Translations

What To Rely Upon As True Buddhist Teachings? 以何依止为正法?

四依[四不依]法
[The] Dharma [Of] Four Reliances [And Four Non-Reliances]

四法[介绍]
[Introduction On] Four Dharmas

迦叶菩萨复白佛言:「世尊!善哉,善哉。如来所说真实不虚,我当顶受。

Kāśyapa Bodhisattva again [to the] Buddha said, ‘World-Honoured [One]! Excellent, excellent. [What the] Tathāgata as said [is] true [and] not false, [which] I will reverently receive [and uphold].

譬如金刚,珍宝异物,如佛所说,是诸比丘当依四法。

Such as vajra, precious treasures [and] rare objects, [like] such [is what the] Buddha as said, [and] are [what] all Bhikṣus should rely [upon as the] Four Dharmas.

何等为四?依法不依人,依义不依语,依智不依识,依了义经不依不了义经。如是四法,应当证知非四种人。」

What [are] as [the] Four [Reliances] [i.e. catuḥpratisaraṇa]? [To] rely [upon the] Dharma [and] not rely [upon] persons [i.e. puruṣa], [to] rely [upon the] meanings [i.e. artha] [and] not rely [upon the (language or)] words [i.e. vyañjana], [to] rely [upon] wisdom [i.e. jñāna] [and] not rely [upon] knowledge [i.e. vijñāna: as known with ordinary consciousness], [to] rely [upon] definitive [i.e. nītārtha] sūtras [and] not rely [upon] non-definitive [i.e. neyārtha; provisional] sūtras. Thus are [the] Four Dharmas, [that] should [be] realised [and] known, [on who are] not [the] four kinds [of] persons, [who are Srotaāpannas (须陀洹), Sakṛdāgāmins (斯陀含), Anāgāmins (阿那含), Arhats (阿罗汉) (and beyond)].’

依法;不依人
Reliance [Upon The] Dharma;
Non-Reliance [Upon] Persons

佛言:「善男子!依法者,即是如来大般涅槃,一切佛法即是法性,是法性者即是如来,是故如来常住不变。

[The] Buddha said, ‘Good man! Those relying [upon the] Dharma, is the same as [relying upon the] Tathāgata’s great Parinirvāṇa, [as] all [of the] Buddhadharma is the same as Dharma-nature [i.e. Dharmatā: essence of the Dharma (or reality)], [what] is Dharma-nature is the same as [the] Tathāgata, therefore [the] Tathāgata eternally abides without change.

若复有言如来无常,是人不知、不见法性。若不知见是法性者,不应依止。如上所说,四人出世护持法者,应当证知而为依止。

If again with saying [that the] Tathāgata [is] impermanent, these persons [do] not know, [and do] not see Dharma-nature. If they [do] not know [and] see this Dharma-nature, [they] should not [be] relied [upon]. As said above, [the] four [kinds of] persons [who have] come [into the] world [to] protect [and] uphold [the] Dharma, should [be] realised [and] known for relying upon.

何以故?是人善解如来微密深奥藏故,能知如来常住不变。若言如来无常变易,无有是处。如是四人即名如来。

Why [is this] so? These persons, [with] good understanding [of the] Tathāgata’s subtle, esoteric [and] profound treasury [i.e. Tathāgatagārbha: 如來(密)藏] thus, [are] able [to] know [the] Tathāgata eternally abides without change, if saying [the] Tathāgata [is] impermanent [and] changes, [this] is not possible. Such four persons are named [the] Tathāgata.

何以故?是人能解如来密语及能说故。若有人能了知如来甚深密藏,及知如来常住不变,如是之人,若为利养说言如来是无常者,无有是处。如是之人尚可依止,何况不依是四人也?

Why [is this] so? These persons [are] able [to] understand [the] Tathāgata’s esoteric words and [are] able [to] speak [them] thus. If [there] are those able [to] understand clearly [the] Tathāgata’s extremely profound [and] esoteric treasury, and know [the] Tathāgata eternally abides without change, such persons, if for gain say [the] Tathāgata is impermanent, [this] is not possible. Such persons can yet [be] relied [upon], what more [to] not rely [upon] these four persons?

