Determining the Vinaya: Upāli’s Questions
Degé Kangyur, vol. 43 (dkon brtsegs, ca), folios 115.a–131.a
Translated by the UCSB Buddhist Studies Translation Group
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
Determining the Vinaya: Upāli’s Questions is a sūtra focused on the relationship between and integration of the prātimokṣa vows of monastic discipline and the conduct of a bodhisattva who follows the Mahāyāna tradition. The sūtra’s two main interlocutors, Śāriputra and Upāli, query the Buddha about the relationship between these two levels of commitments, eliciting a teaching on the different orientations held by the followers of different Buddhist vehicles and how their different views affect the application of their vows. Determining the Vinaya is a particularly valuable sūtra for its inclusion of a unique form of the confessional “Three Sections” rite, making it one of the few extant canonical sources to describe it at length.
Translated, edited, and introduced by ErdeneBaatar Erdene-Ochir, Jake Nagasawa, and Jaakko Takkinen, members of the UCSB Buddhist Studies Translation Group. The group wishes to thank José I. Cabezón for his support and guidance.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
Determining the Vinaya: Upāli’s Questions (hereafter Determining the Vinaya) is a sūtra from the Heap of Jewels (Skt. Ratnakūṭa; Tib. dkon brtsegs) section of the Kangyur that explores the relationship between the prātimokṣa vows and the conduct of a bodhisattva. The sūtra can be loosely divided into two parts: a first section for which the monk Śāriputra is the main interlocutor, and which contains the pledge by numerous bodhisattvas to work for the benefit of beings, followed by a general discourse by the Buddha on the conduct of a bodhisattva. In the second section, the titular Upāli poses a series of questions that prompt a more in-depth discourse from the Buddha on the relationship between monastic codes of conduct and the commitments of a bodhisattva, with a focus on the views that guide the followers of the śrāvaka, pratyekabuddha, and bodhisattva vehicles.
The sūtra opens in the north Indian city of Śrāvastī, where the Buddha resides among a vast assembly of monks and bodhisattvas in Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park at Prince Jeta’s Grove. Addressing the bodhisattvas in the assembly, the Buddha asks who will uphold the Dharma and bring beings to maturity in future times. A number of the bodhisattvas present in the assembly voice their desire to uphold various aspects of the Dharma or to help beings through specific powers. At Śāriputra’s prompting, the Buddha next describes the special means that bodhisattvas utilize to bring beings to spiritual maturity, and how the three poisons—desire, anger, and delusion—are to be understood in the context of bodhisattva conduct. It is at this point that the Buddha teaches a special method for confessing misdeeds: the “Three Sections” rite, which will be discussed below. He offers this rite of confession as a potent means for bodhisattvas to purify their faults and attain samādhi.
Following this, the eponymous Upāli emerges from meditative seclusion and joins the assembly to address questions to the Buddha about the relationship between the prātimokṣa vows as they are observed by śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, and the conduct of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna. Upāli is a famous figure in Buddhist literature and is regarded as foremost among the Buddha’s disciples in upholding the monastic discipline detailed in the Vinaya. Such was Upāli’s mastery of the Vinaya that he was selected to recite the Vinaya at the first full assembly of the saṅgha after the Buddha’s passing. As a recurring figure in Pāli literature, Upāli is more generally linked to the rules of monastic conduct of non-Mahāyāna Buddhism; here, however, Upāli’s questions primarily concern the observation of monastic discipline in the context of a bodhisattva’s conduct according to the Mahāyāna tradition. Upāli’s close connection to the Vinaya and the code of monastic conduct thus make him a particularly potent interlocutor in exploring the relationship between these two overlapping but seemingly contradictory modes of Buddhist conduct.1
At Upāli’s prompting, the Buddha clarifies the relationship between these two modes of conduct. He explains that the training of a śrāvaka and that of a bodhisattva are both aimed at the highest goal, but their respective practices are essentially different. For bodhisattvas, the training of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas is limiting because they do not engage with other beings, and they seek a quick exit from saṃsāra instead of returning life after life to continue helping beings. Moreover, the core of the bodhisattva’s training is the mind of awakening (Skt. bodhicitta), an aspiration that guides a bodhisattva’s conduct and that, if violated, can easily be mended by again turning the mind toward awakening. A follower of the Śrāvakayāna, on the other hand, is bound by vows, especially serious ones, that once broken cannot be easily repaired. The relationship between these two modes of conduct is further clarified by a question posed by the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī: If phenomena themselves are already “inherently tamed,” i.e., if there is nothing inherent in phenomena that causes affliction within beings, then what is the purpose of the rules of monastic discipline? The Buddha responds by saying that if beings already knew this, then the Tathāgata would not have to continually explain the rules of monastic discipline; the rules, therefore, are provisional, and meant to help beings gradually understand that all phenomena are innately disciplined.
