is Sutra was the first official Buddhist literature which was
translated for the Chinese by two early Indian missionaries
(Kasyapa Matanga and Gobharana) during the reign of Emperor
Ming of the Later Han Dynasty. e translators extracted all
the passages from different Buddhist Canonical books which
they brought along for their missionary purposes. It was com-
piled after the fashion of the Confucian Analects to suit the
Chinese and therefore each section begins with "e Buddha
said," which corresponds to the Confucian "e Master said."
is Sutras was therefore special y prepared for the Chinese
Buddhists and it contains a good col ection of moral and religious
sayings of the Buddha. It is still widely read by the Chinese and
is very dear to their hearts.
"When the World-Honoured One had become Enlightened, he
reflected thus: "To be free from the passions and to be calm, this
is the most excel ent Way."
He was absorbed in Great Meditation, subdued all evil ones and
later in the Deer Park caused to revolve the Wheel of Dharma,
which consisted of e Four Noble Truths:
(1) Life is Suffering.
(2) Ignorance is the cause of Suffering.
(3) e Cessation of Suffering which is the goal of life as it
transcends pains and pleasure.
(4) e Way to Cessation of Suffering is the Noble Eightfold
Path which consists of:
(1) Right Understanding
(2) Right ought
(3) Right Speech
(4) Right Action
(5) Right Livelihood
(6) Right Effort
(7) Right Mindfulness
(8) Right Concentration.
He converted the five Bhikshus, Kaudinya and the others, in-
ducing them to attain Enlightenment.
Again, there were other Bhikshus who implored the Buddha to
remove their doubts which they had concerning his doctrine.
e World-Honoured One il umined all their minds through
his authoritative teachings. e Bhikshus, joining their hands
reverential y bowing, fol owed his sacred instructions.
1. e Buddha said: "ose who, taking leave of their families
and adopting the homeless life, understand the mind, reach the
source, and comprehend the immaterial, are cal ed Sramanas.
ose who observe the two hundred and fifty precepts of
morality, who are pure and spotless in their behaviours, and who
exert themselves for the attainment of the stages of progress, are
cal ed Arhats. e Arhat is able to fly through space and assume
different forms; his life is eternal, and there are times when he
causes heaven and earth to quake.
Below them is the Anagamin who, at the end of a long life,
ascend in spirit to the nineteenth heaven and obtains Arhat-
ship.Next come the Skridagamin who ascends to the heavens
(after his death), comes back to the earth once more, and then
en come the Srotaapanna who cannot become Arhat until
he has passed seven more rounds of birth and death.
By the severance of the passions is meant that like the limbs
severed they are never again made use of."
2. e Buddha Said: "e homeless Sramana cuts off the pas-
sions, frees himself of attachments, understands the source of his
own mind, penetrates the deepest doctrine of Buddha, and com-
prehends the Dharma which is immaterial. He has no prejudice
in his heart, he has nothing to hanker after. He is not hampered
by the thought of the Way, nor is he entangled in karma. No
prejudice, no compulsion, no discipline, no enlightenment, and
no going up through the grades, and yet in possession of all hon-
ours in itself -- this is what is meant by the Way."
3. e Buddha said, "ose who shaving their heads and faces
and become Sramanas and have accepted the Doctrine of the
Way, should surrender all worldly possessions and be contented
with whatever they obtain by begging. Only one meal a day and
lodging under a tree, he desires nothing else. For what makes
one stupid and irrational is attachments and the passions."
4. e Buddha said, "ere are ten things considered good by al
beings, and ten things evil . What are they? ree of them depend
upon the body, four upon the mouth, and three upon the mind.
"ree evil deeds depending upon the body are: kil ing, steal-
ing and unchaste deeds. e four depending upon the mouth
are: slandering, cursing, lying and flat ery. e three depending
upon the mind are: envy, anger and foolishness. All these things
are not in keeping with the Holy Way, and are therefore evil.
When these evils are not done, they are ten good deeds."
5. e Buddha said: "If a man who has commit ed many a
misdemeanor does not repent and cleanse his heart of evil, retri-
bution will come upon his person as sure as the stream runs into
the ocean which becomes ever deeper and wider. If a man who
has commit ed a misdemeanor comes to the knowledge of it, re-
forms himself, and practises goodness, the force of retribution
will gradual y exhaust itself as a disease gradual y loses its bane-
ful influence when the patient perspires."
6. e Buddha said, "When an evil-man, seeing you prac-
tise goodness, comes and maliciously insults you, you should
patiently endure it and not feel angry with him, for the evil-man
is insulting himself by trying to insult you."
