The Lord Superior takes compassion on the ignorance of all sentient beings, who are unable to liberate themselves from the curse of their karma. So he proclaims these moral instructions, thereby to lead to enlightenment the generations to come.
His love is greater than that of a father who instructs his children; his discipline is greater than that of a master who trains his disciples. How sincere, earnest, and kindhearted are his words! They are surely the road that leads to sainthood and enlightenment, the best method that avoids misfortune and rescues us from evil.
May people who receive these instructions exert all their mental energy to put them in practice and be attuned to the Great Lord's boundless love to save the world.
Chou-tze says: "Heaven and Earth are constantly at work to regenerate the ten thousand things. That
is their purport. If the thought of a person is always bent on benefiting others, then he becomes himself Heaven and Earth.
"It is not sufficient for an officer of high position to refrain from coveting promotion and from seeking wealth. He should employ his benevolence so as to benefit his fellow men; otherwise the purpose for which Heaven has created us will be altogether lost."
In olden times, Yü King, judge of the criminal court, was held in such high esteem [on account of his virtue] that a gateway for four-horse carriages was erected in his honor.
Yü King of the Han dynasty (206 B. C. to A. D. 23) was judge of a criminal court on the eastern shore of China. In his district there was a young widow who, on account of her parental devotion, showed no disposition to marry again, lest her mother-in-law be left without support. The aged woman, however, was so much distressed over her helplessness that finally she hanged herself to release her daughter-in-law from the duty of self-sacrifice. Her own daughter hearing of the incident went to court and charged her sister-in-law with murder, and the latter, unable to vindicate herself, was condemned to death in spite of Yü King's
protest. After this tragedy, Heaven failed to give rain all along the eastern coast for a period of three years. When a new governor was installed, Yü King explained to him the cause of the long drought. Thereupon the grave of the dutiful daughter-in-law was officially decorated, and then at last it started to rain.
Yü King showed his humane disposition in many other trials. When the elder people in his district proposed to repair his family gate which was dilapidating, Yü King advised them to have it raised and enlarged, so that a four-horse carriage could be driven through it, saying: "I have a great many times in my official life practised secret virtue (yin teh) and have never condemned the innocent. Among my descendants there will surely be some one who will rise high and will occupy important positions." And so things came to pass. His son became prime minister and was created a noble, and his grandson, too, was promoted to a responsible position in the government.
The Tou family saved people and thus nobly obtained the five-branched olea. 2
Tou Yü-Chün was not yet favored with a son when he was thirty years old. One night his grandfather appeared to him in a dream and said: "You may not have any issue at all, nor may you live long, unless you are diligent in performing benevolent deeds."
Yü-Chün was a well-to-do man and could afford to do many benevolent things. One of his servants stole a considerable sum of money from his chest. When the fact was exposed, the guilty one fled leaving his daughter thirteen years old, to whom a note was attached which read: "Offer this girl and my house for sale. With the money thus realized I wish to pay my debt."
Yü-Chün burned the note, took the girl to his own house, and had her reared by his wife. When she reached maturity he gave her a large dowry and chose for her a good husband. When her father heard of it he was greatly affected and returned home full of repentance. His old master forgave him and did not say anything about his former crime.
Yü-Chün did many other good things. The poor who could not afford funeral services for their dead, were liberally assisted by him, and those who could not, on account of a lack of dowry, give their daughters in marriage, were handsomely supplied with gold. Poor children were educated and the helpless taken care of, while he himself lived most frugally. He also built a large library and gave employment to many learned men.
In the meantime he saw again his grandfather in a dream, who said: "You were originally destined not to have any offspring and to live only a few more years. But on account of your humane deeds, your merits have been recorded by the Heavenly Lord. Your life will be prolonged and you will have five children who will be very prosperous."
"The way of Yin and Yang," the spirit added, "is like the law of Karma. The reward may become manifest either in this life or in succeeding lives. The
heavenly net is vast and hangs loosely, but it never permits things to escape. You must cherish no doubt about this."
Yü-Chün's five sons successfully passed the literary examinations and were promoted to high official positions.
He who took pity on ants attained the highest literary honor.
Sung Chiao and Sung Ch'i (eleventh century A. D.) were brothers. When they were both at college, a strange Buddhist monk examined their physiognomy and prophesied: "The younger Sung will be the first on the list of literary graduates, and the elder, too, will unfailingly pass."
Ten years later, the elder Sung again happened to meet the monk on the road. The monk showed great astonishment, exclaiming: "Your fortunes have suddenly changed. You look as if you had saved millions of lives." Sung said, laughing: "How could I, a poor follower of Confucius, achieve such a feat as that?" "Yes," replied the monk, "Even the meanest creatures are enjoying their lives you know." Reflecting a little while, Sung said: "I remember that about ten days ago I found an ants' nest under my porch in danger of being flooded. I took a few bamboo sticks and made a bridge over the water to let the poor ants cross over it. May this be it?" "Exactly," answered the monk, "the younger Sung is now leading the list but you will not be second to him."