As part of its focus on the conduct of a bodhisattva, Determining the Vinaya includes a version of the “Three Sections” rite, a confessional practice for mending breaches of a bodhisattva’s discipline. This sūtra, along with the Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra (Toh 63),2 serves as one of the principal canonical sources for the rite, but the rite presented here (1.43–1.52) is distinctive for the set of thirty-five buddhas before which bodhisattvas are directed to make their confession. That the “Three Sections” became an important practice in Indian Buddhism is attested by the fact that it is referenced in Śāntideva’s Śikṣāsamuccaya3 and was commented on by Nāgārjuna in his Bodhyāpattideśanāvṛtti.4 Nāgārjuna mentions details of the occasions and setting (nidāna) for the Buddha’s teaching the “Three Sections” that, he says, are not found in the Ratnakūṭa version of the text, suggesting that a separate version may have circulated in India. The Indian Buddhist master Kṛṣṇa composed a liturgical text (Skt. sādhana), the Skandhatrisādhana,5 that explains a full procedure for the confession ritual. Kṛṣṇa’s text and the rite it describes were deemed important by the Bengali master Atiśa Dīpaṅkaraśrījñāna (982–c. 1055 ᴄᴇ), who worked with Tibetan translators to make it available to a Tibetan audience. Another commentary was written by the tenth century Indian master Jitāri.6
There are several extant Sanskrit witnesses for portions of this sūtra: a lengthy citation drawn from the sūtra’s second section is preserved in the Bodhisattvaprātimokṣa Sūtra, which was studied and reproduced by Nalinaksha Dutt in 1931,7 and verses from Determining the Vinaya are cited by Śāntideva in his Śikṣāsamuccaya and by Candrakīrti in the Prasannapadā.8 The Pāli Canon contains a text called Upāliparipucchāsutta, which has been studied by Valentina Stache-Rosen in comparison to a Chinese version, but it does not appear to be the same text translated here.9 Chinese translations of the whole or part of the text can be found in the Chinese Buddhist Canon (Taishō 310, 325, and 326).10
Determining the Vinaya was translated into Tibetan during Tibet’s imperial period by the Tibetan translator and monk Yeshé Dé, with the assistance of the Indian masters Jinamitra, Prajñāvarman, and Surendrabodhi. This is evidenced not only by the colophon of the text, but also by its mention in the two extant imperial-period catalogs, the Denkarma11 and Phangthangma catalogs.12 According to the fourteenth-century Tibetan Chronicles of Padma (padma bka’ thang), the “Three Sections” part of the text (see i.5 above) was included among the “Ten Royal Sūtras” (Tib. rgyal po mdo bcu), the recitation of which was prescribed by Padmasambhava to the Tibetan king Trisong Detsen (Tib. khri srong lde bstan, 755–97 ᴄᴇ) to prolong his life. It is also traditionally placed in a subset, the “Five Royal Sūtras.”13
A French translation of Determining the Vinaya was made by Pierre Python (1973) based on the available Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese versions. Garma C. C. Chang translated the Chinese version into English in A Treasury of Mahāyāna Sūtras: Selections from the Mahāratnakūṭa Sūtra (1983).
This English translation was prepared based on the Tibetan translation in the Degé Kangyur in consultation with the Pedurma comparative edition (Tib. dpe bsdur ma) and the version of the translation recorded in the Stok Palace Kangyur. We also consulted the Sanskrit fragments listed above, along with Python’s French translation and the Mongolian canonical translation.
Thus did I hear at one time: The Bhagavān was dwelling in Śrāvastī, at Anāthapiṇḍada’s park in Prince Jeta’s Grove, together with a great monastic assembly of about five hundred monks as well as a thousand bodhisattvas. The Bhagavān looked upon those bodhisattva mahāsattvas with a gaze like an elephant’s and said to them, “Sons of noble birth, for the sake of upholding the holy Dharma in the future, in later times, who among you wishes to take up the unsurpassed, completely perfect awakening that took the Tathāgata countless myriads of eons to accomplish? Who among you, for the sake of bringing beings to maturity, wishes to nurture them by means of various methods, ways, and ideas?”
Then the bodhisattva mahāsattva Maitreya arose from his seat, adjusted his upper robe on one shoulder, knelt on his right knee, bowed to the Bhagavān with his palms joined in devotion, and said, “Bhagavān, for the sake of upholding the holy Dharma in the future, in later times, I wish to take up the unsurpassed, completely perfect awakening that took the Tathāgata countless myriads of eons to accomplish.”
