Chùa Hải-Đức in Jacksonville

[Home] [Up] [Điểm Sách] [Sutras] [Dharma Talks] [GĐPT] [Sinh Hoạt] [Our Activities] [Kinh] [Pháp Thoại audio mp3] [Tin Tức Phật Giáo] [Thuyết Pháp] [Thơ Văn] [Ngoại Điển] [Phật Học] [Tụng Kinh]

 Liturgy of Bodhisattva Precepts recitation
Nghi thức Tụng Giới Bồ Tát

 

BRAHMA NET

SUTRA

 

Moral Code of the Bodhisattvas



__________________________________ 

SUTRA TRANSLATION COMMITTEE OF

THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA

New York - San Francisco - Niagara Falls - Toronto

Jan. 2000


 


Click on player to listen to explanation of Preface by Upasaka Minh-Quang Nguyễn Lê Đức on Sunday December 9, 2007 at our Sunday Class
Right click here to download.

 

Preface

After I informed the Assembly of my intention to lecture on the Brahma Net Sutra, a laywoman asked, "Master, I have not yet received the Bodhisattva Precepts. Would you still allow me to attend the lectures and listen to your explanations?"

I replied, "Of course, by all means. If I were lecturing on the Bhiksu/Bhiksuni precepts, you would not be permitted to attend, even if you requested it with utmost sincerity. However, as far as the Bodhisattva Precepts are concerned, I hope that you and all your friends can come and listen; the more people, the better. Listening to the Precepts not only does not violate the rules of discipline, it in fact helps to awaken the Bodhi Mind and develop the precepts of the Buddha Nature inherent in all of us."  (Elder Master Yen-p'ei, Singapore, ca 1969) 

In the ancient sutras, the story is told of a group of 500 seafaring merchants who, having reached a treasure trove of immense proportions, opted to return home empty-handed. This feeling has at times been our own, as over the last few years, we have attended several precept-giving ceremonies -- lay as well as Bodhisattva -- and noticed a certain reluctance among the participants to take these precepts.

In later conversations, we realized that this feeling stemmed from two causes: lack of understanding of the precepts and fear of not being able to live up to them.

Although the second reason -- the fear of breaking the precepts once received -- is genuine, it is largely unwarranted. In the first place, according to many teachers, the lay and Bodhisattva precepts may be taken selectively, with the disciple himself choosing which to take and which to omit. Secondly, these fears are no different from those of a promising student who dreams of becoming a doctor yet refuses to register for medical school lest he fail. Still, even if he were to fail, he could always try again, and in any case, he would be exposed to medical knowledge useful to him in later life. Thus, he could only benefit and would have nothing to lose, nothing to fear.

The other reason for the participants' hesitation is more difficult to address. How can a person agree to abide by something he does not know, except perhaps out of overwhelming faith, a rare gift in today's world, to say the least! It is in part to address that need that we have undertaken the present translation of the Brahma Net Sutra, a major Mahayana text which explains the Bodhisattva precepts. These are the most altruistic and most exalted of all precepts -- they are the precepts of the Mind itself. To keep these precepts is to transcend greed, anger and delusion and return to our Self-Nature True Mind -- all wisdom and all compassion. The healthy, happy, innocent life which is our birthright will then materialize. This liberating message underlies the entire Brahma Net Sutra.

***

 

In the course of this translation, we have consulted (or listened to tapes of) a dozen annotated versions/ explications of the sutra, including three full-length commentaries. We acknowledge our indebtedness in particular to the commentaries of Elder Master Prajna-Suddhi and Dr. J.J.M. de Groot and respectfully recommend the commentaries of Elder Master Yen-p'ei (Diễn-Bồi) and Elder Master Hui Seng.

 

***

Here then is the full text of the Brahma Net Sutra. We hope that by studying it, perhaps a few readers may discover karmic affinities with the Bodhisattva precepts and resolve to accept them. Observing these precepts, they may develop, in time, samadhi and wisdom -- this is the universal path of cultivation laid down by the Buddha. Failing that, perhaps the sutra can awaken in the reader the compassionate ideals of the Bodhisattvas, those true heirs of the Dharma, as they go about their silent work of rescuing sentient beings and cultivating the Bodhi Mind -- the resolve to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all.

A disciple of the Buddha should always teach the Bodhisattva precepts to save and protect sentient beings. On the day his father, mother, and siblings die, or on the anniversary of their death, he should invite Dharma Masters to explain the Bodhisattva sutras and precepts. This will generate merits and virtues and help the deceased either to achieve rebirth in the Pure Lands and see the Buddhas or to secure a good rebirth in the human or celestial realms. (Secondary Precept 20).

May all sentient beings nurture the Bodhi Mind and swiftly attain Buddhahood.
 
 

Minh Thanh, MA MBA
Bodhisattva-in-precepts
P.D. Leigh, MS
Kuan-yin Festival, 8/98
Updated: Jan. 2000


Click on player to listen to explanation of Introduction by Upasaka Minh-Quang Nguyễn Lê Đức on Sunday December 16, 2007 at our Sunday Class
Right click here to download.

 

INTRODUCTION:

About the Brahma Net Sutra

 

After the passing of the historical Buddha more than 2500 years ago, His teachings were codified in theTripitaka, or three "baskets": sutras, commentaries and precepts[1]. The Brahma Net Sutra is part of both the basket of sutras and the basket of precepts, and contains the Bodhisattva[2] precepts, the highest moral code in Mahayana. The essence of this code, indeed, the very thread that links all the seemingly disparate precepts, is compassion -- compassion toward all sentient beings:

The first thing that strikes the alert reader is the love for all that have life and breathe, which speaks in almost every page. In fact, this love is the essence of the sutra and reappears throughout the text under various names: goodwill, selflessness, forgiveness, mercy, compassion ... (J.J.M. de Groot).

This love is the Great Compassion that motivates the Bodhisattvas to lead all sentient beings to Buddhahood. It is a compassion beyond all attachment and discrimination -- the supreme compassion of Buddhism. 

Transmission of the Sutra

According to tradition, around the time that Bodhidharma arrived in China, the Indian Yogacara Master Paramartha, who was residing in China, heard about the existence of a text that taught the moral code of the Bodhisattvas. He immediately returned to India and succeeded in acquiring the entire Brahma Net Sutra -- all 61 chapters, comprised of 120 fascicles. However, as Paramartha was sailing toward China with his treasure, a sudden storm arose and his ship began to sink. Piece by piece, all baggage was thrown overboard, but to no avail. Finally, Paramartha had no choice but to let go of theBrahma Net Sutra -- after which the ship miraculously righted itself. Paramartha then realized the sad truth: the people of the "Eastern Kingdom" were not yet ready for the Brahma Net Sutra. The current version of the sutra dates from the fifth century. It was one of the major works of Kumarajiva[3] (the pre-eminent translator of Buddhist texts from Sanskrit into Chinese), who himself intoned the Bodhisattva precepts every day as part of his cultivation. He recited the sutra aloud and with the assistance of his translation bureau, rendered it into Chinese. The Brahma Net Sutra as presented in this book is the second part of the tenth chapter of the Sanskrit text.

Characteristics of the Sutra

The Brahma Net Sutra belongs to the same period as theAvatamsaka Sutra, the first teaching period of the Buddha, immediately following his Enlightenment. It is part of the Sudden Teaching[4] preached to Bodhisattvas and other advanced beings while He was in samadhi. T'ien-t'ai Patriarch Chih-i called the Brahma Net "the capping text of the Avatamsaka Sutra" .

A. Mind / Mind-Ground [5]

The Brahma Net Sutra represents the highest moral code of the Mahayana canon. It is the highest because keeping the Bodhisattva precepts liberates the practitioner from greed, anger and delusion and returns him to his Self-Nature or True Mind -- to Buddhahood.

That Mind, that Self-Nature is non-discriminating, all-accepting, all-sustaining -- just like the ground, which receives and accepts all kinds of abuse and sustains all living beings. The Bodhisattva precepts are therefore called the precepts of the Mind, or the precepts of theMind-Ground

B. Bodhisattva/Arhat

Who then are those disciples of the Buddha who take upon themselves the inconceivable task of rescuing and protecting all sentient beings? In the Mahayana tradition, they are called Bodhisattvas. The word immediately brings to mind the most exalted figures in Buddhism -- Manjusri, Samantabhadra, Avalokitesvara. On a more mundane level, the word Bodhisattva designates any being who has developed the Bodhi Mind[6] -- the determination to achieve Buddhahood for the good of all sentient beings. The term thus applies to anyone who has taken the Bodhisattva precepts.

The essence of Bodhisattvahood is an unequivocal affirmation of the social, altruistic nature of humankind. Whatever enlightenment one gains, it must be shared by one's fellow-beings ... The Bodhisattva is a man of "inexhaustible vows". Without these he is not himself. To save the world, to bring all his fellow-beings up to the same level of thought and feeling where he himself is, and not to rest, not to enter into Nirvana until this is accomplished, however infinitely long and however inexpressively arduous the task may be -- This is the Bodhisattva (D.T.Suzuki,Lankavatara Sutra, xvi).

In the Brahma Net Sutra, the compassionate figure of the Bodhisattva is contrasted with the "followers of the Two Vehicles[7]" (Sravakas[8] and Pratyeka-Buddhas[9]), whose goal is to achieve personal liberation and Enlightenment.

Iconographically the ... Arhats[10] are depicted as elderly shaven-headed monks, clad in yellow robes, and holding a begging-bowl or a staff; they stand stiffly, with compressed lips, and their attitude seems not altogether free from strain. The Bodhisattvas, by way of contrast, are all beautiful young princes. Gem-studded tiaras sparkle on their brows, while their nobly proportioned limbs are clad in light garments of colored silk. They wear gold bracelets and strings of jewels, and round their necks hang garlands of fragrant flowers. Their expression is smiling, their poses graceful and easy. These splendors ... symbolize their status as heirs of the Buddha, the King of the Dharma, and the untold spiritual riches to which they will one day succeed." (Sangharakshita, A Survey of Buddhism).

C. The Precepts

In Buddhism, all precepts (vows of moral conduct taken by lay and ordained Buddhists) can be grouped into two main categories: Sravaka precepts[11] (of laymen, monks and nuns); and Bodhisattva precepts, the exalted code above the Sravaka precepts. All these precepts are derived from Three Root Precepts[12] which form the basis of all Buddhist practice: Do not what is evil, do what is good and be of benefit to all sentient beings.

The Sravaka precepts center on the first root precept, "Do not what is evil". The Bodhisattva precepts, by contrast, cover all three root precepts, with the emphasis on the third, "be of benefit to all sentient beings". To take the Bodhisattva precepts, therefore, is to develop and nurture the Bodhi Mind -- the determination to attain Buddhahood for the good of all.

If the Brahma Net Sutra time and again passionately assails the teachings and practices of the Two Vehicles, it is because the vehicles of the Sravakas and the Pratyeka-Buddhas are conceived as self-centered, focussed on personal Enlightenment and not leading to Buddhahood. In the sutra such views are considered limited, biased and unwholesome -- unworthy of the Bodhisattvas. In disparaging their goal, the Buddha intended to wake them up and open their minds to the supreme goal of Buddhahood.

Legacy of the Sutra

Over a century ago, in his French translation and extensive commentary, the Dutch clergyman Rev. J.J.M. de Groot concluded that the Brahma Net Sutra had played a pivotal role in shaping every aspect of traditional monastic life as well as Buddhist lay practice throughout China. This is also true of Korea and Japan.

As Prof. Philipp Karl Eidman noted:

The teaching of the Sutra of the Brahma Net is the canon against which the keeping and commentaries of all the vinaya [i.e., code of precepts] have been measured since the 8th century ... The Tendai and many other schools insist that its full observance is necessary.

In Vietnam as well, the Brahma Net Sutra is widely disseminated and its profound teachings have suffused monastic and lay life to a degree unrivalled by any other moral code. No fewer than eight recent annotated translations and commentaries on this sutra are known to the editors alone.

Among the many legacies of the sutra, the most noteworthy are: 1) the practice of vegetarianism; 2) the compassionate duty to rescue sentient beings in danger and guide them to Enlightenment; and most of all, 3) the concept of cosmic filialityor compassion toward our parents throughout the eons of time -- toward all sentient beings.

A disciple of the Buddha should have a mind of compassion and cultivate the practice of liberating sentient beings. He must reflect thus: throughout the eons of time, all male sentient beings have been my father, all female sentient beings my mother. I was born of them. If I now slaughter them, I would be slaughtering my parents as well as eating flesh that was once my own. This is so because all elemental earth and water, fire and air -- the four constituents of all life -- have previously been part of my body, part of my substance. (Precept 20)

It is no wonder, then, that the Brahma Net Sutra has long been a favorite among Mahayana Buddhists in Asia, who see in the Bodhisattva precepts a natural complement to their ultimate goal -- attainment of Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Minh Thanh, MA, MBA
Bodhisattva-in-Precepts 
P.D. Leigh, MS 
Revised Jan. 2000

Click on player to listen to explanation of Preface by Upasaka Minh-Quang Nguyễn Lê Đức on Sunday December 23, 2007 at our Sunday Class
Right click here to download.

 


LITURGY OF THE

BODHISATTVA PRECEPTS

 

NGHI THỨC

TỤNG GIỚI BỒ TÁT

* * *

Buddhas and Sentient Beíngs are all emptiness

The Way communicates unbelievably to us

Our mandala is like the Brahma net

Buddhas from ten quarters shine their auras

My body reflects in front of Their Precious Images

I prostern humbly asking for refuge  

 

Prostern in unison: from utmost emptiness realizing all dharma realms of past, present, future, of ten quarters Buddhas, Dharmas, Sages and Saints of Sangha permanently abiding in three Precious Gems.

Prostern in unison: Saha Master Sakyamuni Buddha, incoming Matreya Buddha, Greatest Wisdom Mansjuri Bodhisattva, Greatest Action Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, all Dharmapala Bodhisattvas, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of Vulture Peak assembly.

Prostern in unison: Sukhavati Greatest Kindness Greatest Compassion Amitabha Buddha, Greatest Compassion Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva , Greatest Vow Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, pure and ocean vast assembly of Bodhisattvas.

 

Phật chúng sanh tánh thường rỗng lặng

Đạo cảm thông không thể nghĩ bàn

Lưới đế châu ví đạo tràng

Mười phương Phật bảo hào quang sáng ngời

Trước bảo tọa thân con ảnh hiện

Cúi đầu xin thệ nguyện quy y.

Chí tâm đảnh lễ: Nam mô tận hư không biến pháp giới quá hiện vị lai thập phương chư Phật, tôn Pháp, Hiền Thánh Tăng Thường Trụ Tam-Bảo.

Chí tâm đảnh lễ: Nam mô Ta bà Giáo chủ Bổn Sư Thích Ca Mâu Ni Phật, Đương Lai Hạ Sanh Di Lặc Tôn Phật, Đại Trí Văn Thù Sư Lợi Bồ Tát, Đại Hạnh Phổ Hiền Bồ Tát, Hộ Pháp Chư Tôn Bồ Tát, Linh Sơn Hội Thượng Phật Bồ Tát.

Chí tâm đảnh lễ: Nam mô Tây phương Cực lạc thế giới đại từ đại bi A Di Đà Phật, Đại Bi Quán Thế Âm Bồ Tát, Đại Thế Chí Bồ Tát, Đại nguyện Địa Tạng Vương Bồ Tát, Thanh Tịnh Đại Hải Chúng Bồ Tát.

lClick on player to listen to explanation of Liturgy, Incense Anthem, by Upasaka Minh-Quang Nguyễn Lê Đức on Sunday December 30, 2007 at our Sunday Class
Right click here to download.

 

 

INCENSE ANTHEM

 

Incense has just begun to burn in the censer

Permeating the entire Dharma realm;

My mind is filled with sincerity and respect;

May the Buddhas compassionately be my witnesses.

Homage to Vairocana Buddha[13],

Lord of the Brahma Net.

 

*

* *

 

 

KỆ TÁN HƯƠNG

 

Lư hương vừa ngún chiên đàn

Khói hương ngào ngạt muôn ngàn cơi xa

Ḷng con kính ngưỡng thiết tha

Ngửa mong chư Phật thương mà chứng minh.

 

Nam mô Phạm Vơng Giáo chủ Lô Xá Na Phật (3 lần)

 

ON OPENING THE SUTRA


 

The Dharma incomparably profound and exquisite

Is rarely met with, even in hundreds of thousands of millions of eons

I am now able to see, listen, accept and hold it;

I vow to understand the true meaning of the Tathagatas' wonderful teachings.
 

Homage to our Teacher Sakyamuni Buddha.
 

*
* *

 

KỆ KHAI KINH

 

Phật pháp rộng sâu rất nhiệm mầu

Trăm ngàn muôn kiếp khó t́m cầu

Nay con nghe thấy chuyên tŕ tụng

Nguyện tỏ Như Lai nghĩa nhiệm mầu

 

Nam mô Bổn Sư Thích Ca Mâu Ni Phật (3 lần)

Nam mô Thanh Tịnh Pháp Thân Tỳ Lô Giá Na Phật (3 lần)

 

*

* *

 

I.


Assembly of precept-holders,

Please listen attentively!

I take refuge in Vairocana Buddha

I take refuge in the Diamond Buddhas of the Ten Directions

I bow to the Bodhisattva Maitreya, who will descend to earth and become a Buddha.

I shall now recite the Three Root Precepts

All Bodhisattvas should pay heed.

The precepts are a light shining brightly

Dispelling the darkness of the night.

The precepts are a precious mirror

Clearly reflecting one and all.

The precepts are a wish-fulfilling gem[14]

Showering treasures upon the destitute.

To escape suffering and attain Buddhahood swiftly

These precepts are the supreme way.

Therefore, Bodhisattvas

Should keep them steadfastly.

 

I

 

Chúng thọ Bồ Tát giới lắng nghe!

 

Quy mạng Lô Xá Na,

Mười phương Kim Cương Phật.

Đảnh lễ Đức Di Lạc,

Sẽ hạ sanh thành Phật.

 

Nay tụng ba tựu giới,

Bồ Tát đều cùng nghe.

 

Giới như đèn sáng lớn,

Soi sáng đêm tối tăm.

 

Giới như gương báu sáng,

Chiếu rơ tất cả pháp.

 

Giới như châu Ma-Ni,

Rưới của giúp kẻ nghèo.

Thoát khổ mau thành Phật,

Chỉ giới này hơn cả.

 

V́ thế nên Bồ Tát,

Phải tinh tấn giữ ǵn.

 

II.

Most Virtuous Ones (or Upasaka/Upasika)[15]!

It is now springtime (or summer or winter). Four months make a season[16]. Half a month (or one month, one month and a half, two months, etc.) has elapsed, less one night (or plus one night). Three and a half months remain (or three months, two and a half months, two months, etc.).

Old age and death weigh upon us. The Dharma will soon disappear. Most Virtuous Ones (Upasaka/Upasika)! To attain Enlightenment, practice diligently and singlemindedly. By practicing diligently and singlemindedly, all the Buddhas attain Supreme, Perfect Enlightenment -- not to mention other virtues.

Seek the Dharma diligently while young and healthy. How can you fail to seek the Way and, unguarded, let old age overtake you? What pleasures are you still awaiting?

The day is done. Life dwindles with it.
For fish stranded in shallow water, what joy is there?
[17]

 

                           II

 

Chư Đại Chúng!

Nay già chết gần kề, Phật Pháp sắp diệt, chư đại chúng, v́ muốn đắc đạo nên nhất tâm cần cầu tinh tấn. Chư Phật do nhất tâm t́m cầu tinh tấn nên đặng quả chứng vô thượng chánh đẳng chánh giác, huống là các pháp lành khác.

Nhân lúc c̣n mạnh khỏe, các Ngài phải gắng sức siêng tu các pháp lành. Đâu nên chẳng gấp cầu đạo lại chần chờ đợi già yếu. C̣n mong mỏi thú vui ǵ ?...

Ngày nay đă qua.

Mạng sống giảm dần.

Như cá cạn nước.

Nào có vui chi!

 

III.

 

Question: Is the Sangha[18] assembled? (by the reciter).

Answer: Yes, it is (by the monk in charge).

Question: Is the Sangha united and harmonious?

Answer: Yes, it is united and harmonious.

Question: Why has the Sangha gathered?

Answer: To recite the Bodhisattva precepts.

Question: Have those who have not taken the precepts and those who are not pure left this assembly?

Answer: In this assembly, there is no one who has not taken the precepts, and no one who is not pure. (If there are, they should be asked to leave and the monk in charge should say: "Those who have not received the precepts and those who are not pure have left.")

Question: How many are there of pure mind who wish to attend but cannot and have asked others to represent them?[19]

Answer: In this assembly, there is no one of pure mind who wishes to attend but cannot and is represented by another (or, if there is, the representative should step forward to state his name and that of the absent monk and confirm that the absent monk is pure and would have wished to be in attendance.) 

 

III

 

         

          HỎI: Chúng nhóm chưa?

          ĐÁP: Mô Phật, Chúng đă nhóm!

          HỎI: Ḥa hợp không?

          ĐÁP: Mô Phật, Ḥa hợp.

          HỎI: Chúng nhóm để làm ǵ?

          ĐÁP: Mô Phật, thuyết giới Bồ Tát.

          HỎI: Người chưa thọ giới Bồ Tát và người không thanh tịnh ra chưa?

          ĐÁP: Mô Phật, Trong đây không có người chưa thọ giới Bồ Tát và người không thanh tịnh. (Nếu có th́ phải mới họ đi ra, đoạn vị tri sự nói « Người chưa thọ giới Bồ Tát và người không thanh tịnh đă đi ra »)

 

          HỎI: Có bao nhiêu vị Bồ Tát vắng mặt muốn nghe và thanh tịnh?

          ĐÁP: Trong đây không có Bồ Tát vắng mặt muốn nghe và thanh tịnh. (Nếu có Bồ Tát giới tử vắng mặt nhưng thanh tịnh và muốn nghe giới th́ người thay mặt phải đứng dậy nói tên ḿnh và tên Bồ Tát giới tử vắng mặt, và nói người đó thanh tịnh và muốn được nhóm chúng).

 

Click on player to listen to explanation of Liturgy, part IV, by Upasaka Minh-Quang Nguyễn Lê Đức on Sunday January 6, 2008 at our Sunday Class
Right click here to download.

 

 

IV

Most Virtuous Ones (or Upasaka/Upasika)! Join your palms together and listen attentively! I am now about to recite the preamble to the great precepts of the Buddhas. Most Virtuous Ones! Be silent and attentive. In this assembly, those who are aware that they have transgressed should repent. With repentance[20], peace of mind is restored. Without repentance, your transgressions will become heavier. Those who have not transgressed may remain silent. By your silence, I know that you are pure (have kept the precepts).

Most Virtuous Ones (or Upasaka/Upasika)! Listen attentively: In this Dharma-Ending Age following the demise of the Buddha, we should reverently keep the Pratimoksa[21]. The Pratimoksa is none other than these precepts. Those who keep these precepts are like wanderers in the dark stumbling upon a light, like the destitute coming upon a treasure, like the sick finding a cure, like prisoners set free, like wanderers discovering the way home. Let it be understood that the precepts are a worthy teacher to us all, as though the Buddha were still here among us.

If we do not fear transgressions, it is difficult to develop a wholesome mind. Therefore, the sutras contain this teaching: Do not regard a minor misdeed as inconsequential. In time, drops of water may fill a large vessel. Offenses committed in a moment, may result in eons of suffering in the hells. Once the human state is lost, it may not be regained for myriads of lifetimes. 

Youth is like a galloping horse. Our life is more fleeting than the waters of a mountain stream. Today we are alive; tomorrow, who knows? Let each of us practice diligently and singlemindedly. Do not be lax; guard against laziness. Do not indulge in rest and sleep. During the night, singlemindedly recite the Buddha's name and meditate. You should never while away the time, causing deep regret in the future.

Members of the assembly! Keep these precepts singlemindedly and respectfully; study them and cultivate in accordance with the Dharma.

Most Virtuous Ones (or Upasaka/Upasika)! Today is the fifteenth (or fourteenth) day of the month; the moon is full (or is not full). We are holding the Uposatha[22] service, reciting the Bodhisattva precepts. Members of the assembly should listen attentively.

Whoever has transgressed, confess now. Otherwise, remain silent. By your silence, I shall know that this assembly is pure and may recite the precepts.

Now that I have finished the preamble to the Bodhisattva precepts, I ask you once more, members of the assembly, are you pure? (three times)

Members of the assembly, by your silence I know that you are pure. This is something of which you should all be aware.

Homage to the Brahma Net Assembly of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas (three times).

 

IV

 

Đại Chúng! Hăy chắp tay lóng nghe! Nay tôi sắp tụng lời tựa về pháp đại thừa của chư Phật. Đại chúng lẳng lặng lóng nghe. Trong đây vị nào biết ḿnh có tội phải sám hối. Sám hối thời được an vui. Không sám hối th́ tội lỗi càng thêm nặng. Người không có lỗi th́ yên lặng.

V́ yên lặng nên biết đại chúng thanh tịnh.

 

          Chư Đại Chúng hăy lóng nghe! Sau khi Đức Phật diệt độ, trong thời mạt pháp, nên phải tôn kính Ba La Đề Mộc Xoa. Ba La Đề Mộc Xoa chính là giới pháp này. Tŕ giới này thời như đi trong đêm tối gặp đèn sáng, như nghèo được châu báu, như bệnh được lành, như người tù được thả, như kẻ đi xa được về nhà. Nên biết rằng giới pháp này là bậc Thầy sáng suốt của đại chúng, không khác Đức Phật c̣n ở đời.

 

 

          Nếu không có ḷng sợ tội, th́ tâm lành khó nẩy sanh. Cho nên trong kinh có lời dạy: Chớ xem thường những lỗi nhỏ mà cho là không tội, giọt nước dầu nhỏ lần lần đầy cả chum lớn. Lúc tạo tội chừng trong giây phút, mà phải cả ngh́n muôn năm chịu khổ nơi địa ngục. Một phen bị đọa lạc mất thân người, thời muôn đời khó được lại thân.

 

          Sắc trẻ chuyển biến không dừng, dường như ngựa chạy. Mạng người vô thường, mau hơn nước dốc. Ngày nay dầu c̣n, khó đảm bảo được ngày mai. Đại chúng mỗi người nên nhất tâm cần cầu tinh tấn. Chớ biếng nhác trễ lười, phóng túng ngủ nghỉ. Ban đêm phải nhất tâm niệm Phật tham thiền, chớ để thời gian nhàn không luống qua vô ích, mà sau này phải ăn năn không kịp.

         

Đại Chúng! Mỗi người nên nhiếp tâm cung kính y theo giới pháp này như pháp tu hành, chuyên cần học tập.

Chư Đại Chúng! Hôm nay là ngày rằm (hoặc mười bốn, hoặc ba mươi); trăng tṛn (hoặc không trăng).

          Chư Đại Chúng! Nay làm phép bố tát tụng Bồ Tát giới. Đại chúng nên nhất tâm nghe kỹ.

          Ai có tội thời phát lồ. Người không tội thời im lặng.

V́ im lặng nên biết đại chúng thanh tịnh, có thể tụng giới Bồ Tát.

          Tôi đă tụng lời tựa của giới Bồ Tát rồi. Nay xin hỏi trong đại chúng đây được thanh tịnh không? (3 lần)

          Thưa Đại Chúng! Trong đây thanh tịnh, v́ yên lặng. Việc này xin nhận biết như thế.

Nam mô Phạm Vơng Hội Thượng Phật Bồ Tát. (3 lần)

 


 

 

THE BUDDHA SPEAKS

THE BRAHMA NET
SUTRA

 

Bodhisattva Mind-Ground Chapter

Second Part[23]

 

Based on Kumarajiva's text
China, Eastern Chin dynasty, 5th c.

I. Vairocana Buddha

At that time, Vairocana Buddha began speaking in general about the Mind-Ground for the benefit of the Great Assembly. What he said represents but an infinitesimal part, the tip of a hair, of His innumerable teachings -- as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Ganges.

He concluded: "The Mind-Ground has been explained, is being explained and will be explained by all the Buddhas -- past, present, and future. It is also the Dharma Door (cultivation method) that all the Bodhisattvas of the past, present, and future have studied, are studying and will study."

"I have cultivated this Mind-Ground Dharma Door for hundreds of eons. My name is Vairocana. I request all Buddhas to transmit my words to all sentient beings, so as to open this path of cultivation to all."

At that time, from his Lion's Throne in the Lotus Treasury World[24], Vairocana Buddha emitted rays of light. A voice among the rays is heard telling the Buddhas seated on thousands of lotus petals, "You should practice and uphold the Mind-Ground Dharma Door and transmit it to the innumerable Sakyamuni Buddhas[25], one after another, as well as to all sentient beings. Everyone should uphold, read, recite, and singlemindedly put its teachings into practice."

After receiving the Dharma-door of the Mind-Ground, the Buddhas seated atop the thousands of lotus flowers along with the innumerable Sakyamuni Buddhas all arose from their Lion seats, their bodies emitting innumerable rays of light. In each of these rays appeared innumerable Buddhas who simultaneously made offerings of green, yellow, red and white celestial flowers to Vairocana Buddha. They then slowly took their leave.

The Buddhas then disappeared from the Lotus Treasury World, entered the Essence-Nature Empty Space Floral Brilliance Samadhi and returned to their former places under the Bodhi-tree in this world of Jambudvipa[26]. They then arose from their samadhi, sat on their Diamond Thrones in Jambudvipa and the Heaven of the Four Kings, and preached the Dharma of the "Ten Oceans of Worlds."

Thereupon, they ascended to Lord Shakya's palace and expounded the "Ten Dwellings," proceeded to the Suyama Heaven and taught the "Ten Practices," proceeded further to the Fourth Heaven and taught the "Ten Dedications," proceeded further to the Transformation of Bliss Heaven and taught the "Ten Dhyana Samadhi," proceeded further to the Heaven of Comfort From Others' Emanations and taught the "Ten Grounds," proceeded further to the First Dhyana Heaven and taught the "Ten Vajra[27] Stages," proceeded further to the Second Dhyana Heaven and taught the "Ten Patiences," and proceeded further to the Third Dhyana Heaven and taught the "Ten Vows." Finally, in the Fourth Dhyana Heaven, at Lord Brahma's Palace, they taught the "Mind-Ground Dharma-Door" chapter, which Vairocana Buddha, in eons past, expounded in the Lotus Treasury World (the cosmos).

All the other innumerable transformation Sakyamuni Buddhas did likewise in their respective worlds as the chapter "Auspicious Kalpa" has explained.

 

Phật thuyết

PHẠM VƠNG KINH

 

BỒ TÁT TÂM ĐỊA PHẨM

Nhà Dao Tần, Tam tạng Pháp sư Cưu Ma La Thập Hán dịch,

 

 

I.  Lô Xá Na Phật.

Lúc bấy giờ, là lúc Phật Lô Xá Na nói Pháp, Trung Hoa dịch là Quang minh biến chiếu, phẩm Tâm Địa v́ lợi lạc cho Đại Chúng. Điều Ngài đă giảng chỉ ví như vi trần, đầu sợi lông; các điều chưa được giảng c̣n nhiều  như số cát sông Hằng.

Ngài kết: “Tâm Địa phẩm đă được chư Phật quá khứ, hiện tại và vị lai thuyết giảng. Đây cũng là pháp môn tu hành của chư Bồ Tát thời quá khứ, hiện tại và vị lai, đă học, đang học và sẽ học”.

 

“Ta đă trăm ngàn kiếp tu hành môn Tâm địa này, ta được hiệu là Lô Xá Na, Chư Phật các ông truyền lời ta đă nói để khai mở tâm địa cho tất cả chúng sanh”.

 

Lúc bấy giờ, Đức Phật Lô Xá Na ngồi trên ṭa sư tử có ánh sáng cơi trời rạng rỡ trong thế giới Liên hoa Đài tạng.  Đức Phật phóng hào quang, trong hào quang có tiếng nói bảo “Phật trên ngàn hoa, thọ tŕ pháp môn Tâm địa của Ta, mà đi truyền lại cho ngàn trăm ức Thích Ca, cho đến tất cả chúng sanh, theo thứ lớp nói phẩm Pháp môn Tâm địa này.  Các ông nên thọ tŕ đọc tụng vâng làm.”

 

Lúc bấy giờ, Phật trên ngàn hoa, ngàn trăm ức Thích Ca từ ṭa Sư tử sáng rỡ trong thế giới Liên hoa Đài tạng đứng dậy, tất cả đều thối lui, toàn thân các Ngài phóng ra hào quang không thể nghĩ bàn, trong hào quang đó hóa ra vô lượng Phật, đồng thời đem vô lượng hoa xanh, vàng, đỏ, trắng dâng lên cúng dường Phật Lô Xá Na, rồi thọ tŕ phẩm Tâm địa pháp môn như trước đă nói. 

 

Mỗi mỗi Phật đều từ thế giới Liên hoa Đài tạng này rồi ẩn khuất, ẩn khuất rồi nhập Tam muội thể tánh hư không hoa quang, trở lại thế giới bổn nguyên đến cơi Diêm Phù Đề, ngồi dưới cội Bồ đề.

Từ thể tánh tam muội hư không Hoa quang xuất định xong, Ngài mới ngồi kim cang Thiên Quang Vương ṭa và Diệu Quang đường, diễn nói Thập Thế giới hải. 

 

Ngài lại từ ṭa đứng dậy, đến cung trời Đế Thích nói pháp Thập trụ; đến cung trời Diệm Ma nói pháp Thập hạnh; đến cung trời Đâu Suất nói pháp Thập Hồi hướng; đến cung trời Hóa lạc nói pháp Thập Thiền định; đến cung trời Tha Hóa nói pháp Thập địa; đến cơi Sơ thiền nói pháp Thập Kim cang; đến cơi Nhị thiền nói pháp Thập nhẫn; đến cơi Tam thiền nói pháp Thập nguyện, sau cùng ở cơi Tứ thiền nơi vương cung cơi trời Ma-hê-thủ-la, nói Phẩm Pháp môn Tâm địa mà Phật Lô Xá Na đă từng diễn nói trong Thế giới Liên Hoa Đài tạng Bổn nguyên của ta.

 

Ngoài ra hai trăm ức Thích Ca giảng nói cũng lại như thế, không hai không khác, như trong Phẩm Hiền Kiếp có nói rất rơ.

 


Click on player to listen to explanation of Brahma Net Sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha, by Upasaka Minh-Quang Nguyễn Lê Đức on Sunday January 13, 2008 at our Sunday Class
Right click here to download.

