When the World-Honoured had become Enlightened, he reflected thus: -
"To abandon desire and rest in perfect quietude is the greatest of
victories. To remain in a state of complete abstraction is to overcome
the ways of all the evil ones." In the Royal Deer Park, he expounded
the Doctrine of the Four Noble Truths, converting Kaundinya and four others,
and thus manifesting the fruit of the Way. There were frequently monks
who voiced their doubts and asked the Buddha to resolve them, so the World-Honoured
taught and commanded them, until, one by one, they became Enlightened
and, bringing their hands together in respectful agreement, prepared to
follow the sacred commands.
- The Buddha said: "Those who, taking leave of their families and
adopting the homeless life, know the nature of their minds and reach
to what is fundamental, thus breaking away (from the phenomenal and
attaining to) the unphenomenal, are called Sramanas. They constantly
observe the two hundred and fifty precepts, entering into and abiding
in perfect quietude. By working their way through the four stages of
progress, they become Arhans, who possess the power of levitation and
transformation, as well as the ability to prolong their lives for many
aeons and to reside or move about anywhere in heaven or earth. Below
them come the Anagamins who, at the end of a long life, ascend
in spirit to the nineteen heavens and become Arhats. Then come
the Sakridagamins who must ascend one step and be reborn once
more before becoming Aphans. There are also the Srota-apanas
who cannot become Arhans until they have passed through nine
more rounds of birth and death. One who has put, an end to his longings
and desires is like a man who, having no further use for his limbs (lit.
having cut off his limbs), never uses them again."
- The Sramana who, having left home, puts an end to his desires
and drives away his longings, knowing the source of his own mind, penetrates
to the profound principles of Buddhahood. He awakes to the non-phenomenal,
clinging to nothing from without. His mind is not shacked with dogmas,
nor is he enmeshed by karma. Pondering nothing and doing nothing, practicing
nothing and manifesting nothing, without passing through all the successive
stages, he (nevertheless) reaches the loftiest of all. This is what
is meant by "The Way,"
- The Buddha said: "He who has shorn his locks and beard to become
a Sramana and has accepted the Doctrine of the Way, abandons
everything of worldly value and is satisfied by the food he obtains
by begging, eating but once a day. If there is a tree under which to
rest, he desires nothing else. Longings and desires are what make men
stupid and darken their minds.
- The Buddha said: "There are ten things by which beings do good
and ten by which they do evil. What are they? Three are performed with
the body, four with the mouth and three with the mind. The (evils) performed
with the body are killing, stealing and unchaste deeds; those with the
mouth are duplicity, slandering, lying and idle talk; those with the
mind are covetousness, anger and foolishness. These ten are not in keeping
with the holy Way and are called the ten evil practices. Putting a stop
to all of them is called performing the ten virtuous practices."
- The Buddha said: "If a man has all kinds of faults and does not
regret them, in the space of a single heartbeat retribution will suddenly
fall upon him and, as water returning to the sea, will gradually become
deeper and wider. (But), if a man has faults and, becoming aware of
them, changes for the better, retribution will melt away into nothingness
of its own accord, as the danger of a fever gradually abates once perspiration
has set in.
- The Buddha said: "If an evil man, on hearing of what is good,
comes and creates a disturbance, you should hold your peace. You must
not angrily upbraid him; then he who has come to curse you will merely
- The Buddha said: "There was one who heard that I uphold the Way
and practice great benevolence and compassion. On this account, he came
to scold me, but I remained silent and did not retort. When he had finished
scolding me, I said: "Sir, if you treat another with courtesy and
he does not accept it, does not the courtesy rebound to you?" He
replied that it does and I continued: "Now you have just cursed
me and I did not accept your curses, so the evil which you yourself
did has now returned and fallen upon you. For a sound accords with the
noise that produced it and the reflection accords with the form. In
the end there will be no escape, so take care lest you do what is evil."
- The Buddha said: "An evil man may wish to injure the Virtuous
Ones and, raising his head, spit towards heaven, but the spittle, far
from reaching heaven, will return and descend upon himself. An unruly
wind may raise the dust, but the dust does not go elsewhere; it remains
to contaminate the wind. Virtue cannot be destroyed, while evil inevitably
- The Buddha said: "Listen avidly to and cherish the Way. The Way
will certainly be hard to reach. Maintain your desire to accept it humbly,
for the Way is mighty indeed."
- The Buddha said: "Observe those who bestow (knowledge of) the
Way. To help them is a great joy and many blessings can thus be obtained."
A Sramana asked: "Is there any limit to such blessings?"
