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Asanga’s Chapter on Ethics – Issue 09

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Chapter on Ethics[1]

by Asaṅga[2]

 

(posted in 12 issues): Issue 9

 

[If?-Ed] The bodhisattva, abused by others, responds with abuse; he returns anger for anger, blow for blow, cavil for cavil; Thus he is pos­sessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault.

If the bodhisattva has given offense, or is suspected of having given offense to others and if, with a thought of enmity or repressed by pride he makes no suitable apology, thus neglecting them, then he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. If he makes no apology out of laziness, indolence, or carelessness, then he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction, but the fault is not defiled.

If he wishes by that means to discipline and to tame them, to move them from an unwholesome to a wholesome situation, there is no fault. If [the other person] is a tīrthika, there is no fault. If he is someone improper, who desires to induce an apology by acting reprehensibly, there is no fault. If he is someone contentious by nature and given to dispute, whom the apology will greatly agitate and cause to be aggressive, there is no fault. If [the bodhisattva] expects that the other has a patient disposition and a disposition without enmity, and if [the other] is someone who will be embarrassed to receive an apology that involves someone else’s transgression, there is no fault.

If the bodhisattva, with a thought of enmity and a malicious intention, will not heed an apology, when the apology has been made in the right way by others who have offended in the course of some dis­pute, then he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. There is no fault if he wishes to tame someone else by that means, and all the rest may be understood as before. If the apology is made in what is not the right way and it is not compatible, there is no fault.

If the bodhisattva develops and harbors an attitude of anger towards others, readily allowing it to occur, then he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. If he has genera­ted the will to remove it, there is no fault, as above.

If the bodhisattva, under the sway of a yearning for service and honor, attracts a following with a thought of self-interest, then he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. To accept service and honor with no thought of one’s own interests is without fault.

The bodhisattva for whom laziness and indolence have arisen who succumbs, unseasonably and intemperately, to the pleasure of sleep, the pleasure of staying in bed, and the pleasure of lying on his side, is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. If he is sick and incapacitated, there is no fault. If he is fatigued from travelling, there is no fault. If he has generated the will to remove it, there is no fault, as before.

If the bodhisattva passes the time with his mind enamored of social intercourse he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. If he passes the time absentmindedly, there is fault that is not defiled. If someone is continuing to speak and he lis­tens but a moment, stationed in mindfulness, to comply with his expec­tations, there is no fault. If he is only questioning, or only answering a question, in regard to something curious, there is no fault.

Whereas to settle his mind in equilibrium is desirable for the bodhisattva, if he does not go, because he is possessed of a thought of enmity and repressed by pride, to receive instruction on undertaking mental stability, he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. If he does [not go] out of laziness and indolence, there is fault that is not defiled. If he is sick and incapacitated, there is no fault. If he suspects that the instruction will be distorted, there is no fault. There is no fault if he himself is erudite and capable of sett­ling his mind in equilibrium, or if he has already carried out the instruc­tion that is to be given.

The bodhisattva who allows the hindrance of sense-desire to occur, who fails to dispel it, is possessed of fault, possessed of contra­diction; there is defiled fault. If he has generated the will and endea­vored to remove it, but it continues because he is overwhelmed with severe defilement, there is no fault. III will, languor-drowsiness, excited­ness-regret, and doubt should be understood in the same way as sense ­desire.

If the bodhisattva experiences the taste of meditative trance and looks for good qualities in the taste of meditation, he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. Where he has generated the will to eliminate it there is no fault, as before.

Any bodhisattva who holds and espouses the doctrine that, “A bodhisattva should not listen to doctrine that is associated with the ve­hicle of the auditors, nor learn it by heart, nor train himself in it. Why should a bodhisattva listen to and learn doctrine that is associated with the vehicle of the auditors? He need not train himself in it” – is posses­sed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. That is to say, if the bodhisattva need apply himself even to tīrthika scriptures, how much the more to the exalted word of the Buddha? In deterring a one-sided devotion, there is no fault.

