Home » Excerpts » To What Extent Should The Dharma Be Protected? 护法应当到什么程度?

于诸佛净戒,
护持如明珠。

— 释迦牟尼佛
《梵网经菩萨戒本》


Of all the Buddhas’ pure precepts,
protect and uphold them like bright pearls.

— Śākyamuni Buddha
(Brahma Net Sūtra’s Bodhisattva Precepts)

The Bodhisattva Kāśyapa then addressed the Buddha, saying: “World-Honored One, a Tathāgata’s permanent body is something like a painted rock.” (迦叶菩萨复白佛言:「世尊!如来常身犹如画石。」)

The Buddha said to Kāśyapa: Good man, this is why monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen must all redouble their efforts to defend and uphold the true Dharma. The rewards for taking responsibility for preserving the Dharma are extensive, boundless. Good man, for this reason laymen who defend the Dharma may need to take up swords and staves in this way to protect those monks who are upholding the Dharma. If one has taken the vow of maintaining the Five Precepts, in and of itself that does not mean that person has earned the appellation “a person of the Mahāyāna.” On the other hand, someone who has not taken the Five Precepts yet defends the true Dharma would be given the title of “[a person of] the Mahāyāna.” [When necessary,] protectors of the true Dharma should take up swords and other weapons to serve the Dharma preachers. (佛告迦叶:「善男子!以是因缘故,比丘、比丘尼、优婆塞、优婆夷应当勤加护持正法,护法果报广大无量。善男子!是故,护法优婆塞等应执刀杖拥护如是持法比丘。若有受持五戒具者,不得名为大乘人也。不受五戒,为护正法,乃名大乘。护正法者,应当执持刀、剑、器仗侍卫法师。」)

Kāśyapa said to the Buddha: World-Honored One, if monks stand side-by-side with laymen, wielding swords or staves [in defense of the Dharma], would they still be considered teachers or not? Would they still be maintaining the precepts or violating them? (迦叶白佛言:「世尊!若诸比丘与如是等诸优婆塞持刀杖者共为伴侣,为有师耶?为无师乎?为是持戒?为是破戒?」)

The Buddha said to Kāśyapa: Do not suggest that this would mean a violation of the precepts. Good man, after my Nirvāṇa, a degenerate age will come upon the world; nations will be in chaos, people will steal from one another, and society will be plagued by famine. At that time many will aspire for the monastic life because they are hungry. Such individuals I call “shavelings.” When they see there are pure monks who are maintaining the precepts, protecting the true Dharma, and comporting themselves with dignity, these shavelings will run after those monks to chase them away, perhaps injuring or even killing them. (佛告迦叶:「莫谓是等为破戒人。善男子!我涅槃后,浊恶之世国土荒乱,互相抄掠,人民饥饿。尔时,多有为饥饿故发心出家,如是之人名为秃人。是秃人辈见有持戒、威仪具足、清净比丘护持正法,驱逐令出,若杀、若害。」)

The Bodhisattva Kāśyapa then spoke to the Buddha: World-Honored One, those people who do keep the precepts and who do protect the true Dharma, how will they manage to travel between towns and cities in order to teach? (迦叶菩萨复白佛言:「世尊!是持戒人、护正法者,云何当得游行村落城邑教化?」)

[The Buddha answered:] Good man, that is why I now allow those who keep the precepts to rely on the companionship of those in white robes who wield weapons. Though kings, high officials, and merchants may take up weapons as lay followers in order to protect the Dharma, I declare this to be entirely in keeping with the precepts. However, though one may take up weapons [in defense of the Dharma], he should not take another’s life. To act in the way I have described would constitute the most principled precept keeping. (「善男子!是故,我今听持戒人依诸白衣持刀杖者以为伴侣。若诸国王、大臣、长者、优婆塞等为护法故虽持刀杖,我说是等名为持戒。虽持刀杖,不应断命。若能如是,即得名为第一持戒。)

Kāśyapa, those who protect the Dharma, are called those complete with right views, who are able to extensively preach the Mahāyāna scriptures. Such a person never keeps decorated royal parasols, oil pots, rice or other grains, or any kind of fruits or melons. He does not cultivate relationships with kings, government officials, or the wealthy for personal gain. He is not obsequious toward patrons, he is meticulous in his comportment, and he is stern with those who break the precepts and others who behave badly. Such a person I call “a teacher who keeps the precepts and protects the Dharma, who can be a true spiritual guide to living beings, and whose mind is broad and expansive like a great ocean.” (「迦叶!夫护法者,谓具正见、能广宣说大乘经典,终不捉持王者宝盖、油瓶、谷米、种种果蓏,不为利养亲近国王、大臣、长者。于诸檀越心无谄曲,具足威仪,摧伏破戒诸恶人等,是名持戒护法之师。能为众生真善知识,其心弘广譬如大海。)

Kāśyapa, if there is a monk who preaches the Dharma to others for personal gain, his followers and associates will learn from their teacher and also covet personal gain. This person will destroy his own community in this way. (「迦叶!若有比丘以利养故为他说法,是人所有徒众眷属亦效是师贪求利养,是人如是便自坏众。)

《大般涅槃经》卷第三:金刚身品第五
Great [Mahā]parinirvāṇa Sūtra: Scroll Three: Chapter Five: Vajra Body

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