The Buddha replied: "They are like the fire of a torch from which
hundreds and thousands of people light their own torches. The (resulting)
light eats up the darkness and that torch is the origin of it all. Such
is the nature of those blessings."
- The Buddha said: "To bestow food on a hundred bad men in not
equal to bestowing food on one good one. Bestowing food on a thousand
good men is not equal to bestowing food on one who observes the five
precepts. Bestowing food on ten thousand who observe the five precepts
is not equal to bestowing food on one Srota-apana. Bestowing
food on a million Srota-apanas is not equal to bestowing food
on one Sakrdiagamin. Bestowing food on ten million Sakrdamins
is not equal to bestowing food on one Anagamin. Bestowing food
on a hundred million Anagamins is not equal to bestowing food
on one Arhan. Bestowing food on a thousand million Arhans
is not equal to bestowing food on one Pratyeka Buddha. Bestowing
food on ten thousand million Pratyeka Buddhas is not equal to
bestowing food on one of the Buddhas of the Triple World. Bestowing
food on a hundred thousand million Buddhas of the Triple World is not
equal to bestowing food on one who ponders nothing, does nothing, practices
nothing and manifests nothing."
- The Buddha said: "There are twenty things which are hard for
"It is hard to practice charity when one is poor."
"It is hard to study the Way when occupying a position of great authority."
"It is hard to surrender life at the approach of inevitable death."
"It is hard to get an opportunity of reading the sutras."
"It is hard to be born directly into Buddhist surroundings."
"It is hard to hear lust and desire (without yielding to them)."
"It is hard to see something attractive without desiring it."
"It is hard to bear insult without making an angry reply."
"It is hard to have power and not to pay regard to it."
"It is hard to come into contact with things and yet remain unaffected
"It is hard to study widely and investigate everything thoroughly."
"It is hard to overcome selfishness and sloth."
"It is hard to avoid making light of not having studies (the Way)
"It is hard to keep the mind evenly balanced."
"It is hard to refrain from defining things as being something or
not being something."
"It is hard to come into contact with clear perception (of the Way)."
"It I hard to perceive one’s own nature and (through such perception)
to study the Way."
"It is hard to help others towards Enlightenment according to their
"It is hard to see the end (of the Way) without being moved."
"It is hard to discard successfully (the shackles that bind us to
the wheel of life and death) as opportunities present themselves."
A Sramana asked the Buddha: "By what method can we attain
the knowledge of how to put a stop to life (in the phenomenal sphere)
and come in contact with the Way?" The Buddha answered: "By
purifying the mind and preserving the will (to struggle onwards) you
can come in contact with the Way just as, when a mirror is wiped, the
dust falls off and the brightness remains. By eliminating desires and
seeking for nothing (else), you should be able to put a stop to life
(in the phenomenal sphere)."
A Sramana asked the Buddha: "What is goodness and what
is greatness?" The Buddha replied: "To follow the Way and
hold to what is true is good. When the will is in conformity with the
Way, that is greatness."
A Sramana asked the Buddha: "What is great power and what
is the acme of brilliance?" The Buddha answered: "To be able
to bear insult (without retort) implies great power. He that does not
cherish cause for resentment, but remains clam and firm equally (under
all circumstances), and who bears all things without indulging in abuse
will certainly be honoured by men. The acme of brilliance is reached
when the mind is utterly purged of impurities and nothing false of foul
remains (to besmirch) its purity. When there is nothing, from before
the formation of heaven and earth until now or in any of the ten quarters
of the universe which you have not seen, heard and understood; when
you have attained to a knowledge of everything, that may be called brilliance."
Men who cherish longings and desires are those who have not perceived
the Way. Just as, if clear water be stirred up with the hand, none of
those looking into it will perceive their reflections, so men in whose
minds filth has been stirred up by longings and desires will not perceive
the Way. You Sramanas must abandon longings and desires. When
the filth of longings and desires has been entirely cleared away, then
only will you be able to perceive the Way."
The Buddha said: "With those who have perceived the Way, it is
thus. Just as, when one enters a dark house with a torch, the darkness
is dissipated and only light remains, so, by studying the Way and perceiving
the truth, ignorance is dissipated and insight remains for ever."
The Buddha said: "My Doctrine implies thinking of that which
is beyond thought, performing that which is beyond performance, speaking
of that which is beyond words and practicing that which is beyond practice.
Those who can come up to this, progress, while the stupid regress. The
way, which can be expressed in words stops short; there is nothing which
can be grasped. If you are wrong by so much as the thousandth part of
a hair, you will lose (the Way) in a flash."
