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Those who practise the acquirement of supreme reason are like a piece of wood which floats down with the tide of a stream, neither touching the left bank nor the right, not detained by any worldly scheme nor misled by spiritual theories that which concerns spirits, i. So the man who practises reason, not held by the hallucinations of passion, nor the false notions which distinguish the wicked,--this man progressing and banishing doubt, shall under my protection arrive at supreme wisdom.

Buddha said to a Shaman: Beware of placing trust in your thoughts, or they in the end will destroy the groundwork of all belief. Beware of mixing yourself up in worldly matters? But the Rahat may trust his thoughts. Buddha thus addressed all the Shamans: Beware of looking on a woman! Beware of words with a woman; but if you speak with one, with pure heart and upright intention say, "I am a Shaman, necessarily in this impure world; but let me be as a lotus, which grows pure though in the mud. Regard her as your mother.

Consider her as your elder sister. Is she of small account? Consider her as a younger sister. Is she a child? Treat her politely according to the usages of society.

Sutra of Forty-two Chapters

Above all, consider in your reasoning that what you see is only the external appearance, within that body what vileness and corruption! So, thinking thus, your evil thoughts will be all banished! A man practising reason, and wishful to expel his lusts, ought to behold himself or them? He would then certainly be earnest in removing these desires and lusts. There was a man or there being a man who, afflicted with sensual lusts which he could not repress, was sitting on sharp knives in order to destroy the members which ministered to his passion or in order to eradicate his passions or senses ; on which Buddha addressed him thus: It is the heart which is the workman at the bottom of all ; if you rightly compose this, then all these evil thoughts will be dissipated.

But the heart not composed, what profit can arise from removing the member? What is this but mere bodily death? So it is the world commonly mistakes on these matters. There was a certain lewd woman who had made an engagement to meet a certain man. When she came not he began to repent himself of his wickedness , and said: There being no thought, lust cannot be born. A man practising reason aiming at the attainment of supreme reason may be compared to a single warrior fighting against ten thousand. Whilst other soldiers, armed for the battle, rush from the gate, desirous to fight, he yet fears in p.

When half way he returns to the conflict resolved to fight and die. This man, having attained the victory, and returning to his country, will deservedly be raised to high rank. So the man who is able to hold to the same mind, and, persevering against all obstacles, advances in his work or profession , uninfluenced by any worldly follies or enticements, his evil desires destroyed, his wicked acts at an end, he must attain perfect wisdom. There was a Shaman who during a night kept reciting his prayers the Sutra, or book containing the words of Buddha , the sound of his voice piteous, and worn with fatigue, desiring by so doing to bring himself to repent of his sinful thoughts of returning to the world.

Sutra of Forty-two Chapters - Wikipedia

Buddha addressing the Shaman, said: Only keep your heart in harmony and union, so you will attain perfect knowledge. A man practising the attainment of reason is as the place where or the mode in which they found metals, gradually dropping down and separating from the dross; the vessel made from this will be good. The way of wisdom in like manner, is by gradually ridding away the corruption of the heart, with earnest perseverance to go on, and thus complete perfect knowledge. If any other way be tried, it is only the cause of weariness to the body, this causes vexation of mind, this transgression in life, and this is only to practise the way of the wicked or, and this the accumulation of guilt.

A man who is aiming to attain supreme reason has many sorrows, like him that is not engaged in this pursuit; for, considering a man's experience from the time of his birth to his old age, from this period to the time of his sickness, and from this to his death,--what countless sorrows does he endure! But the heart laden with regrets, guilt stored up, endless life and death,--these sorrows how difficult to speak of! For a man to avoid the three evil ways of birth viz. Buddha asked all the Shamans, "What is the time of a man's life or in what does a man's life consist?

Whilst another who dwells with me, and yet allows rebellious thoughts and does wickedly, he shall in the end not attain supreme reason. Truth of profession resides or is exhibited in correct conduct.

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If a man consorting with me does still not conform to my commandments in his conduct, what benefit will ten thousand precepts be to him? A man who is practising the attainment of reason, is like one eating honey, which is sweet throughout. So my Scriptures Sutras are likewise sweet: No one under heaven is able to become a follower of the Way if he accepts dualism. Inevitably, his hands will be burnt. The gods bestowed the jade girl upon me, hoping to shake my determination. For what have you come here? I do not need you.


