The Brahma Net Sutra
Translated by the Buddhist Text Translation
Society in USA
I. Vairocana Buddha
At that time, Vairocana Buddha began
speaking in general about the Mind-Ground for the benefit of the Great
Assembly. What he said represents but an infinitesimal part, the tip of
a hair, of His innumerable teachings -- as numerous as the grains of
sand in the river Ganges.
He concluded: "The Mind-Ground has been
explained, is being explained and will be explained by all the Buddhas
-- past, present, and future. It is also the Dharma Door (cultivation
method) that all the Bodhisattvas of the past, present, and future have
studied, are studying and will study."
"I have cultivated this Mind-Ground Dharma
Door for hundreds of eons. My name is Vairocana. I request all Buddhas
to transmit my words to all sentient beings, so as to open this path of
cultivation to all."
At that time, from his Lion's Throne in
the Lotus Treasury World, Vairocana Buddha emitted rays of light. A
voice among the rays is heard telling the Buddhas seated on thousands of
lotus petals, "You should practice and uphold the Mind-Ground Dharma
Door and transmit it to the innumerable Sakyamuni Buddhas, one after
another, as well as to all sentient beings. Everyone should uphold,
read, recite, and singlemindedly put its teachings into practice."
After receiving the Dharma-door of the
Mind-Ground, the Buddhas seated atop the thousands of lotus flowers
along with the innumerable Sakyamuni Buddhas all arose from their Lion
seats, their bodies emitting innumerable rays of light. In each of these
rays appeared innumerable Buddhas who simultaneously made offerings of
green, yellow, red and white celestial flowers to Vairocana Buddha. They
then slowly took their leave.
The Buddhas then disappeared from the Lotus Treasury World, entered the
Essence-Nature Empty Space Floral Brilliance Samadhi and returned to
their former places under the Bodhi-tree in this world of Jambudvipa.
They then arose from their samadhi, sat on their Diamond Thrones in
Jambudvipa and the Heaven of the Four Kings, and preached the Dharma of
the "Ten Oceans of Worlds."
Thereupon, they ascended to Lord Shakya's
palace and expounded the "Ten Dwellings," proceeded to the Suyama Heaven
and taught the "Ten Practices," proceeded further to the Fourth Heaven
and taught the "Ten Dedications," proceeded further to the
Transformation of Bliss Heaven and taught the "Ten Dhyana Samadhi,"
proceeded further to the Heaven of Comfort From Others' Emanations and
taught the "Ten Grounds," proceeded further to the First Dhyana Heaven
and taught the "Ten Vajra Stages," proceeded further to the Second
Dhyana Heaven and taught the "Ten Patiences," and proceeded further to
the Third Dhyana Heaven and taught the "Ten Vows." Finally, in the
Fourth Dhyana Heaven, at Lord Brahma's Palace, they taught the
"Mind-Ground Dharma-Door" chapter, which Vairocana Buddha, in eons past,
expounded in the Lotus Treasury World (the cosmos).
All the other innumerable transformation
Sakyamuni Buddhas did likewise in their respective worlds as the chapter
"Auspicious Kalpa" has explained.
II. Sakyamuni Buddha
At that time, Sakyamuni Buddha, after
first appearing in the Lotus Treasury World, proceeded to the east and
appeared in the Heavenly King's palace to teach the "Demon Transforming
Sutra." He then descended to Jambudvipa to be born in Kapilavastu -- his
name being Siddhartha and his father's name Suddhodana. His mother was
Queen Maya. He achieved Enlightenment at the age of thirty, after seven
years of cultivation, under the name of Sakyamuni Buddha
The Buddha spoke in ten assemblies from
the Diamond Seat at Bodhgaya to the palace of Brahma.
At that time, he contemplated the wonderful Jewel Net hung in Lord
Brahma's palace and preached the Brahma Net Sutra for the Great
Assembly. He said:
"The innumerable worlds in the cosmos are like the eyes of the net. Each
and every world is different, its variety infinite. So too are the
Dharma Doors (methods of cultivation) taught by the Buddhas.
"I have come to this world eight thousand
times. Based in this Saha World, seated upon the Jeweled Diamond Seat in
Bodhgaya and all the way up to the palace of the Brahma King, I have
spoken in general about the Mind-Ground Dharma Door for the benefit of
the great multitude.
"Thereafter, I descended from the Brahma
King's palace to Jambudvipa, the Human World. I have preached the
Diamond Illuminated Jeweled Precepts (the Bodhisattva precepts) from
beneath the Bodhi-tree for the sake of all sentient beings on earth,
however dull and ignorant they may be. These precepts were customarily
recited by Vairocana Buddha when he first developed the Bodhi Mind in
the causal stages. They are precisely the original source of all Buddhas
and all Bodhisattvas as well as the seed of the Buddha Nature.
"All sentient beings possess this Buddha
Nature. All with consciousness, form, and mind are encompassed by the
precepts of the Buddha Nature. Sentient beings possess the correct cause
of the Buddha Nature and therefore they will assuredly attain the
ever-present Dharma Body.
For this reason, the ten Pratimoksa
(Bodhisattva) precepts came into being in this world. These precepts
belong to the True Dharma. They are received and upheld in utmost
reverence by all sentient beings of the Three Periods of Time -- past,
present and future.
"Once again, I shall preach for the Great Assembly the chapter on the
Inexhaustible Precept Treasury. These are the precepts of all sentient
beings, the source of the pure Self-Nature."
Now, I, Vairocana Buddha
Am sitting atop a lotus pedestal;
On a thousand flowers surrounding me
Are a thousand Sakyamuni Buddhas.
Each flower supports a hundred million worlds;
In each world a Sakyamuni Buddha appears.
All are seated beneath a Bodhi-tree,
All simultaneously attain Buddhahood.
All these innumerable Buddhas
Have Vairocana as their original body.
These countless Sakyamuni Buddhas
All bring followers along -- as numerous as
motes of dust.
They all proceed to my lotus pedestal
To listen to the Buddha's precepts.
I now preach the Dharma, this exquisite nectar.
Afterward, the countless Buddhas return to
their respective worlds
And, under a Bodhi-tree, proclaim these
major and minor precepts
Of Vairocana, the Original Buddha.
The precepts are like the radiant sun and moon,
Like a shining necklace of gems,
Bodhisattvas as numerous as motes of dust
Uphold them and attain Buddhahood.
These precepts are recited by Vairocana,
These precepts I recite as well.
You novice Bodhisattvas
Should reverently accept and uphold them.
And once you have done so,
Transmit and teach them to sentient beings.
Now listen attentively as I recite
The Bodhisattva Pratimoksa -- the source of all precepts in the Buddha
All of you in the Great Assembly should firmly believe
That you are the Buddhas of the future,
While I am a Buddha already accomplished.
If you should have such faith at all times,
Then this precept code is fulfilled.
All beings with resolve
Should accept and uphold the Buddha's precepts.
Sentient beings on receiving them
Join forthwith the ranks of Buddhas.
They are in essence equal to the Buddhas,
They are the true offspring of the Buddhas.
