Sutra on the Buddha’s Bequeathed Teaching
Translation into Chinese by Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva of Yao Qin DynastyProvisional Translation into English by The Buddhist Text Translation Society,Dharma Realm Buddhist University, City Of Ten Thousand Buddhas(1999 )
When Shakyamuni Buddha first turned the Wheel of Dharma, he crossed over theVenerable Ajnatakaundinya. The very last time he spoke the Dharma, he crossed overthe Venerable Subhadhra. All of those whom he should have crossed over had alreadybeen crossed over. He lay between the Twin Sala trees and was about to enter Nirvana.At this time, in the middle period of the night, all was quiet, without any sound. Thenfor the sake of all of his disciples, he spoke on the essentials of the Dharma.All of you Bhikshus! After my Nirvana, you should revere and honor the Pratimoksha.It is like finding a light in darkness, or like a poor person obtaining a treasure. You should know that it is your great teacher, and is not different from my actual presence in the world.
Those of you who uphold the pure precepts should not buy, sell or trade. You should not covet fields or buildings, or keep servants or raise animals. You should stay faraway from all kinds of agriculture and wealth as you would avoid a pit of fire. You should not cut down grass or trees, plow fields or dig the earth. Nor may youcompound medicines, prophesize good and evil, observe the constellations, casthoroscopes by the waxing and waning of the moon, or compute astrological fortunes.All of these activities are improper.
Regulate yourselves by eating at the appropriate time and by living in purity. You should not participate in worldly affairs or act as an envoy, nor should you becomeinvolved with magical spells and elixirs of immorality, or with making connectionswith high ranking people, being affectionate towards them and condescendingtowards the lowly. With an upright mind and proper mindfulness you should seek to cross over. Do not conceal your faults or put on a special appearance to delude themultitudes.
Know your limits and be content with the four kinds of offerings. When you receive offerings, do not store them up.This is a general explanation of the characteristics of upholding the precepts.
The precepts are the root of proper freedom; therefore they are called the Pratimoksha (lit.The root of freedom). By relying on these precepts, you will give rise to all dhyana concentrations, and reach the wisdom of the cessation of suffering.
For this reason, Bhikshus, you should uphold the pure precepts and not allow them tobe broken.
If a person is able to uphold the pure precepts, he will, as a result, be ableto have good dharmas. If one lacks the pure precepts, no good merit and virtue canarise. Therefore you should know that the precepts are the dwelling place for theforemost and secure merit and virtue.