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I am prepared to undertake that such a piece of wood will certainly reach the sea. If those who study the Way are not misled by their feelings and desires, not disburbed by any sort of depravity, and, if they earnestly advance towards the unphenomenal, I am prepared to undertake that they will certainly attain to the Way. Take care not to come in contact with physical attractions—such contacts result in calamities. Only when you have reached the stage of Arhan can you depend on your own intelligence. If you do have occasion to converse with them, control the thoughts which run through your minds.

When I was a Sramana and came in contact with the impure world, I was like the lotus which remains unsullied by the mud from which it grows. Think of old women as of you mothers, of those older than yourselves as of your elder sisters, of those younger than yourselves as of your younger sisters, and of very young ones as your daughters. Dwell on thoughts of Enlightenment and banish all evil ones.

A follower of the Way who experience desire must put a distance between himself and object of his desire. If mental depravities continues, what is the use of putting an end to evil actions? Thought springs from discernment of matter. When the two minds are both stilled, there is neither form nor action. Fear comes from these sorrows.

If freedom from desire is attained, what cause for grief and fear will remain? His toughts may be timorous and his resolution weak, or he may even get halfway to the battle-ground and then turn around and flee. Again, he may join battle and be slain. On the other hand, he may gain the victory and return. The Sramana who studies the Way must have a resolute mind and zealously build up his courage, fearing nothing that lies before him and destroying all demons of temptation that stand in his way , that he may obtain the fruit of diligently studing the Way.

The Buddha asked him:. To this the Buddha said, "It is the same with a Sraman studing the Way. If his mind is properly adjusted, he can attain to it, but if he forces himself towards it, his mind will become weary and, on account of the weariness of his mind, his thoughts will become irritable. With such irritable thoughts, his actions will retrogress and, with such retrogression, evil will enter his mind. But if he studies quietly and happily, he will not lose the Way.

If one who studies the Way first purges his heart of all foul influences, his actions will then become pure. Just as, when you eat honey you find that , every drop of it sweet, so it is with my words. If the Way is followed in the mind, of what use are actions? It feels so weary that it does not dare to look to left or right and, only on emerging from the mud, can it revive itself by resting.

A Sramana should regard feelings and desires more seriously than the ox regards the mud. Only by controlling his mind and thinking of the Way can he avoid sorrow. I look upon ornaments of gold and jewels as upon rubble. I look upon garments of finest silk as upon worn-out rags. I look upon a major chiliocosm as upon a small nut. The World Honored One taught and directed each one to enlightenment By always observing the precepts 19 , being pure and unblemished in their conduct, and practicing the Path of the Four Truths, they then become arhats Arhats possess the powers of levitation and transformation Their lives may span many kalpas 22 , and they can move heaven and earth.

Prior to arhats are the non-returners At the end of their lives, conscious spirits of the non-returners will ascend above the nineteenth heaven 24 , where they will attain arhatship. Prior to non-returners are the once-returners , who ascend to the heavens and return to earth at most once before they become arhats.

Once desire and lust are eradicated like severed limbs, one will never use them again. With nothing to gain from within and nothing to seek from without, their minds are not attached to the Way, nor do they accumulate karma. This is called the Way. Eat one meal a day before noon, pass the nights beneath trees, and be vigilant not to desire more, for desire and lust are what make people foolish and deluded.

Three pertain to the body, four to the mouth 38 , and three to the mind. Killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct pertain to the body. Malicious, abusive, false, and frivolous speech pertain to the mouth. Envy, anger, and ignorance pertain to the mind. These ten deeds, known as the ten evils, are not in accord with the Noble Way.

To renounce the ten evils is to practice the ten virtues. If a person with faults realizes his errors, corrects his actions and cultivates virtue, his offenses will naturally dissolve, just as sweating enables a sick person to recover gradually. Evil deeds will fall back upon the evil-doer. But I kept silent and did not respond. Just as echo follows sound and shadow trails form, there is no escape.

Be vigilant to do no evil. The spit does not reach the sky, but falls back on himself. When one flings dust into the wind, the dust does not hit others but is blown back on himself. The sage 42 cannot be harmed; evil actions will inevitably destroy the doer. For those with unwavering resolve in following the Way, the Way is great indeed So it is with these blessings It is like polishing a mirror; when you remove the impurities, brightness is revealed.

