The Sūtra Of The Buddha’s Bequeathed Teachings《佛遗教经》

[The] Sūtra [Of The] Buddha’s Bequeathed Teachings

[By] Yáo-Qín [Dynasty’s] Tripiṭaka Dharma Master Kumārajīva Translated

公元 2022 年优婆塞沈时安英译
[In] 2022 C.E [By] Upāsakā Shen Shi’an Translated [To] English

[The shortcut to this page with full chapters is For chapter listing, see For ease of detailed studying and editing, square brackets show necessary connective words used in translation, to be removed for final published version later, with addition of glossary and notes. Suggestions are welcome for more precise choice of words. For the latest improved version, do revisit this page. Námó Āmítuófó.]

[i] Preface Section

[1] Sūtra’s Preface


[When] Śākyamuni Buddha, first turned [the] Dharma wheel, [he] delivered Ājñāta-Kāuṇḍinya. [When he] finally spoke [the] Dharma, [he] delivered Subhadrā. Those [who] should [be] delivered, [have] all already [been] delivered completely.


At Śāla twin trees [in] between, [where he] will enter Nirvāṇa, [at] this time, [in the] middle [period of the] night, [it was] silent without [any] sounds, [as he] for all disciples, briefly spoke [of the] Dharma’s essentials.

[ii] Main Principles’ Section

[2] Upholding [Of] Precepts


‘You [and] other Bhikṣus [i.e. monastics], after my Parinirvāṇa [i.e. relinquishment of the Buddha’s body], should honour, treasure [and] revere [the] Prātimokṣa [i.e. precepts that lead towards liberation], like [in] darkness encountering brightness, poor persons obtaining treasures. [You] should know [that] this is then [the] great teacher [of] yours [and] others, [and] if [with] me abiding [in this] world, [it is] without difference [from] this.


Those upholding pure precepts, must not sell [and] trade, help [to] settle fields [and] houses, raise livestock, people, servants [and] animals. All planting [and] growing, and all wealth [and] treasures, all should [be] far departed [from], like avoiding fire pits. [There] must not [be] cutting [and] chopping [of] grass [and] trees, cultivating [of] earth [and] digging [of] land.


Combining [and] blending decoctions [of] medicines, observing forms [for] auspiciousness [and] inauspiciousness, looking upwards [to] observe constellations, predicting astronomical phenomena, [lunar] waxing [and] waning, [with] counting [and] calculating, all those should not [be done]. Regulate [your] bodies [with] timely eating, [with] purity [for] personal survival.


[You] must not participate [in] worldly matters, [to be] connected [and] sent [on] missions, [with] incantation skills [and] “immortal medicines”, befriending [and] fawning [on] high-ranking people, [to be] close [and] hospitable [by being] disrespectful [and] undignified. All [these] should not [be] done.


[You] should personally upright [your] minds, [with] Right Mindfulness seek deliverance, [and] must not contain [and] hide [your] flaws, [to] appear differently [for] confusing people.


Of [the] four offerings [of (1) food and drink (饮食), (2) robes (衣服), (3) bedding (卧具) and (4) medicine (汤药)], knowing [the proper] measure [and] knowing contentment, [for the] objective [of] obtaining offered items, [they] should not [be] stored [and] accumulated.


This then [is] briefly speaking [on the] forms of upholding precepts. [As the] precepts are [that] rightly following [the] roots of liberation, [they are] thus named [the] Prātimokṣa. Because [of] relying [on] these precepts, attaining [the] arising [of] all meditative concentrations, and eliminating suffering’s wisdom. Therefore, Bhikṣus, [you] should uphold [the] pure precepts, [and] not lead [them to be] destroyed [and] lacking.


If able [to] uphold [the] pure precepts, [you] are then able [to] have good Dharma [teachings]. If without [the] pure precepts, all good [and] meritorious virtues all cannot arise. With this, [you] should know, [that the] precepts [are] as [the] foremost tranquil meritorious virtues’ dwelling place.

[3] Restraint [Of] Mind


You [and] other Bhikṣus, [those] already able [to] abide [by the] precepts, should restrain [your] five roots [of the (1) eye, (2) ear, (3) nose, (4) tongue and (5) body (眼耳鼻舌身)], not leading [to] laxity, [with] entering of [the] five desires [for (1) wealth, (2) sex, (3) fame, (4) food and (5) sleep (财色名食睡)].


