受十善戒經
Sūtra of Accepting the Ten Good Karmas as Precepts

Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the Later Han Dynasty
by
An Unknown Person

Chapter 1
The Ten Evil Karmas

Thus I have heard:
    At one time the Bhagavān was staying in the ashram in Jetavana Garden, offered by the Elder Sudatta and his wife Viśakhā, in the city kingdom of Śrāvastī, together with 1,250 great bhikṣus. At that time, in loving-kind Brahma tones the World-Honored One said to Śāriputra, “I now expound to you all how to prevent the ten evil karmas and their requitals. Hearken! Hearken! Remember and uphold my words single-mindedly, never forget or lose them. The ten evil karmas are (1) killing, (2) stealing, (3) sexual misconduct, (4) false speech, (5) divisive speech, (6) abusive speech, (7) suggestive speech, (8) greed, (9) anger, and (10) delusion [the wrong views].

Purifying One’s Body, Voice, and Mind

“Śāriputra, you now should teach all sentient beings to purify their body karmas, voice karmas, and mind karmas. They should prostrate themselves on the ground to take refuge in the preceptor, and sincerely repent of their three evil karmas. They should say their repentance three times. After repentance, their body karmas, voice karmas, and mind karmas are purified. Then, three times they should say, ‘I, Disciple A, take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, take refuge in the Saṅgha.’ Also three times they should next say, ‘Completion of taking refuge in the Buddha, completion of taking in the Dharma, completion of taking refuge in the Saṅgha.’
    “Then ask them, ‘Good men and good women, can you uphold your refuge?’ If they say that they can, then ask them, ‘Have your body and mind sinned? These sins include shedding the blood of a Buddha, killing an Arhat, disrupting the harmony of a Saṅgha, and maligning the true Dharma of the Buddha.’ If their answer is negative, you should further ask, ‘Have you thought about committing any of the five rebellious sins or maligning the true Dharma? Have you stolen from the Saṅgha things pertaining to the Buddha or the Dharma, offerings to the holy ones, personal things, or communal things? Have you ever defiled your mother or sisters, or bhikṣuṇīs?’
    “If their answer is negative, you should teach them that they now are pure in body and mind, and that they should ask, ‘Virtuous One, please remember that I wish to receive the ten good karmas as precepts because I have repented of the ten evil karmas. I pray only that the Virtuous One, out of lovingkindness and compassion for me, will permit me to receive them.’

Accepting the Ten Good Karmas as Precepts

“Then you should teach them, ‘Upāsaka (or Upāsikā) A, you now should single-mindedly count your breaths and think of the past seven Buddhas, present Buddhas, such as Śākyamuni Buddha, and future Buddhas, such as Maitreya Buddha. As you think of them, you should ask, “Hear me, the past seven Buddhas and Their Saṅghas. Hear me, present Buddhas and Their Saṅghas, including Śākyamuni Buddha and His Saṅgha. Hear me, the holy monks—Srotāpannas, Sakṛdāgāmins, Anāgāmins, and Arhats. I, Disciple A, pure in body, voice, and mind, am capable of being a Dharma vessel. I now beseech to receive the heart precepts for the ten good karmas and receive the eight precepts.”’ They should voice this request three times.
    “Then teach them to say three times, ‘I, Disciple A, take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, take refuge in the Saṅgha.’ Also three times they should next say, ‘Completion of taking refuge in the Buddha, completion of taking refuge in the Dharma, completion of taking refuge in the Saṅgha.’
    “Say to the refuge taker, ‘Upāsaka (or Upāsikā) A, you should remember and firmly uphold your body. Uphold your body as you would uphold the Buddha, uphold your body as you would uphold the Dharma, and uphold your body as you would uphold the Saṅgha. The three [good] body karmas are no killing, no stealing, and no sexual misconduct. You should uphold these three body karmas for one to ten days and even for your entire life.’
    “If they accept, then ask them, ‘Do you now desire to do good in small measure, large measure, or even full measure?’ If their answer is affirmative, then tell them, ‘This is acknowledged.’
    “Then teach them to say three times, ‘I, Disciple A, take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, take refuge in the Saṅgha.’ Also three times they should next say, ‘Completion of taking refuge in the Buddha, completion of taking refuge in the Dharma, completion of taking refuge in the Saṅgha.’
    “Then tell them, ‘Upāsaka (or Upāsikā) A, you should remember and firmly uphold your voice. Uphold your voice as you would uphold the Buddha, uphold your voice as you would uphold the Dharma, and uphold your voice as you would uphold the Saṅgha. The four [good] voice karmas are no false speech, no divisive speech, no abusive speech, and no suggestive speech. You should uphold these four voice karmas for one to ten days and even for your entire life.’
    “If they accept, then ask them, ‘Do you now desire to do good in small measure, large measure, or even full measure?’ If their answer is affirmative, then tell them, ‘This is acknowledged.’
    “Then teach them to say three times, ‘I, Disciple A, take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, take refuge in the Saṅgha.’ Also three times they should next say, ‘Completion of taking refuge in the Buddha, completion of taking refuge in the Dharma, completion of taking refuge in the Saṅgha.’
    “Then tell them, ‘Upāsaka (or Upāsikā) A, remember and firmly uphold your mind. Uphold your mind as you would uphold the Buddha, uphold your mind as you would uphold the Dharma, and uphold your mind as you would uphold the Saṅgha. The three [good] mind karmas are no greed, no anger, and no delusion. You should uphold these three mind karmas for one to ten days and even for your entire life.’
    “If they accept, then ask them, ‘Do you now desire to do good in small measure, large measure, or even full measure?’ If their answer is affirmative, then tell them, ‘This is acknowledged.’
    “Then teach them to say, ‘If I accept the ten good karmas as precepts without receiving the eight precepts, I ultimately cannot come to spiritual achievement. If the eight precepts are violated, then the ten good karmas are destroyed. Virtuous One, please remember that I, Disciple A, wish the Virtuous One to be my preceptor of the eight precepts from this morning to the next morning.’