依法者即是法性,不依人者即是声闻,法性者即是如来,声闻者即是有为,如来者,即是常住,有为者即是无常。

Those relying [upon the] Dharma is the same as [relying upon] Dharma-nature, [and] those not relying [upon] persons [who] are the same as Voice-hearers [i.e. Śrāvakas], [as] those [with] Dharma-nature are the same as [the] Tathāgata, [and] Voice-hearers are the same as [the] conditioned, [as the] Tathāgata is the same as [the] eternally abiding, [and] those conditioned are the same as [the] impermanent.

善男子!若人破戒为利养故,说言如来无常变易,如是之人所不应依。善男子!是名定义。

Good man! If [there are] persons [who] break precepts for gains thus, saying [the] Tathāgata [is] impermanent [and] changes, such persons should not [be] relied [upon]. Good man! [This] is named [the] definitive meaning.

依义;不依语
Reliance [Upon The] Meanings;
Non-Reliance [Upon The] Words

依义不依语者,义者名曰觉了,觉了义者名不羸(léi)劣,不羸劣者名曰满足,满足义者名曰如来常住不变。

Rely [upon the] meanings [and] not rely [upon the] words, [with the] meanings named as [that] awakened [to with] clear understanding, [and] that awakened [to with] clear understanding [is] named not reduced [to be thin and weak, and] that not reduced [is] named as complete [or fulfiled, and] that complete [is] named as [the] Tathāgata’s eternal abiding without change.

如来常住不变义者即是法常,法常义者即是僧常,是名依义不依语也。

[As the] Tathāgata’s eternal abiding without change is the same as [the] Dharma [that is] eternal, [and the] meaning [of the] Dharma [that is] eternal is the same as [the] Saṃgha [that is] eternal, [this] is named [to] rely [upon the] meanings [and] not rely [upon the] words.

何等语言所不应依?所谓诸论,绮饰文辞。如佛所说无量诸经,贪求无厌,多奸谀(yú)(chǎn),诈现亲附,现相求利,经理白衣为其执役。

What kind [of] spoken words [are those] that should not [be] relied [upon]? All so-called treatises, [with] beautifully decorative words [and] sentences. Like [those on the] Buddha’s immeasurably many spoken sūtras, [yet on] greedily seeking without tiring, [with] much treachery fawning, flattering [and] pretending, to get close and attach, [for] present forms seeking profit, managing white-clothed [laity], for themselves kept [as] servants.

又复唱言:『佛听比丘畜诸奴婢、不净之物,金银珍宝、谷米仓库、牛羊象马,贩卖求利,于饥馑世怜愍子故,听诸比丘储贮(zhù)陈宿,手自作食,不受而啖。』如是等语所不应依。

Yet again, calling loudly, “[The] Buddha listens [to] bhikṣus [to] raise animals, [keep] many servants, impure objects, [such as] gold, silver, precious treasures, grains, rice, storehouses, cows, goats, elephants [and] horses, [to] sell [and] seek profit, within starvation periods sympathising [with] disciples thus, listens [to] all bhikṣus [to] save [and] store [food gathered from] before, [by] hand personally making food, not receiving [offerings] yet eating.” Such [and] other speech should not [be] relied [upon].

依智;不依识
Reliance [Upon] Wisdom;
Non-Reliance [Upon] Knowledge

依智不依识者,所言智者即是如来

Rely [upon] wisdom [and] not rely [upon] knowledge, [for] as said, wise ones are the same as [the] Tathāgata.

若有声闻,不能善知如来功德,如是之识不应依止。

If [there] are Voice-hearers, [who are] not able [to] know well [the] Tathāgata’s meritorious virtues, such knowledge should not [be] relied upon.

若知如来即是法身,如是真智所应依止。

If knowing [the] Tathāgata is the same as [the] Dharma Body [i.e. Dharmakāya], such true wisdom [is] that [which] should [be] relied upon.

