Urban Dharma Newsletter - June
This Issue: Sutra on the Deep Kindness
1. Chinese“filial piety”
2. The Buddha Speaks the Sutra about the Deep Kindness of Parents
and the Difficulty in Repaying it
...Translated into Chinese by: Master Kumarajiva - Translated
into English by: Upasika Terri Nicholson
5. Temple/Center/Website: None
6. Book/CD/Movie: None
are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more
certain they are their own. - Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)
one would be foolish enough to choose war over peace... In peace
sons bury their fathers, but in war fathers bury their sons.
- Croesus of Lydia
Confucianism, the attitude of obedience, devotion, and care
toward one's parents and other elders considered fundamental
to moral conduct.
rooted in the hierarchical ideology of Chinese feudalism, it
was raised to a moral precept by Confucius, who cited it as
the basis of ren. It is seen as the basis not only of family
harmony but of social and political stability.
The Buddha Speaks the Sutra about the Deep Kindness of Parents
and the Difficulty in Repaying it ...Translated into Chinese
by: Master Kumarajiva - Translated into English by: Upasika
Terri Nicholson - From Alan Khoo's Homepage
I have heard, at one time, the Buddha dwelt at Shravasti, in
the Jeta Grove, in the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and
the Solitary, together with a gathering of great Bhikshunis,
twelve hundred fifty in all, and with all of the Bodhisattvas,
thirty-eight thousand in all.
that time, the World Honoured One led the great assembly on
a walk toward the South. Suddenly they came upon a pile of bones
beside the road, The World Honoured One turned to face them,
placed his limbs on the ground, and bowed respectfully.
put his palms together and asked the World Honoured One, "The
Tathagata is the Great Teacher of the Triple Realm and the compassionate
father of beings of the four kinds of births. He has the respect
and reverence of the entire assembly. What is the reason that
he now bows to a pile of dried bones?"
Buddha told Ananda, "Although all of you are my foremost
disciples and have been members of the Sangha for a long time,
you still have not achieved far-reaching understanding. This
pile of bones could have belonged to my ancestors from former
lives. They could have been my parents in many past lives. That
is the reason I now bow to them." The Buddha continued
speaking to Ananda. "These bones we are looking at can
be divided into two groups. One group is composed of the bones
of men, which are heavy and white colour. The other group is
composed of the bones of women, which are light and black in
said to the Buddha, "World Honoured One, when men are alive
in the world they adorn their bodies with robes, belts, shoes,
hats and other fine attire, so that they clearly assume a male
appearance. When women are alive, they put on cosmetics, perfumes,
powders, and elegant fragrances to adorn their bodies, so that
they clearly assume a female appearance. Yet, once men and women
die, all that is left are their bones. How does one tell them
apart? Please teach us how you are able to distinguish them."
Buddha answered Ananda, "If when men are in the world,
they enter temples, listen to explanations of the Sutras and
Vinaya texts, make obeisance to the Triple Jewel, and recite
the Buddha's names, then when they die their bodies will be
heavy and white colour. Most women in the world have little
wisdom and are saturated with emotion. They give birth to and
raise children, feeling that this is their duty. Each child
relies on its mother's milk for life and nourishment, and that
milk is a transformation of the mother's blood. Each child drinks
one thousand two hundred gallons of its mother's milk. Because
of this drain on the mother's body whereby the child takes milk
for its nourishment, the mother becomes worn and haggard and
so her bones turn black in colour and are light in weight."
Ananda heard these words, he felt a pain in his heart as if
he had been stabbed and wept silently. He said to the World
Honoured One, "How can one repay one's mother's kindness
Buddha told Ananda, "Listen well, and I will explain it
for you in detail. The foetus grows in its mother's womb for
ten lunar months. What bitterness she goes through while it
dwells there! In the first month of pregnancy, the life of the
foetus is as precarious as a dewdrop on grass: how likely that
it will not last from morning to evening but will evaporate
by mid day!"
the second lunar month, the embryo congeals like curds. In the
third month it is like coagulated blood. During the fourth month
of pregnancy the foetus begins to assume a slightly human form.
