佛說舍利弗悔過經
Buddha Pronounces the Repentance Sūtra in Response to Śāriputra

Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the Eastern Han Dynasty
by
The Tripiṭaka Master An Shigao from Anxi

At one time the Buddha was staying on the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain, near the city of Rājagṛha, together with 1,250 bhikṣus and 1,000 Bodhisattvas. His foremost disciple Śāriputra rose, came forward, and fell on his knees. He joined his palms and asked the Buddha, “If good men and good woman aspire to seek bodhi, but have done evil in their past lives, how should they repent?”
    The Buddha praised, “Very good! Very good! Śāriputra, you are so concerned about the welfare of gods and humans.”
    The Buddha said, “If there are good men and good women who seek the bodhi of Arhats, the bodhi of Pratyekabuddhas, or the bodhi of Buddhas, or wish to know past and future events, day and night in the six periods they should bathe, rinse their mouths, dress properly, and make obeisance [to Buddhas in worlds] in the ten directions. Facing a given direction, they should join their palms and state their repentance: ‘Out of greed, anger, and delusion, not knowing the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha, nor good versus evil, from my past lives in innumerable kalpas to this life, I have done evil with my body, voice, and mind, whether I have attempted to harm the Buddha, maligned the Dharma, or attacked the Saṅgha; whether I have killed Arhats or my parents; whether I have done the three evil body karmas or the four evil voice karmas; whether I have killed or incited others to kill sentient beings; whether I have rejoiced for others upon seeing them kill sentient beings; whether I have stolen or incited others to steal; whether I have rejoiced for others upon seeing them steal; whether I have deceived or incited others to deceive people; whether I have rejoiced for others upon seeing them deceive people; whether I have used or incited others to use divisive speech; whether I have rejoiced for others upon hearing them use divisive speech; whether I have lied or told others to lie; whether I have rejoiced for others upon hearing them lie; whether I have harbored or told others to harbor jealousy; whether I have rejoiced for others upon seeing their jealousy; whether I have been greedy or incited others to be greedy; whether I have rejoiced for others upon seeing their greed; whether I have disbelieved or told others to disbelieve [the truth]; whether I have rejoiced for others upon seeing their nonbelief; whether I have disbelieved that doing good reaps good and that doing evil reaps evil; whether I have rejoiced for others upon seeing them do evil; whether I have stolen sacred things from Buddhist temples or personal things from bhikṣus, or incited others to steal such things; whether I have rejoiced for others upon seeing them steal such things; whether I have cheated people with smaller containers or shorter rulers, or with larger containers or longer rulers; whether I have rejoiced for others upon seeing them cheat people; whether I have committed or told others to commit the rebellious sins; whether I have rejoiced for others upon seeing them commit the rebellious sins.
    “‘I have been repeatedly reborn as hell-dwellers, animals, hungry ghosts, humans [or gods]. The evils I have done on these five life-paths include not honoring my parents or teachers, not respecting my beneficent friends, not respecting śramaṇas or elders, disdaining my parents or teachers, disdaining seekers of the bodhi of Arhats or the bodhi of Pratyekabuddhas, slandering such seekers or envying them, denouncing the bodhi of Buddhas, supporting the evil paths, calling wrong what is right, and calling right what is wrong. I beseech Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions for their pity, and I repent of all such sins. For the rest of this life and in all future lives, I will never again commit such sins. Why do I beseech Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions for their pity? Buddhas can see and hear through me, and I do not dare to deceive them or conceal my sins. From now on, I will never again commit them.’”
    The Buddha told Śāriputra, “If there are good men and good women who do not wish to be reborn as hell-dwellers, animals, or hungry ghosts, they should repent of their sins and should not conceal them. After they have accepted the precepts, they should not do evil again. If they do not wish to be reborn in fringe countries where there is no Buddha, no Dharma, no Saṅgha, no virtuous principles, and no distinction between good and evil, they should repent of their sins and should not conceal them. If they do not wish to be reborn blind, deaf, mute, or stupid, or reborn into families of butchers, fishers, hunters, or wardens, or reborn into poor families, they should repent of their sins and should not conceal them. If women wish to be reborn in male form, they should repent of their sins.
    “Those who wish to enter the holy stream, becoming Srotāpannas and never becoming hell-dwellers, hungry ghosts [or animals], should repent of their sins. Those who wish to become Sakṛdāgāmins and be reborn in a heaven, to become Anāgāmins and be reborn in one of the twenty-four heavens,1 to become Arhats and enter parinirvāṇa, to abide in the world as Arhats or Pratyekabuddhas, or to know past and future events, should all repent of their sins and should not conceal them.”
    The Buddha told Śāriputra, “Good men and good women should, during the three periods of the day, make obeisance to present Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions, who give the right teachings to all under the sun and the moon, enabling them to do good. By analogy, the sky pours down rains for grains, grasses, and trees to flourish. Similarly, Buddhas give teachings in sūtras to enable all to do good, to be reborn as human kings, the four god-kings, or gods in Trayastriṁśa Heaven, and to enjoy wealth and pleasures as requital. Buddhas also enable voice-hearers to become Srotāpannas, Sakṛdāgāmins, Anāgāmins, or Arhats.