After hearing such revelations from the bodhisattvas about [F.118.a] donning the armor that will mature beings, the venerable Śāriputra was seized with wonder and amazement. He said to the Bhagavān, “Ah! Bhagavān, the great compassion possessed by these bodhisattva mahāsattvas is amazing, as is their inconceivable skill in means and their donning of the great armor of stable diligence. It is amazing how these bodhisattvas cannot be overcome by any being, how difficult they are to fathom, to meet with, or to subjugate, and how their brilliance cannot be overcome. Furthermore, Bhagavān, when supplicants come before these bodhisattva mahāsattvas, whose brilliance cannot be overcome, and beg for their heads, hands, feet, and eyes—even when they beg for everything—these bodhisattva mahāsattvas do not recoil or become discouraged but rather are overjoyed. This is amazing to me. Bhagavān, I also think that any beings who harm bodhisattva mahāsattvas and then ask for their various inner and outer constituents will surely become bodhisattva mahāsattvas who rest in inconceivable liberation.”
The Bhagavān replied to the venerable Śāriputra, “So it is, Śāriputra, so it is! Such is the scope of these bodhisattvas’ samādhi, methods, wisdom, and gnosis. Śāriputra, the scope of these bodhisattvas is not that of śrāvakas or pratyekabuddhas. Śāriputra, bodhisattva mahāsattvas, in order to meet the inclinations of beings, manifest all the emanations of the buddhas, but while doing so they do not waver from their bodhisattva nature. [F.118.b]
“Śāriputra, bodhisattva mahāsattvas will manifest the bodies of householders in order to dispel the delusions of grandeur held by householders who are intoxicated with arrogance. In order to remove the manic arrogance of beings who are inflated and intoxicated by mania, they display the power of a champion,15 or the exuberant power of Nārāyaṇa. They reveal the various paths to nirvāṇa for those beings who seek nirvāṇa. They display the form of śrāvakas to those beings oriented to the Śrāvakayāna and use the Śrāvakayāna to bring them to complete nirvāṇa. They display the form of pratyekabuddhas to beings oriented to the Pratyekabuddhayāna so that they can direct them toward dependent arising. They display the forms of buddhas to those beings who seek awakening so that they may attain all the qualities of a buddha.
“Śāriputra, in this way, once bodhisattva mahāsattvas have matured the realm of beings using a variety of methods, they set beings firmly in the qualities of buddhahood. Why? Śāriputra, beings will find no liberation apart from the liberation of final nirvāṇa, the gnosis of the tathāgatas. This is why they are called tathāgatas. Why? They are called tathāgatas because tathāgatas know the nature of reality just as it is. They are called tathāgatas because they use various concepts to induce understanding in beings. [F.119.a] They are called tathāgatas because they possess all virtuous qualities and have abandoned all nonvirtuous qualities. They are called tathāgatas because they demonstrate liberation to beings who are in bondage. They are called tathāgatas because they reveal the exalted path to beings who have embarked on an evil path. They are called tathāgatas because they teach emptiness and arise from emptiness.
“Śāriputra, bodhisattva mahāsattvas demonstrate liberation to ordinary, deluded, childish beings by using various forms of knowledge that align with their inclinations and thus bring them to an understanding of the true Dharma. And yet, they never waver from their bodhisattva nature. They display various types of illusion in order cause beings to progressively reach the seat of awakening.
“Furthermore, Śāriputra, lay householder bodhisattva mahāsattvas should practice two types of giving: giving the Dharma and giving material goods. Śāriputra, lay householder bodhisattva mahāsattvas should practice these two types of giving without attachment or anger.
“Śāriputra, renunciant bodhisattva mahāsattvas should engage in four types of giving:16 giving pens, giving ink, giving books, and giving the Dharma. Śāriputra, renunciant bodhisattva mahāsattvas should practice these four types of giving.
“Śāriputra, bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have accepted that phenomena are unproduced should practice three types of relinquishment: [F.119.b] relinquishment, great relinquishment, and the highest relinquishment. With respect to these, “relinquishment” means to give away the kingdom; “great relinquishment” is to give away one’s wives, sons, and daughters; and the “greatest relinquishment” is to give away one’s own head, hands, feet, eyes, skin, bones, and marrow. Śāriputra, a bodhisattva mahāsattva who has accepted that phenomena are unproduced should practice these three types of relinquishment.”
The Bhagavān replied,17 “Śāriputra, the faults associated with the great misdeeds of bodhisattvas are twofold: those related to anger and those related to delusion. Śāriputra, these are the two faults associated with the great misdeeds of bodhisattvas.
“Śāriputra,18 among these, desire is a minor misdeed and is given up slowly. Anger is a major misdeed and is given up quickly. Delusion is a major misdeed and is given up slowly. Why is this? Śāriputra, desire is the ensnaring vine of saṃsāra and thus the seed of rebirth. Anger is eliminated quickly and is the cause of unfortunate rebirths. Delusion is difficult to relinquish and is the cause of falling into the eight great hells.