During the fifth month in the womb, the child's five limbs -
two legs, two arms, and a head - start to take shape. In the
sixth lunar month of pregnancy, the child begins to develop
the essences of the six sense faculties: the eyes, ears, nose,
tongue, body and mind. During the seventh month, the three hundred
sixty bones and joints are formed, and the eighty-four thousand
hair pores are also complete. In the eighth lunar month of the
pregnancy the intellect and the nine apertures are formed. By
the ninth month the foetus has learned to assimilate the different
nutrients of the foods it eats. For example, it can assimilate
the essence of peaches, pear, certain plant roots, and the five
kinds of grains."
the mother's body, the solid internal organs, used for storing,
hang downward, while the hollow internal organs, used for processing,
spiral upward. These can be likened to three mountains which
arise from the face of the earth. We can call these mountains
Mount Sumeru, Karma Mountain and Blood Mountain.
analogous mountains come together and form a single range in
a pattern of upward peaks and downward valleys. So, too, the
coagulation of the mother's blood from her internal organs forms
a single substance, which becomes the child's food.
the tenth month of pregnancy, the body of the foetus is completed
and ready to be born. If the child is extremely filial, it will
emerge with palms joined together in respect and the birth will
be peaceful and auspicious. The mother will remain uninjured
by the birth and will not suffer pain. However, if the child
is extremely rebellious in nature, to the extent that it is
capable of committing the five rebellious acts (patricide, matricide,
murdering a sage, breaking up the Sangha, and shedding the Buddha's
blood.) , then it will injure it's mother womb, rip apart it's
mother's heart and liver, or get entangled in it mother's bones.
The birth will feel like the slices of a thousand knives or
like ten thousand sharp swords stabbing her heart. Those are
the agonies involved in the birth of a defiant and rebellious
explain more clearly, there are ten types of kindness bestow
by the mother on the child:
first is the kindness of protection and care while the child
is in the womb.
The second is the kindness of bearing suffering during the birth.
The third is the kindness of forgetting all the pain once the
child has been born.
The fourth is the kindness of eating the bitter herself and
saving the sweet for the child.
The fifth is the kindness of moving the child to a dry place
and lying in the wet herself.
The sixth is the kindness of suckling the child at her breast
and nourishing and bringing up the child.
The seventh is the kindness of washing away the unclean.
The eighth is the kindness of always thinking of the child when
it has travelled far.
The ninth is the kindness of deep care and devotion.
tenth is the kindness of ultimate pity and sympathy.
The Kindness Of Providing Protection And Care While The Child
Is In The Womb
causes and conditions from accumulated kalpas grows heavy, Until
in this life the child ends up in it's mother womb. As the months
pass, the five vital organs develop; Within seven weeks the
six sense organs start to grow. The mother's body becomes as
heavy as a mountain; The stillness and movements of the foetus
are like a kalpic wild disaster. The mother's fine clothes no
longer hang properly, And so her mirror gathers dust.
The Kindness Of Bearing Suffering During Birth
pregnancy lasts for ten lunar months, And culminates in difficult
labour at the approach of the birth. Meanwhile, each morning
the mother is seriously ill. And during everyday is drowsy and
sluggish. Her fear and agitation are difficult to describe;
Grieving and tears fill her breast. She painfully tells her
family that she is only afraid that death will overtake her.
The Kindness Of Forgetting All The Pain Once The Child Has Been
the day the compassionate mother bears the child, Her five organs
all open wide, Leaving her totally exhausted in body and mind.
The blood flows as from a slaughtered lamb; Yet, upon hearing
that the child is healthy, She is overcome with redoubling joy,
But after the joy, the grief returns, And the agony wrenches
her very insides.
The Kindness Of Eating The Bitter Herself And Saving The Sweet
For The Child
kindness of both parents is profound and deep, Their care and
devotion never cease. Never resting, the mother saves the sweet
for the child, And without complaint she swallows the bitter
herself. Her love is weighty and her emotion difficult to bear;
her kindness is deep and so is her compassion. Only wanting
the child to get its fill, The compassionate mother doesn't
speak of her own hunger.
