Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words

This page describes “disadvantages of immorality” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.

Part 4 - Disadvantages of immorality

[154b] Moreover, seeing the punishments suffered by the immoral man, the moral man must try to observe discipline carefully (ekacittena). What are the punishments of the immoral person?

The immoral person is not respected (satkṛta) by people; his house is like a cemetery (śmaśāna) into which people do not go; he loses all his virtues (guṇa) like a rotten tree that people despise; he is like a frozen lotus that gives people no pleasure to see; filled with evil thoughts (duṣṭacitta), he is dreadful like a demon (rakṣasa); people do not turn to him, no more than a thirsty (pipāsita) man goes to a poisoned well (kūpa); his mind is always disturbed like a guilty man who always fears the approach of punishment; he is like a field (kṣetra) covered with hailstones over which nobody can venture; he is like bad grain, having the outer appearance of good seed but which is inedible; he is like a den of thieves (cauranigama) where it is not good to stop; he is like a great sickness (vyādhita) which no one dares to approach; he does not succeed in avoiding suffering; he is like a bad path difficult to travel on; he is dangerous to visit like an evil thief whom it is difficult to befriend; he is like a big ditch (garta) that people who walk avoid; he is bad company like a poisonous snake (āsīviṣa); he is impossible to approach like a great fire; he is like a wrecked ship on which it is impossible to set sail; he is like vomit that cannot be swallowed back. In an assembly of good men, the immoral man is like a bad horse in the midst of good horses, like a donkey in a herd of cows (go-). In an assembly of vigorous men (vīryavat), he is like a weak child among robust men. Even though he has the external appearance of a bhikṣu, one would say he is a corpse (kuṇapa) in the midst of sleepers. He is like a false pearl (maṇi) among real pearls, like a castor-bean tree (eraṇḍa) in a sandalwood (canadana) forest. Even though outwardly he looks like an honest man, inwardly he is without good qualities (kuśaladharma). Even though he is called bhikṣu because he has a shaved head (muṇḍa), the yellow robe (kāśāya) and presents his ‘ticket’ (śalākāṃ gṛhṇāti) in the proper order (anukrameṇa),[1] in reality he is not a bhikṣu.

If the immoral man takes the monastic robes, these are like burning brass for him, like an iron ring around his body; his alms bowl (pātra) is like a jar (bhājana) filled with melted copper; when he takes his food, it is as if he were swallowing balls (piṇḍa) of burning iron or drinking boiling brass; the people paying homage (pūjā) to him with their offerings (dāna) are like the guardians of hell (narakapāla) watching over him; when he enters the monastery (vihāra), it is as though he were entering the great hell (mahāniraya); when he sits on the monastic benches (saṃghakañcaka), it is as if he were taking his place on a bed of burning iron.

[154c] Finally, the immoral person is always fearful (bhaya), like a sick man who constantly fears the approach of death, or a person guilty of the five sins leading to immediate (ānantarya) damnation and who always says he is the enemy of the Buddha. He hides himself and lies like a brigand fearful of being taken. Years, months and days pass; he never finds any safety (yogakṣema). Although the immoral man may get honors (pūjā) and benefits (lābha), his happiness (sukha) is impure: it is as though madmen had dressed and adorned a corpse (kuṇapa), and wise people, who know it, do not want to look at it. These are the many (nānāvidha) innumerable (apramāṇa) punishments of immorality; all of them could not be enumerated. The ascetic will therefore carefully (ekacittena) observe the precepts.

Footnotes and references:


The śalākā is a wooden card that allows its holder to participate in a vote or in the distribution of food; it is a sort of method of supervision. To vote is called śalākāṃ gṛiṇāti, “to hold one’s ‘ticket’ “: cf. Vinaya, I, p. 117; II, p. 199, 205; Aṅguttara, I, p. 24.

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