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Buddha Sayings of Ancient China


The Sayings of the Buddha in Forty-Two Sections by Kasyapa Matanga and Gobharana is said to be the first official Buddhist literature that was put together for the Chinese by two early Indian missionaries, Kashyapa Matanga and Gobharana during the reign of Emperor Ming of the Later Han Dynasty. The first Buddhist temple in China, the White Horse Temple, was built for these two monks around 70 CE. At this temple, Matanga and Gobharana are said to have translated five sutras including the Sutra of Forty-two Sections, in which they used extracted passages from different Buddhism scriptures they had brought along.

Each section begins with "The Buddha said," which corresponds to the Confucian "Confucius said". It contains a fair collection of moral and religious sayings of Buddha.



When the World-Honoured One had become Enlightened, he taught:

Who understands the source of his own mind, penetrates the deepest doctrine of Buddha, and comprehends the Dharma. He has no prejudice in his heart, he has nothing to hanker after.

Attachments and passions makes some stupid and irrational.

The evil-man is insulting himself by trying to insult you. He seems to denounce you now, but as you firmly do not accept it, he must take the wrong deed back on his own person. Be therefore mindful, and never hurt but offenders and evil-doers. Such persons go for destroying their betters, and may thus end up destroying themselves.

If you observe the Way with simplicity of heart, great indeed is this Way.

The bliss of the Way is like a lighted torch. Its flame can be distributed to very many other torches people may bring along, to help them, while the original torch remains the same.

It is better to feed a good man than one hundred bad men.

It is better to feed one Arhat than to feed one hundred millions Anagamins.

It is best to feed a Buddha one who is above knowledge, one-sidedness, discipline, and enlightenment.

It is hard for the poor to practice charity.

It is hard for the strong and rich to observe the Way.

It is only a favoured few that get acquainted with a Buddhist sutra.

It is hard not to get into a passion when slighted.

It is hard to be even-minded and simple hearted in all one's dealings with others.

It is hard to be thorough in learning and exhaustive in investigation.

It is by rare opportunity that one is introduced to a true spiritual teacher.

It is hard to gain an insight into the nature of being and to practice the Way.

Those who are pure in heart and single in purpose are able to understand the most supreme Way. It is like polishing a mirror.

Good is to practice the Way and to follow the truth. Great is the heart that is in accord with the Way.

Meekness is full of strength.

The most illuminating is a mind that is thoroughly cleansed of dirt.

A mind troubled and vexed with the passions is impure,

When the Way is attained and the truth is seen, ignorance vanishes and enlightenment abides forever.

Be trained in the discipline that is beyond discipline. Those who understand this are near, those who are confused are far. The Way is beyond words and expressions.

When you gain spiritual enlightenment, you shall then find wisdom. The knowledge thus attained leads you quickly to the Way.

Moved by their selfish desires, people seek after fame and glory.

If you hanker after worldly fame and practise not the Way, it is like burning an incense stick. [Mod]

Men are tied up to their families and possessions more helplessly than in a prison. Those who are thus drowned in the filth of passion are called the ignorant.

Lust may be said to be the most powerful passion.

If the thirst for truth were weaker than passion, how many of us in the world will be able to follow the way of righteousness?

A torch-carrier running against the wind; his hands are sure to be burned.

Those who are following the Way should behave like a piece of timber drifting along a stream and finally reaching the ocean.

Rely not upon your will. It is not trustworthy. Guard yourself.

There was once a man who in despair over his inability to control his passions, wished to mutilate himself. Buddha said to Him, Better destroy your own evil thoughts than do harm to your own person. Passions grow from thought and imagination. Get calm, rather.

Those who follow the Way are like warriors who fight single-handed with a multitude of foes. They may all go out of the fort in full armour; but among them are some who are faint-hearted, and some who go halfway and beat a retreat, and some who are killed in the affray, and some who come home victorious.

If you desire to attain enlightenment, you should steadily walk in your Way, with a resolute heart, with courage, and should be fearless - to the end of reaching your goal.

Religious discipline is like playing a stringed instrument. When the mind is properly adjusted and quietly applied, the Way is attainable. But when you are too fervently bent on it, your body grows tired, and when your body is tired, your spirit becomes weary, your discipline will relax. Therefore, be calm and pure, and the Way will be gained. [Abr.]

It is rare fortune to be born at the time of a Buddha, and rarer still to see the Enlightened One. Even if he is able to see the Enlightened One, it is his rare fortune to have his heart awakened in faith. Even if he has faith, it is his rare fortune to awaken the heart of wisdom. Even if he awakens the heart of wisdom, it is his rare fortune to realise a spiritual state which is above discipline and attainment.

Buddha said, Those who study the doctrine of the Buddhas will do well to observe what is taught by them. It is like honey; it is sweet within, it is sweet without, it is sweet throughout; so is the Buddhas' teaching. [Abr.]

Monks, you must not walk on the way as the ox is attached to the wheel. His body moves, but his heart is not willing. But when your hearts are in accord with the Way, there is no need of troubling yourselves about your outward demeanour. Also, those who practice the Way might well follow the example of an ox that marches through the deep mire carrying a heavy load. He is tired, but he is steadily gazed, looking forward and not relax till he comes out of the mire; it is only then that he takes a respite. Escape misery by going for the Way. [Mod.]

Buddha said, I consider this universe as small. I consider the various methods of salvation taught by the Buddhas as a treasure created by imagination. I consider the profound doctrine of the Buddhas as precious metal or priceless fabric seen in a dream. I consider the teaching of the Buddhas as a flower before my eyes. I consider the practice of Dhyana as a pillar of worth. I consider Nirvana as awakening from a daydream or nightmare.

Chinese sayings of Buddha, END MATTER

Chinese sayings of Buddha, LITERATURE  

Gleaned from Kasyapa Matanga and Gobharan. The Sayings of the Buddha in Forty-Two Sections.

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