[6] Why Be Mindful Of The Suffering Of Birth And Death? 云何念生死苦?

C6: Mindfulness [Of The] Suffering [Of] Birth [And] Death

———————-┌ 丁一、地狱苦
丙六、念生死苦 ┤ 丁二、畜生苦
———————-└ 丁三、生死苦

[6] Mindfulness [Of The] Suffering [Of] Birth [And] Death


Why [be] mindful [of the] suffering [of] birth [and] death? Speaking of myself with sentient beings, from ancient kalpas since, constantly in [the cycle of] birth and death, [we have] yet [to] attain liberation. [In the] human world, heavens above, this world [and] other directions, appearing [and] disappearing [in] ten thousand ways, rising [and] sinking [in] a moment, suddenly there, then [as] heavenly [beings], suddenly there, then [as] human [beings], suddenly there, then [as] hell-beings, animals [or] hungry ghosts.

D1: Hell-Beings’ Suffering


[From the] black gate [at] dawn exiting, yet [at] dusk returning. [From the] iron cave temporarily leaving, yet again entering.


Ascending knife mountains too, then [is the] entire body without complete skin. Climbing sword trees too, then [with] every square cùn [i.e. 3.33 cm] cut apart.


[With] hot iron [that does] not eliminate hunger, swallowing it then [with the] liver [and] intestines completely rotted. [With] boiling copper rather [than] quenching thirst, drinking it then [with the] bones [and] flesh all mashed.


[With] sharp saws dissecting all, then cut, yet recovering continuously. [With] timely winds blowing all, then dead already, returning [to] life.


Within [a] city [with] fierce fires, enduring hearing [of the] howls of misery. In pans frying [and] boiling, only hearing [the] cries of suffering [and] pain.


Frozen [and] beginning [to] congeal, then [with] shape resembling blue lotus buds formed. [With] bloody flesh already split [open], then [are] bodies like red lotus flowers blooming.


[Of] one night’s deaths [and] births, [in the] hells below often going through ten thousand times. [Of] one morning’s suffering [and] pain, [in the] human world already passing [a] hundred years.


Again and again, [the] prison guards [of hell become] weary. Who [will] believe old [King] Yama’s teachings [and] admonishments? When receiving [it] knowing suffering, although with regret, how [can this be] in time? Liberated already, still forgetting, that creating [of] karma [is] also like before.

D2: Animals’ Suffering


Whipping [a] donkey [till] bleeding, who knows [the] sorrow of my mother? Dragging [a] pig towards slaughter, how [can] thus [be] recognised [as the] pain of [my] father?


Eating our own children yet not knowing [so, like] King Wén [we] still [do] thus. Swallowing our relatives yet still not recognising [them], ordinary kinds [of beings] all [do] thus.


In those years [with] love, today becoming enemies. [In] former days [as] enemies, today becoming [one’s] flesh and blood. Formerly as mothers, yet today as wives. [In the] past are fathers, yet recently becoming husbands.


[If of] past lives, knowing them, then [is this] shameful [and] disgraceful. [If with] heavenly eyes, seeing them, then [is this] laughable [and] pitiable.

D3: Suffering [Of] Birth [And] Death


Within clumps [of] excrement [and] filth, [for] ten months concealed [with] difficulties. [From] passages [with] pus [and] blood inside, at once falling down pitifully.


[When] young, what [is] known, [with the] East [and] West not distinguished? [When] grown up, then having knowledge, greedy desires then arise.


[In one] moment then, [with] ageing [and] sickness, one after another, swiftly then, impermanence again arrives. [With] wind [and] fire in turn tormenting, [the] consciousness within [is] collapsed [and] confused. [With] essence [and] blood completely exhausted, [with] skin [and] flesh outside dried [and] withered. Not one hair [is] then not [like] by [a] needle pierced. Having one opening [is] then [like] where all knives cut.


[When a] turtle is going [to be] cooked, that removing [of the] shell [is] still also easy. [When the] consciousness is about [to] leave, that giving up [of the] body [is] also [many] times [more] difficult.


[The] mind [is] without [a] permanent host, like [a] merchant then everywhere galloping. [The] body [is] without [a] fixed form, like houses then again and again moved [into].


[The] great-thousandfold [world’s] dust motes, [are] difficult [to] exhaust [the number of] bodies going [and] returning. [Like the] four seas’ great waves, who [can] calculate [the] tears of separation? High accumulations [of] bones, surpass those tall mountains. Boundless lying corpses [are] more than [enough to cover the] great earth.


If not having heard [the] Buddha’s words, [of] these matters, who [can] see [them, and] who [can] hear [about them]? Yet [to have] seen [the] Buddha’s sūtras, [of] these principles, how [can we] know [them, and] how [can we] awaken [to them]?


Perhaps following previous greedy attachments, still ignorant [and] confused, only fearing [that in] ten thousand kalpas’ thousand lives, [with] one mistake [leading to a] hundred mistakes.


[This] human body [is] difficult [to] attain yet easy [to] lose. Good times [are] easy [to] pass yet difficult [to] pursue.


[The] path [of rebirth is] dim [and] dusky, [with] separations [for a] long [time. Of the] three realms’ evil retributions, [there must] still [be] personal receiving [of] them, [with] pain unspeakable, who should [bear this for] another? [With] words coming to this, [how can] it not [bring] chills [to the] heart?


Therefore, [we] should sever [the] river [of] birth [and] death, exit [from the] ocean [of] attachments [and] desires, help both oneself [and] others, [to] together ascend [the] other shore. [From] distant kalpas, [the most] surpassing [of] meritorious deeds, [is] in this one act.


[This] is for giving rise [to the] Bodhi Mind, [the] sixth cause [and] condition.

Pure Land Tradition’s 11th Patriarch Great Master Xǐng’ān
Essay [On] Exhortation [To] Give Rise [To The] Bodhi Mind

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

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[7] Respect Of One’s Spiritual-Nature

Complete Text:

Essay On Exhortation To Give Rise To The Bodhi Mind

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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