The Application of Mindfulness of the Sacred Dharma
The Ten Virtuous Courses of Action
- Tsultrim Gyaltsen
- Shang Buchikpa
- Sherap Ö
Degé Kangyur, vol. 68 (mdo sde, ya), folios 82.a–318.a; vol. 69 (mdo sde, ra), folios 1.b–307.a; vol. 70 (mdo sde, la), folios 1.b–312.a; and vol. 71 (mdo sde, sha), folios 1.b–229.b
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
While on the way to Rājagṛha to collect alms, a group of newly ordained monks are approached by some non-Buddhists, who suggest that their doctrine is identical to that of the Buddha, since everyone agrees that misdeeds of body, speech, and mind are to be given up. The monks do not know how to reply, and when they later return to the brahmin town of Nālati, where the Buddha is residing, Śāradvatīputra therefore encourages them to seek clarification from the Blessed One himself. In response to the monks’ request, the Buddha delivers a comprehensive discourse on the effects of virtuous and unvirtuous actions, explaining these matters from the perspective of an adept practitioner of his teachings, who sees and understands all this through a process of personal discovery. As the teaching progresses, the Buddha presents an epic tour of the realm of desire—from the Hell of Ultimate Torment to the Heaven Free from Strife—all the while introducing the specific human actions and attitudes that cause the experience of such worlds and outlining the ways to remedy and transcend them. In the final section of the sūtra, which is presented as an individual scripture on its own, the focus is on mindfulness of the body and the ripening of karmic actions that is experienced among humans in particular.
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the supervision of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. The translation was produced by Thomas Doctor with help from Benjamin Collet-Cassart and Timothy Hinkle. Thomas also wrote the introduction. Andreas Doctor checked the translation against the Tibetan and edited the text. The 84000 editorial team subsequently reviewed the translation and made further edits. Wiesiek Mical assisted by reviewing numerous passages against the available Sanskrit sources. Robert Kritzer generously shared several unpublished articles on the text with us, and Vesna Wallace and Mitsuyo Demoto kindly gave us access to drafts of their critical Sanskrit editions of chapters 1 and 3, respectively.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous sponsorship of Sun Ping, Tian Xingwen, and Sun Fanglin, which helped make the work on this translation possible, is most gratefully acknowledged.
“Monks, there are three misdeeds of the body: killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct. What, then, is killing? To take a life is to recognize another sentient being as a sentient being and knowingly slay it. Such an act may be of a great, intermediate, or minor kind. Great killing is the murder of a worthy one or the like. Such acts lead to the Hell of Ultimate Torment. Intermediate killing occurs when one murders someone on the path. Minor killing is to kill an animal or someone of degenerate moral conduct.
“An act of killing can also be categorized with respect to the past, future, or present, or in terms of whether that act is carried out due to desire, anger, or delusion. Of these latter, killing out of desire occurs in hunting deer and other game. Killing out of hatred occurs in killing a snake, a mongoose, or the like. Killing due to delusion occurs in sacrificial killings and the like. Killing can likewise be categorized in terms of [F.85.a] acts done by oneself, acts ordered by others, and acts done both by oneself and on the order of others.
“In five cases killing will not incur any stain of evil: unwittingly killing insects, ants, and so forth that happen to be in one’s a path; unintentionally striking and killing someone with a weapon; dispensing the wrong type of medicine to a sick person, thereby accidently causing the person’s death while trying to help; as a mother, causing the death of one’s child by disciplinary beating; and unintentionally causing living beings to die due to their falling into fire. When killing occurs under these five circumstances there will not be any stain.
“Further, killing may take place, again in three ways, by contracting others to do it, by performing the deed oneself, or by both of these methods.
“What is understood by a complete act of stealing? A spiritual practitioner, who observes and adheres to the Dharma, may understand this through having received teachings or having seen it to be the case by means of the divine eye. A complete act of stealing is to rob something that belongs to another with the intention of making it one’s own.
“Which acts of this kind will have a minor effect? If one takes what was not given due to compliance with a royal decree; or if one takes what was not given for the sake of one’s guru, one’s sick parents, a solitary buddha, a worthy one, a non-returner, a stream enterer, or the like; or if one does so for the sake of the sick or the hungry. In such cases there will be a minor ripening of the act. Such cases of taking what was not given, when performed by someone who has not taken vows to take what was not given, also involve only a minor ripening. Minor effects will also arise when one takes what was not given, but then mentally confesses, feels remorse, and abstains in the future, and when one prevents others from taking what was not given, confers vows upon them, [F.85.b] establishes them upon the path, and establishes them in the practice of abstaining from taking what was not given. Similarly, only minor effects occur when the preparations, act, or conclusion is incomplete.
“What are the preparations for stealing? They involve deceiving the victim, giving secret instructions, engaging in fraud, or some other form of inappropriate activity. What is the act itself? It is to take the possessions of another without them being given. What is the act’s conclusion? This consists in rejoicing in, becoming habituated to, and increasing the act; rejoicing in the act while keeping it hidden; and making other disciplined individuals engage in such an act. When a misdeed of stealing lacks any of these three aspects, which include preparations and conclusion, its effect will be minor and experienced in indeterminate ways.
“What is sexual misconduct? This is understood by a spiritual practitioner who observes phenomena. Such a person will see that sexual misconduct occurs when one penetrates one’s own wife, or another man’s wife, through an opening other than the vagina, or when one rejoices in others performing such an act, or when one makes others engage in it even while refraining from doing so oneself.
“In which cases will the effects of sexual misconduct be minor? When the act is regretted and confessed, when one does not rejoice in it, when one discourages others from engaging in sexual misconduct and establishes them on the path, and when the preparation or conclusion is incomplete. When such factors of intention and discipline are present [F.86.a] the effects of an act of sexual misconduct will be minor and their experience indeterminate. When the three misdeeds of the body are of this kind their effects are lesser and weak.
“Only those who hear these points from my hearers or from myself will understand the whole matter of karmic actions and their ripening effects. Thus, they will not be swayed by the accounts of others, but become independent. These points are not realized by wandering non-Buddhist practitioners. Neither are they realized by the world with its gods; nor by the māras; nor by Brahmā, mendicants, and brahmins; nor by gods, humans, and asuras.
“What are the misdeeds of speech? Spiritual practitioners who understand phenomena, as well as karmic actions and their maturation, will know that there are four misdeeds of speech: lying, divisive talk, harsh words, and chatter.
“What is lying? Lying is to deceive oneself and others. Thus, when one expresses false complaints before a king or minister and so unjustly brings harm or ruin upon others, that constitutes a complete verbal misdeed of lying. Such acts lead sentient beings to experience life in hell.
“What is the misdeed of speech known as divisive talk? If, with the intention to sow discord, one speaks to a group that is otherwise in agreement on a certain subject, that is a verbal misdeed of divisive talk. How can the effects of divisive talk be lessened? By confession, thinking, ‘In my delusion I have done wrong!’; by hindering those who delight in sowing discord and by establishing them on the path; or by refraining from the act’s preparations or conclusion.
“What are the preparations for such an act? [F.86.b] They consist in speaking to others out of a delight in sowing discord and the affliction of haughtiness. What is the course of action in terms of divisive talk? It is to repeatedly rejoice and delight in disharmony based on an aggressive mind. When is the conclusion of such an act complete? It is complete when one rejoices in a performed act of divisive talk; when one anticipates further, repeated engagements in such acts with excitement and pleasure; and when one does not wish to rectify this inclination. This mental state is one of aggression. When examined by others, one will be deemed untrustworthy and scorned. Such an act exposes one as being shameless and without any sense of embarrassment or self-criticism. This is the verbal misdeed of divisive talk.
“What is the misdeed of harsh words? Spiritual practitioners who see phenomena, karmic actions, and their origin will understand this by means of knowledge derived from hearing. In this regard, harsh words bring harm to oneself and impact others by creating the occasion for them to hear unpleasant words. Such acts ripen in various ways, depending on whether they were concealed or confessed, or whether they were done in a spirit of jest or malice. The severe forms of harsh words cause the experience of life in hell, yet through confession the resultant experience can become indeterminate. This is the third verbal misdeed. The preparations, conclusion, and full possession are as described above.
