Sutra in Forty-Two Sections
The Buddha said:
“Those who leave home and parents lead a reclusive life (renunciation) and understand the Wonderful Dharma are called “Saramanas."
“Always observe the 250 precepts; enter into and abide in purity by practicing the Four Noble Truths, which accomplish Arahantship."
“Arahants can fly and transform themselves. They have a lifespan of vast aeons and wherever they dwell they can move earth and heaven."
“Prior to the Arahant is the Anagamin. At the end of his life, an Anagamin (vital spirit) will ascend to the nineteenth heaven and there, he will certify (achieve) to Arahantship."
“Prior to the Anagamin is the Sakridagamin. Sakridagamin ascends to the heaven once, returns (to be reborn as a human being) once more and thereafter, attains Arahantship."
“Prior to the Sakridagamin is the Srotaapanna. Srotaapanna is one who still has seven deaths and births before achieving to Arahantship.”
“One who achieves (certifies) Arahantship severes love and desire in the same manner as severing the four limbs; one is never able to use them again.”
The Buddha said: “Sramanas who have left the home-life renounce love, cut (uproot) desire and recognize the source of their minds. They penetrate the Buddha’s Wonderful Dharmas and awaken to unconditioned dharmas. They do not seek to obtain anything internal; nor do they seek anything external. Their minds are not bound by the Way nor are they tied up in Karma. They are without thoughts and without actions; they neither cultivate nor achieve (certify); they do not need to pass through the various stages and yet are respected and revered. This is what is meant by the Way.”
The Buddha said: “By shaving their heads and beards, they become Saramanas who accept the Dharmas of the Way. They renounce worldly wealth and riches; beg for food with moderation (moderate needs or not to acquire too many things); take only one meal at noon and eat only enough to satisfy their hunger and are careful not to return. Craving and desire are at the roots of what cause people to be stupid and confused (obscured).”
The Buddha said: “Living beings may perform ten good practices or ten evil practices. What are the ten? Three are three of the Body, four are of the Mouth and the last three are of the Mind. The three of the Body are killing, stealing and lust. The four of the mouth are double-tongued speech (duplicitous speech), harsh speech, lies, and irresponsible speech. The three of the Mind are jealousy, hatred, and stupidity. Thus, these ten are not in accordance (consistent) with the Holy Way and are called ten evil practices. To put an end to these evils is to perform the ten good practices.”
The Buddha said: “If a person has many offenses and does not repent of them but merely stop thinking about them, the offenses will engulf him, just as water returning to the sea will gradually become deeper and broader. If a person has offenses and repents (practices good), the offenses will dissolve of themselves, just as a sick person begins to perspire and is gradually be cured.”
The Buddha said: “When an evil person hears about virtue and intentionally or voluntarily comes to cause trouble, you should restrain yourself and should not become angry or upbraid him. Then, the one who has come to do evil will do evil to himself.”
The Budha said: “There was one who, upon hearing that I protect the way and practice great humane compassion, intentionally or voluntarily came to scold me. I was silent and did not reply. When he finished scolding me, I asked, ‘If you are courteous to people and they do not accept your courtesy, the courtesy returns to you, does it not?’ He replied, ‘It does.’ I said, ‘Now you are scolding me but I do not receive it. So, the misfortune returns to you and must remain with you. It is just as inevitable as the echo that follows a sound or as the shadow that follows a form. In the end, you cannot avoid it. Therefore, be careful not to do evil.”
The Buddha said: “An evil person who harms a sage is like one who raises his head and spits at heaven. Instead of reaching heaven, the spittle falls back on him. It is the same with one who throws dust into the wind instead of going somewhere else, the dust returns to fall on the thrower’s body. The sage cannot be harmed; misdeed will inevitably destroy the doer.”
The Buddha said: “Erudition (knowledge or education) and love of the Way make the Way difficult to accomplish, but when you guard your will and revere the Way, the Way becomes profound and vast.”
