Introductory Material (Dust Contemplation)

[Section 1: Introduction]

The introductory line of the Dust Contemplation is missing some variables and thus has been stitched together:

[1.1].. . way is not cut off. . . [1.2] . . . wisdom. When we say “wisdom,” the general meaning …[1.3]… wisdom.

According to the holy teachings [of Buddhism], the wisdom that is free of attachments must be gradually cultivated [1.4], Only then can it be fully accomplished. It is for this reason that the Treatise on Buddha-Nature says: “An intelligent person, step by step, / carefully [1.5] and gradually cultivates / so as to eliminate his impurities, / just as a goldsmith refines gold-ore [into pure gold]

This follows the gradual cultivation tradition as shared through the gradualistic perspective of such sutras as the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, the Lankavatara with its gradually ascending the stages; even the Awakening of Faith reinforces “the gradually advancing towards the highest enlightenment,” as well as Tsung-mi’s own admonition for a gradual cultivation after awakening.

When a practitioner wishes to cultivate [this wisdom], [1.6] he must first maintain the precepts and stay pure with respect to the three kinds of conduct. The three kinds of conduct are [actions of] body, speech, and mind. For a layperson, this means one must [1.7] maintain the five precepts, the eight [fast-day] precepts, and the bodhisattva precepts; this is what is meant when the sutras speak of “good sons or daughters.” For [1.8] a monk or nun, this means maintaining the monastic precepts and the bodhisattva precepts.

The Five Precepts:

  1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.

  1. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.

  1. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.

  1. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.

  1. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.

The Eight Precepts:

  1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.

  1. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.

  1. Abrahmacariya veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual activity.

  1. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.

  1. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.

  1. Vikalabhojana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from eating at the forbidden time (i.e., after noon).

  1. Nacca-gita-vadita-visukkadassana mala-gandha-vilepana-dharana-mandana-vibhusanathana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics.

  1. Uccasayana-mahasayana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place.

The Bodhisattva Precepts:

A disciple of the Buddha shall not himself kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, rejoice at witnessing killing, or kill through incantation or deviant mantras. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing, and shall not intentionally kill any living creature. As a Buddha’s disciple, he ought to nurture a mind of compassion and filial piety, always devising expedient means to rescue and protect all beings. If instead, he fails to restrain himself and kills sentient beings without mercy, he commits a Parajika (major) offense.

A disciple of the Buddha must not himself steal or encourage others to steal, steal by expedient means, steal by means of incantation or deviant mantras. He should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of stealing. No valuables or possessions, even those belonging to ghosts and spirits or thieves and robbers, be they as small as a needle or blade of grass, may be stolen. As a Buddha’s disciple, he ought to have a mind of mercy, compassion, and filial piety — always helping people earn merits and achieve happiness. If instead, he steals the possessions of others, he commits a Parajika offense.

A disciple of the Buddha must not engage in licentious acts or encourage others to do so. [As a monk] he should not have sexual relations with any female — be she a human, animal, deity or spirit — nor create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of such misconduct. Indeed, he must not engage in improper sexual conduct with anyone. A Buddha’s disciple ought to have a mind of filial piety — rescuing all sentient beings and instructing them in the Dharma of purity and chastity. If instead, he lacks compassion and encourages others to engage in sexual relations promiscuously, including with animals and even their mothers, daughters, sisters, or other close relatives, he commits a Parajika offense.

A disciple of the Buddha must not himself use false words and speech, or encourage others to lie or lie by expedient means. He should not involve himself in the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of lying, saying that he has seen what he has not seen or vice versa, or lying implicitly through physical or mental means. As a Buddha’s disciple, he ought to maintain Right Speech and Right Views always, and lead all others to maintain them as well. If instead, he causes wrong speech, wrong views or evil karma in others, he commits a Parajika offense.

A disciple of the Buddha must not trade in alcoholic beverages or encourage others to do so. He should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of selling any intoxicant whatsoever, for intoxicants are the causes and conditions of all kinds of offenses. As a Buddha’s disciple, he ought to help all sentient beings achieve clear wisdom. If instead, he causes them to have upside-down, topsy-turvy thinking, he commits a Parajika offense.

A disciple of the Buddha must not himself broadcast the misdeeds or infractions of Bodhisattva-clerics or Bodhisattva-laypersons, or of [ordinary] monks and nuns — nor encourage others to do so. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of discussing the offenses of the assembly. As a Buddha’s disciple, whenever he hears evil persons, externalists or followers of the Two Vehicles speak of practices contrary to the Dharma or contrary to the precepts within the Buddhist community, he should instruct them with a compassionate mind and lead them to develop wholesome faith in the Mahayana. If instead, he discusses the faults and misdeeds that occur within the assembly, he commits a Parajika offense.

A disciple of the Buddha shall not praise himself and speak ill of others, or encourage others to do so. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of praising himself and disparaging others. As a disciple of the Buddha, he should be willing to stand in for all sentient beings and endure humiliation and slander — accepting blame and letting sentient beings have all the glory. If instead, he displays his own virtues and conceals the good points of others, thus causing them to suffer slander, he commits a Parajika offense.

A disciple of the Buddha must not be stingy or encourage others to be stingy. He should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of stinginess. As a Bodhisattva, whenever a destitute person comes for help, he should give that person what he needs. If instead, out of anger and resentment, he denies all assistance — refusing to help with even a penny, a needle, a blade of grass, even a single sentence or verse or a phrase of Dharma, but instead scolds and abuses that person — he commits a Parajika offense.

A disciple of the Buddha shall not harbor anger or encourage others to be angry. He should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of anger. As a disciple of the Buddha, he ought to be compassionate and filial, helping all sentient beings develop the good roots of non-contention. If instead, he insults and abuses sentient beings, or even transformation beings [such as deities and spirits], with harsh words, hitting them with his fists or feet, or attacking them with a knife or club — or harbors grudges even when the victim confesses his mistakes and humbly seeks forgiveness in a soft, conciliatory voice — the disciple commits a Parajika offense.

A Buddha’s disciple shall not himself speak ill of the Triple Jewel or encourage others to do so. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods or karma of slander. If a disciple hears but a single word of slander against the Buddha from externalists or evil beings, he experiences a pain similar to that of three hundred spears piercing his heart. How then could he possibly slander the Triple Jewel himself? Hence, if a disciple lacks faith and filial piety towards the Triple Jewel, and even assists evil persons or those of aberrant views to slander the Triple Jewel, he commits a Parajika offense.

*I feel that it needs to be underscored that the first two precepts need not be always stamped with a “Buddhist Seal of Approval.” For instance, my own seminary training for priestly ministry adhered to such principles. Thus, my coming to Buddhism carried with it the prior-foundation in these requirements. A lay person, as well, over the course of their life, could also gradually come to recognize them and adhere to them in one’s own practice. Indeed, ultimately they don’t adhere to exclusive sectarian practices.

[As it is said,] the precepts are the foundation for all good things, [1.9] so when one has the purity of the precepts, practice will be easily accomplished. It is for this reason that a scripture says: “when sila is pure, samadhi will then appear.” [1.10] [translators note: Sila is a Sanskrit word. It is translated into Chinese as “precepts.” Samadhi is also a Sanskrit word. It is translated into Chinese as “meditative concentration.”]

How does one cultivate [this purity]? Whenever one realizes that one’s conduct of body, speech, or mind has been impure, [1.11] one must always remorsefully repent before an image of the Buddha and then [vow to] not again transgress.

An adept’s early training utilizes such tools; when one advances along the path the need for any form of image is then discarded since it’s no longer needed nor depended upon.

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