“What is the fourth verbal misdeed? Spiritual practitioners who comprehend numerous forms of karmic action, phenomena, and ripening recognize chatter to be pointless and unrelated babble. The resultant experiences are indeterminate, and the act involves less evil. [F.87.a] Such is the fourth verbal misdeed.
“What are mental misdeeds, and how many of them are there? Spiritual practitioners who consider karmic action, phenomena, and ripening know by means of knowledge derived from hearing that there are three mental misdeeds. They understand that covetousness occurs when one sees the possessions of others, and that gives rise to thinking, craving, and the idea that ‘those things should be mine.’ Such covetousness is the first among the mental misdeeds.
“There is also ill will, which is to give rise to a hostile and aggressive state of mind when seeing others’ agreeable circumstances. That is the second mental misdeed.
“The third mental misdeed is wrong view, a mistaken perception of things. This has two aspects: denying what is, and misunderstanding. Denying what is means to deny the relevance of such things as generosity, fire offerings, and sacrificial worship, or that good and bad deeds will ripen into karmic consequences. Misunderstanding is the belief that happiness and suffering are bestowed by gods and not the result of karmic action. That is the second form of wrong view.
“If one resorts to, becomes habituated to, and increases these ten misdeeds that pertain to body, speech, and mind, their consequences may become certain as they ripen in the present life. The karmic effects may also be experienced in accordance with the causal actions following one’s death and rebirth into another realm, or they may be experienced in various ways following rebirth in this realm. How is that? A spiritual practitioner who considers karmic action, phenomena, and ripening will understand this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye.
“Killing is the first of the misdeeds of the body. If one resorts to, becomes habituated to, and increases the amount of killing, one will take birth in the realms of hell beings, [F.87.b] animals, or starving spirits. Even if one is born among humans, sharing in their good fortune, one will have a short life. If, for example, one is a hunter who has killed due to attachment, one will suffer a downfall because of that. Having become a deer, pig, partridge, chicken, pheasant, fish, or the like, one will be killed by a trap or a hook. Such are the causal relationships associated with the acts of killing in cyclic existence. Even if one is born among humans, sharing in their good fortune, one’s life will be short. One will not be born in a land of wise people and instead one’s birthplace will be plagued by many armed conflicts. There, one will soon be killed. Here is a verse on lesser, intermediate, and severe killing:
“Resorting to, becoming habituated to, and increasing acts of stealing yields three forms of ripening: the experience of life in hell, present life consequences, and concordant effects in future lives. What are these like? Spiritual practitioners who consider karmic action, phenomena, and ripening perceive this based on the knowledge derived from hearing. If one resorts to, becomes habituated to, and increases acts of stealing, one will take birth in the realms of hell beings, animals, or starving spirits. Even if one is born among humans, sharing in their good fortune, one will be destitute. Whatever enjoyable things one might have will be taken by punitive legislation, water, fire, weapons, robbers, or thieves. Thus, whatever one may have gathered will be wasted and what is obtained will not yield any enjoyment. [F.88.a] These are the three effects of stealing.
“What are the three effects of resorting to, becoming habituated to, and increasing acts of sexual misconduct? Spiritual practitioners who observe karmic action, phenomena, and ripening will perceive the following either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye. If one resorts to, becomes habituated to, and increases acts of sexual misconduct, one will take birth in the realms of hell beings, animals, or starving spirits. If one is born as a human, the causally concordant effect will be such that one’s spouse is disrespectful, one becomes a hermaphrodite, or one is held in contempt by the world.
“Such are the threefold effects of the ripening of the three physical misdeeds. However, the wandering non-Buddhist practitioners do not accept any of this, from the physical misdeeds up to and including their ripening. Why is that? Because those who develop and cultivate ignorance do not perceive my teaching on karmic action, phenomena, and ripening. However, my hearers and my spiritual practitioners do see this.
“Furthermore, what is meant by a spoken or verbal misdeed? What forms does it assume? Spiritual practitioners who abide by the observation of phenomena perceive four verbal misdeeds by means of knowledge derived from hearing: lying, divisive talk, harsh words, and chatter. If one resorts to, becomes habituated to, and increases acts of lying one will take birth in the realms of hell beings, animals, or starving spirits. Even if one is born among humans, sharing in their good fortune, others will disregard what one has to say. Nobody will listen, whether in royal courts, among householders, [F.88.b] amid the nobility, or even in the company of one’s own children and spouse. One’s breath will carry a foul odor, and one’s teeth, mouth, complexion, and skin will be unpleasant to behold. Mistreated by all worldly individuals, one will live in perpetual fear. Family, friends, and loved ones will be unreliable. All projects one undertakes will come to naught, and one will instead be driven to pursue all sorts of meaningless activities. Such are the unattractive, ugly, and unpleasant karmic effects of the act of lying.
“What are the effects of resorting to, becoming habituated to, and increasing the second verbal misdeed? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe phenomena perceive this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye. If one resorts to, becomes habituated to, and increases divisive talk one will take birth in the realms of hell beings, animals, or starving spirits. Even if one is born among human beings, sharing in their good fortune, one may be dumb, deaf, or suffer from bad breath. Nobody will trust one’s words and one will become the laughingstock of all. One’s facial complexion will be unattractive. One will be unable to feel at ease at any single location. One’s mind will be restless yet rigid. Such is the misdeed of divisive talk.
“What are the effects of resorting to, becoming habituated to, and increasing harsh words? These are understood either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye. If one resorts to, becomes habituated to, and increases harsh words, one will take birth in the realms of hell beings, animals, or starving spirits. Even if one is born among humans, sharing in their good fortune, one will not be consoled by anyone. Constantly the target of everyone’s abuse, [F.89.a] one will not be offered relief by anyone. Not a single word of appreciation will come from one’s own children or spouse. Like a deer, one will have to live in fear of all humans. Without access to spiritual teachers, one will fall in with bad company. These three are the effects of harsh words.
“What is it like to resort to, become habituated to, and increase the misdeed of chatter? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena17 will perceive this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye. When resorting to, becoming habituated to, and increasing chatter, one will end up in the realms of hell beings, animals, or starving spirits. Even if one is born among humans, sharing in their good fortune, one will not be appreciated by others but will be considered unimportant. Whether at the royal palace or in the homes of family and friends, one will be looked at as one gone mad. Such is the misdeed of chatter.
“What is it like to resort to, become habituated to, and increase the three mental misdeeds? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena will understand this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye. If one resorts to, becomes habituated to, and increases covetousness, one will take birth in the realms of hell beings, animals, or starving spirits. Even if one is born among humans, sharing in their good fortune, all that one accumulates will be seized by the authorities, or destroyed by water or fire. Thus, one will live in constant poverty.
“What is it like to resort to, become habituated to, and increase the mental misdeed of ill will? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena will perceive this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye. When resorting to, [F.89.b] becoming habituated to, and increasing ill will, one will end up in the realms of hell beings, animals, or starving spirits. Even if one is born among humans, sharing in their good fortune, one will be born in rocky mountains, among barbarians who are constantly afflicted by armed conflict, and one will live in permanent fear. Continuously one will suffer from falling down into a precipices. One’s mind will never be at ease and all sorts of harm will continuously befall one.
“What is it like to resort to, become habituated to, and increase the mental misdeed of wrong view? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena will perceive this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye. Resorting to, becoming habituated to, and increasing wrong views will lead to the experience of the whole gamut of suffering that is associated with life in hells such as that of Ultimate Torment. Moreover, one will go from one animal life to the next billions of times, and the same will occur within the realm of starving spirits. In the rare event that one is born among humans and shares the fortune of humans, one will nevertheless encounter thousands of variations of the flaws that are taught with respect to these unvirtuous actions.
“Moreover, when one contemplates the very subtle aspects of the ten unvirtuous actions in other ways, one will understand how they lead sentient beings to roam through the realms of hell beings, starving spirits, and animals. Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena perceive this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye.
“In this regard, you may wonder how one may resort to, become habituated to, and increase acts of killing.
