The Sutra Of The Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata藥師琉璃光如來本願功 德經

1-1 Thus have I heard: Once the World Honored One was traveling through various lands to teach the Dharma. When he arrived in Vaishali, he rested under the Tree of Music, accompanied by eight thousand great bhiksus and thirty-six thousand bodhisattvas and mahasattvas, as well as kings, ministers, Brahmins, laymen, dragons, yakshas, and other human and non-human beings. This enormous assembly gathered respectfully around the Buddha as he preached the Dharma. At that time, Manjusri, Prince of the Dharma, through the marvelous power of the Buddha, rose up from his seat, exposed his shoulder, and knelt on his right knee. Bowing deeply, with palms joined, he addressed the Buddha:

“World Honored One, may I beseech you to expound the various names and titles of the buddhas, and their great original vows and extraordinary merits, to help remove karmic obstructions to those who hear them and to bring benefits and joy to sentient beings in the Dharma Semblance Age.”

Then the World Honored One praised Bodhisattva Manjusri: “Excellent! Excellent! Manjusri, out of great compassion, you have asked me to expound the buddhas’ names, as well as their vows and merits, in order to liberate those bound by karmic obstructions and bring benefits, peace, and joy to sentient beings in the Dharma Semblance Age. Now, listen attentively and reflect thoroughly. I will explain them to you.” Bodhisattva Manjusri replied: “Yes, please instruct us. We are listening with delight.”

1-2 The Buddha then said to Bodhisattva Manjusri: “To the east of this world, past countless buddha lands, there exists a world called Pure Lapis Lazuli. The buddha of that world is called the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, Arhat, the Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Wisdom and Conduct, Well Gone, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed One, Skilled Tamer, Teacher of Heavenly and Human Beings, Buddha, and World Honored One. Manjusri, when the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata was practicing the bodhisattva way, he made Twelve Great Vows so sentient beings may have all their wishes fulfilled. They are:

“The first great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment, my body will shine forth brilliant rays, illuminating infinite, countless, boundless realms. Endowed with Thirty-two Marks of the Great One and Eighty Auspicious Characteristics, I can enable all sentient beings to become just like me.

“The second great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, my body will be translucent inside and out, like lapis lazuli, with brightness and flawless purity. This great, radiant body will be adorned with superlative virtues and dwell peacefully in a mesh of light more magnificent than the sun or moon. The light will awaken the minds of all beings dwelling in darkness, enabling them to engage in their pursuits according to their wishes.

The third great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, with infinite wisdom and skillful means, I will enable all sentient beings to obtain inexhaustible goods so that they will never again lack anything.

1-3 “The fourth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, if there are those who follow evil ways, I will set them all upon the bodhi path; if there are those who cultivate the path of the sravaka or pratyekabuddha, I will set them onto the Mahayana path.

“The fifth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, I will help the countless sentient beings who cultivate morality in accordance with my Dharma to observe the precepts to perfection, in conformity with the Three Sets of Pure Precepts. Upon hearing my name, even those guilty of disparaging or violating the precepts will regain their purity and avoid descending into the wretched destinies.

“The sixth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, sentient beings with inferior bodies, deficient senses and abilities,who are ugly, stupid, blind, deaf, mute, crippled, hunchbacked, leprous, insane, or suffering from various other illnesses—upon hearing my name, they will obtain bodies with fine features endowed with intelligence, intact senses and abilities, free of illness and suffering.

“The seventh great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, sentient beings afflicted with various illnesses, with no one to help them, nowhere to turn, no physicians, no medicine, no family, no home, who are destitute and miserable, will, when my name passes through their ears, be relieved of all their illnesses. With mind and body content and at peace, they will enjoy home, family, and property in abundance, and eventually realize unsurpassed enlightenment.

1-4 “The eighth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, if there are women who are extremely disgusted with the numerous feminine afflictions, and wish to abandon their female form, upon hearing my name, they will be reborn as men endowed with noble features, and eventually realize unsurpassed enlightenment.

“The ninth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, I will help all sentient beings escape from the demons’ net and free themselves from the bonds of heretical paths. Should they be caught in the thicket of wrong views, I will lead them to correct views,gradually inducing them to cultivate the ways of the bodhisattva so that they will promptly realize unsurpassed complete enlightenment.

“The tenth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, those sentient beings who are shackled, beaten, imprisoned, condemned to death, or subjected to countless miseries and humiliations by royal decree, and who are suffering in body and mind from such oppression, need only hear my name to be freed from all those afflictions, due to the marvelous power of my merits and virtues.

“The eleventh great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, if sentient beings who are tormented by hunger and thirst, creating evil karma in their attempts to survive, should hear my name, recite and uphold it, I will first satisfy them with the most exquisite food and drinks.Later, with the flavor of the Dharma, I will establish them in the realm of peace and happiness.

1-5 “The twelfth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, if sentient beings who are utterly destitute, lacking clothes to protect them from mosquitoes and flies, heat and cold, and are suffering day and night, should hear my name, recite and uphold it, their wishes will be fulfilled. They will receive all manners of exquisite clothing, precious adornments, flower garlands and incense powder, and will enjoy music and entertainment to their heart’s content.

“Manjusri, the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, Arhat, the Completely Enlightened made these Twelve Sublime Vows when he was cultivating the bodhisattva path. Moreover, Manjusri, the many great vows made by the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata while he was practicing the bodhisattva way, as well as the merits and adornments of his buddha land, I cannot possibly describe them all, not even if I were to speak for a kalpa or more. However, this buddha land is utterly pure, without any woman, without the wretched destinies or any sounds of suffering. Its ground is made of lapis lazuli; the boundaries are demarcated with golden cords; the towns, towers, palaces, pavilions, balconies, windows, and draperies are all made of the seven jewels. The merits, virtues, and adornments of this realm are identical to those of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. In this land dwell two great bodhisattvas: One is called Universal Sunlight and the other Universal Moonlight. They are the leaders of countless bodhisattvas and will be successors to this Buddha, upholding the True Dharma Treasury of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata. For these reasons, Manjusri, devout good men and women should vow to be born in this buddha land.”

1-6 The Buddha then told Bodhisattva Manjusri: “Manjusri, there are sentient beings who cannot tell right from wrong. They are greedy and miserly; they do not practice charity nor understand its rewards. They are short on wisdom and deep in ignorance. Lacking the root of faith, they amass riches, which they assiduously hoard. When they see those begging for alms, they become annoyed; when they have to give against their will, they feel as much pain and anguish as if they were parting with their own flesh. Moreover, there are also countless sentient beings who are miserly and avaricious. They amass wealth, yet do not even spend it on themselves, let alone on their parents, spouses, children, servants, slaves, or beggars. Upon their death, these people will descend into the realms of hungry ghosts or animals.

“However, if they have briefly heard the name of the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata when they were humans, although now they are reborn into the wretched destines, if they can recall the Buddha’s name even briefly, they will immediately be free from these destinies and be reborn as human beings. They will remember their sojourn in the lower destinies, and, dreading their past sufferings, cease to wallow in worldly pleasures. They will gladly practice charity, praise others who do so, and will no longer be ungenerous. Gradually, they will even be able to donate their heads, eyes, limbs, blood, flesh, or other parts of their bodies to those who need them, not to mention mere material possessions.

“Moreover, Manjusri, there are sentient beings who accept the teachings of the Tathagata but have violated the precepts; or, they have not violated the precepts, but have broken the regulations; or, while they do not violate the precepts or the regulations, they have disparaged right views; or they have not disparaged right views but have abandoned extensive study of the Dharma and therefore cannot understand the profound meaning of the sutras preached by the Buddha. Or else, although they may be knowledgeable, they have grown conceited in their Dharma knowledge. Clouding their minds with Dharma conceit, they believe that they are always right and others wrong. They may even deprecate the true Dharma, thereby allying themselves with demons. Such deluded persons not only follow wrong views themselves, but also lead countless others into very dangerous pitfalls. These sentient beings are bound to the paths of hell, animals, and hungry ghosts endlessly.

1-7 “Yet, if they should hear the name of the Medicine Buddha, they may abandon evil conduct, cultivate good deeds, and avoid descending into the wretched destinies. Even those who have descended into the wretched destinies because they cannot abandon evil practices nor cultivate good deeds, the marvelous power of the Medicine Buddha’s original vows may still enable them to hear his name momentarily, so that when their present lives end, they will be reborn in the human realm. They will obtain right views, be diligent, pursue right livelihood, and discipline their minds well and be joyful.They will then be able to abandon the home life to become monastics. They will uphold the precepts and regulations of the Tathagata without violation.With right views and extensive study, they will fathom the extremely profound meaning [of the Dharma], be free from arrogance, never disparage the true Dharma nor be companions to Mara (the demon). They will gradually cultivate the practices of bodhisattvas and swiftly perfect them.

1-8 “Moreover, Manjusri, there are sentient beings who are miserly, avaricious, envious, and jealous, praising themselves while disparaging others. They are bound to sink into the three wretched destinies, suffering intense misery for countless thousands of years. When this intense suffering comes to an end, they will be reborn in the world as oxen, horses, donkeys, or camels. Always afflicted with hunger and thirst, they are constantly beaten while carrying heavy loads on the road. If they are reborn as human beings, they will be among the poor and lowly, forever serving and belabored by others, enjoying no freedom. However, if any of them, in a former incarnation as a human being, have heard the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, and as a result of this good cause, now remember and take refuge in him wholeheartedly, they will, thanks to this Buddha’s spiritual powers, be freed from all suffering. Their senses will be sharp and they will be learned and wise, constantly seeking the supreme teachings, and encounter good spiritual friends. They will forever break through Mara’s net, smash the shell of delusion, dry up the river of afflictions, and thus escape all the distress and suffering of birth, old age, illness, and death.

“Moreover, Manjusri, there are sentient beings who love to quarrel, create schisms, and engage in legal disputes. They make themselves and others suffer, creating and increasing all kinds of evil karma with body, speech, and mind. They plot against one another without mercy. While invoking the spirits of mountains, forests, trees, and tombs, they kill sentient beings and use their flesh and blood as sacrifices to the yaksa and raksasa demons. They may also write down the names and make images of those against whom they harbor grudges, curse them with evil mantras or try to harm or kill them with potions, witchcraft, or demons revived from the dead.

1-9 “However, if the victims succeed in hearing the name of the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, none of these evil practices can harm them. Moreover, everyone involved will gradually develop compassion, endeavoring to benefit and bring peace and joy to others. Without harmful, angry, and spiteful thoughts, everyone will be happy and content.

“Moreover, Manjusri, there are those in the fourfold assembly of bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, and upasikas, as well as among other men and women of pure faith, who are able to uphold the Eight Precepts or other precepts and regulations, for one year or three months, dedicating these good roots toward rebirths in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, so as to listen to the true Dharma from the Buddha of Infinite Life. However, if their rebirth in the pure land is still uncertain, and they hear the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, then, at the time of death, eight great bodhisattvas, namely: Bodhisattva Manjusri, Bodhisattva Guanyin, BodhisattvaGreat Strength, Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Mind, Bodhisattva Precious Sandalwood Flower, Bodhisattva Medicine King, Bodhisattva Superior Medicine, and Bodhisattva Maitreya will descend from space and show them the way. Thereupon, they will be reborn through natural transformation among precious flowers of various colors in that Pure Land. Moreover, thanks to hearing the Medicine Buddha’s name, there are those who are born in the celestial realms, and with their good roots still not exhausted, they will not be born again into the wretched destinies. When their celestial lifespan ends, they may return to the human realm as Wheel Turning Kings, ruling over the Four Continents. With merits, authority, and skill, they will set countless hundreds of thousands of sentient beings onto the path of the ten virtues.“There are those who are reborn as ksatriyas, Brahmins, or laymen of affluent families, with abundant wealth and overflowing granaries. They will be endowed with noble features, abundant families and full retainers, intelligence and wisdom, as well as courage, vigor, and strength of a giant.Likewise, if a woman hears the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Tathagata, and wholeheartedly upholds his name, she will never again be reborn with a female body.

2-1 “Manjusri, when the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata attained perfect enlightenment, he realized, by virtue of his original vows, that sentient beings endured various ailments, such as emaciation, crippling disabilities, fever, dysentery, jaundice, etc. Some were targets of black magic or various poisons, while others suffered short life or untimely death. He sought to put an end to these miseries and fulfill the wishes of these beings. At that time, the World Honored One entered a samadhi called ‘Eliminating All the Suffering and Afflictions of Sentient Beings’. Having entered that samadhi, a brilliant light shone forth from his usnisa (fleshy crown) as he uttered a great dharani:

nán mó bó qié fá dì    pí shā shè    jù lū bì liú lí

bō lá pó   hē là shé yě  dá tā jié duō yě  ā là hē dì

sān miǎo sān bó tuó yě   dá zhí tā   ān   pí shā shì

pí shā shì   pí shā shè   sān mò jié dì suō hē

“As soon as the Medicine Buddha, in his radiance, had uttered this mantra,the entire earth shook and shone brilliant lights, curing the disease and eradicating the suffering of sentient beings, enabling them to enjoy peace and happiness. Manjusri, if people come across any man or woman suffering from illness, they should sincerely and frequently help that person bathe, cleanse, and rinse, then recite this mantra one hundred and eight times over his food, medicine, or water that is free from insects. Once the sick person has taken the food or drink, the illness and suffering will be eradicated.

2-2 “If the patient wholeheartedly recites this mantra, he or she will be free of disease and enjoy longevity, with every wish being fulfilled. Furthermore, after death, this person will be born in the land of the Medicine Buddha and attain enlightenment without retrogression. Therefore, Manjusri, any man or woman who wholeheartedly reveres and respectfully makes offerings to the Medicine Buddha should keep reciting this mantra, never giving up or forgetting it.

“Moreover, Manjusri, men and women of pure faith upon hearing the various names of the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, Arhat, the Completely Enlightened, should recite and uphold this name. Each morning, at dawn, having brushed their teeth and bathed themselves, they should make offerings of fragrant flowers, incense, scents, and various kinds of music before an image of this Buddha. Furthermore, they should copy this sutra or have others do so, as well as wholeheartedly accept and uphold it, and listen to explanations of its meaning. They should offer all the necessities of life to the Dharma masters, making sure they lack nothing. The buddhas will be mindful of and bless such devout men and women; all their wishes will be fulfilled and they will eventually attain enlightenment.”

Bodhisattva Manjusri then respectfully addressed the Buddha: “World Honored One, I vow that in the Dharma Semblance Age, I will use every skillful means to help men and women of pure faith hear the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata; even in their sleep, I will awaken their ears with the name of this Buddha. World Honored One, if any devout persons should recite, remember, and uphold this sutra; or expound its meaning to others; or copy it or have others copy it; or if they should pay it the utmost reverence,adorning it with fragrant flowers, scents, incense powder and sticks, garlands, necklaces, banners, canopies, dance, and music, and with pockets made of five-colored cloth; and if they should prepare a clean site, erect a high altar, and place the sutra upon it, the Four Great Heavenly Kings, their retinues as well as countless hundreds of thousands of other celestial beings, will thereupon proceed to this place to make offerings and guard this sutra.

2-3 “World Honored One, wherever this sutra has spread and there are people capable of upholding it, you should know that, thanks to the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata’s original vows, his merits, and the power of his name, the place will be free of untimely death. In that place, there will no longer be evil demons or spirits to sap the vital energy of the people. Even if the harm were already done, they would recover and enjoy good health and peace of mind.”

The Buddha then spoke to Manjusri: “So it is, so it is. It is just as you have explained. Manjusri, if good men and women of pure faith wish to make offerings to the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata,they should first make an image of this Buddha, and install it upon a pure, clean altar. They should scatter all kinds of flowers, burn many varieties of incense, and adorn the place with many kinds of banners and pennants. For seven days and seven nights, they should uphold the Eight Precepts, consume only pure food, bathe and freshen themselves, put on clean, fresh clothing, and keep their mind undefiled, free of anger or malice. They should develop kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity toward all sentient beings, while bringing them benefits, peace, and happiness. They should circumambulate his image clockwise while offering music, chants, and praises to the Medicine Buddha.

2-4 “Moreover, they should bear in mind this Buddha’s merits and original vows while reciting and memorizing this sutra, reflect on its meaning, and explain it to others. All their wishes will then be fulfilled—wishing longevity, one will obtain longevity; wishing wealth, one will obtain wealth; wishing official position, one will obtain official postion; wishing the birth of sons anddaughters, one will obtain sons and daughters. Moreover, if people suddenly suffer nightmares and witnesses evil omens—such as flocks of strange birds or many strange occurrences where they live—if they venerate, with various kinds of wonderful offerings, the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, then these unfavorable incidents such as nightmares and bad omens will all disappear, and can no longer harm them. If any sentient beings are in fear of water, fire, knives, poison, falling off a precipice, or of vicious beasts—such as wild elephants, lions, tigers, wolves, bears, venomous snakes, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, mosquitos or gnats—they need only wholeheartedly recall and recite the name of the Medicine Buddha, and respectfully make offerings to him, and they will escape all these terrors. If a country should be subject to invasion, disruption, banditry, or rebellion, the inhabitants who pay homage and recall or recite the name of the Medicine Buddha will be free from such calamities.

“Moreover, Manjusri, there are men and women of pure faith who do not worship other deities for the rest of their lives and only one-mindedly take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and uphold the precepts—the five or ten lay precepts, the four hundred bodhisattva precepts, or the two hundred and fifty bhiksu or five hundred bhiksuni precepts. However, if any of them have violated the precepts they have taken, and are fearful of falling into the wretched destinies, they should concentrate on the name of the Medicine Buddha and respectfully make offerings to him, they will then certainly avoid rebirth in the three wretched destinies.

2-5 “If women, who experience extreme pain during childbirth, can recite and praise the name of the Medicine Buddha with utmost sincerity, venerate and make offerings to him, they will be relieved of their sufferings. The children born to them will have healthy bodies, be proper in appearance, and pleasing to those who see them. They will be endowed with sharp senses and intelligence. They will seldom become ill, nor will non-humans sap their vital energy.”

The World Honored One then asked Ananda: “I have just extolled the merits of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata. These merits are results of the extremely profound practices of all buddhas, but are difficult to explain. Do you have any faith in them or not?” Ananda respectfully replied: “Venerable World Honored One, I do not have any doubts about the sutras preached by the Tathagatas. Why? It is because the Tathagatas’ karma of body, speech, and mind are all pure. World Honored One, the sun and the moon may fall, Mount Sumeru, the majestic king of mountains, may topple, but the words of the buddhas are never mistaken. World Honored One, some sentient beings, whose roots of faith are deficient, may hear of the sublime practices of the buddhas and think, how can we, just by being mindful of the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata alone, obtain these superior merits? Because of this lack of faith, they even develop disparagement, thus forfeiting great benefits and remaining in the long, dark night. They descend into the wretched destinies, revolving in them without end.”

The Buddha then said to Ananda: “If sentient beings should hear the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata,wholeheartedly uphold it without harboring doubts, then it will be impossible for them to fall into the wretched destinies.

2-6  “Ananda! These extremely profound practices of the buddhas are difficult to believe in, difficult to understand. Yet you are now able to accept them. You should realize that this is all due to the marvelous power of the Tathagatas. Ananda! Even the sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas who have not reached the Ten Grounds cannot completely understand and believe in this truth. Only the bodhisattvas who are one lifetime away from buddhahood can.

“Ananda! A human body is difficult to obtain; however, to believe in, respect, and honor the Triple Jewels is even more difficult. To hear the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata is more difficult still. Ananda, the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata has cultivated countless bodhisattva practices, employed countless skillful means, and made countless far-reaching vows. If I were to take a kalpa or more to recount them, the kalpa would come to an end before I could exhaustively describe all these practices, vows, and skillful means.”

At that time a great bodhisattva in the assembly, named Salvation, arose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, knelt on his right knee, joined his palms, respectfully bowed and addressed the Buddha: “Venerable World Honored One, in the Dharma Semblance Age, there will be sentient beings who suffer numerous calamities, who are always sick and emaciated, unable to eat or drink, whose throats are dry and lips are parched, and whose eyes see darkness everywhere. As the signs of death appear, they are surrounded by parents, family, friends, and acquaintances, weeping and lamenting. As such a patient lies in bed, he sees the messengers of Yama arrive to lead his consciousness before this King of Justice.

2-7 “Now, all sentient beings have accompanying spirits who record everything they do, both their transgressions and their merits. These spirits then present the patient’s entire record to King Yama. At that time, the King questions the dying person and tabulates his good and bad karma before deciding upon his fate. If, at that point, the relatives and acquaintances of the patient are able to take refuge in the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, on his behalf, invite monks and nuns to recite this sutra, light seven-tiered lampsand hang five-colored longevity banners, his consciousness may return then and there, as if seeing himself clearly in a dream. Or else, after seven, twenty-one, thirty-five, or forty-nine days, when his consciousness returns, as if awakening from a dream, he will recall his good and bad karma and the consequences thereof. Having personally witnessed the consequences of karma, he will refrain from creating evil karma, even if his life were in danger.Therefore, men and women of pure faith should uphold the name of theWorld Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, venerate and make offerings to him according to their capacity.”