7. e Buddha said, "Once a man came unto me and de-
nounced me on account of my observing the Way and practic-
ing great loving-kindness. But I kept silent and did not answer
him. e denunciation ceased. en I asked him. `If you bring a
present to your neighbour and he accepts it not; does the present
come back to you?' He replied, "It will," I said, `You denounce me
now, but as I accept it not, you must take the wrong deed back
on your own person. It is like echo succeeding sound, it is like
shadow fol owing object; you never escape the effect of your own
evil deeds. Be therefore mindful, and cease from doing evil'."
8. e Buddha said, "Evil-doers who denounce the wise
resemble a person who spits against the sky; the spit le wil never
reach the sky, but comes down on himself. Evil-doers again
resemble a man who stirs the dust against the wind, the dust is
never raised without doing him injury. us, the wise wil never be
hurt but the curse is sure to destroy the evil-doers themselves."
9. e Buddha said, "If you endeavour to embrace the Way
through much learning, the Way will not understood. If you
observe the Way with simplicity of heart, great indeed is this
10. e Buddha said, "ose who rejoice in seeing others ob-
serve the Way will obtain great blessing." A Sramana asked the
Buddha, "Would this blessing be destroyed?" e Buddha re-
plied, "It is like a lighted torch whose flame can be distributed to
ever so many other torches which people may bring along; and
therewith they will cook food and dispel darkness, while the
original torch itself remains burning ever the same. It is even so
with the bliss of the Way."
11. e Buddha said, "It is bet er to feed a good man than one
hundred bad men. It is bet er to feed one who observes the Five
Precepts of the Buddha than to feed one thousand good men. It
is bet er to feed one Srotaapanna (Stream-enterer) than to feed
ten thousands of those who observe the Five Precepts of Buddha.
It is bet er to feed one Skridagamin than to feed one mil ion
Srotaapanna. It is bet er to feed one Anagamin than to feed ten
mil ions of Skridagamins. It is bet er to feed one Arhat than to
feed one hundred mil ions of Anagamins. It is bet er to feed one
Pretyekabuddha than to feed one bil ion of Arhats. It is bet er to
feed one of the Buddha, either of the present, or of the past, or
of the future, than to feed ten bil ions of Pratyekabuddhas. It is
bet er to feed one who is above knowledge, one-sidedness, dis-
cipline, and enlightenment than to feed one hundred bil ions of
Buddhas of the past, present, or future.
12. e Buddha said, "ere are twenty difficult things to at-
tain in this world:
(1) It is hard for the poor to practice charity.
(2) It is hard for the strong and rich to observe the Way.
(3) It is hard to disregard life and go to certain death.
(4) It is only a favoured few that get acquainted with a
(5) It is hard to be born in the age of the Buddha.
(6) It is hard to conquer the passions, to supress selfish desires.
(7) It is hard not to hanker after that which is agreeable.
(8) It is hard not to get into a passion when slighted.
(9) It is hard not to abuse one's authority.
(10) It is hard to be even-minded and simple hearted in all
one's dealings with others.
(11) It is hard to be thorough in learning and exhaustive in
(12) It is hard to subdue selfish pride.
(13) It is hard not to feel contempt toward the unlearned.
(14) It is hard to be one in knowledge and practice.
(15) It is hard not to express an opinion about others.
(16) It is by rare opportunity that one is introduced to a true
(17) It is hard to gain an insight into the nature of being and
to practise the Way.
(18) It is hard to fol ow the way of a saviour.
(19) It is hard to be always the master of oneself.
(20) It is hard to understand thoroughly the Ways of Buddha."
13. A monk asked the Buddha, "Under what conditions is it
possible to come to the knowledge of the past and to understand
the most supreme Way?" e Buddha answered, "ose who are
pure in heart and single in purpose are able to understand the
most supreme Way. It is like polishing a mirror, which becomes
bright when the dust is removed. Remove your passions, and
have no hankering, and the past will be revealed to you."
14. A monk asked the Buddha, "What is good, and what is
great?" e Buddha replied, "Good is to practice the Way and
to fol ow the truth. Great is the heart that is in accord with the
15. A monk asked the Buddha, "What is most powerful, and
what is most il uminating?" e Buddha replied, "Meekness is
most powerful, for it harbours no evil thoughts, and, moreover,
it is restful and full of strength. As it is free from evils, it is sure
to be honoured by al .
e most il uminating is a mind that is thoroughly cleansed
of dirt, and which, remaining pure, retains no blemishes. From
the time when there was yet no heaven and earth till the present
day, there is nothing in the ten quarters which is not seen, or
known, or heard by such a mind, for it has gained al -knowledge,
and for that reason it is cal ed `il uminating'."
16. e Buddha said, "ose who have passions are never able to
perceive the Way; for it is like stirring up clear water with hands;
people may come there wishing to find a reflection of their faces,
which, however, they will never see. A mind troubled and vexed
with the passions is impure, and on that account it never sees the
Way. O monks, do away with passions. When the dirt of passion
is removed the Way will manifest itself."
