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40 new edition

Practices and Vows of
Samantabhadra Bodhisattva

Chapter Forty, New Edition


I will always renounce the householder’s life and cultivate the pure moral precepts. I just discussed Vinaya Master Dao Xuan and Patriarch Kui Ji, who both had attained the inconceivable state of a Bodhisattva.

Ordinary people could not compare to them. As we now cultivate the practices and power of the ten great King of Vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, we should also vow to always leave the home-life.

In renouncing the householder’s life, we leave the home of afflictions, the home of the Three Realms of Existence, and the home of ignorance. What does it mean to leave the home of afflictions? Everyone has afflictions. You should put your afflictions down and let them go. That’s what is meant by leaving the home of afflictions. The Three Realms of Existence includes the Realm of Sensual Desire, the Form Realm, and the Formless Realm. If you can leave the home of the Three Realms of Existence, then although you still live in the Realm of Sensual Desire, you will not have any sexual desire. Even though you have not reached the Form Realm, for you forms and appearances are empty, and even the Formless Realm is empty. This is the meaning of leaving the home of the Three Realms of Existence.

In leaving the home of ignorance, you break through ignorance which is the fundamental affliction. If you are able to eradicate ignorance, then the wisdom of the Enlightened Way of Bodhi will become perfected. This is the meaning of leaving the home of ignorance, the third of the three kinds of leaving home.

In China, not everyone who renounces the householder’s life to become a monastic is able to cultivate. There is a custom in China concerning a child who has many illnesses as soon as he is born. In this case the parents take the child to many doctors, but he cannot be cured and will certainly die. Then, the parents think, “Since our child is going to die anyway, let’s give him to the monastery so he can leave the home-life and become a novice monk.” Now, it is often the case that after the child leaves the home-life his illnesses are cured, and he does not die. He leaves the home-life to avoid death. This kind of person definitely has the roots

of goodness, but I’m afraid that such a person may be confused. How is he confused? He doesn’t want to cultivate. He has the roots of goodness, but he has forgotten them. Therefore, it is not for sure that he will be able to cultivate. However, there is still a chance that he might. So this is the situation where a person goes to the monastery to leave home when he is very young.

Then there are those who leave the home-life because of the stress and strain in their life. They may come from a very poor household, and they leave home because they have heard that it is very easy to get food and clothing. These people leave the home-life for food and clothing.

Others decide to leave the home-life because they are old and have no one to take care of them. After they leave home and become a monk, they then take a young disciple who will have filial respect towards them because a disciple should be respectful towards his teacher. For example, he should offer whatever he eats to his teacher first, and no matter what the circumstances, he must always have respect and venerate his teacher. Before such a person became a monk, he did not have any sons or daughters so he leaves the home-life and then finds a young disciple who will take care of him. This kind of person leaves the home-life so that he will be taken care of in his old age, and it is not for sure that he will be able to cultivate.

Some people are forced to leave home due to circumstances. What does it mean to be forced by circumstances to leave home? The Patriarch Kui Ji is an example of such a case. Circumstances compelled him to leave the home-life. However, he was able to cultivate.

In China there was a law which said that regardless of what offenses a person has committed, even if he is a murderer, an arsonist, or a bandit, when he becomes a monastic, the government will not prosecute him.

These are people who leave the home life to avoid being punished for breaking the law. It is also not certain that these types of people can cultivate.

There is one kind of person, however, who can cultivate. Who? These are the people who bring forth the Bodhi-mind to truly resolve the problem of birth and death. So there are many reasons for leaving home, and you cannot say, “Oh! How can this person be a monastic? This person has such a big temper and great afflictions.” There are different kinds of left-home people who become monastics for various different reasons. Now the text reads, “I will always renounce the householder’s life and cultivate the pure moral precepts.” I cultivate and maintain the pure moral precepts.

Unbroken, undefiled, and without outflows. I cultivate the pure, precious moral precepts. And I uphold the pure, precious moral precepts, just like precious pearls. “Unbroken” means I have never broken or violated the moral precepts. “Without outflows” means that within the Vinaya or moral precepts there is no defect.


