Then Ananda and all the great assembly were purified in body and mind.

They acquired a profound understanding and a clear insight into the nature of the Lord Buddha’s Enlightenment and experience of highest Samadhi. They had confidence like a man who was about to set forth on a most important business to a far-off country, because they knew the route to go and to return. All the disciples in this great assembly realized their own Essence of Mind and purposed, henceforth, to live remote from all worldly entanglements and taints, and to live continuously in the pure brightness of the Eye of Dharma.

Then Ananda, rising in the midst of the assembly, straightened his robe, with the palms of his hands pressed together, knelt before the Lord Buddha. In the depths of his nature he was already enlightened and his heart was filled with happiness and compassion for all sentient beings and, especially, did he desire to benefit them by his newly acquired wisdom. He addressed the Lord Buddha, saying: Oh my Lord of Great Mercy! I have now realized the True Door of Dharma for the attainment of Enlightenment, and have no more doubt about its being the only Door to Perfect Enlightenment. My Lord has taught us that those who are only starting the practice of Bodhisattvaship and have not yet delivered themselves, but who already wish to deliver others, that this is a sign of Bodhisattvaship. And when those who have attained Enlightenment have a deep purpose to enlighten others, that this is a sign of the Lord Tathagata’s descent from the Pure Land for the deliverance of all the world. Although I have not yet delivered myself, I already wish to deliver all sentient beings of this present kalpa. Noble Lord! Sentient beings of this age and world are gradually becoming more and more alienated from my Lord’s favor, and the propagation of heretical teachings, deceiving people and leading them astray, more and more flourishes. I want to persuade them to concentrate their minds in dhyana for the attainment of Samadhi. What can I do to help them arrange a True Altar to Enlightenment within their minds so that they may be kept far away from all deceiving temptations and in whose progress there shall be no retrogression or discouragement in the attainment of Enlightenment?

In response to this appeal, the Blessed One addressed the assembly: Ananda has just requested me to teach how to arrange a True Altar of Enlightenment to which sentient beings of this last kalpa may come for deliverance and protection. Listen carefully as I explain it to you.

Ananda and all in this assembly! In explaining to you the rules of the Vinaya, I have frequently emphasized three good lessons, namely, (1) the only way to keep the Precepts is first to be able to concentrate the mind; (2) by keeping the Precepts you will be able to attain Samadhi; (3) by means of Samadhi one develops intelligence and wisdom. Having learned these three good lessons, one has gained freedom from the intoxicants and hindrances.

Ananda, why is concentration of mind necessary before one can keep the Precepts? And why is it necessary to keep the Precepts before one can rightly practice dhyana and attain Samadhi? And why is the attainment of Samadhi necessary before one may attain true intelligence and wisdom? Let me explain this to you. All sentient beings in all the six realms of existence are susceptible to temptations and allurements. As they yield to these temptations and allurements, they fall into and become fast bound to the recurring cycles of deaths and rebirths. Being prone to yield to these temptations and allurements, one must, in order to free himself from their bondage and their intoxication, concentrate his whole mind in a resolution to resist them to the uttermost. The most important of these allurements are the temptations to yield to sexual thoughts, desires and indulgence, with all their following waste and bondage and suffering. Unless one can free himself from this bondage and these contaminations and exterminate these sexual lusts, there will be no escape from the following suffering, nor hope of advancement to enlightenment and peacefulness. No matter how keen you may be mentally, no matter how much you may be able to practice dhyana, no matter to how high a degree of apparent samadhi you may attain, unless you have wholly annihilated all sexual lusts, you will ultimately fall into the lower realms of existence. In these lower Mara realms of existence there are three ranks of evil ones: the Mara king, evil demons, and female fiends, and all of them have each his and her own double who disguise themselves as “angels of light” who have attained supreme Enlightenment.

After my Parinirvana, in the last kalpa of this world, there will be plenty of all these kinds of evil spirits everywhere. Some of them will beset you openly with avarice and concupiscence and others of them will pose as holy and learned masters. No one will escape their machinations to lure them into the swamps of defilement and thus to lose the Path to Enlightenment. Therefore, Ananda, and all of you, should persistently teach the people of this world to attain perfect concentration of mind, so that they may be enabled to keep the precept of purity and thus be able to practice dhyana successfully and attain Samadhi. This is the clear teaching of all the Blessed Buddhas of the past, and it is my instruction at the present and it will be the instruction of all Tathagatas of the future.

