you wish
     to find the Dharma body;
Detach yourself from Dharma marks
     and inwardly wash the mind

Strive to see it for yourself

     and do not waste your time,
For when the final thought has stopped
     your life comes to an end.

Enlightened to the Great Vehicle
     you can see your nature;
So reverently join your palms
     and seek it with all your heart.

The Master said, "Good Knowing Advisors, all of you should take up this verse and cultivate according to it. If you see your nature at the moment these words are spoken, even if we are a thousand miles apart you will always be by my side. If you do not awaken at the moment of speaking, then, face to face we are a thousand miles apart, so why did you bother to come from so far? Take care of yourselves and go well. 

The united assembly heard this Dharma and there were none who did not awaken. They received it with a delight and practiced in accord with it.

 

 

Chapter 7
Opportunities and Conditions

The Master obtained the Dharma at Huang Mei and returned to Ts'ao Hou Village in Shao Chou where no one knew him. But Liu Chih Liao, a scholar, received him with great courtesy. Chih Liao's aunt, Bhikshuni Wu Chin Tsang, constantly recited the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. When the Master heard it, he instantly grasped its wonderful principle and explained it to her. The Bhikshuni then held out a scroll and asked about some characters. 

The Master said, "I cannot read; please ask about the meaning." 

"If you cannot even read, how can you understand the meaning?" asked the Bhikshuni. 

The Master replied, "The subtle meaning of all Buddhas is not based on language." 

The Bhikshuni was startled and she announced to all the elders and virtuous ones in the village: "Here is a gentleman who possesses the Way. We should ask him to stay and receive our offerings." Ts'ao Shu Liang, great-grandson of the Marquis Wu of the Wei dynasty, came rushing to pay homage, along with the people of the village. 

At that time the pure dwellings of the ancient Pao Lin Temple, which had been destroyed by war and fire at the end of the Sui dynasty, were rebuilt on their old foundation. The Master was invited to stay and soon the temple became a revered place. He dwelt there a little over nine months when he was once again pursued by evil men. The Master hid in the mountain in the front of the temple, and when they set fire to the brush and trees, he escaped by crawling into a rock to hide. The rock still bears the imprints of the Master's knees and of his robe where he sat in lotus posture. Because of this it is called "The Rock of Refuge." Remembering the Fifth Patriarch's instructions to stop at Huai and hide at Hui, he went to conceal himself in those two cities. 

 

Bhikshu Fa Hai 

When Bhikshu Fa Hai of Chiu Chiang city in Shao Chou first called on the Patriarch, he asked, "Will you please a instruct me on the sentence, 'Mind is Buddha'?" 

The Master said, "When one's preceding thoughts are not produced this is mind and when one's subsequent thoughts are not extinguished this is Buddha. The setting up of marks is mind, and separation from them is Buddha. Were I to explain it fully, I would not finish before the end of the present age. 

"Listen to my verse:

When the mind is called wisdom,

Then the Buddha is called concentration.

When concentration and wisdom are equal.

The intellect is pure.

 

Understand this Dharma teaching
By practicing within your own nature.
The function is basically unproduced;
It is right to cultivate both."

At these words, Fa Hai was greatly enlightened and spoke a verse in praise:

This mind is basically Buddha;
By not understanding I disgrace myself.
I know the cause of concentration and wisdom
Is to cultivate both and separate myself from all things.

 

Bhikshu Fa Ta

Bhikshu Fa Ta of Hung Chou left home at age seven and constantly recited the Dharma Flower Sutra, but when he came to bow before the Patriarch, his head did not touch the ground. The Master scolded him, saying, "If you do not touch the ground, isn't it better not to bow? There must be something on your mind. What do you practice?"

"I have recited the Dharma Flower Sutra over three thousand times, " he replied. 

The Master said, "I don't care if you have recited it ten thousand times. If you understood the Sutra's meaning, you would not be so overbearing, and you could walk along with me. You have failed in your work and do not even recognize your error. 

"Listen to my verse:

As bowing basically to cut arrogance,
Why don't you touch your head to the ground?
When you possess a self, offenses arise,
But forgetting merit brings supreme blessings."

The Master asked further, "What is your name?" 

"Fa Ta," he replied. 

The Mater said, "Your name means 'Dharma Penetration,' but what Dharma have you penetrated?" He then spoke a verse:

Your name means Dharma Penetration,
And you earnestly recite without pause to rest.
Recitation is mere sound,
But one who understands his mind is call a Bodhisattva.
Now, because of your karmic conditions,
I will explain it to you:
Believe only that the Buddha is without words
And the lotus blossom will bloom from your mouth.

Hearing the verse, Fa Ta was remorseful and he said, "From now on I will respect everyone. Your disciple recites the Dharma Flower Sutra but has not yet understood its meaning. His mind often has doubts. High Master, your wisdom is vast and great. Will you please explain the general meaning of the Sutra for me?" 

The Mater said, "Dharma Penetration, the Dharma is extremely penetrating, but your mind does not penetrate it. There is basically nothing doubtful in the Sutra. The doubts are in your own mind. You recite this Sutra, but what do you think its teaching is?" 

Fa Ta said, "This student's faculties are dull and dim. Since I have only recited it by rote, how could I understand its doctrine?" 

The Master said, "I cannot read, but if you take the Sutra and read it once, I will explain it to you." 

Fa Ta recited loudly until he came to the "Analogies Chapter." The Master said, "Stop! This Sutra fundamentally is based on the principles underlying the causes and conditions of the Buddha's appearance in the world. None of the analogies spoken go beyond that. What are the causes and conditions? The Sutra says, 'All Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, appear in the world for the causes and conditions of the One Important Matter.' The One Important Matter is the knowledge and vision of the Buddha. Worldly people, deluded by the external world, attach themselves to marks, and deluded by the inner world, they attach themselves to emptiness. If you can live among marks and yet be separate from it, then you will be confused by neither the internal nor the external. If you awaken to this Dharma, in one moment your mind will open to enlightenment. The knowledge and vision of the Buddha is simply that. 

"The Buddha is enlightenment. There are four divisions:

1. Opening to the enlightened knowledge and vision;
2. Demonstrating the enlightened knowledge and visions;
3. Awakening to the enlightened knowledge and vision; and
4. Entering the enlightened knowledge and vision.

"If you listen to the opening and demonstrating (of the Dharma), you can easily awaken and enter. That is the enlightened knowledge and vision, the original true nature becoming manifest. Be careful not to misinterpret the Sutra by thinking that the opening, demonstrating, awakening, and entering of which it speaks is the Buddha's knowledge and vision and that we have no share in it. To explain it that way would be to slander the Sutra and defame the Buddha. Since he is already a Buddha, perfect in knowledge and vision, what is the use of his opening to it again? You should now believe that the Buddha's knowledge and vision is simply your own mind, for there is no other Buddha.

"But, because living beings cover their brilliance with greed and with the love of states of defilement, external conditions and inner disturbance make slaves of them. That troubles the World-Honored One to rise from Samadhi, and with various reproaches and expedients, he exhorts living beings to stop and rest, not to seek outside themselves, and to make themselves the same as he is. That is called 'opening the knowledge and vision of the Buddha.' I, too, am always exhorting all people to open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha within their own minds. 

"The minds of worldly people are deviant. Confused and deluded, they commit offenses. Their speech may be good, but their minds are evil. They are greedy, hateful, envious, given over to flattery, deceit, and arrogance. They oppress one another and harm living creatures, thus they open not the knowledge and vision of Buddhas but that of living beings. If you can with an upright mind constantly bring forth wisdom, contemplating and illumining your own mind, and if you can practice the good and refrain from evil, you, yourself will open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha. In every thought you should open up to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha; do not open up to the knowledge and vision of living beings. To be open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha is transcendental; to be open to the knowledge and vision of living beings is mundane. If you exert yourself in recitation, clinging to it as a meritorious exercise, how does that make you different from a yak who loves his own tail?" 

Fa Ta said, "If this is so, then I need only understand the meaning and need not exert myself in reciting the Sutra. Isn't that correct?" 

The Master replied, "What fault does the Sutra have that would stop you from reciting it? Confusion and enlightenment are in you. Loss or gain comes from yourself. If your mouth recites and your mind practices, you 'turn' the Sutra, but if your mouth recites and your mind does not practice, the Sutra 'turns' you. Listen to my verse:

When the mind is confused,
    the Dharma Flower turns it.
The enlightened mind
     will turn the Dharma Flower.  

Reciting the Sutra so long
     without understanding
Has made you an enemy
    of its meaning. 

Without a thought
     your recitation is right.
With thought,
    your recitation is wrong. 

With no "with"
     and no "without"
You may ride forever
    in the White Ox Cart.

Fa Ta heard this verse and wept without knowing it. At the moment the words were spoken, he achieved a great enlightenment and said to the Master, "Until today I have never actually turned the Dharma Flower; instead it has turned me." 

Fa Ta asked further, "The Lotus Sutra says, 'If everyone from Shravakas up to the Bodhisattvas here to exhaust all their thought in order to measure the Buddha's wisdom, they still could not fathom it.' Now, you cause common people merely to understand their own minds, and you call that the knowledge and vision of the Buddha. Because of this, I am afraid that those without superior faculties will not be able to avoid doubting and slandering the Sutra. The Sutra also speaks of three carts. How do the sheep, deer, and ox carts differ from the White Ox Cart? I pray the High Master will once again instruct me." 

The Master said, "The sutra's meaning is clear. You yourself are confused. Disciples of all three vehicles are unable to fathom the Buddha's wisdom; the fault is in their thinking and measuring. The more they think, the further away they go. From the start the Buddha speaks for the sake of common people, not for the sake of other Buddhas. Those who chose not to believe were free to leave the assembly. Not knowing that they were sitting in the White Ox Cart, they sought three vehicles outside the gate. What is more, the Sutra text clearly tells you 'There is only the One Buddha Vehicle, no other vehicle, whether two or three, and the same is true for countless expedients, for various causes and conditions, and for analogies and rhetoric. All these Dharmas are for the sake of the One Buddha Vehicle.'" 

"Why don't you wake up? The three carts are false, because they are preliminary. The one vehicle is real because it is the immediate present. You are merely taught to go from the false and return to the real. Once you have returned to reality, the real is also nameless. You should know that all the treasure and wealth is ultimately your own, for your own use. Do not think further of the father, nor of the son, nor of the use. That is called maintaining the Dharma Flower Sutra. Then from eon to eon your hands will never let go of the scrolls; from morning to night you will recite it unceasingly." 

Fa Ta received this instruction and, overwhelmed with joy, he spoke a verse:

Three thousand Sutra recitations:
At Ts'ao Hsi not one single word.
Before I knew why he appeared in the world,
How could I stop the madness of accumulated births?
Sheep, deer, and ox provisionally set up;
Beginning, middle, end, well set forth.
Who would have thought that within the burning house
Originally the king of Dharma dwelt?

The Master said, "From now on you may be called the monk mindful of the Sutra." From then on, although he understood the profound meaning, Fa Ta continued to recite the Sutra unceasingly. 

 

Bhikshu Chih T'ung

Bhikshu Chih T'ung, a native of An Feng in Shao Chou, had read the Lankavatara Sutra over a thousand times but still did not understand the three bodies and the four wisdoms. He made obeisance to the Master, seeking an explanation of the meaning. The Master said, "The three bodies are: the clear, pure Dharma-body, which is your nature; the perfect, full Reward-body, which is your wisdom; and the hundred thousand myriad Transformation bodies, which are your conduct. To speak of the three bodies as separate from your original nature is to have the bodies but not the wisdoms. To remember that the three bodies have no self-nature is to understand the four wisdoms of Bodhi. Listen to my verse:

Three bodies complete in your own self-nature
When understood become four wisdoms.
While not apart from seeing and hearing
Transcend them and ascend to the Buddha realm.

I will now explain it for you.
If you are attentive and faithful, you will never be deluded.
Don't run outside in search of them,
By saying 'Bodhi' to the end of your days."

Chih T'ung asked further, "May I hear about the meaning of the four wisdoms?"

The Master said, "Since you understand the three bodies, you should also understand the four wisdoms. Why do you ask again? To speak of the four wisdoms as separate from the three bodies is to have the wisdoms but not the bodies, in which case the wisdoms become non-wisdoms." He then spoke this verse:

The wisdom of the great, perfect mirror
Is your clear, pure nature.
The wisdom of equal nature
Is the mind without disease.
Wonderfully observing wisdom
In seeing without effort.
Perfecting wisdom is
The same as the perfect mirror. 

Five, eight, six, seven ---
Effect and cause both turn;
Merely useful names:
They are without real nature.
If, in the place of turning,
Emotion is not kept,
You always and forever dwell
In Naga concentration.

Note: The transformation of consciousness into wisdom has been described. The teaching says, "The first five consciousnesses turned become the perfecting wisdom; the sixth consciousness turned becomes the wonderfully observing wisdom; the seventh consciousness turned becomes the wisdom of equal nature, the eighth consciousness turned becomes the wisdom of the great perfect mirror." 

Although the sixth and seventh are turned in the cause and the first five and the eighth in the effect, it is merely the names which turn. Their substance does not turn. 

Instantly enlightened to the nature of wisdom, Chih T'ung submitted the following verse:

Three bodies are my basic substance,
Four wisdoms my original bright mind.
Body and wisdom in unobstructed fusion:
In response to beings I accordingly take form.
Arising to cultivate them is false movement.
Ho lding to or pondering over them a waste of effort.
Through the Master I know the wonderful principle,
And in the end I lose the stain of names.

 

Bhikshu Chih Ch'ang 

Bhikshu Chih Ch'ang, a native of Kuei Hsi in Hsin Chou, left home when he was a child and resolutely sought to see his own nature. One day he called on the Master, who asked him, "Where are you from and what do you want?" 

Chih Ch'ang replied, "your student has recently been to Pai Feng Mountain in Hung Chou to call on the High Master Ta T'ung and receive his instruction on the principle of seeing one's nature and realizing Buddhahood. As I have not yet resolved my doubts, I have come from a great distance to bow reverently and request the Master's compassionate instruction." 

The Master said, "What instruction did he gave you? Try to repeat it to me." 

Chih Ch'ang said, "After arriving there, three months passed and still I had received no instruction. Being eager for the Dharma, one evening I went alone into the Abbot's room and asked him, 'what is my original mind and original substance?' 

"Ta T'ung then said to me, 'Do you see empty space?' 

"'Yes,' I said, 'I see it.' 

"Ta T'ung said, 'Do you know what appearance it has?' 

"I replied, 'Empty space has no form. How could it have an appearance?' 

"Ta T'ung said, 'Your original mind is just like empty space. To understand that nothing can be seen is called right seeing; to know that nothing can be known is called true knowing. There is nothing blue or yellow, long or short. Simply seeing the clear, pure original source, the perfect, bright enlightened substance, this is what is called 'seeing one's nature and realizing Buddhahood.' It is also called 'the knowledge and vision of the Tathagata.' 

"Although I heard his instruction, I still do not understand and beg you, O Master to instruct me." 

The Master said, "your former master's explanation still retains the concepts of knowing and seeing; and that is why you have not understood. Now, I will teach you with a verse:

Not to see a single dharma
     still retains no-seeing,
Greatly resembling floating clouds
    covering the sun.
Not to know a single dharma
     holds to empty knowing,
Even as a lightning flash
     comes out of empty space.
This knowing and seeing
     arise in an instant.
When seen wrongly,
     can expedients be understood?
If, in the space of a thought,
     you can know your own error,
Your own spiritual light
     will always be manifest.

Hearing the verse, Chih Ch'ang understood it with his heart and mind, and he composed this verse:

Without beginning, knowing and seeing arise.
When one is attached to marks bodhi is sought out.
Clinging to a thought of enlightenment,
Do I rise above my former confusion?
The inherently enlightened substance of my nature
Illuminates the turning twisting flow.
But had I not entered the Patriarch's room,
I'd still be running, lost between the two extremes.

One day Chih Ch'ang asked the Master, "The Buddha taught the dharma of the three vehicles and also the Supreme Vehicle. Your disciple has not yet understood that and would like to be instructed."

The Master said, "Contemplate only your own original mind and do not be attached to the marks of external dharmas. The Dharma doesn't have four vehicles; it is people's minds that differ. Seeing, hearing, and reciting is the small vehicle. Awakening to the Dharma and understanding the meaning is the middle vehicle. Cultivating in accord with Dharma is the great vehicle. To penetrate the ten thousand dharmas entirely and completely while remaining without defilement, and to sever attachment to the marks of all the dharmas with nothing whatsoever gained in return: that is the Supreme Vehicle. Vehicles are methods of practice, not subjects for debate. Cultivate on your own and do not ask me, for at all times your own self-nature is itself 'thus.'" 

Chih Ch'ang bowed and thanked the Master and served him to the end of the Master's life. 

 

Bhikshu Chih Tao 

Bhikshu Chih Tao, a native of Nan Hai in Kuang Chou, asked a favor: "Since leaving home, your student has studied the Nirvana Sutra for over ten years and has still not understood its great purport. I hope that the High Master will bestow his instruction." 

The Master said, "What point haven't you understood?" 

Chih Tao replied,

"All activities are impermanent
     Characterized by production and extinction;
When production and extinction are extinguished,
     That still extinction is bliss.

My doubts are with respect to this passage." 

The Master said, "What are your doubts?" 

"All living beings have two bodies," Chih Tao replied, "the physical body and the Dharma-body. The physical body is impermanent and is produced and destroyed. The Dharma-body is permanent and is without knowing or awareness. The Sutra says that the extinction of production and extinction is bliss, but I do not know which body is in tranquil extinction and which receives the bliss. 

"How could it be the physical body which received the bliss? When this physical body is extinguished, the four elements scatter. That is total suffering and suffering cannot be called bliss. If the Dharma-body were extinguished it would become like grass, trees, tiles, stones; then what would receive the bliss? 

"Moreover, the Dharma-nature is the substance of production and extinction and the five heaps are the function of production and extinction. With one body having five functions, production and extinction are permanent; at the time of production, the functions arise from the substance, and at the time of extinction, the functions return to the substance. If there were rebirth then sentient beings would not cease to exist or be extinguished. If there were not rebirth, they would return to tranquil extinction and be just like insentient objects. Thus all dharmas would be suppressed by Nirvana and there would not even be production. How could there be bliss?" 

The Master said, "You are a son of Shakya! How can you hold the deviant views of annihilationism and permanence which belongs to other religions and criticize the Supreme Vehicle Dharma! According to what you say, there is a Dharma-body that exists apart from physical form and a tranquil extinction to be sought apart from production and extinction. Moreover you propose that there is a body which enjoys the permanence and bliss of Nirvana. But that is to grasp tightly onto birth and death and indulge in worldly bliss." 

"You should now know that deluded people mistook the union of five heaps for their own bodies and discriminated dharmas as external to themselves. They loved life, dreaded death, and drifted from thought to thought, not knowing that this illusory dream is empty and false. They turned vainly around on the wheel of birth and death and mistook the permanence and bliss of Nirvana for a form of suffering. All day long they sought after something else. Taking pity on them, the Buddha made manifest in the space of an instant the true bliss of Nirvana, which has no mark of production or extinction; it has no production or extinction to be extinguished. That, then, is the manifestation of tranquil extinction. Its manifestation cannot be reckoned; it is permanent and blissful. The bliss has neither an enjoyer nor a non-enjoyer. How can you call it 'one substance with five functions?' Worse, how can you say that Nirvana suppresses all dharmas, causing them to be forever unproduced? That is to slander the Buddha and defame the Dharma." 

"Listen to my verse:

Supreme, great Nirvana is bright
Perfect, permanent, still and shining.
Deluded common people call it death,
Other teachings hold it to be annihilation.
All those who seek two vehicles
Regard it as non-action.
Ultimately these notions arise from feeling,
And form the basis for sixty-two views,
Wrongly establishing unreal names.
What is the true, real principle?
Only one who has gone beyond measuring
Penetrates without grasping or rejecting,
And knows that the dharma of the five heaps
And the self within the heaps,
The outward appearances --- a mass of images ---
The mark of every sound,
Are equally like the illusion of dreams,
For him, views of common and holy do not arise
Nor are explanations of Nirvana made.
The two boundaries, the three limits are cut off.
All organs have their function,
But there never arises the thought of the function.
All dharmas are discriminated
Without a thought of discrimination arising.
When the fire at the eon's end burns the bottom of the sea
And the winds blow the mountains against each other,
The true, permanent, still extinct bliss,
The mark of Nirvana is 'thus.'
I have struggled to explain it,
To cause you to reject your false views.
Don't understand it by words alone
And maybe you'll understand a bit of this."

After hearing this verse, Chih Tao was greatly enlightened. Overwhelmed with joy, he made obeisance and withdrew.

 

Bhikshu Hsing Szu 

Dhyana Master Hsing Szu was born into the Liu family, which lived in An Ch'eng district in Chi Chou. Hearing of the flourishing influence of the Ts'ao Hsi Dharma Assembly, Hsing Szu went directly there to pay homage and asked,"What is required to avoid falling into successive stages?" 

The Master said, "What did you do before coming here?" 

He replied, "I did not even practice the Holy Truths." 

The Master said, "Then into what successive states could you fall?" 

He replied, "If one isn't practicing the Four Holy Truths ,what successive stages are there?" 

The Master greatly admired his capacity and made him the leader of the assembly. 

One day the Master said, "You should go elsewhere to teach. Do not allow the teaching to be cut off." 

Having obtained the Dharma, Hsing Szu returned to Ch'ing Yuan Mountain in Chi Chou, to propagate the Dharma and transform living beings. After his death he was given the posthumous title "Dhyana Master Hung Chi." 

 

Dhyana Master Huai Jang 

Dhyana Master Huai Jang was the son of the Tu family in Chin Chou. He first visited National Master An of Sung Mountain, who told him to go to Ts'ao Hsi to pay homage. When he arrived, he bowed, and the Master asked him, "What has come?" 

He replied, "Sung Shan." 

The Master said, "What thing is it and how does it come?" 

He replied, "To say that it is like a thing is to miss the point." 

The Master said, "Then can there still be that which is cultivated and certified?" 

He replied, "Cultivation and certification are not absent, but there can be no defilement." 

The Master said, "It is just the lack of defilement of which all Buddhas are mindful and protective. You are like that, and I am like that, too. In the West, Prajnatara predicted that a colt would run from under your feet, trampling and killing people under heaven. You should keep that in mind, but do not speak of it too soon." 

Huai Jang suddenly understood. Accordingly he waited upon the Master for fifteen years, daily penetrating more deeply into the profound and mysterious. He later went to Nan Yao where he spread the Dhyana School. The title "Dhyana Master Ta Hui" was bestowed upon him posthumously. 

 

Dhyana Master Hsuan Chiao

Dhyana Master Hsun Chiao of Yung Chia was the son of a family called Tai in Wen Chou. When he was young he studied the Sutras and commentaries and was skilled in the T'ien T'ai Dharma-door of "Stop and Look." Upon reading the Vimalakirti Sutra, he understood the mind-ground. One day he happened to meet the Master's disciple Hsuan Ch'e and they had a pleasant talk. As Hsuan Chiao's words were consonant with the words of all the Patriarch, Hsuan Ch'e asked him, "Kind Sir, from whom did you obtain the Dharma?" 

He replied, "I have heard the Vaipulya Sutras and Shastras, receiving each from a master. Later, upon reading the Vimalakirti Sutra, I awakened to the doctrine of the Buddha-mind, but as yet no one has certified me." 

Hsuan Ch'e said, "That was acceptable before the time of the Buddha called the Awesome-Voiced King. But since the coming of that Buddha, all those who 'self-enlighten' without a master belong to other religions which hold to the tenet of spontaneity." 

"Then will you please certify me, Kind Sir?" said Hsuan Chiao. 

Hsuan Ch'e said, "My words are of little worth, but the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch, is at Ts'ao Hsi, where people gather like clouds from the four directions. He is one who has received the Dharma. If you wish to go, I will accompany you." 

Thereupon Hsuan Chiao went with Hsuan Ch'e to call upon the Master. On arriving, he circumambulated the Master three times, shook his staff, and stood in front of him. The Master said, "Inasmuch as a Shramana has perfected the three thousand awesome deportments and the eighty thousand fine practices, where does this Virtuous One come from and what makes him so arrogant?" 

Hsuan Chiao said, "The affair of birth and death is great and impermanence comes quickly." 

The Master said, "Why not embody non-production and understand that which is not quick?"  

He replied, "The body itself is not produced and fundamentally there is no quickness." 

The Master said, "So it is; so it is." 

Hsuan Chiao then made obeisance with perfect awesome deportment. A short while later he announced that he was leaving and the Master said, "Aren't you leaving too quickly?" 

He replied, "Fundamentally I don't move; how can I be quick?" 

The Master said, "Who knows you don't move?"  

He replied, "Kind Sir, you yourself make this discrimination." 

The Master said, "You have truly got the idea of non-production." 

"But does non-production possess an 'idea'?" asked Hsuan Chiao. 

"If it is without ideas, then who discriminates it?" said the Master.

"What discriminates is not an idea either," he replied.

The Master exclaimed, "Good indeed! Please stay for a night." 

During his time he was called "The One Enlightened Overnight" and later he wrote the "Song of Certifying to the Way," which circulated widely in the world. His posthumous title is "Great Master Wu Hsiang," and during his lifetime he was called "Chen Chiao."

 

Dhyana Master Chih Huang

Dhyana cultivator Chih Huang had formerly studied under the Fifth Patriarch and said of himself that he had attained to the "right reception." He lived in a hut, constantly sitting, for twenty years. 

In his travels, the Master's disciple Hsuan Ch'e reached Ho Shuo, where he heard of Chih Huang's reputation. He paid a visit to his hut and asked him, "What are you doing here?" 

"Entering concentration," replied Chih Huang. 

Hsuan Ch'e said, "You say you are entering concentration. Do you enter with thought or without thought? If you enter without thought, then all insentient things, such as grass, trees, tiles, and stones, should likewise attain concentration. If you enter with thought, then all sentient things which have consciousness should also attain concentration." 

Chih Huang said, "When I properly enter concentration I do not notice whether I have thought or not." 

Huuan Ch'e said, "Not to notice whether or not you have thought is eternal concentration. How can you enter it or come out of it? If you come out of it or enter it, it is not the great concentration." 

Chih Huang was speechless. After a long while, he finally asked, "Who is your teacher?" 

Hsuan Ch'e said, "My master is the Sixth Patriarch at Ts'ao Hsi." 

Chih Huang said, "What does your master take to be Dhyana Concentration?" 

Hsuan Ch'e said, "My teacher speaks of the wonderful, clear, perfect stillness, the suchness of the substance and function, the fundamental emptiness of the five skandhas, and the non-existence of the six organs. There is neither emerging nor entering, neither concentration nor confusion. The nature of Dhyana is non-dwelling and is beyond the act of dwelling in Dhyana stillness. The nature of Dhyana is unproduced and beyond the production of the thought of Dhyana. The mind is like empty space and is without the measure of empty space." 

Hearing this explanation, Chih Huang went directly to visit the Master. The Master asked him, "Kind Sir, where are you from?" Chih Huang related the above incident in detail. The Master then said, "It is truly just as he said. Simply let your mind be like empty space without being attached to the idea of emptiness and the correct function of the self-nature will no longer be obstructed. Have no thought, whether in motion or stillness; forget any feeling of being common or holy, put an end to both subject and object. The nature and mark will be 'thus, thus,' and at no time will you be out of the state of concentration." 

Just then Chit Huang attained the great enlightenment. What he had gained in twenty years vanished from his mind without a trace. That night the people of Hopei heard a voice in space announcing. "Today, Dhyana Master Chih Huang has attained the Way." Later, he made obeisance and left, returning to Hopei to teach and convert the four assemblies there.

  

Dhyana Master Chih Huang 

Dhyana cultivator Chih Huang had formerly studied under the Fifth Patriarch and said of himself that he had attained to the "right reception." He lived in a hut, constantly sitting, for twenty years. 

In his travels, the Master's disciple Hsuan Ch'e reached Ho Shuo, where he heard of Chih Huang's reputation. He paid a visit to his hut and asked him, "What are you doing here?" 

"Entering concentration," replied Chih Huang. 

Hsuan Ch'e said, "You say you are entering concentration. Do you enter with thought or without thought? If you enter without thought, then all insentient things, such as grass, trees, tiles, and stones, should likewise attain concentration. If you enter with thought, then all sentient things which have consciousness should also attain concentration." 

Chih Huang said, "When I properly enter concentration I do not notice whether I have thought or not." 

Huuan Ch'e said, "Not to notice whether or not you have thought is eternal concentration. How can you enter it or come out of it? If you come out of it or enter it, it is not the great concentration." 

Chih Huang was speechless. After a long while, he finally asked, "Who is your teacher?" 

Hsuan Ch'e said, "My master is the Sixth Patriarch at Ts'ao Hsi." 

Chih Huang said, "What does your master take to be Dhyana Concentration?" 

Hsuan Ch'e said, "My teacher speaks of the wonderful, clear, perfect stillness, the suchness of the substance and function, the fundamental emptiness of the five skandhas, and the non-existence of the six organs. There is neither emerging nor entering, neither concentration nor confusion. The nature of Dhyana is non-dwelling and is beyond the act of dwelling in Dhyana stillness. The nature of Dhyana is unproduced and beyond the production of the thought of Dhyana. The mind is like empty space and is without the measure of empty space." 

Hearing this explanation, Chih Huang went directly to visit the Master. The Master asked him, "Kind Sir, where are you from?" Chih Huang related the above incident in detail. The Master then said, "It is truly just as he said. Simply let your mind be like empty space without being attached to the idea of emptiness and the correct function of the self-nature will no longer be obstructed. Have no thought, whether in motion or stillness; forget any feeling of being common or holy, put an end to both subject and object. The nature and mark will be 'thus, thus,' and at no time will you be out of the state of concentration." 

Just then Chit Huang attained the great enlightenment. What he had gained in twenty years vanished from his mind without a trace. That night the people of Hopei heard a voice in space announcing. "Today, Dhyana Master Chih Huang has attained the Way." Later, he made obeisance and left, returning to Hopei to teach and convert the four assemblies there. 

 

One Member Of The Sangha

One of the Sangha asked the Master, "Who got the principle of Huang Mei?" 

The Master replied, "The one who understands the Buddhadharma." 

The Sangha member said, "High Master, have you obtained it?" 

"I do not understand the Buddhadharma," the Master replied. 

 

Bhikshu Fang Pien

One day the Master wanted to wash the robe which he had inherited, but there was no clear stream nearby. He walked about two miles behind the temple where he saw good energies revolving in a dense grove of trees. He shook his staff, stuck it in the ground, and a spring bubbled up and formed a pool.

As he knelt to wash his robe on a rock suddenly a monk came up and bowed before him saying, "I am Fang Pien, a native of Hsi Shu. A while ago I was in India, where I visited the Great Master Bodhidharma. He told me to return to China immediately, saying, 'The orthodox Dharma Eye Treasury and the samghati robe which I inherited from Mahakashyapa has been transmitted to the sixth generation at Ts'ao Hsi, Shao Chou. Go there and pay reverence.' Fang Pien has come from afar, hoping to see the robe and bowl that his Master transmitted." 

The Master showed them to him and asked, "Superior One, what work do you do?" 

"I am good at sculpting," he replied. 

Keeping a straight face, the Master said, "Then sculpt something for me to see." 

Fang Pien was bewildered, but after several days he completed a lifelike image of the Patriarch, seven inches high and wonderful in every detail. The Master laughed and said, "You only understand the nature of sculpture; you do not understand the nature of the Buddha." Then the Master stretched out his hand and rubbed the crown of Fang Pien's head, saying, "You will forever be a field of blessing for gods and humans." 

The Master rewarded him with a robe, which Fang Pien divided into three parts: one he used to wrap the sculpture, one he kept for himself, and the third he wrapped in palm leaves and buried in the ground, vowing, "In the future, when this robe is found again, I will appear in the world to be abbot here and restore these buildings." 

Note: During the Sung Dynasty in the eighth year of the Chia Yu reign period (1063 A.D.), while Bhikshu Wei Hsien was repairing the hall, he excavated the earth and found the robe which was like new. The image is at Kao Ch'uan Temple and those who pray before it obtain a quick response. 

 

Master Wo Lun's Verse 

One Bhikshu was reciting Dhyana Master Wo Lun's verse:

Wo Lun has the talent
To stop the hundred thoughts:
Facing situations his mind won't move;
Bodhi grows day by day.

When the Master heard it he said, "This verse shows no understanding of the mind-ground, and to cultivate according to it will increase one's bondage." Then he spoke this verse:

Hui Neng has no talent
To stop the hundred thoughts.
Facing situations his mind often moves;
How can Bodhi grow?

 

 

Chapter 8
Sudden and Gradual

While the Patriarch was staying at Pao Lin Temple in Ts'ao Hsi, the Great Master Shen Hsiu was at Yu Ch'uan Temple in Ching Nan. At that time the two schools nourished and everyone called them, "Southern Neng and Northern Hsiu." So it was that the two schools, northern and southern, were divided into "sudden" and "gradual." As the students did not understand the doctrine, the Master said to them, "The Dharma is originally of one school. It is people who think of North and South. The Dharma is of one kind, but people understand it slowly or quickly. Dharma is not sudden or gradual. Rather it is people who are sharp or dull. Hence the terms sudden and gradual." 

Nonetheless, Shen Hsiu's followers continually ridiculed the southern Patriarch, saying that he couldn't read a single word and had nothing in his favor. But Shen Hsiu said, "He has obtained wisdom without the aid of a teacher and understands the Supreme Vehicle deeply. I am inferior to him. Furthermore, my Master, the Fifth Patriarch, personally transmitted the robe and Dharma to him, and not without good reason. I regret that I am unable to make the long journey to visit him, as I unworthily receive state patronage here. But do not let me stop you. Go to Ts'ao Hsi and call on him." 

One day Shen Hsiu told his disciple Chih Ch'eng, "You are intelligent and very wise. You may go to Ts'ao Hsi on my behalf and listen to the Dharma. Remember it all and take careful notes to read to me when you return." 

As ordered, Chih Ch'eng proceeded to Ts'ao Hsi and joined the assembly without saying where he had come from. The Patriarch told the assembly, "Today there is a Dharma thief hidden in this assembly!" 

Chih Ch'eng immediately stepped forward, bowed, and explained his mission. The Master said, "You are from Yu Ch'uan; you must be a spy." 

"No," he replied, "I am not." 

The Master said, "What do you mean?" 

He replied, "Before I confessed, I was; but now that I have confessed, I am not." 

The Master said, "How does your Master instruct his followers?" 

Chih Ch'eng replied, "He always instructs us to dwell with the mind contemplating stillness and to sit up all the time without lying down." 

The Master said, "To dwell with the mind contemplating stillness is sickness, not Dhyana. Constant sitting restrains the body. How can it be beneficial? Listen to my verse:

When living, sit, don't lie.
When dead, lie down, don't sit.
How can a set of stinking bones
Be used for training?

Chih Ch'ng bowed again and said, "Your disciple studied the Way for nine years at the place of Great Master Hsiu but obtained no enlightenment. Now, hearing one speech from the High Master, I am united with my original mind. Your disciple's birth and death is a serious matter. Will the High Master be compassionate enough to instruct me further?" 

The Master said, "I have heard that your Master instructs his students in the dharmas of morality, concentration, and wisdom. Please tell me how he defines the terms." 

Chih Ch'eng said, "Great Master Shen Hsiu says that morality is abstaining from doing evil, wisdom is offering up all good conduct, and concentration is purifying one's own mind. This is how he explains them, but I do not know, High Master, what dharma of instruction you use." 

The Master said, "If I said that I had a dharma to give to others, I would be lying to you. I merely use expedients to unite bonds and falsely call that samadhi. Your master's explanation of morality, concentration, and wisdom is truly inconceivably good but my conception of morality, concentration and wisdom is different from his." 

Chih Ch'eng said, "There can only be one kind of morality, concentration, and wisdom. How can there be a difference?" 

The Master said, "Your master's morality, concentration, and wisdom guide those of the Great Vehicle, whereas my morality, concentration, and wisdom guide those of the Supreme Vehicle. Enlightenment is not the same as understanding; seeing may take place slowly or quickly. 

"Listen to my explanation. Is it the same as Shen Hsiu's? The Dharma which I speak does not depart from the self-nature, for to depart from the self-nature in explaining the Dharma is to speak of marks and continually confuse the self-nature. You should know that the functions of the ten thousand dharmas all arise from the self-nature and that this is the true morality, concentration, and wisdom. Listen to my verse:

Mind-ground without wrong:
     Self-nature morality.
Mind-ground without delusion:
     Self-nature wisdom.
Mind-ground without confusion:
     Self-nature concentration.
Neither increasing nor decreasing:
     You are vajra.
Body comes, body goes:
     The original samadhi
.

Hearing this verse, Chih Ch'eng regretted his former mistakes, and he expressed his gratitude by saying this verse:

These five heaps are
A body of illusion.
And what is illusion,
Ultimately?
If you tend toward
True suchess
The Dharma is
Not yet pure.

The Master approved, and he said further to Chih Ch'eng, "Your Master's morality, concentration, and wisdom exhort those of lesser faculties and lesser wisdom, while my morality, concentration, and wisdom exhort those of great faculties and great wisdom. If you are enlightened to your self-nature, you do not set up in your mind the notion of Bodhi or of Nirvana or of the liberation of knowledge and vision. When not a single dharma is established in the mind, then the ten thousand dharmas can be established there. To understand this principle is to achieve the Buddha's body which is also called Bodhi, Nirvana, and the liberation of knowledge and vision as well. Those who see their own nature can establish dharmas in their minds or not establish them as they choose. They come and go freely, without impediments or obstacles. They function correctly and speak appropriately, seeing all transformation bodies as integral with the self-nature. That is precisely the way they obtain independence, spiritual powers, and the samadhi of playfulness. This is what is called seeing the nature." 

Chih Ch'eng asked the Master further, "What is meant by 'not establishing?'" 

The Master replied, "When your self-nature is free from error, obstruction, and confusion, when Prajna is present in every thought, contemplating and shedding illumination, and when you are constantly apart from the dharma marks and are free and independent, both horizontally and vertically, then what is there to be established?  

"In the self-nature, in self-enlightenment, in sudden enlightenment, and in sudden cultivation there are no degrees. Therefore, not a single dharma is established. All dharmas are still and extinct. How can there be stages?" 

Chih Ch'eng made obeisance and attended on the Master day and night without laziness. He was a native of T'ai Ho in Chi Chou.

 

Bhikshu Chih Ch'e

Bhikshu Chih Ch'e, a native of Chiang Hsi, had the family name Chang and the personal name Hsing Ch'ang. As a youth he was an itinerant warrior. When the schools split into the Northern and Southern, although the two leaders had lost the notion of self and other, the disciples stirred up love and hate. The disciples of the Northern School secretly set up Shen Hsiu as the Sixth Patriarch. Fearing that the country would hear of the transmission of the robe, they hired Hsing Ch'ang to assassinate the Master. But the Master had the power of knowing the thoughts of others. He knew of this matter in advance and set ten ounces of gold on his chair. That night Hsing Ch'ang entered his room intending to kill him. The Master just stretched out his neck. Hsing Ch'ang swung the blade three times but could not harm him.

The Master said,

A straight sword is not bent.

A bent sword is not straight.
I merely owe you gold.
I do not owe you life.

Hsing Ch'ang fell to the ground in fright. After a while he came to and begged for mercy, repenting of his error and vowing to leave home. The Master gave him the gold and said, "Go! I fear that my followers will come to take revenge. Change your appearance and return another day and I will accept you."

Hsing Ch'ang received his orders and disappeared into the night. Later he left home under another Bhikshu, received the complete precepts and was vigorous in practice. One day, remembering the Master's words, he made the long journey to have an audience. The Master said, "I have thought of you for a long time. What took you so long?" 

He replied, "The High Master once favored me by pardoning my crime. Although I have left home and although I practice austerities, I shall never be able to repay his kindness. May I try to repay you by transmitting the Dharma and taking living beings across? 

"Your disciple often studies the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, but he has not yet understood the principles of permanence and impermanence. I beg the High Master to be compassionate and explain them for me." 

The Master said, "Impermanence is just the Buddha nature and permanence is just the mind discriminating good and evil dharmas." 

"High Master, your explanation contradicts the Sutra text!" Hsing Ch'ang replied.

The Master said, "I transmit the Buddha's mind-seal. How could I dare to contradict the Buddhas' Sutras?" 

Hsing Ch'ang replied, "The Sutra says that the Buddha nature is permanent and the High Master has just said that it is impermanent; it says that good and evil dharmas, reaching even to the Bodhi Mind, are impermanent and the High Master has just said that they are permanent. This contradiction has merely intensified your student's doubt and delusion." 

The Master said, "Formerly, I heard Bhikshuni Wu Chin Tsang recite the Nirvana Sutra. When I commented on it, there was not one word or principle which did not accord with the Sutra text. My explanation to you now is not different." 

Hsing Ch'ang replied, "Your student's capacity for understanding is superficial. Will the High Master please explain further?" 

The Master said, "Don't you understand? If the Buddha nature were permanent, what use would there be in speaking of good and evil dharmas? To the end of an eon not one person would produce the Bodhi Mind. Therefore I explain it as impermanent. That is exactly what the Buddha explained as the meaning of true permanence." 

"Furthermore, if all dharmas were impermanent, all things would have a self-nature subject to birth and death, and the true permanent nature would not pervade all places. Therefore, I explain it as permanent. That is exactly what the Buddha explained as the meaning of true impermanence." 

"It was for the sake of common people and those who belong to other religions who cling to deviant views of permanence, and for all those who follow the two-vehicle way, mistaking permanence for impermanence formulating the eight perverted views, that the Buddha in the ultimate Nirvana teaching destroyed their prejudiced views. He explained true permanence, true bliss, true selfhood, and true purity." 

"You now contradict this meaning by relying on the words, taking annihilation to be impermanence and fixing on a lifeless permanence. In this way you misinterpret the last, subtle, complete and wonderful words of the Buddha. Even if you read it a thousand times, what benefit could you derive from it?" 

Hsing Ch'ang suddenly achieved the great enlightenment and spoke this verse:

To those who hold impermanence in mind,
The Buddha speaks of the permanent nature;
Not knowing expedients is like
Picking up pebbles from a spring pond. 

But now without an effort
The Buddha nature manifests;
The Master did not transmit it,
And I did not obtain a thing.

The Master said, "Now you understand! You should be called 'Chih Ch'e' (breadth of understanding)."

Chih Ch'e thanked the Master, bowed, and withdrew.

  

Bhikshu Shen Hui 

A young boy thirteen years old named Shen Hui, who was from a Kao family in Hsiang Yang, came from Yu Ch'uan to pay homage. The Master said, "The Knowing One's journey must have been difficult. Did you bring the original with you? If you have the original, you should know the owner. Try to explain it to me." 

Shen Hui said, "I take non-dwelling as the original and seeing as the owner." 

The Master said, "This Shramanera imitates the talk of others." 

Shen Hui then asked, "When you sit in Ch'an, High Master, do you see or not?" 

The Master hit him three times with his staff and said, "When I hit you, does it hurt or not?" 

He replied, "It both hurts and does not hurt." 

The Master said, "I both see and do not see."  

Shen Hui asked, "How can you both see and not see?" The Master said, "What I see is the transgression and error of my own mind. I do not see the right, wrong, good, or bad of other people. This is my seeing and not seeing. How can you say it both hurts and does not hurt? If it does not hurt you are like a piece of wood or a stone, but if it does hurt you are just like a common person and will give rise to hatred. Your 'seeing and not seeing' are two extremes and your 'hurting and not hurting' are production and extinction. You have not even seen your own nature and yet you dare to ridicule others." 

Shen Hui bowed, apologized, and thanked the Master. The Master continued, "If your mind is confused and you do not see, then ask a Good Knowing Advisor to help you find the Way. If your mind is enlightened, then see your own nature and cultivate according to the Dharma. You yourself are confused and do not see your own mind, and yet you come to ask me whether or not I see. If I see, I know it for myself, but is that of any help to you in your confusion? In the same way your seeing is of no use to me. Why don't you know and see it for yourself, instead of asking me whether or not I see?" 

Shen Hui bowed again over one hundred times, seeking forgiveness for his error. He served the Master with diligence, never leaving his side. 

One day the Master addressed the assembly as follows: "I have a thing. It has no head or tail, no name or label, no back or front. Do you all know what it is?" 

Shen Hui stepped forward and said, "It is the root source of all Buddhas, Shen Hui's Buddha nature!" 

The Master said, "I just told you that it had no name or label, and you immediately call it the root-source of all Buddhas. Go and build a thatched hut over your head! You're nothing but a follower who pursues knowledge and interpretation." 

After the Master's extinction, Shen Hui went to Ching Lo where he propagated the Ts'ao Hsi Sudden Teaching. He wrote the Hsien Tsung Chi which circulated widely throughout the land. He is known as Dhyana Master Ho Che.

 

Difficult Questions 

The Master saw many disciples of other schools, all with evil intentions, gathered beneath his seat to ask him difficult questions. Pitying them, he said, "Students of the Way, all thoughts of good or evil should be completely cast away. What cannot be named by any name is called the self-nature. This non-dual nature is the real nature, and it is within the real nature that all teaching doors are established. At these words you should see it for yourselves." 

Hearing this, they all made obeisance and asked him to be their master.  

 

 

Chapter 9
Proclamations

On the fifteenth day of the first month, during the first year of the Shen Lung reign (A.D.705) Empress Tse T'ien and Emperor Chung Tsung issued the following Proclamation:

"We have invited Masters Hui An and Shen Hsiu to the palace to receive of offerings so that we may investigate the One Vehicle in the leisure time remaining after our myriad duties. The two Masters have declined, saying that in the South there is Dhyana Master Hui Neng, who was secretly transmitted the robe and Dharma of the Great Master Hung Jen who now transmits the Buddhas' mind-seal.

"We now send Chamberlain Hsieh Chien with this invitation, hoping that the Master will remember us with compassion and come to the capital."

The Master sent back a petition pleading illness saying that he wished to spend his remaining years at the foot of the mountain.
Hsieh Chien said, "The Virtuous Dhyana Masters at the capital all say that to master the Way one must sit in Dhyana meditation and practice concentration, for without Dhyana concentration, liberation is impossible. I do not know how the Master explains this dharma."

The Master said, "The Way is awakened to from the mind. How could it be found in sitting? The Diamond Sutra states that to say that Tathagata either sits or lies down is to walk a deviant path. Why? The clear pure Dhyana of the Tathagata comes from nowhere and goes nowhere and is neither produced nor extinguished. The Tathagata's clear pure 'sitting' is the state of all dharmas being empty and still. Ultimately there is no certification; even less is there any 'sitting.'"

Hsieh Chien said, "When your disciple returns to the capital, their majesties will surely question him. Will the High Master please be compassionate and instruct me on the essentials the mind so that I can transmit them to the two palaces and to student of the Way at the capital? It will be like one lamp setting a hundred thousand lamps burning, making all the darkness endlessly light."

The Master said, "The Way is without light or darkness. Light and darkness belong to the principle of alternation. 'Endless light' has an end, too, because such terms are relative. Therefore the Vimalakirti Sutra says, 'The Dharma is incomparable because it is not relative.'"

Hsieh Chien said, "Light represents wisdom and darkness represents affliction. If cultivators of the Way do not use wisdom to expose and destroy affliction, how can they escape from the birth and death that have no beginning?"

The Master said, "Affliction is Bodhi; they are not two and not different. One who uses wisdom to expose and destroy affliction has the views and understanding of the two vehicles and the potential of the sheep and deer carts. Those of superior wisdom and great roots are completely different."

Hsieh Chien said, "What are the views and understanding of the Great Vehicle?"

The Master said, "The common person sees light and darkness as two, but the wise person comprehends that their nature is non-dual. The non-dual nature is the real nature. The real nature does not decrease in common people nor increase in worthy sages. In afflictions it is not confused and in Dhyana concentration it is not still. It is neither cut off nor permanent. It does not come or go. It is not inside, outside, or in the middle. It is not produced or destroyed. The nature and mark is 'thus, thus.' It permanently dwells and does not change. It is called the 'Way.'"

Hsieh Chien said, "How does your explanation of the self-nature as neither produced nor destroyed differ from that of other religions?"

The Master answered, "As non-production and non-extinction are explained by other religions, extinction ends production and production reveals extinction. Their extinction is not extinction and what they call production is not production. My explanation of non-production and non-extinction is this: originally there was production and now there is no extinction. For this reason my explanation differs from that of other religions.

"If you wish to know the essentials of the mind, simply do not think of good or evil. You will then enter naturally the clear, pure substance of the mind, which is deep and permanently still, and whose wonderful abilities are as numerous as the sand grains in the Ganges River."

Hsieh Chien received this instruction and was suddenly greatly enlightened. He bowed, took leave, and returned to the palace to report the Master's speech. That year on the third of the ninth month a proclamation was issued in praise of the Master. It read:

"The Master has declined our invitation because of old age and illness. He cultivates the Way for us and is a field of blessings for the country. The Master is like Vimalakirti who pleaded illness in Vaishali. He spreads the great fruit widely, transmitting the Buddha-mind and discoursing on the non-dual Dharma.

"Hsieh Chien has conveyed the Master's instruction, the knowledge and vision of the Tathagata. It must be due to accumulated good acts, abundant blessings, and good roots planted in former lives that we now have met with the Master when he appears in the world and have suddenly been enlightened to the Supreme Vehicle. We are extremely grateful for his kindness which we receive with bowed heads, and now offer in return a Mo Na robe and crystal bowl as gifts. We order the Magistrate of Shao Chou to rebuild the temple buildings and convert the Master's former dwelling place into a temple to be called 'Kuo En,' (Country's Kindness)."

 

 

Chapter 10
Final Instructions

One day the Master summoned his disciples Fa Hai, Chih Ch'eng, Fa Ta, Shen Hui, Chih Ch'ang, Chih T'ung, Chih Ch'e, Chih Tao, Fa Chen and Fa Ju, and said to them, "You are not like other people. After my passage into extinction, you should each be a master in a different direction. I will now teach you how to explain the Dharma without deviating from the tradition of our school.

"First bring up the three classes of Dharma-doors, and then use the thirty-six pairs of opposites, so that, whether coming or going, you remain in the Bodhimandala. While explaining all the dharmas, do not become separated from your self-nature. Should someone suddenly ask you about a dharma, answer him with its opposite. If you always answer with the opposite, both will be eliminated and nothing will be left, since each depends on the other for existence." 

"The three classes of Dharma doors are the heaps, the realms, and the entrances. The five heaps are: form, feeling, perception, impulses, and consciousness. The twelve entrances are the six sense objects outside: forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, and objects of the mind, and the six sense organs within: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. The eighteen realms are the six sense objects, the six sense organs and the six consciousnesses. 

"The self-nature is able to contain all dharmas; it is the 'store-enveloping consciousness.' If one gives rise to a thought, it turns into consciousness, and the six consciousnesses are produced which go out the six organs and perceive the six sense objects. 

"Thus the eighteen realms arise as a function of the self-nature. If the self-nature is wrong, it gives rise to eighteen wrongs; if the self-nature is right it gives rise to eighteen rights. Evil functioning is that of a living being, while good functioning is that of a Buddha. What is the functioning based on? It is based on opposing dharmas within the self-nature." 

"External insentient things have five pairs of opposites: heaven and earth, sun and moon, light and darkness, yin and yang, and water and fire. 

"In speaking of the marks of dharmas one should delineate twelve opposites: speech and dharmas, existence and non-existence, form and formlessness, the marked and the unmarked, the presence of outflows and the lack of outflows, form and emptiness, motion and stillness, clarity and turbidity, the common and the holy, membership in the Sangha and membership in the laity, old age and youth, and largeness and smallness. 

"From the self-nature nineteen pairs of opposites arise: length and shortness, deviance and orthodoxy, foolishness and wisdom, stupidity and intelligence, confusion and concentration, kindness and cruelty, morality and immorality, straightness and crookedness, reality and unreality, danger and safety, affliction and Bodhi, permanence and impermanence, compassion and harm, joy and anger, generosity and stinginess, advance and retreat, production and extinction, the Dharma-body and the Form-body, the Transformation-body and the Reward-body." 

The Master said, "If you can understand and use these thirty-six pairs of opposites you can connect yourself with the dharmas of an the Sutras and avoid extremes, whether coming or going. When you act from your self-nature in speaking with others, you are separate from external marks while in the midst of them and separate from inward emptiness while in the midst of emptiness. If you are attached to marks, you will add to your wrong views and if you grasp at emptiness, you will increase your ignorance." 

"Those who grasp at emptiness slander the Sutras by maintaining that written words have no use. Since they maintain they have no need of written words, they should not speak either, because written words are merely the marks of spoken language. They also maintain that the direct way cannot be established by written words, and yet these two words, 'not established' are themselves written. 

"When they hear others speaking, they slander them by saying that they are attached to written words. You should know that to be confused as they are may be permissible, but to slander the Buddha's Sutras is not. Do not slander the Sutras for if you do, your offense will create countless obstacles for you. 

"One who attaches himself to external marks and practices dharmas in search of truth, or who builds many Bodhimandalas and speaks of the error and evil of existence and non-existence will not see his nature for many eons. 

"Listen to the Dharma and cultivate accordingly. Do not think of the hundred things, for that will obstruct the nature of the Way. Listening without cultivating will cause others to form deviant views. Simply cultivate according to the Dharma, and do not dwell in marks when bestowing it." 

"If you understand, then speak accordingly, function accordingly, practice accordingly, and act accordingly, and you will not stray from the basis of our school. 

"If someone asks you about a meaning, and the question is about existence, answer with non-existence; if you are asked about non-existence, answer with existence; asked about the common life, answer with the holy life; asked about the holy life, answer with the common life. Since in each case the two principles are interdependent, the meaning of the Middle Way will arise between them. If you answer every question with an opposite, you will not stray from the basic principle. 

"Suppose someone asks, 'What is darkness?' You should answer, 'Brightness is the cause and darkness the condition. When there is no brightness, there is darkness. Brightness reveals darkness and darkness reveals brightness.' Since opposites are interdependent, the principle of the Middle Way is established. 

"Answer every question that way, and in the future, when you transmit the Dharma, transmit it in the way I am instructing you. Then you will not stray from the tradition of our school." 

In the Seventh month of the year Jen Tsu, the first year of the T'ai Chi and Yen Ho reigns (ca 712 A.D.), the Master sent his disciples to Hsin Chou to build a pagoda at Kuo En Temple. He ordered them to hurry the work and it was completed by the end of the summer of the following year. 

On the first day of the seventh month he gathered his disciples together and said, "In the eighth month I wish to leave this world. Those of you with doubts should ask about them soon so that I may resolve them for you and put an end to your confusion, because when I am gone there will be no one to teach you." 

Hearing this, Fa Hai and the others wept. Only Shen Hui was unmoved and did not cry. The Master said, "Little Master Shen Hui has attained to the equality of good and evil. He is not moved by blame or praise and does not feel sadness or joy. None of the rest of you have attained that. All these years on the mountain --- how have you been cultivating? 

"Now you cry. Who are you worrying about? Are you worrying that I don't know where I'm going? I know where I'm going. If I didn't know, I wouldn't have been able to tell you about it in advance. No doubt you are crying because you don't know where I am going, but if you knew you wouldn't need to cry. Originally the Dharma nature is not produced or extinguished; it does not come or go." 

"All of you sit down, and I will recite a verse called 'The True-False Motion-Stillness Verse.' If you take it up and recite it, you will be of the same mind as I am. If you rely on it to cultivate, you will not stray from the true principle of our school." 

The assembly bowed and begged the Master to recite the verse. 

          There is nothing true in anything,

          So don't view anything as true.