“Regarding the first of these, one may associate with negative companions, students, or friends who kill. One may enjoy their company, fool around with them, work with them, and stay with them. One may find such people trustworthy and in possession of good qualities, [F.90.a] and thus adopt their behavior. Unvirtuous teachers and students who have the habit of killing people will tell all sorts of stories to justify killing. These are not the path and only lead others to indulge in killing. In this manner, they may tell stories about sacrificial offerings, stories about wild game, or wicked stories based on their gustatory cravings. Similarly, they may tell stories about retaliation against hostile adversaries or relations, or stories based on their craving for these people’s belongings. Similarly, taking great in delight in affliction, they will tell stories based on their craving for material things or about deeds for acquiring fame. In these ways, they lead others on. If one trusts and adheres to such people, one may also end up resorting to killing. Resorting to killing results in entering the realms of hell beings, starving spirits, and animals. Such effects are unattractive, ugly, and unpleasant, and are condemned by all wise people. Even if one is born human, one’s life will be short. Thus, the taking of life stemming from a wicked teacher makes one become totally habituated to killing.
“What does it mean to become habituated to unwholesome people? Based on the taking of life that is influenced by unwholesome people as just described, one rejoices in, appreciates, contemplates, and condones acts of killing. Setting one’s mind on killing, one succeeds in slaying others by numerous means. Without counting it as a fault and condemning it, one delights in killing and does not refrain from it. In this way, killing becomes second nature. Those who otherwise have the habit of not killing will be drawn into the practice of killing. One will also engage in the kinds of conversation, and so on, alluded to previously. This is what it is like to grow habituated to killing. [F.90.b]
“What does it mean to increase killing? Once habituated to killing in the way just described, one may associate with evil companions and thereby greatly expand one’s murderous activities. Thus, one may craft poisonous arrows, gather dogs and raptors, and accept the protection of barbarous people. Fond of warfare, one may wear chain mail, weapons, swords, lances, axes, disks, helmets, and so on—thus adopting all possible instruments for killing others. Such is the person who increases killing.
“Through such causes, bases, and conditions one will be born in the realms of hell beings, animals, and starving spirits, and so be tormented by unbearable harm. Based on whether one’s killing was minor, intermediate, or severe, there will be a corresponding experience of minor, intermediate, or severe ripening.
“Whenever an act has been carried out and accumulated it will also ripen. Therefore, acts that were done by oneself will also be experienced by oneself. Hence, if one has become disenchanted with cyclic existence one should give up evil acts and pursue what is virtuous. These are the explanations of resorting to, becoming habituated to, and increasing the taking of life.
“How does one resort to, become habituated to, and increase acts of stealing? How does resorting to, becoming habituated to, and increasing such acts lead to the experience of life in hell?
“People whose discipline has degenerated will naturally be disposed to thievery. When they associate with negative companions or students they will engage in minor, intermediate, or great acts of stealing. Minor acts of stealing occur as described earlier, when one takes others’ possessions out of fear of otherwise being punished by the authorities. Intermediate acts occur [F.91.a] when one steals smaller things as long as one does not steal from a field of excellence. Even if a minor thing is taken from the Buddha, Dharma, or Saṅgha, the result will be great. However, if one has improperly taken from the Buddha, Dharma, or Saṅgha but later makes proportionate offerings to them, the negative act can be purified, especially in the case of the Buddha and the Dharma. If one steals from the saṅgha, it cannot be purified without experiencing some painful effects because the saṅgha is a field with a particularly strong karmic charge. If one steals a means of sustenance from the congregation one will fall into the great hells. If one steals something else from the congregation, one will instead be born in one of the hells that surround that of Ultimate Torment, such as Great Darkness.18
“If one takes up, resorts to, rejoices in, becomes habituated to, and increases stealing, even minor forms of stealing will lead to birth among hell beings, animals, and starving spirits. If one does not develop attachment to and rejoice in the act, and instead regrets it, the ripening will become indeterminate.
“What is meant by becoming habituated to stealing? Having obtained something that was stolen, one may rejoice and delight in the robbers and thieves, and happily consume or employ what was stolen. Considering such conduct to be a good quality, one may encourage and help others to steal. This is becoming habituated to stealing.
“How is stealing increased? This occurs when one steals in order to enjoy linens, food, drink, [F.91.b] clothing, jewelry, beverages, prostitutes, and ornaments. Delighted, one may think, ‘Among all pleasures, those which comes from stealing are the best!’ With such thoughts one enjoys linens, food, drink, clothing, jewelry, beverages, prostitutes, and ornaments. Thinking, ‘I must continue stealing because it brings me so much pleasure,’ one then proceeds as described above. This is what it means to increase the act of stealing and as a result of that it is certain that sentient beings will experience life in a hell.
“What does it mean to resort to, become habituated to, and increase acts of sexual misconduct? Overcome by an inappropriate mentality, one may become a type of being with a propensity for desire such as a swallow, duck, pheasant, parrot, peafowl, partridge, fish, or smoky creatures.19 When such beings die and transfer out of the family of asuras they may be born among humans and associate with bad companions who are full of desire. With them they may then have inappropriate sexual relationships. Being mistaken in these two ways, they are filled with attachment, and they act in inappropriate ways to sate their insatiable desires. This makes it impossible for the gandharvas, otherwise destined to be born there, to take birth, because it desecrates the birthplace. Such are the reasons why sexual misconduct, which is based on improper desire, is a misdeed.
“Resorting to sexual misconduct occurs when a person with an inordinate desire for carnal contact [F.92.a] indulges in such acts and continuously repeats them, finding intense gratification in physical sensations. What does it mean to become habituated to sexual misconduct? This refers to repeatedly engaging in sexual misconduct and thinking about it, becoming so infatuated with it that one gives up other pleasures only to focus on sexual misconduct and the object of one’s desire. What is meant by increasing sexual misconduct? Infantile, ordinary beings consumed by inappropriate mental activity feel that sexual misconduct is the best thing possible and they think that it is a mistake to classify such behavior as a form of misconduct. Instead they regard sexual misconduct as a supreme quality and therefore encourage many others to engage in it. That is what it means to increase sexual misconduct. These three physical misdeeds are unvirtuous actions in which infantile, ordinary beings engage.
“Lying is to deceive oneself and others, for by speaking lies one does indeed deceive both oneself and others. There are five causes for lying: desire, anger, fear, personal gain, and indoctrination into the prescribed practices of a misguided religion. How does one lie? Whether at the royal court, in an assembly of householders, or among one’s relatives, one may lie to both those who are dear to oneself and those who are not. One may lie to those who are dear to oneself out of desire and to those who are not dear to oneself [F.92.b] out of anger. One may also lie for the sake of personal gain and for the sake of wealth.
“Moreover, indoctrination into the prescribed practices of a misguided religion is also a way of lying. For example, brahmins may declare that lying will not carry any blemish as long as it is done to obtain desirable qualities, or to safeguard one’s wealth, protect one’s life, or obtain a bride. Such declarations are a form of lying by means of indoctrination into the discipline of a misguided religion, and through such indoctrination into ignorant and wrong views one will come to live in an unbearable hell. Since lying plants the seeds of the hell realms it is best to entirely avoid any form of lying, even at the expense of one’s own life or that of others.
“One may also tell lies out of fear, as when someone thinks, ‘Unless I lie now, I may expose my life to serious danger for no reason.’ In such cases one lies motivated by fear.
“Thus, these five factors cause infantile beings to lie. All of them are based on delusion.
“At this point, there are some verses:
“Therefore, regardless of the causes and conditions, one should refrain from lying and should not rejoice in lies told by others, either.
“Nor should one seek out, take part in, or participate in conversations with liars, [F.93.a] lest others will think that one is a liar oneself. Thus, if one befriends people who are fond of tainted activities, others will come to think of oneself as tainted as well. That is to say, one ought not keep negative company. Negative company leads to bondage in cyclic existence and birth in the realms of hell beings, starving spirits, and animals. Virtuous company, on the other hand, leads to supreme liberation. This is a brief explanation of lying.
“What is divisive talk and what forms does it assume? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena perceive this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye. Divisive talk occurs when words are spoken to sow discord among those who otherwise enjoyed harmonious relationships. There are two forms of divisive talk: direct and indirect. That is to say, one might instruct someone to cause a rift among two people so that they become enemies or adversaries, or one might also seek to do so personally.
“What then are harsh words, and what forms do they assume? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena perceive this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye. Harsh words are harmful to oneself and others. They are the concordant cause of anger, and they are unattractive, ugly, and unpleasant to listen to. They involve desire, anger, and delusion, and they are engaged in by all infantile, ordinary individuals. They take numerous forms and involve numerous observations, causes, mental states, and types of ripening, as well as numerous ways of destroying the joyful destinations. [F.93.b] They make everyone unhappy and they cause and support anger in the world. They provoke destruction, breed distrust and unkindness, and emerge from a poisonous tongue. Thus, the stains of harsh words are to be avoided by all who practice pure conduct.
