Translations

Great Master Yìnguāng’s Brief Explanation Of The ‘Praises Of The Six Thus Buddhas’ 印光大师略释《六即佛颂》

印光大师略释《六即佛颂》
Great Master Yìnguāng’s Brief Explanation [Of The] ‘Praises [Of The] Six Thus Buddhas’

隋天台智者大师,著《观无量寿佛经疏》,立六即佛义,以对治自甘堕落,及妄自尊大之病。

[The] Suí [Dynasty’s] Tiāntái [Tradition’s] Great Master Zhìzhě, [when] writing [the] ‘Commentary [On The] Sūtra [In Which The] Buddha Speaks [Of] Immeasurable Life Buddha’, established [the] Six Thus Buddhas’ meanings, [with this for] remedying [the] sicknesses [of those who have] personally resigned [to] fall, and [those who are falsely [with] themselves [as] honourable [and] great.

[Note 1: ‘The Wonderful And Essential Collected Writings Of The Commentary On The Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Immeasurable Life Buddha’《观无量寿佛经疏妙宗钞》can be seen in Chinese at http://www.donglin.org/wenku/3/%E8%A7%82%E6%97%A0%E9%87%8F%E5%AF%BF%E4%BD%9B%E7%BB%8F%E7%96%8F%E5%A6%99%E5%AE%97%E9%92%9E%EF%BC%88%E7%BD%91%EF%BC%892022.3.12.pdf.]

[Note 2: The teaching of the Six Thus Buddhas (六即佛) is another way to more broadly classify the stages towards Buddhahood, in terms of the degrees of alignment to Buddha-nature. It also corresponds with the more detailed stages of the fifty-two positions (五十二位) of Bodhisattvahood, which are briefly explained in Note 6 below. As all sentient beings have Buddha-nature by default, as the potential for Buddhahood, none should be ‘personally resigned to fall’. And as there are different degrees of realisation of Buddha-nature, non-Buddhas should not be ‘falsely with themselves as honourable and great’.]

六即佛者,一理即佛,二名字即佛,三观行即佛,四相似即佛,五分证即佛,六究竟即佛也。六明阶级浅深,即明当体就是。

Those Six Thus Buddhas, [are] first, [1] Principle Thus Buddhas, second, [2] Name Thus Buddhas, third, [3] Contemplation Practice Thus Buddhas, fourth, [4] Form Resemblance Thus Buddhas, fifth, [5] Partial Realisation Thus Buddhas, [and] sixth, [6] Ultimate Thus Buddhas. [The] ‘six’ explains [the] ranks’ shallowness [and] depth, [and the] ‘thus’ explains [what their] present essence exactly is.

譬如初生孩子,与其父母形体无异,而力用则大相悬殊。不得谓初生孩子非人,亦不得以成人之事令孩子担当也。

For example, like [a] newborn child, with the parents’ bodies, [they are] without differences, yet [their] powers [and] functions [are] then [with] great forms [of] wide differences. [It] must not [be] said [that the] newborn child [is] not [a] human. [There] also must not [be] with matters of adults, ordering [the] child [to] undertake [them].

若能知六而常即,则不生退屈。知即而常六,则不生上慢。从兹努力修持,则由凡夫而圆证佛果,由理即佛而成究竟即佛矣。

If able [to] know [the] ‘six’ [are] then [each] constantly ‘thus’, thus not giving rise [to] regression. Knowing ‘thus’ [is] then [each] constantly [of the] ‘six’, thus not giving rise [to] increased conceit. From now [on], striving hard [to] practise, thus from ordinary beings, then completely realising [the] Buddha fruit, from Principle Thus Buddhas, then accomplishing [as] Ultimate Thus Buddhas.

「理即佛」者,一切众生,皆有佛性,虽背觉合尘,轮回三途六道,而佛性功德,仍自具足,故名「理即佛」,以心之理体就是佛也。

Those [1] ‘Principle Thus Buddhas’, [are] all sentient beings, [with] all having Buddha-nature. Although [with their] backs [to] awakening, joining [the] dust, reborn [in the] three realms [and] six paths, yet [their] Buddha-nature’s meritorious virtues, [are] still naturally complete, thus named [as] ‘Principle Thus Buddhas’, with [the] principle’s essence [that] exactly is [the same as the] Buddhas’.

[Note 3: The three realms (三途) are the three (lower) evil paths (三恶道) of the six paths (六道), of (i) hell-beings (地狱众生), (ii) hungry ghosts (饿鬼), (iii) animals (畜生), (iv) human beings (人), (v) asuras (阿修罗) and (vi) heavenly beings (天人).]