For example, like those persons herding cows, holding staves looking [after] them, [do] not lead [them to be] released [and] escape, [to] invade [other] persons’ seedlings [and] crops. If releasing [the] five roots, not only will [the] five desires, [have] boundless banks, [they] cannot [be] restrained too.


Also like fierce horses, not with reins restrained, [they] will be [those] leading people [to] fall into pits [and] traps.


If by thieves robbed, [the] suffering [is] only [for] one life, [while the] five roots’ thieves’ misfortunes, bring disasters to accumulated lives, doing harms [that are] extremely heavy. [There] cannot [be] no caution. Therefore, those wise [will] restrain and not comply [with them], resisting them like thieves, not leading [them to be] released [and] escape. If [there are those] releasing them, all [will] also not long see their obliteration.


These five roots, [are with the] mind as their master. Therefore, you [and] others, should well restrain [your] minds. That fearfulness [of the] mind, [is even] more [so] than poisonous snakes, fierce beasts, hateful thieves, [and] great fires, surpassing [these, with them] yet [to be] sufficient [as] analogies.


For example, [there] are people, [with] hands holding honey vessels, moving [and] turning hastily [and] impulsively, only looking at that honey, not seeing deep pits. For example, like mad elephants without hooks, apes [and] monkeys getting to trees, leaping [and] dithering, [they are] difficult [to] be restrained.


[There] should urgently [be] inhibiting [of] it, without leading [to] laxity. Those releasing [i.e. or indulging] this mind, [will] lose humans’ good matters, [while those] restraining it [in] one place, [are with] no matters not done. Therefore, Bhikṣus, [you] should [be] constantly diligent, [in] subduing your minds.

[4] Moderation [Of] Eating


You [and] other Bhikṣus, [when] receiving all drinks [and] food, should [be] like taking medicine. Of [that] good [and] of [that] bad, [do] not give rise [to wanting] more [or] less. [For the] objective [of] obtaining support [for the] body, with [them for] eliminating hunger [and] thirst. Like bees gathering [from] flowers, only obtaining their taste, not harming [their] forms [and] fragrances.


Bhikṣus [should] also thus, [when] receiving people making offerings, [for the] objective [of] personally eliminating afflictions, [they] must not [have] much seeking, [that] destroys their good minds.


For example, like those wise, [they will] consider [an] ox’s strength, [on] how much that [he] can endure, [to] not lead [him] with [the] excessive, [that] exhausts his strength.

[5] Abstinence [From] Drowsiness


You [and] other Bhikṣus, [in] day then, [should be with the] diligent mind practising good Dharma [teachings], without leading [to] missed opportunities. [In the] first [period of the] night [i.e. 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.] [and the] later [period of the] night [i.e. 2 a.m. – 6 a.m.], also not having [them] abandoned.


[In the] middle [period of the] night [i.e. 10 p.m. – 2 a.m.] reciting sūtras, with [this] naturally [having] restrained rest, not with drowsiness [i.e. also sleepiness] [as] cause [and] condition, [that] leads [to this] one life [being] passed in vain, without that attained.


[You] should [be] mindful [of the] fire of impermanence, [that] burns all [in the] world, soon seek self-deliverance, [and] not [be] drowsy. [As] all afflictions’ thieves, [are] constantly waiting [to] kill people, [even] more [so] than enemies, how can [there be] drowsiness, [to] not personally [be] vigilant [to] awaken?


[As] afflictions’ poisonous snakes, sleeping in your minds, for example, [are] like black vipers, in your bedrooms sleeping, [you] should with [the] hook of upheld precepts, soon expel them. [With the] sleeping snakes already gone, then can [there be] peaceful sleep. [With them] not gone yet sleeping, is [to be] shameless persons.


[The] robes of [moral] shame [i.e. also humility], of all adornments, [are] as [the] most foremost. [As] shame [is] like [an] iron hook, able [to] restrain people [from] non-Dharma, therefore constantly should [there be] shame [i.e. also repentance], without having [it] temporarily replaced. If departing [from] shame, [they will] then lose all meritorious virtues.


Of people having shame, [they will] then have good Dharma [teachings]. If [there are] those without shame, [they are] with all birds [and] beasts, without differences [from] one another.

[6] Abstinence [From] Anger [And] Hatred


You [and] other Bhikṣus, if [there] are people coming, piece by piece, [having your] limbs dismembered, [you] should personally gather [your] minds, not leading [to] anger [and] hatred. [You] also should guard [your] mouths, [to] not speak harsh words. If indulging [in] anger’s mind, thus self-obstructing [the] path, [and] losing meritorious virtues’ benefits.