Gods, dragons, yakshas, kumbhandas,
Including humans, non-humans, and others,
In the languages of all living beings,
With every voice I will speak the Dharma. 


Gods, dragons, yakshas, kumbhandas. Now we are discussing gods, dragons, yakshas, kumbhandas, and all the other ghosts. How do dragons become dragons? They are “zealous with the vehicle, but lackadaisical with the moral precepts.” In the past they cultivated the Dharma of the Great Vehicle and were extremely vigorous, but at the same time they neglected the moral precepts, feeling that moral precepts were very common and ordinary. They felt it didn’t matter if they held the moral precepts or not. Because of this, they were reborn as dragons. Being zealous with the vehicle they become dragons that have spiritual powers. However, because they were lackadaisical about the moral precepts, they fell into the path of animals. Dragons are still animals.

The list of gods, dragons and yakshas also includes asuras, kinnaras, mahoragas, garudas, and so forth. Kumbhandas are a type of ghost that are wider than they are tall. They are more than three feet tall and their width is at most, five feet. They do not have a head or feet, and are shaped like a millstone. Some say they are shaped like a winter melon. These ghosts wait for people to go to sleep, and then they do their mischief. What mischief do they do? They specialize in possessing people in their sleep. What is meant by “possessing people in their sleep”? The person can open their eyes and see things, but cannot speak or move. The person wants to move, but he can’t. He tries to speak, but he cannot make a sound. Some people suffocate. They try to breathe and are unable to do so. They then will die. So kumbhanda ghosts can be very harmful.

In this Sutra however, the kumbhandas are not so harmful. The ten great King of Vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva have influenced and transformed them so that they may become Dharma protectors. Including humans, non-humans, and others, in the languages of all living beings: all beings, regardless of whether they are gods, asuras, humans, or all the other types of living beings—in all of their languages, with every voice I will speak the Dharma. I will use all the various languages to speak Dharma for all living beings. Whatever type of living being I meet with, I will speak Dharma in that living being’s own language.


I will diligently cultivate the pure paramitas,
And never forget the Bodhi-mind.
I will extinguish obstructions and defilements without remainder,
And will accomplish all the wondrous practices. 


I will diligently cultivate the pure paramitas. To diligently cultivate means not to be lazy and to be unafraid of toil or fatigue. To always be vigorous is to diligently cultivate. At all times one vigorously practices the pure, undefiled paramitas. Paramita is a Sanskrit word that means, “to reach the other shore”. One cultivates from this shore of Samsara to reach the “other shore” of Nirvana.

And never forget the Bodhi-mind. Life after life I will never forget to bring forth the Bodhi-mind. What is the Bodhi-mind? It is the mind to diligently seek for the Buddha’s Path. You do not want to forget this mind. In life after life you don’t forget it.

I will extinguish obstructions and defilements without remainder. I will destroy all of the obstructions. Obstructions include, the obstruction of retribution, karmic obstruction, and the obstruction of afflictions. Defilements refers to all afflictions. When you have afflictions, it is like having defilements or impurities. “Without remainder” means there are no afflictions whatsoever.

And will accomplish all the wondrous practices...Now we are talking about wondrous practices. Today Guo Miao has come. Her mother said that in the future when she gets married, she should do so in the Buddha hall. You should tell her that in the future she should come to the Buddha hall to practice the path or Dhyana meditation or to put an end to birth and death. These are wondrous practices. To have achievement in whatever practice you cultivate, is called wondrous practice. You accomplish this kind of inconceivable state. What does inconceivable mean? It is beyond human expectations. You cannot imagine it, yet to your surprise you attain it. That’s what is meant by wondrous. There is no way that you can think about it. It is inconceivable. That is called wondrous. Not only can you not conceive of it with your mind, you cannot describe it. It’s a kind of subtle, wondrous and inconceivable practice. What is the subtle, wondrous, and inconceivable practice? It’s investigating Dhyana and becoming enlightened. If you can become enlightened, then you have accomplished all the inconceivable wondrous practices.

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