    “[Good men and good women] should pray that Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions hear their words: ‘For sentient beings in the world that do good, including people and flying or wriggly insects, whether they give alms, train diligently for bodhi, observe the precepts, remember others with lovingkindness, do innumerable good deeds, make offerings to Bodhisattvas and bhikṣus, or give charity to ordinary beings and the poor, and even to animals in distress, I persuade them to do good, and I express my sympathetic joy.2 For those who have been taught by past Buddhas to attain nirvāṇa, I express my sympathetic joy. For those who will be taught by future Buddhas to do good, to end the five evils3 on the path of birth and death, and even to become Arhats or Pratyekabuddhas, I persuade them to do good, and I express my sympathetic joy. For those who are taught by present Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions to give alms, to observe the precepts, and to have compassion for people and even for flying or wriggly insects, I persuade them to do good, and I express my sympathetic joy.
    “‘For Bodhisattvas who, in the past, have given alms in practicing dāna-pāramitā, observed precepts in practicing śīla-pāramitā, endured adversity in practicing kṣānti-pāramitā, made energetic progress in practicing vīrya-pāramitā, meditated single-mindedly in practicing dhyāna-pāramitā, and developed wisdom in practicing prajñā-pāramitā, I persuade them to rejoice over their practice of the six pāramitās, and I express my sympathetic joy. For Bodhisattvas who, in the future, will practice the six pāramitās, I persuade them to rejoice, and I express my sympathetic joy. For Bodhisattvas who presently practice the six pāramitās, I persuade them to rejoice, and I express my sympathetic joy.
    “‘I give away the merits I have acquired, as alms, to all sentient beings [in worlds] in the ten directions, including people, who have been my parents [throughout my rebirths], and including flying or wriggly insects with two, four, or multiple feet, enabling them all to have the good fortune to become Buddhas or Pratyekabuddhas. Transferring my merits to them is a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, and a koṭi times greater than giving them, as alms, treasures, such as gold and silver, that fill up four big cities.’”
    The Buddha told Śāriputra, “Good men and good women should, day and night in the six periods, make obeisance to Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions and say, ‘I pray that They hear my words. If Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions do not wish to pronounce sūtras, I request them to pronounce sūtras to gods, humans, and even flying or wriggly insects, liberating them all from the life-paths of hell-dwellers, animals, and hungry ghosts, and from stupidity and poverty, and enabling them to attain nirvāṇa. If Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions wish to enter parinirvāṇa, I beseech them not to enter parinirvāṇa, but to give benefits to gods, humans, and even flying or wriggly insects, enabling them all to avoid the life-paths of hell-dwellers, animals, and hungry ghosts.’”
    The Buddha told Śāriputra, “In my past lives, when I was a Bodhisattva, I always beseeched Buddhas not to enter parinirvāṇa, but to pronounce sūtras. Therefore, I became a Buddha. Then the four god-kings of the first desire heaven and the god-king Śakra of the second desire heaven, together with innumerable gods, came down [from their heavens]. They joined their palms, made obeisance, and beseeched me not to enter parinirvāṇa, but to pronounce sūtras to gods and humans.”
    The Buddha told Śāriputra, “People reap what they sow. While those who do good receive good fortune, those who do evil receive misfortune.”
    Śāriputra asked the Buddha, “If good men and good women aspire to seek Buddha bodhi, how should they pray to attain it?”
    The Buddha replied, “Good men and good women should, day and night in the six periods, make obeisance to Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions and say, ‘I pray that Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions hear my words. I have acquired merits from my good deeds in my past lives in innumerable kalpas, whether I have given alms, upheld the sūtras, held goodwill, or done good for the Buddha, for the Dharma, for the Saṅgha, for ordinary beings, or for animals. Knowing that one receives misfortune from one’s evil and good fortune from one’s good, I repent of my evil. I uphold the sūtras and the precepts without violation, whether I observe the precept against being intimate with women, whether I request Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to benefit the multitudes, whether I beseech Buddhas not to enter parinirvāṇa. I gather all the merits I have acquired since I began to learn the Dharma, and with lovingkindness give them away, as alms, to all sentient beings, including people, who have been my parents [throughout my rebirths], and even flying or wriggly insects, enabling them all to receive good fortune. I will keep a small leftover part to enable me to carry out the teachings in the sūtras, delivering those who have not been delivered, liberating those who have not been liberated, and enabling those who have not attained nirvāṇa to attain it.’”
    The Buddha told Śāriputra, “Suppose all men and women in the world have become Arhats or Pratyekabuddhas. Suppose someone makes offerings to these Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas for one thousand years. Is his merit not great?”
    Śāriputra answered, “The merit acquired from making offerings to even one Arhat or Pratyekabuddha for one day is immeasurable, much more the merit acquired from making offerings to all Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas in the world for one thousand years.”
    The Buddha said, “Making offerings to all Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas in the world for one thousand years cannot compare with reading this repentance sūtra for one day and one night in the six periods. The merit acquired from reading this repentance sūtra is a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, and a koṭi times greater than that from making offerings to all Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas in the world.”

