Commentary On The Four Reliances 四依论解

Buddha’s Sūtras’ Two Meanings


[The] Buddha’s sūtras have two meanings – with easy [to] understand meanings, [and] with profound, far-reaching [and] difficult [to] understand meanings.

Four Reliances


As such, when [the] Buddha desired [to] enter Parinirvāṇa, [he] said [to the] Bhikṣus, ‘From today, [all] should rely [upon the] Dharma, [and] not rely [upon] persons, should rely [upon] meanings, [and] not rely [upon] words, should rely [upon] wisdom, [and] not rely [upon] knowledge, should rely [upon] definitive sūtras, [and] not rely [upon] yet to be definitive [sūtras].’

Reliance [Upon] Dharma


On ‘relying [upon the] Dharma’, [as the Buddha]dharma has twelve divisions [of sūtras, all] should accord [with] these Dharma [teachings, and] should not accord [with] persons.

Reliance [Upon] Meanings


On ‘relying [upon the] meanings’, [as the] meanings within [the sūtras are] without contention [of] good [and] evil, misgivings [and] blessings, falsehood [and] truth, thus with [their] words attain [the] meanings, [though the] meanings [are] not [the] words.


Like [a] person with [a] finger pointing [at the] moon, so as to show [it to a] confused one, [the] confused one sees [the] finger, yet [does] not see [the] moon, [the pointing] person says, ‘[As] I with [my] finger [am] pointing [at the] moon, [to] enable you [to] know of [it], why [do] you see [the] finger, yet not see [the] moon?’


This [is] likewise so, [with] words as [the] meanings’ [pointing] finger, words [are] not [the] meanings. Therefore, [all] should not rely [upon] words.

Reliance [Upon] Wisdom 


On ‘relying [upon] wisdom’, wisdom [is] able [to] give serious considerations, [to] differentiate good [and] evil,


[while] knowledge constantly seeks [worldly] happiness [only], not entering [the] main essentials [of the Dharma]. Therefore [is it] said, [that all’ ‘should not rely [upon] knowledge’.

Reliance [Upon] Definitive Sūtras


On ‘relying [upon] definitive sūtras’, [there] are, [of] all wise persons, [the] Buddha [as the] foremost, [of] all sūtra books within, [the] Buddhadharma [as the] foremost, [of] all sentient beings within, [the] Bhikṣu Saṃgha [assembly as the] foremost. [That] giving attains great wealth, [and that] upholding [of] precepts attains birth [in the] heavens – such [and] others are [of] definitive sūtras.


Such [as] saying [that] Dharma teachers [who] speak [the] Dharma have five kinds [of] benefits – first [is] great wealth, second [is] by people beloved, third [is having] upright [form], fourth [is getting good] reputation, five [is] later attaining [of] Nirvāṇa – [these] are as yet [to be] definitive meanings.


Why [are they] ‘yet [to be] definitive’? [On] giving attaining great wealth, for clear realisation, [to be] able [to] explain [it], speaking [the] Dharma without giving [of] wealth yet speaks [of] ‘attaining wealth’, [as] those ‘attaining wealth’, [are those] who speak [of the] Dharma’s various kinds [of] praises [of] giving, [which] break people’s miserly minds, also self-eradicating miserliness, with this [as the] cause [and] condition attaining wealth, therefore [is it] said [as] ‘yet [to be] definitive’ [as the cause and condition was not said at first].

– 龙树菩萨

– Nāgārjuna Bodhisattva
Treatise [On] Perfection [Of] Great Wisdom: Ninth Scroll)
[By] Later Qín Kucha kingdom’s Tripiṭaka Dharma Master Kumārajīva,
[with] decree received [and] translated

Related Articles:

[The] Dharma [Of] Four Reliances [And Four Non-Reliances]

Namo Amituofo : Translation by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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