The Sūtra Of Forty-Two Sections《四十二章经》


Korean Version’s Preface: [In 67 C.E. (永平十年: Yǒngpíng’s tenth year), the] past Hàn Dynasty Emperor Xiàomíng [at] night dreamt [of] seeing [a] divine person, [whose] body had golden colour, [with the] crown having [a] sun[-disc of] light, flying before [the palace] hall. [His] mind within [was] joyful, [with] extreme delight [about] it. [The] next day, [he] asked [his] group [of] ministers, ‘This is which “god”?’ [There] was [a] person [with] wide knowledge Fùyì [who] said, ‘[This] minister heard [that] India has one [who] attained [the] path, named [the] Buddha, [who can] easily rise, [and is] able [to] fly. [It can] only be that “god”.’

[Note 1: Although the Buddha defined himself to transcend all gods, the Chinese who were not aware of this yet could only think of him to be like a god.]


Thus [with the] emperor aware, [he] immediately dispatched [the] envoy Zhāngqiān, armed escort [and] palace general Qínjǐng, imperial scholar’s student Wángzūn [and] other twelve persons, [to] reach [the] great Yuèzhī country, [to] write [and] obtain [the] Buddhist Sūtra [Of] Forty-Two Sections. At [the] fourteenth stone chamber within, [he] erected [a] pagoda [and] monastery. Thus [did the] path’s Dharma spread, everywhere [with the] building [of] Buddhist monasteries. People [from] afar accepted [the teachings and were] transformed, willing [to] become subjects, [who] cannot [be] counted [in] number. [The] country within [was] peaceful, [with the] types of sentient [beings who] receive [its] kindness, [who] accept [and] rely [upon it] till today unceasing.

[Note 2: It is also said that the first Chinese Buddhist monastery built was White Horse(s) Monastery (白马寺) at Luòyáng (洛阳) in 68 C.E., as named after the two horses who carried the invited translators of this and other first sūtras into China. It was there that these sūtras were translated.

Note 3: At selected sections below, are corresponding parts from the Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì’s (净土宗九祖蕅益大师) ‘Explanation (For The) Sūtra (Of) Forty-Two Sections’《四十二章经解》. More parts might be added in time.]

[The] Sūtra [Of] Forty-Two Sections

[By] Later Hàn [Dynasty’s] Kāśyapa Mātaṅga [and] Dharmaratna together translated [Shǒusuì Annotated Version]


When [the] World-Honoured [One] accomplished [the] path [to Buddhahood] already, [he] had this thought – ‘Departure [from] desires [with] tranquility, is as [the] most supreme. Abiding [in] great meditative concentration, subdues all demonic paths.’


At Deer Park within, turning [the] Four [Noble] Truths’ Dharma wheel, [he] delivered Kauṇḍinya [and] others, [with] five persons, [who] then realised [the] path’s fruit [of Arhathood].


Moreover, [the] bhikṣus, [of] that said, [of] all doubts, implored [the] Buddha [on what to] advance [and] end. [As the] World-Honoured [One] instructed, each [and] every one awakened. [With] joined palms respectfully promising, [to] then follow [his] honourable orders.

[The] First Section: Leaving [The] Household [Life To] Realise [The] Fruit


[The] Buddha said, ‘[Those who] personally take leave [from the] household [life, to] know [the] mind [and] reach [the] fundamental, [to] understand [the] unconditioned Dharma, [are] named [as] Śramaṇas. Constantly practising [the] two hundred [and] fifty precepts, [with] advancing [and] ending [for] purity, with [the] Four [Noble] Truths’ path practising, accomplishing [as] Arhats. Those Arhats, [are] able [to] fly [and] transform, [with] distant kalpas’ lifespans, dwelling [in and] moving [between the] heavens [and] earth. Second [to them] are Anāgāmis. Those Anāgāmis, [when their] lifespans’ end, [their] consciousnesses [will] rise [to the] nineteenth heaven, [to] realise Arhathood. Second [to them] are Sakṛdāgāmins. Those Sakṛdāgāmins, [are with] one time once returning, [to] then attain Arhathood. Second [to them] are Srotaāpannas. Those Srotaāpannas, [are with] seven deaths [and] seven births, then realising Arhathood. Those [with] attachments [and] desires severed, [are] like [those with their] four limbs severed, not again using them.’

[The] Second Section: Severing Desires [And] Ending Seeking


[The] Buddha said, ‘Those [who have] left [the] household [life to be] Śramaṇas, sever [their] desires [and] eradicate attachments, [to] know one’s mind’s source. Reaching [the] Buddha’s profound principles, awakening [to the] unconditioned Dharma. Within [with] nothing [to] be attained, without [with] nothing [to] be sought. [With the] mind not bound [to the] path, likewise not fettered [to] karma. Without thinking [and] without doing, not cultivating [and] not realising. Not going through all positions, yet naturally [with the] most lofty, [with] naming [of] this as [the] path.’