Of patience as [a] virtue, [it is] that [which] upholding precepts [and] ascetic practices [are] not able [to be] equal [to]. Those able [to] practise patience, thus can [be] named as great persons having strength.


If [there are] those not able [to] joyfully [and] patiently receive [the] poison of harsh insults, like drinking sweet dew, [they are] not named [as] people [who have] entered wisdom. Why [is] that [so]? [The] harms of anger, [are] then [with] destruction [of] all good Dharma [teachings, and] damage [of] good reputation. [In this] present life [and] later lives, [with] people not [having] joy [when] seeing [them].


[It] should [be] known [that] anger’s mind, [is] more [extreme] than [a] ferocious fire. [There] constantly should [be] guarding [and] protecting [against it], not enabling [it to] gain entry. [Of those] robbing, [as] meritorious virtues’ thieves, [they are] without [that] surpassing anger.


[As] white-robed [laypersons] receiving [the] desired, [and] people not practising [the] path, [are] incapable [of] self-restraint, [their] anger still can [be] excused. [As those who have] left [the] household [life to] practise [the] path, [are] those people ‘without’ desires, yet embracing anger, [this] certainly must not [be done].


For example, like [a] clear [and] cool cloud within, [when a] clap of thunder gives rise [to] fire, [do] not [have] that responded [to].

[7] Abstinence [From] Arrogance


You [and] other Bhikṣus, should personally scrape [i.e. shave] [your] heads, [and] already [having] abandoned adornments [for] beautification, wear spoilt coloured robes [i.e. kaṣāyas], firmly hold begging vessels, with [them] beg [for] personal survival, personally seeing [yourselves doing] thus.


If giving rise [to] arrogance, [you] should swiftly eliminate it. [To] increase [in] arrogance, [is] also not that [for] worldly white-robed [laypersons] appropriate, moreover [for] people who [have] left [the] household [life to] enter [the] path, for liberation thus, [who should] personally lower [their] bodies and practise begging [for] alms.

[8] Abstinence [From] Flattery


You [and] other Bhikṣus, [should know that the] mind of flattery, with [the] path, contradict each other. Therefore, [there] should [be] straightforwardness [of] your minds.


[You] should know [that as] flattery, [is] only for cheating [and] deception, of people entering [the] path, then [is it] without this [having a] part. Therefore, you [and] others, should [have the] upright mind, with [the] straightforward mind as [the] root.

[9] Few Desires


You [and] other Bhikṣus, should know [that] of people [with] many desires, [with] much seeking [of] benefits thus, [their] sufferings [and] afflictions [are] also many.


Of people [with] few desires, without seeking [and] without desires, [they are] then without these sufferings.


Directly thus [for] few desires, [there] still should [be] practice, moreover [with] few desires, [this is] able [to] give rise [to] all meritorious virtues.


Of people [with] few desires, then without flattery, with [it] seeking [to fulfil] people’s wishes, [they are] also not by all roots [as] those led.


[Of] those practising [with] few desires, [their] minds [are] then undisturbed, without that [to] worry [and] fear.


[When in] contact [with] matters, having surpluses, constantly without [having] not enough. [Those with] few desires, [will] then have Nirvāṇa. [These] are named [as teachings on] few desires.

[10] Knowing Contentment


You [and] other Bhikṣus, if desiring [to be] liberated [from] all sufferings [and] afflictions, should contemplate [on] contentment. [The] Dharma of knowing contentment is thus [the] dwelling of wealth, bliss [and] tranquillity.


Of people knowing contentment, although lying on [the] ground, [they] are still [with] peace [and] bliss. Those not knowing contentment, although dwelling [in the] heavens, [they are] also not satisfied.


Those not knowing contentment, although wealthy, [they are] yet poor. Of people knowing contentment, although poor, [they are] yet wealthy.


Those not knowing contentment, [are] constantly by [the] five desires those led, by those knowing contentment, they [are] those sympathised. [These] are named [as teachings on] contentment.

[11] Far Departure


You [and] other Bhikṣus, desiring [to] seek [the] tranquillity [of] unconditioned peace [and] bliss, should depart [from] confusions [and] disturbances, [to] alone live [in] vacant residences.


Of people quietly living, [as they are by] Śakra [and] all heavenly [beings], those together revered [and] honoured, therefore should [there be] renunciation [of] personal assemblies [and] others’ assemblies, [for] free time alone living, [to] contemplate elimination [of] suffering’s root.


