At that time Rocana Buddha explained to the huge multitude, as little as the tip of a hair, the mind ground of Dharma Doors that are as numerous as the sands of 100,000 Ganges Rivers, the mind ground that was pronounced by past Buddhas, will be pronounced by future Buddhas, and is pronounced by present Buddhas. It was learned, will be learned, and is learned by Bodhisattvas of the past, future, and present.
[He said] “I, Rocana, trained on the mind ground for 100 kalpas. You Buddhas should in turn repeat my words to all sentient beings, revealing to them the mind ground as the path.”
Then Rocana Buddha, seated on the radiant lion throne in the world of Lotus Flower Store, emitted beams of light and told the [1,000 Śākyamuni] Buddhas on the 1,000 lotus petals “Uphold this chapter ‘The Mind Ground as the Dharma Door,’ and impart it to the 100,000 koṭi Śākyamuni Buddhas [you have manifested], who in turn should impart it to all sentient beings. You all should accept and uphold [this chapter], read and recite it, and train single-mindedly.”
At that time the [1,000] Śākyamuni Buddhas from the 1,000 petals, and the 100,000 koṭi Śākyamuni Buddhas whom they had manifested rose from their majestic lion thrones in the world of Lotus Flower Store. As they were departing [Rocana Buddha’s palace], they emitted from their bodies inconceivable beams of light. In each beam appeared innumerable Buddhas, who simultaneously presented innumerable blue, yellow, red, and white flowers as an offering to Rocana Buddha.
Upholding the chapter “The Mind Ground as the Dharma Door,” each Śākyamuni Buddha entered the Samādhi of Flower Radiance, its essence being emptiness, disappeared from the world of Lotus Flower Store, and returned to under the bodhi tree in Jambudvīpa, His home world. He then rose from this samādhi and sat on the thousand-beams-of-light king vajra seat. He then went to the nearby universal radiance palace hall and expounded the ten oceans of worlds. He then rose from His seat, went to the god-king Śakra’s palace [in the second desire heaven], and expounded the ten levels of abiding. He then rose from His seat, went to Yāma Heaven [the third desire heaven], and expounded the ten levels of action. He then rose from His seat, went to Tuṣita Heaven [the fourth desire heaven], and expounded the ten levels of transference of merit. He then rose from His seat, went to Nirmāṇa-rati Heaven [the fifth desire heaven], and expounded the ten levels of dhyāna. He then rose from His seat, went to Paranirmita-vaśa-vartin Heaven [the sixth desire heaven], and expounded the Ten Grounds.
[He then went to the form realm.] In the first dhyāna heaven He expounded the ten vajras; in the second dhyāna heaven He expounded the ten endurances; in the third dhyāna heaven He expounded the ten vows; and in the god-king Maheśvara’s palace in the fourth dhyāna heaven, He expounded the chapter “The Mind Ground as the Dharma Door,” which had been pronounced in the world of Lotus Flower Store by Rocana, the originating Buddha. All 100,000 koṭi Śākyamuni Buddhas did the same [in their respective worlds], without any difference, as stated in the chapter “The Worthy Kalpa.”
At that time Śākyamuni Buddha, after His appearance in the world of Lotus Flower Store, went east to the celestial palace [in Tuṣita Heaven] and pronounced the Sūtra of Māras Being Transformed. Then He descended from that heaven to Jambudvīpa and was born in the kingdom of Kapilavastu. His mother was Māyā and His father was King Śuddhodana.
[He declared] “My given name is Siddhārtha. I renounced family life at age seven and attained bodhi at age thirty. I am now called Śākyamuni Buddha. I sat on the flower radiance king vajra seat in the silent bodhimaṇḍa, then went to ten places, one after another, including the god-king Maheśvara’s palace, where I expounded [the Dharma].”
Having observed the jeweled nets [adorning the palaces] of great Brahma-kings, the Buddha said, “Innumerable worlds are like the eyes of a net. As all worlds are different in innumerable ways, likewise are the Dharma Doors of Buddhas. Having come to this Sahā World 8,000 times, I sat on the flower radiance king vajra seat, then went to celestial palaces, including the god-king Maheśvara’s palace, where I briefly introduced to the multitudes the mind ground as the Dharma Door.
“Then I descended from that god-king’s palace to under the bodhi tree in Jambudvīpa, to pronounce to all sentient beings, including dense ordinary beings, a radiant precept arisen from Rocana Buddha’s mind ground, a radiant precept that He constantly recited after He first activated the bodhi mind.
“This vajra jewel precept is the origin of all Buddhas and all Bodhisattvas, and is the seed of Buddha nature. All sentient beings have Buddha nature. One’s body, mind, and consciousness are all encompassed in the Buddha nature precepts, which truly are the continuing cause of realizing one’s ever-abiding dharma body.
“Thus, ten prātimokṣa precepts have appeared in the world. These precepts are held in the highest esteem by sentient beings of the past, present, and future. To this multitude I again pronounce the ten endless precepts contained in the precept store. These precepts, their essence being purity, are the origin of all the precepts for sentient beings.”
Seated on the Lotus Flower Platform
Surrounded by 1,000 petals,
Manifest 1,000 Śākyamuni Buddhas on them.
On each petal rest 100 koṭi worlds,
And one Śākyamuni Buddha is manifested in each world.
Thus, 100,000 koṭi Śākyamuni Buddhas,
Each sitting under the bodhi tree,
Simultaneously attain Buddhahood.
Am the origin of the 100,000 koṭi Śākyamuni Buddhas.
They each bring multitudes as numerous as dust particles
To my place,
To hear me recite the Buddha precepts,
And the door of sweet nectar immediately opened.
Then these 100,000 koṭi Śākyamuni Buddhas
Returned to their respective bodhimaṇḍas.
Each sat under the bodhi tree
And recited the ten major and forty-eight minor precepts
Imparted by me, His original teacher.
The precepts are radiant like the sun and the moon,
Also like the precious gems of a necklace.
Bodhisattvas as numerous as dust particles uphold them
And attain true enlightenment.
As Rocana Buddha recited them,
In the same way, I [Śākyamuni Buddha] recite them.
You novice Bodhisattvas
Should accept these precepts and hold them in the highest esteem.
Upholding these precepts,
You should in turn impart them to sentient beings.
Now intently listen as I recite
The prātimokṣa precepts contained in
The precept store in the Buddha Dharma.
You all should earnestly believe
That you are Buddhas to be,
And that I am a Buddha in fulfillment.
By constantly holding this belief,
You in effect have received the precepts.
All who have a mind
Should accept the Buddha precepts.
By accepting the Buddha precepts,
Sentient beings position themselves to become a Buddha,
Those who are positioned for the great enlightenment
Are truly Buddha-sons.
All in this huge multitude,
Intently listen as I recite.
At that time Śākyamuni Buddha, after his attainment of Buddhahood under the bodhi tree, instituted the Bodhisattva prātimokṣa precepts. The ultimate way to honor one’s parents, teachers, and the Three Jewels is to fulfill one’s filial duty, which is called precepts, also called prohibitions.
Forthwith, the Buddha emitted from His mouth immeasurable radiance. The multitude of Bodhisattvas in the millions of koṭis, gods from the eighteen Brahma heavens and the six desire heavens, and the kings from the sixteen great kingdoms, with joined palms, all listened to the Buddha recite the Mahāyāna precepts pronounced by all Buddhas.
