Illustrations from the Larger Sutra Mandala
Three evil acts and their retribution-1.
|Three evil acts and their retribution-2.
Three evil acts and their retribution-3.
Three evil acts and their retribution-4.
Three evil acts and their retribution-5.
Three evil acts and their retribution-6.
Three evil acts and their retribution-7.
|Three kinds of evil passions and their consequences
 The Buddha said to the Bodhisattva Maitreya
and to devas and humans, "The virtue
and wisdom of shravakas and bodhisattvas
in the land of Amitayus are indescribable.
That land is sublime, blissful, serene and
pure. Why do you not diligently practice good,
reflect on the naturalness of the Way and
realize that it is above all discriminations
and is boundlessly pervasive? You should
each make a great effort to attain it. Strive
to escape from Samsara and be born in the
Land of Peace and Provision. Then, the causes
of the five evil realms having been destroyed,
they will naturally cease to be, and so you
will progress unhindered in your pursuit
of the Way. The Pure Land is easy to reach,
but very few actually go there. It rejects
nobody, but naturally and unfailingly attracts
beings. Why do you not abandon worldly matters
and strive to enter the Way? If you do, you
will obtain an infinitely long life and one
of limitless bliss.
"People of the world, being weak in
virtue, engage in strife over matters which
are not urgent. In the midst of abject wickedness
and extreme afflictions they painstakingly
toil for their living. Whether noble or corrupt,
rich or poor, young or old, male or female,
all people worry about wealth and property.
In this there is no difference between the
rich and the poor; both have their anxieties.
Groaning in dejection and sorrow, they pile
up thoughts of anguish or, [274c] driven
by inner urges, they run wildly in all directions
and they have no time for peace and rest.
"For example, if they own fields, they
are concerned about them. If they have houses,
they worry about them. They are also anxious
about their six kinds of domestic animals,
such as cows and horses, about their male
and female servants, money, wealth, clothes,
food and furnishings. With deepening troubles
they sigh repeatedly, and anxiety increasingly
torments and terrifies them. Sudden misfortune
may befall them: all their possessions may
be destroyed by fire, swept away by floods,
plundered by robbers, or seized by adversaries
or creditors. Then gnawing grief afflicts
them and incessantly troubles their hearts.
Anger seizes their minds, keeps them in constant
agitation, increasingly tightens its grip,
hardens their hearts and never leaves them.
"When their lives end in such agonizing
conditions, they must leave everybody and
everything behind. Even nobles and men of
wealth have these worries. With much anxiety
and fear, they endure such tribulations.
Breaking out in cold sweats or fevers, they
suffer unremitting pain.
"The poor and the underprivileged are
constantly destitute. If, for example, they
have no fields, they are unhappy and want
them. If they have no houses, they are unhappy
and want them. If they have none of the six
kinds of domestic animals, such as cows and
horses, or if they have no male and female
servants, or lack money, wealth, clothes,
food, or furnishings, they are unhappy and
want those as well. If they possess some
of them, others may be lacking. If they have
this, they do not have that, and so they
wish to possess all. But, even if by some
chance they come to possess everything, it
will soon be destroyed or lost. Then, dejected
and sorrowful, they strive to obtain such
things again, but it may be impossible. Brooding
over this is to no avail. Exhausted in mind
and body, they become restless in all their
doings, and anxieties follow on their heels.
Such are the troubles they must endure. Breaking
out in cold sweats or fevers, they suffer
unremitting pain. Such conditions may result
in the sudden end of their lives or an early
death. Since they have not done any good
in particular, nor followed the Way, nor
acted virtuously, when they die, they will
depart alone to an inferior world. Although
they are destined to different states of
existence, none of them understands the law
of karma that sends them there.
"People of the world, parents and children,
brothers and sisters, husbands and wives,
and other family members and kinsmen, should
respect and love each other, refraining from
hatred and envy. They should share things
with others, and not be greedy and miserly,
always speak friendly words with a pleasing
smile, and not hurt each other.
"If one disagrees with others and grows
angry, however small one's grudge and enmity
may be in this life, these will increase
in the life to come until they grow into
a mass of hostility. For, if people are engaged
in tormenting and harming each other in this
life, such conflict may not immediately end
in mutual destruction. But persistent bitterness
and raging fury are impressed upon the mind,
and thus naturally leave indelible marks
on consciousness, so that those involved
will be reborn about the same time to take
revenge on each other.