无机子颂曰,「动静理全是,行藏事尽非,冥冥随物去,杳杳不知归」。

Wújīzi’s [i.e. Great Master Pǔrùn (普润大师)] ‘Praises [Of The] Six Thus Buddhas]’《六即佛颂》say, [1] ‘[With] movement [and] stillness, [the] principles are complete, [of] practice [of the] treasury’s practices, completely without [it, in] dimness following [the] material [to] go, [in the] distance, not knowing [to] return.’

以一切众生,未闻佛法,不知修持,而一念心体,完全同佛,故曰,「动静理全是」。由其迷背自心,作诸事业,故曰,「行藏事尽非」,事完全不与佛性相应也。终日终年,昏昏冥冥,随烦恼妄想之物欲而行,从生至死,不知返照回光,故曰,「冥冥随物去,杳杳不知归」也。

With all sentient beings, yet [to] hear [the] Buddhas’ Dharma, not knowing [how to] practise, yet [this] one thought’s mind-nature, [is] completely [the] same [as the] Buddhas’, thus saying, ‘[With] movement [and] stillness, [the] principles are complete’. Due [to] their confusions, [with] backs [to their] own minds, creating all [kinds of] undertakings, thus saying, ‘[of] practice [of the] treasury’s practices, completely without [it’, with] practices completely not with Buddha-nature corresponding. All day [for] entire years, muddle-headed [and] dim, following [their] afflictions [and] false thoughts of material desires then acting, from birth until death, not knowing [to] inwardly illuminate [with] returned light, thus saying, ‘[in] dimness following [the] material [to] go, [in the] distance, not knowing [to] return.’

「名字即佛」者,或从善知识,或从经典,闻即心本具寂照圆融不生不灭之佛性,于名字中,通达了解,知一切法皆为佛法,一切众生皆可成佛,所谓闻佛性名字,即得了解佛法者是也。

Those [2] ‘Name Thus Buddhas’, perhaps from good-knowing [friends], or from sūtras, hear [that this] immediate mind [is] originally complete [with] Buddha-nature, [that is with] stillness [and] illumination interpenetrating, non-arising [and] non-ceasing. Within names, [with] thorough understanding, knowing all dharmas [are] all as [the] Buddhas’ Dharma, [and that] all sentient beings can all accomplish Buddhahood, [is] that called hearing [of] Buddha-nature’s name, [to] then attain understanding [of what the] Buddhas’ Dharma is.

颂曰,「方听无生曲,始闻不死歌,今知当体是,翻恨自蹉跎。」

[The] praises say, [2] ‘Then listening [to] non-birth’s tune, beginning [to] hear deathlessness’ song, now knowing [what one’s] present essence is, turning over [to] resent oneself [for having] wasted time.’

以从前只知生死轮回,无有了期,今知佛性真常,不生不灭。既知当体就是成佛真因,则汲汲修持,反恨从前虚度光阴,以致未能实证也。

From [the] past only knowing birth [and] death [in] rebirth, without having [an] ending date, now knowing Buddha-nature [is] true [and] constant, [that is] non-arising [and] non-ceasing. Since knowing [one’s] present essence is exactly accomplishing [of] Buddhahood’s true cause, then hastening [with] practice, instead resenting [that in the] past, [having] emptily passed time, so that [one has] yet [to be] able [to] truly realise [it].

「观行即佛」者,依教修观,即圆教五品外凡位。五品者,一随喜品,闻实相之法,而信解随喜者。二读诵品,读诵法华,及诸大乘经典,而助观解者。三讲说品,自说内解,而导利他人者。四兼行六度品,兼修六度,而助观心者。五正行六度品,正行六度,而自行化他,事理具足,观行转胜者。

Those [3] ‘Contemplation Practice Thus Buddhas’, rely [on] teachings [to] cultivate contemplation, [are] then [with the] Complete Teachings’ Five Grades’ external ordinary [beings’] positions [i.e. below the Ten Abodes’ (十住) noble positions (圣位)]. Those five grades, [are] [i] first, [the] Grade [Of] Rejoice, [with] those hearing [the] Dharma [of] true form, then [with] faith [and] understanding rejoicing. [ii] Second, [is the] Grade [Of] Study [And] Recitation, [with] those studying [and] reciting [the Wonderful] Dharma [Lotus] Flower [Sūtra], and many Great Vehicle Sūtras, then supporting contemplating [and] understanding. [iii] Third, [is the] Grade [Of] Explanation, [with] those personally speaking [with] inner understanding, then guiding [and] benefitting other people. [iv] Fourth, [is the] Grade [Of] Simultaneous Practice [Of The] Six Perfections, [with] those simultaneously cultivating [the] Six Perfections, then supporting contemplation [of the] mind. [v] Fifth, [is the] Grade [Of] Right Practice [Of The] Six Perfections, [with] those [having] right practice [of the] Six Perfections, then personally practising [and] transforming others, [with] practice [and] principles complete, [with] contemplation practice turning superior.