若见如来方便之身,言是阴界诸入所摄,食所长养,亦不应依,是故知识不可依止。

If seeing [the] Tathāgata’s body of skilful means, saying [that as it] is [of the five] aggregates [i.e. skandhas of form, feeling, perception, volition and consciousness, the eighteen] elements [i.e. dhātus of six roots, six dusts and six consciousnesses and] all [twelve sense] bases [i.e. āyatanas of six roots and six dusts] as gathered, [with] food as grown [and] nurtured, [it] also should not [be] relied [upon], therefore [this] knowledge cannot [be] relied upon, [as it is wrong].

若复有人作是说者,及其经书亦不应依。

If again, [there] are those [who] make this statement, [they] and their “sūtra” books also should not [be] relied [upon].

依了义经;不依不了义经
Reliance [Upon] Definitive Sūtras;
Non-Reliance [Upon] Non-Definitive Sūtras

依了义经,不依不了义经。不了义经者,谓声闻乘,闻佛如来深密藏处,悉生疑怪,不知是藏出大智海,犹如婴儿无所别知,是则名为不了义也。

Rely [upon] definitive sūtras [and] not rely [upon] non-definitive sūtras. Those [with] non-definitive sūtras, [are] called [the] Voice-hearer Vehicle, [whom when] hearing [the] Buddha Tathāgata’s profound [and] esoteric treasury’s aspects, all give rise [to] doubt [and] bewilderment, not knowing [it] is treasury out [from] great wisdom’s ocean, similar to babies without [way to] distinguish [and] know [it, they] are thus named as non-definitive.

了义者名为菩萨,真实智慧随于自心,无碍大智,犹如大人无所不知,是名了义。

Those [with] definitive meanings [are] named as Bodhisattvas, [with] true wisdom according with their minds, [with] great wisdom without obstacles, similar to grown-ups [with] nothing not known, [this] is named [as] definitive.

又声闻乘名不了义;无上大乘乃名了义。

Also, [the] Voice-hearer Vehicle [is] named [as] non-definitive, [and the] unsurpassable Great Vehicle thus named [as] definitive.

若言如来无常变易名不了义;若言如来常住不变是名了义。

If saying [the] Tathāgata [is] impermanent [and] changes, [this is] named non-definitive. If saying [the] Tathāgata eternally abides without change, [this is] named definitive.

声闻所说应证知者名不了义;菩萨所说应证知者名为了义。

[The] Voice-hearers as said should [be] realised [and] known, named [as] non-definitive. [The] Bodhisattvas as said should [be] realised [and] known, named as definitive.

若言如来食所长养,是不了义;若言常住不变易者,是名了义。

If speaking [of the] Tathāgata [with] food as grown [and] nurtured, [this] is non-definitive. If speaking [of] eternally abiding without change, [this] is named [as] definitive.

若言如来入于涅槃,如薪尽火灭,名不了义。

If speaking [of the] Tathāgata’s entering of [Pari]nirvāṇa, like fuel exhausting [and] fire extinguishing, [this is] named [as] non-definitive.

若言如来入法性者,是名了义。声闻乘法则不应依。

If speaking [of the] Tathāgata entering Dharma-nature, [this] is named [as] definitive. [The] Voice-hearer Vehicle’s Dharma thus should not [be] relied [upon].

何以故?如来为欲度众生故,以方便力说声闻乘,犹如长者教子半字。

Why [is this] so? [The] Tathāgata for [the] desire [to] deliver sentient beings thus, with power [of] skilful means spoke [the] Voice-hearer Vehicle, similar to [an] elder teaching [a] child half [a] word.

善男子!声闻乘者犹如初耕,未得果实,如是名为不了义也,是故不应依声闻乘。大乘之法则应依止。

Good man! [As] Those [who are] Voice-hearers [are] similar to [those] beginning [to] cultivate [land], yet [to] attain [the] fruits, such is named as non-definitive, therefore [you] should not rely [upon the] Voice-hearer Vehicle. [The] Great Vehicle’s Dharma thus should [be] relied [upon].

何以故?如来为欲度众生故,以方便力说于大乘,是故应依,是名了义。如是四依应当证知。

Why [is this] so? [The] Tathāgata for [the] desire [to] deliver sentient beings thus, with power [of] skilful means speaks of [the] Great Vehicle. Therefore, [it] should [be] relied upon, [that which] is named [as] definitive. Such Four Reliances should [be] realised [and] known.