 

 

II. Sakyamuni Buddha

At that time, Sakyamuni Buddha, after first appearing in the Lotus Treasury World, proceeded to the east and appeared in the Heavenly King's palace to teach the "Demon Transforming Sutra." He then descended to Jambudvipa to be born in Kapilavastu -- his name being Siddhartha and his father's name Suddhodana. His mother was Queen Maya. He achieved Enlightenment at the age of thirty, after seven years of cultivation[28], under the name of Sakyamuni Buddha.

The Buddha spoke in ten assemblies from the Diamond Seat at Bodhgaya to the palace of Brahma.

At that time, he contemplated the wonderful Jewel Net[29] hung in Lord Brahma's palace and preached the Brahma Net Sutra for the Great Assembly. He said:

"The innumerable worlds in the cosmos are like the eyes of the net. Each and every world is different, its variety infinite. So too are the Dharma Doors (methods of cultivation) taught by the Buddhas.

"I have come to this world eight thousand times. Based in this Saha World, seated upon the Jeweled Diamond Seat in Bodhgaya and all the way up to the palace of the Brahma King, I have spoken in general about the Mind-Ground Dharma Door for the benefit of the great multitude[30].

"Thereafter, I descended from the Brahma King's palace to Jambudvipa, the Human World. I have preached the Diamond Illuminated Jeweled Precepts (the Bodhisattva precepts) from beneath the Bodhi-tree for the sake of all sentient beings on earth, however dull and ignorant they may be. These precepts were customarily recited by Vairocana Buddha when he first developed the Bodhi Mind[31] in the causal stages. They are precisely the original source of all Buddhas and all Bodhisattvas as well as the seed of the Buddha Nature[32].

"All sentient beings possess this Buddha Nature. All with consciousness, form, and mind are encompassed by the precepts of the Buddha Nature. Sentient beings possess the correct cause of the Buddha Nature and therefore they will assuredly attain the ever-present Dharma Body.

For this reason, the ten Pratimoksa[33] (Bodhisattva) precepts came into being in this world. These precepts belong to the True Dharma. They are received and upheld in utmost reverence by all sentient beings of the Three Periods of Time -- past, present and future.

"Once again, I shall preach for the Great Assembly the chapter on the Inexhaustible Precept Treasury. These are the precepts of all sentient beings, the source of the pure Self-Nature."

*

**

 

Now, I, Vairocana Buddha

Am sitting atop a lotus pedestal;

On a thousand flowers surrounding me

Are a thousand Sakyamuni Buddhas.

Each flower supports a hundred million worlds;

In each world a Sakyamuni Buddha appears.

All are seated beneath a Bodhi-tree,

All simultaneously attain Buddhahood.

All these innumerable Buddhas

Have Vairocana as their original body.

These countless Sakyamuni Buddhas

All bring followers along -- as numerous as motes of dust.

They all proceed to my lotus pedestal

To listen to the Buddha's precepts.

I now preach the Dharma, this exquisite nectar.

Afterward, the countless Buddhas return to their respective worlds

And, under a Bodhi-tree, proclaim these major and minor precepts

Of Vairocana, the Original Buddha.

The precepts are like the radiant sun and moon,

Like a shining necklace of gems,

Bodhisattvas as numerous as motes of dust

Uphold them and attain Buddhahood.

These precepts are recited by Vairocana,

These precepts I recite as well.

You novice Bodhisattvas

Should reverently accept and uphold them.

And once you have done so,

Transmit and teach them to sentient beings[34].

Now listen attentively as I recite

The Bodhisattva Pratimoksa -- the source of all precepts in the Buddha Dharma.

All of you in the Great Assembly should firmly believe

That you are the Buddhas of the future,

While I am a Buddha already accomplished.

If you should have such faith at all times,

Then this precept code is fulfilled[35].

All beings with resolve

Should accept and uphold the Buddha's precepts.

Sentient beings on receiving them

Join forthwith the ranks of Buddhas.

They are in essence equal to the Buddhas,

They are the true offspring of the Buddhas.

Therefore, Great Assembly,

Listen with utmost reverence

As I proclaim the Bodhisattva Moral Code.

*

* *

 

 

II. Thích Ca Mâu Ni Phật

          Bấy giờ, Đức Phật Thích Ca Mâu Ni, từ lúc sơ khởi hiện thân nơi Thế Giới Liên Hoa Đại Tạng, rồi qua phương Đông đến tại cung của Thiên Vương, diễn nói kinh « Ma thọ Hóa ». Sau đó ngài giáng sinh nơi cơi Nam Diêm Phù Đề tại nước Ca Tỳ La, vua Bạch Tịnh là thân phụ, và hoàng hậu Ma Gia là sinh mẫu, nhũ danh của Ngài là Tất Đạt Đa.

Xuất gia bảy năm, ba mươi  tuổi thành đạo, hiệu Ngài là Thích Ca Mâu Ni Phật.

Từ Bảo Ṭa Kim Cương Hoa Quang nơi đạo tràng Tịch diệt nhẫn đến nơi của Đại Tự Tại Thiên Vương, trong mười nơi ấy Đức Phật tuần tự ngự đến thuyết pháp.

Lúc đó nhân khi xem bảo tràng lưới của Đại Phạm Thiên Vương, đức Phật v́ đại chúng mà giảng kinh Phạm Vơng.

Ngài dạy rằng: Vô lượng thế giới dường như lỗ lưới. Mỗi thế giới đều khác nhau cả, khác nhau đến số vô lượng. Giáo pháp của Phật cũng như vậy .

Đức Phật đă tám ngh́n lần đến thế giới Ta bà này, ngự trên bảo ṭa Kim Cương Hoa Quang nhẫn đến ngự nơi cung của Đại Tự Tại Thiên Vương, lược giảng «  Tâm Địa Pháp Môn » cho cả thảy đại chúng trong những pháp hội ấy.

 

Sau đó từ cung của Thiên Vương, Đức Phật trở xuống ngự dưới cội bồ đề nơi cơi Diêm Phù, v́ tất cả chúng sinh trên quả đất này, hạng người phàm ngu tối mà giảng một giới pháp Kim Cương Quang Minh Bảo giới. Giới Pháp này là lời thường tŕ tụng của Phật Lô Xá Na, khi Ngài mới phát Bồ Đề tâm trong thời kỳ tu nhân của Ngài. Giới pháp này cũng chính là bổn nguyên của tất cả Phật, là bổn nguyên của tất cả Bồ Tát và là chủng tử của Phật tánh.

 

Tất cả chúng sinh đều có Phật Tánh. Tất cả ư thức, sắc, tâm, là t́nh là tâm đều vào trong phạm vi giới pháp Phật tánh. V́ chắc chắn thường có chính nhân, nên chắc chắn Pháp thân thường trụ.

 

 

Mười Ba La Đề Mộc xoa như thế xuất hiện trong đời. Giới pháp này là chỗ kính trọng của tất cả chúng sanh trong ba thuở.

 

 

Giờ đây, Đức Phật sẽ v́ trong đại chúng này mà giảng lại Giới phẩm vô tận tạng, là Giới Phẩm của tất cả chúng sinh, bổn nguyên tự tánh thanh tịnh.

 

*

**

 

Nay ta là Lô Xá Na

Đương ngồi trên đài Liên Hoa.

Trên ngh́n cánh sen đơm ṿng.

Mỗi cánh sen trăm ức cơi. 

Một cơi một Phật Thích Ca

Đều ngồi dưới cội Bồ Đề

Đồng thời thành chánh giác đạo. 

Ngh́n trăm ức Phật như vậy

Lô Xá Na là bổn thân. 

Ngh́n trăm ức Phật Thích Ca

Đều đem theo vi trần chúng

Cùng nhau đến tại chỗ ta

Để nghe ta tụng Phật giới, 

Ta liền giảng môn Cam Lộ

Bây giờ ngh́n trăm ức Phật,

Trở về đạo tràng của ḿnh,

Đều ngồi nơi cội Bồ đế

Tụng mười trọng bốn mươi tám

Giới của bổn sư Xá Na, 

Giới như vầng nhật nguyệt sáng,

Cũng như chuỗi báo ngọc châu

Chúng Bồ Tát như vi trần

Do giới này mà thành Phật,

Đây là Đức Xá Na tụng

Ta đây cũng tụng như vậy. 

Các ông tân học Bồ Tát

phải cung kính thọ tŕ giới! 

Khi thọ tŕ giới này rồi

Nên truyền lại cho chúng sanh,

Lắng nghe ta đang tŕ tụng

Pháp Ba La Đề Mộc Xoa

Là giới tạng trong Phật Pháp 

Đại chúng ḷng nên tin chắc:

Các người là Phật sẽ thành

Ta đây là Phật đă thành 

Thường có ḷng tin như vậy

Thời giới phẩm đă trọn vẹn 

Tất cả những người có tâm

Đều nên nhiếp hộ Phật giới 

Chính là vào hàng chư Phật.

Đă đồng hàng bậc Đại giác 

Mới thật là con chư Phật 

Đại chúng đều nên cung kính,

Chí tâm nghe lời ta tụng.

 

*

* *

 


 

III. The Buddha Reciting the

Bodhisattva Precepts

At that time, when Sakyamuni Buddha first attained Supreme Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, he explained the Bodhisattva precepts. The Buddha taught filial piety toward one's parents[36], Elder Masters and the Triple Jewel[37]. Filial piety and obedience, he said, are the Ultimate Path [to Buddhahood][38]. Filial  piety is called the precepts -- and it means restraint and cessation[39].

The Buddha then emitted limitless lights from his mouth. Thereupon, the whole Great Assembly, consisting of innumerable Bodhisattvas, the gods of the eighteen Brahma Heavens, the gods of the six Desire Heavens, and the rulers of the sixteen great kingdoms[40]  all joined their palms and listened singlemindedly to the Buddha recite the Mahayana precepts.

The Buddha then said to the Bodhisattvas: Twice a month I recite the precepts observed by all Buddhas. All Bodhisattvas, from those who have just developed the Bodhi Mind to the Bodhisattvas of the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, and the Ten Grounds also recite them. Therefore, this precept-light shines forth from my mouth. It does not arise without a cause. This light is neither blue, yellow, red, white, nor black. It is neither form, nor thought. It is neither existent nor nonexistent, neither cause nor effect[41]. This precept-light is precisely the original source of all Buddhas and all members of this Great Assembly. Therefore all you disciples of the Buddha should receive and observe, read, recite and study these precepts with utmost attention.

Disciples of the Buddha, listen attentively! Whoever can understand and accept a Dharma Master's words of transmission can receive the Bodhisattva precepts[42] and be called foremost in purity[43]. This is true whether that person is a king, a prince, an official, a monk, a nun, or a god of the eighteen Brahma Heavens, a god of the six Desire Heavens, or a human, a eunuch, a libertine, a prostitute, a slave, or a member of the Eight Divisions[44] of Divinities, a Vajra spirit[45], an animal, or even a transformation-being[46].

 

III. ĐỨC PHẬT KIẾT BỒ TÁT GIỚI

          Thưở ấy, Đức Phật Thích Ca Mâu Ni lúc mới thành đạo vô thượng chánh giác, trong khi ngồi dưới cội Bồ Đề, Ngài bắt đầu kiết Bồ Tát Giới. Ngài dạy rằng:

          Hiếu thuận với cha mẹ, sư tăng, Tam-Bảo. Hiếu thuận là pháp chí đạo. Hiếu gọi là giới, cũng gọi là cấm giới.

 

          Liền đó từ nơi kim khẩu Đức Phật phóng ra vô lượng tia sáng. Bây giờ có đến trăm vạn ức đại chúng, các Bồ Tát, mười tám Phạm Thiên, sáu cơi trời Dục, mười sáu Đại Quốc Vương đồng chắp tay chí tâm nghe Đức Phật tụng giới pháp đại thừa của tất cả chư Phật.

 

          Đức Phật nói với các vị Bồ Tát rằng:

          Nay ta cứ mỗi nửa tháng tự tụng giới pháp của chư Phật. Tất cả hàng Bồ Tát sơ phát tâm, nhẫn đến các Bồ Tát Thập Phát Thú, Thập Trưởng Dưỡng, Thập Kim Cương, Thập Địa cũng tụng giới ấy. V́ thế nên giới quang từ miệng ta phóng ra. Phóng ra là v́ có nguyên do, chớ chẳng phải v́ vô cớ. Giới quang ấy chẳng phải màu xanh, vàng, đỏ, trắng và đen; chẳng phải sắc pháp cũng chẳng phải tâm pháp; chẳng phải pháp hữu, pháp vô, cũng chẳng phải pháp nhơn, pháp quả. Nó chính là bổn nguyện của chư Phật, là căn bổn của chúng Phật tử. V́ thế nên chúng Phật tử phải thọ tŕ, phải đọc tụng, phải học kỹ giới pháp này.

 

 

          Chúng Phật tử hăy lóng nghe! Nếu là người thọ giới Bồ Tát này, không luận là Quốc vương, Thái tử, các Quan chức hay Tỳ Kheo, Tỳ Kheo Ni, không luận là chư Thiên cơi Sắc, cơi Dục; không luận là hàng thứ dân, huỳnh môn, dâm nam, dâm nữ hay hàng nô tỳ; cũng không luận là tám bộ quỷ thần, Thần Kim Cương, hay loài súc sanh, nhẫn đến kẻ biến hóa, hễ ai hiểu được lời truyền giới của Pháp Sư th́ đều thọ được giới, và đều gọi là thanh tịnh thứ nhất.

 


 

IV. The Ten Major Precepts

The Buddhas said to his disciples, "There are ten major Bodhisattva precepts. If one receives the precepts but fails to recite them, he is not a Bodhisattva, nor is he a seed of Buddhahood. I, too, recite these precepts.

"All Bodhisattvas have studied them in the past, will study in the future, and are studying them now. I have explained the main characteristics of the Bodhisattva precepts. You should study and observe them with all your heart."

The Buddha continued:

 

MƯỜI GIỚI TRỌNG

Đức Phật bảo các Phật tử rằng:

Có mười điều giới trọng. Nếu người thọ giới Bồ Tát mà không tụng điều giới nầy, thời người nầy không phải Bồ Tát, không phải là Phật tử. Chính ta cũng tụng như vậy.

Tất cả Bồ Tát đă học, sẽ học và đang học!

Đă lược giảng xong tướng trạng của giới Bồ Tát cần nên học, hết ḷng kính trọng phụng tŕ.

Đức Phật dạy:

 

1. First Major Precept

On Killing

A disciple of the Buddha shall not himself kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, rejoice at witnessing killing, or kill through incantation or deviant mantras. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing, and shall not intentionally kill any living creature. (24)

           As a Buddha's disciple, he ought to nurture a mind of compassion and filial piety, always devising expedient means[47] to rescue and protect all beings. If instead, he fails to restrain himself and kills sentient beings without mercy, he commits a Parajika (major)[48] offense.

 

1.- GIỚI SÁT SANH

 

Nếu Phật tử, hoặc tự ḿnh giết, bảo người giết, phương tiện giết, khen tặng sự giết, thấy giết mà tùy hỷ, nhẫn đến dùng bùa chú để giết, duyên giết, cách thức giết, nghiệp giết.

 

Phàm tất cả loài hữu t́nh có mạng sống đều không ư giết. Là Phật tử lẽ ra phải luôn luôn có ḷng từ bi, ḷng hiếu thuận, lập thế cứu giúp tất cả chúng sinh mà trái lại tự phóng tâm nỡ ḷng sát sinh, Phật tử nầy phạm « Bồ Tát Ba La Di tội ».

 

2. Second Major Precept

On Stealing

A disciple of the Buddha must not himself steal or encourage others to steal, steal by expedient means, steal by means of incantation or deviant mantras. He should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of stealing. No valuables or possessions, even those belonging to ghosts and spirits or thieves and robbers, be they as small as a needle or blade of grass, may be stolen.

As a Buddha's disciple, he ought to have a mind of mercy, compassion, and filial piety -- always helping people earn merits and achieve happiness. If instead, he steals the possessions of others, he commits a Parajika offense[49].

 

2.- GIỚI TRỘM CƯỚP

 

Nếu Phật tử tự ḿnh trộm cướp, bảo người trộm cướp, phương tiện trộm cướp, nhẫn đến dùng bùa chú trộm cướp; tạo nên nhân trộm cướp, duyên trộm cướp, cách thức trộm cướp ... Tất cả tài vật có chủ, dầu là của quỷ thần hay của kẻ giặc cướp, nhẫn đến một cây kim, một ngọn cỏ đều không được trộm cướp.

 

Là Phật tử, lẽ ra phải luôn luôn có ḷng từ bi, ḷng hiếu thuận, thường giúp cho mọi người được phước, được vui, mà trái lại trộm cướp tài vật của người, Phật tử nầy phạm « Bồ Tát Ba La Di tội ».

 

3. Third Major Precept

On Sexual Misconduct

A disciple of the Buddha must not engage in licentious acts or encourage others to do so. [As a monk] he should not have sexual relations with any female -- be she a human, animal, deity or spirit -- nor create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of such misconduct. Indeed, he must not engage in improper sexual conduct with anyone[50].

A Buddha's disciple ought to have a mind of filial piety -- rescuing all sentient beings and instructing them in the Dharma of purity and chastity. If instead, he lacks compassion and encourages others to engage in sexual relations promiscuously, including with animals and even their mothers, daughters, sisters, or other close relatives, he commits a Parajika offense[51].

 

3.- GIỚI DÂM

 

Nếu Phật tử [xuất gia], tự ḿnh dâm dục, bảo người dâm dục, với tất cả phụ nữ, các loài cái, loài mái, cho đến Thiên nữ, quỷ nữ, thần nữ cùng phi đạo mà hành dâm; tạo nên nhân dâm dục, duyên dâm dục, cách thức dâm dục, nghiệp dâm dục. Đối với tất cả không được cố dâm dục.

 

Là Phật tử, Lẽ ra phải có ḷng hiếu thuận, cứu độ tất cả những chúng sinh, đem pháp thanh tịnh khuyên dạy người, mà trái lại không có tâm từ bi, làm cho mọi người sinh việc dâm dục, không lựa súc sinh, cho đến hành dâm với mẹ, con, chị, em trong lục thân, Phật tử nầy phạm « Bồ Tát Ba La Di tội ».

 

4. Fourth Major Precept

On Lying and False Speech

A disciple of the Buddha must not himself use false words and speech, or encourage others to lie or lie by expedient means. He should not involve himself in the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of lying, saying that he has seen what he has not seen or vice-versa, or lying implicitly through physical or mental means[52].

As a Buddha's disciple, he ought to maintain Right Speech and Right Views always, and lead all others to maintain them as well. If instead, he causes wrong speech, wrong views or evil karma in others, he commits a Parajika offense.

 

4.- GIỚI VỌNG

 

Nếu Phật tử, tự ḿnh nói vọng ngữ, bảo người vọng ngữ, phương tiện vọng ngữ: tạo nên nhân vọng ngũ, duyên vọng ngữ, cách thức vọng ngữ, nghiệp vọng ngữ. Nhẫn đến không thấy nói thấy, thấy nói không thấy, hoặc thân vọng ngữ, tâm vọng ngữ.

 

Là Phật tử, lẽ ra phải luôn luôn chính ngữ, chính kiến, và cũng làm cho tất cả chúng sinh có chính ngữ, chính kiến, mà trái lại làm cho mọi người tà ngữ, tà kiến, tà nghiệp, Phật tử nầy phạm « Bồ Tát Ba La Di tội ».

 

5. Fifth Major Precept

On Selling Alcoholic Beverages

A disciple of the Buddha must not trade in alcoholic beverages or encourage others to do so. He should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of selling any intoxicant whatsoever, for intoxicants are the causes and conditions of all kinds of offenses.

As a Buddha's disciple, he ought to help all sentient beings achieve clear wisdom. If instead, he causes them to have upside-down, topsy-turvy thinking, he commits a Parajika offense[53].

 

5.- GIỚI BÁN RƯỢU

 

Nếu Phật tử, tự ḿnh bán rượu, bảo người bán rượu; tạo nên nhân bán rượu, duyên bán rượu, cách thức bán rượu, nghiệp bán rượu, tất cả rượu không được bán - Rượu là nhân duyên sinh tội lỗi.

 

Là Phật tử, lẽ ra phải làm cho tất cả chúng sinh có trí huệ sáng suốt, mà trái lại đem sự mê say điên đảo cho tất cả chúng sinh. Phật tử nầy phạm « Bồ Tát Ba La Di tội ».

 

6. Sixth Major Precept

On Broadcasting the Faults of the Assembly

A disciple of the Buddha must not himself broadcast the misdeeds or infractions of Bodhisattva-clerics or Bodhisattva-laypersons, or of [ordinary] monks and nuns -- nor encourage others to do so. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of discussing the offenses of the assembly.

As a Buddha's disciple, whenever he hears evil persons, externalists[54] or followers of the Two Vehicles[55] speak of practices contrary to the Dharma or contrary to the precepts within the Buddhist community, he should instruct them with a compassionate mind and lead them to develop wholesome faith in the Mahayana.

If instead, he discusses the faults and misdeeds that occur within the assembly, he commits a Parajika offense[56].

 

6.- GIỚI RAO LỖI CỦA TỨ CHÚNG

 

Nếu Phật tử, tự miệng rao nói tội lỗi của Bồ Tát xuất gia, Bồ Tát tại gia, Tỳ Kheo, Tỳ kheo Ni, hoặc bảo người rao nói những tội lỗi ấy; tạo nên nhân rao nói tội lỗi, duyên rao nói tội lỗi, cách thức rao nói tội lỗi, nghiệp rao nói tội lỗi.

 

Là Phật tử, khi nghe những kẻ ác, ngoại đạo cùng người nhị thừa nói những điều phi pháp, trái luật trong Phật pháp, thời phải luôn luôn có ḷng từ bi giáo hóa những kẻ ác ấy cho họ sinh tín tâm lành đối với đại thừa, mà trái lại Phật tử lại tự ḿnh rao nói những tội lỗi trong Phật pháp. Phật tử nầy phạm « Bồ Tát Ba La Di tội ».

 

7. Seventh Major Precept

On Praising Oneself and Disparaging Others

A disciple of the Buddha shall not praise himself and speak ill of others, or encourage others to do so. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of praising himself and disparaging others.

As a disciple of the Buddha, he should be willing to stand in for all sentient beings and endure humiliation and slander -- accepting blame and letting sentient beings have all the glory. If instead, he displays his own virtues and conceals the good points of others, thus causing them to suffer slander, he commits a Parajika offense[57].

 

7.- GIỚI TỰ KHEN M̀NH CHÊ NGƯỜI

 

Nếu Phật tử, tự khen ḿnh chê người, cũng bảo người khác khen ngợi ḿnh chê người; tạo nên nhân chê người, duyên chê người, cách thức chê người, nghiệp chê người.

 

Là Phật tử, lẽ ra phải thay thế chịu những sự khinh chê khổ nhục cho tất cả chúng sanh, ḿnh nhận lấy việc xấu, nhường cho người việc tốt. Nếu Phật tử tự phô trương tài đức của ḿnh, mà d́m che điều hay tốt của người, làm cho người bị khinh chê, Phật tử nầy phạm « Bồ Tát Ba La Di tội ».

 

8. Eighth Major Precept

On Stinginess and Abuse

A disciple of the Buddha must not be stingy or encourage others to be stingy. He should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of stinginess. As a Bodhisattva, whenever a destitute person comes for help, he should give that person what he needs. If instead, out of anger and resentment[58],  he denies all assistance -- refusing to help with even a penny, a needle, a blade of grass, even a single sentence or verse or a phrase of Dharma, but instead scolds and abuses that person -- he commits a Parajika offense.

 

8.- GIỚI BỎN XẺN THÊM ĐUỔI MẮNG

Nếu Phật tử, tự ḿnh bỏn xẻn, bảo người bỏn xẻn; tạo nên nhân bỏn xẻn, duyên bỏn xẻn, cách thức bỏn xẻn, nghiệp bỏn xẻn. Bồ Tát Phật tử khi thấy những người bần cùng đến cầu xin, phải cấp cho theo chỗ cần dùng của họ. Mà Phật tử lại đem ḷng giận ghét, đến nỗi không cho một mảy, có người đến cầu học giáo pháp, cũng chẳng nói một kệ một câu, lại c̣n xua đuổi quở mắng, Phật tử này phạm « Bồ Tát Ba La Di tộỉ ».

 

9. Ninth Major Precept

On Anger and Resentment

A disciple of the Buddha shall not harbor anger or encourage others to be angry. He should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of anger.

As a disciple of the Buddha, he ought to be compassionate and filial, helping all sentient beings develop the good roots of non-contention. If instead, he insults and abuses sentient beings, or even transformation beings [such as deities and spirits], with harsh words, hitting them with his fists or feet, or attacking them with a knife or club -- or harbors grudges even when the victim confesses his mistakes and humbly seeks forgiveness in a soft, conciliatory voice -- the disciple commits a Parajika offense[59].

 

9.- GIỚI GIẬN HỜN KHÔNG NGUÔI

Nếu Phật tử, tự ḿnh giận, bảo người giận; tạo nên nhân giận, duyên giận, cách thức giận, nghiệp giận.

 

Người Phật tử lẽ ra phải làm cho tất cả chúng sinh được những căn lành không gây gổ; thường có ḷng từ bi, ḷng  hiếu thuận. Mà trái lại, đối với trong tất cả chúng sinh, cho đến trong loài phi chúng sinh, đem lời ác mạ nhục, c̣n thêm dùng tay, chân, dao, gậy để đánh đập mà vẫn chưa hả dạ cho đến nạn nhân kia lấy lời nhỏ nhẹ xin lỗi, cầu sám hối tạ tội, nhưng vẫn c̣n không hết giận, Phật tử này phạm  « Bồ Tát Ba La Di tộỉ ».

 

10. Tenth Major Precept

On Slandering the Triple Jewel

A Buddha's disciple shall not himself speak ill of the Triple Jewel or encourage others to do so. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods or karma of slander. If a disciple hears but a single word of slander against the Buddha from externalists or evil beings, he experiences a pain similar to that of three hundred spears piercing his heart. How then could he possibly slander the Triple Jewel himself?

Hence, if a disciple lacks faith and filial piety towards the Triple Jewel, and even assists evil persons or those of aberrant views to slander the Triple Jewel, he commits a Parajika offense[60].

 

10.- GIỚI HỦY BÁNG TAM BẢO

 

Nếu Phật tử, tự ḿnh hủy báng Tam Bảo, xúi người hủy báng Tam Bảo; tạo nên nhân hủy báng, duyên hủy báng, cách thức hủy báng, nghiệp hủy báng. Phật tử nghe một lời hủy báng Tam Bảo của ngoại đạo và kẻ ác, c̣n đau ḷng như ba trăm cây nhọn đâm vào tim ḿnh, huống là tự miệng ḿnh hủy báng. 

 

Không có đức tin và ḷng hiếu thuận đối với Tam Bảo, lại c̣n giúp sức cho những kẻ ác, kẻ tà kiến hủy báng nữa, Phật tử này phạm « Bồ Tát Ba La Di tộỉ ».

 

V. Conclusion: The Ten Major Precepts

As a disciple of the Buddha, you should study these ten parajika (major) precepts and not break any one of them in even the slightest way -- much less break all of them! Anyone guilty of doing so cannot develop the Bodhi Mind in his current life and will lose whatever high position he may have attained, be it that of an emperor, Wheel-Turning King[61], Bhiksu, Bhiksuni -- as well as whatever level of Bodhisattvahood he may have reached, whether the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, the Ten Grounds -- and all the fruits of the eternal Buddha Nature. He will lose all of those levels of attainment and descend into the Three Evil Realms[62], unable to hear the words "parents" or "Triple Jewel" for eons[63]! Therefore, Buddha's disciples should avoid breaking any one of these major precepts[64]. All of you Bodhisattvas should study and observe the Ten Precepts, which have been observed, are being observed, and will be observed by all Bodhisattvas.

They were explained in detail in the chapter, "The Eighty Thousand Rules of Conduct."[65]

***

 

V. ĐỨC PHẬT  KẾT RĂN

 

Này các Phật tử, trên đây là mười giới trọng của Bồ Tát, các Phật tử cần nên học.

Trong mười giới trọng đó không nên trái phạm một giới nào cả, dầu một mảy nhỏ như vi trần, huống chi phạm đủ cả mười giới ư! Nếu có người nào trái phạm, thời người ấy hiện đời không được phát Bồ đề tâm, rồi cũng mất ngôi Quốc Vương, ngôi Chuyển Luân Vương, ngôi Tỳ Kheo, Tỳ Kheo Ni; cũng mất những quả « Thập Phát Thủ », « Thập Trưởng Dưỡng », Thập Kim Cương », « Thập Địa  », tất cả diệu quả Phật tính thường trú đều mất, đọa trong ba ác đạo, trong hai kiếp, ba kiếp chẳng được nghe danh tự của cha mẹ và Tam Bảo. V́ thế nên không được phạm một giới nào cả. Tất cả Bồ Tát các Ngài đă học sẽ học và hiện nay học. Mười giới như thế cần nên học, hết ḷng kính trọng phụng tŕ.

 

Trong phẩm «Bát vạn oai nghi» có giảng rộng.

 


 

 

VI. The Forty-eight Secondary Precepts

Then the Buddha told the Bodhisattvas, "Now that I have explained the Ten Major Precepts, I will speak about the forty-eight secondary precepts."

 


VI. 48 ĐIỀU GIỚI KHINH

Đức Phật bảo các vị Bồ Tát rằng:

Đă giảng mười giới trọng rồi, nay tôi sẽ nói về bốn mươi tám giới khinh:

 

1. Disrespect toward Teachers and Friends

A disciple of the Buddha who is destined to become an emperor, a Wheel-Turning King, or high official should first receive the Bodhisattva precepts. He will then be under the protection of all guardian deities and spirits, and the Buddhas will be pleased[66].

Once he has received the precepts, the disciple should develop a mind of filial piety and respect. Whenever he meets an Elder Master, a monk, or a fellow cultivator of like views and like conduct, he should rise and greet him with respect. He must then respectfully make offerings to the guest-monks, in accord with the Dharma[67]. He should be willing to pledge himself, his family, as well as his kingdom, cities, jewels and other possessions.

If instead, he should develop conceit or arrogance, delusion or anger, refusing to rise and greet guest-monks and make offerings to them respectfully, in accordance with the Dharma, he commits a secondary offense.

 

1.- GIỚI KHÔNG KÍNH THẦY BẠN

Nếu Phật tử, lúc sắp lănh ngôi Quốc vương, ngôi Chuyển Luân vương, hay sắp lănh chức quan, trước nên thọ Giới Bồ Tát. Như thế tất cả quỷ thần cứu hộ thân vua và thân các quan. Chư Phật đều hoan hỷ.

 

Đă đắc giới rồi, Phật tử nên có ḷng hiếu thuận và cung kính. Nếu thấy có bậc Thượng Tọa, Ḥa Thượng, A Xà Lê, những bậc Đại đức, đồng học, đồng kiến, đồng hạnh đến nhà, phải đứng dậy tiếp rước lạy chào, hỏi thăm. Mỗi sự đều đúng như pháp mà cúng dường, hoặc tự bán thân cho đến quốc thành con cái, cùng bảy báu trăm vật để cung cấp các bậc ấy.

Nếu Phật tử lại sinh ḷng kiêu mạn, sân hận, ngu si, không chịu tiếp rước lạy chào, cho đến không chịu y theo pháp mà cúng dường, Phật tử này phạm « khinh cấu tộỉ ».

 

2. On Consuming Alcoholic Beverages

A disciple of the Buddha should not intentionally consume alcoholic beverages, as they are the source of countless offenses. If he but offers a glass of wine to another person, his retribution will be to have no hands for five hundred lifetimes[68].  How could he then consume liquor himself! Indeed, a Bodhisattva should not encourage any person or any other sentient being to consume alcohol, much less take any alcoholic beverages himself[69]. A disciple should not drink any alcoholic beverages whatsoever. If instead, he deliberately does so or encourages others to do so, he commits a secondary offense.

 

2.- GIỚI UỐNG RƯỢU

 

Nếu Phật tử cố uống rượu, mà rượu là thứ làm cho người uống hay sinh ra vô lượng tội lổi. Nếu tự tay trao chén rượu cho người uống, sẽ mang ác báo: năm trăm đời không tay, huống là tự uống. Cũng chẳng được bảo người và tất cả chúng sinh uống rượu, huống là tự ḿnh uống. Tất cả các thứ rượu Phật tử không được uống. Nếu ḿnh cố uống cùng bảo người uống. Phật tử này phạm  « khinh cấu tộỉ ».

 

3. On Eating Meat

A disciple of the Buddha must not deliberately eat meat. He should not eat the flesh of any sentient being. The meat-eater forfeits the seed of Great Compassion, severs the seed of the Buddha Nature and causes [animals and transcendental] beings to avoid him. Those who do so are guilty of countless offenses. Therefore, Bodhisattvas should not eat the flesh of any sentient beings whatsoever. If instead, he deliberately eats meat, he commits a secondary offense[70].

 

3.- GIỚI ĂN THỊT

Nếu Phật tử cố ăn thịt. Tất cả thịt của mọi loài chúng sinh đều không được ăn. Luận về người ăn thịt thời mất ḷng đại từ bi, dứt giống Phật tính; tất cả chúng sinh thấy đều tránh xa người này. Người ăn thịt mắc vô lượng tội lỗi. V́ thế nên tất cả Phật tử không được ăn tất cả thứ thịt của mọi loài chúng sinh.  Nếu cố ăn thịt, Phật tử này phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

4. On Five Pungent Herbs

A disciple of the Buddha should not eat the five pungent herbs -- garlic, chives, leeks, onions, and asafoetida[71]. This is so even if they are added as flavoring to other main dishes. Hence, if he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense.

 

4.- GIỚI ĂN NGŨ TÂN

           Nếu Phật tử, chẳng được ăn « ngũ tân » - loại hành, hẹ, tỏi, nén và hưng cừ. Loại ngũ tân này gia vào trong tất cả thứ thực phẩm đều không được ăn. Nếu cố ăn, Phật tử này phạm « khinh cấu tộỉ »

5. On Not Teaching Repentance

If a disciple of the Buddha should see any being violate the Five Precepts, the Eight Precepts, the Ten Precepts, other prohibitions, or commit any of the Seven Cardinal Sins or any offense which leads to the Eight Adversities[72] -- any violations of the precepts whatever -- he should counsel the offender to repent and reform[73].

Hence, if a Bodhisattva does not do so and furthermore continues to live together in the assembly with the offender, share in the offerings of the laity, participate in the same Uposatha[74] ceremony and recite the precepts -- while failing to bring up that person's offense, enjoining him to repent -- the disciple commits a secondary offense.