[The] Third Section: Cut Attachments [And] Eradicate Greed


[The] Buddha said, ‘Shaving [to] rid beard [and] hair, then as Śramaṇas. Those receiving [the] path’s Dharma, eradicate worldly goods [and] wealth, [with] begging [to] obtain [what] suffices. [At] midday [with] one meal, [at] trees below [for] one night, cautious [to] not again [do so]. That [which] enable people [to be] foolish [and] dull, [are] attachments [and] desires.’

[The] Fourth Section: Good [And] Evil Both Explained


[The] Buddha said, ‘Sentient beings [are] with ten matters as good, likewise with ten matters as evil. What are [the] ten? [Of the] body, [are] three, [of] speech, [are] four, [and of the] mind, [are] three. [Of the] body, those three [are] killing, stealing [and] sexual [misconduct. Of] speech, those four [are] double-tongued [speech], harsh speech, false speech [and] frivolous speech. [Of the] mind, those three [are] jealousy [i.e. also with greed], anger [and] delusion. Such ten matters, not according [with the] noble path, [are] named [the] Ten Evil Practices. These evils if stopped, [are] named [the] Ten Good Practices.’

[The] Fifth Section: Transforming [The] Heavy [To] Be Light


[The] Buddha said, ‘[If a] person has many misgivings, yet not personally repenting, [to] instantly cease that mind, transgressions [will] come [to] engulf oneself, like water returning [to the] sea, gradually becoming deeper [and] broader. If [a] person has misgivings, personally understands [and] knows [their] wrong, corrects [the] evil [and] practises good, [the] transgressions [will] naturally [be] eradicated, like [a] sick [person] getting [to] sweat, gradually reducing seriousness [of the] sickness.’

[The] Sixth Section: Patience [With] Evil Without Anger


[The] Buddha said, ‘[If] evil persons who hear [of] good, [with] those thus coming [to] disturb, [if] you [are] personally restrained [and] calm, [you] will [be] without angry blaming. Those evil persons [who have] come, [are] then personally [being] evil [to] themselves.’


Explanation: This Sixth Section declares [that] good [is] able [to] conquer evil, and [that] evil [is] not able [to] destroy good. [The] above text encourages people [to] end evil [and] practise good, [to] correct mistakes [and] change [to be] good. Fearing [there] are those foolish, [who] fear [being by] those evil persons disturbed, thereupon not daring [to] practise, thus admonishing [to be] with cautiousness, [to] not angrily blame evil persons. With evil only with those [persons], with me not involved thus. Like [a] bright mirror within appearing with ugly appearances, [as] those appearances [are by] themselves ugly, how [is the] mirror ugly? If once giving rise [to] angry blame, thus instead grasps evil of [those persons, to] become evil of mine.

[The] Seventh Section: Evil Returns [To] Oneself


[The] Buddha said, ‘[There] was [a] person [who] heard [of] my guarding [of the] path, [and] practice [of] great benevolence, thus coming [to] scold [the] Buddha. [The] Buddha [was] silent [and did] not reply. [When the] scolding stopped, [he] asked, “[If] you [are] with [a] gift [to] give [a] person, [but] that person [does] not accept [it, does the] gift return [to] you?” [He] replied, “[It] returns.” [The] Buddha said, “Now, [of] your scolding [of] me, I now [do] not accept [it, with] you naturally holding [on to its] misfortune, [with it] returning [to] yourself. Like [an] echo replying [a] sound, [a] shadow that follows form, [in the] end not sparing [and] leaving [you], be cautious not [to] do evil.”‘


Explanation: This Seventh Section, [is] then [on the] above section, [as] clear proof [that] those [who] come [to disturb, are] then personally [being] evil [to] themselves. Nowadays, [of] people [who] hear scoldings, [there are] few [who do] not give rise [to] anger. [They are] very similar [to those] ‘thankfully’ accepting invitation letters, [to] precisely fall [into the] traps [of] those scolding. Contemplate this, contemplate this. Perhaps asking, ‘[The] Buddha since [with] great loving-kindness, why [does he] not enable that scolding [person to be] without misfortune?’ [In] reply, ‘How can it be [that the] Buddha desires [to] enable that [person to] attain misfortune? [It] cannot [be] helped [if that] person personally attracts misfortune’s suffering. Now admonishing [to be] with cautiousness, [to] not do evil, [as this] is the same as [to] eradicate that misfortune’s source, [this is with] loving-kindness [and] compassion extreme.’