复次依义者,义名质直,质直者名曰光明,光明者名不羸劣,不羸劣者名曰如来。

Moreover, [for] those relying [upon the] meanings, [the] meanings [are] named [as] upright [and straightforward, with] those upright [and] straightforward named as bright light, [with] those [with] bright light named [as] not reduced, [with] those not reduced named as [the] Tathāgata.

又光明者名为智慧,质直者名为常住,如来常者名为依法,法者名常,亦名无边、不可思议、不可执持、不可系缚而亦可见。

Also, those [with] bright light [are] named as [with] wisdom, those upright [and] straightforward [are] named as [the] eternally abiding, those [with the] Tathāgata [who is] eternal [are] named as relying [upon the] Dharma, [with the] Dharma named [as the] eternal, likewise named [as the] boundless, inconceivable, [that] cannot [be] upheld firmly, [that] cannot [be] fettered, yet likewise can [be] seen.

若有说言不可见者,如是之人所不应依,是故依法不依于人。

If [there] are those [who] say [this] cannot [be] seen, of such persons should not [be] relied [upon], therefore rely [upon the] Dharma [and] not rely upon [these] persons.

若有人以微妙之语,宣说无常,如是之言所不应依,是故依义不依于语。

If [there] are people with subtle [and] wonderful words, proclaiming [of] impermanence, as such speech should not [be] relied [upon], therefore rely [upon the] meanings [and] not rely upon words.

依智者,众僧是常,无为不变,不畜八种不净之物,是故依智不依于识。

Relying [upon] those wise, [the] assembly [of] Saṃgha is eternal, unconditioned [and] without change, not [receiving] livestock [and the] eight kinds of impure objects, [of gold, silver, servants, cows, goats, storehouses, selling and farming], therefore [is to] rely [upon] wisdom [and] not rely upon knowledge.

若有说言,识作识受,无和合僧。

If with saying, [that] knowledge [is] created [or] knowledge [is] received, [this is] without [the] harmonious Saṃgha.

何以故?夫和合者名无所有,无所有者云何言常?是故此识不可依止。

Why [is this] so? Those [of the] harmonious are named [as] without that possessed, [and of] those without that possessed, how can [they be] said [to be] eternal? Therefore, this knowledge cannot [be] relied upon.

依了义者,了义者名为知足,终不诈现威仪清白、憍慢自高、贪求利养,亦于如来随宜方便所说法中不生执着,是名了义。

[On] those relying [upon the] definitive, those [with the] definitive [are] named as content, to the end not pretending [to] appear [with] awe-inspiring manner [that is] pure, [not] arrogantly proud [of] themselves, [not] greedily seeking benefits, also with [the] Tathāgata, accordingly [with] appropriate skilful means, [of the] spoken Dharma within, not giving rise [to] attachment, [this] is named [as] definitive.

若有能住如是等中,当知是人,则为已得住第一义,是故名为依了义经。

If [there] are [those] able [to] abide such [with] others within, [it] should [be] known [that] these persons, thus as already [having] attained abiding [upon the] supreme truth [i.e. paramārtha-satya: highest; absolute; ultimate truth], [are] therefore named as relying [upon] definitive sūtras.

不依不了义,不了义者如经中说,一切烧燃、一切无常、一切皆苦、一切皆空、一切无我,是名不了义。

[Do] not rely [upon the] non-definitive, [since] those non-definitive, as [these] sūtras within say, all [as] burning, all [as] impermanent, all [as] suffering, all [as] emptiness, [and] all [as] non-self, [this] is named [as] non-definitive.

何以故?以不能了如是义故,令诸众生堕阿鼻狱。

Why [is this] so? With not [being] able [to] understand such meanings thus, [this] enables all sentient beings [to] fall [into] Avīci [Hell].

所以者何?以取著故,于义不了。一切烧者,谓如来说涅槃亦烧;一切无常者,涅槃亦无常;苦空无我,亦复如是。是故名为不了义经,不应依止。

Why is this [so]? With attachment thus, of meanings not understood. [With] all [that] burns, saying [the] Tathāgata spoke [of Pari]nirvāṇa also [as] burning, [with] all that [is] impermanent, [Pari]nirvāṇa also [as] impermanent, with suffering, emptiness [and] non-self, likewise thus. [They are] therefore named as non-definitive sūtras, [that] should not [be] relied upon.

