Excerpts

[14] The Parable Of Killing The Merchants’ Leader To Offer A ‘Heavenly God’ From The Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables《百喻经》之杀商主祀天喻

a man rowing a small boat with a sail
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昔有贾客欲入大海,入大海之法要须导师然后可去,即共求觅得一导师,既得之已相将发引至旷野中。

In the past, there were merchants who desired to enter the great ocean. As for the method of entering the great ocean, there must be a guiding teacher, after that can they go forth, they then together sought to attain a guiding teacher. Having attained him already, with one another, they intended to set off, and were guided to arrive within wilderness.

有一天祠当须人祀然后得过,于是众贾共思量言:「我等伴党尽是亲亲如何可杀?唯此导师中用祀天。」

There was a hall for sacrifices to a ‘heavenly god’, ‘needing’ a person to be offered, after that getting to pass through. Thereupon, all the merchants together considered and said, ‘As we companions are completely close relatives, how can any be killed? Only this guiding teacher within can be used for offering to the “heavenly god.”‘

即杀导师以用祭祀。祀天已竟,迷失道路不知所趣,穷困死尽。

They then killed their guiding teacher, with him used for sacrificial offering. With offering to the ‘heavenly god’ completed, they were confused and lost their path, not knowing that to turn towards, with poverty and death in the end.

一切世人亦复如是,欲入法海取其珍宝,当修善法行以为导师。

All of the world’s people are likewise thus. If desiring to enter the Dharma ocean to obtain its precious treasures, they should cultivate good Dharma practices, with them as their guiding teachers.

毁破善行,生死旷路永无出期,经历三涂受苦长远,如彼商贾,将入大海,杀其导者,迷失津济,终致困死。

If destroying good practices, they are with the cycle of birth and death’s extensive path, forever without exit’s date, passing through the three realms, receiving suffering far-reaching, they are like those merchants, intending to enter the great ocean, yet killing their guide, confused and losing their shipping route, in the end leading to poverty and death.

[Note 1: The three realms (三界) are the (i) Desire Realm (欲界), (ii) Form Realm (色界) and (iii) Formless Realm (无色界).]

[Note 2: To walk the path to Buddhahood, at least one good (or main) spiritual guiding teacher (such as the Buddha through his teachings, and the Patriarchs through their explanations) must be found, and the right Dharma instructions given must be followed. If an evil guide’s instructions are heeded, or if the good guide’s instructions are not heeded, Buddhahood will never be attained.

For discovering spiritual wealth and deathlessness, which are the opposites of worldly poverty and death respectively, a good guide is thus crucial and very precious, not to be given up when found, unless proven to be evil or inadequate. Otherwise, we will remain existentially confused and lost in the wilderness of ongoing rebirths.

According to the Buddha’s teachings, no truly heavenly god (天神), being with greater good than the average human being, will need or want any lesser sentient being to be sacrificed for him or her – unless that being is actually a heavenly demon (天魔), thus evil, but mistaken to be good.]

全百喻
All Hundred Parables:

https://purelanders.com/baiyu

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