“Regarding these, Śāriputra, a bodhisattva should openly confess the weightiest of faults to an assembly of ten.19 A weighty fault of the hand—that is, grasping a woman’s hand—should be confessed to an assembly of five. [F.120.a] The fault of looking at a woman with ill intent should be confessed before one or two people.20 A bodhisattva should confess the faults associated with the five grave acts of immediate retribution, faults related to women, faults related to boys, faults related to the hand, faults related to stūpas, faults related to the saṅgha, or any other weighty fault before the thirty-five bhagavān buddhas, doing so on their own throughout the day and night. The confession is as follows:
“ ‘To them, and to all the other tathāgata, arhat, and completely perfect buddhas who dwell, live, and endure in all realms throughout the ten directions—to those blessed buddhas, I pray, please pay heed to me!
“ ‘In this and in all the other births that I have taken in saṃsāra without beginning or end, I have committed evil actions, I have asked others to commit them, or have rejoiced when they were committed.
“ ‘I have committed the five grave acts of immediate retribution, have made others commit them, or have rejoiced when they were committed.
“ ‘I have taken the path of the ten nonvirtuous actions, have made others take it, or have rejoiced in their taking it.
“ ‘Having been affected by karmic obscurations, I will go to the hells,28 I will go to the animal realm,29 I will go to the preta realm, I will be born among barbarians in a border region,30 I will be born among the long-lived devas, I will have incomplete faculties, I will hold false views, or I will not be able to delight in the appearance of a buddha in the world.31 [F.121.a]
“ ‘All these karmic obscurations I confess in the presence of the bhagavān buddhas, who are wise, who have vision, who witness, who are authoritative, and who know and see. I reveal these actions; I do not conceal them, and I will henceforth show restraint.
“ ‘In this and in all the other births that I have taken in saṃsāra without beginning or end, whatever gifts I have given, even if just a small bit of food to an animal, whatever roots of virtue I may possess from maintaining discipline, whatever roots of virtue I may possess from chaste conduct, whatever roots of virtue I may possess by bringing beings to maturity, whatever roots of virtue I may possess through the mind of awakening, and whatever roots of virtue I may possess through unsurpassed gnosis, I collect, combine, and coalesce all of it and dedicate it to unsurpassed, completely perfect awakening by making unsurpassable, unexcelled, and supreme dedications.
“ ‘Just as the bhagavān buddhas of the past have dedicated, just as the bhagavān buddhas of the future will dedicate, and just as the bhagavān buddhas of the present now dedicate,32 in the same way, I also dedicate the virtue. I confess all evil actions.33 I rejoice in all merit. I supplicate all buddhas. May my gnosis be unsurpassed.
“Similarly, for the sole purpose of liberating beings, those very bhagavān buddhas reveal themselves directly to those who purify all evil actions. They likewise teach confused, foolish beings using a variety of words in order to bring them to maturity,35 all without wavering from the dharmadhātu. They make perfect aspirations for the sake of liberating beings, liberating each according to their own predispositions.
“Śāriputra, bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have entered into the samādhi of great compassion appear in the form of hell beings, animals, beings in the world of Yama, and asuras for the sake of bringing beings to maturity. Bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have entered into the samādhi of great array appear in the form of householders for the sake of bringing beings to maturity. Bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have entered into the supreme samādhi appear in the form of cakravartins for the sake of bringing beings to maturity. Bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have entered into the samādhi of intense brilliance appear in the forms of Indra and Brahmā for the sake of bringing beings to maturity. Bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have entered into the single-pointed samādhi appear in the form of śrāvakas for the sake of bringing beings to maturity. [F.122.a] Bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have entered into the samādhi of nondual purity appear in the form of pratyekabuddhas for the sake of bringing beings to maturity. Bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have entered into the samādhi of peace appear in the form of completely perfect buddhas for the sake of bringing beings to maturity. Bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have entered into the samādhi mastery of all phenomena appear in forms aligned with various predispositions for the sake of bringing beings to maturity.
“Śāriputra, in that way, for the sake of bringing beings to maturity, holy beings sometimes appear in the form of Indra, sometimes in the form of Brahmā, and sometimes in the form of a cakravartin, all without wavering from the dharmadhātu. How so? Bodhisattvas, for the sake of bringing beings to maturity, appear to beings of different predispositions in a variety of recognizable forms, but the bodhisattvas objectify neither themselves nor beings as they appear in various forms to those beings.