17. e Buddha said, "Seeing the Way is like going into a
dark room with a torch; the darkness instantly departs, while
the light alone remains. When the Way is attained and the
truth is seen, ignorance vanishes and enlightenment abides
18. e Buddha said, "My doctrine is to think the thought that
is unthinkable, to practise the deed that is non-doing, to speak
the speech that is inexpressible, and to be trained in the disci-
pline that is beyond discipline. ose who understand this are
near, those who are confused are far. e Way is beyond words
and expressions, is bound by nothing earthly. Lose sight of it
to an inch, or miss it for a moment, and we are away from it for
19. e Buddha said, "Look up to heaven and down on earth,
and they will remind you of their impermanency. Look about
the world, and it will remind you of its impermanency. But when
you gain spiritual enlightenment, you shall then find wisdom.
e knowledge thus attained leads you quickly to the Way."
20. e Buddha said, "You should think of the four elements of
which the body is exposed. Each of them has its own name, and
there is no such thing there known as ego. As there is real y no
ego, it is like unto a mirage."
21. e Buddha said, "Moved by their selfish desires, people
seek after fame and glory. But when they have acquired it, they
are already strickened in years. If you hanker after worldly fame
and practise not the Way, your labours are wrongful y applied and
your energy is wasted. It is like unto burning an incense stick."
22. e Buddha said, "People cleave to their worldly posses-
sions and selfish passions so blindly as to sacrifice their own lives
for them. ey are like a child who tries to eat a lit le honey
smeared on the edge of a knife. e amount is by no means suf-
ficient to appease his appetite, but he runs the risk of wounding
23. e Buddha said, "Men are tied up to their families and
possessions more helplessly than in a prison. ere is an occasion
for the prisoner to be released, but the householders entertain no
desire to be relieved from the ties of family. Even into the paws
of a tiger will he jump. ose who are thus drowned in the filth
of passion are cal ed the ignorant. ose who are able to over-
come it are saintly Arhats.
24. e Buddha said, "ere is nothing like lust. Lust may be
said to be the most powerful passion. Fortunately, we have but
one thing which is more powerful. If the thirst for truth were
weaker than passion, how many of us in the world will be able to
fol ow the way of righteousness?"
25. e Buddha said, "Men who are addicted to the passions
are like the torch-carrier running against the wind; his hands
are sure to be burned."
26. e Lord of Heaven offered a beautiful fairy to the Buddha,
desiring to tempt him to the evil path. But the Buddha said, "Be
gone. What use have I for the leather bag fil ed with filth which
you brought to me?" en, the god reverently bowed and asked
the Buddha about the essence of the Way, in which having been
instructed by the Buddha, it is said he at ained the Srotaapanna-
27. e Buddha said, "ose who are fol owing the Way should
behave like a piece of timber which is drifting along a stream. If
the log is neither held by the banks, nor seized by men, nor ob-
structed by the gods, nor kept in the whirlpool, nor itself goes to
decay, I assure you that this log will final y reach the ocean. If
monks walking on the Way are neither tempted by the passions,
nor led astray by some evil influences; but steadily pursue their
course for Nirvana, I assure you that these monks will final y
28. e Buddha said, "Rely not upon your own wil . It is not
trustworthy. Guard yourself against sensualism, for it surely
leads to the path of evil. Your own will becomes trustworthy
only when you have attained Arhatship."
29. e Buddha said, "O monks, you should not see women.
(If you should have to see them), refrain from talking to them.
(If you should have to talk), you should reflect in a right spirit:
`I am now a homeless mendicant. In the world of sin, I must be-
have myself like unto the lotus flower whose purity is not defiled
by the mud. Old ones I will treat as my mother, elderly ones as
elder sisters; younger ones as younger sisters; and lit le ones as
daughters'. And in all this you should harbor no evil thoughts,
but think of salvation."
30. e Buddha said, "ose who walk the Way should avoid
sensualism as those who carry hay would avoid coming near the
31. e Buddha said, "ere was once a man who, being in des-
pair over his inability to control his passions, wished to mutilate
himself: e Buddha said to him: `Bet er destroy your own evil
thoughts than do harm to your own person. e mind is lord.
When the lord himself is claimed the servant will themselves
be yielding. If your mind is not cleansed of evil passions, what
avails it to multilate yourself?' ereupon, the Buddha recited
"Passions grow from the wil ,
e will grows from thought and imagination.
When both are calmed,
ere is neither sensualism nor transmigration."
e Buddha said that this gatha was taught by Kashyapabuddha.
32. e Buddha said, "From the passions arise worry, and from
worry arises fear. Away with passions, and no fear, no worry."