善男子!若有人言如来怜愍一切众生,善知时宜,以知时故,说轻为重,说重为轻。

Good man! [There] might be people [who] say [the] Tathāgata sympathises [with] all sentient beings, knowing well [what is at the] time appropriate, with knowing [the] time thus, speaks [of the] light as [the] heavy, [or] speaks [of the] heavy as light.

如来观知所有弟子,有诸檀越供给所须、令无所乏,如是之人,佛则不听受畜奴婢、金银财宝、贩卖市易、不净物等。

[The] Tathāgata contemplates [upon and] knows all disciples, [to] all have alms givers offering as needed, enabling [them to be] without that lacking, of such persons, [the] Buddha thus [does] not listen [to] receive livestock, servants, gold, silver, money [and] valuables, [to] sell [and] exchange, [with] impure objects [and] others.

若诸弟子无有檀越供给所须,时世饥馑(jǐn),饮食难得,为欲建立护持正法,我听弟子受畜奴婢、金银车乘、田宅谷米、卖易所须,虽听受畜如是等物,要当净施笃信檀越。

If all disciples [are] without alms givers offering as needed, [in that] period [with] starvation, [with] drink [and] food difficult [to] attain, for desiring [to] establish, protect [and] uphold [the] right Dharma, I listen [to] disciples [to] receive livestock, servants, gold, silver, riding vehicles, fields, residences, grains [and] rice, [to] sell [and] exchange as needed, although listening [to] receive livestock [and] such other objects, [they] must [be] purely given [by] devout alms givers.

四法[总结]
[Conclusion On] Four Dharmas

如是四法所应依止。

Such are [the] Four Dharmas that should [be] relied [upon].

若有戒律、阿毘昙、修多罗不违是四,亦应依止。

If with precepts [and] rules, Abhidharma, sūtras [that do] not go against these four, [they] likewise should [be] relied upon.

若有说言,有时非时,有能护法不能护法,如来悉听一切比丘,受畜如是不净物者,如是之言不应依止

If [there] are [those] saying, [there] are times [and] inappropriate times, [to be] able [to] protect [the] Dharma, [and to] not [be] able [to] protect [the] Dharma, [that the] Tathāgata listens [to] all bhikṣus, [to] receive livestock [and] such impure objects, of such words, [they] should not [be] relied [upon].

若有戒律、阿毘昙、修多罗中,有同是说,如是三分亦不应依

If with precepts [and] rules, Abhidharma, sūtras within, with similarities [to that] said, such three divisions likewise should not [be] relied [upon].

我为肉眼诸众生等,说是四依,终不为于有慧眼者。是故我今说是四依,法者即是法性,义者即是如来常住不变,智者了知一切众生悉有佛性,了义者了达一切大乘经典。」

I for all sentient beings [with] flesh eyes [and] others, speak [these] Four Reliances, in the end, not for those with wisdom eyes. Therefore, I now speak these Four Reliances, [with] their Dharma [that] is the same as Dharma-nature, [with] their meanings [that] are the same as [the] Tathāgata’s eternal abiding without change, [with] wise ones understanding clearly [that] all sentient beings have Buddha-nature [i.e. Buddhadhātu], [and] those [with the] definitive reaching clearly all [of the] Great Vehicle’s [collection of] sūtras‘ [essence].’

– 释迦牟尼佛
《大般涅槃经》第六卷:如来性品第四
北凉天竺三藏昙无谶译

– Śākyamuni Buddha
([The] Great [Mahā] Parinirvāṇa Sūtra:
Sixth Scroll: Fourth Chapter [On The] Tathāgata’s Nature)
Translated [by] Northern Liáng’s India’s
Tripiṭaka [Dharma Master] Dharmakṣema

Related Articles:

《大般涅槃经》第六卷:如来性品第四
http://tripitaka.cbeta.org/T12n0374_006
四依论解
Commentary On The Four Reliances
https://purelanders.com/2018/10/10/commentary-on-the-four-reliances

Namo Amituofo : Translation by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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