Accepting the Eight Precepts

“To accept earnestly the eight precepts, three times they should say, ‘I take refuge in the Buddha and uphold my mind as I would uphold the Buddha; I take refuge in the Dharma and uphold my mind as I would uphold the Dharma; I take refuge in the Saṅgha and uphold my mind as I would uphold the Saṅgha.’ Also three times they should next say, ‘Completion of taking refuge in the Buddha, completion of taking refuge in the Dharma, completion of taking refuge in the Saṅgha.’ Then they should say, ‘Virtuous One, please remember that I wish to receive the eight precepts from this morning to the next morning. I pray that the Virtuous One, out of compassion, will permit me.’
    “Then ask them, ‘Can you observe the eight precepts?’ If they say that they can, then tell them, ‘You should uphold your minds. The mind is like Buddhas and Arhats.’ If they accept, then ask them, ‘From the past to the present, have you ever, through your body, voice, and mind, committed sins, because of which you will lose your roots of goodness and fall into hell? You should disclose such sins, including the gravest root sins, before Buddhas, Arhats, and your preceptor, and prostrate yourselves on the ground to repent of them. This is called practicing poṣadha. One who has completed poṣadha remains in purity and is capable of being a Dharma vessel. Then you should accept and observe the eight precepts of the Tathāgata. Can you observe them?’ Ask them this three times.
    “The eight precepts for purification are monastic rules instituted specially for laypeople by Buddha-Tathāgatas of the past, present, and future. These are (1) no killing; (2) no stealing; (3) no sex; (4) no lying; (5) no drinking alcohol; (6) no wearing perfumes or adornments, and no singing, playing music, or watching song-dance entertainments; (7) no sleeping on a luxurious bed; (8) no eating after lunch, until morning. They should observe these precepts.

Neither killing nor stealing,
Neither having sex nor telling lies,
Neither drinking alcohol nor wearing perfumes or adornments,
Neither sleeping on luxurious beds nor eating food after lunch,
Holy ones stay away from these things.

These eight precepts
You all should accept and observe.

“Supported by the merits acquired from observing these purifying precepts, one will not fall into hell, nor will one become a hungry ghost, or an animal or asura. One will always be reborn as a human. With the right views, one will renounce family life in order to acquire the Way to nirvāṇa. If one is reborn in a heaven, it will be a Brahma heaven. One will encounter a Buddha appearing in the world and request Him to turn the Dharma wheel, and one will eventually attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi.”

The Requitals for Upholding the Ten Good Karmas and the Eight Precepts

At that time the World-Honored One, in praise of this Dharma, spoke in verse:

If one can carry out the ten good karmas
And follow the teachings in the true Dharma,
One will always see Buddhas life after life.
With body and mind open to understanding,
One will forever discard the bondage of suffering
And quickly attain the unsurpassed bodhi.

If one observes the eight precepts and
Follows the Vinaya
Without violation,
And upholds the true Dharma of Buddhas,
One’s body and mind
Will be liberated.
This is called the road to nirvāṇa,
Which is walked by all Buddhas.

Having spoken these stanzas, the Buddha told Śāriputra, “Accept and uphold the ten good karmas and the eight precepts. Take care not to forget or lose them, resulting in destruction of the Dharma seeds. Widely pronounce them to all gods and humans.”
    Śāriputra said to the Buddha, “Indeed! Indeed! I will vigilantly accept and uphold them. At that time Śāriputra and all others in the assembly, having heard the Buddha’s words, rejoiced and reverently carried out the teachings.

Chapter 2
The Requitals for Good and Evil Karmas

The Requitals for Not Killing Sentient Beings

The Buddha told Śāriputra:

You now should know
That all who are alive
Love their bodies and lives.
Therefore, one should give alms
To all sentient beings with universal lovingkindness,
Regarding them all as one’s own eyes.
This is called the precept against killing, which is
Pronounced by Buddhas of the past, present, and future,
Who have [sarvajña-jñāna] the knowledge of all knowledge.

Similar to forgiving oneself,
One should neither kill nor harm others.
When one witnesses the act of killing,
One feels as if a knife is stabbing one’s heart.
Regarding all sentient beings as no different from oneself,
By observing the precept against killing, one will be reborn in heaven.
One will often encounter Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Therefore, one should accept and observe the precept against killing.

By giving fearlessness to all, after death
One will be reborn in Trayastriṁsa Heaven,
Making merry with elephants, horses, and exquisite maidens,
Or one will be reborn as a Brahma god living in jeweled aquamarine palaces.
In the colors of silver and gold flowers,
One will be seated on a wonderful seat made of the seven treasures,
Enjoying gold tables, jeweled vessels, and flowers made of the seven treasures,
As innumerable goddess-daughters play music.
At times one will lift off, riding one’s palace across the open sky.
At times one will wear a jeweled crown, seated in the main palace hall.

Having discarded greed and lust, one will acquire the right experience in meditation,
And will encounter Buddhas, who expound the Four Noble Truths.
With good understanding, one will quickly become a Srotāpanna.
Or one will exuberantly activate the great bodhi mind
To attain bodhi in the future.

