The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

Postby Indrajala » Sun Oct 17, 2010 6:48 am

I figured I'd share this with people here as there might be an interest.

I've started translating the Treatise on Buddha Nature (Foxinglun 《佛性論》), which I think outside of scholarly circles is mostly unknown in the English speaking Buddhist world. I'll just cut and paste the first section here for your reading pleasure.

If you want some background details about the text and some further information as well as the translation I'm posting below see my blog here:

http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/2010/10/ ... ature.html

In short, the key argument of the whole text is that all beings have Buddha-nature which is defined as the causal process which results in Buddhahood. There are no icchantikas or beings who will never ever achieve paranirvana. :smile:




佛性論卷第一
Treatise on Buddha Nature – Scroll Number One
天親菩薩造
Written by Bodhisattva Vasubandhu
陳天竺三藏真諦譯
Translated by Indian Tripiṭaka Master Paramārtha in the Chen Dynasty.




緣起分第一
Part I. Section on the reason for the teaching.


問曰。佛何因緣說於佛性。
For what reasons did the Buddha explain buddha-nature?


答曰。如來為除五種過失。生五功德故。說一切眾生悉有佛性。
The Tathāgata in order to remove the five kinds of errors and to foster the five qualities explained that all beings universally have buddha-nature.

除五種過失者。
Removal of the five kinds of errors.

一為令眾生離下劣心故。二為離慢下品人故。三為離虛妄執故。四為離誹謗真實法故。五為離我執故。
The first is making beings free from the base and inferior mind. The second is making them free from arrogance towards those of lesser abilities. The third is making them free from delusional attachments. The fourth is making them free from slandering the true dharma. The fifth is making them free from self-attachment.

一為令眾生離下劣心者。有諸眾生未聞佛說有佛性理。不知自身必當有得佛義故。於此身起下劣想。不能發菩提心。今欲令其發心。捨下劣意故。說眾生悉有佛性。
I. Making beings free from the base and inferior mind. There are beings who have yet to hear of the Buddha explaining the principle of [beings] having buddha-nature. As they do not know the meaning of they themselves necessarily attaining Buddhahood they arouse base and inferior thoughts about themselves. They cannot arouse the mind of awakening (bodhicitta). Now desiring to have them arouse that mind and discard base and inferior intentions, he explains that all beings universally have buddha-nature.

二為離高慢心者。若有人曾聞佛說眾生有佛性故。因此發心。既發心已。便謂我有佛性故能發心。作輕慢意。謂他不能。為破此執故。佛說一切眾生皆有佛性。
II. Making [beings] free from a high and arrogant mind. There may be a person who, having heard the Buddha explain that beings have buddha-nature, because of this arouses the mind [of awakening] and having given rise to such a mind then thinks, “I have buddha-nature and therefore can arouse this mind [of awakening]!” Creating belittling and arrogant thoughts they think others are incapable [of arousing the mind of awakening]. In order to eliminate this deluded attachment the Buddha explained that sentient beings all have buddha-nature.

三為離虛妄執者。若人有此慢心。則於如理如量。正智不得生顯故起虛妄。虛妄者。是眾生過失。過失有二。一本無。二是客。一本無者。如如理中。本無人我。作人我執。此執無本。由無本執故。起無明等。由無明起業。由業起果報。如此三種。無實根本。所執是無故知能執皆成虛妄故。由於此執所起無明諸業果報。並是虛妄故。無受者作者。而於中執有是虛妄。故言本無。二是客者。有為諸法皆念念滅無停住義。則能罵所罵二無所有。但初剎那為舊。次剎那為客。能罵所罵起而即謝。是則初剎那是怨。次則非怨。以於客中、作於舊執、此執不實、故名虛妄。若起此執。正智不生。為除此執故說佛性。佛性者。即是人法二空所顯真如。由真如故。無能罵所罵。通達此理。離虛妄執。
III. Making [beings] free from delusional attachments. There may be a person who has this arrogant mind and then right wisdom, both innate and experiential, cannot manifest and so there arises delusions. These delusions are the errors of beings. There are two errors. The first is reification. The second is transience. “Reification” is where while within the principle of suchness (tathatā) there is fundamentally no self-identity there is a delusional attachment to a self-identity. This delusional attachment is without a base. As this is a baseless delusional attachment, there arises ignorance (avidyā) and so on. Due to ignorance there arises karma. Due to karma there arises retribution (vipāka). Like this these three types are without a real rooted base. What one is attached to is non-existent and thus it is known attachments all are delusions. Due to these attachments and the arisen ignorance, karma and retribution together being delusions there is no receiver and no doer, but therein one is attachment and one has these delusions. Therefore we call this reification (lit. “without base”). “Transient” has the meaning that because dharmas all moment-to-moment extinguish they are without static abiding and so ridiculing and the ridiculed both do not exist. Just as the first moment (kṣaṇa) becomes the former past, the following becomes the present. Ridiculing and the ridiculed arise and then disappear. Thus in the first moment there is one's object of animosity and in the next they are not one's object of animosity. In the present this attachment, created by the former past attachment, is not real and thus it is called delusional. If one arouses this attachment, true wisdom will not be produced. In order to remove this attachment buddha-nature is explained. Buddha-nature is the suchness (tathatā) revealed through the two emptinesses of person and phenomenon. Due to suchness there is no ridiculing or ridiculed. Penetrating this principle one is free from delusional attachments.