[Note 4: The Six Perfections (六度) are (a) generosity (布施), (b) precepts (持戒), (c) patience (忍辱), (d) diligence (精进), (e) concentration (禅定) and (f) wisdom (智慧).]

颂曰,「念念照常理,心心息幻尘,遍观诸法性,无假亦无真。」

[The] praises say, [3] ‘[From] thought [to] thought illuminating constantly [on the] principles, [from] thought [to] thought ceasing illusory dusts, everywhere contemplating all dharmas’ nature, [to be] without [the] false [and] also without [the] true.’

既圆悟佛性,依教修观,对治烦恼习气,故曰,「念念照常理,心心息幻尘」。了知一色一香,无非中道,一切诸法,无非佛法,一切众生,皆当作佛,故曰,「遍观诸法性,无假亦无真」。

Since completely awakening [to] Buddha-nature, relying [on the] teachings [to] cultivate contemplation, [to] remedy afflictions [and] habitual tendencies, thus saying, ‘[From] thought [to] thought illuminating constantly [on the] principles, [from] thought [to] thought ceasing illusory dusts.’ Understanding clearly [that every] one form [and] one smell, [is] without [that] not [of the] Middle Path, [that] all dharmas, [are] without [that] not [of the] Buddhas’ Dharma, [that] all sentient beings, will all become Buddhas, thus saying, ‘everywhere contemplating all dharmas’ nature, [to be] without [the] false [and] also without [the] true.’

「相似即佛」者,谓相似解发,即圆教十信内凡位也。初信断见惑,七信断思惑,八九十信断尘沙惑。

Those [4] ‘Form Resemblance Thus Buddhas’, [are] called [those with] forms [that] resemble [those] liberated, [who are] then [with the] Complete Teachings’ Ten Faiths’ inner ordinary [beings’] positions. [With the] First Faith severing [wrong] views [and] confusions, [the] Seventh Faith severing [wrong] thoughts [and] confusions, [and the] Eighth, Ninth [and] Tenth Faiths severing dusts’ [and] sands’ confusions.

颂曰,「四住虽先脱,六尘未尽空,眼中犹有翳,空里见华红。」

[The] praises say, [4] ‘[The] Four Abodes, although first liberating, [with the] six dusts yet [to be] completely emptied, in [the] eyes like having screens, in [the] sky seeing flowers red.’

四住者,一见一切住地,乃三界之见惑也。二欲爱住地,乃欲界之思惑也。三色爱住地,乃色界之思惑也。四有爱住地,乃无色界之思惑也。初信断见,七信断思,故曰,「四住虽先脱」。

Those Four Abodes, [are] [i] first, Sight [Of] All Abode, thus [with the wrong] views [and] confusions [of the] three realms. [ii] Second, [is] Desires’ Love Abode, thus [with the wrong] thoughts [and] confusions of [the] desire realm. [iii] Third, [is] Forms’ Love Abode, thus [with the wrong] thoughts [and] confusions of [the] form realm. [iv] Fourth, [is] Having Love Abode, then [with the wrong] thoughts [and] confusions of [the] formless realm. [Those of the] First Faith [have] severed [wrong] views, [and those of the] Seventh Faith [have] severed [wrong] thoughts, thus saying, ‘[The] Four Abodes, although first liberating’.

然由色声香味触法之习气未尽,故曰,「六尘未尽空」,此但指七信位说。

However, due [to the] habitual tendencies of forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches [and] thoughts yet [to be] exhausted, thus saying, ‘[with the] six dusts yet [to be] completely emptied’, this only points [to those of the] Seventh Faith’s position, [of them] said.

八九十信,尘沙惑破,习气全空矣。习气者,正惑之余气耳。如盛肉之盘,虽经洗净,犹有腥气。贮酒之瓶,虽经荡过,犹有酒气。

[Those of the] Eighth, Ninth [and] Tenth Faiths, [are with] dusts’ [and] sands’ confusions broken, [with] habitual tendencies completely emptied. Those habitual tendencies, [are] just remaining smells of confusions only. Like plates filled [with] meat, although [having] gone through washing [to be] cleaned, still having raw meat’s smell. Of bottles storing wine, although [having] gone through washing, still have wine’s smell.