One may be reborn [in the desire realm] in Yāma Heaven or Tuṣita Heaven,
Or [in the form realm] in Brahma Minister Heaven, Pervasive Splendor Heaven,
Merit Arising Heaven, Good Appearance Heaven, Good Vision Heaven,
Or even Akaniṣṭha Heaven.
One will travel to and fro, frolicking in heavens.
Together with Bodhisattvas of great lovingkindness and compassion,
One will sit or lie down, advance or stop, and eat delectable meals.
Day and night in the six periods, one will always hear the Dharma.

Maitreya Bodhisattva often expounds to god-kings the training through which
They will never regress from their resolve to turn the great Dharma wheel.
One will definitely see Maitreya in the future
When he subjugates māras, attains Buddhahood, and turns the Dharma wheel.
In the Dharma of Maitreya Buddha, one will renounce family life.
One will also see the rest of the 1,000 Buddhas of this Worthy Kalpa.
Vairocana Buddha will bestow upon one the prophecy of
Attaining anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi.
This is called the supreme requital for not killing sentient beings,
Also called the root of the Brahma way of lovingkindness and compassion.
This [precept against killing] is pronounced by all Buddhas
And upheld by all Buddhas.

As all love their own eyes,
So too they love their young.
The love for one’s own life is endless.
Therefore, one should never kill sentient beings.
This is called the supreme Brahma way of life.
One neither kills sentient beings nor thinks of killing them,
Nor does one eat flesh.
Regarding killers as thieves,
One knows that they will definitely fall into hell.
Flesh eaters have many illnesses,
Adorning themselves with termination of others’ lives.

Those who invoke the mind of great lovingkindness
And reverently observe the precept against killing
Will definitely attain bodhi.

All Sentient Beings Love Their Lives

The Buddha told Śāriputra, “Know that the karma of killing sentient beings has grave consequences. Once you and I visited the city of Pāṭaliputra and there we met Devapatī, the daughter of an elder. She gave birth to a boy who was comely beyond comparison, just as the goddess-daughter Red Lotus Flower is unequaled. This mother loved her son very much. Holding the boy in her arms, she came to the place where I was. She said to me, ‘World-Honored One, My son is so lovely that he is like a celestial boy. My love for him is a billion times my love for myself.’
    “Then I told her, ‘Good woman, know that ordinary beings love their own lives, and that their self-love is like an ocean swallowing all streams, never satiated. You say how much you love your son. What is your proof?’”
    That woman answered, “World-Honored One, I love my son. Even if a fire is burning my body, I will never abandon my son.”
    To transform that woman, the World-Honored One, using His spiritual power, manifested four yakṣas, who approached from the four directions, each holding a mountain of fire. When the fires were still far away, the woman used her body and her clothes to shield her son. When the fires drew near, she raised her hands and used her son to shield her face from the fire.
    The Buddha asked the woman, “You say that you love your son. Why are you using your son to block the fire and save yourself?”
    Then the woman answered, “World-Honored One, to save myself, I would not save this son.”
    The Buddha used His spiritual power to give coolness to both mother and son. She then activated the unsurpassed bodhi mind. The Buddha told that woman, “If you love yourself and your son, why would you kill and make others kill?

The Requitals for Killing Sentient Beings

“Know that killing sentient beings brings enormously evil requitals. The killer will definitely fall into Avīci Hell, a place of extreme suffering under King Yama’s laws. What are these severe laws? Day and night in the six periods, King Yama pronounces the ten requitals for the evil karma of killing sentient beings.