[The] Eighth Section: [With] Dust [And] Spittle Self-Defiling


[The] Buddha said, ‘[When] evil persons harm those virtuous, [it] is like looking up to the sky and spitting. [Their] spittle [does] not reach [the] sky, returning [to] follow, [on] themselves falling. Against [the] wind tossing dust, [the] dust [does] not reach others, returning [as] dust [on] their own bodies. [The] virtuous cannot [be] destroyed, [while] misfortune [will] definitely destroy themselves.’


Explanation: This Eighth Section, profoundly admonishes evil persons, [to] enable [them to] not harm [the] virtuous, and [is] simultaneously with exhorting [of] virtuous persons [to continue practising good]. People if [with the] fruits [of the] virtuous, thus [are] like [the] sky, likewise like higher winds. How can it be [that they] receive spittle [and] dust? If able [to] receive slander [by feeling harmed], then [are they] not virtuous [ones yet].

[The] Ninth Section: Return [To] Original [Nature By] Meeting [The] Path


[The] Buddha said, ‘Widely listen [to and] treasure [the] path, [as the] path [is] definitely difficult [to] meet. Guard [your] aspiration [for] receiving [the] path, [as] that path [is] extremely great.’

[The] Tenth Section: [With] Joy Giving Obtaining Blessings


[The] Buddha said, ‘Observing people [practising] giving’s path, [and] supporting them joyfully, attains blessings extremely great. Śramaṇas asked, ‘[Will] these blessings end?’ [The] Buddha said, ‘For example, like [the] fire of one torch, [if] several thousands [of] hundreds [of] people, each with torches come [to] separately obtain [fire, to] cook food [and] eradicate darkness, [with] this torch [remaining] as before, [the] blessings [are] likewise like them.’

[The] Eleventh Section: Giving [Of] Alms [In] Turn Superior


[The] Buddha said, ‘[Offering] food [to a] hundred evil persons, [is] not as good as [to offer] food [to] one good person. [Offering] food [to a] thousand persons, [is] not as good as [to offer] food [to] one who upholds [the] Five Precepts. [Offering] food [to] ten thousand persons who uphold [the] Five Precepts, [is] not as good as [to offer] food [to] one Srotaāpanna. [Offering] food [to a] hundred thousand Srotaāpannas, [is] not as good as [to offer] food [to] one Sakṛdāgāmin. [Offering] food [to] ten thousand thousand Sakṛdāgāmins, [is] not as good as [to offer] food [to] one Anāgāmi. [Offering] food [to] one koṭi Anāgāmis, [is] not as good as [to offer] food [to] one Arhat. [Offering] food [to] ten koṭi Arhats, [is] not as good as [to offer] food [to] one Pratyekabuddha. [Offering] food [to a] hundred koṭi Pratyekabuddhas, [is] not as good as [to offer] food [to] one [of] all [the] three periods’ Buddhas. [Offering] food [to a] thousand koṭis [of] all [the] three periods’ Buddhas, [is] not as good as [to offer] food [to] one who [is] without thinking, without abiding, without cultivating [and] without realising.’

[The] Twelfth Section: Raising [Of] Difficulties [For] Diligent Cultivation

佛言:「人有二十难。[1] 贫穷布施难。[2] 豪贵学道难。[3] 弃命必死难。[4] 得覩佛经难。[5] 生值佛世难。[6] 忍色忍欲难。[7] 见好不求难。[8] 被辱不瞋难。[9] 有势不临难。[10] 触事无心难。[11] 广学博究难。[12] 除灭我慢难。[13] 不轻未学难。[14] 心行平等难。[15] 不说是非难。[16] 会善知识难。[17] 见性学道难。[18] 随化度人难。[19] 覩境不动难。[20] 善解方便难。」

[The] Buddha said, ‘Humans have twenty difficulties. [1] [To be] poor [yet] generous [is] difficult. [2] [To be] rich, powerful [and] honoured, [yet] learn [the] path [is] difficult. [3] [To] relinquish life [with] definite death [is] difficult. [4] [To] attain sight [of] Buddhist sūtras [is] difficult. [5] [To in one’s] lifetime meet [a] Buddha [in the] world [is] difficult. [6] [To] endure lust [and] endure desires [is] difficult. [7] [To] see [that] liked [yet] not seek [it is] difficult. [8] [To be] insulted [yet] not angry [is] difficult. [9] [To] have power [yet] not look down [upon others is] difficult. [10] [To be] in contact [with] matters [yet] indifferent [is] difficult. [11] [To] broadly learn [and] deeply study [is] difficult. [12] [To] eradicate conceit [is] difficult. [13] [To] not slight [those] yet [to] learn [is] difficult. [14] [To have] mental activities impartial [is] difficult. [15] [To] not speak [of] rights [and] wrongs [is] difficult. [16] [To] meet good-knowing advisors [is] difficult. [17] [To] see [one’s] nature [and] learn [the] path [is] difficult. [18] [To] accordingly transform [and] deliver people [is] difficult. [19] [To] see situations [yet be] unmoved [is] difficult. [20] [To have] good understanding [of] skilful means [is] difficult.’