Therefore, Ananda, a man who tries to practice dhyana without first attaining control of his mind is like a man trying to bake bread out of a dough made of sand; bake it as long as he will, it will only be sand made a little hot. It is the same with sentient beings, Ananda, They can not hope to attain Buddhahood by means of an indecent body. How can they hope to attain the wonderful experience of Samadhi out of bawdiness? If the source is indecent, the outcome will be indecent; there will ever be a return to the never-ending recurrence of deaths and rebirths. Sexual lust leads to multiplicity; control of mind and Samadhi leads to enlightenment and the unitive life of Buddhahood. Multiplicity leads to strife and suffering; control of mind and dhyana leads to the blissful peace of Samadhi and Buddhahood.

Inhibition of sexual thoughts and annihilation of sexual lusts is the path to Samadhi, and even the conception of inhibiting and annihilating must be discarded and forgotten. When the mind is under perfect control and all indecent thoughts excluded, then there may be a reasonable expectation for the Enlightenment of the Buddhas. Any other teaching than this is but the teaching of the evil Maras. This is my first admonition as to keeping the Precepts.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།

The next important hindrance and allurement is the tendency of all sentient beings of all the six realms of existence to gratify their pride of egoism. To gain this one is prone to be unkind, to be unjust and cruel, to other sentient beings. This tendency lures them into the bondage of deaths and rebirth, but if this tendency can be controlled they will no longer be lured into this bondage for right control of mind will enable them to keep the Precept of kindness to all animate life. The reason for practicing dhyana and seeking to attain Samadhi is to escape from the suffering of life, but in seeking to escape from suffering ourselves, why should we inflict it upon others? Unless you can so control your minds that even the thought of brutal unkindness and killing is abhorrent, you will never be able to escape from the bondage of the world’s life. No matter how keen you may be mentally, no matter how much you may be able to practice dhyana, no matter to how high a degree of Samadhi you may attain, unless you have wholly annihilated all tendency to unkindness toward others, you will ultimately fall into the realms of existence where the evil ghosts dwell.

There are three ranks of these ghosts: the highest are the mighty ghosts, the next are the Yaksha ghosts who fly in the air, and the lowest are the Raksha ghosts that live under the earth. Each of these ghosts has his double that disguises itself as having attained enlightenment. After my Parinirvana in the last kalpa these different kinds of ghosts will be encountered everywhere deceiving people and teaching them that they can eat meat and still attain enlightenment. But how can any faithful follower of the Lord Tathagata kill sentient life and eat the flesh?

You of this great assembly ought to appreciate that those human beings who might become enlightened and attain Samadhi, because of eating meat, can only hope to attain the rank of a great Raksha and until the end of their enjoyment of it must sink into the never ceasing round of deaths and rebirths. They are not true disciples of Buddha. If they kill sentient beings and eat the flesh, they will not be able to escape from this triple world. Therefore, Ananda, next to teaching the people of the last kalpa to put away all sexual lust, you must teach them to put an end to all killing and brutal cruelty.

If one is trying to practice dhyana and is still eating meat, he would be like a man closing his ears and shouting loudly and then asserting that he heard nothing. The more one conceals things, the more apparent they become. Pure and earnest bhikshus and Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, when walking a narrow path, will never so much as tread on the growing grass beside the path. How can a bhikshu, who hopes to become a deliverer of others, himself be living on the flesh of other sentient beings?

Pure and earnest bhikshus, if they are true and sincere, will never wear clothing made of silk, nor wear boots made of leather because it involves the taking of life. Neither will they indulge in eating milk or cheese because thereby they are depriving the young animals of that which rightly belongs to them. It is only such true and sincere bhikshus who have repaid their karmic debts of previous lives, who will attain true emancipation, and who will no more be bound to wander to this triple world. To wear anything, or partake of anything for self-comfort, deceiving one’s self as to the suffering it causes others or other sentient life, is to set up an affinity with that lower life which will draw them toward it. So all bhikshus must be very careful to live in all sincerity, refraining from even the appearance of unkindness to other life. It is such true hearted bhikshus who will attain a true emancipation. Even in one’s speech and especially in one’s teaching, one must practice kindness for no teaching that is unkind can be the true teaching of Buddha. Unkindness is the murderer of the life of Wisdom. This is the second admonition of the Lord Buddha as to the keeping of the Precepts.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།

Then there is the Precept of not taking anything that does not rightfully belong to one, not coveting it or even admiring it. One must learn to keep this precept in all sincerity if he is to hope for escape from the chain of deaths and rebirths. The purpose of your practice of dhyana is to escape from the suffering of this mortal life. No matter how keen you may be mentally, no matter how much you may be able to practice dhyana, no matter to how high a degree of apparent Samadhi you may attain, unless you refrain from covetousness and stealing, you will fall into the realm of heretics.