          If you view anything as true,

          Your view will be completely false.
          You can know what is true by yourself.
          Being apart from the false is the truth of the mind.
          When your own mind is not apart from the false
          And lacks the truth, then where is the truth?
          Sentient beings understand motion.
          Insentient beings do not move.
          If you cultivate the work of non-movement,
          Like insentient beings, you will not move.
          If you seek the true non-movement,
          In movement, there is non-movement.
          Non-movement is non-movement,
          Things without sentience lack the Buddha-seed.
          Fully able to discriminate among marks,
          But unmoving in the primary meaning:
          The very act of viewing in this way,
          Itself is the function of true suchness.
          I tell you, students of the Way,
          Apply your minds with effort and take care,
          At the gate of the Great Vehicle
          Do not grasp the wisdom of birth and death.
          If there is response at these words,
          Then let us discuss the Buddha's meaning together.
          If there is no response,
          Join your hands together and make others glad.
          The basis of this school is non-contention.
          Contention is not the meaning of the Way.
          For in grasping at the Dharma doors of contradiction and contention,
          The self-nature enters birth and death.

When the followers heard this verse, they understood its meaning and bowed down before the Master. They made up their minds to practice in accord with the Dharma and not to argue, knowing that the Great Master would not remain long in the world. 

The Senior Seated Fa Hai bowed again and asked, "After the High Master enters extinction, who will inherit the robe and Dharma?" 

The Master said, "Since the time I lectured on the Dharma in the Ta Fan Temple, transcriptions of my lectures have been circulated. They are to be called The Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra. Protect and transmit them in order to take humankind across. If you speak according to them, you will be speaking the Orthodox Dharma. I will explain the Dharma to you, but I will not transmit the robe, because your roots of faith are pure and ripe. You certainly have no doubts and are worthy of the great Work. According to the meaning of the transmission verse of the First Patriarch Bodhidharma, the robe should not be transmitted. His verse said,

Originally I came to this land,
Transmitting Dharma, saving living beings.
One flower opens; five petals and
The fruit comes bear of itself."

The Master added, "All of you Good Knowing Advisors should purify your minds and listen to my explanation of the Dharma. If you wish to realize all knowledge, you must understand the Samadhi of One Mark and the Samadhi of One Conduct. 

"If you do not dwell in marks anywhere and do not give rise to hate or love, do not grasp or reject, and do not calculate advantage or disadvantage, production and destruction while in the midst of marks, but instead remain tranquil, calm, and yielding, then you will have achieved the Samadhi of One Mark.

"In all places, whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, to maintain a straight and uniform mind, to attain the unmoving Bodhimanda and the true realization of the Pure Land. That is called the Samadhi of One Conduct."

"One who perfects the two samadhis is like earth in which seeds are planted; buried in the ground, they are nourished and grow, ripening and bearing fruit. The One Mark and One Conduct are just like that. 

"I now speak the Dharma which is like the falling of the timely rain, moistening the great earth. Your Buddha-nature is like the seeds which, receiving moisture, will sprout and grow. Those who receive my teaching will surely obtain Bodhi and those who practice my conduct will certainly certify to the wonderful fruit. Listen to my verse:

The mind-ground contains every seed;
Under the universal rain they all sprout
Flower and feeling --- Sudden Enlightenment:
The Bodhi-fruit accomplishes itself."

After speaking the verse the Master said, "Dharma is not dual nor is the mind, and the way is pure and without mark. All of you take care not to contemplate stillness or empty the mind. The mind is basically pure and does not grasp or reject anything. Each of you work hard, and go well, in harmony with circumstances." 

At that time, his followers made obeisance and withdrew. 

On the eighth day of the seventh month, the Master suddenly said to his disciples, "I wish to return to Hsin Chou. Quickly ready a boat and oars." 

The great assembly entreated him earnestly to stay, but the Master said, "All Buddhas appear in the world and then are seen to enter Nirvana. This body of mine must return somewhere." 

The assembly said, "Master, you are leaving, but sooner or later you will return." 

The Master said, "Falling leaves return to the root. There was no day on which I came." 

They further asked, "Who has received the transmission of the Right Dharma-eye Treasury?" 

The Master said, "The one who has the Way obtains it; the one without a mind penetrates it." 

They further asked, "In the future, there won't be any difficulties, will there? 

The Master said, "Five or six years after my extinction, a man will come to take my head. Listen to my verse:

Offerings to the parents with bowed head.
There must be food in the mouth.
When the difficulty of 'Man' is met,
The officials will be Yang and Liu."

The Master also said, "Seventy years after my departure, two Bodhisattvas, one who has left home and one who is a layman will simultaneously come from the east to propagate and transform. They will establish my School, build and restore monasteries, and glorify the Dharma for its heirs." 

The assembly made obeisance again and asked, "Will you please let us know for how many generations the teaching has been transmitted since the first Buddhas and patriarchs appeared in the world?" 

The Master said, "The Buddhas of antiquity who have responded to appear in the world are numberless and uncountable." 

"But now I will begin with the last seven Buddhas. In the Past 'Adorned Eon' there were Vipashyin Buddha, Shikhin Buddha, and Vishvabhu Buddha. In the present 'Worthy Eon' there have been Krakucchanda Buddha, Kanakamuni Buddha, Kashyapa Buddha, and Shakyamuni Buddha." 

"From Shakyamuni Buddha, the transmission went to Arya Mahakashyapa, Arya Ananda, Arya Sanakavasa, Arya Upagupta, Arya Dhrtaka, Arya Miccaka, Arya Vasumitra Arya Buddhanandi, Arya Buddhamitra, Arya Parshva…" 

"…Arya Punyayashas, Mahasattva Ashvaghosha, Arya Kapimala, Mahasattva Nagarjuna, Arya Kanadeva, Arya Rahulata Arya Sanghanandi, Arya Gayashata…" 

"…Arya Kumarata, Arya Jayata, Arya Vasubandhu, Arya Manorhita, Arya Haklena, Arya Aryasimha, Arya Basiasita, Arya Punyamitra, Arya Prajnatara, Arya Bodhidharma, Great Master Hui K'o, Great Master Seng Ts'an, Great Master Tao Hsin, Great Master Hung Jen, and I, Hui Neng, am the Thirty-Third Patriarch. Thus the transmission has been handed down from patriarch to patriarch. In the future transmit it accordingly from generation to generation. Do not allow it to become extinct." 

The assembly heard and faithfully accepted what the Master had said, bowed, and withdrew. 

On the third day of the eighth month of the year Kuei Ch'ou, the second year of the Hsien T'ien reign (A.D. 713), after a meal in Kuo En Temple, the Master said, "Each of you take your seat, for I am going to say goodbye." 

Fa Hai said, "What teaching dharma will the High Master leave behind so that confused people can be led to see the Buddha-nature?" 

The Master said, "All of you please listen carefully. If those of future generations recognize living beings, they will have perceived the Buddha-nature. If they do not recognize living beings, they may seek the Buddha throughout many eons, but he will be difficult to meet. 

"I will now teach you how to recognize the living beings within your mind and how to see the Buddha-nature there. If you wish to see the Buddha, simply recognize living beings, for it is living beings who are confused about the Buddha and not the Buddha who is confused about living beings. 

"When enlightened to the self-nature, the living being is a Buddha. If confused about the self-nature, the Buddha is a living being. When the self-nature is impartial, the living being is the Buddha. When the self-nature is biased, the Buddha is a living being. 

"If your thoughts are devious and malicious, the Buddha dwells within the living being, but by means of one impartial thought, the living being becomes a Buddha. Our minds have their own Buddha and that Buddha is the true Buddha. If the mind does not have its own Buddha, where can the true Buddha be sought? Your own minds are the Buddha; have no further doubts. Nothing can be established outside the mind, for the original mind produces the ten thousand dharmas. Therefore the Sutras say, 'The mind produced, all dharmas are produced; the mind extinguished, all dharmas are extinguished.'" 

"Now, to say goodbye, I will leave you a verse called the 'Self-Nature's True Buddha Verse.' People of the future who understand its meaning will see their original mind and realize the Buddha Way. The verse runs:

The true-suchness self-nature
     is the true Buddha.
Deviant views, the three poisons,
     are the demon king.
At times deviant confusion
   the demon king is in the house;
But when you have proper views
   the Buddha is in the hall.
Deviant views, the three poisons
   produced within the nature,
Are just the demon king
   come to dwell in the house.
Proper views casting out
   three poisons of the mind
Transform the demon into Buddha ---
   true, not false.
Dharma-body, Reward-body,
   and Transformation-body:
Fundamentally, the three bodies
   are one body.
Seeing that for yourself
   within your own nature
Is the Bodhi-cause
   for realizing Buddhahood.
The pure nature is originally produced
   from the Transformation-body.
The pure nature is ever-present within
   the Transformation-body,
One's nature leads the Transformation-body
   down the right road.
And in the future the full perfection
   is truly without end.
The root cause of purity
   is the lust nature,
For once rid of lust
   the substance of the nature is pure.
Each of you, within your natures;
   abandon the five desires.
In an instant, see your nature ---
   it is true.
If in this life you encounter
   the door of the Sudden Teaching
You will be suddenly enlightened to your self-nature,
   and see the Honored of the World.
If you wish to cultivate
   and aspire to Buddhahood,
You won't know where the truth
   is to be sought
Unless you can see the truth
   within your own mind,
This truth which is the cause
   of realizing Buddhahood.
Not see your self-nature
   but to seek the Buddha outside:
If you think that way, you are
   deluded indeed.
I now leave behind
   the Dharma-door of the Sudden Teaching
To liberate worldly people
   who must cultivate themselves.
I announce to you
   and to future students of the Way:
If you do not hold these views
     you will only waste your time.

Having spoken the verse the Master continued, "All of you should take care. After my extinction, do not act with worldly emotion. If you weep in sorrow, receive condolences, or wear mourning clothes, you are not my disciples, for that is contrary to the proper Dharma. Simply recognize your own original mind and see your own original nature which is neither moving nor still, neither produced nor extinguished, neither coming nor going, neither right nor wrong, neither dwelling nor departing." 

"Because I am afraid that your confused minds will misunderstand my intention, I will instruct you again so that you may see your nature. After my extinction, continue to cultivate accordingly, as if I were still present. Should you disregard my teaching, then even if I were to remain in the world, you would obtain no benefit." 

He further spoke this verse:

Firm, firm: Do not cultivate the good.
High, high: Do not do evil.
Still, still: Cut off sight and sound.
Vast, vast: The mind unattached.

After speaking this verse, the Master sat upright until the third watch, when suddenly he said to his disciples, "I am going!" In an instant he changed, and a rare fragrance filled the room. A white rainbow linked with the earth, and the trees in the wood turned white. The birds and the beasts cried out in sorrow. 

In the eleventh month, a dispute arose among the officials, disciples, Sangha, and laity of the three countries of Kuang Chou, Shao Chou, and Hsin Chou as to who should receive the true body. 

As they could not agree, they lit incense and prayed saying, "The Master will be returned to the place indicated by the incense smoke." 

The smoke went directly to Ts'ao Hsi and so, on the thirteenth day of the eleventh month, the reliquary and the transmitted robe and bowl were returned there. In the following year, on the twenty-fifth day of the seventh month, the body was removed from the reliquary and Disciple Fang Pien anointed it with incense paste. Remembering the prophecy that his head would be taken, the disciples wrapped sheets of iron and lacquered cloth around his neck for protection and then placed his body in the pagoda. Just then a white light appeared within the pagoda, shot up into the sky, and did not fade for three days. The Magistrate of Shao Chou reported this to the Emperor and received an imperial order to erect a stone tablet commemorating the Master's conduct in the Way. 

The Master's springs and autumns were seventy-six. The robe was transmitted to him when he was twenty-four and when he was thirty-nine his hair was cut. For thirty-seven years he spoke Dharma to benefit living beings. Forty-three men inherited his Dharma, and an uncountable number awoke to the way and overstepped the common lot. The robe of belief transmitted from Bodhidharma, the Mo Na robe and precious bowl conferred by Emperor Chung Tsung, as well as the lifelike image sculpted by Fang Pien and other articles of the Way, were entrusted to the attendant in charge of the stupa and were permanently retained at the Pao Lin Bodhimandala for the Bodhimanda's protection. 

The Platform Sutra has been transmitted to set forth the principles of our school, to glorify the Triple Jewel, and to benefit all living beings. 

 

 

 

Platform Sutra
 

ON THE HIGH SEAT OF "THE TREASURE OF THE LAW"
The Sutra of the 6th Patriarch, Hui Neng

 
Translated by A.  F.  Price and Wong Mou-Lam

 

Chapter 1:  Autobiography


Chapter 2:  On Prajna

Chapter 3:  Questions and Answers

Chapter 4:  Samadhi and Prajna

Chapter 5:  Dhyana

Chapter 6:  On Repentance

Chapter 7:  Temperament and Circumstances

Chapter 8:  The Sudden School and the Gradual School

Chapter 9:  Royal Patronage

Chapter 10:  His Final Instructions


 

Chapter 1:  Autobiography

Once, when the Patriarch had arrived at Pao Lin Monastery, Prefect Wei of Shao Chou and other officials went there to ask him to deliver public lectures on Buddhism in the hall of Ta Fan Temple in the City of Canton.

In due course, there were assembled in the lecture hall Prefect Wei, government officials and Confucian scholars, about thirty each, and bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, Taoists and laymen to the number of about one thousand.  After the Patriarch had taken his seat, the congregation in a body paid him homage and asked him to preach on the fundamental laws of Buddhism.  Whereupon, His Holiness delivered the following address:

Learned Audience, our Essence of Mind (literally, self-nature) which is the seed or kernel of enlightenment (Bodhi) is pure by nature, and by making use of this mind alone we can reach Buddhahood directly.  Now let me tell you something about my own life and how I came into possession of the esoteric teaching of the Dhyana (or the Zen) School.

My father, a native of Fan Yang, was dismissed from his official post and banished to be a commoner in Hsin Chou in Kwangtung.  I was unlucky in that my father died when I was very young, leaving my mother poor and miserable.  We moved to Canton and were then in very bad circumstances.

I was selling firewood in the market one day, when one of my customers ordered some to be brought to his shop.  Upon delivery being made and payment received, I left the shop, outside of which I found a man reciting a sutra.  As soon as I heard the text of this sutra my mind at once became enlightened.  Thereupon I asked the man the name of the book he was reciting and was told that it was the Diamond Sutra.  I further enquired whence he came and why he recited this particular sutra.  He replied that he came from Tung Ch'an Monastery in the Huang Mei District of Ch'i Chou; that the Abbot in charge of this temple was Hung Yen, the Fifth Patriarch; that there were about one thousand disciples under him; and that when he went there to pay homage to the Patriarch, he attended lectures on this sutra. 

He further told me that His Holiness used to encourage the laity as well as the monks to recite this scripture, as by doing so they might realize their own Essence of Mind, and thereby reach Buddhahood directly.

It must be due to my good karma in past lives that I heard about this, and that I was given ten taels for the maintenance of my mother by a man who advised me to go to Huang Mei to interview the Fifth Patriarch.  After arrangements had been made for her, I left for Huang Mei, which took me less than thirty days to reach.

I then went to pay homage to the Patriarch, and was asked where I came from and what I expected to get from him.  I replied, "I am a commoner from Hsin Chou of Kwangtung.  I have travelled far to pay you respect and I ask for nothing but Buddhahood.  " "You are a native of Kwangtung, a barbarian? How can you expect to be a Buddha? " asked the Patriarch.  I replied, "Although there are northern men and southern men, north and south make no difference to their Buddha-nature.  A barbarian is different from Your Holiness physically, but there is no difference in our Buddha-nature.  " He was going to speak further to me, but the presence of other disciples made him stop short.  He then ordered me to join the crowd to work. 

"May I tell Your Holiness, " said I, "that Prajna (transcendental Wisdom) often rises in my mind.  When one does not go astray from one's own Essence of Mind, one may be called the 'field of merits'. 

I do not know what work Your Holiness would ask me to do.  " "This barbarian is too bright, " he remarked.  "Go to the stable and speak no more.  " I then withdrew myself to the back yard and was told by a lay brother to split firewood and to pound rice. 

More than eight months after, the Patriarch saw me one day and said, "I know your knowledge of Buddhism is very sound, but I have to refrain from speaking to you lest evil doers should do you harm.  Do you understand? " "Yes, Sir, I do, " I replied.  "To avoid people taking notice of me, I dare not go near your hall.  " The Patriarch one day assembled all his disciples and said to them, "The question of incessant rebirth is a momentous one.  Day after day, instead of trying to free yourselves from this bitter sea of life and death, you seem to go after tainted merits only (i.e.  merits which will cause rebirth) .  Yet merits will be of no help if your Essence of Mind is obscured.  Go and seek for Prajna (wisdom) in your own mind and then write me a stanza  (gatha) about it.  He who understands what the Essence of Mind is will be given the robe (the insignia of the Patriarchate) and the Dharma (the esoteric teaching of the Zen school) , and I shall make him the Sixth Patriarch.  Go away quickly. 

Delay not in writing the stanza, as deliberation is quite unnecessary and of no use.  The man who has realized the Essence of Mind can speak of it at once, as soon as he is spoken to about it; and he cannot lose sight of it, even when engaged in battle."

Having received this instruction, the disciples withdrew and said to one another, "It is of no use for us to concentrate our mind to write the stanza and submit it to His Holiness, since the Patriarchate is bound to be won by ShenHsiu, our instructor.  And if we write perfunctorily, it will only be a waste of energy.  "Upon hearing this all of them made up their minds not to write and said, "Why should we take the trouble?  Hereafter, we will simply follow our instructor, Shen Hsiu, wherever he goes, and look to him for guidance.  "Meanwhile, Shen Hsiu reasoned thus with himself.  "Considering that I am their teacher, none of them will take part in the competition. 

I wonder whether I should write a stanza and submit it to His Holiness.  If I do not, how can the Patriarch know how deep or superficial my knowledge is? If my object is to get the Dharma, my motive is a pure one.  If I were after the Patriarchate, then it would be bad.  In that case, my mind would be that of a worldling and my action would amount to robbing the Patriarch's holy seat.  But if I do not submit the stanza, I shall never have a chance of getting the Dharma.  A very difficult point to decide, indeed!" In front of the Patriarch's hall there were three corridors, the walls of which were to be painted by a court artist, named Lu Chen, with pictures from the Lankavatara Sutra depicting the transfiguration of the assembly, and with scenes showing the genealogy of the five Patriarchs for the information and veneration of the public. 

When Shen Hsiu had composed his stanza he made several attempts to submit it to the Patriarch, but as soon as he went near the hall his mind was so perturbed that he sweated all over.  He could not screw up courage to submit it, although in the course of four days he made altogether thirteen attempts to do so. 

Then he suggested to himself, "It would be better for me to write it on the wall of the corridor and let the Patriarch see it for himself.  If he approves it, I shall come out to pay homage, and tell him that it is done by me; but if he disapproves it, then I shall have wasted several years in this mountain in receiving homage from others which I by no means deserve!  In that case, what progress have I made in learning Buddhism?" At 12 o'clock that night he went secretly with a lamp to write the stanza on the wall of the south corridor, so that the Patriarch might know what spiritual insight he had attained. 

The stanza read:

Our body is the Bodhi-tree,
And our mind a mirror bright. 
Carefully we wipe them hour by hour,
And let no dust alight.

As soon as he had written it he left at once for his room; so nobody knew what he had done.  In his room he again pondered: "When the Patriarch sees my stanza tomorrow and is pleased with it, I shall be ready for the Dharma; but if he says that it is badly done, it will mean that I am unfit for the Dharma, owing to the misdeeds in previous lives which thickly becloud my mind.  It is difficult to know what the Patriarch will say about it!" In this vein he kept on thinking until dawn, as he could neither sleep nor sit at ease. 

But the Patriarch knew already that Shen Hsiu had not entered the door of enlightenment, and that he had not known the Essence of Mind. 

In the morning, he sent for Mr.  Lu, the court artist, and went with him to the south corridor to have the walls there painted with pictures.  By chance, he saw the stanza.  "I am sorry to have troubled you to come so far, " he said to the artist.  "The walls need not be painted now, as the Sutra says, 'All forms or phenomena are transient and illusive.  'It will be better to leave the stanza here, so that people may study it and recite it.  If they put its teaching into actual practice, they will be saved from the misery of being born in these evil realms of existence.  The merit gained by one who practices it will be great indeed!" He then ordered incense to be burnt, and all his disciples to pay homage to it and to recite it, so that they might realize the Essence of Mind.  After they had recited it, all of them exclaimed, "Well done!" At midnight, the Patriarch sent for Shen Hsiu to come to the hall, and asked him whether the stanza was written by him or not.  "It was, Sir, " replied Shen Hsiu.  "I dare not be so vain as to expect to get the Patriarchate, but I wish Your Holiness would kindly tell me whether my stanza shows the least grain of wisdom." "Your stanza," replied the Patriarch, "shows that you have not yet realized the Essence of Mind.  So far you have reached the 'door of enlightenment', but you have not yet entered it.  To seek for supreme enlightenment with such an understanding as yours can hardly be successful. 

"To attain supreme enlightenment, one must be able to know spontaneously one's own nature or Essence of Mind, which is neither created nor can it be annihilated.  From ksana to ksana (thought-moment to thought-moment) , one should be able to realize the Essence of Mind all the time.  All things will then be free from restraint (i.e.  , emancipated) .  Once the Tathata (Suchness, another name for the Essence of Mind) is known, one will be free from delusion forever; and in all circumstances one's mind will be in a state of 'Thusness'.  Such a state of mind is absolute Truth.  If you can see things in such a frame of mind you will have known the Essence of Mind, which is supreme enlightenment. 

"You had better go back to think it over again for couple of days, and then submit me another stanza.  If your stanza shows that you have entered the 'door of enlightenment', I will transmit you the robe and the Dharma.  " Shen Hsiu made obeisance to the Patriarch and left.  For several days, he tried in vain to write another stanza.  This upset his mind so much that he was as ill at ease as if he were in a nightmare, and he could find comfort neither in sitting nor in walking. 

Two days after, it happened that a young boy who was passing by the room where I was pounding rice recited loudly the stanza written by Shen Hsiu. 

As soon as I heard it, I knew at once that the composer of it has not yet realized the Essence of Mind.  For although I had not been taught about it at that time, I already had a general idea of it. 

"What stanza is this? " I asked the boy.  "You barbarian, " he replied, "don't you know about it? The Patriarch told his disciples that the question of incessant rebirth was a momentous one, that those who wished to inherit his robe and Dharma should write him a stanza, and that the one who had an understanding of the Essence of Mind would get them and be made the sixth Patriarch.  Elder Shen Hsiu wrote this 'Formless' Stanza on the wall of the south corridor and the Patriarch told us to recite it.  He also said that those who put its teaching into actual practice would attain great merit, and be saved from the misery of being born in the evil realms of existence.  " I told the boy that I wished to recite the stanza too, so that I might have an affinity with its teaching in future life.  I also told him that although I had been pounding rice there for eight months I had never been to the hall, and that he would have to show me where the stanza was to enable me to make obeisance to it. 

The boy took me there and I asked him to read it to me, as I am illiterate.  A petty officer of the Chiang Chou District named Chang Tih-Yung, who happened to be there, read it out to me.  When he had finished reading I told him that I also had composed a stanza and asked him to write it for me. 

"Extraordinary indeed, " he exclaimed, "that you also can compose a stanza!" "Don't despise a beginner, " said I, "if you are a seeker of supreme enlightenment.  You should know that the lowest class may have the sharpest wit, while the highest may be in want of intelligence.  If you slight others, you commit a very great sin.  " "Dictate your stanza, " said he.  "I will take it down for you.  But do not forget to deliver me, should you succeed in getting the Dharma!"

My stanza read:

There is no Bodhi-tree,
Nor stand of a mirror bright. 
Since all is Void,
Where can the dust alight?

When he had written this, all disciples and others who were present were greatly surprised.  Filled with admiration, they said to one another, "How wonderful!  No doubt we should not judge people by appearance.  How can it be that for so long we have made a Bodhisattva incarnate work for us? " Seeing that the crowd was overwhelmed with amazement, the Patriarch rubbed off the stanza with his shoe, lest jealous ones should do me injury. 

He expressed the opinion, which they took for granted, that the author of this stanza had also not yet realized the Essence of Mind. 

Next day the Patriarch came secretly to the room where the rice was pounded.  Seeing that I was working there with a stone pestle, he said to me, "A seeker of the Path risks his life for the Dharma.  Should he not do so? " Then he asked, "Is the rice ready? " "Ready long ago, " I replied, "only waiting for the sieve.  " He knocked the mortar thrice with his stick and left. 

Knowing what his message meant, in the third watch of the night I went to his room.  Using the robe as a screen so that none could see us, he expounded the Diamond Sutra to me.  When he came to the sentence, "One should use one's mind in such a way that it will be free from any attachment, " I at once became thoroughly enlightened, and realized that all things in the universe are the Essence of Mind itself. 

"Who would have thought, " I said to the Patriarch, "that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure!  Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically free from becoming or annihilation!  Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically self-sufficient!  Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically free from change!  Who would have thought that all things are the manifestation of the Essence of Mind!" Knowing that I had realized the Essence of Mind, the Patriarch said, "For him who does not know his own mind there is no use learning Buddhism. 

On the other hand, if he knows his own mind and sees intuitively his own nature, he is a Hero, a 'Teacher of gods and men', 'Buddha'.  " Thus, to the knowledge of no one, the Dharma was transmitted to me at midnight, and consequently I became the inheritor of the teaching of the 'Sudden' School as well as of the robe and the begging bowl. 

"You are now the Sixth Patriarch, " said he.  "Take good care of yourself, and deliver the teaching to as many sentient beings as possible.  Spread and preserve the teaching, and don't let it come to an end.  Take note of my stanza:

Sentient beings who sow the seeds of enlightenment In the field of causation will reap the fruit of Buddhahood. 

Inanimate objects void of Buddha-nature Sow not and reap not. 

He further said, "When the Patriarch Bodhidharma first came to China, most Chinese had no confidence in him, and so this robe was handed down as a testimony from one Patriarch to another.  As to the Dharma, this is transmitted from heart to heart, and the recipient must realize it by his own efforts.  From time immemorial it has been the practice for one Buddha to pass to his successor the quintessence of the Dharma, and for one Patriarch to transmit to another the esoteric teaching from heart to heart.  As the robe may give cause for dispute, you are the last one to inherit it.  Should you hand it down to your successor, your life would be in imminent danger.  Now leave this place as quickly as you can, lest someone should do you harm.  " "Whither should I go? " I asked.  "At Huai you stop and at Hui you seclude yourself, " he replied. 

Upon receiving the robe and the begging bowl in the middle of the night, I told the Patriarch that, being a Southerner, I did not know the mountain tracks, and that it was impossible for me to get to the mouth of the river (to catch a boat) .  "You need not worry, " said he.  "I will go with you.  " He then accompanied me to Kiukiang, and there ordered me into a boat.  As he did the rowing himself, I asked him to sit down and let me handle the oar. 

"It is only right for me to carry you across, " he said (an allusion to the sea of birth and death which one has to go across before the shore of Nirvana can be reached) .  To this I replied, "While I am under illusion, it is for you to get me across; but after enlightenment, I should cross it by myself.   (Although the term' to go across' is the same, it is used differently in each case) .  As I happen to be born on the frontier, even my speaking is incorrect in pronunciation,  (but in spite of this) I have had the honour to inherit the Dharma from you.  Since I am now enlightened, it is only right for me to cross the sea of birth and death myself by realizing my own Essence of Mind.  " "Quite so, quite so, " he agreed.  "Beginning from you the Dhyana School will become very popular.  Three years after your departure from me I shall leave this world.  You may start on your journey now.  Go as fast as you can towards the South.  Do not preach too soon, as Buddhism is not so easily spread.  " After saying good-bye, I left him and walked towards the South.  In about two months' time, I reached the Ta Yu Mountain.  There I noticed that several hundred men were in pursuit of me with the intention of robbing me of my robe and begging bowl. 

Among them there was a monk named Hui Ming, whose lay surname was Ch'en.  He was a general of the fourth rank in lay life.  His manner was rough and his temper hot.  Of all the pursuers, he was the most vigilant in search of me.  When he was about to overtake me, I threw the robe and begging bowl on a rock, saying, "This robe is nothing but a symbol.  What is the use of taking it away by force? "  (I then hid myself) .  When he got to the rock, he tried to pick them up, but found he could not.  Then he shouted out, "Lay Brother, Lay Brother,  (for the Patriarch had not yet formally joined the Order) I come for the Dharma, not for the robe.  " Whereupon I came out from my hiding place and squatted on the rock.  He made obeisance and said, "Lay Brother, preach to me, please.  " "Since the object of your coming is the Dharma, " said I, "refrain from thinking of anything and keep your mind blank.  I will then teach you.  " When he had done this for a considerable time, I said, "When you are thinking of neither good nor evil, what is at that particular moment, Venerable Sir, your real nature (literally, original face) ? "

As soon as he heard this he at once became enlightened.  But he further asked, "Apart from those esoteric sayings and esoteric ideas handed down by the Patriarch from generation to generation, are there any other esoteric teachings? " "What I can tell you is not esoteric, " I replied.  "If you turn your light inwardly, you will find what is esoteric within you.  " "In spite of my staying in Huang Mei, " said he, "I did not realize my self nature.  Now thanks to your guidance, I know it as a water-drinker knows how hot or how cold the water is.  Lay Brother, you are now my teacher.  " I replied, "If that is so, then you and I are fellow disciples of the Fifth Patriarch.  Take good care of yourself.  " In answering his question whither he should go thereafter, I told him to stop at Yuan and to take up his abode in Meng.  He paid homage and departed. 

Sometime after I reached Ts'ao Ch'i.  There the evildoers again persecuted me and I had to take refuge in Szu Hui, where I stayed with a party of hunters for a period as long as fifteen years. 

Occasionally I preached to them in a way that befitted their understanding.  

They used to put me to watch their nets, but whenever I found living creatures therein I set them free.  At meal times I put vegetables in the pan in which they cooked their meat.  Some of them questioned me, and I explained to them that I would eat the vegetables only, after they had been cooked with the meat.

One day I bethought myself that I ought not to pass a secluded life all the time, and that it was high time for me to propagate the Law.  Accordingly I left there and went to the Fa Hsin Temple in Canton. 

At that time Bhikkhu Yin Tsung, Master of the Dharma, was lecturing on the Maha Parinirvana Sutra in the Temple.  It happened that one day, when a pennant was blown about by the wind, two Bhikkhus entered into a dispute as to what it was that was in motion, the wind or the pennant.  As they could not settle their difference I submitted to them that it was neither, and that what actually moved was their own mind.  The whole assembly was startled by what I said, and Bhikkhu Yin Tsang invited me to take a seat of honour and questioned me about various knotty points in the Sutras. 

Seeing that my answers were precise and accurate, and that they showed something more than book-knowledge, he said to me, "Lay Brother, you must be an extraordinary man, I was told long ago that the inheritor of the Fifth Patriarch's robe and Dharma had come to the South.  Very likely you are the man."

To this I politely assented.  He immediately made obeisance and asked me to show the assembly the robe and the begging bowl which I had inherited. 

He further asked what instructions I had when the Fifth Patriarch transmitted me the Dharma.  "Apart from a discussion on the realization of the Essence of Mind, " I replied, "he gave me no other instruction, nor did he refer to Dhyana and Emancipation.  " "Why not? " he asked.  "Because that would mean two ways, " I replied.  "And there cannot be two ways in Buddhism. 

There is one way only.  " He asked what was the only way.  I replied, "The Maha Parinirvana Sutra which you expound explains that Buddha-nature is the only way.  For example, in that Sutra King Kao Kuei-Teh, a Bodhisattva, asked Buddha whether or not those who commit the four acts of gross misconduct [killing, stealing, carnality and lying] or the five deadly sins [patricide, matricide, setting the Buddhist Order in discord, killing an Arhat, and causing blood to flow from the body of a Buddha], and those who are icchantika (heretics) etc., would eradicate their 'element of goodness' and their Buddha-nature.

Buddha replied, 'There are two kinds of 'element of goodness', the eternal and the non-eternal.  Since Buddha-nature is neither eternal nor non-eternal, therefore their' element of goodness' is not eradicated.  Now Buddhism is known as having no two ways.  There are good ways and evil ways, but since Buddha-nature is neither, therefore Buddhism is known as having no two ways.  From the point of view of ordinary folks, the component parts of a personality (skandhas) and factors of consciousness (dhatus) are two separate things: but enlightened men understand that they are not dual in nature.  Buddha-nature is non-duality.  " Bhikkhu Yin Tsung was highly pleased with my answer.  Putting his two palms together as a sign of respect, he said, "My interpretation of the Sutra is as worthless as a heap of debris, while your discourse is as valuable as genuine gold.  " Subsequently he conducted the ceremony of hair-cutting for me (i.e., the ceremony of Initiation into the Order) and asked me to accept him as my pupil. 

Thenceforth, under the Bodhi-tree I preached the teaching of the Tung Shan School (the School of the Fourth and the Fifth Patriarchs, who lived in Tung Shan). 

Since the time when the Dharma was transmitted to me in Tung Shan, I have gone through many hardships and my life often seemed to be hanging by a thread. 

Today, I have had the honour of meeting you in this assembly, and I must ascribe this to our good connection in previous kalpas (cyclic periods) , as well as to our common accumulated merits in making offerings to various Buddhas in our past reincarnations; otherwise, we should have had no chance of hearing the above teaching of the 'Sudden' School, and thereby laying the foundation of our future success in understanding the Dharma. 


This teaching was handed down from the past Patriarchs, and it is not a system of my own invention.  Those who wish to hear the teaching should first purify their own mind, and after hearing it they should each clear up their own doubts in the same way as the Sages did in the past.  " At the end of the address, the assembly felt rejoiced, made obeisance and departed.



Chapter 2:  On Prajna 

Next day Prefect Wei asked the Patriarch to give another address. 

Thereupon, having taken his seat and asked the assembly to purify their mind collectively, and to recite the Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra, he gave the following address:

Learned Audience, the Wisdom of Enlightenment (Bodhiprajna) is inherent in every one of us.  It is because of the delusion under which our mind works that we fail to realize it ourselves, and that we have to seek the advice and the guidance of enlightened ones before we can know our own Essence of Mind.  You should know that so far as Buddha-nature is concerned, there is no difference between an enlightened man and an ignorant one.  What makes the difference is that one realizes it, while the other is ignorant of it.  Now, let me talk to you about Maha Prajnaparamita, so that each of you can attain wisdom. 

Learned Audience, those who recite the word 'Prajna' the whole day long do not seem to know that Prajna is inherent in their own nature.  But mere talking on food will not appease hunger, and this is exactly the case with these people.  We might talk on Sunyata (the Void, Emptiness) for myriads of kalpas, but talking alone will not enable us to realize the Essence of Mind, and it serves no purpose in the end. 

The word 'Mahaprajnaparamita' is Sanskrit, and means 'great wisdom to reach the opposite shore' (of the sea of existence) .  What we have to do is to put it into practice with our mind; whether we recite it or not does not matter.  Mere reciting it without mental practice may be likened to a phantasm, a magical delusion, a flash of lightning or a dewdrop.  On the other hand, if we do both, then our mind will be in accord with what we repeat orally. 

Our very nature is Buddha, and apart from this nature there is no other Buddha. 

What is Maha? It means 'great'.  The capacity of the mind is as great as that of space.  It is infinite, neither round nor square, neither great nor small, neither green nor yellow, neither red nor white, neither above nor below, neither long nor short, neither angry nor happy, neither right nor wrong, neither good nor evil, neither first nor last.  All Buddha ksetras (lands) are as void as space.  Intrinsically our transcendental nature is void and not a single dharma (thing) can be attained.  It is the same with the Essence of Mind, which is a state of 'Absolute Void' (i.e.  , the voidness of non-void) . 

Learned Audience, when you hear me talk about the Void, do not at once fall into the idea of vacuity,  (because this involves the heresy of the doctrine of annihilation) .  It is of the utmost importance that we should not fall into this idea, because when a man sits quietly and keeps his mind blank he will abide in a state of 'Voidness of Indifference'. 

Learned Audience, the illimitable Void of the universe is capable of holding myriads of things of various shape and form, such as the sun, the moon, stars, mountains, rivers, men, dharmas pertaining to goodness or badness, deva planes, hells, great oceans, and all the mountains of the Mahameru. 

Space takes in all of these, and so does the voidness of our nature.  We say that the Essence of Mind is great because it embraces all things, since all things are within our nature.  When we see the goodness or the badness of other people we are not attracted by it, nor repelled by it, nor attached to it; so that our attitude of mind is as void as space.  In this way, we say our mind is great.  Therefore we call it 'Maha'. 

Learned Audience, what the ignorant merely talk about, wise men put into actual practice with their mind.  There is also a class of foolish people who sit quietly and try to keep their mind blank.  

They refrain from thinking of anything and call themselves 'great'. 

On account of their heretical view we can hardly talk to them. 

Learned Audience, you should know that the mind is very great in capacity, since it pervades the whole Dharmadhatu (the sphere of the Law, i.e.  , the Universe) .  When we use it, we can know something of everything, and when we use it to its full capacity we shall know all.  All in one and one in all. 

When our mind works without hindrance, and is at liberty to 'come' or to 'go', then it is in a state of 'Prajna'. 

Learned Audience, all Prajna comes from the Essence of Mind and not from an exterior source.  Have no mistaken notion about that.  This is called 'Selfuse of the True Nature'.  Once the Tathata (Suchness, the Essence of Mind) is known, one will be free from delusion forever. 

Since the scope of the mind is for great objects, we should not practice such trivial acts (as sitting quietly with a blank mind) . 

Do not talk about the 'Void' all day without practicing it in the mind.  One who does this may be likened to a self-styled king who is really a commoner. 

Prajna can never be attained in this way, and those who behave like this are not my disciples. 

Learned Audience, what is Prajna? It means 'Wisdom'.  If at all times and at all places we steadily keep our thought free from foolish desire, and act wisely on all occasions, then we are practicing Prajna.  One foolish notion is enough to shut off Prajna, while one wise thought will bring it forth again. 

People in ignorance or under delusion do not see it; they talk about it with their tongues, but in their mind they remain ignorant.  They are always saying that they practice Prajna, and they talk incessantly on 'Voidness'; but they do not know the 'Absolute Void'.  'The Heart of Wisdom' is Prajna, which has neither form nor characteristic.  If we interpret it in this way, then indeed it is the wisdom of Prajna. 

What is Paramita? It is a Sanskrit word, meaning' to the opposite shore'. 

Figuratively, it means 'above existence and non-existence'.  By clinging to sense objects, existence or non-existence arises like the up and down of the billowy sea, and such a state is called metaphorically 'this shore'; while by non-attachment a state above existence and non-existence, like smoothly running water is attained, and this is called 'the opposite shore'.  This is why it is called 'Paramita'. 

Learned Audience, people under illusion recite the 'Mahaprajnaparamita'with their tongues, and while they are reciting it, erroneous and evil thoughts arise.  But if they put it into practice unremittingly, they realize its 'true nature'.  To know this Dharma is to know the Dharma of Prajna, and to practice this is to practice Prajna.  He who does not practice it is an ordinary man.  He who directs his mind to practice it even for one moment is the equal of Buddha. 

For ordinary man is Buddha, and klesa (defilement) is Bodhi (enlightenment) .  A foolish passing thought makes one an ordinary man, while an enlightened second thought makes one a Buddha.  A passing thought that clings to sense-objects is klesa, while a second thought that frees one from attachment is Bodhi. 

Learned Audience, the Mahaprajnaparamita is the most exalted, the supreme, and the foremost.  It neither stays, nor goes, nor comes. 

By means of it Buddhas of the present, the past, and the future generations attain Buddhahood.  We should use this great wisdom to break up the five skandhas [material qualities-matter, sensation, perception, dispositions or tendencies, and consciousness], for to follow such practice ensures the attainment of Buddhahood.  The three poisonous elements (greed, hatred and illusion) will then be turned into Sila (good conduct) , Samadhi and Prajna. 

Learned Audience, in this system of mine one Prajna produces eight-four thousand ways of wisdom, since there are that number of 'defilements' for us to cope with; but when one is free from defilements, wisdom reveals itself, and will not be separated from the Essence of Mind.  Those who understand this Dharma will be free from idle thoughts.  To be free from being infatuated by one particular thought, from clinging to desire, and from falsehood; to put one's own essence of Tathata into operation; to use Prajna for contemplation, and to take an attitude of neither indifference nor attachment towards all things-this is what is meant by realizing one's own Essence of Mind for the attainment of Buddhahood. 

Learned Audience, if you wish to penetrate the deepest mystery of the Dharmadhatu and the Samadhi of Prajna, you should practice Prajna by reciting and studying the Vajracchedika (Diamond) Sutra, which will enable you to realize the Essence of Mind.  You should know that the merit for studying this Sutra, as distinctly set forth in the text, is immeasurable and illimitable, and cannot be enumerated in details.  This Sutra belongs to the highest School of Buddhism, and the Lord Buddha delivered it specially for the very wise and quick-witted.  If the less wise and the slow-witted should hear about it they would doubt its credibility.  Why?  For example, if it rained in Jambudvipa (the Southern Continent) , through the miracle of the celestial Naga, cities, towns, and villages would drift about in the flood as if they were only leaves of the date tree.  But should it rain in the great ocean the level of the sea as a whole would not be affected by it.  When Mahayanists hear about the Diamond Sutra their minds become enlightened; they know that Prajna is immanent in their Essence of Mind and that they need not rely on scriptural authority, since they can make use of their own wisdom by constant practice of contemplation. 

The Prajna immanent in the Essence of Mind of every one may be likened to the rain, the moisture of which refreshes every living thing, trees and plants as well as sentient beings.  When rivers and streams reach the sea, the water carried by them merges into one body; this is another analogy. 

Learned Audience, when rain comes in a deluge, plants which are not deep rooted are washed away, and eventually they succumb.  This is the case with the slow-witted, when they hear about the teaching of the 'Sudden' School. 

The Prajna immanent in them is exactly the same as that in the very wise man, but they fail to enlighten themselves when the Dharma is made known to them.  Why? Because they are thickly veiled by erroneous views and deep rooted defilements, in the same way as the sun may be thickly veiled by a cloud and unable to show his light until the wind blows the cloud away. 

Prajna does not vary with different persons; what makes the difference is whether one's mind is enlightened or deluded.  He who does not know his own Essence of Mind, and is under the delusion that Buddhahood can be attained by outward religious rites is called the slow-witted.  He who knows the teaching of the 'Sudden' School and attaches no importance to rituals, and whose mind functions always under right views, so that he is absolutely free from defilements or contaminations, is said to have known his Essence of Mind. 

Learned Audience, the mind should be framed in such a way that it will be independent of external or internal objects, at liberty to come or go, free from attachment and thoroughly enlightened without the least beclouding. 

He who is able to do this is of the same standard required by the Sutras of the Prajna School. 

Learned Audience, all sutras and scriptures of the Mahayana and Hinayana Schools, as well as the twelve sections of the canonical writings, were provided to suit the different needs and temperaments of various people.  It is upon the principle that Prajna is latent in every man that the doctrines expounded in these books are established.  If there were no human beings, there would be no Dharmas; hence we know that all Dharmas are made for men, and that all Sutras owe their existence to the preachers.  Since some men are wise, the so-called superior men, and some are ignorant, the so called inferior men, the wise preach to the ignorant when the latter ask them to do so.  Through this the ignorant may attain sudden enlightenment, and their mind thereby becomes illuminated. 

Then they are no longer different from the wise men. 

Learned Audience, without enlightenment there would be no difference between a Buddha and other living beings; while a gleam of enlightenment is enough to make any living being the equal of a Buddha.  Since all Dharmas are immanent in our mind there is no reason why we should not realize intuitively the real nature of Tathata (Suchness) . 

The Bodhisattva Sila Sutra says, "Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure, and if we knew our mind and realized what our nature is, all of us would attain Buddhahood.  " As the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says, "At once they become enlightened and regain their own mind.  " Learned Audience, when the Fifth Patriarch preached to me I became enlightened immediately after he had spoken, and spontaneously realized the real nature of Tathata.  For this reason it is my particular object to propagate the teaching of this 'Sudden' School, so that learners may find Bodhi at once and realize their true nature by introspection of mind. 

Should they fail to enlighten themselves, they should ask the pious and learned Buddhists who understand the teaching of the Highest School to show them the right way.  It is an exalted position, the office of a pious and learned Buddhist who guides others to realize the Essence of Mind.  Through his assistance one may be initiated into all meritorious Dharmas.  The wisdom of the past, the present and the future Buddhas as well as the teachings of the twelve sections of the Canon are immanent in our mind; but in case we fail to enlighten ourselves, we have to seek the guidance of the pious and learned ones.  On the other hand, those who enlighten themselves need no extraneous help.  It is wrong to insist upon the idea that without the advice of the pious and learned we cannot obtain liberation. 

Why? Because it is by our innate wisdom that we enlighten ourselves, and even the extraneous help and instructions of a pious and learned friend would be of no use if we were deluded by false doctrines and erroneous views.  Should we introspect our mind with real Prajna, all erroneous views would be vanquished in a moment, and as soon as we know the Essence of Mind we arrive immediately at the Buddha stage. 

Learned Audience, when we use Prajna for introspection we are illumined within and without, and in a position to know our own mind.  To know our mind is to obtain liberation.  To obtain liberation is to attain Samadhi of Prajna, which is 'thoughtlessness'.  What is 'thoughtlessness'? 'Thoughtlessness' is to see and to know all Dharmas (things) with a mind free from attachment.  When in use it pervades everywhere, and yet it sticks nowhere.  What we have to do is to purify our mind so that the six vijnanas (aspects of consciousness) , in passing through the six gates (sense organs) will neither be defiled by nor attached to the six sense-objects.  When our mind works freely without any hindrance, and is at liberty to 'come' or to 'go', we attain Samadhi of Prajna, or liberation.  Such a state is called the function of 'thoughtlessness'.  But to refrain from thinking of anything, so that all thoughts are suppressed, is to be Dharma-ridden, and this is an erroneous view. 

Learned Audience, those who understand the way of 'thoughtlessness'will know everything, will have the experience all Buddhas have had, and attain Buddhahood.  In the future, if an initiate of my School should make a vow in company with his fellow-disciples to devote his whole life without retrogression to the practice of the teachings of this 'Sudden' School, in the same spirit as that for serving Buddha, he would reach without failure the Path of Holiness.   (To the right men) he should transmit from heart to heart the instructions handed down from one Patriarch to another; and no attempt should be made to conceal the orthodox teaching.  To those who belong to other schools, and whose views and objects are different from ours, the Dharma should not be transmitted, since it will be anything but good for them.  This step is taken lest ignorant persons who cannot understand our system should make slanderous remarks about it and thereby annihilate their seed of Buddha-nature for hundreds of kalpas and thousands of incarnations. 

Learned Audience, I have a 'formless' stanza for you all to recite.  Both laity and monks should put its teaching into practice, without which it would be useless to remember my words alone.  Listen to this stanza:

A master of the Buddhist Canon as well as of the teaching of the Dhyana School May be likened unto the blazing sun sitting high in his meridian tower. 

Such a man would teach nothing but the Dharma for realizing the Essence of Mind, And his object in coming to this world would be to vanquish the heretical sects. 

We can hardly classify the Dharmas into 'Sudden' and 'Gradual', But some men will attain enlightenment much quicker than others. 

For example, this system for realizing the Essence of Mind Is above the comprehension of the ignorant. 

We may explain it in ten thousand ways, But all those explanations may be traced back to one principle. 

To illumine our gloomy tabernacle, which is stained by defilement, We should constantly set up the Light of Wisdom. 

Erroneous views keep us in defilement While right views remove us from it, But when we are in a position to discard both of them We are then absolutely pure. 

Bodhi is immanent in our Essence of Mind, An attempt to look for it elsewhere is erroneous. 

Within our impure mind the pure one is to be found, and once our mind is set right, we are free from the three kinds of beclouding (hatred, lust and illusion) . 

If we are treading the Path of Enlightenment We need not be worried by stumbling-blocks. 

Provided we keep a constant eye on our own faults We cannot go astray from the right path. 

Since every species of life has its own way of salvation, they will not interfere with or be antagonistic to one another. 

But if we leave our own path and seek some other way of salvation We shall not find it, And though we plod on till death overtakes us We shall find only penitence in the end. 

If you wish to find the true way Right action will lead you to it directly; But if you do not strive for Buddhahood You will grope in the dark and never find it. 

He who treads the Path in earnest Sees not the mistakes of the world; If we find fault with others We ourselves are also in the wrong. 

When other people are in the wrong, we should ignore it, For it is wrong for us to find fault. 

By getting rid of the habit of fault-finding We cut off a source of defilement. 

When neither hatred nor love disturb our mind Serenely we sleep. 

Those who intend to be the teachers of others Should themselves be skilled in the various expedients which lead others to enlightenment. 

When the disciple is free from all doubts It indicates that his Essence of Mind has been found. 

The Kingdom of Buddha is in this world, Within which enlightenment is to be sought. 

To seek enlightenment by separating from this world Is as absurd as to search for a rabbit's horn. 

Right views are called 'transcendental'; Erroneous views are called 'worldly'. 

When all views, right or erroneous, are discarded Then the essence of Bodhi appears. 

This stanza is for the 'Sudden' School. 

It is also called the 'Great Ship of Dharma' (for sailing across the ocean of existence) . 

Kalpa after kalpa a man may be under delusion, But once enlightened it takes him only a moment to attain Buddhahood. 

Before conclusion, the Patriarch added, "Now, in this Ta Fan Temple, I have addressed you on the teaching of the 'Sudden' School.  May all sentient beings of the Dharmadhatu instantly understand the Law and attain Buddhahood.  "After hearing what the Patriarch said, the Prefect Wei, government officials, Taoists and laymen were all enlightened.  They made obeisance in a body and exclaimed unanimously, "Well done!  Well done!  Who would have expected that a Buddha was born in Kwangtung?"


 

Chapter 3:  Questions and Answers

One day Prefect Wei entertained the Patriarch and asked him to preach to a big gathering.  At the end of the feast, Prefect Wei asked him to mount the pulpit (to which the Patriarch consented) .  After bowing twice reverently, in company with other officials, scholars, and commoners, Prefect Wei said, "I have heard what Your Holiness preached.  It is really so deep that it is beyond our mind and speech, and I have certain doubts which I hope you will clear up for me.  " "If you have any doubts, " replied the Patriarch, "please ask, and I will explain.  " "What you preach are the fundamental principles taught by Bodhidharma, are they not? " "Yes, " replied the Patriarch.  "I was told, " said Prefect Wei, "that at Bodhidharma's first interview with Emperor Wu of Liang he was asked what merits the Emperor would get for the work of his life in building temples, allowing new monks to be ordained (royal consent was necessary at that time) , giving alms and entertaining the Order; and his reply was that these would bring no merits at all.  Now, I cannot understand why he gave such an answer.  Will you please explain.  " "These would bring no merits, " replied the Patriarch.  "Don't doubt the words of the Sage.  Emperor Wu's mind was under an erroneous impression, and he did not know the orthodox teaching.  Such deeds as building temples, allowing new monks to be ordained, giving alms and entertaining the Order will bring you only felicities, which should not be taken for merits.  Merits are to be found within the Dharmakaya, and they have nothing to do with practices for attaining felicities.  " The Patriarch went on, "Realization of the Essence of Mind is Kung (good deserts) , and equality is Teh (good quality) .  When our mental activity works without any impediment, so that we are in a position to know constantly the true state and the mysterious functioning of our own mind, we are said to have acquired Kung Teh (merits) . 

Within, to keep the mind in a humble mood is Kung; and without, to behave oneself according to propriety is Teh.  That all things are the manifestation of the Essence of Mind is Kung, and that the quintessence of mind is free from idle thoughts is Teh.  Not to go astray from the Essence of Mind is Kung, and not to pollute the mind in using it is Teh.  If you seek for merits within the Dharmakaya, and do what I have just said, what you acquire will be real merits. 

He who works for merits does not slight others; and on all occasions he treats everybody with respect.  He who is in the habit of looking down upon others has not got rid of the erroneous idea of a self, which indicates his lack of Kung.  Because of his egotism and his habitual contempt for all others, he knows not the real Essence of Mind; and this shows his lack of Teh.  Learned Audience, when our mental activity works without interruption, then it is Kung; and when our mind functions in a straightforward manner, then it is Teh.  To train our own mind is Kung, and to train our own body is Teh. 

Learned Audience, merits should be sought within the Essence of Mind and they cannot be acquired by almsgiving, entertaining the monks, etc.  We should therefore distinguish between felicities and merits.  There is nothing wrong in what our Patriarch said.  It is Emperor Wu himself who did not know the true way.  "Prefect Wei then asked the next question.  "I notice that it is a common practice for monks and laymen to recite the name of Amitabha with the hope of being born in the Pure Land of the West.  To clear up my doubts, will you please tell me whether it is possible for them to be born there or not." "Listen to me carefully, Sir," replied the Patriarch, "and I will explain. 

According to the Sutra spoken by the Bhagavat in Shravasti City for leading people to the Pure Land of the West, it is quite clear that the Pure Land is not far from here, for the distance in mileage is 108,000, which really represents the 'ten evils 'and' eight errors' within us.  To those of inferior mentality certainly it is far away, but to superior men we may say that it is quite near.  Although the Dharma is uniform, men vary in their mentality. 

Because they differ from one another in their degree of enlightenment or ignorance, therefore some understand the Law quicker than others. 

While ignorant men recite the name of Amitabha and pray to be born in the Pure Land, the enlightened purify their mind, for, as the Buddha said, 'When the mind is pure, the Buddha Land is simultaneously pure.' "Although you are a native of the East, if your mind is pure you are sinless." 

One the other hand, even if you were a native of the West an impure mind could not free you from sin, When the people of the East commit a sin, they recite the name of Amitabha and pray to be born in the West; but in the case of sinners who are natives of the West, where should they pray to be born? Ordinary men and ignorant people understand neither the Essence of Mind nor the Pure Land within themselves, so they wish to be born in the East or the West.  But to the enlightened everywhere is the same.  As the Buddha said, 'No matter where they happen to be, they are always happy and comfortable.  '"Sir, if your mind is free from evil the West is not far from here; but difficult indeed it would be for one whose heart is impure to be born there by invoking Amitabha! "Now, I advise you, Learned Audience, first to do away with the 'ten evils'; then we shall have travelled one hundred thousand miles.  For the next step, do away with the 'eight errors', and this will mean another eight thousand miles traversed.  If we can realize the Essence of Mind at all times and behave in a straightforward manner on all occasions, in the twinkling of an eye we may reach the Pure Land and there see Amitabha. 

"If you only put into practice the ten good deeds, there would be no necessity for you to be born there.  On the other hand, if you do not do away with the 'ten evils' in your mind, which Buddha will take you there? If you understand the Birthless Doctrine (which puts an end to the cycle of birth and death) of the 'Sudden' School, it takes you only a moment to see the West.  If you do not understand, how can you reach there by reciting the name of Amitabha, as the distance is so far? "Now, how would you like it if I were to shift the Pure Land to your presence this very moment, so that all of you might see it? " The congregation made obeisance and replied, "If we might see the Pure Land here there would be no necessity for us to desire to be born there.  Will Your Holiness kindly let us see it by having it removed here." The Patriarch said, "Sirs, this physical body of ours is a city." 

Our eyes, ears, nose and tongue are the gates.  There are five external gates, while the internal one is ideation.  The mind is the ground.  The Essence of Mind is the King who lives in the domain of the mind.  While the Essence of Mind is in, the King is in, and our body and mind exist.  When the Essence of Mind is out, there is no King and our body and mind decay.

We should work for Buddhahood within the Essence of Mind, and we should not look for it apart from ourselves.  He who is kept in ignorance of his Essence of Mind is an ordinary being.  He who is enlightened in his Essence of Mind is a Buddha.  To be merciful is Avalokitesvara (one of the two principal Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land).  To take pleasure in almsgiving is Mahasthama (the other Bodhisattva).  Competence for a pure life is Sakyamuni (one of the titles of Gautama Buddha).  Equality and straightforwardness is Amitabha.  The idea of a self or that of a being is Mount Meru.  A depraved mind is the ocean.  Klesa (defilement) is the billow.  Wickedness is the evil dragon. 

Falsehood is the devil.  The wearisome sense objects are the aquatic animals. 

Greed and hatred are the hells.  Ignorance and infatuation are the brutes. 