Explanation: This Twelfth Section, briefly raises twenty difficult matters [to] use as exhortations. [With] agreeable sentiments, [they are] thus easy. [With] opposite sentiments, [they are] thus difficult. However, if able [to] profoundly give rise [to the] willing mind, thus although difficult, [they are] yet easy. Those perhaps only following prevalent worldliness, thus although easy, [they will] also [be] difficult.

[1] 夫贫穷则布施为难。故虽少许之施,得福甚多,不可不勉力也。然现见有贫而能施者。乃富人反不肯施,则悭鄙为何如耶。[2] 豪贵学道,例施可知。[3] 人所最重者身命。诚能弃命,则何事不可为者?然未闻保命畏死之人,果能长生不死。则亦何事贪惜耶?[4] 佛经难覩。今幸覩佛经而不研精殚思,则与不覩何异?[5] 佛世难值。今幸值佛世而不及时进修,则与不值何殊?

[1] Those poor [are] thus [with] generosity as [a] difficulty. Thus, although [with a] little of giving, [as this] attains blessings [that are] extremely much, [it] should not not [be] encouraged. However, now seen are those poor yet able [to] give. Therefore, rich people instead [are] not willing [to] give. Thus miserly [and] contemptuous, [this is] why [they are] so. [2] [For the] rich, powerful [and] honoured [to] learn [the] path, [from the preceding on] generosity, [it] can [be] known. [3] That humans value most [is] their lives. If able [to] relinquish life, thus [of] what [other] matters cannot [be] done? However, yet [to] hear of [are] people [who wish to] save [their] lives [with] fear [of] death, resulting [in] ability [to have] long lives [and] not die. Thus [of] what [other] matters [will they] also greedily cherish? [4] [The] Buddhist sūtras [are] difficult [to] see. Now fortunately seeing [the] Buddhist sūtras, yet not studying [their] essence, utmost contemplating [them], thus with not seeing, what difference [is there]? [5] [The] Buddha [in the] world [is] difficult [to] meet. Now fortunately meeting [the] Buddha [in this] world, yet not without delay diligently cultivating, thus with not meeting, what difference [is there]?

[6] 色欲虽恒情所好,然或察其味少苦多,或观其如幻如影,则亦何难忍制?[7] 若见好时,知其未必可求,则贪心自息。[8] 若被辱时,但以情恕理遣,则瞋意自平。[9] 视富贵若草头露,何容以势临人。[10] 观事境同梦所缘,何必劳心措置。

[6] Lustful desires although frequently felt as [that] good, however perhaps examining them, [of their] flavour [being] little [and with] bitterness much, perhaps contemplating them [to be] like illusions [and] like shadows, thus [with] what difficulty [are they] endured [and] controlled? [7] If [when] seeing [that] liked, knowing that [it] may not [be] demanded, thus [is the] greedy mind naturally extinguished. [8] If when insulted, only with [the] feeling [of] forgiveness [and with] reason dispatched, thus [is the] angry mind naturally [at] peace. [9] Seeing [the] rich [and] honoured [to be] like grass heads’ dewdrops, how [can there be] capacity [to], with power look down [upon] people? [10] Contemplating matters’ situations [to be] similar [to] those conditions [of] dreams, why worry [about] handling them?

[11] 广学而不博究,如入海无指南针,安能会理?[12] 恃学而生我慢,如沃壤以滋稊稗,反害良禾。[13] 佛尝言四种不可忽。一者火虽小不可忽。二者龙虽小不可忽。三者王子虽小不可忽。四者沙门虽小不可忽。今有轻未学者,未知其不可忽故也。[14] 心平等,则施难胜如来,与施最下乞人,功德无异。[15] 泯是非,则一切诸法,无非佛法。

[11] [With] broad learning yet not deeply studying, [is] like entering [the] ocean without [a] south-pointing needle. How can there be understanding [of the] principles? [12] Relying upon learning yet giving rise [to] conceit, [is] like fertile soil with growth [of] grass [and] weeds, [which] instead harm [the] good grains. [13] The Buddha already said [that there are] four kinds [of things that] should not [be] overlooked. First, fire although tiny should not [be] overlooked. Second, dragons although small should not [be] overlooked. Third, princes although young should not [be] overlooked. Fourth, Śramaṇas although junior should not [be] overlooked. Now having those yet [to] learn, [and those] yet [to] know, [they] should not [be] overlooked thus. [14] [With the] mind impartial, thus [with] generosity’s difficulty surpassing [giving to the] Thus Come [One], with giving [to the] most lowly beggar, [this has] meritorious virtues without difference. [15] Eliminating rights [and] wrongs, thus [are] all dharmas, without [that which is] not [with the] Buddha’s Dharma.