The Buddha told the Bodhisattvas, “I regularly recite the precepts pronounced by Buddhas [twice each lunar month] on new-moon and full-moon days. You and Bodhisattvas who have activated the bodhi mind should also recite them. Even Bodhisattvas at the ten heading-offs, the ten nurtures, the ten vajras, and the Ten Grounds should also recite them.
“It is not without causes and conditions that the vast radiance of the precepts issues from my mouth. [Signifying the essence of the precepts] this light is beyond any color, whether blue, yellow, red, white, or black, neither physical nor mental, neither existent nor nonexistent, neither cause nor effect. The precepts are the origin of Buddhas, and the roots of Bodhisattvas and Buddha-sons. Therefore, Buddha-sons in multitudes should accept and uphold them, read and recite them, and learn them well.
“Buddha-Sons, hearken! Whether gods from the eighteen Brahma heavens or the six desire heavens, whether kings, princes, state ministers, or state officials, whether bhikṣus or bhikṣuṇīs, whether civilians, eunuchs, male or female prostitutes, or slaves, whether Dharma protectors in the eight classes, vajra spirits, animals, or even magically conjured persons, any who understand the Dharma master’s words may receive the precepts. They all will be called foremost in purity.”
The Buddha told the Buddha-sons, “There are ten major prātimokṣa [precepts]. If those who have received these Bodhisattva precepts do not recite them, they are neither Bodhisattvas nor Buddha-sons. All Bodhisattvas [of the past, future, and present] learned them, will learn them, and do learn them. As I recite the Bodhisattva prātimokṣa precepts, I briefly explain their features. You should learn them and respectfully observe them.”
The Buddha said, “Buddha-Sons, one should not kill, incite others to kill, kill by contrivance, or kill by incantation, through any causes, conditions, methods, or karmas, or praise killing or rejoice upon seeing killing. One should not purposely take any sentient being’s life.
“A Bodhisattva should always invoke the mind of lovingkindness, compassion, and filial dutifulness for all sentient beings, and save and protect them by skillful means. If he instead kills any sentient being with self-will or for gratification, it is a parājika sin.
“Buddha-Sons, one should not steal, incite others to steal, steal by contrivance, or steal by incantation, through any causes, conditions, methods, or karmas, or praise stealing or rejoice upon seeing stealing. One should not steal anything, even what is owned by thieves or spirits, or a needle or a blade of grass.
“A Bodhisattva should invoke the mind of lovingkindness, compassion, and filial dutifulness for all sentient beings, and help them to have happiness and good fortune. If he instead steals anything from anyone, it is a parājika sin.
3. Having Sex
“Buddha-Sons, one should not have sex or incite others to have sex with women, goddesses, female animals, or female ghosts or spirits, using any orifice [right or wrong], through any causes, conditions, methods, or karmas.
“A Bodhisattva should invoke the mind of filial dutifulness for all sentient beings, deliver them [from suffering] and teach them pure ways. If, lacking lovingkindness and compassion, he instead has sex with females, including mother, daughters, sisters, relatives, or animals, it is a parājika sin.
“Buddha-Sons, one should not lie, incite others to lie, or lie by contrivance, through any causes, conditions, methods, or karmas. One should not lie with one’s body, voice, or mind, saying that one saw something that one did not see, or that one did not see something that one saw.
“A Bodhisattva should hold the right views and use right speech, and should inspire all sentient beings to hold the right views and use right speech. If he instead induces sentient beings to hold the wrong views and use false speech, doing such evil karmas, it is a parājika sin.
5. Selling Alcohol
“Buddha-Sons, one should not sell alcohol or incite others to sell alcohol, through any causes, conditions, methods, or karmas. One should not sell any kind of alcohol because it can cause one to commit sins.
“A Bodhisattva should bring clear wisdom out of sentient beings. If he instead causes them to muddle their minds, it is a parājika sin.
6. Talking about the Faults of a Member of the Saṅgha
“Buddha-Sons, one should not talk about or incite others to talk about the faults of any monastic or lay Bodhisattva or any bhikṣu or bhikṣuṇī [riding the Hīnayāna], through any causes, conditions, methods, or karmas.
“Upon hearing evil ones among non-Buddhists or riders of the Two Vehicles talk about non-compliance or non-restraint of anyone in the Buddha Dharma, a Bodhisattva should, out of compassion, always teach and transform such evil ones, enabling them to elicit true faith in the Mahāyāna. If he instead talks about the faults [of anyone] in the Buddha Dharma, it is a parājika sin.
7. Praising Oneself and Criticizing Others
“Buddha-Sons, one should not praise oneself and criticize others, or incite others to do so, through any causes, conditions, methods, or karmas.
“A Bodhisattva should accept damage and insult to sentient beings in their stead. He should accept discredit and give others credit. If he instead flaunts his merits, conceals others’ good deeds, and causes damage to others, it is a parājika sin.
8. Being Stingy
“Buddha-Sons, one should not be stingy or incite others to be stingy, through any causes, conditions, methods, or karmas.
“A Bodhisattva should give to those who come to him all that they need. If, out of malice or anger, he instead refuses to give to the poor even a coin, a needle, or a blade of grass, or refuses to say a verse or a stanza to those who request the Dharma, scolding and insulting them, it is a parājika sin.
9. Refusing to Accept Repentance out of Anger
“Buddha-Sons, one should not anger or incite others to anger, through any causes, conditions, methods, or karmas.
“A Bodhisattva should, out of lovingkindness and compassion, provide non-disputative ways to develop sentient beings’ roots of goodness. If he instead, with a vicious mouth, scolds and insults a sentient being or even a non-sentient being and, still not satisfied, attacks with hands, knives, or clubs, or if, out of anger, he refuses to accept an offender’s sincere repentance, it is a parājika sin.
10. Maligning the Three Jewels
“Buddha-Sons, one should not malign or incite others to malign the Three Jewels, through any causes, conditions, methods, or karmas.
“When a Bodhisattva hears slanders of the Buddha from non-Buddhists or evil ones, he should feel a pain like that caused by 300 spears piercing his heart. If, lacking faith and filial dutifulness, he instead assists evil ones and those with the wrong views to malign the Three Jewels, it is a parājika sin.
“Kindly Ones, good learners, you should learn these ten Bodhisattva prātimokṣa precepts. Do not violate any of them even as little as a dust particle, much less violate all ten of them. A violator will not be able to activate the bodhi mind in his present life. He will lose his status as king, Wheel-Turning King, or bhikṣu (or bhikṣuṇī), as well as his [spiritual] attainment through the ten heading-offs, the ten nurtures, the ten vajras, or the Ten Grounds, and he will also lose the wonderful fruit of his ever-abiding Buddha nature. He will go down one of the three evil life-paths and, for two or three kalpas, he will not hear the names of his parents or the Three Jewels. Therefore, you should not violate any of these precepts. All Bodhisattvas learned, will learn, and do learn them. You should learn and respectfully observe these ten precepts, explained in detail in the chapter ‘Eighty Thousand Majestic Deportments.’”
The Buddha told the Bodhisattvas, “Having pronounced the ten prātimokṣa precepts, I now will pronounce the forty-eight minor precepts.