四為除誹謗真實法者。一切眾生過失之事。並是二空。由解此空故所起清淨智慧功德。是名真實。言誹謗者。若不說佛性則不了空。便執實有。違謗真如。淨智功德。皆不成就。
IV. Eliminating the slander of the true dharma. The issue of all sentient beings' errors is the two emptinesses. Having realized these emptinesses purity, wisdom and quality are all arisen. This is called the truth. Slander is where buddha-nature is not explained and one does not comprehend emptiness. One then attaches to absolute existence and slanders suchness. Purity, wisdom and quality – none of them are attained.

五離我執者。若不見虛妄過失。真實功德。於眾生中。不起大悲。由聞佛說佛性故。知虛妄過失。真實功德。則於眾生中。起大悲心。無有彼此故除我執。
V. Making [beings] free from self-attachment. If one does not see delusion, error, truth and quality, then one will not arouse great compassion (mahā-karuṇā) towards beings. Because one hears the Buddha explain buddha-nature one knows delusion, error, truth and qualities, and then arouses a mind of great compassion towards beings. With there being no that and this [self and other] one thus removes self-attachment.


為此五義因緣。佛說佛性生五種功德。
Due to the causes and conditions of these five aforementioned points, the Buddha explained that buddha-nature produces five kinds of qualities.

五功德者。一起正勤心。二生恭敬事。三生般若。四生闍那。五生大悲。由五功德。能翻五失。由正勤故。翻下劣心。由恭敬故。翻輕慢意。由般若故。翻妄想執。由生闍那俗智。能顯實智。及諸功德故。翻謗真法。由大悲心。慈念平等故翻我執。翻我執者。由佛性故。觀一切眾生。二無所有。息自愛念。觀諸眾生。二空所攝。一切功德。而得成就。是故於他而生愛念。由般若故。滅自愛念。由大悲故。生他愛念。由般若故。捨凡夫執。由大悲故。捨二乘執。由般若故。不捨涅槃。由大悲故。不捨生死。由般若故。成就佛法。由大悲故。成熟眾生。由二方便。住無住處。無有退轉。速證菩提。滅五過失。生五功德。是故佛說一切眾生皆有佛性。

The five kinds of qualities. The first is arousing a mind of right effort. The second is producing activities of veneration. The third is producing wisdom (prajñā). The fourth is producing knowledge (jñāna). The fifth is producing great compassion. With these five qualities one can overcome the five errors. Due to right effort one overcomes the base and inferior mind. Due to veneration one overcomes belittling and arrogant thoughts. Due to wisdom one overcomes attachment to delusional thoughts. Due to knowledge or conventional wisdom one can manifest true wisdom. Together with all the qualities one thus overcomes slandering the true dharma. Due to great compassion one's benevolent thoughts are equal and thus one overcomes self-attachment. In overcoming the self one, due to buddha-nature, observes all beings and there is no duality present – one ceases all thoughts of self-cherishing. In observing beings the two emptinesses are cognized and all qualities are attained. For this reason one produces thoughts of cherishing towards others. Due to wisdom one destroys thoughts of self-cherishing. Due to great compassion, one produces thoughts of altruism. Due to wisdom one discards the attachments of the ordinary person. Due to great compassion one discards the attachments of the two vehicles. Due to wisdom one does not discard nirvāṇa. Due to great compassion one does not discard saṃsāra. Due to wisdom one accomplishes the buddhadharma. Due to great compassion one helps foster beings. Due to the two skilful means one abides in non-abiding without retrogression and quickly realizes bodhi. One destroys the five errors and produces the five qualities. For this reason the Buddha explained that all beings universally have buddha-nature.
Last edited by Indrajala on Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

Postby Huifeng » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:54 am

A couple of thoughts, without simply telling you the "answers":

Are you sure that here 緣起 means 'dependent origination', and not another term which has the same translation in Chinese, but is frequently used at the beginning of texts (sutra and sastra)?