If [there are] those joyful [with] crowds, [they will] then receive many afflictions. For example, [they are] like big trees [with] many birds gathering there, then having [the] calamity of withering [and] breaking.


Those [by the] world bound, sunken in all sufferings, for example, [are] like old elephants drowning [in] mud, not able [to] personally exit. [These] are named [as teachings on] far departure.

[12] Diligence


You [and] other Bhikṣus, if constantly diligent, [are] then [with] matters without difficulties. Therefore, you [and] others, should [be] constantly diligent.


For example, like [a] small stream constantly flowing, [it is] then able [to] penetrate rock.


If [the] minds [of] practitioners, [are] frequently lazy [and] abandon [practice], for example, like boring [for] fire, [with it] yet [to be] hot then resting, although desiring [to] obtain fire, fire [is] difficult to [be] obtained. [These] are named [as teachings on] diligence.

[13] Not Forgetting Mindfulness


You [and] other Bhikṣus, [when] seeking good-knowing friends, [and] seeking good protective helpers, none [are] like not forgetting mindfulness. If [there are] those not forgetting mindfulness, all afflictions’ thieves [are] then not able [to] enter. Therefore, you [and] others, constantly should gather [the] thoughts in [your] minds.


If [there are] those losing mindfulness, [they will] then lose all meritorious virtues. If mindfulness’ power [is] strong, although entering five desires’ thieves within, [they are] not by them harmed. For example, like wearing armour entering battlefields, then without that [to] fear. These [are] named [as teachings on] not forgetting mindfulness.

[14] Meditative Concentration


You [and] other Bhikṣus, if [there are] those gathering [their] minds, [their] minds [will] then [be] in concentration. [With] minds in concentration thus, [they will be] able [to] know [the] world’s arising [and] ceasing dharmas’ forms. Therefore, you [and] others, constantly should [be] diligent [in] practising all concentrations.


If [there are] those [who have] attained concentration, [their] minds [will] then not [be] scattered. For example, like families that treasure water, [they will] well manage [their] embankments. Practitioners [are] also thus, for wisdom’s water thus, well cultivating meditative concentration, enabling [it to] not [be] leaked [and] lost. These [are] named as [teachings on] concentration.

[15] Wisdom


You [and] other Bhikṣus, if having wisdom, [are] then without greedy attachment.


Constantly personally examining oneself, not leading [to] having faults, [this] is then relying on my Dharma within, able [to] attain liberation. If [there are] those not thus, [they are] already not [the] path’s persons [i.e. monastics], also not white-robed [laypersons], without those names.


Those truly wise, are then strong [and] firm ships [for] delivering [from the] ocean [of] ageing, sickness [and] death, also are great bright lamps [in] ignorance’s darkness, good medicine of all those sick, [and] sharp axes that cut afflictions’ trees. Therefore, you [and] others, should with [the] wisdoms [of] listening, contemplation [and] cultivation, then personally increase [in] benefits.


If people have [the] illumination of wisdom, although [they] are [with the] flesh eye, yet [they] are clearly seeing people. [These] are named [as teachings on] wisdom.

[16] Not [Having] Frivolous Discussions


You [and] other Bhikṣus, if [with] all kinds [of] frivolous discussions, your minds [will] then [be] scattered. Even if [having] left [the] household [life, you will] still not attain liberation. Therefore, Bhikṣus, [you] should urgently abandon scattered minds [with] frivolous discussions.


If you desire [to be] those [who] attain [the] bliss [of] stillness [and] extinguishment [i.e. Nirvāṇa], [you] only should well eliminate [the] sickness of frivolous discussions. These [are] named [as teachings on] not [having] frivolous discussions.

[17] Self-Encouragement


You [and] other Bhikṣus, for all meritorious virtues, constantly should [be] wholehearted, [and] abandon all laxity, like departing [from a] hateful thief.


[From the] great compassionate World-Honoured [One, of] those [teachings] spoken [to] benefit, [they are] all already complete. You [and] others only should diligently then practise them.


If in between mountains, if within empty grasslands, if at trees below, idly residing [in] quiet rooms, [be] mindful [of] those received Dharma [teachings], not enabling [them to be] forgotten [and] lost. [You] constantly should encourage yourselves, [to] diligently cultivate them. Do not in vain die, later leading [to] having regrets.


I [am] like [a] good doctor, [who] knows [your] sicknesses [and] spoke [of their] medicines, [while] taking and not taking [them, is] not [with the] doctor to blame.


Also like [a] good guide, [who] guides people [to] good paths, [having] heard [of] them, [yet] not walking [them, is] not [the] guide’s fault.

