[223] Worldly And World-Transcending Dharma Teachings, Are Not Outside Of Cause And Effect 世出世法,不出因果

[223] Worldly [And] World-Transcending Dharma [Teachings, Are] Not Outside Of Cause [And] Effect


That [of] cause [and] effect, [is for] sagacious persons [to] rule [the] heavens’ below, [and for the] Buddhas [to] deliver sentient beings, their great [skilful] means.

[Note 1: With teaching of the law of karma (业) (i.e. cause and effect: 因果), this is able to ensure there is morality and order among the masses. With them understanding it clearly, they will be able to cease creating the causes for rebirth, and focus on creating the causes for liberation.]


Just [on the] Buddha’s teachings discussing, from ordinary beings’ ground, and even [to the] Buddha fruit, all Dharma [teachings, are] all not outside of cause [and] effect. Just [on] worldly Dharma discussing, how [is it] only not thus?

[Note 2: All worldly Dharma teachings (世间法) and world-transcending Dharma teachings (出世间法) are with the law of karma as their basis.]


Thus [did] Confucius’ praise of Zhōu Yì [i.e. Book Of Changes], [at its] outset then said, ‘Of families accumulating good, [they will] definitely have extra fortune. Of families accumulating non-good, [they will] definitely have extra misfortune.’ That accumulating [of] good, [and] accumulating [of] non-good, [are] causes. Extra fortune [and] extra misfortune, [are] then effects.

[Note 3: Families that are virtuous will create ‘excess’ good karma that is as if passed down to their next generations. However, this is due to their next generations having their own good karma to deserve being reborn in good families. Those who created good karma might also be reborn in the same families later. Likewise, families that are non-virtuous will create ‘excess’ evil karma that is as if passed down to their next generations. However, this is due to their next generations having their own evil karma to deserve being reborn in evil families. Those who created evil karma might also be reborn in the same families later.]


Also, since having extra fortune [and] extra misfortune, how [can they be] without root fortune [and] root misfortune? [Those with] root fortune [and] root misfortune, [are] thus those people accumulating good [and] accumulating non-good, [with their] fruits of future lives [in] later generations, [which] should [be] greater than [the] extra fortune [and] extra misfortune of all those attained children [and] grandchildren, [by a] thousand million times. [Of] ordinary beings, [who] cannot then see [them], how can [they] know them as non-existent?

[Note 4: See Note 3 for detailed explanation.]


[A] sūtra says, ‘Desiring [to] know past life’s cause, that [in] this life received is [thus]. Desiring [to] know future life’s effect, that [in] this life done is [thus].’

[Note 5: Our present lives’ effects received are from our past lives’ causes created, just as our future lives’ effects to be received will be from our present lives’ causes created.]


Great Plan [was] then by Great Yǔ written, [by] Jīzǐ with [it] presented [to] King Wǔ. [Its] ending spoke of [the] five blessings [and] six extremes, explaining clearly [the] meanings of [the] three periods’ causes [and] effects, [with] them [being] extremely precise.

[Note 6: The five blessings (五福) are having (i) longevity (寿), (ii) wealth (富), (iii) health and peace (康宁), (iv) fondness of virtue (攸好德), and (v) old age at the end of life (考终命) (with good departure [善终]). The six extremes (六极) are having (i) inauspicious premature death (凶、短、折), (ii) sickness (疾), (iii) worries (忧), (iv) poverty (贫), (v) evil (恶) and (vi) weakness (弱). The three periods (三世) are the (i) past period (过去世), (ii) present period (现在世) and (iii) future period (未来世).]


[A] Sòng [Dynasty’s] Confucian said, ‘[As] Buddhism’s speaking [of the] three periods’ causes [and] effects, [and the] six paths’ rebirths, [is] then proof of [them] for cheating foolish men [and] foolish women, [to] serve those teachings, [it is] truly without these matters.’ Concluding with, ‘After [a] person dies, [with the] form since rotted [and] destroyed, [and the] consciousness also drifting [and] scattering, even if [there] is filing, cutting, pounding [and] grinding [in hell], these will [be to] who executed? [With the] consciousness already scattered, who [is] enabled [to] receive birth?’

[Note 7: The above reasoning based on nihilism (断见) is short-sighted and wrong, as explained below. The six paths (六道) are (i) hell-beings’ path (地狱道), (ii) hungry ghosts’ path (饿鬼道), (iii) animals’ path (畜生道), (iv) human beings’ path (人道), (v) asuras’ path (阿修罗道) and (vi) heavenly beings’ path (天道).]


With that, concluding [that] it [is] definitely without cause [and] effect. Yet, [in the] Spring [And] Autumn Biography, [Records Of The] Historian《史记》[and the Book Of] Hàn《汉书》within, very often having those grievously killed causing trouble, [and] those receiving kindness repaying [with] virtue, all kinds [of such] true matters. Are all these proof of previous virtuous [ones], for [the] Buddha’s teachings, in advance [written] for cheating people?

[Note 8: Records of ‘those grievously killed causing trouble’ (有冤杀者作祟) are proof that life still exists after death, such as in a ghostly state, and that doing evil has evil retribution (善有善报). Records of ‘those receiving kindness repaying with virtue’ (蒙恩者报德) are proof that doing good has good rewards (恶有恶报). These prove that the law of karma exists naturally, with or without the Buddha’s teachings.]


Since without cause [and] effect, without having future lives, then [with the sage] Yáo [and the tyrant] Jié, together returning to [their] ends [similarly], who [will be] willing [to] diligently practise, with [this for] seeking of false names after death? Truly with me already non-existent, [my] false name [has] what use [then]? Due [to] this [is] good without encouragement, [and] evil without punishment.

[Note 9: Doing of good and evil will become inconsequential if there is no law of karma, which powers the rounds of rebirth. There will be no point to persuade the doing of good, just as there will be no point to dissuade the doing of evil.]

Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (Second Compilation): Symptoms’ [And] Roots’ Simultaneous Treatment’s Record’s Preface;
Record [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence (223rd Short Section): 5th [Chapter]: Encouragement [Of The] Mind [To] Dwell [In] Sincerity [And] Reverence (1st Short Section)

[Ref: #223 / 5.1]

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Related Text:

Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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