When the order of literary graduates was declared,
the younger Sung was found to be the first and the elder Sung the second. But the Empress Chang Hsien decreed that the younger brother should not precede the elder, and Sung Chiao was put at the head of the list.
He who buried [out of sight] the snake [of bad omen] was deemed worthy of the honor of premiership.
Shun Shu-Ao, of Chu state, when a boy, used to go out very frequently. One day he saw a double-headed snake which he killed and to put it out of sight, buried it in the ground. He came home in gloom and showed no appetite at the table. An anxious inquiry of his mother brought him to tears, and he said mournfully: "People say, those who have seen a double-headed snake are doomed to die soon. I saw one to-day and fear that before long I shall die, mother, and will have to leave you alone." The mother then asked him, "Where is the snake now?" "Fearing that others might see it too, I killed and buried it." "Never mind then," replied the mother, "you will not die. I understand that secret virtue (yin teh) brings rewards that are open. Where there is virtue, thither will be gathered a thousand blessings. Where there is benevolence, a hundred evils are distanced. Heaven above attends to affairs below. You are sure to become eminent in this state."
When Shun was a man, he was made a minister of state.
All deeds originate in the heart 2
All the good acts that are enumerated below begin in the heart and are completed, too, in the heart. The heart's inmost recess is the very spot where there is Heaven and where there is Hell.
The difference between sages such as Yao and Shun and wretches such as Chieh or Chou, simply pivots here around this puny little thing. Unexpected blessings grow, as it were, in a very actual field, which can be ploughed and harvested. The heart, though spiritual and mysterious, yet possesses a solid, tangible soil, which can be watered and tilled.
The soul of a true, earnest gentleman 3 has its root in this obscure recess, which he examines and purifies in solemn silence and privacy. Merely this, a heart to save the world; not one mote of a heart for worldliness. Merely this, a heart to love mankind; not a mote of a heart for hatred of people. Merely this, a heart to have respect for others; not a mote of a heart for making light of the world. Merely this, a heart earnestly to promote one's conversion; not a mote of a heart for indulgent self-delusion. This is the way of self-purification and the sure foundation of bliss.
Ch'ang-tze says: "If a respectable gentleman is at all disposed towards lovingkindness, he cannot help doing things beneficial to others." Supplementing this, Ch'en An-Shan says: "If a villain is ever bent on selfishness, he will surely do things harmful to others." Both of these sayings are indisputably true.
Those who are able to think of others are called superior men, and those who think of themselves are called small men. The difference is in one's own fundamental thought, whether it is of the ego or not. Some incessantly accumulate evils, others good deeds; and when we see the result, it is the difference between Heaven and Earth.
Li Kwang-Yüen, an eminent seeker of truth, was once warned by a strange saintly personage, thus: "I see thou art seeking truth. But wouldst thou have it for thy private self, saints and gods will have no regard for thee." Are not gods and saints 4 as well as sages and holy men 5 bent on saving the world? Some seek saintliness in their pursuit of life everlasting and immortality; but if their hearts are tainted with a single thought of egotism, they are grievously at fault, though it be hidden and they know it not; and there is no thought of their ever attaining to saintship.
Mother Cheng used to instruct her children to this effect: "When others do good, fall in line as if it were your work and be sure to bring it to completion. Treat
others' property as if it were your own, so you will be thoughtful in using it."
Hsieh Wen-Ching says: "The reason why a man has thousands of troubles is because he clings to the idea of self: therefore, he schemes and contrives in ten thousand different ways. He alone wants to be rich, he alone wants to be honored, he alone wants to be easy, he alone wants to be happy, he alone wants to enjoy life, he alone wants to be blessed with longevity; and to others' poverty, misery, danger, or suffering, be is altogether indifferent. It is for this reason that the life-will 6 of others is disregarded and Heaven's Reason neglected. Only be cured of the disease of egotism, and your heart will be broadened even to the vastness of infinite space, so that wealth, honor, happiness, comfort, health, longevity could all be enjoyed with others. And, then, the will to live will have its way, everything will have its natural longings satisfied, and Heaven's Reason will be displayed in an untold exuberance.
Filial piety is the guide of all actions. It is the ultimate root of humaneness; and is it possible that the root be rotten while the branches and leaves grow luxuriously?
Yao-Jao Hou says: "The four essential elements of filial piety are: (1) To be established in virtue; (2) To keep up the family; (3) To keep the body unimpaired; (4) To cultivate the character."