1. Failing to Respect Teachers or Friends
“Buddha-Sons, before one accepts the throne of a king or a Wheel-Turning King, or the office of a state official, one should first accept the Bodhisattva precepts. Then all Buddhas will be delighted, and all ghosts and spirits will protect such a king or official. After one has accepted the Bodhisattva precepts, one should invoke the mind of filial dutifulness and reverence. When one sees someone virtuous, such as a senior master, a preceptor, or an ācārya, or sees a classmate, someone walking the same path, or someone with the same views, one should rise to greet him and pay respects. One should make offerings to him, even if one must sell one’s services, one’s male or female [slaves], one's treasures, or one's kingdom. If, out of arrogance, delusion, or anger, a Bodhisattva fails to rise to pay respects to another, or to make offerings to him in accordance with the Dharma, it is a minor sin.
2. Drinking Alcohol
“Buddha-Sons, one should not purposely drink alcohol, which causes innumerable faults. If one hands out vessels for alcohol to drinkers, one will not have hands for five hundred lives; much more severe will be the consequences of one’s own drinking. One should not incite sentient beings, including humans, to drink alcohol. If a Bodhisattva drinks or incites others to drink alcohol, it is a minor sin.
3. Eating Flesh
“Buddha-Sons, one should not eat any sentient being’s flesh. To eat flesh is to commit an immeasurable sin. If one eats flesh, one destroys the seed of one’s Buddha nature, and great lovingkindness and compassion. All sentient beings generally shun flesh eaters. If a Bodhisattva purposely eats flesh, it is a minor sin.
4. Eating Five Pungent Vegetables
“Buddha-Sons, one should not eat five pungent vegetables: garlic, chive, scallion, leek, and onion. One should not eat any of these five even if mixed with other food. If a Bodhisattva purposely eats any, it is a minor sin.
5. Failing to Teach Repentance
“Buddha-Sons, one should teach repentance to those who have violated any of the eight precepts, the five precepts, or the ten precepts, committed any of the seven rebellious sins, committed sins that will result in the eight difficulties, or committed any other sin by violating any precept. If a Bodhisattva neither teaches a sinner to repent [and reform] nor exposes his sins, but instead allows him to remain in the Saṅgha and enjoy the same benefits as do others, and to stay in the group to hear the recitation of the precepts during poṣadha practice, it is a minor sin.
6. Failing to Make Offerings or to Request the Dharma
“Buddha-Sons, upon seeing a Mahāyāna Dharma master, a classmate, someone walking the same path, or someone with the same views come to one’s temple compound, residence, or city, one should receive him and respectfully escort him, coming and going. One should provide him with all that he needs, including food in one hundred flavors, medicine, and bedding, which may cost three grams of gold each day. Every day, three times during the day, without anger or displeasure, one should offer food to the Dharma master, make obeisance to him, and ask him to expound the Dharma. Willing to sacrifice oneself for the Dharma, one seeks the Dharma without slackening. If one fails to do so, it is a minor sin.
7. Failing to Attend Dharma Presentations
“Buddha-Sons, wherever a sūtra, a vinaya, or a treatise is to be expounded, whether in a Dharma hall in a big house, under trees in a mountain forest, or in a monk’s room, a novice Bodhisattva should go there with the right texts to hear the teachings from a Dharma master and ask him questions. One should go anywhere and everywhere to hear and accept the Dharma. If one fails to do so, it is a minor sin.
8. Turning Away from the Mahāyāna
“Buddha-Sons, if one turns away from the ever-abiding Mahāyāna teachings, saying that they are not the words of the Buddha, and accepts and upholds the teachings of the Two Vehicles, or the wrong views and evil precepts of non-Buddhists, it is a minor sin.
9. Failing to Visit the Ill
“Buddha-Sons, one should make offerings to the ill as one would to Buddhas, without any difference. Foremost among all fortune fields is visiting the ill in all kinds of suffering, whether they are parents, teachers, monks, students, or those with incomplete faculties. One should help them remove their suffering. If a Bodhisattva encounters an ill person in a temple, city, wilderness, mountain forest, or on a road, but out of malice or anger fails to help him, it is a minor sin.
10. Keeping Weaponry
“Buddha-Sons, one should not keep weapons for fighting, such as knives, clubs, bows and arrows, spears, or axes, or other means for killing sentient beings, such as traps or nets. A Bodhisattva does not even requite the murder of his parents, not to mention the death of other sentient beings. If one keeps weaponry, it is a minor sin.
“You should learn and respectfully observe these ten minor precepts, explained in detail in the chapter ‘The Six Pāramitās.’”
11. Serving as an Enemy Country’s Agent
The Buddha said, “Buddha-Sons, one should not even serve as an enemy country’s agent to help deploy troops for war, which results in the killing of innumerable sentient beings, much less commit treason against one’s own country. A Bodhisattva should not even circulate among troops. If one purposely serves as an enemy country’s agent, it is a minor sin.
12. Trafficking in Humans or Selling Coffins
“Buddha-Sons, one should not trade slaves or the six kinds of livestock, or sell coffins or coffin materials. One should not even incite others to do it, much less do it oneself. If one purposely does so, it is a minor sin.
13. Slandering People
“Buddha-Sons, one should not, out of malice, slander virtuous people, including Dharma masters, teachers, monks [and nuns], kings, or dignitaries, accusing them of committing any of the seven rebellious sins or violating any of the ten major Bodhisattva precepts. A Bodhisattva should have filial dutifulness, lovingkindness, and compassion for all, as he has for his parents, siblings, and relatives. If he instead harms anyone by slander, it is a minor sin.
14. Committing Arson
“Buddha-Sons, one should not, out of malice, set fire to mountain forests or wilderness, especially from the fourth to the ninth lunar month. One should not set fire to homes, cities, temple compounds, fields, or anything owned by the government, ghosts, or spirits. If one purposely burns things, it is a minor sin.
15. Teaching Non-Mahāyāna Doctrines
“Buddha-Sons, one should teach Buddhists, non-Buddhists, evil ones, relatives, and friends the Mahāyāna sūtras and vinayas, enabling them to understand their meanings and activate the bodhi mind. One should explain to them the order and development of the thirty minds [on the Bodhisattva Way], i.e., the ten heading-offs, the ten nurtures, and the ten vajras. If a Bodhisattva, out of malice or anger, willfully teaches the voice-hearer sūtras and vinayas, or the wrong views and doctrines of non-Buddhists, it is a minor sin.
16. Incorrectly Explaining the Dharma for Benefits
“Buddha-Sons, one should first properly learn the right deportment and the Mahāyāna sūtras and vinayas to broaden and deepen one’s understanding of their meanings. Upon seeing a novice Bodhisattva who has traveled hundreds or even thousands of lis seeking the Mahāyāna sūtras and vinayas, one should explain to him, in accordance with the Dharma, that he should carry out ascetic practices, such as burning his body, arm, or fingers, as an offering [of his resolve to attain bodhi] to Buddhas. If he is not ready to make such an offering, he is not a Bodhisattva monk. Moreover, [out of compassion] he should be willing to give his body, flesh, or limbs to hungry lions, tigers, wolves, or hungry ghosts. One should then systematically explain the true Dharma to him, opening his mind and enabling him to understand.
“If a Bodhisattva, seeking benefits and worship, refuses to answer questions when he should answer, misrepresents the words in the sūtras or vinayas, or maligns the Three Jewels, it is a minor sin.