“Similarly Śāriputra,36 no ordinary being or follower of the Śrāvakayāna or Pratyekabuddhayāna is able to purify the faults of bodhisattvas that have arisen from the power of their courageous mind and roots of virtue or from their knowledge, nor can they purify pernicious faults, which are purified by entering the samādhi of seeing the buddhas. Bodhisattvas memorize and recite the names of these bhagavān buddhas, and by reciting the Dharma discourse of the Three Sections37 three times during the day and three times at night, they renounce their pernicious faults and obtain samādhi.”38 [B2]
On the same occasion, the venerable Upāli emerged from meditative seclusion and came to where the Bhagavān was staying.39 Upon arriving, he bowed his head at the feet of the Bhagavān, circumambulated him three times, and sat to one side. The venerable Upāli then said to the Bhagavān, “Bhagavān, when I was in solitary meditative seclusion, this thought arose in my mind: [F.123.a] the Bhagavān has taught the followers of the Śrāvakayāna and the Pratyekabuddhayāna that the prātimokṣa vows are the pure training and superior ethical discipline. The Bhagavān has also taught that followers of the Bodhisattvayāna do not abandon their training even for the sake of their lives.40 How then would a bhagavān, one who has either passed into parinirvāṇa or still remains, explain the prātimokṣa vows of the followers of the Śrāvakayāna? How would the prātimokṣa vows of the followers of the Pratyekabuddhayāna be explained? How would the prātimokṣa vows of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna be explained? The Bhagavān has said that I am supreme among those who uphold the Vinaya. I will certainly listen closely to the Bhagavān’s expertise in the Vinaya and, having mastered it precisely, will gain fearlessness and teach it perfectly and in detail to the assemblies. Therefore, I thought to ask the Bhagavān to teach me perfectly and in detail.41
“Bhagavān, while I was alone in private meditative seclusion, I thought, ‘I should go before the Tathāgata and request a detailed explanation of the Vinaya.’ Since this thought came to mind, Bhagavān, I ask the Tathāgata to offer a clear, thorough, and detailed explanation of the Vinaya to this great assembly of monks and bodhisattvas.”
The Bhagavān responded to the venerable Upāli, “Upāli, you should say that the training of the followers of the Śrāvakayāna is pure in terms of its distinctive application and distinctive orientation. [F.123.b] You should also say that the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna is pure in terms of its distinctive application and distinctive orientation. Why? Upāli, it is because the followers of the Śrāvakayāna have a distinctive application and orientation, while bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna have another distinctive application and orientation.
“Upāli, the pure ethical discipline of the followers of the Śrāvakayāna is impure ethical discipline for bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna; for the latter it is highly corrupt ethical discipline. The pure ethical discipline of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna is impure ethical discipline for the followers of the Śrāvakayāna; for the latter it is highly corrupt ethical discipline. Why? Upāli, it is because the followers of the Śrāvakayāna do not even have the fleeting desire to take rebirth in the world. This is pure ethical discipline for the followers of the Śrāvakayāna but is impure, highly corrupt ethical discipline for bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna. Upāli, why is it that pure ethical discipline of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna is impure, highly corrupt ethical discipline for the followers of the Śrāvakayāna? Upāli, it is because bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna take rebirth in saṃsāra for countless eons without aversion or weariness. This is pure ethical discipline for bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna [F.124.a] but is impure, highly corrupt ethical discipline for the followers of the Śrāvakayāna.
“Upāli, you should therefore say that the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna guards and that the training of the followers of the Śrāvakayāna does not guard. You should say that the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna serves as a remedy and that the training of those who follow the Śrāvakayāna does not serve as a remedy. You should say that the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna is pursued over a long duration and that the training of the followers of the Śrāvakayāna proceeds in stages.
“Upāli, why is it that the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna guards, while the training of the followers of the Śrāvakayāna does not guard? Upāli, bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna should work with the minds of other beings and other people,42 while the followers of the Śrāvakayāna do not need to. Upāli, that is why the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna guards, while the training of the followers of the Śrāvakayāna does not guard.
“Upāli, why is it that the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna serves as a remedy, while the training of the followers of the Śrāvakayāna does not serve as a remedy? Upāli,43 if a bodhisattva who follows the Mahāyāna commits a fault in the morning and does not part from the omniscient mind at midday, [F.124.b] then the complement of ethical discipline of the bodhisattva who follows the Mahāyāna is not at all inhibited. If the bodhisattva commits a fault at midday and has not parted from, but rather maintains, the omniscient mind in the afternoon, then the complement of ethical discipline of the bodhisattva who follows the Mahāyāna is not at all inhibited. If the bodhisattva commits a fault in the afternoon and has not parted from, but rather maintains, the omniscient mind in the first watch of the night, then the complement of ethical discipline of the bodhisattva who follows the Mahāyāna is not at all inhibited. If the bodhisattva commits a fault in the first watch of the night and has not parted from, but rather maintains, the omniscient mind in the middle watch of the night, then the complement of ethical discipline of the bodhisattva who follows the Mahāyāna is not at all inhibited. If the bodhisattva commits a fault in the middle watch of the night and has not parted from, but rather maintains, the omniscient mind in the last watch of the night, then the complement of ethical discipline of the bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna is not at all inhibited. Therefore, Upāli, the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna serves as a remedy. Bodhisattvas should neither give rise to excess remorse for nor feel overly dejected about their faults.
“Upāli, you should understand that when the followers of the Śrāvakayāna commit a fault repeatedly, the complement of ethical discipline of those followers of the Śrāvakayāna deteriorates,44 degenerates, and is exhausted.45 Why? Because followers of the Śrāvakayāna, for the sake of eliminating all afflictions, act as if their head and clothes were on fire. [F.125.a] In this way, the training of the followers of the Śrāvakayāna—who fervently desire parinirvāṇa—does not serve as a remedy.