「眼中犹有翳,空里见华红」者,以无明未破,不能见真空法界之本体也。

Those ‘in [the] eyes like having screens, in [the] sky seeing flowers red’, [are] with ignorance yet [to be] broken, not able [to] see [the] original essence of true emptiness’ Dharma realm.

「分证即佛」者,于十信后心,破一分无明,证一分三德,即入初住,而证法身,是为法身大士。

Those [5] ‘Partial Realisation Thus Buddhas’, [are] of [the] Ten Faiths’ minds after, [with the] breaking one part [of] ignorance, realising one part [of the] Three Virtues, then entering [the] First Abode, and realising [the] Dharma Body, [they] are as [the] Dharma Body’s Great Beings [i.e. Bodhisattva Mahāsattvas].

从初住至等觉,共四十一位,各各破一分无明,证一分三德,故名「分证即佛」也。以无明分四十二品,初住破一分,以至十住则破十分,历十行,十回向,十地,以至等觉,则破四十一分矣。

From [the] First Abode until Equal Awakening, together [are] forty-one positions, [with] each [and] every [one] breaking one part [of] ignorance, realising one part [of the] Three Virtues, thus named ‘Partial Realisation Thus Buddhas’. With ignorance’s parts [having] forty-two grades, [with the] First Abode breaking one part, up to [the] Ten Abodes then breaking ten parts, going through [the] Ten Practices, Ten Dedications, Ten Grounds, up to Equal Awakening, then breaking forty-one parts.

[Note 5: The Three Virtues (三德) are the (i) Dharma Body’s virtue (法身德), (ii) Prajñā’s virtue (般若德) and (iii) liberation’s virtue (解脱德).]

[Note 6: After the (a) Ten Faiths (十信) are the forty-one positions (四十一位), which are the (b) Ten Abodes (十住), (c) Ten Practices (十行), (d) Ten Dedications (十回向), (e) Ten Grounds (十地) and (f) Equal Awakening (等觉) Bodhisattvas’ positions. All forty-one positions are those of the Dharma Body’s Great Beings (法身大士). The final position of (g) Wonderful Awakening (妙觉) is Buddhahood’s fruit (佛果), that breaks the forty-second grade (四十二品) of ignorance (无明). Together, these are the 52 positions (五十二位) of Bodhisattvahood that lead to Buddhahood.]

初住,即能于无佛世界,现身作佛,又复随类现身,度脱众生,其神通道力,不可思议。何况位位倍胜,以至四十一位之等觉菩萨乎。

[The] First Abode, [is] then able [to be] in worlds without Buddhas, appearing [with their] bodies [to] be Buddhas, also again, according [to their] types, appearing [with] bodies, [to] deliver [and] liberate sentient beings, their supernormal path’s powers, [are] inconceivable. Moreover, [from] position [to] position [by the] fold superior, up to [the] forty-first position of Equal Awakening Bodhisattvas.

颂曰,「豁尔心开悟,湛然一切通,穷源犹未尽,常见月朦胧。」

[The] praises say, [5] ‘[With] opening thus [of the] mind awakening, clear [with] all penetrating, [with] ending [of the] source still yet [to be] completed, constantly seeing [the] moon [with] haziness.’

「豁尔心开悟,湛然一切通」者,颂其分破分证之景象也。「穷源犹未尽,常见月朦胧」者,颂其犹有无明云,未能彻见性天真月之光辉也。

That ‘[With] opening thus [of the] mind awakening, clear [with] all penetrating’, praises their sign of partial breaking [of ignorance (无明) and] partial realisation [of the Dharma Body (法身)]. That ‘[with] ending [of the] source still yet [to be] completed, constantly seeing [the] moon [with] haziness’, praises them, [but] still having ignorance’s ‘clouds’, yet [to be] able [to] pervasively see [the] light’s splendour, of [their] nature’s natural [and] true ‘moon’.

「究竟即佛」者,从等觉,再破一分无明,则真穷惑尽,福慧圆满,彻证即心本具之真如佛性,入妙觉位,成无上菩提道矣。

Those [6] ‘Ultimate Thus Buddhas’, [are] from Equally Awakened [Bodhisattvas’ position (等觉菩萨位), who] further break [the last] one part [of] ignorance, thus truly ending confusions completely, [with] blessings [and] wisdom complete, [with] pervasive realisation [that this] immediate mind [is] originally complete [with] that True Suchness’ Buddha-nature, entering Wonderful Awakening’s position, [to] accomplish [the] unsurpassable Bodhi path.