Ananda then asked the Bodhisattva Salvation: “Good Man, how should we venerate and make offerings to the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, and how should we make the longevity pennants and lamps?” Bodhisattva Salvation replied: “Virtuous One, in order to help the patient recover, you should uphold the Eight Precepts for seven days and seven nights, make offerings of food, drinks, and other necessities to monks and nuns in accordance with your means, you should pay homage and make offerings to the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagatafrom day to night and recite this sutra forty-nine times. You should light forty-nine lamps;make seven images of the Medicine Buddha and place seven lamps before each image, each lamp as large as a wheel, letting them burn continuously for forty-nine days and nights. You should also make multi-colored banners, forty-nine hand-lengths long. Furthermore, you should release forty-nine species of animals. The patient may then escape danger and will not be under the sway of evil demons, nor subject to untimely death.

2-8 “Moreover, Ananda, when the anointed ksatriya kings find themselves beset by calamities, such as epidemics, foreign invasion, internal insurrection,an adverse alignment of the stars, an eclipse of the sun or moon, unseasonable storms or a failure of the monsoons, the anointed ksatriya kings should develop compassion toward all sentient beings. They should also pardon prisoners, and in accordance with the rites described earlier, make offerings to the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata. Thanks to these good roots and the power of the Medicine Buddha’s original vows, peace and stability will soon return to the countries; the rains and winds will be favorable; crops will mature on time and everyone will be healthy and happy. The country will be free of evil yaksas who are out to harm the populace. All the evil omens will immediately disappear, and these anointed ksatriya kings will enjoy greater longevity and vitality, finer appearance as well as greater health and freedom than ever before.

“Ananda, when queens, consorts, princesses, royal heirs, great ministers, court ladies, officials, or commoners suffer disease and other misfortunes, they should also make offerings to the Medicine Buddha. They should make five-colored longevity banners, light lamps, ensuring that they burn continuously, free different kinds of animals, scatter flowers of various colors, and burn assorted premium incense. They will then recover from disease and escape misfortune.”

2-9 Then Ananda asked Bodhisattva Salvation: “Good Man, how can an expiring life span be lengthened?” Bodhisattva Salvation replied: “Venerable,have you not heard the Tathagata speak of the nine forms of untimely death? Therefore I urge everyone to make longevity banners and lamps and cultivate merits. Thanks to such cultivation, they will escape suffering and misfortune throughout their lives.” Ananda further asked: “What are the nine forms of untimely death?”

Bodhisattva Salvation replied: “Some sentient beings contract a minor illness which goes untreated for lack of a physician or medicine; or, even though there is a physician, he prescribes the wrong medicine, causing premature death. Or, the patients, believing the false pronouncement of earthly demons, heretics, or practitioners of black magic, may panic and fear, unable to calm their minds. They may then engage in divination or perform animal sacrifices in order to propitiate the spirits, praying for blessings or hoping to extend their lives. These are all in vain. Through ignorance, confusion, and reliance on wrong, deluded views, they meet with untimely death and sink into the hells with no end in sight. This is the first form of untimely death.

“The second form is execution by royal decree. The third is through hunting, debauchery, alcohol abuse, extreme dissipation, or, their vital energy is sapped by non-humans. The fourth is death by fire. The fifth is death by drowning. The sixth is being devoured by savage beasts. The seventh is falling off a mountain or a cliff. The eighth is death by poison, incantations, evil mantras, or demons revived from the dead. The ninth is from hunger or thirst, for lack of food and water. These are the nine forms of untimely death that the Tathagatas briefed. There are also countless other forms, which are too numerous to describe.

3-1 “Moreover, Ananda, King Yama is responsible for keeping the karmic register of everyone in the world. If sentient beings have not been filial, have committed the Five Cardinal Sins, disparaged the Triple Jewels, broken the laws of the land, or violated the major precepts, King Yama will mete out punishment according to the infraction. Therefore, I urge sentient beings to light lamps, make banners, free animals, and cultivate merits in order to avoid suffering and misfortune.”

At that time, there were twelve powerful yaksa generals in the great assembly: namely, General Kumbhira, General Vajra, General Mihira, General Andira, General Anila, General Sandila, General Indra, General Pajra, General Makura, General Sindura, General Catura, and General Vikarala. Each was accompanied by a retinue of 7,000 yaksas. They all raised their voices in unison and said respectfully to the Buddha:

“World Honored One, thanks to the Buddha’s marvelous power, now we have heard the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata and no longer fear descending into the wretched destinies. Together, with one-mind, we take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha for the rest of our lives, and pledge to support all sentient beings, bringing them genuine benefits and joy. Whether in villages, towns, kingdoms, or the wilderness, if people circulate this sutra, or uphold the name of theWorld Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, and venerate or make offerings to him, we will protect them, so they will be released from all sufferings and calamities and have their wishes fulfilled. If those afflicted by disease or calamity wish for salvation, they should also recite this sutra. They should tie five-colored strands with our names on them and untie them when their wishes are fulfilled.”

3-2 Thereupon, the Buddha praised the great yaksa generals with these words: “Very well, very well, great yaksa generals! Those of you who wish to repay the benevolence and the virtues of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, should always benefit and bring joy to all sentient beings in this way.”

Ananda then asked the Buddha: “World Honored One, what should we call this teaching, and how should we follow and uphold it?” The Buddha replied to Ananda: “This teaching is called the ‘Expounding the Original Vows and Merits of the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata’ or ‘Expounding the Divine Mantra of the Vows of the Twelve Yaksa Generals to Benefit Sentient Beings’ or ‘Eradicating All Karmic Obstacles’. You should uphold it as such.”

When the Bhagavan had spoken this sutra, the great bodhisattvas, as well as the great sravakas, kings, ministers, Brahmins, laypersons, devas, nagas, yaksas, grandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, mahoragas, and other human and non-human beings, having heard the Buddha, were all filled with immerse joy; they accepted and followed the teaching faithfully.

The Sutra On The Original Vows And Merits Of The Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata1-1 如 是我聞:一時薄伽梵,遊化諸國至廣嚴城,住樂音樹下。與大苾芻眾八千人俱,菩薩摩訶薩三萬六千,及國王、大臣、婆羅門、居士、天龍藥叉,人非人等,無量大 眾,恭敬圍繞,而為說法。爾時、曼殊室利法王子,承佛威神,從座而起,偏袒一肩,右膝著地, 向薄伽梵,曲躬合掌。白言:

世尊!惟願演說如是相類諸佛名號, 及本大願殊勝功德,令諸聞者業障銷除,為欲利樂像法轉時諸有情故。」


1-2 佛告曼殊室利:「東方去此,過十殑伽沙等佛土,有世界名淨琉璃,佛號藥師琉璃光如來、應正等覺,明行圓滿、善逝、世間解、無上士、調御丈夫、天人師、佛、薄伽梵。曼殊室利!彼佛世尊藥師琉璃光如來,本行菩薩道時,發十二大願,令諸有情,所求皆得。


第二大願:願我來世,得菩提時,身如琉璃,內外明徹,淨無瑕穢;光明廣大,功德巍巍,身善安住, 燄網莊嚴,過於日月;幽冥眾生,悉蒙開曉,隨意所趣,作諸事業。






1-4 第八大願:願我來世,得菩提時,若有女人,為女百惡之所逼惱,極生厭離,願捨女身;聞我名已,一切皆得轉女成男,具丈夫相,乃至證得無上菩提。



第十一大願:願我來世,得菩提時,若諸有情,饑渴所惱,為求食故,造諸惡業;得聞我名,專念受持,我當先以上妙飲食,飽足其身,後以法味,畢竟安樂,而 建立之。

1-5 第十二大願:願我來世,得菩提時,若諸有情,貧無衣服,蚊虻寒熱,晝夜逼惱;若聞我名,專念受持,如其所好,即得種種上妙衣服,亦得一切寶莊嚴具,華鬘塗香,鼓樂眾伎,隨心所翫,皆令滿足。

曼 殊室利!是為彼世尊藥師琉璃光如來應正等覺行菩薩道時,所發十二微妙上願。復次,曼殊室利!彼世尊藥師琉璃光如來,行菩薩道時,所發大願,及彼佛土,功德 莊嚴,我若一劫、若一劫餘,說不能盡。然彼佛土,一向清淨,無有女人,亦無惡趣,及苦音聲; 琉璃為地,金繩界道,城闕宮閣,軒窗羅網,皆七寶成;亦如西方極樂世界,功德莊嚴,等無差別。於其國中,有二菩薩摩訶薩:一名日光遍照,二名月光遍照。是 彼無量無數菩薩眾之上首,次補佛處,悉能持彼世尊藥師琉璃光如來正法寶藏。是故曼殊室利!諸有信心善男子、善女人等,應當願生彼佛世界。」

1-6 爾時世尊,復告曼殊室利童子言:「曼 殊室利!有諸眾生,不識善惡,唯懷貪吝,不知布施,及施果報,愚癡無智,闕於信根,多聚財寶,勤加守護。見乞者來,其心不喜,設不獲已,而行施時,如割身 肉,深生痛惜。復有無量慳貪有情,積集資財,於其自身,尚不受用,何況能與父母妻子奴婢作使,及來乞者?彼諸有情,從此命終,生餓鬼界,或傍生趣。

由昔人間,曾得暫聞藥師琉璃光如來名故,今在惡趣,暫得憶念彼如來名,即於念時,從彼處沒,還生人中;得宿命念,畏惡趣苦,不樂欲樂,好行惠施,讚歎施者,一切所有,悉無貪惜,漸次尚能以頭目手足,血肉身分, 施來求者,況餘財物?

復次,曼殊室利!若諸有情, 雖於如來受諸學處,而破尸羅;有雖不破尸羅,而破軌則;有於尸羅軌則,雖則不壞,然毀正見;有雖不毀正見,而棄多聞, 於佛所說契經深義,不能解了;有雖多聞,而增上慢,由增上慢,覆蔽心故,自是非他,嫌謗正法,為魔伴黨。如是愚人,自行邪見,復令無量俱胝有情,墮大險坑。此諸有情,應於地獄傍生鬼趣,流轉無窮。

1-7若 得聞此藥師琉璃光如來名號, 便捨惡行,修諸善法,不墮惡趣;設有不能捨諸惡行、修行善法,墮惡趣者,以彼如來本願威力,令其現前,暫聞名號,從彼命終,還生人趣,得正見精進,善調意 樂,便能捨家,趣於非家,如來法中,受持學處,無有毀犯, 正見多聞,解甚深義, 離增上慢,不謗正法,不為魔伴, 漸次修行諸菩薩行,速得圓滿。

1-8 復 次,曼殊室利!若諸有情, 慳貪嫉妒,自讚毀他,當墮三惡趣中,無量千歲,受諸劇苦!受劇苦已,從彼命終,來生人間,作牛馬駝驢,恆被鞭撻,饑渴逼惱,又常負重,隨路而行。或得為 人,生居下賤,作人奴婢,受他驅役,恆不自在。若昔人中,曾聞世尊藥師琉璃光如來名號,由此善因,今復憶念,至心歸依。以佛神力,眾苦解脫,諸根聰利,智 慧多聞, 恆求勝法,常遇善友,永斷魔,破無明,竭煩惱河,解脫一切生老病死,憂愁苦惱。

復次,曼殊室利!若諸有情,好喜乖離, 更相鬥訟,惱亂自他,以身語意,造作增長種種惡業,展轉常為不饒益事,互相謀害。告召山林樹塚等神;殺諸眾生,取其血肉祭祀藥叉、羅剎婆等;書怨人名,作其形像,以惡咒術,而咒詛之;魘魅蠱道,咒起屍鬼,令斷彼命,及壞其身。

1-9 是諸有情,若得聞此藥師琉璃光如來名號,彼諸惡事,悉不能害,一切展轉,皆起慈心,利益安樂,無損惱意及嫌恨心,各各歡悅,於自所受,生於喜足,不相侵凌,互為饒益。一切展轉,皆起慈心,利益安樂,無損惱意及嫌恨心,各各歡悅,於自所受,生於喜足,不相侵凌,互為饒益。

復 次,曼殊室利!若有四眾:苾芻、苾芻尼、鄔波索迦、鄔波斯迦,及餘淨信善男子、善女人等,有能受持八分齋戒, 或經一年,或復三月,受持學處,以此善根,願生西方極樂世界無量壽佛所,聽聞正法,而未定者,若聞世尊藥師琉璃光如來名號,臨命終時,有八大菩薩,其名 曰:文殊師利菩薩,觀世音菩薩,得大勢菩薩,無盡意菩薩,寶檀華菩薩,藥王菩薩,藥上菩薩,彌勒菩薩。是八大菩薩乘空而來,示其道路,即於彼界,種種雜色 眾寶華中,自然化生。或有因此,生於天上,雖生天中,而本善根,亦未窮盡,不復更生諸餘惡趣。天上壽盡,還生人間,或為輪王,統攝四洲,威德自在,安立無 量百千有情,於十善道;或生剎帝利、婆羅門、居士大家,多饒財寶,倉庫盈溢,形相端嚴,眷屬具足,聰明智慧,勇健威猛,如大力士。若是女人,得聞世尊藥師琉璃光如來名號,至心受持,於後不復更受女身。

2-1復次,曼殊室利!彼藥師琉璃光如來,得菩提時,由本願力,觀諸有情,遇眾病苦,瘦 癴乾消,黃熱等病;或被魘魅蠱毒所中;或復短命,或時橫死;欲令是等病苦消除,所求願滿。時彼世尊,入三摩地,名曰除滅一切眾生苦惱。既入定已,於肉髻中,出大光明,光中演說,大陀羅尼曰:


鞞殺社 窶嚕薜琉璃

缽喇婆 喝囉闍也 怛他揭多也



怛姪他 唵 鞞殺逝

鞞殺逝 鞞殺社




復 次,曼殊室利!若有淨信男子女人,得聞藥師琉璃光如來,應正等覺,所有名號,聞已誦持。晨嚼齒木,澡漱清淨,以諸香花,燒香塗香,作眾伎樂,供養形像。於 此經典,若自書,若教人書,一心受持,聽聞其義。於彼法師,應修供養,一切所有資身之具,悉皆施與,勿令乏少。如是便蒙諸佛護念,所求願滿,乃至菩提。」


2-3  世尊!若此經寶,流行之處,有能受持,以彼世尊藥師琉璃光如來本願功德,及聞名號,當知是處,無復橫死;亦復不為諸惡鬼神,奪其精氣,設已奪者,還得如故,身心安樂。」

佛 告曼殊室利:「如是如是!如汝所說。曼殊室利!若有淨信善男子、善女人等,欲供養彼世尊藥師琉璃光如來者,應先造立彼佛形像,敷清淨座,而安處之。散種種 花,燒種種香, 以種種幢幡,莊嚴其處。七日七夜,受持八分齋戒,食清淨食,澡浴香潔,著新淨衣,應生無垢濁心,無怒害心,於一切有情,起利益安樂,慈悲喜捨,平等之心, 鼓樂歌讚,右繞佛像。

2-4 復 應念彼如來本願功德,讀誦此經,思惟其義,演說開示。隨所樂求,一切皆遂:求長壽得長壽,求富饒得富饒,求官位得官位,求男女得男女。若復有人,忽得惡 夢,見諸惡相;或怪鳥來集;或於住處,百怪出現。此人若以眾妙資具,恭敬供養,彼世尊藥師琉璃光如來者,惡夢惡相,諸不吉祥,皆悉隱沒,不能為患。或有水 火、刀毒懸險、惡象師子、虎狼熊羆、毒蛇惡蠍、蜈蚣蚰蜒、蚊虻等怖;若能至心憶念彼佛,恭敬供養,一切怖畏皆得解脫。若他國侵擾,盜賊反亂,憶念恭敬彼如 來者,亦皆解脫。


2-5 或有女人,臨當產時,受於極苦;若能至心稱名禮讚,恭敬供養彼如來者,眾苦皆除。所生之子,身分具足,形色端正,見者歡喜,利根聰明,安隱少病,無有非人,奪其精氣。」

爾時世尊,告阿難言:「如我稱揚彼世尊藥師琉璃光如來所有功德,此是諸佛甚深行處,難可解了,汝為信不?」阿 難白言:「大德世尊!我於如來所說契經,不生疑惑,所以者何?一切如來身語意業,無不清淨。世尊!此日月輪,可令墮落,妙高山王,可使傾動,諸佛所言,無 有異也。世尊!有諸眾生,信根不具,聞說諸佛甚深行處,作是思惟:云何但念藥師琉璃光如來一佛名號,便獲爾所功德勝利?由此不信,反生誹謗。彼於長夜,失 大利樂,墮諸惡趣,流轉無窮!」


2-6 阿難!此是諸佛甚深所行,難可信解;汝今能受,當知皆是如來威力。阿難!一切聲聞獨覺,及未登地諸菩薩等,皆悉不能如實信解,惟除一生所繫菩薩。



2-7 然 諸有情,有俱生神, 隨其所作,若罪若福,皆具書之,盡持授與琰魔法王。爾時彼王,推問其人, 算計所作,隨其罪福,而處斷之。時彼病人,親屬知識,若能為彼,歸依世尊藥師琉璃光如來,請諸眾僧,轉讀此經,然七層之燈,懸五色續命神幡,或有是處,彼 識得還,如在夢中,明了自見。或經七日,或二十一日,或三十五日,或四十九日,彼識還時,如從夢覺,皆自憶知,善不善業,所得果報;由自證見業果報故,乃 至命難,亦不造作諸惡之業。是故淨信善男子,善女人等,皆應受持,藥師琉璃光如來名號,隨力所能,恭敬供養。」

爾 時阿難問救脫菩薩言:「善男子!應云何恭敬供養,彼世尊藥師琉璃光如來?續命幡燈,復云何造?」救脫菩薩言:「大德!若有病人,欲脫病苦,當為其人,七日 七夜,受持八分齋戒。應以飲食,及餘資具,隨力所辦,供養苾芻僧。晝夜六時,禮拜供養,彼世尊藥師琉璃光如來。讀誦此經四十九遍,然四十九燈;造彼如來形像七軀,一一像前,各置七燈,一一燈量,大如車輪,乃至四十九日,光明不絕。造五色綵幡,長四十九搩手,應放雜類眾生,至四十九,可得過度危厄之難,不為諸橫惡鬼所持。

2-8 復 次,阿難!若剎帝利、灌頂王等,災難起時,所謂:人眾疾疫難,他國侵逼難,自界叛逆難,星宿變怪難,日月薄蝕難,非時風雨難,過時不雨難。彼剎帝利,灌頂 王等,爾時應於一切有情,起慈悲心,赦諸繫閉。依前所說,供養之法,供養彼世尊藥師琉璃光如來。由此善根,及彼如來本願力故,令其國界,即得安隱,風雨順 時,穀稼成熟,一切有情,無病歡樂。於其國中,無有暴惡,藥叉等神,惱有情者,一切惡相,皆即隱沒;而剎帝利,灌頂王等,壽命色力,無病自在,皆得增益。


2-9 爾時,阿難問救脫菩薩言:「善男子!云何已盡之命,而可增益?」救脫菩薩言:「大德!汝豈不聞如來說有九橫死耶?是故勸造續命幡燈,修諸福德,以修福故,盡其壽命,不經苦患。」阿難問言:「九橫云何?」

救脫菩薩言:「若 諸有情,得病雖輕,然無醫藥,及看病者,設復遇醫,授以非藥,實不應死,而便橫死。又信世間邪魔外道,妖孽之師,妄說禍福,便生恐動,心不自正,卜問覓 禍,殺種種眾生,解奏神明,呼諸魍魎,請乞福祐,欲冀延年,終不能得。愚癡迷惑,信邪倒見,遂令橫死,入於地獄,無有出期,是名初橫。二者、橫被王法之所 誅戮。三者、畋獵嬉戲,耽淫嗜酒,放逸無度,橫為非人,奪其精氣。四者、橫為火焚。五者、橫為水溺。六者、橫為種種惡獸所噉。七者、橫墮山崖。八者、橫為 毒藥魘禱咒詛、起屍鬼等之所中害。九者、饑渴所困,不得飲食,而便橫死。是為如來略說橫死,有此九種,其餘復有無量諸橫,難可具說!

3-1 復次,阿難!彼琰魔王主領世間,名籍之記,若諸有情,不孝五逆,破辱三寶,壞君臣法,毀於信戒,琰魔法王,隨罪輕重,考而罰之。是故我今勸諸有情,然燈造幡,放生修福,令度苦厄,不遭眾難。」


「世 尊!我等今者,蒙佛威力,得聞世尊藥師琉璃光如來名號,不復更有惡趣之怖。我等相率,皆同一心,乃至盡形,歸佛法僧,誓當荷負一切有情,為作義利,饒益安 樂。隨於何等,村城國邑,空閑林中,若有流布此經,或復受持藥師琉璃光如來名號恭敬供養者,我等眷屬,衛護是人,皆使解脫一切苦難,諸有願求,悉令滿足。 或有疾厄,求度脫者,亦應讀誦此經,以五色縷,結我名字,得如願已,然後解結。」

3-2 爾時,世尊讚諸藥叉大將言: 「善哉!善哉!大藥叉將!汝等念報世尊藥師琉璃光如來恩德者,常應如是,利益安樂,一切有情。」




The Platform Sutra of The Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng六 祖 壇 經 般若品第二

On the following day, upon Governor Wei’s request, the Master took his seat and addressed the assembly, “Let us purify our thoughts and mindfully recite Maha-prajna-paramita.” Then he said: Noble friends, prajna, the wisdom of enlightenment, is inherent in all people of the world. Only because their minds are deluded, they fail to realize it themselves. Therefore, they need the guidance of great masters to see their true nature.  Know that Buddha nature is no different in the wise and in the ignorant. What separates them is whether one is enlightened or deluded. I will now teach the maha-prajna-paramita so that each of you may attain wisdom. Listen attentively!  I will explain it to you.