 

5.- GIỚI KHÔNG DẠY NGƯỜI SÁM TỘI

Nếu Phật tử khi thấy người phạm ngũ giới, bát giới, thập giới, phá giới, hay phạm thất nghịch, bát nạn tất cả tội phạm giới v.v... phải khuyên bảo người ấy sám hối.

 

Nếu Phật tử chẳng khuyên bảo người phạm tội sám hối, lại cùng ở chung, đồng sống chung, đồng chung Bố Tát, đồng thuyết giới, mà không cử tội người ấy, không nhắc người ấy sám hối, Phật tử này phạm « khinh cấu tộỉ ».

 

6. Failing to Request the Dharma or Make Offerings

If an Elder Master, a Mahayana monk or fellow cultivator of like views and practice should come from far away to the temple, residence, city or village of a disciple of the Buddha, the disciple should respectfully welcome him and see him off. He should minister to his needs at all times, though doing so may cost as much as three taels of gold! Moreover, the disciple of the Buddha should respectfully request the guest-master to preach the Dharma three times a day by bowing to him without a single thought of resentment or weariness[75]. He should be willing to sacrifice himself for the Dharma and never be lax in requesting it.

If he does not act in this manner, he commits a secondary offense.

 

6.- GIỚI KHÔNG CÚNG DƯỜNG THỈNH PHÁP

Nếu Phật tử, thấy có vị Pháp sư đại thừa, hay những bậc đồng học, đồng kiến, đồng hạnh đại thừa, từ trăm dặm, ngh́n dặm đến nơi tăng phường, nhà cửa, thành ấp, thời liền đứng dậy rước vào, đưa đi, lễ bái, cúng dường. Mỗi ngày ba thời cúng dường, trăm thức uống ăn, giường ghế, thuốc men, tất cả đồ cần dùng giá đáng ba lượng vàng đều phải cấp hộ cho Pháp sư. Mỗi ngày: sáng, trưa và chiều, thường thỉnh Pháp sư thuyết pháp và đảnh lễ. Không hề có ḷng sân hận buồn rầu. Luôn thỉnh pháp không mỏi nhàm, chỉ trọng pháp chứ không kể thân.

Nếu Phật tử không như thế thời phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

7. Failing to Attend Dharma Lectures

A Bodhisattva disciple who is new to the Order should take copies of the appropriate sutras or precept codes to any place where such sutras, commentaries, or moral codes are being explained, to listen, study, and inquire about the Dharma. He should go anywhere, be it in a house, beneath a tree, in a temple, in the forests or mountains, or elsewhere. If he fails to do so, he commits a secondary offense[76].

 

7.- GIỚI KHÔNG ĐI NGHE PHÁP

 

Nếu Phật tử, hàng tân học Bồ Tát, phàm nơi nào chốn nào có giảng kinh, luật, phải mang kinh, luật đến chỗ Pháp sư để nghe giảng và thưa hỏi. Hoặc nơi núi rừng, trong vườn cậy, chùa, nhà v.v... tất cả chỗ thuyết pháp đều đến nghe học. Nếu Phật tử không đến nơi ấy để nghe pháp cùng thưa hỏi, thời phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

8. On Turning Away from the Mahayana

If a disciple of the Buddha disavows the eternal Mahayana sutras and moral codes, declaring that they were not actually taught by the Buddha, and instead follows and observes those of the Two Vehicles and deluded externalists, he commits a secondary offense[77].

 

8.- GIỚI CÓ TÂM TRÁI BỎ ĐẠI THỪA

Nếu Phật tử, có quan niệm trái bỏ kinh luật Đại thừa thường trụ, cho rằng không phải của Phật nói mà đi thọ tŕ kinh luật tà kiến và tất cả cấm giới của Thanh Văn nhị thừa cùng ngoại đạo ác kiến. Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

9. On Failure to Care for the Sick

If a disciple of the Buddha should see anyone who is sick, he should wholeheartedly provide for that person's needs just as he would for a Buddha. Of the eight Fields of Blessings[78], looking after the sick is the most important. A Buddha's disciple should take care of his father, mother, Dharma teacher or disciple -- regardless of whether the latter are disabled or suffering from various kinds of diseases[79].

If instead, he becomes angry and resentful and fails to do so, or refuses to rescue the sick or disabled in temples, cities and towns, forests and mountains, or along the road, he commits a secondary offense[80].

 

9.- GIỚI KHÔNG KHÁN BỊNH

Nếu Phật tử, thấy tất cả người tật bệnh phải tận tâm cúng dường như cúng dường Phật. Trong tám phước điền, khán bệnh là « phước điền thứ nhứt ». Nếu như cha mẹ, Sư tăng cùng đệ tử có bệnh, có tật, trăm thứ bệnh đau khổ, đều nên săn sóc cho được lành mạnh,

 

Phật tử lại v́ ḷng hờn giân không chăm nuôi, nhẫn đến thấy trong Tăng phường, thành ấp, nơi núi rừng đồng nội đường xá có người tật bệnh mà không lo cứu tế, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

10. On Storing Deadly Weapons

A disciple of the Buddha should not store weapons such as knives, clubs, bows, arrows, spears, axes or any other weapons, nor may he keep nets, traps or any such devices used in destroying life[81].

As a disciple of the Buddha, he must not even avenge the death of his parents -- let alone kill sentient beings[82]! He should not store any weapons or devices that can be used to kill sentient beings. If he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense.

The first ten secondary precepts have just been described. Disciples of the Buddha should study and respectfully observe them.

They are explained in detail in the six chapters [now lost] following these precepts.

 

10.- GIỚI CHỨA KHÍ CỤ SÁT SINH

Nếu Phật tử, không được cất chứa binh khí, như dao, gậy, cung, tên, búa, đao v.v... cùng những đồ sát sinh như chài lưới, rập, bẫy v.v...

 

Là Phật tử, dầu cho đến cha mẹ bị người giết c̣n không báo thù, huống lại đi giết tất cả chúng sinh! Không được cất chứa những khí cụ sát sinh! Nếu cố cất chứa, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

Mười giới như thế, cần nên học và kính trọng phụng tŕ.

 

Trong sáu phẩm sau có giảng rộng.

 

11. On Serving as an Emissary

A disciple of the Buddha shall not, out of personal benefit or evil intentions, act as a country's emissary to foster military confrontation and war causing the slaughter of countless sentient beings. As a disciple of the Buddha, he should not be involved in military affairs, or serve as a courier between armies, much less act as a willing catalyst for war. If he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense[83].

 

11.- GIỚI ĐI SỨ

Nếu Phật tử, chẳng được v́ quyền lợi và ác tâm mà đi thông sứ mạng cho hai nước hiệp hội quân trận, đem binh đánh nhau làm cho vô lượng chúng sinh bị giết hại. Là Phật tử c̣n không được vào, cùng qua lại trong quân trận, huống lại cố làm môi giới chiến tranh. Nếu cố làm, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

12. On Unlawful Business Undertakings

A disciple of the Buddha must not deliberately trade in slaves or sell anyone into servitude, nor should he trade in domestic animals, coffins or wood for caskets. He cannot engage in these types of business himself much less encourage others to do so. Otherwise, he commits a secondary offense[84].

 

12.- GIỚI BUÔN BÁN PHI PHÁP

 

Nếu Phật tử, cố bán người lành, tôi trai tớ gái, lục súc, buôn bán quan tài, ván cây, đồ đựng thây chết, c̣n không được tự ḿnh buôn bán các thứ ấy, huống lại bảo người. Nếu cố tự buôn bán, hay bảo người buôn bán các thứ ấy, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

13. On Slander and Libel

 

A disciple of the Buddha must not, without cause and with evil intentions, slander virtuous people, such as Elder Masters, monks or nuns, kings, princes or other upright persons, saying that they have committed the Seven Cardinal Sins or broken the Ten Major Bodhisattva Precepts. He should be compassionate and filial and treat all virtuous people as if they were his father, mother, siblings or other close relatives. If instead, he slanders and harms them, he commits a secondary offense[85].

13.- GIỚI HỦY BÁNG

Nếu Phật tử, v́ ác tâm, nơi người tốt, người lành, Pháp sư, Sư Tăng, hoặc Quốc vương và hàng quư nhân, vốn vô sự mà hủy báng là phạm bảy tội nghịch, mười giới trọng. Với cha mẹ, anh, em, lục thân phải có ḷng từ bi, ḷng hiếu thuận, mà trở lại vu khống cho là phạm tội nghịch, đọa nơi ác đạo, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

14. On Starting Wildfires

A disciple of the Buddha shall not, out of evil intentions, start wildfires to clear forests and burn vegetation on mountains and plains, during the fourth to the ninth months of the lunar year. Such fires [are particularly injurious to animals during that period and may spread] to people's homes, towns and villages, temples and monasteries, fields and groves, as well as the [unseen] dwellings and possessions of deities and ghosts. He must not intentionally set fire to any place where there is life. If he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense[86].

 

14.- GIỚI PHÓNG HỎA

Nếu Phật tử, v́ tâm ác, phóng hỏa đốt núi, rừng, đồng nội. Từ tháng tư đến tháng chín phóng hỏa. Hoặc cháy lan đến nhà cửa, thành ấp, tăng phường, ruộng cây của người và cung điện tài vật của quỷ thần. Tất cả chỗ có sinh vật không được cố thiêu đốt. Nếu cố thiêu đốt, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

15. Teaching Non-Mahayana Dharma

A disciple of the Buddha must teach one and all, from fellow disciples, relatives and spiritual friends, to externalists and evil beings, how to receive and observe the Mahayana sutras and moral codes. He should teach the Mahayana principles to them and help them develop the Bodhi Mind -- as well as the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices and the Ten Dedications, explaining the order and function of each of these Thirty Minds (levels).

If instead, the disciple, with evil, hateful intentions, perversely teaches them the sutras and moral codes of the Two Vehicle tradition as well as the commentaries of deluded externalists, he thereby commits a secondary offense[87].

 

15.- GIỚI DẠY GIÁO LƯ NGOÀI ĐẠI THỪA

Nếu Phật tử, từ Phật tử, lục thân, tất cả thiện tri thức, đến ngoại đạo ác nhân, đều phải khuyên bảo thọ tŕ kinh luật đại thừa. Nên giảng cho hiểu nghĩa lư khiến phát Bồ đề tâm, Thập Phát Thú tâm, Thập Trưởng Dưỡng tâm, Thập Kim Cương tâm. Trong ba mươi tâm ấy, giảng cho họ hiểu pháp đúng tuần thứ của mỗi món.

 

Mà Phật tử lại ác tâm, sân tâm đem kinh luật của Thanh Văn nhị thừa cùng các bộ luận của ngoại đạo tà kiến để dạy ngang cho người. Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

16. Unsound Explanation of the Dharma

A Bodhisattva Dharma Master must first, with a wholesome mind, study the rules of deportment, as well as sutras and moral codes of the Mahayana tradition, and understand their meanings in depth. Then, whenever novices come from afar to seek instruction, he should explain, according to the Dharma, all the Bodhisattva renunciation practices, such as burning one's body, arm, or finger [as the ultimate act in the quest for Supreme Enlightenment]. If a novice is not prepared to follow these practices as an offering to the Buddhas, he is not a Bodhisattva monk. Moreover, a Bodhisattva monk should be willing to sacrifice his body and limbs for starving beasts and hungry ghosts [as the ultimate act of compassion in rescuing sentient beings][88].

After these explanations, the Bodhisattva Dharma Master should teach the novices in an orderly way, to awaken their minds. If instead, for personal gain, he refuses to teach or teaches in a confused manner, quoting passages out of order and context, or teaches in a manner that disparages the Triple Jewel, he commits a secondary offense.

 

16.- GIỚI V̀ LỢI MÀ GIẢNG PHÁP LỘN LẠO

Nếu Phật tử, phải tận tâm học kinh luật oai nghi đại thừa, thông hiểu nghĩa lư, khi thấy có hàng tân học Bồ Tát từ xa trăm dặm ngh́n dặm đến cầu học kinh luật đại thừa, nên đúng như pháp giảng giải tất cả khổ hạnh, hoặc đốt thân, hoặc đốt cánh tay, đốt ngón tay. Nếu không đốt thân hay cánh tay, ngón tay cúng dường chư Phật thời không phải là hàng Bồ Tát xuất gia. Nhẫn đến xả thịt nơi thân cùng tay chân mà bố thí cho tất cả những cọp, sói, sư tử đói, cùng tất cả loài quỷ đói.

 

Rồi sau mới tuần tự theo căn cơ của mỗi người giảng chánh pháp cho hàng tân học ấy được mở thông tâm ư. Nếu Phật tử v́ quyền lợi, đáng dạy mà không dạy, lại giảng kinh luật một cách điên đảo, văn tự lộn xộn không có thứ lớp trước sau, thuyết pháp có tính cách hủy báng Tam Bảo. Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

17. On Exacting Donations

A disciple of the Buddha must not, for the sake of food, drink, money, possessions or fame, approach and befriend kings, princes, or high officials and [on the strength of such relationships], exact money, goods or other advantages. Nor may he encourage others to do so. These actions are called untoward, excessive demands and lack compassion and filial piety. Such a disciple commits a secondary offense[89].

 

17.- GIỚI CẬY THẾ LỰC QUYÊN GÓP

Nếu Phật tử, tự ḿnh v́ việc ăn uống tiền của, lợi dưỡng, danh dự mà thân cận quốc vương, hoàng tử cùng các quan, nương quyền cậy thế bức người để lấy tiền của, lại bảo người khác cũng cầu lợi như vậy. Tất cả sự cầu lợi ấy gọi là ác cầu, đa cầu, đều không có ḷng từ bi, ḷng hiếu thuận. Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

18. On Serving as an Inadequate Master

A disciple of the Buddha should study the Twelve Divisions of the Dharma[90] and recite the Bodhisattva precepts frequently. He should strictly observe these precepts in the Six Periods of the day and night and fully understand their meaning and principles as well as the essence of their Buddha Nature[91].

If instead, the disciple of the Buddha fails to understand even a sentence or a verse of the moral code or the causes and conditions related to the precepts, but pretends to understand them, he is deceiving both himself and others. A disciple who understands nothing of the Dharma, yet acts as a teacher transmitting the precepts, commits a secondary offense.

 

18.- GIỚI KHÔNG THÔNG HIỂU MÀ LÀM THẦY TRUYỀN GIỚI

 

Nếu Phật tử phải học mười hai phần kinh, thường tụng giới. Mỗi ngày sáu thời, nghiêm tŕ Bồ Tát giới, hiểu rơ nghĩa lư tính Phật tính của giới.

 

Nếu Phật tử không hiểu một kệ một câu cùng nhân duyên của giới luật, mà dối rằng thông hiểu, đó chính là dối gạt ḿnh và cũng là dối gạt người khác. Không hiểu một pháp, không biết một luật mà lại đi làm thầy truyền giới cho người. Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

19. On Double-tongued Speech

A disciple of the Buddha must not, with malicious intent gossip or spread rumors and slander, create discord and disdain for virtuous people. [An example is] disparaging a monk who observes the Bodhisattva precepts, as he [makes offerings to the Buddhas by] holding an incense burner to his forehead[92]. A disciple of the Buddha who does so commits a secondary offense.

 

19.- GIỚI LƯỠNG THIỆT (lưỡi đôi chiều)

Nếu Phật tử, v́ ác tâm, thấy thầy Tỳ kheo tŕ giới tay bưng lư hương, tu hạnh Bồ Tát, tự đi đâm thọc hai đầu, cho sinh sự bất ḥa khinh khi người hiền, tạo nhiều tội ác. Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

20. Failure to Liberate Sentient Beings

A disciple of the Buddha should have a mind of compassion and cultivate the practice of liberating sentient beings. He must reflect thus: throughout the eons of time, all male sentient beings have been my father, all female sentient beings my mother. I was born of them[93]. If I now slaughter them, I would be slaughtering my parents as well as eating flesh that was once my own. This is so because all elemental earth, water, fire and air -- the four constituents of all life -- have previously been part of my body, part of my substance. I must therefore always cultivate the practice of liberating sentient beings and enjoin others to do likewise -- as sentient beings are forever reborn, again and again, lifetime after lifetime. If a Bodhisattva sees an animal on the verge of being killed, he must devise a way to rescue and protect it, helping it to escape suffering and death. The disciple should always teach the Bodhisattva precepts to rescue and deliver sentient beings[94].

On the day his father, mother, and siblings die, he should invite Dharma Masters to explain the Bodhisattva sutras and precepts. This will generate merits and virtues and help the deceased either to achieve rebirth in the Pure Lands and meet the Buddhas or to secure rebirth in the human or celestial realms[95]. If instead, a disciple fails to do so, he commits a secondary offense.

You should study and respectfully observe the above ten precepts. Each of them is explained in detail in the chapter "Expiating Offenses."

 

20.- GIỚI KHÔNG PHÓNG SINH

 

Nếu Phật tử, v́ tâm từ bi mà làm việc phóng sinh. Tất cả người nam là cha ta, tất cả người nữ là mẹ ta. Từ nhiều đời ta đều thác sinh từ nơi đó. V́ lẽ ấy nên chúng sinh trong sáu đường đều là cha mẹ ta. Nếu giết chúng để ăn thịt, thời chính là giết cha mẹ ta, mà cũng là giết thân cũ của ta.

Tất cả chất bốn đại đều là bổn thân bổn thể của ta, cho nên phải thường làm việc phóng sinh và khuyên bảo người làm.

Nếu lúc thấy người đời sát sinh, nên t́m cách cứu hộ cho chúng được thoát khỏi nạn khổ! Thường đem giới Bồ Tát giảng dạy để cứu độ chúng sinh.

Nếu ngày cha mẹ hay anh em chết, nên thỉnh Pháp sư giảng kinh luật Bồ Tát giới. Người chết nhờ phước đức ấy, hoặc được văng sinh Tịnh độ ra mắt chư Phật, hay thác sinh trong cơi trời cơi người. Nếu không làm các điều trên đây, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

Mười giới như thế cần nên học tập kính trọng phụng tŕ. Như trong phẩm « Diệt tội » giảng rơ mỗi giới.

 

21. On Violence and Vengefulness

A disciple of the Buddha must not return anger for anger, blow for blow. He should not seek revenge, even if his father, mother, siblings, or close relatives are killed -- nor should he do so if the ruler or king of his country is murdered. To take the life of one being in order to avenge the killing of another is contrary to filial piety[96] [as we are all related through the eons of birth and rebirth].

Furthermore, he should not keep others in servitude, much less beat or abuse them, creating evil karma of mind, speech and body day after day -- particularly the offenses of speech. How much less should he deliberately commit the Seven Cardinal Sins. Therefore, if a Bodhisattva-monk lacks compassion and deliberately seeks revenge, even for an injustice done to his close relatives, he commits a secondary offense.

 

21.- GIỚI ĐEM SÂN BÁO SÂN, ĐEM ĐÁNH TRẢ ĐÁNH

Nếu Phật tử, không được đem giận trả giận, đem đánh trả đánh. Nếu cha mẹ anh em hay lục thân bị người giết cũng chẳng báo thù, hoặc quốc chủ bị người thí chết cũng chẳng được báo thù. Giết sinh mạng để báo thù sinh mạng, đó là việc không thuận với hiếu đạo.

 

Cũng lại không được chứa nuôi tớ, rồi đánh đập mắng nhiếc chúng, mỗi ngày tam nghiệp tạo vô lượng tội, nhất là khẩu nghiệp. Huống lại cố đi làm tội thất nghịch.

Nếu xuất gia Bồ Tát không có ḷng từ bi cố báo thù, nhẫn đến cố báo thù cho trong hàng lục thân. Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

22. Arrogance and Failure to Request the Dharma

A disciple of the Buddha who has only recently left home and is still a novice in the Dharma should not be conceited. He must not refuse instruction on the sutras and moral codes from Dharma Masters on account of his own intelligence, worldly learning, high position, advanced age, noble lineage, vast understanding, great merits, extensive wealth and possessions, etc. Although these Masters may be of humble birth, young in age, poor, or suffering physical disabilities, they may still have genuine virtue and deep understanding of sutras and moral codes.

The novice Bodhisattva should not judge Dharma Masters on the basis of their family background and refuse to seek instructions on the Mahayana truths from them. If he does so, he commits a secondary offense[97].

 

22.- GIỚI KIÊU MẠN KHÔNG NGHE PHÁP

Nếu Phật tử, mới xuất gia chưa hiểu kinh luật, mà tự ỷ ḿnh là trí thức thông minh, hoặc ỷ ḿnh là cao quư, lớn tuổi, hoặc ỷ ḿnh là ḍng sang, con nhà quyền quư, hoặc ỷ ḿnh học rộng, phước to, giàu lớn v.v... rồi sinh ḷng kiêu mạn mà không chịu học hỏi kinh luật với các vị Pháp sư học đạo trước ḿnh. Vị Pháp sư ấy hoặc ḍng hèn, con nhà hạ tiện, tuổi trẻ nghèo nàn, hèn hạ, hay có tật nguyền, nhưng lại thiệt có đức hạnh cùng thông hiểu nhiều kinh luật.

 

Hàng tân học Bồ Tát không được nh́n vào ḍng giống vị Pháp sư mà không chịu đến học đạo lư đại thừa với vị ấy. Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

23. On Teaching the Dharma Grudgingly

After my passing, if a disciple should, with a wholesome mind, wish to receive the Bodhisattva precepts, he may make a vow to do so before the images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and practice repentance before these images for seven days. If he then experiences a vision, he has received the precepts. If he does not, he should continue doing so for fourteen days, twenty-one days, or even a whole year, seeking to witness an auspicious sign. After witnessing such a sign, he could, in front of images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, formally receive the precepts. If he has not witnessed such a sign, although he may have accepted the precepts before the Buddha images, he has not actually received the precepts.

However, the witnessing of auspicious signs is not necessary if the disciple receives the precepts directly from a Dharma Master who has himself received the precepts. Why is this so? It is because this is a case of transmission from Master to Master and therefore all that is required is a mind of utter sincerity and respect on the part of the disciple.

If, within a radius of some three hundred fifty miles, a disciple cannot find a Master capable of conferring the Bodhisattva precepts, he may seek to receive them in front of Buddha or Bodhisattva images. However, he must witness an auspicious sign.

If a Dharma Master, on account of his extensive knowledge of sutras and Mahayana moral codes as well as his close relationship with kings, princes, and high officials, refuses to give appropriate answers to student-Bodhisattvas seeking the meaning of sutras and moral codes, or does so grudgingly, with resentment and arrogance, he commits a secondary offense.

 

23.- GIỚI KHINH MẠN KHÔNG TẬN TÂM DẠY

Nếu Phật tử, sau khi Phật nhập diệt, lúc có tâm tốt muốn thọ giới Bồ Tát, thời đối trước tượng Phật, cùng tượng Bồ Tát mà tự nguyện thọ giới. Nên ở trước tượng Phật và tượng Bồ Tát sám hối trong bảy ngày, hễ được thấy hảo tướng là đắc giới. Như chưa thấy hảo tướng thời phải sám hối mười bốn ngày, hăm mốt ngày, hay đến cả năm, cầu thấy được hảo tướng. Khi được thấy hảo tướng rồi, thời được đối trước tượng Phật Bồ Tát mà thọ giới. Như chưa thấy hảo tướng th́ dầu có đối trước tượng Phật thọ giới vẫn không gọi là đắc giới.

 

Nếu đối trước vị Pháp sư đă thọ giới Bồ Tát mà thọ giới, thời không cần thấy hảo tướng. Tại sao vậy? V́ vị Pháp sư ấy là chư sư truyền giới cho nhau, nên không cần hảo tướng. Hễ đối trước vị Pháp sư ấy mà thọ giới liền đắc giới, do v́ hết ḷng kính trọng nên đắc giới.

 

Nếu ở trong ṿng ngh́n dặm, mà t́m không được vị Pháp sư truyền giới, thời Phật tử được phép đối trước tượng Phật và Bồ Tát mà tự nguyện thọ giới Bồ Tát, nhưng cần phải thấy hảo tướng.

 

Nếu các vị Pháp sư ỷ ḿnh thông kinh luật cùng giới pháp đại thừa, kết giao với các nhà quyền quư, khi có hàng tân học Bồ Tát đến cầu học nghĩa kinh, luật, lại giận ghét, hay khinh ngạo, không chịu tận tâm chỉ bảo, vị nầy phạm “khinh cấu tội”.

 

24. Failure to Practice Mahayana Teachings

If a disciple of the Buddha fails to study Mahayana sutras and moral codes assiduously and cultivate correct views, correct nature and the correct Dharma Body, it is like abandoning the Seven Precious Jewels[98] for [mere stones]: worldly texts and the Two-Vehicle or externalist commentaries[99]. To do so is to create the causes and conditions that obstruct the Path to Enlightenment and cut himself off from his Buddha Nature. It is a failure to follow the Bodhisattva path. If a disciple intentionally acts in such a manner, he commits a secondary offense.

 

24.- GIỚI KHÔNG TẬP HỌC ĐẠI THỪA

Nếu Phật tử, có kinh luật đại thừa pháp, chính kiến, chính tín, chính pháp thân của Phật, mà không chịu siêng học siêng tu, lại bỏ bảy của báu, trở học những sách luận tà kiến của nhị thừa, ngoại đạo, thế tục, đó là làm mất giống Phật, là nhân duyên chướng đạo, chẳng phải thật hành đạo Bồ Tát. Nếu cố làm như vậy, Phật tử nầy phạm “khinh cấu tội”.

 

25. Unskilled Leadership of the Assembly

After my passing, if a disciple should serve as an abbot, elder Dharma Master, Precept Master, Meditation Master, or Guest Prefect, he must develop a compassionate mind and peacefully settle differences within the Assembly -- skillfully administering the resources of the Three Jewels, spending frugally and not treating them as his own property[100]. If instead, he were to create disorder, provoke quarrels and disputes or squander the resources of the Assembly, he would commit a secondary offense.

 

25.- GIỚI TRI CHÚNG VỤNG VỀ

 

Nếu Phật tử, sau khi Phật nhập diệt làm Pháp sư, Giảng sư, Luật sư, Thiền sư, Thủ tọa, Tri sự, Tri khách, phải có ḷng từ bi khéo ḥa giải trong chúng, khéo giữ như của riêng ḿnh, mà trở lại khuấy chúng gây gổ, ḱnh chống, lung ḷng xài của Tam Bảo, Phật tử nầy phạm “khinh cấu tội”.

 

26. Accepting Personal Offerings

Once a disciple of the Buddha has settled down in a temple, if visiting Bodhisattva Bhiksus should arrive at the temple precincts, the guest quarters established by the king, or even the summer retreat quarters, or the quarters of the Great Assembly, the disciple should welcome the visiting monks and see them off. He should provide them with such essentials as food and drink, a place to live, beds, chairs, and the like. If the host does not have the necessary means, he should be willing to pawn himself or cut off and sell his own flesh[101].

Whenever there are meal offerings and ceremonies at a layman's home, visiting monks should be given a fair share of the offerings. The abbot should send the monks, whether residents or guests, to the donor's place in turn[102] [according to their sacerdotal age or merits and virtues]. If only resident monks are allowed to accept invitations and not visiting monks, the abbot is committing a grievous offense and is behaving no differently than an animal. He is unworthy of being a monk or a son of the Buddha, and is guilty of a secondary offense.

 

26.- GIỚI RIÊNG THỌ LỢI DƯỠNG

Nếu Phật tử đă ở trước trong Tăng phường, lúc sau thấy có khách Bồ Tát Tỳ Kheo đến, hoặc nơi thành ấp nhà cửa của Tăng hay của vua, nhẫn đến chỗ kiết hạ an cư cùng trong đại hội ... chư Tăng ở trước phải rước đến đưa đi, cung cấp cho những đồ uống ăn, đồ nằm, thuốc men, nhà, pḥng, giường, ghế v.v... Nếu tự ḿnh không có, th́ phải bán thân, bán con cái, lóc thịt thân ḿnh mà bán, để sắm đồ cung cấp cho những khách Tăng ấy.

 

Nếu có thí chủ thỉnh chúng Tăng thọ trai, khách Tăng có dự phần, vị Tri sự phải theo thứ tự phái khách Tăng đi thọ trai. Nếu chư Tăng ở trước riêng đi thọ trai mà không phái khách Tăng đi, thời vị Tri sự mắc vô lượng tội, không đáng là hàng Sa Môn, không phải ḍng Thích Tử, nào khác ǵ loài súc sinh. Phật tử nầy phạm “khinh cấu tội”.

 

27. Accepting Discriminatory Invitations

A disciple of the Buddha must not accept personal invitations nor appropriate the offerings for himself. Such offerings rightly belong to the Sangha -- the whole community of monks and nuns of the Ten Directions. To accept personal offerings is to steal the possessions of the Sangha of the Ten Directions. It is tantamount to stealing what belongs to the Eight Fields of Blessings: Buddhas, Sages, Dharma Masters, Precept Masters, monks/nuns, mothers, fathers, the sick. Such a disciple commits a secondary offense[103].

 

27.- GIỚI NHẬN CỦA RIÊNG

 

Nếu Phật tử; tất cả chẳng được nhận của cúng dường dành riêng về ḿnh. Của cúng dựng nầy thuộc về thập phương Tăng, nếu nhận riêng thời là lấy của thập phương Tăng đem về phần ḿnh. Và của vật trong tám phước điền: Chư Phật, Thánh nhân, Pháp sư, Luật sư, các sư tăng, cha, mẹ, và người bệnh, tự ḿnh riêng nhận dùng. Phật tử nầy phạm “ khinh cấu tội”.

 

28. Issuing Discriminatory Invitations

A disciple of the Buddha, be he a Bodhisattva monk, lay Bodhisattva, or other donor, should, when inviting monks or nuns to conduct a prayer session, come to the temple and inform the monk in charge. The monk will then tell him: "Inviting members of the Sangha according to the proper order is tantamount to inviting the Arhats[104] of the Ten Directions. To offer a discriminatory special invitation to [such a worthy group as] five hundred Arhats or Bodhisattva-monks will not generate as much merit as inviting one ordinary monk, if it is his turn[105]."

There is no provision in the teachings of the Seven Buddhas[106] for discriminatory invitations. To do so is to follow externalist practices and to contradict filial piety [toward all sentient beings]. If a disciple deliberately issues a discriminatory invitation, he commits a secondary offense.

 

28.- GIỚI BIỆT THỈNH TĂNG

 

Nếu Phật tử, có những hàng Bồ Tát xuất gia, Bồ Tát tại gia và tất cả đàn việt lúc muốn thỉnh Tăng để cúng dường cầu nguyện, nên vào Tăng phựng thưa với vị Tri sự. Vị Tri sự bảo rằng: theo thứ tự mà thỉnh thời được thập phương Hiền Thánh Tăng. Mà người đời thỉnh riêng năm trăm vị A La Hán Bồ Tát Tăng vẫn không bằng theo thứ tự thỉnh một phàm phu Tăng.

 

Trong giáo pháp của bảy Đức Phật đều không có pháp thỉnh Tăng riêng. Nếu thỉnh Tăng riêng đó là pháp của ngoại đạo, là không thuận với hiếu đạo. Nếu Phật tử cố thỉnh riêng thời phạm “khinh cấu tội”.

 

29. On Improper Livelihoods

A disciple of the Buddha should not, for the sake of gain or with evil intentions, engage in the business of prostitution, selling the wiles and charms of men and women[107]. He must also not cook for himself, milling and pounding grain. Neither may he act as a fortune-teller predicting the gender of children, reading dreams and the like. Nor shall he practice sorcery, work as a trainer of falcons or hunting dogs, nor make a living concocting hundreds and thousands of poisons from deadly snakes, insects, or from gold and silver. Such occupations lack mercy, compassion, and filial piety [toward sentient beings]. Therefore, if a Bodhisattva intentionally engages in these occupations, he commits a secondary offense.

 

29.- GIỚI TÀ MẠNG NUÔI SỐNG

Nếu Phật tử dùng ác tâm v́ lợi dưỡng buôn bán nam sắc, nữ sắc, tự tay làm đồ ăn, tự xay, tự giă, xem tướng, bàn mộng, đoán sẽ sinh trai hay gái, bùa chú, pháp thuật, nghề nghiệp, phương pháp nuôi ó và chó săn, ḥa hiệp trăm thứ thuốc độc, ngh́n thứ thuốc độc, độc rắn, độc sinh kim, sinh ngân, độc sâu cổ, đều không có ḷng từ bi, ḷng hiếu thuận. Nếu cố làm các điều như thế, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

30. On Handling Business Affairs for the Laity

A disciple of the Buddha must not, with evil intentions, slander the Triple Jewel while pretending to be their close adherent -- preaching the Truth of Emptiness while his actions are in the realm of Existence. Furthermore, he must not handle worldly affairs for the laity, acting as a go-between or matchmaker[108] -- creating the karma of attachment. Moreover, during the six days of fasting each month and the three months of fasting each year[109], a disciple should strictly observe all precepts, particularly against killing, stealing and the rules against breaking the fast. Otherwise, the disciple commits a secondary offense[110].

A Bodhisattva should respectfully study and observe the ten preceding precepts. They are explained in detail in the Chapter on "Prohibitions".[111]

 

30.- GIỚI QUẢN LƯ CHO BẠCH Y

Nếu Phật tử v́ ác tâm, tự ḿnh hủy báng Tam Bảo, giả tuồng kính mến, miệng th́ nói không, mà hành vi lại ở trong có, làm quản lư cho hàng bạch y làm mai làm mối cho nam nữ giao hội dâm sắc, gây thành các nghiệp kiết phược; những ngày lục trai trong mỗi tháng, ba tháng trường trai trong mỗi năm, làm việc sát sinh, trộm cướp, phá trai, phạm giới. Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

Mười giới như thế, cần nên học hết ḷng kính trọng phụng tŕ. Trong phẩm « chế giới » có giảng rơ.

 

31. Rescuing Clerics Along with Sacred Objects

After my passing, in the evil periods that will follow, there will be externalists, evil persons, thieves and robbers who steal and sell statues and paintings of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and [those to whom respect is due such as] their parents. They may even peddle copies of sutras and moral codes, or sell monks, nuns or those who follow the Bodhisattva Path or have developed the Bodhi Mind to serve as retainers or servants to officials and others[112].

A disciple of the Buddha, upon witnessing such pitiful events, must develop a mind of compassion and find ways to rescue and protect all persons and valuables, raising funds wherever he can for this purpose. If a Bodhisattva does not act in this manner, he commits a secondary offense.

