This unfilial, dull, common Sanghan Shixian.
An Essay of Exhortation to Bring Forth the Resolve for
Bodhi. This is an exhortation to bring forth a resolve you have not yet brought forth. He uses reasonable words to urge you to make this resolve. What resolve? The resolve for Bodhi. What is that? It is a resolve to understand; a resolve to turn away from confusion and go back to enlightenment; a resolve to forsake the deviant and return to the proper. It is a resolve to clearly distinguish right from wrong; it is not a deluded resolve, but a straightforward resolve. This straightforward resolve does not allow any crookedness in one's conduct. The Bodhi resolve is a resolve to help others, to enlighten self and others, and to benefit self and others.
"Bodhi" is a Sanskrit word that means "enlightenment to the Way." Once you understand the Way, you can cultivate. If you don't understand it, you cannot cultivate. If you don't understand the Way, you will always be confused, mistaking right to be wrong and wrong to be right. You cannot distinguish black from white, and you wear your hat and sandals switched around. If you understand, then you can walk down a proper path. Otherwise, you take a wrong path. You can explain the Bodhi resolve in any way that makes sense. In general, refraining from evil and practicing good deeds is what the Bodhi resolve entails. It is the resolve to hold precepts. Following the rules is part of the Bodhi resolve; not following them is forgetting the Bodhi resolve. This is the general meaning of the Bodhi resolve.
Ancient Hangzhou means that this place has been there since ancient times. Hangzhou is a place where Buddhism has flourished. In Hangzhou there are the Western, Eastern, Southern, and Northern Peaks of the Tianmu (Celestial Eye) mountain range, as well as Tiantai Mountain. The seven past Buddhas were all born there. Why are there so many people inclined towards Mahayana Buddhism in China? Because in the past, the Buddhas chose to be born in China, and thus the seeds were planted long ago.
Brahma Heaven Monastery. Brahma means pure, so this refers to the "Pure Heaven" Monastery.
Shramana is a term for those who have entered the monastic order. It is a Sanskrit word, which carries the meaning, "diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom; and put to rest greed, hatred, and stupidity." To diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom means not to be deluded. To put to rest greed, hatred, and stupidity means not to be muddled—not to be afflicted by ignorance. Therefore, this term for members of the monastic order is summarized as "diligently putting to rest"— diligently cultivating precepts, samadhi, and wisdom; and putting to rest greed, hatred, and stupidity.
What is the name of the Shramana in question? His name was Shixian. His original name was Siqi (striving to equal), as in the expression, "When you see worthy ones, strive to equal them." He was also known by another name, Xing'an. Many people refer to this text as "An Essay of Exhortation to Resolve the Mind upon Bodhi by Great Master Xing'an."
An essay is a piece of writing which has an opening and a closing and may explore several sub-themes. It covers various topics and is divided into sections and parts. It is written according to the rules of grammar and includes the various parts of speech. An essay has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. It is written in an organized fashion so that the principles are conveyed clearly.
This particular essay is equivalent to a Sutra. Although it is not very long, it presents a perfect, coherent doctrine. Because of this, it has a very important place in Buddhism.
In Chinese, the author used the word zhuan, which is a modest way of saying that he casually wrote this essay and did not know whether it was right or not. He did not use the term
zhuzuo, which means to formally compose something. He felt that what he had wrote was something that didn't exist before, but he didn't know whether it would be around later, so he used
zhuan. Zhuan also carries the connotation of something that he wrote by himself, which is different from others' work. These are his own unique ideas that he has written down.
This unfilial, dull, common Sanghan Shixian. The Chinese word for "unfllial" literally means "unlike." Who was he unlike? He does not resemble the ancient Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and eminent monks of great virtue in their wisdom. Since they had wisdom, whatever they wrote would be reliable. There is another explanation for "unlike."
For example, if my father was a high official and I am a farmer, then I do not take after my father. Or, if my father was rich and I am poor, I am also unlike him. If you say, "I do not match up to my ancestors," then you are unlike them, and also unfllial to them.
For example, Emperor Yao passed the rule onto the Great Shun, not to his own son, Danzhu. Since Danzhu did not take after him, he gave the throne to someone else. To be "unlike" means to not resemble one's father and one's forefathers. Here, the author is saying that he does not have the same thoughts and quality of mind as the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. How is he different from them? He doesn't have much wisdom. He calls himself a "common Sanghan." He says, "I am an ordinary person, not a Sage." Who is this ordinary person? Shixian.
To be continued