If the bodhisattva, while he has the bodhisattva collection, fails to apply himself to the bodhisattva collect ion, entirely neglecting the bodhisattva collection and applying himself to the auditors’ collec­tion, then he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. If the bodhisattva, while he possesses the exalted word of the Buddha, does not apply himself to it, applying himself to treatises of the t1rthikas, to heterodox treatises, then he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. If he is very judicious, quick of apprehension, capable of not forgetting over a long period, able to con­template and to penetrate the meaning, if he is endowed with an intel­lectual understanding that is unalterable because it is accompanied by investigation of Buddhist scripture through reasoning, and so long as he makes twice as much daily application to the exalted word of the Bud­dha, there is no fault.

If the bodhisattva, while not infringing that guideline, becomes proficient in tīrthika, heterodox treatises, and does so in a manner anti­cipating it, taking pleasure in it, and being gratified by it (that is to say, if he does not do so as though resorting to strong medicine), then he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault.

If the bodhisattva, having heard the profound topics found in the bodhisattva collection, the most profound topics dealing with principles of reality or with the might of the buddhas or bodhisattvas, has no inclination for them and repudiates them, saying, “These are not meaningful, they are not the doctrine, they are not the declaration of the Tathāgata, and they will not bring benefit and pleasure to sentient beings” – whether he be repudiating them out of unskillful attention of his own, or following someone else’s lead, he is possessed of fault, posses­sed of contradiction; there is defiled fault.

If the bodhisattva has heard the profound topics and the most profound topics and his thinking is disinclined, in that [circumstance] the bodhisattva should, with faith and free of pretense, train himself to think thus: “It is not fitting for me, eyeless and blind, who can only function in accordance with the eye of the Tathāgata, to reject what the Tathāgata has declared with [enigmatic] intention.” The bodhisattva counts himself ignorant and rightly regards the Tathāgata himself as being visi­ble in those doctrines. In that way he will make progress .

If he has no inclination but does not repudiate them either, there is no fault.

If the bodhisattva, with a thought of self-interest and a thought of resentment, publicly praises himself and deprecates others, then he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. If he wishes to overcome tīrthikas out of a desire to maintain the teaching, there is no fault. There is no fault in desiring to discipline that person by this means, and so forth as before. If he does it so that those with­out faith may have faith, and those with faith may develop it further, there is no fault.

If the bodhisattva, repressed by pride and with thoughts of enmity and resentment, does not go when doctrinal discourse and discus­sion of the good doctrine are being held, then he is possessed of fault, possessed of contradiction; there is defiled fault. If he stays away out of laziness and indolence, there is fault that is not defiled. If he is un­aware of it, there is no fault. If he is sick and incapacitated, there is no fault. If he suspects that the teachings will be distorted, there is no fault. If he is guarding the thought of the person speaking doctrine, there is no fault. If he knows it involves discussion of topics that he already knows, having heard them over and over and learned them by heart, there is no fault. If he is erudite, and has learned and assimilated what he has heard, there is no fault. If he is continuing to keep his mind upon a meditative visualization, applying himself to consummating a bodhisattva concentration, there is no fault. In the case of someone very dull in wisdom – who is weak in grasping doctrine, weak in retaining it, and weak in settling the mind upon the visualization – there is no fault.

(Issue 10)

 

  1. Asanga’s Chapter on Ethics with the Commentary of Tsong-Kha-Pa, The basic path to awakening, The complete Bodhisattva. Published by Edwin Mellen, USA, Canada © Mark Tatz 1986. ISBN 0 -88946-054-X. The Commentaries by Tsong-kha-pa and not included in the www.dailytheosophy.net online version. [<<]
  2. More information about Asaṅga or Aryāsaṅga, the true one who lived some centuries BCE according to H.P. Blavatsky, see EDITORIAL 15c: Confusions about Buddhism and Theosophy [<<]
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