 

31.- GIỚI KHÔNG MUA CHUỘC

 

Nếu Phật tử, sau khi Phật nhập diệt ở trong đời ác, thấy hàng ngoại đạo, bọn giặc cướp cùng tất cả người ác đem bán h́nh tượng Phật, Bồ Tát, cha mẹ, đem bán kinh luật, đem bán Tỳ Kheo, Tỳ Kheo Ni, cùng người hành đạo Bồ Tát, kẻ phát tâm Bồ đề, để làm tay sai cho các quan hay làm tôi tớ cho mọi người.

 

Phật tử thấy những sự như thế, nên có ḷng từ bi t́m cách cứu vớt. Nếu không đủ sức, Phật tử phải đi quyên tiền các nơi để chuộc h́nh tượng Phât, Bồ Tát và tất cả kinh luật, chuộc Tỳ Kheo, Tỳ Kheo Ni, người tu hạnh Bồ Tát, kẻ phát tâm Bồ đề. Nếu không chuộc, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

32. On Harming Sentient Beings

A disciple of the Buddha must not sell knives[113], clubs, bows, arrows, other life-taking devices, nor keep altered scales or measuring devices. He should not abuse his governmental position to confiscate people's possessions[114], nor should he, with malice at heart, restrain or imprison others or sabotage their success. In addition, he should not raise cats, dogs, foxes, pigs and other such animals[115]. If he intentionally does such things, he commits a secondary offense.

 

32.- GIỚI TỔN HẠI CHÚNG SANH

Nếu Phật tử không được buôn bán dao, gậy, cung, tên những khí giới sát sinh. Không được chứa cân non giạ thiếu. Không được nương thế lực quan quyền mà lấy tài vật của người. Không được ác tâm trói buộc người, và phá hoại việc thành công của người. Không được nuôi mèo, chồn, heo, chó. Nếu cố tâm làm các điều trên, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

33. On Watching Improper Activities

A disciple of the Buddha must not, with evil intentions, watch people fighting or the battling of armies, rebels, gangs and the like[116]. He should not listen to the sounds of conch shells, drums, horns, guitars, flutes, lutes, songs or other music, nor should he be party to any form of gambling, whether dice, checkers, or the like[117]. Furthermore, he should not practice fortune-telling or divination nor should he be an accomplice to thieves and bandits. He must not participate in any of these activities. If instead, he intentionally does so, he commits a secondary offense.

 

33.- GIỚI TÀ NGHIỆP GIÁC QUÁN

Nếu Phật tử không v́ ác tâm đi xem tất cả nam nữ v.v... đánh nhau, hay binh trận binh tướng hoặc cướp v.v... đấu chiến nhau. Cũng chẳng được đi xem hát, nghe nhạc, chơi cờ, đánh bạc, đá cầu, đá bóng v.v... Cho đến bói xủ. Chẳng được làm tay sai cho kẻ trộm cướp. Nếu cố làm các điều trên, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

34. Temporary Abandoning of the Bodhi Mind

A disciple of the Buddha should observe the Bodhisattva precepts every day, whether walking, standing, reclining or seated -- reading and reciting them day and night. He should be resolute in keeping the precepts, as strong as a diamond, as desperate as a shipwrecked person clinging to a small log while attempting to cross the ocean, or as principled as the "Bhiksu bound by reeds"[118]. Furthermore, he should always have a wholesome faith in the teachings of the Mahayana. Conscious that sentient beings are Buddhas-to-be while the Buddhas are realized Buddhas, he should develop the Bodhi Mind and maintain it in each and every thought, without retrogression[119].

If a Bodhisattva has but a single thought in the direction of the Two Vehicles or externalist teachings, he commits a secondary offense.

 

34.- GIỚI TẠM BỎ BỒ ĐỀ TÂM    

 

Nếu Phật tử, ngày đêm sáu thời đọc tụng giới Bồ Tát nầy. Nên giữ ǵn giới luật trong tất cả khi đi đứng nằm ngồi, vững chắc như kim cương, như đeo trái nổi để qua biển lớn, như các Tỳ Kheo bị cột bằng dây đỏ. Thường có tín tâm lành đối với Đại thừa. Tự biết rằng ḿnh là Phật chưa thành, c̣n chư Phật là Phật đă thành, rồi phát Bồ đề tâm và giữ vững không thối chuyển.

Nếu có một tâm niệm xu hướng theo Nhị thừa hay ngoại đạo, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

35. Failure to Make Great Vows

A Bodhisattva must make many great vows -- to be filial to his parents and Dharma teachers, to meet good spiritual advisors[120], friends, and colleagues who will keep teaching him the Mahayana sutras and moral codes as well as the Stages of Bodhisattva Practice[121] (the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, and the Ten Grounds). He should further vow to understand these teachings clearly so that he can practice according to the Dharma while resolutely keeping the precepts of the Buddhas. If necessary, he should lay down his life rather than abandon this resolve for even a single moment. If a Bodhisattva does not make such vows, he commits a secondary offense.

 

35.- GIỚI KHÔNG PHÁT NGUYỆN

Nếu Phật tử,  nên phát những điều nguyện lớn: nguyện ở hiếu thuận với cha mẹ, Sư Tăng - Nguyện đặng gặp được thầy tốt - bạn thiện tri thức - thường dạy bảo tôi các kinh luật Đại thừa - dạy cho tôi về « Thập Phát Thú » - « Thập Trưởng Dưỡng » - « Thập Kim Cương » - « Thập Địa » Cho tôi hiểu rơ để tu hành đúng với chánh pháp - nguyện giữ vững giới của Phật: thà chết chớ không chịu phai ḷng. Nếu các Phật tử không phát những điều nguyện trên đây thời phạm «  khinh cấu tội ».

 

36. Failure to Make Resolutions

Once a Bodhisattva has made these Great Vows, he should strictly keep the precepts of the Buddhas and make the following resolutions:

1.- I would rather jump into a raging blaze, a deep abyss, or into a mountain of knives, than engage in impure actions with any woman, thus violating the sutras and moral codes of the Buddhas of the Three Periods of Time.

2.- I would rather wrap myself a thousand times with a red-hot iron net, than let this body, should it break the precepts, wear clothing provided by the faithful.

I would rather swallow red hot iron pellets and drink molten iron for hundreds of thousands of eons, than let this mouth, should it break the precepts, consume food and drink provided by the faithful.

I would rather lie on a bonfire or a burning iron net than let this body, should it break the precepts, rest on bedding, blankets and mats supplied by the faithful.

I would rather be impaled for eons by hundreds of spears, than let this body, should it break the precepts, receive medications from the faithful.

I would rather jump into a cauldron of boiling oil and roast for hundreds of thousands of eons, than let this body, should it break the precepts, receive shelter, groves, gardens, or fields from the faithful.

3.- I would rather be pulverized from head to toe by an iron sledge hammer, than let this body, should it break the precepts, accept respect and reverence from the faithful[122].

4.- I would rather have both eyes blinded by hundreds of thousands of swords and spears, rather than break the precepts by looking at beautiful forms. [In the same vein, I shall keep my mind from being sullied by exquisite sounds, fragrances, food and sensations.] 

5.- I further vow that all sentient beings will achieve Buddhahood[123].

If a disciple of the Buddha does not make the preceding great resolutions, he commits a secondary offense.

 

36.- GIỚI KHÔNG ĐƯỢC KHÔNG PHÁT ĐẠI THỆ
(dành cho chư tăng)

Phật tử th́ phát khởi mười lời nguyền rộng lớn rồi, để kiên tŕ giới pháp của Phật, lại có những lời thề như sau:

Thà đem thân này gieo xuống hố lửa, núi dao, quyết không phá hủy giới pháp của tam thế chư Phật bằng cách làm sự bất tịnh với bất cứ nữ nhân nào.

Lại thề rằng thà bị lưới sắt nóng ngàn lớp quấn lấy thân thể, quyết không đem cái thân phá giới mà mặc y phục của tín đồ hiến cúng.

Thề rằng thà miệng phải nuốt viên sắt nóng hay ḍng lửa dữ đến cả trăm ngàn đời, quyết không đem cái miệng phá giới mà ăn thực phẩm của tín đồ hiến cúng.

Thề rằng thà thân này phải nằm trong lưới sắt đỏ hay trên đất sắt nóng, quyết không đem cái thân phá giới mà nằm ngồi giường ghế của tín đồ hiến cúng.

Thề rằng thà thân này một đời vài đời chịu hàng trăm mũi giáo đâm vào, quyết không đem cái thân phá giới mà dùng dược phẩm của tín đồ hiến cúng.

Thề rằng thà thân này gieo vào vạc sắt nóng đến cả trăm ngàn đời, quyết không đem cái thân phá giới mà ở pḥng ốc, nhà cửa, vườn tược và đất đai của tín đồ hiến cúng.

Lại thề rằng thà thân này bị chùy sắt giáng đập từ đầu đến chân nát như bụi nhỏ, quyết không đem cái thân phá giới mà nhận sự cung kính lễ bái của tín đồ.

Lại thề rằng thà bị cả trăm cả ngàn khí cụ bằng sắt nóng móc mất đôi mắt đi, quyết không đem đôi mắt ấy với tâm phá giới mà nh́n vào sắc đẹp; thề rằng thà một đời hai đời bị cả trăm cả ngàn dùi sắt đâm vào hai tai, quyết không đem hai tai ấy với tâm phá giới mà nghe đến tiếng hay; thề rằng thà bị cả trăm cả ngàn dao bén cắt mất mũi đi, quyết không đem cái mũi ấy với tâm phá giới mà ngửi đến hơi thơm; thề rằng thà cái lưỡi bị cả trăm cả ngàn dao bén cắt đứt, quyết không đem cái lưỡi ấy với tâm phá giới mà nếm vào mùi ngon; thề rằng thà thân này bị chặt bị xả bởi búa sắc, quyết không đem cái thân ấy với tâm phá giới mà chạm vào chỗ ưa thích.

Lại phát khởi lời thề như sau, thề làm cho hết thảy chúng sinh đều thành Phật đà.

Nếu là Bồ tát mà không phát khởi những lời thề như vậy th́ phạm tội khinh cấu.

 

37. Traveling in Dangerous Areas

[As a cleric], a disciple of the Buddha should engage in  ascetic practices[124] twice each year. He should sit in meditation, winter and summer, and observe the summer retreat. During those periods, he should always carry eighteen essentials such as a willow branch (for a toothbrush), ash-water (for soap), the traditional three clerical robes, an incense burner, a begging bowl, a sitting mat, a water filter, bedding, copies of sutras and moral codes as well as statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

When practicing austerities and when traveling, be it for thirty miles or three hundred miles, a cleric should always have the eighteen essentials with him. The two periods of austerities are from the 15th of the first lunar month to the 15th of the third month, and from the 15th of the eighth lunar month to the 15th of the tenth month. During the periods of austerities, he requires these eighteen essentials just as a bird needs its two wings.

Twice each month, the novice Bodhisattva should attend the Uposattha ceremony and recite the Ten Major and Forty-eight Secondary Precepts. Such recitations should be done before images of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If only one person attends the ceremony, then he should do the reciting. If two, three, or even hundreds of thousands attend the ceremony, still only one person should recite. Everyone else should listen in silence. The one reciting should sit on a higher level than the audience, and everyone should be dressed in clerical robes. During the summer retreat, each and every activity should be managed in accordance with the Dharma.

When practicing the austerities, the Buddhist disciple should avoid dangerous areas, unstable kingdoms, countries ruled by evil kings, precipitous terrains, remote wildernesses, regions inhabited by bandits, thieves, or lions, tigers, wolves, poisonous snakes, or areas subject to hurricanes, floods and fires. The disciple should avoid all such dangerous areas when practicing the austerities and also when observing the summer retreat[125]. Otherwise, he commits a secondary offense.

 

37.- KHÔNG ĐƯỢC MẠO HIỂM TAI NẠN
(dành cho chư tăng)

Phật tử th́ thường mỗi năm phải có hai kỳ thực hành đầu đà, mùa đông mùa hạ phải tọa thiền an cư. Thực hành đầu đà th́ thường dùng nhánh dương để làm tăm, đậu để rửa, ba pháp y, b́nh, bát, tọa cụ, tích trượng, lư hương, đăy lọc nước, khăn tay, dao con, đồ lấy lửa, nhíp, giường giây, kinh luật Bồ tát giới và tượng Phật Bồ tát.

Là Bồ tát th́ khi thực hành đầu đà và khi đi du hóa, dầu đi lại cả trăm dặm ngàn dặm đi nữa, mười tám vật ấy vẫn thường mang theo ḿnh. Hai kỳ đầu đà là từ rằm tháng giêng đến rằm tháng ba, từ rằm tháng tám đến rằm tháng mười, trong hai kỳ ấy, mười tám vật cũng thường mang theo ḿnh như hai cái cánh với con chim.

 

Bố tát tụng giới th́ các vị Bồ tát mới học đă phải nửa tháng một lần bố tát, tụng mười giới nặng và bốn mươi tám giới nhẹ; khi tụng th́ đối trước tượng Phật Bồ tát mà tụng; một người bố tát th́ một người tụng, mà hai ba cho đến hàng trăm hàng ngàn người cũng chỉ một người tụng; người tụng ngồi cao, người nghe ngồi thấp, ai cũng mang pháp y chín điều bảy điều hay năm điều. Kiết hạ an cư th́ nhất nhất phải làm cho đúng phép.

 

Khi thực hành đầu đà th́ đừng đến chỗ tai nạn; chỗ nguy hiểm, chỗ quốc chúa tàn bạo, chỗ đất quá cao thấp, chỗ cây cỏ rậm rạp, chỗ cọp beo sư tử, chỗ hay bị nạn nước lửa gió, chỗ có đạo tặc, chỗ đường xá đầy rắn độc, những chỗ tai nạn như vậy đều không được đến đó. Thực hành đầu đà, cho đến kiết hạ an cư, đều không được đến ở những chỗ tai nạn như vậy. Nếu cố ư đến th́ phạm tội khinh cấu.

 

38. Order of Seating Within the Assembly

A disciple of the Buddha should sit in the proper order when in the Assembly. Those who received the Bodhisattva precepts first sit first, those who received the precepts afterwards should sit behind. Whether old or young, a Bhiksu or Bhiksuni, a person of status, a king, a prince, a eunuch, or a servant, etc., each should sit according to the order in which he received the precepts. Disciples of the Buddha should not be like externalists or deluded people who base their order on age or sit without any order at all -- in barbarian fashion. In my Dharma, the order of sitting is based on seniority of ordination.

Therefore, if a Bodhisattva does not follow the order of sitting according to the Dharma, he commits a secondary offense[126].

 

38.- GIỚI TRÁI THỨ TỰ TÔN TY
(dành cho chư tăng)

Nếu Phật tử, phải theo thứ tự đúng pháp mà ngồi: người thọ giới trước thời ngồi ngồi trước, người thọ giới sau thời ngồi sau. Không luận già, trẻ, Tỳ Kheo, Tỳ Kheo Ni. Người sang như Quốc Vương, Hoàng tử, nhẫn đến kẻ hèn như huỳnh môn, tôi tớ v.v... tất cả đều theo thứ tự mà ngồi: người thọ giới trưóc thời ngồi trước, người thọ giới sau thời ngồi sau.

Không được như hàng ngoại đạo, si mê, hoặc già, hoặc trẻ, ngồi trước sau lộn xộn không có thứ tự, không khác cách ngồi của bọn binh nô. Trong Phật pháp của ta, hễ người thọ giới trước thời ngồi trước, c̣n người thọ giới sau thời ngồi sau.

Nếu Phật tử không theo thứ tự đúng pháp mà ngồi, thời phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

39. Failure to Cultivate Merits and Wisdom

A disciple of the Buddha should constantly counsel and teach all people to establish monasteries, temples and pagodas in mountains and forests, gardens and fields. He should also construct stupas for the Buddhas and buildings for winter and summer retreats. All facilities required for the practice of the Dharma should be established.

Moreover, a disciple of the Buddha should explain Mahayana sutras and the Bodhisattva precepts to all sentient beings. In times of sickness, national calamities, impending warfare or upon the death of one's parents, brothers and sisters, Dharma Masters and Precept Masters, a Bodhisattva should lecture and explain Mahayana sutras and the Bodhisattva precepts weekly for up to seven weeks[127].

The disciple should read, recite, and explain the Mahayana sutras and the Bodhisattva precepts in all prayer gatherings, in his business undertakings and during periods of calamity -- fire, flood, storms, ships lost at sea in turbulent waters or stalked by demons ... In the same vein, he should do so in order to transcend evil karma, the Three Evil Realms, the Eight Difficulties, the Seven Cardinal Sins, all forms of imprisonment, or excessive sexual desire, anger, delusion, and illness[128].  

If a novice Bodhisattva fails to act as indicated, he commits a secondary offense.

 

39.- GIỚI KHÔNG TU PHƯỚC HUỆ

Nếu Phật tử thường phải khuyến hóa tất cả mọi người kiến tạo tăng phường nơi núi rừng vườn ruộng, xây dựng Phật tháp, chỗ an cư, tọa thiền trong mùa Đông mùa Hạ, tất cả những cơ sở hành đạo đều nên kiến tạo.

Người Phật tử phải giảng thuyết kinh luật đại thừa cho tất cả chúng sanh. Lúc tật bệnh, nước có nạn có giặc, ngày cha, mẹ, anh, em, Ḥa Thượng, A Xà Lê khuất tịch, và mỗi tuần thất, nhẫn đến bảy tuần thất, cũng nên giảng thuyết kinh luật đại thừa.

Tất cả những trai hội cầu nguyện, những lúc đi làm ăn, những khi có tai nạn lụt, băo, hỏa hoạn, ghe thuyền trôi giạt nơi sông to biển lớn, gặp quỷ La sát v.v... đều cùng đọc tụng kinh luật đại thừa. Nhẫn đến tất cả tội báo, tam ác, bát nạn, thất nghịch gông cùm xiềng xích trói buộc tay chân, hoặc ngựi nhiều dâm, nhiều sân, nhiều ngu si, nhiều tật bệnh, đều nên giảng kinh luật đại thừa nầy.

Nếu hàng tân học Phật tử không thật hành như trên đây, thời phạm « khinh cấu tội »

 

40. Discrimination in Conferring the Precepts

A disciple of the Buddha should not be selective and show preference in conferring the Bodhisattva precepts. Each and every person can receive the precepts -- kings, princes, high officials, Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, laymen, laywomen, libertines, prostitutes, the gods in the eighteen Brahma Heavens or the six Desire Heavens, asexual persons, bisexual persons, eunuchs, slaves, or demons and ghosts of all types. Buddhist disciples should be instructed to wear robes and sleep on cloth of a neutral color, formed by blending blue, yellow, red, black and purple dyes all together.

The clothing of monks and nuns should, in all countries, be different from those worn by ordinary persons[129].

Before someone is allowed to receive the Bodhisattva precepts, he should be asked: "have you committed any of the Cardinal Sins?" The Precept Master should not allow those who have committed such sins to receive the precepts.

Here are the Seven Cardinal Sins: shedding the Buddha's blood, murdering an Arhat, killing one's father, killing one's mother, murdering a Dharma Teacher, murdering a Precept Master or disrupting the harmony of the Sangha.

Except for those who have committed the Cardinal Sins, everyone can receive the Bodhisattva precepts.

The Dharma rules of the Buddhist Order prohibit monks and nuns from bowing down before rulers, parents, relatives, demons and ghosts.

Anyone who understands the explanations of the Precept Master can receive the Bodhisattva precepts. Therefore, if a person were to come from thirty to three hundred miles away seeking the Dharma and the Precept Master, out of meanness and anger, does not promptly confer these precepts, he commits a secondary offense[130].

 

40.- giỚi không ĐưỢc chỌn lỰa truyỀn giỚi
(dành cho chư tăng)

Phật tử th́ khi cho người thọ Bồ tát giới không được chọn lựa. Hết thảy quốc vương, vương tử, tể tướng bách quan, tỷ kheo tỷ kheo ni, thiện nam tín nữ, dâm nam dâm nữ, phạm thiên mười tám tầng trời cơi Sắc, thiên nhân sáu tầng trời cơi Dục, những kẻ vô căn, hai căn, hoàng môn, nô bộc, tỳ thiếp, tất cả quỷ thần, ai cũng được thọ Bồ tát giới cả. Phải dạy người thọ Bồ tát giới nhuộm pháp y bằng hoại sắc cho hợp với chánh pháp. Hoại sắc là nhuộm tất cả pháp y và ngọa cụ bằng màu sắc phá hủy các màu sắc chính là xanh vàng đỏ trắng đen tía. Mọi thứ y phục khác cũng nhuộm hoại sắc như vậy.

Nói tổng quát, tại bất cứ quốc độ nào, dân chúng ở đó ăn mặc ra sao th́ vị tỷ kheo ăn mặc phải khác với lối ăn mặc ấy.

Khi sắp thọ Bồ tát giới, vị pháp sư bồ tát phải xét hỏi người ấy, rằng thân hiện tại có làm bảy tội nghịch không? Vị pháp sư bồ tát không được cho những người thân hiện tại làm bảy tội nghịch được thọ Bồ tát giới.

Bảy tội nghịch là làm cho thân Phật xuất huyết, giết cha, giết mẹ, giết ḥa thượng, giết xà lê, phá kiết ma tăng và pháp luân tăng, giết thánh giả.

Nếu có bảy tội nghịch th́ kẻ ấy thân hiện tại không thể được Bồ tát giới. Ngoài ra, ai cũng có thể thọ và được giới ấy.

Cái phép của người xuất gia là không lạy quốc vương, không lạy cha mẹ, không lạy bà con, không lạy quỷ thần, nên không thiên vị hoặc khước từ ai hết.

Hễ ai hiểu được tiếng nói của vị pháp sư bồ tát, từ trăm dặm ngàn dặm vẫn đến cầu Bồ tát giới, mà vị pháp sư ấy v́ tâm lư xâu xa, tâm lư ghét giận, không truyền ngay cho họ giới pháp mà tất cả chúng sinh đều có phần th́ phạm tội khinh cấu.

 

41. Teaching for the Sake of Profit

If a disciple of the Buddha, when teaching others and developing their faith in the Mahayana, should discover that a particular person wishes to receive the Bodhisattva precepts, he should act as a teaching master and instruct that person to seek out two Masters, a Dharma Master and a Precept Master.

These two Masters should ask the Precept candidate whether he has committed any of the Seven Cardinal Sins in this life. If he has, he cannot receive the precepts. If not, he may receive the precepts.

If he has broken any of the Ten Major Precepts, he should be instructed to repent before the statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. He should do so six times a day and recite the Ten Major and Forty-eight Minor Precepts, paying respect with utter sincerity to the Buddhas of the Three Periods of Time. He should continue in this manner until he receives an auspicious response, which could occur after seven days, fourteen days, twenty-one days, or even a year. Examples of auspicious signs include: experiencing the Buddhas rub the crown of one's head, or seeing lights, halos, flowers and other such rare phenomena.

The witnessing of an auspicious sign indicates that the candidate's karma has been dissipated. Otherwise, although he has repented, it was of no avail. He still has not received the precepts. However, the merits accrued will increase his chances of receiving the precepts in a future lifetime.

Unlike the case of a major Bodhisattva precept, if a candidate has violated any of the Forty-eight Secondary Precepts, he can confess his infraction and sincerely repent before Bodhisattva-monks or nuns. After that, his offense will be eradicated.

The officiating Master, however, must fully understand the Mahayana sutras and moral codes, the secondary as well as the major Bodhisattva precepts, what constitutes an offense and what does not, the truth of Primary Meaning[131], as well as the various Bodhisattva cultivation stages -- the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, the Ten Grounds, and Equal and Wonderful Enlightenment. 

He should also know the type and degree of contemplation required for entering and exiting these stages and be familiar with the Ten Limbs of Enlightenment as well as a variety of other contemplations.

If he is not familiar with the above and, out of greed for fame, disciples or offerings, he makes a pretense of understanding the sutras and moral codes, he is deceiving himself as well as others. Hence, if he intentionally acts as Precept Master, transmitting the precepts to others, he commits a secondary offense.

 

41.- giỚi khÔng ĐưỢc vỤ lỢi lÀm thẦy
(dành cho chư tăng)

Phật tử nếu giáo hóa cho người phát sinh đức tin đại thừa rồi, ḿnh là Bồ tát làm vị pháp sư chỉ bảo cho người, th́ thấy người ấy muốn thọ Bồ tát giới, ḿnh phải chỉ bảo cách thỉnh hai vị đại sư là ḥa thượng và xà lê.

Hai vị đại sư phải hỏi người ấy có hay không có phạm bảy tội nghịch là bảy tội cản trở sự thọ và được Bồ tát giới. Nếu thân hiện tại phạm bảy tội nghịch th́ vị pháp sư không được cho người ấy thọ Bồ tát giới; nếu không phạm bảy tội nghịch th́ được cho họ thọ.

Nếu người nào phạm mười giới pháp nặng th́ phải chỉ bảo người ấy sám hối bằng cách đối trước h́nh tượng Phật đà, h́nh tượng Bồ tát, ngày đêm sáu buổi tụng mười giới pháp nặng và bốn mươi tám giới pháp nhẹ, cực kỳ khẩn thiết lễ bái ba ngàn Đức Phật thuộc ba thời quá khứ hiện tại và vị lai, cầu cho thấy được tướng tốt. Dầu một lần bảy ngày hay ba lần bảy ngày, cho đến một năm, cũng phải làm sao cho thấy được tướng tốt. Tướng tốt là thấy được Phật đến xoa trên đỉnh đầu, thấy ánh sáng của Phật, thấy hoa sen của Phật, hoặc thấy các tướng kỳ lạ khác, th́ tội lỗi tức th́ tan biến.

Nếu không thấy được những tướng tốt như vậy th́ dẫu sám hối cũng không có cái ích lợi làm cho người ấy thân hiện tại được lại giới pháp, nhưng có cái ích lợi thọ lại giới pháp ấy.

Nếu ai phạm bốn mươi tám giới pháp nhẹ th́ chỉ bảo người ấy sám hối bằng cách đối diện mà phát lộ, th́ tội lỗi tức th́ tan biến. Phạm giới nặng hay nhẹ đều không như bảy tội nghịch.

Làm pháp sư chỉ bảo th́ trong các cách trên đây nhất nhất phải thấu hiểu. Nếu không thấu hiểu sự đúng sai và tội nặng nhẹ của giới pháp đại thừa, không lư giải đệ nhất nghĩa đế, tập chủng tánh, trưởng dưỡng tánh, bất hoại tánh, đạo chủng tánh, chánh pháp tánh, trong tất cả các tánh của Bồ tát vị như vậy không thấu rơ quán hạnh nhiều ít và ra vào như thế nào, cho đến mười thành phần thiền định và bao nhiêu pháp hạnh khác, cũng nhất nhất không thấu hiểu nghĩa ư trong đó.

Mà, là Bồ tát, lại v́ quyền lợi, v́ danh vọng, v́ ham hố đồ đệ với tâm lư ham cầu xấu xa và quá đáng, làm ra như thấu hiểu tất cả, th́ ấy là tự lừa dối ḿnh lại lừa dối kẻ khác. Vậy mà cố ư truyền Bồ tát giới cho người th́ phạm tội khinh cấu.

 

42. Reciting the Precepts to Evil Persons

A disciple of the Buddha should not, with a greedy motive, expound the great precepts of the Buddhas before those who have not received them, externalists or persons with heterodox views. Except in the case of kings or supreme rulers, he may not expound the precepts before any such person.

Persons who hold heterodox views and do not accept the precepts of the Buddhas are untamed in nature. They will not, lifetime after lifetime, encounter the Triple Jewel. They are as mindless as trees and stones; they are no different from wooden stumps. Hence, if a disciple of the Buddha expounds the precepts of the Seven Buddhas before such persons, he commits a secondary offense[132].

 

42.- giỚi khÔng ĐưỢc thuyẾt giỚi Ác nhÂn
(dành cho chư tăng)

Phật tử th́ không được v́ quyền lợi mà nói giới pháp vĩ đại của hàng ngàn Đức Phật trước những kẻ chưa thọ giới Bồ tát giới, những kẻ ngoại đạo và ác nhân. Trước những kẻ phủ nhận Phật tánh cũng không được nói. Trừ quốc vương, không được nói với ai cả.

Những kẻ ngoại đạo và ác nhân không lănh thọ giới pháp của chư Phật th́ như loài vật, đời đời sinh ra ở đâu cũng không gặp được Phật Pháp Tăng, như cây như đá không có tâm hồn, nên gọi là ngoại đạo và ác nhân. C̣n những kẻ phủ nhận Phật tánh th́ khác ǵ đầu gỗ. Là Bồ tát mà trước những kẻ như vậy nói đến giáo pháp và giới pháp của bảy Đức Phật đà th́ phạm tội khinh cấu.

 

43. Thoughts of Violating the Precepts

If a disciple of the Buddha joins the Order out of pure faith, receives the correct precepts of the Buddhas, but then develops thoughts of violating the precepts, he is unworthy of receiving any offerings from the faithful, unworthy of walking on the ground of his motherland, unworthy of drinking its water.

Five thousand guardian spirits constantly block his way, calling him "Evil thief!" These spirits always follow him into people's homes, villages and towns, sweeping away his very footprints. Everyone curses such a disciple, calling him a "Thief within the Dharma." All sentient beings avert their eyes, not wishing to see him.

A disciple of the Buddha who breaks the precepts is no different from an animal or a wooden stump. Hence, if a disciple intentionally violates the correct precepts, he commits a secondary offense[133].

*

**

The Bodhisattva should study and respectfully observe the nine precepts just mentioned above, as explained in the "Brahma Altar" chapter.

 

43.- giỚi khÔng ĐưỢc c tÂm phẠm giỚi
(dành cho chư tăng)

Phật tử nếu đă đem đức tin đại thừa mà xuất gia và lănh thọ giới pháp chính yếu của chư Phật rồi, lại cố ư sinh tâm vi phạm giới pháp phát sinh tuệ giác vô lậu như vậy, th́ không nên nhận mọi sự hiến cúng của thí chủ, không đáng đi đất của quốc gia, uống nước của quốc gia.

Cả năm ngàn quỷ dữ thường án trước mặt kẻ ấy mà bảo với nhau, rằng đó là tên giặc lớn. Vào pḥng ốc, thành thị, thôn ấp, nhà cửa, th́ bọn quỷ thường quét dấu chân của người ấy đi. Thế nhân ai cũng nhục mạ, rằng đó là tên giặc trong Phật pháp. Chúng sinh không ai muốn nh́n.

Kẻ phạm giới có khác ǵ loài vật, đầu gỗ. Nếu cố ư vi phạm giới pháp chính yếu của chư Phật th́ phạm tội khinh cấu.

 

*

**

 

Chín giới như thế cần nên học, hết ḷng kính trọng phụng tŕ. Trong phẩm « Phạm đàn” có giải rộng.

 

44. Failure to Honor the Sutras and Moral Codes

A disciple of the Buddha should always singlemindedly receive, observe, read and recite the Mahayana sutras and moral codes. He should copy the sutras and moral codes onto bark, paper, fine cloth, or bamboo slats and not hesitate to use his own skin as paper, draw his own blood for ink and his marrow for ink solvent, or split his bones for use as pens[134]. He should use precious gems, priceless incense and flowers and other precious things to make and adorn covers and cases to store the sutras and codes.

Hence, if he does not make offerings to the sutras and moral codes, in accordance with the Dharma, he commits a secondary offense.

 

44.- GIỚI KHÔNG CÚNG DƯỜNG KINH LUẬT

Nếu Phật tử, phải thường nhất tâm thọ tŕ đọc tụng kinh luật đại thừa, dùng giấy, vải, hàng, lụa, thẻ tre, vỏ cây, cho đến lột da làm giấy, chích máu làm mực, lấy tủy làm nước, chẻ xương làm viết, để biên chép kinh luật, dùng vàng bạc cùng hương hoa vô giá và tất cả châu báu làm hộp, rương, đựng những quyển kinh luật.

Nếu không y theo pháp mà cúng dường kinh luật, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

45. Failure to Teach Sentient Beings

A disciple of the Buddha should develop a mind of Great Compassion. Whenever he enters people's homes, villages, cities or towns, and sees sentient beings, he should say aloud, "You sentient beings should all take the Three Refuges and receive the Ten [Major Bodhisattva] Precepts." Should he come across cows, pigs, horses, sheep and other kinds of animals, he should concentrate and say aloud, "You are now animals; you should develop the Bodhi Mind." A Bodhisattva, wherever he goes, be it climbing a mountain, entering a forest, crossing a river, or walking through a field should help all sentient beings develop the Bodhi Mind[135].

If a disciple of the Buddha does not wholeheartedly teach and rescue sentient beings in such a manner, he commits a secondary offense.

 

45.- GIỚI KHÔNG GIÁO HÓA CHÚNG SINH

Nếu Phật tử, nên có ḷng đại bi, khi nào trong tất cả nhà cửa thành ấp, thấy những loài chúng sinh, phải xướng lên rằng: « Các người đều nên thọ tam quy và thập giới ». Nếu gặp trâu, ḅ, chó, ngựa, heo, dê v.v... nên tâm nghĩ miệng nói: « Các người là súc sanh phát Bồ đề tâm ». Khi Phật tử đi đến núi, rừng, sông, đồng nội cùng tất cả chỗ, đều làm cho tất cả chúng sanh phát Bồ đề tâm.

Nếu Phật tử không phát tâm giáo hóa chúng sinh, thời phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

46. Preaching in an Inappropriate Manner

A disciple of the Buddha should always have a mind of Great Compassion to teach and transform sentient beings. Whether visiting wealthy and aristocratic donors or addressing Dharma gatherings, he should not remain standing while explaining the Dharma to laymen, but should occupy a raised seat in front of the lay assembly[136].

A Bhiksu serving as Dharma instructor must not be standing while lecturing to the Fourfold Assembly. During such lectures, the Dharma Master should sit on a raised seat amidst flowers and incense, while the Fourfold Assembly must listen from lower seats. The Assembly must respect and follow the Master like filial sons obeying their parents or Brahmans worshipping fire. If a Dharma Master does not follow these rules while preaching the Dharma, he commits a secondary offense.

 

46.- GIỚI THUYẾT PHÁP KHÔNG ĐÚNG PHÁP

Nếu Phật tử, thường nên có ḷng đại bi phát tâm giáo hóa. Lúc vào nhà đàn hội sang giàu, cùng trong tất cả chúng hội, không được đứng thuyết pháp cho hàng bạch y. Phải ngồi trên ṭa cao trước chúng bạch y.