The Buddha said: “When you see someone practicing the Way of Giving, help him joyously and you will obtain vast and great blessings. A Saramana asked: ‘Is there an end to those blessings?’ The Buddha said: ‘Consider the flame of a single lamp, though a hundred thousand people come and light their own lamps from it so that they can cook their food and ward off the darkness, the first lamp remains the same as before. Blessings are like this, too’.”
The Buddha said: “Giving food to a hundred bad people does not equal to giving food to a single good person. Giving food to a thousand good people does not equal to giving food to one person who holds the five precepts. Giving food to ten thousand people who hold the five precepts does not equal to giving food to a single Srotaapanna. Giving food to a million Srotaapannas does not equal to giving food to a single Sakridagamin. Giving food to ten million Sakridagamins does not equal to giving food to one single Anagamin. Giving food to a hundred million Anagamins does not equal to giving food to a single Arahant. Giving food to ten billion Arahants does not equal to giving food to a single Pratyekabuddha. Giving food to a hundred billion Pratyekabuddhas does not equal to giving food to a Buddha of the Three Periods of time. Giving food to ten trillion Buddhas of the Three Periods of time does not equal to giving food to a single one who is without thoughts, without dwelling, without cultivation, and without accomplishment."
The Buddha said: “People always encounter twenty difficulties. It is difficult to give when one is poor. It is difficult to study the way when one has power and wealth. It is difficult to abandon life and face the certainty of death. It is difficult to encounter the Buddhist Sutras. It is difficult to be born at the time of the Buddha. It is diffucult to forbear lust and desire. It is difficult to see good things and not seek them. It is difficult to be insulted and not become angry. It is difficult to have power and not abuse it. It is difficult to come in contact with things and have no thought of them. It is difficult to be greatly learned and widely informed. It is difficult to get rid of self-pride or self-satisfaction. It is difficult not to slight those who have not yet studied. It is difficult to practice equanimity of mind. It is difficult not to gossip. It is difficult to find (meet) a good knowing advisor. It is difficult to see one’s own nature and study the Way. It is difficult to transform oneself in ways that are appropriate taking living beings across to enlightenment. It is difficult to see a state an not be moved by it. It is difficult to have a good understanding of skill-in-means.”
“A Sramana asked the Buddha: ‘What are the causes and conditions by which one come to know past lives and also by which one’s understanding enables one to attain the Way?’ The Buddha said: ‘By purifying the mind and guarding the will, your understanding can achieve (attain) the Way. Just as when you polish a mirror, the dust vanishes and brightness remains; so, too, if you cut off and do not seek desires, you can then know past lives.”
A Sramana asked the Buddha: “What is goodness? What is the foremost greatness?” The Buddha replied: “To practice the Way and to protect the Truth is goodness. To unite your will with the Way is greatness.”
A Sramana asked the Buddha: “What is the greatest strength? What is the utmost brilliance?” The Buddha said: “Patience under insult is the greatest strength because those who are patient do not harbor hatred and they are increasingly peaceful and settled. Those who are patient are without evil and will certainly be honored among people. To put an end to the mind’s defilements so that it is pure and untainted is the utmost brilliance. When there is nothing in any of the ten directions throughout existence, from before the formation of heaven and earth, until this very day, that you do not see, know or hear, when all-wisdom is obtained (achieved), that can be called brilliance.”
The Buddha said: “People who cherish love and desire do not see the Way. It is just as when you stir clear water with your hand; those who stand beside it cannot see their reflections. People who are immersed in love and desire have turbidity in their minds and because of it, they cannot see the Way. You Sramanas should cast aside love and desire. When the filth of love and desire disappears, the Way can be seen.”
The Buddha said: “Those who seek the Way are like someone holding a torch when entering a dark room, dispelling the darkness, so that only brightness remains. When you study the Way and see the Truth, ignorance is dispelled and brightness is always present.”
The Buddha said: “My Dharma is the mindfulness that is both mindfulness and no-mindfulness. It is the practice that is both practice and non-practice. It is words that are words and non-words. It is cultivation that is cultivation and non-cultivation. Those who understand are near to it; those who are confused are far from it indeed. The path of words and language is cut off; it cannot be categorized as a thing. If you are off (removed) by a hair’s breadth, you lose it in an instant.”