“At this point, there are some verses:
“Moreover, spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena understand chatter, the fourth verbal misdeed. What forms does chatter assume? Chatter is unrelated babble, the expression of random words based on shallow thinking. Some forms of chatter are careless, whereas others are not. By engaging in chatter, one will be considered untrustworthy in this life, and the people of the world will despise one’s course of activities. Chatter is pointless prattle, [F.94.b] and thus one ought to refrain from either directly or indirectly engaging in, or rejoicing in, this fourth verbal stain. And neither should one keep company with those who engage in chatter.
“Among these, covetousness is the state of being mentally and verbally obsessed with the substances and features of wealth procured by others, thinking, ‘This should be mine!’ Covetousness is that form of inappropriate mental engagement that is an impulsive reaction to, and craving for, the fine circumstances of others. Covetousness is an unvirtuous action, and its ripening is unattractive, ugly, and unpleasant. Covetousness fools restless and untrained, childish beings by creating a compulsive obsession with the fine circumstances of others. Thus, one seeks to obtain their fine circumstances, repeatedly and all-encompassingly, while wishing for and craving them to the extent that the very perception of such circumstances becomes painful. This is covetousness, a great stain among mental actions.
“How does the mental state of ill will constitute a negative course of action? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by means of the divine eye. They see how the illusory mental flaw of ill will may arise21 when observing others, regardless of whether they are excellent or not. Thus, one might act as one pleases with regard to that illusion,22 and so sustain an extremely severe mental flaw. Such ill will leads to the experience of life in hell. It is like hail to the crops of virtuous qualities [F.95.a] and is antithetical to the eye of true insight. This fire within the heart of darkness burns away spiritual discipline. It is a cause of ugliness and cuts through the supports for the Dharma. It is the enemy of both this world and the worlds to come. It destroys one-pointedness, combats love, and demolishes the noble one’s four truths of suffering, origin, path, and cessation. Ill will is the supreme harbinger of life in hell. Ill will is therefore abandoned by all holy beings, noble hearers, and people in pursuit of learning.
“What is the function of wrong view, this darkness that grows in the hearts of beings in the form of negative beliefs that run counter to the sacred Dharma? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena perceive this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by seeing with the divine eye. Wrong view has been present and has arisen since time without beginning. It is the cause of becoming a hell being, a starving spirit, or an animal. It is pitch-black darkness. It is a fondness for negative beliefs. It is antithetical to the genuine path. It is like a weapon, fire, poison, and an abyss. It destroys all beings. It is a view that is wrong and mistaken.
“There are two kinds of wrong view: those that accept the existence of conditions and those that deny karmic actions and results. To accept conditions is to claim that all happiness and suffering is the result of actions carried out by oneself. To deny karmic actions and results is to deny the relevance of generosity, and so forth. Thus, as the basis of all ten unvirtuous actions, [F.95.b] wrong view functions as the fundamental destroyer of all meaningful objectives. [B2]
“Having turned away from the path of these ten unvirtuous actions, how does one instead engage in defiled or undefiled acts? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this either through knowledge derived from hearing or by means of the divine eye. Unvirtuous actions lead to bondage in cyclic existence and the exhaustion of Dharma. Virtue, on the other hand, is what causes liberation. Giving up killing, one gives freedom from fear to all the beings in cyclic existence. One will be praised in the present life, have a beautiful countenance, enjoy bright faculties, and carry out acts that engender longevity. Those who day and night protect even harmful creatures such as rākṣasas, piśācas, or kumbhāṇḍas of different kinds will thereafter be protected by the gods, and when they separate from their bodies, they will be born in the joyful divine realms. If you want to experience the effect of such ripening, then know that such experience is proportionate to your diligence.
“If one wishes to experience the minor, intermediate, or great paths of awakening, then this is how they follow. Dedication toward the awakening of a hearer will turn one into a worthy one and one will go completely beyond suffering. Dedication toward intermediate awakening will make one a solitary buddha. If one’s dedication is toward unsurpassable and perfect awakening, one will become a perfect buddha. Endowed with knowledge and its support, one will become a well-gone one, [F.96.a] a knower of the world, a steersman who tames beings, an unexcelled one, a teacher of gods and humans, a blessed buddha.
“Life is the root of all qualities. Hence, protecting life is a gift that grants all forms of happiness. Among all forms of generosity, the mental state of wishing to give life is supreme. Among all forms of discipline, the discipline of giving life is the supreme way to gain rebirth in the higher realms. If the practice of such discipline is dedicated toward the enjoyment of objects that serve as causes of affliction and craving, then one will become Brahmā, Māra, or Śakra. If it is dedicated to becoming a great human being, then one will become a universal monarch, possessing the seven treasures and ruling the four continents. If it is dedicated to becoming a great asura, one will rule the realm of the asuras. If it is dedicated to becoming a great yakṣa one will rule the realm of the yakṣas. This great compassion is the seed of the sacred Dharma. It is a protection against cyclic existence and a lamp for those who are lost in the darkness of cyclic existence. Such is the practice of refraining from killing. By giving up killing one cultivates love and becomes a compassionate being. Deciding to refrain from killing brings purity and joy. When one is unable to actually save others, one should remain impartial. This will make one’s mind rest in the four abodes of Brahmā.
“In essence, the roots of virtue that ensue from having given up killing are inconceivable because they accomplish whatever aim one may dedicate them to in whatever applicable way. As an analogy, when an expert goldsmith works with fine gold, [F.96.b] he can turn it into anything he wants: ornaments, vases, human figures, or buddha figures. Similarly, someone who guards against killing and maintains that practice unerringly without violating it may accomplish whatever aim he or she is dedicated to in whatever applicable way. Thus, those who give up killing are close to the transcendence of suffering. They will enjoy the company of spiritual teachers and possess the fortune of benefiting themselves and others. They are a field of merit for hell beings, animals, and starving spirits. Within cyclic existence they possess and follow the Dharma. They will accomplish the ideals of those who possess the Dharma and also become stable in this accomplishment. They are not frightened or oppressed by rulers, robbers, water, or fire. Rather, they find joy within. They are seen as unassailable by other peers who possess the Dharma. Thus, killing should be given up.
“What goodness comes of refraining from stealing? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. By giving up stealing one will escape the net of great avarice for objects owned by others. One will find relief in the present life. Taken into confidence by kings and ministers, as well as by courts, households, noble families, monastic congregations, and priestly gatherings, one will be regarded as delightful, dear, attractive, and authoritative. [F.97.a] The enjoyments of such a person will be constant. And without bringing harm to others, one will have no fear of rulers, water, robbers, or fire. Unanticipated, such enjoyments will arise spontaneously. Once these have arisen, one will be a field of merit, embody discipline, embark upon a good path, and develop close ties with worldly beings. Furthermore, when separating from the body one will be born in the joyful divine realms. If the merit of this is dedicated by means of the path of deliverance, one will find deliverance and, in the same way as before, become a Brahmā, Māra, Śakra, or a universal monarch who rules the four continents and possesses the seven treasures. Likewise, those who delight in discipline will attain their respective forms of awakening.
“What are the effects of giving up sexual misconduct? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. Giving up sexual misconduct leads to good deeds and virtuous action. One will be praised and trusted in the present life. One will not feel nervous around women. Kings and ministers will take one into their confidence. One’s spouse will never be stolen by someone else, but always act with respect and in accordance with one’s own intentions. Even in hard times there will not be any mockery, disrespect, or inclination to attack one another. One’s spouse will not be blamed by anyone and she will act like a mother or sister to the whole world, [F.97.b] being free from any anger at the world.
“As before, when separating from one’s body, one will take birth within the joyful divine realms. When later the time has come to die in that god realm, one will be reborn as another god there. If, on the other hand, one has engaged in sexual misconduct, another god will, while one is still alive in that realm, be born among the divine maidens and become visible to them. The divine maidens will then jest, smile, and have fun with that god. Later, when one’s wife sees one is dying, she will abandon one to be with that other god. Thus, caught by the shackles of envy, one will take birth as a hell being. Resorting to, becoming habituated to, and increasing acts of sexual misconduct is a great obstacle. Therefore, giving up sexual misconduct will allow one to follow the great path of virtue and gain the fortune to transcend suffering.