The Kindness Of Moving The Child To A Dry Place And Lying In
The Wet Herself
mother is willing to be wet so that the child can be dry. With
her two breasts she satisfies its Hunger and thirst; Covering
it with her sleeve, she protects it from the wind and cold.
In the kindness, her head rarely rests on the pillow, And yet
she does this happily. So long as the child is comfortable,
The kind mother seeks no solace for herself.
The Kindness Of Suckling The Child At Her Breast And Nourishing
And Bringing Up The Child
kind mother is like the great earth. The stern father is like
the encompassing heaven: One covers from above; the other supports
from below. The kindness of parents is such that They know no
hatred or anger toward their offspring, And are not displeased,
even if the child is born crippled. After the mother carries
the child in her womb and gives birth to it, The parents care
for and protect it together until the end of their days.
The Kindness Of Washing Away The Unclean
she had a pretty face and a beautiful body, Her spirit was strong
and vibrant, Her eyebrows were like fresh green willows, And
her complexion would have put a rose to shame. But her kindness
is so deep she will forego a beautiful face. Although washing
away the filth injuries her constitution, The kind mother acts
solely for the sake of her sons and daughters And willingly
allows her beauty to fade.
The Kindness Of Always Thinking Of The Child When It Has Travelled
death of loved ones is difficult to endure. But separation is
also painful. When the child travels afar, The mother worries
in her village. From morning until night, her heart is with
her child, And a thousand tears fall from her eyes. Like the
monkey weeping silently in love for her child, Bit-by-bit her
heart is broken.
The Kindness Of Deep Care And Devotion
heavy is the parent's kindness and emotional concern! Their
kindness is deep and difficult to repay. Willingly they undergo
suffering on their child's behalf. If the child toils, the parents
are uncomfortable. If they hear that he has travelled afar,
They worry that at night he will have to lie in the cold. Even
a moment's pain suffered by their sons or daughters Will cause
the parents sustained distress.
The Kindness Of Ultimate Pity And Sympathy
kindness of parents is profound and important. Their tender
concern never ceases. From the moment they awake each day, their
thoughts are with their children. Whether the children are near
or far away, the parents think of them often. Even if a mother
lives for a hundred years, She will constantly worry about her
eighty-year-old child! Do you wish to know when such kindness
and love ends? It doesn't even begin to dissipate until her
life is over.
Buddha told Ananda, "When I contemplate living beings,
I see that although they are born as human beings, nonetheless,
they are stupid and dull in their thoughts and actions. They
don't consider their parent's great kindness and virtue. They
are disrespectful and turn their backs on kindness and what
is right. They lack humanity and are neither filial nor compliant.
ten months while the mother is with child, she feels discomfort
each time she rises, as if she were lifting a heavy burden.
Like a chronic invalid, she is unable to keep her food and drink
down. When the ten months have passed and the time comes for
the birth, she undergoes all kinds of pain and suffering so
that the child can be born. She is afraid of her own mortality,
like a pig or lamb waiting to be slaughtered. Then the blood
flows all over the ground. These are the sufferings she undergoes.
the child is born, she saves what is sweet for him and swallows
what is bitter herself. She carries the child and nourishes
it, washing away its filth. There is no toil or difficulty that
she does not willingly undertake for the sake of her child.
She endures both cold and heat and never even mentions what
she has gone through. She gives the dry place to her child and
sleeps in the damp herself. For three years she nourishes the
bone with milk, which is transformed from the blood of her own
continually instruct and guide their children in the ways of
propriety and morality as the youngsters mature into adults.
They arrange marriages for them and provide them with property
and wealth or devise ways to get it for them. They take this
responsibility and trouble upon themselves with tremendous zeal
and toil, never speaking about their care and kindness.
a son or daughter becomes ill, parents are worried and afraid
to the point that they may even grow ill themselves. They remain
by the child's side providing constant care, and only when the
child gets well are the parents happy once again. In this way,
they care for and raise their children with the sustained hope
that their offspring will soon grow to be mature adults.
sad that all too often the children are unfilial in return!