The Buddha said: “Contemplate Heaven and Earth and be mindful of their impermanence. Contemplate the world and be mindful of its impermanence. Contemplate spiritual enlightenment as Bodhi. With this awareness, one immediately obtains (achieves) the Way.”
The Buddha said: “You should be mindful of the four elements within the body, though each has a name, all are without a self. Since they have no self, they are like an illusion.”
The Buddha said: “There are people who follow emotion and desire and seek for fame. By the time their reputation is established, they are already dead. Those who are greedy for worldly fame do not study the Way and wear themselves out in wasted effort. It is just like a stick of burning incense which, however fragrant its scent, consumes itself. So too, greed for fame brings the danger of a fire which burns one up in its aftermath.”
The Buddha said: “People who cannot renounce wealth and sex are like small children who, not satisfied with one delicious helping, lick the honey off the blade of the knife and in doing so, cut their tongues.”
The Buddha said: “Men are bound by their wives, children and homes to such an extent that these are worse than a prison. The time comes when one is released from prison, but there is never a moment when you think of leaving your wife and children. Don’t you fear the control that emotion, love and sex have over you? Although you are in a tiger’s flaws (mouth), you are blissfully obvious in heart. Those who throw themselves in the mud and drown themselves are known as ordinary people. By passing through this door and transcending defiling objects, one becomes an Arahant."
The Buddha said: “As to love and desire, no desire is as deep-rooted as sex; there is nothing greater than the desire for sex. Fortunately, it is one of a kind. If there were something else like it, no one in the world would be able to cultivate the Way.”
The Buddha said: “A person with love and desire is like one who carries a torch while walking against the wind, he is certain to burn his hand.”
The heavenly spirits, desiring to destroy the Buddha’s resolve, offered Jade women to him. The Buddha said: “Skin-bags full of filth.” What are you doing here? Go away, I am not interested.” Then, the heavenly spirits asked most respectfully about the meaning of the Way. The Buddha explained it for them and they immediately obtained the fruition of Srotaapanna.”
The Buddha said: “Those who follow the Way are like floating pieces of woods in the water flowing above the current, not touching either shore and that are not picked up by people, not intercepted by ghosts or spirits, not caught in whirlpools, and that which do not rot. I guarantee that these pieces of wood will certainly reach the sea. I guarantee that students of the Way who are not deluded by emotional desire nor bothered by myriad of devious things but who are vigorous in their cultivation or development of the unconditioned will certainly attain the way.”
The Buddha said: “Be careful not to believe your own mind; your mind cannot be believed. Be careful not to get involved with sex; involvement with sex leads to disasters. Once you have attained Arahantship, then you can believe your own mind.”
The Buddha said: “Be careful not to look at women and do not talk with them. If you must speak with them, be properly mindful and think: ‘I am a Sramana living in a turbid world. I should be like the lotus flower and not be defiled by the mud.’ Regard old women the way you regard your mother. Regard those who are older than you the way you regard your elder sisters. Regard those who are younger as your younger sisters and regard children as their own. Bring forth thoughts to rescue them and put an end to negative (bad) thoughts.”
The Buddha said: “Those of the Way are like those who carry dry grass; it is essential to keep it away from oncoming fire. People of the Way look upon desire as something they must keep at a distance.”
The Buddha said: “There was once someone who, plagued by ceaseless sexual desire, wished to castrate himself. To cut off your sexual organs would not be as good as to cut off your mind. You mind is like a supervisor; if the supervisor stops, his employees will also quit. If the deviant mind is not stopped, what good does it do to cut off the organs?” The Kasyapa Buddha taught: ‘Desire is born from your will; your will is born from thought. When both aspects of the mind are still, there is neither form nor activity.”
The Buddha said: “Out of love and desire, people give rise to worry; out of worry they give rise to fear. If you are apart from love, what worries are there? What fears?”