Noble friends, people speak of prajna all day, yet they do not recognize the prajna inherent in their nature.  Just as talking about food cannot appease your hunger, talking about emptiness for countless kalpas will not reveal your true nature; ultimately it is of no benefit. Noble friends, maha-prajna-paramita is a Sanskrit term meaning “the great wisdom leading to the other shore.”  It must be practiced from the mind and not merely spoken of. Prajna, only spoken of but not practiced, is like an illusion, a mirage, a dewdrop, or lightning.  By doing both, our speech and mind are in mutual accord. Our original nature is Buddha, apart from this nature there is no other Buddha. (1-1)

What is “maha”? Maha means great. The mind is like the great empty space of the universe; it has no boundaries.  It is neither square nor round, neither great nor small, neither blue yellow, red, nor white, neither above nor below, neither long nor short, neither angry nor happy, neither right nor wrong, neither good nor evil, has neither beginning nor end.

All Buddha Lands are like empty space. Our inconceivable nature is originally empty; not a single dharma is tangible. Such is the true emptiness of our inherent nature.

Noble friends, when you hear me speak of emptiness, do not cling to it.  First and foremost, you must not cling to the concept of emptiness. If you sit in meditation with a mind devoid of awareness; that is called clinging to idle emptiness.

Noble friends, the universe is empty therefore it can contain things of every color and form—the sun, moon, and stars; rivers, hills, and the plains; springs, streams, grasses, and forests; virtuous and evil people, good deeds and bad deeds, heaven and hell, all the oceans, mountain ranges, and Mount Sumeru. All these are possible because of emptiness.  In the same way, our true nature is empty.

Noble friends, our inherent nature can contain myriads of things, that is ‘greatness’. All things are within this nature. If we see evil or virtue in people without any grasping or rejection, without being defiled by any attachment, the mind will be like empty space. In this way, our mind is great and is therefore called ‘maha’.  (1-2)Noble friends, the wise cultivate the mind while the deluded merely talk about it. Then there are some who sit in meditation devoid of awareness, believing that to not think of anything is great.  Because of their erroneous views, it is futile to discuss prajna with them.

Noble friends, the mind has great capacity, pervading the dharma realm; clear and perceiving all, it can understand anything wherever applied.  Everything is one and one is everything.   Coming and going freely, the mind is unobstructed.  This is the state of prajna.

Noble friends, do not let your mind be misled!  Prajna wisdom arises from our inherent nature and is not acquired externally. Prajna is the function of our true nature. When you understand this one truth, you can understand all truths. The mind is of great capacity; it does not take a narrow path.  Do not just speak of emptiness all day while the mind fails to cultivate prajna. This is like an ordinary person who proclaims himself a king but can never be one. Such people are not my disciples.

Noble friends, what is “prajna”? It means wisdom. If at all times and in all places, we cultivate wisdom and every thought is free from ignorance, this is the practice of prajna. With one ignorant thought, prajna ceases; with one wise thought, prajna arises. Ordinary people are deluded and do not understand prajna. They speak of prajna but their minds remain ignorant. They always talk about emptiness and say that they practice prajna, but they do not understand the meaning of true emptiness. Prajna has neither shape nor form; it is the mind of wisdom. To have such understanding is prajna wisdom. (1-3)

What is “paramita”? It is a Sanskrit word for “reaching the other shore” which in Buddhism means to be free from birth and death.  When we cling, birth and death result, like water that breaks into waves—this is called “this shore.” When we are detached, birth and death cease, like water that flows freely and smoothly—this is paramita, “the other shore.”  Noble friends, the deluded merely recite prajna, while erroneous and deceptive [thoughts] continue to arise.  When every thought is in accordance with prajna, that is our true nature.  To understand this teaching is to understand prajna, to cultivate it is to apply prajna.  If you do not apply it you are an ordinary person, but the moment you put prajna into practice you are equal to the buddhas.

Noble friends, the ordinary person is Buddha. Affliction is enlightenment.  A deluded thought makes you an ordinary person, an enlightened thought makes you a buddha.  To have a clinging thought one moment is affliction, to be free from attachment the next is enlightenment.

Noble friends, the Maha-prajna-paramita is the most noble, most exalted, and foremost. It neither stays nor comes nor goes. Buddhas of the past, present, and future all emerge from it. We should use this great wisdom to break through the burdensome afflictions of the five skandhas. Practicing this way, one will certainly attain Buddhahood, transforming the three poisons into sila (precepts), samadhi, and prajna.

Noble friends, in my teaching, this prajna gives rise to 84,000 kinds of wisdom. Why? It is because people of the world have 84,000 defilements. If you are free from defilements, wisdom constantly manifests and you will not deviate from your inherent nature. (1-4)

When you are awakened to this teaching, there is  “no thought”— you are free from recollection and attachments, and do not give rise to delusions.  From your own true suchness, illuminate and observe with wisdom, neither grasp nor reject anything—this is to see your true nature and attain Buddhahood.
Noble friends, if you wish to enter the most profound realm of reality (Dharma realm) and the samadhi of prajna, you must cultivate prajna paramita, uphold and recite the Diamond Sutra, then you will realize your true nature. You should know that the benefits of this sutra as clearly extolled in the text itself are boundless and immeasurable and cannot be fully conveyed in words.  This is a teaching of the Supreme Vehicle and is spoken for the benefit of the very wise and those with superior faculties. When those with lesser faculties and little wisdom hear it, their minds give rise to doubts.  Why?Just as when the celestial dragon sends rain to Jambudvipa, the cities and villages will be flooded and drift about like leaves and twigs. But should it rain on the great ocean, the ocean water will neither increase nor decrease. When practitioners of the Great Vehicle or Supreme Vehicle hear the Diamond Sutra, their minds awaken and are open to true understanding. We therefore know that the wisdom of prajna is inherent in our nature.  By always using this inherent wisdom to illuminate and observe clearly, we need not rely on words. Similarly, the rains do not originate from the sky but are brought forth from the ocean by the celestial dragon, to nourish all animates and inanimates, sentient beings, trees, and grasses. Hundreds of streams flow into the ocean and merge into one body. Such is the prajna wisdom of our intrinsic nature. (1-5)

Noble friends, people of lesser faculties who hear this teaching of Sudden Enlightenment are like plants with shallow roots; overwhelmed by heavy rains, their growth is stunted.  The fundamental prajna wisdom in people of lesser faculties is no different from those who have great wisdom. Why are they not awakened when they hear the Dharma? It is because their mistaken views are hardened and their afflictions are deeply rooted.  It is like dense clouds that obscure the sun; without winds to clear them away, the sunlight cannot shine through.

Likewise, prajna wisdom is neither great nor small. What makes the difference is whether one’s mind is deluded or enlightened. Those with deluded views seeking Buddhahood outside of their minds do not realize their inherent nature; these are people of lesser faculties. Those who realize this teaching of Sudden Enlightenment do not cling to external practices. When the right view arises in their minds at all times, defilements and afflictions can never contaminate them. This is to see one’s true nature.

Noble friends, abiding neither within nor without, coming and going freely, clearing the mind of attachments with thorough and unimpeded comprehension – being able to cultivate this way, one is in complete accord with the Prajna Sutra.

Noble friends, all the sutras and writings of the Greater and Lesser Vehicles, the twelve divisions of the Buddhist Canon, were established for the people.  These teachings were possible because of the nature of people’s wisdom.  If it weren’t for the people in the world, no dharma would exist. Therefore, we know that all dharmas originate from human beings and all sutras were spoken because of people’s needs.  (1-6)

Yet, some people are wise and some are ignorant. The ignorant are considered inferior and the wise superior. When the ignorant question the wise, the wise teach them the Dharma.  When the ignorant suddenly awaken and are open to true understanding, they will be no different than the wise.

Noble friends, without enlightenment, buddhas are just sentient beings; the moment the mind is enlightened, sentient beings are buddhas. Therefore you should know that all dharmas are intrinsic to the mind. Why not immediately realize in your own mind the intrinsic nature of suchness? The Bodhisattva Sila Sutra says, “Our inherent nature is originally pure. If you realize your mind and see its true nature, you will attain Buddhahood.” The Vimalakirti Sutra says, “Suddenly, seeing everything clearly, you return to your original mind.”

Noble friends, when the Fifth Patriarch spoke to me in his quarters, I immediately attained enlightenment, realizing the true nature of suchness. Therefore, I pass down this teaching so that cultivators can attain sudden enlightenment. By contemplating their own mind, everyone can realize their intrinsic nature.

Should you fail to enlighten yourself, you must seek out great masters who understand this supreme doctrine; they can directly show you the right path. These masters are here for a great cause, that is, they will guide you toward the realization of your true nature; all wholesome dharmas arise because of them. (1-7)

Buddhas of the past, present, and future and the twelve divisions of the Canon are fully present in our nature. If you cannot enlighten yourselves, you should seek out masters for guidance; if you can, you do not need to seek externally. Moreover, it is wrong to rely solely on a master for liberation. Why? Because the mind has a master within, it can enlighten itself.  If you give in to erroneous, deluded, and distorted thoughts, even a great master’s teaching would be futile.  If you give rise to genuine prajna contemplation, in an instant all deluded thoughts will cease; if you realize your inherent nature, you awaken and you arrive at the stage of a buddha.

Noble friends, by observing and contemplating with wisdom, which illuminates within and without, we realize our original mind.  Realization of the original mind is true liberation.  To attain liberation is to attain prajna samadhi.  Prajna samadhi is “no thought.”  What is “no thought”?  To understand and perceive all dharmas, with a mind free from attachment and defilement, that is “no thought.”  When in use, this mind pervades everywhere, yet it does not cling to anything.  We only have to purify our mind so that the six consciousnesses exit the six gates (senses) without being contaminated or defiled by the six dusts (sense objects).  Coming and going freely, the mind functions without hindrances, that is prajna samadhi; that is to be free and liberated.  That is the practice of “no thought.”  But if we suppress all thoughts and do not think of anything, that is Dharma bondage and is an extreme view. (1-8)

Noble friends, those who realize the doctrine of “no thought” thoroughly understand all dharmas; those who realize the doctrine of “no thought” perceive the realm of the buddhas; those who realize the doctrine of “no thought” attain Buddhahood.
Noble friends, future generations who grasp my doctrine, vow to uphold this teaching of the Sudden Enlightenment with others of the same view, cultivate together as if they were serving the Buddha, never regress, will surely attain the state of the saints. Without obscuring its true meaning, you should transmit this teaching which was passed down by the patriarchs independent of words and speech.  To those who do not share the same view or practice, or hold other beliefs, the Dharma should not be taught, as this will bring no benefit and may even bring harm. This is because the ignorant may misunderstand this doctrine and slander it, which will hinder the seed of their Buddha nature for a thousand lifetimes or many kalpas. (1-9)

Noble friends, I have a Verse of the Formless which all of you, layperson or monastic, should recite and practice accordingly.  Merely memorizing my words without putting them into practice will be of no benefit. Now listen to my verse:

One who has mastery of the mind
And mastery in teaching the Dharma
Is like the sun shining in the sky;
Through teaching how to see one’s nature
Such one emerges to abolish all false  doctrines.2-1
The Dharma is not inherently sudden or gradual;
Yet according to each person’s delusion,
Enlightenment may come swiftly or slowly.

This way of seeing into one’s nature
Is beyond the comprehension of the ignorant.2-2
Though it may be explained in ten thousand ways,
All return to one principle.
In the dark abode of afflictions,
Always bring forth the sun of wisdom.2-3
False views give rise to afflictions,
Right views eliminate them.
When we discard both views,
Purity is absolute. 2-4
Bodhi is our inherent nature;
Giving rise to any thought is delusion.
The pure mind resides within delusion;
With right views, the three obstructions do not exist.2-5
Nothing can hinder
Those who truly cultivate the Way.
Always reflect on your own faults
To be in accord with the Way. 2-6
All things in nature possess the Way;
They do not impede each other.
If you part from the Way and seek it elsewhere,
You will never find it. 2-7
Striving futilely all your life,
There is only remorse at the end.
To see the true Way,
Engage in the right practice. 2-8
Without the bodhi mind,
Walking in darkness, you are blind to the Way.
True cultivators of the Way
Seek not the faults of others. 2-9
If we find faults in others,
We ourselves are at fault.

Do not condemn others for their faults,
Focus instead on your own wrongs. 3-1
Eliminate the fault-seeking mind
To shatter all afflictions.
Unconcerned with love and hate,
We sleep at ease with legs stretched out. 3-2
Employ expedient means
If you want to liberate beings.
Free others from their doubts,
And their inherent nature will manifest. 3-3
The Buddha Dharma exists for the world,
Apart from this world, there is no enlightenment.
To seek bodhi elsewhere,
Is as futile as looking for horns on a rabbit. 3-4
To have right views is to transcend the mundane world,
To have false views is to be in the mundane world.
Relinquish all right and false views,
Bodhi nature will manifest itself. 3-5
This verse is the teaching of Sudden Enlightenment,
Also called the great Dharma Ship.
Delusion lasts countless kalpas,
Enlightenment takes but an instant. 3-6
The Patriarch then said: “Now in this Da Fan Temple, I have delivered the teaching of Sudden Enlightenment.   I hope that all sentient beings in the dharma realm who hear this will instantly see their true nature and attain Buddhahood. ” At that time, after listening to the Patriarch’s words, Governor Wei, officials and their subordinates, cultivators of the Way, and laypersons all attained some realization. They made obeisance and acclaimed: “This is wonderful! Who would have expected that a buddha would appear in Lingnan (South of the Five Ridges)?”  (3-7)

次日,韋使君請益,師陞座,告大眾曰:「總淨心念摩訶般若波羅蜜多。」復云:「善知識!菩提般若之智,世人本自有之,只緣心迷,不能自悟,須假大善知識示 導見性!當知愚人智人,佛性本無差別,只緣迷悟不同,所以有愚有智。吾今為說摩訶般若波羅蜜法,使汝等各得智慧。志心諦聽!吾為汝說:











何 名波羅蜜?此是西國語,唐言到彼岸,解義離生滅。著境生滅起,如水有波浪,即名為此岸;離境無生滅,如水常通流,即名為彼岸;故號波羅蜜。善知識!迷人 口念,當念之時,有妄有非。念念若行,是名真性。悟此法者,是般若法;修此行者,是般若行。不修,即凡;一念修行,自身等佛。




譬 如天龍下雨於閻浮提,城邑聚落,悉皆漂流,如漂棗葉。若雨大海,不增不減。若大乘人、若最上乘人,聞說《金剛經》,心開悟解,故知本性自有般若之智;自用 智慧常觀照故,不假文字。譬如雨水,不從天有,元是龍能興致,令一切眾生、一切草木、有情無情,悉皆蒙潤。百川眾流卻入大海,合為一體。眾生本性般若之智 亦復如是。(1-5)






三 世諸佛,十二部經,在人性中本自具有,不能自悟,須求善知識指示方見。若自悟者,不假外求;若一向執,謂須他善知識方得解脫者,無有是處。何以故?自心 內有知識自悟。若起邪迷,妄念顛倒,外善知識雖有教授,救不可得。若起正真般若觀照,一剎那間,妄念俱滅;若識自性,一悟即至佛地。
善 知識!智慧觀照,內外明徹,識自本心。若識本心,即本解脫。若得解脫,即是般若三昧,即是無念。何名無念?若見一切法,心不染著,是為無念。用即遍一切 處, 亦不著一切處;但淨本心,使六識出六門,於六塵中無染無雜,來去自由,通用無滯,即是般若三昧,自在解脫,名無念行。若百物不思,當令念絕,即是法縛,即 名邊見。(1-8)



































The Diamond of Perfect Wisdom Sutra金剛般若波羅蜜經



Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha

Sutra Opening Verse

The Dharma, infinitely profound and subtle,
Is rarely encountered even in a million kalpas.
Now we are able to hear, study, and follow it,
May we fully realize the Tathagata’s true

1.  Convocation of the Assembly

Thus I have heard. Once, the Buddha was staying in the Anathapindada’s Park at Jeta Grove in Shravasti, with a community of 1,250 bhiksus. When it was mealtime, the World Honored One put on his robe, took his alms-bowl, and went into the great city of Shravasti, going from house to house to beg for food. This done, he returned to his abiding place, finished the meal, put away his robe and bowl, washed his feet, arranged his seat, and sat down.

2. Subhuti Requests the Teaching

Then, the elder Subhuti in the assembly arose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, knelt on his right knee with his palms joined, and respectfully addressed the Buddha: “How remarkable, World Honored One, that the Tathagata is ever-mindful of bodhisattvas, protecting and instructing them well! World Honored One, when good men and good women resolve to attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment (anuttara-samyak-sambodhi), how should they abide their mind, and how should they subdue their thoughts?” The Buddha said, “Excellent! Excellent! Subhuti, it is as you have said. The Tathagata is ever-mindful of bodhisattvas, protecting and instructing them well. Now listen attentively, and I shall explain it for you: Good men and good women who resolve to attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment should thus abide and subdue their thoughts.” The Venerable Subhuti said: “Yes, World Honored One. We are listening with great anticipation.”

3. The Bodhisattva Vow

The Buddha said to Subhuti: “The bodhisattvas and mahasattvas should thus subdue their thoughts: All the different types of sentient beings, whether they are born from eggs, from wombs, from moisture, or by transformation; whether or not they have form; whether they have thoughts or no thoughts, or have neither thought nor non-thought, I will liberate them by leading them to nirvana without residue. When immeasurable, countless, infinite numbers of sentient beings have been liberated, in reality, no sentient beings have been liberated. Why is this so? Subhuti, if bodhisattvas abide in the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span, they are not bodhisattvas.”

4. Unattached Practice of Charity

“Furthermore, Subhuti, in the practice of charity, bodhisattvas should abide in nothing whatsoever. That is, to practice charity without attachment to form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or dharmas. Subhuti, bodhisattvas should practice charity this way, without attachment to anything. Why? If bodhisattvas practice charity without attachment, their merits are immeasurable. Subhuti, what do you think? Is the space in the eastern direction measurable?” “No, World Honored One, it is immeasurable.” “Subhuti, is any of the space above or below, in the four cardinal directions, or in the four intermediate directions measurable?” “They are immeasurable, World Honored One.”

“Subhuti, the merits attained by bodhisattvas who practice charity without attachment are also immeasurable like space. Subhuti, bodhisattvas should abide in this teaching.”

5. Physical Attributes of Buddhahood

 “Subhuti, what do you think? Can one recognize the Tathagata by means of his physical appearance?” “No, World Honored One. One cannot recognize the Tathagata by his physical appearance. Why not? The Tathagata teaches that physical appearances are actually not physical appearances.” The Buddha said to Subhuti: “All appearances are illusory. To see that appearances are not appearances is to see the Tathagata.”

6. The Merit of True Faith

 Subhuti addressed the Buddha, “World Honored One, will there be any sentient beings who give rise to true faith upon hearing this teaching?” The Buddha said to Subhuti, “Do not even say such a thing. After my passing, in the last five hundred years [of the Dharma ending age], there will be those who observe the precepts and cultivate merit, who have faith that these are words of truth. You should know that these people have not merely cultivated the roots of virtue with one buddha, two buddhas, three, four, or five buddhas; they have cultivated all kinds of virtuous roots with hundreds of thousands, even countless numbers of buddhas. Upon hearing these passages, Subhuti, some will, in an instant, give rise to pure faith. The Tathagata fully knows and fully sees these beings as they attain such countless merits. Why? It is because these sentient beings are free from the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span. They are also free from the notions of dharmas or non-dharmas.

“Why? If the minds of these sentient beings cherish these notions, then they will cling to a self, a person, a sentient being, and a life span. If they cherish the notion of dharmas, they will cling to a self, a person, a sentient being, and a life span. Why? If they cherish the notion of non-dharmas, they will cling to a self, a person, a sentient being, and a life span. Therefore one should not cherish dharmas or non-dharmas. For this reason, the Tathagata often teaches: Bhiksus, know that my Dharma is like a raft. If even the correct teachings (Dharma) should be abandoned, how much more so the incorrect teachings (non-Dharma)?”

7. No Attainment, No Teaching

“Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Tathagata attained unsurpassed complete enlightenment? And does he explain the Dharma?” Subhuti said: “As I understand the meaning of what the Buddha has said, there is no fixed teaching called unsurpassed complete enlightenment. And there is also no fixed teaching that the Tathagata can convey. Why? The Dharma explained by the Tathagata cannot be grasped or explained. They are neither Dharmas nor non-Dharmas. How is this so? It is because all the saints and sages are distinguished by the Unconditioned Dharma.”