Once you get that, you can correct "By what causes and conditions...", too. And note that the text isn't talking about "by what ...", anyway.

功德 is not usually "merit" if you mean "punya", but another Skt term.

You can probably rewrite "making beings free" in a verbal sense like "freeing ...". The 令 is often used for Skt causative in the verb (eg. "-ay-" between stem and ending).

下劣 "base and inferior" is probably originally just a single term in skt.

高慢 is a particular type of 慢, not really about "high" at all (again, not to be read as a kind of dvanda with 心).

Same for 輕慢 (but opposite).

I'll leave it at that, for now.
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Re: The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

Postby Indrajala » Sun Oct 17, 2010 10:47 am

Huifeng wrote:A couple of thoughts, without simply telling you the "answers":

Are you sure that here 緣起 means 'dependent origination', and not another term which has the same translation in Chinese, but is frequently used at the beginning of texts (sutra and sastra)?

Once you get that, you can correct "By what causes and conditions...", too. And note that the text isn't talking about "by what ...", anyway.


How would you translate it?


功德 is not usually "merit" if you mean "punya", but another Skt term.


Guna? In that sense merit / quality works fine, no? Cultivate merits = cultivate qualities/virtues.

I suppose that might be confusing as merit is usually thought of as punya.
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Re: The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

Postby Huifeng » Sun Oct 17, 2010 11:12 am

Huseng wrote:
Huifeng wrote:A couple of thoughts, without simply telling you the "answers":

Are you sure that here 緣起 means 'dependent origination', and not another term which has the same translation in Chinese, but is frequently used at the beginning of texts (sutra and sastra)?

Once you get that, you can correct "By what causes and conditions...", too. And note that the text isn't talking about "by what ...", anyway.


How would you translate it?


hehe, you want me to tell you the answer?

What is the standard name in Skt for the first chapter of a sutra or sastra?


功德 is not usually "merit" if you mean "punya", but another Skt term.


Guna? In that sense merit / quality works fine, no? Cultivate merits = cultivate qualities/virtues.

I suppose that might be confusing as merit is usually thought of as punya.


To cite a cheezy story, as Bodhidharma through Huineng tells us, punya is not guna.
Usually (though check each text on it's own, esp wrt to the translator), punya is 福德, and guna is 功德.
One may "cultivate" punya, but usually (and so it appears in the passages you translate here), guna just refers to the "(special) qualities", and not their development.
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Re: The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

Postby Indrajala » Sun Oct 17, 2010 11:31 am

Huifeng wrote:hehe, you want me to tell you the answer?

What is the standard name in Skt for the first chapter of a sutra or sastra?



I don't know... nidaana?




To cite a cheezy story, as Bodhidharma through Huineng tells us, punya is not guna.
Usually (though check each text on it's own, esp wrt to the translator), punya is 福德, and guna is 功德.
One may "cultivate" punya, but usually (and so it appears in the passages you translate here), guna just refers to the "(special) qualities", and not their development.


I see. I'll see to amending it then. Thank you for pointing this out. :namaste:
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Re: The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

Postby Huifeng » Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:54 am

Yes, nidAna. After all, when one looks at the contents of this section, how can one call it "dependent origination"? It isn't about d.o. at all. It is about the "reason" for composing the text.
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Re: The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

Postby Indrajala » Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:29 am

Huifeng wrote:Yes, nidAna. After all, when one looks at the contents of this section, how can one call it "dependent origination"? It isn't about d.o. at all. It is about the "reason" for composing the text.


Indeed you are correct -- it was actually admittedly a sloppy error on my part. I think I just passed through the title without giving it a second thought. :smile:
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Re: The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

Postby Will » Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:49 am

This will be great Huseng. Sallie King's study Buddha Nature came out in 1991, too long ago. I do hope you will do it all with the Venerable giving some help. Then make available to us a PDF - English only please.

I eagerly await.
Only consider helping others and forget yourself. Master Hsuan Hua
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Re: The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

Postby Indrajala » Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:19 pm

Will wrote:This will be great Huseng. Sallie King's study Buddha Nature came out in 1991, too long ago. I do hope you will do it all with the Venerable giving some help. Then make available to us a PDF - English only please.

I eagerly await.


Will there is also a lot of work done on it in Japanese.

Very dry and nails on chalk board kind of detailed reading, but nevertheless a lot of it. :smile:

In any case it is a work in progress. Errors will occur and that's why having somebody proof read it is always necessary. :sage:

BTW edited a few parts to the text above.
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Re: The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

Postby kirtu » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:02 pm

:jumping: :applause: :bow:
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: The Treatise on Buddha Nature 《佛性論》

Postby Nosta » Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:27 pm

Thanks for the translation and sharing that with us.

:-)
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