By eradicating desires and seeking nothing, you will gain knowledge of past lives. When your will is one with the Way 61 , that is greatness. What is the brightest light 62? Those who are tolerant are free from evil and will be honored by others. When the mind is utterly purged of defilements, it is pure without blemish or filth; that is the brightest light.

From before the formation of heaven and earth, and through the present, there is nothing in the ten directions 64 that one does not see, hear, or know—this all inclusive wisdom 65 is indeed brightness. When our hands disturb clear water, none who gather beside it can see their reflections.

The Sutra of Forty-two Chapters

Similarly, when people are aroused by desires, their minds are so muddled they cannot see the Way. You shramanas should renounce desire. When desire and lust are purged, the Way will manifest itself. When you follow the Way and see the truth, ignorance vanishes and enlightenment always remains. Those who understand this are close to the Way; those who are confused are far from it. The Way is beyond speech and conception, and nothing can constrain it.

Observe the world and contemplate impermanence. With this understanding one swiftly attains the Way. Each of them has a name, but an intrinsic self cannot be found Since the self is empty, it is illusory. By the time fame is achieved, the body has fallen apart. Craving for lasting worldly fame 75 instead of learning the Way, we wear out the body with futile efforts. Like a burning incense, its body is turning to ashes as people smell its scent—be aware, the imminent fire will consume you One may be released from prison, but a wife has no desire to let go. How dare one be reckless and indulge in passion and lust!

That is why they are called ordinary beings. Those who break free from this prison can transcend all defilements to become arhats. Fortunately, there is no other like it. If there were, no one in the world would be able to cultivate the Way. A deva 78 offered the Buddha beautiful maidens, wishing to corrupt him. I have no use for you. The Buddha instructed him whereupon he attained the fruit of stream-enterer. If they are not grounded on either shore 80 , gathered by men 81 , intercepted by demons or spirits 82 , caught in whirlpools 83 , and they do not decay 84 , then I guarantee that these logs will reach the ocean.

If those who follow the Way are not blinded by sensual desires, led astray by evil influences, and are diligent yet empty of effort 85 , then I guarantee that they will attain the Way. Be wary of situations that may incite lust, for those will lead to disaster. Once you have attained arhatship, you can trust your own mind If you do, be righteous in thought and contemplate: I should be like the lotus flower 88 , unsullied by mud.

Resolve to liberate them all, thereby extinguishing impure thoughts. Cultivators of the Way must keep their distance from desires.

Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot by Soyen Shaku - 1/22. The Sutra of Forty-two Chapters

A man plagued with incessant lust wished to castrate himself. The mind is like a commander; when the commander halts, so will his subordinates. If you cannot cut off lascivious thoughts, what is the use of castrating yourself? If you abandon desire, what fear or worry could you have? Donning his armor and leaving home 97 , his will may weaken, he may retreat halfway, he may be killed in combat, or he may return victorious. When shramanas follow the Way, they should be resolute, diligent, and valiant; not fearing what challenges lie ahead, they destroy all demons 98 and attain the Way.

One night a shramana was reciting the Sutra Bequeathed by Kashyapa Buddha. His tone was woeful and tense. Plagued by doubts , he thought of abandoning the monastic life. If his mind is properly tuned, he will attain the Way. If he pursues the Way too impetuously, his body will be weary. If his body is weary, his mind will be vexed. If vexations arise, his practice will regress. If his practice regresses, his faults will increase. However, if he remains pure, serene, and joyful, he will not lose the Way. Even as a human being , it is difficult to be born as a man rather than a woman.

Even as a man, it is difficult to have all six senses complete. Even without physical or mental impairment, it is difficult to be born in the middle country Even in the middle country, it is difficult to be born at the time of a Buddha. Even at the time of a Buddha, it is difficult to encounter the Way.


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Even having encountered the Way, it is difficult for one to generate sufficient faith Even with faith, it is difficult to bring forth the bodhi mind Even with the bodhi mind, it is difficult to realize non-cultivation and non-attainment If those who are by my side and see me constantly do not uphold my precepts, they will never attain the Way. It is like honey, sweet from the surface to the middle