33. e Buddha said, "ose who fol ow the Way are like unto
warriors who fight single-handed with a multitude of foes. ey
may all go out of the fort in full armour; but among them are
some who are fainthearted, and some who go halfway and beat
a retreat, and some who are kil ed in the affray, and some who
come home victorious. O monks, if you desire to attain enlight-
enment, you should steadily walk in your Way, with a resolute
heart, with courage, and should be fearless in whatever environ-
ment you may happen to be, and destroy every evil influence that
you may come across for thus you shall reach the goal."
34. One night a monk was reciting a sutra, bequeathed by
Kashyapabuddha. His tone was so mournful, and his voice so
fainting, as if he were going out of existence. e Buddha asked
him, "What was your occupation before you became a homeless
monk?" e monk replied, "I was very fond of playing a stringed
instrument." e Buddha said, "How did you find it when the
strings were too loose?" "No sound is possible." was the reply.
"How when the strings were too tight?"
"How when they were neither too tight nor too loose?"
"Every note sounds in its proper tone."
35. e Buddha then said to the monk, "Religious discipline
is also like unto playing such a stringed instrument. When the
mind is properly adjusted and quietly applied, the Way is attain-
able; but when you are too fervently bent on it, your body grows
tired, and when your body is tired, your spirit become weary;
when your spirit is weary, your discipline will relax; and with the
relaxation of discipline there fol ows many an evil. erefore, be
calm and pure, and the Way will be gained."
36. e Buddha said, "Even if one escapes from the evil creations,
it is one's rare fortune to be born as a human being. Even if one
be born as human, it is one's rare fortune to be born as a man and
not a woman. Even if one be born a man, it is one's rare fortune
to be perfect in al the six senses. Even if he be perfect in al the
six senses, it is his rare fortune to be born in the middle kingdom.
Even if he be born in the middle kingdom, it is his rare fortune to
be born in the time of a Buddha. Even if he be born in the time
of a Buddha, it is his rare fortune to see the enlightened. Even
if he be able to see the enlightened, it is his rare fortune to have
his heart awakened in faith. Even if he has faith, it is his rare
fortune to awaken the heart of intel igence. Even if he awakens
the heart of intel igence, it is his rare fortune to realise a spiritual
state which is above discipline and at ainment."
37. e Buddha said, "O children of Buddha! You are away
from me ever so many thousand miles, but if you remember and
think of my precepts, you shall surely gain the fruit of enlighten-
ment. You may, standing by my side, see me always, but if you
observe not my precepts, you shall never gain enlightenment."
38. e Buddha asked another monk, "How do you measure the
length of a man's life?" He answered, "By days." e Buddha
said, "You do not understand the Way."
e Buddha asked another monk, "How do you measure the
length of a man's life?" e monk answered, "By the time that
passes during a meal." e Buddha said, "You do not understand
the Way." e Buddha asked the third monk, "How do you
measure the length of a man's life?" e monk answered, "By
the breadth." e Buddha said, "Very wel , you know the Way."
39. e Buddha said, "ose who study the doctrine of the
Buddhas will do well to believe and observe all that is taught by
them. It is like unto honey; it is sweet within, it is sweet without,
it is sweet throughout; so is the Buddhas' teaching."
40. e Buddha said, "O monks, you must not walk on the Way
as the ox is at ached to the wheel. His body moves, but his heart is
not wil ing. But when your hearts are in accord with the Way, there
is no need of troubling yourselves about your outward demeanor."
41. e Buddha said, "ose who practice the Way might well
fol ow the example of an ox that marches through the deep mire
carrying a heavy load. He is tired, but his steady gaze, looking
forward, will never relax until he comes out of the mire, and it is
only then that he takes a respite.
O monks, remember that passions and sins are more than
the filthy mire, and that you can escape misery only by earnestly
and steadily thinking of the Way."
42. e Buddha said, "I consider the dignities of kings and
lords as a particle of dust that floats in the sunbeam. I consider
the treasure of precious metals and stones as bricks and pebbles.
I consider the gaudy dress of silk and brocades as a worn-out rag.
I consider this universe as small as the holila fruit. I consider the
lake of Anavatapa as a drop of oil with which one smears the
feet. I consider the various methods of salvation taught by the
Buddhas as a treasure created by the imagination. I consider the
transcendental doctrine of Buddhism as precious metal or price-
less fabric seen in a dream. I consider the teaching of Buddhas
as a flower before my eyes. I consider the practice of Dhyana
as a pil ar supporting the Mount Sumeru. I consider Nirvana
as awakening from a day dream or nightmare. I consider the
struggle between heterodox and orthodox as the antics of the six
(mythical) dragons. I consider the doctrine of sameness as the
absolute ground of reality. I consider all the religious works done
for universal salvation as like the plants in the four seasons."
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