    “First, one who has killed sentient beings will definitely be reborn in Knife Mountain Hell, in blazing fire. The sinner will be cut into 84,000 pieces by a wheel of blades. In one day and one night, he will die 60 koṭi times and be reborn 60 koṭi times. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed killing sentient beings, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “Second, one who has killed sentient beings will definitely be reborn in Sword Forest Hell. This hell has 84,000 sword trees, each 84,000 yojanas tall. Each tree grows 84,000 sword branches; each branch blooms 84,000 sword flowers; each flower bears 84,000 sword fruits. The sinner will climb a tree, leave his heart all over the tops of the sword trees, and leave his body parts all over the sword tree forest. Each body part will spread over the 84,000 sword branches. The sword flowers and sword fruits will shave his bones to the marrow. His body will be hacked into bits like grass seeds. In one day and one night, he will die 84,000 times and be reborn 84,000 times. Such is the requital for the karma of killing sentient beings. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed killing sentient beings, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “Third, one who has killed sentient beings will be reborn in Boiling Cauldron Hell. After a billion boils, the sinner’s flesh will be boiled away, and his skeleton will be propped against a copper pillar. Then he will come back to life. Hundreds and thousands of thorny bushes will turn into iron knives, with which he will cut off his own flesh to eat. Then he will again fall into the boiling cauldron. In one day and one night, he will die 84,000 times and be reborn 84,000 times. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed killing sentient beings, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “Fourth, one who has killed sentient beings will be reborn in Iron Bed Hell. This iron bed is 50 yojanas in length and width. Iron knife points will come from the four directions to pierce the sinner’s heart. A huge vehicle with iron nets will enter the crown of his head and split his feet to exit. In one day and one night, he will die 84,000 times and be reborn 84,000 times. Such is the requital for the karma of killing sentient beings. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed killing sentient beings, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “Fifth, one who has killed sentient beings will be reborn in Iron Mountains Hell. The iron mountains in the four directions are shaped like iron grottos. They spew fire from the four directions. Five yakṣas will hack the sinner’s body, dividing it into four parts, and throw them into the fires in the four directions. These four mountains will then merge and break up into dust, from which will arise fire birds, iron-beaked birds, and iron snakes. They will enter the sinner’s joints, cracking the bones and spilling the marrow. In one day and one night, he will die 84,000 times and be reborn 84,000 times. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed killing sentient beings, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “Sixth, one who has killed sentient beings will be reborn in Iron Nets Hell. This hell has a huge iron mountain 100,000 yojanas in height, filled with molten iron and covered by iron nets. Among the nets are innumerable, countless iron-mouthed insects, which will enter the crown of the sinner’s head, gnaw through his bones and marrows, and split his feet to exit. In one day and one night, he will die 84,000 times and be reborn 84,000 times. Such is the requital for the karma of killing sentient beings. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed killing sentient beings, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “Seventh, one who has killed sentient beings will be reborn in Red Lotus Flower Hell. This lotus flower has 84,000 petals. Each petal is shaped like a mountain of knives, 500 yojanas in height, with 100 koṭi sword forests in blazing fire. The sinner will be seated in the flower, and its petals will open, one by one. When each petal is opening, the fire mountain and the sword forest will burn his flesh and chop his bones, inflicting myriad pains. When the petals close, 100,000 mountains of knives will hack him at the same time. In one day and one night, he will die 84,000 times and be reborn 84,000 times. Such is the requital for the karma of killing sentient beings. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed killing sentient beings, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.
    “Eighth, one who has killed sentient beings will be reborn in Five Deaths and Five Revivals Hell. This hell has five huge mountains, each with 500 koṭi wheels of knives on the mountaintop. Above each wheel of knives is a huge water wheel. Like a flower lying on ice, the sinner will be surrounded by the mountains. The five mountains with wheels of knives will come from the five directions, rumbling, ‘Revive, revive.’ They will divide his body into five parts, called the five deaths and five revivals, then mince them into bits. In one day and one night, he will die 84,000 times and be reborn 84,000 times. Such is the requital for the karma of killing sentient beings. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed killing sentient beings, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “Ninth, one who has killed sentient beings will be reborn in Venomous Snakes Forest Hell. This hell contains burning venomous iron snakes as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each snake is thousands of yojanas in length. Its mouth spits out venom like burning iron pellets, which will enter the crown of the sinner’s head and spread everywhere in his body. Inside each section of his limbs will be innumerable snakes spitting venom and fire to burn him. In one day and one night, he will die 84,000 times and be reborn 84,000 times. Such is the requital for the karma of killing sentient beings. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed killing sentient beings, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “Tenth, one who has killed sentient beings will be reborn in Iron Cangue and Shackle Hell. The cangue is an iron mountain 12 yojanas across, and the shackle is an iron pillar with fire nets, 60 yojanas in height. The handcuffs are fire spewed from the mouth of an iron dog 80 yojanas in length. Iron arrows shot from the sky will pierce the sinner’s heart. The cangue and shackle produce copper pellets, which will enter his eyes, spread through all parts of his body, and exit through his feet. In one day and one night, he will die 84,000 times and be reborn 84,000 times. Such is the requital for the karma of killing sentient beings. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed killing sentient beings, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’”

At that time the World-Honored One told Śāriputra, “A person’s suffering in hell because of his karma of killing sentient beings is called the bloom of requital.1 He will next be reborn through the four modes of birth—the womb, the egg, moisture, and miraculous formation—as sentient beings, undergoing multitudinous suffering, which is immeasurable, boundless, beyond reckoning. Then he will be reborn as a human with many illnesses and a short lifespan.

The Requitals for Stealing

“What is the precept against stealing? This precept means universally giving sentient beings things needed in their lives. Therefore, Buddhas say that the precept against stealing is cool and peaceful, like sweet nectar. Observance of this precept is called the road to heaven, also called the place to attain bodhi, also called the nirvāṇa attire, also called the liberation life. Therefore, Buddhas praise that not stealing is the cause for one not to be reborn as a hungry ghost. There are ten evil requitals for stealing.