[18] Resolution [Of] Doubts


You [and all] others, if of suffering [and all] other [aspects of the] Four [Noble] Truths [i.e. which encompass all Dharma teachings], have those [with] doubts, [you] may swiftly ask them, [to] not have doubts, without seeking resolution.’


At that time, [the] World-Honoured [One], thus thrice called aloud, [and the] people [were] without questions. Why [is] that [so]? [As the] assembly [was] without doubts thus.


Then, Aniruddha observed [the] assembly’s minds, and [to the] Buddha said, ‘World-Honoured [One, the] moon can [be] made hot, [and the] sun can [be] made cold, [while the] Buddha’s spoken Four [Noble] Truths, cannot [be] made different.


[1] [The] Buddha’s spoken suffering’s truth [is] true suffering, [that] cannot lead [to] bliss.


[2] Accumulation [of suffering with greed, hatred and delusion] truly is [the] cause, furthermore without [a] different cause.


[3] Suffering, if [to be] that eliminated, [this] then is [with the] cause [to be] eliminated, [as with the] cause eliminated, thus [is the] effect eliminated.


[4] [The] path of eliminating suffering, truly is [the] true path, furthermore without another path.


World-Honoured [One, it] is [so, that] all Bhikṣus, of [the] Four [Noble] Truths within, [are] definitely without doubts.


Of this assembly within, those [with] that done yet [to be] accomplished, seeing [the] Buddha [entering] Parinirvāṇa, [they] will have grief [and] sadness.


If [there] are those beginning [to] enter [the] Dharma, [who] hear that [the] Buddha said, [they will] immediately all attain deliverance. For example, like [in the] night seeing lightning’s light, immediately obtaining seeing [of the] path.


If [as] those [with] that done already accomplished, those already delivered [from] suffering’s ocean, [they will] only have this thought, “[The] World-Honoured [One is entering] Parinirvāṇa. How swift!”‘


Aniruddha, although [having] said these words, [the] assembly within [already] all understood thoroughly [the] Four Noble Truths’ meanings.

[19] Sentient Beings’ Attainment [Of] Deliverance


[The] World-Honoured [One], desiring [to] lead all these [in the] great assembly [to] attain steadfastness, with [his] great compassionate mind, again for [the] assembly said, ‘You [and] other Bhikṣus, [should] not embrace sorrow [and] afflictions. If I abide [in this] world [for] one kalpa, [in] a moment, [I] also will [enter] Parinirvāṇa. [With] meeting yet not departing, [this] in the end cannot [be] obtained.


[As for] self-benefitting [and] benefitting others, [the] Dharma [is] all completely [taught already], if I long[er] abide, [this is] furthermore without those [to] benefit. Those [who] should [and] can [be] delivered, if [in the] heavens above [or in the] human world, [have] all already [been] delivered. [Of] those yet [to be] delivered, [I have for] all also already made [the] causes [and] conditions [for them to] attain deliverance.

[20] [The] Dharma Body Constantly Abiding


From now afterwards, all my disciples, passing [it] through many, practising it, are then [with the] Thus Come [One’s] Dharma Body, constantly present and not extinguished. Therefore, [you] should know, [that the] world [is with] all impermanent, [and] meeting definitely [will] have departure. [Do] not embrace worries [and] afflictions, [as the] world’s forms [are] thus. [You] should [be] constantly diligent, [to] soon seek liberation, with wisdoms’ brightness, eliminate all delusions’ darkness.


[The] world [is] truly dangerous [and] fragile, without that strong [and] firm. I [will] now attain Parinirvāṇa, like eliminating [an] evil sickness. This is [a] body that should [be] relinquished, [as an] object of transgressions’ evil, falsely named as [a] “body”, sunken in [the] great ocean [of] ageing, sickness, birth [and] death. How [can there] be those wise, [who] attain elimination [of] it, like [the] killing [of a] hateful thief, yet not [be] joyful?

[iii] Transmission Section

[21] Conclusion


You [and] other Bhikṣus, constantly should [be] wholehearted, [to] diligently seek departure’s path. All [the] world’s moving [and] unmoving dharmas, are all forms to [be] ruined, that [are] not [at] peace.


You [and] others should stop, [and] must not again speak. [As the right] time will almost pass, [and] I [am] about [to enter] Parinirvāṇa, those are my last teachings [and] instructions.’

Related Sūtras:

The Three Sūtras Of The Buddha’s Bequeathed Teachings

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