Therefore, Great Assembly,
Listen with utmost reverence
As I proclaim the Bodhisattva Moral Code.
III. The Buddha Reciting the Bodhisattva Precepts
At that time, when Sakyamuni Buddha first
attained Supreme Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, he explained the
Bodhisattva precepts. The Buddha taught filial piety toward one's
parents, Elder Masters and the Triple Jewel. Filial piety and obedience,
he said, are the Ultimate Path [to Buddhahood]. Filial piety is called
the precepts -- and it means restraint and cessation.
The Buddha then emitted limitless lights
from his mouth. Thereupon, the whole Great Assembly, consisting of
innumerable Bodhisattvas, the gods of the eighteen Brahma Heavens, the
gods of the six Desire Heavens, and the rulers of the sixteen great
kingdoms all joined their palms and listened singlemindedly to the
Buddha recite the Mahayana precepts.
The Buddha then said to the Bodhisattvas: Twice a month I recite the
precepts observed by all Buddhas. All Bodhisattvas, from those who have
just developed the Bodhi Mind to the Bodhisattvas of the Ten Dwellings,
the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, and the Ten Grounds also recite
them. Therefore, this precept-light shines forth from my mouth. It does
not arise without a cause. This light is neither blue, yellow, red,
white, nor black. It is neither form, nor thought. It is neither
existent nor nonexistent, neither cause nor effect. This precept-light
is precisely the original source of all Buddhas and all members of this
Great Assembly. Therefore all you disciples of the Buddha should receive
and observe, read, recite and study these precepts with utmost
Disciples of the Buddha, listen attentively! Whoever can understand and
accept a Dharma Master's words of transmission can receive the
Bodhisattva precepts and be called foremost in purity. This is true
whether that person is a king, a prince, an official, a monk, a nun, or
a god of the eighteen Brahma Heavens, a god of the six Desire Heavens,
or a human, a eunuch, a libertine, a prostitute, a slave, or a member of
the Eight Divisions of Divinities, a Vajra spirit, an animal, or even a
IV. The Ten Major Precepts
The Buddhas said to his disciples, "There
are ten major Bodhisattva precepts. If one receives the precepts but
fails to recite them, he is not a Bodhisattva, nor is he a seed of
Buddhahood. I, too, recite these precepts.
"All Bodhisattvas have studied them in the
past, will study in the future, and are studying them now. I have
explained the main characteristics of the Bodhisattva precepts. You
should study and observe them with all your heart."
The Buddha continued:
1. First Major Precept
A disciple of the Buddha shall not himself
kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing,
rejoice at witnessing killing, or kill through incantation or deviant
mantras. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of
killing, and shall not intentionally kill any living creature.
As a Buddha's disciple, he ought to
nurture a mind of compassion and filial piety, always devising expedient
means to rescue and protect all beings. If instead, he fails to restrain
himself and kills sentient beings without mercy, he commits a Parajika
2. Second Major Precept
A disciple of the Buddha must not himself
steal or encourage others to steal, steal by expedient means, steal by
means of incantation or deviant mantras. He should not create the
causes, conditions, methods, or karma of stealing. No valuables or
possessions, even those belonging to ghosts and spirits or thieves and
robbers, be they as small as a needle or blade of grass, may be stolen.
As a Buddha's disciple, he ought to have a
mind of mercy, compassion, and filial piety -- always helping people
earn merits and achieve happiness. If instead, he steals the possessions
of others, he commits a Parajika offense.
3. Third Major Precept
On Sexual Misconduct
A disciple of the Buddha must not engage
in licentious acts or encourage others to do so. [As a monk] he should
not have sexual relations with any female -- be she a human, animal,
deity or spirit -- nor create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma
of such misconduct. Indeed, he must not engage in improper sexual
conduct with anyone.
A Buddha's disciple ought to have a mind of filial piety -- rescuing all
sentient beings and instructing them in the Dharma of purity and
chastity. If instead, he lacks compassion and encourages others to
engage in sexual relations promiscuously, including with animals and
even their mothers, daughters, sisters, or other close relatives, he
commits a Parajika offense.
4. Fourth Major Precept
On Lying and False Speech
A disciple of the Buddha must not himself
use false words and speech, or encourage others to lie or lie by
expedient means. He should not involve himself in the causes,
conditions, methods, or karma of lying, saying that he has seen what he
has not seen or vice-versa, or lying implicitly through physical or
As a Buddha's disciple, he ought to maintain Right Speech and Right
Views always, and lead all others to maintain them as well. If instead,
he causes wrong speech, wrong views or evil karma in others, he commits
a Parajika offense.
5. Fifth Major Precept
On Selling Alcoholic Beverages
A disciple of the Buddha must not trade in
alcoholic beverages or encourage others to do so. He should not create
the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of selling any intoxicant
whatsoever, for intoxicants are the causes and conditions of all kinds
As a Buddha's disciple, he ought to help all sentient beings achieve
clear wisdom. If instead, he causes them to have upside-down,
topsy-turvy thinking, he commits a Parajika offense.
6. Sixth Major Precept
On Broadcasting the Faults of the Assembly
A disciple of the Buddha must not himself
broadcast the misdeeds or infractions of Bodhisattva-clerics or
Bodhisattva-laypersons, or of [ordinary] monks and nuns -- nor encourage
others to do so. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or
karma of discussing the offenses of the assembly.
As a Buddha's disciple, whenever he hears
evil persons, externalists or followers of the Two Vehicles speak of
practices contrary to the Dharma or contrary to the precepts within the
Buddhist community, he should instruct them with a compassionate mind
and lead them to develop wholesome faith in the Mahayana.
If instead, he discusses the faults and misdeeds that occur within the
assembly, he commits a Parajika offense.
7. Seventh Major Precept
On Praising Oneself and Disparaging Others
A disciple of the Buddha shall not praise
himself and speak ill of others, or encourage others to do so. He must
not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of praising himself
and disparaging others.
As a disciple of the Buddha, he should be
willing to stand in for all sentient beings and endure humiliation and
slander -- accepting blame and letting sentient beings have all the
glory. If instead, he displays his own virtues and conceals the good
points of others, thus causing them to suffer slander, he commits a
8. Eighth Major Precept
On Stinginess and Abuse
A disciple of the Buddha must not be
stingy or encourage others to be stingy. He should not create the
causes, conditions, methods, or karma of stinginess. As a Bodhisattva,
whenever a destitute person comes for help, he should give that person
what he needs. If instead, out of anger and resentment, he denies all
assistance -- refusing to help with even a penny, a needle, a blade of
grass, even a single sentence or verse or a phrase of Dharma, but
instead scolds and abuses that person -- he commits a Parajika offense.
9. Ninth Major Precept
On Anger and Resentment
A disciple of the Buddha shall not harbor
anger or encourage others to be angry. He should not create the causes,
conditions, methods, or karma of anger.
As a disciple of the Buddha, he ought to be compassionate and filial,
helping all sentient beings develop the good roots of non-contention. If
instead, he insults and abuses sentient beings, or even transformation
beings [such as deities and spirits], with harsh words, hitting them
with his fists or feet, or attacking them with a knife or club -- or
harbors grudges even when the victim confesses his mistakes and humbly
seeks forgiveness in a soft, conciliatory voice -- the disciple commits
a Parajika offense.