Vị Tỳ kheo Pháp sư không được đứng dưới đất thuyết pháp cho tứ chúng. Khi thuyết pháp, vị Pháp sư ngồi ṭa cao, dùng hương hoa cúng dường, c̣n tứ chúng, hàng thính giả, thời ngồi dưới. Đối với Pháp sư phải như là hiếu thuận cha mẹ, kính thuận Sư trưởng như Bà La Môn thờ lửa. Nếu Phật tử thuyết pháp mà không đúng như pháp thời phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

47. On Regulations Against the Dharma

A disciple of the Buddha who has accepted the precepts of the Buddhas with a faithful mind, must not use his high official position (as a king, prince, official, etc.) to undermine the moral code of the Buddhas. He may not establish rules and regulations preventing the four kinds of lay disciples from joining the Order and practicing the Way, nor may he prohibit the making of Buddha or Bodhisattva images, statues and stupas, or the printing and distribution of sutras and codes.  Likewise, he must not establish rules and regulations placing controls on the Fourfold Assembly[137]. If highly placed lay disciples engage in actions contrary to the Dharma, they are no different from vassals in the service of [illegitimate] rulers.

A Bodhisattva should rightfully receive respect and offerings from all. If instead, he is forced to defer to officials, this is contrary to the Dharma, contrary to the moral code.

Hence, if a king or official has received the Bodhisattva precepts with a wholesome mind, he should avoid offenses that harm the Three Jewels. If instead, he intentionally commits such acts, he is guilty of a secondary offense[138].

 

47.- GIỚI CHẾ HẠN PHI PHÁP

 

Nếu Phật tử, đều đă có ḷng tin thọ giới của Phật, hoặc Quốc vương, Hoàng tử, các quan, bốn bộ đệ tử tự ỷ thế lực cao quư, phá diệt giới luật Phật pháp, lập ra điều luật chế, hạn chế bốn bộ đệ tử của Phật, không cho xuất gia hành đạo, cũng không cho tạo lập h́nh tượng Phật và Bồ Tát, cùng Tháp và Kinh luật. Lại đặt ra chức quan đổng lư hạn chế tứ chúng, và lập bộ sổ ghi số Tăng. Tỳ Kheo Bồ Tát đứng dưới đất c̣n bạch y ngồi ṭa cao, làm nhiều việc phi pháp như binh nô thờ chủ.

Hàng Bồ Tát nầy chính nên được mọi người cúng dường, mà trở lại bắt làm tay sai của các quan chức, thế là phi pháp phi luật.

Nếu Quốc vương và các quan có ḷng tốt thọ giới của Phật, chớ làm những tội phá Tam Bảo ấy. Nếu cố làm, thời phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

 

48. On Destroying the Dharma

A disciple of the Buddha who becomes a monk with wholesome intentions must not, for fame or profit, explain the precepts to kings or officials in such a way as to cause monks, nuns or laymen who have received the Bodhisattva precepts to be tied up, thrown into prison or forcefully conscripted. If a Bodhisattva acts in such a manner, he is no different from a worm in a lion's body, eating away at the lion's flesh. This is not something a worm living outside the lion can do. Likewise, only disciples of the Buddhas can bring down the Dharma -- no externalist or demon can do so[139].

Those who have received the precepts of the Buddha should protect and observe them just as a mother would care for her only child or a filial son his parents. They must not break the precepts.

If a Bodhisattva hears externalists or evil-minded persons speak ill of, or disparage, the precepts of the Buddhas, he should feel as though his heart were pierced by three hundred spears, or his body stabbed with a thousand knives or thrashed with a thousand clubs. He would rather suffer in the hells himself for a hundred eons than hear evil beings disparage the precepts of the Buddha. How much worse it would be if the disciple were to break the precepts himself or incite others to do so! This is indeed an unfilial mind! Hence, if he violates the precepts intentionally, he commits a secondary offense.

The preceding nine precepts should be studied and respectfully observed with utmost faith.

 

48.- GIỚI PHÁ DIỆT PHẬT PHÁP

Nếu Phật tử do ḷng tốt mà xuất gia, lại v́ danh tiếng cùng tài lợi, giảng thuyết giới của Phật cho Quốc vương và các quan, làm những sự gông trói các Tỳ kheo, Tỳ Kheo Ni, người thọ giới Bồ Tát như cách của ngục tù và binh nô. Như trùng trong thân sư tử tự ăn thịt sư tử, chớ chẳng phải trùng ở ngoài đến ăn. Cũng thế các Phật tử tự hủy phá Phật pháp, không phải ngoại đạo hay Thiên ma phá được.

Người đă thọ giới của Phật, nên hộ tŕ giới luật của Phật như ấp yêu con một, như kính thờ cha mẹ, không được hủy phá.

Người Phật tử khi nghe ngoại đạo, người ác dùng lời xấu hủy báng giới pháp của Phât, thời đau đớn không khác nào cả ba trăm cây giáo nhọn đâm vào tim ḿnh, hay cả ngh́n lưỡi dao, cả vạn cây gậy đánh bổ vào thân ḿnh. Thà tự cam vào ở địa ngục đến trăm kiếp, chớ không muốn nghe lời hủy báng giới pháp Phật do bọn người ác. Huống là không ḷng hiếu thuận, tự ḿnh hủy báng phá giới pháp của Phật, hay làm nhơn duyên bảo người khác hủy phá. Nếu cố phá giới pháp, Phật tử nầy phạm « khinh cấu tội ».

Chín giới như vậy, cần nên học, hết ḷng kính trọng phụng tŕ.

 

VII. Conclusion

The Buddha said, "All of you disciples! These are the Forty-eight Secondary Precepts that you should observe. Bodhisattvas of the past have recited them, those of the future will recite them, those of the present are now reciting them.

"Disciples of the Buddha! You should all listen! These Ten Major and Forty-eight Secondary Precepts are recited by all Buddhas of the Three Periods of Time -- past, present, and future. I now recite them as well."

 

VII.-  TỔNG KẾT

Đức Phật dạy: Các Phật tử ! Đó là bốn mươi tám điều giới khinh, các người phải thọ tŕ. Chư Bồ Tát thuở đời quá khứ đă tụng, chư Bồ Tát thuở đời vị lai sẽ tụng, chư Bồ Tát hiện tại đương tụng.

 

Các Phật tử lóng nghe! Mười giới trọng, bốn mươi tám giới khinh đây, chư Phật trong ba thuở đă tụng, sẽ tụng và hiện đương tụng. Nay ta cũng tụng như vậy.

 

VIII. Epilogue

The Buddha continued: "Everyone in the Assembly -- kings, princes, officials, Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, laymen, laywomen and those who have received the Bodhisattva precepts -- should receive and observe, read and recite, explain and copy these precepts of the eternal Buddha Nature so that they can circulate without interruption for the edification of all sentient beings. They will then encounter the Buddhas and receive the teachings from each one in succession. Lifetime after lifetime, they will escape the Three Evil Paths and the Eight Difficulties and will always be reborn in the human and celestial realms."

I have concluded a general explanation of the precepts of the Buddhas beneath this Bodhi Tree. All in this Assembly should singlemindedly study the Pratimoksa precepts and joyfully observe them.

These precepts are explained in detail in the exhortation section of the "Markless Celestial King" chapter.

At that time, the Bodhisattvas of the Three Thousand World System (cosmos) sat listening with utmost reverence to the Buddha reciting the precepts. They then joyously received and observed them.

As Buddha Sakyamuni finished explaining the Ten Inexhaustible Precepts of the "Mind-Ground Dharma Door" chapter, (which Vairocana Buddha had previously proclaimed in the Lotus Flower Treasury World), countless other Sakyamuni Buddhas did the same.

As Sakyamuni Buddha preached in ten different places, from the Mahesvara Heaven Palace to the Bodhi Tree, for the benefit of countless Bodhisattvas and other beings, all the countless Buddhas in the infinite lands of the Lotus Treasury World did the same.

They explained the Buddha's Mind Treasury (the Thirty Minds), Ground Treasury, Precept Treasury, Infinite Actions and Vows Treasury, the Treasury of the Ever-Present Buddha Nature as Cause and Effect of Buddhahood. Thus, all the Buddhas completed their expositions of the countless Dharma Treasuries.

All sentient beings throughout the billions of worlds gladly receive and observe these Teachings.

The characteristics of the Mind-Ground are explained in greater detail in the chapter "Seven Forms of Conduct of the Buddha Floral Brilliance King."

***

 

VIII.- LƯU THÔNG

Đức Phật phán tiếp: Tất cả đại chúng, Quốc Vương, Vương Tử, các quan, Tỳ Kheo, Tỳ Kheo Ni, tín nam, tín nữ thảy, những người thọ tŕ giới Bồ Tát, nên phải thọ tŕ đọc tụng giảng thuyết biên chép quyển giới pháp Phật tính thường trụ để lưu thông măi măi. Tất cả chúng sanh xoay vần truyền dạy lẫn nhau không dứt. Do đây, được gặp chư Phật, được chư Phật trao tay. Đời đời khỏi hẳn ba ác đạo và tám chỗ nạn. Thường được thác sinh trong loài người, hay cơi trời.

Nay ta ở dưới cội Bồ đề nầy, lược giảng giới pháp của chư Phật. Tất cả đại chúng phải nhất tâm học Ba la Đề Mộc Xoa, hoan hỉ phụng hành.

Như phần « khuyến học » trong phẩm « Vô tướng thiên vương » mỗi mỗi đều giảng rơ.

 

 

 

Lúc đó chư vị Học sĩ trong cơi tam thiên ngồi lóng nghe Đức Phật tụng giới, hết ḷng kính trọng, hoan hỉ thọ tŕ.    

Đức Phật Thích Ca Mâu Ni giảng xong về mười vô tận giới pháp trong phẩm « Tâm địa pháp môn » của Đức Phật Lô Xá Na đả giảng nơi thế giới Liên Hoa Đài Tạng lúc trước. Ngh́n trăm ức Đức Thích Ca cũng đồng giảng như vậy.

Từ cung Đại Tự Tại Thiên Vương đến dưới cây Bồ đề nầy, thuyết pháp cả mười chỗ, v́ tất cả Bồ Tát và vô số đại chúng thọ tŕ đọc tụng giải thuyết pháp nghĩa cũng như vậy.

Ngh́n trăm ức thế giới, Liên Hoa Đài Tạng thế giới, vi trần thế giới, chư Phật cũng giảng thuyết như vậy.

Tất cả Phật tâm tạng, địa tạng, giới tạng, vô lượng hạnh nguyện tạng, nhân quả Phật tính thường trụ tạng. Tất cả chư Phật giảng thuyết vô lượng pháp tạng như thế đă xong    

Hết thảy chúng sanh trong ngh́n trăm ức thế giới đều thọ tŕ, hoan hỉ phụng hành.

C̣n về phần giảng rộng những hành tưởng của tâm địa thời như trong phẩm « Phật Hoa Quang Vương Thất Hạnh » có nói.

 

***

 

 


 

IX. Verses of Praise

 

The sages with great samadhi and wisdom

Can observe this teaching;

Even before reaching Buddhahood

They are blessed with five benefits:

First, the Buddhas of the Ten Directions

Always keep them in mind and protect them.

Secondly, at the time of death

They hold correct views with a joyous mind.

Third, wherever they are reborn,

The Bodhisattvas are their friends[140].

Fourth, merits and virtues abound as

The Paramita of Precepts[141] is accomplished.

Fifth, in this life and in succeeding ones,

Observing all precepts, they are filled with merits and wisdom.

Such disciples are sons of the Buddha.

Wise people should ponder this well.

Common beings clinging to marks and self

Cannot obtain this teaching.

Nor can followers of the Two Vehicles,

abiding in quietude,

Plant their seeds within it.

To nurture the sprouts of Bodhi,

To illuminate the world with wisdom,

You should carefully observe

The True Mark of all dharmas[142] :

Neither born nor unborn,

Neither eternal nor extinct,

Neither the same nor different,

Neither coming nor going.

In that singleminded state

The disciple should diligently cultivate

And adorn the Bodhisattva's practices and deeds

In sequential order.

Between the teachings of study and non-study[143],

One should not develop thoughts of discrimination.

This is the Foremost Path -- 

Also known as Mahayana.

All offenses of idle speculation and meaningless debate[144]

Invariably disappear at this juncture;

The Buddha's omniscient wisdom

Also arises from this.

Therefore, all disciples of the Buddha

Should develop great resolve,

And strictly observe the Buddha's precepts

As though they were brilliant gems.

All Bodhisattvas of the past

Have studied these precepts;

Those of the future will also study them.

Those of the present study them as well.

This is the path walked by the Buddhas,

And praised by the Buddhas.

I have now finished explaining the precepts,

The body of immense merit and virtue.

I now transfer them all to sentient beings;

May they all attain Supreme Wisdom;

May the sentient beings who hear this Dharma

All attain Buddhahood.

 

KỆ KHEN NGỢI GIỚI PHÁP

  

Người trí nhiều Định Huệ

thọ tŕ được pháp nầy

lúc c̣n chưa thành Phật

được hưởng năm điều lợi: 

Một là Thập Phương Phật.

Thương tưởng hộ tŕ luôn.

Hai là lúc lâm chung,

Chánh niệm ḷng an vui. 

Ba là sanh chỗ nào,

cùng Bồ Tát làm bạn.  

Bốn là những công đức,

giới độ đều thành tựu. 

Năm, đời này, đời sau,

Đủ giới và phước huệ

 

Đây là các Phật tử

Người trí khéo nghĩ lường 

Kẻ trước tướng chấp ngă

không thể được pháp này 

Người trầm không trệ tịch

cũng không gieo giống được 

Muốn nảy mầm bồ đề

trí huệ soi thế gian

Phải nên quan sát kỹ

Thật tướng của các pháp:

 

Không sinh cũng không diệt,

Không thường lại không đoạn

Chẳng đồng cũng chẳng khác

Chẳng đến cũng chẳng đi.

Trong thể nhất tâm ấy

siêng tu tập trang nghiêm,

công hạnh của Bồ Tát 

Phải tuần tự học tập.

Nơi Học, nơi Vô Học

chớ móng tưởng phân biệt,

 

Đấy là « đệ nhất đạo ».

Cũng gọi pháp đại thừa. 

Hết thảy lỗi hí luận

Đều từ đây dứt sạch

 

Vô thượng trí của Phật

đều do đây mà thành.

V́ thế nên Phật tử

Phải phát tâm dơng mănh

Nghiêm tŕ giới của Phật

Tṛn sạch như minh châu.  

Chư bồ tát quá khứ

Đă từng học giới này

Hàng vị lai sẽ học,

Người hiện tại đương học. 

Đây là đường Phật đi,

Là chỗ Phật khen ngợi. 

Ta đă giảng giới xong

Phước đức nhiều vô lượng,

Hồi hướng cho chúng sanh

Đồng đến “Nhất thế trỉ”,

 

Nguyện ai nghe pháp này

Đều được thành Phật đạo.

 


 

X. Verses of Dedication

 

In the Lotus Treasury World,

Vairocana explained an infinitesimal part of the Mind-Ground Door,

Transmitting it to the Sakyamunis:

Major and minor precepts are clearly delineated,

All sentient beings receive immense benefits.

Homage to Vairocana Buddha,

Lord of the Brahma Net.

END OF SUTRA

*
* *

 

X.  PHẦN HỒI HƯỚNG

  

Trên đài Liên Hoa Tạng

Đức Phật Xá Na Tôn

Lược giải Tâm Địa pháp môn

Truyền lại chư Thế Tôn

Khinh, trọng phân rành rơ

Tất cả được nhờ ơn. 

Nam mô Phạm Vơng Giáo Chủ Lô Xá Na Phật Biến Pháp Giới Tam Bảo (3 lần) 

*
* *

 

 

Gatha

All celestials, titans and spirits

Who have come to hear the Dharma,

Should earnestly uphold it, that it may remain forever,

And everyone may practice it with diligence.

All who have come here to listen,

Whether of this earth or beyond,

Should rely on the True Dharma, practicing day and night,

With compassion toward all beings, always rescuing and protecting them.

We wish that the world may be forever calm and peaceful,

And that the infinite wisdom of the Dharma always benefit sentient beings.

May all their transgressions be erased,

May they escape suffering and enter Nirvana.

May the precepts always perfume their bodies,

May samadhi always clothe their forms.

May the flowers of wisdom adorn all lands,

May all realms always be peaceful and serene. 

Homage to the Dharma-protecting Bodhisattvas- Mahasattvas (3 times)

 

(At this point, the reciter of the precepts arises and, with palms joined, announces: "As instructed, I [name] have just finished reciting the precepts. If, because of my laxity in guarding the three karma of body speech and mind, there were errors or omissions, I humbly request the indulgence of the assembly.")

*

**

 

KIẾT KINH KỆ

 

Trời, A Tu La, Dạ Xoa thảy

Ai đến nghe pháp nên hết ḷng

Ủng hộ Phật Pháp được thường c̣n

Mỗi vị siêng tu lời Phật dạy.

 

Bao nhiêu người nghe đến chốn nầy

Hoặc trên đất liền hoặc hư không         

Nương theo chánh pháp ngày đêm tu

Xót thương người đời luôn cứu hộ.

 

Nguyện cho thế giới thường an ổn

Pháp trí vô biên lợi quần sanh

 

Tất cả tội nghiệp đều tiêu trừ

Dứt hẳn quả khổ vào viên-tịch.

 

Thường dùng Giới hương thoa vóc sáng

Luôn dùng áo Định mặc che thân

 

Hoa mầu Trí giác khắp trang nghiêm

Khắp nơi khắp xứ thường an lạc 

Nam mô Hộ Pháp Vi Đà Tôn Thiên Bồ Tát Ma Ha Tát (3 lần) 

(Đến đây, người tụng giới đứng lên chắp tay hướng về Đại chúng, nói:

“Chư đại đức! Nửa tháng đă qua.

“Tôi Bồ Tát giới … thành tâm kính tạ đại chúng. Hôm nay đại chúng sai tôi tụng giới, ba nghiệp không tinh tấn, trong khi tụng giới văn không thông suốt làm cho đại chúng ngồi lâu mất th́ giờ lại mệt mỏi. Cúi xin đại chúng từ bi bố thí hoan hỷ cho...”

*

**

 

The Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra

 

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva doing deep Prajna Paramita clearly saw emptiness of all the five conditions, thus completely relieving misfortune and pain.

Oh Sariputra, form is no other than emptiness; emptiness no other than form, Form is exactly emptiness; emptiness exactly form. Sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness are likewise like this.

Oh Sariputra, all dharmas are forms of emptiness, not born, not destroyed, not stained, not pure, without loss, without gain. So in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, conception, discriminatio, awareness; no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena; no realm of sight, no realm of consciousness; no ignorance and no end to ignorance; no old age and death, and no end to old age and death; no suffering, no cause of suffering; no extinguishing, no path; no wisdom and no gain. No gain and thus the Bodhisattva lives Prajna Paramita with no hindrance in the mind. No hindrance therefore no fear. Far beyond deluded thoughts, this is Nirvana.

All past, present and future Buddhas live Prajna Paramita and therefore attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

Therefore know Prajna Paramita is the great mantra, the vivid mantra, the best mantra, the unsurpassable mantra. It completely clears all pain; this is the truth not a lie.

So set forth the Prajna Paramita mantra; set forth this mantra and say: 

"Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!" 
 

 

*
* *

 

BÁT NHĂ TÂM KINH

Ma Ha Bát Nhă Ba La Mật Đa Tâm Kinh

Quán tự tại bồ tát hành thâm bát nhă ba la mật đa thời, chiếu kiến ngũ uẩn giai không độ nhất thiết khổ ách.

Xá Lợi Tử, sắc bất dị không, không bất dị sắc, sắc tức thị không, không tức thị sắc, thọ, tưởng, hành, thức diệc phục như thị.

Xá Lợi Tử, thị chư pháp không tướng, bất sanh bất diệt, bất cấu bất tịnh, bất tăng bất giảm, thị cố không trung, vô sắc vô thọ tưởng hành thức, vô nhăn, nhĩ, tỹ, thiệt , thân, ư, vô sắc, thinh, hương, vị, xúc, pháp, vô nhăn giới năi chí vô ư thức giới, vô vô minh diệc vô vô minh tận, năi chí vô lăo tử diệc vô lăo tử tận, vô khổ, tập, diệt, đạo, vô trí diệc vô đắc, dĩ vô sở đắc cố, bồ đề tát đỏa y bát nhă ba la mật đa cố, tâm vô quái ngại, vô quái ngại cố, vô hữu khủng bố, viễn ly điên đảo mộng tưởng, cứu cánh niết bàn.

Tam thế chư Phật y bát nhă ba la mật đa cố, đắc A Nậu Đa La Tam Miệu Tam Bồ Đề.

Cố tri bát nhă ba la mật đa, thị đại thần  chú, thị đại minh chú, thị vô thượng chú, thị vô đẳng đẳng chú, năng trừ nhất thiết khổ, chân thật bất hư.

Cố thuyết bát nhă ba la mật đa chú, tức thuyết chú viết:

Yết đế, yết đế, ba la yết đế, ba la tăng yết đế, bồ đề tát bà ha (3 lần)

 

 

*
* *

 

Listening to these precepts is an act of supreme virtue;

I dedicate these countless supreme virtues and merits to all sentient beings in the Dharma Realm,

Vowing that they may swiftly achieve rebirth

In the land of the Buddha of Limitless Light.

I vow to eradicate all obstructions and afflictions,

I vow to attain Supreme Enlightenment,

I vow to eradicate all delusive karma,

Thus will I always follow the Bodhisattva Path.

I vow to be reborn in the Western Pure Land,

The Nine Lotus Grades will be my parents;

When the blossoms open, I will see Amitabha Buddha and awaken to the truth of Non-Birth,

Non-retrogressing Bodhisattvas will be my friends.

***


I dedicate these merits and virtues

To everyone everywhere

So that all sentient beings and I

Achieve Buddhahood together.

 

HỒI HƯỚNG

 

Thính giới công đức thù thắng hạnh

Vô biên thắng phước giai hồi hướng

Phổ nguyện pháp giới chư chúng sanh

Tốc văng vô lượng quang Phật sát.

Nguyện tiêu tam chướng trừ phiền năo

Nguyện đắc trí huệ chơn minh liễu

Phổ nguyện tội chướng tất tiêu trừ

Thế thế thường hành Bồ Tát đạo.

Nguyện sanh Tây phương Tịnh độ trung

Cửu phẩm liên hoa vi phụ mẫư

Hoa khai kiến Phật ngộ vô sanh

Bất thối Bồ Tát vi bạn lữ.

***

 

Nguyện dĩ thử công đức

Phổ cập ư nhứt thiết

Ngă đẳng dữ chúng sanh

Giai cộng thành Phật đạo.

 

THREE  REFUGES

I take refuge in the Buddha, vowing that sentient beings may understand the Great Way and develop the Supreme Mind;

I take refuge in the Dharma, vowing that sentient beings may penetrate all the sutras with wisdom as profound as the oceans;

I take refuge in the Sangha, vowing that sentient beings be in harmony with the Great Assembly, free of all obstructions.

 

TAM TỰ QUY Y

 

          Tự quy y Phật, xin nguyện chúng sanh, thể theo đạo cả, phát ḷng vô thượng.

 

          Tự quy y Pháp, xin nguyện chúng sanh, thấu rơ kinh tạng, trí huệ như biển.

 

          Tư quy y Tăng, xin nguyện chúng sanh, thống lư đại chúng, hết thảy không ngại.

 

 

 

 


Glossary

ARHAT. "A Buddhist saint; one who has attained enlightenment and is no longer subject to death and rebirth." 

ASCETIC PRACTICES.Skt/Dutanga. "Twelve ascetic practices are known: (1) wearing patched robes, (2) wearing a robe made of three pieces (trichivara), (3) eating only begged food, (4) eating only one meal a day, (5) refraining from all further food, (6) taking only one portion, (7) living in a secluded, solitary place, (8) living on a charnel ground, (9) living under a tree, (10) living in the open, (11) living in whatever place presents itself, (12) sitting only, never lying down." (Sham: 56) "The twelve ascetic practices all involve clothing, food and lodging ... The point of these practices is to refrain from enjoying any of these three in excess." (Master Hui Seng)

BODHI MIND. Skt/Bodhicitta. The spirit of Enlightenment, the aspiration to achieve it, the Mind set on Enlightenment. It involves two parallel aspects; i) the determination to achieve Buddhahood and ii) the aspiration to rescue all beings. The goal of all Mahayana practice is to achieve Enlightenment and transcend the cycle of Birth and Death -- that is, to attain Buddhahood. In the Mahayana tradition, the precondition for Buddhahood is the Bodhi Mind (bodhicitta), the aspiration to achieve full and complete Enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, oneself included."The Avatamsaka Sutra states: 'To neglect the Bodhi Mind when practicing good deeds is the action of demons.' This teaching is very true indeed. For example, if someone begins walking without knowing the destination or goal of his journey, isn't his trip bound to be circuitous, tiring and useless? It is the same for the cultivator. If he expends a great deal of effort but forgets the goal of attaining Buddhahood to benefit himself and others, all his efforts will merely bring merits in the human and celestial realms. In the end he will still be deluded and revolve in the cycle of Birth and Death, undergoing immense suffering. If this is not the action of demons, what, then, is it? For this reason, developing the supreme Bodhi Mind to benefit oneself and others should be recognized as a crucial step in all Mahayana schools" (BWF: 31).

BODHISATTVA. Those who aspire to Supreme Enlightenment and Buddhahood for themselves and all beings. The word Bodhisattva can therefore stand for realized beings such as Avalokitesvara or Samanthabhadra but also for anyone who has developed the Bodhi Mind -- the aspiration to save oneself and others. 

BUDDHA NATURE (SELF-NATURE). "According to the Mahayana view, [Buddha-nature] is the true, immutable, and eternal nature of all beings. Since all beings possess Buddha-nature, it is possible for them to attain enlightenment and become a Buddha, regardless of what level of existence they occupy..." (Sham:31)

DHARMA OF STUDY AND NON-STUDYSee: Study and Non-Study

EIGHT ADVERSITIES. "These are special types of adversity that prevent the practice of the Dharma; they are rebirth in hell, rebirth in the brute-world, rebirth in the ghost-world, rebirth among the long-lived gods, rebirth in an uncivilized country, rebirth with deficient faculties, adherence to false views, and life in a realm wherein there is no Tathagata" (Thurman: 153).

EIGHT DIVISIONS (OF DIVINITIES). "The eight kinds of gods and demi-gods believed to be protectors of Buddhism: devas, dragons, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, and mahoragas" (Inagaki: 397). 

EMPTINESS. Chin/ Kung; Jpn/ Ku; Vn/ Khong. "A fundamental Buddhist concept, variously translated as non-substantiality, emptiness, void, latency, relativity, etc. The concept that entities have no fixed or independent nature. This idea is closely linked to that of dependent origination (Skt./ pratitya-samutpada), which states that because phenomena arise and continue to exist only by virtue of their relationship with other phenomena, they have no fixed substance and have as their true nature emptiness. The concept thus teaches that nothing exists independently. Its practical implications lie in the rejection of attachments to transient phenomena and to the egocentricity of one who envisions himself as being absolute and independent of all other existences. It is an especially important concept in Mahayana Buddhism. On the basis of sutras known as the Wisdom sutras, the concept of emptiness was systematized by Nagarjuna, who explains it as the Middle Way, which here means neither existence nor non-existence."

EXPEDIENT MEANS. a) "Temporary or provisional teachings as a means to lead sentient beings to the final doctrine. b) The seventh of the ten Paramitas" (Dait: 118). Refers to strategies, methods, devices targeted to the capacities, circumstances, likes and dislikes of each sentient being, so as to rescue him and lead him to Enlightenment. "All particular formulations of the Teaching are just provisional expedients to communicate the Truth (Dharma) in specific contexts" (J.C. Cleary). "The Buddha's words were medicines for a given sickness at a given time," always infinitely adaptable to the conditions of the audience.

EXTERNALIST. Lit. "non-Buddhists." This term is generally used by Buddhists with reference to followers of other religions. An externalist is someone who does not believe in or follow Buddhist teaching.

FIELD OF BLESSINGS. "A figurative term for someone who is worthy of offerings. Just as a field can yield crops, so people will obtain blessed karmic results if they make offerings to one who deserves them. There are many kinds of 'fields of blessings': monks, enlightened beings [such as the Buddhas], parents, the poor, etc..." (Chan: 475). 

FIFTY-TWO (OR 53) LEVELS OF BODHISATTVA PRACTICE. "Progressive levels through which a practitioner is said to advance, from the time of his first resolve until he finally attains Buddhahood. They are enumerated inter alia in theAvatamsaka Sutra and consist of ten levels of Faith (Ten Faiths), ten levels of Dwellings (Abodes), ten levels of Practices (Conducts), ten levels of Dedication (transferences), ten Stages or Grounds (Bhumi), a level of 'Equal-Enlightenment', 'Wonderful Enlightenment', and 'Supreme Enlightenment (Buddhahood)'" (Sokk: 93).

FOUR RELIANCES. "To attain higher realizations and final Enlightenment, the Bodhisattva should rely on (1) the meaning (of the teaching) and not on the expression; on (2) the teaching and not on the person (who teaches it); on (3) gnosis (intuitive) wisdom and not on normal consciousness and on (4) discourses of definitive meaning and not on discourses of interpretable meaning" (Thur: 150).

JAMBUDVIPAThehuman world. The world in which we are living. Also ancient name of India. Jambudvipa is a small part of the Saha World, the realm of the Sakyamuni Buddha.

KUMARAJIVA. "(344-413). Famous Indian translator of Indian Buddhist works into Chinese. During his thirteen-year stay in China, hundreds [some sources say thousands] of scholars worked under his direction to produce translations of some 35 [some sources say 50] works, including the Amitabha Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, the Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra and the Diamond Sutra. His outstanding genius as a linguist and scholar was largely responsible for the introduction of Buddhism into China" (Hump: 112). "He is the most distinguished translator before Hsuan-tsang, and is especially famous for the translation of the Lotus Sutra and theShorter Amitabha Sutra" (Dait: 207-208).

LOTUS TREASURY WORLD. "The universe as purified by the vows and deeds of Vairocana Buddha, the cosmic aspect of Buddha Sakyamuni. By extension, the Lotus Treasury World represents our True Mind, or Buddha Nature, which encompasses the whole world, yet, like the lotus flower, is untouched by mud or defilements ... The world in the Brahma Net Sutra is the thousand-petaled lotus. Each of the thousand petals is a world in itself, consisting of ten billion smaller worlds, each with a sun, a moon, a Mt. Sumeru and four continents. Vairochana Buddha sits in the center of the Lotus. On each of the thousand petals dwells a Shakyamuni Buddha, ... a transformation of Vairochana Buddha" (Sokk: 247-248).

MIND-GROUND. Another term for the mind. The mind is compared to the ground, which has two characteristics: all beings, animate or inanimate, are sustained by it; it does not discriminate -- accepting and absorbing everything equally -- pure and dirty water alike. Likewise, all precepts and virtues are sustained by the mind; the mind of the Bodhisattva does not discriminate between auspicious or untoward events, praise or ridicule.

[The mind] is the source from which all dharmas spring, and also the place to which all dharmas return. It is therefore called the Dharma Realm [or Mind-Ground]" (Master Hui Seng).

MONASTIC VEHICLESee: Two Vehicles

PARAJIKA. The most serious type of offense in Buddhism. "An offense that merits casting out -- being cast out of the sea of the Buddhadharma ... The second meaning of Parajika [is] 'an offense that brings about a fall'. That is, if one commits a Parajika Offense, one falls into the Three Evil Destinies" (Master Hui Seng). A monk or nun who has committed a Parajika offense is subject to expulsion from the Order.

PRATIMOKSASkt, for "precepts". "It translates as 'growing and increasing', and 'purifying and eradicating'. Pratimoksa further has two meanings. The first is 'guaranteed liberation', the second is 'special liberation'. Guaranteed liberation means if one holds these Bodhisattva precepts, it's guaranteed that one can go from the level of an ordinary person to the level of a Sage. Special liberation means that for every precept you hold, you obtain that particular liberation" (Master Hui Seng).

PRATYEKA-BUDDHAS. "These Buddhas become fully enlightened ... by meditating on the principle of causality. Unlike the Perfect Buddhas, however, they do not exert themselves to teach others (A. Buzo and T. Prince).'" 

Note: The vehicles of the Sravakas and Pratyeka-Buddhas are known as the Two Vehicles (known today as Theravada, Southern Vehicle or Monastic Buddhism).

PRECEPTS. "Vows of moral conduct taken by lay and ordained Buddhists. There are five vows for lay Buddhists, 250 for fully ordained monks and 58 for Bodhisattvas, lay or ordained" (Garma C. Chang). "Precepts are for guarding against transgressions and stopping evil. Transgressions stem from the three karmas of body, speech and mind" (Master Hui Seng). "The precepts are divided into four aspects: 1) exceptions; 2) restraint; 3) maintenance; 4) violations. Sometimes 'exceptions' are made, so that you are not considered to have violated the precept even if you have acted against it. 'Restraints' refer to prohibitions. They are honored because to violate them would contribute to further violations, as in refraining from taking intoxicants one avoids breaking other precepts as well. 'Maintenance' means upholding the precepts and cultivating in accord with them. 'Violation' refers to breaking a precept" (Master Hui Seng).

PRIMARY MEANING. Definitive meaning, ultimate truth, True Mark, True Emptiness. "This refers to those teachings of the Buddha that are in terms of ultimate reality; it is opposed to those teachings given in terms of relative reality, termed 'interpretable meaning', because they require further interpretation before being relied on to indicate the ultimate. Hence [the term] relates to voidness, etc., and no statement concerning the relative world, even by the Buddha, can be taken as definitive " (Thurman: 159).

PURE LAND BUDDHISM. "[Pure Land comprises the schools] of East Asia which emphasize aspects of Mahayana Buddhism stressing faith in Amida, meditation on and recitation of his name, and the religious goal of being reborn in his 'Pure Land,' or 'Western Paradise.'" (K. Crim, Perennial Dictionary of World Religions.) "The goal of those devoted to Amitabha and the Pure Land is to be reborn there, and attain enlightenment (Buddhahood)" (Larousse: 419). "Pure Land Buddhism chiefly consists in hearing and reciting Amitabha Buddha's name with a faithful mind, but it does not exclude meditation (dhyana) and insight (vipasyana) through which one can visualise the Buddha. Obviously, meditation and insight are mainly practiced by monks, particularly by gifted persons, while hearing and reciting the name with faith are easily practiced even by laymen. Exposition of the higher practices of Amitabha worship first appeared in the Pratyutpanna SamadhiSutra. Later, Vasubandhu propounded the contemplation of Amitabha by samatha (concentration) practices. This, however, does not involve the concept of Amitabha as a meditation Buddha." (Encyclopedia of Buddhism, v. I: p.452). "Given its popular appeal, [Pure Land] quickly became the object of the most dominant form of Buddhist devotion in East Asia" (M. Eliade, ed.,Encyclopedia of Religions, Vol. 12)." "The Pure Land school is presently the school of Buddhism in China and Japan that has the most followers" (Shambhala Dictionary).