“By giving up lying, which is incompatible with all virtuous inclinations, one upholds highly virtuous inclination. What, then, are the ripened effects of this in this present life? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. By giving up lying one will be trusted even by people who have never seen or heard of oneself. Should one be lacking in terms of wealth, all one’s wishes will be fulfilled by both the people and the king. Like the moon that shines brightly in the midst of the other planets and celestial bodies, those who speak the truth will shine brightly amid all worldly people. Among all jewels, the great jewel of the truth is supreme and sublime. Among all that liberates us from all cycles of existence, the liberator of the truth is particularly exalted. [F.98.a] Among all that turns us away from the lower realms, the repellent of the truth is supreme. Truth is the lamp of all lamps and the guide of all guides. Among all forms of substance, it is the substance of truth that removes the sickness of others. Truth is the force among all forces, the protector among all protectors, and the most exalted among all friends.
Those who possess the wealth of truth will never experience the poverty of falling into the lower realms. Instead, they will be close to the gods. Wherever such people are born they will take birth in a fine family and have an excellent physique. Everyone will find them appealing, delightful, attractive, and trustworthy. Such people will be imperceptible to rākṣasas and piśācas, and invulnerable to their harm. Whenever such people travel they will find plentiful and excellent lodging and medical treatment. Anything they may wish for will be fulfilled. Such people will experience supreme human happiness and, when the time of their death comes, they will separate from their bodies only to be born in the joyous divine realms, where they will enjoy extremely long lives, tremendous miraculous powers, and an exceedingly exalted status. Just as before, if one dedicates this in a pure and undefiled manner, it will bring the liberation of transcending suffering.
“As one practices virtuous actions, what are the effects of giving up divisive talk, as they ripen in this life and beyond? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. The ripened effect that is experienced in this life due to giving up divisive talk [F.98.b] is to have steadfast friends, acquaintances, relatives, spouses, male servants, female servants, workers, and employees. One will not be led along by others, and none among one’s friends, the members of the royal court, or discordant relatives will be able to create any factions. Should one lose one’s wealth, one will not become destitute. Neither will one suffer any loss when encountering famine, isolated places, mountains, precipices, or temporary adversities. Should one criticize others, one will not be persecuted. At the royal court one will prevail, and one will not have any fear of water, weapons, or animosity. Such are the qualities associated with giving up the great stain that is divisive talk. Having died and separated from the body, one will be born in the joyful and divine higher realms. There great gatherings of affectionate goddesses of similar ilk will please one with flower garlands, colored powders, perfumes, and jewelry. Just as before, if one’s relinquishment of divisive talk is dedicated in a pure and undefiled manner, one will achieve the transcendence of suffering through the path of undefiled concentration.
“Speaking harsh words is an unvirtuous action that saddens the entire world. What are the effects that ripen by giving up harsh words? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. Those who give up harsh words come to witness what is virtuous. Such people are naturally honest and a source of comfort. [F.99.a] They are esteemed by the whole world. They speak gently and pleasantly, while refraining from harming anyone and bringing everyone comfort. When such people are seen in the distance, everyone wants to approach them. Such people have many friends, and even if they lack material wealth, everyone will act like servants toward them. Even if they should happen to disturb anyone, others will not abandon them. All their objectives will be accomplished without any trouble. Such people will never have to fear animosity, the authorities, water, fire, or weapons. When they later separate from their bodies, they will take birth among the gods in the joyful and divine higher realms. Even then, their words will be gentle, beneficial, and delightful, and they will possess great miracles and great powers. As before, if this is dedicated in an undefiled manner toward the blissful abode of the concentration of deliverance, one will attain the three kinds of awakening.
“Which effects of giving up the unvirtuous action of chatter will be attained in this life, and what form of rebirth does such relinquishment lead to? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. Those who give up chatter will be of a pure family and held in high esteem. Their words will be meaningful and greatly appreciated by everyone. They will never be punished for verbal mistakes. Their speech will be perfectly articulate and respected in the world. Thus, their words will be calm, beautiful, clear, meaningful, gentle, profound, and never in conflict with the way things are. The world will regard them as teachers [F.99.b] and their wealth will be secure. Others will acknowledge their relinquishment of error as an excellent quality, and they will be inspired to uphold such virtues themselves. When they separate from their bodies, such people will take birth in the joyful higher realms. Once born there they will be held in regard by all the gods. Their miraculous powers will be great, and they will enjoy unparalleled divine pleasures. As before, if this is dedicated toward the blissful concentration of undefiled purification, one will achieve the three kinds of awakening.
“Thus, by giving up the three physical and four verbal forms of unvirtuous action one will eventually transcend suffering. Such causes of virtuous action will also yield praise within the world and rebirth among the gods. These are the causal factors and ripened effects of authentic physical and verbal action as perceived by spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena and are authentic within.
“How may mental action be virtuous? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. By stopping the three unvirtuous mental acts one will, as the result of such virtue, experience happiness in this life and, when separating from the body, take birth among the gods in the joyful higher realms. Furthermore, if one becomes disenchanted with cyclic existence, it will cause one to enter the field of nirvāṇa without any remainder of the aggregates.
“The three mental acts are covetousness, ill will, and wrong view. Among these three unvirtuous courses of action, what effects will be ripened by specifically giving up covetousness? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing [F.100.a] or through the divine eye. By giving up covetousness one will not harbor any intent to take possession of the diverse and abundant wealth of kings or royal ministers. Should the wealth of such a person be lost, those who find it will return it, even if they are in a superior position. Those who abandon covetousness will always be wealthy and never subjugated by others. When they separate from their bodies, such people will take birth among the gods in the joyful higher realms. Thus, born as gods, no asura will be able to defeat them in the battles between gods and asuras. No asura will be able to strike them, or even simply mock them. They will never be shunned by the other gods, who will always regard them as agreeable, delightful, and attractive. They will experience unparalleled sounds, textures, tastes, forms, and scents. As before, if this is dedicated toward the effect of the undefiled concentration of deliverance, one will attain the three kinds of awakening.
“What effects of virtuous action will be attained by giving up the unvirtuous action of ill will? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. By giving up ill will, one will be wealthy and happy in the present life. Everybody will regard one with joy and delight. Nobody will be able to inflict great and unbearable terror, misfortune, or harm. One will not have to fear the authorities, robbers and thieves, falling into an abyss, other people, injury, deceit, floods, or many other such unpleasant terrors. [F.100.b] Thus one will be free from fear and misfortune. Everybody will look upon one with appreciation and delight. Everyone, whether evil or good, will show one affection as if one were their own child or sibling.
“When separating from the body, one will take birth among the gods in the joyful higher realms. There, one will master great miraculous feats and powers, and enjoy a wealth of delightful forms, sounds, and textures. One will enjoy delightful parks, perfectly arrayed and of the most beautiful kind. In sprawling gardens filled with delights one will be the center of attention for great gatherings of goddesses, and no god will be able to bring any harm upon one’s body, voice, or mind. Instead, hundreds of thousands of gods will make one happy, and one will be as successful, attractive, happy, and appealing as Śakra, king of the gods. Never afflicted by the warfare between gods and asuras, one will remain free from all conflicts.
“When this is dedicated without affliction toward the supramundane path of deliverance, one will, after dying as a god, become a universal monarch who holds sway over the four continents and partakes of the seven treasures. Those seven treasures are as follows:
(1) The precious lady whose body emits a scent of sandalwood and incense powder, while her mouth is redolent of blue lotuses. She is as delightful to touch as the kaliṅga bird. This is a bird inhabiting islands in the ocean that has such power that whoever touches it is freed from physical discomfort. Thus, the people who live on those islands are free from all hunger, thirst, and ailments. When the universal monarch beholds the precious lady, who is similar to that kaliṅga bird, the sight of her warms him during winter and cools him during summer. [F.101.a] All the while, no one but the monarch himself is allowed to touch her. As a result of having given up ill will, this precious lady pursues virtuous actions such that anyone who understands virtue will regard her as their mother or sister. The monarch is dear to her and she treats him with respect. She loves him and follows him joyfully.