8. Real Merit Has No Merit

 “Subhuti, what do you think? If a person were to fill a trichiliocosm with the seven jewels and give them away in charity, wouldn’t the merit attained by this person be great?” Subhuti said, “Extremely great, World Honored One. Why? The nature of merit is empty; therefore the Tathagata says that this merit is great.” The Buddha said: “But if a person comprehends and follows even a four-line verse of this sutra, and teaches it to others, this person’s merit would exceed that of the former example. Why? Subhuti, all buddhas and all of their teachings on unsurpassed complete enlightenment originate from this sutra.  Subhuti, that which is called the Buddha Dharma is not the Buddha Dharma; therefore it is called the Buddha Dharma. ”

9. The Four Stages of an Arhat

 “Subhuti, what do you think? Does a srotapanna have the thought: ‘I have attained the realization of the srota-apanna’?” Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. Why not? Because ‘srotapanna’ means ‘stream-enterer,’ and there is in fact nothing to enter; one who does not enter into form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or dharmas is called a srota-apanna.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does a sakridagamin have the thought, ‘I have attained the realization of the sakridagamin’?” Subhuti said: “No, World Honored One. Why not? Although ‘sakridagamin’ means to go and come one more time, there is, in reality, no going and no coming. Therefore he is called a sakridagamin.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does an anagamin have the thought, ‘I have attained the realization of the anagamin’?” Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. Why not?  ‘Anagamin’ means non-returning [to the human world], but there is, in fact, no such thing as non-returning. Therefore he is called an anagamin.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does an arhat have the thought, ‘I have attained the realization of the arhat’?” Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. Why not? There is, in reality, no such a thing called ‘arhat.’ World Honored One, if an arhat should give rise to the thought, ‘I have attained the realization of the arhat’, this means that he is attached to the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span.

“World Honored One, you have said that of all people I am the foremost in attaining the samadhi of non-contention, and the foremost arhat in being free from desires. But I do not have the thought that I am an arhat who is free from desires. World Honored One, if I were to give rise to the thought that I have attained arhatship, then you would not have said that Subhuti practices aranya—abiding peacefully in non-contention. In reality, Subhuti abides in nothing at all, therefore Subhuti is called one who abides peacefully in non-contention.”

10. Transformation to a Buddha World

The Buddha said to Subhuti, “What do you think? When the Tathagata studied under Dipankara Buddha, did he receive any Dharma?” “No, World Honored One, when the Tathagata studied under Dipankara Buddha, he did not receive any Dharma.” “Subhuti, what do you think? Does a bodhisattva transform a world into a Buddha world?” “No, he does not, World Honored One. Why not? One who transforms the world does not transform the world; that is to transform the world.”

“And so, Subhuti, bodhisattvas and mahasattvas should give rise to a pure mind that is not attached to form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or dharmas. The mind should act without any attachments. Subhuti, if there were a person with a body the size of Mt. Sumeru, what do you think? Wouldn’t this body be huge?” “Extremely huge, World Honored One. Why? The Buddha teaches us that a body is not a body, hence it is called a huge body.”

11. Merits of this Sutra

 “Subhuti, what do you think? If there were as many Ganges Rivers as the grains of sand in the Ganges, wouldn’t the amount of sand contained in all those Ganges Rivers be great?” Subhuti said, “Extremely great, World Honored One. If even the number of the Ganges Rivers is innumerable, how much more so their grains of sand?” “Subhuti, now I tell you truthfully: If a good man or good woman filled as many trichiliocosms as the grains of sand in all those Ganges Rivers with the seven jewels, and gave them away in charity, wouldn’t this merit be great?”  “Extremely great, World Honored One.” The Buddha said to Subhuti: “If a good man or good woman is able to comprehend and follow a four-line verse of this sutra and teach it to others, their merit will be far greater.”

12. The Most Extraordinary Merit

“Furthermore, Subhuti, wherever one teaches or recites so much as a four-line verse of this sutra, that place should be venerated as a Buddha-shrine by heavenly beings, human beings, and asuras in this world. How much more so is the case where one can completely remember, comprehend, and follow this sutra! Subhuti, you should know that such a person has achieved the highest, rarest of accomplishments. Wherever this sutra is present, it is as if the Buddha and the Buddha’s revered disciples were also present.”

13. Naming of the Sutra

Then Subhuti addressed the Buddha, “World Honored One, what should we call this sutra, and how should we uphold it?” The Buddha said to Subhuti: “This sutra is called the Diamond of Perfect Wisdom. You should revere this title and practice the sutra accordingly. Why? Subhuti, the Buddha teaches that ‘prajna paramita’ (perfection of wisdom) is not prajna paramita. Therefore it is called prajna paramita. Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have any Dharma to teach?” Subhuti said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, the Tathagata has nothing to teach.” “Subhuti, what do you think? Are all the tiny particles contained in this trichiliocosm great in number?” Subhuti said, “Extremely great, World Honored One.” “Subhuti, the Tathagata teaches that tiny particles are not tiny particles. Therefore they are called tiny particles. The Tathagata teaches that worlds are not worlds. Therefore they are called worlds.

Then Subhuti addressed the Buddha, “World Honored One, what should we call this sutra, and how should we uphold it?” The Buddha said to Subhuti: “This sutra is called the Diamond of Perfect Wisdom. You should revere this title and practice the sutra accordingly. Why? Subhuti, the Buddha teaches that ‘prajna paramita’ (perfection of wisdom) is not prajna paramita. Therefore it is called prajna paramita. Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have any Dharma to teach?” Subhuti said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, the Tathagata has nothing to teach.” “Subhuti, what do you think? Are all the tiny particles contained in this trichiliocosm great in number?” Subhuti said, “Extremely great, World Honored One.” “Subhuti, the Tathagata teaches that tiny particles are not tiny particles. Therefore they are called tiny particles. The Tathagata teaches that worlds are not worlds. Therefore they are called worlds.

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be recognized by means of his thirty-two physical attributes?” “No, he cannot, World Honored One. One cannot recognize the Tathagata by means of his thirty-two physical attributes. Why not? Because the Tathagata teaches that the thirty-two physical attributes are in fact not real attributes. Therefore they are called the thirty-two physical attributes.” “Subhuti, if a good man or good woman were to dedicate lifetimes as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges River to charitable acts, and another comprehended and followed even a four-line verse of this sutra and taught it to others, the merits gained by the latter would far exceed that of the former.”

14. A Mind Without Attachments

Upon hearing this sermon, Subhuti was moved to tears, having deeply understood its meaning and significance. He said to the Buddha: “How remarkable, World Honored One! You have taught us such a profound sutra. Even though I have long attained the Wisdom Eye, I have never heard such a teaching before. World Honored One, if someone who hears this sutra gives rise to pure faith, and thus perceives the true nature of reality, we should know that this person has achieved the most extraordinary virtue. World Honored One, the true nature of reality is empty. This is what the Tathagata calls the true nature of reality.

“World Honored One, having just heard this sutra, I have no difficulty in believing, comprehending, and following it. But in the ages to come, in the last five hundred years, if there are sentient beings who hear this sutra, believe, comprehend, and follow it, they will be most remarkable beings. Why? These beings do not abide in the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span. Why? Because a self is not a self. The appearances of a person, a sentient being, and a life span are likewise illusory. Why? Those who relinquish all appearances and notions are called buddhas.”

The Buddha said to Subhuti: “So it is, so it is. You should know that if someone who hears the teaching of this sutra is neither shocked, frightened, nor disturbed, this person is extremely rare. And why? Subhuti, the Tathagata says that the foremost paramita is not the foremost paramita. Therefore it is called the foremost paramita. Subhuti, the Tathagata teaches that tolerance paramita is not tolerance paramita. Therefore it is called tolerance paramita. Why? Subhuti, in a former lifetime my body was mutilated by King Kalinga. At that time, I had no notions of a self, a person, a  sentient being, or a life span. Why not? If I had held to the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span, when my body was dismembered limb after limb, I would have given rise to feelings of resentment and hatred.

“Subhuti, I also recall that for five hundred lifetimes I was a rishi of tolerance. At that time, I was also free from the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span. Therefore, Subhuti, bodhisattvas should relinquish all appearances and notions in their resolve to attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment. They should not give rise to any thought attached to form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or dharma. They should give rise to a mind without any attachments. Any attachment of the mind is errant. Therefore the Buddha says that a bodhisattva should practice charity with a mind unattached to form. Subhuti, to benefit all sentient beings, a bodhisattva should practice charity in this way. The Tathagata teaches that all appearances and notions are not appearances and notions, and that all sentient beings are not sentient beings.

“Subhuti, what the Tathagata speaks is true, real, and as it is. His words are neither deceptive nor contradictory. Subhuti, the Truth that the Tathagata has attained is neither real nor unreal. Subhuti, if a bodhisattva practices charity with attachments, he is like a person in the dark who cannot see anything. If a bodhisattva practices charity without any attachments, he is like a person under the bright sun with eyes open, seeing all things clearly. Subhuti, if in a future time there are good men and women who are able to recite, remember, comprehend, and follow this sutra, the Tathagata, with his Buddha-wisdom, will clearly perceive and recognize each one of them as they all achieve immeasurable and infinite virtues.”

15. The Sutra Is a Supreme Vehicle

“Subhuti, if a good man or good woman should renounce their life for charity in the morning as many times as there are grains of sand in the Ganges, and do likewise at noon and in the evening, continuing thus for immeasurable hundreds of thousands of millions of kalpas; and if someone else heard this teaching and gave rise to unwavering faith, the merit of the latter would far exceed that of the former. How much more the merit of those who transcribe, recite, remember, follow, and explain this sutra to others!

“In summary, Subhuti, this sutra carries inconceivable, immeasurable, limitless virtue, and the Tathagata teaches it for the benefit of the aspirants of the great vehicle, and the aspirants of the supreme vehicle. The Tathagata will know and see those, who are able to recite, remember, follow, and widely teach this sutra to others, as achieving innumerable, immeasurable, limitless, and inconceivable virtues. They carry on the work of the Tathagata in bringing beings to unsurpassed complete enlightenment. Why? Subhuti, those who are content with inferior teachings are attached to the views of a self, a person, a sentient being, and a life span. Such people are not able to hear, recite, remember, and explain this sutra to others. Subhuti, wherever this sutra is present, all the heavenly and human beings and asuras in all the worlds should come and make offerings. You should know that its presence is equivalent to a pagoda that all should venerate and pay homage to, by circumambulating or scattering flowers and incense around its hearing  grounds.”

16. Purgation of Bad Karma

“Furthermore, Subhuti, if there are good men or women who recite, remember, comprehend, and follow this sutra, but are belittled by others, it is because of their previous evil karma, which would cause them to be reborn in the wretched destinies. But now, by enduring the disparagement of others, this previous bad karma is eradicated, and they will eventually attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment. Subhuti, I remember that countless kalpas ago, before the time of Dipankara Buddha, I have encountered 84,000 billion nayutas of buddhas, made offerings to, and served all of them without fail. However, if someone in the Dharma-ending age can recite, remember, comprehend, and follow this sutra, this person’s virtue will be one hundred times, even a hundred trillion times greater than mine when I made offerings to all these buddhas. In fact, no such comparison either by calculation or analogy is possible. Subhuti, if I fully revealed the virtue attained by good men and good women in the Dharma-ending age who recite, remember, comprehend, and follow this sutra, some people, upon hearing it, would become suspicious, skeptical, even bewildered. Subhuti, you should know that the underlying meaning of this sutra is inconceivable, and its rewards are also inconceivable.”

17. All Dharmas Are Non-Dharmas

Then Subhuti addressed the Buddha, “World Honored One, if good men and good women resolve to attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment, how should they abide their mind, and how should they subdue their thoughts?” The Buddha said to Subhuti: “Good men and good women who resolve to attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment should think like this: ‘I will liberate all sentient beings by bringing them to nirvana.’ Yet when all sentient beings have been liberated, not a single sentient being has actually attained nirvana. Why not? Subhuti, if bodhisattvas abide in the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span, they are not bodhisattvas. Why? Subhuti, there is actually no resolve for the attainment of unsurpassed complete enlightenment.

“Subhuti, what do you think? When the Tathagata met Dipankara Buddha, did he obtain anything in order to realize unsurpassed complete enlightenment?” “No, World Honored One. As I understand the meaning of your teaching, when you met Dipankara Buddha, there was nothing to obtain for the realization of unsurpassed complete enlightenment.” The Buddha said, “So it is, Subhuti, so it is. There is indeed nothing that can produce the unsurpassed complete enlightenment of the Tathagata. Subhuti, if there were something that could produce the unsurpassed complete enlightenment of the Tathagata, Dipankara Buddha would not have foretold, ‘You will attain Buddhahood in the future, with the name Shakyamuni.’ It is precisely because there is actually nothing to be obtained in unsurpassed complete enlightenment that Dipankara Buddha foretold, ‘You will attain Buddhahood in the future, with the name Shakyamuni.’

Why? This is because ‘tathagata’ means ‘all phenomena (dharmas) as they really are.’ If someone says that the Tathagata attained unsurpassed complete enlightenment, Subhuti, there is in fact, nothing to attain in the Buddha’s unsurpassed complete enlightenment. Subhuti, the unsurpassed complete enlightenment attained by the Tathagata is neither real nor unreal. Therefore the Tathagata teaches that all dharmas are the Buddha Dharma. Subhuti, the so-called ‘all dharmas’ are not dharmas at all. Therefore they are called ‘all dharmas.

“Subhuti, take the example of a person with an immense, perfect body.” Subhuti said, “World Honored One, the person with the immense, perfect body has no such body; therefore it is called an immense, perfect body.” “Subhuti, so it is with a bodhisattva. If someone says, ‘I will bring countless sentient beings to nirvana,’ then he is not a bodhisattva. Why? Subhuti, there is actually no such thing called a bodhisattva. Therefore the Buddha says that all phenomena are free from the ideas of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span. Subhuti, if a bodhisattva says ‘I will transform the world into a Buddha world,’ then he is not a bodhisattva. Why? The Tathagata teaches that one who transforms the world is not the one who transforms the world. That is to transform the world. Subhuti, if a bodhisattva realizes the Dharma of non-self, the Tathagata says this is a real bodhisattva.”

18. All Thoughts Are Intangible

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the physical eye?” “Yes, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the physical eye.” “Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the divine eye?” “Yes, World Honored One, the Tathagata has the divine eye.” “Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the wisdom eye?” “Yes, World Honored One, the Tathagata has the wisdom eye.” “Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the Dharma eye?”  “Yes, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the Dharma eye.” “Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the Buddha eye?” “Yes, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the Buddha eye.” “Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Buddha consider all the sand in the Ganges River as sand?” “Yes, World Honored One, the Tathagata calls it ‘sand.’” “Subhuti, what do you think? If there were as many Ganges Rivers as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, and there were a Buddha world for each grain of sand of all those rivers, would the number of those Buddha worlds be great?” “Great indeed, World Honored One.”

The Buddha said to Subhuti: “The Tathagata is fully aware of the thoughts of each sentient being dwelling in all these Buddha worlds. How is it so? The Tathagata says all these thoughts are not thoughts. Therefore they are called thoughts. Why, Subhuti? Because past thoughts are intangible, present thoughts are intangible, and future thoughts are intangible.”

19. No Merit Is Great Merit

“Subhuti, what do you think? If a person were to fill all the worlds of the trichiliocosm with the seven jewels and give them all away in charity, wouldn’t this person’s merit be great?” “Yes, World Honored One, this person’s merit from such an act would be extremely great.” “Subhuti, if this merit were real, the Tathagata would not say that there is great merit. It is because this merit is non-existent that the Tathagata says that the merit is great.”

20. Transcending Physical Attributes

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Buddha be recognized by means of his perfect physical body?” “No, World Honored One. The Tathagata cannot be recognized by means of his perfect physical body. Why? The Tathagata teaches that a perfect physical body is not a perfect physical body, hence it is called a perfect physical body.”  “Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be recognized by means of his perfect attributes?” “No, World Honored One. The Tathagata cannot be recognized by means of his perfect attributes. Why? The Tathagata teaches that ‘perfect attributes’ are actually not perfect attributes. Therefore they are called perfect attributes.”

21. There Is No Dharma to Teach

“Subhuti, do not think that the Tathagata holds the thought ‘I have something to teach.’ Do not even think such a thing. Why not? Whoever says that the Tathagata has a Dharma to teach slanders the Buddha, because he does not understand my teaching. Subhuti, in teaching the Dharma there is no Dharma to teach. This is called teaching the Dharma.” Then the wise Venerable Subhuti said to the Buddha: “World Honored One, will there be sentient beings in the future [during the Dharma ending age] who will generate faith upon hearing these teachings?” The Buddha said, “Subhuti, they are neither sentient beings nor non-sentient beings. Why? Subhuti, the Tathagata teaches that sentient beings, who go through many births, are not sentient beings. Therefore they are called sentient beings.”

22. No Attainment Is Supreme Enlightenment

Subhuti said to the Buddha: “World Honored One, when the Buddha attained unsurpassed complete enlightenment, was nothing actually attained?” The Buddha said, “So it is, Subhuti, so it is. As to unsurpassed complete enlightenment, I have not attained the slightest thing. This is why it is called unsurpassed complete enlightenment.”

23. All Dharmas Are Equal

“Furthermore, Subhuti, all dharmas are equal, none is superior or inferior. This is called unsurpassed complete enlightenment. When one cultivates all good without the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a lifespan, one attains unsurpassed complete enlightenment. Subhuti, the Tathagata teaches that good is not good, therefore it is good.”

24. The Merits of Transmitting the Sutra

“Subhuti, if a person were to accumulate the seven jewels into mounds equivalent to all Mt. Sumerus in the worlds of a trichiliocosm and give them away in charity, and another person  recited, remembered, followed, and taught this prajna paramita sutra or even a four-line verse of this sutra to others, the merit of the former would not be a hundredth, or even a billionth, of that of the latter. In fact, the merit of the latter would be so great that no comparison, by calculation or by analogy, could possibly be made.”

25. There Are No Beings to Liberate

“Subhuti, what do you think? You should not claim that the Tathagata has the thought, ‘I will liberate sentient beings.’ Subhuti, do not have such a thought. Why? There are in fact no sentient beings for the Tathagata to liberate. If there were sentient beings liberated by the Tathagata, it would mean that the Tathagata holds the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span. Subhuti, when the Tathagata says ‘I’, there is actually no ‘I’. Yet ordinary beings think there is a real ‘I’. Subhuti, the Tathagata says that ordinary beings are in fact not ordinary beings. Therefore they are called ordinary beings”

26. Seek the Buddha Not in Form or Sound

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can one discern the Tathagata by means of the thirty-two physical attributes?” Subhuti said, “Yes, yes. One can discern the Tathagata by means of the thirty-two physical attributes.” The Buddha said, “Subhuti, if one discerns the Tathagata by means of the thirty-two physical attributes, then a wheel-turning sage king would be a tathagata.” Subhuti said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, as I understand the meaning of what you have said, one should not try to discern the Tathagata by means of the thirty-two physical attributes.” Then the World Honored One spoke this verse:

  Those who see me in form,

Or  seek me through sound,

Are on a mistaken path;

They do not see the Tathagata.

27. Avoid Annihilistic Views

“Subhuti, if you think that the Tathagata attains unsurpassed complete enlightenment without the perfection of all attributes, then, Subhuti, you should not think this way , because the Tathagata does not attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment without the perfection of all attributes. Subhuti, if you resolve to attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment with such a thought, you would be asserting the extinction of dharmas. You should not think this way. Why? One who resolves to attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment does not assert the extinction of dharmas.”

28. Bodhisattvas Do Not Accumulate Merits

“Subhuti, if a bodhisattva were to give away enough of the seven jewels to fill as many world systems as the grains of sand in the Ganges River, and another bodhisattva attained the forbearance of the selfless nature of all phenomena, the virtue of this bodhisattva would exceed that of the former. Why? Subhuti, this is because bodhisattvas do not accumulate merits.” Subhuti said to the Buddha: “World Honored One, how is it that bodhisattvas do not accumulate merits?” “Subhuti, bodhisattvas do not cling to the merits they generate. Therefore I say that they do not accumulate merits.”

29. The Thus-Come One Neither Comes Nor Goes

“Subhuti, whoever says that the Tathagata (‘Thus-come One’) comes, goes, sits, or lies down does not understand the meaning of my teaching. Why? The Thus-come One neither comes nor goes. Therefore he is called ‘Thus-come One’.”

30. The Nature of the World

“Subhuti, what do you think? If a good man or good woman were to take all the worlds of a trichiliocosm and crush them into tiny particles, wouldn’t these particles be numerous?” “Extremely numerous, World Honored One. Why? If these tiny particles had real existence, the Buddha would not call them tiny particles. What does this mean? What the Buddha calls ‘tiny particles’ are not tiny particles. Therefore they are called tiny particles. World Honored One, that which the Tathagata calls ‘all the worlds of a trichiliocosm’ are actually not worlds. Therefore they are called worlds. Why? To the extent that these worlds really exist, they do so as a composite. The Tathagata teaches that ‘composites’ are not composites. Therefore they are called composites.”  “Subhuti, a composite is actually ineffable, but ordinary beings form attachments to such phenomena.

31. Extinction of the Four Views

“Subhuti, if someone claims that I teach views of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span, what would you say? Has this person understood the meaning of my teaching?” “World Honored One, this person has not understood the meaning of the Tathagata’s teaching. Why? The World Honored One explains that views of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span are actually not views of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span. Therefore they are called views of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span.” “Subhuti, one who resolves to attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment should know, perceive, believe, and understand all dharmas like this, just as they are, without attachment to the attributes of any dharma. Subhuti, the Tathagata has explained that dharma attributes are not dharma attributes, therefore they are called dharma attributes.”