(I) How Pure Land works. The goal espoused by all Buddhist schools is for the practitioner to achieve Buddhahood, i.e., to become an 'Enlightened Being.' Thus, to practice Buddhism is to cultivate enlightenment, to attain Wisdom. Although there are many paths to reach this goal, they all involve severing greed, anger and delusion, thus perfecting the qualities of the Mind (paramitas). Traditionally, Buddhist sutras enumerate six or ten paramitas, but they may be subsumed under three key paramitas:DisciplineConcentration and Wisdom (the second, fifth and sixth paramitas, respectively). Pure Land , symbolized by the Buddha Recitation method, is a Mahayana approach that employs, inter alia, the techniques of meditation-visualization (of the Pure Land, Amitabha Buddha) and of oral recitation of the Buddha's name, to realize these paramitas. That is, when a practitioner is busy visualizing the Buddha or reciting the Buddha's name, he cannot commit transgressions or violate Buddhist precepts. Therefore, he has effectively fulfilled the paramita of Discipline. Likewise, reciting the Buddha's name with a completely focussed Mind is nothing less than fulfilling the paramita of Concentration. Once Concentration is achieved, the practitioner's Mind becomes empty and still, leading to the emergence of his innate wisdom -- the Wisdom of the Buddhas. Thus, a sincere Buddha Recitation practitioner, by dint of his own effort, effectively attains Buddhahood. According to Pure Land doctrine, however, most practitioners in this Degenerate Age find the "self-power," self-help approach too difficult and arduous; therefore, in their Pure Land teachings, the Buddhas and Sages compassionately emphasized the additional element of "other-power." This involves reliance on Amitabha Buddha's Vows, made countless eons ago, to welcome and escort all sentient beings to his Land of Ultimate Bliss -- an ideal training ground, an ideal environment. To benefit from these Vows, the cultivator still needs to do his part -- and the easiest practice is Buddha Recitation. "Ultimately, when the practitioner recites to the point of pure, unmixed power, the totality of Mind is Buddha, the totality of Buddha is Mind, Mind and Buddha are as one. I am afraid that this principle and practice are not understood by everyone. It has always been my desire to proclaim them and to disseminate the Original Vows of Amitabha Buddha to rescue all sentient beings" (Patriarch Yin Kuang, 19th c.).

"Some of our readers may be led to think that the sole object of Pure Land devotees is to be born in Amida's Land of Bliss and Purity ... But the fact is that the birth itself ... is not the object, but to attain enlightenment in the country of Amida where conditions are such as to ensure a ready realization of the true Buddhist life ... If we can say so, to be born in the Pure Land is the means to the end; for Buddhism in whatever form is a religion of enlightenment and emancipation." (D.T. Suzuki in The Eastern Buddhist, v. 3, no. 4).

(II) Why Pure Land? "The champions of Pure Land Buddhism have always made the case that Pure Land methods are especially valuable because they are particularly effective in meeting the needs of the greatest number of people. When we face facts, most of us have to admit that we see little realistic prospect of achieving salvation through the eons of gradual practice spoken of in the Buddhist scriptures, or the heroic efforts of the Zen masters, or the years of esoteric dedication demanded by the Esoteric Schools. Pure Land practice, on the other hand, is explicitly designed as an easy way, open to all" (J.C.Cleary).

Traditionally, in Mahayana, it is necessary to go through "fifty-two levels of Bodhisattva practice" (q.v.) to attain Buddhahood. Even in the Sudden School, it is understood that the practitioner has already cultivated in many past lifetimes and reached one of the last levels when he achieves instant Enlightenment. In Pure Land, however, the practitioner seeks rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, an ideal environment for cultivation, where these levels of attainment are compressed. Instead of a laborious "vertical" struggle, he achieves a direct "horizontal" escape from the Saha World. ("Horizontal" and "Vertical" are figures of speech, which can readily be understood through the example of a worm born inside a stalk of a bamboo. To escape, it can take the hard way and crawl "vertically" all the way to the top of the stalk. Alternatively, it can poke a hole near its current location and escape "horizontally" into the big, wide world.)

NOTE: "The principal and essential goal of Pure Land practice is to achieve rebirth in the Pure Land within one lifetime so as to reach the stage of Non-Retrogression. This is what sets Pure Land apart from other schools and gives it its name." (T.T.Tam). To insure success, however, the cultivator needs to fulfill two crucial conditions: develop the Bodhi Mind (q.v.) and practice Buddha Recitation to the level of one-pointedness of mind. Seeking auspicious signs of future rebirth is also recommended.

REPENTANCE. There are three methods of repentance, depending on the severity of the offense. 1) Face-to-face repentance. The offender confesses before a group of monks/nuns, consisting of one, three, four or twenty clerics. This method is for minor transgressions. 2) Auspicious sign repentance. The offender repents before images of Buddhas/Bodhisattvas until he witnesses an auspicious sign (lights, halos, flowers, the Buddhas rubbing his crown, etc.). This method can expiate all offenses except the Five Cardinal Sins. 3) No-birth repentance. The offender meditates on the truth of True Mark seeking the state of no-birth ("the nature of all offenses is basically emptiness"). This method covers all transgressions, including the Five Cardinal Sins.

SEVEN (PRECIOUS) JEWELS. Traditionally listed as: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, red pearl and carnelian. They represent the seven powers of faith, perseverance, sense of shame, avoidance of wrongdoing, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom.

SRAVAKA(S). "Those who follow [Theravada Buddhism] and eventually become Arhats as a result of listening to the Buddhas and following their teachings" (T. Prince). "In Mahayana Buddhism [the term Sravaka] refers to a person in the Theravada school who exerts himself to attain the stage of Arhat by observing 250 precepts in the case of monks and 348 [or 375 in some texts] in the case of nuns. This is a lower stage than that of Bodhisattva" (Yoko: 289).

SRAVAKA PRECEPTS. Usually refers to the Bhiksu/Bhiksuni precepts. However, by extension, the Sravaka precepts also include the five lay precepts and the ten precepts of novice monks/nuns, as these latter are considered preparation for the Bhiksu/Bhiksuni precepts.

STUDY AND NON-STUDY. There are four stages of Enlightenment on the Theravada path: the stages of stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner and Arhat. The first three stages are stages of study because they require further study to reach Arhatship. The last stage is called "non-study" because Arhats are beyond study.

SUDDEN TEACHING. A teaching which enables one to attain Enlightenment immediately. It is usually associated with the Avatamsaka and/or Zen schools.

"The Sudden teaching expounds the abrupt realization of the ultimate truth without relying upon verbal explanations or progression through various stages of practice" (Sokk: 110). Note: "In his commentary on the Pure Land sutras, [Patriarch] Chu-hung classifies Pure Land as a sudden (abrupt) teaching that also shares some aspects of the final teaching of the Lotus Sutra and the perfect (round) doctrine of the Avatamsaka Sutra. It belongs to the sudden doctrine, he says, because the Pure Land devotee 'attains rebirth in the Western Paradise as soon as he relies on the Buddha's name.' Chu-hung explains that the mind of the devotee of Buddha-recitation, when this is properly done, is a mind without any disturbance and is equivalent to the mind of no-thought spoken of in the Zen school. Like Han-shan, Chu-hung interprets Pure Land teaching in the Zen spirit, but at the same time advocates the more traditional and devotional aspects of the Pure Land faith. For both men, the other-power religion that teaches salvation by faith and Amitabha's grace is wedded to the self-power religion that teaches salvation by self-realization" (Hsu: 150).

THREE EVIL REALMS (PATHS). The paths of hells, hungry ghosts, animality. These paths can be taken as states of mind; i.e., when someone has a vicious thought of maiming or killing another, he is effectively reborn, for that moment, in the hells. 

THREE POISONS. "Greed, anger, delusion. Sometimes translated as avarice, anger and ignorance. The fundamental evils inherent in life which give rise to human suffering. The three poisons are regarded as the source of all illusions and earthly desires. The three poisons are so called because they pollute people's lives" (Sokk: 464).

THREE ROOT PRECEPTS. In Mahayana, three groups of precepts which form the basis of all Bodhisattva practice: (1) Do not what is evil, (2) Do what is good and (3) Be of benefit to all sentient beings. All Bodhisattva precepts and vows, or for that matter, all precepts derive ultimately from these root precepts, also called the Three Bodies of Pure Precepts. These precepts may in principle be administered to Buddhists in lieu of the full set of Bodhisattva precepts described in the Brahma Net Sutra.

TRIPLE JEWEL/THREE TREASURES. "1. The Buddha--the supremely enlightened being. 2. The Dharma--the teaching imparted by Buddha. 3. The Sangha--the congregation of monks and nuns, or of genuine Dharma followers" (Chan: 488).

TWELVE DIVISIONS OF THE DHARMA. "The 12 kinds of Buddhist scriptures distinguished according to different styles of exposition: (1) the Buddha's exposition of the Dharma in prose (sutra), (2) verses which repeat the ideas already expressed in prose (geya), (3) verses containing ideas not expressed in prose (gatha), (4) narratives of the past which explain a person's present state (nidana), (5) narratives of past lives of the Buddha's disciples (itivrittaka), (6) narratives of past lives of the Buddha (jataka), (7) accounts of miracles performed by the Buddha or a deva (abdhuta-dharma), (8) an exposition of the Dharma through allegories (avadana), (9) discussions of doctrine (upadesa), (10) an exposition of the Dharma by the Buddha without awaiting questions or requests from his disciples (udana), (11) an extensive exposition of principles of truth (vaipulya), and (12) prophecies by the Buddha regarding his disciples' attainment of Buddhahood (vyakarana)" (Inagaki). 

TWO VEHICLES. The Two Vehicles are those of the Sravakas (q.v.) and Pratyeka-Buddhas (q.v.). Together they constitute what is called Theravada, Southern or Monastic Buddhism. The Bodhisattva vehicle which leads to Buddhahood is called Mahayana Buddhism.

UPOSATTHA / UPAVASATHA. "Originally a form of meeting. According to the Vinaya, the assembly of monks meets on a full moon and then on a new moon to celebrate the ceremony of reciting the precepts (formerly ordination was also held on this occasion). The ceremony begins with a public confession. The chairman then advises the audience: 'During the past half-month, he who has violated the precepts is invited to confess them and make repentance before the assembly'. This announcement is repeated three times. If there is no answer, he proclaims: 'The precepts have been cleanly observed by everybody.' Thereupon, follows the ceremony of reciting precepts" (Ngo Van Hoa).

VAIROCANA BUDDHAJpn/Dainichi. "The Dharmakaya of Sakyamuni Buddha, his Sambhogakaya being called Locana and Nirmanakaya, Sakyamuni" (C.Luk). "The 'first Buddha' in the far, far past at the beginning of the present cosmic eon; used to symbolize the buddha-mind beyond space and time, reality prior to anything within our experience" (Clea: 175).

VAJRA. The thunderbolt symbol used in Buddhist art and ritual. "Literally 'a diamond.' Usually a symbol of the indestructible nature of Buddha's wisdom. A weapon to conquer demons and protect Buddhism" (Chan: 485). 

Vajra Spirit: a spirit protector of Buddhism, usually represented as holding a Vajra.

VEGETARIANISM. "Buddhists hold life to be one and therefore sacred. They do not, therefore, kill for sport. For the Mahayana viewpoint, see Suzuki, Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra, pp. 368-371" (Hump: 126). "Killing sentient beings, including slaughtering animals for food, is among the heaviest transgressions in Buddhism. This is not only because such acts create untold pain and suffering but also because they cut short the lives of future Buddhas (as all sentient beings have a common Buddha-nature). The injunction against all forms of killing (including suicide), covering all sentient beings, is unique to Buddhism. Jainism, for example, approves of the penance of death by self-starvation (suicide), while Hindu ceremonies such as the Srauta rites 'center on offering into the altar fires, oblations of milk, butter, honey ... domestic animals (sacrifice) ...'" (K. Crim, Dictionary of Religions, p.369 and 790, respectively.) "Animals have just as much right to life as we on this earth that we share in common, and therefore we have no right to destroy them at our whim. Moreover, since in our ascent and descent on the ladder of innumerable lives (according to causes and conditions) our Buddha-nature assumes many forms -- all of which are aspects of oneself -- to destroy any life form is to destroy a part of oneself" (Kapl/1980: 258).Question/Answer: "Student: The Lankavatara and Surangama Sutras -- both Mahayana scriptures -- are quite eloquent in their condemnation of meat-eating... What reasons do they give?Master: That there is not one being which in its karmic evolution and devolution through countless rebirths, has not been our mother, our father, husband or wife, sister, brother, son, or daughter -- not one being whose kinship with us, even while living in the animal state, has not continued. How then can any spiritual person who approaches all living things as if they were himself eat the flesh of something that is of the same nature as himself? Seen this way, isn't all flesh-eating a form of cannibalism? How can anyone who seeks liberation from suffering inflict pain directly or indirectly on another creature? Those who eat the flesh of an animal obviously enjoy it, so in effect they are deriving pleasure from the death of another living being" ... "To intentionally deprive any living being, but especially a human being, of life will produce painful karma. Slaughterers as well as hunters and fishermen -- especially those motivated by sport alone -- inevitably incur a heavy karma. Those who do experimental research on animals, often depriving them of their lives, also risk painful karma. The destruction of animals in such experimentation is justified on the ground that it is the only way by which to gain information vital to the health and welfare of human beings. Unfortunately, much animal experimentation today is undertaken without consideration of alternative, more humane methods. Such an unfeeling attitude may arise from the belief that animals, being less developed than man, suffer less. But who would deny that animals, too, suffer pain acutely and try to avoid it as much as humans? And precisely because their minds are less complex than man's and they are more intuitive, animals are more sensitive to impending violence and pain, which generates in them fear that prolongs their suffering. Porphyry, a Greek philosopher of the fourth century, wrote that anyone who had heard the scream of an animal being slaughtered could never again eat animal flesh." (Kapleau). "For inhabitants of polar regions, vegetarianism would indeed be attachment -- and one that would cost them their lives... But those of us living in modern, industrialized countries in North America, Europe, and Asia are blessed with a vast array of food choices. Most of us are able to obtain an abundance of non-flesh foods that can keep us robustly healthy our whole lives. With such a variety of non-animal foods available, who would choose to support the slaughter mills and foster the misery involved in factory farming, by continuing to eat flesh? There are those who fear that without meat or fish their health would suffer (the irony!), others who may be unaware of how enormously the meat industry contributes to the misuse and waste of global resources ... Can we maintain a non-meat diet for reasons of compassion and still be free of attachment to it? In the Platform Sutra, the Chinese patriarch Hui Neng relates that after inheriting the Dharma from the Fifth Patriarch, he spent years in seclusion with a group of hunters. 'At mealtimes,' he tells us, 'they cooked meat in the same pot with the vegetables. If I was asked to share, I replied, "I will just pick the vegetables out of the meat."' Was he, then, attached to vegetarianism? And if refraining from eating flesh foods is itself an 'attachment,' does it follow that refusing to give up flesh foods shows non-attachment? It is sad to see how many American Buddhists are managing to find a self-satisfying accommodation to eating meat. Some airily cite the doctrine of Emptiness, insisting that ultimately there is no killing and no sentient beings being killed. Others find cover behind the excuse that taking life is the natural order of things and, after all, 'the life of a carrot and that of a cow are equal.' The truth is, though, that as humans we are endowed with discriminating minds that we can use to educate ourselves to the implications of our volitional acts and to choose those foods that minimize suffering to living beings. Our aspiration in Mahayana Buddhism, inasmuch as we can speak of an aspiration, is to liberate our innate compassion and fulfill the Bodhisattva Vows. In the first of those vows, 'All beings, without number, I vow to liberate,' we commit our compassion to all beings, not just humans. Eschewing meat is one way to express that commitment to the welfare of other creatures. Once we leave habitual preferences behind and forgo nimble rationalizations, the issue of vegetarianism comes down to a question of need. If you need to eat flesh foods to sustain your life or, in extreme cases, your health, do so, and do so with awareness and gratitude. But if you don't, why contribute to unnecessary suffering?" (Kjolh: Tric/Winter/94). The Vegetarian Times commissioned a survey in 1992 which showed that 12.4 million persons in the United States and Canada considered themselves vegetarian. There were some 114 local vegetarian associations in the US and Canada, nearly double the number five years earlier. The largest groups are the Toronto Vegetarian Association and the Vegetarian Society of Colorado). (Vegetarian Times, May 1993.)

WHEEL-TURNING KING. "An ideal ruler in Indian mythology. In Buddhism the wheel-turning kings are kings who rule by justice rather than force. They possess the thirty-two features [of greatness] and rule the four continents surrounding Mt. Sumeru" (B. Watson: 342). 

Acknowledgements

 

For this electronic edition of the Brahma Net Sutra, we respectfully acknowledge the guidance of  Master Lok-to, Rev. K. Watanabe, Master Thich Phuoc Bon, Rev. Zi Rong (Singapore) and Rev. Fa Yeong (Taiwan). During more than twenty hours of long distance telephone calls or face-to-face meetings, they patiently answered the editors' questions and elucidated difficult passages and concepts in the text. Special thanks is also due to Rev. Shing Ching (Bronx,NY) who graciously donated an annotated Chinese text of the sutra at a crucial time in our work. Acknowledgement is likewise due to Upasaka Phuong Duy, who cloistered himself with the editor for a week in South Cairo and Rye Brook, NY to review the text, and Upasaka Bert Wangal, who provided pertinent comments. We also acknowledge a special debt to Upasika Yi-Hsun Huang (University of Virginia), who graciously devoted a number of days to a meticulous reading of the text, as well as to the late Upasaka Tac-Tsi Shih for his skillful early draft translation of this most difficult Sutra, a copy of which was kindly provided by Master Lok-to.

Finally, we wish to thank the following friends and benefactors who have made this translation possible. Listed in the order of their temporal association with this project are: Upasika Nguyen Thi Hoang (Dieu Phung), whose estate donated the original copies of six sutras and commentaries used in this translation; the late Lily and Murray D. Vajra; Upasika Ping Wang; Dr. Michael Moriarty; Upasikas Lena Yang and Lily Wang; Prof. Forrest G. Smith; Upasakas Steven Lane, Ian Isanberg and Paul D. Friedman. (Jan. 2000)

All notes are from Van Hien group.

 

Layout and printing by

Northeast Florida Buddhist Association
Chùa Hải-Đức
2101 Pickettville Road
P.O. Box 60097
Jacksonville, FL 32236-0097

www.chuahaiduc.org
email: BuddhistI@aol.com

Lập Đông Đinh-Hợi
Winter 2007


 

 

 

DEDICATION OF MERIT

May the merit and virtues

accrued from this work,

Adorn Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land,

Repaying the four kinds

of kindness above,

and relieving the sufferings of

those on the Three Paths below.

May those who see and hear of this,

And all sentient beings in the Dharma Realm

Develop the Bodhi Mind,

And live the Teachings for

the rest of this life,

Then be born together in

The Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Homage to Amitabha Buddha!
 

Jan. 2000

 


[1] PRECEPTS. "Vows of moral conduct taken by lay and ordained Buddhists. There are five vows for lay Buddhists, 250 for fully ordained monks and 58 for Bodhisattvas, lay or ordained" (Garma C. Chang). "Precepts are for guarding against transgressions and stopping evil. Transgressions stem from the three karmas of body, speech and mind" (Master Hui Seng). "The precepts are divided into four aspects: 1) exceptions; 2) restraint; 3) maintenance; 4) violations. Sometimes 'exceptions' are made, so that you are not considered to have violated the precept even if you have acted against it. 'Restraints' refer to prohibitions. They are honored because to violate them would contribute to further violations, as in refraining from taking intoxicants one avoids breaking other precepts as well. 'Maintenance' means upholding the precepts and cultivating in accord with them. 'Violation' refers to breaking a precept" (Master Hui Seng).

[2] BODHISATTVA. Those who aspire to Supreme Enlightenment and Buddhahood for themselves and all beings. The word Bodhisattva can therefore stand for realized beings such as Avalokitesvara or Samanthabhadra but also for anyone who has developed the Bodhi Mind -- the aspiration to save oneself and others. 

 

[3] KUMARAJIVA. "(344-413). Famous Indian translator of Indian Buddhist works into Chinese. During his thirteen-year stay in China, hundreds [some sources say thousands] of scholars worked under his direction to produce translations of some 35 [some sources say 50] works, including the Amitabha Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, the Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra and the Diamond Sutra. His outstanding genius as a linguist and scholar was largely responsible for the introduction of Buddhism into China" (Hump: 112). "He is the most distinguished translator before Hsuan-tsang, and is especially famous for the translation of the Lotus Sutra and theShorter Amitabha Sutra" (Dait: 207-208).

[4] SUDDEN TEACHING. A teaching which enables one to attain Enlightenment immediately. It is usually associated with the Avatamsaka and/or Zen schools.

"The Sudden teaching expounds the abrupt realization of the ultimate truth without relying upon verbal explanations or progression through various stages of practice" (Sokk: 110). Note: "In his commentary on the Pure Land sutras, [Patriarch] Chu-hung classifies Pure Land as a sudden (abrupt) teaching that also shares some aspects of the final teaching of the Lotus Sutra and the perfect (round) doctrine of the Avatamsaka Sutra. It belongs to the sudden doctrine, he says, because the Pure Land devotee 'attains rebirth in the Western Paradise as soon as he relies on the Buddha's name.' Chu-hung explains that the mind of the devotee of Buddha-recitation, when this is properly done, is a mind without any disturbance and is equivalent to the mind of no-thought spoken of in the Zen school. Like Han-shan, Chu-hung interprets Pure Land teaching in the Zen spirit, but at the same time advocates the more traditional and devotional aspects of the Pure Land faith. For both men, the other-power religion that teaches salvation by faith and Amitabha's grace is wedded to the self-power religion that teaches salvation by self-realization" (Hsu: 150).

[5] MIND-GROUND. Another term for the mind. The mind is compared to the ground, which has two characteristics: all beings, animate or inanimate, are sustained by it; it does not discriminate -- accepting and absorbing everything equally -- pure and dirty water alike. Likewise, all precepts and virtues are sustained by the mind; the mind of the Bodhisattva does not discriminate between auspicious or untoward events, praise or ridicule.

[The mind] is the source from which all dharmas spring, and also the place to which all dharmas return. It is therefore called the Dharma Realm [or Mind-Ground]" (Master Hui Seng).

[6] BODHI MIND. Skt/Bodhicitta. The spirit of Enlightenment, the aspiration to achieve it, the Mind set on Enlightenment. It involves two parallel aspects; i) the determination to achieve Buddhahood and ii) the aspiration to rescue all beings. The goal of all Mahayana practice is to achieve Enlightenment and transcend the cycle of Birth and Death -- that is, to attain Buddhahood. In the Mahayana tradition, the precondition for Buddhahood is the Bodhi Mind (bodhicitta), the aspiration to achieve full and complete Enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, oneself included."The Avatamsaka Sutra states: 'To neglect the Bodhi Mind when practicing good deeds is the action of demons.' This teaching is very true indeed. For example, if someone begins walking without knowing the destination or goal of his journey, isn't his trip bound to be circuitous, tiring and useless? It is the same for the cultivator. If he expends a great deal of effort but forgets the goal of attaining Buddhahood to benefit himself and others, all his efforts will merely bring merits in the human and celestial realms. In the end he will still be deluded and revolve in the cycle of Birth and Death, undergoing immense suffering. If this is not the action of demons, what, then, is it? For this reason, developing the supreme Bodhi Mind to benefit oneself and others should be recognized as a crucial step in all Mahayana schools" (BWF: 31).

 

[7] TWO VEHICLES. The Two Vehicles are those of the Sravakas (q.v.) and Pratyeka-Buddhas (q.v.). Together they constitute what is called Theravada, Southern or Monastic Buddhism. The Bodhisattva vehicle which leads to Buddhahood is called Mahayana Buddhism.

[8] SRAVAKA(S). "Those who follow [Theravada Buddhism] and eventually become Arhats as a result of listening to the Buddhas and following their teachings" (T. Prince). "In Mahayana Buddhism [the term Sravaka] refers to a person in the Theravada school who exerts himself to attain the stage of Arhat by observing 250 precepts in the case of monks and 348 [or 375 in some texts] in the case of nuns. This is a lower stage than that of Bodhisattva" (Yoko: 289).

[9] PRATYEKA-BUDDHAS. "These Buddhas become fully enlightened ... by meditating on the principle of causality. Unlike the Perfect Buddhas, however, they do not exert themselves to teach others (A. Buzo and T. Prince).'"  Note: The vehicles of the Sravakas and Pratyeka-Buddhas are known as the Two Vehicles (known today as Theravada, Southern Vehicle or Monastic Buddhism).

[10] ARHAT. "A Buddhist saint; one who has attained enlightenment and is no longer subject to death and rebirth." 

[11] SRAVAKA PRECEPTS. Usually refers to the Bhiksu/Bhiksuni precepts. However, by extension, the Sravaka precepts also include the five lay precepts and the ten precepts of novice monks/nuns, as these latter are considered preparation for the Bhiksu/Bhiksuni precepts.

[12] THREE ROOT PRECEPTS. In Mahayana, three groups of precepts which form the basis of all Bodhisattva practice: (1) Do not what is evil, (2) Do what is good and (3) Be of benefit to all sentient beings. All Bodhisattva precepts and vows, or for that matter, all precepts derive ultimately from these root precepts, also called the Three Bodies of Pure Precepts. These precepts may in principle be administered to Buddhists in lieu of the full set of Bodhisattva precepts described in the Brahma Net Sutra.  

[13] Vairocana Buddha: The primordial Buddha. Represents the Dharma Body of Buddha Sakyamuni and all Buddhas. His Pure Land is the entire cosmos.

[14] Wish-fulfilling gem: "A jewel said to possess the power of producing whatever one desires. It symbolizes the greatness and virtue of the Buddha and the Buddhist scriptures." (A Dictionary of Buddhist Terms and Concepts, p. 504-505)

[15] Upasaka/Upasika: Laymen/Laywomen who have taken at least one of the five lay precepts; in the context of this sutra, members of the laity who have taken the Bodhisattva precepts.

[16] Four months make a season: Traditionally, in Buddhism, following the Indian custom, the year is divided into three seasons: spring, summer and winter. There is no autumn.

 

[17] These verses allude to the following story: Three fish were stranded in shallow water. One returned to the sea by leaping over an obstacle in its path (a small boat). Another returned to the sea by swimming around the boat. The third fish just frolicked in the water, oblivious to its situation. In the end, when the water dried up, it suffocated to death.

[18] Sangha: The Order of monks and nuns. In this context, the assembly of Bodhisattva precepts receivers.

[19] If a person who has taken the Bodhisattva precepts and kept them since the last service cannot attend the semi-monthly Uposatha, he/she should request a colleague to represent him/her and state that he/she is in agreement with the proceedings. Acceptable reasons for absence include Dharma work and illness. 

[20] REPENTANCE. There are three methods of repentance, depending on the severity of the offense. 1) Face-to-face repentance. The offender confesses before the assembly, consisting of one, three, four or twenty Bodhisattvas. This method is for minor transgressions. 2) Auspicious sign repentance. The offender repents before images of Buddhas/Bodhisattvas until he witnesses an auspicious sign (lights, halos, flowers, the Buddhas rubbing his crown, etc.). This method can expiate all offenses except the Five Cardinal Sins. 3) No-birth repentance. The offender meditates on the truth of True Mark seeking the state of no-birth ("the nature of all offenses is basically emptiness"). This method covers all transgressions, including the Five Cardinal Sins.

[21] PRATIMOKSASkt, for "precepts". "It translates as 'growing and increasing', and 'purifying and eradicating'. Pratimoksa further has two meanings. The first is 'guaranteed liberation', the second is 'special liberation'. Guaranteed liberation means if one holds these Bodhisattva precepts, it's guaranteed that one can go from the level of an ordinary person to the level of a Sage. Special liberation means that for every precept you hold, you obtain that particular liberation" (Master Hui Seng). A body of precepts; in this case, the 58 Bodhisattva precepts. The term also applies to the full body of Bhiksu/Bhiksuni precepts.

[22] Uposatha: Semi-monthly service for recitation of precepts, either the Bhiksu/Bhiksuni or Bodhisattva precepts. According to the Vinaya, the recitation should be preceded by a public confession of transgressions. In practice, this part of the service is often omitted.

[23] The Brahma Net Sutra was translated from a Sanskrit text. A Tibetan translation is also extant, confirming the Indian origin of the Sutra. Master Kumarajiva's translation bureau was reportedly composed of some three thousand monks. The Brahma Net Sutra is "a two-fascicle sutra translated into Chinese in A.D. 406 by Kumarajiva of the Later Chin dynasty. According to the preface written by his disciple Seng-chao, this text corresponds to the tenth chapter of a much longer Sanskrit original consisting of 120 fascicles comprising sixty-one chapters. The first fascicle ... expounds forty stages of Bodhisattva practice ... The second sets forth ten major and forty-eight minor precepts. This sutra was highly valued in China, [Korea, Vietnam] and Japan as a work detailing precepts for Bodhisattvas, and many commentaries were written on it" (A Dictionary of Buddhist Terms and Concepts, p. 30).

Please note that the Mahayana Brahma Net Sutra, (and the Bodhisattva precepts contained therein), is a   different text from the sutra of the same name found in the Digha Nikaya of the Pali (Theravada) canon. These Bodhisattva precepts are traditionally taken by Mahayana monks and nuns a few days (or sometimes immediately) after they take their precepts of ordination as a Bhiksu or Bhiksuni. The Bodhisattva precepts are also given on these occasions to advanced laymen and laywomen. Although the Brahma Net Sutra can be high in tone and demanding of practitioners, readers should not be scared away or discouraged. They should not, however, expect to grasp the full significance of the injunctions without developing the Bodhi Mind and engaging in serious practice.

The Sravaka (monks' and nuns') precepts were established by the Buddha to correct problems as they occurred. For example, during the alms rounds, young monks would receive less food than older ones and so would sometimes go hungry. Therefore, the Buddha established the rule that donations should be pooled and shared equally among all monks. The Bodhisattva precepts, on the other hand, are based on eternal truths inherent in the Self-Nature (e.g., the precepts on generosity). Thus, while the Sravaka precepts are practical rules, the Bodhisattva precepts are independent of time and space, but part and parcel of the Self-Nature -- the Mind.

[24] LOTUS TREASURY WORLD. "The universe as purified by the vows and deeds of Vairocana Buddha, the cosmic aspect of Buddha Sakyamuni. By extension, the Lotus Treasury World represents our True Mind, or Buddha Nature, which encompasses the whole world, yet, like the lotus flower, is untouched by mud or defilements ... The world in the Brahma Net Sutra is the thousand-petaled lotus. Each of the thousand petals is a world in itself, consisting of ten billion smaller worlds, each with a sun, a moon, a Mt. Sumeru and four continents. Vairochana Buddha sits in the center of the Lotus. On each of the thousand petals dwells a Shakyamuni Buddha, ... a transformation of Vairochana Buddha" (Sokk: 247-248).

 

[25] In Mahayana texts, the word "Sakyamuni" can be taken to mean a) a greatly compassionate being and b) an ascetic who has calmed his mind. In the cosmos, there is an infinite number of such sages -- an infinite number of Sakyamuni Buddhas. Each time a Buddha is about to teach the Mahayana Sutras, he first emits lights from various parts of his body as an auspicious sign. This is to help members of the assembly to develop faith and deep respect, thus becoming more receptive to the teachings and receiving extra benefits. Emitting light is thus an act of compassion of the Buddhas.

[26] JAMBUDVIPAThe human world. The world in which we are living. Also ancient name of India. Jambudvipa is a small part of the Saha World, the realm of the Sakyamuni Buddha.

[27] VAJRA. The thunderbolt symbol used in Buddhist art and ritual. "Literally 'a diamond.' Usually a symbol of the indestructible nature of Buddha's wisdom. A weapon to conquer demons and protect Buddhism" (Chan: 485).  Vajra Spirit: a spirit protector of Buddhism, usually represented as holding a Vajra.

[28] Seven years of cultivation: this refers to the six years the future Sakyamuni Buddha practiced alone (after discovering that the ascetic teachings he received earlier were not leading to Supreme Enlightenment), as well as the forty-nine days he meditated under the Bodhi tree.

[29] Jewelled Net (of Indra): one of the most beautiful and profound metaphors in the Mahayana tradition. It is associated with the Avatamsaka Sutra, with its conception of unity and universal interdependence: Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra (Brahma), there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each "eye" of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring. The Hua-Yen [Avatamsaka] school has been fond of this image, mentioned many times in its literature, because it symbolizes a cosmos in which there is an infinitely repeated interrelationship among all the members of the cosmos. This relationship is said to be one of simultaneous mutual identity and mutual intercausality (Francis Cook, Hua-Yen Buddhism,p.2).

[30] I have come to this world 8,000 times. The Buddha has been among us countless times, in countless forms. He knows our world, and we can rely on His teachings (cf. Lotus Sutra).

[31] BODHI MIND. Skt/Bodhicitta. The spirit of Enlightenment, the aspiration to achieve it, the Mind set on Enlightenment. It involves two parallel aspects; i) the determination to achieve Buddhahood and ii) the aspiration to rescue all beings. The goal of all Mahayana practice is to achieve Enlightenment and transcend the cycle of Birth and Death -- that is, to attain Buddhahood. In the Mahayana tradition, the precondition for Buddhahood is the Bodhi Mind (bodhicitta), the aspiration to achieve full and complete Enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, oneself included."The Avatamsaka Sutra states: 'To neglect the Bodhi Mind when practicing good deeds is the action of demons.' This teaching is very true indeed. For example, if someone begins walking without knowing the destination or goal of his journey, isn't his trip bound to be circuitous, tiring and useless? It is the same for the cultivator. If he expends a great deal of effort but forgets the goal of attaining Buddhahood to benefit himself and others, all his efforts will merely bring merits in the human and celestial realms. In the end he will still be deluded and revolve in the cycle of Birth and Death, undergoing immense suffering. If this is not the action of demons, what, then, is it? For this reason, developing the supreme Bodhi Mind to benefit oneself and others should be recognized as a crucial step in all Mahayana schools" (BWF: 31).