“The precious lady is free of the following five flaws of a woman: having interest in other men, being stingy, having unreasonable attachments, taking inappropriate pleasures, and killing the lord of the household. Instead the precious lady has these five qualities: she is obliging, bears many sons, is friendly, is of high status, and is not jealous when the lord of the household shows interest in other women. She also possesses three further qualities of great women: she refrains from idle talk, avoids wrong views, and does not fall under the power of sounds, smells, tastes, or textures, even when her husband is absent. As the result of this, once she separates from her body, she is born among the gods in the joyful higher realms. That is the precious lady belonging to the universal monarch.
(2) “What else characterizes the universal monarch, an attainment that is due to the ripening of the virtuous action of relinquishing the great stain of ill will? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. By giving up severe ill will, which is the concordant cause for other unvirtuous actions, one will come to enjoy the second treasure, the precious jewel. [F.101.b] Such a jewel is endowed with eight qualities. It shines at night, like the full moon in autumn. Just like the radiant autumn moon, the precious jewel illumines the darkest of nights and it bathes everything within a hundred leagues in its light. Those tormented by heat during the day are cooled by the jewel’s soothing light. Thus, cooling others is the jewel’s first quality. As for the second quality, when travelers suffer from thirst, rivers of water endowed with eight qualities will gush forth from the jewel, quenching everyone’s thirst. That is the jewel’s second quality. Third, whatever the monarch may want, the jewel will provide. That is its third quality. Fourth, the jewel has eight facets, and from each one of them shines multicolored light: blue, yellow, white, red, and the color of madder. Fifth, all diseases will be healed within a hundred leagues of the jewel. The minds of everyone will enter equipoise, and no wish will go unfulfilled. Sixth, the jewel prevents evil nāgas from causing calamities. Seventh, those lost in deserts, ravines, and wilderness, and those who lack trees or a place to stay, will all find perfect trees, ponds, lotuses, forests, and meadows. The jewel’s eighth quality is that it prevents untimely death among humans as well as rebirth in the animal realm. [F.102.a] Also, animals will not harm each other, even if they belong to opposing species, as in the case of mongooses and snakes. Thus, the jewel is endowed with these eight great qualities. Moreover, due to the ripening of the universal monarch’s practice of giving up ill will, he will father a thousand sons, each of them bold and heroic, endowed with supreme physiques, conquerors of enemy armies. All of them will follow through on their plans, be endowed with the Dharma, and act in accordance with the Dharma. They will be in harmony with their family, and everyone around them will regard them with natural joy and affection.
(3) “How does the precious wheel, which is the third result of giving up ill will, manifest within the world? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. They perceive a precious wheel endowed with five qualities. As for the first quality, the wheel is made of gold from the Jambu River, measures five hundred leagues, has a thousand spokes, and shines beautifully, like a second sun in the world. The second quality is that the wheel travels unhindered through the sky, crossing a hundred thousand leagues in a single day. Third, whether the universal king wishes to go to Godānīya in the west, Videha in the east, Kuru in the north, or to any of the divine realms of the Four Great Kings, the wheel with its thousand spokes travels ahead of him in the sky. By the power of the precious wheel his entire army with its four divisions of elephants, horses, chariots, and infantry will follow after, traversing the sky. [F.102.b] Fourth, the precious wheel articulates and makes audible all that the universal monarch cannot hear. The fifth quality is that, as soon as they see him, all kings and ministers who support the Dharma will without any hesitation offer themselves to the monarch, who is endowed with the Dharma and follows the Dharma. Such is the wheel’s fifth quality. This concludes the explanation of the third royal treasure.
(4) “How does the universal monarch’s precious elephant manifest in the world to those who pursue the virtuous practice of giving up ill will? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. A universal monarch who is endowed with the Dharma and follows the Dharma will possess a purebred and perfectly obedient elephant that is victorious against his enemies in battle. The elephant is endowed with seven perfect appendages: four legs, a tail that does not hang down, a penis in its groin, and a well-poised trunk. With these attributes the precious elephant stands firmly on the ground. It is powerful and possesses the strength of one thousand normal elephants. Its tusks are smooth and of a snowy white, silvery color. It resembles the elephant of Śakra, and as soon as they smell it no other elephants can stand before it. The elephant can battle in three environments: water, dry land, and the sky. With its perfect powers it can circle the outskirts of Jambudvīpa three times in a day. [F.103.a] The elephant can be led along by a rope, but whenever the universal monarch rides it, this purebred will tune into the monarch’s thoughts and go wherever he wishes without being otherwise instructed. The precious elephant moves leisurely, turning its head with majestic poise. Without causing any harm or disturbance, it moves with delightful beauty. Even if it should come into the midst of young children it will not cause any fear. On the highway, at crossings, or as it walks back and forth within fine courtyards, even girls will dare to touch it. The elephant is terrifying on the battlefield, yet when at rest it can be pulled along by a rope. Such are the qualities of the monarch’s elephant. When a universal monarch engages in just one of these ten virtuous actions, it produces these seeds of universal royalty. So, it goes without saying that they also ensue from the practice of all ten virtues together. This is how a spiritual practitioner perceives the precious elephant, the fourth royal treasure, by seeing with the divine eye.
(5) “What are the qualities of the universal monarch’s precious horse? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. The universal monarch possesses a precious horse that is white like a swan or white lotus and is adorned with excellent marks such as the divine jewel crest. This horse has the strength of a thousand horses and is of perfect color and shape. If told to do so, the precious horse will circle Jambudvīpa three times in a day. Its body is pure and remains perfectly free of disease. Such is the universal monarch’s fifth treasure.
(6) “How is the universal monarch’s precious minister? [F.103.b] Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. The precious minister possesses the following qualities. Whenever the monarch has the wish for something, the precious minister will understand what the king desires and offer it to him in the fullest measure, even without being asked. Thus, he gathers such utterly perfect things without any attachment, and he refrains from non-Dharma. His acts are extremely appropriate, befitting the place and time. He is free from the afflictions, does not harm others, and does not make the people suffer. Thus, he remains tirelessly committed to the ways of proper business. His interest is focused on the monarch’s projects and the projects of the Dharma and he devotes himself fully to programs for the future. Such is the universal monarch’s precious minister. He will remain with those who give up ill will and instead follow the path of the ten virtuous actions with the intention of benefiting everyone in the world, as if they were his own parents.
(7) “The seventh treasure is the precious master of the household. What are his qualities? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. Without having to be told, the precious master of the household, who obeys the monarch’s command, will fill up gorges, ravines, mountainous wildernesses, and other such inaccessible places with an inexhaustible amount of diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, coral, and other such jewels—as well as, needless to mention, gold and silver. The wealth provided by the precious master of the household is extremely reliable. He is free of deceit and dishonesty, [F.104.a] does not cause anyone harm, and is well liked by the entire populace. Such is the precious master of the household.
“The monarch who possesses these seven treasures wields power over the four human abodes and assumes half of the throne of the ruler of the nāgas, the two classes of gods, the Four Great Kings, and the gods of the Heaven of the Thirty-Three. Such is the universal monarch who possesses the seven treasures.
“Slightly inferior to these are the seven subsidiary treasures: sword, skin, bedding, garden, home, garment, and sandals.
(1) “The qualities of the subsidiary treasure of the sword are such that the sword will hasten to wherever people of the realm might feel inclined to transgress the monarch’s thought or word. Nobody will strike the sword and neither does the sword ever strike anyone. Yet as they see the sword, all the people will be filled with respect. Thus, while it never cuts anyone, whether good or evil, and while the sword hence does not function as a weapon, it nevertheless instills reverence in the entire realm. Such are the qualities of the subsidiary treasure of the sword.
(2) “What are the qualities of the subsidiary treasure of the skin? This precious hide comes from the ocean and is offered to the monarch by sea merchants. The skin is from an ocean nāga. Five leagues wide and ten leagues long, it repels water, cannot be stirred by the wind, and is fire resistant. It brings warmth when one feels cold, and cools in times of heat. Wherever the monarch and his court may travel, the precious minister will bring this skin along. [F.104.b] The skin causes everyone to serve the royal household in the same way that they take care of their own. The skin prevents the sight of repulsive females. It is white and shines with the light of the moon and sun.
