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