17. Soliciting Offerings, Banking on Powerful Connections
“Buddha-Sons, one should not, out of greed for food and drink, money, worship, or fame, befriend kings, princes, state ministers, or state officials. One should not, banking on their power, solicit, extort, or willfully take money or things. Seeking offerings in this manner, without lovingkindness or filial dutifulness for others, is called making vicious demands or outrageous demands. If one purposely does so or incites others to do so, it is a minor sin.
18. Teaching without Understanding
“Buddha-Sons, one should study sūtras in the twelve categories and regularly recite the Bodhisattva precepts. One should observe the Bodhisattva precepts day and night during the six periods, and understand that their essence is one’s Buddha nature.
“If a Bodhisattva does not understand even a verse or a stanza in the Vinaya, nor the causes and conditions of each precept, but claims that he does, he deceives himself and others. If one, with no understanding of the Dharma, acts as a teacher and imparts the precepts to others, it is a minor sin.
19. Using Divisive Speech
“Buddha-Sons, one should not, out of malice, do evil by slandering a worthy person—such as a bhikṣu who, in compliance with the precepts, carries an incense burner in his Bodhisattva training—thus causing discord between two parties. If one purposely does so, it is a minor sin.
20. Failing to Set Doomed Animals Free
“Buddha-Sons, one should do the karma of letting live, and think: ‘All men are my father and all women are my mother. Life after life I have been reborn from them. Therefore, all sentient beings on the six life-paths are my parents. If I kill them and eat them, in effect I kill my parents and myself. Besides, all sentient beings and I are made up of the same four domains: earth, water, fire, and wind. As rebirth life after life is the abiding rule for all, I should always practice letting live, and teach others to do the same.’
“When one sees someone [about to] kill animals, one should skillfully save the animals from their doom. One should frequently deliver others by teaching them the Bodhisattva precepts. On the anniversary days of the death of one’s parents and siblings, one should invite a Dharma master to explain the Bodhisattva precepts to benefit the deceased, so that they will see Buddhas and be reborn as humans or gods. If one fails to do any of these things, it is a minor sin.
“You should learn and respectfully observe these ten minor precepts, explained in detail in the chapter ‘Expunction of Sins.’”
21. Requiting Anger with Anger
The Buddha said, “Buddha-Sons, one should not requite anger with anger, beating with beating. Even if one’s parents, siblings, or relatives are killed, one should not take revenge. Even if the king is assassinated by someone, one should not take revenge. Killing any sentient being, even for revenge, goes against one’s filial duty to all. One should not even beat or scold one’s slaves, doing evil karmas with one’s body, voice, and mind. One should not even do the evil voice karma, much less commit [any of] the seven rebellious sins. If a Bodhisattva monk, lacking lovingkindness, takes revenge, even for a relative, it is a minor sin.
22. Refusing to Request Teachings out of Arrogance
“Buddha-Sons, one who has become a novice monk should not, banking on one’s intellect, age, wealth, noble background, or prominent family name, be arrogant and refuse to study sūtras and vinayas under a senior Dharma master who is virtuous and has a thorough understanding of the sūtras and the vinayas, because of his incomplete faculties, youth, poverty, lowly background, or obscure family name. If a novice Bodhisattva discriminates against a Dharma master’s caste and refuses to learn the highest truth from him, it is a minor sin.
23. Refusing to Answer Questions out of Arrogance
“Buddha-Sons, after my parinirvāṇa, one who wishes to accept with an earnest mind the Bodhisattva precepts before the images of Buddhas and holy Bodhisattvas, must first repent before them for seven days. If one receives a good sign, one will receive the precepts. If not, one should continue to repent for fourteen or twenty-one days, or even one year. After receiving a good sign, one can then accept the precepts before the images of Buddhas and holy Bodhisattvas. Without a good sign, accepting the precepts before them does not mean receiving the precepts.
“However, one does not need a good sign in order to accept the Bodhisattva precepts before a Dharma master who has already received the Bodhisattva precepts. Why not? Because the precepts are imparted from one Dharma master to another. By accepting the precepts with an earnest mind before a Dharma master, one receives them.
“If a Dharma master qualified for imparting the Bodhisattva precepts is unavailable within a thousand lis, one must have a good sign in order to accept the precepts before the images of Buddhas and holy Bodhisattvas.
“If a Dharma master, banking on his understanding of the Mahāyāna sūtras and vinayas, befriends kings, crown princes, or state officials, and out of disdain, malice, or arrogance, refuses to answer all the questions of a novice Bodhisattva about the meanings of the words in the sūtras and the vinayas, it is a minor sin.
24. Failing to Learn the Mahāyāna Doctrine
“Buddha-Sons, given the Buddha’s sūtras and vinayas, if one fails to study diligently the true Dharma of the Mahāyāna and to learn dharma nature, the dharma body, and the right views, it is like abandoning the seven treasures. One should not instead learn the doctrine of the Two Vehicles or non-Buddhists, or study texts and treatises with mixed content. To do so is to sabotage one’s Buddha nature and cause hindrances to attaining bodhi, against the Bodhisattva Way. If one does so, it is a minor sin.
25. Failing to Bring Harmony to the Saṅgha
“Buddha-Sons, after my parinirvāṇa, one who serves as teacher master, house master, precept master, meditation master, or reception master should skillfully settle disputes [within the Saṅgha] with lovingkindness, and guard the resources of the Three Jewels, not overusing anything as if one’s own. If one incites discord or wastes the resources of the Three Jewels, it is a minor sin.
26. Accepting Offerings with Partiality
“Buddha-Sons, a resident monk, upon seeing a visiting Bodhisattva monk arrive at the city, the temple compound, the king’s guest house, the summer retreat house, or the assembly hall, should receive him and escort him, coming and going. He should provide the visitor with all the necessities, such as food and drink, lodging, bed, and bedding. For the things he does not have, he should acquire them by selling his services or even chunks of his flesh.
“If a layperson invites a number of monks to a meal in his home, visiting monks should have equal right to the invitation. To accept the offering, the abbot must send representatives according to a rotating order. If he sends only resident monks but not visiting monks, he acts not as a śramaṇa but like an animal, unworthy of the clan name Śākya. If one purposely does so, it is a minor sin.
27. Accepting a Personal Offering
“Buddha-Sons, one should not accept an exclusive invitation or a personal offering. All offerings belong to Saṅghas [in worlds] in the ten directions. If one accepts a personal offering, one in effect takes things from Saṅghas [in worlds] in the ten directions. Saṅghas are included in the eight fortune fields: Buddhas, holy ones [holy Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and voice-hearers who have achieved any of the four fruits], preceptors, ācāryas, monks [and nuns], father, mother, and the ill. If one purposely does so, it is a minor sin.
28. Inviting Particular Monks
“Buddha-Sons, if an almsgiver, whether a Bodhisattva monastic or a Bodhisattva layperson, or anyone, wishes to invite monks as a way to plant fortune fields, he should ask the temple manager. The manager should tell him, ‘If you invite monks according to the established order, you in effect invite the holy monks [in worlds] in the ten directions. Inviting five hundred Arhats is inferior to inviting one ordinary monk who honors an invitation because it is his turn. Inviting particular monks is the way of non-Buddhists, not taught by the past seven Buddhas.’