    “First, one who has stolen will definitely fall into Flesh Mountain Hell. The sinner reborn on the flesh mountain will have a head like a huge mountain with 100,000 heads. From the cheeks of each head will grow flesh lumps. Hundreds and thousands of iron dogs will rush out of the iron mountain, howling and fighting to eat these lumps. Iron nails coming out of the dogs’ mouths will enter the crown of the sinner’s head and exit through his heels. His skin will be stripped off and stretched over iron barbs 100,000 yojanas across. For 84,000 years, his body will suffer like this, and his heart will be in excruciating pain as if cut by a knife. This is the first requital for stealing. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed stealing, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “The second requital for stealing will be rebirth as a hungry ghost with a colossal body 50 yojanas tall. When the sinner walks, his body will rumble like 500 vehicles. Fire will burst out of his joints like ten vehicles on fire. He will eat iron pellets and drink molten copper to relieve hunger and quench thirst. His hair will be like iron barbed wires, which bind his body. For a billion years, he will undergo immeasurable suffering, never hearing the sound of water in rice fields. This is the second requital for stealing. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed stealing, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “The third requital for stealing will be rebirth in Freezing Ice Hell. For a billion years, the ice mountains in the eight directions will be like the sinner’s clothes, and his skin will be frosted like a lotus flower opening. He will eat his own flesh as fire arrows pierce his heart. This is the third requital for stealing. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed stealing, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “The fourth requital for stealing will be rebirth as a rakṣasa. The facial features of a female rakṣasa are as comely as those of a goddess-daughter. A male rakṣasa has 1,000 eyes, and he wears an iron harness on his head. His dog teeth protrude upward, and his ear tips are in flames. When a female rakṣasa postures, her entire body is ablaze. They drink blood and eat flesh, fire, charcoal, pus, and vomit. For a billion years, the sinner will assume a rakṣasa’s body and undergo tremendous suffering. This is the fourth requital for stealing. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed stealing, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “The fifth requital for stealing will be rebirth in Iron Deer Hell. The sinner will assume the body of an iron deer with 100,000 heads, 100,000 hands, 100,000 tails, 100,000 hooves, and 100,000 layers of skin. There, 500 koṭi iron tigers and 100,000 koṭi iron lions will strip off his skin. Between each two layers of his skin will be innumerable iron barbs causing him excruciating pain, as if by knives shaving his bones to the marrow. For innumerable billions of years, he will undergo limitless suffering. This is the fifth requital for stealing. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed stealing, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “The sixth requital for stealing will be rebirth as a human. Dark, thin, and naked, the sinner will have squinting eyes, and his breath will be foul. He will often land in jail, or will be ordered to remove feces and filth. Though in human form, he will be built like an ox or a horse. [In his family] the father will not love his son, and the son will not honor his father; the mother will not love her son, and the son will not honor his mother. For a billion years, he will undergo immeasurable suffering. This is the sixth requital for stealing. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed stealing, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “The seventh requital for stealing will be rebirth in the enormous Knife Flowers and Sword Flowers Hell. In this hell are innumerable, boundless knife forests and sword forests, both in bloom. The sinner’s body will be shaped like an iron pot 100,000 yojanas in length and width. Chased by wardens, like a flower blown everywhere by the wind, he will be reborn on 100,000 sword flowers, which will strip off his skin and cut it into countless pieces. With bones shaved to the marrow, he will fall from the sky and be reborn on knife flowers. The thorns of the knife flowers will again strip off his skin and cut it into countless pieces, and will chop his bones into countless bits. With pain penetrating his heart and marrow, he will yearn for death but will be unable to die. The iron mountains on the four sides will magically produce innumerable iron caltrops and barbs. Like huge arrows, they all will shoot into his heart simultaneously. For innumerable koṭis of years, he will undergo such suffering. This is the seventh requital for stealing. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed stealing, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “The eighth requital for stealing will be rebirth in the enormous Fire Mountain Hell. The sinner will assume the form of a huge monster with 100,000 heads. Carried on his back will be 500 monkeys shaped like fires. Holding flaming knives in their hands, they will strip off his skin and toss it over the fire mountain. His mind will manifest a fire wolf that gnaws his bones to the marrow. His body a mass of flames, he will try to flee in the four directions. However, being inside the fire mountain, he will find no escape. Experiencing myriads of suffering, he will yearn for death but will be unable to die. For a billion years, he will undergo such suffering. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed stealing, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “The ninth requital for stealing will be rebirth in the enormous Nose Piercing Hell. In this hell are twelve iron hooks, which hook the sinner’s eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and tongue. He will be clubbed and tortured. He will be stripped of his facial skin, which will change into lumps of flesh stuffed into his mouth. The lumps will become huge fire arrows that penetrate his heart down to his feet. He will yearn for death but will be unable to die. For a billion years, he will undergo such suffering. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed stealing, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’
    “The tenth requital for stealing will be rebirth in Slaughtering and Peeling Hell. The sinner will lie on an iron table, and the warden will strip off his skin with a knife and cut out his heart. He will yearn for death but will be unable to die. For a billion years, he will undergo such suffering. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed stealing, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’

The Five Virtues of No Sex

“What is the precept of no sex?2 Giving up sex has the benefit of five virtues, which are praised by Buddhas of the past, present, and future. Those who give up sex deport themselves like a Buddha and, like a Buddha, their bodies are fragrant. What are these five virtues?

    “First, one’s eye consciousness remains impervious to sex objects. When one sees such an object, it is like seeing a maggot in feces, a knife entering one’s heart, or a fire burning one’s eyes, so love does not arise from one’s mind. As the fire of desire in one’s eyes wantonly moves under the law of impermanence, what love is there?
    “Second, one’s ear consciousness remains impervious to sex sounds that please one’s ears. Such sounds of delusion incite the forest of venomous snakes and produce the seeds of love. These sounds are called the thief wind. As it flows out of one’s hearing faculty and deluded perception, what love is there? Like the utterance of yakṣas, these illusory echoes are loved by the foolish. What activates one’s hearing faculty are the sounds of a person made of dew, sounds that flow along with the five desires in the river of love and delusion. If one knows deeply that they are a thief, one’s ear consciousness will remain impervious.
    “Third, one’s nose consciousness remains impervious. Know that scents are sent by the eight winds. As the delusion wind stirs up the love wind, fragrances, such as those of flowers, are produced by one’s perception. One’s nose consciousness arbitrarily calls scents fragrances or aromas. It asserts that [the scents of] plants and flowers are all called fragrances. Tathāgatas, who restrain their bodies, smell neither fragrance nor stench. Knowing that scents are unreal, they do not praise the perception of scents.
    “Fourth, one’s tongue consciousness remains impervious. One neither discusses worldly benefits nor praises sex. One neither speaks of sexual desires and tactile pleasures, nor dwells on a frenzied clammy union. One does not delight in speaking of favorite pleasures, which increase one’s ignorance and one’s blind love for the five thieves [desires]. Therefore, Buddhas’ tongue consciousness remains impervious.
    “Fifth, one’s mind remains silent and still. One neither invokes the lustful mind nor thinks of sex; one neither perceives sexual pleasures nor arouses the sexual faculty. As one’s sex consciousness is impervious, like the liberation mind, one abides in the silence of nirvāṇa, the city of eternal bliss, peaceful and beyond causality. As one’s Buddha mind abides in true suchness, one heads for the realization of the eighteen emptinesses and the nine kinds of nirvāṇa.

“Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who have these five virtues, have pure bodies and are born in lotus flowers. As their bodies are pure and untainted, their minds are unpretentious. Therefore, Buddhas say that the precept of no sex has supreme purity, unsurpassed merit, and is complete with these five virtues. They praise endlessly that it is the cause of one’s liberation. Sex is the tightest bondage with invisible shackles, like the mud of the five desires that traps an old elephant.

All of you listen single-mindedly.
Myriad worthy actions are ruined by the filth of the sex act.
It sinks one’s meditation
And blocks the liberation path.

Good men and good women
Who seek the liberation path in order to leave
The prison of the Three Realms of Existence,
Which contains the fire pit, the river of the five desires,
The cauldron of fire, and the mountain of freezing ice,
And to be liberated from the fear of repeated birth and death,
Should uphold their minds as they would uphold Buddhas
And observe the precept of no sex

Those who seek rebirth in a long life heaven
To live a long life of innumerable kalpas,
Or seek rebirth as a Brahma god
Or as a Wheel-Turning King, who owns the seven treasures,
Should uphold their minds as they would uphold Buddhas
And observe the precept of no sex.

Those who aspire to see Buddhas,
To hear the Dharma, to attain bodhi, to achieve
The six transcendental powers, and to visit
Worlds in the ten directions,
Should uphold their minds as they would uphold Buddhas
And observe the precept of no sex.

The Ten Troubles Resulting from Sex

“I now explain the ten troubles resulting from sex. What are these ten?

    “First, those who are greedy for sex, even if they are reborn as the god-king Śakra, who enjoys the pleasures of the five desires, their minds are intoxicated, like that of a dog stealing food. They are drowning in the river of the five desires.
    “Second, those who are greedy for sex, even if they are kings among men, with command of mighty powers, are love slaves to others. They may acquire wealth and treasures insatiably, like fire devouring firewood. After death they will lose their kingdoms and go down the evil life-paths.
    “Third, those who are greedy for sex are always tethered to others and driven by the six sense objects. Carried on their backs is impermanence, like a colossal elephant, and their minds are like a monkey unaware of tribulations. In the blazing fire of desire, they would even deny their parents and siblings. Like pigs or dogs piling on each other, they lose any sense of shame or dishonor.
    “Fourth, those who are greedy for sex drink impure things—female pus and blood. For innumerable kalpas, each of them will be reborn in the womb as an embryo, surrounded by worm-like internal organs. Each of them will feed on the female system for food and drink.
    “Fifth, those who are greedy for sex have minds like sharp knives and eyes like vehicles on fire, which cut through and burn away their store of merits.
    “Sixth, those who are greedy for sex, when they visit those in the kṣatriya caste, set their afflictions on fire with the firewood of desire, like rakṣasas intending to plunder. When they visit those in the Brahmin caste, they act without any sense of shame or dishonor, like a magician who performs only evil tricks and speaks of impure things. When they visit śramaṇas, they do not have the sense to take refuge in them. Their sensual faculties perform like glue sticking grass together. Their driving afflictions, including desire, besiege their minds. The fire of their six faculties burns away their seeds of goodness and destroys the pure karma of the Brahma way of their past lives. They move their hands and feet like sharp knives. Their gazes are like a blazing fire, and their mouths are like a rakṣasa’s. The pores of their bodies are heated by the fire of desire.
    “Seventh, those who are greedy for sex do eight karmas: (1) they kill sentient beings; (2) they make tools for killing, such as knives, swords, and clubs; (3) they bring men and women together; (4) they tell big lies; (5) they drink alcohol and sing; (6) they set up the conditions for sex; (7) they steal precious objects; (8) they adorn their bodies composed of worms. Driven by their minds, their eyes move like vicious dogs that steal and eat stinking filth.
    “Eighth, those who are greedy for sex are driven by sex. Their minds are like a huge fire, also like a chunk of iron weighed down by itself. Their destruction of the Brahma way of life definitely will drag them down into hell.
    “Ninth, those who are greedy for sex, after death will fall, in the instant of tossing a pearl, into Red Copper Hell. This hell is 7,000 yojanas in length and width, like a forest of copper flowers. There is an iron bed, on which stands a scorching copper pillar 100,000 yojanas in height, with eight sides. At the top of the pillar is a mirror that displays the images of male and female forms. When the lustful person’s thoughts of love arouse his sexual faculty, fire rises from the bed. As copper flowers change into huge burning iron nails, the copper pillar changes into molten copper in a boiling cauldron. As the iron bed bursts in flames, the female images transform into dogs and the male images transform into knives.3 They force the sinner to experience immeasurable suffering, eating burning iron pellets and drinking molten copper. For innumerable years in his lifespan of one kalpa, he will yearn for death but will be unable to die.
    “Tenth, those who are greedy for sex cannot see a Buddha. It is as if they are blocked by dark clouds. Because they have destroyed their Brahma way of life, they will definitely fall into Avīci Hell. Each sinner will perceive that his body fills up this hell, and will have a lifespan of one kalpa. He will stay there from one kalpa to the next. Meanwhile, King Yama will rebuke the sinner, ‘You enjoyed sex, and now you experience this suffering. Is this suffering a pleasure? You should repay your debts to others for a billion kalpas, but even so you cannot repay your debts in full.’ After his life in hell has ended, he will be reborn as a dove or will assume the body of a dragon or snake. Because he has destroyed his Brahma way of life, for hundreds and thousands of lives, he will be unable to see a Buddha, hear the Dharma, and attain bodhi.”