The Buddha said: "Regard heaven and earth and consider their
impermanence. Regard the world and consider its impermanence. Regard
spiritual awakening as Bodhi. This sort of knowledge leads to
The Buddha said: "You should ponder on the fact that, though
each of the four elements of which the body is made up has a name, they
none of them (constitute any part of) the real self. In fact, the self
is non-existent, like a mirage."
The Buddha said: "There are people who, following the dictates
of their feelings and desires, seek to make a name for themselves, but,
by the time that name resounds, they are already dead. Those who hunger
for a name that shall long be remembered in the world and who do not
study the Way strive vainly and struggle for empty forms. Just as burning
incense, though others perceive its pleasant smell, is itself being
burnt up, so (desires) bring the danger of fire which can burn up your
bodies in their train.
The Buddha said: "Wealth and beauty, to a man who will not relinquish
them, are like a knife covered with honey which, even before he has
had the pleasure of eating the honey, cuts the tongue of the child that
The Buddha said: "People who are tied to their wives, children
and homes are worse off than prisoners. A prisoner will be released
sooner or later, but wives and children have no thought of betaking
themselves off. Why fear to rid yourselves immediately of the longing
for physical beauty? (Otherwise), you are tamely submitting to the jaws
of a tiger and deliberately allowing yourselves to drown in the quicksand
into which you have fallen, thus meriting the name of ‘simple fellows’.
If you can reach the point (of abandoning such things), you will rise
from the dust and become Arhans."
The Buddha said: "Of all longings and desires, there is none
stronger than sex. Sex as a desire has no equal,. Rely on the (universal)
Oneness. No one under heaven is able to become a follower of the Way
if he accepts dualism.
The Buddha said: "Those who (permit themselves) longings and
desires are like a man who walks in the teeth of the wind carrying a
torch. Inevitably, his hands will be burnt.
The gods bestowed the jade girl upon me, hoping to shake my determination.
I said: "O skin bag, full of every kind of filth! For what have
you come here? Go! I do not need you.’ Then the gods paid me profound
reverence and, as they asked me to expound the Way, I enlightened them
and they became Srota-apanas as a result."
The Buddha said: "Those who follow the Way are like a piece of
wood in the water, which floats along, touching neither bank, and which
is neither picked up by men, intercepted by the gods, hindered by floating
scum, nor rots upon the way. I am prepared to undertake that such a
piece of wood will certainly reach the sea. If those who study the Way
are not misled by their feelings and desires, not disturbed by any sort
of depravity, and, if they earnestly advance towards the un-phenomenal,
I am prepared to undertake that they will certainly attain to the Way."
The Buddha said: ""Be careful not to depend on your own
intelligence – It is not to be trusted. Take care not to come in contact
with physical attractions – such contacts result in calamities. Only
when you have reached the stage of Arhan can you depend on your
The Buddha said: "Take care to avoid looking on the beauty of
women and do not converse with them. If you do (have occasion to) converse
with them, control the thoughts which run through your minds. When I
was a Sramana and came in contact with the impure world, I was
like the lotus which remains unsullied by the mud (from which it grows).
Think of old women as of your mothers, of those older than yourselves
as of your elder sisters, of those younger than yourselves as of your
younger sisters, and of very young ones as your daughters. Dwell on
thoughts of Enlightenment and banish all evil ones."
The Buddha said: "Those who follow the Way are like straw which
must be preserved from fire. A follower of the Way who experiences desire
must put a distance between himself and (the object of his) desire."
The Buddha said: "There was one who indulged his sexual passions
unceasingly but who wished, of his own accord, to put an end to his
evil actions. I said to him: "To put a stop to these evil actions
will not be so good as to put a stop to (the root of the evil) in your
mind. The mind is like Kung Ts’ao. If Kung Ts’ao desists, his followers
will stop also. If mental depravities continue, what is the use of putting
an end to evil actions?" I then repeated this verse for him: ‘Desire
springs from your thoughts. Thought springs from discernment (of matter).
When the two minds are both stilled, there is neither from nor action.’
I added that this verse was first spoken by Kasyapa Buddha."
The Buddha said: "The sorrows o men come from their longings
and desires. Fear comes from these sorrows. If freedom from desire is
attained, what (cause for) grief and fear will remain?
The Buddha said: "Those who follow the Way are like one who has
to fight ten thousand and who, putting on his armour, steps out of the
gate. His thoughts may be timorous and his resolution weak, or he may
(even) get half way to the battle-ground and then turn round and flee.