10. Tenth Major Precept
On Slandering the Triple Jewel
A Buddha's disciple shall not himself
speak ill of the Triple Jewel or encourage others to do so. He must not
create the causes, conditions, methods or karma of slander. If a
disciple hears but a single word of slander against the Buddha from
externalists or evil beings, he experiences a pain similar to that of
three hundred spears piercing his heart. How then could he possibly
slander the Triple Jewel himself?
Hence, if a disciple lacks faith and filial piety towards the Triple
Jewel, and even assists evil persons or those of aberrant views to
slander the Triple Jewel, he commits a Parajika offense.
V. Conclusion: The Ten Major Precepts
As a disciple of the Buddha, you should
study these ten parajika (major) precepts and not break any one of them
in even the slightest way -- much less break all of them! Anyone guilty
of doing so cannot develop the Bodhi Mind in his current life and will
lose whatever high position he may have attained, be it that of an
emperor, Wheel-Turning King, Bhiksu, Bhiksuni -- as well as whatever
level of Bodhisattvahood he may have reached, whether the Ten Dwellings,
the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, the Ten Grounds -- and all the
fruits of the eternal Buddha Nature. He will lose all of those levels of
attainment and descend into the Three Evil Realms, unable to hear the
words "parents" or "Triple Jewel" for eons! Therefore, Buddha's
disciples should avoid breaking any one of these major precepts. All of
you Bodhisattvas should study and observe the Ten Precepts, which have
been observed, are being observed, and will be observed by all
Bodhisattvas. They were explained in detail in the chapter, "The Eighty
Thousand Rules of Conduct."
VI. The Forty-eight Secondary Precepts
Then the Buddha told the Bodhisattvas,
"Now that I have explained the Ten Major Precepts, I will speak about
the forty-eight secondary precepts."
1. Disrespect toward Teachers and
A disciple of the Buddha who is destined
to become an emperor, a Wheel-Turning King, or high official should
first receive the Bodhisattva precepts. He will then be under the
protection of all guardian deities and spirits, and the Buddhas will be
Once he has received the precepts, the disciple should develop a mind of
filial piety and respect. Whenever he meets an Elder Master, a monk, or
a fellow cultivator of like views and like conduct, he should rise and
greet him with respect. He must then respectfully make offerings to the
guest-monks, in accord with the Dharma. He should be willing to pledge
himself, his family, as well as his kingdom, cities, jewels and other
If instead, he should develop conceit or arrogance, delusion or anger,
refusing to rise and greet guest-monks and make offerings to them
respectfully, in accordance with the Dharma, he commits a secondary
2. On Consuming Alcoholic Beverages
A disciple of the Buddha should not
intentionally consume alcoholic beverages, as they are the source of
countless offenses. If he but offers a glass of wine to another person,
his retribution will be to have no hands for five hundred lifetimes. How
could he then consume liquor himself! Indeed, a Bodhisattva should not
encourage any person or any other sentient being to consume alcohol,
much less take any alcoholic beverages himself. A disciple should not
drink any alcoholic beverages whatsoever. If instead, he deliberately
does so or encourages others to do so, he commits a secondary offense.
3. On Eating Meat
A disciple of the Buddha must not
deliberately eat meat. He should not eat the flesh of any sentient
being. The meat-eater forfeits the seed of Great Compassion, severs the
seed of the Buddha Nature and causes [animals and transcendental] beings
to avoid him. Those who do so are guilty of countless offenses.
Therefore, Bodhisattvas should not eat the flesh of any sentient beings
whatsoever. If instead, he deliberately eats meat, he commits a
4. On Five Pungent Herbs
A disciple of the Buddha should not eat
the five pungent herbs -- garlic, chives, leeks, onions, and
asafoetida.This is so even if they are added as flavoring to other main
dishes. Hence, if he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary
5. On Not Teaching Repentance
If a disciple of the Buddha should see any
being violate the Five Precepts, the Eight Precepts, the Ten Precepts,
other prohibitions, or commit any of the Seven Cardinal Sins or any
offense which leads to the Eight Adversities -- any violations of the
precepts whatever -- he should counsel the offender to repent and
Hence, if a Bodhisattva does not do so and furthermore continues to live
together in the assembly with the offender, share in the offerings of
the laity, participate in the same Uposatha ceremony and recite the
precepts -- while failing to bring up that person's offense, enjoining
him to repent -- the disciple commits a secondary offense.
6. Failing to Request the Dharma or
If an Elder Master, a Mahayana monk or
fellow cultivator of like views and practice should come from far away
to the temple, residence, city or village of a disciple of the Buddha,
the disciple should respectfully welcome him and see him off. He should
minister to his needs at all times, though doing so may cost as much as
three taels of gold! Moreover, the disciple of the Buddha should
respectfully request the guest-master to preach the Dharma three times a
day by bowing to him without a single thought of resentment or
weariness. He should be willing to sacrifice himself for the Dharma and
never be lax in requesting it.
If he does not act in this manner, he
commits a secondary offense.
7. Failing to Attend Dharma Lectures
A Bodhisattva disciple who is new to the
Order should take copies of the appropriate sutras or precept codes to
any place where such sutras, commentaries, or moral codes are being
explained, to listen, study, and inquire about the Dharma. He should go
anywhere, be it in a house, beneath a tree, in a temple, in the forests
or mountains, or elsewhere. If he fails to do so, he commits a secondary
8. On Turning Away from the Mahayana
If a disciple of the Buddha disavows the
eternal Mahayana sutras and moral codes, declaring that they were not
actually taught by the Buddha, and instead follows and observes those of
the Two Vehicles and deluded externalists, he commits a secondary
9. On Failure to Care for the Sick
If a disciple of the Buddha should see
anyone who is sick, he should wholeheartedly provide for that person's
needs just as he would for a Buddha. Of the eight Fields of Blessings,
looking after the sick is the most important. A Buddha's disciple should
take care of his father, mother, Dharma teacher or disciple --
regardless of whether the latter are disabled or suffering from various
kinds of diseases.
If instead, he becomes angry and resentful and fails to do so, or
refuses to rescue the sick or disabled in temples, cities and towns,
forests and mountains, or along the road, he commits a secondary
10. On Storing Deadly Weapons
A disciple of the Buddha should not store
weapons such as knives, clubs, bows, arrows, spears, axes or any other
weapons, nor may he keep nets, traps or any such devices used in
As a disciple of the Buddha, he must not
even avenge the death of his parents -- let alone kill sentient beings!