At that time the World-Honored One spoke in verse:

With unceasing sex and desire,
Sentient beings are each reborn life after life.
Ignorance being the root,
They are slashed by the knife of old age and death
And ravaged by the forest of venomous snakes.

Their bodies being skin sacs filled with blood and impurities,
Like maggots that delight in feces,
They are greedy for sex,
With the fire of their desire flaming from the nine orifices.
Love is like poisonous thorns
Growing from inverted, wrong views.4
Love is produced by illusions.

The smoothness of the female body is
Like a tree blooming wanton flowers,
Which are scattered by the delusion wind.
Then these wilted flowers become infested with worms.
Women are like painted vases,
Leaking drops of pus and blood.
Each full vase leaks,
Displaying its impurities.
The eyes that set upon the impure fluids are
Like a lustful thieving dog.

By single-mindedly observing such impurity,
One should discard one’s loves.
By drinking sweet nectar,
One will live in the great city of nirvāṇa.

The Buddha told Ānanda, “If there are those who restrain their body and mind, not to have sex, restrain their eyes, not to see sex objects, restrain their ears, not to hear sex sounds, restrain their nose, not to smell sex scents, and restrain their tongue, not to say sex words, it is called taking wisdom action on the Eightfold Right Path. By not having sex, one’s body and mind are purified, like a lotus flower untouched by dirt. Through the purity of no sex, one will achieve the way of Srotāpannas, Sakṛdāgāmins, Anāgāmins, and Arhats, the way of Pratyekabuddhas, or the unsurpassed Bodhi Way.

The Requitals for the Good Voice Karmas

“The four evil voice karmas [in the ten evil karmas] are false speech, divisive speech, abusive speech, and suggestive speech, and [a fifth evil] voice karma is speech that praises the wrong views.”
    [Then the World-Honored One spoke in verse:]

If a person quits false speech,
Proclaims the precept against lying,
And upholds his voice as he would uphold a Buddha’s voice,
Always speaking truthful words,
He will be reborn in heaven,
The fragrance from his mouth permeating all heavens.
If he is reborn in the human world,
He will be adorned with fragrances,
Like water flowing from the mountain of fragrance
Into the river of nirvāṇa.

If a person quits divisive speech
And a double-dealing mind,
His tongue will be like a Buddha’s tongue.
With lotus petals covering his face,
Light in five different colors
Will issue from his tongue.
He will always pronounce the Dharma of a great man
With utmost sincerity, free from divisive speech.

If a person quits abusive speech,
He will be called a great man.
He will be the upright one among men,
And all will be delighted to see him,
Who is like the fragrance of sandalwood.

If a person quits suggestive speech,
His mouth will always emit wonderful fragrance,
Like the flower of utpala lotus.
He will encounter Buddhas wherever he is reborn.

If a person’s voice karma is truly pure,
He will neither praise the wrong views
Nor discuss the karma of holding the wrong views.
He will always renounce family life wherever he is reborn,
And will earn a right livelihood.5

Buddhas abide in nirvāṇa,
Which is attained by speaking truthful words.

The Requitals for the Evil Voice Karmas

The Buddha told Śāriputra, “The five misuses of one’s voice lead to five enormously evil karmas. What are these five?
    “First, a liar slanders others. He claims to hear something he has not heard, to see something he has not seen, and to have attained bodhi he has not attained. Such an evil person, though not sick, is like a mangy dog.”
    At that time the World-Honored One spoke in verse:

Amid gods and humans,
Suppose a blazing fire, like burning iron pellets,
Burns away all humans.
It is not nearly as bad as this thief [liar].
What is a colossal thief?
There is only one kind [liar].

Suppose surges of fire
Burn one’s bones into molten copper.
Suppose one is devoured by a mountain of knives,
Boiled in a cauldron, and dismembered by knives and saws.
Suppose one’s body is torn into shreds to build a bonfire.
This suffering is not as evil as
The poisonous harm of false speech, which burns away
The liar’s fortune to be reborn as a god or human.

He will roam in Avīci Hell,
With wheels of knives as his feet
And venomous iron snakes as his tongue.
The fire spewed from his mouth could set the Thousandfold World ablaze,
And his eyes will be like popping iron pellets.
The boiling cauldron will pour [molten copper] in torrential rains,
Burning away his roots of goodness with their promised flowers.
For innumerable thousands of koṭis of kalpas,
The liar will definitely trudge the evil life-paths,
From which he cannot escape.

Such an enormously evil person
Has a body like a mountain of fire,
Which burns away all that is good.