[32] BUDDHA NATURE (SELF-NATURE). "According to the Mahayana view, [Buddha-nature] is the true, immutable, and eternal nature of all beings. Since all beings possess Buddha-nature, it is possible for them to attain enlightenment and become a Buddha, regardless of what level of existence they occupy..." (Sham:31)

[33] PRATIMOKSASkt, for "precepts". "It translates as 'growing and increasing', and 'purifying and eradicating'. Pratimoksa further has two meanings. The first is 'guaranteed liberation', the second is 'special liberation'. Guaranteed liberation means if one holds these Bodhisattva precepts, it's guaranteed that one can go from the level of an ordinary person to the level of a Sage. Special liberation means that for every precept you hold, you obtain that particular liberation" (Master Hui Seng).

[34] Bodhisattva disciples should transmit the Bodhisattva precepts to sentient beings. There is no such requirement in any other set of precepts. See Introduction.

[35] Important point: if we truly believe that sentient beings are the Buddhas of the future, we would never think of killing them, or harming them in any way. Rather, we would have feelings of compassion toward all sentient beings, without exception. This sense of compassion is the very essence of the Bodhisattva precepts. Therefore, the Brahma Net Sutra states: "If you should have such faith/ Then this precept code is fulfilled."

[36] Filial piety (filiality) toward one's parents means not only to avoid causing them pain, but also to strive to make them happy. To be filial, therefore, is to have compassion towards our parents. Moreover, "parents" in the Mahayana context does not mean one's parents in this lifetime only but also throughout the eons of time. Through the eons of rebirth, all men and women must have been our fathers or mothers at one time or another. Thus, the word "parents" represents all sentient beings. (See, for example, the Filial Piety Sutra.)  In other words, to be filial toward one's parents means to have compassion for all sentient beings. Thus, if a person is truly filial to his parents, he is in effect observing all the Bodhisattva precepts. This is because all these precepts have but one goal -- to nurture compassion for all sentient beings by showing them the way to Enlightenment. 

[37] TRIPLE JEWEL/THREE TREASURES. "1. The Buddha--the supremely enlightened being. 2. The Dharma--the teaching imparted by Buddha. 3. The Sangha--the congregation of monks and nuns, or of genuine Dharma followers" (Chan: 488).

[38] Ultimate Path: The Path or Way to Buddhahood, not Arhatship (goal of the Two Vehicles or Theravada) or the paths of gods and humans. For example, if one were to donate ten thousand dollars to a temple, hoping to receive wealth in a future lifetime or to obtain happiness, one would not be following the Ultimate Path. On the other hand, transferring the merits one has accrued to all sentient beings so that they, as well as ourselves,may achieve Buddhahood is the Ultimate Path.

 

[39] Restraint and Cessation: The basic or Sravaka precepts taught by the Buddhas (i.e., the five lay precepts, the ten precepts of novice monks, or the 250 for Bhiksus) all have an essentially negative tone. They are meant to prevent the practitioner from committing offenses. The Bodhisattva precepts, on the other hand, shift the emphasis toward the altruistic aspect: we should consider all sentient beings as part of our family; we should be filial to them, have compassion for them. Thus the Bodhisattva's precepts, unlike other precepts, have two components: self-benefit and benefit to others, with the emphasis on benefit to others.

[40] There were 16 great kingdoms in the Indian subcontinent at the time of the Buddha.

 

[41] In other words, the Bodhisattva precepts are above differentiations, above idle speculation -- above human reasoning. Trying to understand the Bodhisattva precepts in their totality with our limited mind is no different from viewing the heavens through a child's telescope! It is for this reason that the editors have relied on the commentaries of knowledgeable Dharma Masters in preparing these notes.

[42] The Sravaka precepts (lay and Bhiksu/Bhiksuni precepts) are conferred only on able-bodied persons in full possession of their mental and physical capacities. This is because monks and nuns are the temporal representation of the Buddha on earth. Joining the Order is like being selected as officers in the army, the army of liberation.

In contrast, Bodhisattvas take the ideal of benefitting sentient beings as their only goal. Therefore, with a few specific exceptions, everyone can receive the precepts and everyone can study and put them into practice.Please note in this connection that for a Bodhisattva precept to be broken and either a Parajika (major) or secondary offense created, several factors must come into play: a) foundation, b) intention, c) action, d) result.  For example, in the case of the precept against killing: a) the object has to be a sentient being and the perpetrator aware of this fact; b) the aim must be to kill; c) an act of violence must be perpetrated; d) the victim must actually die. However, even if only one factor, intention (motivation) is involved, the Bodhisattva still incurs some negative karma for having violated part of the precept. (The importance of the mind is reflected in modern jurisprudence through the distinction between manslaughter, attempted murder, murder in the first and second degrees.)  Knowledge as to when and how a precept is violated would remove some of the fear and reluctance that laypersons sometimes have with regard to taking the precepts.

 

[43] Before they receive the Bodhisattva precepts, sentient beings differ greatly in wisdom, status, wealth, and so forth. However, once they receive the precepts, they have joined the ranks of the Awakened, those "foremost in purity":  When sentient beings receive the Bodhisattva precepts ... At that time, they become "supreme vehicles of the Dharma", and are foremost in purity.

 

[44] EIGHT DIVISIONS (OF DIVINITIES). "The eight kinds of gods and demi-gods believed to be protectors of Buddhism: devas, dragons, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, and mahoragas" (Inagaki: 397).

[45] VAJRA. The thunderbolt symbol used in Buddhist art and ritual. "Literally 'a diamond.' Usually a symbol of the indestructible nature of Buddha's wisdom. A weapon to conquer demons and protect Buddhism" (Chan: 485).  Vajra Spirit: a spirit protector of Buddhism, usually represented as holding a Vajra.

[46] Transformation beings: refers to certain types of sentient beings, such as gods or dragons, who can take the appearance of human beings for the purpose of, for example, attending sermons or receiving the precepts (as such opportunities are not necessarily available at all times in their respective realms).

[47] EXPEDIENT MEANS. a) "Temporary or provisional teachings as a means to lead sentient beings to the final doctrine. b) The seventh of the ten Paramitas" (Dait: 118). Refers to strategies, methods, devices targeted to the capacities, circumstances, likes and dislikes of each sentient being, so as to rescue him and lead him to Enlightenment. "All particular formulations of the Teaching are just provisional expedients to communicate the Truth (Dharma) in specific contexts" (J.C. Cleary). "The Buddha's words were medicines for a given sickness at a given time," always infinitely adaptable to the conditions of the audience.

[48] Parajika offense. A major offense, which warrants expulsion from the Buddhist Order. (In practice, the cleric is given the opportunity to repent and reform.)

Killing sentient beings, including slaughtering animals for food, is among the heaviest transgressions in Buddhism. This is not only because such acts create untold suffering but also because they cut short the lives of future Buddhas (as all sentient beings have a common Buddha Nature).The injunction against all forms of killing (including suicide), covering all sentient beings, is unique to Buddhism. Jainism, for example, approves of the penance of death by self-starvation, while Hindu ceremonies such as the Srauta rites "center on offering into the altar fires oblations of milk, butter, honey ... domestic animals ..." (K. Crim,Dictionary of Religions, p. 369 and 790.) 

Note: There are important exceptions to this rule. A well-known recent example is the self-immolation (suicide) of Master Thich Quang Duc in the early sixties to protest the persecution of Buddhists in Vietnam. The Master, a recognized and respected figure, killed himself not to escape personal suffering, but rather to call attention to the plight of the population at large, bring a halt to the persecutions and, in the good Mahayana tradition, save the perpetrators themselves from major transgressions.

The first Sravaka precept (the precepts of Bhiksus/ Bhiksunis) is not to indulge in sexual relations, while the first Bodhisattva precept is not to kill. This is because the Sravakas' main goal is to become Arhats and escape Birth and Death. Bodhisattvas, on the other hand, take compassion as their main calling, and killing is the very antithesis of compassion. Another explanation is that the Sravaka precepts are specific to an audience and time. Thus, in the time of the Buddha, when a Bhiksu/Bhiksuni committed a certain offense, the Buddha, in response, instituted a certain precept or regulation. This is how the first Bhiksu/Bhiksuni precept against sexual relations came into being. Bodhisattva precepts, on the other hand, are universal in scope, beyond time, space and audience. They were promulgated independently of specific offenses, to help the practitioner return to his Self-Nature and achieve Buddhahood -- they are the precepts of the Mind.

[49] The life of a sentient being can be divided into two aspects: the internal, related to the physical body, and the external, having to do with food, possessions, and the like. The physical body is sustained by food and other essentials. If these essentials are stolen, life becomes very difficult. In extreme cases, stealing them is tantamount to taking a person's very life. Therefore, the precept 'not to steal' is second in importance only to the precept 'not to kill.' Please note, too, that in the "Four Means of Salvation," charity is first and foremost. These are the four means by which Bodhisattvas interact with society in order to carry out their work. Charity, the giving of one's possessions to benefit others, is the antithesis of stealing. (Master Yen-p'ei)
Stealing by expedient means: refers to such acts as hiding other people's possessions, etc. and then adopting an air of innocence, feigning ignorance as to what occurred.

[50] According to the commentaries, improper sexual behavior includes such actions as engaging in sex at inappropriate times (in the daytime, on fasting or auspicious days) or in inappropriate places (outside a couple's bedroom, for example).

[51] Sexual relations with any sentient being are strictly forbidden to monks and nuns. The purpose is to sever attachments and cut off the very cause of Birth and Death (see Charles Luk, tr., Surangama Sutra, p. 152 ff). See note 77 and the following: This precept is placed third, indicating that it is not as heavy as the precepts against killing and stealing. But if you seek to get out of the Triple Realm by cultivating the Way, then sexual conduct is a factor that obstructs you even more than killing or stealing. Sexual conduct is... called "conduct which is not Brahma-like," because Brahma means pure. It's not pristine, not pure. It's also called "impure conduct " because it is the very root of Birth and Death. It's the source of revolving on the wheel of rebirth. In the Surangama Sutra it says: "All living beings are sustained in their lives because of sexual desire." If they cut off sexual desire, they can transcend revolving in samsara; they can leap out of Birth and Death (Master Hsuan Hua).

[52] Examples of physical means include nodding, shaking one's head, etc. An instance of lying through mental means is when someone who has committed a misdeed remains silent when asked. The most serious example of false speech in Buddhism, constituting a major offense is to claim to have achieved a level of attainment (Arhatship, for example) when one has not in fact attained it. The purpose of such a claim is, of course, to receive respect and offerings. Other lies are considered secondary in importance. 

[53] Selling alcoholic beverages is considered a major offense while consuming alcoholic beverages is only a secondary one. (secondary precept No. 2). This is because Bodhisattvas place compassion first and foremost and aim at benefitting others -- to sell liquor is to harm others, to consume liquor is to harm only oneself. Why should we not consume alcoholic beverages? Buddhism prohibits alcoholic beverages not to deny enjoyment of life, but because alcohol clouds the mind and prevents one's innate wisdom from emerging. Thus, to sell liquor goes against the Bodhisattva's compassionate goal -- to help sentient beings develop wisdom and achieve Buddhahood.

[54] EXTERNALIST. Lit. "non-Buddhists." This term is generally used by Buddhists with reference to followers of other religions. An externalist is someone who does not believe in or follow Buddhist teaching.

[55] TWO VEHICLES. The Two Vehicles are those of the Sravakas (q.v.) and Pratyeka-Buddhas (q.v.). Together they constitute what is called Theravada, Southern or Monastic Buddhism. The Bodhisattva vehicle which leads to Buddhahood is called Mahayana Buddhism.

[56] The Bodhisattva's aim is to benefit sentient beings. Therefore, when someone commits an offense, the Bodhisattva does not advertise it but patiently finds ways to counsel him. Furthermore, a Bodhisattva should mention the good points of others so as to encourage them on the right path and help them develop their potential. 

Illustration: the Lotus Sutra relates the story of a Bodhisattva named "Never Despise." Whenever he encountered a layman or cleric, he would approach him, bow down to him, and say aloud, "I dare not look down on you because you will become a Buddha in the future." This declaration angered some persons, who would insult and beat him. In response, Never Despise would simply run far away and repeat, "I dare not look down on you because you will become a Buddha." Why did the Bodhisattva Never Despise act that way? It was because he cultivated the practice of seeing everything with eyes of equality, of respecting all sentient beings equally, as they all have the Buddha Nature and are all future Buddhas. Another explanation could be that many cultivators cannot conceive of themselves as future Buddhas. The Bodhisattva Never Despise was raising their sights, urging them to strive for the full Enlightenment of Buddhahood.

[57] "One can say that the habit of praising oneself and looking down on others is common to most people. That is why wherever we go, if we do not hear a person praise himself, we can hear him speak ill of others. Seldom do we hear anyone speak about his own shortcomings while praising the good points of others. That is why, since ancient times, it has never been easy to create an atmosphere of non-contention and happiness between individuals on this earth. If people got into the habit of "returning the light and looking within", aware every minute, every hour that they still have many shortcomings, while others have many good qualities, there would never be self-congratulation or criticism of others. This is particularly true in the case of Bodhisattvas, who should always admit their own mistakes and never entertain the thought of hiding them. If they were to hide their mistakes, those mistakes would not only not disappear, they would, on the contrary increase in intensity until in time they would control everything. By then, to extinguish them would be impossible. Moreover, not only should Bodhisattvas not hide their shortcomings, they should not boast of their achievements either. To do so would lessen the value of these achievements until in time they would disappear entirely. Then, even if they wanted to boast, they could no longer do so." (Master Yen-p'ei)

"To praise oneself and speak ill of others necessarily makes other people suffer. Not only that, such action tends to raise the ego -- the very opposite of the goal of cultivation. Furthermore, in the Avatamsaka Sutra (chapter 49), sentient beings are compared to the roots of a tree growing in the rocks and sand of the barren wilderness, while the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas are the flowers and fruits. Therefore, Bodhisattvas need sentient beings. How can they go about criticizing them, unless it is for the purpose of helping them correct their mistakes?" (Rev. Minh Duc)

 

[58] The Buddhist disciple becomes angry and loses his temper because the other party keeps asking for help.

[59] This ninth precept includes two parts: (1) being angry and (2) harboring grudges. This precept, like others, takes compassion as its cornerstone. Once anger arises, all compassion is lost. The Bodhisattva should not harbor grudges toward anyone and should gladly forgive the mistakes of others.

Moreover, once we are reborn in this impure world, we are bound to meet with events that go against our wishes. When these events occur -- as they are bound to -- we should keep calm and try to transcend them. What is the use of getting angry or getting even? Supposing we were lost in the depths of the forest, filled with poisonous plants, deadly insects and ferocious beasts. We should expect to be pricked by thorns and bitten by insects. The best course of action is to find a way out of the forest. To lose one's temper, cursing the thorns and insects, is irrational, to say the least. (After Master Yen-p'ei)

[60] "Few people would dare slander the Buddha. However slandering the Dharma or Sangha is another story. An example of slander of the Dharma is to criticize the Two-Vehicle Teaching as inadequate for all sentient beings. Slandering the Sangha is very common nowadays. If a cleric breaks the precepts, he will receive bad karma, but this does not preclude him from being a good teacher. It is like being lost with a group of people in a deep, dark ravine and among them is a leper who happens to have a torch. A wise person would suppress his revulsion and follow the leper to safety. Please note in this regard the teachings on the Four Reliances, the most important of which is reliance on the Dharma, not on any particular teacher. Moreover, the Buddhist disciple should have a calm mind, free of discrimination in all circumstances. To speak ill of others is to harbor a mind of discrimination, not yet realizing that good and bad, correct and incorrect are in essence non-existent and dream-like." (Rev. Minh Duc)

Note: Major Precept #8 stems from greed, #9 from anger and #10 from delusion.

[61] WHEEL-TURNING KING. "An ideal ruler in Indian mythology. In Buddhism the wheel-turning kings are kings who rule by justice rather than force. They possess the thirty-two features [of greatness] and rule the four continents surrounding Mt. Sumeru" (B. Watson: 342). 

[62] THREE EVIL REALMS (PATHS). The paths of hells, hungry ghosts, animality. These paths can be taken as states of mind; i.e., when someone has a vicious thought of maiming or killing another, he is effectively reborn, for that moment, in the hells. 

[63] Someone who falls into the Three Evil Realms (hell, hungry ghosts, animality) can expiate his offenses and achieve rebirth in the human realm only after countless years. Only then will that person be likely to understand family obligations or learn the teachings of the Buddha. According to Buddhist teachings, cultivation is easier in the human realm, which contains both hardship and happiness, than in a realm with too much hardship (Three Evil Realms) or too much happiness (Celestial Realms).

 

[64] All the Bodhisattva precepts are based on compassion, on avoiding harm and being of benefit to others. To break them intentionally is to have no compassion toward sentient beings and to lose the seed of Enlightenment. One is then cast out of the Sea of the Dharma and is no longer a Bodhisattva. Note that the most important thing in cultivation is to develop and nurture the seed of Enlightenment (the Bodhi Mind), because without that seed, one cannot become a Buddha.

 

[65] This chapter was not transmitted outside of India. 

[66] A Buddhist disciple who is to become an emperor or a high official should first receive the Bodhisattva precepts because the mistakes made by a person in high position have wide and far-reaching implications. It is, then, an act of compassion to urge leaders to study and observe the Bodhisattva precepts so that they can work for the benefit of the many instead of the few.

[67] Why should one rise to greet and make offerings to Elder Masters? It is because they are the causes and conditions which help the cultivator attain Enlightenment. To fail to respect and draw near them is to lose the benefits of their teachings. In accord with the Dharma: with body, speech and mind (rising to greet them, saying welcoming words, in all sincerity).

[68] No hands for 500 lives: the disciple will be reborn as a worm, reptile, etc. This retribution appears unusually harsh at first sight; however, in Buddhism, the worst karma is to lack wisdom, the consequence of intoxication. Without wisdom, we can never escape Birth and Death and are bound to revolve in samsara not only for 500 lives but even for untold eons!

A story is told of Mahakasyapa (the senior disciple of the Buddha) visiting the Jeta Grove accompanied by Anathapindika (a famous benefactor of the Order), and suddenly catching sight of a black ant scrambling across his path. Drawing Anathapindika's attention to the insect, he recalled that in untold eons past, during the times of the six previous Buddhas, he had come across that ant. Now, under Sakyamuni, the seventh Buddha, he himself had become an Arhat, but the poor ant, after eons of rebirth, was still just an ant, condemned to scavenge for scraps of food, condemned to the sufferings of an insect's life -- as devoid as ever of wisdom!Please note that selling alcoholic beverages is a major or root offense as opposed to consuming intoxicants which is only a minor offense. To drink alcohol hurts only oneself, but to sell alcoholic beverages hurts others and goes against the Mind of Compassion that a Bodhisattva should nurture at all times.

[69] Exception: "When the Buddha was in the world, King Prasenajit's Queen had received the eight precepts of a layperson. One time, King Prasenajit wanted to kill his cook. When his Queen heard about this she wanted to save the cook, so she bedecked herself in fine adornments, put on fragrant powders, placed flowers in her hair, and prepared delicious food and wine. Then she took along several ladies-in-waiting and went to see the King. King Prasenajit was extremely pleased with the wine and the food, and afterwards the Queen beseeched the King to forgo his idea of killing the cook. The King consented, and so in this way the cook was saved. The next day, the Queen went to the Buddha's place and repented. She had already taken the eight lay precepts, and one of them is that one can't put fragrant oils or perfumes on one's body or flowers in one's hair. She had also drunk wine the previous day...But since the only reason she did all that was because she wanted to save the cook's life, the Buddha said, "Not only have you not transgressed the precepts, you actually have gained merit and virtue" (Master Hsuan Hua). 

[70] Eating meat not only goes against the spirit of Great Compassion, it also has far-reaching health implications as illustrated by the recent refusal of the European Community to buy American beef from cattle fattened with hormones. See also the following passage from the Lankavatara Sutra, the only text recommended by Bodhidharma: In the present sutra, all meat-eating, in any form, in any manner, and in any place, is unconditionally and once for all, prohibited for all. Thus, Mahamati, meat eating I have not permitted to anyone, I do not permit, I will not permit. Meat eating, I tell you, Mahamati, is not proper for homeless monks (D.T. Suzuki, Lankavatara Sutra, p. 219).

[71] Pungent herbs: "They are: leek, onion, garlic, and a few other such herbs such as asafoetida, an ingredient common in curries etc. Eaten raw they are believed to incite people to anger and disputes; eaten cooked they increase one's sexual desire." Buddhist adepts are advised to avoid them, as their consumption tends to disturb the peacefulness of the mind. "According to the [Surangama Sutra], garlic, three kinds of onions, and leeks are the five forbidden pungent roots. 'If eaten raw, they are said to cause irritability of temper, and if eaten cooked, to act as an aphrodisiac; moreover, the breath of the eater, if reading the sutras, will drive away the good spirits.'"

[72] EIGHT ADVERSITIES. "These are special types of adversity that prevent the practice of the Dharma; they are rebirth in hell, rebirth in the brute-world, rebirth in the ghost-world, rebirth among the long-lived gods, rebirth in an uncivilized country, rebirth with deficient faculties, adherence to false views, and life in a realm wherein there is no Tathagata" (Thurman: 153).

[73]  In a spirit of compassion, the Buddhist disciple should counsel an offender to practice repentance. He should not watch in silence as the offender repeats the offense.

Offenses arise from the mind;          Repentance is done by the mind. 
When the mind forgets them,            The offenses exist no more.
The mind forgetting and the offenses eradicated,
Both then are empty.          This is true repentance and reform.                                 (Master Hsuan Hua, tr.)

[74] UPOSATTHA / UPAVASATHA. "Originally a form of meeting. According to the Vinaya, the assembly of monks meets on a full moon and then on a new moon to celebrate the ceremony of reciting the precepts (formerly ordination was also held on this occasion). The ceremony begins with a public confession. The chairman then advises the audience: 'During the past half-month, he who has violated the precepts is invited to confess them and make repentance before the assembly'. This announcement is repeated three times. If there is no answer, he proclaims: 'The precepts have been cleanly observed by everybody.' Thereupon, follows the ceremony of reciting precepts" (Ngo Van Hoa).

[75] Note: It is incumbent on the host to request the guest master to teach the Dharma as often as three times a day, time and health permitting.

[76] Note the example of the youth Sudhana in the Avatamsaka Sutra, who traveled "south" to some one hundred and ten cities in search of the truth. If it were not for his determination to go wherever required to find the Dharma, how could he finally be admitted to Maitreya's Tower and achieve Enlightenment in one lifetime? An exception to this rule is when one is already fully conversant with a particular sutra or commentary, or when the sutra or commentary is being taught in a language one does not understand. The sutras teach that when attending a Dharma lecture, a practitioner should concentrate on listening and learning the Dharma. He should avoid personal reactions to the teacher, such as, the teacher i) has/has not violated the precepts; ii) comes from a poor/wealthy background; iii) has a pleasant/unpleasant physical appearance; iv) has good diction / a speech impediment; v) has a melodious/harsh voice.

[77] When preaching the Dharma, a Bodhisattva disciple should always emphasize the development of the Bodhi Mind. Thus, when teaching the practice of Buddha Recitation, for example, he should urge his listeners not only to recite the Buddha's name but also to teach others to do likewise -- all the while seeking rebirth in the Pure Land as a stepping stone to Buddhahood. An exception to the rule of not turning away from the Mahayana is when the capacity of the audience is limited and, for reasons of expediency, can only be taught the Two-Vehicle Path as a stopgap measure.

[78] FIELD OF BLESSINGS. "A figurative term for someone who is worthy of offerings. Just as a field can yield crops, so people will obtain blessed karmic results if they make offerings to one who deserves them. There are many kinds of 'fields of blessings': monks, enlightened beings [such as the Buddhas], parents, the poor, etc..." (Chan: 475). 

[79] This precept -- looking after the sick -- exists only in the Bodhisattva precepts. Reason: The Bhiksu/Bhiksuni and lay moral codes are based on self-cultivation and purification, while the Bodhisattva moral code rests on compassion -- compassion for the sick and helpless. Why are the sick foremost among the Eight Fields of Blessings? It is because the other Fields of Blessings, including the Buddhas and sages, derive from our sense of gratitude. We are grateful to Sakyamuni Buddha for leaving his throne and luxurious life to find the Path to Enlightenment and teach it to us. The sick, on the other hand, constitute a Field of Blessing based on compassion. Since the highest moral attribute in Buddhism is compassion, the sick represent the foremost Field of Blessings.

[80] The following story is a good illustration of taking care of the sick, as the foremost Field of Blessings:
  During the Han dynasty, an official named Yuan-Nang murdered an official named Ch'ao Ts'o. Afterwards, day and night, he saw the ghost of Ch'ao Ts'o coming to take revenge. Realizing his mistake, he left home and became a Bhiksu, cultivated vigorously, and was no longer troubled by the ghost. Because he did not encounter the ghost again, he vowed to become a Bhiksu in his succeeding lives and became a great, renowned Dharma Master who lectured on Sutras and taught widely, coveting neither fame nor wealth. For ten lives he cultivated diligently and met no more ghosts. He rose to a higher and higher position in every life until, in his tenth life, he became the Emperor's teacher and was given the title "National Master." The Emperor made him a gift of an aloeswood chair, the kind only emperors used. It was so handsome and beautifully carved that when National Master Wu Ta sat down on it he suddenly thought, "Just how many Dharma Masters are there as lofty as I? How many have received a gift from an Emperor as fine as this chair?" His one thought of arrogance laid him open for the attack of the revengeful ghost of Ch'ao Ts'o of ten lives past. Instantly, one of his legs began to swell, and a sore which had the shape of a human face formed on it. It was complete with a mouth, nose, eyes, and ears. Not only that, it could talk. "You want to get away from me, " it would say, "but you can't. I am determined to take your life." It also demanded to be fed, and would eat only fresh, raw meat. If Wu Ta didn't give meat to the sore, it would cause him unbearable pain. Even though he was a National Master, Wu Ta had no way to get rid of the sore ... Earlier, National Master Wu Ta had taken care of the Venerable Kanaka when the latter's body had broken out with noxious boils. He had waited on him, served him broths and medicines, and had cured him. At that time, the Venerable Kanaka had said to him, "In the future, no matter what difficulty besets you, no matter how insoluble your problem may seem, come to such and such a place in Szechwan and I will find a way to help you. Wu Ta had no recourse but to find Kanaka in Szechwan. The Venerable Kanaka used "samadhi water" to wash Wu Ta's sore, and the human face disappeared. Actually, the Venerable Kanaka, who was a fourth stage Arhat, did not really have an illness. He deliberately manifested a disease as a method to save National Master Wu Ta in the future. (Master Hsuan Hua)

[81] Not looking after the sick (Minor precept No. 9) is to fail to save lives, while storing weapons is to create the conditions for actually destroying life. Both go against the Mind of Compassion of a Bodhisattva.

[82] A Bodhisattva disciple should not avenge even the death of his parents because this would be killing the parents of a past lifetime to avenge the parents of the current lifetime. Such action goes counter to the spirit of compassion -- the very marrow of Buddhism.  

During the Ch'ing Dynasty in China, in Yang Chou, there was a person named Ch'eng Pai Lin. One day he had a dream in which Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva told him, "Tomorrow the Ch'ing army will arrive. Out of the seventeen people in your household, sixteen will survive. But you cannot escape your fate. Tomorrow Wang Ma Tze will kill you, because in a past life you stabbed him twenty-six times and killed him." Then Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva added, "There is still an expedient method that may work. Prepare a fine feast tomorrow, and when he comes, invite him to eat with you. Afterwards, allow him to kill you. Perhaps that will change things."

The dream was vivid and when Ch'eng Pai Lin awoke the following morning, he went out and bought wine and vegetables, brought them back, and had a feast prepared. Then noontime came, someone knocked at the door. He opened the door and said, "Are you Wang Ma Tze?" "How strange," said the man at the door, "I'm from the north, how did you know my name?" His host invited him in and said, "... You're welcome; I've prepared a feast for you. Won't you join me?" Then he related the dream he'd had the night before. "Last life I killed you with twenty-six stabs of a knife, and so this life you have come to kill me. After we've finished this meal, you can do it." Wang Ma Tze pondered over this and said, "But if you killed me last life, and I kill you this life, won't you kill me again next life? It will just go on and on. No, I won't kill you." Then he took his knife and scratched twenty-six marks on his host's back to represent that the debt had been repaid. Not only did Wang Ma Tze not kill his host, but afterwards they became very good friends. Wang said to his host, "The Ch'ing army is following en masse. They are not reasonable, so the best would be for you and your family to go to Su Chou. It's safe there." So that is what Ch'eng Pai Lin did. This is a case of turning grievance into friendship and reversing the retribution that is due one. From this you can see that it's possible to alter one's fate. (Master Hui Seng)
In Buddhism, the more offenses a person commits and the heavier these offenses are, the more a Bodhisattva should have compassion for him. Buddhism exists because there are people who commit infractions and offenses. Thus, the most revered and most popular Bodhisattvas of the Mahayana always live in places of great turmoil and suffering.

[83] A Bodhisattva should not act as a country's emissary for the purpose of spying or fostering war. However, if he were to do so to put an end to war or military confrontation, he would be acting in a spirit of compassion. The key words in this precept are for personal benefit or evil intention.

[84] To sell human beings and domestic animals is to make one's living off the life of others; to sell coffins and products connected with the disposal of corpses is to make one's living off the death of others. Unconsciously, if not consciously, one is happy to see others die, since one's livelihood is dependent on the number of deaths. The offense can be subtle -- in the rejoicing mind -- or not so subtle, as demonstrated by periodic exposures of questionable practices in the funeral industry. (See US News and World Report, March 23, 1998.) To make one's living off the life and death of others is to lack compassion, the very essence of Mahayana Buddhism. Therefore, all professions or trades connected with the above are forbidden to aspiring Bodhisattvas.

[85] This secondary precept 13 is related to major precept 7 (praising oneself and disparaging others) and major precept 10 (slandering the Triple Jewel). The offense committed here is secondary because: a) unlike in major precept 7, there is no self-praise and b) unlike in major precept 10, the objects of slander are virtuous persons, which include the Sangha (the community of monks and nuns) but not the Triple Jewel as a whole (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha). More important, this secondary precept 13 deals specifically with slander without cause. For a follower of the Two Vehicles (Theravada), this type of slander is a major offense, because it is immoral. (The emphasis here is on the personal integrity of the slanderer.) However, for a Bodhisattva, it is a secondary offense, because baseless slander can be refuted and is thus less likely to do permanent damage to the victim than slander based on fact. (The emphasis in this instance has shifted to the well-being ofthe victim -- compassion being the basis of Bodhisattvahood.) (After Master Yen-p'ei) This example illustrates the major difference between the Bodhisattva and other precepts.

[86] This precept refers to the setting of fires for farming and other such necessary purposes. Otherwise, the offense would be that of killing or stealing (Major precepts No. 1 and No. 2). In Asia, the period between the fourth and ninth months coincides with the reproductive cycles of such insects as ants and earthworms. Therefore, the Buddha forbade the setting of fires during those periods, out of a spirit of compassion toward all creatures, however lowly and helpless.

[87] To the followers of the Monastic Tradition (i.e., early Buddhism or Theravada), the attainment of the state of Arhat is the ultimate goal. They are attached to that teaching as the orthodox and highest form of Buddhism. For Mahayanists, such a goal is limited and unwholesome. Therefore, unless a person cannot profit from Mahayana teachings, it is an offense for a Bodhisattva to teach the Two Vehicle Tradition. To do so would cause sentient beings to lose the great benefit of Supreme Enlightenment and Buddhahood.

[88] Wholesome mind: in the Mahayana context, means to seek Buddhahood and to rescue all sentient beings.

Why should a Bodhisattva teach the difficult Bodhisattva renunciation practices to a novice coming from afar? It is to test his capacity as a potential Bodhisattva and strengthen his resolve for the difficult tasks ahead. Moreover, to succeed in cultivation, a novice must cultivate a wholesome mind (seek Buddhahood and rescue sentient beings). To do so, he has to (1) set aside the ego/sever the attachment to the self (burn one's body...) and (2) be willing to sacrifice himself for sentient beings (forsake his body for starving beasts...). Unless the novice is ready to make such commitments, he is not a good "vessel of the Dharma" and is likely to fail.A famous example of such commitment is the story of Master Hui-k'o, the second patriarch of Zen, who knelt in the snow for days and finally cut off his arm, to persuade Bodhidharma to accept him as a disciple.N.b. This precept is directed specifically at monks and nuns, as an example of the Bodhisattva ideal.

[89] The offenses described here are relatively minor, such as charging high rent or high interest on loans. Otherwise, the transgressions would be the major offense of stealing (second major precept).

[90] TWELVE DIVISIONS OF THE DHARMA. "The 12 kinds of Buddhist scriptures distinguished according to different styles of exposition: (1) the Buddha's exposition of the Dharma in prose (sutra), (2) verses which repeat the ideas already expressed in prose (geya), (3) verses containing ideas not expressed in prose (gatha), (4) narratives of the past which explain a person's present state (nidana), (5) narratives of past lives of the Buddha's disciples (itivrittaka), (6) narratives of past lives of the Buddha (jataka), (7) accounts of miracles performed by the Buddha or a deva (abdhuta-dharma), (8) an exposition of the Dharma through allegories (avadana), (9) discussions of doctrine (upadesa), (10) an exposition of the Dharma by the Buddha without awaiting questions or requests from his disciples (udana), (11) an extensive exposition of principles of truth (vaipulya), and (12) prophecies by the Buddha regarding his disciples' attainment of Buddhahood (vyakarana)" (Inagaki). 

[91] Principles of the Bodhisattva precepts: The Sravaka precepts were promulgated by the Buddha as the offenses actually arose. They were expressly devised for monks and nuns and are to be taken only by them. The Bodhisattva precepts, on the other hand, are the precepts of the Mind, and are common to all sentient beings. Therefore, they can be observed by all.

The essence of the Buddha Nature includes such qualities as compassion, filiality, etc. Each of us intrinsically possesses the Buddha Nature, the primary cause of Buddhahood. Observance of the Bodhisattva precepts creates the conditions for the Buddha Nature to manifest itself. When cause and conditions come together, the result is Buddhahood. This is referred to as the "essence of the Buddha Nature".

[92] Bodhisattvas engage in countless cultivation practices. One such practice is to light incense and then either place the incense pieces on a large incense burner before the image of a Buddha or, alternatively, raise a small burner to one's forehead and recite verses of praise or mantras while facing the Buddha. If a disciple, out of envy, gossips about a Bodhisattva who engages in these practices (calling him a fake and a showoff, for example), the disciple commits a secondary offense.

This precept is similar to precept 13, but differs with respect to the goal of the offender. In precept 13, the aim of slandering monks in particular is to defame them and make them lose offerings, while in this precept it is to cause discord within the Sangha.  

[93] "Throughout the eons of time, all male sentient beings have been my father; all female sentient beings have been my mother. I was born of them." This is a poetical way to express the truth that we are all related throughout the eons of time, and thus to save sentient beings is to save one's family and ultimately oneself.