In speaking with relatives whom they should honour, the children
display no compliance. When they ought to be polite, they have
no manners. They glare at those whom they should venerate, and
insult their uncles and aunts. They scold their siblings and
destroy any family feeling that might have existed among them.
Children like that have no respect or sense of propriety.
may be well taught, but if they are unfilial, they will not
heed the instructions or obey the rules. Rarely will they rely
upon the guidance of their parents. They are contrary and rebellious
when interacting with their brothers. They come and go from
home without ever reporting to their parents. Their speech and
actions are very arrogant and they act on impulse without consulting
others. Such children ignore the admonishments and punishments
set down by their parents and pay no record to their uncle's
warnings. Yet, at the same time, they are immature and always
need to be looked after and protected their elders. As such
children grow up, they became more and more obstinate and uncontrollable.
They are entirely ungrateful and totally contrary. They are
defiant and hateful, rejecting both family and friends. They
befriend evil people and under their influence soon adopt the
same kinds of bad habits. They come to take what is false to
children may be enticed by others to leave their families and
run away to live in other towns, thus denouncing their parents
and rejecting their town. They may become salesmen or civil
servants who languish in comfort and luxury. They may marry
in haste and that new bond provides yet another obstruction
which prevents them from returning home for long periods of
in going to live other towns, these children may be incautious
and find themselves plotted against or accused of doing evil.
They may be fairly locked up in prison. Or they may meet with
illness and become enmeshed in disasters and hardships, subject
to the terrible pain of poverty, starvation, and emaciation.
Yet no one there will care for them. Being scorned and disliked
by others, they will be abandoned on the street. In such circumstances,
their lives may come to an end. No one bothers to try to save
them. Their bodies swell up, rot, decay, and are exposed to
the sun and blown away by the wind. The white bones entirely
disintegrate and scatter as these children come to their final
rest in the dirt of some other town. These children will never
again have a happy reunion with their relatives and kin. Nor
will they ever know how their ageing parents mourn for and worry
about them. The parents may grow blind from weeping or become
sick from extreme grief and despair. Constantly dwelling on
the memory of their children, they may pass away, but even when
they become ghosts, their souls still cling to this attachment
and are unable to let it go.
of these unfilial children may not aspire to learning, but instead
become interested in strange and bizarre doctrines. Such children
may be villainous, coarse and stubborn, delighting in practices
that are utterly devoid of benefit. They may become involved
in fights and thefts, setting themselves at odds with the town
by drinking and gambling. As if their own debauchery were not
enough, they drag their brothers into it as well, to the further
distress of their parents.
such children do live at home, they leave early in the morning
and do not return until late at night. Never do they ask about
the welfare of their parents or make sure that they don't suffer
from heat or cold. They do not inquire after their parent's
well being in the morning or the evening, nor even on the first
and fifteenth of the lunar month. In fact, it never occurs to
these unfilial children to ever ask whether their parents have
slept comfortably or rested peacefully. Such children are simply
not concerned in the least about their parent's well being.
When the parents of such children grow old and their appearance
becomes more and more withered and emaciated, they are made
to feel ashamed to be seen in public and are subjected to abuse
unfilial children may end up with a father who is a widower
or a mother who is a widow. The solitary parents are left alone
in empty houses, feeling like guests in their own homes. They
may endure cold and hunger, but no one takes heed of their plight.