颂曰,「从来真是妄,今日妄皆真,但复本时性,更无一法新。」

[The] praises say, [6] ‘Previously [with the] true [as that which] is false, today [with the] false all true, only returning [to the] original [and] constant nature, also without one dharma new.’

「从来真是妄」者,未悟以前,只此皆空之五蕴,而妄生执著,色法心法,互相形立,则苦厄随生。

Those ‘Previously [with the] true [as that which] is false’, [are those] yet [to be] awakened before, only [with] these Five Aggregates, all of emptiness, then falsely giving rise [to] attachment, [to] form’s dharmas [and the] mind’s dharmas, [with] one another’s appearances established, thus [with] suffering [and] calamities following birth.

[Note 7: The Five Aggregates (五蕴) are (i) form (色), (ii) feeling (受), (iii) perception (想), (iv) mental formations (行) and (v) consciousness (识).]

既悟之后,亦只此五蕴,而全体是一个真如,了无色心五蕴之相可得。故曰,「从来真是妄,今日妄皆真」也。

[Having] already awakened after, also only [with] these Five Aggregates, yet [their] complete essence is [of] one True Suchness, completely without forms of form [and] mind [of the] Five Aggregates, [that] can [be] attained. Thus saying, ‘Previously [with the] true [as that which] is false, today [with the] false all true’.

然此所证之真,并非新得,不过复其本具之真如佛性而已。故曰,「但复本时性,更无一法新」也。

However, of this true, that [was] realised, [it is] really not [with the] new attained, merely returning [to] that originally possessed True Suchness’ Buddha-nature only. Thus saying, ‘only returning [to the] original [and] constant nature, also without one dharma new.’

又众生在迷,见佛菩萨,及一切众生,皆是众生,故毁谤佛法,杀害众生,不知罪过,反以为乐。

Also, sentient beings in confusion, see Buddhas [and] Bodhisattvas, and all sentient beings, [to] all be sentient beings, thus slandering [the] Buddhas [and the] Dharma, killing [and] harming sentient beings, not knowing [their] transgressions, instead with [these] as joy.

佛既彻悟心佛众生三无差别之心,见一切众生,完全是佛,故于怨于亲,皆为说法,令得度脱。纵令极其恶逆不信之人,亦无一念弃捨之心,以见彼是未成之佛故也。

[The] Buddhas, already [having] pervasive awakening of [their] minds, [see the] mind, Buddhas [and] sentient beings, [these] three, [to be] without differences, see all sentient beings, completely [to] be ‘Buddhas’, thus for enemies [and] for relatives, for all [of them] speaking [the] Dharma, [to] enable [them to] attain deliverance [and] liberation. Even if [there are] those people of extreme evil, opposing [and] without Faith, also without one thought [with the] mind of abandoning [them], with seeing [of] them [to] be those yet [to be] accomplished Buddhas thus.

[Note 8: To diligently learn and sincerely practise mindfulness of Buddha for birth in Pure Land is to most swiftly expedite spiritual progress, from the stage of the First Thus Buddha to the stage of the Sixth Thus Buddha, to realise we are ‘thus Buddhas’. This is because both being mindful of Buddha, and being born in Pure Land, directly align to our Buddha-nature, which also directly connects to the Buddha’s blessings, which greatly help us to further realise our Buddha-nature – all the way.]

[Note 9: As taught by the Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng (净土宗十三祖印光大师) in his ‘Letter For Master Wùkāi’《与悟开师书》at https://purelanders.com/2022/03/31/2-with-one-character-one-line-one-verse-and-one-book-speaking-of-the-pure-land-dharma-door, ‘”In ‘Praises Of The Six Thus Buddhas”, studying it, this can be known. That one line [that sums up their essence], is “Faith, Aspiration and Practice” [for mindfulness of Buddha, to be born in Pure Land, for progress towards Buddhahood].’ (于《六即佛颂》研之可知也。一句者,「信愿行」也。)]

净土宗十三祖印光大师
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
《上海护国息灾法会法语》:
(Shànghǎi Dharma Assembly [For] Protection [Of The] Country [And] Cessation [Of] Disasters’ Dharma Words):

第五日略释天台六即义兼说吃素放生
Fifth Day [With] Brief Explanation [Of The] Tiāntái [Tradition’s] Six Thus[nesses’] Meanings, Together Speaking [Of] Eating [As] Veg[etari]ans [And] Releasing Lives

邓慧载记录
[By] Dèng Huìzài Recorded

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

相关教理
Related Teaching:

《六即佛颂》
Praises Of The Six Thus Buddhas
https://purelanders.com/2022/03/30/praises-of-the-six-thus-buddha

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