32. All Phenomena Are Illusions

“Subhuti, if a person were to amass enough of the seven jewels to fill countless worlds and give them away in charity, and if a good man or good woman with the bodhisattva resolve takes as few as a four-line verse of this sutra,  recites, remembers, follows, and expounds it to others, the latter’s merit would far exceed that of the former. How should one teach it to others? Without attachment, abiding in stillness and suchness. Why?

 All conditioned phenomena

Are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow,

Like dew or a flash of lightning;

Thus we shall perceive them.”

The elder Subhuti, other bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, upasikas, heavenly and human beings, asuras, and other beings of the world, having heard the Buddha, were all filled with immense joy; they accepted and followed the teaching faithfully.

姚秦三藏法師鳩摩羅什 譯

































































The Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters佛說四十二章經

(The Buddha Speaks the Sutra 1 of Forty-two Chapters)

Translated into Chinese by Kashyapa-matanga and Gobharana of the Later Han Dynasty 2


In the year of 67 C.E., at the special invitation by Emperor Ming of the Later Han Dynasty, two Indian Buddhist masters from India, Kashyapa-matanga and Gobharana, arrived at Luoyang (洛陽), China. Five years before their arrival, in 62 C.E., Emperor Ming had dreamed that a golden man flew into his palace. The next day he consulted his advisor who told the emperor that must be the sage Buddha. In 64 C.E. a delegation was sent to India to seek the Buddhadharma.

Kashyapa-matanga and Gobharana came with white horses, bearing precious sutras, Buddha statues, and relics. The emperor built them a monastery – the very first Buddhist monastery in all of China, aptly named The White Horse Monastery (白馬寺). There they undertook the great task of translating The Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters – the first Buddhist text translated into the Chinese language.

In the Sutra there are aspects of Theravada and Mahayana; expedient means and ultimate reality; gradual cultivation and sudden enlightenment. Even more importantly, all of the various teachings in the Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters are ultimately one single vehicle pointing to one single goal – enlightenment.

Today one can go on a pilgrimage to the graves of these two great Buddhist masters in the ancient White Horse Monastery in Luoyang, China. Generations of Buddhists are forever indebted to Venerable Kashyapa-matanga and Venerable Gobharana for this monumental scripture.

Translated into Chinese by Kashyapa-matanga and Gobharana of the Later Han Dynasty


Having attained Buddhahood, the World Honored One reflected:  To abandon desire and be immersed in stillness is the supreme Way. Abiding in profound samadhi, one subdues all evil. The Buddha turned the Dharma Wheel of the Four Noble Truths at Deer Park, and led Kaundinya and four others to attain the fruit of the Way. There were also bhiksus who had various questions and implored the Buddha for guidance. The World Honored One taught and directed each one to enlightenment. Joining their palms with reverence and promise, they complied with the Buddha’s noble instructions.

Chapter 1: Renounce the Secular Life and Attain the Fruit of Arhatship

The Buddha said, “Those who take leave of their families, and renounce the secular life, who know their mind, penetrate to its origin, and understand the unconditioned Dharma, are called shramanas. By always observing the 250 precepts, being pure and unblemished in their conduct, and practicing the Path of the Four Truths, they then become arhats. Arhats possess the powers of levitation and transformation. Their lives may span many kalpas, and they can move heaven and earth. Prior to arhats are the non-returners. At the end of their lives, conscious spirits of the non-returners will ascend above the nineteenth heaven, where they will attain arhatship. Prior to non-returners are the once-returners, who ascend to the heavens and return to earth at most once before they become arhats. Prior to once-returners are the stream-enterers, who go through birth and death at most seven times before attaining arhatship. Once desire and lust are eradicated like severed limbs, one will never use them again.”

Chapter 2: No-mind Is the Way

The Buddha said, “Those who renounce the secular life to become shramanas e radicate desire and lust, recognize the source of their own mind, penetrate the profound doctrine of the Buddha, and awaken to the unconditioned Dharma. With nothing to gain from within and nothing to seek from without, their minds are not attached to the Way, nor do they accumulate karma. With no thought, no action, no cultivation, and no attainment, they transcend the successive stages and reach the loftiest state of all. This is called the Way.”

Chapter 3: Desire Makes People Foolish

The Buddha said, “Those who shave their head and beard to become shramanas and cultivate the Dharma of the Way should renounce worldly possessions, be content to beg for alms, and take only what is needed. Eat one meal a day before noon, pass the nights beneath trees, and be vigilant not to desire more, for desire and lust are what make people foolish and deluded.”

Chapter 4: The Ten Evils and Ten Virtues

The Buddha said, “In sentient beings, ten actions are virtuous and ten are evil. What are they? Three pertain to the body, four to the mouth, and three to the mind. Killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct pertain to the body. Malicious, abusive, false, and frivolous speech pertain to the mouth. Envy, anger, and ignorance pertain to the mind. These ten deeds, known as the ten evils, are not in accord with the Noble Way. To renounce the ten evils is to practice the ten virtues.”

Chapter 5: Reducing the Severity of Offenses

The Buddha said, “If a person with many faults fails to repent and cease immediately the thoughts that cause harm, his offenses will consume him, just as waters return to the sea which becomes ever deeper and wider. If a person with faults realizes his errors, corrects his actions and cultivates virtue, his offenses will naturally dissolve, just as sweating enables a sick person to recover gradually.”

Chapter 6: Tolerance without Resentment

The Buddha said, “When a malicious person hears about goodness and intentionally comes to provoke trouble, you should restrain yourself; do not be angry or reprimand him. Evil deeds will fall back upon the evil-doer.”

Chapter 7: Evil Deeds Return to the Doer

The Buddha said, “Someone came to insult me upon hearing that I uphold the Way and practice great benevolence. But I kept silent and did not respond. After he had stopped, I asked him, ‘If you bring someone a gift and he does not accept it, does the gift remain with you?’ ‘It does,’ he replied. The Buddha said, ‘Now you insult me, but I do not accept it; this insult will only bring yourself harm. Just as echo follows sound and shadow trails form, there is no escape. Be vigilant to do no evil.’”

Chapter 8: To Fling Dust into the Wind

The Buddha said, “An evil person who harms a sage is like one who spits toward the sky. The spit does not reach the sky, but falls back on himself. When one flings dust into the wind, the dust does not hit others but is blown back on himself. The sage cannot be harmed; evil actions will inevitably destroy the doer.”

Chapter 9: Knowledge and Practice

The Buddha said, “For those who accrue extensive knowledge of the Way, becoming enamored with it, the Way is difficult to attain. For those with unwavering resolve in following the Way, the Way is great indeed.”

Chapter 10: Joyfully Aid Others in Giving

The Buddha said, “When you see others practicing dana and joyfully aid in their efforts, you gain great blessings.” A shramana asked, “Will these blessings ever be exhausted?” The Buddha said, “It is like thousands of people who light their torches from the flame of a single torch, to cook food and dispel darkness, yet the original flame is undiminished. So it is with these blessings.”

Chapter 11: Fields of Blessings

The Buddha said: “It is better to offer food to a single virtuous person than to one hundred evil people.

“It is better to offer food to one who observes the Five Precepts than to one thousand virtuous people.

“It is better to offer food to one stream-enterer than to ten thousand who observe the Five Precepts.

“It is better to offer food to one once-returner than to one million stream-enterers.

“It is better to offer food to one non-returner than to ten million once-returners.

“It is better to offer food to one arhat than to one hundred million non-returners.

“It is better to offer food to one pratyekabuddha than to one billion arhats.

“It is better to offer food to one of the Buddhas of the three periods of time than to ten billion pratyekabuddhas.

“It is better to offer food to one of ‘no thought’, ‘no abidance’,

‘no cultivation’, and ‘no attainment’ than to a hundred billion Buddhas of the three periods of time.”

Chapter 12: Twenty Difficulties in Cultivation

The Buddha said, “People have twenty kinds of difficulties:

“It is difficult for the poor to practice dana.

“It is difficult for the rich and eminent to practice the Way.

“It is difficult to renounce life when facing death.

“It is difficult to encounter the Buddhist sutras.

“It is difficult to be born in the age of a Buddha.

“It is difficult to subdue desire and lust.

“It is difficult not to covet what one likes.

“It is difficult to face humiliation without anger.

“It is difficult to have power and not abuse it.

“It is difficult to face situations with a detached mind.

“It is difficult to master vast areas of knowledge.

“It is difficult to extinguish self-conceit.

“It is difficult not to belittle those who are unlearned.

“It is difficult for the mind to act with impartiality.

“It is difficult not to gossip or be judgmental.

“It is difficult to meet the right, learned teacher.

“It is difficult to see one’s original nature and practice the Way.

“It is difficult to guide beings appropriately to liberation.

“It is difficult to be unperturbed by circumstances.

“It is difficult to master the expedient means of the Way.”

Chapter 13: Questions about the Way and Past Lives

A shramana asked the Buddha, “What enables one to know past lives and to attain the supreme Way?” The Buddha said, “By purifying your mind with unwavering resolve, you will attain the supreme Way. It is like polishing a mirror; when you remove the impurities, brightness is revealed. By eradicating desires and seeking nothing, you will gain knowledge of past lives.”

Chapter 14: Virtue and Greatness

A shramana asked the Buddha, “What is virtue? What is greatness?” The Buddha said, “To practice the Way and abide by the truth is virtue. When your will is one with the Way, that is greatness.”

Chapter 15: Tolerance and Purification

A shramana asked the Buddha, “What is great power? What is the brightest light?” The Buddha said, “Tolerance under insult is great power, because it harbors not hatred but peace and fortitude. Those who are tolerant are free from evil and will be honored by others. When the mind is utterly purged of defilements, it is pure without blemish or filth; that is the brightest light. From before the formation of heaven and earth, and through the present, there is nothing in the ten directions that one does not see, hear, or know— this all inclusive wisdom is indeed brightness.”

Chapter 16: Renounce Desire to Attain the Way

The Buddha said, “Those who harbor desire and lust cannot see the Way. When our hands disturb clear water, none who gather beside it can see their reflections. Similarly, when people are aroused by desires, their minds are so muddled they cannot see the Way. You shramanas should renounce desire. When desire and lust are purged, the Way will manifest itself.”

Chapter 17: Light Dispels Darkness

The Buddha said, “Seeing the Way is like entering a dark room holding a torch; darkness dissipates and light alone remains. When you follow the Way and see the truth, ignorance vanishes and enlightenment always remains.”

Chapter 18: The No-mind Doctrine

The Buddha said, “My doctrine is to be mindful of no-mind, to act with non-action, to speak the inexpressible, and to cultivate non-cultivation. Those who understand this are close to the Way; those who are confused are far from it. The Way is beyond speech and conception, and nothing can constrain it. To miss this point by a hair’s breadth is to lose the Way instantly.”

Chapter 19: Meditate on the Illusive and the Real

The Buddha said, “Observe heaven and earth and contemplate impermanence. Observe the world and contemplate impermanence. Seeing one’s awareness is bodhi. With this understanding one swiftly attains the Way.”

Chapter 20: The Self Is Empty

The Buddha said, “One should be mindful of the four great elements of the body. Each of them has a name, but an intrinsic self cannot be found. Since the self is empty, it is illusory.”

Chapter 21: Seeking Fame Consumes the Person

The Buddha said, “People follow their desires to seek fame. By the time fame is achieved, the body has fallen apart. Craving for lasting worldly fame instead of learning the Way, we wear out the body with futile efforts. Like a burning incense, its body is turning to ashes as people smell its scent— be aware, the imminent fire will consume you.”

Chapter 22: Wealth and Lust Bring Suffering

The Buddha said, “People are reluctant to renounce wealth and sex. These are like honey on a knife’s blade, which is not enough to appease one’s hunger, yet a child who licks this honey is in danger of cutting his tongue.”

Chapter 23: The Family Is Like Prison

The Buddha said, “Men are bound to their wives and homes more than the confinement of a prison. One may be released from prison, but a wife has no desire to let go. How dare one be reckless and indulge in passion and lust! Although they are as dangerous as the tiger’s jaws, people yield willingly, throwing themselves into the mire and drown. That is why they are called ordinary beings. Those who break free from this prison can transcend all defilements to become arhats.”

Chapter 24: Sexual Desire Hinders the Way

The Buddha said, “There is no desire more powerful than sex; sex as a desire has no equal. Fortunately, there is no other like it. If there were, no one in the world would be able to cultivate the Way.”

Chapter 25: The Fire of Lust Consumes the Body

The Buddha said, “People who succumb to lust are like those who walk against the wind holding a torch; they will surely burn their hands.”

Chapter 26: Deva Tempts the Buddha

Wishing to corrupt the Buddha, the deva offered him beautiful maidens. The Buddha told them, “Skin-bags filled with filth, why are you here? Begone! I have no use for you.” The heavenly demon was filled with respect and asked the Buddha the meaning of the Way. The Buddha instructed him whereupon he attained the fruit of stream-enterer.

Chapter 27: Logs in the Stream

The Buddha said, “Those who cultivate the Way are like logs in a stream, following the current. If they are not grounded on either shore, gathered by men, intercepted by demons or spirits, caught in whirlpools, and they do not decay, then I guarantee that these logs will reach the ocean. If those who follow the Way are not blinded by sensual desires, led astray by evil influences, and are diligent yet empty of effort, then I guarantee that they will attain the Way.”

Chapter 28: Be Wary of the Unbridled Mind

The Buddha said, “Be wary of trusting your own mind, for it is deceptive. Be wary of situations that may incite lust, for those will lead to disaster. Once you have attained arhatship, you can trust your own mind.”

Chapter 29: The Right Way to Counter Lust

The Buddha said, “Be wary and refrain from looking at women or speaking with them. If you do, be righteous in thought and contemplate: ‘I am now a shramana living in an impure world. I should be like the lotus flower, unsullied by mud.’ You should regard elderly women as your mothers, those older than you as your elder sisters, those younger than you as your younger sisters, and the little ones as your children. Resolve to liberate them all, thereby extinguishing impure thoughts.”

Chapter 30: Avoid the Fire of Desire

The Buddha said, “People who cultivate the Way are like those who carry hay; they should avoid fire. Cultivators of the Way must keep their distance from desires.”

Chapter 31: A Still Mind Extinguishes Lust

A man plagued with incessant lust wished to castrate himself. The Buddha told him, “Rather than castrate yourself, you should curb your mind. The mind is like a commander; when the commander halts, so will his subordinates. If you cannot cut off lascivious thoughts, what is the use of castrating yourself?” The Buddha recited the following verse:

  • Desire arises from thinking,
  • Thinking arises from conception and discernment.
  • When both aspects of the mind are still,
  • There is neither form nor action.

The Buddha said, “This verse was spoken by Kashyapa Buddha.”

Chapter 32: Desire Leads to Fear

The Buddha said, “Fear arises from worry, and worry arises from craving and desire. If you abandon desire, what fear or worry could you have?”

Chapter 33: Perseverance in Spiritual Battle

The Buddha said, “One who practices the Way is like a single person battling against ten thousand. Donning his armor and leaving home, his will may weaken, he may retreat halfway, he may be killed in combat, or he may return victorious. When shramanas follow the Way, they should be resolute, diligent, and valiant; not fearing what challenges lie ahead, they destroy all demons and attain the Way.

Chapter 34: Dharma of the Middle Way

One night a shramana was reciting the Sutra Bequeathed by Kashyapa Buddha. His tone was woeful and tense. Plagued by doubts, he thought of abandoning the monastic life. The Buddha asked him, “What did you do when you were a householder?” He said, “I was fond of playing the lute.”The Buddha asked, “What happens when the strings are too loose?” He replied, “There is no sound.” “What happens when the strings are too taut?” He replied, “The sound is discordant.” “What happens when the strings are neither too loose nor too taut?” He replied, “All the sounds are in harmony.”

The Buddha said, “It is the same when a shramana is practicing the Way. If his mind is properly tuned, he will attain the Way. If he pursues the Way too impetuously, his body will be weary. If his body is weary, his mind will be vexed. If vexations arise, his practice will regress. If his practice regresses, his faults will increase. However, if he remains pure, serene, and joyful, he will not lose the Way.”

Chapter 35: Expel Defilements and the Mind Becomes Pure

The Buddha said, “When a man forges iron, he removes impurities to make tools of the finest quality. When those who follow the Way expel defilements from their minds, their deeds will be pure.”

Chapter 36: Stages to Non-Attainment

The Buddha said:

“It is difficult to ascend from the three wretched destinies and be born as a human being. “

“Even as a human being, it is difficult to be born as a man rather than a woman. “

“Even as a man, it is difficult to have all six senses complete. “

“Even without physical or mental impairment, it is difficult to be born in the middle country. “

“Even in the middle country, it is difficult to be born at the time of a Buddha. “

“Even at the time of a Buddha, it is difficult to encounter the Way.”

“Even having encountered the Way, it is difficult for one to generate sufficient faith.”

“Even with faith, it is difficult to bring forth the bodhi mind. “

“Even with the bodhi mind, it is difficult to realize non-cultivation and non-attainment.”

Chapter 37: Be Mindful of the Precepts

The Buddha said, “If disciples thousands of miles away from me are mindful of my precepts, they will surely attain the fruit of the Way. If those who are by my side and see me constantly do not uphold my precepts, they will never attain the Way.

Chapter 38: The Impermanence of Life

The Buddha asked a shramana, “How long can one be sure of staying alive?” “A few days,” was the reply. The Buddha said, “You do not know about life.” He asked another shramana, “How long can one be sure of staying alive?” “The length of a meal,” was the reply. The Buddha said, “You do not know about life.” He then asked another shramana, “How long can one be sure of staying alive?” The reply was “A single breath.” The Buddha said, “Well said, you know about life!”

Chapter 39: The Dharma Is Like Honey

The Buddha said, “Students of the Buddha’s Way should have faith in and comply with all that the Buddha says. It is like honey, sweet from the surface to the middle. So it is with my sutras.”

Chapter 40: Ox Turning a Millstone

The Buddha said, “Shramanas who practice the Way should not be like oxen turning millstones; although their bodies follow the path, their minds do not. If the mind follows the Way, what need is there to labor on the path?”

Chapter 41: A Steadfast Mind

Frees One from Desire The Buddha said, “One who practices the Way is like an ox that carries a burden through a mire. Although very tired, the ox dares not look to the right or to the left; he cannot rest until he gets out. You shramanas must look upon sensual desires as worse than a filthy mire. Being steadfast and mindful of the Way, one can avert suffering.”

Chapter 42: Seeing the Illusions of the World

The Buddha said:

“I look upon positions of nobility as dust drifting through a crevice.

“I look upon treasures of gold and jade as mere rubble.

“I look upon garments of fine silk as worn-out rags.

“I look upon the universe as a small haritaki fruit.

“I look upon the water of the Anavatapta Lake as oil applied to the feet.

“I look upon expedient means as a cluster of imaginary jewels.

“I look upon the supreme vehicle as a dream of gold and silk.

“I look upon the Buddha Way as a flower in the air.

“I look upon samadhi as the great pillar Mount Sumeru.

“I look upon nirvana as being awake both day and night.

“I look upon deviancy and orthodoxy as six dancing dragons.

“I look upon the doctrine of impartiality as the absolute ground of reality.

“I look upon the flourishing of the teaching as a tree in four seasons.”

Having heard the Buddha’s discourses, the great bhiksus joyfully accepted and followed the teaching.

The Sutra of Forty-two Chapters

1 sutra(Sanskrit)佛經. A Buddhist scripture containing the dialogues or discourses of the Buddha.

2 Later Han Dynasty (25 – 220 C.E.) 35 years after the demise of the Former Han Dynasty (206 – 8 B.C.E., also known as Western Han), a relative of the imperial family re-established Han with Luoyang as the capital, (east of Chang An, the former capital), which was also known as the Later (Eastern) Han Dynasty. It was during the rein of the second emperor, Han Ming Di (漢明帝), circa 70 C.E., that Buddhism was brought to China by two Indian Buddhist Masters, Kashyapa-matanga and Gobharana, who also translated the Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters into Chinese.

3 the World Honored One. Bhagavan (Sanskrit). One of the ten honorable titles (十號) of Shakyamuni and all other buddhas. The ten titles are (in Sanskrit and Chinese):

Tathagata (如來): Thus Come One (one who comes from the Truth); Thus Gone One; One who Neither Comes nor Goes

Arhat (應供): One who is (1) worthy of offering, (2) killer of thieves – Arhat has killed the thieves of afflictions and defilements, and (3) free of future rebirths

Samyak-sambuddha (正遍知): Rightly Enlightened, one who knows the whole truth

Vidya-carana-sampanna (明行足): Perfect in Wisdom and Action

Sugata (善逝): Well-Gone (a good death)

Lokavid (世間解): Knower of the World

Anuttara (無上士): The Unsurpassed One

Purusadamya-saratha (調御大夫): The Tamer

Sasta devamanusyanam (天人師): Teacher of Heavenly and Human Beings

Bhagavan (世尊or薄伽梵): World Honored One

4 desire. Here it refers to all levels of attachment to worldly phenomena which are the cause of suffering.

5 stillness. A state of mind in absolute peace and serenity.

6 samadhi (Sanskrit). A highly concentrated state of mind achieved by meditation.

7 evil. To subdue all evil means to overcome all demons who try to block one’s practice.

8 Dharma Wheel. A Buddhist emblem. Dharma, the Buddha’s teaching, is likened to a wheel because it can crush illusions and ignorance. To turn the Dharma Wheel is to spread the Buddha’s teachings.