"Further, in the midst of worldly desires
and attachments one comes and goes alone,
is born alone and dies alone. After death,
one goes to a painful or to a pleasant state
of existence. Each receives his karmic consequences
and nobody else can take his place. In accordance
with different acts of good and evil, people
are destined to realms of bliss or suffering.
Unalterably bound by their karma, they depart
for those realms all alone. Having reached
the other world, they cannot see each other.
The law of good and evil naturally pursues
them, and wherever they may be reborn, distance
and darkness always separate them. Since
their paths of karma are different, it is
impossible to tell the time of their reunion,
and so difficult to meet again. Can they
ever see each other once more?
"Why do they not abandon all worldly
[275a] involvements and strive, while they
are strong and healthy, to pursue the good
and diligently seek deliverance from Samsara?
If they do, they will be able to attain infinite
life. Why do they not seek the Way? What
is there in this world that should be longed
for? What pleasure is there that ought to
be sought after?
"Thus people of the world do not believe
in pursuing good and receiving reward or
in practicing the Way and attaining
Enlightenment; neither do they believe in
transmigration and retribution for evil acts
or reward for good ones, such as obtaining
merit by helping others. Believing that these
do not exist, they totally reject such a
"Further, by so doing, they cling to
their own views more tenaciously. Later generations
learn from previous ones to act likewise.
Fathers, perpetuating their wrong views,
pass them on to their children. Since parents
and grandparents from the beginning did not
do good deeds, were ignorant of the Way,
committed foolish acts, and were benighted,
insensitive and callous, their descendants
are now unable to realize the truth of birth-and-death
and the law of karma. There is no one to
tell them about this. Nobody seeks to know
the cause of fortune and misfortune, happiness
and misery, although these states result
from such acts.
"The reality of birth-and-death is such
that the sorrow of parting is mutually felt
by all generations. A father cries over the
death of his children; children cry over
the death of their father. Brothers, sisters,
husbands and wives mourn each other's death.
According to the basic law of impermanence,
whether death will occur in order of seniority
or in the reverse is unpredictable. All things
must pass. Nothing stays forever. Few believe
this, even if someone teaches and exhorts
them. And so the stream of birth-and-death
"Because they are stupid and callous,
such people do not accept the teachings of
the Buddha; they lack forethought, and only
wish to satisfy their own desires. They are
deluded by their passionate attachments,
unaware of the Way, misguided and trapped
by anger and enmity, and intent on gaining
wealth and gratifying their carnal desires
like wolves. And so, unable to follow the
Way, they are again subject to suffering
in evil realms in an endless cycle of birth-and-death.
How miserable and pitiable this is!
"In the same family, when one of the
parents, children, brothers, sisters, husband or
wife dies, those surviving mourn over the
loss, and their attachment to the deceased
persists. Deep sorrow fills their hearts
and, grief-stricken, they mournfully think
of the departed. Days pass and years go by,
but their distress goes on. Even if someone
teaches them the Way, their minds are not
awakened. Brooding over fond memories of
the dead, they cannot rid themselves of attachment.
Being ignorant, inert, and illusion-bound,
they are unable to think deeply, to keep
their self-composure, to practice the
Way with diligence, and to dissociate themselves
from worldly matters. As they wander here
and there, they come to their end and die
before entering on the Way. Then what can
be done for them?
"Because they are spiritually defiled,
deeply troubled and confused, people indulge
their passions. Hence, many are ignorant
of the Way, and few realize it. Everyone
is restlessly busy, having nothing upon which
to rely. Whether moral or corrupt, of high
or low rank, rich or poor, noble or base,
all are preoccupied with their own work.
They entertain venomous thoughts, creating
a widespread and dismal atmosphere of malevolence.
Subversive activities are planned, contrary
to the universal law and the wishes
of the people.
"Injustice and vice inevitably follow
and are allowed to run their course unchecked
until evil karma accumulates to the limit.
Before they expect their lives to end, people
meet sudden death and fall into evil realms,
where they will suffer excruciating torments
for many lives. [275b] They will not be able
to escape for many thousands of kotis of
kalpas. How indescribably painful! How pitiable
|Shakyamuni's encouragement to do good
 The Buddha said to the Bodhisattva Maitreya
and to devas and humans, "I have told
you the truth about people of the world.
Such being their mode of life, they are unable
to enter on the Way. Therefore, you should
think deeply and try to avoid various evil
acts; choose the good and diligently practice it.