“Sending an exclusive invitation goes against one’s filial duty to all. If one purposely invites particular monks, it is a minor sin.
29. Making an Evil Livelihood
“Buddha-Sons, one should not, out of malice or for a profitable livelihood, traffic in prostitution, prepare private food [instead of eating communal food], grind and pound grains, practice divination, interpret dreams, predict the gender of a fetus, use magical incantations, do craftwork, train eagles for hunting, or mix poisons, using snakes, insects, or gold or silver ores.
“Engaged in an evil livelihood, one has no lovingkindness, compassion, or filial dutifulness for others. If one does so, it is a minor sin.
30. Disrespecting Special Days
“Buddha-Sons, one should not, out of malice, pretend to follow the Three Jewels while maligning them, or speak of emptiness while taking actions to promote cyclic existence. For example, if one acts as a go-between for man and woman to have sex, one entangles oneself and others.
“If one kills sentient beings, steals, or violates the precepts on any of the six days of monthly purification, or any day during the three months of annual purification, it is a minor sin.
“You should learn and respectfully observe these ten minor precepts, explained in detail in the chapter ‘Instituting the Precepts.’”
31. Failing to Redeem Lost Buddhist Works
The Buddha said, “Buddha-Sons, after my parinirvāṇa, non-Buddhists, evil ones, and thieves will sell sūtras and vinayas, and images of Buddhas and holy Bodhisattvas. They will also sell bhikṣus and bhikṣuṇīs, and Bodhisattvas resolved to attain bodhi, into private or public slavery. When a Bodhisattva sees these events, out of lovingkindness and compassion, he should teach and transform others by skillful means, redeem the sūtras and vinayas, and the images of Buddhas and holy Bodhisattvas, and ransom the bhikṣus and bhikṣuṇīs, and Bodhisattvas resolved to attain bodhi. If he fails to do so, it is a minor sin.
32. Selling Means for Harming Sentient Beings
“Buddha-Sons, one should sell neither weapons, such as knives, clubs, and bows and arrows, nor dishonest measuring devices, such as lighter scales or smaller containers. A state official should not, with intent to harm, abuse his power to imprison people, sabotage their achievements, or expropriate them. Nor should one raise cats, foxes, dogs, or pigs. If one does any of these things, it is a minor sin.
33. Indulging in Sense Objects or Evil Ways
“Buddha-Sons, one should not, driven by malice, watch fights of men or women, or battles between warring troops or between troops and bandits. One should not listen to singing, or to music played on conch shells, drums, horns, flutes, or any stringed instruments. One should not gamble through chess games, ball games, card games, or stone throws. One should not divine by means of mirror-like fingernails, yarrow grass, willow branches, water in a bowl, or skulls. Nor should one serve as an agent for thieves. If one does any of these things, it is a minor sin.
34. Having Even One Thought of Abandoning the Bodhi Mind
“Buddha-Sons, one should observe and recite the precepts day and night during the six periods, whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. The precepts are adamantine, like vajra, and essential, like the lifebuoy one carries to cross the ocean, so one should observe the precepts as faithfully as did the bhikṣus who would not harm the grass with which bandits bound them.
“One should have true faith in the Mahāyāna and know that one is a Buddha to be, and that Buddhas are Buddhas in fulfillment. Thought after thought, one should activate the bodhi mind and never regress from it. If one has even one thought of riding the Two Vehicles or becoming a non-Buddhist, it is a minor sin.
35. Failing to Make Vows for the Right Training
“Buddha-Sons, one should vow to fulfill one's filial duty to (1) father, (2) mother, (3) teachers, and (4) monks, and pray to have beneficent teachers, classmates, and learned friends, who will teach one the Mahāyāna sūtras and vinayas, as well as the forty minds—(5) the ten heading-offs, (6) the ten nurtures, (7) the ten vajras, and (8) the Ten Grounds—enabling one to come to understanding. (9) One should then train accordingly, and (10) resolutely observe the Buddha precepts. Thought after thought, one would rather abandon one’s life than abandon one’s resolve to attain bodhi. If a Bodhisattva fails to make these vows, it is a minor sin.
36. Failing to Make Vows to Observe the Precepts
“Buddha-Sons, after making the above ten vows, one should observe the precepts instituted by the Buddha and make thirteen more vows:
(1) I would rather cast my body into a blazing fire or an abyss, or onto a knife mountain, than desecrate the sūtras and vinayas of Buddhas of the past, present, and future, by performing the impure act with women.
(2) I would rather be wrapped in a burning iron net a thousand times than accept, with a body that has violated the precepts, the clothes offered by faithful almsgivers.
(3) I would rather swallow burning iron pellets and raging flames for 100,000 kalpas than eat, with a mouth that has violated the precepts, the food and drink in one hundred flavors offered by faithful almsgivers.
(4) I would rather lie in raging flames or in iron nets on the burning iron ground than accept, with a body that has violated the precepts, one hundred kinds of beds and seats offered by faithful almsgivers.
(5) I would rather be pierced by 300 spears for one or two kalpas than accept, with a body that has violated the precepts, the medicine in one hundred flavors offered by faithful almsgivers.
(6) I would rather throw myself into a cauldron of molten iron and boil for 100,000 kalpas than accept, with a body that has violated the precepts, 1,000 kinds of houses, gardens, and fields, offered by faithful almsgivers.
(7) I would rather have my body crushed from head to toe into dust particles by an iron hammer than accept, with a body that has violated the precepts, the reverent obeisance of faithful almsgivers.
(8) I would rather have my eyes carved out by 100,000 burning iron knives than gaze, with a mind that has violated the precepts, upon fine sights.
(9) I would rather have my ears pierced by 100,000 iron drills for one or two kalpas than listen, with a mind that has violated the precepts, to fine sounds.
(10) I would rather have my nose cut off by 100,000 sharp knives than smell, with a mind that has violated the precepts, fine scents.
(11) I would rather have my tongue cut out by 100,000 sharp knives than taste, with a mind that has violated the precepts, pure food in one hundred flavors.
(12) I would rather have my body chopped up by a sharp axe than covet, with a mind that has violated the precepts, fine tactile sensations.
(13) I wish all sentient beings to attain Buddhahood.
“If a Bodhisattva fails to make these vows, it is a minor sin.
37. Visiting Difficult Places
“Buddha-Sons, one should train in the dhūta way of life in spring and autumn, and practice meditation in winter and summer. When a Bodhisattva practices the dhūta way of life, he should carry with him eighteen things: (1) willow toothpicks, (2) soap beans, (3) three robes, (4) three water bottles, (5) a begging bowl, (6) a seating mat, (7) a staff with metal rings, (8) an incense burner, (9) a pouch to filter out insects from water, (10) hand towels, (11) a knife, (12) flintstones, (13) tweezers, (14) bedding, (15) sūtras, (16) vinayas, (17) a Buddha image, and (18) Bodhisattva images. When a Bodhisattva in his dhūta training travels from the fifteenth of the first lunar month to the fifteenth of the third lunar month, or from the fifteenth of the eighth lunar month to the fifteenth of the tenth lunar month, he always carries these eighteen things, likened to the two wings of a bird.