9 the Four Truths. Refers to The Four Noble Truths, the foundation of the Buddha’s teaching. They are: (1) the truth of suffering, (2) the truth of the cause of suffering, (3) the truth of the cessation of suffering, and (4) the truth of the path that leads to the cessation of suffering.

10 Deer Park. The place where the Buddha delivered his first sermon to the five bhiksus. It is in Sarnath near Varanasi, long considered a Buddhist holy place in India.

11 Kaundinya. The first disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha to become enlightened and one of the first five bhiksus that followed the Buddha.The other four are Bhadrika, Vaspa, Mahanama, and Ashvajit.

12 the Way. The truth, or the path of awakening to the truth, the path to Buddhahood.

13 bhiksu (Sanskrit). An ordained monk who has renounced home life to seek enlightenment; he observes celibacy as well as 250 precepts defining the conduct of a monk. The female equivalent is called bhikshuni.

14 enlightenment. “Bodhi” in Sanskrit, means awakening. An enlightened person is awakened to the truth, the ultimate nature of reality. There are many levels of enlightenment, the highest being Buddhahood.

15 renounce the secular life. Means to leave the secular home life to become a monk or a nun. In addition, it also means 1) to leave the home of the five skandhas(form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness), that is, to identify the five aggregates as the ‘false’ self; 2) to leave the home of klesas (greed, anger, and ignorance) or afflictions; and 3) to leave the home of samsara, that is, the home of the endless cycle of birth and death.

16 unconditioned. The world as perceived by ordinary people are conditioned which leads to suffering. The enlightened beings are able to transcend the conditioned existence and arrive at the unconditioned shore which is to attain nirvana.

17 unconditioned Dharma. To understand the unconditioned Dharma is to realize nirvara. See ‘unconditioned’.

18 shramanas (Sanskrit). Monks. Shramanas diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, striving to eradicate greed, anger, and ignorance.

19 250 precepts. The full set of guidelines of conduct that fully ordained Buddhist monks must observe.

20 arhat (Sanskrit).A Buddhist saint who has realized emptiness, having eradicated all afflictions. An arhat is no longer subject to death and rebirth.

21 power of levitation and transformation. One of the six supramundane powers possessed by an arhat. The other five are clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, knowledge of past lives, and knowledge of having ended all defilements.

22 kalpa. A kalpa is a very long period of time. Formally, a large kalpa is a cycle of the universe, which consists of four stages: birth (of the universe or a “buddha world”), stability, disintegration, and void.

23 non-returner or anagamin. The third stage of arhatship. A non-returner has eradicated all defilements of the Desire Realm and thus will never be born in that realm again.

24 Nineteenth heaven. Heaven in the Realm of Form which is above the Realm of Desire. There are nineteen heavens in the Realm of Desire and Realm of Form. A non-returner ascends above the Nineteenth heaven to reside in one of the five celestial planes of the Saint.

25 once-returner or sakridagamin. The second stage of arhatship. A once-returner has not completely eradicated the defilements of the Desire Realm and thus has to undergo one more human re-birth.

26 stream-enterer or srotapanna. The first stage of arhatship. A stream-enterer is enlightened to emptiness, but yet has to undergo a maximum of seven rebirths as a human and seven rebirths as a heavenly being, alternately, in order to eradicate all defilements.

27 no-mind. The state of the mind free of delusion and dualistic thoughts.

28 recognize the source of their own mind. To realize our original nature, also known as the buddha nature.

29 nothing to gain from within, nothing to seek from without. We are intrinsically whole and complete, lacking nothing spiritually or materially.

30 karma. Karma means action, which includes physical, verbal, and mental activities. By the law of causality, each action has its corresponding consequences. Action that benefits others brings blessings and happiness; action that harms others brings suffering. We are subject to the consequences of our own karma.

31 no thought. The mind is free from deluded thoughts and does not cling to anything.

32 no action. Free from forced efforts. Refer to the annotation of “unconditioned” above.

33 no cultivation. Cultivation without an ego, attachment, and dualistic thoughts.

34 no attainment. The nature of all phenomena, including the fruit of cultivation, is empty.

35 successive stages. The levels of enlightenment to Buddhahood.

36 desire. All kinds of desires, for example the five cravings for wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep.

37 shave their heads. A way Buddhist monastics renounce attachments to appearance and vanity.

38 four evil deeds of the mouth. 1) Malicious speech 兩舌 – divisive words; 2) Abusive speech 惡口 – harsh words, profanities; 3) False speech 妄言 – lying, slandering; 4) Frivolous speech 綺語 – worthless talks, flirtatious talks.

39 offences. Bad thoughts and actions that bring upon suffering.

40 repent. To sincerely confess our bad deeds, speech, and thoughts, to realize the harm they have caused, to make amends and vow never to repeat them again.

41 cease immediately the thoughts. Getting rid of harmful thoughts and calming the mind right away to allow no time for anger and greed to build up within us.

42 sage. An advanced practitioner of the Way who is virtuous and wise, whose words and actions are exemplary.

43 becoming enamored. Becoming attached to the Way, practicing with extreme views, or being captivated with philosophy without practice.

44 the Way is great indeed. For those with unwavering resolve in following the Way, the path opens widely to them. Because of their persistence, they will go far in their cultivation.

45 dana. Charity, the first of the six paramitas (perfections) practiced by a bodhisattva.

46 to cook food and dispel darkness. “To cook food” represents worldly blessings (good karma). “To dispel darkness” represents gaining great transcendental wisdom (prajna), the ultimate blessing of dana paramitas.

47 these blessings. Refer to what the flame can do when thousands of people share it; it refers to the whole thing, not just the single flame.

48 fields of blessings. Good deeds are like seeds; if planted in richer soil (those who are worthy of offerings), they yield greater merits.

49 Five Precepts. The foundation of morality in the Buddhism. They are 1) no killing, 2) no stealing, 3) no sexual misconduct, 4) no lying, and 5) no intoxication.

50 pratyekabuddha. Persons who get enlightened and attain nirvana (1) by meditating on the principle of causality specifically the twelve links of dependent origination; (2) by awakening to the truth through their own effort because they live in time when there is no buddha or Buddhist teachings.

51 three periods of time. The past, present, and future.

52 ‘no thought’, ‘no cultivation’, and ‘no attainment’. Refer to annotations 3133, and 34.

53 no abidance. No clinging, no attachment.

54 encounter the Buddhist sutras. Many people in the world do not have the opportunity to read the Buddhist sutras; those who do should cherish this opportunity as it is a result of great benevolent deeds in the past.

55 detached mind. Seeing things without attachments, i.e. the mind remains calm and lucid without clinging to emotions or becoming vexed by the situations.

56 impartiality. Without preference, prejudice, bias, or discrimination; with the view that all sentient beings have Buddha nature and are intrinsically equal.

57 original nature. The Buddha nature that is intrinsically pure; free from delusions of the false ego.

58 guide beings appropriately. To teach beings according to their individual needs, abilities, dispositions, and circumstances.

59 expedient means. Ways to guide all types of sentient beings on the path to Buddhahood.

60 supreme Way. Ultimate enlightenment, Buddhahood.

61 one with the Way. When our goals, thoughts, and actions are all in unison with the Way.

62 what is the brightest light. The shramana, as a cultivator, is trying to understand how to perceive things in the clearest way so he can practice the bodhisattva way wisely and effectively.

63 tolerance under insult is great power. Through tolerance one can endure insults and turn enemies into allies, therefore benefiting oneself and others. That is the great power in the bodhisattva practice.

64 the ten directions. The eight directions of the compass plus the upward and downward directions.

65 all inclusive wisdom. The wisdom of a fully enlightened one, which includes the wisdom of expedient means and emptiness.

66 no-mind doctrine. One should practice and abide by the Buddha’s teaching of right thought, right action, right speech, and right cultivation. Yet for advanced practitioners, they should understand that all these practices are empty in nature, so one should not be attached to them.

67 mindful of no-mind. To be mindful without delusive and dualistic thoughts; to think without attachment.

68 act with non-action. To act with the understanding that all phenomena are illusive.

69 speak the inexpressible. To speak with the understanding that reality is indescribable.

70 cultivate non-cultivation. To cultivate with the understanding that our original nature is complete and perfect; so there is nothing gained or lost from cultivation.

71 meditate on the illusive and the real. The path to Buddhahood involves both meditation on the conventional truth (the Illusive) and meditation on the absolute truth (the Real).

72 seeing one’s awareness is bodhi. Bodhi is a Sanskrit word for awakening, perfect wisdom, and enlightenment. The goal of Buddhism is to attain the bodhi mind, one’s true awareness. To attain enlightenment is to see into the true nature of one’s own awareness.

73 four great elements. Earth (solid), water (liquid), wind (air or motion), and fire (heat or energy). They comprise all matter.

74 intrinsic self cannot be found. The “self” cannot be found anywhere in the four elements that make up our body; therefore, the self is illusory. Furthermore, each of the four elements has no independent existence, and thus is empty of a “self”. The teaching of emptiness includes two parts: the emptiness of sentient beings and of all phenomena. (The same is true with the other skandhas.)

75 lasting worldly fame. No matter how great one’s fame is, when that person dies, it becomes irrelevant; the karmic consequences of one’s deeds however follow the person like a burning fire.

76 the imminent fire will consume you. The strong habitual desires and their karmic consequences are the fire that will continue to destroy us.

77 men are bound to their wives. Vice versa, women are also bound to their husbands and homes, and the husband has no desire to let go.

78 deva (Sanskrit). Devas are heavenly beings with significantly higher powers than that of human beings. They are usually benevolent with some exceptions. The deva denoted here is probably the ruler of the sixth heaven, Mara. Mara actively hinders spiritual seekers who are near enlightenment, because they will soon transcend samsara and be out of his control. (Also see annotation 98 “demons”.)

79 skin-bags. Our body is literally a skin-bag, inside of which are wastes, fetid bodily fluids, germs, and many other foul substances. This is a kind of impurity contemplation that lessens our attraction to the human body, eventually realizing the body is neither impure nor pure.

80 either shore. Refers to extreme views.

81 gathered by men. As human beings, we are easily pulled away from our cultivation by either loved ones or enemies because of our desires and anger.

82 intercepted by demons and spirits. When cultivators harbor false and erroneous views, they are vulnerable to demons and bad spirits.

83 caught in whirlpools. There are different kinds of barriers in the path of cultivation. If one is not diligent in overcoming obstacles, or if one is attached to secular rewards, then one is caught in a whirlpool, not making real progress.

84 do not decay. One observes the precepts correctly and does not become morally corrupted.

85 diligent yet empty of effort. To attain the Way one must be diligent, but the perfection of diligence is “empty of effort”, or “wu-wei” — i.e. the Way becomes completely natural and effortless.

86 unbridled mind. Our ordinary mind is easily distracted, clinging to sights, sounds, memories, and ideas, like an unbridled wild horse, unstoppable and rarely in control.

87 once you have … trust your own mind. Our mind can deceive itself unless we become arhats, which means we are free from delusions.

88 lotus flower. A symbol of purity in Buddhism because it grows from muddy water and blooms without a trace of mud left upon it. Mud represents defilements that soil our mind.

89 regard women as your mother and sister. All sentient beings have been our relatives through our countless rebirths, so we should regard them as our family and try to help them achieve liberation instead of viewing them as objects of desire.

90 hay, fire. Before cultivators get rid of the root of desire, they are vulnerable to temptations and thus should be very cautious.

91 curb your mind. While the man blamed his lust on the physical body, the Buddha pointed out that all problems originate in the mind.

92 both aspects of the mind. Refers to “conception”(想) and “discernment”(思). When both are quiescent, then “thinking” and “desire” will not arise.

93 neither form nor action. “Form” refers to the physical body and “action” refers to mental activities (feeling, conception…). When both aspects of the mind are still, one sees that form and action are both empty.

94 Kashyapa Buddha. There are buddhas in the past, present, and future. Kashyapa Buddha, one of the Past Seven Buddhas, is the one immediately preceding the historical Shakyamuni Buddha.

95 fear. Fear arises from worrying about losing what we have and not getting what we desire.

96 ten thousand. A metaphor referring to the many habitual thoughts, actions, and demons that can hinder the practitioner.

97 donning the armor and leaving home. Means practicing the Dharma and being ready to fight the “ten thousand”.

98 demons. Refers to the four kinds of demons (or Maras) that block one’s practice: the five skandhas (skandha-mara), the five poisons (klesha-mara), death (matyu-mara), and the heavenly demons. (Also see annotation 80 “heavenly demon“.)

99 the Middle Way. Without dualistic thoughts or harboring extreme views. Here it means that in practicing the Way, one’s attitude must not be too lax or too eager.

100 shramana (Sanskrit). A monk (see annotation 18.) Here the monk is Sronakotivimsa or “Two-billion Ear.” He is known as the most diligent of the Buddha’s disciples.

101 doubts. In Buddhism, three types of doubt can hinder one’s practice of the Way 1) the doubt of the Dharma, i.e. whether the Dharma can free us of our sufferings, 2) the doubt of oneself, i.e. whether one can make the journey, and 3) the doubting of Dharma teachers, i.e. whether or not they can lead us to enlightenment.

102 defilements. Refers to all kinds of afflictions such as greed, anger, ignorance, and dualistic thoughts.

103 three wretched destinies. The three lower planes of existence in the realm of desire, namely animal, hungry ghost, and hell.

104 it is difficult … born as a human being. An analogy in Buddhism says the chance of being born as a human being is like a blind turtle who rises to the surface of the sea every one hundred years and happens to poke his head through a hole in a piece of floating drift wood.

105 it is difficult to be born as a man. In the time of the Buddha, women suffer more than men. It was preferable to be born a man just as it was preferable to be born into a higher caste. The Buddha broke the caste and gender barriers by leading both men and women to enlightenment through his teachings.

106 six senses complete. It is difficult for one to learn the Buddha’s teaching without the five sense organs or without a sound mind.

107 the middle country. A country that is the center of culture, knowledge, and where Buddhism prospers. At the time of the Buddha, it refers to India.

108 sufficient faith. It includes 1) believing the Principle of Causality, 2) understanding “emptiness”, 3) seeing that all sentient beings have the Buddha nature and that Buddha nature is inherently whole and complete.

109 bring forth the bodhi mind. A bodhi mind is an awakened mind. To bring forth the bodhi mind is to attain enlightenment. Before one gets enlightened, this phrase also means to resolve to attain Buddhahood and liberate countless sentient beings.

110 non-cultivation and non-attainment. Through the understanding of the principle of emptiness, one cultivates without the thought of self, others, actions, and attachments to their results.

111 sweet from the surface to the middle. Like the sweetness of honey, the Buddha’s words are consistently beneficial to those who follow them. The teachings are sweet from the surface (expedient means) to the middle (the ultimate truth of the Middle Way.)

112 an ox turning a millstone. In a granary an ox is yoked to grind grain by turning a millstone. The ox follows a path around the grinding stone because he is forced to, but his mind does not. A shramana should have his mind and body unified in his cultivation path.

113 “I look upon positions ….. as a tree in four seasons.” In the first five verses of this chapter, the Buddha presents perceptions of worldly objects that differ from our own. This allows us to contemplate our attachments to our own perceptions. It also shows the impermanent nature of both worldly objects and attachments. In the next eight verses, the Buddha looks upon his own teachings as impermanent. They are useful only as a means to perfect enlightenment. He has no attachment to his own teaching.

114 haritaki fruit. Haritaki fruit is a type of Indian fruit, very small in size. We see the world as massive, yet the Buddha perceives the universe as a small fruit.

115 Anavatapta Lake. What we see as abundant, the Buddha sees it as a few drops of oil. Anavatapta Lake is a great lake near the Himalayas, from which it is said flows the waters of the four great rivers of India, including the Ganges and Indus. Its cool and pure water is considered precious and sacred.

116 imaginary jewels. It is said the Buddha provided eighty-four thousand expedient means to transform our eighty-four thousand afflictions. For those in need, expedient means are treasured. In the Buddha’s eyes, expedient means exist only for the people who need it. When the need is gone, they are like imaginary jewels that should disappear.

117 Supreme Vehicle. The One Vehicle that brings everyone to Buddhahood.

118 flowers in the air. An Indian metaphor for the illusion seen by one with eye disease. The Buddha Way exists for the illnesses of the world.

119 samadhi as the great pillar Mount Sumeru. Mount Sumeru is the greatest mountain in the world like a pillar holding up the sky. Worldly Samadhi is as stable as Mount Sumeru. However, just as Mount Sumeru (because it is made of the four elements) will become speckles of dust as the world eventually disintegrates, worldly samadhi is impermanent like any phenomena.

120 nirvana as being awake both day and night. Nirvana is being fully awake (enlightened) at all times, contrary to samsara which is dreaming (deluded) both day and night. Nirvana and samsara are still relative concepts; higher enlightenment means to see that nirvana and samsara are not different.

121 six dancing dragons. This analogy comes from the perspective of the Middle Way. The “six dancing dragons” refers to our six senses. Aversion and attachment to phenomena that our six senses perceived are two extremes. For example, ordinary people may view a body as attractive (deviancy), but from the Theravadans’ point of view, a body is repulsive (orthodoxy). In the ultimate truth, there is no absolute good or bad, pure or impure, up or down, merely the head and tail of a dancing dragon constantly switching places as it moves around.

122 absolute ground of reality. This comes from the perspective of emptiness. All sentient beings have the Buddha nature, therefore they are equal. All phenomena are mutually dependent and inseparable, therefore they are equal. This is the absolute ground of reality.

123 a tree in four seasons. This analogy comes from the perspective of conventional truth. The Buddha sees that his teaching, like a tree in four seasons, goes through the cycle of germination, growth, fruition, and deterioration. The propagation of the teaching waxes and wanes.

124 the great bhiksus. A “great bhiksus” in Buddhism usually refers to the elder bhiksus of the Buddha’s disciples or to bhiksus who have already attained arhatship. Here it includes all those who are present in the assembly.

後漢迦葉摩、竺法蘭 合譯

經  序



佛 言:辭親出家,識心達本,解無為法,名曰沙門。常行二百五十戒,進止清淨,為四真道行,成阿羅漢。阿羅漢者,能飛行變 化,曠劫壽命,住動天地。次為阿那含,阿那含者,壽終靈神上十九天,證阿羅漢。次為斯陀含,斯陀含者,一上一還,即得阿羅漢。次為須陀洹,須陀洹者,七死 七生,便證阿羅漢。愛欲斷者,如四肢斷,不復用之。



 第三章: 割愛去貪







佛言:惡人聞善,故來撓亂者,汝自禁息,當無瞋責。彼來惡者而自惡之 。




佛言:惡人害賢者, 猶仰天而唾,唾不至天,還從己墮。逆風揚塵,塵不至彼,還坌己身。賢不可毀,禍必滅己。





佛 言:飯惡人百,不如 飯一善人。飯善人千,不如飯一持五戒者。飯五戒者萬,不如飯一須陀洹。飯百萬須陀洹,不如飯一斯陀含。飯千萬斯陀含,不如飯一阿那含。 飯一億阿那含,不如飯一阿羅漢。飯十億阿羅漢,不如飯一辟支佛。飯百億辟支佛,不如飯一三世諸佛。飯千億三世諸佛,不如飯一無念無住無修無證之者。佛 言:飯惡人百,不如 飯一善人。飯善人千,不如飯一持五戒者。飯五戒者萬,不如飯一須陀洹。飯百萬須陀洹,不如飯一斯陀含。飯千萬斯陀含,不如飯一阿那含。 飯一億阿那含,不如飯一阿羅漢。飯十億阿羅漢,不如飯一辟支佛。飯百億辟支佛,不如飯一三世諸佛。飯千億三世諸佛,不如飯一無念無住無修無證之者。


佛 言:人有二十難。貧 窮布施難。豪貴學道難。棄命必死難。得睹佛經難。生值佛世難。忍色忍欲難。見好不求難。被辱不瞋難。有勢不臨難。觸事無心難。廣學博究 難。除滅我慢難。不輕未學難。心行平等難。不說是非難。會善知識難。見性學道難。隨化度人難。睹境不動難。善解方便難。



第十五章: 請問力明







第二十 章:妻子甚獄 


第二十 章:色欲障道






第二十八章: 意馬莫縱











沙 門夜誦迦葉佛遺教經,其聲悲緊,思悔欲退。佛問之曰:汝昔在家,曾為何業?對曰:愛彈琴。佛言:弦緩如何?對曰:不鳴矣。弦急如何?對曰:聲絕矣。急緩得 中如何?對曰:諸音普矣。佛言:沙門學道亦然。心若調適,道可得矣。於道若暴,暴即身疲。其身若疲,意即生惱。意若生惱,行即退矣。其行既退,罪必加矣。 但清淨安樂,道不失矣。






佛 言:吾視王侯之位, 如過隙塵。視金玉之寶,如瓦礫。視紈素之服,如敝帛。視大千界,如一訶子。視阿耨池水,如塗足油。視方便門,如化寶聚。視無上乘,如夢 金帛。視佛道,如眼前華。視禪定,如須彌柱。視涅槃,如晝夕寤。視倒正,如六龍舞。視平等,如一真地。視興化,如四時木。諸大比丘,聞佛所說,歡喜奉行。

The Sutra on Impermanence佛 說 無 常 經

I prostrate and take refuge in the Unsurpassed One
Who, with endless vows of great compassion,
Ferries sentient beings across the stream of birth and death,
To reach the safe haven of nirvana.
With great charity, morality, tolerance, and diligence,
One-mind, expedience, right wisdom, and power,
Having reached perfection in benefiting self and others,
He is called the Tamer, Teacher of Heavenly and Human Beings.
I prostrate and take refuge in the wondrous Dharma treasury;
By the teaching of three “Fours” and two “Fives” being perfect and clear,
And the “Seven” and “Eight” opening the gate to the Four Truths,
Cultivators reach the shore of the Unconditioned.
The Dharma clouds and Dharma rain imbue all beings,
Eliminating searing afflictions and illnesses,
Tempering and converting the obstinate,
Guiding everyone appropriately, not by force.
I prostrate and take refuge in the saints,
The superior beings of the eight stages,
Who can be freed from defilements.
With the vajra scepter of wisdom,
They shatter the mountain of delusion,
Forever severing the beginningless ties and fetters.