He should not store any weapons or devices that can be used to kill
sentient beings. If he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary
The first ten secondary precepts have just been described. Disciples of
the Buddha should study and respectfully observe them. They are
explained in detail in the six chapters [now lost] following these
11. On Serving as an Emissary
A disciple of the Buddha shall not, out of
personal benefit or evil intentions, act as a country's emissary to
foster military confrontation and war causing the slaughter of countless
sentient beings. As a disciple of the Buddha, he should not be involved
in military affairs, or serve as a courier between armies, much less act
as a willing catalyst for war. If he deliberately does so, he commits a
12. On Unlawful Business Undertakings
A disciple of the Buddha must not
deliberately trade in slaves or sell anyone into servitude, nor should
he trade in domestic animals, coffins or wood for caskets. He cannot
engage in these types of business himself much less encourage others to
do so. Otherwise, he commits a secondary offense.
13. On Slander and Libel
A disciple of the Buddha must not, without
cause and with evil intentions, slander virtuous people, such as Elder
Masters, monks or nuns, kings, princes or other upright persons, saying
that they have committed the Seven Cardinal Sins or broken the Ten Major
Bodhisattva Precepts. He should be compassionate and filial and treat
all virtuous people as if they were his father, mother, siblings or
other close relatives. If instead, he slanders and harms them, he
commits a secondary offense.
14. On Starting Wildfires
A disciple of the Buddha shall not, out of
evil intentions, start wildfires to clear forests and burn vegetation on
mountains and plains, during the fourth to the ninth months of the lunar
year. Such fires [are particularly injurious to animals during that
period and may spread] to people's homes, towns and villages, temples
and monasteries, fields and groves, as well as the [unseen] dwellings
and possessions of deities and ghosts. He must not intentionally set
fire to any place where there is life. If he deliberately does so, he
commits a secondary offense.
15. Teaching Non-Mahayana Dharma
A disciple of the Buddha must teach one
and all, from fellow disciples, relatives and spiritual friends, to
externalists and evil beings, how to receive and observe the Mahayana
sutras and moral codes. He should teach the Mahayana principles to them
and help them develop the Bodhi Mind -- as well as the Ten Dwellings,
the Ten Practices and the Ten Dedications, explaining the order and
function of each of these Thirty Minds (levels).
If instead, the disciple, with evil, hateful intentions, perversely
teaches them the sutras and moral codes of the Two Vehicle tradition as
well as the commentaries of deluded externalists, he thereby commits a
16. Unsound Explanation of the Dharma
A Bodhisattva Dharma Master must first,
with a wholesome mind, study the rules of deportment, as well as sutras
and moral codes of the Mahayana tradition, and understand their meanings
in depth. Then, whenever novices come from afar to seek instruction, he
should explain, according to the Dharma, all the Bodhisattva
renunciation practices, such as burning one's body, arm, or finger [as
the ultimate act in the quest for Supreme Enlightenment]. If a novice is
not prepared to follow these practices as an offering to the Buddhas, he
is not a Bodhisattva monk. Moreover, a Bodhisattva monk should be
willing to sacrifice his body and limbs for starving beasts and hungry
ghosts [as the ultimate act of compassion in rescuing sentient beings].
After these explanations, the Bodhisattva
Dharma Master should teach the novices in an orderly way, to awaken
their minds. If instead, for personal gain, he refuses to teach or
teaches in a confused manner, quoting passages out of order and context,
or teaches in a manner that disparages the Triple Jewel, he commits a
17. On Exacting Donations
A disciple of the Buddha must not, for the
sake of food, drink, money, possessions or fame, approach and befriend
kings, princes, or high officials and [on the strength of such
relationships], exact money, goods or other advantages. Nor may he
encourage others to do so. These actions are called untoward, excessive
demands and lack compassion and filial piety. Such a disciple commits a
18. On Serving as an Inadequate Master
A disciple of the Buddha should study the
Twelve Divisions of the Dharma and recite the Bodhisattva precepts
frequently. He should strictly observe these precepts in the Six Periods
of the day and night and fully understand their meaning and principles
as well as the essence of their Buddha Nature.
If instead, the disciple of the Buddha
fails to understand even a sentence or a verse of the moral code or the
causes and conditions related to the precepts, but pretends to
understand them, he is deceiving both himself and others. A disciple who
understands nothing of the Dharma, yet acts as a teacher transmitting
the precepts, commits a secondary offense.
19. On Double-tongued Speech
A disciple of the Buddha must not, with
malicious intent gossip or spread rumors and slander, create discord and
disdain for virtuous people. [An example is] disparaging a monk who
observes the Bodhisattva precepts, as he [makes offerings to the Buddhas
by] holding an incense burner to his forehead. A disciple of the Buddha
who does so commits a secondary offense.
20. Failure to Liberate Sentient Beings
A disciple of the Buddha should have a
mind of compassion and cultivate the practice of liberating sentient
beings. He must reflect thus: throughout the eons of time, all male
sentient beings have been my father, all female sentient beings my
mother. I was born of them, now I slaughter them, I would be
slaughtering my parents as well as eating flesh that was once my own.
This is so because all elemental earth, water, fire and air -- the four
constituents of all life -- have previously been part of my body, part
of my substance. I must therefore always cultivate the practice of
liberating sentient beings and enjoin others to do likewise -- as
sentient beings are forever reborn, again and again, lifetime after
lifetime. If a Bodhisattva sees an animal on the verge of being killed,
he must devise a way to rescue and protect it, helping it to escape
suffering and death. The disciple should always teach the Bodhisattva
precepts to rescue and deliver sentient beings.
On the day his father, mother, and siblings die, he should invite Dharma
Masters to explain the Bodhisattva sutras and precepts. This will
generate merits and virtues and help the deceased either to achieve
rebirth in the Pure Lands and meet the Buddhas or to secure rebirth in
the human or celestial realms. If instead, a disciple fails to do so, he
commits a secondary offense.
You should study and respectfully observe
the above ten precepts. Each of them is explained in detail in the
chapter "Expiating Offenses."
21. On Violence and Vengefulness
A disciple of the Buddha must not return
anger for anger, blow for blow. He should not seek revenge, even if his
father, mother, siblings, or close relatives are killed -- nor should he
do so if the ruler or king of his country is murdered. To take the life
of one being in order to avenge the killing of another is contrary to
filial piety [as we are all related through the eons of birth and
Furthermore, he should not keep others in
servitude, much less beat or abuse them, creating evil karma of mind,
speech and body day after day -- particularly the offenses of speech.
How much less should he deliberately commit the Seven Cardinal Sins.
Therefore, if a Bodhisattva-monk lacks compassion and deliberately seeks
revenge, even for an injustice done to his close relatives, he commits a
22. Arrogance and Failure to Request
A disciple of the Buddha who has only
recently left home and is still a novice in the Dharma should not be
conceited. He must not refuse instruction on the sutras and moral codes
from Dharma Masters on account of his own intelligence, worldly
learning, high position, advanced age, noble lineage, vast
understanding, great merits, extensive wealth and possessions, etc.
Although these Masters may be of humble birth, young in age, poor, or
suffering physical disabilities, they may still have genuine virtue and
deep understanding of sutras and moral codes.
The novice Bodhisattva should not judge
Dharma Masters on the basis of their family background and refuse to
seek instructions on the Mahayana truths from them. If he does so, he
commits a secondary offense.
