Monday, December 23, 2013

Mahayana: "The Sutra in Forty-Two Sections"

Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Amber Larson, (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly; Ling-Yen Mountain Temple, Canada, "The Sutra in Forty-Two Sections"; Master Miao Lien (PURE LAND BUDDHISM)
Kwan Yin Bodhisattva, Goddess of Mercy, at the seaside of Sanya (HawkDisplays/flickr)
The unsurpassed, profound, and wonderful Dharma
Is difficult to encounter in hundreds of millions of aeons.
I now see and hear it, receive and uphold it,
And I vow to fathom the Tathagata's true meaning.
When the World Honored One had attained the Way, he [is said in Mahayana Buddhism to have] thought, "To leave desire behind and to gain calmness and tranquility is supreme." 

He abided in deep meditative concentration and subdued every demon and externalist.
In the Deer Park he turned the Dharma-wheel of the Four Noble Truths and took across Ajnata-kaundinya [led Añña Kondañña to enlightenment] and the other four [first] disciples, who all realized the fruition of the Way.

Then the bhikshus expressed their doubts and asked the Buddha how to resolve them. The World Honored One taught and exhorted them, until one by one they awakened and gained enlightenment. After that, they each put their palms together, respectfully gave their assent, and followed the Buddha's instructions.

Leaving Home and Becoming an Arhat
Shakyamuni Buddha walking (sdhammika)
The Buddha said, "People who take leave of their families and go forth from the householder's life, who know their mind and penetrate to its origin, and who understand the unconditioned Dharma [i.e., asankhata, nirvana, what is not conditional, not dependently originated] are called shramanas [wandering ascetics as distinguished from Brahminical temple priests]. 

"They constantly observe the 250 [monastic] precepts, and they value purity in all that they do. By practicing the four true paths [likely a reference to the four analytical knowledges], they can become arhats."

"Arhats [equipped with abhinnas or siddhis] can fly and transform themselves. They have a life span of vast aeons, and wherever they dwell they can move heaven and earth."
"Prior to the arhat is the anagamin [non returner]. At the end of his life, an anagamin's vital spirit will rise above the nineteenth heaven, and one will become an arhat."

"Prior to the anagamin is the sakridagamin [once returner], who ascends once, returns once more, and thereafter becomes an arhat. 

"Prior to the sakridagamin is the srotapanna [stream enterer], who has [at most] seven [more] deaths and seven births remaining, and then becomes an arhat. Severing [attachment] and desire is like severing the four limbs; one never uses them again."

Eliminating Desire and Ending Seeking
The Buddha [allegedly] said, "Those who have left the home-life and become [wandering ascetics] cut off desire, renounce [attachment], and recognize the source of their minds. They penetrate the Buddha's profound principles and awaken to the unconditioned Dharma. 

"Internally they have nothing to attain, and externally they seek nothing. They are not mentally bound to the Way, nor are they tied to karma. They are free of thought and action [are not storing up karma]; they neither cultivate nor attain certification; they do not pass through the various stages, and yet they are highly revered [reverence-able, worthy of reverence]. This is the meaning of the Way." 

Severing [Attachment] and Renouncing Greed
The Buddha said, "Shaving their hair and beards, they become shramanas who accept the Dharmas of the Way. They renounce worldly wealth and riches. In receiving alms, they accept only what's enough. They take only one meal a day at noon, pass the night beneath trees, and are careful not to seek more than that. Craving and desire are what cause people to be stupid and dull."

The Buddha's life in panels, Jing'an Temple wall, Shanghai, China (Wisdom Quarterly)
Clarifying Good and Evil
The Buddha said, "Living beings may perform Ten Good Deeds or Ten Evil Deeds. What are the ten? Three are done with the body; four are done with the mouth; and three are done with the mind.

"The three done with the body are killing, stealing, and lust [sexual misconduct]. The four done with the mouth are duplicity [slander], harsh speech, lies [perjury], and frivolous speech. The three done with the mind are jealousy [craving], hatred [aversion], and stupidity [tenaciously holding wrong views].

"Thus, these ten are not in accord with the Way of sages and are called the Ten Evil Deeds. To put a stop to these evils is to perform the Ten Good Deeds."

Reducing the Severity of Offenses
The Buddha said, "If a person has many offenses and does not repent of [turn away from] them, but cuts off all thought [intention, aspiration] of repentance [of changing one's way], the offenses will engulf [one], just as water returning to the sea will gradually become deeper and wider. If a person has offense and, realizing they are wrong, reforms and does good, the offense will dissolve by themselves, just as a sick person who begins to perspire will gradually be cured."

Tolerating Evil-doers and Avoiding Hatred
The Buddha said, "When an evil person hears about your goodness and intentionally comes to cause trouble, you should restrain yourself and not become angry or blame [that person]. Then the one who has come to do evil will do evil to him/herself."

Evil Returns to the Doer
The Buddha said, "There was a person who, upon hearing that I observe the Way and practice great humane kindness, intentionally came to berate me. I was silent and did not reply. When [that person] finished abusing me, I asked: 'If you are courteous to people and they do not accept your courtesy, the courtesy returns to you, does it not?' 'It does," [that person] replied. 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 as inevitable as an echo that follows a sound, or as a shadow that follows a form. In the end you cannot avoid it. Therefore, be careful not to do evil.'"

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