In the epoch from Deer Park to the Twin Trees,
They follow the Buddha in propagating the True Teaching.
According to individual vows and karma, they complete
Their missions, realize nonbirth, and abide in stillness
With body and knowledge extinguished.
I prostrate and venerate the Three Jewels,
The true source of liberation for all,
Leading those drowning in samsara
From foolish delusion to enlightenment.
All who are born will die,
All beauty will fade,
The strong are stricken by illness,
And no one can escape.
Even the great Mt. Sumeru
Will erode by the kalpa’s end.
The vast and fathomless seas
Will eventually dry up.
The earth, sun, and moon
Will all perish in due time.
Not one thing in the world
Can escape impermanence.
From beings in the Neither Thought nor Non-Thought
Down to the Wheel-Turning Kings
Accompanied by the seven treasures and
Surrounded by a thousand sons,
When their lives have ended,
Without a moment’s delay,
They drift again in the sea of death,
And suffer according to their karma.

Transmigrating within the Triple Realm
Is like the turning of a well-bucket’s wheel,
Or like a silkworm,
Spinning a cocoon to confine itself.
Even the unsurpassed buddhas,
Pratyekabuddhas, and shravakas,
Give up their impermanent bodies,
Why not ordinary beings!
Parents, spouses, and children,
Siblings and other relatives,
Witnessing the separation of life and death,
Don’t they all lament and grieve?
Therefore everyone is urged
To heed the true Dharma,
Renounce what is impermanent,
And practice the Deathless Path.
Like sweet dew that cools and purifies,
The Dharma eradicates all afflictions.
So listen with one-mind!
Thus have I heard. Once, the Bhagavan was at the Jetavana
Grove in Anathapindika Park in Shravasti. At that time the
Buddha told the bhiksus: “In this world there are three things
that are not likable, not lustrous, not desired, and not
agreeable. What are the three? Aging, illness, and death.
Bhiksus! Aging, illness, and death, of all things in this world,
are truly not likable, not lustrous, not desired, and not
agreeable. If there were no aging, illness, and death in the
world, Tathagata, the Worthy and Completely Enlightened
One, need not appear in this world, to speak to all sentient
beings on how to cultivate and what can be attained.

“Therefore, you should know that aging, illness, and death,
of all things in this world, are not likable, not lustrous, not
desired, and not agreeable. Because of these three things,
Tathagata, the Worthy and Completely Enlightened One,
appears in the world, to speak to all sentient beings on how
to cultivate and what can be attained.” Then the World
Honored One reiterated this teaching in the following gatha:
All external splendor will perish,
Likewise the body will decay.
Only the incomparable Dharma will endure.
The wise should discern clearly.
Aging, illness, and death are resented by all;
Their appearance is dreadful and repulsive.
The countenance of youth is fleeting,
Soon it will wither and fade;
Even living to a hundred years, still,
One must give in to the force of impermanence.
The suffering of aging, illness, and death
Constantly afflicts all sentient beings.
When the World Honored One had spoken this sutra, the
bhiksus, devas, dragons, yaksas, ghandaras, asuras and so
forth were all filled with immense joy; they accepted and
followed the teaching faithfully.
Always pursuing worldly desires
And not performing good deeds,
How can you maintain your body and life,
And not see the approach of death?
When the breath of life is ending,
Limbs and joints separate;

The agonies of death converge,
And you can only lament.
Eyes roll up, the blade of death
Strikes down with the force of karma.
The mind fills with fear and confusion,
And no one can save you.
Gasping, the chest heaves rapidly;
Shortened breaths parch the throat.
The king of death demands your life,
And relatives can only stand by.
All consciousness becomes hazy and dim,
As you enter the city of peril.
Friends and relatives forsake you,
As the rope drags you away
To the place of King Yama,
Where fate is determined by karma.
Virtuous deeds give rise to good destinies,
And bad karma plunges one into hell.
There is no vision clearer than wisdom,
And nothing darker than ignorance,
There is no sickness worse than hatred,
And no fear greater than death.
All that live must die;
Commit sins and the body suffers.
Be diligent in examining the three karmas,
Always cultivate merits and wisdom.
All your relatives will desert you,
All possessions will be gone;
You have only your virtues
As sustenance on this treacherous path.
Like those who rest by a roadside tree,
They will not linger long;

Wife, children, carriages, and horses
Will likewise soon be gone.
Like birds that gather at night,
Going their separate ways at dawn,
Death callously parts all relatives and friends.
Only buddha enlightenment is our true refuge.
I have spoken in brief according to the sutras,
The wise should reflect and take heed.
Devas, asuras, yaksas, and so forth who come,
Hear the Buddha’s teaching with utmost sincerity!
Uphold the Dharma so it may endure,
Each of you should practice with diligence.
All sentient beings who come for the teaching,
Whether on land or in the air,
Always be kind-hearted in this world,
Abide in the Dharma day and night.
May all worlds be safe and peaceful;
May infinite blessings and wisdom benefit all beings.
May all sinful karma and suffering be removed;
May all enter perfect stillness.
Anoint the body with the fragrance of precepts,
And sustain it with the strength of samadhi;
Adorn the world with flowers of bodhi wisdom,
Dwell in peace and joy wherever you are.稽首歸依無上士      常起弘誓大悲心
為濟有情生死流      令得涅槃安隱處
大捨防非忍無倦      一心方便正慧力
自利利他悉圓滿      故號調御天人師
稽首歸依妙法藏      三四二五理圓明
七八能開四諦門      修者咸到無為岸

法雲法雨潤群生      能除熱惱蠲眾病
難化之徒使調順      隨機引導非強力
稽首歸依真聖眾      八輩上人能離染
金剛智杵破邪山      永斷無始相纏縛
始從鹿苑至雙林      隨佛一代弘真教
各稱本緣行化已      灰身滅智寂無生
稽首總敬三寶尊      是謂正因能普濟
生死迷愚鎮沈溺      咸令出離至菩提

生者皆歸死      容顏盡變衰      強力病所侵      無能免斯者
假使妙高山      劫盡皆壞散      大海深無底      亦復皆枯竭
大地及日月      時至皆歸盡      未曾有一事      不被無常吞
上至非想處      下至轉輪王      七寶鎮隨身      千子常圍繞
如其壽命盡      須臾不暫停      還漂死海中      隨緣受眾苦

循環三界內      猶如汲井輪      亦如蠶作繭      吐絲還自纏
無上諸世尊      獨覺聲聞眾      尚捨無常身      何況於凡夫
父母及妻子      兄弟并眷屬      目觀生死隔      云何不愁歎
是故勸諸人      諦聽真實法      共捨無常處      當行不死門
佛法如甘露      除熱得清涼      一心應善聽      能滅諸煩惱


外事莊彩咸歸壞      內身衰變亦同然
唯有勝法不滅亡      諸有智人應善察
此老病死皆共嫌      形儀醜惡極可厭
少年容貌暫時住      不久咸悉見枯嬴
假使壽命滿百年      終歸不免無常逼
老病死苦常隨逐      恒與眾生作無利
爾時世尊。說是經已。諸苾芻眾。天龍 藥叉 揵闥婆

常求諸欲境 不行於善事 云何保形命 不見死來侵
命根氣欲盡 支節悉分離 眾苦與死俱 此時徒歎恨
兩目俱翻上 死刀隨業下 意想並慞惶 無能相救濟
長喘連胸急 短氣喉中乾 死王催伺命 親屬徒相守
諸識皆昏昧 行入險城中 親知咸棄捨 任彼繩牽去
將至琰魔王 隨業而受報 勝因生善道 惡業墮泥犁

明眼無過慧 黑闇不過癡 病不越怨家 大怖無過死
有生皆必死 造罪苦切身 當勤策三業 恒修於福智
眷屬皆捨去 財貨任他將 但持自善根 險道充糧食
譬如路傍樹 暫息非久停 車馬及妻兒 不久皆如是
譬如群宿鳥 夜聚旦隨飛 死去別親知 乖離亦如是
唯有佛菩提 是真歸仗處 依經我略說 智者善應思

天阿蘇羅藥叉等 來聽法者應至心
擁護佛法使長存 各各勤行世尊教
諸有聽徒來至此 或在地上或居空
常於人世起慈心 晝夜自身依法住
願諸世界常安隱 無邊福智益群生
所有罪業並消除 遠離眾苦歸圓寂
恒用戒香塗瑩體 常持定服以資身
菩提妙華遍莊嚴 隨所住處常安樂

The Essence of Mahayana Practice菩提達磨大師略辨大乘入道四行觀

by Master Bodhidharma

Complete title: “Great Master Bodhidharma’s Essential Discourse on Entering the Mahayana Path by Principle and by Practice”

To enter the Great Way there are many paths, but essentially they are of two means: by Principle and by Practice. Entering the Way by Principle means to awaken to the Truth through the doctrine, with a deep faith that all sentient beings have the same true nature. Obscured by the fleeting dust of delusions, this nature cannot manifest itself. If one can relinquish the false and turn to the true, fix the mind in “wall meditation”, understand that there are neither self nor others, that mortals and saints are equal and one—abiding this way without wavering, clinging not even to the scriptures, then one is implicitly in accord with the Principle. Being non-discriminative, still, and empty of effort is to Enter by Principle.

Entering by Practice means following four practices that encompass all other practices. They are: accepting adversity, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and acting in accordance with the Dharma.

What is the practice of accepting adversity? When suffering, a practitioner of the Way should reflect: “For innumerable kalpas, I have pursued the trivial instead of the essential, drifted through all spheres of existence, created much animosity and hatred, maligned and harmed others endlessly. Even though now I have done no wrong, I am reaping the karmic consequences of past transgressions. It is something that neither the heavens nor other people can impose upon me. Therefore I should accept it willingly,

without any resentment or objection.” The sutra says, “Face hardships without distress.” How? With thorough insight. With this understanding in mind, you are in accord with the Principle, advancing on the Way through the experience of adversity. This is called the practice of accepting adversity.

Second is the practice of adapting to conditions. Sentient beings are without a self, being steered by karmic conditions. Suffering and joy are experienced together as a result of causes and conditions. Any reward, blessing or honor is a consequence of past causes; nothing remains when the necessary conditions are exhausted. So what is there to be joyful about? Knowing that success and failure depend on conditions, the mind remains unmoved by the wind of joy, experiencing neither gain nor loss. This is to be in harmony with the Way. Therefore it is called the practice of adapting to conditions.

Third, to seek nothing. Ordinary people, in their perpetual ignorance, crave and form attachments to everything, everywhere. This is called seeking. The wise are awakened to the Truth, and choose reason over convention; even though their forms follow the law of causality, their minds are at peace and empty of effort. Since all existence is empty, there is nothing to be desired. Blessing and Darkness always follow each other. This long sojourn in the Triple Realm is like living in a burning house; to have

a body is to suffer, how can one attain peace? Those who understand this renounce all mundane existence, cease desires, and stop seeking. The sutra says, “To seek is to suffer, to seek nothing is bliss.” It follows that to seek nothing is to truly follow the Way. This is the practice of seeking nothing.

Fourth, to act in accordance with the Dharma. The principle of intrinsic purity is the Dharma. By this principle, all forms and characteristics are empty, without defilement and attachment, without self or others. The sutra says, “In the Dharma there are no sentient beings, because it is free of the impurities of sentient beings. In the Dharma there is no self, because it is free of the impurities of self.” When

the wise believe in and understand this principle, they should also act in accordance with the Dharma. There is no parsimony in the Dharma, so practice the giving of body, life, and possessions without any reservation. Understand and achieve “triple emptiness”, with no reliance and no attachment. One liberates others without becoming attached to form, thus removing impurities. This benefits oneself, benefits others, and also glorifies the bodhi path. Dana is perfected this way; so are the other five paramitas. In order to relinquish delusions, one practices these six perfections, yet nothing is practiced. This is to act in accordance with the Dharma.

The Essence of Mahayana Practice Annotation

Mahayana 大乘

The great (maha) vehicle (yana). It is the bodhisattva path which leads to Buddhahood. This involves devotion to the liberation of all beings and the perfection of wisdom.

Bodhidharma 菩提達磨大師

The 28th Zen (Chan) Patriarch of India, who founded the Zen school of Buddhism in China (and therefore is the first Zen Patriarch of China). This current text is one of the very few records we have of his teaching.

enter the Great Way

“Great Way” refers to the Mahayana path, the path to become a buddha and enlighten countless others. To enter the Great Way is to truly understand what it means to become a buddha.

two means

Even though there are many methods of Buddhist practice, they all use one of two means: either by gaining a direct understanding of the highest Truth (“by Principle”), or by using various practices that lead to the final understanding of the highest Truth (“by Practice”). Sometimes the two means are combined.

by Principle

This is the quintessential Zen practice, the “gateless gate”, the method of “directly seeing one’s nature and becoming a buddha.”


Here it refers to the canon of Buddhist teaching: the Dharma; the scriptures and their commentaries; and the philosophy.

deep faith

Faith based on correct understanding of the Dharma, faith based on unbiased reasoning and experiences, as opposed to faith based on superstitions or unfounded beliefs.

sentient beings

All living beings with sentience; beings that have awareness. They include devas (gods or heavenly beings 天人), asuras (demi-gods 阿修羅), human beings, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell beings. Unlike buddhas and bodhisattvas, they are all trapped in samsara but have the potential to become buddhas.

same true nature

Though the appearances of sentient beings are different due to their past karma, their sentience (which is variously referred to as “mind,” “consciousness,” “awareness,” or “buddha nature,”) is fundamentally equal in nature. To be enlightened is to directly experience this fact.

fleeting dust of delusions

The original mind is like a mirror covered with the dust of delusions; therefore its reflections (of reality) are unclear and distorted. What we take as our “body and mind”—form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness—are the fleeting dust which is impermanent and defiling, obscuring our true nature. Ignorance, greed, anger, pride, jealousy, and other afflictions are also the “fleeting dust of delusions.”

wall meditation

“Wall” represents firmness, resolve, immovability, and stability. “Fix the mind in wall meditation” means to practice meditation so that the mind is unaffected by all afflictions and distractions, and to gain clear vision to penetrate delusions.

neither self nor others

The separation or boundary between oneself and others (or the external world) is illusive.

mortals and saints

“Mortals” refers to ordinary beings, beings subject to rebirth in samsara (world with suffering). “Saints” refers to arhats, bodhisattvas and buddhas who have attained liberation, are pure in mind and action, and have transcended death.

abiding this way

To be mindful of this Principle without being affected by doubt or afflictions.

cling not even to the scriptures

Scriptures are important as they provide guidance to enlightenment, but they can be misinterpreted or taken too literally. Also to study them as philosophy without practice will not lead to true understanding.

implicitly in accord

Even though one may not fully understand the Principle yet, by being mindful of this teaching and acting accordingly, one is in harmony with the Way, leading oneself eventually to enlightenment.


To be in a state of mind free from all sources of discrimination and ultimately attaining a mind of non-duality. Even “good” distinctions are dualistic notions that are undesirable in the realm of Absolute Truth.


Stillness means free from disturbances. An unenlightened mind is constantly disturbed by greed, anger, selfish interests, etc. A mind of absolute stillness is nirvana.

empty of effort (wu-wei) 無為

Free from contrived effort; free from clinging and attachments; unconditioned; absolute. Being wu-wei also means inner peace obtained by having no desires. Also translated as “unconditioned Dharma” where appropriate.

four practices

All other more “tangible” Buddhist practices are essentially one, or a combination, of the following four practices: accepting adversity, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and acting in accordance with the Dharma.


A kalpa is a very long period of time. Formally, a large kalpa is a cycle of the universe, which consists of four stages: birth (of the universe or a “buddha world”), stability, disintegration, and void. The universe is then recreated (and destroyed), over and over again, by our collective karma. Innumerable kalpas refers to the countless cycles through lifetimes in the past.


Without knowing the true nature of life and the “self,” people are in endless pursuits that are ultimately of no consequences. We should consider what is meaningful in our life, and whether we are working on it or pursuing trivial matters instead.

spheres of existence

A sentient being can take rebirth in any one of the six spheres/planes of existence in the Triple Realm: as a deva (a celestial being), an asura (powerful like a deva but more aggressive and jealous), a human being, an animal, a hungry ghost, or a being in hell, all depending on one’s karma (action or deeds).

animosity … harm

Due to the ignorance of the Way, we intentionally or unintentionally caused much harm to others in this lifetime and each lifetime past. Applying the Principle of causality, we really have no grounds to feel resentment for the suffering we now face.

karmic consequence

Karma means action which includes physical, verbal, and mental activities. By the law of causality, each action has its corresponding consequences. Action that benefits others brings blessings and happiness; action that harms others brings suffering. We are subject to the consequences of our own karma.


An act against the natural law; an act that harms others.

heavens (heavenly beings)

In Buddhism there are devas or celestial beings who reside in different levels of heavens. They are born with more powers and blessings than human beings due to superior deeds in their past.

thorough insight.

People resent their fate because they lack understanding of causality and the teaching presented here. With the insight of “accepting adversity,” one can face hardships without distress and turn suffering into spiritual progress.

adapting to conditions

All things arise from certain causes and conditions, and will cease to exist when the conditions fall apart. This is the teaching of conditional arising, also called dependent origination. The enlightened and the wise understand and adapt to conditions, whereas the ignorant and foolish try to get results without the right conditions, or are unaware of the changing conditions, thereby bringing misery and isappointment onto themselves.

without a self

The “self” refers to an intrinsic, independent identity which we perceive in sentient beings and things. In a person, it is the false self or ego or “inner identity” that one takes for granted; in objects, it is the intrinsic value or character we associate with. This “self” is a delusion because it is dependent on changing conditions.

suffering and joy

Suffering is a result of harmful actions (karma), and joy is a result of beneficial actions. Most people experience a mixture of suffering and joy in their lives because they have created both good and bad karma in the past.


Result of good karma. Even though they are favored over suffering, they are also impermanent. To not realize this can lead to suffering.

neither gain nor loss

In practice, the mind is in equanimity, neither elated nor depressed. In principle, nothing is gained and nothing is lost.


To crave or desire anything, to cling to or despise anything, to dwell in the past or grumble about the present are all examples of attachment.

reason over convention

Many common beliefs and practices are actually unwise, senseless, or even dangerous. Sometimes the truth is the opposite of what we believe. The wise can see what is real even if it means going against “conventional wisdom.”

their forms follow the law of causality

Ignorant people do not realize that their bodies, actions and all phenomena follow the law of causality and try to go against it; therefore, they suffer. Wise people recognize this fact and accept it; therefore, they are at peace. The law of causality: in general consists of the following three principles: (1) Every phenomenon is produced by some corresponding cause and conditions. (2) Good deeds, actions that benefit others, will return blessings, and bad deeds, actions that harm others will return sufferings. (3) Good karma and bad karma do not necessary cancel each other. Each will bear its own consequences.

all existence is empty

Because all existence is dependent on conditions, there is no intrinsic, independent identity or “self.” The perceived qualities of objects or phenomena, whether desirable or undesirable, are conditional, relative, and impermanent; hence nothing is ultimately desirable.

Blessing and Darkness

The Maha-parinirvana Sutra tells of the story of a pair of deva sisters named Blessing and Darkness; wherever Blessing goes, good fortune follows; wherever Darkness goes, misfortune follows. However, the two sisters are inseparable, one cannot receive one sister without the other.