They may weep incessantly from morning to night, sighing and
lamenting. It's only right that children should provide for
ageing parents with food and drink of delicious flavours, but
irresponsible children are sure to overlook their duties. If
they ever do attempt to help their parents out in any way, they
feel embarrassed and are afraid people will laugh at them. Yet,
such offspring may lavish wealth and food on their own wives
and children, disregarding the toil and weariness involved in
doing so. Other unfilial offspring may be so intimidated by
their wives that they go along with all of their wishes. But
when appealed to by their parents and elders, they ignore them
and are totally unfazed by their pleas.
may be the case that daughters were quite filial to their parents
before their own marriages, but that they become progressively
rebellious after they marry. This situation may be so extreme
that if their parents show even the slightest signs of displeasure,
the daughters become hateful and vengeful toward them. Yet they
bear their husband’s scolding and beatings with sweet
tempers, even though their spouses are outsiders with other
surnames and family ties. The emotional bonds between such couples
are deeply entangled, and yet those daughters hold their parents
at a distance. They may follow their husbands and move to other
towns, leaving their parents behind entirely. They do not long
for them and simply cut off all communication with them. When
the parents continue to hear no word from their daughters, they
feel incessantly anxiety. They became so fraught with sorrow
that it is as if they were suspended upside down. Their every
thought is of seeing their children, just every thought is of
seeing their children, just as one who is thirsty longs for
something to drink. Their kind thoughts for their offspring
virtue of one’s parent’s kindness is boundless and
limitless. If one has made the mistake of being unfilial, how
difficult it is to repay that kindness!"
that time, upon hearing the Buddha speak about the depth of
one’s parent’s kindness, everyone in the Great Assembly
threw themselves on the ground and began beating their breasts
and striking themselves until all their hair pores flowed with
blood. Some fell unconscious to the ground, while others stamped
their feet in grief. It was a long time before they could control
themselves. With loud voices they lamented, "Such suffering!
What suffering! How painful! How painful! We are all offenders.
We are criminals who have never awakened, like those who travel
in a dark night. We have just now understood our offences and
our very insides are torn to bits. We only hope that the World
Honoured One will pity us and save us. Please tell us how we
can repay the deep kindness of our parents!"
that time the Tathagata used eight kinds of profound deep and
pure sounds to speak to the assembly, "All of you should
know this. I will explain for you the various aspects of this
there were a person who carried his father on his left shoulder
and his mother on his right shoulder until his bones were ground
to powder by their weight as they bore through to the marrow,
and if that person were to circumambulate Mount Sumeru for a
hundred thousand kalpas until the blood that flowed out from
his feet covered his ankles, that person would still not have
repaid the deep kindness of his parents.
there were a person who, during the period of a kalpa fraught
with famine and starvation, sliced the flesh off his own body
to feed his parents and did this as many times as there are
dust motes as he passed through hundreds of thousands of kalpas,
that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of
there were a person who, for the sake of his parents, took a
sharp knife and cut out his eyes and made an offering of them
to the Tathagatas, and continued to do that for hundreds of
thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid
the deep kindness of his parents.
there were a person who, for the sake of his father and mother,
used a sharp knife to cut out his heart and liver so that the
blood flowed and covered the ground and if he continued in this
way to do this for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, never complaining
about the pain, that person still would not have repaid the
deep kindness of his parents.
there were a person who, for the sake of his parents, took a
hundred thousand swords and stabbed his body with them all at
once so that they entered one side and came out the other, and
if he continued bin this way to do this for hundreds of thousands
of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid the deep
kindness of his parents.
there were a person who, for the sake of his parents, beat his
bones down to the marrow and continued in this way to do this
for hundreds of thousands in this way to do this for hundreds
of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid
the deep kindness of his parents.
there were a person who, for the sake of his parents, swallowed
molten iron pellets and continued in this way to do this for
hundreds of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not
have repaid the deep kindness of his parents."
that time, upon hearing the Buddha speak about the kindness
and virtue of parents, everyone in the Great Assembly wept silent
tears and felt searing pain in their hearts. They reflected
deeply, simultaneously brought forth shame and said to the Buddha,
"World Honoured One, how can we repay the deep kindness
of our parents?"
Buddha replied, "Disciples of the Buddha, if you wish to
repay your parent's kindness, write out this Sutra on their
behalf. Recite this Sutra on their behalf. Repent of transgressions
and offences on their behalf. For the sake of your parents,
make offerings to the Triple Jewel. For the sake of your parents,
hold the precept of pure eating. For the sake of your parents,
practice giving and cultivate blessings. If you are able to
do these things, you are being a filial child. If you do not
do these things, you are a person destined for the hells."