[16] 是非情见未忘,决不能见法界真善知识。[17] 不见现前一念心之实性,决不可以学无上道。[18] 不学称性权实之道,不能随化度人。[19] 未达随化度人方便,安能覩十法界境而一心不动?[20] 若不能于一一法界中具见一切法界事理,何繇善解同体方便?故知此二十事,后后难于前前也。

[16] [With] rights’ [and] wrongs’ sentiments [and] views yet [to be] forgotten, [one] definitely [is] not able [to] see [the] Dharma realm’s true good-knowing advisors. [17] Not seeing [the] true nature of [the] presently manifested one thought, [one] definitely cannot learn [the] unsurpassable path. [18] Not learning [the] path of matching nature’s expedients [and the ultimately] true, [thus] not able [to] accordingly transform [and] deliver people. [19] Yet [to] attain accordingly transforming [and] delivering people’s skilful means, how can there be sight [of the] ten dharma realms’ situations, yet [be] single-minded [and] unmoving? [20] If not able [to], of each [and] every one dharma realm within, completely see all [the] dharma realms’ phenomena [and] principles, what cause [is there for] good understanding [of one] unified body’s skilful means? Thus know [that of] these twenty matters, [those listed] after [are more] difficult [than those listed] before.

[The] Thirteenth Section: Asking [About The] Path [And] Past Lives


[A] Śramaṇa asked [the] Buddha, ‘With what cause [and] condition, attains knowledge [of] past lives, [and] understanding [of] that ultimate path?’ [The] Buddha said, ‘[With the] pure mind guarding [your] aspiration, can [you] understand [the] ultimate path. For example, [when] polishing [a] mirror, [when its] dirt [is] eradicated, brightness remains. Severing desires without seeking, will attain [knowledge of] past lives.’

[The] Fourteenth Section: Asking [About] Good [And] Greatness


[A] Śramaṇa asked [the] Buddha, ‘What is good? What is [the] most great?’ [The] Buddha said, ‘Practising [the] path [with] guarding [of] that true [is] good. That [with] aspiration [and the] path united [is] great.’

[The] Fifteenth Section: Asking [About] Power [And] Brightness


[A] Śramaṇa asked [the] Buddha, ‘What is [with] much power? What is [the] most bright?’ [The] Buddha said, ‘Patience [with] insults [has] much power, not thinking [of] evil [retaliation] thus, simultaneously [with] added peace [and] strength. Those patient without evil, [will] definitely by people [be] honoured. [With the] mind’s defilements eradicated completely, pure [and] without flaws [and] defilements, is as [the] most bright. [From when] yet [to] have [the] heavens [and] earth, reaching to today, [of] all [in the] ten directions, without having [that] not seen, without having [that] not known, without having [that] not heard, attaining all[-knowing] wisdom, [this] can [be] called bright.’


Explanation: This Fifteenth Section, explains patience power’s greatness. [With] eradicated defilements, penetrating [and] profound, patience has three kinds. First [is] Enduring [With] Blame [And] Harm’s Patience, also named Birth’s Patience [or Forbearance]. Second [is] Peaceful Accepting [Of] Suffering’s Patience, also named Dharma Patience [or Forbearance]. Third [is] Truthful Observing [Of] Dharmas’ Patience, also named [the] Supreme Truth’s Patience [or Foremost Meaning’s Forbearance]. Now immediately, is about enduring [with] blame [and] harm, [to] then enter [the] Supreme Truth. [The] remaining text [is] easy [to] know.

[The] Sixteenth Section: Renouncing Attachments [To] Attain [The] Path


[The] Buddha said, ‘People [who] cherish attachments [and] desires [do] not see [the] path. For example, like clear water, putting [in their] hands stirring it, [when] all people together look [in, it is] without those [who can] see [their] reflections. People with attachments [and] desires intertwined, [have their] minds within [with] defilements flourishing, thus not seeing [the] path. You [and] other Śramaṇas, should renounce attachments [and] desires. [With] attachments’ [and] desires’ defilements ended, [the] path can [be] seen.’

[The] Seventeenth Section: [When] Brightness Comes, Darkness Fades


[The] Buddha said, ‘Those who see [the] path, for example, [are] like [those] holding torches entering dark rooms within, [with] that darkness then eradicated, and [with] only brightness retained. Learning [the] path [and] seeing truths, ignorance [is] then eradicated, and [with] brightness always retained.’