"Learned Audience, if you constantly perform the ten good deeds, paradise will appear to you at once.  When you get rid of the idea of a self and that of a being, Mount Meru will topple.  When the mind is no longer depraved, the ocean (of existence) will be dried up.  When you are free from klesa, billows and waves (of the ocean of existence) will calm down.  When wickedness is alien to you, fish and evil dragons will die out. 

"Within the domain of our mind, there is a Tathagata of Enlightenment who sends forth a powerful light which illumines externally the six gates (of sensation) and purifies them.  This light is strong enough to pierce through the six Kama Heavens (heavens of desire) ; and when it is turned inwardly it eliminates at once the three poisonous elements, purges away our sins which might lead us to the hells or other evil realms, and enlightens us thoroughly within and without, so that we are no different from those born in the Pure Land of the West.  Now, if we do not train ourselves up to this standard, how can we reach the Pure Land? " Having heard what the Patriarch said, the congregation knew their Essence of Mind very clearly.  They made obeisance and exclaimed in one voice, "Well done!" They also chanted, "May all the sentient beings of this Universe who have heard this sermon at once understand it intuitively.  " The Patriarch added, "Learned Audience, those who wish to train themselves (spiritually) may do so at home.  It is quite unnecessary for them to stay in monasteries.  Those who train themselves at home may be likened unto a native of the East who is kind-hearted, while those who stay in monasteries but neglect their work differ not from a native of the West who is evil in heart.  So far as the mind is pure, it is the 'Western Pure Land of one's own Essence of Mind'.  "Prefect Wei asked, "How should we train ourselves at home? Will you please teach us."

The Patriarch replied, "I will give you a 'formless' stanza.  If you put its teaching into practice you will be in the same position as those who live with me permanently.  On the other hand, if you do not practice it, what progress can you make in the spiritual path, even though you cut your hair and leave home for good (i.e., join the Order) ? The stanza reads:

For a fair mind, observation of precepts (Sila) is unnecessary. 

For straightforward behaviour, practice in Dhyana (contemplation) may be dispensed with. 

On the principle of righteousness, the superior and the inferior stand for each other (in time of need).

On the principle of mutual desire to please, the senior and junior are on affectionate terms.

On the principle of forbearance, we do not quarrel even in the midst of a hostile crowd.

If we can persevere till fire can be obtained through rubbing a piece of wood, Then the red lotus (the Buddha-nature) will shoot out from the black mire (the unenlightened state).

That which is of bitter taste is bound to be good medicine.

That which sounds unpleasant to the ear is certainly frank advice.

By amending our mistakes, we get wisdom. 

By defending our faults, we betray an unsound mind. 

In our daily life we should always practice altruism, But Buddhahood is not to be attained by giving away money as charity.

Bodhi is to be found within our own mind, And there is no necessity to look for mysticism from without.

Hearers of this stanza who put its teaching into actual practice Will find paradise in their very presence. 

The Patriarch added, "Learned Audience, all of you should put into practice what is taught in this stanza, so that you can realize the Essence of Mind and attain Buddhahood directly.  The Dharma waits for no one.  I am going back to Ts'ao Ch'i, so the assembly may now break up.  If you have any questions, you may come there to put them." At this juncture Prefect Wei, the government officials, pious men, and devout ladies who were present were all enlightened.  Faithfully they accepted the teaching and put it into practice. 

 


Chapter 4:  Samadhi and Prajna

The Patriarch on another occasion preached to the assembly as follows:

Learned Audience, in my system (Dhyana) Samadhi and Prajna are fundamental.  But do not be under the wrong impression that these two are independent of each other, for they are inseparably united and are not two entities.  Samadhi is the quintessence of Prajna, while Prajna is the activity of Samadhi.  At the very moment that we attain Prajna, Samadhi is therewith; and vice versa.  If you understand this principle, you understand the equilibrium of Samadhi and Prajna.  A disciple should not think that there is a distinction between 'Samadhi begets Prajna' and 'Prajna begets Samadhi'. 

To hold such an opinion would imply that there are two characteristics in the Dharma. 

For one whose tongue is ready with good words but whose heart is impure, Samadhi and Prajna are useless, because they do not balance each other.  On the other hand, when we are good in mind as well as in words, and when our outward appearance and our inner feelings harmonize with each other, then it is a case of equilibrium of Samadhi and Prajna. 

Argument is unnecessary for an enlightened disciple.  To argue whether Prajna or Samadhi comes first would put one in the same position as those who are under delusion.  Argument implies a desire to win, strengthens egotism, and ties us to the belief in the idea of 'a self, a being, a living being, and a person'. 

Learned Audience, to what are Samadhi and Prajna analogous? They are analogous to a lamp and its light.  With the lamp, there is light.  Without it, it would be darkness.  The lamp is the quintessence of the light and the light is the expression of the lamp.  In name they are two things, but in substance they are one and the same.  It is the same case with Samadhi and Prajna. 

On another occasion the Patriarch preached to the assembly as follows:

Learned Audience, to practice the 'Samadhi of Specific Mode' is to make it a rule to be straightforward on all occasions-no matter whether we are walking, standing, sitting or reclining.  The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says, "Straightforwardness is the holy place, the Pure Land." Don't let your mind be crooked and practice straightforwardness with your lips only.  We should practice straightforwardness and should not attach ourselves to anything. 

People under delusion believe obstinately in Dharmalaksana (things and form) and so they are stubborn in having their own way of interpreting the 'Samadhi of Specific Mode', which they define as 'sitting quietly and continuously without letting any idea arise in the mind'.  Such an interpretation would rank us with inanimate objects, and is a stumbling block to the right Path which must be kept open.  Should we free our mind from attachment to all 'things', the Path becomes clear; otherwise, we put ourselves under restraint.  If that interpretation 'sitting quietly and continuously, etc.  'be correct, why on one occasion was Sariputra reprimanded by Vimalakirti for sitting quietly in the wood? Learned Audience, some teachers of meditation instruct their disciples to keep a watch on their mind for tranquillity, so that it will cease from activity. 

Henceforth the disciples give up all exertion of mind.  Ignorant persons become insane from having too much confidence in such instruction.  Such cases are not rare, and it is a great mistake to teach others to do this. 

(On another occasion) the Patriarch addressed the assembly as follows:

In orthodox Buddhism the distinction between the 'Sudden' School and the 'Gradual' School does not really exist; the only difference is that by nature some men are quick-witted, while others are dull in understanding.  Those who are enlightened realize the truth in a sudden, while those who are under delusion have to train themselves gradually.  But such a difference will disappear when we know our own mind and realize our own nature. 

Therefore these terms, gradual and sudden, are more apparent than real. 

Learned Audience, it has been the tradition of our school to take 'Idealessness' as our object, 'Non-objectivity' as our basis, and 'Non-attachment' as our fundamental principle.  'Idea-lessness' means not to be carried away by any particular idea in the exercise of the mental faculty.  'Non-objectivity' means not to be absorbed by objects when in contact with objects.  'Nonattachment' is the characteristic of our Essence of Mind. 

All things-good or bad, beautiful or ugly-should be treated as void.  Even in time of disputes and quarrels we should treat our intimates and our enemies alike and never think of retaliation.  In the exercise of our thinking faculty, let the past be dead.  If we allow our thoughts, past, present, and future, to link up in a series, we put ourselves under restraint.  On the other hand, if we never let our mind attach to anything, we shall gain emancipation. 

For this reason, we take 'Non-attachment' as our fundamental principle.

To free ourselves from absorption in external objects is called 'Nonobjectivity'.  When we are in a position to do so, the nature of Dharma will be pure.  For this reason, we take 'Non-objectivity' as our basis.

To keep our mind free from defilement under all circumstances is called 'Idea-lessness'.

Our mind should stand aloof from circumstances, and on no account should we allow them to influence the function of our mind.  But it is a great mistake to suppress our mind from all thinking; for even if we succeed in getting rid of all thoughts, and die immediately thereafter, still we shall be reincarnated elsewhere.  Mark this, treaders of the Path.  It is bad enough for a man to commit blunders from not knowing the meaning of the Law, but how much worse would it be to encourage others to follow suit? Being deluded, he sees not and in addition he blasphemes the Buddhist Canon. 

Therefore we take 'Idea-lessness' as our object. 

Learned Audience, let me explain more fully why we take 'Idea-lessness' as our object.  It is because there is a type of man under delusion who boasts of the realization of the Essence of Mind; but being carried away by circumstances, ideas rise in his mind, followed by erroneous views which are the source of all sorts of false notions and defilements.  In the Essence of Mind (which is the embodiment of void), there is intrinsically nothing to be attained.

To say that there is attainment, and to talk thoughtlessly on merits or demerits are erroneous views and defilements.  For this reason we take 'Idealessness' as the object of our School. 

Learned Audience,  (in 'Idea-lessness') what should we get rid of and what should we fix our mind on? We should get rid of the 'pairs of opposites' and all defiling conceptions.  We should fix our mind on the true nature of Tathata (Suchness) , for Tathata is the quintessence of idea, and idea is the result of the activity of Tathata. 

It is the positive essence of Tathata-not the sense organs-which gives rise to 'idea'.  Tathata bears its own attribute, and therefore it can give rise to 'idea'.  Without Tathata the sense organs and the sense objects would perish immediately.  Learned Audience, because it is the attribute of Tathata which gives rise to 'idea', our sense organs-in spite of their functioning in seeing, hearing, touching, knowing, etc.  -need not be tainted or defiled in all circumstances, and our true nature may be 'self-manifested'all the time. 

Therefore the Sutra says, "He who is an adept in the discrimination of various Dharmalaksana (things and phenomena) will be immovably installed in the 'First Principle' (i.e., the blissful abiding place of the Holy, or Nirvana) ."

 

 

Chapter 5:  Dhyana

In our system of meditation, we neither dwell upon the mind (in contradistinction to the Essence of Mind) nor upon purity.  Nor do we approve of non-activity.  As to dwelling upon the mind, the mind is primarily delusive; and when we realize that it is only a phantasm there is no need to dwell on it.  As to dwelling upon purity, our nature is intrinsically pure; and so far as we get rid of all delusive 'idea' there will be nothing but purity in our nature, for it is the delusive idea that obscures Tathata (Suchness) .  If we direct our mind to dwell upon purity we are only creating another delusion, the delusion of purity.  Since delusion has no abiding place, it is delusive to dwell upon it.  Purity has neither shape nor form; but some people go so far as to invent the 'Form of Purity', and treat it as a problem for solution.  Holding such an opinion, these people are purity-ridden, and their Essence of Mind is thereby obscured. 

Learned Audience, those who train themselves for 'imperturbability' should, in their contact with all types of men, ignore the faults of others.  They should be indifferent to others' merit or demerit, good or evil, for such an attitude accords with the 'imperturbability of the Essence of Mind'.  Learned Audience, a man unenlightened may be unperturbed physically, but as soon as he opens his mouth he criticizes others and talks about their merits or demerits, ability or weakness, good or evil; thus he deviates from the right course. 

On the other hand, to dwell upon our own mind or upon purity is also a stumbling-block in the Path. 

The Patriarch on another occasion preached to the assembly as follows:

Learned Audience, what is sitting for meditation? In our School, to sit means to gain absolute freedom and to be mentally unperturbed in all outward circumstances, be they good or otherwise.  To meditate means to realize inwardly the imperturbability of the Essence of Mind. 

Learned Audience, what are Dhyana and Samadhi? Dhyana means to be free from attachment to all outer objects, and Samadhi means to attain inner peace.  If we are attached to outer objects, our inner mind will be perturbed. 

When we are free from attachment to all outer objects, the mind will be in peace.  Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure, and the reason why we are perturbed is because we allow ourselves to be carried away by the circumstances we are in. 

He who is able to keep his mind unperturbed, irrespective of circumstances, has attained Samadhi. 

To be free from attachment to all outer objects is Dhyana, and to attain inner peace is Samadhi.  When we are in a position to deal with Dhyana and to keep our inner mind in Samadhi, then we are said to have attained Dhyana and Samadhi.  The Bodhisattva Sila Sutra says, "Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure.  " Learned Audience, let us realize this for ourselves at all times.  Let us train ourselves, practice it by ourselves, and attain Buddhahood by our own effort. 



Chapter 6:  On Repentance

Once there was a big gathering of scholars and commoners from Kuang Chou, Shao Chou, and other places to wait upon the Patriarch to preach to them.  Seeing this, the Patriarch mounted the pulpit and delivered the following address: In Buddhism, we should start from our Essence of Mind. 

At all times let us purify our own mind from one thought-moment to another, tread the Path by our own efforts, realize our own Dharmakaya, realize the Buddha in our own mind, and deliver ourselves by a personal observance of Sila; then your visit will not have been in vain.  Since all of you have come from afar, the fact of our meeting here shows that there is a good affinity between us.  Now let us sit down in the Indian fashion, and I will give you the five kinds of Incense of the Dharmakaya.  When they had sat down, the Patriarch continued: The first is the Sila Incense, which means that our mind is free from taints of misdeeds, evil jealousy, avarice, anger, spoliation, and hatred.  The second is the Samadhi Incense, which means that our mind is unperturbed in all circumstances, favourable or unfavourable.  The third is the Prajna Incense, which means that our mind is free from all impediments, that we constantly introspect our Essence of Mind with wisdom, that we refrain from doing all kinds of evil deeds, that although we do all kinds of good acts, yet we do not let our mind become attached to (the fruits) of such actions, and that we are respectful towards our superiors, considerate to our inferiors, and sympathetic to the destitute and the poor.  The fourth is the Incense of Liberation, this means that our mind is in such an absolutely free state that it clings to nothing and concerns itself neither with good nor evil. 

The fifth is the Incense of Knowledge obtained on the Attainment of Liberation.  When our mind clings to neither good nor evil we should take care not to let it dwell upon vacuity, or remain in a state of inertia. 

Rather should we enlarge our study and broaden our knowledge, so that we can know our own mind, understand thoroughly the principles of Buddhism, be congenial to others in our dealings with them, get rid of the idea of 'self' and that of 'being', and realize that up to the time when we attain Bodhi the 'true nature' (or Essence of Mind) is always immutable.  Such, then, is the Incense of Knowledge obtained on the Attainment of Liberation.  This fivefold Incense fumigates us from within, and we should not look for it from without.  Now I will give you the 'formless' Repentance which will expiate our sins committed in our present, past, and future lives, and purify our karmas of thought, word and deed.  Learned Audience, please follow me and repeat together what I say:

May we, disciples so and so, be always free from the taints of ignorance and delusion.  We repent of all our sins and evil deeds committed under delusion or in ignorance.  May they be expiated at once and may they never arise again.  May we be always free from the taints of arrogance and dishonesty (Asatya) .  We repent of all our arrogant behaviour and dishonest dealings in the past.  May they be expiated at once and may they never arise again.  May we be always free from the taints of envy and jealousy.  We repent of all our sins and evil deeds committed in an envious or jealous spirit.  May they be expiated at once and may they never arise again. 

Learned Audience, this is what we call 'formless Ch'an Hui' (repentance). 

Now what is the meaning of Ch'an? Ch'an refers to the repentance of past sins.  To repent of all our past sins and evil deeds committed under delusion, ignorance, arrogance, dishonesty, jealousy, or envy, etc.  so as to put an end to all of them is called Ch'an.  Hui refers to that part of repentance concerning our future conduct.  Having realized the nature of our transgression (we make a vow) that hereafter we will put an end to all kinds of evil committed under delusion, ignorance, arrogance, dishonesty, jealousy, or envy, and that we shall never sin again.  This is Hui.  On account of ignorance and delusion, common people do not realize that in repentance they have not only to feel sorry for their past sins but also to refrain from sinning in the future.  Since they take no heed of their future conduct they commit new sins before the past are expiated.  How can we call this 'repentance'? Learned Audience, having repented of our sins we will take the following four All-embracing Vows:

We vow to deliver an infinite number of sentient beings of our mind.  We vow to get rid of the innumerable defilements in our own mind.  We vow to learn the countless systems in Dharma of our Essence of Mind.  We vow to attain the Supreme Buddhahood of our Essence of Mind.

Learned Audience, all of us have now declared that we vow to deliver an infinite number of sentient beings; but what does that mean? It does not mean that I, Hui Neng, am going to deliver them.  And who are these sentient beings within our mind? They are the delusive mind, the deceitful mind, the evil mind, and such like minds-all these are sentient beings.  Each of them has to deliver himself by means of his own Essence of Mind.  Then the deliverance is genuine.  Now, what does it mean to deliver oneself by one's own Essence of Mind? It means the deliverance of the ignorant, the delusive, and the vexatious beings within our own mind by means of Right Views. 

With the aid of Right Views and Prajna-Wisdom the barriers raised by these ignorant and delusive beings may be broken down; so that each of them is in a position to deliver himself by his own efforts.  Let the fallacious be delivered by rightness; the deluded by enlightenment; the ignorant by wisdom; and the malevolent by benevolence.  Such is genuine deliverance. 

As to the vow, 'We vow to get rid of the innumerable evil passions in the mind, 'it refers to the substitution of our unreliable and illusive thinking faculty by the Prajna-Wisdom of our Essence of Mind.  As to the vow, 'We vow to learn countless systems of Dharmas, 'there will be no true learning until we have seen face to face our Essence of Mind, and until we conform to the orthodox Dharma on all occasions.  As to the vow, 'We vow to attain Supreme Buddhahood, 'when we are able to bend our mind to follow the true and orthodox Dharma on all occasions, and when Prajna always rises in our mind, so that we can hold aloof from enlightenment as well as from ignorance, and do away with truth as well as falsehood, then we may consider ourselves as having realized the Buddha-nature, or in other words, as having attained Buddhahood.  Learned Audience, we should always bear in mind that we are treading the Path, for thereby strength will be added to our vows.  Now, since all of us have taken these four All-embracing Vows, let me teach you the 'Formless Threefold Guidance':

We take 'Enlightenment' as our guide, because it is the culmination of both Punya (merit) and Prajna (wisdom) .  We take 'Orthodoxy' (Dharma) as our guide, because it is the best way to get rid of desire.  We take 'Purity' as our guide, because it is the noblest quality of mankind. 

Hereafter, let the Enlightened One be our teacher; on no account should we accept Mara (the personification of evil) or any heretic as our guide.  This we should testify to ourselves by constantly appealing to the 'Three Gems' of our Essence of Mind, in which, Learned Audience, I advise you to take refuge. 

They are:
Buddha, which stands for Enlightenment. 
Dharma, which stands for Orthodoxy. 
Sangha, (the Order) which stands for Purity. 

To let our mind take refuge in 'Enlightenment', so that evil and delusive notions do not arise, desire decreases, discontent is unknown, and lust and greed no longer bind, this is the culmination of Punya and Prajna.  To let our mind take refuge in 'Orthodoxy' so that we are always free from wrong views (for without wrong views there would be no egotism, arrogance, or craving) , this is the best way to get rid of desire.  To let our mind take refuge in 'Purity' so that no matter in what circumstances it may be it will not be contaminated by wearisome sense-objects, craving and desire, this is the noblest quality of mankind.  To practice the Threefold Guidance in the way above mentioned means to take refuge in oneself (i.e. , in one's own Essence of Mind). 

Ignorant persons take the Threefold Guidance day and night but do not understand it.  If they say they take refuge in Buddha, do they know where he is? Yet if they cannot see Buddha, how can they take refuge in him? Does not such an assertion amount to a lie? Learned Audience, each of you should consider and examine this point for yourself, and let not your energy be misapplied.  The Sutra distinctly says that we should take refuge in the Buddha within ourselves; it does not suggest that we should take refuge in other Buddhas.   (Moreover) , if we do not take refuge in the Buddha within ourselves, there is no other place for us to retreat.  Having cleared up this point, let each of us take refuge in the 'Three Gems' within our mind.  Within, we should control our mind; without, we should be respectful towards others-this is the way to take refuge within ourselves.  Learned Audience, since all of you have taken the 'Threefold Guidance' I am going to speak to you on the Trikaya (three 'bodies') of the Buddha of our Essence of Mind, so that you can see these three bodies and realize clearly the Essence of Mind.  Please listen carefully and repeat this after me:

With our physical body, we take refuge in the Pure Dharmakaya (Essence body) of Buddha.  With our physical body, we take refuge in the Perfect Sambhogakaya (Manifestation body) of Buddha.  With our physical body, we take refuge in the Myriad Nirmanakaya (Incarnation-bodies) of Buddha. 

Learned Audience, our physical body may be likened unto an inn (i.e. , a temporary abode), so we cannot take refuge there.  Within our Essence of Mind these Trikaya of Buddha are to be found, and they are common to everybody. 

Because the mind (of an ordinary man) labours under delusions, he knows not his own inner nature; and the result is that he ignores the Trikaya within himself,  (erroneously believing) that they are to be sought from without. 

Please listen, and I will show you that within yourself you will find the Trikaya which, being the manifestation of the Essence of Mind, are not to be sought from without.  Now, what is the Pure Dharmakaya? Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure; all things are only its manifestations, and good deeds and evil deeds are only the result of good thoughts and evil thoughts respectively.  Thus, within the Essence of Mind all things (are intrinsically pure) , like the azure of the sky and the radiance of the sun and the moon which, when obscured by passing clouds, may appear as if their brightness has been dimmed; but as soon as the clouds are blown way, brightness reappears and all objects are fully illuminated.  Learned Audience, our evil habits may be likened unto the clouds; while sagacity and wisdom (Prajna) , are the sun and moon respectively.  When we attach ourselves to outer objects, our Essence of Mind is clouded by wanton thoughts which prevent our Sagacity and Wisdom from sending forth their light.  But should we be fortunate enough to find learned and pious teachers to make known to us the Orthodox Dharma, then we may with our own efforts do away with ignorance and delusion, so that we are enlightened both within and without, and the (true nature) of all things manifests itself within our Essence of Mind.  This is what happens to those who have seen face to face the Essence of Mind, and this is what is called the Pure Dharmakaya of Buddha.  Learned Audience, to take refuge in a true Buddha is to take refuge in our own Essence of Mind.  He who does so should remove from his Essence of Mind the evil mind, the jealous mind, the flattering and crooked mind, egotism, deceit and falsehood, contemptuousness, snobbishness, fallacious views, arrogance, and all other evils that may arise at any time.  To take refuge in ourselves is to be constantly on the alert for our own mistakes, and to refrain from criticism of others'merits or faults.  He who is humble and meek on all occasions and is polite to everybody has thoroughly realized his Essence of Mind, so thoroughly that his Path is free from further obstacles.  This is the way to take refuge in ourselves.  What is the Perfect Sambhogakaya? Let us take the illustration of a lamp.  Even as the light of a lamp can break up darkness which has been there for a thousand years, so a spark of Wisdom can do away with ignorance which has lasted for ages.  We need not bother about the past, for the past is gone and irrecoverable.  What demands our attention is the future; so let our thoughts from moment to moment be clear and round, and let use see face to face our Essence of Mind. 

Good and evil are opposite to each other, but their quintessence cannot be dualistic.  This non-dualistic nature is called the true nature which can neither be contaminated by evil nor affected by good.  This is what is called the Sambhogakaya of Buddha.  One single evil thought from our Essence of Mind will spoil the good merits accumulated in aeons of time, while a good thought from that same source can expiate all our sins, though they are as many as the grains of sand in the Ganges.  To realize our own Essence of Mind from moment to moment without intermission until we attain Supreme Enlightenment, so that we are perpetually in a state of Right Mindfulness, is the Sambhogakaya.  Now, what is the Myriad Nirmanakaya? When we subject ourselves to the least discrimination of particularization, transformation takes place; otherwise, all things remain as void as space, as they inherently are.  By dwelling our mind on evil things, hell arises.  By dwelling our mind on good acts, paradise appears.  Dragons and snakes are the transformation of venomous hatred, while Bodhisattvas are mercy personified.  The upper regions are Prajna crystallized, while the underworld is only another form assumed by ignorance and infatuation.  Numerous indeed are the transformations of the Essence of Mind!  People under delusion awake not and understand not; always they bend their minds on evil, and as a rule practice evil.  But should they turn their minds from evil to righteousness, even for a moment, Prajna would instantly arise.  This is what is called the Nirmanakaya of the Buddha of the Essence of Mind.  Learned Audience, the Dharmakaya is intrinsically self-sufficient.  To see face to face from moment to moment our own Essence of Mind is the Sambhogakaya of Buddha.  To dwell our mind on the Sambhogakaya (so that Wisdom or Prajna arises) is the Nirmanakaya.  To attain enlightenment by our own efforts and to practice by ourself the goodness inherent in our Essence of Mind is a genuine case of 'Taking Refuge'.  Our physical body, consisting of flesh and skin, etc.  , is nothing more than a tenement,  (for temporary use only) , so we do not take refuge therein.  But let us realize the Trikaya of our Essence of Mind, and we shall know the Buddha of our Essence of Mind.  I have a 'formless' stanza, the reciting and practicing of which will at once dispel the delusions and expiate the sins accumulated in numerous kalpas. 

This is the stanza:

People under delusion accumulate tainted merits but do not tread the Path. 

They are under the impression that to accumulate merits and to tread the Path are one and the same thing.  Though their merits for alms-giving and offerings are infinite (They do not realize that) the ultimate source of sin lies in the three poisonous elements (i.e., greed, anger and illusion) within their own mind. 

They expect to expiate their sins by accumulating merit Without knowing that felicities obtained in future lives have nothing to do with the expiation of sins.  Why not get rid of the sin within our own mind, For this is true repentance (within our Essence of Mind)?  (A sinner) who realizes suddenly what constitutes true repentance according to the Mahayana School, And who ceases from doing evil and practices righteousness is free from sin.  A treader of the Path who keeps a constant watch on his Essence of Mind May be classified in the same group as the various Buddhas.  Our Patriarchs transmitted no other system of Law but this 'Sudden' one.  May all followers of it see face to face their Essence of Mind and be at once with the Buddhas. 

If you are going to look for Dharmakaya See it above Dharmalaksana (phenomena) , and then your Mind will be pure.  Exert yourself in order to see face to face the Essence of Mind and relax not, For death may come suddenly and put an abrupt end to your earthly existence.  Those who understand the Mahayana teaching and are thus able to realize the Essence of Mind Should reverently put their palms together (as a sign of respect) and fervently seek for the Dharmakaya. 

The Patriarch then added: Learned Audience, all of you should recite this stanza and put it into practice.  Should you realize your Essence of Mind after reciting it, you may consider yourself to be always in my presence, though actually you are a thousand miles away, but should you be unable to do so, then, though we are face to face, we are really a thousand miles apart. 

In that case, what is the use of taking the trouble to come here from so far away? Take good care of yourselves.  Good-bye.  The whole assembly, after hearing what the Patriarch had said, became enlightened.  In a very happy mood, they accepted his teaching and put it into practice. 

 


Chapter 7:  Temperament and Circumstances (Instructions given according to the disciples' temperament and to the circumstances of the case) 

Upon the Patriarch's return to the village of Ts'ao Hou in Shao Chou from Huang Mei, where the Dharma had been transmitted to him, he was still an unknown figure, and it was a Confucian scholar named Liu Chih-Lueh who gave him a warm welcome.  Chih-Lueh happened to have an aunt named Wu Chin-Tsang who was a bhikkhuni (a female member of the Order) , and used to recite the Maha Parinirvana Sutra.  After hearing the recitation for only a short while the Patriarch grasped its profound meaning and began to explain it to her. 

Whereupon, she picked up the book and asked him the meaning of certain words.  "I am illiterate, " he replied, "but if you wish to know the purport of this work, please ask.  " "How can you grasp the meaning of the text, " she rejoined, "when you do not even know the words? " To this he replied, "The profundity of the teachings of the various Buddhas has nothing to do with the written language.  " This answer surprised her very much, and realizing that he was no ordinary bhikkhu, she made it widely known to the pious elders of the village.  "This is a holy man, " she said, "we should ask him to stay, and get his permission to supply him food and lodging.  " Whereupon, a descendant of Marquis Wu of the Wei Dynasty, named Ts'ao Shu-Liang, came one afternoon with other villagers to tender homage to the Patriarch. 

The historical Pao Lin monastery, devastated by war at the end of the Sui Dynasty, was then reduced to a heap of ruins, but on the old site they rebuilt it and asked the Patriarch to stay there.  Before long, it became a very famous monastery.  After being there for nine months his wicked enemies traced him and persecuted him again.  Thereupon he took refuge in a nearby hill.  The villains then set fire to the wood (where he was hiding) , but he escaped by making his way to a rock.  This rock, which has since been known as the 'Rock of Refuge', has thereon the knee-prints of the Patriarch and also the impressions of the texture of his gown.  Recollecting the instruction of his master, the Fifth Patriarch, that he should stop at Huai and seclude himself at Hui, he made these two districts his places of retreat. 

Bhikkhu Fa Hai, a native of Chu Kiang of Shao Chow, in his first interview with the Patriarch asked the meaning of the well-known saying, 'What mind is, Buddha is.  'The Patriarch replied, "To let not a passing thought rise up is 'mind'.  To let not the coming thought be annihilated is Buddha.  To manifest all kinds of phenomena is 'mind'.  To be free from all forms (i.e.  , to realize the unreality of phenomena) is Buddha.  If I were to give you a full explanation, the topic could not be exhausted even if I took up the whole of one kalpa.  So listen to my stanza:

Prajna is 'What mind is', Samadhi is 'What Buddha is'.  In practicing Prajna and Samadhi, let each keep pace with the other; Then our thoughts will be pure.  This teaching can be understood Only through the habit of practice. 

Samadhi functions, but inherently it does not become.  The orthodox teaching is to practice Prajna as well as Samadhi. 

After hearing what the Patriarch had said, Fa Hai was at once enlightened. 

He praised the Patriarch with the following stanza:

'What mind is, Buddha is 'is true indeed!  But I humiliate myself by not understanding it.  Now I know the principal cause of Prajna and Samadhi, Both of which I shall practice to set me free from all forms. 

Bhikkhu Fa Ta, a native of Hung Chou, who joined the Order at the early age of seven, used to recite the Saddharma Pundarika (Lotus of the Good Law) Sutra.  When he came to pay homage to the Patriarch, he failed to lower his head to the ground.  For his abbreviated courtesy the Patriarch reproved him, saying, "If you object to lower your head to the ground, would it not be better do away with salutation entirely? There must be something in your mind that makes you so puffed up.  Tell me what you do in your daily exercise.  " "Recite the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra, " replied Fa Ta.  "I have read the whole text three thousand times.  " "Had you grasped the meaning of the Sutra, " remarked the Patriarch, "you would not have assumed such a lofty bearing, even if you had read it ten thousand times.  Had you grasped it, you would be treading the same Path as mine.  What you have accomplished has already made you conceited, and moreover, you do not seem to realize that this is wrong.  Listen to my stanza:

Since the object of ceremony is to curb arrogance Why did you fail to lower your head to the ground? 'To believe in a self' is the source of sin, But 'to treat all attainment as void' attains merit incomparable!  The Patriarch then asked for his name, and upon being told that his name was Fa Ta (meaning Understanding the Law) , he remarked, "Your name is Fa Ta, but you have not yet understood the Law.  " He concluded by uttering another stanza:

Your name is Fa Ta.  Diligently and steadily you recite the Sutra.  Lip repetition of the text goes by the pronunciation only, But he whose mind is enlightened by grasping the meaning is a Bodhisattva indeed!  On account of conditions which may be traced to our past lives I will explain this to you.  If you only believe that Buddha speaks no words, Then the Lotus will blossom in your mouth. 

Having heard this stanza, Fa Ta became remorseful and apologized to the Patriarch.  He added, "Hereafter, I will be humble and polite on all occasions. 

As I do not quite understand the meaning of the Sutra I recite, I am doubtful as to its proper interpretation.  With your profound knowledge and high wisdom, will you kindly give me a short explanation? " The Patriarch replied, "Fa Ta, the Law is quite clear; it is only your mind that is not clear. 

The Sutra is free from doubtful passages; it is only your mind that makes them doubtful.  In reciting the Sutra, do you know its principal object? " "How can I know, Sir, " replied Fa Ta, "since I am so dull and stupid? All I know is how to recite it word by word.  " The Patriarch then said, "Will you please recite the Sutra, as I cannot read it myself.  I will then explain its meaning to you.  " Fa Ta recited the Sutra, but when he came to the chapter entitled 'Parables' the Patriarch stopped him, saying, "The key-note of this Sutra is to set forth the aim and object of a Buddha's incarnation in this world.  Though parables and illustrations are numerous in this book, none of them goes beyond this pivotal point.  Now, what is that object? What is that aim? The Sutra says, 'It is for a sole object, a sole aim, verily a lofty object and a lofty aim that the Buddha appears in this world.  'Now that sole object, that sole aim, that lofty object, that lofty aim referred to is the 'sight' of Buddha-Knowledge.  "Common people attach themselves to objects without; and within, they fall into the wrong idea of 'vacuity'.  When they are able to free themselves from attachment to objects when in contact with objects, and to free themselves from the fallacious view of annihilation on the doctrine of 'Void' they will be free from delusions within and from illusions without.  He who understands this and whose mind is thus enlightened in an instant is said to have opened his eyes for the sight of Buddha-Knowledge.  "The word 'Buddha' is equivalent to 'Enlightenment', which may be dealt with (as in the Sutra) under four heads:

To open the eyes for the sight of Enlightenment-knowledge.  To show the sight of Enlightenment-knowledge.  To awake to the sight of Enlightenment knowledge.  To be firmly established in the Enlightenment-knowledge. 

"Should we be able, upon being taught, to grasp and understand thoroughly the teaching of Enlightenment-knowledge, then our inherent quality or true nature, i.e.  , the Enlightenment-knowledge, would have an opportunity to manifest itself.  You should not misinterpret the text, and come to the conclusion that Buddha-knowledge is something special to Buddha and not common to us all because you happen to find in the Sutra this passage, 'To open the eyes for the sight of Buddha-knowledge, to show the sight of Buddha-knowledge, etc.  'Such a misinterpretation would amount to slandering Buddha and blaspheming the Sutra.  Since he is a Buddha, he is already in possession of this Enlightenment-knowledge and there is no occasion for himself to open his eyes for it.  You should therefore accept the interpretation that Buddha-knowledge is the Buddha-knowledge of your own mind and not that of any other Buddha. 

"Being infatuated by sense-objects, and thereby shutting themselves from their own light, all sentient beings, tormented by outer circumstances and inner vexations, act voluntarily as slaves to their own desires.  Seeing this, our Lord Buddha had to rise from his Samadhi in order to exhort them with earnest preaching of various kinds to suppress their desires and to refrain from seeking happiness from without, so that they might become the equals of Buddha.  For this reason the Sutra says, 'To open the eyes for the sight of Buddha-knowledge, etc.  '"I advise people constantly to open their eyes for the Buddha-knowledge within their mind.  But in their perversity they commit sins under delusion and ignorance; they are kind in words, but wicked in mind; they are greedy, malignant, jealous, crooked, flattering, egotistic, offensive to men and destructive to inanimate objects.  Thus, they open their eyes for the 'Common-people-knowledge'.  Should they rectify their heart, so that wisdom arises perpetually, the mind would be under introspection, and evil doing replaced by the practice of good; then they would initiate themselves into the Buddha-knowledge.  "You should therefore from moment to moment open your eyes, not for 'Common-people knowledge' but for Buddha-knowledge, which is supramundane, while the former is worldly.  On the other hand, if you stick to the concept that mere recitation (of the Sutra) as a daily exercise is good enough, then you are infatuated like the yak by its own tail.  "  (Yaks are known to have a very high opinion of their own tails.  ) Fa Ta then said, "If that is so, we have only to know the meaning of the Sutra and there would be no necessity for us to recite it.  Is that right, Sir? " "There is nothing wrong in the Sutra, " replied the Patriarch, "so that you should refrain from reciting it.  Whether sutra-reciting will enlighten you or not, or benefit you or not, all depends on yourself.  He who recites the Sutra with the tongue and puts its teaching into actual practice with his mind' turns round' the Sutra.  He who recites it without putting it into practice is 'turned round' by the Sutra.  Listen to my stanza:

When our mind is under delusion, the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra 'turns us round'.  With an enlightened mind we 'turn round 'the Sutra instead.  To recite the Sutra for a considerable time without knowing its principal object Indicates that you are a stranger to its meaning.  The correct way to recite the Sutra is without holding any arbitrary belief; Otherwise, it is wrong.  He who is above 'affirmative' and 'negative' Rides permanently in the White Bullock Cart (the Vehicle of Buddha) .  " Having heard this stanza, Fa Ta was enlightened and moved to tears.  "It is quite true, " he exclaimed, "that heretofore I was unable to 'turn round' the Sutra.  It was rather the Sutra that 'turned' me round.  " He then raised another point.  "The Sutra says, 'From Sravakas (disciples) up to Bodhisattvas, even if they were to speculate with combined efforts they would be unable to comprehend the Buddha-knowledge.  'But you, Sir, give me to understand that if an ordinary man realizes his own mind, he is said to have attained the Buddha-knowledge.  I am afraid, Sir, that with the exception of those gifted with superior mental dispositions, others may doubt your remark. 

Furthermore, three kinds of Carts are mentioned in the Sutra, namely, Carts yoked with goats (i.e.  , the vehicle of Sravakas) , Carts yoked with deers (the vehicle of Pratyeka Buddhas) , and Carts yoked with bullocks (the vehicle of Bodhisattvas) .  How are these to be distinguished from the White Bullock Carts? " The Patriarch replied, "The Sutra is quite plain on this point; it is you who misunderstand it.  The reason why Sravakas, Pratyeka Buddhas and Bodhisattvas cannot comprehend the Buddha-knowledge is because they speculate on it.  They may combine their efforts to speculate, but the more they speculate, the farther they are from the truth.  It was to ordinary men, not to other Buddhas, that Buddha Gautama preached this Sutra.  As for those who cannot accept the doctrine he expounded, he let them leave the assembly.  You do not seem to know that since we are already riding in the White Bullock Cart (the vehicle of Buddhas) , there is no necessity for us to go out to look for the other three vehicles.  Moreover, the Sutra tells you plainly that there is only the Buddha Vehicle, and that there are no other vehicles, such as the second or the third.  It is for the sake of this sole vehicle that Buddha had to preach to us with innumerable skilful devices, using various reasons and arguments, parables and illustrations, etc.  Why can you not understand that the other three vehicles are makeshifts, for the past only; while the sole vehicle, the Buddha Vehicle, is the ultimate, meant for the present? "The Sutra teaches you to dispense with the makeshifts and to resort to the ultimate.  Having resorted to the ultimate, you will find that even the name 'ultimate' disappears.  You should appreciate that you are the sole owner of these valuables and they are entirely subject to your disposal. 

When you are free from the arbitrary conception that they are the father's, or the son's, or that they are at so and so's disposal, you may be said to have learned the right way to recite the Sutra.  In that case from kalpa to kalpa the Sutra will be in your hand, and from morning to night you will be reciting the Sutra all the time.  " Being thus awakened, Fa Ta praised the Patriarch, in a transport of great joy, with the following stanza:

The delusion that I have attained great merits by reciting the Sutra three thousand times over Is all dispelled by an utterance of the Master of Ts'ao Ch'i (i.e., the Patriarch). 

He who has not understood the object of a Buddha's incarnation in this world Is unable to suppress the wild passions accumulated in many lives. 

The three vehicles yoked by goat, deer and bullock respectively, are makeshifts only, While the three stages, preliminary, intermediate, and final, in which the orthodox Dharma is expounded, are well set out, indeed.  How few appreciate that within the burning house itself (i.e., mundane existence) The King of Dharma is to be found!  The Patriarch then told him that henceforth he might call himself a 'Sutrareciting Bhikkhu'.  After that interview, Fa Ta was able to grasp the profound meaning of Buddhism, yet he continued to recite the Sutra as before. 

Bhikkhu Chih Tung, a native of Shao Chou of An Feng had read the Lankavatara Sutra a thousand times, but he could not understand the meaning of Trikaya and the four Prajnas.  Thereupon, he called on the Patriarch for an interpretation.  "As to the Three Bodies," explained the Patriarch, "the pure Dharmakaya is your (essential) nature; the perfect Sambhogakaya is your wisdom; and myriad Nirmanakayas are your actions. 

If you deal with these Three Bodies apart from the Essence of Mind, there would be 'bodies without wisdom'.  If you realize that these Three Bodies have no positive essence of their own (because they are only the properties of the Essence of Mind) you attain the Bodhi of the four Prajnas.  Listen to my stanza:

The Three Bodies are inherent in our Essence of Mind, By development of which the four Prajnas are manifested.  Thus, without shutting your eyes and your ears to keep away from the external world You may reach Buddhahood directly.  Now that I have made this plain to you Believe it firmly, and you will be free from delusions forever.  Follow not those who seek Enlightenment from without; These people talk about Bodhi all the time (but they never find it). 

"May I know something about the four Prajnas? " asked Chih Tung.  "If you understand the Three Bodies, " replied the Patriarch, "you should understand the four Prajnas as well; so your question is unnecessary.  If you deal with the four Prajnas apart from the Three Bodies, there will be Prajnas without bodies, in which case they would not be Prajnas." The Patriarch then uttered another stanza:

The Mirror-like Wisdom is pure by nature.  The Equality Wisdom frees the mind from all impediments.  The All-discerning Wisdom sees things intuitively without going through the process of reasoning.  The All Performing Wisdom has the same characteristics as the Mirror-like Wisdom. 

The first fivevijnanas (consciousness dependent respectively upon the five sense organs) and the Alayavijnana (Storehouse of Universal consciousness) are 'transmuted' to Prajna in the Buddha stage; while the klista-mano-vijnana (soiled-mind consciousness or self-consciousness) and the mano-vijnana (thinking consciousness) , are transmuted in the Bodhisattva stage.  These so called 'transmutations of vijnana' are only changes of appellations and not a change of substance.  When you are able to free yourself entirely from attachment to sense-objects at the time these so-called 'transmutations' take place, you will forever abide in the repeatedly-arising Naga (dragon) Samadhi.   (Upon hearing this) , Chih Tung realized suddenly the Prajna of his Essence of Mind and submitted the following stanza to the Patriarch:

Intrinsically, the three Bodies are within our Essence of Mind.  When our mind is enlightened the four Prajnas will appear therein.  When Bodies and Prajnas absolutely identify with each other We shall be able to respond (in accordance with their temperaments and dispositions) to the appeals of all beings, no matter what forms they may assume.  To start by seeking for Trikaya and the fourPrajnas is to take an entirely wrong course (for being inherent in us they are to be realized and not to be sought) .  To try to'grasp'or'confine'them is to go against their intrinsic nature.  Through you, Sir, I am now able to grasp the profundity of their meaning, And henceforth I may discard forever their false and arbitrary names. 

 (Note: Having grasped the spirit of a doctrine, one may dispense with the names used therein, since all names are makeshifts only). 

Bhikkhu Chih Ch'ang, a native of Kuei Ch'i of Hsin Chou, joined the Order in his childhood, and was very zealous in his efforts to realize the Essence of Mind.  One day, he came to pay homage to the Patriarch, and was asked by the latter whence and why he came.  "I have recently been to the White Cliff Mountain in Hung Chou, " replied he, "to interview the Master Ta T'ung, who was good enough to teach me how to realize the Essence of Mind and thereby attain Buddhahood.  But as I still have some doubts, I have travelled far to pay you respect.  Will you kindly clear them up for me, Sir." "What instruction did he give you? " asked the Patriarch.  "After staying there for three months without being given any instruction, and being zealous for the Dharma, I went alone to his chamber one night and asked him what was my Essence of Mind.  'Do you see the illimitable void? 'he asked.  'Yes, I do, 'I replied.  Then he asked me whether the void had any particular form, and when I said that the void is formless and therefore cannot have any particular form, he said, 'Your Essence of Mind is like the void.  To realize that nothing can be seen is right seeing. 

To realize that nothing is knowable is true knowledge.  To realize that it is neither green nor yellow, neither long nor short, that it is pure by nature, that its quintessence is perfect and clear, is to realize the Essence of Mind and thereby attain Buddhahood, which is also called the Buddha-knowledge.  "As I do not quite understand his teaching, will you please enlighten me, Sir." "His teaching indicates," said the Patriarch, "that he still retains the arbitrary concepts of views and knowledge, and this explains why he fails to make it clear to you.  Listen to my stanza:

To realize that nothing can be seen but to retain the concept of 'invisibility'  Is like the surface of the sun obscured by passing clouds.  To realize that nothing is knowable but to retain the concept of 'unknowability'  May be likened to a clear sky disfigured by a lightning flash.  To let these arbitrary concepts rise spontaneously in your mind Indicates that you have misidentified the Essence of Mind, and that you have not yet found the skilful means to realize it.  If you realize for one moment that these arbitrary concepts are wrong, Your own spiritual light will shine forth permanently. 

Having heard this Chih Ch'ang at once felt that his mind was enlightened. 

Thereupon, he submitted the following stanza to the Patriarch:

To allow the concepts of invisibility and unknowability to rise in the mind Is to seek Bodhi without freeing oneself from the concepts of phenomena.  He who is puffed up by the slightest impression, 'I am now enlightened, 'Is no better than he was when under delusion.  Had I not put myself at the feet of the Patriarch I should have been bewildered without knowing the right way to go. 

One day, Chih Ch'ang asked the Patriarch, "Buddha preached the doctrine of 'Three Vehicles' and also that of a 'Supreme Vehicle'.  As I do not understand this, will you please explain?" The Patriarch replied, "(In trying to understand these), you should introspect your own mind and act independently of things and phenomena.  The distinction of these four vehicles does not exist in the Dharma itself but in the differentiation of people's minds.  To see, to hear, and to recite the sutra is the small vehicle. 

To know the Dharma and to understand its meaning is the middle vehicle. 

To put the Dharma into actual practice is the great vehicle.  To understand thoroughly all Dharmas, to have absorbed them completely, to be free from all attachments, to be above phenomena, and to be in possession of nothing, is the Supreme Vehicle.  "Since the word 'yana' (vehicle) implies 'motion' (i.e., putting into practice), argument on this point is quite unnecessary.  All depends on self-practice, so you need not ask me any more.   (But I may remind you that) at all times the Essence of Mind is in a state of 'Thusness'.  " Chih Ch'ang made obeisance and thanked the Patriarch. 

Henceforth, he acted as his attendant until the death of the Master. 

Bhikkhu Chih Tao, a native of Nan Hai of Kwang Tung, came to the Patriarch for instruction, saying, "Since I joined the Order I have read the Maha Parinirvana Sutra for more than ten years, but I have not yet grasped its main idea.  Will you please teach me? " "Which part of it do you not understand? " asked the Patriarch.  "It is about this part, Sir, that I am doubtful: 'All things are impermanent, and so they belong to the Dharma of becoming and cessation (i.e.  , Samskrita Dharma) .  When both becoming and cessation cease to operate, the bliss of perfect rest and cessation of changes (i.e.  , Nirvana) arises.  '" "What makes you doubt? " asked the Patriarch.  "All beings have two bodies-the physical body and the Dharmakaya, " replied Chih Tao.  "The former is impermanent; it exists and dies.  The latter is permanent; it knows not and feels not.  Now the Sutra says, 'When both becoming and cessation cease to operate, the bliss of perfect rest and cessation of changes arises.  'I do not know which body ceases to exist and which body enjoys the bliss.  It cannot be the physical body that enjoys, because when it dies the four material elements (i.e.  , earth, water, fire and air) will disintegrate, and disintegration is pure suffering, the very opposite of bliss.  If it is the Dharmakaya that ceases to exist, it would be in the same state as 'inanimate' objects, such as grass, trees, stones etc.  ; who will then be the enjoyer? "Moreover, Dharma-nature is the quintessence of 'becoming and cessation', which manifests as the five skandhas (rupa, vedana, samjna, samskara and vijnana) .  That is to say, with one quintessence there are five functions.  The process of 'becoming and cessation' is everlasting.  When function or operation arises from the quintessence, it becomes; when the operation or function is absorbed back into the quintessence, it ceases to exist.  If reincarnation is admitted, there would be no 'cessation of changes', as in the case of sentient beings.  If reincarnation is out of the question, then things will remain forever in a state of lifeless quintessence, like inanimate objects.  If this is so, then under the limitations and restrictions of Nirvana even existence will be impossible to all beings; what enjoyment could there be? " "You are a son of Buddha,  (a bhikkhu) , " said the Patriarch, "so why do you adopt the fallacious views of Eternalism and Annihilationism held by the heretics, and criticize the teaching of the Supreme Vehicle? "Your argument implies that apart from the physical body there is a Law body (Dharmakaya) ; and that 'perfect rest' and 'cessation of changes' may be sought apart from 'becoming and cessation'. 

Further, from the statement, 'Nirvana is everlasting joy, 'you infer that there must be somebody to play the part of the enjoyer.  "Now it is exactly these fallacious views that make people crave for sensate existence and indulge in worldly pleasure.  It is for these people, the victims of ignorance, who identify the union of five skandhas as the 'self', and regard all other things as 'not-self' (literally, outer sense objects) ; who crave for individual existence and have an aversion to death; who drift about in the whirlpool of life and death without realizing the hollowness of mundane existence, which is only a dream or an illusion; who commit themselves to unnecessary suffering by binding themselves to the wheel of re-birth; who mistake the state of everlasting joy of Nirvana for a mode of suffering, and who are always after sensual pleasure; it is for these people that the compassionate Buddha preached the real bliss of Nirvana.  "At any one moment, Nirvana has neither the phenomenon of becoming, nor that of cessation, nor even the ceasing of operation of becoming and cessation.  It is the manifestation of 'perfect rest and cessation of changes', but at the time of manifestation there is not even a concept of manifestation; so it is called the 'everlasting joy'which has neither enjoyer nor non-enjoyer.  "There is no such thing as 'one quintessence and five functions' (as you allege) , and you are slandering Buddha and blaspheming the Law when you state that under such limitation and restriction of Nirvana existence is impossible to all beings.  Listen to my stanza:

The Supreme Maha Parinirvana Is perfect, permanent, calm, and illuminating.  Ignorant people miscall it death, While heretics hold that it is annihilation.  Those who belong to the Sravaka Vehicle or the Pratyeka Buddha Vehicle Regard it as 'Non-action'.  All these are mere intellectual speculations, And form the basis of the sixty-two fallacious views.  Since they are mere fictitious names invented for the occasion They have nothing to do with the Absolute Truth.  Only those of super-eminent mind Can understand thoroughly what Nirvana is, and take up the attitude of neither attachment nor indifference towards it.  They know that five skandhas And the so-called 'ego' arising from the union of these skandhas, Together with all external objects and forms And the various phenomena of sound and voice Are equally unreal, like a dream or an illusion.  They make no discrimination between a sage and an ordinary man.  Nor do they have any arbitrary concept on Nirvana.  They are above 'affirmation' and 'negation' and they break the barrier of the past, the present, and the future.  They use their sense organs, when occasion requires, But the concept of 'using' does not arise. 

Even during the cataclysmic fire at the end of a kalpa, when ocean-beds are burnt dry, Or during the blowing of the catastrophic wind when one mountain topples on another, The real and everlasting bliss of 'perfect rest' and 'cessation of changes' Of Nirvana remains in the same state and changes not.  Here I am trying to describe to you something which is ineffable So that you may get rid of your fallacious views.  But if you do not interpret my words literally You may perhaps learn a wee bit of the meaning of Nirvana!  Having heard this stanza, Chih Tao was highly enlightened.  In a rapturous mood, he made obeisance and departed. 

Bhikkhu Hsing Ssu, a Dhyana Master, was born at An Cheng of Chi Chou of a Liu family.  Upon hearing that the preaching of the Patriarch had enlightened a great number of people, he at once came to Ts'ao Ch'i to tender him homage, and ask him this question: "What should a learner direct his mind to, so that his attainment cannot be rated by the (usual) 'stages of progress'? " "What work have you been doing? " asked the Patriarch.  "Even the Noble Truths taught by various Buddhas I have not anything to do with, " replied Hsing Ssu.  "What stage of progress are you in? " asked the Patriarch. 

"What stage of progress can there be, when I refuse to have anything to do with even the Noble Truths? " he retorted.  His repartee commanded the great respect of the Patriarch who made him leader of the assembly.  One day the Patriarch told him that he should propagate the Law in his own district, so that the teaching might not come to an end.  Thereupon he returned to Ch'ing Yuan Mountain in his native district.  The Dharma having been transmitted to him, he spread it widely and thus perpetuated the teaching of his Master. 

Upon his death, the posthumous title 'Dhyana Master Hung Chi' was conferred on him. 

Bhikkhu Huai Jang, a Dhyana Master, was born of a Tu family in Chin Chou.  Upon his first visit to 'National Teacher' Hui An of Sung-Shan Mountain, he was directed by the latter to go to Ts'ao Ch'i to interview the Patriarch.  Upon his arrival, and after the usual salutation, he was asked by the Patriarch whence he came.  "From Sung Shan, " replied he.  "What thing is it (that comes) ? How did it come? " asked the Patriarch.  "To say that it is similar to a certain thing is wrong, " he retorted.  "Is it attainable by training? " asked the Patriarch.  "It is not impossible to attain it by training; but it is quite impossible to pollute it, " he replied.  Thereupon, the Patriarch exclaimed, "It is exactly this unpolluted thing that all Buddhas take good care of.  It is so for you, and it is so for me as well.  Patriarch Prajnatara of India foretold that under your feet a colt would rush forth and trample on the people of the whole world.  I need not interpret this oracle too soon, as the answer should be found within your mind."

Being thereby enlightened, Huai Jang realized intuitively what the Patriarch had said.  Henceforth, he became his attendant for a period of fifteen years; and day by day his knowledge of Buddhism got deeper and deeper. 

Afterwards, he made his home in Nan Yueh where he spread widely the teaching of the Patriarch.  Upon his death, the posthumous title, "Dhyana Master Ta Hui (Great Wisdom) was conferred on him by imperial edict. 

Dhyana Master Hsuan Chiao of Yung Chia was born of a Tai family in Wenchow.  As a youth, he studied sutras and shastras and was well-versed in the teaching of samatha (inhibition or quietude) and vipasyana (contemplation or discernment) of the T'ien T'ai School.  Through the reading of the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra he realized intuitively the mystery of his own mind.  A disciple of the Patriarch by the name of Hsuan Ts'e happened to pay him a visit.  During the course of a long discussion, HsuanTs'e noticed that the utterance of his friend agreed virtually with the sayings of the various Patriarchs.  Thereupon he asked, "May I know the name of your teacher who transmitted the Dharma to you?" "I had teachers to instruct me," replied Hsuan Chiao, "when I studied the sutras and theshastras of the vaipulya section.  But afterwards it was through the reading of the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra that I realized the significance of the Buddhacitta (the Buddha Mind); and I have not yet had any teacher to verify and confirm my knowledge." "Before the time of Bhisma Garjitasvara Raja Buddha," HsuanTs'e remarked, "it was possible (to dispense with the service of a teacher); but since that time, he who attains enlightenment without the aid and the confirmation of a teacher is a natural heretic." "Will you, Sir, kindly act as my testifier," asked Hsuan Chiao.  "My words carry no weight," replied his friend, "but in Ts'ao Ch'i there is the Sixth Patriarch, to whom visitors in great numbers come from all directions with the common object of having the Dharma transmitted to them.  Should you wish to go there, I shall be pleased to accompany you." In due course they arrived at Ts'aoCh'i and interviewed the Patriarch.  Having circumambulated the Patriarch thrice, Hsuan Chiao stood still (i.e.  , without making obeisance to the Master) with the Buddhist staff in his hand.  The Patriarch remarked: "As a Buddhist monk is the embodiment of three thousand moral precepts and eighty thousand minor disciplinary rules, I wonder where you come from and what makes you so conceited." "The question of incessant rebirths is a momentous one," replied he, "and as death may come at any moment (I have no time to waste on ceremony)." "Why do you not realize the principle of 'birthlessness', and thus solve the problem of transiency in life?" the Patriarch retorted. 

Thereupon Hsuan Chiao remarked, "To realize the Essence of Mind is to be free from rebirths; and once this problem is solved, the question of transiency no longer exists." "That is so, that is so," the Patriarch agreed.  At this stage, Hsuan Chiao gave in and made obeisance in full ceremony.  After a short while he bid the Patriarch adieu.  "You are going away too quickly, aren't you?" asked the Patriarch. 