Again, he may join battle and be slain. On the other hand, he may gain
the victory and return. The Sramana who studies the Way must
have a resolute mind and zealously build up his courage, fearing nothing
that lies before him and destroying all the demons (of temptation that
stand in his way), that he may obtain the fruit (of diligently studying)
One night, a Sramana was intoning "The Sutra of the Teachings
Bequeathed by Kasyapa Buddha." The sound of his voice was mournful,
for he thought repentantly of his back sliding, born of desire. The
Buddha asked him: "What did you do before you became a monk?"
"I used to like playing the lute," he replied. "What
happened," said the Buddha, "when you loosened the strings?"
"They made no sound." "And when you pulled them taut?"
"The sounds were brief." "And how was it when they were
neither taut nor loose?" "Then all the sounds were normal"
replied the Sramana. To this the Buddha said: "It is the
same with a Sramana studying the Way. If his mind is properly
adjusted, he can attain to it, but if he forces himself towards it,
his mind will become weary and, on account of the wariness of his mind,
his thoughts will become irritable. With such irritable thoughts, his
actions will retrogress and, with such retrogression, evil will enter
his mind. But if he studies quietly and happily, he will not lose the
The Buddha said: "If a man smelts iron until all impurities have
been eliminated (before proceeding to) make implements with it, the
implements will be of fine quality. If one who studies the Way first
purges his heart of all foul influences, his actions will then become
The Buddha said: "It is hard for one to leave the grosser forms
of incarnation and be born a human being.
"It is hard for such a one to escape being a woman and be born a
"It is hard for such a one to be born with all his organs in perfect
"It is hard for such a one to be born in China."
"It is hard for such a one to be born directly into Buddhist surroundings."
"It is hard for such a one to come in contact with the Way."
"It is hard for such a one to cultivate faith in his mind."
"It is hard for such a one to attain to the Boddhi-heart."
"It is hard for such a one to attain to (the state where) nothing
is practiced and nothing manifested."
The Buddha said: "A disciple living thousands of miles away from
me will, if he constantly cherishes and ponders on my precepts, attain
the fruit (of studying) the Way: but one who is in immediate contact
with me, though he sees me constantly, will ultimately fall to do so
if he does not follow my percepts."
The Buddha said to a Sramana: "How long is the span of
a man’s life?" "It is but a few days," was the answer.
The Buddha said: "You have not understood," and asked another
Sramana, who replied: "It is (like) the time taken to eat
(a single meal.) To this the Buddha replied in the same way and asked
a third: "How long is the span of a man’s life?" "It
is (like) the time taken by a (single) breath," was the reply.
"Excellent," said the Buddha, "You understand the Way."
The Buddha said: "Those who study the Way of the Buddha should
believe and follow all that is said by the Buddha. Just as, when you
eat honey (you find that), every drop of it is sweet, so is it with
The Buddha said: "A Sramana studying the Way should not
be as an ox turning the millstone which, though it performs the necessary
actions with its body, does not concentrate on them with its mind. If
the Way is followed in the mind, of what use are actions?"
The Buddha said: "Those who follow the Way are like an ox bearing
a heavy load and walking through deep mud. It feels so weary that it
does not dare to look to left or right and, only on emerging from the
mud, can it revive itself by resting. A Sramana should regard
feelings and desires more seriously than (the ox regards) the mud. Only
by controlling his mind and thinking of the Way can be avoid sorrow."
The Buddha said: "I look upon the state of kings and princes
as upon the dust which blows through a crack. I look upon ornaments
of gold and jewels as upon rubble. I look upon garments of the finest
silk as upon worn-out rage. I look upon a major chiliocosm as upon a
small nut. I look upon the Anavatapta as upon oil for smearing the feet.
(On the other hand), I look upon expedient methods (leading to the truth)
as upon spending heaps of jewels. I look upon the supreme vehicle as
upon a dream of abundant wealth. I look upon the Buddha’s Way as upon
all the splendours, which confront the eye. I look upon Dhyana meditation
as upon the pillar of Mount Sumeru. I look upon Nirvana as upon
waking at daybreak from a night’s sleep. I look upon heresy erected
as upon six dragons dancing. I look upon the universal, impartial attitude
(of a Buddha) as upon the Absolute Reality. I look upon conversion (to
the Way) as upon the changes undergone by a tree (due to the action
of the) four seasons.
(Note: The Sutra of Forty-two Sections is regarded as the first Sutra translated
into Chinese. The Sutra is compiled with some extracts from various Sutras.
It consists of basic Buddhist teachings, particularly the moral ones,
in order to be assimilated more easily in China.)