23. On Teaching the Dharma Grudgingly
After my passing, if a disciple should,
with a wholesome mind, wish to receive the Bodhisattva precepts, he may
make a vow to do so before the images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and
practice repentance before these images for seven days. If he then
experiences a vision, he has received the precepts. If he does not, he
should continue doing so for fourteen days, twenty-one days, or even a
whole year, seeking to witness an auspicious sign. After witnessing such
a sign, he could, in front of images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,
formally receive the precepts. If he has not witnessed such a sign,
although he may have accepted the precepts before the Buddha images, he
has not actually received the precepts.
However, the witnessing of auspicious
signs is not necessary if the disciple receives the precepts directly
from a Dharma Master who has himself received the precepts. Why is this
so? It is because this is a case of transmission from Master to Master
and therefore all that is required is a mind of utter sincerity and
respect on the part of the disciple.
If, within a radius of some three hundred fifty miles, a disciple cannot
find a Master capable of conferring the Bodhisattva precepts, he may
seek to receive them in front of Buddha or Bodhisattva images. However,
he must witness an auspicious sign.
If a Dharma Master, on account of his extensive knowledge of sutras and
Mahayana moral codes as well as his close relationship with kings,
princes, and high officials, refuses to give appropriate answers to
student-Bodhisattvas seeking the meaning of sutras and moral codes, or
does so grudgingly, with resentment and arrogance, he commits a
24. Failure to Practice Mahayana
If a disciple of the Buddha fails to study
Mahayana sutras and moral codes assiduously and cultivate correct views,
correct nature and the correct Dharma Body, it is like abandoning the
Seven Precious Jewels for [mere stones]: worldly texts and the
Two-Vehicle or externalist commentaries. To do so is to create the
causes and conditions that obstruct the Path to Enlightenment and cut
himself off from his Buddha Nature. It is a failure to follow the
Bodhisattva path. If a disciple intentionally acts in such a manner, he
commits a secondary offense.
25. Unskilled Leadership of the
After my passing, if a disciple should
serve as an abbot, elder Dharma Master, Precept Master, Meditation
Master, or Guest Prefect, he must develop a compassionate mind and
peacefully settle differences within the Assembly -- skillfully
administering the resources of the Three Jewels, spending frugally and
not treating them as his own property. If instead, he were to create
disorder, provoke quarrels and disputes or squander the resources of the
Assembly, he would commit a secondary offense.
26. Accepting Personal Offerings
Once a disciple of the Buddha has settled
down in a temple, if visiting Bodhisattva Bhiksus should arrive at the
temple precincts, the guest quarters established by the king, or even
the summer retreat quarters, or the quarters of the Great Assembly, the
disciple should welcome the visiting monks and see them off. He should
provide them with such essentials as food and drink, a place to live,
beds, chairs, and the like. If the host does not have the necessary
means, he should be willing to pawn himself or cut off and sell his own
Whenever there are meal offerings and
ceremonies at a layman's home, visiting monks should be given a fair
share of the offerings. The abbot should send the monks, whether
residents or guests, to the donor's place in turn [according to their
sacerdotal age or merits and virtues]. If only resident monks are
allowed to accept invitations and not visiting monks, the abbot is
committing a grievous offense and is behaving no differently than an
animal. He is unworthy of being a monk or a son of the Buddha, and is
guilty of a secondary offense.
27. Accepting Discriminatory
A disciple of the Buddha must not accept
personal invitations nor appropriate the offerings for himself. Such
offerings rightly belong to the Sangha -- the whole community of monks
and nuns of the Ten Directions. To accept personal offerings is to steal
the possessions of the Sangha of the Ten Directions. It is tantamount to
stealing what belongs to the Eight Fields of Blessings: Buddhas, Sages,
Dharma Masters, Precept Masters, monks/nuns, mothers, fathers, the sick.
Such a disciple commits a secondary offense.
28. Issuing Discriminatory Invitations
A disciple of the Buddha, be he a
Bodhisattva monk, lay Bodhisattva, or other donor, should, when inviting
monks or nuns to conduct a prayer session, come to the temple and inform
the monk in charge. The monk will then tell him: "Inviting members of
the Sangha according to the proper order is tantamount to inviting the
Arhats of the Ten Directions. To offer a discriminatory special
invitation to [such a worthy group as] five hundred Arhats or
Bodhisattva-monks will not generate as much merit as inviting one
ordinary monk, if it is his turn.
There is no provision in the teachings of
the Seven Buddhas for discriminatory invitations. To do so is to follow
externalist practices and to contradict filial piety [toward all
sentient beings]. If a disciple deliberately issues a discriminatory
invitation, he commits a secondary offense.
29. On Improper Livelihoods
A disciple of the Buddha should not, for
the sake of gain or with evil intentions, engage in the business of
prostitution, selling the wiles and charms of men and women. He must
also not cook for himself, milling and pounding grain. Neither may he
act as a fortune-teller predicting the gender of children, reading
dreams and the like. Nor shall he practice sorcery, work as a trainer of
falcons or hunting dogs, nor make a living concocting hundreds and
thousands of poisons from deadly snakes, insects, or from gold and
silver. Such occupations lack mercy, compassion, and filial piety
[toward sentient beings]. Therefore, if a Bodhisattva intentionally
engages in these occupations, he commits a secondary offense.
30. On Handling Business Affairs for
A disciple of the Buddha must not, with
evil intentions, slander the Triple Jewel while pretending to be their
close adherent -- preaching the Truth of Emptiness while his actions are
in the realm of Existence. Furthermore, he must not handle worldly
affairs for the laity, acting as a go-between or matchmaker -- creating
the karma of attachment. Moreover, during the six days of fasting each
month and the three months of fasting each year, a disciple should
strictly observe all precepts, particularly against killing, stealing
and the rules against breaking the fast. Otherwise, the disciple commits
a secondary offense.
A Bodhisattva should respectfully study and observe the ten preceding
precepts. They are explained in detail in the Chapter on "Prohibitions".
31. Rescuing Clerics Along with Sacred
After my passing, in the evil periods that
will follow, there will be externalists, evil persons, thieves and
robbers who steal and sell statues and paintings of Buddhas,
Bodhisattvas and [those to whom respect is due such as] their parents.
They may even peddle copies of sutras and moral codes, or sell monks,
nuns or those who follow the Bodhisattva Path or have developed the
Bodhi Mind to serve as retainers or servants to officials and others.
A disciple of the Buddha, upon witnessing
such pitiful events, must develop a mind of compassion and find ways to
rescue and protect all persons and valuables, raising funds wherever he
can for this purpose. If a Bodhisattva does not act in this manner, he
commits a secondary offense.
32. On Harming Sentient Beings
A disciple of the Buddha must not sell
knives, clubs, bows, arrows, other life-taking devices, nor keep altered
scales or measuring devices. He should not abuse his governmental
position to confiscate people's possessions, nor should he, with malice
at heart, restrain or imprison others or sabotage their success. In
addition, he should not raise cats, dogs, foxes, pigs and other such
animals. If he intentionally does such things, he commits a secondary
33. On Watching Improper Activities
A disciple of the Buddha must not, with
evil intentions, watch people fighting or the battling of armies,
rebels, gangs and the like, should not listen to the sounds of conch
shells, drums, horns, guitars, flutes, lutes, songs or other music, nor
should he be party to any form of gambling, whether dice, checkers, or
the like. Furthermore, he should not practice fortune-telling or
divination nor should he be an accomplice to thieves and bandits. He
must not participate in any of these activities. If instead, he
intentionally does so, he commits a secondary offense.
