Home » Features » Be Born In Pure Land To Be Without Humans’ 20 Difficulties 生净土而无人二十难

From ‘The Sūtra Of 42 Sections’ 12th Section: Raising Of Difficulties For Diligent Cultivation (《佛说四十二章经》之第十二章:举难勤修): ‘The Buddha said, “Humans have 20 difficulties. (佛言:「人有二十难。 )

[01] To be poor yet generous is difficult (贫穷布施难).
[02] To be rich, powerful and honoured yet learn the path is difficult (豪贵学道难).
[03] To relinquish life with definite death is difficult (弃命必死难).
[04] To attain sight of Buddhist sūtras is difficult (得覩佛经难).
[05] To in one’s lifetime meet a Buddha in the world is difficult (生值佛世难).

[06] To endure lust and endure desires is difficult (忍色忍欲难).
[07] To see that liked yet not seek it is difficult (见好不求难).
[08] To be insulted yet not angry is difficult (被辱不瞋难).
[09] To have power yet not look down upon others is difficult (有势不临难).
[10] To be in contact with matters yet indifferent is difficult (触事无心难).

[11] To broadly learn and deeply study is difficult (广学博究难).    
[12] To eradicate conceit is difficult (除灭我慢难).
[13] To not slight those yet to learn is difficult (不轻未学难).
[14] To have mental activities impartial is difficult (心行平等难).
[15] To not speak of rights and wrongs is difficult (不说是非难).

[16] To meet good-knowing advisors is difficult (会善知识难).
[17] To see one’s nature and learn the path is difficult (见性学道难).
[18] To accordingly transform and deliver people is difficult (随化度人难).
[19] To see situations yet be unmoved is difficult (覩境不动难).
[20] To have good understanding of skilful means is difficult (善解方便难).”‘

[Note: With mindfulness of Buddha for birth in Pure Land, thus be without these difficulties.] (注:念佛生净土则无此难。) From the Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì’s ‘Explanation For The Sūtra Of 42 Sections’ (净土宗九祖蕅益大师之《四十二章经解》): ‘This 12th section, briefly raises 20 difficult matters to use as exhortations. With agreeable sentiments, they are thus easy. With opposite sentiments, they are thus difficult. However, if able to deeply give rise to the willing mind, thus although difficult, they are yet easy. Those perhaps only following prevalent worldliness, thus although easy, they will also be difficult. (「此第十二章,略举二十难事以为劝诫也。顺情则易。逆情则难。然能深发肯心,则虽难而易。其或但随流俗,则虽易亦难。)

[01] Those poor are thus with generosity as a difficulty. Thus, although with a little of giving, as this attains blessings that are extremely much, it should not not be encouraged. However, now seen are those poor yet able to give. Therefore, rich people instead are not willing to give. Thus miserly and contemptuous, this is why they are so. (夫贫穷则布施为难。故虽少许之施,得福甚多,不可不勉力也。然现见有贫而能施者。乃富人反不肯施,则悭鄙为何如耶。) [02] For the rich, powerful and honoured to learn the path, from the precedent on generosity, it can be known. (豪贵学道,例施可知。)

[03] That humans value most is their lives. If able to relinquish life, thus of what other matters cannot be done? However, yet to hear of are people who wish to save their lives with fear of death, resulting in ability to have long lives and not die. Thus of what other matters will they also greedily cherish? (人所最重者身命。诚能弃命,则何事不可为者?然未闻保命畏死之人,果能长生不死。则亦何事贪惜耶?)

[04] The Buddhist sūtras are difficult to see. Now fortunately seeing the Buddhist sūtras, yet not studying their essence, utmost contemplating them, thus with not seeing, what difference is there? (佛经难覩。今幸覩佛经而不研精殚思,则与不覩何异?) [05] The Buddha in the world is difficult to meet. Now fortunately meeting the Buddha in this world, yet not without delay diligently cultivating, thus with not meeting, what difference is there? (佛世难值。今幸值佛世而不及时进修,则与不值何殊?)

[06] Lustful desires although frequently felt as that good, however perhaps examining them, of their flavour being little and with bitterness much, perhaps contemplating them to be like illusions and like shadows, thus with what difficulty are they endured and controlled? (色欲虽恒情所好,然或察其味少苦多,或观其如幻如影,则亦何难忍制?) [07] If when seeing that liked, knowing that it may not be demanded, thus is the greedy mind naturally extinguished. (若见好时,知其未必可求,则贪心自息。) [08] If when insulted, only with the feeling of forgiveness and with reason dispatched, thus is the angry mind naturally at peace. [09] Seeing the rich and honoured to be like grass heads’ dewdrops, how can there be capacity to, with power look down upon people? (若被辱时,但以情恕理遣,则瞋意自平。) [10] Contemplating matters’ situations to be similar to those conditions of dreams, why worry about handling them? (视富贵若草头露,何容以势临人。观事境同梦所缘,何必劳心措置。)

[11] With broad learning yet not deeply studying, is like entering the ocean without a south-pointing needle. How can there be understanding of the principles? (广学而不博究,如入海无指南针,安能会理?) [12] Relying upon learning yet giving rise to conceit, is like fertile soil with growth of grass and weeds, which instead harm the good grains. (恃学而生我慢,如沃壤以滋稊稗,反害良禾。)

[13] The Buddha already said that there are four kinds of things that should not be overlooked. First, fire although tiny should not be overlooked. Second, dragons although small should not be overlooked. Third, princes although young should not be overlooked. Fourth, Śramaṇas although junior should not be overlooked. Now having those yet to learn, and those yet to know, they should not be overlooked thus. (佛尝言四种不可忽。一者火虽小不可忽。二者龙虽小不可忽。三者王子虽小不可忽。四者沙门虽小不可忽。) [14] With the mind impartial, thus with generosity’s difficulty surpassing giving to the Thus Come One, with giving to the most lowly beggar, this has meritorious virtues without difference. (今有轻未学者,未知其不可忽故也。心平等,则施难胜如来,与施最下乞人,功德无异。)

[15] Eliminating rights and wrongs, thus are all dharmas, without that which is not with the Buddha’s Dharma. [16] With rights’ and wrongs’ sentiments and views yet to be forgotten, one definitely is not able to see the Dharma realm’s true good-knowing advisors. (泯是非,则一切诸法,无非佛法。是非情见未忘,决不能见法界真善知识。) [17] Not seeing the true nature of the presently manifested one thought, one definitely cannot learn the unsurpassable path. (不见现前一念心之实性,决不可以学无上道。)

[18] Not learning the path of matching nature’s expedients and the ultimately true, thus not able to accordingly transform and deliver people. (不学称性权实之道,不能随化度人。) [19] Yet to attain accordingly transforming and delivering people’s skilful means, how can there be sight of the ten dharma realms’ situations, yet be single-minded and unmoving? (未达随化度人方便,安能覩十法界境而一心不动?) [20] If not able to, of each and every one dharma realm within, completely see all the dharma realms’ phenomena and principles, what cause is there for good understanding of one unified body’s skilful means? (若不能于一一法界中具见一切法界事理,何繇善解同体方便?) Thus know that of these 20 matters, those listed after are more difficult than those listed before.’ (故知此二十事,后后难于前前也。」)

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