Triple Realm

(1) The Realm of Desire, where beings such as humans and animals reside. They possess physical forms and have varying degrees of desires for wealth, lust, fame, food, and sleep. (2) The Realm of Form, where beings who have attained the four dhyana (deep mental concentration) stages reside. They have finer, uni-gender physical forms but not the desires of the lower realm. (3) The Realm of Formlessness, where beings, through more refined meditation, are reborn without physical forms and exist in various subtle consciousness states only. Beings of the Triple Realm are still subject to karma and rebirth, and therefore have not attained liberation.

long sojourn

Cycling through countless rebirths, we have taken on all different forms of being and traveled through all of the Triple Realm. Without enlightenment, it is an endless journey without an ultimate purpose.

burning house

Each life in the Triple Realm has all kinds of suffering and ends in death, so the world we live in is like a house on fire that eventually consumes everything. Those who do not realize this still enjoy living in this house, instead of thinking of ways to get out!

to have a body is to suffer

Birth, aging, illness, and death are all afflictions of the body that are unavoidable as long as one has a physical body.

mundane existence

The six spheres of existence in the Triple Realm.

stop seeking

Seeking is defined here as the attachment to things and phenomena to gratify the selfish ego. When one understands the underlying empty nature of these things, one can have true peace of mind and stop seeking. However, we can, out of compassion, seek to enlighten and benefit others without attachment to the ego.

act in accordance with the Dharma

Finally, this practice of six perfections (paramitas) brings one’s action and mind back to the ultimate, essential Principle described at the beginning.

intrinsic purity

All dharmas (lowercase dharma means any phenomenon) are neither good nor bad, beyond dualistic discrimination. Therefore it is called “intrinsic purity;” this purity is absolute, like the empty space, which can neither be contaminated nor cleansed.

forms and characteristics

The Chinese word 相 (xiang) means forms, marks, or appearances; it is extended to mean all perceived characteristics of any phenomenon.

impurities of sentient beings and self

Ordinary sentient beings have the deep-rooted delusion of an inherent, unchanging self, which develops into the ego and subsequently gives rise to greed, anger, ignorance, pride, and a host of false views; they then lead to the suffering of sentient beings. Being delusions, these false views and vexations have no real substance. Therefore, all dharmas are intrinsically “free from all impurities.” To act with this understanding of no-self is to act in accordance with the Dharma.


Charity. The first of the six paramitas (perfections) practiced by a bodhisattva. There are 3 types of generosity: giving of material, giving of solace (comfort, protection, removal of fear, etc.), and giving of Dharma

triple emptiness

The highest form of dana is to give without the concept of the giver, the receiver, and the given, because all are empty. Then one can truly give without expectations, without the ego being involved. This is the perfection of dana, or dana paramita.

six perfections 波羅蜜多

Paramitas, the practice that can bring one to liberation. Literally, “to the other shore.” To become a buddha, the bodhisattva practices the six paramitas: perfection of charity (dana), moral conduct (sila), tolerance (ksanti), diligence (virya), meditation (dhyana), and, most important of all, wisdom (prajna).

The practice of the six paramitas can remove our impurities/delusions, which are originally empty, so in the end, nothing is gained and nothing is lost. Still, one then becomes a buddha; without the practice, the buddha nature is latent and one is an ordinary sentient being imbued with suffering.

glorifies the bodhi path

Bodhi is “awakening.” To glorify the bodhi path (path to Buddhahood) refers to the Mahayana ideal of bringing countless beings to enlightenment along with one’s own enlightenment.夫入道多途,要而言之,不出二種:一是理入,二是行入。





三 .無所求行者。世人長迷,處處貪著,名之為求。智者悟真,理將俗反,安心無為。形隨運轉,萬有斯空,無所願樂。功德黑暗,常相隨逐,三界久居,猶如火宅, 有身皆苦,誰得而安。了達此處,故捨諸有,止想無求。經曰:有求皆苦,無求即樂。判知無求,真為道行。故言無所求行。

稱 法行者。性淨之理,目之為法。此理眾相斯空,無染無 著,無此無彼。經曰:法無眾生,離眾生垢故;法 無有我,離我垢故。智者若能信解此理,應當稱法而行。法體無慳,身命財行檀捨施,心無吝惜。脫解三空,不倚不著,但為去垢,稱化眾生而不取相。此為自行, 復能利他,亦能莊嚴菩提之道。檀施既爾,餘五亦然。為除妄想,修行六度,而無所行。是為稱法行。

Trust In Mind信 心 銘

by Third Patriarch Seng Can

The Supreme Way is difficult
Only for those who pick and choose.
Simply let go of love and hate;
The Way will fully reveal itself.
The slightest distinction
Results in a difference as great as heaven and earth.
For the Way to manifest,
Hold not to likes and dislikes.
The contention of likes and dislikes
Is a disease of the mind.
Without realizing the Profound Principle,
It is futile to practice stillness.
Intrinsically perfect like the Great Void,
Without lack, without excess;
In choosing to grasp or reject,
One is blind to Suchness.
Neither pursue conditioned existence,
Nor stay in idle emptiness.
In oneness and equality,
All self-boundaries dissolve.
Trying to still action
Is an action itself.
Still trapped in duality,
How can you recognize oneness?
Failing to penetrate the meaning of oneness,
Neither side will function.
Banishing existence entwines you in existence;
Pursuing emptiness turns you away from it.
The more you talk and think,
The more you go astray;
Cease all speech and thought,
Then everywhere you are with the Way.
To attain the principle, return to the source;
Pursuing reflections, the essence is lost.
Inner illumination, in a moment,
Surpasses idle emptiness.
The appearance of this idle emptiness
Results entirely from deluded views.
No need to search for truth,
Just put to rest all views.
Abide not in dualistic views;
Take heed not to pursue them.
As soon as right and wrong arise,
The mind is bewildered and lost.
Two comes from one,
Hold on not even to one.
When not even one thought arises,
All dharmas are flawless.
Free of flaws, free of dharmas,
No arising, no thought.
The subject disappears with its object,
The object vanishes without its subject.
Objects are objects because of subjects,
Subjects are subjects because of objects.
Know that these two
Are essentially of one emptiness.
The one emptiness unites opposites,
Equally pervading all phenomena.
Not differentiating what is fine or coarse,
How can there be any preferences?
The Great Way is all embracing,
Neither easy nor difficult.
The narrow minded doubt this;
In haste, they fall behind.
With clinging one loses judgment
And will surely go astray.
Let everything follow its own nature;
The Essence neither goes nor stays.
To follow your true nature is to unite with the Way,
Be at ease and worries will cease.
Fixation of thought is unnatural,
Yet laziness of mind is undesirable.
Not wanting to wear down the spirit,
Why do you hold dear or alienate?
To enter the One Vehicle,
Be not prejudice against the six dusts.
To have no prejudice toward the six dusts
Is to come into true enlightenment.
The wise abide in wu-wei,
The fools entangle themselves.
Dharmas do not differ,
Yet the deluded desire and cling.
To seek the mind with the mind–
Is this not a great error?
In delusion chaos and stillness arise,
In enlightenment there is no desire and aversion.
The duality of all things
Comes from false discrimination.
Dreams, illusions, like flowers in the sky—
How can they be worth grasping?
Gain and loss, right and wrong–
Abandon these at once.
If your eyes are open
Dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no distinctions,
All dharmas are of One Suchness.
In the profound essence of this Suchness,
One abandons all conditioning.
Beholding the myriad dharmas in their entirety
Things return to their natural state.
As all grounds for distinction vanish,
Nothing can be compared or described.
When what is still moves, there is no motion;
When what is moving stops, there is no stillness.
Since two cannot be established,
How can there be one?
Reaching the ultimate,
Rules and measures are nonexistent.
Achieving a mind of impartiality,
All striving comes to an end;
Doubts are completely cleared,
In right faith the mind is set straight.
Nothing to linger upon,
Nothing to remember.
Clear, empty, and self-illuminating,
The mind exerts no effort.
This is beyond the sphere of thought,
Which reason and feeling cannot fathom.
In the Dharma Realm of True Suchness,
There are neither self nor others.
To reach accord with it at once
Just practice non-duality.
Non-duality embodies all things,
As all things are inseparable.
The wise everywhere
All follow this teaching.
The Way transcends time and space —
One thought for ten thousand years.
Being nowhere yet everywhere,
All places are right before your eyes.
The smallest is the same as the largest,
In the realm free of delusions.
The largest is the same as the smallest;
No boundaries or marks can be seen.
Existence is precisely nonexistence,
Nonexistence is precisely existence.
If you cannot realize this,
Then you should change your ways.
One is everything;
Everything is one.
If you can realize this,
Why worry about not reaching perfection?
Trust in the non-duality of mind;
Non-duality results from trust in mind.
Beyond words and speech,
It is neither past, present, nor future.僧璨大師

至 道 無 難 , 唯 嫌 揀 擇 。
但 莫 憎 愛 , 洞 然 明 白 。
毫 釐 有 差 , 天 地 懸 隔 。
欲 得 現 前 , 莫 存 順 逆 。
違 順 相 爭 , 是 為 心 病 。
不 識 玄 旨 , 徒 勞 念 靜 。
圓 同 太 虛 , 無 欠 無 餘 。
良 由 取 捨 , 所 以 不 如 。
莫 逐 有 緣 , 勿 住 空 忍 。
一 種 平 懷 , 泯 然 自 盡 。
止 動 歸 止 , 止 更 彌 動 。
唯 滯 兩 邊 , 寧 知 一 種 。
一 種 不 通 , 兩 處 失 功 。
遣 有 沒 有 , 從 空 背 空 。

多 言 多 慮 , 轉 不 相 應 。
絕 言 絕 慮 , 無 處 不 通 。
歸 根 得 旨 , 隨 照 失 宗 。
須 臾 返 照 , 勝 卻 前 空 。
前 空 轉 變 , 皆 由 妄 見 。
不 用 求 真 , 唯 須 息 見 。
二 見 不 住 , 慎 勿 追 尋 。
纔 有 是 非 , 紛 然 失 心 。
二 由 一 有 , 一 亦 莫 守 。
一 心 不 生 , 萬 法 無 咎 。
無 咎 無 法 , 不 生 不 心 。
能 隨 境 滅 , 境 逐 能 沈 。
境 由 能 境 , 能 由 境 能 。
欲 知 兩 段 , 元 是 一 空 。
一 空 同 兩 , 齊 含 萬 像 。

不 見 精 粗 , 寧 有 偏 黨 。
大 道 體 寬 , 無 易 無 難 。
小 見 狐 疑 , 轉 急 轉 遲 。
執 之 失 度 , 必 入 邪 路 。
放 之 自 然 , 體 無 去 住 。
任 性 合 道 , 逍 遙 絕 惱 。
繫 念 乖 真 , 昏 沉 不 好 。
不 好 勞 神 , 何 用 疏 親 。
欲 趣 一 乘 , 勿 惡 六 塵 。
六 塵 不 惡 , 還 同 正 覺 。
智 者 無 為 , 愚 人 自 縛 。
法 無 異 法 , 妄 自 愛 著 。
將 心 用 心 , 豈 非 大 錯 。
迷 生 寂 亂 , 悟 無 好 惡 。
一 切 二 邊 , 良 由 斟 酌 。

夢 幻 空 花 , 何 勞 把 捉 。
得 失 是 非 , 一 時 放 卻 。
眼 若 不 睡 , 諸 夢 自 除 。
心 若 不 異 , 萬 法 一 如 。
一 如 體 玄 , 兀 爾 忘 緣 。
萬 法 齊 觀 , 歸 復 自 然 。
泯 其 所 以 , 不 可 方 比 。
止 動 無 動 , 動 止 無 止 。
兩 既 不 成 , 一 何 有 爾 。
究 竟 窮 極 , 不 存 軌 則 。
契 心 平 等 , 所 作 俱 息 。
狐 疑 盡 淨 , 正 信 調 直 。
一 切 不 留 , 無 可 記 憶 。
虛 明 自 照 , 不 勞 心 力 。

非 思 量 處 , 識 情 難 測 。
真 如 法 界 , 無 他 無 自 。
要 急 相 應 , 唯 言 不 二 。
不 二 皆 同 , 無 不 包 容 。
十 方 智 者 , 皆 入 此 宗 。
宗 非 促 延 , 一 念 萬 年 。
無 在 不 在 , 十 方 目 前 。
極 小 同 大 , 妄 絕 境 界 。
極 大 同 小 , 不 見 邊 表 。
有 即 是 無 , 無 即 是 有 。
若 不 如 是 , 必 不 須 守 。
一 即 一 切 , 一 切 即 一 。
但 能 如 是 , 何 慮 不 畢 。
信 心 不 二 , 不 二 信 心 。
言 語 道 斷 , 非 去 來 今 。

Ten Precepts for the Mind 一心戒文

1. From the profound and wondrous original nature which is eternal, never give rise to  views of death or extinction. This is the precept of No Killing.
2. From the profound and wondrous original nature which is ungraspable, know that one  can possess nothing. This is the precept of No Stealing.
3. From the profound and wondrous original nature which is without attachment, desire  nothing. This is the precept of No Sexual Conduct.
4. From the profound and wondrous original nature which is indescribable, utter no  words. This the precept of No Lying.
5. From the profound and wondrous original nature which is pure and clear, never give rise to ignorance. This is the precept of No Intoxicants.
6. From the profound and wondrous original nature which is flawless, speak of no faults.  This is the precept of No Publicizing People’s Faults.
7. From the profound and wondrous original nature which is impartial, make no distinction between self and others. This is the precept of No Bragging And Slandering.
8. From the profound and wondrous original nature which is universal, raise no selfish thought. This is the precept of No Greed.
9. From the profound and wondrous original nature which has no self, do not mistake the ego as real. This is the precept of No Anger.
10.From the profound and wondrous original nature that is one-suchness, have no dualistic view of buddha vs. sentient beings. This is the precept of Not Defaming the Three Jewels.一、於自性靈妙常住法中,不生斷滅之見,名不殺生。

The Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra with Annotation般若波羅蜜多心經



Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha

Sutra Opening Gatha

The Dharma, infinitely profound and subtle,

Is rarely encountered even in a million kalpas.

Now we are able to hear, study, and follow it,

May we fully realize the Tathagata’s true meaning.

The Heart 1 of Prajna 3 Paramita 4 Sutra 2

Bodhisattva 5 Avalokiteshvara 6,

while deeply immersed 7 in prajna paramita,

clearly perceived the empty nature 8 of the five skandhas 9,

and transcended all suffering.

Shariputra 10! Form is not different from emptiness,

emptiness is not different from form.

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

So it is with feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness.

Shariputra! All dharmas 11 are empty in character;

neither arising nor ceasing 12,

neither impure nor pure,

neither increasing nor decreasing.

Therefore, in emptiness, there is no form;

there is no feeling, conception, volition, or consciousness 13;

no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, or mind;

no form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or dharmas 14;

no realm of vision, and so forth,

up to no realm of mind-consciousness 15;

no ignorance or ending of ignorance, and so forth,

up to no aging and death or ending of aging and death 16.

There is no suffering, no cause, no extinction, no path 17.

There is no wisdom and no attainment 18.

There is nothing to be attained.

By way of prajna paramita 19,

the bodhisattva’s mind is free from hindrances.

With no hindrances, there is no fear 20;

freed from all distortion and delusion,

ultimate nirvana is reached.

By way of prajna paramita,

Buddhas 21 of the past, present, and future

attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi 22.

Therefore, prajna paramita

is the great powerful mantra,

the great enlightening 23 mantra 24,

the supreme and peerless mantra.

It can remove all suffering.

This is the truth beyond all doubt.

And the prajna paramita mantra is spoken thus:

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha 25.

1. Heart Sutra. The short title of this most popular and important sutra. It contains the very essence of the vast body of wisdom teachings (prajna-paramita sutras) in Buddhism.

2. sutra 佛經. A Buddhist scripture containing the dialogues or discourses of the Buddha.

3. prajna 般若. Great transcendental wisdom; wisdom from understanding the truth; wisdom of understanding the empty nature of the ‘self’ and all phenomena; wisdom that can overcome birth-and-death and all suffering, and enlighten all beings.

4. paramita 波羅蜜多. Perfection, the practice that can bring one to liberation. Literally, “to the other shore.” To become a buddha, the bodhisattva practices the six paramitas: perfection of charity (dana), moral conduct (sila), tolerance (ksanti), diligence (virya), meditation (dhyana), and, most important of all, wisdom (prajna).

5. bodhisattva 菩薩. One who, with infinite compassion, vows to become a buddha and to liberate countless sentient beings. A bodhisattva practices all six paramitas (perfections), but it is the prajna paramita that ultimately brings true liberation. Bodhi: enlightenment, to awaken. Sattva: sentient beings, beings with consciousness.

6. Avalokitesvara 觀自在,觀世音. This bodhisattva is considered the embodiment of the Buddhist virtue of compassion. Known as Guanyin in Chinese, this is the most beloved bodhisattva in Asia. The name means “perceiver of cries of the world” and “unhindered perceiver of the truth.” Thus this bodhisattva is able to help all sentient beings.

7. deeply immersed. Deep in the practice and understanding of the profound prajna paramita. It is not enough to understand prajna intellectually; one must practice it with the whole body and mind. Here ‘deeply’ means the understanding of not only the empty nature of the ‘self’ but also of all phenomena.

8. empty nature 空. Both the self and all phenomena are without independent existence or inherent, fixed characteristics. They are impermanent, mutable and mutually dependent; their individuality is in appearance only. Buddhism provides us with several classifications of phenomena to help us understand how ordinary people perceive the world. They are: the five skandhas, the twelve bases, and the eighteen spheres (see below). However, our perceptions of the world are founded on ignorance; therefore, these constructions are ultimately empty.

9. five skandhas 五蘊. Five aggregates—form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness (色受想行識). Form refers to our body or the physical world, the other four are of the mind. Ordinary beings see themselves as composed of these aggregates. When we analyze them deeper, we find no real substance.

10. Sariputra 舍利子,舍利弗. (Pronounced Shariputra). A senior disciple of the Buddha, known for his wisdom.

11. dharmas 法. “Dharma” (capitalized) means the Buddha’s teaching,the Law, the Truth; “dharmas” means things, phenomena.

12. neither arising … nor decreasing. By understanding the mutual dependencies and inter-connections of all things, one realizes that all creation and destruction, birth-and-death, good and bad, more and less, etc., exist in appearance only.

13. no form, feeling … This negation of the five skandhas is to point out that the superficial appearance and characters we are familiar with actually have no intrinsic substance. Form (physical matter) is energy, its appearance is an illusion of the perceiver; feelings are subjective; conceptions are mind-made; volition (will or intent which leads to action); and what we call consciousness are streams of thought based on deluded understanding of reality. There is no “self” to be found in form, feeling, conception, volition, or consciousness.

14. no eye, ear…or dharmas. Negation of the twelve bases (of consciousness) (十二處) which include six senses (六根) and six sense objects (六塵). The six senses are used to perceive the six sense objects and the result is our conception of the world. The six sense objects are also known as six dusts in Buddhism.

15. no realm of vision … no realm of mind-consciousness. Negation of the eighteen spheres (十八界), six senses, six sense objects, and six types of consciousness, that of vision, hearing, olfaction, taste, touch, and mind-consciousness. The eighteen spheres represent the way the deluded mind perceives and divides the world, and prevents us from seeing the unity and equality of all things.

16. no ignorance … no ending of aging and death. The twelve links of dependent origination (十二因緣) explain the process of the rebirth cycle. They are ignorance→ intentional action→ consciousness→ mind and form→ six senses→ contact→ feeling→ craving→ grasping→ being→ birth→ old age and death. However, from the view of absolute reality, the twelve links and their elimination (ending of …, which is needed to gain liberation from rebirth), are also empty. In fact, what we perceive as birth-and-deaths are actually delusions, so suffering is also empty.

17. no suffering, no cause, no extinction, no path. Since suffering is produced by ignorance and delusion, it is empty. The emptiness of suffering, cause of suffering, extinction of suffering, and the path is a higher understanding of the Four Noble Truths.

18. no wisdom and no attainment. Negation of the bodhisattva’s practice, in this specific case, wisdom. Wisdom overcomes ignorance and delusion. Since delusions are empty, so is wisdom. Nothing (which we do not already have) is gained by liberation. Buddha teaches that once we get to the other shore, there is no need to carry around the raft (the teaching) that got us there. The preceding three annotations are about letting go of the “rafts” of the “Three Vehicles”.

19. by way of prajna paramita… By the practice and profound understanding of the empty/interconnected/equal nature of all dharmas, which is prajna wisdom, one’s mind becomes freed from all delusions and abides in absolute peace and absolute bliss. This is called attaining nirvana.

20. there is no fear. Fear comes from misunderstanding and ignorance. With prajna wisdom, all fear is removed.

21. buddhas. “The enlightened one.” There are many buddhas in the past, present, and future; all sentient beings can become buddhas by practicing prajna paramita.

22. anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Anuttara: unsurpassed. Samyak sambodhi: right and comprehensive understanding (complete enlightenment). Unsurpassed complete enlightenment is the state of a buddha.

23. powerful, enlightening…. True wisdom liberates and empowers us. There is no higher wisdom than prajna, nothing can compare to it. There is no higher bliss than what prajna can bring.

24. mantra. “True words”, also a short phrase that contains much meaning. Mantras are usually left untranslated.

25. gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha. This mantra basically means: go, go, go beyond, go completely beyond to complete enlightenment.觀自在菩薩。行深般若波羅蜜多時。照見五蘊皆空。度一切苦厄。舍利子。色不異空。空不異色。色即是空。空即是色。受想行識。亦復如是。舍利子。是諸法空相。不生不滅。不垢不淨。不增不減。是故空中無色。無受想行識。無眼耳鼻舌身意。無色聲香味觸法。無眼界。乃至無意識界。無無明。亦無無明盡。乃至無老死。亦無老死盡。無苦集滅道。無智亦無得。以無所得故。菩提薩埵。依般若波羅蜜多故。心無罣礙。無罣礙故。無有恐怖。遠離顛倒夢想。究竟涅槃。三世諸佛。依般若波羅蜜多故。得阿耨多羅三藐三菩提。故知般若波羅蜜多。是大神咒。是大明咒。是無上咒。是無等等咒。能除一切苦。真實不虛。故說般若波羅蜜多咒。即說咒曰。揭諦揭諦。波羅揭諦。波羅僧揭諦。菩提薩婆訶。