There are three grades of these heretics: the first grade are the spiritual heretics tempting one to rank and privilege and power and egoistic pride. The second grade are mental goblins tempting one to false ideas that will enhance one’s knowledge and erudition. The third grade are the common heretics of this world who teach among human beings what is not the true Dharma. You will be beset by these heretics on every hand, within and without. And each one of these heretic goblins will have his double who disguises himself as one who has attained supreme enlightenment and who sets himself up as a teacher of highest truth. After my Parinirvana, in the last kalpa of this world, there will be plenty of these goblin-heretics about, hiding themselves within the very personalities of the saints, the better to carry out their deceiving tricks. Sometimes they gain control of some great and good master and teach under the prestige of his name. They often assert that they have received their Dharma from some notable Master, deceiving ignorant people, discouraging them and even causing them to go insane. In such deceptive ways do they spread their false and destructive heresies.

For all these various reasons, I teach my bhikshu-brothers not to covet comforts and privileges, but to beg their food, not here and there, or now and then, but to make it a regular habit so that they will be better able to overcome the greediness and covetousness that hinders their progress toward enlightenment. I teach them not to cook their own food even, but to be dependent upon others for even the poorest living so that they will realize their oneness with all sentient life and are but sojourners in this triple world. Under these conditions, how can bad men be tempted to put on our Buddhist garments and to offer the Dharma of all the Tathagatas as goods for sale? To do this is to accumulate all kinds of evil karma. Nevertheless, these heretics insist that their selfish and acquisitive acts are in conformity with Buddha’s teaching and that Buddhism allows them to teach and act in these acquisitive ways. By so doing they defame the true Buddhist Bhikshus who have been tested and tried in some formal religious ceremony. On the contrary, they only reveal themselves as belonging to some heretical sect but, meanwhile, they have deluded and bewildered and turned astray or hindered many sentient beings so that they fall into the hells of suffering.

If after my Parinirvana there shall be bhikshus who undertake to practice dhyana and to attain Samadhi and who prove their sincerity and earnestness by some sacrifice before an image of the Tathagata, such as cutting off a part of their body, or burning a finger, or even burning one spot on their head with incense, such disciples immediately pay all their karmic debts accumulated from beginningless time, and they will be immediately emancipated from the bondage of this triple world. Although such disciples will not at once attain Supreme Enlightenment, yet they reveal their right resolution and are on the right Path by the practice of dhyana.

But if they are not enough in earnest to sacrifice even the slightest comfort, even if they attain a measure of tranquillity, they will have to be reborn in a human body for the payment of the debts of previous lives. Thus I, myself, suffered for about three months to eat the rye in horse’s fodder, so hungry was I, in recompense of the debt of an earlier life. Thus you must teach the people of this world who are practicing dhyana in the hope of attaining Samadhi, that they must abstain from stealing and covetousness.

Therefore, Ananda, if any of my disciples who are trying to practice dhyana, do not abstain from stealing and covetousness, their efforts will be like trying to fill a leaking pot with water; no matter how long they try, they will never succeed. So all of you, my bhikshu disciples, with the exception of your poor garments and your begging bowls should have nothing more in possession. Even the food that is left over from your begging after you have eaten should be given to hungry sentient beings and should not be kept for the next meal. Moreover, you should look upon your own body, its flesh, blood and bone, as not being your own but as being one with the bodies of all other sentient beings and so be ever ready to sacrifice it for the common need. Even when men beat you and scold you, you must accept it patiently and with hands pressed together bow to them humbly. Furthermore, you should not accept one teaching, or one principle, that is easy and agreeable, and re- ject the rest of the Dharma; you should accept all with equitable mind lest you misinterpret the Dharma to the new converts. Thus living, the Lord Buddha will confirm your attainment as one who has acquired the true Samadhi. As you teach the Dharma to others, be sure that your teaching is in agreement with the above so that it may be regarded as a true teaching of Buddha, otherwise it would be as heretical as the deceptive words of the goblin-heretics who are murderers of the life of Wisdom. This is the third admonition of the Lord Buddha as it relates to the Precepts.