Pious children will not let their parents' hearts be roused to thoughts of cold indifference. They will not let their parents' hearts be annoyed or harassed. They will not let their parents' hearts be alarmed or filled with fear. They will not let their parents' hearts be grieved or embarrassed. They will not let their parents' hearts be perplexed. They will not let their parents' hearts feel ashamed or indignant.
In his anxiety lest all people might not be induced to goodness, the Lord Superior invites them to come to him in any way they may be pleased to follow. They may pay homage at the Taoist sanctuary; they may worship the Northern Constellation; they may bow before the Buddha and recite his Sutras: if they only do so with singleness and sincerity of heart, these roads will lead to goodness; but there should be no thought of attaining blessings or acquiring rewards.
P'an Ch'ung-Mou says:
"What is to be avoided most in our life is vacillation and frivolity (wang nien); and what is most excellent is a reverential heart. Therefore, we Confucians endeavor to preserve sincerity of heart and consider reverence as most essential. It is needless
to say that sincerity and reverence make us companions of heaven and earth, gods and spirits.
"There is, however, another class of people who adopt Buddhism as their guidance. They bow before the Buddha and recite his Sutras, always bent on preserving reverence and awe. They will never relax their vigilant guard over the heart, which will by degrees become pure and bright, free from evil thoughts and ready to do good. This enlightenment is called their most happy land. 7 What is necessary, then, for Buddhists as well as Confucians is to avoid vacillation and frivolity, which will render you unreliable. Keep the heart always restrained by reverence and awe. Otherwise what can be the use of the recitation of Sutras or the discourses of Confucius?"
The great virtue of heaven and earth is to create, and all living beings, men and animals alike, derive their vitality from this one and the same source. Nowhere under the sun is there a being that dislikes life and embraces death with joy.
To buy up captive animals for the sake of setting them free is nothing but an outburst of a sympathetic heart. Thoughtless people make light of puny creatures such as ants, spiders, etc., and wantonly kill them, having no thought of pity or remorse; but pious hearts refrain from such cruelty.
"Heaven's Reason consists of two words; but they are in your own heart. If when you do a thing, there remains in your heart some misgiving, then your deed is against Heaven and contrary to Reason. A virtuous man punctiliously guards himself when alone, solely to retain Heaven's Reason 9 and to calm human desires. Therefore says Tung Ch'ung-Shu [a famous Confucian]: "Attend to your duty and scheme not for gain. Look after what you ought to do and measure not your merit."
The source of good and evil is in the heart, and the best method of controlling it is a reverential attitude of the heart.
Ever turbulent is the heart of him who does evil; ever wakeful is the heart of him who does good.
The teachings of holy men are written in the six canonical books. There are thousand gates and ten thousand doors; through which shall we enter? The main thing is to guard oneself when alone, lest one go astray; then you will see how one's strength grows.
Proceed in goodness for a thousand days and there will be not enough; proceed in evil for half a minute and you will have too much.
25:1 The term "heaven and earth" stands for the two divine principles, also called yang and yin, which shape all conditions in the world including the destinies of human affairs.
26:1 The words printed in large type in the present and the three following notes belong in all original Chinese editions to the text of the Yin Chih Wen proper. Accordingly we have set them in the same type in which our translation of the text is set, but have removed them to the Chinese Commentary, because they appear to be out of place in the text. Compare note 3 on page 39.
27:1 See footnote on page 26, and note 3, page 39.
27:2 Olea or cassia is kwei in Chinese and symbolizes success, prosperity, and honor.
29:1 See footnote on page 26, and note 3, page 39.
30:1 See footnote on page 26, and note 3, page 39.
31:2 This passage resembles the first line of the Dhammapada and may be a translation of it.
31:3 Shih. The term literally means "scholar," but it is also used in the sense of "gentleman," being a title given to persons of distinction, sometimes equivalent to the English "Esquire." It covers the ideal of a truly respectable man who deserves the esteem of his fellow-citizens.
32:4 The ideals of Taoism.
32:5 The ideals of the Confucians.
33:6 The term sheng i, i. e. "life-will," is a noteworthy anticipation of Schopenhauer's idea of the "will to live." The commentator insists that our egotism and vanity is the main cause of evil in the world,-an idea apparently imbibed from Buddhism, and he declares that we should let sheng i, the "will to live," as it exists in other creatures, develop without hindrance, which will result in an untold exuberance of the display of T'ien Tao, Heavenly Reason.
35:7 The commentator refers to the Western Paradise (sukhâvati) of the Pure Land sect, which is here interpreted as a state of mind.
36:8 These three passages dealing with the same subject are three consecutive comments as indicated by the references.
36:9 Heaven's Reason is here not T'ien Tao, but T'ien Li, which means "reason" or "rationality" in the commonly accepted sense.