(3) “Third, the monarch’s precious bedding is light, smooth, and has upper and lower layers23 that automatically rearrange themselves in response to the body’s pressure. If the monarch wishes to concentrate, this bedding will free his concentration and brighten his intelligence. If the monarch should become overcome by desire, sitting on this bedding will make him become detached and free from desire. The bedding has the same effect on anger and delusion, and thus the precious bedding is like a seat of meditation. When women see the monarch poised on his precious bedding they will feel the most intense joy yet they will not become excessively desirous. Such are the qualities of the bedding that is the third subsidiary treasure.
(4) “What are the qualities of the garden, the fourth subsidiary treasure? Whenever the king approaches his garden, feeling inclined to meditate there, the power of the garden and the monarch’s own virtuous actions cause all the pleasures of the divine parks in the heavenly realms to manifest: flowers, fruits, birds, lotuses, ponds, streams, and embankments, along with goddesses who play music, smile, and display their beauty. All these pleasures descend from the realms of gods and manifest within the garden. In this way the king may, just like a god, enjoy divine pleasures of the five senses. He and the ladies of the garden will find tremendous delight and appreciation in each other’s company. Such is the garden, the fourth subsidiary treasure, as it is seen by the spiritual practitioners of virtuous action.
(5) “What is the subsidiary treasure of the universal monarch’s home like, and what are its features? [F.105.a] When the monarch sleeps within the subsidiary treasure of the royal home, the moon will draw closer if the monarch so wishes. Likewise, all the planets, stars, and other celestial bodies may draw near and display their jewels to everyone’s delight. Goddesses will play divine music. As the people in the house, whose burdens are thus removed, fall happily asleep, they will have auspicious and delightful dreams. During cold weather this home is heated by warm breezes, and when the weather is hot it will be fanned by gentle and delightfully cooling winds. Thus, one will sleep during the night’s first two watches, and wake up pleasantly refreshed in the third. Such is the home that is a subsidiary treasure of the universal monarch.
(6) “What are the features and special qualities of the subsidiary treasure of the garment? Excellently woven, perfectly smooth, and unstained, the precious garment makes its bearer impervious to cold, heat, hunger, thirst, weakness, exhaustion, and weariness. It is also resistant to being burned by fire or cut by sharp weapons.
(7) “What is the subsidiary treasure of the universal monarch’s sandals like? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. When the universal monarch wears the subsidiary treasure of the sandals, he may walk on water without sinking in, just as if walking on dry land. If he wishes to gently walk ahead, the sandals will allow him to proceed for a hundred leagues without any weariness.
“Thus, the universal monarch possesses these seven treasures and seven subsidiary treasures as he rules [F.105.b] the four human abodes and the two classes of gods. Such a monarch is the father of a thousand sons, each of them bold and heroic, a conqueror of enemy armies, and all of them worship the universal monarch. Such are the pleasures that are experienced as the result of restraint from the negative act of ill will, and the associated ten virtuous actions.
“Wrong view is the seed of all cyclic existence, a dense darkness since time without beginning, and the latent tendency underlying all worldly entanglements. How is such wrong view abandoned? And how does one reach liberation from cyclic existence by accomplishing the correct view? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see this by means of knowledge derived from hearing or through the divine eye. Such spiritual practitioners who observe phenomena see that by giving up wrong view and activating the correct view, one will abandon all that is meaningless, give up the latent tendency underlying all worldly entanglements, approach the transcendence of suffering, and leave cyclic existence behind.
“Their perception of five types of wrong view will lead such beings to an accomplishment of the five faculties. That is to say, from the moment they hear of the qualities of the buddhas, holy beings who delight in the sacred Dharma will begin to notice the many sufferings of cyclic existence, and thus see the five realms of beings as five great horrors. They will see that due to their carelessness the gods experience the suffering of death, humans suffer due to their desires, hell beings experience the pains of torture, starving spirits suffer from hunger and thirst, and animals suffer as they prey on one another. Each of these five terrors has numerous distinct features and thus beings undergo innumerable kinds of suffering.
“When they realize this, holy beings will first of all [F.106.a] develop renunciation toward all of cyclic existence. Illuminated by such renunciation, they will develop the mind that is the path for ascertainment of the sacred Dharma, and from that single event arises a stream of virtuous qualities.
“The terrestrial yakṣas will notice with great appreciation, fondness, and delight whoever gives rise to and possesses such a mind. Enraptured, they will think, ‘This is the noble son known as so-and-so, who is of such and such a family. This individual is intent on relinquishing beginningless desire, anger, and delusion. This person has no interest in any of the things that belong to the field of the māras. This noble son is averse to the craving that accompanies the desire for afflictive objects.’
“Furthermore, noble offspring who have given up wrong view will constantly practice,24 cultivate, and increase that mind of freedom. They will serve spiritual teachers and enjoy listening to the sacred Dharma. With bright minds they will turn toward and prostrate before the Dharma of the buddhas, and their physical and verbal conduct will be peaceful and extremely clear. Thus, when they rest in equipoise with peaceful body, speech, and mind, they are noticed and appreciated by the terrestrial yakṣas. These beings will see that there dwells a noble son, someone inspired by a spiritual teacher, someone free from attachment to the web of the household, someone free from attachment to the objects of the māras—an attachment that since beginningless time is created by desire, anger, and delusion, and that accompanies the perceptions of the gods of the desire realm. Thus, the terrestrial yakṣas will notice with great delight that this is a person who is intent on battling the māras and giving up the afflictions.
“Moreover, when such noble offspring observe the sufferings of cyclic existence their strong sense of [F.106.b] renunciation will make them give up killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, the use of intoxicants, and lying. They will also take vows to that effect. When they receive the full vows of a lay practitioner, the terrestrial yakṣas will notice this with joy and proclaim, ‘Lo, this is the noble son known as so-and-so, who is of such and such a family, from such and such a town, and such and such an area. Now his hair and beard are being shaved off and, as he dons the saffron-colored robes, he is leaving the household with true faith. He is rejecting the side of the māras and acceding to the side of the sacred Dharma. He is cutting the chains of the māras and causing liberation from the great afflictions of desire, anger, and delusion.’
“Wrong view is the latent tendency underlying all worldly entanglements, whereas correct view is the basis for the attainment of nirvāṇa. This is seen by spiritual practitioners. Such spiritual practitioners will, therefore, first of all praise right view. They will not laugh at right view, nor will they criticize it or treat it as a flaw. Rather, they will teach right view to others and establish others within that. Wrong view, on the other hand, they will scorn, criticize, and avoid praising.
“Through right view one may explain the actions, phenomena, and karmic ripenings that are associated with wrong view, and so avoid establishing others in wrong view. Wrong view is the root of all bondage. This is what binds infantile, ordinary beings and establishes the confines of the realms of ghosts, hell beings, animals, and starving spirits. A noble son who gives up wrong views will thereby achieve numerous virtues.
“Moreover, when a noble son becomes acutely aware that the household is a place of suffering, [F.107.a] misfortune, and bondage, he will want to go forth from the household, become ordained, and give battle to the māras. Such a holy person will be noticed and appreciated by the terrestrial and celestial gods. With joy they will convey to the Four Great Kings, ‘A noble son by the name of so-and-so, who is of such and such a city, such and such a town, and such and such an area, is having his hair and beard shaved off. He is donning the saffron-colored robes and is going forth from the household with true faith. The forces of the māras are waning; the forces of the sacred Dharma are on the rise!’ As the Four Great Kings hear this from the terrestrial and celestial gods and yakṣas they will rejoice in the same way as the terrestrial yakṣas.
“Thus, when a human being in Jambudvīpa becomes inspired by the virtuous words of the sacred Dharma, when such a noble son pays reverence to a noble preceptor of mendicants, and when he shaves off his hair and beard, dons the saffron-colored robes, and takes the prātimokṣa vows, the celestial and terrestrial yakṣas will rejoice deeply in this. They will convey to the Four Great Kings, ‘The noble son by such and such a name, and of such and such a town and area, has now given up wrong view and adopted the actions and Dharma of the true view. He has given up the poison of craving for children and spouse and has relinquished all that is meaningless and miserable. He has shaved his head, donned the saffron-colored robes, and taken the prātimokṣa vows. He is intent on giving battle to the māras and giving up all that involves craving for pleasure.’ [F.107.b]
“The Four Great Kings will rejoice deeply, and therefore say to the gods of their realm, ‘In Jambudvīpa a noble son of such and such a family, town, and area has given up wrong view. Adopting right view, he has shaved off his hair and beard, donned the saffron-colored robes, and with faith gone forth from the household to become a homeless mendicant. He is now dwelling before the monk known as so-and-so.’