34. Temporary Abandoning of the Bodhi
A disciple of the Buddha should observe
the Bodhisattva precepts every day, whether walking, standing, reclining
or seated -- reading and reciting them day and night. He should be
resolute in keeping the precepts, as strong as a diamond, as desperate
as a shipwrecked person clinging to a small log while attempting to
cross the ocean, or as principled as the "Bhiksu bound by reeds".
Furthermore, he should always have a wholesome faith in the teachings of
the Mahayana. Conscious that sentient beings are Buddhas-to-be while the
Buddhas are realized Buddhas, he should develop the Bodhi Mind and
maintain it in each and every thought, without retrogression.
If a Bodhisattva has but a single thought in the direction of the Two
Vehicles or externalist teachings, he commits a secondary offense.
35. Failure to Make Great Vows
A Bodhisattva must make many great vows --
to be filial to his parents and Dharma teachers, to meet good spiritual
advisors, friends, and colleagues who will keep teaching him the
Mahayana sutras and moral codes as well as the Stages of Bodhisattva
Practice (the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, and
the Ten Grounds). He should further vow to understand these teachings
clearly so that he can practice according to the Dharma while resolutely
keeping the precepts of the Buddhas. If necessary, he should lay down
his life rather than abandon this resolve for even a single moment. If a
Bodhisattva does not make such vows, he commits a secondary offense.
36. Failure to Make Resolutions
Once a Bodhisattva has made these Great
Vows, he should strictly keep the precepts of the Buddhas and make the
1.- I would rather jump into a raging
blaze, a deep abyss, or into a mountain of knives, than engage in impure
actions with any woman, thus violating the sutras and moral codes of the
Buddhas of the Three Periods of Time.
2.- I would rather wrap myself a thousand
times with a red-hot iron net, than let this body, should it break the
precepts, wear clothing provided by the faithful.
I would rather swallow red hot iron pellets and drink molten iron for
hundreds of thousands of eons, than let this mouth, should it break the
precepts, consume food and drink provided by the faithful.
I would rather lie on a bonfire or a
burning iron net than let this body, should it break the precepts, rest
on bedding, blankets and mats supplied by the faithful.
I would rather be impaled for eons by hundreds of spears, than let this
body, should it break the precepts, receive medications from the
I would rather jump into a cauldron of boiling oil and roast for
hundreds of thousands of eons, than let this body, should it break the
precepts, receive shelter, groves, gardens, or fields from the faithful.
3.- I would rather be pulverized from head
to toe by an iron sledge hammer, than let this body, should it break the
precepts, accept respect and reverence from the faithful.
4.- I would rather have both eyes blinded by hundreds of thousands of
swords and spears, rather than break the precepts by looking at
beautiful forms. [In the same vein, I shall keep my mind from being
sullied by exquisite sounds, fragrances, food and sensations.]
5.- I further vow that all sentient beings
will achieve Buddhahood.
If a disciple of the Buddha does not make the preceding great
resolutions, he commits a secondary offense.
37. Traveling in Dangerous Areas
[As a cleric], a disciple of the Buddha
should engage in ascetic practices twice each year. He should sit in
meditation, winter and summer, and observe the summer retreat. During
those periods, he should always carry eighteen essentials such as a
willow branch (for a toothbrush), ash-water (for soap), the traditional
three clerical robes, an incense burner, a begging bowl, a sitting mat,
a water filter, bedding, copies of sutras and moral codes as well as
statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
When practicing austerities and when
traveling, be it for thirty miles or three hundred miles, a cleric
should always have the eighteen essentials with him. The two periods of
austerities are from the 15th of the first lunar month to the 15th of
the third month, and from the 15th of the eighth lunar month to the 15th
of the tenth month. During the periods of austerities, he requires these
eighteen essentials just as a bird needs its two wings.
Twice each month, the novice Bodhisattva should attend the Uposattha
ceremony and recite the Ten Major and Forty-eight Secondary Precepts.
Such recitations should be done before images of the Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas. If only one person attends the ceremony, then he should do
the reciting. If two, three, or even hundreds of thousands attend the
ceremony, still only one person should recite. Everyone else should
listen in silence. The one reciting should sit on a higher level than
the audience, and everyone should be dressed in clerical robes. During
the summer retreat, each and every activity should be managed in
accordance with the Dharma.
When practicing the austerities, the
Buddhist disciple should avoid dangerous areas, unstable kingdoms,
countries ruled by evil kings, precipitous terrains, remote
wildernesses, regions inhabited by bandits, thieves, or lions, tigers,
wolves, poisonous snakes, or areas subject to hurricanes, floods and
fires. The disciple should avoid all such dangerous areas when
practicing the austerities and also when observing the summer retreat.
Otherwise, he commits a secondary offense.
38. Order of Seating Within the
A disciple of the Buddha should sit in the
proper order when in the Assembly. Those who received the Bodhisattva
precepts first sit first, those who received the precepts afterwards
should sit behind. Whether old or young, a Bhiksu or Bhiksuni, a person
of status, a king, a prince, a eunuch, or a servant, etc., each should
sit according to the order in which he received the precepts. Disciples
of the Buddha should not be like externalists or deluded people who base
their order on age or sit without any order at all -- in barbarian
fashion. In my Dharma, the order of sitting is based on seniority of
Therefore, if a Bodhisattva does not follow the order of sitting
according to the Dharma, he commits a secondary offense.
39. Failure to Cultivate Merits and
A disciple of the Buddha should constantly
counsel and teach all people to establish monasteries, temples and
pagodas in mountains and forests, gardens and fields. He should also
construct stupas for the Buddhas and buildings for winter and summer
retreats. All facilities required for the practice of the Dharma should
Moreover, a disciple of the Buddha should explain Mahayana sutras and
the Bodhisattva precepts to all sentient beings. In times of sickness,
national calamities, impending warfare or upon the death of one's
parents, brothers and sisters, Dharma Masters and Precept Masters, a
Bodhisattva should lecture and explain Mahayana sutras and the
Bodhisattva precepts weekly for up to seven weeks.
The disciple should read, recite, and
explain the Mahayana sutras and the Bodhisattva precepts in all prayer
gatherings, in his business undertakings and during periods of calamity
-- fire, flood, storms, ships lost at sea in turbulent waters or stalked
by demons ... In the same vein, he should do so in order to transcend
evil karma, the Three Evil Realms, the Eight Difficulties, the Seven
Cardinal Sins, all forms of imprisonment, or excessive sexual desire,
anger, delusion, and illness.
If a novice Bodhisattva fails to act as indicated, he commits a
The Bodhisattva should study and respectfully observe the nine precepts
just mentioned above, as explained in the "Brahma Altar" chapter.