“Each month on poṣadha days, i.e., new-moon and full-moon days, novice Bodhisattvas should also participate in poṣadha practice, during which the ten major and forty-eight minor precepts are recited before the images of Buddhas and holy Bodhisattvas. If only one person practices poṣadha, he is the one to recite the precepts; if two, three, or even 100 or 1,000 people participate in poṣadha practice, only one of them recites the precepts. The reciter is seated higher than the listeners. All should be properly clad in kāṣāyas [Dharma robes], each made of nine, seven, or five pieces of cloth. During the summer meditation retreat, all activities should be done in accordance with the Dharma.
“When one is in dhūta training, one should not travel to difficult places, such as countries in catastrophe, countries ruled by evil kings, rugged terrains, deep forests where live lions, tigers, wolves, and venomous snakes, areas of water, fire, or wind disasters, or roads captured by bandits. One should avoid such difficult places during dhūta training and even during the summer meditation retreat. If one purposely visits such places, it is a minor sin.
38. Disregarding the Seating Order
“Buddha-Sons, in an assembly, all should take seats in accordance with the Dharma. Those who have received the precepts earlier should be seated in the front, and behind them should be those who have received the precepts later, regardless of age or whether they are bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, kings, princes, dignitaries, eunuchs, slaves, or servants. In an assembly, only non-Buddhists and fools, young or old, take seats in a disorderly manner.
“In my Dharma, those who have received the precepts earlier are seated first, and others who have received the precepts later are seated next. If a Bodhisattva disregards the seating order, it is a minor sin.
39. Failing to Accumulate Merit and Wisdom
“Buddha-Sons, [to accumulate merit and wisdom] one should teach and transform all sentient beings, encouraging them to build temple compounds and memorial pagodas in gardens and mountain forests, establish meditation centers for winter and summer retreats, and set up places for Dharma training.
“A Bodhisattva should expound the Mahāyāna sūtras and vinayas to all sentient beings. For example, he should do so in a purification assembly to pray for good fortune and healing of lives whenever epidemics, national calamities, or bandits strike. He should do so [for the living and the dead] for three to seven weeks after the death of someone’s father, mother, sibling, preceptor, or ācārya. He should do so after a devastating fire, flood, hurricane, shipwreck, or ravage by rakṣasas. He should do so [for himself and others] to mitigate all requitals for one’s sins, including the seven rebellious sins, to avoid the eight difficulties and the three evil life-paths [in one’s next life], as well as shackles and locks that fetter one’s body, and to lessen one’s greed, anger, delusion, and sickliness. If a Bodhisattva fails to do any of these things, it is a minor sin.
“You should learn and respectfully observe these nine minor precepts, explained in detail in the chapter ‘The Brahma Platform.’”
40. Discriminating among Precept Recipients
The Buddha said, “Buddha-Sons, when one imparts the Bodhisattva precepts, one should not discriminate among kings, princes, state ministers, and state official, among bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, laymen, laywomen, male prostitutes, and female prostitutes, or among gods from the eighteen Brahma heavens and the six desire heavens. Even slaves, servants, eunuchs, those with no sex organ, those with both male and female sex organs, ghosts, and spirits may receive the precepts. All [recipients] should be taught to dress properly in kāṣāyas [Dharma robes] dyed with a mixture of blue, yellow, red, black, and purple dyes, in accordance with the Dharma. Their clothes and bedding should be a lackluster color to distinguish them from those used by the general public.
“Before imparting the precepts, a Bodhisattva Dharma master should ask, ‘In your present life, have you committed any of the seven rebellious sins?’ He should not impart the precepts to those who have committed any of the seven rebellious sins. The seven rebellious sins are (1) patricide, (2) matricide, (3) killing an Arhat, (4) shedding the blood of a Buddha, (5) destroying the harmony of a Saṅgha, (6) killing a preceptor, and (7) killing an ācārya. Only those who have not committed any of the seven rebellious sins may receive the precepts.
“Monks and nuns as a rule do not bow down before kings, parents, relatives, ghosts, or spirits.
“Suppose there is someone who can understand a Dharma master’s words. Seeking the Dharma, he travels hundreds or even thousands of lis to come to a master. If the master, out of malice, refuses to impart the precepts to him, it is a minor sin.
41. Teaching for Benefits
“Buddha-Sons, one should teach and transform others, enabling them to elicit faith. As a teacher master, one should tell precept recipients to ask two masters, a preceptor and an ācārya, to impart the precepts. These two masters should ask, ‘Have you committed any of the seven rebellious sins?’ The preceptor should impart the precepts only to those who have not committed any of these sins, not to those who have.
“One should teach sinners who have violated any of the ten major precepts to repent before the images of Buddhas and holy Bodhisattvas, and to recite the ten major and forty-eight minor precepts day and night during the six periods. They should make obeisance to Buddhas of the past, present, and future, for seven, fourteen, or twenty-one days, or even one year, until they receive a good sign. A good sign is an extraordinary vision [or dream]—such as a Buddha rubbing one’s head, radiance, or flowers—which indicates that one’s sins have been expunged. Without a good sign, though one’s repentance fails to qualify one to receive the precepts in one’s present life, it can be the right cause for one to receive them in one’s next life.
“Those who have violated any of the forty-eight minor precepts should repent of their sins to only one Bodhisattva bhikṣu, in order to expunge them.
“A teacher master should have a good understanding of each precept. Suppose he understands neither the positive and negative aspects of each precept nor its level of severity, nor the highest truth in the Mahāyāna texts. Nor does he understand Bodhisattva character-types: the learning character-type [at the level of the ten heading-offs]; the nurturing character-type [at the level of the ten nurtures]; the bodhi character-type [at the level of the ten vajras]; the holy character-type [at the level of the Ten Grounds]; the indestructible character-type [at the level of virtually perfect enlightenment]. Nor does he understand the perfect enlightenment nature [of a Buddha]. Nor does he understand the required observations of one’s mind at these levels, the entering and exiting of the ten levels of meditation, or the methods of spiritual training. If such a Bodhisattva, for the sake of benefits, worship, and fame, pretending that he understands all the sūtras and vinayas, greedily and shamelessly accepts many students, he deceives himself and others. If he imparts the precepts for benefits, it is a minor sin.
42. Explaining the Precepts to Evil Ones
“Buddha-Sons, one should not, for the sake of benefits and worship, explain the great Bodhisattva precepts pronounced by the 1,000 Buddhas [manifested by Rocana Buddha], to those who have not received them, such as evil ones, non-Buddhists, and those holding the wrong views, except for the king.
“Evil ones do not accept the Buddha precepts, and they are like animals because, life after life, they do not encounter the Three Jewels. Non-Buddhists and those holding the wrong views are mindless, like wood or stone. If a Bodhisattva explains the precepts taught by the past seven Buddhas to these people, it is a minor sin.
43. Purposely Violating Any Precept
“Buddha-Sons, if one who has renounced family life and accepted the true precepts of Buddhas purposely violates any of them, one should not accept offerings from any almsgiver. Nor should one walk the ground or drink the water of one’s country. Five thousand giant ghosts will block one’s way, calling one ‘huge thief.’ When one enters a city, a residence, or a house, ghosts will sweep away one’s footprints. People of the world will call one ‘a thief in the Buddha Dharma.’ Sentient beings will not wish to see one. One who has violated the precepts is no different from an animal or a block of wood. If one purposely violates any precept, it is a minor sin.