“Upāli, how is it that the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna is pursued over a long duration, while the training of the Śrāvakayāna proceeds in stages? Upāli, you should understand that even if bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna revel in, relish, and enjoy the five sense pleasures for as many eons as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges but do not give up the mind of awakening, then the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna will not be inhibited at all.46 Why? Because, Upāli, there are times and instances in which bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna have so fully assimilated bodhicitta that they are not even affected by the afflictions in their dreams. Upāli, bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna do not eliminate the afflictions in a single lifetime; the afflictions of bodhisattvas whose roots of virtue have matured are exhausted gradually. Followers of the Śrāvakayāna, whose roots of virtue have not matured47 and who act as if their head and clothes were on fire, will not take rebirth in saṃsāra for even an instant. Therefore, Upāli, the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna is to be pursued over a long duration, and the training of the followers of the Śrāvakayāna proceeds in stages.
“Therefore, Upāli, you should say that the training of bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna guards, serves as a remedy, and is pursued over a long duration. [F.125.b] You should say that the training of the followers of the Śrāvakayāna does not guard, does not serve as a remedy, and proceeds in stages. Why? Upāli, unsurpassed, completely perfect awakening requires significant requisites; it is not easy for bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna to take rebirth and transmigrate for limitless eons if they are singularly discontented with saṃsāra.
“Upāli, the tathāgata, arhat, completely perfect buddhas recognize that there is a purpose in not teaching bodhisattvas engaged in the Mahāyāna about discontentment alone, or in teaching them about dispassion alone or only about revulsion. They also teach on being joyful and delighted,48 on what is profound and what is not defiled, about subtleties, analysis,49 and about being without regret and obsession. They teach about what is unobstructed, about what is unobscured, and about emptiness. Hearing these teachings, bodhisattvas are overjoyed, do not feel discontent for saṃsāra, and perfect nonattachment, the unsurpassed, completely perfect state of awakening.”50
Then the venerable Upāli asked the Bhagavān, “Bhagavān, among the things considered to be errors, some are associated with desire, some are associated with anger, and some are associated with delusion. That being so, Bhagavān, which of those are the weightiest errors for bodhisattvas who follow the Mahāyāna—those associated with desire, those associated with anger, or those associated with delusion?” [F.126.a]
The Bhagavān replied to the venerable Upāli,51 “Upāli, suppose that, on the one hand, a bodhisattva who follows the Mahāyāna commits faults associated with desire for as many eons as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges; and suppose that, on the other hand, the same bodhisattva commits a single fault related to anger. If we consider each of these cases in the context of the Bodhisattvayāna, then the fault related to anger is much weightier than the faults related to desire. Why? Upāli, anger forsakes beings, whereas desire brings beings together. Upāli, bodhisattvas are not deceived by and do not fear afflictions that gather beings together; but bodhisattvas are deceived by and fear the afflictions that forsake beings.
“Moreover, Upāli, the Tathāgata has taught that desire is a minor misdeed that is given up slowly, anger is a major misdeed that is given up quickly, and delusion is a major misdeed that is given up slowly. Among those, Upāli, minor misdeeds that are given up slowly are not considered afflictions for bodhisattvas. Major misdeeds that are given up quickly should be viewed as afflictions for bodhisattvas; indeed, they should not desire them, even in their dreams. Therefore, Upāli, you should say that the faults of bodhisattvas that are associated with desire are not faults, because for bodhisattvas there is no deception or fault in them. [F.126.b] You should say that faults associated with anger are faults, because for bodhisattvas there is deception and fault in them.52 Upāli, those bodhisattvas who are not skilled in means are frightened by the faults associated with desire but are not frightened by the faults associated with anger. Bodhisattvas who are skilled in means are frightened by the faults associated with anger but are not frightened by the faults associated with desire.”53
The Bhagavān replied to Youthful Mañjuśrī, “Mañjuśrī, if foolish beings knew that all phenomena are thoroughly tamed, then the Tathāgata would not have to formulate the Vinaya over and over. Because beings do not know this, the Tathāgata gradually formulated the Vinaya so that they may understand that all phenomena are thoroughly tamed.”54
Then the venerable Upāli said to the Bhagavān, “Bhagavān, Youthful Mañjuśrī has not offered any kind of explanation on the instructions for determining the Vinaya. Bhagavān, for that reason, please have Youthful Mañjuśrī teach some of the important points.”