[The] Eighteenth Section: Mindfulness [Of] Equal Fundamental Emptiness


[The] Buddha said, ‘My Dharma [is] mindfulness without thinking thought, practising without practising practice, speaking without speaking speech, cultivating without cultivating cultivation. Those [who] understand [are] near thus, [and] those confused [are] far. [With] spoken language’s path severed, [it is] not [by] objects that constrained, [with] difference of [a] fine hair’s one thousandth [part], losing it [in an] instant.’

[The] Nineteenth Section: [With The] False [And] True Both Contemplated


[The] Buddha said, ‘Contemplate [the] heavens [and] earth, [to be] mindful [of] impermanence. Contemplate [the] world[‘s time and space, to be] mindful [of] impermanence. Contemplate spiritual awakening[‘s nature, which] is Bodhi. [With] such knowledge, attain [the] path quickly.’

[The] Twentieth Section: Reasoning [For] Self [To] Fundamentally [Be] Empty


[The] Buddha said, ‘[You] should [be] mindful, [that of the] body within’s four great [elements], although each has [a] name, [as earth, water, fire and wind], all [are] that without self. [Of] self, since all [of them are] without [it], they [are] like illusions.’

[The] Twenty-First Section: [For] Reputation Losing [The] Fundamental


[The] Buddha said, ‘[Of] people following passionate desires, seeking for reputation, [with] reputation outstanding, [the] body [is] already deceased. [With] greed [for] worldly constant fame, yet not learning [the] path, [with] efforts in vain, exhausting [the] body. For example, like burning incense, although [the] person smells [the] fragrance, [at the] end of [the] incense, [the] fire that endangers [the] body, [is] then that there after.’

[The] Twenty-Second Section: Wealth [And] Sex Attracts Suffering


[The] Buddha said, ‘Of wealth [and] sex given to people, of people not renouncing [them], for example, [are] like [having a] knife’s blade with honey, not enough [for] satisfaction of one meal. [A] small child licking it, thus [will] have suffering of cutting [the] tongue.’

[The] Twenty-Third Section: [With] Wives [And] Children, More [Trapped Than Those In] Prisons


[The] Buddha said, ‘People bound to [their] wives, children [and] homes, [are] more trapped than [those in] prisons. Prisons have dates of release, [but of] wives [and] children, [they are] without [the] thought of far departing [from them. With] love for sex, how can [they] not dread [being] driven [by it]? Although having [the] danger of [being in a] tiger’s mouth, [their] minds retain willingness [to] bear [it]. Throwing [themselves into] mud [to] self-drown, thus called ordinary beings. [Those who have] passed through this door, [to] exit [the] dusts [are called] Arhats.’

[The] Twenty-Fourth Section: Lustful Desires Obstruct [The] Path


[The] Buddha said, ‘[Of] attachments [and] desires, none [is] more extreme than lust. [With] lust as desire, its greatness [has] no other. Fortunately, [there] is [only] one [of its kind]. If [there are] two similar [desires], of all humans [under the] heavens, [there would be] without those able [to] be [practitioners of the] path.’

[The] Twenty-Fifth Section: Desires’ Fire Burns Oneself


[The] Buddha said, ‘Of people [with] attachments [and] desires, [they are like those] holding torches, against the wind then walking, [who] definitely [will] have [the] suffering of burning [their] hands.’

[The] Twenty-Sixth Section: Heavenly Demons Disturbing [The] Buddha


Heavenly gods offered beautiful maidens to [the] Buddha, desiring [to] destroy the Buddha’s resolve. The Buddha said, ‘Leather sacks [i.e. skin bags] [of] many defilements, you [have] come for what? Go. I [have] no use [for you.’ The] heavenly gods [became] even more respectful, [and] thus asked [for the] meaning [of the] path. [The] Buddha for [them] explained [it, with them] immediately attaining [the] Srotāpanna fruit.

[The] Twenty-Seventh Section: [Those] Without Attachment Attain [The] Path


[The] Buddha said, ‘Those as [practitioners of the] path, [are] like wood on water, along [with the] flow then moving. Not touching both shores, not by people obtained, not by ghosts [and] gods those obstructed, not by whirlpools those abiding, also not rotting. I guarantee this wood, [will] definitely enter [the] ocean. Of people [who] learn [the] path, not by passionate desires those confused, not by many evils those disturbed, diligent unconditionally, I guarantee these people, [will] definitely attain the path.’