44. Failing to Make Offerings to Scriptural Texts
“Buddha-Sons, one should single-mindedly accept and uphold, and read and recite, the Mahāyāna sūtras and vinayas. To copy the Buddha precepts, one should even strip off one’s skin for paper, pierce one’s blood vessels for ink, extract one’s marrow for water, and split one’s bone for pen. One should also copy them on paper, tree barks, fine fabrics, or bamboo slips. One should keep these copies in a case made of the seven treasures and assorted jewels, and offer flowers and choice incense. If one fails to make offerings in accordance with the Dharma, it is a minor sin.
45. Failing to Teach and Transform Sentient Beings
“Buddha-Sons, one should always invoke the mind of great compassion. When one enters a city or home, one should say to people, ‘You should take the Three Refuges and accept the ten [Bodhisattva] precepts.’ When one sees animals, such as cows, horses, pigs, or goats, one should speak one’s mind, saying to them, ‘You animals should activate the bodhi mind.’ When a Bodhisattva crosses mountain forests, rivers, or wilderness, he should enable all sentient beings to activate the bodhi mind. If a Bodhisattva fails to teach and transform sentient beings, it is a minor sin.
46. Expounding the Dharma Incorrectly
“Buddha-Sons, one should always teach and transform sentient beings with great compassion. When in the home of an almsgiver or a dignitary, to expound the Dharma, one should not stand before laypeople, but should be seated high. A Bodhisattva Dharma master should not stand on the floor to expound the Dharma to the Buddha’s four groups of disciples. He should be seated high, honored with offerings of incense and flowers. The four groups, as listeners, should be seated lower, as if honoring their parents or respecting their teachers, like Brahmins worshipping fire. If a Dharma expounder fails to follow this decorum, it is a minor sin.
47. Persecuting Those in the Dharma
“Buddha-Sons, one should accept the Buddha precepts with true faith. A king, prince, or state official should not use his high position to destroy the precepts in the Buddha Dharma, institute laws to forbid my four groups of disciples to renounce family life in favor of training for bodhi, forbid the construction of Buddha images and pagodas, or forbid the preservation of sūtras and vinayas. [One should not appoint an administrator to do non-dharmas extensively, for example, register all monks in order to control them, rule that they should stand while a layperson is seated high, or force them to become soldiers or slaves.
“Bodhisattvas are worthy of offerings from people, and it is against the Dharma to reduce them to a state official’s servants. If a king or an official has accepted the Buddha precepts in goodwill, he should never commit] this sin of destroying the Three Jewels. If one purposely does any such destructive things, it is a minor sin.
48. Destroying the Buddha Precepts
“Buddha-Sons, one who has earnestly renounced family life should not, for the sake of fame and benefits, explain the Buddha precepts to kings or state officials, or willfully bring trouble to bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, or those who have accepted the Bodhisattva precepts, causing them to become prisoners, soldiers, or slaves.
“Only worms inside a lion’s body, not worms outside its body, can eat its flesh. Likewise, only Buddha-sons, not non-Buddhists or celestial māras, can destroy the Buddha Dharma.
“If one has received the Buddha precepts, one should protect them as if thinking of an only son, as if serving one’s parents, and should never destroy them. When a Bodhisattva hears, from non-Buddhists or evil ones, evil words maligning the Buddha precepts, the pain he feels is the same as that caused by 300 spears piercing his heart, or 1,000 knives and 10,000 clubs striking his body. He would rather enter into hell for 100 kalpas so that he will not hear such words, than abandon his filial dutifulness, malign the Buddha precepts, or incite others to destroy the Dharma. If one purposely does any of these things, it is a minor sin.
“You should learn and respectfully observe these nine minor precepts.
“Buddha-Sons, you all should observe these forty-eight minor precepts. They were recited by past Bodhisattvas, will be recited by future Bodhisattvas, and are recited by present Bodhisattvas.
“Buddha-Sons, hearken! Buddhas of the past, future, and present, recited, will recite, and do recite the ten major precepts and the forty-eight minor precepts. I now have recited them as well.
“All of you in this huge multitude, whether kings, princes, state officials, bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, laymen, or laywomen, who accept and observe the Bodhisattva precepts, should also read and recite, and explain and copy, these precepts, [the essence of which is] one’s ever-abiding Buddha nature. As this book of Bodhisattva precepts circulates in the past, present, and future, all sentient beings are transformed endlessly. They will see 1,000 Buddhas, each offering His helping hand. Life after life, they will not go down the evil life-paths, but will always be reborn as humans or gods.
“Under this tree, I have briefly explained the precepts pronounced by the past seven Buddhas. You all should single-mindedly learn the prātimokṣa precepts and joyfully observe them. These precepts have each been explained in detail in the exhortation contained in the chapter ‘The God-King Called No Appearance.’”
The 3,000 learners seated in the assembly, having heard the Buddha’s recitation of precepts, earnestly held them in the highest esteem, and joyfully accepted and upheld them.
As Śākyamuni Buddha [in our world] finished pronouncing the dharma of the ten endless precepts contained in the chapter “The Mind Ground as the Dharma Door,” which had been pronounced by Rocana Buddha in the world of Lotus Flower Platform Store, so too did 100,000 koṭi Śākyamuni Buddhas pronounce this dharma. They too went to the ten places and descended from the god-king Maheśvara’s palace to under the bodhi tree [in their respective worlds] to explain the meaning of this dharma to all Bodhisattvas and innumerable multitudes, enabling them to accept and uphold it, and to read and recite it. Thus, in the 100,000 koṭi worlds in the world of Lotus Flower Store and in worlds as numerous as dust particles, all Buddhas expounded innumerable dharma stores, such as the mind store, the earth store, the precept store, the store of innumerable action vows, and the store of the ever-abiding causality and Buddha nature. All sentient beings in the 100,000 koṭi worlds accepted and upheld the teachings and joyfully carried them out.
A broad description of the features of the mind ground is given in the chapter “The Seven Trainings Expounded by Flower Radiance King Buddha.”
Those illuminated by profound samādhi and wisdom
Can uphold this dharma [of Bodhisattva precepts].
Before attaining Buddha bodhi,
They acquire five benefits.
First, they are remembered and protected by
Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions.
Second, at death,
They joyfully hold the right views.
Third, life after life,
Bodhisattvas will be their friends,
Fourth, their merits accumulate
As they practice śīla-pāramitā.
Fifth, in this and future lives,
They will fully observe the Buddha nature precepts and accumulate merit and wisdom.
This is the way to follow the footsteps of Buddhas,
And one would be wise to ponder it well.
Those who imagine that they have a self and are attached to its appearances
Cannot believe in this dharma.
Those who hasten to enter parinirvāṇa
Are not the right field for planting the bodhi seeds.
To grow the bodhi sprouts and
To illuminate the world,
One should quietly observe
That the true reality of dharmas is
Neither birth nor death,
Neither perpetuity nor cessation,
Neither sameness nor difference,
Neither coming nor going.
Thus one diligently adorns one’s mind [with wisdom]
By skillful means.
Whatever should be done,
A Bodhisattva learns it step by step.
Not discriminating between those who are still learning and
Those who have nothing more to learn
Is called the foremost path,
Also called the Mahāyāna,
Through which all ludicrous statements will end
And the omniscience [sarvajñatā] of a Buddha will arise.
Should progress with boldness
And protect and uphold the pure precepts of Buddhas,
Like a radiant precious jewel.