"How can there be 'quickness' when motion intrinsically exists not?" he retorted.  "Who knows that motion exists not?" asked the Patriarch.  "I hope you, Sir, will not particularize," he observed.  The Patriarch commended him for his thorough grasp of the notion of'birthlessness'; but Hsuan Chiao remarked, "Is there a 'notion' in 'birthlessness'?" "Without a notion, who can particularize?" asked the Patriarch in turn.  "That which particularizes is not a notion," replied Hsuan Chiao.  "Well said!" exclaimed the Patriarch.  He then asked Hsuan Chiao to delay his departure and spend a night there. 

Henceforth Hsuan Chiao was known to his contemporaries as the 'enlightened one who had spent a night with the Patriarch'.  Afterwards, he wrote the famous work, 'A Song on Spiritual Attainment', which circulates widely.  His posthumous title is'Grand Master Wu Hsiang' (He who is above form or phenomena), and he was also called by his contemporaries'Dhyana Master Chen Chiao' (He who is really enlightened). 

Bhikkhu Chih Huang, a follower of the Dhyana School, after his consultation with the Fifth Patriarch (as to the progress of his work) considered himself as having attained samadhi.  For twenty years he confined himself in a small temple and kept up the position all the time.  Hsuan Ts'e, a disciple of the Sixth Patriarch on a meditation journey to the northern bank of Huang Ho, heard about him and called at his temple.  "What are you doing here?" asked Hsuan Ts'e.  "I am abiding in samadhi," replied his friend, Chih Huang.  "Abiding in samadhi, did you say?" observed Hsuan Ts'e.  "I wish to know whether you are doing it consciously or unconsciously.  For if you are doing it unconsciously, it would mean that it is possible for all inanimate objects such as earthenware, stones, trees, and weeds, to attain samadhi.  On the other hand, if you are doing it consciously, than all animate objects or sentient beings would be in samadhi also." "When I am in samadhi," observed Chih Huang, "I know neither consciousness nor unconsciousness." "If that is the case," said Hsuan Ts'e, "it is perpetual samadhi; in which state there is neither abiding nor leaving.  That state which you can abide in or leave off is not the great Samadhi." Chih Huang was dumbfounded.  After a long while, he asked, "May I know who is your teacher?" "My teacher is the Sixth Patriarch of Ts'ao Ch'i," replied Hsuan Ts'e.  "How does he define dhyana and samadhi?" Chih Huang asked. 

"According to his teaching," replied Hsuan Ts'e, "the Dharmakaya is perfect and serene; its quintessence and its function are in a state of Thusness.  The five skandhas are intrinsically void and the six sense-objects are nonexistent.  There is neither abiding nor leaving in samadhi.  There is neither quietude nor perturbation.  The nature of dhyana is non-abiding, so we should get above the state of 'abiding in the calmness of dhyana'.  The nature of dhyana is uncreative, so we should get above the notion of 'creating a state of dhyana'.  The state of the mind may be likened unto space, but (it is infinite) and so it is without the limitations of the latter." Having heard this, Chih Huang went immediately to Ts'ao Ch'i to interview the Patriarch.  Upon being asked whence he came, he told the Patriarch in detail the conversation he had had with Hsuan Ts'e.  "What Hsuan Ts'e said is quite right," said the Patriarch.  Let your mind be in a state such as that of the illimitable void, but do not attach it to the idea of'vacuity'.  Let it function freely.  Whether you are in activity or at rest, let your mind abide nowhere.  Forget the discrimination between a sage and an ordinary man.  Ignore the distinction of subject and object.  Let the Essence of Mind and all phenomenal objects be in a state of Thusness.  Then you will be in samadhi all the time." Chih Huang was thereby fully enlightened.  What he had considered for the past twenty years as an attainment now vanished.  On that night inhabitants of Ho Pei (the northern bank of the Yellow River) heard a voice in the air to the effect that Dhyana Master Chih Huang had on that day gained enlightenment.  Some time after Chih Huang bid the Patriarch adieu and returned to Ho Pei, where he taught a great number of men and women, monks as well as the laity. 

A Bhikkhu once asked the Patriarch what sort of man could obtain the keynote of the teaching of Huang Mei.  "He who understands the Buddha Dharma can get it," replied the Patriarch.  "Have you, Sir, got it then?" asked the Bhikkhu.  "I do not understand the Buddha Dharma," was his reply.

One day the Patriarch wanted to wash the robe which he had inherited, but could find no good stream for the purpose.  Thereupon he walked to a place about five miles from the rear of the monastery, where he noticed that plants and trees grew profusely and the environment gave an air of good omen.  He shook his staff (which makes a tinkling noise, as rings are attached to the top of it) and stuck it in the ground.  Immediately water spurted out and before long a pool was formed.  While he was kneeling down on a rock to wash the robe, a bhikkhu suddenly appeared before him and tendered him homage. 

"My name is Fang Pien," said he, "and I am a native of Szechuan.  When I was in South India I met Patriarch Bodhidharma, who instructed me to return to China. 

'The Womb of the Orthodox Dharma, 'said he, 'together with the robe which I inherited from Mahakasyapa have now been transmitted to the Sixth Patriarch, who is now in Ts'ao Ch'i of Shao Chou.  Go there to have a look at them and to pay your respect to the Patriarch.  "After a long voyage, I have arrived.  May I see the robe and begging bowl you inherited?" Having shown him the two relics, the Patriarch asked him what line of work he was taking up.  "I am pretty good at sculptural work," replied he.  "Let me see some of your work then," demanded the Patriarch.  Fang Pien was confounded at the time, but after a few days he was able to complete a life-like statue of the Patriarch, about seven inches high, a masterpiece of sculpture.   (Upon seeing the statue) , the Patriarch laughed and said to Fang Pien, "You know something about the nature of sculptural work, but you do not seem to know the nature of Buddha."  He then put his hand on Fang Pien's head (the Buddhist way of blessing) and declared, "You shall forever be a'field of merit'for human and celestial beings."  In addition, the Patriarch rewarded his service with a robe, which Fang Pien divided into three parts, one for dressing the statue, one for himself, and one for burying in the ground after covering it up with palm leaves.  (When the burial took place) he took a vow to the effect that by the time the robe was exhumed he would be reincarnated as the abbot of the monastery, and also that he would undertake to renovate the shrine and the building. 

Abhikkhu quoted the following stanza composed by Dhyana Master Wo Lun:

Wo Lun has ways and means To insulate the mind from all thoughts.  When circumstances do not react on the mind The Bodhi tree will grow steadily. 

Hearing this, the Patriarch said, "This stanza indicates that the composer of it has not yet fully realized the Essence of Mind.  To put its teaching into practice (would gain no liberation) , but bind oneself more tightly." Thereupon, he showed the Bhikkhu the following stanza of his own:

Hui Neng has no ways and means To insulate the mind from all thoughts. 

Circumstances often react on my mind, And I wonder how can the Bodhi tree grow?

 


Chapter 8:  The Sudden School and the Gradual School

While the Patriarch was living in Pao Lin Monastery, the Grand Master Shen Hsiu was preaching in Yu Chuan Monastery of Ching Nan.  At that time the two Schools, that of Hui Neng of the South and Shen Hsiu of the North, flourished side by side. 

As the two Schools were distinguished from each other by the names "Sudden"  (the South) and "Gradual"  (the North), the question which sect they should follow baffled certain Buddhist scholars (of that time).   (Seeing this) , the Patriarch addressed the assembly as follows: "So far as the Dharma is concerned, there can be only one School.   (If a distinction exists) it exists in the fact that the founder of one school is a northern man, while the other is a Southerner.  While there is only one Dharma, some disciples realize it more quickly than others.  The reason why the names 'Sudden' and 'Gradual' are given is that some disciples are superior to others in mental dispositions. 

So far as the Dharma is concerned, the distinction of 'Sudden' and 'Gradual' does not exist."  (In spite of what the Patriarch had said,) the followers of Shen Hsiu used to criticize the Patriarch.  They discredited him by saying that as he was illiterate he could not distinguish himself in any respect.  Shen Hsiu himself, on the other hand, admitted that he was inferior to the Patriarch, that the Patriarch attained wisdom without the aid of a teacher, and that he understood thoroughly the teaching of the Mahayana School. 

"Moreover," he added, "my teacher, the Fifth Patriarch, would not have transmitted to him the robe and the bowl without good cause.  I regret that, owing to the patronage of the state, which I by no means deserve, I am unable to travel far to receive instructions from him personally.   (But) you men should go to Ts'ao Ch'i to consult him.  "One day he said to his disciple, Chi Ch'eng, "You are intelligent and bright.  On my behalf, you may go to Ts'ao Ch'i to attend the lectures there.  Try your best to remember what you learn, so that upon your return you may repeat it to me.  "Acting on his teacher's instruction, Chi Ch'eng went to Ts'ao Ch'i.  Without telling whence he came he joined the crowd there to call on the Patriarch.  "Someone has hidden himself here to plagiarize my lecture," said the Patriarch to the assembly.  Thereupon, Chi Ch'eng came out, made obeisance, and told the Patriarch what his mission was.  "You come from Yu Ch'uan Monastery, do you?" asked the Patriarch.  "You must be a spy." "No, I am not," replied Chi Ch'eng.  "Why not?" asked the Patriarch.  "If I had not told you," said Chi Ch'eng, "I would be a spy.  Since I have told you all about it, I am not." "How does your teacher instruct his disciples?" asked the Patriarch.  "He tells us to meditate on purity, to keep up the sitting position all the time and not to lie down," replied Chi Ch'eng.  "To meditate on purity," said the Patriarch, "is an infirmity and not Dhyana.  To restrict oneself to the sitting position all the time is unprofitable.  Listen to my stanza:

A living man sits and does not lie down (all the time), While a dead man lies down and does not sit.  On this physical body of ours Why should we impose the task of sitting?"

Making obeisance a second time, Chi Ch'eng remarked, "Though I have studied Buddhism for nine years under the Grand Master Shen Hsiu, my mind has not yet been awakened for enlightenment.  But as soon as you speak to me my mind is enlightened.  As the question of incessant rebirths is a momentous one, please take pity on me and give me further instruction." "I understand," said the Patriarch, "that your teacher gives his disciples instructions on Sila (disciplinary rules) , Dhyana (meditation), and Prajna (Wisdom).  Please tell me how he defines these terms." "According to his teaching," replied Chi Ch'eng, "to refrain from all evil actions is Sila, to practice whatever is good is Prajna, and to purify one's own mind is Dhyana. 

This is the way he teaches us.  May I know your system?" "If I tell you," said the Patriarch, "that I have a system of Law to transmit to others, I am cheating you.  What I do to my disciples is to liberate them from their own bondage with such devices as the case may need.  To use a name which is nothing but a makeshift, this (state of liberation) may be called Samadhi. 

The way your master teaches Sila, Dhyana, and Prajna is wonderful; but my exposition is different." "How can it be different, Sir," asked Chi Ch'eng, "when there is only one form of Sila, Dhyana and Prajna?" "The teaching of your master," replied the Patriarch, "is for the followers of the Mahayana School, while mine is for those of the Supreme School.  The fact that some realize the Dharma more quickly and deeply than others accounts for the difference in the interpretation.  You may listen, and see if my instruction is the same as his.  In expounding the Law, I do not deviate from the authority of the Essence of Mind (i.e.  , I speak what I realize intuitively) .  To speak otherwise would indicate that the speaker's Essence of Mind is under obscuration and that he can touch the phenomenal side of the Law only.  The true teaching of Sila, Dhyana and Prajna should be based on the principle that the function of all things derives from the Essence of Mind.  Listen to my stanza:

To free the mind from all impurity is the Sila of the Essence of Mind.  To free the mind from all disturbance is the Dhyana of the Essence of Mind.  That which neither increases nor decreases is the Diamond (used as a symbol for the Essence of Mind); 'Coming' and 'going' are different phases of Samadhi." Having heard this, Chi Ch'eng apologized (for having asked a foolish question) and thanked the Patriarch for his instruction.  He then submitted the following stanza:

The'self' is nothing but a phantasm created by the union of five skandhas, And a phantasm can have nothing to do with absolute reality.  To hold that there is a Tathata (Suchness) for us to aim at or to return to Is another example of 'Impure Dharma'. 

Approving what he said in his stanza, the Patriarch said to him again, "The teaching of your master on Sila, Dhyana and Prajna applies to wise men of the inferior type, while mine [applies] to those of the superior type.  He who realizes the Essence of Mind may dispense with such doctrines as Bodhi, Nirvana, and 'Knowledge of Emancipation'.  Only those who do not possess a single system of Law can formulate all systems of Law, and only those who can understand the meaning (of this paradox) may use such terms.  It makes no difference to those who have realized the Essence of Mind whether they formulate all systems of Law or dispense with all of them.  They are at liberty to 'come'or to 'go' (i.e.  , they may remain in or leave this world at their own free will) .  They are free from obstacles or impediments.  They take appropriate actions as circumstances require.  They give suitable answers according to the temperament of the enquirer.  They see that all Nirmanakayas are one with the Essence of Mind.  They attain liberation, psychic powers and Samadhi, which enable them to perform the arduous task of universal salvation as easily as if they were only playing.  Such are the men who have realized the Essence of Mind!" "By what principle are we guided in dispensing with all systems of Law? " was Chi Ch'eng's next question.  "When our Essence of Mind is free from impurity, infatuations and disturbances, " replied the Patriarch, "when we introspect our mind from moment to moment with Prajna, and when we do not cling to things and phenomenal objects we are free and liberated.  Why should we formulate any system of Law when our goal can be reached no matter whether we turn to the right or to the left? Since it is with our own efforts that we realize the Essence of Mind, and since the realization and the practice of the Law are both done instantaneously, and not gradually or stage by stage, the formulation of any system of Law is unnecessary.  As all Dharmas are intrinsically Nirvanic, how can there be gradation in them? " Chi Ch'eng made obeisance and volunteered to be an attendant of the Patriarch.  In that capacity, he served both day and night. 

Bhikkhu Chih Ch'e, whose secular name was Chang Hsing-Ch'ang, was a native of Kiangsi.  As a young man, he was fond of chivalric exploits.  Since the two Dhyana Schools, Hui Neng of the South and Shen Hsiu of the North, flourished side by side, a strong sectarian feeling ran high on the part of the disciples, in spite of the tolerant spirit shown by the two masters. 

As they called their own teacher, Shen Hsiu, the Sixth Patriarch on no better authority than their own, the followers of the Northern School were jealous of the rightful owner of that title whose claim, supported by the inherited robe, was too well known to be ignored.   (So in order to get rid of the rival teacher) they sent Chang Hsing-Ch'ang (who was then a layman) to murder the Patriarch.  With his psychic power of mind-reading the Patriarch was able to know of the plot beforehand.   (Making ready for the coming of the murderer) , he put ten taels by the side of his own seat.  Chang duly arrived, and one evening entered the Patriarch's room to carry out the murder.  With outstretched neck the Patriarch waited for the fatal blow.  Thrice did Chang cut,  (but) not a single wound was thereby inflicted!The Patriarch then addressed him as follows:

A straight sword is not crooked, While a crooked one is not straight.  I owe you money only; But life I do not owe.  " The surprise was too great for Chang; he fell into a swoon and did not revive for a considerable time.  Remorseful and penitent, he asked for mercy and volunteered to join the Order at once.  Handing him the money, the Patriarch said, "You had better not remain here, lest my followers should do you harm. 

Come to see me in disguise some other time, and I will take good care of you." As directed, Chang ran away the same night.  Subsequently, he joined the Order and, when fully ordained, proved himself to be a very diligent monk.  One day, recollecting what the Patriarch has said, he took the long journey to see him and to tender him homage.  "Why do you come so late?" asked the Patriarch.  "I have been thinking of you all the time." "Since that day you so graciously pardoned my crime," said Chang, "I have become a bhikkhu and have studied Buddhism diligently.  Yet I find it difficult to requite you adequately unless I can show my gratitude by spreading the Law for the deliverance of sentient beings.  In studying the Maha Parinirvana Sutra, which I read very often, I cannot understand the meaning of 'eternal 'and 'not eternal'.  Will you, Sir, kindly give me a short explanation." "What is not eternal is the Buddha-nature," replied the Patriarch, "and what is eternal is the discriminating mind together with all meritorious and demeritorious Dharmas." "Your explanation, Sir, contradicts the Sutra," said Chang.  "I dare not, since I inherit the 'Heart-Seal' of Lord Buddha," replied the Patriarch.  "According to the Sutra," said Chang, "the Buddha-nature is eternal, while all meritorious and demeritorious Dharmas, including the Bodhi-citta (the Wisdom-heart) are not eternal.  As you hold otherwise, is this not a contradiction? Your explanation has now intensified my doubts and perplexities."

"On one occasion, " replied the Patriarch, "I had Bhikkhuni Wu Ching-Ts'ang recite to me the whole book of the Maha Parinirvana Sutra, so that I could explain it to her.  Every word and every meaning I explained on that occasion agreed with the text.  As to the explanation I give you now, it likewise differs not from the text.  " "As my capacity for understanding is a poor one, " observed Chang, "will you kindly explain to me more fully and more clearly.  " "Don't you understand? " said the Patriarch.  "If Buddha-nature is eternal, it would be of no use to talk about meritorious and demeritorious Dharmas; and until the end of a kalpa no one would arouse the Bodhi-citta. 

Therefore, when I say'not-eternal'it is exactly what Lord Buddha meant for'eternal'.  Again, if all Dharmas are not eternal, then every thing or object would have a nature of its own (i.e.  , positive essence) to suffer death and birth.  In that case, it would mean that the Essence of Mind which is truly eternal does not pervade everywhere.  Therefore when I say 'eternal'it is exactly what Lord Buddha meant by'not-eternal'.  "Because ordinary men and heretics believe in 'heretical eternalism' (i.e.  , they believe in the eternity of soul and of the world) , and because sravakas (aspirants to arhatship) mistake the eternity of Nirvana as something not eternal, eight upside-down notions arise.  [Ordinary men and heretics mistake the non-eternity, non-happiness, non-egoism and non-purity of mundane existence for eternity, happiness, egoism and purity; while Sravakas mistake the Eternity, Happiness, Egoism and Purity of Nirvana for Non-eternity, Non-happiness, Non-egoism and Non-purity.  ] In order to refute these one-sided views, Lord Buddha preached in the Maha Parinirvana Sutra the'Ultimate Doctrine'of Buddhist teaching, i.e.  , true eternity, true happiness, true self and true purity.  "In following slavishly the wording of the Sutra, you have ignored the spirit of the text.  In assuming that what perishes is non-eternal and that what is fixed and immutable is eternal, you have misinterpreted Lord Buddha's dying instruction (contained in the Maha Parinirvana Sutra) which is perfect, profound, and complete.  You may read the Sutra a thousand times but you will get no benefit out of it.  " All of a sudden Chang awoke to full enlightenment, and submitted the following stanza to the Patriarch:

In order to refute the bigoted belief of 'Non-eternity' Lord Buddha preached the 'Eternal Nature'.  He who does not know that such preaching is only a skilful device May be likened to the child who picks up pebbles and calls them gems.  Without effort on my part The Buddha-nature manifests itself. 

This is due neither to the instruction of my teacher Nor to any attainment of my own. 

"You have now thoroughly realized (the Essence of Mind), " commended the Patriarch, "and hereafter you should name yourself Chih Ch'e (to realize thoroughly).  "Chih Ch'e thanked the Patriarch, made obeisance, and departed. 

Note.  -The Buddha's object is to get rid of bigoted belief in any form.  He would preach 'Non-eternity'to believers of Eternalism; and preach 'neither Eternity nor Non-eternity' to those who believe in both. 

A thirteen-year-old boy named Shen Hui, who was born of a Kao family of Hsiang Yang, came from Yu Chuan Monastery to tender homage to the Patriarch.  "My learned friend," said the Patriarch, "it must be hard for you to undertake such a long journey.  But can you tell me what is the 'fundamental principle'? If you can, you know the owner (i.e., the Essence of Mind) .  Try to say something, please." "Non-attachment is the fundamental principle, and to know the owner is to realize (the Essence of Mind)," replied Shen Hui.  "This novice is fit for nothing but to talk loosely," reproved the Patriarch. 

Thereupon Shen Hui asked the Patriarch, "In your meditation, Sir, do you see (your Essence of Mind) or not?" Striking him three blows with his staff, the Patriarch asked him whether he felt pain or not.  "Painful and not painful," replied Shen Hui.  "I see and I see not," retorted the Patriarch.  "How is it that you see and see not? " asked Shen Hui.  "What I see is my own faults, " replied the Patriarch.  "What I do not see is the good, the evil, the merit and the demerit of others.  That is why I see and I see not.  Now tell me what you mean by 'painful and not painful'.  If you feel no pain, you would be as a piece of wood or stone.  On the other hand, should you feel pain, and anger of hatred is thereby aroused, you would be in the same position as an ordinary man.  "The 'seeing' and 'not-seeing' you referred to are a pair of opposites; while 'painful' and 'not painful' belong to conditioned Dharma which becomes and ceases.  Without having realized your own Essence of Mind, you dare to hoodwink others." Shen Hui apologized, made obeisance, and thanked the Patriarch for his instruction.  Addressing him again the Patriarch said, "If you are under delusion and cannot realize your Essence of Mind, you should seek the advice of a pious and learned friend.  When your mind is enlightened, you will know the Essence of Mind, and then you may tread the Path the right way.  Now you are under delusion, and do not know your Essence of Mind.  Yet you dare to ask whether I know my Essence of Mind or not.  If I do, I realize it myself, but the fact that I know it cannot help you from being under delusion.  Similarly, if you know your Essence of Mind your knowing would be of no use to me.  Instead of asking others, why not see it for yourself and know it for yourself?"

Making obeisance more than a hundred times, Shen Hui again expressed regret and asked the Patriarch to forgive him.   (Henceforth) he worked diligently as the Patriarch's attendant. 

Addressing the assembly one day, the Patriarch said, "I have an article which has no head, no name nor appellation, no front and no back.  Do any of you know it?" Stepping out from the crowd, Shen Hui replied, "It is the source of all Buddhas, and the Buddha-nature of Shen Hui." "I have told you already that it is without name and appellation, and yet you call it 'Source of Buddhas' and 'Buddha-nature'," reproved the Patriarch.  "Even if you confine yourself in a mat shed for further study, you will be a Dhyana scholar of second-hand knowledge only (i.e., knowledge from books and verbal authority instead of Knowledge obtained intuitively) .  After the death of the Patriarch, Shen Hui left for Loyang, where he spread widely the teaching of the Sudden School.  The popular work entitled 'An Explicit Treatise on Dhyana Teaching' was written by him.  He is generally known by the name Dhyana Master Ho Tse (the name of his monastery). 

Seeing that many questions were put to him in bad faith by followers of various Schools, and that a great number of such questioners had gathered around him, the Patriarch addressed them out of compassion as follows: "A treader of the Path should do away with all thoughts, good as well as evil ones.  It is merely as an expedient that the Essence of Mind is so called; it cannot really be named by any name.  This 'non-dual nature' is called the 'true nature', upon which all Dharma systems of teaching are based.  One should realize the Essence of Mind as soon as one hears of it.  " Upon hearing this, every one made obeisance and asked the Patriarch to allow them to be his disciples.

   


Chapter 9:  Royal Patronage 

An edict dated the 15th day of the first Moon of the first year of Shen Lung, issued by the Empress Dowager Tse T'ien and the Emperor Chung Tsung ran as follows: "Since we invited Grand Masters Hui An and Shen Hsiu to stay in the palace to receive our offerings, we have studied the 'Buddha Vehicle' under them whenever we could find time after attending to our imperial duties.  Out of sheer modesty, these two Masters recommended that we should seek the advice of Dhyana Master Hui Neng of the South, who has esoterically inherited the Dharma and the robe of the Fifth Patriarch as well as the 'Heart Seal' of Lord Buddha.  "We hereby send Hsueh Chien as the courier of this Edict to invite His Holiness to come, and trust His Holiness will graciously favour us with an early visit to the capital."

On the ground of illness, the Patriarch sent a reply to decline the royal invitation and asked to be allowed to spend his remaining years 'in the forest'.  "Dhyana experts in the capital, " said Hsueh Chien (when interviewing the Patriarch) , "unanimously advise people to meditate in the sitting position to attain Samadhi.  They say that this is the only way to realize the Norm (Tao) , and that it is impossible for anyone to obtain liberation without going through meditation exercises.  May I know your way of teaching, Sir? " "The Norm is to be realized by the mind, " replied the Patriarch, "and does not depend on the sitting position.  The Diamond Sutra says that it is wrong for anyone to assert that the Tathagata comes or goes, sits or reclines.  Why? Because the Tathagata's 'Dhyana of Purity' implies neither coming from anywhere nor going to anywhere, neither becoming nor causing to be.  All Dharmas are calm and void, and such is the Tathagata's 'Seat of Purity'.  Strictly speaking, there is even no such thing as 'attainment'; why then should we bother ourselves about the sitting position? " "Upon my return, " said Hsueh Chien, "Their Majesties will certainly ask me to make a report.  Will you, Sir, kindly give me some essential hints on your teaching, so that I can make them known not only to Their Majesties, but also to all Buddhist scholars in the capital? As the flame of one lamp may kindle hundreds or thousands of others, so the ignorant will be enlightened (by your teaching) , and light will produce light without end.  " "The Norm implies neither light nor darkness, " replied the Patriarch.  "Light and darkness signify the idea of alternation.   (It is not correct to say) that light will produce light without end, because there is an end, since light and darkness are a pair of opposites.  The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says, 'The Norm has no comparison, since it is not a relative term'.  " "Light signifies wisdom, " argued Hsueh Chien, "and darkness signifies klesa (defilement) .  If a treader of the Path does not break up klesa with the force of wisdom, how is he going to free himself from the 'wheel of birth and death', which is beginningless? " "Klesa is Bodhi, " rejoined the Patriarch.  "The two are the same and not different.  To break up klesa with wisdom is the teaching of the Sravaka (Arhat) School and the Pratyeka Buddha School, the followers of which are of the 'Goat Vehicle' and 'Deer Vehicle' standard respectively.  To those of superior mental dispositions such teaching would be of no use at all.  " "What then, is the teaching of the Mahayana School? " asked Hsueh Chien.  "From the point of view of ordinary men, " replied the Patriarch, "enlightenment and ignorance are two separate things.  Wise men who realize thoroughly the Essence of Mind know that they are of the same nature. 

This same nature or non-dual nature is what is called the 'real nature', which neither decreases in the case of ordinary men and ignorant persons, nor increases in the case of the enlightened sage; which is not disturbed in a state of annoyance, nor calm in a state of Samadhi.  It is neither eternal nor non-eternal; it neither goes nor comes; it is not to be found in the exterior, nor in the interior, nor in the space between the two.  It is above existence and non-existence; its nature and its phenomena are always in a state of 'Thusness'; it is permanent and immutable.  Such is the Norm." Hsueh Chien asked, "You say that it is above existence and non-existence.  How then do you differentiate it from the teaching of the heretics who teach the same thing? " "In the teaching of the heretics, " replied the Patriarch, "'non-existence' means the end of 'existence', while 'existence' is used in contrast with 'non-existence'.  What they mean by 'non-existence'is not actually annihilation and what they call 'existence' does not really exist.  What I mean by 'above existence and non-existence' is this; intrinsically it exists not, and at the present moment it will not be annihilated.  Such is the difference between my teaching and that of the heretics.  "If you wish to know the essential points of my teaching, you should free yourself from all thoughts, good ones as well as bad; then your mind will be in a state of purity, calm and serene all the time, and its usefulness as manifold as the grains of sand in the Ganges.  " The preaching of the Patriarch suddenly awoke Hsueh Chien to full enlightenment.  He made obeisance and bid the Patriarch adieu.  Upon his return to the palace, he reported what the Patriarch had said to Their Majesties.  In that same year, on the third day of the ninth Moon, an edict was issued commending the Patriarch in the following terms: "On the ground of old age and poor health, the Patriarch declined our invitation to come to the capital.  Devoting his life to the practice of Buddhism for our benefit, he is indeed the 'field of merit' of the nation.  Like Vimalakirti, he widely spreads the Mahayana teaching, transmits the doctrine of the Dhyana School, and expounds the system of 'Non-dual' Law.  "Through the medium of Hsueh Chien, to whom the Patriarch has imparted the 'Buddhaknowledge', we are fortunate enough to have a chance to understand for ourselves the teaching of the Supreme Vehicle.  This must be due to our accumulated merits and our 'root of goodness' planted in past lives; otherwise, we should not be the contemporaries of His Holiness.  "In appreciation of the graciousness of the Patriarch, we present to him herewith a Mo Na robe (a valuable Buddhist robe made in Korea) and a crystal bowl. 

The Prefect of Shao Chou is hereby ordered to renovate his monastery and to convert his old residence into a temple which is to be named 'Kuo En' (State Munificence)."

 


Chapter 10:  His Final Instructions 

One day the Patriarch sent for his disciples, FaHai, ChihCh'eng, FaTa, Shen Hui, Chih Ch'ang, Chih Tung, Chih Ch'e, Chih Tao, Fa Chen, FaJu, etc.  , and addressed them as follows: "You men are different from the common lot.  After my entering into Nirvana, each of you will be the Dhyana Master of a certain district.  I am, therefore, going to give you some hints on preaching, so that you may keep up the tradition of our School.  "First mention the three Categories of Dharmas, and then the thirty-six 'pairs of opposites' in the activities (of the Essence of Mind) .  Then teach how to avoid the two extremes of 'coming in' or 'going out'.  In all preaching, stray not from the Essence of Mind.  Whenever a man puts a question to you, answer him in antonyms, so that a 'pair of opposites' will be formed, such as 'coming' and 'going'.  When the interdependence of the two is entirely done away with there would be, in the absolute sense, neither 'coming' nor 'going'.  "The three categories of Dharmas are:

Skandhas (aggregates), Ayatanas (places of meeting) , Dhatus (factors of consciousness). 

The five Skandhas are:

rupa (matter),
vedana (sensation),
samjna (perception),
samskara (tendencies of mind), and
vijnana (consciousness). 

The twelve Ayatanas are:

Six Sense Objects (external). 
Six Sense Organs (internal). 
Object of sight
Organ of sight
Object of hearing
Organ of hearing
Object of smell
Organ of smell
Object of taste
Organ of taste
Object of touch
Organ of touch
Object of thought
Organ of thought

 

The eighteen Dhatus are:

The six sense objects, six sense organs and six recipient vijnanas. 

"Since the Essence of Mind is the embodiment of all Dharmas, it is called the Alaya (Repository) Consciousness.  But as soon as the process of thinking or reasoning is started, the Essence of Mind is transmuted into (various) vijnanas.  When the six recipient vijnanas come into being, they perceive the six sense objects through the six'doors' (of sense).  Thus, the functioning of the eighteen dhatus derive their impetus from the Essence of Mind.  Whether they function with an evil tendency or a good one depends upon what mood-good or evil-the Essence of Mind is in.  Evil functioning is that of a common man, while good functioning is that of a Buddha.  It is because there are 'pairs of opposites' inherent in the Essence of Mind that the functioning of the eighteen dhatus derive their impetus. 

"The thirty-six 'Pairs of opposites' are: Five external inanimate ones: Heaven and earth, sun and moon, light and darkness, positive element and negative element, fire and water.  Twelve Dharmalaksana (phenomenal objects) :Speech and dharma, affirmation and negation, matter and non-matter, form and without form, taints (impurity) and absence of taint, matter and void, motion and quiescence, purity and impurity, ordinary people and sages, the Sangha and the laity, the aged and the young, the big and the small.  Nineteen pairs denoting the functioning of the Essence of Mind: Long and short, good and evil, infatuated and enlightened, ignorant and wise, perturbed and calm, merciful and wicked, abstinent (Sila) and indulgent, straight and crooked, full and empty, steep and level, klesa and Bodhi, permanent and transient, compassionate and cruel, happy and angry, generous and mean, forward and backward, existent and non-existent, Dharmakaya and physical body, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya. 

"He who knows how to use these thirty-six pairs realizes the all-pervading principle which goes through the teaching of all Sutras.  Whether he is 'coming in' or 'going out', he is able to avoid the two extremes.  "In the functioning of the Essence of Mind and in conversation with others, outwardly we should free ourselves from attachment to objects, and inwardly, we should free ourselves from attachment to the idea of the Void. 

To believe in the reality of objects or in Nihilism results in fallacious views or intensified ignorance respectively.  "A bigoted believer in Nihilism blasphemes against the Sutras on the ground that literature (i.e., the Buddhist Scriptures) is unnecessary (for the study of Buddhism) .  If that were so, then neither would it be right for us to speak, since speech forms the substance of literature.  He would also argue that in the direct method (literally, the straight Path) literature is discarded.  But does he appreciate that the two words 'is discarded' are also literature? Upon hearing others recite the Sutras such a man would criticize the speakers as 'addicted to scriptural authority'.  It is bad enough for him to confine this mistaken notion to himself, but in addition, he blasphemes against the Buddhist scriptures.

You men should know that it is a serious offence to speak ill of the Sutras, for the consequence is grave indeed!  "He who believes in the reality of outward objects tries to seek the form (from without) by practicing a certain system of doctrine.  He may furnish spacious lecture-halls for the discussion of Realism or Nihilism, but such a man will not for numerous kalpas realize the Essence of Mind.  "We should tread the Path according to the teaching of the Law, and not keep our mind in a state of indolence, thereby creating obstacles to its understanding.

To preach or to hear the Law without practicing it gives occasion for the arising of heretical views.  Hence, we should tread the Path according to the teaching of the Law, and in the dissemination of the Dharma we should not be influenced by the concept of the reality of objects.  "If you understand what I say, and make use of it in preaching, in practice, and in your daily life, you will grasp the distinguishing feature of our School.  "Whenever a question is put to you, answer it in the negative if it is an affirmative one; and vice versa.  If you are asked about an ordinary man, tell the enquirer something about a sage; and vice versa.  From the correlation or interdependence of the two opposites the doctrine of the 'Mean' may be grasped.  If all other questions are answered in this manner, you will not be far away from the truth.  "Supposing someone asks you what is darkness, answer him thus: Light is the hetu (root condition) and darkness is the pratyaya (conditions which bring about any given phenomenon) .  When light disappears, darkness appears.  The two are in contrast to each other.  From the correlation or interdependence of the two the doctrine of the 'Mean' arises. 

"In this way all other questions are to be answered.  To ensure the perpetuation of the aim and object of our School in the transmission of the Dharma to your successors, this instruction should be handed down from one generation to another." In the seventh Moon of the year of Jen Tzu, the first year of T'ai Chi or Yen Ho Era, the Patriarch sent some of his disciples to Hsin Chou to have a shrine (stupa) built within the Kuo En monastery, with instructions that the work should be completed as soon as possible.  Next year, when summer was well-nigh spent, the stupa was duly completed.  On the first day of the seventh Moon, the Patriarch assembled his disciples and addressed them as follows: "I am going to leave this world by the eighth Moon.  Should you have any doubts (on the doctrine) please ask me in time, so that I can clear them up for you.  You may find no one to teach you after my departure." The sad news moved Fa Hai and other disciples to tears.  Shen Hui, on the other hand, remained unperturbed.  Commending him, the Patriarch said, "Young Master Shen Hui is the only one here who has attained that state of mind which sees no difference in good or evil, knows neither sorrow nor happiness, and is unmoved by praise or blame.  After so many years' training in this mountain, what progress have you made? What are you crying for now? Are you worrying for me because I do not know whither I shall go? But I do know; otherwise I could not tell you beforehand what will happen. 

What makes you cry is that you don't know whither I am going.  If you did, there would be no occasion for you to cry.  In Suchness there is neither coming nor going, neither becoming nor cessation. 

Sit down, all of you, and let me read you a stanza on reality and illusion, and on motion and quietude.  Read it, and your opinion will accord with mine. 

Practice it, and you will grasp the aim and object of our School." The assembly made obeisance and asked the Patriarch to let them hear the stanza, which read as follows:

In all things there is nothing real, And so we should free ourselves from the concept of the reality of objects.  He who believes in the reality of objects Is bound by this very concept, which is entirely illusive.  He who realizes the Essence of Mind within himself Knows that the 'True Mind' is to be sought apart from phenomena.  If one's mind is bound by illusive phenomena Where is Reality to be found, when all phenomena are unreal? Sentient beings are mobile; Inanimate objects are stationary.  He who trains himself by exercise to be motionless (Gets no benefit) other than making himself as still as an inanimate object.  Should you find true Immobility There is Immobility within activity.  Immobility (like that of inanimate objects) is immobility (and not Dhyana) , And in inanimate objects the seed of Buddhahood is not to be found.  He who is adept in the discrimination of various Dharmalaksana Abides immovably in the 'First Principle' (Nirvana) .  Thus are all things to be perceived, and this is the functioning of Tathata (Suchness) .  Treaders of the Path, Exert yourself and take heed That as followers of the Mahayana School You do not embrace that sort of knowledge Which binds you to the wheel of birth and death.  With those who are sympathetic Let us have discussion on Buddhism.  As for those whose point of view differs from ours Let us treat them politely and thus make them happy.   (But) disputes are alien to our School, For they are incompatible with its doctrine.  To argue with others in disregard of this rule Subjects one's Essence of Mind to the bitterness of mundane existence.  

Having heard this stanza, the assembly made obeisance in a body.  In accordance with the wishes of the Patriarch, they concentrated their minds to put the stanza into actual practice, and refrained from religious controversy. 

Seeing that the Patriarch would pass away in the near future, the head Monk, Fa Hai, after prostrating himself twice asked, "Sir, upon your entering Nirvana, who will be the inheritor of the robe and the Dharma?" "All my sermons," replied the Patriarch, "from the time I preached in Ta Fan monastery, may be copied out for circulation in a volume to be entitled 'Sutra Spoken on the High Seat of the Treasure of the Law'.  Take good care of it and hand it down from one generation to another for the salvation of all sentient beings.  He who preaches in accordance with its teachings preaches the Orthodox Dharma. 

"As to transmission of the robe, this practice is to be discontinued.  Why? Because you all have implicit faith in my teaching, and being free from all doubts you are able to carry out the lofty object of our School.  Furthermore, according to the implied meaning of the stanza by Bodhidharma, the first Patriarch, on the transmission of the Dharma, the robe need not be handed down.  The stanza reads:

The object of my coming to this land (i.e. , China) Is to transmit the Dharma for the deliverance of those under delusion.  In five petals the flowers will be complete.  Thereafter, the fruit will come to bearing naturally. 

The Patriarch added, "Learned Audience, purify your minds and listen to me.  He who wishes to attain the All-knowing Knowledge of a Buddha should know the 'Samadhi of Specific Object' and the 'Samadhi of Specific Mode'.  In all circumstances we should free ourselves from attachment to objects, and our attitude towards them should be neutral and indifferent.  Let neither success nor failure, neither profit nor loss, worry us.  Let us be calm and serene, modest and accommodating, simple and dispassionate.  Such is the 'Samadhi of Specific Object'.  On all occasions, whether we are standing, walking, sitting or reclining, let us be absolutely straightforward.  Then, remaining in our sanctuary, and without the least movement, we shall virtually be in the Kingdom of Pure Land.  Such is the 'Samadhi of Specific Mode'.  "He who is complete with these two forms of Samadhi may be likened to the ground with seeds sown therein.  Covered up in the mud, the seeds receive nourishment there from and grow until the fruit comes into bearing.  "My preaching to you now may be likened to the seasonable rain which brings moisture to a vast area of land.  The Buddha-nature within you may be likened to the seed which, being moistened by the rain, will grow rapidly.  He who carries out my instructions will certainly attain Bodhi.  He who follows my teaching will certainly attain the superb fruit (of Buddhahood) .  Listen to my stanza:

Buddha-seeds latent in our mind Will sprout upon the coming of the all pervading rain.  The flower of the doctrine having been intuitively grasped, One is bound to reap the fruit of Enlightenment. 

Then he added, "The Dharma is non-dual and so is the mind.  The Path is pure and above all forms.  I warn you not to use those exercises for meditation on quietude or for keeping the mind a blank.  The mind is by nature pure, so there is nothing for us to crave for or give up.  Do your best, each of you, and go wherever circumstances lead." Thereupon the disciples made obeisance and withdrew. 

On the eighth day of the seventh Moon, the Patriarch gave a sudden order to his disciples to get ready a boat for Hsin Chou (his native place) .  In a body they entreated him earnestly and pitifully to stay.  "It is only natural that I should go, " said the Patriarch, "for death is the inevitable outcome of birth, and even the various Buddhas who appear in this world have to go through an earthly death before entering Nirvana.  There can be no exception for my physical body, which must be laid down somewhere." "After your visit to Hsin Chou," entreated the assembly, "please return here sooner or later." "Fallen leaves go back to where the root is, and when I first came I had no mouth," replied the Patriarch.  Then they asked, "To whom, Sir, do you transmit the Womb of the Dharma Eye?" "Men of principle will get it, and those who are mind-less will understand it.  "They further asked, "Will any calamity befall you hereafter?" "Five or six years after my death," replied the Patriarch, "a man will come to cut off my head.  I have made the following prophecy of which please take note:

To the top of the parent's head, offerings are made, For the mouth must be fed.  When the calamity of 'Man' befalls, Yang and Liu will be the officials. 

He added, "Seventy years after my departure two Bodhisattvas from the East, one a layman and the other a monk, will preach contemporaneously, disseminate the Law widely, establish our School on a firm basis, renovate our monasteries and transmit the doctrine to numerous successors." "Can you let us know for how many generations the Dharma has been transmitted, from the appearance of the earliest Buddha up to now?" asked the disciples. 

"The Buddhas who have appeared in this world are too many to be counted," replied the Patriarch.  "But let us start from the last seven Buddhas.  They are:

Of the last kalpa (the Alamkarakalpa):  Buddha Vipasyin Buddha Sikhin Buddha Visvabhu Of the present kalpa (the Bhadrakalpa):  Buddha Krakucchanda Buddha Kanakamuni Buddha Kasyapa Buddha Sakyamuni"  From the Buddha Sakyamuni, the Law was transmitted to the:

1st Patriarch Arya Mahakasyapa 2nd Patriarch Arya Ananda 3rd Patriarch Arya Sanakavasa 4th Patriarch Arya Upagupta 5th Patriarch Arya Dhritaka 6th Patriarch Arya Michaka 7th Patriarch Arya Vasumitra 8th Patriarch Arya Buddhanandi 9th Patriarch Arya Buddhamitra 10th Patriarch Arya Parsva 11th Patriarch Arya Punyayasas 12th Patriarch Bodhisattva Asvaghosa 13th Patriarch Arya Kapimala 14th Patriarch Bodhisattva Nagarjuna 15th Patriarch Kanadeva 16th Patriarch Arya Rahulata 17th Patriarch Arya Sanghanandi 18th Patriarch Arya Gayasata 19th Patriarch Arya Kumarata 20th Patriarch Arya Jayata 21st Patriarch Arya Vasubandhu 22nd Patriarch Arya Manorhita 23rd Patriarch Arya Haklenayasas 24thPatriarch Arya Simha 25th Patriarch Arya Basiasita 26th Patriarch Arya Punyamitra 27th Patriarch Arya Prajnatara 28th Patriarch Arya Bodhidharma (the first Patriarch in China) 29th Patriarch Grand Master Hui K'u 30th Patriarch Grand Master Seng Ts'an 31st Patriarch Grand Master Tao Hsin 32nd Patriarch Grand Master Hung Yen And I am the 33rd Patriarch (the sixth Patriarch in China) .  Thus the Dharma was handed down from one Patriarch to another.  Hereafter, you men should in turn transmit it to posterity, from one generation to another, so that the tradition may be maintained.  On the third day of the eighth Moon of the year of Kuei Chou, the second Year of Hsien T'ien Era (A.  D.  713) , after taking food at the Kuo En Monastery, the Patriarch addressed his disciples as follows: "Please sit down, for I am going to say good-bye.  " Thereupon Fa Hai spoke to the Patriarch, "Sir, will you please leave to posterity definite instructions whereby people under delusion may realize the Buddha nature.  " "It is not impossible, " replied the Patriarch, "for these men to realize the Buddha-nature, provided they acquaint themselves with the nature of ordinary sentient beings.  But to seek Buddhahood without such knowledge would be in vain even if one shall spend aeons of time in the search.  "Now, let me show you how to get acquainted with the nature of the sentient beings within your mind, and thereby realize the Buddha-nature latent in you. 

Knowing Buddha means nothing else than knowing sentient beings, for the latter ignore that they are potential Buddhas, whereas a Buddha sees no difference between himself and other beings.  When sentient beings realize the Essence of Mind, they are Buddhas.  If a Buddha is under delusion in his Essence of Mind, he is then an ordinary being.  When your mind is crooked or depraved, you are ordinary beings with Buddha-nature latent in you.  On the other hand, when you direct your mind to purity and straightforwardness even for one moment, you are a Buddha.  "Within our mind there is a Buddha, and that Buddha within is the real Buddha.  If Buddha is not to be sought within our mind, where shall we find the real Buddha? Doubt not that Buddha is within your mind, apart from which nothing can exist.  Since all things or phenomena are the production of our mind, the Sutra says, 'When mental activity begins, things come into being; when mental activity ceases, they too cease to exist.  'In parting from you, let me leave you a stanza entitled 'The Real Buddha of the Essence of Mind'.  People of future generations who understand its meaning will realize the Essence of Mind and attain Buddhahood.  It reads:

The Essence of Mind or Tathata (Suchness) is the real Buddha, While heretical views and the three poisonous elements are Mara. 

Enlightened by Right Views, we call forth the Buddha within us.  When our nature is dominated by the three poisonous elements We are said to be possessed by Mara; But when Right Views eliminate from our mind these poisonous elements Mara will be transformed into a real Buddha.  The Dharmakaya, the Sambhogakaya and the Nirmanakaya-These three Bodies emanate from one (the Essence of Mind) .  He who is able to realize this fact intuitively Has sown the seed, and will reap the fruit of Enlightenment.  It is from the Nirmanakaya that our Pure Nature emanates; Within the former the latter is to be found.  Guided by Pure Nature, the Nirmanakaya treads the Right Path, And will some day attain to the Sambhogakaya, perfect and infinite.  'Pure Nature' is an outgrowth of our sensual instincts; By getting rid of sensuality, we attain the Pure Dharmakaya.  When our temperament is such that we are no longer the slaves of the five sense-objects, And when we have realized the Essence of Mind even for one moment only, then Truth is known to us.  Should we be so fortunate as to be the followers of the Sudden School in this life, In a sudden we shall see the Bhagavat of our Essence of Mind.  He who seeks the Buddha (from without) by practicing certain doctrines Knows not where the real Buddha is to be found.  He who is able to realize the Truth within his own mind Has sown the seed of Buddhahood. 

He who has not realized the Essence of Mind and seeks the Buddha from without Is a fool motivated by wrong desires.  I have hereby left to posterity the teaching of the Sudden School For the salvation of all sentient beings who care to practice it.  Hear me, ye future disciples!  Your time will have been badly wasted if you neglect to put this teaching into practice.

Having recited the stanza, he added, "Take good care of yourselves.  After my passing away, do not follow the worldly tradition, and cry or lament.  Neither should messages of condolence be accepted, nor mourning be worn.  These things are contrary to the Orthodox Teaching, and he who does them is not my disciple.  What you should do is to know your own mind and realize your own Buddha-nature, which neither rests nor moves, neither becomes nor ceases to be, neither comes nor goes, neither affirms nor denies, neither stays nor departs.  Lest your mind should be under delusion and thus fail to catch my meaning, I repeat this to you to enable you to realize your Essence of Mind.  After my death, if you carry out my instructions and practice them accordingly, my being away from you will make no difference.  On the other hand, if you go against my teaching, no benefit would be obtained, even if I continued to stay here."

Then he uttered another stanza:

Imperturbable and serene, the ideal man practices no virtue.  Self-possessed and dispassionate, he commits no sin.  Calm and silent, he gives up seeing and hearing.  Even and upright, his mind abides nowhere. 

Having uttered the stanza, he sat reverently until the third watch of the night. 

Then he said abruptly to his disciples, "I am going now," and in a sudden passed away.  A peculiar fragrance pervaded his room, and a lunar rainbow appeared which seemed to join up earth and sky.  The trees in the wood turned white, and birds and beasts cried mournfully.  In the eleventh Moon of that year the question of the Patriarch's resting place gave rise to a dispute among the government officials of Kuang Chow, Shao Chou and Hsin Chou, each party being anxious to have the remains of the Patriarch removed to its own district.  The Patriarch's disciples, together with other monks and laymen, took part in the controversy.  Being unable to come to any settlement among themselves, they burnt incense and prayed to the Patriarch to indicate by the direction of the drift of the smoke the place which he himself would choose.  As the smoke turned directly to Ts'ao Ch'i, the shrine (in which the body was kept) together with the inherited robe and bowl was accordingly taken back there on the 13th day of the 11th Moon.  Next year, on the 25th day of the seventh Moon, the body was taken out of the shrine, and Fang Pien, a disciple of the Patriarch, plastered it with incense-clay.  Recollecting the Patriarch's prediction that someone would take away his head, the disciples, as a matter of precaution, strengthened his neck by wrapping it with iron sheets and lacquered cloth before the body was placed in the stupa.

Suddenly, a flash of white light rushed out from the stupa, went straight towards the sky, and did not disperse until three days after.  The incident was duly reported to the Throne by the officials of Shao Chou District.  By imperial order, tablets were erected to record the life of the Patriarch.  The Patriarch inherited the robe when he was 24, had his hair shaved (i.e., was ordained) at 39, and died at the age of 76.  For thirty-seven years he preached for the benefit of all sentient beings.  Forty-three of his disciples inherited the Dharma, and by his express consent became his successors, while those who attained enlightenment and thereby got out of the rut of the ordinary man were too numerous to be counted.  The robe transmitted by Bodhidharma as the insignia of Patriarchship, the Mo Na robe and the crystal bowl presented by Emperor Chung Tsung, the Patriarch's statue made by Fang Pien, and other sacred articles, were put in charge of the keeper of the stupa.  They were to be kept permanently in Pao Lin Monastery to guard the welfare of the temple. 

The Sutra spoken by the Patriarch was published and circulated to make known the principles and objects of the Dharma School.  All these steps were taken for the prosperity of the Three Gems (i.e. , Buddha, Law, and Order) as well as for the general welfare of all sentient beings.



Twenty most famous Ch'an verses of Patriarchs, Ch'an Masters and Shakyamuni Buddha, translated into Vietnamese and explained by buddhist Thien Phuc, translated into English and commentaries by Master and buddhist Sage Quang Hue


Ch'an or Chan definition from Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism  

        (Chinese). The name of a major movement or school of Chinese Buddhism that literally means ‘the meditation school’. This school generally sees itself as eschewing doctrinal, textual, and ethical studies in favour of the cultivation of a direct realization of the Buddha's own enlightenment (bodhi) experience. The word ‘ch'an’ itself was originally part of a two-character compound written ‘ch'an-na’, and was an attempt to render the Sanskrit word dhyāna (meditation) phonetically. In time, the second character was dropped and it became known simply as ‘ch'an’. Its techniques for cultivation include the study of kōans and ‘silent illumination’ (Chinese, mo-chao Ch'an). The former involves the contemplation of a short story about past, enlightened masters, or enigmatic phrases that push the practitioner to the limits of rationality in an attempt to break through to a direct realization of reality. The latter, often promoted in opposition to the former, involves simply sitting with no particular mental form or content in order to realize that one's Buddhahood is already complete and perfect as it is.


        Original Vietnamese language translated from Chinese language: 

        01.  Thân thị Bồ Đề thọ

        Tâm như minh kính đài

        Thời thời thường phất thức

        Vật xử nhạ trần ai. 

        Translated into today Vietnamese language: 

        Thân thiệt Bồ Đề thọ

        Lòng như minh cảnh đài

        Hằng hằng lau phủi sạch

        Chớ để vướng bụi bặm. 

        Translated into English language: 

        The body is a Bodhi tree,
        The mind like a bright mirror stand.
        Time and again brush it clean,
        And let no dust alight.

        Explanation:    The verse of Master Shen Hsiu still have forms.  According to Buddha, everything that has form is untruthful. But if worldly people who cultivate according to his verse will not reborn in the three evil realms.



        Original Vietnamese language translated from Chinese language:

        02.  Bồ Đề bổn vô thọ

        Minh cảnh diệt phi đài

        Bổn lai vô nhất vật

        Hà xứ nhạ trần ai. 

        Translated into today Vietnamese language: 

         Bồ Đề vốn không cội

        Gương sáng cũng không đài

        Xưa nay không một vật

        Chỗ nào dính trần ai. 

        Translated into English language: 

        Originally Bodhi has no tree,
        The bright mirror has no stand.
        Originally there is not a single thing:
        Where can dust alight?
 

        Explanation:  With his verse, the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng proved his comprehension of The nature of the Void (Sùnyatà in Sanskrit language).  There are no tree, no stand, originally there is not a single thing: Where can dust alight?  According to him, "The rice has long been ready. It is now waiting only for the sieve."  This is his reply when the Fifth Patriarch asked him "Is the rice ready?"  However, how many persons who can have Master Hui Neng's manners and attitude nowadays?  When they cannot have his manners and attitude but they just want to have then they become dangerous.  For them, sometimes, they want their mind without a thought;  sometimes, they want their mind free from particularization, especially from affection and feelings;  sometimes, they want their mind free from passions;  sometimes, they want to go straight to Nirvana;  sometimes they want neither good mind nor bad mind.  How can they have neither good mind nor bad mind when they still have meaty foods everyday?  How can they have neither good mind nor bad mind when they still have the three poisons of greed, hatred and ignorance everyday?  How can they have neither good mind nor bad mind when they still have extra intense sexual desire?  Forget about mimicking exactly like Master Hui Neng, pay off all bad karmas of the mind from the past, do not borrow more bad karmas of the mind in the present and in the future;  after that, you can think about having neither good mind nor bad mind.  Study and cultivate like Master Shen Hsiu first, and then study and cultivate like the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng afterward.




        Original Vietnamese language translated from Chinese language:

        03.  Thân như điện ảnh hữu hoàn vô

        Vạn mộc xuân vinh, thu hựu khô

        Nhậm vận thịnh suy vô bố úy

        Thịnh suy như lộ thảo đầu phô. 

        Translated into today Vietnamese language:

        Thân như bóng chớp có rồi không

        Xuân về hoa nở, thu khô héo

        Mặc tình suy thịnh nào lo sợ

        Thịnh suy như sương mai đầu cỏ. 

        Translated into English language: 

        The existence and non existence of a physical body is no different from an appearance and disappearance of a lightning flash
        When the Spring returns, all trees grow; when the Autumn returns, all trees fade
        I am not worried or fearful of either worldly prosperity or decline
        Either worldly prosperity or decline are like the morning dew on the tip of the grass.

        Explanation:  The existence and non existence of a physical body is no different from an appearance and disappearance of a lightning flash. All trees grow in the Spring and fade in the Autumn. The Chan Master is not worried or fearful of either worldly prosperity or decline. Either worldly prosperity or decline are just like the morning dew on the tip of the grass.

        Chan Master Ten Thousand Virtues (his Chinese or Vietnamese name is Vạn Hạnh) composed this poem right before the time he entered Nirvana. His mind was calm and pure supremely. He was not only quite calm between live and death, but also according to him, all worldly dharmas is void or empty. His mind was free from delusion and let go of everything until there was nothing can shake his mind. We should follow his model of cultivation to cultivate for ourselves until we attain the Way. 




        Original Vietnamese language translated from Chinese language:

        04.  Bất thức tự gia bảo
        Tùy tha nhận ngoại trân
        Nhật trung đào ảnh chất
        Cảnh lý thất đầu nhơn. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language:
      
        Báu nhà mình chẳng biết
        Lại theo người nhận ngoại trân
        Giữa trưa chạy trốn bóng
        Kẻ soi gương mất đầu. 


        Translated into English language: 

        They do not know where their true Gem is
        But they follow others to beg for their gems
        They run to hide themselves from their own shadow at noon
        They look at themselves in the mirror and see they have no head.