    “Second, a person using abusive speech, even if holding fragrance in his mouth, stinks like a corpse. He delights in talking about wicked things. What comes out his mouth is like thorns, knives, swords, and lances, and like feces, urine, maggots, and pus. While no fragrance among gods and men surpasses that of virtuous speech, no stench in the Three Realms of Existence surpasses that of abusive speech. Whatever spews from his abusive mouth is like a rain of iron pellets, which burn down others’ houses. This person will fall into an immense hell to drink molten iron, as his body is burned by scorching iron. If he is reborn in the human world, he will be a sick dog or sick man, afflicted with mange. Because all the thoughts in his mind are impure, in accord with evil, for innumerable kalpas he will eat pus and blood.
    “Third, a person using divisive speech speaks like water and fire. He claims that he has done what he has not. When others do good deeds, and speak true and pure, he willfully claims that they are wrong. What wrong others did not do, he willfully claims that they did. People of the world do not delight in seeing him. After death he will definitely fall into an immense hell, and his tongue will be cut by a copper saw into thousands of pieces.
    “Fourth, a person using suggestive speech inverts high to low, low to high. Such a person teases and mocks without restraint. Using cunning and cutting words, his speech is hurtful, unscrupulous, and unbeneficial. He speaks words that praise the five desires, words devoid of understanding, words of darkness, and words that, like thorns and thistles, hook sentient beings. The evil requital to this person is that after death he will fall into Thistle Forest Hell. There, 100,000 iron thorns will hook out his tongue and break it into 100,000 pieces.
    “Fifth, a person praising the wrong views has a mouth like a blazing fire that burns away his roots of goodness. He has no father or mother; no Buddha, Dharma, or Saṅgha; no Arhat or Pratyekabuddha; no teacher, comrade, or beneficent learned friend. His mind is like a hurricane that blows down all trees, together with their roots of goodness. This is a colossal thief who proclaims that there is no causality. His voice is like massive water flooding the Three Realms of Existence. His debauchery is rampant as he plays with his kind. By committing any of the five rebellious sins, he sends himself into the hell of uninterrupted suffering and destroys his wisdom. In addition, by violating any of the four grave prohibitions, he condemns himself to uninterrupted suffering. All these [evil karmas] stem from the wrong views in his warped, evil mind. Using false speech, abusive speech, divisive speech, and suggestive speech, this person praises the wrong views. The blowing of evil winds [in his mind] moves his vicious mouth and, in the fire of Avīci Hell, iron thorns grow on his tongue.
    “In this world, this enormously evil person is composed of the five aggregates and the four domains: earth, water, fire, and wind. In hell, he will know that earth is iron mountains, knife forests, and sword trees. He will be ravaged by 100,000 iron thorns and by innumerable iron insects and iron-beaked birds, and will be run over by iron vehicles with iron nets and caltrops. He will know that water is molten copper and that innumerable boiling cauldrons contain scorching iron pellets. Flowing through his limbs will be streams of boiling iron feces. He will know that fire in escalating surges is a copper pillar, which rises from his six faculties and burns his body and mind. He will learn that wind is a hail storm coming from a ravine, and that the forest of innumerable knives and 100,000 sword trees is mobilized by the motion of his limbs.
    “He will know that the five aggregates—form, sensory reception, perception, mental processing, and consciousness—are five thieves. As a subject in King Yama’s dominion guarded by eighteen rakṣasas, he will know that his consciousness is hot iron, like molten copper, filling up Avīci Hell.

“There are those who are conceited, and are healthy and strong, and those who, with a vicious mouth, scold, slander, and damage others. Where are they now?”
    The Buddha told Śāriputra, “Those who praise the wrong views with false speech, abusive speech, divisive speech, and suggestive speech are colossal thieves not just to one person, but to all gods and humans. As an analogy, thieves have the power to burn a city to the ground and slaughter all the people on the four continents. What will the requital for their sins be?”
    Śāriputra replied to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, each thief’s sins are beyond measure, like Mount Sumeru.”
    The Buddha told Śāriputra, “The requital to such a thief for his sins is not as severe as the requital to one who uses false speech, abusive speech, divisive speech, and suggestive speech to praise the wrong views, even for only a moment. This sinner after death will fall into an immense hell to suffer for innumerable kalpas. Even 100,000 Buddhas cannot save him. Buddhas witness the maligners of the Dharma and the hells in the ten directions being born and perishing together. Therefore, the wise restrain their body and voice.”

Encouragement to Observe the Ten Good Precepts

The Buddha told Śāriputra, “If there are those who accept and observe the ten good karmas as precepts and destroy the ten evil karmas, they will be reborn in Brahma heavens as god-kings or will be reborn in this world as Wheel-Turning Kings. Transformed by the ten good karmas, like water flowing into the ocean of nirvāṇa, they will say farewell to the three evil life-paths forever. Those who violate the ten good precepts will fall into immense hells to suffer for innumerable lives. Śāriputra, you all should accept and observe the ten good precepts and the karma dharma,6 and destroy the ten evil karmas.”
    At that time Śāriputra and the multitude, having heard the Buddha’s words, rejoiced and reverently carried out the teachings.

Sūtra of Accepting the Ten Good Karmas as Precepts
Translated from the digital Chinese Canon (T24n1486)

Notes

    1. The bloom of requital here is probably meant to be the fruition of requital. In Buddhist doctrine, usually the preliminary requital is called the bloom of requital, and the main requital is called the fruition of requital. For example, in the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, fascicle 17, King Ajātaśatru, after killing his father, grows stinking boils all over his body. He thinks to himself: “As my body has received this bloom of requital, the fruition of requital in hell is not far off” (T17n0375, 0717a15–22). Moreover, in the Sūtra of the Requitals to Hungry Ghosts, fascicle 1, a hungry ghost asks why he suffers from headaches. The venerable Mahāmaudgalyāyana tells him that when he was a human, he often clubbed sentient beings’ heads, and that he is now receiving the bloom of requital, which will be followed by the fruition of requital in hell (T17n0746, 0560b15–18).
    2. The third of the five precepts and the ten good karmas is no sexual misconduct. The third of the eight precepts is no sex. Although the eight precepts are to be observed regularly, for one day at a time, a lay Buddhist may choose to observe celibacy for life, living the Brahma way of life.
    3. The knives here probably should be some kind of animal.
    4. See “inversion” in the glossary.
    5. Right livelihood is the fifth path of the Eightfold Right Path. It means a livelihood free from evil.
    6. See the second definition of karma in the glossary.