40. Discrimination in Conferring the
A disciple of the Buddha should not be
selective and show preference in conferring the Bodhisattva precepts.
Each and every person can receive the precepts -- kings, princes, high
officials, Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, laymen, laywomen, libertines,
prostitutes, the gods in the eighteen Brahma Heavens or the six Desire
Heavens, asexual persons, bisexual persons, eunuchs, slaves, or demons
and ghosts of all types. Buddhist disciples should be instructed to wear
robes and sleep on cloth of a neutral color, formed by blending blue,
yellow, red, black and purple dyes all together.
The clothing of monks and nuns should, in all countries, be different
from those worn by ordinary persons.
Before someone is allowed to receive the
Bodhisattva precepts, he should be asked: "have you committed any of the
Cardinal Sins?" The Precept Master should not allow those who have
committed such sins to receive the precepts.
Here are the Seven Cardinal Sins: shedding the Buddha's blood, murdering
an Arhat, killing one's father, killing one's mother, murdering a Dharma
Teacher, murdering a Precept Master or disrupting the harmony of the
Except for those who have committed the Cardinal Sins, everyone can
receive the Bodhisattva precepts.
The Dharma rules of the Buddhist Order
prohibit monks and nuns from bowing down before rulers, parents,
relatives, demons and ghosts.
Anyone who understands the explanations of
the Precept Master can receive the Bodhisattva precepts. Therefore, if a
person were to come from thirty to three hundred miles away seeking the
Dharma and the Precept Master, out of meanness and anger, does not
promptly confer these precepts, he commits a secondary offense.
41. Teaching for the Sake of Profit
If a disciple of the Buddha, when teaching
others and developing their faith in the Mahayana, should discover that
a particular person wishes to receive the Bodhisattva precepts, he
should act as a teaching master and instruct that person to seek out two
Masters, a Dharma Master and a Precept Master.
These two Masters should ask the Precept
candidate whether he has committed any of the Seven Cardinal Sins in
this life. If he has, he cannot receive the precepts. If not, he may
receive the precepts.
If he has broken any of the Ten Major
Precepts, he should be instructed to repent before the statues of
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. He should do so six times a day and recite the
Ten Major and Forty-eight Minor Precepts, paying respect with utter
sincerity to the Buddhas of the Three Periods of Time. He should
continue in this manner until he receives an auspicious response, which
could occur after seven days, fourteen days, twenty-one days, or even a
year. Examples of auspicious signs include: experiencing the Buddhas rub
the crown of one's head, or seeing lights, halos, flowers and other such
The witnessing of an auspicious sign indicates that the candidate's
karma has been dissipated. Otherwise, although he has repented, it was
of no avail. He still has not received the precepts. However, the merits
accrued will increase his chances of receiving the precepts in a future
Unlike the case of a major Bodhisattva
precept, if a candidate has violated any of the Forty-eight Secondary
Precepts, he can confess his infraction and sincerely repent before
Bodhisattva-monks or nuns. After that, his offense will be eradicated.
The officiating Master, however, must fully understand the Mahayana
sutras and moral codes, the secondary as well as the major Bodhisattva
precepts, what constitutes an offense and what does not, the truth of
Primary Meaning, as well as the various Bodhisattva cultivation stages
-- the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, the Ten
Grounds, and Equal and Wonderful Enlightenment.
He should also know the type and degree of contemplation required for
entering and exiting these stages and be familiar with the Ten Limbs of
Enlightenment as well as a variety of other contemplations.
If he is not familiar with the above and,
out of greed for fame, disciples or offerings, he makes a pretense of
understanding the sutras and moral codes, he is deceiving himself as
well as others. Hence, if he intentionally acts as Precept Master,
transmitting the precepts to others, he commits a secondary offense.
42. Reciting the Precepts to Evil
A disciple of the Buddha should not, with
a greedy motive, expound the great precepts of the Buddhas before those
who have not received them, externalists or persons with heterodox
views. Except in the case of kings or supreme rulers, he may not expound
the precepts before any such person.
Persons who hold heterodox views and do
not accept the precepts of the Buddhas are untamed in nature. They will
not, lifetime after lifetime, encounter the Triple Jewel. They are as
mindless as trees and stones; they are no different from wooden stumps.
Hence, if a disciple of the Buddha expounds the precepts of the Seven
Buddhas before such persons, he commits a secondary offense.
43. Thoughts of Violating the Precepts
If a disciple of the Buddha joins the
Order out of pure faith, receives the correct precepts of the Buddhas,
but then develops thoughts of violating the precepts, he is unworthy of
receiving any offerings from the faithful, unworthy of walking on the
ground of his motherland, unworthy of drinking its water.
Five thousand guardian spirits constantly
block his way, calling him "Evil thief!" These spirits always follow him
into people's homes, villages and towns, sweeping away his very
footprints. Everyone curses such a disciple, calling him a "Thief within
the Dharma." All sentient beings avert their eyes, not wishing to see
A disciple of the Buddha who breaks the precepts is no different from an
animal or a wooden stump. Hence, if a disciple intentionally violates
the correct precepts, he commits a secondary offense.
44. Failure to Honor the Sutras and
A disciple of the Buddha should always
singlemindedly receive, observe, read and recite the Mahayana sutras and
moral codes. He should copy the sutras and moral codes onto bark, paper,
fine cloth, or bamboo slats and not hesitate to use his own skin as
paper, draw his own blood for ink and his marrow for ink solvent, or
split his bones for use as pens. He should use precious gems, priceless
incense and flowers and other precious things to make and adorn covers
and cases to store the sutras and codes.
Hence, if he does not make offerings to the sutras and moral codes, in
accordance with the Dharma, he commits a secondary offense.
45. Failure to Teach Sentient Beings
A disciple of the Buddha should develop a
mind of Great Compassion. Whenever he enters people's homes, villages,
cities or towns, and sees sentient beings, he should say aloud, "You
sentient beings should all take the Three Refuges and receive the Ten
[Major Bodhisattva] Precepts." Should he come across cows, pigs, horses,
sheep and other kinds of animals, he should concentrate and say aloud,
"You are now animals; you should develop the Bodhi Mind." A Bodhisattva,
wherever he goes, be it climbing a mountain, entering a forest, crossing
a river, or walking through a field should help all sentient beings
develop the Bodhi Mind.
If a disciple of the Buddha does not
wholeheartedly teach and rescue sentient beings in such a manner, he
commits a secondary offense.
46. Preaching in an Inappropriate
A disciple of the Buddha should always
have a mind of Great Compassion to teach and transform sentient beings.
Whether visiting wealthy and aristocratic donors or addressing Dharma
gatherings, he should not remain standing while explaining the Dharma to
laymen, but should occupy a raised seat in front of the lay assembly.
A Bhiksu serving as Dharma instructor must not be standing while
lecturing to the Fourfold Assembly. During such lectures, the Dharma
Master should sit on a raised seat amidst flowers and incense, while the
Fourfold Assembly must listen from lower seats. The Assembly must
respect and follow the Master like filial sons obeying their parents or
Brahmans worshipping fire. If a Dharma Master does not follow these
rules while preaching the Dharma, he commits a secondary offense.