        Explanation:  Chan Master Thạch Cựu got very tired when he saw worldly people run after others for their gems and forgot about their true Gem which is their Buddha mind. Today they ask about the gem in the hand of World Honored One; tomorrow they ask about the gem in the hand of Earth Store Bodhisattva, the day after tomorrow they ask about other Bodhisattva who has a gem in His hand so they will follow that Bodhisattva and ask for permission to be a disciple of service. Chan Master Thach Cuu show us exactly where our own true Gem is, it is right inside the pocket of our shirt; never look for other gem in the far away places to worship the owner and to beg for His gem. Our Gem follows us like a shadow follow an outside appearance, even if we struggle inside the three evil realms, our Gem is still next to us. Please remember clearly Chan Master Thach Cuu's advices so we will not fall into the guy Diễn Nhã's situation, he sees his head when looking into the mirror, but when he folds up part of the mirror he sees himself without a head and scream. We are just like that guy Dien Nha. We always run after our false or misleading thoughts, suddenly begin then suddenly end. Until we do not know nothing about our Buddha mind.

         Translator commentary:  "Chan Master Thạch Cựu show us exactly where our own true Gem is, it is right inside the pocket of our shirt;" meaning like a story preached by Buddha in the Lotus Sutra.  There is a beggar who goes many places to beg for foods.  One day, a gentleman gives him a precious gem to support his life to be less miserable.  The beggar does not know, put the gem in his shirt pocket and still goes many places to beg for foods.  One day, he sees the gentleman again and the gentleman tells him to sell the gem for very much money for foods.  He listened to the gentleman, sells the gem, becomes rich and his life is much better.  In that story, the Gem represents Buddha mind, the gentleman represents Buddha who preached Dharma to show him where his Gem or Buddha mind is, the beggar represents sentient beings or living beings who struggle with their life for a living and do not know how to get out of the cycle of rebirths, to beg represents to struggle with life for a living, to sell the gem for very much money and his life is much better represents to know how to use Buddha mind with wisdom to have much more blessings meaning much more money and to have much more merits and Pure Land practice attainments to get out of the cycles of rebirths.  The Gem represents Buddha mind and Buddha mind is not inside a pocket or on the body.  Buddha mind is not in the head or inside the body neither.  Buddha mind follows a physical body and carry all bad and good karmas made during lifetime to next life.  
  



        Original Vietnamese language translated from Chinese language: 

        05.  Ngô hữu nhất Tôn Phật
        Thế gian giai bất thức
        Bất tố diệt bất trang
        Bất điêu diệt bất khắc
        Vô bất khối nê thổ
        Vô nhất điểm thái sắc
        Công họa họa bất thành
        Tặc thâu thâu bất khứ
        Thể tướng bản tự nhiên
        Thanh tịnh thường hạo khiết
        Tuy nhiên thị nhất Tôn
        Phân thân thiên bách ức. 

 

        Translated into today Vietnamese language:

        Ta có một Đức Phật
        Người đời không ai biết
        Không đúc cũng không trang
        Không điêu cũng không khắc
        Không cần đến đất bùn
        Cũng chả cần màu sắc
        Thợ vẽ, vẽ không ra
        Giặc cướp lấy không được
        Thể tướng vốn tự nhiên
        Thường trắng trong thanh tịnh
        Tuy chỉ có một tôn
        Hóa thân ngàn muôn ức. 


        Translated into English language: 

        We have a Buddha or our Buddha mind
        Worldly people do not know
        Neither cast nor paint to have our Buddha
        Neither carve nor mold to have our Buddha
        We do not need clay for sculpturing our Buddha
        We do not need to color our Buddha too
        An artist cannot illustrate our Buddha
        A robber cannot steal our Buddha
        'Form of our Buddha' is originally natural
        Our Buddha is often white, transparent and pure
        Everyone has one Buddha mind only
     But when you become an Enlightened Bodhisattva, that Buddha mind can turn into ten thousand of
metamorphosic bodies (Nirmana-kaya in Sanskrit language). 

        Explanation:  Not only in our times, people use clay to sculpture Buddha statues, but also in the ancient times, when Great Father Venerable (Bố Đại Hòa Thượng) was living, people bowed down in front of every wooden Buddha statues, clayed Buddha statues, bronze Buddha statues every day. Great Father Venerable slapped every one of us when saying: We already have a Buddha for ourselves so we do not need to take woods to make Buddha statue, or color Buddha statue, or illustrate a Buddha picture. For what ?  For illustrating a 'spell' and then wear that 'spell' for ourselves. Let's listen to the great advices of Great Father Venerable therefore we can return to live for our own Buddha every day. 




        Original Vietnamese language:

        06.  Pháp bổn như vô pháp
        Phi hữu diệt phi vô
        Nhược nhân tri thử pháp
        Chúng sanh dữ Phật đồng
        Tịch tịnh Lăng Già Nguyệt
        Không không độ hải chu
        Tri không, không giác hữu
        Tam muội nhậm thông châu. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language:

        Pháp vốn là pháp không
        Chẳng có cũng chẳng không
        Nếu người biết pháp ấy
        Chúng sanh cùng Phật đồng
        Trăng Lăng Già vắng lặng
        Thuyền Bát Nhã rỗng không
        Biết không, không thực hữu
        Chánh định mặc thong dong. 


        Translated into English language: 

        All dharmas are truly empty
        There is whether existence nor non-existence of all dharmas
        If a person knows unreality of things
        That person is the same as Buddhas
        Moon Lankàvatàra is lost and quiet
        Boat Prajnà is empty
        Knowing emptiness or unreality of things
        Proper concentration with leisure.

        Explanation:  All dharmas truly begin and end, change continuously, sometimes they appear and sometimes they disappear depending on unreal conditions. Therefore, the nature of dharmas is unreal, they exist temporarily only, they are not limited to the theory of existence or non-existence. Who can perceives the emptiness or unreality of things (Dharmasùnyatà in Sanskrit language) then that person can hold hands with Buddhas, because that person can realize the nature of all dharmas is empty, unreal, therefore they do not entangle to anything. They are happy, peaceful, and their mind free from delusion in this temporary, unreal life of existence and non-existence.

         Vietnamese Chan Master Hue Sinh, in the Ly dynasty, affirmed that when we can perceive our original form (Chan word for Buddha mind) then it does not matter whether there is dharmas or there is no dharmas; at that time, moon Lankàvatàra will be lost and quiet; boat Prajnà will be empty. At that time, the cycle of rebirths and deaths will end; at that time, we will live perpetually in forever happiness. This happiness is not at a distant place, but in the impermanent physical body. Let's be quiet and contemplate about it ! 




        Original Vietnamese language:

        07.  Niên thiếu hà tằng liễu sắc không
        Nhất xuân tâm sự bách hoa trung
        Như kim khám phá Đôn Hoàng Điện
        Thiền bản Bồ Đoàn khán trụy hồng. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language:

        Niên thiếu chưa tường lẽ có không
        Ngày xuân hoa nở rộn tơ lòng
        Chúa Xuân nay đã thành quen biết
        Thiền tọa an nhiên ngắm trụy hồng. 


        Explanation with verse in English:  When we were young, we see everything is pretty, beautiful, noble and ideal. Why ?  Because at that time we have not comprehend the magic of life yet. Our eyesight is ignorant, dim and narrow. We are attracted completely by the rise and fall and changing of worldly life. When the Spring arrives, flowers bloom with jubilant scenes and we also excite and go into ecstasy with the Spring atmospheres. However, when we see the splendid scene of Đôn Hoàng temple then our mind will be mature and is not attracted by many forms and sounds that used to attract us before. How can we discover Don Hoang temple ?  According to Chan Master Trần Nhân Tôn, the only path is to keep silent and to return to our own original form. At that time, our eyes will be brighter, our ears will be able to hear the very small sounds. At that time, our mind will have peace and free from delusion. Let's contemplate the following verse 'Don Hoang temple' of king Tran Nhan Ton:

         When I was young, I did not know much about the theory of existence and non-existence yet
         In a Spring day, flowers blooms and I excite
         I have known well the Đôn Hoàng temple
         I sit down to meditate and see the pink color. 




        Original Vietnamese language translated from Chinese language:

        08.  Bế hộ sơ dung tẩu 
        Vi tăng nhạo tọa thiền
        Nhất tâm vô tạp niệm
        Vạn hạnh tự thông huyền
        Nguyệt ấn thu giang tĩnh
        Đăng minh thảo xá tiên
        Kỷ nhân năng đáo thử
        Đáo thử kỷ năng chơn. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language:

        Đóng cửa lại sẽ thấy (cửa ở đây là cửa tâm)
        Sự thích thú của tọa thiền càng tăng
        Nhất tâm không tạp niệm
        Muôn hạnh tự thông huyền
        Trăng in dòng thu lặng
        Đèn sáng khắp nhà cỏ
        Mấy người hay đến đó
        Đến đó mấy kẻ thành. 


        Explanation with verse in English:  Chinese Chan Master Thiện Chiêu in Phần Dương town realized the unbelievable benefits of meditation therefore he made a verse to advice everyone, not only for the Monks and Nuns, should practice meditation. Because meditation will help our physical body be harmonious and healthy. When our physical body feel tired as if we are going to have a cold but if we sit down and meditate for about one or two hours then the cold will go away. Why ?  Because when we meditate we spend a little of energy, therefore much of our energy will transformed into heat energy to keep our physical body warm. Likewise, meditation helps our mind less wandering around, delusion and unreal thoughts. Let contemplate the following verse of Master Thien Chieu:

         When closing the door of our mind, we will see
         The joyfulness of meditation will increase
         With one mind and without defilements
         All virtues will miraculously appear
         The moon has its shadow in the calm Autumn river
         The light of the lamps shine everywhere at the small house
         Talented people often go there
         How many people can comprehend spiritual reality. 





        Original Vietnamese language:

        09.  Nhất thiết hữu vi pháp
        Như mộng huyễn bào ảnh
        Như lộ diệt như điện
        Ưng tác như thị quán. 
        

        Translated into today Vietnamese language:

        Tất cả pháp hữu vi
        Như mộng, như huyễn, như giả
        Như sương, cũng như điện
        Nên luôn khởi quán như vậy. 

 
        Explanation with verse in English:  Our Compassionate Father (Shakyamuni Buddha) used to taught Bhiksus, bhikṣuṇīs,male buddhists, female buddhists about the nature of void in the Diamond Sutra.  The true theory of the nature of void indicates the emptiness of all dharmas:  All dharmas are empty of characteristics.  When understanding so, we will have no more delusion, tendency for settling down in the mind (Abhinivesa in Sanskrit);  but on the contrary, we will let go of everything completely.  Our Compassionate Father taught us that we should often contemplate thus to realize everything that has form is a dream, unreal and not true.  Let's contemplate the teaching of Our Compassionate Father in the following verse of the Diamond Sutra:

       "All conditioned dharmas

        Are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble or a shadow,

        Like dew or like a lightning flash.

        Contemplate them thus."




       
Original Vietnamese language translated from Chinese language:

        10.  Chư pháp tùng bản lai
        Thường tự tịch diệt tánh
        Xuân đáo bách hoa khai
        Hoàng oanh đề liễu thượng. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language: 

        Các pháp từ xưa nay
        Tướng thường tự tịch diệt
        Xuân đến trăm hoa nở
        Cành liễu hoàng anh hót. 


        Explanation with verse in English:  Chinese Chan Master Cảnh Sơn became enlightened to the max of buddhist doctrines therefore under his view, everything is empty.  Contrastly, for an ignorant person everything exists.  Comprehension about the emptiness of everything is realization of the truth of the Way, the truth of emptiness;  from that the absolute reality shows.  Also from that, there is no narrow border between the existence and non-existence of worldly people.  Contemplate His following verse:

        Originally all dharmas

        Their forms often cease to exist by themselves  

        When the Spring arrives, hundreds of flowers bloom

        On a branch of willow, an oriole bird sings.

 

Picture:  Oriole bird 


        Original Vietnamese language translated from Chinese language:

        11.  Phong suy sơ trúc
        Phong quá nhi trúc bất lưu thanh
        Nhạn độ hàn đàm
        Nhạn khứ nhi đàm bất lưu ảnh. 

Translated into today Vietnamese language:

Gió thổi qua trúc thưa
Gió qua rồi, trúc không buồn giữ tiếng gió
Nhạn bay qua đầm lạnh
Nhạn đi rồi, đầm không buồn giữ ảnh nhạn.


Explanation with verse in English: A Chinese Chan Master in Nam Tống era composed a verse in Đường style to help worldly people always find the Springs via Chan. According to him, Chan is a wonderful art of life; Chan is the art of managing false thoughts and illusions of human; Chan is calm in front of life, even if outside scenes happen in any conditions but they will not disorder our thoughts. Success or failure, pretty or ugly, rich or poor, powerful or not powerful, excellent or poor in classroom, the Spring arrives or the Spring fades… will not be of our attentions. With Chan, when the wind blows to the bamboo-like phyllostachys, when it already passes the bamboo-like phyllostachys, the bamboo-like phyllostachys do not mind to keep the sound of the wind. With Chan, wild goose fly to a pond amidst the fields, when it already passes the pond amidst the fields, the pond amidst the fields do not mind to keep the shadow of the wild goose. The Chan taste is such wonderful. Let contemplate the following verse in Duong style:

The wind blows to the bamboo-like phyllostachys
When it already passes the bamboo-like phyllostachys, the bamboo-like phyllostachys do not mind to keep the sound of the wind
The wild goose flies to a pond amidst the fields
When it already passes the pond amidst the fields, the pond amidst the fields does not mind to keep the shadow of the wild goose.

                                                               

Picture: Bamboo-like phyllostachys                   Picture:  Wild goose                                       Picture:  Pond amidst the fields 

        Original Vietnamese language

        12.  Xuân khứ bách hoa lạc
        Xuân đáo bách hoa khai
        Sự trục nhãn tiền quá
        Lão tùng đầu thiện lai
        Mạc vị xuân tàn hoa lạc tận
        Đình tiền tạc dạ nhất chi mai. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language: 

        Xuân đi trăm hoa rụng
        Xuân đến trăm hoa nở
        Trước mắt việc đi mãi
        Trên đầu già lại đến
        Chớ bảo xuân tàn hoa rụng hết
        Đêm qua, sân trước một nhành mai. 


        Explanation with verse in English:  Nearly a thousand year ago, Vietnamese Chan Master Mãn Giác conceived the flying of time is nothing if we comprehend Buddha’s Dharma. According to Him, the Springs, the Summer, the Autumn, the Winter is the soft steps, but dramatic; they themselves bring us warmth, breezes, freshness of everything, but they themselves also crush beginning and ending of worldly events. According to Him, all worldly dharmas are controlled by the law of impermanence. Are there any Spring that lasts forever ? Are there any Summer that stays forever ? Are there any Autumn that will not fade ? Are there any Winter that will not leave ? All dharmas is so impermanence. When the Springs arrive, hundreds of flowers compete to bloom, there is nothing can stop them. When the Springs leave, all of hundreds of flowers fade, there is also nothing can stop them. However, according to Master Man Giac, there is still something steady despite the storm of time. Even if that something is as slim as a stem of apricot blossom in the front yard, it still lasts in very long time. What is it ? Let’s find it together with Chan Master Man Giac:

         When the Springs leave, hundreds of flowers fall down
         When the Springs arrive, hundreds of flowers bloom
         Everything that I see come and go
         Hair on my head becomes grayer and grayer with time
         Do not say when the Springs fade, all flowers fall down
         Last night, there is a stem of yellow apricot blossom in the front yard.


         Master Man Giac not only talked about last night, but also indicated tonight, tomorrow night and forever, that stem of apricot blossom will not and never fall down with time. According to Him, in that dim and dark night, Nirvana still come out to appear. In countless lives struggle in the cycle of rebirths, we still have a stem of yellow apricot blossom, a stem of apricot blossom of Being enlightened and Having liberation from the cycle of rebirths.


 Picture: A stem of yellow apricot blossom



        Original Vietnamese language

        13.  Vô vị chân nhân xích nhục đoàn
        Hồng hồng bạch bạch mạc tương man
        Thùy tri vận quyện trường không tỉnh
        Thúy lộ thiên biên nhất vạn sơn. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language: 

        Có vị gì đâu khối thịt đỏ au ?
        Hồng hồng, trắng trắng khéo lừa nhau
        Ai hay mây cuốn, trời quang tạnh
        Hiện rõ bên trời dáng núi cao ! 


        Explanation with verse in English:  Chan Master Trần Thái Tôn observed life, then observed the Way. He perceived his real self after months and years of his life with karmas. Because of this physical body of red meat so far we drift along the cycle of rebirths and deaths; also because of it we struggle in countless sufferings. Not only he had a gold concept for himself, but also he taught that gold concept to everyone to perceive about 'the ego' which everyone always embraces so far is wrong;  our ego only makes us suffer.  Our real self (Dharma body or Buddha mind) is standing tall, as tall as a mountain is covered behind a cloud of ignorance. We should follow Master Tran Thai Ton to uncover that ignorant curtain to attain our real self.

         Are there any tastes from our physical body of red meat ?
         Pink pink, white white are clever to deceive each other
         Who know when the cloud is carried away by the wind, sky becomes clear
         A tall mountain appears clearly in the sky ! 






         Original Vietnamese language


        14.  Diệu tính hư vô bất khả phàn
        Hư vô tâm ngộ đắc hà nan
        Ngọc phần sơn thượng sắc thường nhuận
        Liên phát lô trung thấp vị càn. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language: 
        
        Tính không huyền diệu vô vàn
        Tâm không, liễu ngộ nghĩ bàn được đâu ? 
        Núi cao ngọc cháy đượm màu
        Trong lò sen thắm cho dầu lửa thiêu. 


        Explanation with verse in English:  Chan Master Ngộ Ấn, before enter Nirvana, He left us a master piece of verse about the winning oneself. Buddha taught that "Winning myriad of enemies is not better than winner oneself."  That is the most glorious victory. Winning oneself is to make oneself becoming a wonderful block of diamond. Can anything ruin it ? On the contrary, that block of diamond will destroy the boundary of self and non-self, to enlighten the truth of birth and death completely. That block of diamond will help us stay in proper thoughts peacefully, but will not stay in the thoughts of birth-and-death or begin-and-end of all phenomena which are the unreal self. And that block of diamond will help us have a mind free from delusion and free from the cycle of rebirths and deaths. Master Ngo An taught that how can't we win the temporary and impermanent things ?  Why keeps, why embraces, why loves, why clings to this physical body full of birth, getting old, getting sick and death? A thin and impermanent physical body, with full of karmas for the cycle of rebirths, drift in the universe with a pity. According to Master Ngo An, a place to depend on permanently is to return to a profound Buddha mind of ourselves. That is truly the blissful place for a mind free from delusion and a peaceful mind. We can find complete and forever happiness from that place only.

         The Void nature is completely magic
         An empty mind, how can we enlighten an empty mind completely ?
         On the tall mountain, the burnt gem becomes much brighter
         In the pond, the lotus becomes pinker and pinker when it grows in the mud. 






         Original Vietnamese language

        15.  Nhứt thiết pháp bất sinh
        Nhứt thiết pháp bất diệt
        Nhược năng như thị giải
        Chư Phật thường hiện tiền. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language by Quang Hue: 

        Tất cả pháp không sanh
        Tất cả pháp không diệt
        Nếu thường thấy như thế
        Chư Phật thường hiện thân. 


        Explanation with verse in English:  Chan Master Trần Nhân Tôn discovered that our false thoughts only make us further and further away from our real self everyday, or only make us further and further away from our forever pure Buddha mind from countless lives.  How can we reveal the truth that is standing obviously in front of us ?  When we discover that truth then naturally the returning path to where we originally are will not be far any more.  Let's reveal that truth together with Chan Master Tran Nhan Ton.

         All dharmas do not born, begin by themselves
         All dharmas do not die, end by themselves
         If we often see all dharmas like this way
         Buddhas often appear.


        Now we can perceive where that truth is, please follow buddhist scholar Tran to the Buddha's Pure Land.

        Translator's commentary: 
All dharmas do not born, begin by themselves but they need causes and conditions.  Cause is the cause in the law of causes and effects, conditions are supporting conditions and opposite conditions.  Supporting conditions speed up effects and opposite conditions slow down effects.  Likewise, all dharmas do not die, end by themselves but they need causes and conditions.  Cause is the cause in the law of causes and effects, conditions are supporting conditions and opposite conditions.  Supporting conditions speed up effects and opposite conditions slow down effects. 




        Original Vietnamese language translated from Chinese language: 

        16.  Tâm tùy vạn cảnh chuyển,
        Chuyển xứ thật năng u.
        Tùy lưu nhận đắc tánh,
        Vô hỷ diệt vô ưu. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language: 

        Tâm theo muôn cảnh chuyển,
        Chổ chuyển thật kín sâu. 
        Theo dòng nhận được tánh,
        Không mừng cũng không lo.


Tổ Ma-Noa-La, Tổ Thiền Tông thứ 22 

        Translated into English language: 

        The mind varies depending on myriad of scenes
        The variation is very difficult to perceive
        Follow the variation then we can perceive our nature
        Neither happy nor worry.

Patriarch Ma-Noa-La, the 22nd Chan Patriarch





 Original Vietnamese language: 

        17.  Minh chân như tính hải
        Kim tường Phổ Chiếu Thông
        Chí Đạo thành chánh quả
        Giác ngộ chứng chân không. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language: 

        Thấy chân như bể rộng
        Ánh vàng chiếu muôn phương
        Đạt đạo thành chánh quả
        Giác ngộ chứng chân không. 


        Explanation with verse in English:  Chan Master Minh Hạnh of the Trần dynasty observed the light of Suchness of existence (Bhùtatathatà in Sangskrit) of Buddhadharma which was spread out widely and wonderfully. All dharmas are impermanent, born and die, begin and end;  there is Buddha mind only which is invariable and forever. He left a verse before the minute of entering Nirvana:

         I observed the light of Suchness of existence like a vast sea 
        Yellow light shines everywhere
         I witnessed the truth and and attain the Way
         I comprehend spiritual reality and attain the truth of emptiness of all dharmas. 





        Original Vietnamese language:

        18.  Mỹ ngọc tàng ngoan thạch
        Liên hoa xuất ư nê
        Tu tri sanh tử xứ
        Ngộ thị tức Bồ Đề.


        Translated into today Vietnamese language: 

        Ngọc xinh trong đá lỏi
        Hoa sen mọc nơi bùn
        Tu rõ đường sanh tử
        Ngộ đích thị Bồ Đề. 


        Explanation with verse in English:  In king Lê Dụ Tông's era, Chan Master Chân Nguyên instantly apprehended by the following verse of Chan Master Minh Lương:

         Pretty gem is in the stones
         Lotus grows from mud
        Cultivate to understand where is the path of birth and death to avoid
        Once apprehended will have enlightened mind.


         Pretty gem is in the stones like lotus grows from mud. Cultivate to know the path of birth and death. Once apprehended will have enlightened mind. There is yet gem in stones, there is lotus which still grows in mud. There is yet Buddha in worldly people. These two paths do not separate from each other, but they truly go together like two friends going the same route. There is Buddha in living beings; also like in life and death we see the appearance of Bodhi vaguely. But do we know how to cultivate, how to chan to attain Bodhi? If we know how to cultivate, how to chan then we will truly know where is the path of birth and death, where is the path of Bodhi. Birth then death and Bodhi are only different between illusion and enlightenment. Illusion and enlightenment fundamentally are the same. When you have illusion, you are a worldly person; when you have enlightenment, you are a Buddha. 





         Original Vietnamese language translated from Chinese language: 

        19.  Sanh vi quá khách
        Tử vi quy nhân
        Thiên địa nhất nghịch lữ
        Đồng vi vạn cổ trần.


        Translated into today Vietnamese language: 

        Sống làm khách qua đường
        Chết về lại cố hương
        Trời đất là quán trọ
        Cùng hạt bụi ngàn năm. 


        Explanation with verse in English:  Poet Lý Bạch is a famous poet in the thriving Đường era. He perceived a traveler's status of a person. When he perceived so, but he does not know how to go beyond that vicious circle. I do not know whether Ly Bach find out a truth for his way of life afterward ? But via his poet about his life we can see poet Lý had already gone two third of his cultivation. Let's go with poet Ly into a human's life:

        When I live, I am a passer-by
        When I die, I return to my native village
        Sky and earth are my inn to stay for a while
        Together with one dust of a thousand years.


         Ly Bach was pitiful, and his status of one dust of a thousand years was pitiful. According to poet Ly, status of a person is just like dusts that drift along the cycle of rebirths from a very long time ago. According to Ly Bach, what is the difference between a human lifetime and a dust? Both of them are the same origin and nature. But when stopping at the place where a human status like drifting dusts is pitiful. Does it make sense if we let that dust drifting forever ? We must find out a true value for our way of life. We must find out true nature of that dust to return to the true origin. We are Buddha's children or kids, let's not fall into the half way drifting situation of poet Ly, but we should try to look at ourselves to have a way to go for our life. To have peace, happiness or suffering depending on ourselves. Let's not allow any attachments to tie us up; but we must free ourselves from the cycle of rebirths by ourselves. Of course, these myriad miles for freedom from the cycle of rebirths are not easy, but not because of that then we always live illusorily; dream is not quite a dream, life is not quite a life. Do not live like 'Túy sanh mộng tử' : Being drunk when living and being in a dream after dying. Do not let our human life always drift along the ignorant route of forever long births and deaths. Don't we just live to embrace the existences, the non-existences, the happiness, the sadness, loves, hates, good, bad, birth, getting old, getting sick, death forever like that ? 




        Original Vietnamese language translated from Chinese language: 

        20.  Nhất thiết chư pháp giai tùng tâm sanh
        Tâm vô sở sanh, pháp vô sở trụ. 
        Nhược đạt tâm địa sở trụ vô ngại
        Phi ngộ thượng căn thận vật khinh hứa. 


        Translated into today Vietnamese language:

        Tất cả các pháp đều do tâm mà ra
        Tâm không có chỗ sanh thì pháp cũng không có chỗ trụ. 
        Nếu đạt được tâm địa chỗ trụ không ngại
        Chẳng gặp bậc thượng căn cẩn trọng chớ vọng truyền. 


        Explanation with verse in English:  Chan Master Nam Nhạc in the Đường dynasty, before entering Nirvana has the following verse to advice His disciples:

        All dharmas made by mind
        Mind does not have a place to begin (a dharma) then dharma does not have a place to stay.
        If we can attain a mind without a place for any dharma to stay
        If you do not meet a superior-rooted person then you should carefully not transmit Buddha's truth.


        Chan Master Nam Nhac comprehended the wonderful theory until he could not distinguish between Chan and non-Chan. However, as the status of after learners, we should be absolutely careful, because if one is not a superior-rooted person then we should not transmit Buddha truth and promise Buddhadharma carelessly. If we talk supreme Dharma to everyone we see, then an arrogant and inferior-rooted person will cling to his unreal self, misunderstand Buddha's teachings, practice contrarily against Buddha's wishes. Not only bringing no benefits to them but also making that kind of people falling into clinging to emptiness of all dharmas, have unrecordable karmas (neither good nor bad karmas), get further and further away from their Buddha mind everyday, how can they cultivate properly like the correct doctrine of Buddha ?  According to Master Nam Nhac, when mind is empty then the wisdom sun will shine by itself. But that is true, so far what He taught are still undeniable truths that no one can argue. When mind does not form, dharma will have no place to form, how simple. Let's be quiet to contemplate this sentence only then we will have more than enough for our cultivations.

        Translator's commentary:  Having neither good nor bad karma are either good or bad.  Clinging to emptiness of all dharmas and forget about temporary existence of all dharmas will get further and further away from their Prajna wisdom everyday, not get further and further away from their Buddha mind everyday.  Buddhist Thien Phuc is a buddhist scholar with many valuable contributions for Vietnamese buddhist community. 





Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra

 Translated into Chinese by Tripitaka Master Shikshananda of Udyana in the Tang Dynasty (ca A.D. 700).

Translated from the Chinese into English by Buddhist Text Translation Society (2000)



Part One of Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva

Chapter I

Spiritual Penetrations in the Palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven

Chapter II

The Division Bodies Gather

Chapter III

Contemplating the Karmic Conditions of Beings

Chapter IV

Karmic Retributions of Beings of Jambudvipa

Mantra and Praise


Part Two of Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva

Chapter V

Names of Hells

Chapter VI

The Thus Come One's Praises

Chapter VII

Benefiting the Living and the Dead

Chapter VIII

Praises of King Yama and His Followers

Chapter IX

The Names of Buddhas

Mantra and Praise


Part Three of Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva

Chapter X

The Conditions and Comparative Merits and Virtues of Giving

Chapter XI

The Dharma Protection of an Earth Spirit

Chapter XII

Benefits Derived from Seeing and Hearing

Chapter XIII

The Entrustment of People and Gods

Mantra and Praise



Part One of Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva

CHAPTER I
Spiritual Penetrations in the Palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven

 
Thus I have heard:

At one time, the Buddha was in the Trayastrimsha Heaven speaking Dharma for his mother.

At that time, uncountably many Buddhas and Great Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas from infinite worlds in the Ten Directions assembled to praise how Shakyamuni Buddha is able to manifest powerfully great wisdom and spiritual penetrations in the evil world of the Five Turbidities. They lauded how he regulates and subdues obstinate beings so they learn what causes suffering and what brings bliss. Each sent his attendants to pay their respects to the World Honored One.

At that time the Thus Come One smiled and emitted billions of great light clouds. There was a light cloud of great fullness, a light cloud of great compassion, a light cloud of great wisdom, a light cloud of great prajna, a light cloud of great samadhi, a light cloud of great auspiciousness, a light cloud of great blessings, a light cloud of great merit, a light cloud of great refuge, and a light cloud of great praise.

After emitting indescribably many light clouds, he also uttered many wonderful, subtle sounds

There was the sound of dana paramita, the sound of shila paramita, the sound of kshanti paramita, the sound of virya paramita, the sound of dhyana paramita, and the sound of prajna paramita.

There was the sound of compassion, the sound of joyous giving, the sound of liberation, the sound of no-outflows, the sound of wisdom, the sound of great wisdom, the sound of the Lion's roar, the sound of the Great Lion's roar, the sound of thunderclouds, and the sound of great thunderclouds.

After he uttered indescribably many sounds, countless millions of gods, dragons, ghosts, and spirits from the Saha and other worlds also gathered in the Palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven.

They came from the Heaven of the Four Kings, the Trayastrimsha Heaven, the Suyama Heaven, the Tushita Heaven, the Blissful Transformations Heaven, and the Heaven of Comfort Gained Through Others' Transformations.

They came from the Heaven of the Multitudes of Brahma, the Heaven of the Ministers of Brahma, the Heaven of the Great Brahma Lord, the Heaven of Lesser Light, the Heaven of Limitless Light, the Heaven of Light Sound, the Heaven of Lesser Purity, the Heaven of Limitless Purity, and the Heaven of Universal Purity.

They came from the Birth of Blessings Heaven, the Love of Blessings Heaven, the Abundant Fruit Heaven, the No Thought Heaven, the No Affliction Heaven, the No Heat Heaven, the Good Views Heaven, the Good Manifestation Heaven, the Ultimate Form Heaven, the Maheshvara Heaven, and so forth, to the Heaven of the Station of Neither Thought Nor Non-Thought.

All those groups of gods, dragons, ghosts and spirits came and gathered together.

Moreover, sea spirits, river spirits, stream spirits, tree spirits, mountain spirits, earth spirits, brook and marsh spirits, sprout and seedling spirits, day, night, and space spirits, heaven spirits, food and drink spirits, grass and wood spirits, and other such spirits from the Saha and other worlds came and gathered together.

In addition, all the great Ghost Kings from the Saha and other worlds came and gathered together. They were:

the Ghost King Evil 'Eyes, the Ghost King Blood-drinker, the Ghost King Essence and Energy-eater, the Ghost King Fetus and Egg-eater, the Ghost King Spreader of Sickness, the Ghost King Collector of Poisons, the Ghost King Kind-hearted, the Ghost King Blessings and Benefits, the Ghost King Great Regard and Respect, and others.

At that time, Shakyamuni Buddha said to the Dharma Prince, Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, Manjushri, "As you regard these Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, ghosts and spirits from this land and other lands who are now gathered in the Trayastrimsha Heaven, do you know their number?"

Manjushri said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, even if I were to measure and reckon with my spiritual powers for a thousand eons I would not be able to know their number."

The Buddha told Manjushri, "Regarding them with my Buddha Eye, I also cannot count them all. Those beings have been taken across, are being taken across, will be taken across, have been brought to accomplishment, are being brought to accomplishment, or will be brought to accomplishment by Earth Store Bodhisattva, throughout many eons."

Manjushri said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, throughout many eons I have cultivated good roots and my wisdom was certified as unobstructed. When I hear what the Buddha says, I immediately accept it with faith.

But Sound-hearers of small attainment, gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division, and beings in the future who hear the Thus Come One's true and sincere words will certainly harbor doubts. Even if they receive the teaching most respectfully, they will still be unable to avoid slandering it.

My only wish is that the World Honored One will proclaim for everyone what practices Earth Store Bodhisattva did. Tell us what vows he made while on the level of planting causes that now enable him to succeed in doing such inconceivable deeds."

The Buddha said to Manjushri, "By way of analogy suppose that each blade of grass, tree, forest, rice plant, hemp stalk, bamboo, reed, mountain, rock and mote of dust in a Three Thousand Great Thousand-World System were a Ganges River. Then suppose that each grain of sand in each of those Ganges Rivers were a world and that each mote of dust in each of those worlds were an eon. Then suppose each mote of dust accumulated in each of those eons were itself an eon.

The time elapsed since Earth Store Bodhisattva was certified to the position of the Tenth Ground is a thousand times longer than that in the above analogy. Even longer was the time he dwelled on the levels of Sound-hearer and Pratyekabuddha.

Manjushri, the awesome spiritual strength and vows of this Bodhisattva are inconceivable.

If good men or women in the future hear this Bodhisattva's name, praise him, behold and bow to him, call his name, make offerings to him, or if they draw, carve, cast, sculpt or make lacquered images of him, such people will be reborn in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three one hundred times and will never fall into the Evil Paths.

"Manjushri, indescribably many eons ago, during the time of a Buddha named Lion Sprint Complete in the Ten Thousand Practices Thus Come One, Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva was the son of a great Elder.

That Elder's son, upon observing the Buddha's hallmarks and fine features and how the thousand blessings adorned him, asked that Buddha what practices and vows made him so magnificent.

Lion Sprint Complete in the Ten Thousand Practices Thus Come One then said to the Elder's son. If you wish to have a body like mine, you must first spend a long time liberating beings who are undergoing suffering.'

"Manjushri, that comment caused the Elder's son to make a vow: 'From now until the ends of future time throughout uncountable eons I will use expansive expedient means to help beings in the Six Paths who are suffering for their offenses. Only when they have all been liberated, will I myself become a Buddha.'

From the time he made that great vow in the presence of that Buddha until now, hundreds of thousands of nayutas of inexpressibly many eons have passed and still he is a Bodhisattva.

"Another time, inconceivable Asamkhyeya eons ago there was a Buddha named Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi Self-Mastery King Thus Come One. That Buddha's llfespan was four hundred billion Asamkhyeya eons.

During his Dharma-lmage Age, there lived a Brahman woman endowed with ample blessings from previous lives who was respected by everyone. Whether she was walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, gods surrounded and protected her.

Her mother, however, embraced a deviant faith and often slighted the Triple Jewel.

Her worthy daughter made use of many expedients in trying to convince her mother to hold right views, but her mother never totally believed. Before long the mother's life ended and her consciousness fell into the Relentless Hell.

"When that happened, the Brahman woman, knowing that her mother had not believed in cause and effect while alive, feared that her karma would certainly pull her into the Evil Paths.

For that reason, she sold the family house and acquired many kinds of incense, flowers, and other gifts. With those she performed a great offering in that Buddha's stupas and monasteries.

She saw an especially fine image of the Thus Come One Enlightenment Flower Samadhi Self-Mastery King in one of the monasteries.

As the Brahman woman beheld the honored countenance she became doubly respectful while thinking to herself, 'Buddhas are called Greatly Enlightened Ones who have gained All-Wisdom. If this Buddha were in the world I could ask him where my mother went after she died. He would certainly know.'

"The Brahman woman then wept for a long time as she gazed longingly upon the Thus Come One.

Suddenly a voice in the air said, '0 weeping, worthy woman, do not be so sorrowful. I shall now show you where your mother has gone."

"The Brahman woman placed her palms together as she addressed space saying, 'Which Virtuous Divinity is comforting me in my grief? From the day I lost my mother onward I have held her in memory day and night, but there is nowhere I can go to ask about the realm of her rebirth.'

"The voice in the air spoke to the woman again, I am the one you behold and worship, the former Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi Self-Mastery King Thus Come One. Because I have seen your regard for your mother is double that of ordinary beings, I have come to show you where she is.'

"The Brahman woman suddenly lunged toward the voice she was hearing and then fell, injuring herself severely. Those around her supported and attended upon her and after a long time she was revived.

Then she addressed the air saying, I hope the Buddha will be compassionate and quickly tell me into what realm my mother has been reborn. I am now near death myself.'

"Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi Self-Mastery King Thus Come One told the worthy woman, After you make your offerings, return home quickly. Sit upright and concentrate on my name. You will soon know where your mother has been reborn.'

"The Brahman woman bowed to the Buddha and returned home. The memory of her mother sustained her as she sat upright recollecting Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi Self-Mastery King Thus Come One.

"After doing so for a day and night, she suddenly saw herself beside a sea whose waters seethed and bubbled. Many evil beasts with iron bodies flew swiftly back and forth above the sea.

She saw hundreds of thousands of men and women bobbing up and down in the sea, being fought over, seized, and eaten by the evil beasts.

She saw Yakshas with different shapes. Some had many hands, some many eyes, some many legs, some many heads. With their sharp fangs they drove the offenders on towards the evil beasts. Or the Yakshas themselves seized the offenders and twisted their heads and feet together into shapes so horrible that no one would dare even look at them for long.

During that time the Brahman woman was naturally without fear due to the power of recollecting the Buddha.

"A ghost king named Poisonless bowed his head in greeting and said to the worthy woman, 'Welcome, 0 Bodhisattva. What conditions bring you here?'

"The Brahman woman asked the ghost king, 'What is this place?'

"Poisonless replied, 'We are on the western side of the Great Iron Ring Mountain and this is the first of the seas that encircle it.'

"The worthy woman said, 'I have heard that the hells are within the Iron Ring. Is that actually so?'

"Poisonless answered, 'Yes, the hells are here.'

"The worthy woman asked, 'How have I now come to the hells?'

"Poisonless answered, If it wasn't awesome spiritual strength that brought you here, then it was the power of karma. Those are the only two ways anyone comes here. "

The worthy woman asked, 'Why is this water seething and bubbling, and why are there so many offenders and evil beasts?'

Poisonless replied. These are beings of Jambudvipa who did evil deeds. They have just died and passed through forty-nine days without any surviving relatives doing any meritorious deeds on their behalf to rescue them from their distress. Besides that, during their lives they themselves didn't plant any good causes. Now their own karma calls forth these hells. Their first task is to cross this sea.

Ten thousand yojanas east of this sea is another sea in which they will undergo twice as much suffering. East of that sea is yet another sea where the sufferings are doubled still again.

What the combined evil causes of the three karmic vehicles evoke is called the sea of karma. This is that place.'

"The worthy woman asked the Ghost King Poisonless, 'Where are the hells?'

"Poisonless answered, 'Within the three seas are hundreds of thousands of great hells, each one different. Eighteen of those are known as the great hells. Five hundred subsequent ones inflict limitless cruel sufferings. Following those are hundreds of thousands that inflict limitless further sufferings.'

"The worthy woman again questioned the great ghost king, 'My mother died recently and I do not know where she has gone.'

"The ghost king asked the worthy woman, 'When the Bodhisattva's mother was alive, what habits did she have?"

"The worthy woman replied, 'My mother held deviant views and ridiculed and slandered the Triple Jewel. Even if she occasionally believed, she would soon become disrespectful again. She died recently and I still do not know where she was reborn.'

"Poisonless asked, 'What was the Bodhisattva's mother's name and clan?'

"The worthy woman replied, 'My parents were both Brahmans; my father's name was Shila Sudarshana, my mother's name was Yue Di Li.'

"Poisonless placed his palms together and implored the worthy woman, 'Please, Worthy One, quickly return home. There is no need for you to grieve further. The offender Yue Di Li was born in the heavens three days ago.

It is said that she received the benefit of offerings made and blessings cultivated by her filial child who practiced giving to Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi Self-Mastery King Thus Come One at stupas and monasteries.

Not only was the Bodhisattva's mother released from the hells. All the other offenders who were destined for the Relentless Hell received bliss and were reborn together with her.'

Having finished speaking, the ghost king put his palms together and withdrew.

"The Brahman woman returned swiftly as if from a dream, understood what had happened, and then made a profound and far-reaching vow before the stupas and images of Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi Self-Mastery King Thus Come One, saying, 'I vow that until the end of future eons I will respond to beings suffering for their offenses by using many expedient means to bring about their liberation.'"

The Buddha told Manjushri, "The Ghost King Poisonless is the present Bodhisattva Foremost Wealth. The Brahman woman is now Earth Store Bodhisattva."


CHAPTER II
The Division Bodies Gather

At that time the division bodies of Earth Store Bodhisattva began gathering in the Palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven from billions of inexpressible, unutterable, immeasurable, ineffable, limitless Asamkhyeyasof worlds. They came from wherever hells were found.

Due to the spiritual powers of the Thus Come One, each came from his own direction and was joined by billions of nayutasof those who had obtained liberation from the force of bad karma. All came holding incense and flowers as offerings to the Buddha.

Those groups that came were irreversible from Anuttara- samyaksambodhibecause they had been taught and transformed by Earth Store Bodhisattva.

 

For long eons they had wandered in birth and death, undergoing suffering within the Six Paths without even temporary respite. Now they had reached levels of Sagehood due to the great compassion and deep vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva.

They felt joyful as they arrived at the Trayastrimsha Heaven and gazed at the Thus Come One, their eyes not leaving him for a moment.

 

At that time, the World Honored One stretched forth his golden colored arm and rubbed the crowns of all the division bodies of Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, gathered from billlons of Inexpressible, Inconceivable, immeasurable, ineffable, limitless Asamkhyeyasof worlds, and said,

"I teach and transform obstinate beings such as these within the evil worlds of the Five Turbidities, causing their minds to be regulated and subdued so they renounce the deviant and return to the proper.

But one or two of ten still cling to their bad habits. For them I again divide into billions of bodies and use numerous additional expedient means.

Those with keen roots will listen and immediately believe. Those with good rewards will respond to exhortation and strive to succeed. Those who are dark and dull will return only after being taught for a long time. Those whose karma is heavy fail to show any respect.

My division bodies take across and liberate all those different kinds of beings. I may appear in a male body. I may appear in a female body. I may appear in the body of a god or dragon. I may appear in the body of a spirit or ghost. I may appear as a mountain, as a forest, as a stream, as a spring, as a river, as a lake, as a fountain, or as a well in order to benefit people. I use all these ways to save beings.

I may appear in the body of God Shakra. I may appear in the body of Lord Brahma. I may appear in the body of a Wheel-Turning King. I may appear in the body of a lay person. I may appear in the body of a national leader. I may appear in the body of a prime minister. I may appear in the body of an official. I may appear in the body of a Bhikshu, a Bhikshuni, an Upasaka, an Upasika, and so forth to my appearing in the body of a Sound-hearer, an Arhat, a Pratyekabuddha, or a Bodhisattva in order to teach and rescue beings.

It is not that I only appear to them in the body of a Buddha.

"Reflect on how I have toiled for repeated eons and endured acute suffering to take across and free stubborn beings who resist being taught and who continue to suffer for their offenses.

Those not yet subdued undergo retributions according to their karma. If they fall into the evil destinies and are enduring tremendous suffering, then you should remember the gravity of this entrustment I am now giving you here in the palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven:

Find ways to liberate all beings in the Saha world from now until the time when Maitreya comes into the world. Help them escape suffering forever, encounter Buddhas, and receive predictions."

At that time all the division bodies of Earth Store Bodhisattva that came from all those worlds merged into single form. Then he wept and said to the Buddha, "Throughout long eons I have been receiving the Buddha's guidance and from that have developed inconceivable spiritual power and great wisdom.

My division bodies fill worlds as many as grains of sand in billions of Ganges Rivers. In each of those worlds, I transform myself into billions of bodies. Each body takes across billions of people, helping them to return respectfully to the Triple Jewel, escape birth and death forever, and reach the bliss of Nirvana.

Even if their good deeds within the Buddhadharma amount to as little as a strand of hair, a drop of water, a grain of sand, or a mote of dust, I will gradually take them across, liberate them, and help them gain great benefit.

I only hope that the World Honored One will not be concerned about beings of the future who have bad karma. " In that way he addressed the Buddha three times: "I only hope that the World Honored One will not be concerned about beings of the future who have bad karma."

At that time the Buddha praised Earth Store Bodhisattva and said, "Excellent! Excellent! I will help you in this work you so willingly undertake. When the vast vows that you keep making throughout so many eons are fulfilled and all those beings have been saved, then I will certify your ultimate Bodhi."


CHAPTER III
Contemplating the Karmic Conditions of Beings

At that time the Buddha's mother. Lady Maya, placed her palms together respectfully and asked Earth Store Bodhisattva, "Great Sage, could you tell us about the different kinds of karma that beings of Jambudvipa create and the resulting retributions that they undergo?"

Earth Store replied, "There are millions of worlds and lands that may or may not have hells, may or may not have women, may or may not have Buddhadharma, and so forth to having or not having Sound-hearers and Pratyekabuddhas. Since the worlds differ, the retributions in the hells also differ."

Lady Maya spoke again to the Bodhisattva, "Could you please tell us about the offenses done by those in Jambudvipa that result in retributions in the evil destinies?"

Earth Store replied, "Worthy Mother, please listen as I speak briefly about that."

The Buddha's mother answered, "Great Sage, please tell us about it."

Then Earth Store Bodhisattva said to the Worthy Mother, "Retributions that result from offenses done in Jambudvipa are described like this.

"Beings who are not filial to their parents, even to the extent of harming or killing them, will fall into the Relentless Hell where for billions of eons they will seek escape in vain.

"Beings who shed the Buddha's blood, slander the Triple Jewel, and do not venerate Sutras will fall into the Relentless Hell where for billions of eons they will seek escape in vain.

"Beings who usurp or damage the property of the Eternally Dwelling, who defile Bhikshus or Bhikshunis, who commit sexual-acts within the Sangharama, or who kill or harm beings there will fall into the Relentless Hell where for billions of eons they will seek escape in vain.

"Beings who seem to be Shramanas but in their minds are not Shramanas, who destroy the things of the Eternally Dwelling, who deceive lay people, who go against the precepts, and who do many other evil deeds will fall into the Relentless Hell where for billions of eons they will seek escape in vain.

"Beings who steal the wealth and property of the Eternally Dwelling including its grains, its food and drink, its clothing, or take anything at all that was not given to them will fall into the Relentless Hell where for billions of eons they will seek escape in vain."

Earth Store continued, "Worthy Mother, beings who commit such offenses will fall into the Fivefold Relentless Hell where they will constantly seek for temporary relief from their suffering but will never receive even a moment's respite."

Lady Maya further asked Earth Store Bodhisattva, "Why is that hell called Relentless?"

Earth Store replied, "Worthy Mother, the hells are all within the Great Iron Ring Mountain.

The eighteen great hells and the five hundred subsequent ones each have their own names. There are hundreds of thousands more that also have their own names.

The Relentless Hell is found within a city of hells that encompasses more than eighty thousand square miles. That city is made entirely of iron. Ten thousand miles above the city is an unbroken mass of fire.

Within the city are many interconnected hells, each with a different name.

"There is just one hell called Relentless. Its circumference is eighteen thousand miles.

The wall of that hell is a thousand miles high, totally made iron, and covered with a fire burning downward that is joined by a fire burning upward.

Iron snakes and dogs spewing fire race back and forth atop that wall.

"In that hell is a bed that extends for ten thousand miles. One person undergoing punishment sees his or her own body filling the entire bed. When millions of people undergo punishment simultaneously, each still sees his or her own body filling the bed. That is how retributions are undergone by those with the same karma.

"What is more, these offenders undergo extreme suffering. Thousands of Yakshas and other evil ghosts display fangs like swords and eyes like lightning as they pull and drag the offenders using their brass-clawed hands.

Other Yakshas wield huge iron halberds that they use to pierce the offenders' mouths and noses or stab their bellies and backs. They toss the offenders into the air and then catch them by skewering them with the halberds or they let them drop onto the bed.

Iron eagles peck at the offenders' eyes and iron serpents wrap around their necks. Long nails are driven into all their limbs. Their tongues are pulled out, stretched, and then plowed through. Their internal organs are gouged out, sliced, and minced. Molten copper is poured into their mouths, and their bodies are bound with hot iron.

Responses to their karma go on like that throughout thousands of deaths and rebirths. They pass through millions of eons seeking escape in vain.

"When this world is destroyed, they find themselves in another world. When that world is destroyed, they pass to another one. When that world, too, is destroyed, they move on to another. When this world comes into being again, they return here.

The situation involving Relentless retribution for offenses is like that.

"Moreover, five karmic responses account for the name Relentless. What are the five?

First, it is said to be Relentless since punishment is undergone day and night throughout many eons without ceasing for a moment.

Second, it is said to be Relentless since one person fills it in the same way that many people fill it.

Third, it is said to be Relentless since repeated punishments continue without cease throughout years that stretch into nayutas of eons. Those punishments are inflicted by instruments of torture such as forks and clubs; or by eagles, serpents, wolves, and dogs; or by pounding, grinding, sawing, drilling, chiseling, cutting and chopping; or by boiling liquids, iron nets, iron ropes, iron asses, and iron horses; or by raw hide bound around one's head and hot iron poured over one's body; or by meals of iron pellets and drinks of iron fluids.

Fourth, it is said to be Relentless since everyone undergoes karmic responses based on the offenses they committed, whether they be men, women, savages, old, young, honorable, or lowly; whether they be dragons, spirits, gods or ghosts.

Fifth, it is said to be Relentless since offenders continually undergo ten thousand deaths and as many rebirths each day and night from the moment they first enter this hell and on through thousands of eons. During that time they seek even a moment's relief but it never happens. Only when their karma is finished can they attain rebirth."

Earth Store Bodhisattva said to the Worthy Mother, "That is a brief description of the Relentless Hell. If I were to speak extensively about the names of all the implements of punishment in the hells and all the sufferings there, I could not finish speaking in an entire eon."

After hearing that, Lady Maya placed her palms together sorrowfully, made obeisance, and withdrew.


CHAPTER IV
Karmic Retributions of Beings of Jambudvipa

At that time Earth Store Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, because I receive the awesome spiritual strength of the Buddha, Thus Come One, I am able to divide my body and rescue beings who are undergoing karmic retributions everywhere in billions of worlds. If it were not for the great compassionate strength of the Thus Come One, I would be unable to perform such changes and transformations.

Now the World Honored One has entrusted me with rescuing and liberating beings in the Six Paths until Ajita becomes a Buddha. I accept the entrustment, World Honored One. Please have no further concern.

Then the Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva, "Beings who have not yet obtained liberation have unfixed natures and consciousnesses.

Their bad habits reap karma; their good habits bring rewards. Reacting to situations by doing good or evil acts causes them to turn in the Five Paths without a moment's rest. Throughout eons as numerous as motes of dust they remain confused, deluded, obstructed, and afflicted by difficulties.

They are like fish swimming through waters laced with nets. They may slip through and keep their freedom temporarily, but sooner or later they will be caught. I am concerned about such beings.

But since you keep making extensive vows repeatedly throughout successive eons to take such offenders across, what further worries need I have?

After that was said, a Bodhisattva, Mahasattva in the assembly named Samadhi Self-Mastery King said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, what vows has Earth Store Bodhisattva made during so many successive eons that he now receives the World Honored One's special praise? We hope the World Honored One will tell us about that."

Then the World Honored One said to Samadhi Self-Mastery King, "Listen attentively, listen attentively, and reflect well on the examples I am about to give you.

One time, limitless Asamkhyeyas of nayutas of inexpressible eons ago, a Buddha named All-Knowledge-Accomplished Thus Come One, One Worthy of Offerings, One of Proper and Pervasive Knowledge, One Perfect in Clarity and Conduct, Well-Gone One, Unsurpassed Knight Who Understands the World, Taming and Subduing Hero, Teacher of Gods and Humans, Buddha, World Honored One appeared in the world.

"That Buddha's lifespan was sixty thousand eons.

Before he became a monk, he was the king of a small country and was friendly with the king of a neighboring country. Both of them practiced the Ten Wholesome Acts and benefited beings.

Because the citizens of those two neighboring countries did many bad things, the two kings made a plan using far-reaching expedients.

"One king vowed to quickly become a Buddha and then cross over absolutely all the others.

"The other king vowed, 'I do not want to become a Buddha until I first take across all those who are suffering for their offenses, enable them to gain peace, and finally to reach Bodhi.'"

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Samadhi Self-Mastery King, "The king who vowed to become a Buddha quickly is All-Knowledge-Accomplished Thus Come One.

The king who vowed to keep crossing over beings who are suffering for their offenses rather than to become a Buddha is Earth Store Bodhisattva.

"Another time, limitless Asamkhyeya eons ago, a Buddha named Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One appeared in the world. His lifespan was forty eons.

In his Dharma-image age, an Arhat who had blessings from rescuing beings met a woman named Bright Eyes who offered a meal to him once while he was teaching and transforming beings.

"'What is your wish?' asked the Arhat.

"Bright Eyes replied, 'On the day of my mother's death I performed meritorious deeds for her rescue, but I do not know where my mother is now.'

"Sympathizing with her, the Arhat entered into samadhi to contemplate and saw that Bright Eyes' mother had fallen into a bad destiny where she was undergoing extreme suffering.

The Arhat asked, 'Bright Eyes, what karma did your mother commit while alive that makes her now have to undergo such terrible suffering in a bad destiny?'

"Bright Eyes replied, 'My mother enjoyed eating fish, turtles, and the like. She especially liked to fry or broil the eggs of fish and turtles. Every time she ate those she took thousands of lives. Oh, Venerable One, please be compassionate and tell me how she can be saved."

"The Arhat took pity on Bright Eyes and used a skillful means. He urged Bright Eyes, saying, 'With sincere resolve, be mindful of Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One and also make carved and painted images of him. By doing so both the living and the dead will be rewarded.'

"Bright Eyes heard that, quickly renounced everything she loved, and swiftly commissioned painted images of the Buddha. Then she made offerings before them. The reverence she felt moved her to tears and she wept in grief as she beheld and bowed to the Buddha.

Suddenly near the end of night in a dream she saw that Buddha's body, dazzling gold in color and as large as Mount Sumeru, emitting great light. He said to Bright Eyes, 'Your mother will be born in your household before long and as soon as that child can feel hunger and cold he will speak.'

"Shortly thereafter a maidservant in the house bore a son who spoke before he was three days' old. Lowering his head and weeping he said to Bright Eyes, 'The karmic conditions we create during our lives and deaths result in retributions that we ourselves must undergo.

I am your mother and have been in darkness for a long time. Since you and I parted, I have repeatedly fallen into the great hells. Upon receiving the power of your blessings, I have been reborn as a servant's child with a short lifespan. Thirteen years from now, I will fall into the Evil Paths again. Do you have some way to free me so that I can avoid them?'

"When Bright Eyes heard those words, she knew without a doubt that they were her mother's. Choked with sobs, she said to the servant's child, 'Since you were my mother, you should know your own past offenses. What karma did you create that made you fall into the Evil Paths?'

"The maidservant's child answered, 'I am undergoing retribution for two kinds of karma: killing and slandering. Had I not received the blessings you earned to rescue me from difficulty, I would not yet be released from that karma.'

"Bright Eyes asked, 'What happens in the hells when beings undergo retributions for their offenses?'

"The maidservant's son answered, 'I can't bear to speak of the ways in which beings suffer for their offenses. Even if I lived for a hundred thousand years, I would find it hard to talk about.'