The Buddha said: “Those who follow the Way are like a single person who goes to battle alone against ten thousand. Wearing his armor, he goes out the gate, perhaps his resolve is weak, perhaps he gets halfway to the battleground and retreats, or perhaps he is killed in combat; perhaps he returns victorious. Sramanas who study the way should get a solid hold on their minds and be vigorous, courageous, and valiant. Not fearing what lies ahead, they should destroy the hordes of demons and obtain the fruits of the Way.”
One evening a Sramana was reciting the Sutra of Bequeating the Teaching by Kasyapa Buddha. His mind was mournful as he reflected repentantly on his desie to retreat. The Buddha asked him: “When you were a householder in the past, what did you do?” He replied: “I was fond of playing the lute.” The Buddha said: “What happened when the strings were slack?” He replied: “They did not sound good.” The Buddha then asked: “What happened when the strings were taut?” He replied: “The sounds were brief.” The Buddha then asked again: “What happened when they were tuned between slack and taut?” He replied: “The sounds carried.” The Buddha said: “It is the same with a Sramana who studies the Way. If his mind is harmonious, he can obtain (achieve) the Way. If he is impetuous about the Way, this impetuousness will tire out his body, and if his body is tired, his mind will give rise to afflictions. If his mind produces afflictions, then he will retreat from his practice. If he retreats from his practice, it will certainly increase his offenses. You need only be pure, peaceful, and happy and you will not lose the Way.”
The Buddha said: “People smelt metal to refine it of impurities in order to make it of high quality. It is the same with people who study the Way: first they must expel filth and defilement from their minds, then their practice is pure.”
The Buddha said: “It is difficult for one to leave the evil paths and become a human being. It is difficult to become a male human being. It is difficult to have the six organs complete and perfect. It is difficult for one to be born in the central country. It is difficult to be born at the time of a Buddha. It is still difficult to encounter the Way. It is difficult to bring forth faith. It is difficult to resolve one’s mind on Bodhi. It is difficult to be without cultivation and without attainment.”
The Buddha said: “My disciples may be several thousands miles away from me but if they remember and practice my precepts, they will certainly obtain the fruits of the Way. On the contrary, those who are by my side but do not follow my precepts, they may see me constantly but in the end they will not obtain the Way.”
The Buddha asked a Sramana: “How long is the human lifespan?” He replied: “A few days.” The Buddha said: “You have not yet understood the Way.” The Buddha asked another Sramana: “How long is the human lifespan?” The other replied: “The space of a meal.” The Buddha said: “You still have not yet understood the Way.” The Buddha then asked another Sramana: “How long is the human lifespan?” The last one replied: “The length of a single breath.” The Buddha said: “Excellent! You understand the Way.”
The Buddha said: “One who studies the Buddha’s Way should believe in and be in accord with all that the Buddha says. When you eat honey, it is sweet on the surface and sweet in the center. It is the same with my sutras; there is only one taste: the taste of emancipation.”
The Buddha said: “A Sramana who practices the Way should not be like an ox turning a millstone because an ox is like one who practices the way with his body but his mind is not on the Way. If the mind is concentrated on the Way, one does not need the outer practices of the body.”
The Buddha said: “One who practices the way is like an ox that carries a heavy load through deep mud, the work is so difficult that he dares not glance to the left or right. Only when he gets out of the mud he is able to rest. Likewise, the Sramana should look upon emotion and desire as deep mud and with an undeviating mind, he should recollect the Way, then he can avoid suffering.”
The Buddha said: “I look upon royal and official positions as upon the dust that floats through a crack. I look upon the treasures of gold and jade as upon broken tiles. I look upon clothing of fine silk as upon coarse cotton. I look upon a great thousand world-system as upon a small nut. I look upon the door of expedient means as upon the transformations of a cluster of jewels. I look upon the unsurpassed vehicle as upon a dream of gold and riches. I look upon the Buddha-Way as upon flowers before my eyes. I look upon Zen Samadhi as upon the pillar of Mount Sumeru. I look upon Nirvana as upon being awake day and night. I look upon deviancy and orthodoxy as upon the one true ground. I look upon the prosperity of the teaching as upon a tree during four seasons.”