47. On Regulations Against the Dharma
A disciple of the Buddha who has accepted
the precepts of the Buddhas with a faithful mind, must not use his high
official position (as a king, prince, official, etc.) to undermine the
moral code of the Buddhas. He may not establish rules and regulations
preventing the four kinds of lay disciples from joining the Order and
practicing the Way, nor may he prohibit the making of Buddha or
Bodhisattva images, statues and stupas, or the printing and distribution
of sutras and codes. Likewise, he must not establish rules and
regulations placing controls on the Fourfold Assembly. If highly placed
lay disciples engage in actions contrary to the Dharma, they are no
different from vassals in the service of [illegitimate] rulers.
A Bodhisattva should rightfully receive
respect and offerings from all. If instead, he is forced to defer to
officials, this is contrary to the Dharma, contrary to the moral code.
Hence, if a king or official has received the Bodhisattva precepts with
a wholesome mind, he should avoid offenses that harm the Three Jewels.
If instead, he intentionally commits such acts, he is guilty of a
48. On Destroying the Dharma
A disciple of the Buddha who becomes a
monk with wholesome intentions must not, for fame or profit, explain the
precepts to kings or officials in such a way as to cause monks, nuns or
laymen who have received the Bodhisattva precepts to be tied up, thrown
into prison or forcefully conscripted. If a Bodhisattva acts in such a
manner, he is no different from a worm in a lion's body, eating away at
the lion's flesh. This is not something a worm living outside the lion
can do. Likewise, only disciples of the Buddhas can bring down the
Dharma -- no externalist or demon can do so.
Those who have received the precepts of the Buddha should protect and
observe them just as a mother would care for her only child or a filial
son his parents. They must not break the precepts.
If a Bodhisattva hears externalists or
evil-minded persons speak ill of, or disparage, the precepts of the
Buddhas, he should feel as though his heart were pierced by three
hundred spears, or his body stabbed with a thousand knives or thrashed
with a thousand clubs. He would rather suffer in the hells himself for a
hundred eons than hear evil beings disparage the precepts of the Buddha.
How much worse it would be if the disciple were to break the precepts
himself or incite others to do so! This is indeed an unfilial mind!
Hence, if he violates the precepts intentionally, he commits a secondary
The preceding nine precepts should be studied and respectfully observed
with utmost faith.
The Buddha said, "All of you disciples!
These are the Forty-eight Secondary Precepts that you should observe.
Bodhisattvas of the past have recited them, those of the future will
recite them, those of the present are now reciting them.
"Disciples of the Buddha! You should all listen! These Ten Major and
Forty-eight Secondary Precepts are recited by all Buddhas of the Three
Periods of Time -- past, present, and future. I now recite them as
The Buddha continued: "Everyone in the
Assembly -- kings, princes, officials, Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, laymen,
laywomen and those who have received the Bodhisattva precepts -- should
receive and observe, read and recite, explain and copy these precepts of
the eternal Buddha Nature so that they can circulate without
interruption for the edification of all sentient beings. They will then
encounter the Buddhas and receive the teachings from each one in
succession. Lifetime after lifetime, they will escape the Three Evil
Paths and the Eight Difficulties and will always be reborn in the human
and celestial realms."
I have concluded a general explanation of the precepts of the Buddhas
beneath this Bodhi Tree. All in this Assembly should singlemindedly
study the Pratimoksa precepts and joyfully observe them.
These precepts are explained in detail in the exhortation section of
the "Markless Celestial King" chapter.
At that time, the Bodhisattvas of the Three Thousand World System
(cosmos) sat listening with utmost reverence to the Buddha reciting the
precepts. They then joyously received and observed them.
As Buddha Sakyamuni finished explaining
the Ten Inexhaustible Precepts of the "Mind-Ground Dharma Door" chapter,
(which Vairocana Buddha had previously proclaimed in the Lotus Flower
Treasury World), countless other Sakyamuni Buddhas did the same.
As Sakyamuni Buddha preached in ten different places, from the Mahesvara
Heaven Palace to the Bodhi Tree, for the benefit of countless
Bodhisattvas and other beings, all the countless Buddhas in the infinite
lands of the Lotus Treasury World did the same.
They explained the Buddha's Mind Treasury (the Thirty Minds), Ground
Treasury, Precept Treasury, Infinite Actions and Vows Treasury, the
Treasury of the Ever-Present Buddha Nature as Cause and Effect of
Buddhahood. Thus, all the Buddhas completed their expositions of the
countless Dharma Treasuries.
All sentient beings throughout the billions of worlds gladly receive
and observe these Teachings.
The characteristics of the Mind-Ground are explained in greater detail
in the chapter "Seven Forms of Conduct of the Buddha Floral Brilliance
IX. Verses of Praise
The sages with great samadhi and wisdom
Can observe this teaching;
Even before reaching Buddhahood
They are blessed with five benefits:
First, the Buddhas of the Ten Directions
Always keep them in mind and protect them.
Secondly, at the time of death
They hold correct views with a joyous mind.
Third, wherever they are reborn,
The Bodhisattvas are their friends.
Fourth, merits and virtues abound as
The Paramita of Precepts is accomplished.
Fifth, in this life and in succeeding ones,
Observing all precepts, they are filled with
merits and wisdom.
Such disciples are sons of the Buddha.
Wise people should ponder this well.
Common beings clinging to marks and self
Cannot obtain this teaching.
Nor can followers of the Two Vehicles,
abiding in quietude,
Plant their seeds within it.
To nurture the sprouts of Bodhi,
To illuminate the world with wisdom,
You should carefully observe
The True Mark of all dharmas:
Neither born nor unborn,
Neither eternal nor extinct,
Neither the same nor different,
Neither coming nor going.
In that singleminded state
The disciple should diligently cultivate
And adorn the Bodhisattva's practices and deeds
In sequential order.
Between the teachings of study and non-study,
One should not develop thoughts of discrimination.
This is the Foremost Path --
Also known as Mahayana.
All offenses of idle speculation and meaningless debate
Invariably disappear at this juncture;
The Buddha's omniscient wisdom
Also arises from this.
Therefore, all disciples of the Buddha
Should develop great resolve,
And strictly observe the Buddha's precepts
As though they were brilliant gems.
All Bodhisattvas of the past
Have studied these precepts;
Those of the future will also study them.
Those of the present study them as well.
This is the path walked by the Buddhas,
And praised by the Buddhas.
I have now finished explaining the precepts,
The body of immense merit and virtue.
I now transfer them all to sentient beings;
May they all attain Supreme Wisdom;
May the sentient beings who hear this Dharma
All attain Buddhahood.
X. Verses of Dedication
In the Lotus Treasury World,
Vairocana explained an infinitesimal part of the Mind-Ground Door,
Transmitting it to the Sakyamunis:
Major and minor precepts are clearly delineated,
All sentient beings receive immense benefits.
Source: Buddhism Study and Practice Group
Collected by Dieu My
Layout: Pho Tri