"When Bright Eyes heard that she wept bitterly and spoke into the air saying, 'I vow that my mother will be released from the hells forever. At the end of these thirteen years, she will be finished with her heavy offenses and will not go back to the Evil Paths.

0 Buddhas of the Ten Directions, with your compassion and sympathy, please listen to the vast and mighty vow that I am making for the sake of my mother.

If my mother will never again enter the Three Evil Paths, never again be born into low stations, and never again be female, then here before the image of Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One, I vow that from this day on, throughout billions of eons I will respond to all beings who are undergoing suffering for their offenses in the hells or the Three Evil Paths of any world.

'I vow to rescue them from the bad destinies of the hells, hungry ghosts, animals, and the like. Only after beings with such retributions have all become Buddhas will I myself achieve Proper Enlightenment.'

"After making that vow, she clearly heard Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One say to her, 'Bright Eyes, your own great compassion and sympathy reaches your mother by this mighty vow that you are making.

My contemplation shows me that after thirteen years your mother will finish this retribution and will be born a Brahman with a lifespan of one hundred years. After that retribution she will be born in the Land of No Concern with a lifespan of uncountable eons. Later she will realize the fruition of Buddhahood and cross over people and gods numbering as many as sand grains in the Ganges.'"

Shakyamuni Buddha told Samadhi Self-Mastery King, "The Arhat whose blessings helped Bright Eyes then is now Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva. The mother of Bright Eyes is now Liberation Bodhisattva. Bright Eyes herself is now Earth Store Bodhisattva. He has been extending his compassion and sympathy like that from distant eons onward by making vows as many as Ganges's sands, to rescue vast numbers of beings.

"Men and women in the future may fail to do good deeds and only do evil; may not believe in cause and effect; may indulge in sexual misconduct and false speech; may use divisive and harsh speech; and may slander the Great Vehicle. Beings with karma like that should certainly fall into bad destinies.

But if they encounter Good and Wise Advisors who exhort them and lead them quickly to take refuge with Earth Store Bodhisattva, those beings will just as quickly be released from their retributions in the Three Evil Paths.

If those beings are resolved and respectful, if they behold, bow to, and praise the Bodhisattva, and if they make offerings of flowers, incense, clothing, jewels, food and drink to him, they will enjoy supremely wonderful bliss in the heavens for billions of eons.

When their blessings in the heavens end and they are born as people, they will have the potential to be leaders of nations throughout billions of eons who are able to remember all aspects of causes and effects from previous lives.

"0, Samadhi Self-Mastery King, Earth Store Bodhisattva has such inconceivably great awesome spiritual power that he uses expansively for the benefit of beings. All of you Bodhisattvas should remember this Sutra and proclaim and widely spread it."

Samadhi Self-Mastery King said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, please do not be concerned. We billions of Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, based on the Buddha's awesome spiritual strength, will certainly proclaim this Sutra widely throughout Jambudvipa for the benefit of beings."

Having spoken thus to the World Honored One, Samadhi Self-Mastery King Bodhisattva put his palms together respectfully, bowed, and withdrew.

At that time the Four Heavenly Kings arose from their seats, put their palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, Earth Store Bodhisattva has been making such great vows from distant eons onward.

Why is it that up to now he has not yet finished taking beings across? Why does he continue to renew his vast and mighty vows? Please, World Honored One, explain that for us."

The Buddha told the Four Heavenly Kings, "Excellent, excellent. Now to bring benefit to you and to extend that benefit to people and gods of the present and future, I will speak about how Earth Store Bodhisattva uses his compassion and sympathy within the paths of birth and death in Jambudvipa in the Saha world to rescue, take across, and liberate beings who are undergoing suffering for their offenses.

The Four Heavenly Kings replied, "Please, World Honored One, we would like to hear about his work."

The Buddha told the Four Heavenly Kings, "From distant eons onward to the present. Earth Store Bodhisattva has been taking across and liberating beings. Since his vows are still not finished, he continues with compassion and sympathy to help beings suffering for their offenses in this world.

Moreover, he sees the ceaseless tangle of their causes extending on through infinite, future eons. Because of that he renews his vows. Thus, in this Saha world on the continent of Jambudvipa, this Bodhisattva teaches and transforms beings by means of billions of expedient means.

"Four Heavenly Kings, To killers, Earth Store Bodhisattva says that short lifespans will be the retribution.

To robbers he says that poverty and acute suffering will be the retribution.

To those who indulge in improper sex he says that rebirth as pigeons or mandarin drakes or ducks will be the retribution.

To those who use harsh speech he says that quarrelling families will be the retribution.

To those who slander he says that being tongueless and having cankerous mouths will be the retribution.

To the hateful he says that being ugly and crippled will be the retribution.

To the stingy he says that not getting what they seek will be the retribution.

To gluttons he says that hunger, thirst and sicknesses of the throat will be the retribution.

To hunters he says that a frightening insanity that destroys one's life will be the retribution.

To those who oppose their parents he says that being killed in natural disasters will be the retribution.

To arsons who burn mountains and forests he says that trying to take one's own life in the confusion of insanity will be the retribution.

To cruel parents or step-parents, he says that being flogged in future lives will be the retribution.

To those who net and trap animals, he says that being separated from one's own relatives will be the retribution.

To those who slander the Triple Jewel he says that being blind, deaf, or mute will be the retribution.

To those who slight the Dharma and regard the teachings with arrogance, he says that remaining in the bad paths forever will be the retribution.

To those who destroy or misuse possessions of the Eternally Dwelling he says that revolving in the hells for billions of eons will be the retribution.

To those who defile the pure conduct of others and bear false witness against members of the Sangha he says that remaining in the animal realm forever will be the retribution.

To those who scald, burn, behead, maim, or otherwise harm beings he says that undergoing repayment in kind will be the retribution. To those who violate precepts and the regulations of pure eating he says that being born as birds or beasts that must suffer hunger and thirst will be the retribution.

To those who make unprincipled and destructive use of things he says that being unable to ever obtain what they seek will be the retribution.

To the arrogant and haughty he says that being servile and of low station will be the retribution.

To those who use back-biting to cause discord among others he says that being tongueless or having speech impediments will be the retribution.

To those with deviant views he says that being reborn in undeveloped regions will be the retribution.

"The bad habits involving body, mouth, and mind karma that beings of Jambudvipa perpetuate, result in hundreds of thousands of retributions like those. I have listed only a few examples here.

Since the karma created by beings of Jambudvipa calls forth different responses, Earth Store Bodhisattva uses hundreds of thousands of expedient means to teach and transform them.

Those beings must first undergo retributions such as those and then fall into the hells, where they pass through eons without being able to escape. You should therefore protect people and protect nations. Do not allow the accumulation of karma to confuse beings."

On hearing that, the Four Heavenly Kings wept in sorrow, placed their palms together, and withdrew.


End of Part One of Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva

 

The True Words of Seven Buddhas for Eradicating Offenses

li pe li pe di chyou he chyou he di two la ni di ni he la di

pi li ni di mwo he chye di jen lin chyan di swo pe he (3x)

To hear to sound of this Mantra, please click on this link:

http://www.siddham.org/yuan_english/mantra/emantra_7buddha.html



Spirit Mantra For Rebirth in the Pure Land

na mwo e mi dwo pe ye dwo two chye dwo ye dwo di ye two

e mi li du pe pi e mi li dwo syi dan pe pi

e mi li dwo pi jya lan di e mi li dwo pi jya lan di

chye mi li chye chye nwo jr dwo jya li swo pe he (3x)

To hear to sound of this Mantra, please click on this link: 

http://www.siddham.org/yuan_english/mantra/emantra_ws_short.html



Mantra for Patching the Flaws in Recitation

Na mo he la da na duo la ye ye qie la qie la ju zhu ju zhu

mo la mo la hu la hong he he su da na hong po mo nu suo po he (3x)

To hear to sound of this Mantra, please click on this link:

http://www.siddham.org/yuan_english/mantra/emantra_hs_1.html


 

Praise

Earth Store's basic vows, and comparative causes of virtue,

Crippling illness, physical defects, come from past lives' deeds

In this life, those who recite Great Vehicle Sutras,
Bring benefits without end, so that
All will surely be reborn from Jeweled Lotus flowers.
Homage to Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva (3X)



Earth Store Bodhisattva Praise

Earth Store Bodhisattva, wonderful beyond compare;

Gold-hued in his transformation body he appears;
Wondrous Dharma-sounds throughout the Three Paths and Six Realms;
Four Births and Ten Kinds of Beings gain his kindly grace.
His pearl, shining brightly, lights the way to heaven's halls;
Six-ringed golden staff shakes open wide the gates of hell.
Leads on those with causes garnered life and life again;
To bow at the Nine-flowered Terrace of the Honored One.

Namo Earth Store great vows and compassion,
Bodhisattva of the dark and dismal worlds;
On Nine Flower Mountain, Most Honored One,
With Ten Wheels of power you rescue all the suffering ones.
Homage to Earth Store Bodhisattva (circumbulating and reciting)

 

Part Two of Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva

CHAPTER V
Names of Hells

At that time Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, Mahasattva said to Earth Store Bodhisattva, "Humane One, for the sake of gods and dragons, those in the Fourfold Assembly, and all other beings of the present and future, please tell us the names of the hells where beings in the Saha world on the continent of Jambudvipa must suffer retributions for offenses they commit.

Please also describe what happens during retributions undergone for evil deeds so that beings in the future Dharma Ending Age will know what those retributions are."

Earth Store Bodhisattva replied, "Humane One, based on the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha and relying on your strength, Great Bodhisattva, I will give a general list of the names of hells and describe some of what happens during retributions undergone for offenses and evil deeds.

"Humane One, in Eastern Jambudvipa is mountain range called Iron Ring. The mountain is pitch black because the light of sun and moon do not shine on it. A great hell is located there named Ultimately Relentless. Another hell is called Great Avichi.

There is also a hell called Four Horns, a hell called Flying Knives, a hell called Fiery Arrows, a hell called Squeezing Mountains,

a hell called Piercing Spears, a hell called Iron Carts,
a hell called Iron Beds, a hell called Iron Oxen,
a hell called Iron Clothing, a hell called Thousand Blades,
a hell called Iron Asses, a hell called Molten Copper,
a hell called Embracing Pillar, a hell called Flowing Fire,
a hell called Plowing Tongues, a hell called Hacking Heads,
a hell called Burning Feet, a hell called Pecking Eyes,
a hell called Iron Pellets, a hell called Quarreling,
a hell called Iron Ax, and a hell called Massive Hatred."

Earth Store Bodhisattva said, "Humane One, within the Iron Ring are endless hells like that.

There is also the hell of Crying Out, the hell of Pulling Tongues,
the hell of Dung and Urine, the hell of Copper Locks,
the hell of Fire Elephants, the hell of Fire Dogs,
the hell of Fire Horses, the hell of Fire Oxen,
the hell of Fire Mountains, the hell of Fire Rocks,
the hell of Fire Beds, the hell of Fire Beams,
the hell of Fire Eagles, the hell of Sawing Teeth,
the hell of Flaying Skin, the hell of Drinking Blood,
the hell of Burning Hands, the hell of Burning Feet,
the hell of Hanging Hooks, the hell of Fire Rooms,
the hell of Iron Cells, and the hell of Fire Wolves.

"Each of those hells contains lesser hells numbering from one, or two, or three, or four, to hundreds of thousands. Each of those lesser hells has its own name."

Earth Store Bodhisattva told Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, "Humane One, such are the karmic responses of beings in Jambudvipa who commit evil deeds.

The power of karma is extremely great. It rivals Mount Sumeru in its heights. It surpasses the great oceans in its depth. It obstructs the path leading to Sagehood. For that reason, beings should never think that minor bad deeds are unimportant or assume that they do not count as offenses. After death there will be retributions to undergo that cover all those details.

Fathers and sons have the closest relationship, but their roads diverge and each must go his own way. Even if they met, neither would consent to undergo suffering in the other's place.

Now, based on the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha, I will describe some of the retributions for offenses that take place in the hells. Please, Humane One, listen for a moment to what I am going to say."

Universal Worthy replied, "I have long known of the retributions that happen in the Three Evil Paths. My hope in asking the Humane One to describe them is that when beings in the future Dharma Ending Age who are doing evil deeds hear the Humane One's descriptions they will be moved to take refuge with the Buddha."

Earth Store said, "Humane One, this is what happens during retributions in the hells. Offenders may go to a hell in which their tongues are stretched out and plowed through by cattle;
or to a hell in which their hearts pulled out and eaten by Yakshas;
or to a hell in which their bodies are cooked In cauldrons of boiling liquid;
or to a hell in which they are forced to embrace red-hot copper pillars;
or to a hell in which they are burned by fire that constantly pursues them;
or to a hell in which cold and Ice are all-pervasive;
or to a hell in which excrement and urine are endless;
or to a hell in which flying maces are unavoidable;
or to a hell in which fiery spears stab them repeatedly;
or to a hell in which they are constantly beaten on the chests and backs;
or to a hell in which their hands and feet are burned;
or to a hell in which they are bound by Iron snakes that coil around them;
or to a hell in which they are pursued by racing Iron dogs;
or to a hell in which their bodies are stretched by Iron mules.

"Humane One, to inflict these retributions in each hell hundreds of thousands of instruments made of copper, iron, stone, or fire arise from karmic force. Those four materials come into being in response to the kinds of karma offenders created.

If I were to explain in detail what happens during retributions in the hells, then I would need to tell of the hundreds of thousands of sufferings that must be undergone in each specific hell. How much more would that be the case for the sufferings in all the many hells!

Now, having based myself upon the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha, I have given a general answer to the Humane One's question, for if I were to speak in detail, it would take eons."


CHAPTER VI
The Thus Come One's Praises 

At that time the World Honored One emitted a great bright light from his entire body, totally illuminating Buddhalands as many as grains of sand in billions of Ganges Rivers.

His strong voice reached to all the Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas in those Buddhalands, as well as to the gods, dragons, ghosts and spirits, humans, non-humans and others, saying, "Listen today, as I praise Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, who displays an inconceivable awesome spiritual strength and compassionate power throughout the Ten Directions as he rescues and protects beings when things happen to them as they suffer for offenses they have committed.

After I pass into Nirvana, all of you Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas and all of you gods, dragons, ghosts, spirits, and others should use vast numbers of expedient means to protect this Sutra and to cause all beings to realize the bliss of Nirvana."

After that was said a Bodhisattva named Universally Expansive arose in the assembly, placed his palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, "We are now about to witness the World Honored One praise Earth Store Bodhisattva's inconceivably great awesome spiritual virtue.

We hope the World Honored One will also aid beings in the future Dharma Ending Age by telling us about how Earth Store Bodhisattva benefits people and gods and about the working out of cause and effect. That will help the gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division, along with beings of the future to receive the Buddha's teaching respectfully."

At that time the World Honored One said to the Bodhisattva Universally Expansive, to the Fourfold Assembly, and others, "Listen attentively, listen attentively. I will briefly describe to you how Earth Store Bodhisattva's virtuous deeds keep benefiting people and gods."

Universally Expansive replied, "Excellent, World Honored One. We are happy to listen."

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Universally Expansive, "If, in the future, good men or good women who, upon hearing Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva's name, place their palms together, praise him, bow to him, or gaze in worship, they will overcome thirty eon's worth of offenses.

Universally Expansive, if good men or good women gaze upon and bow but once to painted or drawn images of the Bodhisattva or images made using clay, stone, lacquer, gold, silver, copper and iron, they will be reborn one hundred times in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three and will eternally avoid falling into the Evil Paths.

If their blessings in the heavens come to an end and they are born in the human realm, they will become national leaders who suffer no loss of benefits.

"There may be women who dislike having female bodies. Suppose they whole-heartedly make offerings to images of Earth Store Bodhisattva that are paintings or are made using clay, stone, lacquer, copper, iron, or other materials.

If they continually make such offerings day after day without fail, using flowers, incense, food, drink, clothing, colored silks, banners, money, jewels, and other items as offerings, when those good women finish their current female retributions, then throughout hundreds of thousands of eons they will never again be born in worlds where there are women, much less be one, unless it be through the strength of their compassionate vows to liberate beings.

Based on the strength of their offerings to Earth Store Bodhisattva and the power of their meritorious virtues, they will not be born into female bodies throughout hundreds of thousands of eons.

"Moreover, Universally Expansive, women who are ugly or prone to sickness will dislike those problems. If they gaze at and bow to images of Earth Store Bodhisattva with sincere resolve for even just a few minutes, then throughout millions of eons, they will always be born with full and perfect features.

If those woman who are ugly do not dislike having female bodies, then throughout billions of lives they will always be born as women of royal lineage, or will marry into royalty, or will become daughters of prime ministers, prominent families, or great Elders.

They will be of upright birth and full-featured. They will receive such blessings from having sincerely beheld and worshipped Earth Store Bodhisattva.

"Moreover, Universally Expansive, there may be good men or good women who are able to play music, sing, or chant praises, and make offerings of incense and flowers before images of the Bodhisattva or who are able to exhort one or more others to do likewise.

Now and in the future, such people will be surrounded day and night by hundreds of thousands of ghosts and spirits who will even prevent bad news from reaching their ears, much less allow them to be personally involved in any accidents.

"Moreover, Universally Expansive, in the future, evil people, evil spirits, or evil ghosts may see good men or good women taking refuge with, respectfully making offerings to, praising, beholding, and bowing to images of Earth Store Bodhisattva.

Those beings may make the mistake of ridiculing such acts of worship, saying that they are of no merit. They may sneer at those good people, condemn them behind their backs, or get a group or even one other person to have even as little as one thought of condemnation.

Such beings will fall into the Avichi Hell and the extreme misery they will undergo as retribution for their slander will not end even after the thousand Buddhas of the Worthy Eon have passed into tranquility.

Only after that eon will they be reborn among the hungry ghosts, where they will pass a thousand more eons before being reborn as animals. Only after another thousand eons will they obtain human bodies, but they will be poor and lowly with incomplete faculties, and their evil karma will cause them to suffer mental afflictions. Before long they will fall into the Evil Paths again.

Universally Expansive, such are the retributions that will undergo those who ridicule and slander others' acts of worship. How much worse will the retributions be if besides their slandering, they have other evils views.

"Moreover, Universally Expansive, in the future, men or women may be bedridden for years and in spite of their wishes be unable either to get well or to die. At night they may dream of evil ghosts, or of family and relatives, or of wandering on dangerous paths. In numerous nightmares they may roam with ghosts and spirits.

As days, months, and years go by, such people may weaken and waste away, cry out in pain in their sleep, and become progressively depressed and melancholy.

Those things happen when the force of karma has not yet been determined, which makes it difficult for them to die and impossible for them to be cured. The ordinary eyes of men and women cannot recognize such things.

"In that situation some people should recite this Sutra aloud once before images of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

They should also offer possessions which those sick people cherish, such as clothing, jewels, gardens, or houses. They should speak distinctly to the sick people saying, 'Now before this Sutra or these images, we are offering these items on behalf of these sick people.' They may offer sutras or images, or commission images of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, or build stupas or monasteries, or light oil lamps, or give to the Eternally Dwelling.

They should tell the sick people three times about the offerings that are being made, informing them so they both hear and understand what is being done.

"If their consciousnesses are already scattered and their breathing has stopped, then for one, two, three, four, and on through seven days, others should continue to inform them clearly and to read this Sutra aloud.

When those people's lives end, they will gain liberation from all heavy and disastrous offenses they committed in previous lives, even offenses warranting Fivefold Relentless Retribution. They will be born in places where they will always know past lives.

How much greater will the karmic reward be if good men or good women can write out this Sutra themselves or commission others to do so. If they can carve or paint images themselves or commission others to do so, the benefits they receive will be great indeed!

"Therefore, Universally Expansive, if you see people reading and reciting this Sutra or even having a single thought of praise for it, or if you meet someone who reveres it, you should employ hundreds of thousands of expedients to exhort such people to be diligent and not retreat.

In both the present and the future they will be able to obtain billions of inconceivable meritorious virtues.

"Moreover, Universally Expansive, beings in the future may, while dreaming or drowsy, see ghosts, spirits, and other forms that are either sad, weeping, or worried, fearful, or terrified.

Those are all fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and relatives from one, ten, a hundred, or a thousand lives past who have not yet been able to leave the bad destinies.

They have no place from which to hope for the power of blessings to rescue them, and so they try to communicate with their closest descendants, hoping that those relatives will use some skillful means to help them get out of the Evil Paths.

"Universally Expansive, using your spiritual powers, exhort those descendants to recite this Sutra with sincere resolve before the images of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas or to request others to recite it, either three or seven times.

When the Sutra has been read aloud the proper number of times, relatives in the Evil Paths will obtain liberation and never again be seen by those who are dreaming or drowsy.

"Moreover, Universally Expansive, people of low station, and those who are slaves, or who are bonded, or who are deprived of their freedom in other ways may be aware of their past deeds and wish to repent of them and to reform.

If while beholding and bowing to Earth Store Bodhisattva's image with sincere resolve for seven days they are able to recite his name a full ten thousand times, then when their current retribution ends, those people will always be born into wealth and honor for thousands lives. How much the more will they avoid any of the sufferings of the Three Evil Paths.

"Moreover, Universally Expansive, in the future in Jambudvipa when the wives of Kshatriyas, Brahmans, Elders, Upasakas, and those of other names and clans are about to give birth to sons or daughters, the family members should recite this inconceivable Sutra and recite the Bodhisattva's name a full ten thousand times during the seven days before the birth of their children.

If those infants, whether male or female, were destined to undergone a terrible retribution for things done in past lives, they will be liberated from those retributions. They will be peaceful, happy, easily raised, and will have long lives.

If those children were due to receive blessings, then their peace and happiness will increase, as will their lifespans.

"Moreover, Universally Expansive, on the first, eighth, fourteenth, fifteenth, eighteenth, twenty-third, twenty-fourth, twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth, and thirtieth days of the lunar month, the offenses of beings are tabulated and their gravity assessed.

"Every single movement or stirring of thought on the part of beings of Jambudvipa creates karma and offenses. How much more is that the case when they blatantly indulge in killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech and hundreds of thousands of other kinds of overt offenses.

 

"If they are able to recite this Sutra once on those ten vegetarian days, before the images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or worthy one and sages, then there will be no disasters for within a radius of one hundred yojanas.

The relatives of those who recite, both old and young, now and in the future, will be apart from the Evil Paths throughout hundreds of thousands of years.

If they can recite this sutra once on each of these ten vegetarian days, then there will be no accidents or illnesses in the family, and there will be food and clothing in abundance.

"Universally Expansive, you should know of the beneficial deeds done by Earth Store Bodhisattva as he makes use of his indescribably many billions of great awesome spiritual powers.

The beings of Jambudvipa have strong affinities with this Bodhisattva. If they hear the Bodhisattva's name, see the Bodhsattva's image, or hear but a few words, a verse, or sentence of this Sutra, then they will enjoy particularly wonderful peace and happiness in this present life.

Through hundreds of thousands of ten thousands of future lives, they will always be handsome or beautiful, and they will be born into honorable and wealthy families."

Having heard the Buddha, Thus Come One, praise Earth Store Bodhisattva in that way. Universally Expansive Bodhisattva knelt, placed his palms together, and again addressed the Buddha, saying, "World Honored One, I have long known that this Bodhisattva has both inconceivable spiritual powers and mighty vows. I have questioned the Thus Come One so that beings in the future will know of these benefits. I receive this answer most respectfully.

World Honored One, how should this Sutra be titled and how should we propagate it?"

The Buddha said to Universally Expansive, "This Sutra has three titles: the first is The Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva; it is also called Earth Store's Past Conduct; and it is called Sutra of the Power of Earth Store's Past Vows.

Because this Bodhisattva repeatedly makes such great and mighty vows throughout long eons to benefit beings, you should all propagate this Sutra in accord with his vows."

After Universally Expansive had heard that, he placed his palms together respectfully, made obeisance, and withdrew.


CHAPTER VII
Benefiting the Living and the Dead

At that time Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, I see that every single movement or stirring of thought on the part of beings of Jambudvipa is an offense. Beings tend to use up the wholesome benefits they gain; many of them end up retreating from their initial resolve. If they encounter evil conditions, they augment them with every thought.

They are like people trying to carry heavy rocks while walking through mud. Each step becomes more difficult and the rocks more cumbersome as their feet sink deeper. If they meet a mentor, he may be strong enough to lighten or even totally remove their burdens. Helping them thus, the mentor will urge them to step on solid ground, pointing out that once they reach a level place they should remain aware of that bad path and never traverse it again.

"World Honored One, the bad habits of beings range from minor to major. Since all beings have such habits, their parents or relatives should create blessings for them when they are on the verge of dying in order to assist them on the road ahead.

That may be done by hanging banners and canopies; lighting oil lamps; reciting the sacred Sutras; making offerings before the images of Buddhas or sages.

Another way to assist them is by reciting the names of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Pratyekabuddhas so that the recitation of each name passes by the ear of the dying one and is heard in his fundamental consciousness.

"Suppose the evil karma created by beings were such that they should fall into the evil destinies. If their relatives cultivate wholesome causes on their behalf when they are close to death, then their manifold offenses can be dissolved.

If relatives can further do many good deeds during the first forty-nine days after the death of such beings, then the deceased can leave the evil destinies forever, be born as humans and gods, and receive supremely wonderful bliss. The surviving relatives will also receive limitless benefits.

"Therefore, before the Buddhas, World Honored Ones, as well as before the gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division, humans and non-humans, I now exhort beings of Jambudvipa to be careful to avoid harming, killing, and doing other unwholesome deeds; to refrain from worshipping ghosts and spirits or making sacrifices to them; and to never call on mountain sprites on the day of death.

Why is that?

"Killing, harming, and making sacrifices are not the least bit helpful to the deceased. Such acts only bind up the conditions of offenses so that they grow ever more deep and heavy.

The deceased might have been due to increase his potential for Sagehood or gain birth among humans or gods in his next life or in the future. But when his family commits offenses in his name, he will resent the disasters he inherits, and his good rebirth will be delayed.

How much more would that be the case for people on the verge of death who during their lives had planted few good roots. Each offender has to undergo the bad destinies according to his own karma. How could anyone bear to have relatives add to that karma?

"That would be like having a neighbor add a few more things to a load of over a hundred pounds being carried by someone who had already traveled a long distance and who had not eaten for three days. By adding that extra weight, that person's burden would become even more unbearable.

"World Honored One, I see that beings of Jambudvipa will themselves receive the benefit of any good deeds they are able to do within the Buddha's teaching. That holds true even when the deeds are as small as a strand of hair, a drop of water, a grain of sand, or a mote of dust."

After that had been said, an Elder named Great Eloquence arose in the assembly. He had long since realized Non-production and was only appearing in the body of an Elder to teach and transform those in the Ten Directions.

Placing his palms together respectfully, he asked Earth Store Bodhisattva, "Great Lord, after people in Jambudvipa die and their close and distant relatives generate merit by making meal offerings and doing other such good deeds, will the deceased obtain merit and virtue significant enough to bring about their liberation?

Earth Store replied, "Elder, based on the awesome power of the Buddhas, I will now proclaim this principle for the sake of beings of the present and future.

Elder, if beings of the present and future when on the verge of dying hear the name of one Buddha, one Bodhisattva, or one Pratyekabuddha, they will attain liberation whether they have offenses or not.

"When men or women laden with offenses who failed to plant good causes die, even they can receive one-seventh of any merit dedicated to them by relatives who do good deeds on their behalf. The other six-sevenths of the merit will return to the living relatives who did the good deeds.

It follows that men and women of the present and future who cultivate while they are strong and healthy will receive every portion of the benefit derived."

"The arrival of the Great Ghost of Impermanence is so unexpected that the deceased ones' consciousnesses first roam in darkness and obscurity, unaware of offenses and blessings.

For forty-nine days they are as if deluded or deaf, or as if in courts where their karmic retributions are being decided. Once judgment is fixed, rebirths are undergone according to their karma.

In the time before rebirths are determined, the deceased suffer thousands of myriads of concerns. How much more is that the case for those who are to fall into the bad destinies.

"Throughout forty-nine days those whose lives have ended and who have not yet been reborn will be hoping every moment that their immediate relatives will earn blessings powerful enough to rescue them.

At the end of that time the deceased will undergo retribution according to their karma. If someone is an offender, he may pass through hundreds of thousands of years without even a day's liberation.

If someone's offenses deserve Fivefold Relentless Retribution, he will fall into the great hells and undergo incessant suffering throughout hundreds of thousands of eons."

"Moreover, Elder, when beings who have committed karmic offenses die, their relatives may prepare vegetarian offerings to aid them on their karmic paths.

In the process of preparing the vegetarian meal and before it has been eaten, rice-washing water and vegetable leaves should not be thrown on the ground. Before the food is offered to the Buddhas and Sangha no one should eat it.

If there is laxness or transgression in this matter, then the deceased will receive no strength from it.

If purity is vigorously maintained in making the offering to the Buddhas and Sangha, the deceased will receive one-seventh of the merit.

Therefore, Elder, by performing vegetarian offerings on behalf of deceased fathers, mothers, and other relatives while making earnest supplication on their behalf, beings of Jambudvipa benefit both the living and the dead."

After that was said, hundreds of thousands of millions of nayutasof ghosts and spirits of Jambudvipa who were in the palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven, made the unlimited resolve to attain Bodhi.

The Elder Great Eloquence made obeisance and withdrew.

 
CHAPTER VIII
Praises of King Yama and His Followers

At that time from within the Iron Ring Mountain, Lord Yama and his following of infinite ghost kings came before the Buddha in the Trayastrimsha Heaven. They were

the Ghost King Evil Poison, the Ghost King Many Evils,
the Ghost King Great Argument, the Ghost King White Tiger,
the Ghost King Blood Tiger, the Ghost King Crimson Tiger,
the Ghost King Spreading Disaster, the Ghost King Flying Body,
the Ghost King Lightning Flash, the Ghost King Wolf Tooth,
the Ghost King Thousand Eyes, the Ghost King Animal Eater,
the Ghost King Rock Bearer, the Ghost King Lord of Bad News,
the Ghost King Lord of Calamities, the Ghost King Lord of Food,
the Ghost King Lord of Wealth, the Ghost King Lord of Domestic Animals,
the Ghost King Lord of Birds, the Ghost King Lord of Beasts,
the Ghost King Lord of Mountain Sprites, the Ghost King Lord of Birth,
the Ghost King Lord of Life, the Ghost King Lord of Sickness,
the Ghost King Lord of Danger, the Ghost King Three Eyes,
the Ghost King Four Eyes, the Ghost King Five Eyes,
the Ch'i Li Shih King, the Great Ch'i Li Shih King,
the Ch'i Li Ch'a King, the Great Ch'i Li Ch'a King,
the No Ch'a King, the Great No Ch'a King,
and other such great ghost kings.

With them were hundreds of thousands of minor ghost kings who dwelt throughout Jambudvipa; each presiding over certain jurisdictions.

Aided by the Buddha's awesome spiritual strength and the power of Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva all these ghost kings joined Lord Yama in the Trayastrimsha Heaven and together they stood to one side.

Then Lord Yama knelt down, placed his palms together, and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, aided by the Buddha's awesome spiritual strength and the power of Earth Store Bodhisattva, I have been able to come to this great assembly in the Trayastrimsha Heaven, with all these ghost kings and, to our benefit, join in together.

There is now a small doubt that I should like to express, and we hope the World Honored One will be compassionate and resolve it."

The Buddha told Lord Yama, "I will answer whatever you want to ask."

At that time Lord Yama looked respectfully at the World Honored One, made obeisance, turned his head to acknowledge Earth Store Bodhisattva, and then said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, I observe that Earth Store Bodhisattva uses hundreds of thousands of expedient means to take across beings who are suffering for their offenses within the Six Paths of rebirth. I see that he does so unstintingly, without the least fatigue.

Although this Great Bodhisattva uses his inconceivable spiritual penetrations to do such deeds, it doesn't take long for the beings whom he has helped in gaining release from retributions to fall again into the bad paths.

"World Honored One, since Earth Store Bodhisattva has such great inconceivable spiritual power, why are beings not able to rely on it, to stay in the good paths, and to be freed once and for all?

Please, World Honored One, explain that for us."

The Buddha told Lord Yama, "The beings of Jambudvipa have stubborn and obstinate natures, difficult to tame, difficult to subdue.

This Great Bodhisattva continually rescues such beings throughout hundreds of thousands of eons and causes them to obtain liberation quickly.

For those beings undergoing retributions even in the worst destinies, the Bodhisattva applies the strength of expedients to extricate them from their own basic karmic conditions and lead them to understand the events of their past lives.

But because beings of Jambudvipa are so bound by their own heavy bad habits, they keep revolving in and out of the various paths over and over as this Bodhisattva labors throughout many long eons to entirely effect their rescue and release.

"They are like people who in confusion, lost their way home and took a bad road by mistake. On that treacherous road were many Yakshas, tigers, wolves, lions, serpents, and vipers.

Those confused people were sure to be harmed in an instant on that dangerous path.

But then they met a knowledgeable guide, skilled in neutralizing all harm, including the toxins of the Yakshas and others.

The mentor began to guide the travelers off that road and told them, 'Beware, everyone! What business brought you onto this road? What kinds of special skills do you have to avoid all that harm?'

Hearing that, the confused travelers realized they were on a dangerous path and turned back, attempting to escape.

"The kind guide then told them to join hands, led them off the dangerous path, and helped them avoid the deadly peril. When they reached a safe path, the travelers grew happy and at peace.

Their mentor then said to them. 'Take care, confused ones, never to go back into that road again. Once on it, it is hard to get off; it can destroy a person's very nature and life.'

The travelers who had been confused expressed their deep gratitude and as they were about to part the mentor said to them, 'If you see any other travelers, whether you know them personally or not, be they men or women, tell them that the poisons and evils on that path could harm their natures and lives. Do not allow them to unwittingly bring about their own deaths.'

In the same way, Earth Store Bodhisattva, replete with great compassion, rescues beings who are suffering for their offenses and enables them to be born among humans and gods where they enjoy wonderful bliss.

"Once those offenders obtain release from the suffering they experienced in the paths where their karma took them, they should never go down those roads again.

They are like the lost people who mistakenly took a wrong road and were lead off it by a kind mentor. They now know to never take that road again.

Moreover, they exhort others not to enter that road by saying, 'We took that road ourselves when we got confused, but we escaped and now we know better than to ever enter that road again. If we were to set foot on it again, we would get confused and be unable to recognize it as the dangerous path we descended into before. That being the case, we might lose our lives.'

The same holds true for falling into the bad destinies. Due to the powerful expedient means of Earth Store Bodhisattva, beings can be freed and can gain rebirth as humans or gods.

If they were to then turn around and enter into the bad destinies again, then those with heavy karmic bonds might remain in the hells forever with no chance of escape."

At that time the Ghost King Evil Poison placed his palms together respectfully, addressed the Buddha, and said, "World Honored One, each of us countless ghost kings of Jambudvipa bestows benefit or inflicts harm on beings differently. But our karmic retributions are such that we and our followers roam in the world doing much evil and little good.

When we pass a household, a city, a town, a garden, a cottage or a hut where there are men or women who have cultivated as little as a hair's worth of good deeds, who have hung but one banner or one canopy, who have used a little incense or a few flowers as offerings to images of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, or who have recited the sacred Sutras or burned incense as an offering to even one sentence or gatha in them, we ghost kings will respect such people as we would the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.

We will instruct the smaller ghosts, each of whom has great power, as well as the earth spirits, to protect such people. Bad situations, accidents, severe or unexpected illnesses, and all other unwelcome events will not even come near their residences or other places they may be, much less enter the door."

The Buddha praised the ghost kings, "Excellent, excellent, that all of you ghost kings join Lord Yama in protecting good men and women in that way. I shall tell Lord Brahma and Lord Shakra to see that you are protected as well."

When that was said, a ghost king in the assembly named Lord of Life said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, my karmic conditions are such that I have jurisdiction over the lifespans of people in Jambudvipa, governing both the time of their births and their deaths.

My fundamental vows are based on a great desire to benefit them, but people do not understand my intent and go through birth and death in distress. Why is that?

"When women in Jambudvipa have just borne children, be they boys or girls, or when they are just about to give birth, good deeds should be done to increase the benefits of the household, thus causing the local earth spirits to be immeasurably pleased. The spirits will then protect the mother and child so that they experience peace and happiness; they will bring benefit to the entire family.

After the birth, all killing for the purpose of offering fresh meat to the mother should be carefully avoided, as should parties that involve consumption of alcohol, eating of meat, singing, and playing musical instruments. All those things can keep the mother and child from being peaceful and happy. Why is that?

At the difficult time of birth, uncountable evil ghosts, including mountain sprites, goblins, and spirit-beings, desire to eat the strong-smelling blood. I quickly order the local earth spirits of that household to protect the mother and child, allowing them to be peaceful and happy and to receive other benefits.

When people in such households witness those benefits, they should do meritorious deeds to express their gratitude to the earth spirits. If instead, they harm and kill, and have big parties involving feasting and entertainment, then the retributions that result from such offenses will be born by they themselves and will bring harm to the mother and child as well.

"Moreover, when people of Jambudvipa are on the verge of death, I wish to keep them from falling into the Evil Paths, regardless of whether they have done good or evil.

But how much is this power of mine to help them increased when they have personally cultivated good roots!

When those who do good in Jambudvipa are about to die, hundreds of thousands of ghosts and spirits from the Evil Paths transform themselves and appear as the parents or other relatives in an attempt to lead such people to fall into the Evil Paths.

How much more is that the case for those who have done evil deeds!

"World Honored One, when men or women in Jambudvipa are on the verge of death, their consciousnesses and spirits become confused and dark. They are unable to discriminate between good and evil, and their eyes and ears are unable to see or hear.

That is why relatives of those deceased should make generous offerings, recite the sacred Sutras, and recite the names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Such good conditions can cause the deceased to leave the Evil Paths, and all the demons, ghosts, and spirits will withdraw and disperse.

"World Honored One, if at the time of death beings of any kind have an opportunity to hear the name of one Buddha or Bodhisattva or to hear a sentence or gatha of a Mahayana Sutra, I observe that such beings can quickly be freed from the pull of their accumulated minor bad deeds that would otherwise send them to the bad paths.

The exception to that is crimes involving killing that warrant Fivefold Relentless Retribution."

The Buddha told the Ghost King Lord of Life, "Because of your great compassion, you are able to make such great vows and protect all beings in the midst of life and death.

When men or women in the future undergo birth and death, do not withdraw from your vow, but liberate them all so they gain eternal peace."

The ghost king told the Buddha, "Please do not be concerned. Until the end of my life I shall in every thought protect beings of Jambudvipa both at the time of birth and at the time of death, so that they all gain tranquility. I only wish that at the time of birth and of death they will believe what I say, so that they all can be liberated and gain many benefits."

At that time the Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva, "This great Ghost King Lord of Life has already passed through hundreds of thousands of lives as a ghost king, protecting beings during both birth and death. Only because of this Great Being's compassionate vows does he appear in the body of a ghost, for in reality he is not a ghost.

After one hundred seventy eons have passed, he will become a Buddha named No Appearance Thus Come One. His eon will be called Happiness, and his world will be named Pure Dwelling. That Buddha's lifespan will be incalculable eons.

Earth Store, the circumstances surrounding this great ghost king are thus. They are inconceivable, and the people and gods whom he takes across are countless."
 

CHAPTER IX
The Names of Buddhas

At that time, Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, I want to discuss some practices that will be helpful to beings of the future and will enable them to gain great benefit throughout their lives and deaths. World Honored One, please hear my words."

The Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva, "Now with your expansive compassion you wish to discuss the inconceivable events involved in rescuing all those in the Six Paths who are suffering for their offenses. This is the right time. Speak now, since my Nirvana is near, so that I may soon help you complete your vows. Then I too will have no need to be concerned about beings of the present or future."

Earth Store Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, countless Asamkhyeya eons ago a Buddha named Boundless Body Thus Come One appeared in the world.

If men or women hear this Buddha's name and have a momentary thought of respect, those people will overstep the heavy offenses involved in birth and death for forty eons. How much more will that be the case for those who sculpt or paint this Buddha's image or praise and make offerings to him. The merit they obtain will be limitless and unbounded.

"Furthermore, in the past as many eons ago as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, a Buddha named Jewel Nature Thus Come One appeared in the world.

If men or women hear this Buddha's name and instantly decide to take refuge, those people will never retreat from the Unsurpassed Path.

"Furthermore, in the past a Buddha named Padma Supreme Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha's name or if the sound of the name merely passes into their ears, those people will be reborn one thousand times in the Six Desire Heavens. How much more will that be the case if those people sincerely recite the name of that Thus Come One.

"Furthermore, in the past inexpressibly ineffable Asamkhyeya eons ago, a Buddha named Lion's Roar Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha's name and in a single thought take refuge, those people will encounter numberless Buddhas who will rub the crowns of their heads and bestow predictions of enlightenment upon them.

"Furthermore, in the past a Buddha named Krakucchanda appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha's name and sincerely behold, worship, or praise him, those people will become Great Brahma Heaven kings in the assemblies of the thousand Buddhas of the Worthy Eon and will there receive superior predictions.

"Furthermore, in the past a Buddha named Vipashin appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha's name, those people will eternally avoid falling into the Evil Paths, will always be born among people or gods, and will abide in supremely wonderful bliss.

"Furthermore, in the past as many eons ago as there are grains of sand in limitless and countless Ganges Rivers, a Buddha named Jewel Supreme appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha's name, those people will never fall into the Evil Paths and will always abide in the heavens experiencing supremely wonderful bliss.

"Furthermore, in the past a Buddha named Jeweled Appearance Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha's name and give rise to a thought of respect, those people will soon attain the fruitions of Arhatship.

"Furthermore, limitless Asamkhyeya eons ago, a Buddha named Kashaya Banner Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha's name, those people will overcome the offenses of birth and death for one hundred great eons.

"Furthermore, in the past a Buddha named Great Penetration Mountain King Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha's name, those people will encounter as many Buddhas as there are grains of sand in the Ganges, who will speak Dharma extensively for them, making certain that they realize Bodhi.

"Furthermore, in the past there were Buddhas named Pure Moon Buddha, Mountain King Buddha, Wise Victory Buddha, Pure Name King Buddha, Accomplished Wisdom Buddha, Unsurpassed Buddha, Wonderful Sound Buddha, Full Moon Buddha,

Moon-Face Buddha, and indescribably many other Buddhas.

"World Honored One, beings of the present and future, both gods and humans, both male and female, can amass such limitless merit and virtue by reciting only one Buddha's name. How much more merit will they amass by reciting many names.

Those beings will personally obtain benefits in their lives and deaths significant enough to keep them from ever falling into the Evil Paths.

"When people are on the verge of dying, a group of their relatives, or even just one of them, should recite Buddhas' names aloud for the people who are sick. By doing so, the karmic retributions of those people who are about to die will be dissolved, even offenses deserving Fivefold Relentless Retribution.

Offenses warranting Fivefold Relentless Retribution are so extremely heavy that those who commit them should not escape retribution for millions of eons. If, however, at the time of such offenders' deaths, someone recites the names of Buddhas on their behalf, then their offenses can gradually be dissolved.

How much more will that be the case for beings who recited those names themselves. The merit they attain will be limitless and will eradicate measureless offenses."


End of Part Two of Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva

 

The True Words of Seven Buddhas for Eradicating Offenses

li pe li pe di chyou he chyou he di two la ni di ni he la di

pi li ni di mwo he chye di jen lin chyan di swo pe he (3x)

To hear to sound of this Mantra, please click on this link:

http://www.siddham.org/yuan_english/mantra/emantra_7buddha.html



Spirit Mantra For Rebirth in the Pure Land

na mwo e mi dwo pe ye dwo two chye dwo ye dwo di ye two

e mi li du pe pi e mi li dwo syi dan pe pi

e mi li dwo pi jya lan di e mi li dwo pi jya lan di

chye mi li chye chye nwo jr dwo jya li swo pe he (3x)

To hear to sound of this Mantra, please click on this link: 

http://www.siddham.org/yuan_english/mantra/emantra_ws_short.html



Mantra for Patching the Flaws in Recitation

Na mo he la da na duo la ye ye qie la qie la ju zhu ju zhu

mo la mo la hu la hong he he su da na hong po mo nu suo po he (3x)


To hear to sound of this Mantra, please click on this link:

http://www.siddham.org/yuan_english/mantra/emantra_hs_1.html

 

Praise

Earth Store's basic vows, and comparative causes of virtue,

Crippling illness, physical defects, come from past lives' deeds

In this life, those who recite Great Vehicle Sutras,
Bring benefits without end, so that
All will surely be reborn from Jeweled Lotus flowers.
Homage to Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva (3X)



Earth Store Bodhisattva Praise

Earth Store Bodhisattva, wonderful beyond compare;

Gold-hued in his transformation body he appears;
Wondrous Dharma-sounds throughout the Three Paths and Six Realms;
Four Births and Ten Kinds of Beings gain his kindly grace.
His pearl, shining brightly, lights the way to heaven's halls;
Six-ringed golden staff shakes open wide the gates of hell.
Leads on those with causes garnered life and life again;
To bow at the Nine-flowered Terrace of the Honored One.

Namo Earth Store great vows and compassion,
Bodhisattva of the dark and dismal worlds;
On Nine Flower Mountain, Most Honored One,
With Ten Wheels of power you rescue all the suffering ones.
Homage to Earth Store Bodhisattva (circumbulating and reciting)



Part Three of Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva

CHAPTER X
The Conditions and Comparative Merits and Virtues of Giving

 At that time. Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, based on the Buddha's awesome spiritual strength, arose from his seat, knelt on one knee, placed his palms together and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, I have observed beings within the paths of karma and compared their acts of giving. Some do a little and some do a lot. Some receive blessings for one life, some for ten lives, and some receive great blessings and benefits for hundreds or thousands of lives. Why is that? Please, World Honored One, explain that for us."

 At that time the Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva, "Here in this assembly in the palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven, I will now discuss the comparative merit and virtue derived from acts of giving done by the beings in Jambudvipa. Listen attentively to what I say."

 Earth Store said to the Buddha, "I have wondered about this matter and will be pleased to listen."

 The Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva, "In Jambudvipa, leaders of nations, prime ministers, high officials, great Elders, great Ksatriyas, great Brahmans, and others may encounter those who are poor, hunchbacked, crippled, dumb, mute, deaf, retarded, blind or handicapped in other ways.

 Those leaders and good people may wish to give to those people and may be able to do so with great compassion, a humble heart, and a smile. They may arrange to give generously, either personally with their own hands, or by arranging for others to do so, using gentle words and sympathetic speech.

 

The blessings and benefits that such leaders and good people will accrue will be comparable to the meritorious virtues derived from giving to as many Buddhas as there are grains of sand in a hundred Ganges Rivers. Why is that?

 Those leaders and good people will receive such rewards of blessings and benefits for having shown a great compassionate heart toward the most impoverished and handicapped individuals.

 Throughout hundreds of thousands of lives to come they will always have an abundance of the seven gems, not to mention clothing, food, and the necessities of life.

 "Moreover, Earth Store, in the future the leaders of nations, Brahmans, and others may encounter Buddhist stupas, monasteries, or images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Sound-hearers, or Pratyekabuddhas and personally make offerings or give gifts to them.

 From doing that, those leaders and good people will serve as Lord Shakra for a duration of three eons, enjoying supremely wonderful bliss.

 If they are able to transfer the blessings and benefits of that giving and dedicate it to the Dharma Realm, then those leaders of nations and good people will reign as great Brahma Heaven kings for ten eons.

 "Moreover, Earth Store, in the future leaders of nations, Brahmans, and others may, upon encountering ancient Buddhist stupas and monasteries or sutras and images that are damaged, decaying, or broken, resolve to restore them.

 Those leaders and good people may then do so themselves or encourage others, as many as hundreds of thousands of people to help and thereby establish affinities.

 Those leaders and good people will become Wheel-Turning Kings for hundreds of thousands of successive lives and those who made offerings with them will be leaders of small nations for as many lives.

 If, before the stupas or monasteries, they resolve to dedicate that merit, then, based on that limitless and unbounded reward, those leaders, good people, and their helpers will eventually all complete the path to Buddhahood.

 "Moreover, Earth Store, in the future, leaders of nations, Brahmans, and others may have compassionate thoughts upon seeing the old, the sick, or women in child birth, and may provide them with medicinal herbs, food, drink, and bedding so as to make them peaceful and comfortable.

 The blessings and benefits derived from doing that are quite inconceivable. For one hundred eons they will always be lords of the Pure Dwelling Heavens, for two hundred eons they will be lords in the Six Desire Heavens, and they will ultimately attain Buddhahood. They will never fall into the Evil Paths, and for hundreds of thousands of lives they will hear no sounds of suffering.


"Moreover, Earth Store, if in the future, leaders of nations, Brahmans, and others can give in that way, they will receive limitless blessings.


"If they are in addition, able to dedicate that merit, be it great or small, they will ultimately attain Buddhahood. How much more easily will they be able to attain the rewards of becoming Shakra, Brahma, or a Wheel-Turning King.


Therefore, Earth Store, you should urge beings everywhere to learn to give in those ways.


"Moreover, Earth Store, in the future if good men or good women only manage to plant a few good roots within the Buddhadharma, equivalent to no more than a strand of hair, a grain of sand, or a mote of dust, they will receive incomparable blessings and benefits.


"Moreover, Earth Store, good men or women in the future may, upon encountering images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, or Wheel-Turning Kings, give gifts or make offerings to them. Such persons will attain limitless blessings and will always enjoy supremely wonderful bliss among people and gods.


If they can dedicate that merit to the Dharma Realm, their blessings and benefits will be beyond compare.


"Moreover, Earth Store, good men or good women in the future may, upon encountering Great Vehicle sutras or upon hearing but a single gatha or a sentence, be inspired to praise, venerate, give gifts, and make offerings to them.


Those people will attain great limitless and unbounded rewards. If they can dedicate that merit to the Dharma Realm, their blessings will be beyond compare.


"Moreover, Earth Store, in the future, good men or good women may, upon encountering new Buddhist stupas, monasteries, or sutras of the Great Vehicle, give gifts and make offerings to them, gaze at them in worship, and respectfully make praises with joined palms.


They may, upon encountering old ones or those that have been destroyed or damaged, either do the repairing or rebuilding themselves or encourage others to help them.


Those who help will become leaders of small nations throughout thirty successive lives. The donors themselves will always be Wheel-Turning Kings who will use the good Dharma to teach and transform those leaders of small nations.


"Moreover, Earth Store, in the future, good men or good women may plant good roots in the Buddhadharma by giving, making offerings, repairing stupas or monasteries, rebinding sutras, or doing other good deeds amounting to no more than a strand of hair, a mote of dust, a grain of sand, or a drop of water. Merely by transferring the merit from such deeds to the Dharma Realm, those people's meritorious virtues will enable them to enjoy superior and wonderful bliss for hundreds of thousands of lives.


If they dedicate the merit only to their immediate or extended families or to their own personal benefit, then the rewards received will be only three lives of happiness. By giving up one, a ten-thousandfold reward is obtained.


"So it is. Earth Store. The circumstances involved in the causes and conditions of giving are like that."

 
CHAPTER XI
The Dharma Protection of an Earth Spirit

At that time the Earth Spirit Firm and Stable spoke to the Buddha and said, "World Honored One, from long ago I have personally beheld and bowed to limitless numbers of Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas. All of them have inconceivable and great spiritual penetrations and wisdom that they use in taking vast numbers of beings across. Among all the Bodhisattvas, Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva has the deepest and most weighty vows.

"World Honored One, Earth Store Bodhisattva has great affinities in Jambudvipa. Manjushri, Samantabhadra, Avalokiteshvara, and Maitreya, also produce by transformation, hundreds of thousands of bodies to take across those in the Six Paths, but their vows have an end.

Earth Store Bodhisattva has made these vows to teach and transform beings in the Six Paths throughout eons as many as the number of sand grains in hundreds of thousands of millions of Ganges Rivers.

"World Honored One, as I regard beings of the present and future, I see those who make shrines of clay, stone, bamboo, or wood and set them on pure ground in the southern part of their dwellings. They place within the shrines images of Earth Store Bodhisattva, either sculpted, painted, or made of gold, silver, copper, or iron. They then light incense, make offerings, behold, worship, and praise him.

By doing those things, such people will receive ten kinds of benefits.

"What are those ten?
First, their lands will be fertile.
Second, their families and homes will always be peaceful.
Third, their ancestors will be born in the heavens.
Fourth, those of the current generation will enjoy benefits and long lives.
Fifth, they will easily obtain what they want.
Sixth, they will not encounter disasters of water and fire.
Seventh, they will avoid unforeseen calamities.
Eighth, they will never have nightmares.
Ninth, they will be protected by spirits in their daily comings and goings.
Tenth, they will encounter many causes that pertain to Sagehood.

World Honored One, beings of the present and future who make offerings in their homes in the prescribed manner will attain benefits like those."

He further said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, good men or good women in the future may keep this Sutra and an image of the Bodhisattva where they live. Further, they may recite the Sutra and make offerings to the Bodhisattva.

For those who do that, I shall constantly use my own spiritual powers to guard and protect them day and night so that nothing bad happens to them, including floods, fire, robbery and theft, major disasters, and minor accidents."

The Buddha told the Earth Spirit Firm and Stable, "There are few spirits who can match your great spiritual power. Why do I say that?

"All the lands in Jambudvipa receive your protection. All the grasses, woods, sands, stones, paddy fields, hemp, bamboo, reeds, grains, rice, and gems come forth from the earth because of your power.

Moreover, your constant praising of the beneficial deeds of Earth Store Bodhisattva makes your meritorious virtues and spiritual penetrations hundreds of thousands of times those of ordinary earth spirits.

"If good men or good women in the future make offerings to this Bodhisattva, or recite the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva and rely upon even a single aspect of it in their cultivation, you should use your own spiritual powers to protect them. Do not allow any disasters or unwelcome events even to be heard, much less undergone, by them.

Not only will those people be protected by you, they will also be protected by the followers of Shakra, Brahma, and other gods. Why will they receive protection from sages and worthies such as those?

It will be due to their having beheld and worshipped an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva and from having recited this Sutra of his past vows. Such people will quite naturally be able to leave the sea of suffering and ultimately be certified to the bliss of Nirvana. For those reasons they receive great protection."


CHAPTER XII
Benefits Derived from Seeing and Hearing

At that time the World Honored One emitted hundreds of thousands of millions of great rays of light from the opening at the crown of his head. They were

the White Ray, the Great White Ray,
the Auspicious Ray, the Great Auspicious Ray,
the Jade Ray, the Great Jade Ray,
the Purple Ray, the Great Purple Ray,
the Blue Ray, the Great Blue Ray,
the Azure Ray, the Great Azure Ray,
the Red Ray, the Great Red Ray,
the Green Ray, the Great Green Ray,
the Gold Ray, the Great Gold Ray,
the Celebration Cloud Ray, the Great Celebration Cloud Ray,
the Thousand-wheeled Ray, the Great Thousand-wheeled Ray,
the Jeweled Wheel Ray, the Great Jeweled Wheel Ray,
the Solar Disc Ray, the Great Solar Disc Ray,
the Lunar Disc Ray, the Great Lunar Disc Ray,
the Palace Ray, the Great Palace Ray,
the Ocean Cloud Ray, and the Great Ocean Cloud Ray.

After emitting such rays of light from the opening at the crown of his head, he spoke in subtle and wonderful sounds to the great assembly of gods, dragons, the rest of the Eightfold Division, humans, non-humans and others, "Hear me today in the palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven as I praise Earth Store Bodhisattva, telling of his beneficial deeds, of inconceivable events, of the matter of his transcendence to Sagehood, of the circumstances of his certification to the Tenth Ground, and of the situation leading to his being irreversible from Anuttarasamyaksambodhi."

As that was said, a Bodhisattva, Mahasattva named Contemplator of the World's Sounds arose from his seat in the assembly, knelt on one knee, and with palms together said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva is replete with great compassion and pities beings who are suffering for their offenses.

In thousands of millions of worlds he creates thousands of millions of transformation bodies through the strength of his meritorious virtues and inconceivable awesome spiritual strength.