[The] Twenty-Eighth Section: [The] Mind [Like A Wild] Horse [Should] Not [Be] Indulged


[The] Buddha said, ‘Be cautious not [to] believe your mind, [as] your mind cannot [be] believed. Be cautious not [to] with lust meet, [as with] lust met, then [will] misfortune arise. [Having] attained [as] Arhats already, then can you believe your mind.’

[The] Twenty-Ninth Section: Right Contemplation [To] Resist Lust


[The] Buddha said, ‘Be cautious not [to] see females’ forms, also not [with them] together speaking. If with those speaking, [with the] right mind think, “I, as [a] Śramaṇa, abiding in [this] defiled world, should [be] like [a] lotus flower, not by mud defiled.” Think [of] those old [to be] like [your] mothers, those older [to be] like [your] older sisters, those younger [to be] like [your] younger sisters, [and] those young [to be] like [your] children. Give rise [to the] mind [to] deliver [and] liberate [them, to] extinguish evil thoughts.’

[The] Thirtieth Section: [From] Desire’s Fire Far Depart


[The] Buddha said, ‘Those as [practitioners of the] path, [are] like [those who] wear dry grass [i.e hay]. [When] fire comes, [it] must [be] avoided. [Practitioners of the] path, [when] seeing [the] desired, certainly should [stay] far [from] it.’

[The] Thirty-First Section: [With The] Mind Still [Are] Desires Eradicated

佛言:「有人患淫不止,欲自除阴。佛谓之曰:『若断其阴,不如断心。心如功曹,功曹若止,从者都息。邪心不止,断阴何益?』佛为说偈:『 欲生于汝意,意以思想生。二心各寂静,非色亦非行。』佛言:『此偈是迦叶佛说。』」

[The] Buddha said, ‘[There] was [a] person [who] suffered [from] lust unceasingly, [who] desired [to] self-eradicate [his] genitals. [The] Buddha spoke [to] him, “If severing those genitals, [it is] not as good [as to] sever [that lustful] mind. [The] mind [is] like [a] police chief, [with the] police chief if ceased, those following [will] all cease. [With the] evil mind not ceased, [with] severing [of] genitals, what benefit [is there]?” [The] Buddha for [him] spoke [this] verse, “Desires [are] born from your intentions, [and] intentions [are] with thinking born. [With] both minds, each still [and] quiet, [there will be] no form [and] also no activity.” [The] Buddha said, “This verse was [by] Kāśyapa Buddha spoken.”‘

[The] Thirty-Second Section: [With] Self Emptied [Is] Fear Eradicated


[The] Buddha said, ‘People from attachments [and] desires give rise [to] worries, [and] from worries give rise [to] fears. If departed from attachments, what worries [and] what fears [are] there?’

[The] Thirty-Third Section: [With] Wisdom’s Brightness Destroy [The] Demonic


[The] Buddha said, ‘Those as [practitioners of the] path, [are] for example, like one person with ten thousand persons battling. Putting [on] armour [to] go out [the] door, [with their] minds perhaps timid [and] weak, perhaps halfway then retreating, perhaps fighting then dying, perhaps attaining victory then returning. Śramaṇas [who] learn [the] path, should [be] resolute [in] upholding their minds, diligent [and] brave, not fearing situations before [them], destroying demonic hordes, then attaining [the] path’s fruit.’

[The] Thirty-Fourth Section: Abide [In The] Middle [To] Attain [The] Path


[A] Śramaṇa [at] night [was] reciting Kāśyapa Buddha’s Sūtra [Of] Bequeathed Teachings, [with] his voice sorrowful [and] tense, thinking [about] regrets [and] desire [to] retreat. [The] Buddha asked him, ‘You [in the] past at home, [was] once with what livelihood?’ [He] replied, ‘[I] loved [to] play [the] lute.’ [The] Buddha said, ‘[With] strings slack, how [are they]?’ [He] replied, ‘[They will] not sound.’ ‘[With] strings tight, how [are they]?’ [He] replied, ‘[Their] sounds [will be] cut [off].’ ‘[Of] tightness [and] slackness, attaining [the] middle, how [are they]?’ [He] replied, ‘All sounds [will be] universal [by being well-tuned.’ The] Buddha said, ‘Śramaṇas learning [the] path [should be] likewise thus, [as with their] minds if adapted, [the path] can [be] attained. Of [the] path if hurried, hurried then, [their] bodies [will be] wearied. [With] their bodies if wearied, [their] minds [will] then give rise [to] afflictions. [With their] minds if giving rise [to] afflictions, [their] practices [will] then retrogress. [With] their practices already retrogressed, transgressions will increase. However, [with] pure peace [and] bliss, [the] path [will] not [be] lost.’