Past Bodhisattvas learned them,
Future Bodhisattvas will learn them,
And present Bodhisattvas do learn them.
This is the way to follow the footsteps of Buddhas,
Which is praised by the holy master [Rocana Buddha].
Thus have I expounded it,
And transferred my immeasurable merits
To sentient beings
For them to acquire [sarvajña] the overall wisdom-knowledge.
May those who hear this dharma
Quickly attain Buddha bodhi!
1. Fascicle 1 begins with Rocana Buddha residing in His radiant palace on a platform in the world called Lotus Flower Platform Store. The platform is surrounded by 1,000 lotus petals, on each of which rests 100 koṭi worlds. Later in fascicle 1, and in fascicle 2, His world is called the Lotus Flower Store, and 1,000 flowers are mentioned instead of 1,000 petals. For consistency, petals are retained. (Return to text)
2. According to the 80-fascicle version of the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment (Buddhāvataṁsaka-mahāvaipulya-sūtra), fascicle 12, after the Buddha has attained samyak-saṁbodhi under the bodhi tree, in the kingdom of Magadha, he sat on the lotus-flower-store lion throne in the universal radiance palace hall (T10n0279, 0057c23–24). The names of the ten oceans of worlds in the ten directions of the world of Lotus Flower Store are given in fascicle 6 (Ibid., 0027a6–0028c26). (Return to text)
3. See “stages of the Bodhisattva Way” in the glossary. (Return to text)
4. This statement is puzzling in light of the information from other sūtras in the Chinese Canon. According to fascicles 1 and 2 of text 189, the Chinese version of the Sūtra of Past and Present Causes and Effects, Prince Siddhārtha at age seven began to study under learned Brahmins, at age seventeen married Yaśodharā, and at age nineteen renounced family life (T03n0189, 0627c28–0628a1; 0629b12–29; 0632b21–26). According to fascicle 14 of text 190, the Chinese version of the Sūtra of a Collection of the Buddha’s Past Actions, the prince, after he married, stayed within the palace walls for ten years (T03n0190, 0716a8–10). According to text 195 in one fascicle, the Chinese version of the Sūtra of the First Twelve Years of the Buddha’s Teaching Life, Prince Siddhārtha “renounced family life at age twenty-nine and attained bodhi at age thirty-five” (T04n0195, 0146c29–0147a2) after practicing asceticism for six years. His renouncing family life at age twenty-nine is also stated in fascicle 4 of the Dīrgha Āgama (Long Discourses) (T01n0001, 0025b3), fascicle 56 of the Madhyama Āgama (Middle-Length Discourses) (T01n0026, 0776b1–5), and fascicle 13 of the Ekottarika Āgama (Numbered Discourses) (T01n0125, 0609c24–25). In the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), Masters Zhixü (智旭, 1599–1655) and Jiguang (寂光, 1580–1645), in their commentaries on the Brahma Net Sūtra, each suggested to reorder four Chinese words in the statement “I renounced family life at age seven (七歲出家) and attained bodhi at age thirty.” They proposed that it should read as “After I renounced family life for seven years (出家七歲), I attained bodhi at age thirty.” They surmised that he spent one year visiting various places and six years practicing asceticism (X38n0694, 642c24–0643a3; X38n0697, 0834a21–b1). However, this surmise places his renouncing family life at age twenty-three, an event not mentioned in any sūtras in the Chinese Canon. Master Hongzan (弘贊, 1611–85), in his commentary on the Bodhisattva precepts in the Brahma Net Sūtra, mentioned another theory: Prince Siddhārtha renounced family life at age nineteen as stated in text 189, and attained bodhi at age thirty as stated in the Brahma Net Sūtra, because after practicing asceticism for six years, he visited various states for five years (X38n0695, 0704b5–13), another event not supported by any sūtras. Note that the Brahma Net Sūtra is not a biography of the historical Śākyamuni Buddha, and that the ages seven and thirty in this sūtra may be for a special purpose. Although ancient Chinese masters doubted these ages, they were cautious not to change them. (Return to text)
5. Buddha precepts are Mahāyāna precepts, or Buddhayāna precepts, which are instituted by Buddhas for Bodhisattvas. They are also called Buddha nature precepts because their essence is Buddha nature that all sentient beings have. They are also called Bodhisattva precepts because Bodhisattvas observe them in order to attain Buddhahood. (Return to text)
6. As stated in the 80-fascicle version of the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment, before ascending to the First Ground, those who are at the first thirty stages of the Bodhisattva Way are Bodhisattva sages. Here, the ten levels of abiding are called the ten heading-offs because they are heading for their attainment of bodhi; the ten levels of action are called the ten nurtures because they are developing their roots of goodness; and the ten levels of transference of merit are called the ten vajras because they are undergoing adamantine training to become holy Bodhisattvas on the First Ground. (Return to text)
7. The cause is the killing mind driven by greed, anger, or delusion; the conditions are the killing place and time; the method is the killing procedure and tools; and the karma is the act of ending a sentient being’s life, whether the act is accidental or intentional (for example, a murder, a religious sacrifice, or called for in a profession, such as executioner, soldier, hunter, fisher, or slaughterhouse worker). (Return to text)
8. Actually, one of the five pungent vegetables is hiṅgu (興渠), which may be a variety of foetida with edible stinking leaves. In the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, fascicle 8, the Buddha says that any of these five pungent vegetables fuels one’s sexual desire if eaten cooked, and fuels one’s anger if eaten raw. Gods, driven away by the stench, will not be one’s guardians, and hungry ghosts will lick one’s lips. Māra-kings disguised as Buddhas will appear to one and teach one to violate the precepts and to praise greed, anger, and delusion (T19n0945, 0141c5–13). (Return to text)
9. Trees and mountains are the dwelling of certain ghosts and spirits, who consider themselves owners. (Return to text)
10. All Chinese Buddhist monks and nuns have nine incense burn scars on their heads. Moreover, in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, fascicle 6, the Buddha says, “After my parinirvāṇa, if a bhikṣu, resolved to train in samādhi, before the Tathāgata’s image, can light his body as a human torch, burn a section of his finger, or burn a stick of incense on his body, I say that his karmic debts since time without a beginning are at once paid in full” (T19n0945, 0132b13–16). (Return to text)
11. Suggestive speech and abusive speech can each be included under either false speech or divisive speech. (Return to text)
12 A favorable vision or dream. (Return to text)
13. When receiving the Bodhisattva precepts, in the top grade is to accept them before Buddhas and holy Bodhisattvas. In the middle grade is to accept them before a Dharma master. In the low grade is to accept them before the images of Buddhas and holy Bodhisattvas after receiving a good sign. (Return to text)
14. See “six purification days” in the glossary. The three months of annual purification are the first, fifth, and ninth lunar months. Committing a grave sin on a purification day is an additional sin, but a minor one. (Return to text)
15. This story is the eleventh story in the Sūtra of Magnificent Stories (T04n0201) in 15 fascicles. (Return to text)
16. As a common noun, dharma is anything (mental, physical, event). As an antonym, dharma means a good thing in accord with the Dharma, and non-dharma means a bad thing not in accord with the Dharma. (Return to text)
17. The bracketed passage, from “One should not appoint” through “he should never commit,” is not in text 1484, but in the corresponding text in the Song, Yuan, and Ming editions of the Chinese Canon. (Return to text)