Sunday, January 03, 2016

Part 1 of The Treatise on Arousing the Faith of the Great Vehicle.


            Created by Bodhisattva Asvaghosa, and translated in the Liang dynasty[1] by Tripitaka Dharma Master Paramartha of Western India.

            Adoration to (namo) the Utmost One In The Ten Directions,
            To the Thoroughly Knowing One Who Conquers Karma.
            To the Sovereign One Unobstructed by Form,
            To the One Who Delivers the World with Great Pity.
            To the One Who Reaches the Essence and Characteristics of the Other Bodies (i.e., the 3 bodies of Nirmanakaya, Sambhoghakaya and Dharmakaya),
            To the Ocean of the True Suchness of Dharma-nature,
            To the Immeasurable Storehouse of Meritorious Virtues, and
            To the One Equal to the Cultivation and Practice that is According to Reality.

            May the multitude of beings be directed to get rid of doubts and renounce the grasp of perverted views, because by arousing the correct faith of the Great Vehicle (Mahayana) the Buddha-seed is not cut off.

            The Treatise says there is a Dharma able to arouse the root of faith in the Great Vehicle, and it is for this reason it must be articulated.  To articulate it, there are five parts.  What is said for the five?

            That which is first is the Part of the Causes and Conditions.
            That which is second is the Part of The Meanings Set Forth.
            That which is third is the Part of Explanations.
            That which is fourth is the Part of Faith in Mind and Cultivating Practice.
            That which is fifth is the Part of Exhorting the Benefits of Cultivation.


            A question says, “What are there as the causes and conditions to then create this treatise?”

            The answer says, “Indeed, of the causes and conditions there are eight kinds.  What are said for the eight?

“That which is first, as the general characteristic of the causes and conditions, is because it actually designates what directs the multitude of beings to be free from all suffering and to attain the ultimate ease (i.e., nirvana) that does not seek worldly fame, benefits, or respect.

            “That which is second is because it is for the desire to expound the Tathagata’s meaning of the fundamental and to direct the various multitudes of beings to the correct understanding that does not deceive.

            “That which is third, is because it is for directing the multitude of beings with ripened good roots to the Mahayana Dharma that they do not retreat from their faith.

            “That which is fourth, is because it is for directing the multitude of beings with slight good roots to cultivate faith in the mind.

            ‘That which is fifth, is because it is for revealing the expedient means to alleviate the obstructions of evil karmic-actions[2], to well guard their mind, to keep at a distance foolish pride, and to come forth from the net of errors.

            “That which is sixth, is because it is for revealing the practice pair of quietude and contemplation (samatha and vipasyana) to control the transgressions of mind of the common people and those of the two vehicles.

            “That which is seventh, is because it is for revealing the expedient means of single-pointed recollection (smrti) to be born in front of the Buddha and necessarily be firmly settled and not backsliding from faith in the mind.

            That which is eighth, is because it is for revealing the benefits and encouraging cultivation.

“As such, these are the categories of the causes and conditions actually used to make this treatise.”

A question says, “Possessed within the Sutras there is this Dharma.  Why should this be so seriously articulated?”

            The answer says, “Although within the Sutras there is this Dharma, in use, the roots and practice of the multitude of beings are not equal, and the conditions of their receiving and understanding are different.  It means when the Tathagata was in the world, the multitude of beings were keenly endowed, and the people with the ability to articulate the excellence of form, mind, and karmic-actions were completely of one voice in expounding the different types of understanding (i.e., liberation). Consequently, they did not need these treatises.

Supposing after the extinction of the Tathagata, perhaps there are in the multitude of beings some who are able to use their own power of listening extensively and they receive understanding (i.e., liberation); or there are in the multitude of beings some who likewise use their own power of listening a little and many of them understand (i.e., are liberated); or there are in the multitude of beings some who are without their own strength of mind and from the extensive treatises as a cause they gain understanding (i.e., liberation); and on their own, there are in the multitude of beings some who again and again use the writings of extensive treatises much as an annoyance, whose minds enjoy collecting and holding a few writings and by absorbing much meaning are able to receive understanding (i.e., liberation).

Thus is this treatise. Because it is for wanting to collect the infinite meanings of the Tathagata’s extensive and greatly profound Dharma, it is agreeable to articulate this treatise.

~The end of the part articulating the causes and conditions.

[1]  Dates 502-557.
[2] The Sanskrit term karma, (Ch. ) literally means action or activity but in the context of Buddha Dharma it refers specifically to actions that are volitional, i.e., directly related to the complexes of identity aggregated as the Fourth Skandha.  Therefore depending on the context, it is translated herein as “karmic-activity” or “karmic-action” to distinguish this type of volitional human action and activity from non-volitional actions and activities (e.g., Ch. , ) such as the heart beat or knee reflex, as well as from non-human actions and activities such as a tree falling in a storm or waves eroding a beach. 

Related posts on Arousing Faith of the Great Vehicle: On the title; Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four; Part Five.
[This post first posted 01/03/2016 Copyright (c) A. Gregory Wonderwheel 2016.]

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