Translations

Why Do Bodhisattvas Fear Evil Causes? 为何菩萨畏恶因?


‘经云:“菩萨畏因,众生畏果。” 菩萨恐招恶果,故断恶因。恶因断而恶果无从而生。

‘[The] sutra(s) say, “Bodhisattvas fear [planting] causes [of evil karmic seeds, while] sentient beings fear [reaping evil] fruits [or effects, from evil karmic seeds planted].” [As] Bodhisattvas fear attracting of evil fruits, thus do they sever evil causes. [With] evil causes severed, thus do evil fruits have no way to be borne.

Notes:
Due to fear of causing suffering, the wise are mindful in not creating the causes of suffering, thus leading to fearlessness of their [non-]effects. Due to no fear of causing suffering, the foolish are unmindful in creating the causes of suffering, thus leading to fearfulness of their full effects.

众生竞作恶因,至受恶果。受恶果时,不知自忏往业,又复更造恶法,以为对治,则怨怨相报,经劫不息。可不哀哉?可不畏哉?

Sentient beings [however] compete to create evil causes, until [they] receive [their] evil fruits. When receiving evil fruits, [they do] not know [how to practise] personal repentance of past [evil] karma, once again further creating evil, [as the] way [wrongly] assumed for overcoming suffering, thus with [the creating of] grudge after grudge mutually repaying [one another], passing [many] kalpas without ceasing. Is this not pitiful? Is this not to be feared?

Notes:
While the wise swiftly avoid creating causes of suffering, the foolish swiftly create them. When reaping the bitter fruits from the evil seeds they have sown, the foolish not only do not know of the need to repent, they plant more causes of future suffering in their unskilful bid to rid present suffering. In this way, with unforgiving vengefulness, not knowing that their suffering, even if seemingly from others, are from themselves karmically, foolish ones create more suffering for one another cyclically for an indefinitely long time. Such pitiful ignorance of the workings of karmic cause and effect should be feared and cleared.

知是而不求生西方者,非夫也。’

Knowing this [might be happening now and later], yet not seeking birth in the Western [Pure Land of Amituofo to avoid this, one is] not a true [spiritual wo]man.’

Notes:
Recognising that the above will not only be likely to happen later, but that it is probably already happening now to some extent, truly wise spiritual practitioners should give rise to the firm aspiration to practise accordingly to reach Pure Land, so as to avoid experiencing suffering for oneself and creating of suffering for others.

All should also reach Pure Land to train to be the most effective Bodhisattvas, so as to most skilfully guide the others still trapped in rebirth to Pure Land for liberation. Even though still unenlightened, we should also do our best to guide one another to Pure Land now.

– 净土宗十三祖印光大师
(复永嘉某居士昆季书)

– Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yinguang
(Reply letter to a certain Yongjia layperson and brother)

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