I have heard the World Honored One and the numberless of Buddhas of the Ten Directions praise Earth Store Bodhisattva with different mouths but in unison, saying that even if all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future were to speak of his meritorious qualities, they could never finish describing them.

Upon hearing the World Honored One tell the great assembly that he now wants to praise Earth Store Bodhisattva's beneficial deeds and so forth, I am beseeching the World Honored One to praise the inconceivable events pertaining to Earth Store Bodhisattva for the sake of beings of the present and future and to cause the gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division to gaze in worship and attain blessings."

The Buddha replied to the Bodhisattva Contemplator of the World's Sounds, "You have great affinity with the Saha World. If gods, dragons, men, women, spirits, ghosts, or any other beings who are suffering for offenses within the Six Paths hear your name, see your image, behold you, or praise you, they will definitely become irreversible on the Unsurpassed Way.

They will always be born among people and gods and there experience wonderful bliss. When the effects of their causes come to maturity, they will encounter Buddhas who will give them predictions.

You now are replete with great compassion and pity for beings, for gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division. Listen as I discuss events involving the inconceivable benefits bestowed by Earth Store Bodhisattva. Listen attentively, I will describe them for you."

The Contemplator of the World's Sounds said, "So be it. World Honored One, I will be pleased to hear."

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Contemplator of the World's Sounds, "In worlds of the present and future, gods whose heavenly blessings are ending may be manifesting the Five Signs of Decay, indications that they may be about to fall into Evil Paths.

When those signs appear, if those gods, whether male or female, see Earth Store Bodhisattva's image or hear his name and gaze at him or bow once to him, their heavenly blessings will thereby increase. They will experience great happiness and will never have to undergo retributions in the Three Evil Paths.

How much more will that be the case for those who upon seeing and hearing the Bodhisattva use incense, flowers, clothing, food, drink, jewels, and necklaces as gifts and offerings to him. The meritorious virtues, blessings, and benefits they gain will be limitless and unbounded.

"Moreover, Contemplator of the World's Sounds, in the worlds in the present and future, when beings in the Six Paths are on the verge of death, if they can hear the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva, even the sound of it passing through their ears only once, such beings will never have to endure the sufferings of the Three Evil Paths again.

"How much more will that be the case if the parents and other relatives use the houses, wealth, property, jewels, and clothing of such people who are on the verge of death to commission the carving or painting of images of Earth Store Bodhisattva.

"If those sick people have not yet died, their relatives can try to help them see, hear, and understand that their houses, jewels, and so forth have been used for the carving or painting of images of Earth Store Bodhisattva.

If those people's karmic retributions were such that they should have to undergo severe sickness, then with such merit they can quickly be cured and their lifespans prolonged.

If those people's retributions send them to the evil destinies at death due to their karma and obstacles, then with such merit they can, when their lives end, be born among people or gods and there enjoy extremely wonderful bliss. All their obstacles due to offenses will dissolve.

"Moreover, Contemplator of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva, in the future men or women may have lost their fathers, mothers, brothers, or sisters while still an infant or as a child of three, or five, or under ten years of age.

As adults, such people may think about those parents and other relatives, not knowing into what paths or worlds or heavens they have been born.

Suppose such people are able to sculpt or paint images of Earth Store Bodhisattva or to gaze upon and worship him once or for one through seven days without retreating. Upon hearing his name and seeing his image they gaze in worship and make offerings.

"If such people's relatives had fallen into bad paths and were destined to remain there for many eons, those relatives will quickly gain release, be born among people or gods, and experience supremely wonderful bliss.

That will happen because of the meritorious virtue generated by their sons, daughters, brothers, or sisters who carved or painted images of Earth Store Bodhisattva and then gazed upon and worshipped them.

If such people's relatives had already been born among people or gods on the strength of their own blessings and were already experiencing supremely wonderful bliss, then upon receiving that additional merit, their causes leading to Sagehood will increase, and they will experience limitless bliss.

"If such people are able to behold and worship images of Earth Store Bodhisattva single-mindedly during three weeks, reciting his name a full ten thousand times, the Bodhisattva may then manifest a boundless body and describe to those people the realms into which their relatives have been born. Or in their dreams the Bodhisattva may manifest great spiritual power and personally lead them to those worlds to see their relatives.

"If they can further recite the Bodhisattva's name one thousand times a day every day for one thousand days, the Bodhisattva will send the ghosts and earth spirits in the vicinity of such people to guard and protect them for their entire lives.

In this world their clothing and food will be abundant and they will have no suffering from sickness or other causes. No accidents will occur in their households, much less affect them personally. Finally, the Bodhisattva will rub the crowns of their heads and bestow predictions upon them.

"Moreover, Contemplator of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva, good men or good women in the future may want to practice great compassion in rescuing and taking across beings. They may want to cultivate unsurpassed Bodhi, and may want to leave the Triple World.

Those people may see Earth Store Bodhisattva's image, hear his name, and in their hearts take refuge with him. They may use incense, flowers, clothing, jewels, food and drink to make offerings while beholding and worshipping him. Such good people's wishes will quickly be realized and they will never have any further obstructions.

"Moreover, Contemplator of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva, in the future, good men and women may want to fulfill hundreds of thousands of millions of vows and to succeed in as many undertakings in both the present and future.

They need only take refuge with, gaze upon, worship, make offerings to, and praise images of Earth Store Bodhisattva. In such a way, their vows and goals can all be realized.

Moreover, they may hope that Earth Store Bodhisattva, being endowed with great compassion, will always protect them. In dreams the Bodhisattva will rub the crowns of their heads and bestow predictions upon them.

"Moreover, Contemplator of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva, good men and women in the future may have high regard for the Great Vehicle Sutras and make the inconceivable resolve to read them and to recite them from memory.

They may then encounter a bright master who instructs them so that they may become familiar with the texts. But as soon as they learn them, they forget them. They may try for months or years and yet still be unable to read or recite them from memory.

Because those good men and good women have karmic obstructions from past lives that have not yet been resolved, they are unable to read and memorize Sutras of the Great Vehicle.

"Upon hearing Earth Store Bodhisattva's name or seeing his image, such people should, with deep respect and honesty, state their situation to the Bodhisattva.

In addition, they should use incense, flowers, clothing, food and drink, and other material objects they enjoy to make offerings to the Bodhisattva.

They should place a bowl of pure water before the Bodhisattva for one day and one night.

Afterwards, placing their palms together, they should state their request and then, while facing south, prepare to drink the water. As the water is about to enter their mouths they should be particularly sincere and solemn.

After drinking the water they should abstain from the five pungent plants, wine, meat, improper sexual activity, false speech, and all killing and harming for one to three weeks.

"In dreams those good men and good women may then see Earth Store Bodhisattva manifesting a boundless body and anointing the crowns of their heads with water.

When they awaken they may be endowed with keen intelligence.

Upon hearing this Sutra but one time, they will eternally remember it and never forget or lose a single sentence or verse.

"Moreover, Contemplator of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva, in the future there may be people whose food and clothing are insufficient, who find their efforts thwarted, who endure much sickness or misfortune, whose families are not peaceful, whose relatives are scattered, who are accident prone, or who are often startled in their sleep by dreams.

Upon hearing Earth Store's name and seeing his image, such people should recite his name a full ten thousand times with extreme sincerity and respect. Those inauspicious circumstances will gradually disappear, and they will gain peace and happiness. Their food and clothing will be abundant and even in their dreams they will be peaceful and happy.

"Moreover, Contemplator of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva, in the future, good men or good women may have to enter mountain forests, cross over rivers, seas, or other large bodies of water, or take dangerous routes either for the sake of earning their own livelihood, or for public or personal affairs, or matters of life and death, or other urgent business.

Such people should first recite the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva a full ten thousand times. The ghosts and spirits of the lands they pass through will then guard and protect them in their walking, standing, sitting, and lying down.

The peace and happiness of those people will constantly be preserved, so that even if they encounter tigers, wolves, lions, or any other harmful or poisonous creatures, they will not be harmed."

The Buddha told the Contemplator of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva, "Earth Store Bodhisattva has great affinities with beings in Jambudvipa. Hundreds of thousands of eons would not be time enough to describe the benefits derived by beings who see this Bodhisattva and hear his name.

"Therefore, Contemplator of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva, you should use your spiritual powers to propagate this Sutra, thus enabling beings in the Saha World to receive peace and happiness always, throughout hundreds of thousands of eons."

At that time the World Honored One spoke verses, saying:

I observe that Earth Store's awesome spiritual strength, Could not be fully described even in Ganges sands' eons. Seeing, hearing, beholding and bowing to him even once Benefits people and gods in endless numbers of ways.

Men and women, gods or dragons who are near the end Of their rewards and on the verge of falling into Evil Paths, Can, by sincerely taking refuge with this Great Being, Have their lifespans lengthened; their offenses dissolved.

Sometimes youngsters lose their kind and loving parents And do not know what paths they took. Quite often lost brothers, sisters, and other kin Were never known by their surviving relatives.

If such people sculpt or paint this Bodhisattva's image And then beseech, behold and bow to him intently, And if they hold his name in mind a full three weeks The Bodhisattva may display a boundless body.

He may reveal the realms where relatives were born And even quickly free those in bad destinies. If those praying can sustain their initial resolve, He may rub their heads and predict their Sagehood.

Since those determined to cultivate unsurpassed Bodhi And escape the suffering here in the Triple World, Have already discovered their great compassionate hearts, They should first behold and bow to this Great Being. Then every vow they make will soon be fulfilled And no karmic obstructions will ever hinder or stop them.

Some people may resolve to read the sutra texts Hoping to help those confused to reach the other shore. Although the vows they make are quite remarkable, Try as they may, they cannot remember what they read.

Because of their karmic obstructions and delusions, Those people cannot memorize the Mahayana sutras. But they can offer scents and flowers to Earth Store. They can give him clothing, food, and other things they like.

They can place pure water on an altar to the Bodhisattva, And leave it there a day and night before they drink it. With diligent intent they should abstain from pungent plants, Alcohol, meat, improper sex and false speech.

For three weeks they should not kill or harm any creature, While being mindful of the name of that Great Being. Then suddenly in a dream their vision may become boundless. Awakening, they may discover that they now have keen hearing.

From then on, once they hear the teachings of the sutras, They will never forget them throughout thousands of lives. How inconceivable this Bodhisattva is In helping people like that gain such wisdom!

Beings may be impoverished or plagued with disease, Their homes may be troubled; their relatives scattered. They may find no peace even in sleep or dreams. Their efforts may be thwarted so that nothing goes their way.

But if they earnestly behold and bow to Earth Store's image All those evil situations will simply disappear. And even their dreams will be totally peaceful. Food and clothes will be ample; spirits and ghosts protective.

People may need to enter mountain forests, cross great seas, Or go among venomous or evil birds and beasts, evil people, Evil spirits, evil ghosts, and even evil winds Or put themselves in other distressing situations.

They need only gaze in worship and make offerings To an image of the Great Being, Earth Store Bodhisattva. In response, all the evils in those mountain forests And on those vast seas will simply disappear.

Contemplator of Sounds, listen well to what I say. Earth Store Bodhisattva is an unending wonder! Hundreds of thousands of eons is time too brief To describe fully the powers of this Great Being.

If people can but hear the name "Earth Store," And when seeing his image revere him and bow in worship, And offer incense, flowers, clothing, food, and drink, Those gifts will bring them hundreds of thousands of joys.

If they can dedicate such merit to the Dharma Realm, They will become Buddhas, transcending birth and death. Contemplator of Sounds, know this well, And tell everyone everywhere in lands like Ganges sands."


Chapter XIII
Chapter Entrustment of People and Gods

At that time the World Honored One extended his gold-colored arm, and again rubbed the crown of the head of Earth Store Bodhisattva while saying, "Earth Store, Earth Store, your spiritual powers, compassion, wisdom, and eloquence are inconceivable.

Even if all the Buddhas of the Ten Directions were to proclaim their praise of your inconceivable deeds, they could not finish in thousands eons.

"Earth Store, Earth Store, remember this entrustment that I am again making here in the Trayastrimsha Heaven in this great assembly of hundreds of thousands of millions of indescribably many Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division.

I again entrust to you the gods, people, and others who are still in the burning house and have not yet left the Triple World.

Do not allow those beings to fall into the evil destinies even for a single day and night, much less fall into the Fivefold Relentless Hell or the Avichi Hell, where they would have to pass through thousands of millions of eons with no chance of escape.

"Earth Store, the beings of southern Jambudvipa have irresolute wills and natures. They habitually do many evil deeds. Even if they resolve to do good, they soon renounce that resolve. If they encounter evil conditions, they tend to become increasingly involved in them.

For those reasons I reduplicate hundreds of thousands of millions of bodies to transform beings, take them across, and liberate them, all in accord with their own fundamental natures.

"Earth Store, I now earnestly entrust the multitudes of gods and people to you.

If in the future among gods and people there are good men or good women who plant a few good roots in the Buddhadharma, be they as few as a strand of hair, a mote of dust, a grain of sand, or a drop of water, then you should use your powers in the Way to protect them so that they gradually cultivate the Unsurpassed Way and do not get lost or retreat from it.

"Moreover, Earth Store, in the future, gods or people, according to the responses of their karmic retributions, may be due to fall into the evil destinies. They may be on the brink of falling or may already be at the very gates to those paths.

But if they can recite the name of one Buddha or Bodhisattva or a single sentence or verse of a Great Vehicle Sutra, then you should use your spiritual powers to rescue them with expedient means.

Display a boundless body in the places where they are, smash the hells, and lead them to be born in the heavens and to experience supremely wonderful bliss."

At that time the World Honored One spoke in verse, saying

I am entrusting to your care the multitudes
Of gods and people both now and in the future.
Use great spiritual powers and expedients to save them.
Do not allow them to fall into the evil destinies.

At that time Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, knelt on one knee, placed his palms together, and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, I beg the World Honored One not to be concerned.

In the future if good men and women have a single thought of respect toward the Buddhadharma, I shall use hundreds of thousands of expedients to take them across and free them. They will quickly be liberated from birth and death.

How much more will that be the case for those who, having heard about all these good matters, are inspired to cultivate. They will naturally become irreversible from the Unsurpassed Way."

After he finished speaking, a Bodhisattva named Empty Space Treasury, who was in the assembly, spoke to the Buddha, "World Honored One, I personally have come to the Trayastrimsha Heaven and have heard the Thus Come One praise Earth Store Bodhisattva's awesome spiritual strength, saying that it is inconceivable.

If in the future, good men, good women, gods, and dragons hear this Sutra and the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva and if they behold and bow to his image, how many kinds of blessings and benefits will they obtain?

Please, World Honored One, say a few words about this for the sake of beings of the present and future."

The Buddha told Empty Space Treasury Bodhisattva, "Listen attentively, listen attentively, I shall enumerate them and describe them to you.

"Good men or women in the future may see images of Earth Store Bodhisattva and hear this Sutra or read or recite it. They may use incense, flowers, food and drink, clothing, and gems to give gifts and make offerings. They may praise, behold and bow to him. Such beings will benefit in twenty-eight ways:

First, they will be protected by gods and dragons.
Second, their good roots will increase daily.
Third, they will amass supreme causes pertaining to Sagehood.
Fourth, they will not retreat from Bodhi.
Fifth, their clothing and food will be abundant.
Sixth, they will never be infected by epidemics.
Seventh, they will never be in disasters of fire and water.
Eighth, they will never be threatened by thieves.
Ninth, they will be respected by all who see them.
Tenth, they will be aided by ghosts and spirits.
Eleventh, women who want to can be reborn as men.
Twelfth, women who want to can be daughters of leaders of nations and officials.
Thirteenth, they will have an upright and proper appearance.
Fourteenth, they will often be born in the heavens.
Fifteenth, they may be emperors or leaders of nations.
Sixteenth, they will have the wisdom to know past lives.
Seventeenth, they will attain whatever they seek.
Eighteenth, their families will be happy.
Nineteenth, they will never undergo any disasters.
Twentieth, they will leave the bad karmic paths forever.
Twenty-first, they will always arrive at their destination.
Twenty-second, their dreams will be peaceful and happy.
Twenty-third, their deceased relatives will leave suffering behind.
Twenty-fourth, they will enjoy blessings earned in previous lives.
Twenty-fifth, they will be praised by sages.
Twenty-sixth, they will be intelligent and have keen faculties.
Twenty-seventh, they will be magnanimous and empathic.
Twenty-eighth, they will ultimately realize Buddhahood.

"Moreover, Empty Space Treasury Bodhisattva, if gods, dragons, or spirits of the present or future hear Earth Store's name, bow to Earth Store's image, or hear of Earth Store's past vows and the events of his practices, and then praise him, behold, and bow to him, they will benefit in seven ways:

First, they will quickly transcend to levels of Sagehood.
Second, their evil karma will dissolve.
Third, all Buddhas will protect and be near them.
Fourth, they will not retreat from Bodhi.
Fifth, their inherent powers will increase.
Sixth, they will know past lives.
Seventh, they will ultimately realize Buddhahood."

At that time, all the indescribable, indescribable, numbers of Buddhas, Thus Come Ones who had come from the Ten Directions, and Great Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons and the rest of the Eightfold Division, having heard Shakyamuni Buddha's praise of Earth Store Bodhisattva's great awesome spiritual powers, praised this unprecedented event.


Following that, incense, flowers, heavenly garments, and pearl necklaces rained down in the Trayastrimsha Heaven as offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha and Earth Store Bodhisattva, and everyone in the assembly joined together in beholding and making obeisance to them. Then they placed their palms together and withdrew.


End of Part Three of
Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva



The True Words of Seven Buddhas for Eradicating Offenses

li pe li pe di chyou he chyou he di two la ni di ni he la dipi li ni di mwo he chye di jen lin chyan di swo pe he (3x)

To hear to sound of this Mantra, please click on this link:

http://www.siddham.org/yuan_english/mantra/emantra_7buddha.html



Spirit Mantra For Rebirth in the Pure Land

na mwo e mi dwo pe ye dwo two chye dwo ye dwo di ye two

e mi li du pe pi e mi li dwo syi dan pe pi

e mi li dwo pi jya lan di e mi li dwo pi jya lan di

chye mi li chye chye nwo jr dwo jya li swo pe he (3x)

To hear to sound of this Mantra, please click on this link: 

http://www.siddham.org/yuan_english/mantra/emantra_ws_short.html



Mantra for Patching the Flaws in Recitation

Na mo he la da na duo la ye ye qie la qie la ju zhu ju zhu

mo la mo la hu la hong he he su da na hong po mo nu suo po he (3x)

To hear to sound of this Mantra, please click on this link:

http://www.siddham.org/yuan_english/mantra/emantra_hs_1.html

 

Praise

Earth Store's basic vows, and comparative causes of virtue,

Crippling illness, physical defects, come from past lives' deeds

In this life, those who recite Great Vehicle Sutras,
Bring benefits without end, so that
All will surely be reborn from Jeweled Lotus flowers.
Homage to Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva (3X)



Earth Store Bodhisattva Praise

Earth Store Bodhisattva, wonderful beyond compare;

Gold-hued in his transformation body he appears;
Wondrous Dharma-sounds throughout the Three Paths and Six Realms;
Four Births and Ten Kinds of Beings gain his kindly grace.
His pearl, shining brightly, lights the way to heaven's halls;
Six-ringed golden staff shakes open wide the gates of hell.
Leads on those with causes garnered life and life again;
To bow at the Nine-flowered Terrace of the Honored One.

Namo Earth Store great vows and compassion,
Bodhisattva of the dark and dismal worlds;
On Nine Flower Mountain, Most Honored One,
With Ten Wheels of power you rescue all the suffering ones.
Homage to Earth Store Bodhisattva (circumbulating and reciting)




Introduction to
Ksitigarbha Sutra

        After the death of Shakyamuni Buddha, there would be no Buddha on Earth until the appearance of the Bodhisattva Maitreya over a few billion years later, who is to become the next Buddha. During this transition period, Shakyamuni Buddha assigned and delegated to Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha appears to act on His behalf, in order to save the sentient beings.

        This Sutra describes the past lives of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, his great vow made to that effect by him and the benefit accruing from that vow. The vow is that if the hell is not yet empty, I vow not to become a Buddha.

        The Sutra also emphasizes the miraculous powers that all sins be expiated by reciting or hearing even a single phrase or verse.




Contents

Chapter 1 : Miracles In The Palace Of The Trayastrimsas Heaven
Chapter 2 : The Assembly Of Innumerable Transformational Ksitigarbhas
Chapter 3 : Contemplation On The Karmic Connection Between Sentient Beings
Chapter 4 : The Karmic Retribution Of Sentient Beings In Jambudvipa
Chapter 5 : The Names Of The Various Hells
Chapter 6 : Tathagata’s Praises
Chapter 7 : Benefitting The Living And The Dead
Chapter 8 : The praises Of Yamaraja And Others
Chapter 9 : The Recitation Of The Buddhas’Names
Chapter 10 : Appraisal Of The Meritorious Virtue Gained From Almsgiving
Chapter 11 : Protection Of The Dharma By The Deities In Charge Of The Land
Chapter 12 : The Benefits Of Seeing And Hearing
Chapter 13 : The Commendation Of Human Beings And Deva

 


 CHAPTER 1

Miracles In The Palace Of The Trayastrimsas Heaven

Thus have I heard. Once the Buddha was abiding in Trayastrimsas Heaven in order to expound the Dharma to his mother. At that time, all the Buddhas and great Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, an inexpressible number, hailing from countless worlds in the ten directions, came and assembled there. They praised the fact that Buddha Sakyamuni, in evil times with their five kinds of defilement, was still able to manifest his inconceivable power of great wisdom and miracles in order to regulate and tame stubborn beings so that they could come to know suffering and take delight in the Dharma. Each of them sent his attendant to greet the World Honored One.

At that time, the Tathagata smiled and emitted hundreds, thousands, and myriads of millions of great bright clouds—namely, the great bright clouds of perfection, the great bright clouds of mercy and compassion, the great bright clouds of wisdom, the great bright clouds of Prajna, the great bright clouds of Samadhi, the great bright clouds of Srivatsa, the great bright clouds of blissful virtues, the great bright clouds of meritorious virtues, the great bright clouds of refuge and the great bright clouds of praise.

Having emitted such indescribably bright clouds, he also produced all kinds of subtle and wonderful voices - namely, the voices of the Dana-Paramita, the Sila-Paramita, the Ksanti-Paramita, the Virya-Paramita, the Dhyana-Paramita, the Prajna-Paramita, the voices of Mercy and Compassion, of Rejoicing and Abandonment, of Deliverance, of Non-Outflow, of Wisdom, of Great Wisdom, of Lion’s Roar, of Great Lion’s Roar, of Cloud Thunder and of Great Cloud Thunder.

After he had produced such indescribable, indescribable voices, countless millions of devas, nagas, demons and deities from the Saha World and other realms also came and assembled in Trayastrimsas Palace. The devas from the Four Celestial Kings Heavens arrived. From Trayastrimsas, Suyama, Tusita, Nirmanarati, Paranirmitavasavarti, Brahmakayika, Brahmapurohita, Mahabrahma (Great Pure Heaven), Parittabhas (Little-Light Heaven), Apramanabha (Infinite-Light Heaven), Abhasvara (Light-Sound Heaven), Parittasubhas (Little-Purity Heaven), Apramanasubhas (Infinite-Purity Heaven), Subhakirtsna (Universal-Pure Heaven), Punyaprasavas (Bliss-Birth Heaven), Anabhraka (Cloudless Heaven), Brhatphala (Broad-Fruition Heaven), Asanjnisattva (No-Thought Heaven), Aurha (No-Trouble Heaven), Atapa (No-Heat Heaven), Sudarsana (Good-to-See Heaven), Sudrsa (Well-Appearing Heaven), Akanistha (Form-Acme Heaven), and the Naivasamjnanasamjnayatana (Neither-Thinking-Nor-Not-Thinking Heaven)—all the multitudes of devas, from the heavens, together with the multitudes of nagas, demons and deities assembled in the Trayastrimsas Palace.

There also came from different lands in other quarters and from the Saha World such deities as those of the seas, of the rivers, of the forests, of the mountains, of the earth, of the streams and lakes, of the crops, of the day, of the night, of the airspace, of the sky, of food and of vegetation. All assembled there.

There also came from different lands in other quarters and from the Saha World such great demon kings as the Evil-Eye Demon King, the Suckle-Blood Demon King, the Consume-Spirit Demon King, the Devour-Ova Demon King, the Give-Disease Demon King, the Welfare Demon King and the Great-Love-Respect Demon King, and they all assembled there.

At that time, Buddha Sakyamuni said to the Dharma Prince Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Manjusrij, "Look at all these Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, devas, nagas, pretas and deities, from this world and from other worlds, from this land and from other lands, now arriving here to gather in Tryastrimsas. Do you have any idea how many there are?"

Manjusri addressed the Buddha, saying,"O World Honored One, I could not tell how many there are even if I tried for one thousand kalpas to use my miraculous power to determine the number."

The Buddha said to Manjusri, "I, too, cannot complete the counting even with the vision of my Buddha eyes. Altogether they constitute those beings already delivered, those not yet delivered, those still to be delivered and also those representing work already accomplished and yet to be accomplished by Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva throughout infinite, long kalpas."

Manjusri addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, Since, in the past, I have long cultivated good roots and have achieved Unobstructed Wisdom, I ought to be able to believe and accept your words on hearing what you have just said. However, the beings of the lesser vehicles, devas, nagas and the rest of the eight categories, as well as sentient beings of future generations, will certainly cherish doubts even if they hear Tathagata’s sincere words. Even if they accepted your words temporarily, there would inevitably and unavoidably be some scandalizing and slandering of your views. I only hope that you, O World Honored One, will speak extensively about those deeds Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Ksitigarbha performed during his causal states and what vows he took so that he was able to accomplish such inconceivable things."

The Buddha said to Manjusri, "Let us take the Tri-sahasra-maha-sahasra-loka-dhatu of the three great chiliocosms (universes); from this let us take one piece of each and all of the different kinds of vegetation—including grass, trees, bushes, rice, hemp, bamboo and reeds—and one part of every kind of mountain, rock and dust-mote. Then let us consider each piece and part to be a separate Ganges River. Then, again, take one grain of the sand in all those inconceivably great number of Ganges Rivers as one chiliocosm, and afterwards take each mote of dust within each chiliocosm as one kalpa. Finally, consider all the dust grains accumulated in each of these kalpas to be, themselves, converted to kalpas. Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha has endured one thousand times longer than this vast length of time since he realized the ten grades of accomplishment, not to mention the length of time Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha spent in the sainthood of Hearer and Pratyeka-Buddhahood. O Manjusri, this Bodhisattva’s majestic, solemn vows are, indeed, inconceivable!

"If, in the future, a good man or good woman should hear the name of this Bodhisattva and should praise or worship him or invoke his name or donate offerings to him as well as paint, sculpt or mold his image, he or she will be reborn in the thirty-three heavens for one hundred turns and will never again fall onto the evil paths of existence.

"O Manjusri, this Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha in the past, prior to an inexpressible, inexpressible number of kalpas, assumed the form of and took birth as the son of a rich man. At that time, there was a Buddha bearing the title of LION’S-EXCITEMENT-MYRIAD-DEED-ALL-ACCOMPLISHED TATHAGATA. When the elder’s son saw the Buddha’s excellent form adorned with thousands of blessings, he inquired of the Buddha what deeds he had performed and what vows he had taken to achieve his present excellent form, so that he himself might be able to acquire such a form.

"Then the LION’S-EXCITEMENT-MYRIAD-DEED-ALL-ACCOMPLISHED TATHAGATA told the elder’s son, "If you want to realize this entity, you must deliver all suffering sentient beings for vast ages."

"O Manjusri, then the elder’s son consequently took his vow, saying, ‘I now vow that I will provide, throughout incalculable numbers of kalpas in the future, for the sake of all sinful, suffering beings on the six paths of existence, extensive expediencies to cause them all to be delivered and liberated before I myself realize Buddhahood.’

"He took such a great vow in front of that Buddha, and even now, after hundreds, thousands, myriads, millions, and even inconceivable numbers of kalpas, he is still a Bodhisattva.

"Moreover, there was in the past, an inconceivable number of kalpas ago, a Buddha bearing the title of ENLIGHTENMENT-FLOWER-SERENITY-SELF-SOVEREIGNTY-KING TATHAGATA. The life-span of that Buddha was four hundred thousand million asamkhyeka kalpas.

"During the semblance dharma period there was a brahman girl, who, having profound and deep blessing due to deeds in her past lives, was admired and respected by the people, and guarded by devas in her walking, standing, sitting and lying down. However, her mother practiced wicked ways and often slighted the Three Jewels. At that time, this holy girl tried many expediencies to persuade her mother to adopt correct views, but her mother was not thoroughly convinced. Soon thereafter, the mother passed away, and her pudgala (soul) fell into the Uninterrupted Hell (Avici). The Brahman girl knew that her mother, not believing in the laws of causation, would inevitably be reborn into an evil existence according to her karma; so she sold her house and bought vast amounts of incense and flowers and other offerings to be generously donated to the stupas and temples of the Buddha of that era. She saw in a temple the image of the ENLIGHTENMENT-FLOWER-SERENITY-SELF-SOVEREIGNTY-KING TATHAGATA carved and painted in august forms and with perfect dignity. Then the Brahman girl paid obeisance to the sacred image, showing extra reverence. She held deep in her heart the following thought: ’The Buddha is the Great Enlightened One, possessing all kinds of wisdom, if he were in this world, he would be able to tell me of my mother’s whereabouts after her death.’ Then the Brahman girl wept for quite a long time while she gazed admiringly at the Tathagata.

"Suddenly she heard some voice from midair, saying, ‘O weeping girl, do not be too sorrowful, for I shall now reveal to you your mother’s whereabouts.’

"The brahman girl, with palms joined, pointed directly to the midair, saying, ’May I know who the Sacred and Virtuous One is who relieves my worry? Since I lost my mother, I think about her day and night; but there has been no one I could ask to tell me of her whereabouts.’

"The voice from midair responded to the girl again, saying, ’I am the one whom you are worshipping, the ENLIGHTENMENT-FLOWER-SERENITY-SELF-SOVEREIGNTY-KING TATHAGATA. Seeing that you remember and cherish your mother much more than ordinary beings, I manifest to reveal her whereabouts to you.’

"The brahman girl, hearing this, prostrated herself abruptly on the ground, badly hurting her whole body. Her attendants raised her up and held her steady for quite a long time while she regained her balance and composure. She then addressed the midair, saying, ‘May the Buddha, in his mercy and compassion, tell me forthrightly my mother’s whereabouts, for it is possible that I may die very shortly due to my present physical and mental state!’

"The ENLIGHTENMENT-FLOWER-SERENITY-SELF-SOVEREIGNTY-KING TATHAGATA addressed the holy girl, saying, ’After having completed your offering, go directly home, sit reverently and contemplate my name and title; then you will know your mother’s whereabouts.’

"Then the brahman girl concluded her worship of the Buddha and returned to her house. She thought about her mother very deeply and sat reverently and contemplated the ENLIGHTENMENT-FLOWER-SERENITY-SELF-SOVEREIGNTY-KING TATHAGATA.

"After one day and one night she found herself arriving at some unknown seashore. The water in the sea was boiling. There were many wicked beasts, all with iron bodies, flying over or walking upon the sea and running and chasing in an east-west direction. She saw that men and women, hundreds of thousands of myriads in number, emerged from and submerged again into the sea, at which time they were snatched up and devoured by the wicked beasts. She also saw yaksas with different forms - some with many hands and numerous eyes, others with many feet and multiple heads, and still others with teeth as sharp as swords protruding from their mouths—chasing and herding these suffering people into the claws of those wicked beasts, who snapped at and seized them by either their heads or their feet. Those beasts had all sorts of horrible forms which one dared not gaze upon too long. The Brahman girl, at this time, by virtue of her mindfulness of the Buddha, was, naturally, not frightened.

"There appeared a demon king named No Poison (Vandana), who prostrated himself before her and welcomed her. He addressed the holy girl, saying, ’Well, O Bodhisattva, what causes you to come here?’

"Whereupon the Brahman girl asked the demon king, ’What place is this here?’

"Vandana replied, ’This is the sea to the west of the Great Iron Enclosed Mountain.’

"The holy girl asked, ’I have heard that hell is in the midst of the Cakravada. Is it in fact so?’

"Vandana replied, ‘It is true that there are hells there.’

"The holy girl asked, ’How or in what manner did I arrive at this place of hells?’

"Vandana replied, ‘Either by majestic or karmic power. Nobody can come here without one of these two.’

"The holy girl asked again, ’What causes the water to rise and boil? And why are there so many suffering people and wicked beasts here?’

"Vandana replied, ’Those suffering people are newly deceased beings from Jambudvipa, who committed evil. Since for forty-nine days none of their heirs have performed any meritorious or virtuous act to save and deliver them from their suffering and since they did not create any virtuous causes in their lifetime, they must be committed to the various hells according to their karma. Naturally, they must first pass through this sea. Ten myriad yojanas to the east of this sea there is another sea, where the severity of the suffering is double what it is here. To the east of that sea there is still another sea, where the suffering is yet again double. This suffering is the result of the evil causes of the three kinds of karma; and these places are known collectively as the Karmic Sea.’

"The holy girl also asked Demon King Vandana, ’Where are the hells?’

"Vandana replied, ’The grand hells are within the three karmic seas. They number in the hundreds of thousands. Each one is different from the others. There are eighteen grand ones, and there are five hundred secondary ones, each and all being centers of immeasurable suffering. There are hundreds of thousands of hells in the next category, also, all being places of immeasurable suffering.

"The holy girl again addressed the great demon king, saying, ’My mother died not very long ago. I wonder where her spirit went.’

"The demon king asked the holy girl, ’What did your mother do in her lifetime?’

"The holy girl replied, ‘My mother cherished some perverted views, and she ridiculed the Three Jewels. Sometimes she believed for a little while and then would turn irreverent again. Though she died recently, I still do not know her whereabouts.’

"Vandana asked, ’What was your mother’s name?’

"The holy girl replied, ’Both my mother and father were Brahmans. My father’s name was Silo Sardrsa; my mother’s name was Yueh Ti Li.’

"Vandana joined his palms and addressed the Bodhisattva, saying, ’l wish that you would return to your own place without worry, remembrance or sorrowful musing. It has been three days since the sinful woman Yueh Ti Li ascended to heaven. It is said that, by virtue of her filial offspring’s donations to the stupa and temple of the ENLlGHTENMENT-FLOWER-SERENITY-SELF-SOVERElGNTY-KING TATHAGATA on her mother’s behalf, not only was the mother of the Bodhisattva able to leave hell, but also all the sinful people in Avici Hell were able, on that day, to receive the blessing to be reborn with her.

"The demon king, having said this, withdrew with palms joined. The Brahman girl awoke as from a dream. She realized the situation and then made a great vow in front of the stupa and image of the ENLIGHTENMENT-FLOWERSERENlTY-SELF-SOVERElGNTY-KlNG TATHAGATA: ‘May I, through all future kalpas, provide extensive expediencies for the deliverance and liberation of all sinful, suffering beings."

The Buddha then told Manjusri, "That demon king, who was named Vandana at that time, is now Bodhisattva Ts’ai Shou, and the Brahman girl is now Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha."


CHAPTER 2

The Assembly Of Innumerable Transformational Ksitigarbhas

At that time, all the separate transformational Ksitigarbha Bodhisattvas came from all the hells in hundreds, thousands, myriads and millions of unthinkable, indiscussible, immeasurable, inexpressible, countless numbers of worlds to assemble in Trayastrimsas Palace. By virtue of the Tathagata’s miraculous power, each came from his realm together with those who had been liberated from karmic paths—thousands, myriads, millions and nayutas of sentient beings—and all of them held incense and flowers to be offered to the Buddha. Because they had been instructed and converted by Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, those who came there together would never retrogress from Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi. Those beings had, for vast, long kalpas, wandered through numerous births and deaths, suffering on the six paths of existence without one moment’s rest. However, by virtue of the extensive mercy and compassion as well as the profound vows of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, each one of them had realized the bodhi fruit. Having arrived at Trayastrimsas Palace, they were overwhelmed with rejoicing in their hearts and gazed admiringly at the Tathagata without one blink of their eyes.

At that time, the World Honored One reached out his golden-hued arms to touch the heads of all the separate transformational Ksitigarbha Bodhisattvas from hundreds, thousands, myriads,millions, unthinkable, indiscussible, immeasurable, inexpressible, countless numbers of worlds and uttered these words:

"I have taught and converted many stubborn beings in this evil time with its five kinds of defilement, making them tame at heart and causing them to forsake the perverted and return to the right way. However, there are still one or two out of ten who continue to be bound by their evil habits. I have also divided myself into hundreds, thousands and millions of transformational bodies and employed extensive skillful means for the deliverance and liberation of sentient beings. Sometimes there were those with sharp wits who would hear and immediately believe and accept. There were others with virtuous fruition who could achieve liberation only through hard persuasion; or there were dumb and dull ones who would come to awareness only after long conversion. There were still others with heavy karma who would not show respect. For such beings, each different from the others, I have divided myself into many bodies in order to deliver and liberate them all. I manifest myself in the forms of a man or a woman, a deva or naga, a god or ghost, a grove, a river, a plain, a stream, a pond, a spring or a well for the benefit of all sentient beings so that they all may be delivered and liberated. Sometimes I manifest myself in the forms of a devaraja, a brahmaraja or a cakravarti, of a devotee, a king, a minister or an official, of a bhiksu, a bhiksuni, an upasaka or an upasika, or even in the forms of a sravaka, an arhant, a pratyekabuddha or a Bodhisattva in order to accomplish the conversion and deliverance of sentient beings. Not only in the form of a Buddha have I manifested myself.

"Now be aware that I have been working hard kalpa after kalpa in order to deliver and liberate such hardy, stubborn, sinful and suffering beings. However, there are those not yet tamed who will receive their due retribution according to their karma. If they follow evil paths and suffer great distress, you should remember that I, here in Trayastrimsas Palace, have, with confidence, placed in your care, until the advent of Maitreya, all those suffering beings in the Saha World, desiring that you deliver and liberate them all so that they may continually free themselves from suffering forever and thus be predestined to meet the Buddhas."

At that time, all the separate transformational Ksitigarbha Bodhisattvas from all the different worlds reassembled into one entity and, shedding tears of compassion, addressed the Buddha, saying, "Now for vast long kalpas I have been called and received and led by Buddha, who granted me inconceivable magic power and endowed me with great wisdom. My divided transformational entities fill hundreds, thousands, myriads and millions of worlds — as many as the sand-grains in the Ganges River. In each one of those worlds, I have hundreds, thousands, myriads and millions of transformational bodies. Each of these bodies has delivered hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of people, causing them to take refuge in the Precious Three and, once and for all, ridding them of birth and death and helping them attain the joy of Nirvana. However, for any virtuous deed accomplished by a sentient being in the name of Buddhadharma — even if it be as small as the tip of a strand of hair, a drop of water, one grain of sand, one mote of dust or even one iota — I shall make use of it for his deliverance and liberation so that he may attain the maximum benefit therefrom. I only hope that you, O World Honored One, do not worry about those beings of future generations who have wicked karma."

He repeated this again and again to the Buddha, saying, "I only hope that you, O World Honored One, do not worry about those beings of future generations who have wicked karma."

At that time, the Buddha praised Bodhisattva Ksitiqarbha, saying, "Excellent, excellent! I shall help you to rejoice. You will be able to fulfill the great vows you took vast long kalpas ago, so that universal deliverance will be consummated for all and so that Bodhi will be directly attained by all."


CHAPTER 3

Contemplation On The Karmic Connection Between Sentient Beings

At that time, Lady Maya, the Buddha’s mother, with palms joined, asked Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha respecfully, "O Holy One, what will be the retribution for different karmas created by the sentient beings of Jambudvipa?"

Ksitigarbha replied, "Regarding the thousands of myriads of worlds and lands — in some there are hells and in others there are none. In some there are women and in others there are none. In some there is Buddhadharma and in others there is none. Likewise, this applies to the presence or absence of sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas in the various worlds. Thus, there is not just one category alone that describes retribution for sin in the various hells."

Lady Maya addressed the Bodhisattva again, saying, "I still wish to hear about the kinds of retribution induced by following evil paths in Jambudvipa."

Ksitigarbha replied, "O Holy Mother, please listen; I shall speak briefly on this subject."

The Buddha’s mother said, "Please do, O Holy One!"

The Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha then addressed the Holy Mother, saying, "In southern Jambudvipa, the retribution for various sins is as follows: If someone should fail to fulfill his filial duty toward his parents or, at worst, kill or harm them, he will fall into Avici Hell, where he will remain for thousands of myriads of millions of kalpas without a date for release. If someone should shed the blood of a Buddha, ridicule the Three Jewels or fail to respect the sutras, he, also, will fall into Avici Hell, where he will remain for thousands of myriads of millions of kalpas without a date for release. If someone should encroach upon or steal the property of some Buddhist establishment, slander bhiksus or bhiksunis, indulge his carnal lust in a sangharama, or kill or harm others, then he or she will fall into Avici Hell and remain there for thousands of myriads of millions of kalpas without a date for release. If someone should pretend to be a sramana and yet actually is not one at heart, but, on the contrary, abuses the establishment, cheats the laity, violates the precepts and commits all kinds of evil, such a person will fall into Avici Hell, where he or she will remain for thousands of myriads of millions of kalpas without a date for release. If someone should steal from the establishment any property at all—grain, rice, other food or clothing—or take any kind of article whatsoever without permission, he or she will fall into Avici Hell and remain there for thousands of myriads of millions of kalpas without a date for release."

Ksitigarbha concluded, saying, "O Holy Mother, anyone committing such sins will certainly fall into Avici Hell, where he will suffer incessantly, without remission for even one instant."

Lady Maya addressed Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha again, asking him, "What is that hell known as Avici?"

Ksitigarbha replied, "O Holy Mother, the hells of various worlds are situated inside the great Cakravada (ring of iron-enclosed mountains). There are eighteen major hells. Also, there are five hundred secondary ones with different designations, and there are, in addition, hundreds of thousands of lesser ones, each one having a different designation as well. One of these is the unique hell which is known as Avici. As for Avici Hell, its dreadful walls circumscribe more than eighty thousand miles, are ten thousand miles high and are made entirely of iron. Fiery flames shoot out of these walls, covering them entirely from top to bottom and, again, from bottom to top. Iron serpents and iron hounds spit out fiery flames and chase about, running along the hellish walls in an east-west direction.

"There are torture-racks in this hell. When just one person alone takes his punishment, he can see himself lying prone with his body stretched out over the entire rack. When thousands of myriads of people all take their punishment together, they, in like manner, can also see themselves, each one, lying prone there with their bodies stretched out, covering the entire rack. Such is the way of retribution for sins induced by various karmas. Moreover, these sinful people suffer all sorts of other tortures and afflictions. Hundreds of thousands of yaksas and other wicked demons have teeth-like swords and eyes like lightning flashes, and with hands that look like copper claws they drag these miserable sinners to their punishment. Other yaksas hold great iron spears, hurling them at these miserable people, some hitting their mouths and noses and others hitting their bellies and backs. They toss these miserable people into midair and catch them again, throwing them onto the racks. Also, there are iron hawks to peck out these miserable people’s eyes. Furthermore, there are iron serpents to strangle these miserable people. Long nails are driven into their various limbs and joints. Their tongues are pulled out. Their intestines are ripped out and torn to pieces. Molten copper is poured into their mouths. White-hot iron is wound into their bodies. They die myriads of times and then are revived again myriads of times for further torture. Such is the retribution of karma.

"Very aptly, this hell-torture must last millions of kalpas without a date for acquittal or release, When this hell-realm of the world is annihilated, these miserable sinners will transmigrate to live and suffer in another realm. When that other realm is annihilated also, they will, in turn, transmigrate to yet another realm. However, when all these transmigratory realms are finally annihilated, they must continue to transmigrate yet again until they return to this realm, which will take form once again. Such is the retribution for sin should one fall into Avici Hell.

"Furthermore, this hell is known as Avici because it is conditioned by five factors, What are the five?

"Firstly, the punishment is meted out day and night, kalpa after kalpa, without a moment’s interruption or relief. Thus Avici.

"Secondly, one person can fill it completely, and many people also can fill it completely. Thus Avici.

"Thirdly, there is punishment using such devices as forks, clubs, hawks, serpents, jackals, hounds, mills, grinders, saws, chisels, files, choppers, boiling pots, iron nets and cords, and iron mules and horses. Other hideous tortures and punishments force these miserable beings to cover their heads with their own skin after being flayed alive, after which hot molten iron is poured onto their bodies; and when they are hungry they are forced to swallow chunks of iron and drink molten iron when thirsty. This unimaginably horrible torture goes on and continues throughout years and kalpas numbering in nayutas. In this manner they suffer continuously with no cessation whatsoever. Thus Avici.

"Fourthly, irrespective of whether these sinners are male or female, barbarian or civilized, whether young or old, noble or mean, whether nagas or gods, devas or ghosts — all will receive the retribution of sinful karma. Thus Avici.

"Fifthly, if a person falls into this hell, he will die myriads of times and be revived myriads of times each day and each night from the time of his initial entrance unto hundreds of thousands of future kalpas, and he will never have any relief or rest whatsoever from his suffering and torture even for one instant. It is only with the exhaustion of his sinful karma that he will finally be able to gain rebirth. Owing to such continuity of suffering and torture, this hell is, therefore, known as Avid."

Then Ksitigarbha addressed the Holy Mother, saying, "Avici Hell, roughly speaking, is just as I have described it to you. To completely and exhaustively describe the torture devices, the punishment and the hideous suffering there could not be done even if one were to talk as long as one kalpa."

Having heard this, Queen Lady Maya was saddened. She made obeisance with palms joined and withdrew.


CHAPTER 4

The Karmic Retribution Of Sentient Beings In Jambudvipa

At that time, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, by virtue of Buddha’s majestic, miraculous power I was able to divide myself into many, many forms throughout hundreds, thousands, myriads and millions of worlds to save and deliver all sentient beings who were suffering their karmic retribution without the Tathagata’s great, merciful power; alone, I would not be able to perform such transformations. Now I have been commanded by the Buddha to deliver and liberate all the beings on the six paths of existence until that time when Ajita will achieve Buddhahood. Yes, indeed, O World Honored One, please do not worry."

Then the Buddha told Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, "All those sentient beings who have not been liberated are uncertain and precarious in their nature and consciousness. Their evil habits will produce evil karma, and their virtuous habits will yield fruition. Whether they are virtuous or wicked, all depends on the circumstances surrounding them. They revolve on the five paths of existence without one moment’s cessation, most likely continuing thus for countless kalpas, in confusion, delusion, hindrance and difficulty like fish caught in nets in the vast streams, that, though escaping from such traps and freeing themselves temporarily, will soon become entangled in those nets again. For such people, I would normally be worried. However, since you are going to honor your past wishes and solemn vows, taken kalpa after kalpa, for extensive deliverance of all those sinful people, how should I have any cause for further worry?"

After these words were spoken, a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva in the assembly named Samadhisvararaja addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, what vows did Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha take kalpas ago that deserve your profuse commendation and praise? I only wish that you, O World Honored One, would describe them briefly."

Then the World Honored One said to Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Samadhisvararaja, "Listen attentively! Listen attentively and think carefully about all that I say, for I am going to describe each vow individually for you.

"Think of that vastly ancient time ere immeasurable, asankhyeya, nayuta, inexpressible numbers of kalpas. At that time, there was a Buddha known as SARVAJNASIDDHARTA TATHAGATA, who had the epithets of Arahat, Samyaksambuddha, Vidyacarana-Sampanna, Sugata, Lokavid, Anuttara, Purusa-Damyasarathi, Sastadevamanusyanam, Buddha and Bhagavan. This Buddha had a lifespan of sixty thousand kalpas.

"Before he left his home life, he was the king of a small country. He befriended the king of the neighboring country, and they both practiced the ten virtues for the benefit of sentient beings. Since most of the people in the neighboring country had committed many wicked deeds, the two kings contrived a plan to provide extensive expediencies, whereby one of the kings made up his mind to achieve Buddhahood early in order to deliver all those wicked people without exception, while the other king took the vow: ’I will never become a Buddha if I have not first delivered all those sinful and suffering beings, making them comfortable and joyful and enabling them to achieve Bodhi.’ "

The Buddha, continuing to tell this story to Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Samadhisvararaja, said, "The king who made up his mind to become a Buddha earlier became TATHAGATA RVAJNASIDDHARTA; but the other king, who vowed always to deliver all sinful suffering beings and did not want to become a Buddha, is now Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha.

"Again in the past, ere immeasurable asankhyeya kalpas, a Buddha was born. His name was PURE-LOTUS-EYE TATHAGATA. This Buddha had a lifespan of forty kalpas. During the period of his formal Dharma, there was an Arhat who delivered sentient beings by means of his bliss and who instructed and converted them gradually. This Arhat met a woman by the name of Prabhacaksuh (Bright-Eyes), who provided food to honor him.

"The Arhat asked her, ‘What is your wish?’

"Prabhacaksuh replied, ’Since the day my mother passed away, I have constantly tried, through blessings gained by my donations, to gain her deliverance. I wonder what path of existence my mother is now taking.’

"The Arhat took pity on her and entered Samadhi to discover her mother’s whereabouts. He became aware that Prabhacaksuh’s mother had followed the evil path and was suffering most severely. He then asked the girl, ’What did your mother do in her lifetime so that she now finds herself on the evil path in a condition of extremely harsh suffering?’

"Prabhacaksuh replied, ’Mother was accustomed to enjoy eating only fish, turtles and the like; and she prized mostly their roe and eggs, either oasted or boiled, indulging herself in consuming them. The counting of the number of those lives would add up to thousands of myriads and might even be double or quadruple that number. In your mercy and pity, O World Honored One, how would you save her?’

"The Arhat, having pity for her, as a matter of expediency advised Prabhacaksuh, saying, ‘You may wholeheartedly recite the name of VISUDDHIPANDARIKACAKSUH TATHAGATA and also mold and paint his image for the benefit of the living and the dead.’

"Having heard this, Prabhacaksuh at once gave up those things she treasured and had Buddha’s image painted. She also made many offerings to him. With sincere respect, she worshipped him, weeping sorrowfully. Suddenly, after midnight, Prabhacaksuh dreamed she saw the Buddha, with his shining golden body, as tall as Mount Sumeru, emitting brilliant light, who told her, ’Your mother will soon be reborn into your household. She will talk as soon as she begins to feel hungry and cold.’

"Soon after, the maid in her household gave birth to a baby who began to talk when it was not even three days old. The baby prostrated itself and wept bitterly, telling Prabhacaksuh, ‘One receives his own retribution for all the karma he has created, taking the effects during his times of birth and death. I was formerly your mother, and I have remained for a long time in the darkness of Hades. Since I left you, I have repeatedly fallen into major hells. However, by virtue of your bliss, I am now able to be reborn, but only to a low, mean class; and I shall have only a short life, wherein I shall again fall onto an evil path at the age of thirteen. What plan do you have to help me escape from such karma?’

"Having heard these words, Prabhacaksuh knew that this baby was, doubtlessly, her former mother. She became choked with sobs, wept bitterly and said to the maid’s baby, ’Since you were, indeed, formerly my mother, you ought to be aware of your own sins. What did you do that caused you to fall onto the evil path of existence?’

"The maid’s baby replied, ’I was paying retribution for two karmic sins that I committed: killing and defamation. Without your cultivation, that has now rescued and delivered me from that suffering, I would not be able to be liberated due to my former evil karma.’

"Prabhacaksuh asked, ’What is it like in those hells?’

"The maid’s baby replied, ’lt is unbearable to relate such punishment and suffering. Hundreds of thousands of years would hardly be enough time to exhaust any detailed description of such torture and suffering.’

"Upon hearing this, Prabhacaksuh shed tears, crying profusely. Then she pleaded skyward, praying aloud, saying, ’May my mother always be free from the hell-states and commit no serious offenses during or after the thirteenth year of her present lifetime, and may she never again experience any evil path of existence whatsoever. May all the Buddhas from all the quarters in the ten directions have mercy and pity on me and listen to this extensive vow that I am about to take for my mother’s sake. If my mother could always be free from following the three evil paths of existence, never be reborn in this low, mean class, and never again take the form of a woman in the vast kalpas to come, I then take this vow in front of the image of VISUDDHIPANDARIKACAKSUH TATHAGATA: From this day forth and throughout hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of kalpas to come, I will succor and deliver all sinful, suffering beings in all worlds, in all hells and on the three evil paths of existence, causing them to leave the evil paths of hell-dwellers, of animals and of hungry ghosts; and it is only after all beings subject to retribution for sins have achieved Buddha hood that I myself will attain complete enlightenment.’

"Having taken this vow, she heard VISUDDHIPUNDARIKACAKSUH TATHAGATA say to her, ‘O Prabhacaksuh, you show great mercy and pity by taking such a great vow for the sake of your mother. I now see that your mother, on reaching thirteen years of age, will forsake this retributive body, will be reborn as a Brahmacari and live one hundred years. After that retributory life, she will then be reborn into the asoka (no-sorrow) state, enjoying a life-span of incalculable kalpas. Finally, she will achieve Buddhahood and deliver human beings and devas, as many as the grains of sand in the Ganges River.’ "

The Buddha, continuing, said to Samadhisvararaja, "The arhat who delivered Prabhacaksuh at that time is now Bodhisattva Aksayamati (Inexhaustible-Mind). The person who was Prabhacaksuh’s mother then is Bodhisattva Moksa now, and the girl who was Prabhacaksuh then is Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha now.

"During the vast long kalpas of the past, Ksitigarbha had such profound mercy and pity that he took as many vows as the grains of sand in the Ganges River in order to render extensive deliverance to all sentient beings.

"In the future, if men or women fail to practice virtuous deeds and only commit evil, or if they fail to believe in cause and effect and indulge in perverted lust, lying, double-tongue, harsh words or defamation of the Mahayana views-such sinful people will certainly fall onto evil paths of existence. If, however, they should meet good, learned friends who persuade them, in the time it takes to snap one’s fingers, to take refuge in Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha - such beings will be able to be delivered and liberated from retribution on the three evil paths of existence. Furthermore, if they should wholeheartedly pay obeisance, worship and praise, offer incense, flowers, clothing, jewels of all sorts, food and beverages and other such donations, then they will always enjoy wonderful happiness in heaven during hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of kalpas in the future. Finally, when their heavenly bliss becomes exhausted, they will descend once again to the human worlds, always becoming emperors or kings, who will be able to remember the entire history, from beginning to end, of their previous lives.

"O Samadhisvararaja, such is the inconceivable, great, majestic power that Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha possesses to render extensive benefits to all sentient beings. You Bodhisattvas ought, therefore, to commit this sutra to memory and extensively circulate, spread and relate it."

Samadhisvararaja addressed the Buddha, saying, "World Honored One, please do not worry. We thousands of myriads of millions of Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas will certainly be able, by virtue of

Buddha’s majestic influence, to expound this sutra extensively in Jambudvipa for the benefit of all sentient beings."

Having thus addressed the Buddha, Samadhisvararaja, with palms joined, respectfully made obeisance and withdrew.

Then the Devarajas from the four directions rose from their seats and, with palms joined, respectfully addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, since Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha took such grand vows vast long kalpas ago, how is it that he has not yet completed his work of deliverance and that he is now, even again, taking extensive, immense vows? It is our sole hope that you, O World Honored One, will explain this to us."

The Buddha responded to the four Devarajas, "Excellent, excellent! Now I am going to tell you and the present and future devas and human beings about the expedient things which Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha is doing on the paths of birth and death in Jambudvipa of the Saha World to render merciful and compassionate deliverance and liberation to all sinful and suffering beings."

The four Devarajas said, "Yes, indeed, O World Honored One, we will be delighted to listen."

The Buddha said to the four Devarajas, "From vast, long kalpas ago until the present time, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha has been delivering and liberating sentient beings, but he has not yet completely fulfilled his vows. Since he has mercy and pity on all sinful suffering beings in this world and sees that their entanglement will not be cut off for countless kalpas in the future, he again has taken further colossal vows to encourage all the Bodhisattvas to resort to hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of expediencies in Jambudvipa of the Saha World in order to teach and convert them.