[The] Thirty-Fifth Section: [With] Defilements Purified [Is] Brilliance Retained


[The] Buddha said, ‘Like people forging iron, ridding sediments [to] become wares, [the] wares [are] then excellent [and] beautiful. Of people learning [the] path, ridding [their] minds’ defilements, [their] practices [are] then pure.’

[The] Thirty-Sixth Section: Passing Through Much [To] Obtain Victory


[The] Buddha said, ‘[For] people [to] depart [from] evil paths, [to] attain as humans [is] difficult. Already attained as humans, [to] leave female [form to] immediately [be] male [is] difficult. Already attained as males, [to have the] six roots complete [is] difficult. [With the] six roots already complete, [to be] born [in a] middle land [where the Dharma is ‘central’ is] difficult. Already born [in a] middle land, [to] encounter [a] Buddha [in this] world [is] difficult. Already encountering [a] Buddha [in this] world, [to] meet [a practitioner of the] path [is] difficult. Already attaining [a practitioner of the] path, [to] give rise [to the] faithful mind [is] difficult. Already given rise [to the] faithful mind, [to] give rise [to the] Bodhi Mind [is] difficult. Already given rise [to the] Bodhi Mind, [to be cultivated yet] without cultivation [and realised yet] without realisation [is] difficult.’

[The] Thirty-Seventh Section: [Be] Mindful [Of] Precepts [To Be] Near [The] Path


[The] Buddha said, ‘[The] Buddha’s disciples departed [from] me [for] several thousand miles, [if] recollecting mindfully my precepts, [will] definitely attain [the] path’s fruit. [Those] at my left [and] right, although constantly seeing me, [yet] not according [with] my precepts, [in the] end [will] not attain [the] path.’

[The] Thirty-Eighth Section: [With] Rising Immediately Having Ceasing


[The] Buddha asked [a] Śramaṇa, ‘Human life has what [duration] in between?’ [In] reply, ‘Several days in between,’ [The] Buddha said, ‘You [have] yet [to] know [the] path.’ Again asking a Śramaṇa, ‘Human life has what [duration] in between?’ [In] reply, ‘Eating [a] meal’s [duration] in between.’ [The] Buddha said, ‘You [have] yet [to] know [the] path.’ Again asking a Śramaṇa, ‘Human life has what [duration] in between?’ [In] reply, ‘[That of] breathing out [and] in between.’ [The] Buddha said, ‘Excellent, you know [the] path.’

[The] Thirty-Ninth Section: [That] Taught [Are] Without Differences


[The] Buddha said, ‘Those [who] learn [the] Buddha’s path, [of that the] Buddha taught [by] speaking, all should [be] faithfully followed. For example, like eating honey, [in the] centre [and at the] sides, all [is] sweet, my sūtras [are] likewise thus.’

[The] Fortieth Section: Walking [The] Path [Is] In [The] Mind


[The] Buddha said, ‘Śramaṇas walking [the] path, [should be] without [those like] milling cows, [whose] bodies although walking [the] path, [with the] mind’s path not walking. [The] mind’s path if walked, [of] what use [is] walking [the] path?’

[The] Forty-First Section: [With] Straightforward Minds Leaving Desires


[The] Buddha said, ‘Those as [practitioners of the] path, [are] like bulls carrying heavy [burdens], walking [in] deep mud within, [even if] extremely weary, not daring [to] look about [to the] left [and] right, [only when] departed [from the] mud, then can [they] rest. Śramaṇas should contemplate passionate desires, [to be] more [dangerous than] mud. [With the] straightforward mind mindful [of the] path, [then] can [they be] spared [from] suffering.’

[The] Forty-Second Section: Attain [The] World [By] Knowing [Its] Illusoriness


[The] Buddha said, ‘I see positions of kings [and] lords, [to be] like dust motes passing [through a] crack in a ray of light. [I] see treasures of gold [and] jade, [to be] like rubble. [I] see clothing of fine [and] pure white silk, [to be] like shabby fabric. [I] see [the] great thousandfold world, [to be] like one myrobalan fruit. [I] see Lake Anavatapta’s water, [to be] like foot-rubbing oil. [I] see skilful [means’] doors, [to be] like manifested treasures’ gathered. [I] see [the] unsurpassable vehicle, [to be] like [a] dream’s gold [and] silk. [I] see [the] Buddha’s path, [to be] like [a] flower before [the] eyes. [I] see meditative concentration, [to be] like Sumeru’s pillar. [I] see Nirvāṇa, [to be] like [in] daytime [from] night awaking. [I] see [the] inverted [and] upright, [to be] like six dragons dancing. [I] see equality, [to be] like [the] one true ground. [I] see flourishing [and] transforming [with the Dharma, to be] like [the] four seasons’ trees.’

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

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