Then Youthful Mañjuśrī said to the venerable Upāli, “Honorable Upāli, all phenomena are thoroughly tamed—it is for the sake of disciplining one’s own mind that the topic of the thoroughly tamed is taught. No phenomenon is defiled; it is because the self cannot be apprehended that the discipline of remorse is taught. No phenomenon is mistaken; it is because they are inherently pure that the topic of the thoroughly tamed is taught. All phenomena are an ultimate gateway to suchness; it is because training should be free of deceit that pure training is taught. All phenomena are nonconceptual, cannot be accepted, and cannot be rejected; it is because they are inconceivable that the state of nonattachment is taught. All phenomena are free of attachment and do not persist; it is because they do not persist for long that the purity of all beings is taught. All phenomena are found within the limits of space; it is because they lack materiality that the lack of inherent existence has been taught. No phenomenon can be differentiated; it is because the limits of past, future, and present are not apprehended that the sameness of the three times is taught. All phenomena lack designations; it is because the mind is oriented to equanimity that the elimination of doubt is taught.
“Honorable Upāli, that is the thoroughly tamed dharmadhātu realized by bhagavān buddhas. Noble sons and daughters who do not have faith in the true nature of phenomena are far removed from the training of the Tathāgata.”
The Bhagavān replied to the venerable Upāli, “Upāli, the Dharma teaching of Youthful Mañjuśrī is aligned with liberation; there is no liberation that is not rooted in inconceivability. For that reason Youthful Mañjuśrī teaches the Dharma for the sake of removing the arrogance of those arrogant ones who believe that they are free of all concepts but are caught up in thought.”
The Bhagavān then replied to the venerable Upāli, “Upāli, if a monk thinks he has eliminated desire, then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks he has eliminated anger and delusion, then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘The qualities of desire are one thing, and the qualities of a buddha are another,’ then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘The qualities of anger are one thing and the qualities of a buddha are another,’ or ‘the qualities of delusion are one thing and the qualities of the Buddha are another,’ he acts with arrogance. If he thinks he is happy, he acts with arrogance. If he thinks of his deeds, he acts with arrogance. If he thinks he is liberated, he acts with arrogance. If he thinks of emptiness, he acts with arrogance. If he thinks of signlessness, he acts with arrogance. If he thinks of wishlessness, he acts with arrogance. [F.128.a] If he thinks of preconceived notions, he acts with arrogance. If he thinks of nonorigination, he acts with arrogance. If he thinks of immateriality, he acts with arrogance. If he thinks that phenomena exist, he acts with arrogance. If he thinks that all phenomena are impermanent, he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘What is there to do if all phenomena are empty?’ then he acts with arrogance. This is the arrogance of a follower of the Śrāvakayāna.
“What is the arrogance of a follower of the Bodhisattvayāna? If he thinks, ‘I have generated the attitude that aspires to the gnosis of the buddhas, which is superior to everything else,’ then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘I should practice the six perfections,’ then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks that the perfection of wisdom refers to renunciation, then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘This is profound, and that is not profound,’ then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘This leads to purity, and that does not lead to purity,’ then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘These are the qualities of buddhas, these are the qualities of pratyekabuddhas, and these are the qualities of śrāvakas,’ then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘This is logical, and that is not logical,’ then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘This is defiled, and that is not defiled,’ then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘This is the path, and that is not the path,’ then he acts with arrogance. [F.128.b] If he thinks, ‘I will quickly and fully attain unsurpassed, completely perfect awakening,’ then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘Since all phenomena are inconceivable, I will not contemplate them,’ then he acts with arrogance. If he thinks, ‘Since unsurpassed, completely perfect awakening is inconceivable, there is nothing to be contemplated,’ then he is engaged in significant objectification. This is the arrogance of a follower of the Bodhisattvayāna.”
When the Bhagavān finished speaking these verses that teach accomplishment, two hundred arrogant monks, freed from clinging, were liberated from the defilements. Sixty thousand bodhisattvas accepted that phenomena are unproduced.
After the Bhagavān spoke, the venerable Upāli, Youthful Mañjuśrī, the bodhisattvas, the monks, everyone assembled there, and the gods, humans, asuras, and gandharvas rejoiced and praised the Bhagavān’s teaching.
This concludes Determining the Vinaya: Upāli’s Questions, the twenty-fourth of the one hundred thousand sections of the Dharma discourse known as The Noble Great Heap of Jewels.
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Nāgārjuna. byang chub kyi ltung ba bshags pa’i ’grel pa byang chub sems dpa’i bslab pa’i rim pa (Bodhyāpattideśanāvṛttibodhisattvaśikṣākrama). Toh 4006, Degé Tengyur vol. 116 (mdo tshogs, ’grel pa), folios 187.b–194.a. English translation in Beresford (1980).