[94] Precept #20 has two parts, the first part concerning the living and the second part the deceased.   (1) In the first part, there are two related concepts, "rescue and protect" and "rescue and deliver". The first concept relates to the potential victim, while the second concept embraces the killer as well. To help both, it is necessary to develop the killer's sense of compassion. Once there is true compassion, all killing ceases, and both the killer and the victim are liberated. Thus, the sutra states: "the disciple should always teach the Bodhisattva precepts to rescue and deliver sentient beings." (2) Furthermore, not only the living, but also the dead, should be liberated. Therefore, monks and nuns should be invited to explain the Bodhisattva sutras and precepts on the death anniversaries of parents and other kin. 

Note: "If a Bodhisattva sees an animal on the verge of being killed, he must devise a way to rescue and protect it": Now, if you wish to save a certain being but it's beyond your capacity, then you should singlemindedly recite the Buddha's name. For example, you may see some pigs or sheep that are about to be slaughtered, and you can't liberate them because you aren't able to buy them all. At this time you should singlemindedly recite the Buddha's name so those creatures can hear it. You can speak Dharma also. You can say to them, "All of you living beings should bring forth the Bodhi resolve [Bodhi Mind].'" This is creating causes and conditions for rescuing their wisdom-light (Mind). Although you are not saving their physical bodies, you are rescuing their wisdom-light. (Master Hui Seng) 

[95] When a Buddhist dies, it is the practice for relatives to recite the sutras and perform other meritorious acts, transferring all the merits to the dead. This helps the deceased achieve rebirth in the Pure Lands ("behold the Buddhas") or, alternatively, to obtain a good rebirth in the human or celestial realms. Rebirth in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha is the aim of many Mahayana Buddhists, as this is viewed as a realistic goal, considering the circumstances of ordinary human beings in the Saha World.

[96] A Bodhisattva must not return anger for anger. This is because wherever there is anger, all compassion is lost. "To seek revenge and maim and kill and prosecute" is to create the causes of future sufferings and ensure that they will never end. Even today, this lesson has unfortunately not been learned despite all the hindsight available to us from past warfare and genocide: "President Clinton came [to Kigali] today to talk to scarred and mutilated survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and to acknowledge that the world could have protected them, though it did not . . . Both in his meeting with the victims and the speech to an invited audience here, Mr. Clinton called for sharper vigilance against genocide and swifter prosecution of its perpetrators ..." (NY Times: March 26, 1998).

N.B. Buddhists do not cultivate a sense of vengefuless because they realize that sentient beings know only Cause and Effect in the present, but not in past or future lifetimes. The present perpetrators might have been the victims in a previous lifetime; thus, to exact retribution now may be to jeopardize the parents of one lifetime in order to avenge the parents of another! This truth can be glimpsed in the current wave of ethnic conflicts in Africa and the Balkans. See also secondary precepts 10 and 21.

[97] "According to the Brahma Net and Avatamsaka Sutras, we should ignore appearances and external forms when seeking a good teacher. For example, we should disregard such traits as youth, poverty, low status or lack of education, unattractive appearance or incomplete features, but should simply seek someone conversant with the Dharma, who can be of benefit to us. Nor should we find fault with good spiritual advisors for acting in certain ways, as it may be due to a number of reasons, such as pursuing a hidden cultivation practice or following an expedient teaching. Or else, they may act the way they do because while their achievements may be high, their residual bad habits have not been extinguished. If we grasp at forms and look for faults, we will forfeit benefits on the path of cultivation.

"Thus, when Buddha Sakyamuni was still alive, the Bhikshu Kalodayin was in the habit of moving his jaws like a buffalo; a certain Bhikshuni used to look at herself in the mirror and adorn herself; another Bhikshu liked to climb trees and jump from one branch to another; still another always addressed others in a loud voice, with condescending terms and appellations. In truth, however, all four had reached the stage of Arhatship. It is just that one of them was a buffalo in a previous life, another was a courtesan, another was a monkey, and still another belonged to the Brahman class. They were accustomed to these circumstances throughout many lifetimes, so that even when they had attained the fruits of Arhatship, their residual habits still lingered."We also have the example of the Sixth Patriarch of Zen. Realizing that the cultivators of his day were attached to a literal reading of the sutras and did not immediately recognize their Buddha Nature, he took the form of an ignorant and illiterate person selling wood in the marketplace. Or else, take the case of a famous Zen Master who, wishing to avoid external conditions and concentrate on his cultivation, took the expedient appearance of a ragged lunatic, raving and ranting. As a result, both distinguished Masters were criticized during their lifetimes. The Sixth Patriarch was faulted for his ignorance, while the Zen monk was called insane and berserk. Therefore, finding a good spiritual advisor is a difficult task indeed" (Thich Thien Tam, Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith).

[98] SEVEN (PRECIOUS) JEWELS. Traditionally listed as: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, red pearl and carnelian. They represent the seven powers of faith, perseverance, sense of shame, avoidance of wrongdoing, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom.

[99] A Bodhisattva should not follow the Two Vehicle teachings or worldly teachings because they all have one principle in common: the rejection of the concept of Buddha Nature as basic to all sentient beings.

There are exceptions to this precept not to study and practice non-Mahayana teachings. "If one needs to understand worldly doctrines in order to rescue people from the world, then one can study those doctrines. However, if one studies them with the sole purpose of benefitting oneself and fails to seek Supreme Enlightenment, then it is not permissible to study them." (Master Hui Seng)

[100] "What is meant by skillfully administering the resources of the Three Jewels? If one receives goods for the Buddha Jewel but uses them for the Dharma Jewel, this is misusing goods. Or, if one receives them for the Sangha Jewel but uses them for the Buddha Jewel, that is also misusing goods. In Buddhist teachings, it becomes clear that Cause and Effect are quite complicated. If money is given to repair an image of Sakyamuni Buddha and the money is used to print sutras instead, then one has used the Buddha Jewel money for the Dharma Jewel.

Misuse of funds of the Triple Jewel in this way is considered stealing. If one is not very clear about the precepts, however, one may not realize this and assume that as long as the money is used for the Triple Jewel, it is permissible." (Master Hui Seng)

[101] To pawn himself, or cut off and sell his own flesh: is a figure of speech for selling one's physical labor or one's intellectual labor. (Master Tri Quang)

[102] "All visiting Sangha members should be invited to receive offerings in accord with their position in the Sangha (seniority of ordination). They are part of the assembly that keeps the precepts and, as such, should receive their share of the offerings. If one does not offer a visiting Sangha what he rightly deserves, if one is greedy for profit and receives individual offerings, that is a violation of the precept against stealing." (Master Hui Seng)

N.B. In ancient times, a meal offering was a particularly welcome opportunity, as it spared the clerics the time and effort of the alms round and allowed them more time for practice.

[103] This precept specifically prohibits a cleric from seeking invitations and donations for himself personally. In the regulations on offerings there is a stanza that stipulates:

Above, offerings should go to the Buddhas of the Ten Directions;
In the middle, to the community of monks;
Below, to all sentient beings of the Six Realms.
Offerings belong to all without distinction.

Moreover, the offerings destined for the community of monks belong to all monks and nuns, not only those residing at the temple, but also to current visiting monks and nuns as well as future visitors. Thus, technically, the offerings should be divided equally among all those present, with a portion set aside for future visiting monks.

This editor remembers visiting a temple in India and upon seeing goods piled up in corner rooms, thinking to himself that the temple was too wealthy. Later he realized that these goods had been set aside for visiting monks in observance of this precept!

[104] ARHAT. "A Buddhist saint; one who has attained enlightenment and is no longer subject to death and rebirth." 

[105] It is very important to issue invitations to monks and nuns according to their proper order or seniority according to the time of their full ordination as a Bhiksu or Bhiksuni. This is to avoid discord and dissension within the assembly, with popular monks receiving the bulk of the invitations and others receiving none. For a layperson to fail to respect this precept is to lose deep merit and virtue, as he would, in effect, disrupt the harmony of the Sangha. Thus, to issue a discriminatory invitation goes against the spirit of compassion and non-discrimination that all Buddhists, particularly Bodhisattvas, should nurture.

Furthermore, to offer a discriminatory invitation even to 500 Arhats is not necessarily meritorious because the degree of merit or virtue depends on three factors: the recipient, the gift and, most important, the mind of the giver. If the gift is presented with a mind of compassion and equanimity, with no thought of gift, recipient or giver, then the merits accrued become infinite. Otherwise, they are limited. See in this connection the Vimalakirti Sutra.

[106] Seven Buddhas: Sakyamuni Buddha and the six Buddhas who preceded him. By extension, it means all the Buddhas.

[107] In general, an improper livelihood is any occupation that is contrary to the spirit of compassion toward sentient beings. Such occupations include not only traditional ones like fisherman and hunter but also working in slaughter houses or ammunition factories. In the sutras, the Buddha even forbade monks and nuns from tilling the soil, planting crops, or pressing seeds to get oil because such actions often result in the killing of small animals and insects. (Laymen, being subject to a lesser standard of morality, are not prohibited from engaging in such activities. Moreover, they may even be given the opportunity to earn merit and virtue through service to the clergy. Monks and nuns, relieved of daily chores, can then concentrate on their main calling -- practicing the Dharma for the benefit of all.)

[108] Matchmaking is singled out in this precept because it creates the karma of attachment, the very cause of endless births and rebirths within Samsara. A Bodhisattva, motivated by compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings in the cycle of existence, cannot be a party to the creation of such karma.  

[109] Six days of fasting, three months of fasting. Fasting in this context means not eating after noontime.  In popular Buddhism, the special days and months of fasting are explained as special times when the celestial rulers of this galaxy go on their inspection trips to assess the compliance of human beings with the basic moral tenets. Therefore, people watch themselves during those times and are on their best behavior by abstaining from all offenses! On a deeper level, this is an expedient means of bringing practitioners gradually to a pure style of living all year.  

[110] This precept deals with offenses from the point of view of timing. From that perspective, killing or stealing at particular times (fasting days) constitutes a minor offense, on top of the major offense.  

[111] This Chapter was not transmitted outside of India -- see Introduction

[112] Selling Bodhisattvas, Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, can be understood literally (as in time of war) but can also refer to those who take advantage of Buddhism to further their personal interests, financial and otherwise. Examples that immediately come to mind are salespeople who gain clients through connections with the clergy as well as politicians on the lookout for votes.

[113] A Bodhisattva should not sell knives. The Bodhisattva precepts are the precepts of the Mind-Nature. Thus, if one were to store knives and clubs to kill and maim, it would be against the spirit of compassion inherent in the Mind-Nature and therefore against the precepts. However, if knives are stored as kitchen utensils, such action does not go against the spirit of compassion, and therefore is not against the precepts.

[114] Confiscation of possessions: As theft, confiscation of property is a major offense. However, in this context, the emphasis is on the abuse of power, which constitutes a secondary offense.

[115] A Bodhisattva should not raise cats, dogs. There are several reasons for this. One is compassion: cats eat other sentient beings, while pigs are raised to be eaten themselves and foxes for their skins or for medicinal purposes. Secondly, raising domestic animals gives rise to feelings of attachment, which is precisely what the cultivator seeks to avoid. It also takes time and effort, which would better be devoted to the "great matter of Birth and Death." Yet, there are exceptions to this rule: to give temporary shelter to a starving cat in the middle of winter is clearly the right thing for a Bodhisattva disciple to do.

[116] A Bodhisattva cannot watch fights (gang fights, bullfights ...) or armed battles because such action goes against the spirit of compassion. How can a compassionate person watch maiming and killing and derive enjoyment from it? The same goes for being party to gambling, where one party necessarily has to lose.

[117] A Bodhisattva cannot listen to music or attend theatrical performances because he needs to keep the mind empty and still at all times ...

[118] Bhiksu bound by reeds. In the time of the Buddha, there was a Bhiksu who observed the precepts to the letter. One day, he was accosted by brigands who stole his clothes and begging bowl and, fearing reprisal, were about to kill him. Fortunately, there was someone among them who knew about Buddhism. He said, "There is no need to kill him. Just tie his hands and feet and leave him among the living reeds. That will be enough." The Bhiksu thus bound did not move lest he uproot the fresh reeds and thus break the precept "not to kill." When the brigands had left, a passer-by saw the monk and untied him. Henceforth, he became known as the "Bhiksu bound by reeds."

[119] Sentient beings are Buddhas-to-be, while the Buddhas are realized Ones. This is the basic tenet of the Mahayana, distinguishing it from Theravada Buddhism and non-Buddhist teachings.

Illustrative Story on Keeping the Bodhi Mind. A Bodhisattva should maintain the Bodhi Mind in each and every thought without retrogression: In days of yore, an older master was traveling along a winding country road, followed by a disciple carrying his bags. As they walked, they saw lands being tilled while farmers and oxen were strained to the utmost. Countless worms and insects were maimed or killed in the process, and birds were swooping to eat them. This led the disciple to wonder to himself, "How hard it is to make a living. I will cultivate with all my strength, become a Buddha and rescue all these creatures." Immediately the Master, an Arhat able to read the thoughts of others, turned around and said, "Let me have those heavy bags and I will follow you." The disciple was puzzled but did as instructed, changing places with his teacher and walking in front. As they continued on their way with the hot sun bearing down on them, dust swirling all around them, the road stretching endlessly in front, the disciple grew more and more tired. It wasn't long before he thought to himself, "There are so many sentient beings and there is so much suffering, how can I possibly help them all? Perhaps I should try to help myself first." Immediately, the Master behind him said, "Stop. Now you carry the bags and follow me." The puzzled disciple did as told, knowing he was not supposed to ask questions. He took up the bags again and walked behind. This sequence repeated itself several times. The Master walked in front with the disciple carrying the bags, then the disciple in front with the Master carrying the bags, back and forth, until noontime came and they stopped for lunch. Then the disciple gathered his courage and asked the reason why. The Master said, "When you had exalted thoughts of saving all living beings, you were a Bodhisattva in thought, and I as an Arhat had to follow you. But as soon as you had selfish thoughts of saving yourself only, you were no longer a Bodhisattva, and being junior to me in years and cultivation, you had to carry my bags."  

[120] The word "parents" refers to our fathers and mothers through the eons, i.e., all sentient beings. The words "good spiritual advisors" can include a friend or even an enemy since both can teach us aspects of the truth. Note the concept of "adverse-conduct" Good Spiritual Advisor. In the Lotus Sutra, Devadatta was such a person who, through constant goading, allowed Sakyamuni Buddha to perfect the paramita of patience. The Buddha thus attained Supreme Enlightenment faster than He would have, had it not been for the constant thorn in His side that Devadatta represented.

[121] FIFTY-TWO (OR 53) LEVELS OF BODHISATTVA PRACTICE. "Progressive levels through which a practitioner is said to advance, from the time of his first resolve until he finally attains Buddhahood. They are enumerated inter alia in theAvatamsaka Sutra and consist of ten levels of Faith (Ten Faiths), ten levels of Dwellings (Abodes), ten levels of Practices (Conducts), ten levels of Dedication (transferences), ten Stages or Grounds (Bhumi), a level of 'Equal-Enlightenment', 'Wonderful Enlightenment', and 'Supreme Enlightenment (Buddhahood)'" (Sokk: 93).

[122] The general point of the resolutions is to cut down on the poison of greed. The Buddhist disciple should rather die than break the precepts. Why? Because death concerns only this present life while breaking the precepts can cause suffering over many lifetimes.

[123] Precept 36, which applies to clerics, can be summarized as five main groups of resolutions:

(1) to abstain from sexual relations with anyone;
(2) to earn the offerings of the laity (clothing, food, shelter ...) by faithfully observing the precepts;(
3) to earn the respect of the laity by faithfully observing the precepts;
(4) to control the mind of attachment to the five dusts (form, sound, fragrance, taste and touch);
(5) to help all sentient beings attain Buddhahood.

The most important resolutions are the last two.

[124] ASCETIC PRACTICES.Skt/Dutanga. "Twelve ascetic practices are known: (1) wearing patched robes, (2) wearing a robe made of three pieces (trichivara), (3) eating only begged food, (4) eating only one meal a day, (5) refraining from all further food, (6) taking only one portion, (7) living in a secluded, solitary place, (8) living on a charnel ground, (9) living under a tree, (10) living in the open, (11) living in whatever place presents itself, (12) sitting only, never lying down." (Sham: 56) "The twelve ascetic practices all involve clothing, food and lodging ... The point of these practices is to refrain from enjoying any of these three in excess." (Master Hui Seng)

[125] A disciple should not travel to dangerous areas as this would be flirting with death -- the taking of his own life -- an offense against Major precept no. 1. Moreover, as a Bodhisattva, he should not provoke others to incur evil karma through harming him.

[126] This precept establishing the order of seating, i.e., the ranking of a monk by his sacerdotal age (the date he took the precepts) only, is revolutionary, considering that it was promulgated more than 2,500 years ago.

An important exception to this seniority rule is made for those who lecture on the Dharma. In this case, anyone, including a layperson, can deliver Dharma talks and even Dharma Masters should listen if the need arises. This custom is expressed in the well-known saying, "The novice speaks the Dharma, the Dharma Masters listen."(The novice referred to here is Master Wu Ta, who lectured on the Lotus Sutra to the Fourfold Assembly at the age of 15!

[127] This precept is divided into two parts. "When the precept tells people to establish monasteries and temples, it is so they can cultivate blessings; when it tells people to explain the Great Vehicle Sutras, it is so they can cultivate wisdom." (Master Hui Seng)

A practitioner should have a clear understanding of the causes and conditions of calamities and fortunate events. These occur as a result of bad or good karma -- and karma has its source in the mind. Reciting or explaining sutras has the power to change a wicked mind into a pure mind, a deluded mind into an enlightened mind. Thus, to recite or explain sutras is to create good karma, enabling sentient beings, alive or dead, to escape or mitigate the impact of negative karma. Since a Bodhisattva's mission is to rescue sentient beings and guide them to enlightenment, he should recite and explain Mahayana sutras on all occasions, and particularly during the ceremonies for the dead. (Master Prajna-Suddhi)

More than a century ago, in his extensive study of the Brahma Net Sutra, the Dutch clergyman Dr. J.J.M. de Groot wrote:
 
Recitation and lectures on the [Amitabha] Sutra, accompanied by ritual services ... [are held not only for deceased monks but] also for laypersons every seven days for seven consecutive weeks, if the family of the deceased so desires and can afford them ... These ceremonies for the dead are special events in their own right and, as long as they last, the family life of all concerned becomes topsy-turvy ... Suffice it to say that these ceremonies are almost never neglected, thus making the 39th precept of the Bodhisattva Code one of those which exercise the most practical influence on the life of the Chinese. (Le Code du Mahayana en Chine, p. 146.)
Ceremonies for the dead are in fact the best occasions to meet and teach the living!  

[128] A disciple of the Buddha should explain Mahayana sutras and moral codes to all sentient beings. From the point of view of the early schools of Buddhism, the Dharma is a precious jewel and it should therefore not be given out without the proper request.   From the point of view of the Mahayana tradition of being of benefit to all sentient beings, the Bodhisattvas should freely share and make it available to all. Sentient beings are upside down and deluded. How can they know about the Dharma and request it?

[129] The Buddha taught that monks and nuns should wear garments of a different hue from those worn by ordinary persons. Their clothes should also be different in cut and appearance and their heads should be shaved. However, these distinctive features are also found among other people. For instance, some convicts shave their heads in American prisons, while in China, certain groups of religious people wear robes similar in appearance and color to those of Buddhist monks and nuns. The truly distinguishing features of a Buddhist cleric could be the marks on the top of his head, the result of voluntarily burning dots with incense on the day of his full ordination. 

[130] Precept 40 emphasizes that the Bodhisattva precepts should be conferred upon everyone, but goes on to exclude those who have committed any of the Five Cardinal Sins.

While this may appear contradictory, it actually is not. In the egalitarian spirit of Buddhism, everyone should be able to take the Bodhisattva precepts. However, the purpose of conferring any precept is to benefit the recipients and lead them to Enlightenment. With their heavy karma and strong guilt feelings (always sad, nervous and self-reproachful), those who have committed the Cardinal Sins are not normally good vessels for the precepts. They may even denigrate the precepts, creating even more negative karma. Thus, to withhold the precepts temporarily while advising them to engage in sincere repentance is a realistic course of action. This notwithstanding, those who have sincerely repented and demonstrated their true change of heart may, under certain circumstances, receive the precepts. (Even King Ajatasatru, guilty of patricide, was able to repent and become an Arhat.) This is in conformity with the pre-eminent role of the mind in Buddhist teaching and the all-compassionate spirit of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

The Dharma rules prohibit monks and nuns from paying respect and bowing to kings, parents, relatives. Monks and nuns represent the Dharma, which should not be subject to (or seen as subject to) temporal authority. More fundamentally, the clergy should not rely on ("bow to") advice and teachings outside the Dharma.

[131] PRIMARY MEANING. Definitive meaning, ultimate truth, True Mark, True Emptiness. "This refers to those teachings of the Buddha that are in terms of ultimate reality; it is opposed to those teachings given in terms of relative reality, termed 'interpretable meaning', because they require further interpretation before being relied on to indicate the ultimate. Hence [the term] relates to voidness, etc., and no statement concerning the relative world, even by the Buddha, can be taken as definitive " (Thurman: 159).

[132] People with heterodox views. From the Mahayana point of view, any person who does not develop the Bodhi Mind (the Mind of rescuing all sentient beings, leading them to Supreme Enlightenment and Buddhahood) is heterodox and limited.   An exception is made in the case of kings, rulers or high officials, to whom the Brahma Net Sutra should be taught, even if they are not Buddhists or hold heterodox views. This is because a ruler's views can influence multitudes, and Bodhisattvas, out of compassion for the many, should make an attempt to expose him to the compassionate teachings of the Buddhas.

N.B. In precept 39, the Buddha taught that a Bodhisattva should explain the Mahayana sutras and moral codes (i.e., the Brahma Net Sutra) to all sentient beings, regardless of time and place. In precept 42, on the other hand, He forbids the recitation of the Bodhisattva precepts to those who have not received them or to externalists. This seeming contradiction is understood as follows. In precept 39, the Buddha was speaking from the point of view of rescuing and liberating sentient beings, while in precept 42, He was speaking from the viewpoint of preventing evil karma. Thus, those who have not received the precepts may not attend the monthly Uposattha recitation, which includes confessions of offenses, as they may then tend to criticize the "sinners" and incur negative karma for themselves. On the other hand, anyone can listen to the sutra itself on other occasions and benefit thereby.                                                                                  

[133] "This precept is referring to people who deliberately decide to break the precepts. It prohibits the intent to violate precepts before one has actually violated them." (Master Hui Seng). If a particular precept is actually violated, the offense depends on the specific violation.

If a Bodhisattva monk develops thoughts of violating the precepts, he is unworthy of receiving any of the offerings from the faithful. A story is told in the sutras of three deities who were washing a Bhiksu's robe in the Ganges but could not hold it under water. Yet, as soon as they took a single grain of rice donated to a temple and placed it on the robe, the robe sank to the bottom. The story illustrates how important offerings of the believers are, particularly if they are made with a pure mind. If a monk or nun accepts such offerings, but does not cultivate the precepts, these offerings become great liabilities, leading the errant cleric down the path of perdition. Even deities and ghosts follow such a cleric and sweep away his very footprints to prevent anyone from following his example.

Animal, wooden stump. A monk who breaks the precepts, who is unclear about what constitutes keeping or breaking them, is no different from a sentient being driven by instinct or an inanimate object. Therefore, he is "no different from an animal or a wooden stump".

[134] One way to observe this precept nowadays is to print and distribute Mahayana sutras and commentaries free or for a nominal charge, for the benefit of all. The great teachings on the Buddha Nature are contained in the Mahayana sutras; therefore, one should revere the sutras by adorning and displaying them.

[135] The essence of Mahayana teachings is to help all sentient beings develop the Bodhi Mind, and create the causes and conditions of full Enlightenment. Sentient beings here, of course, include animals as well as unseen deities and ghosts. Thus, the sutra says that wherever he goes, be it crossing a mountain, entering a forest, crossing a river or walking in a field, a Bodhisattva should help all sentient beings develop the Bodhi Mind. Teaching the Dharma to animals and ghosts, for example, can benefit them, because their minds are then influenced by the compassionate words of the Bodhisattvas. Thus, this precept contains the expression "concentrate and say aloud". See, for example, the following anecdote:  

There's ... an incident from the Buddha's time. There were Bhiksus in the assembly who had certified to Arhatship. Some of them were old and didn't have any teeth. When they recited the Sutras, they didn't sound very eloquent. This prompted a [novice] to say, "When you recite the Sutras, you sound like a bunch of dogs barking." Just because of this one sentence of slander, in his next life he fell into the destiny of a dog.One of the bhikshus he slandered was an Arhat. If he had slandered an ordinary person, he would have had bad karma, but it would not have been so bad. But because he scolded a sage, in his next life he became a dog. Because he was a dog, he had the habits of a dog, and he liked to steal food to eat. He would grab tidbits from the kitchen of his master. Once, his master saw this and cut off the dog's four legs and threw him out onto the grass. The dog was yelping in pain. Shariputra happened to walk by at that point. He spoke Dharma for the dog, telling him, "You know, the Four Elements are really suffering. Your body is false. Put it down; don't get angry." After Shariputra spoke Dharma, the dog didn't yelp anymore, and he died in peace, passing away quite happily. Since at the moment of his death he didn't give rise to anger, he was reborn again as a person and left the home life at seven years of age under Shariputra. Shariputra spoke the Dharma for him, at which point he certified to Arhatship. So you see, this person was once a novice, then he became a dog, and then he became a person again.

When he was a dog, he still retained the good roots from his past lives, and that's why he could understand human speech. Since he died happily, in his next life he became a left-home person again. After that, he never took the full Bhikshu precepts; he wanted to stay a novice forever so he could serve his teacher Shariputra, to repay his kindness ...Therefore, if animals and transformation beings can understand the Dharma Master's words, they can take these precepts. Of course, if they don't understand, they can't take them. (Master Hui Seng)

There are many ways to teach sentient beings: verbal teachings, bodily teachings, and mental teachings. The verbal form of the Dharma, the most common among humans, is the least effective and the least efficient. If one does not have the capacity to teach verbally, one can teach via one's behavior (bodily teaching). This is one of the methods used by the Buddha: upon seeing His marks of greatness, people develop respect and become his disciples. The last form of teaching, mental teaching, is done by silent vows and dedication of merit.

[136] Why should a Dharma Master occupy a high seat while speaking the Dharma? It is because sentient beings learn and accept the teachings better when their minds are receptive, i.e., when they have developed eagerness and respect. Furthermore, a Dharma Master should be seated, as it is then easier to keep his mind empty and still.

"There are exceptions to this rule. In the Sanghika Vinaya it says 'a Bhiksu may be running chores and performing affairs for the stupa, the temple or the Sangha. When he goes to the king or sees the lords of estates, and if they should say to him, 'Bhiksu, would you please speak the Dharma for me?' at this time the Bhiksu can't insist that the king sit on a lower seat while he sits on a high chair.' He can't immediately force that type of situation. He can't hold to the letter of the law. This is an exception to the rule." (Master Hui Seng)

A Dharma teacher can be anyone -- a monk, nun, layman, or even an inanimate object such as a meditation cushion. The Avatamsaka and Amitabha Sutras, for example, speak of clouds and trees speaking the Dharma ... Upon watching leaves fall one by one from a tree, a person can awaken to the truth of impermanence -- the transitory nature of all life forms. The youth Sudhana in the Avatamsaka Sutra had fifty-two teachers, ranging from Bodhisattvas, to deities, to courtesans. The story is told in the sutras of a group of people lost in a deep, dark ravine. Among them is a leper who happens to have a torch. A wise person would suppress his revulsion and follow the leper to safety.

Why is a Dharma Teacher or good spiritual advisor necessary on the path to Enlightenment? It is because he can nurture our Bodhi Mind and our wisdom -- the two crucial factors in cultivation.

[137] Four kinds of lay disciples: Upasakas, upasikas, as well as ordinary laymen and laywomen.

Note: An originally well-intentioned disciple might turn against the Dharma out of jealousy of the respect accorded to the clergy, anger at their criticism of his own mistakes, or disappointment at the behavior of individual monks and nuns.

[138] This precept and secondary precept No. 1 apply exclusively to laymen. Both urge laymen to join hands with the Sangha to protect and preserve the Dharma.

A Bodhisattva should rightfully receive offerings from all: Whatever a cleric receives is for the benefit of the Sangha as a whole (and by extension, all sentient beings). Therefore, he need not thank laypersons for their donations, except as an act of courtesy. In fact, thanking a donor actually decreases the latter's merits (ego-based giving vs. altruistic giving) and is thus a disservice to him.

[139] If a Bodhisattva acts in this manner, he is no different from a worm in a lion's body, eating away at the lion's flesh. The lion is the fiercest of animals, and when he roars all the other beasts flee. In the same way, people who have taken the precepts are likened to a lion; no other beings will bother them. However, just as worms that live in the lion's body dare to feed on the lion's flesh, so too, disciples within Buddhism can undermine the entire system. Buddhist disciples themselves are capable of destroying the Dharma, more so than the people outside Buddhism. (Master Yen-p'ei)

[140] Bodhisattvas are their friends: a reference to the pure lands of the Buddhas, particularly the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha, where the faithful will be reborn in the company of Bodhisattvas and other spiritual friends. See the Amitabha Sutra:  

"Moreover Shariputra, all those born in the Land of Utmost Happiness never fall back. Among them are many whose next birth will be in Nirvana. The number of them is extremely large; there is no reckoning that can tell it. Only in measureless, unlimited, innumerable kalpas could it be told. Shariputra, the beings who hear this ought to make a vow -- a vow to be born in that land. Why should they? Having succeeded thus, all are then persons of the highest virtue; all are assembled in the same circumstances." (H. Seki, tr.)  

[141] The Paramita of precepts is the second of the six Paramitas, or "perfections". See the following story on the "perfection of precepts" and its exceptions:  

"Once when the Buddha Shakyamuni was in the world, there were two Bhikshus cultivating in the mountains. One day, one of the Bhikshus went down the mountain to get food and left the other one sleeping. In India at that time, the Bhikshus simply wore their sashes wrapped around them; they did not wear clothing underneath. This Bhikshu had shed his robe and was sleeping nude. He probably was a lazy person, and with no one on the mountain to watch after him, he'd decided to take a nap. At that time a woman happened along, and seeing the Bhikshu, she was aroused and took advantage of him. Just as she was running away from the scene, the other Bhikshu returned from town and saw her in flight. Upon investigation he found out that the woman had taken advantage of the sleeping Bhikshu, and he decided to pursue her, catch her, and take her before the Buddha in protest. He took out after her, and the woman became so reckless that she slipped off the road and tumbled down the mountain to her death. So one Bhikshu had violated the precept against sexual activity and the other had broken the precept against killing. Although the Bhikshu hadn't actually pushed her down the mountain, she wouldn't have fallen if he hadn't been pursuing her.

"'What a mess.' concluded the two Bhikshus. Messy as it was, they had to go before the Buddha and describe their offenses. The Buddha referred them to the Venerable Upali. But when Venerable Upali heard the details, his verdict was that, indeed, one had violated the precept against sexual activity and the other against killing, offenses which cannot be absolved. 'You're both going to have to endure the heIls in the future,' he concluded. Hearing this, the two Bhikshus wept, and they went about everywhere trying to find someone who could help them. 

"Eventually, they found the Great Upasaka Vimalakirti, who asked why they were crying. When they had related their tale, he pronounced his judgment that they had not violated the precepts. 'If you can be repentant,' he said, 'then I can certify that you didn't break the precepts.' 'How can that be?' they asked. 'The nature of offenses is basically empty,' replied the Upasaka. 'You did not violate the precepts intentionally, and so it doesn't count. It is an exception.' Hearing this explanation by the Great Teacher Vimalakirti, the two Bhikshus were enlightened on the spot and were certified as attaining the fruition...So there are many exceptions within the prohibitive precepts. But if people always look to the exceptions, they will simply not hold the precepts..." (Master Hui Seng)


N.B. In the above story, Vimalakirti was referring specifically to the two major precepts of not killing and abstaining from sexual activities. The two monks did not violate these precepts because the mind (intent) was not involved. Vimalakirti was not addressing possible issues of secondary responsibility.
 

[142]  The True Mark of all dharmas is a key concept in this sutra. It refers to the essence or noumenon of the Bodhisattva precepts, which is "neither born nor unborn, neither eternal nor extinct, neither the same nor different, neither coming nor going." In other words, the True Mark of all dharmas = essence of the Bodhisattva precepts = Emptiness. To observe the Bodhisattva precepts in the true sense, we have to transcend the ego -- there is no practitioner, no sentient beings to be saved, no precepts being observed. Otherwise, our practice is merely a human practice, tainted by ego and self-interest, not a Bodhisattva practice, not a paramita action. (Rev. Nhat-Chan)

[143] STUDY AND NON-STUDY. There are four stages of Enlightenment on the Theravada path: the stages of stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner and Arhat. The first three stages are stages of study because they require further study to reach Arhatship. The last stage is called "non-study" because Arhats are beyond study.

[144] See the famous Zen story of Master Pai-chang and the fox, which warns against meaningless speculation and debate (and rejection of the law of Cause and Effect):    "Once there was an old cultivator ... Although he claimed to be a Buddhist, all he cultivated were outside ways. That meant his outlook and knowledge were deviant. One day a person came and asked him, 'You're an old cultivator with a lot of practice behind you, but does a great cultivator fall within Cause and Effect or not?' ... The old cultivator very casually, without a moment's hesitation, replied majestically 'Great cultivators do not fall within Cause and Effect.' He bellowed it out. Now, that sentence might not have seemed important, but when he died he became an old fox ... The old fox ... had some [karmic affinities] with Ch'an Master Pai Chang. It began to turn up at the Master's Sutra lectures, taking on the appearance of an elderly layman with a long white beard and the ruddy face of a child -- for it had spiritual powers by then."(Master Hsuan Hua)

Eventually, the layman/old fox was enlightened by Master Pai Chang, who taught: "Great cultivators are not unclear about Cause and Effect. It is not that they don't come under it; they are not obscure about it." Soon afterward, the layman/old fox died peacefully and was given the last rites of a monk.

 

            Minh Quang posted November 25, 2007

[Home] [Up] [Thọ & Xả Giới Bát Quan Trai] [Liturgy of Bodhisattva Precepts - Nghi Tụng Giới Bồ Tát] [T́m Hiểu Ư Nghĩa Nghi Thức Tụng Kinh Đại Thừa]