“Moreover, such a noble son will consider even the slightest evil frightening. He will be accepting and disciplined, and he will guard his mind well. He will have no interest in mundane business and be free of anger. He will continuously attend to noble beings, give up negative company, and avoid views that involve thoughts about objects. He will not crave copious delicious food, nor will he join unwholesome gatherings. He will not be fond of those who are preoccupied with objects, nor will he ever develop friendships with such people. He will not maintain a discipline involving preoccupation with objects but will always endeavor in the application of mindfulness. He will abide by preserving peace and constantly and persistently cutting through the chains of the māras. Always diligently adhering to the right view, such a holy being will be intent on benefiting the entire world.
“Here follow some verses:
“By giving up wrong view one relinquishes thoughts in a way that brings the mind toward right view. Thus, one will gradually achieve the joy of undefiled concentration. How, you may wonder, do the terrestrial and celestial gods and yakṣas, as well as the Four Great Kings, rejoice in this? Spiritual practitioners who carefully observe inner phenomena see by means of knowledge derived from hearing, or through the divine eye, that when the Four Great Kings have passed their message to the gods of their realm those gods will, in turn, pass it to Śakra, lord of the gods. Thus, they will convey to him, ‘In Jambudvīpa, the noble son known as so-and-so, who is of such and such a family, village, and town, has shaved off his hair and beard, donned the saffron-colored robes, and with faith gone forth from the household to become a homeless mendicant. Observing discipline and vows, he possesses eloquence, reasoning, and liberation. He remains mindful and regards even a speck of evil with fear. [F.109.a] The forces of the māras are waning; the forces of the sacred Dharma are on the rise! This is our message to the gods.’
This was the chapter on the ten virtuous courses of action. [B3]
India is the origin of all that is good and possesses all things excellent, both in terms of her soil and her sciences, for which she is the universal source. This is the land of the cultured and the learned and all her inhabitants are wise. Seeing India to be the eyes of Jambudvīpa, the perfect Buddha achieved full awakening within this land, with its magnificent cities through which the great river Gaṅgā descends.
In the eastern part of India’s central lands lies the great monastery of Nālanda.639 The sovereign of the land is the splendid prince Rāmapāla,640 whose glory outshines others and whose reign reaches far and wide. This prince has established the temple known as Jagaddala to support the pure and the gentle, holy beings who are experts regarding the staircase leading to the higher realms and liberation. From here appeared numerous exceptionally learned paṇḍitas, such that people of the world speak of “the five hundred omniscient ones,” who are praised by all paṇḍitas as being equal to the masters of the past.
Among them is someone whom kings and ministers, who take pride in their mundane wealth, carry on their shoulders as if he were their head—someone whom paṇḍitas, who take pride in their scholarship, and worldly folk regard as their crown jewel. He is regarded as a guide by those who have relinquished concern for this life and who endeavor to accomplish liberation, allowing them to clearly distinguish good qualities from flaws. All the people of the land see him as beautiful and endearing, as if he were their only child. He enraptures even the vicious and ungrateful with his great goodwill. [F.228.b] Due to his love for others, he suffers agony and pain as he beholds the miseries of all wandering beings, yet he skillfully extends his compassionate care to them. He is foretold in the prophetic discourse of Tiger Ear Star as an individual endowed with numerous qualities and a great instigator who upon exchanging his body would be born in the higher realms. He yearns to meet Maitreya and has tremendous yearning for the Dharma. He has also weakened all emotions such as desire and anger. Who could properly extol such a person’s qualities? In short, his knowledge of mundane human customs is great, and his benevolence is like a golden ground. With respect for the sacred Dharma, he is endowed with perfect learning and he is pure, serene, gentle, accommodating, noble, truthful, undeceiving, honest, and successful in terms of accomplishment. Like a majestic wish-fulfilling tree that grows from a turquoise ground, he is adorned with the blooming flowers and ripe fruits of a bounty of temporary and ultimate virtues in this and all other lives. Thus, perfectly accomplishing what benefits both oneself and all others, there is nothing that he does that is not meaningful. Such is this master endowed with the shining beauty of unimpeded mastery of the five fields of learning, the great paṇḍita known as Śāntākaragupta. Explanations based on five Indian volumes were received from that master, as well as the great scholar and holy man, the supreme Vinaya holder known as Abhayākaragupta; the one whose learning is comparable to Mañjuśrī, the supreme paṇḍita endowed with perfect eloquence and insight, Śakyarakṣita; and also the great paṇḍita Vīryākaraśānti, and others. [F.229.a]
Likewise, in the lower reaches of the central land of Magadha—where the shrines of the thus-gone ones are numerous, and the land is full of Buddhists who have faith in the Three Jewels—lies the great monastic complex of Vikramaśīla. It was established by the bodhisattva king, Devapāla, and serves as the eyes of the Dharma teachings. Among its numerous learned scholars there are Śakyarakṣita himself; the great paṇḍita Subhūticandra, who is expert in linguistics, poetry, and the syntactic structures of Sanskrit; the Abhidharma expert known as Aḍitacandra; and other such masters. It is from all those masters that the explanations based on five Indian volumes were received.
The translators listened carefully to the sūtra and with veneration they sought careful explanation in order to comprehend all the scripture’s words and meanings, thoroughly investigating the most difficult points with the appropriate methods for understanding their significance. In the process of translation, they were guided by the light of insight that comes from mastering four languages—Sanskrit, the Indian vernaculars, Tibetan Dharma language, and the Tibetan vernaculars.
Nevertheless, the topics of the sūtras are numerous and the subjects are profound. In particular, the statements in this sūtra carry numerous implicit messages and convey their meaning by means of beautiful verbal adornments that evince an unparalleled mastery of poetry. Hence, their meanings are not easily accessible to those of weak learning. Especially, brief scriptural passages that convey numerous meanings have been translated in that same fashion. This approach allows those endowed with the jewels of understanding to ascertain numerous meanings, but if any one of those were to be singled out as the sole implied meaning, that would be a mistake. Rather, translation should convey just as much meaning as the words imply. Therefore, in short, without violating the way the Indian and Tibetan languages convey the same meaning by means of different expressions, and without breaking with the tradition established by the decrees of the scholars of the past, this translation has been made in veneration of the sacred Dharma by the northerner, the monk Tsultrim Gyaltsen, who was born into the family of Patshap. This was undertaken during the reign of the Indian king Rāmapāla, whose banner of perfect glory and majesty flies higher than any other. In this manner, those segments that had previously been translated of this Great Vehicle discourse known as The Application of Mindfulness of the Sacred Dharma were completed. [F.229.b]
The subsequent editing and revision of the text was undertaken by the monk Tsultrim Gyaltsen himself, with the assistance of two others. The first is the spiritual teacher known as Shang Buchikpa, who everyone calls by this name because he benefits them and is auspicious for them, caring for all sentient beings as if they were his “only child.”641 Accordingly, his name reveals that he is endowed with great compassion. The second editor is known as Sherap Ö, because he is a veritable “light of insight” for all who follow the Dharma.642 With knowledge of the way the vehicles progress, he summarizes the teachings by means of principles such as the two realities, and thus—with insight developed gradually through conviction, ascertainment, and realization—he spreads the light that overcomes the darkness of afflictive and cognitive obscurations in both oneself and others. Thus, his name shows that this master is endowed with great insight and that he accomplishes his own and others’ objectives perfectly. In this way, the translation was corrected, refined, and properly finalized through the fivefold process of drafting, primary editing, testing the relations between word and meaning, secondary editing, and secondary testing of the relations.
May the stainless virtues that ensue from translating and assisting in the translation of this sacred Dharma teaching—this precious discourse on mindfulness in the Great Vehicle, which is the foundation, root, and vital essence of all the vehicles—reach all beings extending to the end of space, so that they may find happiness while in existence. And may a lush canopy spread over them from the tree that offers refuge, awakening, and fruition. As soon as we leave this life behind, may we be reborn in realms of the buddhas, and in all other lives of cyclic existence, may we exclusively do what benefits others.
The number of sections has not been determined. In accord with the Indian text the length of the scripture amounts to thirty-six thousand ślokas. There appear to be a few unique archaic elements of writing. When dividing The Application of Mindfulness into sections of three hundred ślokas, there are one hundred and twenty sections.
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