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acceptance that phenomena are unproduced
- mi skye ba’i chos la bzod pa
- nyon mongs
- blo gros mi zad pa
- mthong ba don yod
- gzi brjid mtha’ yas
- mgon med zas sbyin
- dgra bcom pa
- mya ngan med pa’i dpal
- lha ma yin
- spyan ras gzigs dbang phyug
- bzang skyong
- dpal bzang
- dpal bzang po
- bcom ldan ’das
- byang chub sems dpa’
- byang chub sems dpa’ sems dpa’ chen po
- byang chub sems dpa’i theg pa
- gnas pa dpag med
- tshangs pa
- tshangs pa
- tshangs pas byin
- tshangs pa’i ’od zer rnam par rol pas mngon par mkhyen pa
- ’khor los sgyur ba
- tsan dan dpal
- zla ba’i tog
- zla mchog
- rgyal ba
- ’dod chags
- nor dpal
- chos kyi dbyings
- chos ’byung
- chos kyi tog
doors of liberation
- rnam par thar pa’i sgo
- stong pa nyid
Engaged in Inconceivable Liberation
- rnam par thar pa bsam gyis mi khyab pa la yang dag par zhugs pa
- bskal pa
- tshul khrims
- chos mngon par ’phags
- dbang po bzang
eye of Dharma
- chos kyi mig
Fearless toward All Phenomena
- chos thams cad la bag tsha ba med par gnas pa
five sense pleasures
- dod pa’i yon tan lnga po
- dri za
- nam mkha’ lding
- sbyin pa
- sangs rgyas dpal
- ye shes
grave acts of immediate retribution
- mtshams ma mchis pa lnga’i las
- mtshams med
- dbang po
- dbang po tog gi rgyal mtshan gyi rgyal po
inner and outer constituents
- nang dang phyi’i dngos po
- ’gro ba ’dzin
- dra ba can gyi ’od
- ye shes tog
- ye shes dpal
- las kyi sgrib pa
- me tog dpal
- la du
- gzhon nu ’od
- mthu chen thob
- theg pa chen po
- byams pa
- nor bu bzang
Manifesting the Appearance of Good Qualities
- yon tan gzugs ston
- blo gros
- bsam gtan
- nang du yang dag ’jog
mind of awakening
- byang chub kyi sems
- klu dbang gi rgyal po
- sred med kyi bu
- sred med kyi bu
- bdud rtsi ’chang
- bag tsha ba med pa
- bag tsha ba med par gnas pa
- mya ngan las ’das pa
nirvāṇa without remainder
- lhag med mya ngan ’das pa
- ci yang min
- sgrib pa
- pad ma’i ’od zer rnam par rol pas mngon par mkhyen pa
- yongs su myan ngan las ’das pa
path of the ten nonvirtuous actions
- mi dge ba bcu’i las kyi lam
- ’od dpal
- so sor thar pa’i sdom pa
- rang sangs rgyas
- rang sangs rgyas kyi theg pa
- yi dags
Prince Jeta’s Grove
- rgyal bu rgyal byed kyi tshal
- mthong dga’
- bsod nams dpal
- bsod nams ’od zer
- tshogs can
- rin chen zla ba
- rin chen zla ’od
- rin chen me
- rin po che’i pad ma la rab tu bzhugs pa ri dbang gi rgyal po
- rin chen pad mas rnam par gnon pa
- lag na rin po che
- rin chen ’od ’phro
- rin chen dpal
Recognizer of Unafflicted Realization
- nyon mongs pa med pa rtogs par khong du chud pa
- gang ga’i klung
roots of virtue
- dge ba’i rtsa ba
- shakya thub pa
- ting nge ’dzin
- kun nas snang ba bkod pa’i dpal
- ’khor ba
- dge ’dun
- sha ri’i bu
- sgrib pa thams cad rnam par sel ba
seat of awakening
- byang chub kyi snying po
- mtshan ma med pa
- seng ge
- seng ge blo gros
- pha rol du phyin pa drug
skill in means
- thabs la mkhas pa
- dran pa’i dpal
- nyan thos
- nyan thos kyi theg pa
- mnyan yod
- mchod rten
- yid bzangs
- blo gros bzang po
- mig bzang
- mtshan dpal shin tu yongs bsgrags
- dpas byin
- des pa
- nyi ma’i tog
- nyi ’od
- gser ’od
- g.yul las shin tu rnam par rgyal ba
- shin tu rnam par gnon pa’i dpal
- de bzhin gshegs pa
- gzi brjid stobs
- gzi brjid phung po
those who uphold the Vinaya
- ’dul ba ’dzin pa
- phung po gsum pa
unsurpassed, completely perfect awakening
- bla na med pa yang dag par rdzogs pa’i byang chub
- nye bar ’khor
- rdo rje’i ’od
- rdo rje’i snying po
- rdo rje’i snying pos rab tu ’joms pa
- lag na rdo rje
- chu lha
- chu lha’i lha
- rnam par gnon pas gshegs pa
- dri ma med pa
- dri ma med par grags pa
- dri med gzi brjid
- yid gnyis spong
- ’dul ba
- dpal dgyes
- dpa’ bo’i sde
- shes rab
- smon pa med pa
world of Yama
- gshin rje’i ’jig rten
- gshin rje
- zla ’od gzhon nur gyur pa
- ’jam dpal gzhon nur gyur pa