 

Buddha Pronounces the Repentance Sūtra in Response to Śāriputra
Translated from the digital Chinese Canon (T24n1492)

 

Notes

 

    1. Anāgāmins are achievers of the third voice-hearer fruit. They are usually reborn in one of the five pure abode heavens in the form realm, never to return to the human world. There, they will attain Arhatship. Of the twenty-eight heavens in the Three Realms of Existence, it is unclear which twenty-four heavens an Anāgāmin may visit. (Return to text)
    2. Here, the Chinese phrase in text 1492 is actually “zhuqi huanxi” (助其歡喜), which means “aid them to rejoice.” This phrase is also found in the two early Chinese versions of the Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sūtra (T13n0417–18). However, in the later Chinese version of this sūtra (T13n0146), used instead is the phrase “suixi” (隨喜), which means “express sympathetic joy.” This is the fifth of the ten great actions taught by Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (Sūtra 21), and it appears in many other sūtras. For consistency, all cases of “aid them to rejoice” are translated as “express sympathetic joy.” (Return to text)
    3. Prohibited by the five precepts are the five evils: (1) killing; (2) stealing; (3) sexual misconduct; (4) false speech, divisive speech, abusive speech, suggestive speech; (5) drinking alcohol. All five evils arise from greed, anger, and delusion (Sūtra 25). (Return to text)

 


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