Buddha told Ananda, "If a person is not filial, when his
life ends and his body decays, he will fall into the Spaceless,
Avici Hell. This great hell is eighty thousand yojanas in circumference
and is surrounded on all four sides by iron walls. Above, it
is covered over by nets, and the ground is also made of iron.
A mass of fire burns fiercely, while thunders roars and bright
bolts of lightning set things afire. Molten brass and iron fluids
are poured over the offender's bodies. Brass dogs and iron snakes
constantly spew out fire and smoke which burns the offenders
and broils their flesh and fat to a pulp.
such suffering! Difficult to take, different to bear! There
are poles, hooks, spears and lances, iron halberds and iron
chains, iron hammers, and iron awls. Wheels of iron knives rain
down from the air. The offender is chopped, hacked, or stabbed,
and undergoes these cruel punishments for kalpas without respite.
Then they enter the remaining hells, where their heads are capped
with fiery basins, while iron wheels roll over their bodies,
passing both horizontally and vertically until their guts are
ripped open and their bones and flesh are squashed to a pulp.
Within a single day, they experience myriad births and myriad
deaths. Such sufferings are a result of committing the five
rebellious acts and of being unfilial when one was alive."
that time, upon hearing the Buddha speak about the virtue of
parent's kindness, everyone in the Great Assembly wept sorrowfully
and addressed the Tathagata, "On this day, how can we repay
the deep kindness of our parents?"
Buddha said, "Disciples of the Buddha, if you wish to repay
their kindness, then for the sake of your parents print this
Sutra. This is truly repaying their kindness. If one can print
one copy, then one will get to see one Buddha. If one can print
ten copies, then one will get to see ten Buddhas. If one can
print one hundred copies, then one will get to see one hundred
Buddhas. If one can print one thousand copies, then one will
get to see one thousand Buddhas. If one can print ten thousand
copies, then one will get to see ten thousand Buddhas. This
is the power derived when good people print Sutras. All Buddhas
will forever protect such people with their kindness and can
immediately cause the parents of such people to be reborn in
the heavens, to enjoy all kinds of happiness, and to leave behind
the sufferings of the hells."
that time, Ananda and the rest of the Great Assembly - the asuras,
garudas, kinnaras, mahoragas, people, non-people, and others,
as well as the gods, dragon, yakshas, gandarvas, wheel-turning
sage kings, and all the lesser kings - felt all the hairs on
their bodies stand on end when they heard what the Buddha had
said. They wept grievously and were unable to stop themselves.
Each one of them made a vow saying, "All of us, from now
until the exhaustion of the bounds of the future, would rather
that our bodies be pulverised into small particles of dust for
a hundred thousand kalpas, than to ever go against the Thus
Come One's sagely teachings. We would rather that our tongues
be plucked out, so that they would extent for a full yojana,
and that for a hundred thousand kalpas an iron plough would
run over them; we would rather have a hundred-thousand bladed
wheel roll freely over our bodies, than ever go against the
Tathagata's sagely teachings. We would rather that for a hundred
thousand kalpas our bodies would be chopped, hacked, mutilated,
and chiselled into ten million pieces so that our skin, flesh,
joints, and bones would be completely disintegrated, than ever
go against the Tathagata's sagely teachings."
that time, Ananda, with dignity and a sense of peace, rose from
his seat and asked Buddha, "World Honoured One, what name
shall this Sutra have when we accord with it and uphold?"
Buddha told Ananda, "This Sutra is called 'The Sutra About
The Deep Kindness Of Parents And The Difficulty Of Repaying
It'. Use this name when you accord with it and uphold."
that time, the Great Assembly, the gods, humans, asuras, and
the others, hearing what the Buddha had said, were completely
delighted. They believed it, received it, and offered up their
conduct in accord with it, and then bowed and withdrew.
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