The Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Five Great Givings《佛说五大施经》

[The] Sūtra [In Which The] Buddha Speaks [Of] Five Great Givings

[By] Sòng [Dynasty’s] India’s Tripiṭaka Śramaṇa Dānapāla [And] Others Translated


[The] Buddha, World-Honoured [One, at] one time, [was] at Śrāvastī city’s Jeta Grove [And] Giver[-To-The-]Lonely Garden, with [the] Bhikṣu assembly together.


[The] Buddha told all [the] Bhikṣus, saying, ‘[There] are five kinds [of] great givings, now for you speaking [of them]. What [are] as [the] five?


[They are] so-called: first, not killing lives, [which] is as great giving; second, not stealing; third, not [having] evil defilements; fourth, not [having] false speech; fifth, not drinking alcohol. [These] are as great givings.

[Note 1: These correspond to commitment to observation of the Five Precepts (五戒) respectively for life, with the third as not being defiled by having sexual misconduct.]


With what meaning thus, [is] upholding not killing’s practice then named [as] great giving? [With that] called not killing thus, [it is] able [to], for immeasurable sentient [beings], give them fearlessness. With fearlessness thus, grudgelessness, hatelessness [and] harmlessness.


Due [to] those immeasurable sentient [beings having] attained fearlessness already, [with] grudgelessness, hatelessness [and] harmlessness already, thus in [the] heavens above, [and in the] human world, attaining tranquility [and] bliss.

[Note 2: When the Five Precepts are upheld, the human rebirth is ensured. When they are upheld very well, with the doing of more good, this can lead to a heavenly rebirth. However, as both rebirths are impermanent in nature and do not guarantee liberation, it is best to seek rebirth in Pure Land.]


Therefore [is] not killing named as great giving. Not stealing, not [having] evil defilements, not [having] false speech [and] not drinking alcohol, [are] likewise again thus.’

[Note 3: Contrary to possibly thinking that observation of the Five Precepts is mere avoiding of evil (止恶), which is passive or not proactive doing of good (行善), it is actually also ‘active’ practice of generosity (布施), with the giving of fearlessness, grudgelessness, hatelessness and harmlessness, not to only one or a few sentient beings for a while, but to all beings for life. Observation of the Five Precepts is thus also doing of good.]

[Note 4: As all more advanced and detailed precepts are expanded from the essence of the Five Precepts, it can be said that to observe them completely is to observe all precepts, thus also practising all forms of the givings above.]

[Note 5: If practising with the Bodhi Mind (i.e. Bodhicitta: 菩提心), commitment to the Five Precepts should expand to commitment to the Bodhisattva Precepts (菩萨戒), so as to more proactively help and protect all beings.

And the givings above should expand to become the Pāramitā (i.e. Perfection) of Generosity (布施波罗蜜), which other than with the giving of fearlessness (无畏施), also includes giving of wealth (财施) (in cash, kind, energy…), and giving of the Dharma (法施). The last gift is the greatest of all gifts as it leads to Buddhahood. The giving of the Pure Land teachings leads to attaining of the greatest tranquillity and bliss in and via Pure Land too.]

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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