Then there is the Precept of not deceiving nor telling lies. If the sentient beings of the six realms of existence should refrain from killing, stealing and adultery, and should refrain from even thinking about them, but should fail to keep the Precept of truthfulness and not be sincere in their practice of dhyana and their attainment of Samadhi, there would be no emancipation for them; they would fall into the ranks of the Maras who are satisfied with any slight attainment and who boast of it, or they would fall into the ranks of Maras who become prejudiced and egoistically assertive, and what is of more importance they would lose their seed of Buddhahood.

Such disciples presumptuously assume an attainment before they have attained it; they assume realization before they have realized it; they affect to be the most respected and competent masters, and speak to the people loftily, boasting: “I have attained to the degree of Crotapanna, or to the degree of Sakradagamin, or to the degree of Anagamin, or to the degree of Arhat, or to the degree of Pratyaka-Buddha.” They claim to have attained to the Ten Gradual Grounds of Tranquillity, or to the degree of those Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas who have attained to the stage of No Recension. Moreover, they covet the respect of people, they like to see them humble in their presence, they greedily watch for offerings from the people. Such disciples are to be regarded as no better than un-believers, no better than hardened Icchantikas. They not only lose their own seed of Buddhahood, they destroy the seed of Buddhahood in others. Such disciples progressively lose their nature of kindness and gradually lose the measure of understanding that they had attained and shall at last sink into the Sea of the Three Kinds of Suffering, namely, (1) the suffering of pain, (2) the loss of enjoyment, (3) the suffering of decay. They will not attain to Samadhi for a long, long time in after lives.

Nevertheless, Ananda, in the time after my Parinirvana, I urge all of you Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas and Arhats to choose to be reborn in the last kalpas wholly for the sake of delivering all sentient beings. You should make use of all manner of transformations, such as disciples, laymen, kings, lords, ministers, virgins, boy-eunuchs, and even as harlots, widows, adulterers, thieves, butchers, peddlers, etc., so as to be able to mingle with all kinds of people and to make known the true emancipation of Buddhism and the following peace of Samadhi. You must never speak of your own true rank of Bodhisattva-Mahasattva and Arhat, you must never reveal the Lord Buddha’s Secret Cause of Attainment, nor speak without discretion before those who are not practicing meditation. Except toward the end of your mortal life, you may disclose to your most worthy disciples the secret teachings and instruction, lest the evil heretics disturb and lure them away by their lies. To teach the world to observe the Precept of truthful sincerity, to practice dhyana with sincerity and to attain a true Samadhi, this is the clear and true instruction of the Lord Buddha.

Therefore, Ananda, if any disciple does not abstain from deceit, he is like a man moulding human dung instead of carving sweet-smelling sandalwood. I have always taught my bhikshu Brothers to keep their intuitive minds in straightforward sincerity as their true Altar of Enlightenment, and at all times, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down, there should be no falsehood in your life. How disgraceful is it for heretics whose lives are filled with deceit to present themselves as having attained supreme enlightenment. They are like poverty stricken people who pretend to be kings or wealthy merchants, only to shame and destroy their own lives. For any such disciple who dares to represent himself as a Prince of the Dharma, there will be a terrible retribution.

It has always been a truism that any disease in a seed will reveal itself in diseased and abortive fruit. Such a disciple, seeking to attain the Lord Buddha’s Enlightenment can be likened to a man trying to bite his own navel. How impossible for them to attain true Enlightenment. But bhikshus whose lives are as straight as the chord of a bow will certainly attain Samadhi. They need never fear the wiles of the Maras. They are the bhikshus who are certain to attain the Bodhisattva- Mahasattva’s supreme understanding and insight. Any lesson or instruction that is in agreement with the foregoing can be relied upon as being a true teaching of the Lord Buddha. Differing from it, it is simply a false teaching of the heretics who have always been murderers of the Life of Wisdom. This is the fourth admonition of the Lord Buddha.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།
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