A life of addiction to desires or a life
of pomp and vainglory cannot last long. All
must part; there is nothing you can truly
enjoy. Since you have encountered a Buddha
in this world, you should assiduously practice the
Way. Anyone who sincerely desires birth in
the Land of Peace and Bliss is able to attain
purity of wisdom and supremacy in virtue.
You should not follow the urges of passions,
break the precepts, or fall behind others
in the practice of the Way. If you have doubts
and are not clear about my teaching, ask
me, the Buddha, about anything and I shall
explain it to you."
The Bodhisattva Maitreya prostrated himself
on the ground and said, "Your majestic
glory, O Buddha, is awe-inspiring, and your
exposition is most pleasing to me. Having
heard your teaching, I feel deeply that people
of the world are just as you have described.
Your compassionate revelation of the Great
Way has opened our eyes and ears, awakening
us to emancipation. Those who have heard
your teachings are all filled with joy. Devas,
humans and lesser beings, including even
those that crawl, have all been blessed by
your compassionate guidance and have thereby
attained deliverance from suffering and affliction.
"The Buddha's admonition is indeed profound
and appropriate, and his wisdom clearly surveys
things in the eight quarters, above and below,
penetrating all in the past, present and
future. Our emancipation in the present life
is entirely due to the Buddha's perseverance and
painstaking efforts in his former lives when
he was seeking the Way. His benevolence covers
the whole world, and the extent of his merit
is majestic and glorious. His light penetrates
to the utmost ends of space and guides people
to Nirvana. He reveals the sutras, destroys
wrong views and subdues demons. Thus his
influence extends boundlessly in the ten
quarters. The Buddha is the King of the Dharma;
his virtue surpasses that of all the sages.
He is the Teacher of all devas and humans
and enables them to enter on the Way according
to their wishes. Having been able to meet
you, O Buddha, and also to hear the Name
of Amitayus, we have all attained joy and
|Shakyamuni's admonition against evil acts
 The Buddha said to Maitreya, "What
you say is true. Those who adore and revere
a Buddha attain great merit. Buddhas very
rarely appear in the world. Having become
a Buddha in this life, I have taught the
Dharma, expounded teachings of the Way, cleared
people's doubts, eradicated the causes of
lust and desire, and blocked the source of
all evils. Visiting various places in the
three worlds, I encounter no obstructions.
The wisdom disclosed in the scriptures provides
for all ways of life. It keeps essential
principles together and clearly reveals the
truth. I have explained the reality of the
five realms, thereby freeing those who have
not yet attained deliverance and distinguishing
between the paths of Samsara and Nirvana.
"Maitreya, you should know that you
have, for innumerable kalpas, been perfecting
bodhisattva practices to save sentient beings.
Incalculable indeed is the number of beings
who under your guidance have attained the
Way and reached Nirvana. [275c] From time
immemorial, you and all the devas and humans
in the ten quarters and the four groups of
followers have been floundering in the five
realms of Samsara, undergoing indescribable
troubles and afflictions. Until you were
born in this life, you, too, underwent endless
cycles of birth-and-death. Now you have encountered
a Buddha, listened to his expositions of
the Dharma, and been able to learn about
Amitayus. What pleasure and joy this is for
you and for me to share.
"It is time for all to seek deliverance
from the pains of birth, death, old age,
and sickness. Outflows of depravity and defilement
are everywhere, and there is nothing in which
you can find true joy. You should resolutely
do worthy deeds with decorum, strive to do
more good, control and purify yourselves,
wash off the mind's defilements, be sincere
in word and deed, and allow no contradiction
between what you think and what you do. Seek
your own emancipation and then turn to saving
others; straightforwardly aspire to be born
in the Pure Land and accumulate roots of
virtue. However hard you may practice in
this life, it can only be for a short while.
In the life to come you will be born in the
land of Amitayus and enjoy endless bliss
there. Being forever in accord with the Way,
you will no longer be subject to birth-and-death
and be free of the afflictions caused by
greed, anger and stupidity. If you wish your
life to be as long as a kalpa, a hundred
kalpas, or ten million kalpas, it will be
just as you please. You will dwell in effortless
spontaneity and attain Nirvana. You should
each diligently seek to realize your aspiration.
Do not entertain any doubt or give up your
endeavor, lest as a result of that fault
you should be born into the seven-jewelled
palace in the border region of the Pure Land
and be subject to various disadvantages for
five hundred years."
Maitreya said to the Buddha, "Having
received your considerate admonition, we
will diligently practice the Way and
follow your teaching. We will not allow any
doubt to arise."
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