"O Devarajas, to those who kill, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha would speak about the retribution of early, untimely death for such misdeeds. To those who steal, he would talk about the retribution of distress, destitution and indigence. To those who indulge in perverted lust, he would talk about the retribution of being born as peacocks, pigeons and mandarin ducks in future lives. To those using harsh words, he would speak about the retribution of quarrels and fights in the family. To those who defame, he would speak about the retribution of dumbness or ulcer-sores in the mouth. To those who are angry and hateful, he would talk about the retribution of ugliness in the form of a hunchback or a cripple. To those who are niggardly, he would talk about the retribution of unanswered prayers. To those who eat or drink to excess, he would talk about the retribution of thirst, starvation or throat diseases. To those who indulge in hunting, he would talk about the retribution of death from fright or mental derangement. To those disobedient to their parents, he would talk about the retribution of calamities and destruction from the sky or the earth. To those who commit arson by setting forests ablaze, he would talk about the retribution of death or crazy delusions. To those who abuse their stepchildren, he would talk about the retribution of being likewise abused in future lives. To those who trap and catch live fledglings with nets, he would talk about the retribution of separation from their blood relatives. To those who defame the Three Jewels, he would talk about retribution in blindness, deafness and dumbness. To those who slight the Dharma and religion, he would talk about the retribution of permanent banishment to the evil paths of existence. To those who abuse the properties of the Sangha establishment, he would talk about the retribution of transmigration in hell for millions of kalpas. To those who blemish religious practices and wrong the Sangha, he would talk about the retribution of permanent existence as animals. To those who harm lives by boiling, fire, cutting or chopping, he would talk about appropriate retributory repayment in transmigration. To those who violate the precepts and break abstinences, he would talk about the retribution of thirst and starvation as fowls and beasts. To those who destroy things or spend money unreasonably, he would talk about the retribution of the deficiency or the complete extinction of the necessities they seek. To those who are haughty and self-conceited, he would talk about the retribution of being lowly and mean. To those who use double tongues to instigate trouble, he would talk about the retribution of dumbness or having one hundred tongues. To those with perverted views, he would talk about the retribution of rebirth in the hinterland.

"Such are the results yielded by evil deeds - the physical, verbal and mental karmas of the sentient beings in Jambudvipa, as well as the hundreds of thousands of ways of encountering their proper retribution. I have talked about them only roughly and briefly. The sentient beings in Jambudvipa, such as those described, will induce various and different karmic response and results. Those sentient beings will first receive such different sorts of retribution as described and afterward fall into hell, most probably remaining there for quite a number of kalpas without a date for acquittal or release. However, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha will resort to hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of expediencies to teach, convert, deliver and liberate them. Therefore, you protectors of people and of countries, help him and do not let those various causes and results of sin lead sentient beings astray."

The four Devarajas, having heard this, shed tears, sighed sorrowfully and withdrew with palms joined.


CHAPTER 5

The Names Of The Various Hells

At that time, Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Samantabhadra addressed Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, saying, "Will you, sir, kindly speak for the benefit of devas, nagas and the four-fold assembly of Buddhists, as well as for all sentient beings of the present and of future times, about the places where retribution is to be meted out to the poor sinful beings in the Saha World and Jambudvipa, noting, as well, designations of the various hells and the different sorts of retribution for evil acts, so that those sentient beings in the decaying period of Buddhadharma in the future will know about such retribution."

Ksitigarbha replied, "Sir, fully respecting Buddha’s majestic spirit and the Mahasattva’s power, I shall now give you a brief account of the designations of various hells as well as the different sorts of retribution for different kinds of sins and evil actions. Sir, in the east of Jambudvipa there is a mountain known as Cakravada (Iron-Enclosed). This mountain is dark and deep and receives no light from the sun or the moon. Here there is a major hell named Avid and another hell named Mahavici. There is another hell named Four-Cornered, There is another hell named Flying-Sword. There is another hell named Fire-Arrows, There is another hell named Pitching-Mountains. There is another hell named Piercing-Spears. There is another hell named Iron-Cart, There is another hell named Iron-Rack There is another hell named Iron-Cattle, There is another hell named Thousand-Knives. There is another hell named Iron-Mule. There is another hell named Molten-Copper. There is another hell named Embrace-Pillar. There is another hell named Flowing-Fire. There is another hell named Cultivating-Tongue. There is another hell named File-Heads. There is another hell named Scorch-Feet. There is another hell named Peck-Eyes. There is another hell named lron-Shots. There is another hell named Fight-Quarrel. There is another hell named Iron-Axe. There another hell named Much-Hate."

Ksitigarbha continued, saying, "Sir, inside the Cakravada Mountain there exist such hells, infinite in number. In addition to the hells I have already mentioned, there are Yell-Shout Hell, Strip-Tough Hell, Excretion Hell, Copper-Lock Hell, Fire-Elephant Hell, Fire-Hound Hell, Fire-Horse Hell, Fire-Ox Hell, Fire-Hill Hell, Fire-Rock Hell, Fire-Bed Hell, Fire-Beam Hell, Fire-Hawk Hell, Saw-Teeth Hell, Peel-Skin Hell, Drink-Blood Hell, Scorch-Hand Hell, Burn-Foot Hell, Inverted-Thorn Hell, Fire-Abode Hell, Iron-Abode Hell and Fire-Wolf Hell. Within each one of these hells there are, in turn, some lesser hells —one or two in some, three or four in others or even hundreds or thousands in some cases — each one having its own designation."

Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, explaining further, said to Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, "Sir, these are the places and manners in which sentient beings in South Jambudvipa who create bad karma by leading evil lives receive their retribution. Karma is tremendously powerful. It is capable of covering Mount Sumeru, is capable of plumbing the vast ocean depths and is even capable of obstructing the holy doctrines. Therefore, sentient beings should not neglect lesser evils as being not sinful; for retribution will be meted out to them after their deaths for every bad intention or violation, even though it be as small or insignificant as an iota. Even beings as closely related as fathers and sons will part their respective ways, and one will not take the punishment of the other even if they chance to cross paths.

"Now, by virtue of Buddha’s majestic powers, I shall give a brief account of the various kinds of retribution for different sins in the hells that I have mentioned. I hope only that you will carefully listen to my words."

Samantabhadra replied, "l have always known, from long ago, the various kinds of retribution meted out on the three evil paths of existence. Sir, will you please speak about them so that all the evildoers hereafter, in the decaying period of Buddhadharma, may hear you and, thereupon, take refuge in the Buddha."

Ksitigarbha said, "Sir, some of the different sorts of retribution meted out in the various hells are as follows: In some hells, the tongues of punished beings are plucked out to be plowed under by oxen or cows; in others, the hearts of punished beings are ripped out to be devoured by yaksas; in others, the bodies of punished beings are boiled in huge pots full of sizzling water; in others, punished beings are forced to embrace red-hot, scorching copper pillars; in others, punished beings are chased and caught by bursts of fire; in others, it is always ice cold; in others, there is limitless filthy excretion; in others, darts and pellets are whizzing and shooting about; in others, many fiery spears are continually stabbing out; in others, only the breasts and backs of punished beings are pounded; in others, only their hands and feet are burned; in others, there are iron serpents winding and twisting about punished beings; in others, there are iron hounds chasing them; and in still others, there are iron mules riding them.

"Sir, for such kinds of retribution there are hundreds of thousands of sorts of instruments for torture and punishment in each one of the hells; these instruments are made only of copper, iron, rock or fire. These four kinds of conditions—as well as the instruments of torture and punishment they are formed into — are caused by the various karmic sinful deeds.

"Now, thanks to Buddha’s majestic spirit and your inquiry, I have just completed a brief account of the different sorts of retribution in the various kinds of hell. However, to give an exhaustive description of every kind of retribution for every sort of sin in each and every type of hell—with the hundreds of thousands of miserable tortures in each one of the innumerable hells—would not be possible even though I were to continue for innumerable kalpas."



CHAPTER 6

Tathagata’s Praises 

At that time, the World Honored One emitted from his entire body great brilliant lights, which shone throughout all the hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of Buddha-Lands - indeed, numbering as many as the number of grains of sand in the Ganges River. With a tremendous, thunderous voice he admonished all the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, devas, nagas, demons, gods, human and nonhuman beings in various Buddha-Lands, saying, "All of you, listen! For today I shall praise the deeds of Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Ksitigarbha, who, by manifesting his great, inconceivable, merciful and compassionate powers, saves and protects all the sinful and suffering beings in all the worlds in the ten directions. After my Nirvana, you Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, devas, nagas, demons and deities should resort to extensive expediencies in order to guard this sutra and to cause all sentient beings themselves to realize Nirvana."

After this was said, a Bodhisattva in the congregation named Samantavipula, with palms joined, reverently addressed the Buddha, saying, "We now see that you, World Honored One, highly praise Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha for possessing such inconceivable, great, majestic, sacred virtues. It is only hoped that you, World Honored One, will describe - for the benefit of those sentient beings living during the final period of Buddhadharma in the future - such things as the causes and the results of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s deeds that benefit human beings and devas, so that the eight categories of beings, including devas and nagas, as well as other sentient beings in future periods, will accept and adore Buddha’s words."

Then the World Honored One responded to Bodhisattva Samantavipula and all the kinds of sentient beings there assembled, saying, "Listen attentively, listen attentively! I am going to talk to you briefly about the blissful and virtuous things which Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha has done to benefit human beings and devas."

Samantavipula said, "Yes, indeed, O World Honored One, we shall be delighted to hear."

The Buddha told Samantavipula, "If a good man or a good woman in the future should, on hearing the name of Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Ksitigarbha, join his palms, give praise and pay obeisance or give admiration to him-such a person will be exonerated from all his sins committed and karmic blemishes contracted during thirty kalpas.

"O Samantavipula, if a good man or a good woman should make an image of this Bodhisattva, either by painting or drawing it or by molding it with earth, stone, glue, lacquer, gold, silver, copper or iron, and should then make even only one observance or make only one act of worship to it - such a person will be reborn in the thirty-three heavenly realms one hundred times in succession, never again falling onto any evil path. Even when bliss becomes exhausted, he still will be the king of a country, with no loss of his immense advantages.

If a woman who hates womanhood should apply her mind to worshipping Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s painted picture or his image made of earth, stone, g lue, lacquer, copper or iron, and if she should often pay homage to it also with such things as flowers, incense, food, drink, clothing, accessories, curtains, banners, money or jewels - such a good woman will not ever be reborn into a world having any woman whatsoever for a duration of hundreds of thousands of myriads of kalpas after she ends her present retributive life in a woman’s form, not to mention her having to undergo any further period of womanhood. Unless she should wish, by virtue of her compassionate vow, to assume womanhood in order to deliver and liberate sentient beings, she will not have to assume womanhood for a duration of hundreds of thousands of myriads of kalpas by virtue of her worship of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha and because of the meritorious virtues gained from such worship.

"Furthermore, O Samantavipula, if a woman should hate her ugliness and proneness to illness but wholeheartedly pays obeisance to Ksitigarbha n front of his image - such a person, soon after her death, will, in the duration of the time it takes to eat one meal, be reborn during thousands of myriads of kalpas with perfectly admirable looks and forms. If this ugly woman should not loathe womanhood, she will, in hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of future lives, always be born a princess, royal lady or daughter of a high official in a great family clan of a great elder; and she will enjoy a graceful birth and a perfect, admirable form in each lifetime. It is by virtue of her wholehearted worship of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha that such bliss will be obtained.

"Moreover, O Samantavipula, if some good man or good woman should be able to play various kinds of music and sing praises and offer incense and flowers in front of this Bodhisattva’s image, or persuade even one person or many people to do likewise - such a person will have the protection and guardianship, day and night, of thousands of demons and deities, in the present as well as in the future, so that no evil will even reach his or her ears, much less that he, personally, should ever encounter any misfortune or evil.

"Furthermore, O Samantavipula, if, in the future, any evil people, together with evil deities or evil demons, should observe that a good man or a good woman takes refuge in worship and praises and pays obeisance to the image of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, and if they should act wrongly to ridicule and slander him or her, asserting such action to have no merit or virtue or benefit, and if these same evil people either laugh with their teeth exposed or object behind his or her back or persuade others to object together, or if there is any objection whatsoever by one person or by many people, or if such a person or people have even just one single thought of ridicule or slander-such scorners shall, as their retribution for this ridicule and slander, fall into Avici Hell and remain there until the Nirvana of one thousand Buddhas in the Bhadrakalpa, constantly receiving extremely severe punishment. In addition, even that kalpa will have to elapse before such scorners will be able to enter even the path of hungry ghosts. Another thousand kalpas will have to elapse before they can enter the path of animals. Finally, still another thousand kalpas will have to elapse before they will be able to enter the path of human beings. However, even as human beings, they are bound to be poor, indigent, low and mean, deficient in some bodily organs and severely knotted mentally by evil karma so that they will surely always continue to fall onto one evil path of existence or another.

"So you see, O Samatavipula, it is bad enough to ridicule and slander others’ donations and sincere worship; but it is much worse, indeed, to breed other wicked views that seek to bring about the destruction of the Buddhadharma.

"Furthermore, O Samantavipula, in future worlds some men or women will be totally disabled and bedridden for a long time, neither their prayers for recovery nor their prayers for death being answered. At nighttime they will dream of evil demons or dream that the members of their immediate families or other relatives may visit some dangerous place. Sometimes they will have nightmares about being in the company of demons or deities. As the days, months and years elapse, they will become extremely weak and seriously ill, yelling tragically and pathetically, out of misery in their sleep. Those people represent cases of karma under judgment, the seriousness of which is as yet undecided, and such people either find it difficult to give up their lives or find that it is impossible for them to recover. Such situations are discernible even to the eyes of both laymen and laywomen.

"To help such people it is necessary to recite this Sutra aloud only once in front of the images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Then take something which the patient cherishes - such as clothing, jewels, plantations, gardens or houses-and recite aloud to the patient as follows: ’I, so and so, on behalf of this patient, am donating these article in front of the Sutra and the icons in order to honor the Sutra and icons or to construct Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ icons or to build stupas and temples or to burn oil lamps or to benefit religious establishments.’

"In such a manner, this pronouncement should be repeated three times to the patient so that he may hear and understand it. If his consciousness has diffused or if his breathing has stopped, just make the pronouncement and recite the Sutra aloud for one day or two, three or four days or even for seven days. From that time forward, that patient will be exonerated, once and for all after his death, from all his previous miseries and serious iniquities as well from any of the five hundred unpardonable sins he may have committed. Furthermore, he will be aware of his previous lives wherever he may have his rebirth. All this is wonderful, but how much more will be the reward gained by those good men and good women who would themselves copy this Sutra or have others copy it for them or who would themselves mold or paint this Buddha’s icon or picture or who would even have others carve or paint it for them. They will certainly gain tremendous benefit.

"Consequently, O Samantavipula, if you see anyone reciting this Sutra or even for an instant praising or honoring it, you must resort to hundreds of thousands of expedients to encourage this kind of person to be diligent without retrogression so that he may obtain thousands of myriads of millions of inconceivable meritorious virtues in the future as well as at present.

"Furthermore, O Samantavipula, if, in any future world, any sentient beings should, in their dreams, see some demons or deities or even beings in other forms sobbing and sighing or weeping and frightened, they should understand that these beings were their parents, sisters, brothers, spouses or other relatives in one, ten or one hundred or one thousand lives in the past and that they are presently on evil paths of existence, are not yet acquitted and have no hope whatsoever for any blissful power to deliver them. They can only, in dreams, exhort their former blood relatives to resort to expediencies to help them in their desire to escape from evil paths.

"O Samantavipula, with your miraculous power, you should command people having such dreams to recite this Sutra themselves three or seven times in front of Buddhas’ or Bodhisattvas’ images or ask others to recite it for them. Then, those relatives on evil paths, who appeared in their dreams, will gain deliverance and liberation at the conclusion of the repeated recitation of this Sutra. Also, these former relatives will never again appear in the dreams of the living.

"Furthermore, O Samantavipula, if, in any future world, some lowly, mean folk-either maids or slaves or some persons deprived of freedom but aware of their previous karma and wishing to repent - should wholeheartedly make obeisance to Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s image and if they should recite, during a seven-day period at the end of their present lifetimes, the Bodhisattva’s name about ten thousand times, such people will always be reborn to Positions of honor for thousands of myriads of rebirths; and far less will they ever again endure the suffering of the three evil paths of existence

"Furthermore, O Samantavipula, if, in any future world, to such people as ksatriyas, brahmans, elders or householders or to those in other clans or tribes in Jambudvipa there should arrive a newborn baby -either a boy or a girl-and if the parents early on intone this inconceivable Sutra and invoke the Bodhisattva’s name no less than ten thousand times, then this newborn baby-either a boy or a girl-will be exonerated from previous disastrous karmas, if any, and will enjoy deliverance, happiness, a trouble-free existence and a life of great length; and those reborn with blissful karmas shall, in turn, enjoy greatly increased happiness and longevity.

"Furthermore, O Samantavipula, as for the sentient beings in any future world-the first, eighth, fourteenth, fifteenth, eighteenth, twenty-third, twenty-fourth, twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth and thirtieth days of the month are the days when their offenses are to be judged and the degree of severity of their retribution is to be decided. If sentient beings in southern Jambudvipa create karma and commit sins whenever they move, rest or cogitate, then how much worse are the sins committed and the karma created by those who indulge in killing, destroying, stealing, robbery, lust, lying and hundreds of thousands of other such sinful acts! However, should sentient beings be able to recite this Sutra just one time in front of the images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, sages and holy ones on each of these ten days of abstention, then no calamity will come within one hundred yojanas to the east, west, south and north of their households; and the old and the young of their households will never follow evil paths either in the present or in the future for hundreds of thousands of ages. Also, should they be able to read this Sutra just once in those ten days of abstention, then their households will, even at the present time, be free from all unexpected illness and be fully abundant in clothing and food.

"Therefore, O Samantavipula, you should be aware that such inconceivable hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of beneficial things are accomplished by virtue of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s great, majestic, miraculous power. The sentient beings in Jambudvipa have strong primary and secondary causes as relationship to this Mahasattva. Those sentient beings, on hearing this Bodhisattva’s name or on seeing his image or even on hearing three words, five words, one sentence or one gatha of this Sutra, will enjoy extraordinarily wonderful happiness at present and will gain dignity and rebirth in honorable and noble families for hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of rebirths in the future."

At that time, Bodhisattva Samantavipula, having heard the Buddha, as well as the Tathagata’s praises of and commendations for Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, knelt before the Buddha with palms joined and addressed him, saying, "O World Honored One, I knew from long ago that this Mahasattva possessed such inconceivable miraculous power and great strength for vows. However, for the benefit of all sentient beings in the future, so that they may be aware also-and only for such a purpose-I ask this final question. Yes, indeed, O World Honored One, in order that they may honor and accept it, how shall this Sutra be designated and how shall we circulate it?"

The Buddha told Samantavipula, "There are three names for this Sutra.One is The Sutra of Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows. Another is The Sutra of Ksitigarbha’s Own Deeds. Still another is The Sutra of Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows and Power. Since this Bodhisattva really did take great and profoundly serious vows vast, long kalpas ago for the benefit of all sentient beings, you, therefore, should circulate it in accordance with his wishes."

Having heard this, Samantavipula reverently made obeisance with palms joined and withdrew.



CHAPTER 7

Benefitting The Living And The Dead

At that time, the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Ksitigarbha addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, I see that the sentient beings in Jambudvipa are doing nothing but committing sins when a thought arises or when an idea is generated. When, by chance, they happen to gain some good benefits, they often retrogress from their initial minds. In evil conditions, evil thoughts grow one after another.

"Such people, individually, are just like a person plodding along a muddy road carrying a heavy load of rocks, which becomes heavier and more burdensome, causing him, with each step, to sink ever deeper into the mud. If he were to encounter some friend, this friend, no doubt, would share or help with his load or take it over entirely. Since this friend is very powerful, he would also hold up and help the overburdened one, advising him to keep his step steady and firm or to reach a safe, level road, avoiding and not retracing the bad road.

"O World Honored One, sentient beings who practice evil may begin by performing only one small evil act, which, if not controlled and stopped, eventually grows to an immeasurable proportion of evil. When these sentient beings having such bad habits are at the ends of their lives, their parents or other relatives should, advisedly, generate bliss for them as a provision to urge them forward on the path ahead. This can be done either by hanging banners and canopies and burning oil-lamps or by reading and reciting venerated sutras or by displaying images of Buddhas and of other holy ones or even by invoking the names of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Pratyekabuddhas. When one name or one title reaches the ears of the dying one and is accepted into his consciousness—even though such a sentient being, on account of the results induced by the evil karma he produced, will certainly fall onto some evil path of existence—then, because of the holy causes for the dying which his relatives have cultivated, he will be entirely exonerated from his sins. Furthermore, it is recommended that many good deeds be performed by the living during the seven-day period just after his death, the force of which will permanently distance the departed one from all evil paths and enable him to be reborn as a human being or a deva in order to enjoy extraordinarily wonderful happiness and bring, as well, countless benefits to his living relatives.

"Therefore, now, in the presence of Buddha, the World Honored One, and the eight categories of beings, including devas and nagas as well as human and non-human beings, I advise the sentient beings in Jambudvipa to be careful during the days immediately after someone’s death, not killing or destroying or creating evil karma by worshipping or offering sacrifice to demons and deities or by having recourse to monsters and goblins. And why? Just because such killing and slaughtering committed or such worship performed or such sacrifice offered would not have even an iota of force to benefit the dead, but would entwine even more sinful karma into previous karma, making it even deeper and more serious. In the future or at present, one might be entitled, by sacred right, to rebirth among devas or human beings, but if his relatives create any evil karma at his deathbed or during the weeks after his death, he will be obliged to defend himself by counteracting such evil causes and, thus, delay his rebirth to a good state. How much worse it must be, then, for those who, dying, have had few good roots and who, by themselves, will fall onto evil paths in accordance with their respective karma! How can their relatives be so merciless as to increase the evil karma of the dying ones? This is just like the situation in which someone has plodded over a long distance and has been without food for three days while bearing a heavy burden of over one hundred catties when he chances to meet a neighbor who, thoughtlessly, piles something else on his back for him to carry. This would, mercilessly, make his already heavy burden even heavier!

"O World Honored One, I see that if the sentient beings in Jambudvipa are able to perform some good deeds as Buddhadharma—even though such deeds be only as small as the point of a hair, a mote, a grain of sand or a droplet—they will be able to gain benefit for themselves."

As this utterance was being concluded, an elder in the assembly by the name of Mahapratbhana, who had long realized the increate condition of no-birth and was converting and delivering sentient beings in all quarters in the form of an elder, with palms joined, reverently asked Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, "O Mahasattva, after the death of some sentient being in southern Jambudvipa, if his relatives—either juniors or seniors—shoul d cultivate meritorious virtue for him or provide vegetarian meals to create good karmic causes, would such a dead person gain great benefit as well as deliverance and liberation?"

Ksitigarbha replied, "Sir, by means of the Buddha’s majestic power, I am going to talk briefly on this matter for the benefit of all sentient beings of the present and future generations.

"O, Your Excellency, if any sentient being in the future or at present should be able, at the end of his life, to hear the name of a Buddha or of a Bodhisattva or of a Pratyekabuddha, he will gain deliverance and liberation, whether he is sinful or innocent. Should some men or women not cultivate good karmic causes and commit many sins while living, but should their relatives—whether junior or senior— perform, on their behalf, all the blissfu l, beneficial sacraments, then one out of every seven parts of the meritorious virtue thus gained will go to the dead person, while six parts will go to the living themselves. For this reason, good men and good women of the future and the present should cultivate themselves while they are still healthy so that they may gain every part of such meritorious virtue.

"The powerful demon Avidya (Impermanence) could arrive unexpectedly. Then one’s unsettled spirit, wandering in the dark, would not know whether it was undergoing suffering or enjoying happiness, but would just, senselessly and dumbly, within a seven-day period, be brought before some authority who will weigh and consider his karmic result and make a judgment, after which he will go to rebirth according to his karma. In the meantime, however, his unpredictable situation, over which he has no control whatsoever, would cause him thousands of worries and myriads of miseries. How much worse, then, would be the situation for those who are condemned to evil paths!

"This dead person who has not yet gone to rebirth would, no doubt, hope from instant to instant during this seven-day period after his death that his blood relatives would do something to exert some blissful power to deliver him. After this period, he will be meted out his retribution in accordance with his karma. For a sinner, it is apt to be hundreds of thousands of years before his day of acquittal. However, for the five unpardonable sins—whereby one deserves to be cast into the major hells—there will be thousands of myriads of kalpas of suffering and everlasting misery before there will be any acquittal.

"Moreover, O Elder, if, after the death of such a sentient being with sinful karma, his blood relatives should prepare and supply vegetarian meals on his behalf in order to provide for him and help him along his karmic path, they must do it in such a way that no rice washing or trimmed vegetable blade whatsoever is wasted or thrown away during the preparation or before the conclusion of such a meal; they must, as well, make sure that no one partakes of any food before it has been offered up to the Buddha and the Sangha. Any negligence or breach of these precautions would render the work for the dead person ineffective. If care and diligence are employed to maintain purity in the offerings to the Buddha and the Sangha, then the dead one will obtain one out of seven of the merits thus gained.

"Consequently, O Elder, if a sentient being in Jambudvipa is able to provide on behalf of his parents or his relatives after their deaths, vegetarian meals as offerings, in a whole-hearted and sincere manner, this would be beneficial to both the living and the dead."

As these words were being uttered, thousands of myriads of millions of nayutas of the demons and deities of Jambudvipa, then and there, in Trayastrimsas Heaven, all made up their minds to achieve unlimited Bodhi. Then Elder Mahapratbhana made obeisance and withdrew.



CHAPTER 8

The praises Of Yamaraja And Others

At that time, Deva Yamaraja and countless demon kings from within the Cakravada Mountain all journeyed to Trayastrimsas, arriving at the Buddha’s place. Among them were Pretarajas Evil-Poison, Much-Evil, Big-Quarrel, White-Tiger, Blood-Tiger, Red-Tiger, Spread-Calamity, Fly-Body, Lightning-Flash, Wolf-Fang, Thousand-Eye, Devour-Animal, Carry-Rock, Master-Exhaust, Master-Disaster, Master-Food, Lord-of-Wealth, Master-of-Beasts, Master-of-Fowls, Master-of-Animals, Master-of-Goblins, Master-of-Birth, Master-of-Lives, Master-of-Diseases, Master-of-Risks, Three-Eyes, Four-Eyes, Five-Eyes, Chislis, Great-Chislis, Chiliksa, Great-Chiliksa, Anato and Great-Anato. These great demon kings—each accompanied by hundreds of thousands of lesser demon kings who dwelt in Janibudvipa and each of whom had his own responsibilities and his own charge—all these demon kings and Deva Yamaraja, by virtue of Buddha’s majestic spirit and Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Ksitigarbha’s power, arrived at Trayastrimsas and stood to one side.

At that time, Deva Yamaraja, kneeling with palms joined, addressed the Buddha, saying,"O World Honored One, now it is only by virtue of Buddha’s majestic spirit and Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Ksitgarbha’s powers that we and the demon kings are able to attend this great assembly in Trayastrimsas. This also creates a cause to help us gain good benefits. However, I have some minor concern that I venture to ask you about, O World Honored One. It is only hoped that, in your mercy and compassion, you will answer me."

The Buddha said to Deva Yamaraja, "Whatever you ask about, I shall answer you."

Then Deva Yamaraja made obeisance to the World Honored One, turned to look at Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha and addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, I see that Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha resorts to hundreds of thousands of expediencies on the six paths of existence to deliver all sentient beings who are suffering and bearing punishment and never shies away from this activity due to tiredness or fatigue. This great Bodhisattva has done such inconceivably miraculous things. However, sentient beings, even though liberated from their deserved punishment, will again fall onto evil paths before long. O World Honored One, since this Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha possesses such inconceivably miraculous power, how, then, is it possible that sentient beings fail to hold to good paths and obtain permanent liberation? I only hope that you will explain this to me, O World Honored One!"

The Buddha explained to Deva Yamaraja as follows: "The sentient beings in southern Jambudvipa are stubborn and adamant by nature. They are difficult to tame and control. This great Bodhisattva has, during hundreds of thousands of kalpas, saved and delivered such beings in every way and from all angles and has led them to early liberation. Such people, even if they might fall onto major evil paths of existence as retribution for their sins, will give thanks for this Bodhisattva’s power to resort to expediencies, to exonerate them from their fundamental karmic connections and to make them aware of all their actions and circumstances during their previous lives. Naturally, however, since the sentient beings in Jambudvipa, heavily entangled with their evil habits, would just as seen fall into and re-enter their old ways as get out, this Bodhisattva has to take the trouble to work, for long kalpa after kalpa, to effect their deliverance and liberation.

"It is just like someone who, having gone astray from his home, inadvertently finds himself trapped on some dangerous path swarming with yaksas, tigers, wolves, lions, lizards, serpents, vipers and scorpions. Such a straying person would meet with malice in every instant on that dangerous path. However, someone who knows and understands the great mystical power and is well-versed in how to combat, control and wipe out this malice, evil poisons and yaksas and who, also, chances to encounter this straying person about to embark on the dangerous path would address him, saying, ’Ugh, man! What causes you to take this path? What magic do you have for controlling all this malice and evil?’

"This straying person, on hearing these words, would suddenly realize that such a path was, indeed, dangerous and would retreat directly, leaving that path. Such a good, learned friend would lend him a hand to lead him away from that dangerous path, avoiding all evil and malice, and show him how to reach the safe path to help h m achieve happiness. The good, learned friend might say to him, ‘My dear straying friend, hereafter please don’t take this path ever again! Anyone who takes this path can hardly escape and would surely, at last, lose his life.’ This straying person would certainly be much obliged to him.

"His friend might also say to him as they parted, ‘If you see someone you know or some other traveler, whether male or female, please tell him or her that this path is thronging with evil and malice that can cause loss of life, and let no such traveler, in effect, commit suicide by taking such a path.’

"Thus, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha is equipped with great mercy and compassion to deliver and liberate all sinful, miserable beings, helping them to be reborn as human beings or devas in order to enjoy wonderful happiness; he enables those sinful ones to become aware of the suffering that is their lot on the karmic paths so that they may ultimately be exonerated and escape from and never fall onto the karmic paths again. This situation is just like the case wherein one has gone astray and takes the dangerous path but who has a good friend who guides him and leads him out to safety. He would never again knowingly take and would advise others never to take such a path if, upon meeting them, he sees that they are about to do so. He would tell them that, due to his own straying, he himself took the wrong path but that he would not knowingly take it again after being delivered and that if he should ever tread that same path again, due to some error, not realizing that it was the same dangerous one he had taken before, he might, indeed, lose his life. He would compare such an eventuality to the case wherein one is imprisoned, having chosen evil over good, but is, by virtue of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s power of resorting to expediencies, liberated to be reborn among human beings or devas; but if he should, sooner or later, choose to re-enter his prison-cage due to new, heavy karmic entanglement, he would then remain in hell forever with no date for his acquittal."

At that time, Demon King Vicious-Venom reverently joined his palms and addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, we, the demon kings of Jambudvipa, incalculable in number, but each one different from the other, are either beneficial to the people or harmful to them. However, it is karmic retribution that makes our retinue continuously travel about the world creating much evil and little virtue. So, to increase our virtue, whenever we pass a city, a town, a marketplace, a plantation, a garden, a household or a family and see a man or a woman who would perform even a slight good act—such as hanging up a banner or a canopy, burning a little incense, arranging a few flowers in honor of the Buddhas’ or Bodhisattvas’ images or reading and reciting the revered sutras while burning incense and renouncing desire for even one sentence or gatha—we demon kings should make obeisance to such a person, just as we do to the past, present and future Buddhas. And we should order the lesser demons, each having great power and responsibility in his own domain and land, to guard such a person lest any evil or unexpected event or disease or, indeed, any undesirable thing whatsoever might even tarry in the vicinity of his household, far less cross his threshold."

The Buddha commended the demon kings, saying, "Excellent, Excellent! You and Yamaraja can support and protect all good men and good women; and I shall order the brahman kings and the sovereign sakras to guard and protect you."

Just then a demon king in the assembly by the name of Master-of-Lives addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, I am in charge of human lives in Jambudvipa in relation to karmic associations. I take charge of and make decisions relative to human beings’ karma both at the time of their births and at the time of their deaths. In accordance with my fundamental vows, I very much want to benefit them. However, those sentient beings fail to understand my intentions, which causes neither the living nor the dead to have any peace.

"And why not? If those people in Jambudvipa could only perform some virtuous deeds immediately before or during the birth of a child— whether a boy or a girl—to enhance its advantage to the household, it would, naturally, immeasurably delight the divinity in charge of the land so as to cause him to support and protect both the mother and the baby, giving them great happiness and bringing benefits to their relatives. Also, after the birth of the baby, care must be exercised not to kill any animal in order to feed the mother with meaty delicacies and not to assemble many relatives to drink liquor or to eat meat while singing and playing on string or wind instruments; for such indulgences deprive the mother and child of peace and joy. And why? Just because at the difficult time of birth there are innumerable evil demons, monsters and goblins who want to consume the smelly blood, and it is I who have, earlier, commanded the deities and divinities in charge of the household and the land to protect the mother and child, making them safe and happy and gaining benefits for them. However, some people, seeing that the mother and child are safe and happy, then collectively provide some offerings in thanks to the divinities in charge of the local land by ignorantly and adversely resorting to the killing of animals for consumption and by assembling relatives for noisy indulgences; and, thus, they bring down curses upon themselves, which are detrimental to both the mother and the baby.

"Furthermore, I want a dying person in Jambudvipa, whether he is virtuous or evil, not to fall onto the evil paths. Moreover, if he has already cultivated good roots for himself, it would enhance my power. Also, at the time of the deaths of even a person in Jamhudvipa who has performed virtuous deeds, there are also hundreds of thousands of spirits and gods of the evil paths of existence, who, feigning either to be parents or other kinds of relatives, try to lead the dying one towards them to receive him on the evil paths. Then how much more precarious even must be the condition of a dying one who is a persistent evil-doer!

"O World Honored One, such a man or woman in Jambudvipa, approaching the end of his life, might be in a coma or an unconscious stupor and, thus, not be able to differentiate the virtuous from the evil; or he might even have lost entirely his faculties of hearing and seeing. So his or her relatives ought to provide major offerings and read and recite the revered sutras and invoke the names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Such virtuous acts could divert the dead one away from evil paths, and all the maras, demons and gods would then withdraw and be dispersed.

"O World Honored One, if sentient beings could, at the end of their lives, hear the name of even one Buddha or of one Bodhisattva, or hear even one sentence of one gatha of the Mahayana Sutras, I see that such people, with the exception of those who have committed the five unpardonable sins, will all be exonerated from their minor evil karma, which otherwise would deserve rebirth on evil paths of existence."

The Buddha told Demon King Master-of-Lives, "Because of your great mercy, you are able to take such a vow of great mercy to protect sentient beings at their births and at their deaths. In the future, at the time of the births and the deaths of men and women, do not shy away from your vow, but always liberate them so they will forever be happy."

The Demon King addressed the Buddha, saying, "Please have no worry. I shall, until the end of my present form, support and protect all sentient beings in Jambudvipa moment by moment, so that at the time of their births and their deaths they will be happy. I only hope that these sentient beings trust and accept my words at the time of their births and deaths, so that none of them will not be liberated and so that all of them may gain enormous benefit thereby."

At that time, the Buddha informed Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, "This great Demon King Master-of-Lives has been a great demon king for hundreds of thousands of lifetimes. He has supported and protected sentient beings at the moment of their births and their deaths. It is because of this Mahasattva’s vows of mercy and compassion that he takes the form of a great demon. In reality, however, he is not demonic. He will become a Buddha, after one hundred and seventy kalpas have lapsed, with the title of Nirabhasa Tathagata (Animitta). His kalpa will be named Happiness. His world will be named Suddhavasa (Pure Abode). This Buddha’s life span will last for incalculable kalpas. O Ksitigarbha, so inconceivable are all the things about this great Demon King! Also, the number of human beings and devas delivered by him is inexpressible."



CHAPTER 9

The Recitation Of The Buddhas’ Names

At that time, Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Ksitigarbha addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, now I wish to speak on behalf of the sentient beings of future times and about the beneficial things that will help them gain great advantage in birth and death. I only hope that you, O World Honored One, will allow me to speak on this subject."

The Buddha answered Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, saying, "You wish, at this very moment, to be merciful and compassionate in order to deliver all the sinful, miserable beings on the six paths of existence and to speak about the inconceivable thing. Yes! Now is exactly the right time to do so. You should speak at once. Soon I shall enter Nirvana, and if you fulfill this wish of yours early, I shall then have no more worry about any of the sentient beings of the present or of future times."

Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, incalculable asankhyeya kalpas ago there was a Buddha by the name of Anantakaya. Any man or woman who hears the name of this Buddha and instantly performs obeisance to him will be exonerated from serious sins of life and death covering forty kalpas. But how much better even will it be for one who would mold or paint his image to worship and praise him! Countless and boundless will be the bliss gained by this person.

"Again in the past, as many kalpas ago as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, a Buddha came into the world bearing the title of Ratnasuabhava Tathagata. Any man or woman who hears the name of this Buddha and makes up his mind, as quickly as it takes to snap one’s fingers, to take refuge in him will never suffer retrogression from the stage of Unsurpassed Enlightenment.

"Again in the past, a Buddha came to this world by the name of Padmajina Tathagata. Any man or woman who hears this Buddha’s name once will be reborn repeatedly one thousand times in the six heavens of desire. But how much better even would it be for one who wholeheartedly recites the name and keeps the name in mind!

"Again in the past, some inexpressible, inexpressible asankhyeya kalpas ago, a Buddha was born in the world by the name of Simhananda Tathagata. Any man or woman, hearing this Buddha’s name and wholeheartedly taking refuge in him, will be able to encounter incalculable numbers of Buddhas, who will touch his head and bestow upon him the superlative predestination.

"Again in the past, there appeared in the world a Buddha bearing the title of Krakucchandsa Buddha. Any man or woman who, upon hearing this Buddha’s name, also wholeheartedly worships him or praises him will become a great Brahman king in the Thousand Buddhas’ Assembly and gain the superlative predestination.

"Again in the past, there appeared in the world a Buddha bearing the title of Vipasyin Buddha. Any man or woman, hearing this Buddha’s name, will never fall onto evil paths of existence but will always be reborn as a human being or a deva and enjoy extraordinarily wonderful happiness.

"Again the past, immeasurable, incalculable kalpas ago, as many as the grains of sand in the Ganges River, there appeared in the world a Buddha bearing the title of Ratnasambhava Tathagata. Any man or woman, hearing this Buddha’s name and showing respect to him, will soon attain the stage of an Arhat.

"Again in the past, immeasurable asankhyeya kalpas ago, there appeared in the world a Buddha bearing the title of Kasayadhvaja Tathagata. Any man or woman, hearing this Buddha’s name, will be exonerated from all the sins he or she ever committed during his or her rebirths and deaths in one hundred great kalpas.

"Again in the past, there appeared in the world a Buddha bearing the title of Mahabhijna-Sumeru Tathagata. Any man or woman, hearing this Buddha’s name, will encounter Buddhas, as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges River, preaching extensively to him or her, and will definitely attain Bodhi.

"Again in the past, there appeared many other indescribable Buddhas such as Sudhacandra Buddha, Sumeru Buddha, Jnanajina Buddha, Vimalanamanraja Buddha, Jnanasaddhi Buddha, Anuttara Buddha, Sughosa Buddha, Full-Moon Buddha and Moon-Faced Buddha.

"O World Honored One, all the sentient beings of the present and future generations—whether devas or human beings, whether males or females—will gain immeasurable meritorious virtue even if they invoke the name of only one Buddha. But how much better even will it be to invoke many names! These beings will automatically gain great benefit while living and while dead, and they will not ever fall onto the evil paths of existence.

"When someone is approaching the end of his life, if any of his relatives or even only one person should, on his behalf, invoke aloud the name of just one Buddha, such a dying person will be exonerated from all karmic retribution for his sins other than the unpardonable offenses.

"The five unpardonable offenses are those sins of the utmost, seriousness, and usually a person committing such offenses cannot be acquitted of them even after millions of kalpas. However, if at the time of his death, others invoke, on his behalf, Buddhas’ names, then even some of these extremely serious offenses will gradually be reduced and eradicated. But how much better even would it be for the dying one to invoke the Buddhas’ names himself in order to gain immeasurable bliss and to eradicate innumerable sins!"



CHAPTER 10

Appraisal Of The Meritorious Virtue Gained From Almsgiving

At that time, Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Ksitigarbha, due to the majestic influence of the Buddha, rose from his seat, knelt with palms joined and addressed the Buddha, saying, "l have observed, during an appraisal of the merits gained from almsgiving by sentient beings on the karmic paths, that some are slight while others are substantial; so some sentient beings gain great bliss for one lifetime, others gain great bliss for ten lifetimes, while still others gain great bliss for one hundred or one thousand lifetimes. How do such things happen? I only wish that you, O World Honored One, would tell me."

At that time, the Buddha said to Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, "Now I shall speak here in Trayastrisas Palace to the entire congregation, appraising the meritorious virtue gained from almsgiving in Jambudvipa. So please listen attentively."

Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha addressed the Buddha, saying, "I have some doubt on this matter and will be delighted to listen to you."

The Buddha told Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, "In South Jambudvipa, there are kings, princes, high courtiers, great elders, great ksatriyas, great brahmans, etc. If, for the benefit of the lowest and the poorest or even for the benefit of such disabled ones as hunchbacks, the maimed, the deaf, the idiotic or the blind, such kings, princes, etc., want to give alms in order to show great mercy and to keep the idea of compassion in mind, then they should do so with humility and with a warm smile; and, with kind words of consolation, they should extend universal charity by doling out alms with their own hands or through some of their agents. The blissful advantage gained by those kings, princes, etc., will be fully as great as all the meritorious virtue gained by donations offered to as many Buddhas as there are grains of sand in one hundred Ganges Rivers. And why so? It is because these kings and others have such great mercy on even the poorest, the meanest and the most disabled that their blissful advantage gains great rewards such that they will always be endowed, during hundreds of thousands of future lives, with a full measure of the seven kinds of precious treasures, not to mention an abundant supply of clothing and food for their consumption.

"Furthermore, O Ksitigarbha, if any kings or brahmans should pass by Buddhas’ stupas or temples or images, or even Bodhisattvas’, Sravakas’ or Pratyekas’ images, and if they themselves should prepare and give offerings and donations, then these same kings and others will b e able to become sovereign sakras for three kalpas, enjoying extraordinary and wonderful happiness. Should they, in addition, be able to dedicate the blissful advantage of this donation for the benefit of the entire Dharmadhatu, these great kings will then become great brahman devarajas for ten kalpas.

"Furthermore, O Ksitigarbha, if, in future times, any kings or even brahmans pass by old, broken-down and damaged stupas or temples of Buddhas or if they see a sutra that is tarn and worn, and if they then, on seeing holy things in such a condition, are able to make up their minds to repair and mend them—whether the kings urdertake and manage the work all by themselves or whether they persuade a few others or even hundreds o f thousands of people to make donations for this good cause—these kings will always be reborn as Cakravartins in hundreds of thousands of future lives. Even such other people who join in this work of restoration by making donations will always become minor kings in their future lives. However, should they be able to decide to dedicate their blissful advantages for the benefit of the entire Dharmadhatu, then such kings and others will all achieve Buddhahood; and their retributory rewards will be countless and boundless.

"Furthermore, O Ksitigarbha, in future times, whenever kings, brahmans or other people may see the aged, the infirm and women about to give birth and should they instantaneously have great mercy on and show great charity to them by donating medicine, food, drink and bedding to make them comfortable, then the blissful advantage they gain will be inconceivable; and they will always become devas of Suddhavasa for one hundred kalpas and lords of the six heavens of desire for two hundred kalpas, and finally they will become Buddhas. They will never fall onto evil paths of existence, nor will they ever hear the sounds of suffering in their ears for hundreds of thousands of future lives.

"Futhermore, O Ksitigarbha, in future times, should any kings and brahmans be able to perform such deeds of charity, they will gain immeasurable bliss. Moreover, should they be able to dedicate the advantage thus gained—no matter how great the measure—for the benefit of the entire Dharmadhatu, then they will finally become Buddhas, not to mention their gaining the other rewards of becoming brahmans, Sakras or Cakravartins. Therefore, O Ksitigarbha, do advise all sentient beings to follow such examples.

"Furthermore, O Ksitigarbha, in future times, should any good men and good women plant even a small good root of Buddhadharma, even if it is as tiny as a grain of sand or a hairtip, or even tinier, then the bliss gained by them will be indescribable and beyond compare.

"Furthermore, O Ksitigarbha, in future times, if any good men and good women, on seeing Buddhas’ images, Bodhisattvas’ images, Pratyekabuddhas’ images or Cakravartins’ images, should make donations and offerings, then they will gain immeasurable bliss and always dwell among human beings and devas, enjoying extraordinarily wonderful happiness. Moreover, if they should be able to dedicate rewards thus gained for the benefit of the entire Dharmadhatu, then their bliss will defy comparison.

"Furthermore, O Ksitigarbha, in future times, if any good men and good women, on encountering Mahayana sutras or on hearing one gatha or even one sentence thereof, should seriously and sincerely generate their deepest minds and, at the same time, give praise, show respect and make donations and offerings, then the tremendous rewards gained by such people will be countless and boundless. Moreover, should they be able to dedicate the reward thus gained for the benefit of the entire Dharmadhatu, then their bliss will defy comparison.

"Furthermore, O Ksitigarbha, in future times, any good men and good women, on seeing any Buddha’s temple or stupa or any Mahayana sutras—even if they are whole and new—should make donations and offerings and make obeisance and give praise to them reverently and with palms joined. However, if such temples, stupas or sutras are old, dilapidated or torn and if even yet they should decide to reconstruct, mend and repair them—either by acting alone or by persuading many to act jointly—then they will always become the kings of minor lands; but the major donor will always be the Cakravartin, who will, in turn, teach and convert minor kings with good Dharma.

"Furthermore, O Ksitigarbha, in future times, if the good roots planted by any good men and good women, either by means of donations or offerings or as a result of the repair of stupas and temples or the mending of sutras or scriptures—even though such deed were as tiny as one droplet of water, one grain of sand, one hairtip or even one mote of dust—such good deed, if dedicated for the benefit of the entire Dharmadhatu, will gain so much meritorious virtue that such people will be able to enjoy superior, wonderful happiness for hundreds of thousands of future lives. However, if the same deed should be directed only to the benefit of the members of their own families or to themselves, their reward will enable them to enjoy happiness for only three future lives. So, the relinquishment of one’s own exclusive interests will be rewarded myriads of times. Thus, you see, O Ksitigarbha, that donations and almsgiving create such causes and conditions."



CHAPTER 11

Protection Of The Dharma By The Deities In Charge Of The Land

At that time, Prthivi (Secure-Firm Deva) addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, I have now from long ago looked upon and worshipped incalculable numbers of Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, all of whom had great, inconceivable, miraculous power and wisdom to render universal deliverance to sentient beings. However, among all those Bodhisattvas, this Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Ksitigarbha is the deepest and most serious with his vows and wishes. O World Honored One, this Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha has a tremendous relationship of primary and secondary causes (hetupratyayas) with Jambudvipa. For example, Manjusri, Samantabhadra, Avalokitesvara and Maitreya are also transformed into hundreds of thousands of forms in order to perform deliverance on the six paths of existence; but their vows will all ultimately have terminations and come to an end. However, this Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha teaches and converts all sentient beings on the six paths of existence and has taken deep and sincere vows to continue to do this for kalpas as numerous as the grains of sand in hundreds of thousands of millions of Ganges Rivers. O World Honored One, I see that present and future beings, in the places where they choose to jive on clean lands in the south, will construct shrines for him with earth, rocks, bamboo or timber, wherein they may mold, paint or even fashion with gold, silver, copper or iron the image of Ksitigarbha; and they will burn incense, make offerings and obeisance, and continuously praise him. Any abodes thus honoring him will gain all the ten benefits.

"What are these ten benefits? First, the land will be rich and fertile. Second, the household will always be safe. Third, the departed will ascend to heaven. Fourth, the living will enjoy ever greater longevity. Fifth, all their prayers will be answered. Sixth, there will be no calamities of either flood or fire. Seventh, waste will be averted. Eighth, bad dreams will cease. Ninth, all entries and exits will be protected by deities. Tenth, much sacred and holy association will take place. O World Honored One, such are the benefits to be gained by sentient beings at present and in the future should they be able to make offerings, such as I have just described, in the vicinity of their homes."

He continued to address the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, in future times, if some good men and good women should possess this Sutra and Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s image and if such people should, furthermore, turn and read the Sutra and worship this Bodhisattva, I shall always apply my miraculous power, day and night, to guard and protect such people so that flood, fire, hazard, thievery and major and minor accidents, as well as all other evil, will vanish entirely from their lives and disappear, never to return."

The Buddha told Prthivi, "You possess gigantic power, which few deities can emulate. And why so? Everything in the Jambudvipa Realm is under your protection. Even grass, trees, sand, rocks, rice paddies, hemp, bamboo, reeds, grain, rice and jewels—all of which come from the land—appear due to your power. Also, you often praise the beneficial things which Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha does. Your meritorious virtues and miraculous powers and deeds are hundreds of thousands of times greater than those of ordinary deities. In future times, should some good men and good women worship this Bodhisattva, read this Sutra, or should they be able to cultivate and practice even in accordance with only one thing in The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, you will apply your own miraculous power to support and protect them lest any news of calamity and other unpleasant things even reach their ears, far less happen to them. Not only will you protect such people, but also the retinues of Sakras and brahmans, as well as the retinues of the devas, will protect such people. How do they gain the support and protection of the Holy Ones? It happens just because they worship Ksitigarbha’s image and read this Sutra of his fundamental vows. So, naturally, they will ultimately leave the sea of suffering and realize the happiness of Nirvana. For them to be able to do this, they need and deserve all your great support and protection."



CHAPTER 12
The Benefits Of Seeing And Hearing

At that time, the World Honored One emitted from his forehead hundreds of thousands of millions of great curl-mark lights: namely, the white curl-mark light, the great white curl-mark light, the auspicious curl-mark light, the great auspicious curl-mark light, the jade curl-mark light, the great jade curl-mark light, the purple curl-mark light, the great purple curl-mark light, the indigo curl-mark light, the great indigo curl-mark light, the blue curl-mark light, the great blue curl-mark light, the red curl-mark light, the great red curl-mark light, the green curl-mark light, the great green curl-mark light, the golden curl-mark light, the great golden curl-mark light, the felicitous cloud curl-mark light, the great felicitous cloud curl-mark light, the thousand wheel curl-mark light, the great thousand wheel curl-mark light, the precious wheel curl-mark light, the great precious wheel curl-mark light, the sun disc curl-mark light, the great sun disc curl-mark light, the moon disc curl-mark light, the great moon disc curl-mark light, the palace curl-mark light, the great palace curl-mark light, the sea cloud curl-mark light and the great sea cloud curl-mark light. Having emitted such curl-phenomena lights from his forehead, he intoned in his subtle, wonderful voice and said to the assembled congregation of eight categories of beings, which included devas and nagas and human beings and nonhuman beings, "Listen, for today in Tryastrimsas Palace I am going to commend and praise his beneficial deeds, his inconceivable deeds, which surpass all other sacred causes, and his deeds of nonretrogression from Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi, which Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha performed for the sake of human beings and devas."

As these words were being said, a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva in the congregation named Avalokitesvara rose directly from his seat, genuflected with palms joined and addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, this Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, with great mercy and compassion, has always had pity on sinful, miserable, suffering beings. In thousands of myriads of millions of worlds, he takes thousands of myriads of millions of transformational forms. I have heard you, O World Honored One, and innumerable other Buddhas, all in unison, singing the praises of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s meritorious virtues and inconceivable majestic, miraculous powers, revealing that even if all the past, present and future Buddhas should speak of and try to enumerate his meritorious virtues, they still would never exhaust them. Earlier, O World Honored One, you uttered a universal announcement to the congregation, saying that you wished to praise Ksitigarbha’s beneficial deeds. I only hope that you, O World Honored One, for the benefit of all sentient beings of the present and the future, will praise Ksitigarbha’s inconceivable deeds so that the eight categories of beings, including devas and nagas, can worship him and gain the bliss thereof."

The Buddha told Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, "You yourself have a tremendously strong relationship of primary and secondary causes (hetupratyayas) with the beings of the Saha World. No being—whether a deva or a naga, whether a male or a female, whether a deity or a demon, or even a miserable, sinful being on the six paths of existence—indeed, anyone who, on hearing your name or seeing your form, cherishes, admires and praises you, will definitely not retrogress from the unexcelled Path of Enlightenment and will always be reborn as a deva or a human being to enjoy wonderful happiness. And when such cause-and-effect is about to run its course, such beings will meet Buddhas to receive the predestination of themselves becoming Buddhas. At this time, you are showing great mercy and compassion, and you have pity on all the eight categories of beings, including devas and nagas, by your wanting to hear my proclamation of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s inconceivable beneficial deeds. So listen attentively, for now I am going to speak."

Avalokitesvara said, "Yes, indeed, O World Honored One, I shall be delighted to hear."

The Buddha told Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, "In the various worlds at present and in the future, whenever a heavenly being is at the end of his enjoyment of celestial bliss, there will manifest five kinds of decadent symptoms. Sometimes he may fall onto an evil path of existence. If such a heavenly being, whether a male or a female, at the time when such symptoms manifest, should see Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s image or hear Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s name and pay him one visit and make even one act of obeisance to him, then such a heavenly being will consequently enjoy even more celestial bliss, more great delight and will never again fall onto the three evil paths of existence as retribution. So, how much better even will those beings fare who see and hear Ksitigarbha and make donations and offerings with all sorts of incense, flowers clothing, food, jewels and necklaces! Countless and boundless will be the meritorious virtues and blissful benefits gained by them.

"Furthermore, O Avalokitesvara, if a sentient being on the six paths of existence in present and future times should be able, at the end of his life, to hear the name of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha—if even just one invocation of the name reaches his ear—such a being will never agai n experience the suffering of the three evil paths of existence. How much better off even will be one who, at the end of his life, has parents or other relatives who use the value of his house, jewels, clothing and any other wealth in order to mold or paint Ksitigarbha’s image! And how much better off even will that sick one be if, before he dies, he sees with his own eyes and hears with his own ears and thus knows that his relatives have used the value of his house, jewels, etc., in order to mold or paint Ksitigarbha’s image for his benefit alone! If such a person, due to his karmic retribution, should ever contract a serious illness, he will recover and be well again because of that meritorious virtue, and his longevity will be enhanced. If, due to his karmic retribution, this person is, at the end of his life, still burdened with all his sinful and karmic hindrances, which deserve rebirth on evil paths, then, on account of this meritorious virtue, he shall be reborn as a human being or a deva after the termination of his present lifetime and enjoy extraordinary happiness with all his sinful hindrances entirely eradicated!

"Furthermore, O Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, in future times, a boy or a girl, either at infancy or under the age of three, five or ten, may lose his or her parents or may even lose brothers or sisters and, having grown older, may remember his or her parents or other relatives and wonder onto what path of existence they may have fallen, into what world they may have been born or to what heaven they may have ascended. If, at such a time, this person is able to mold or paint Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s image or even hear his name or pay him just one visit or make only one act of obeisance to his image or make donations for one to seven days without once shirking his or her original intention, then the relatives of this person, who on account of their karma may have fallen onto evil paths of existence for a period lasting a number of kalpas, will— thanks to the meritorious acts accomplished and virtues practiced by their son or daughter or brother or sister while molding or painting Ksitigarbha’s image for worship—will instantly be delivered and liberated so that they may be reborn among human beings or devas to enjoy extraordinary, wonderfu l happiness. If the relatives of this person, due to their own bliss, have already been reborn as human beings or devas to enjoy extraordinary, wonderful happiness, then they will, with this meritorious virtue, enhance their sacred causes and enjoy immeasurable happiness. If, furthermore, this person should be able to worship Ksitigarbha’s image wholeheartedly for three seven-day periods and recite his name as many as ten thousand times, t