Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha
南 無 本 師 釋 迦 牟 尼 佛
Sutra Opening Gatha
開 經 偈
The Dharma, infinitely profound and subtle,
Is rarely encountered even in a million kalpas.
Now we are able to hear, study, and follow it,
May we fully realize the Tathagata’s true meaning.
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In the year of 67 C.E., at the special invitation by Emperor Ming of the Later Han Dynasty, two Indian Buddhist masters from India, Kashyapa-matanga and Gobharana, arrived at Luoyang (洛陽), China. Five years before their arrival, in 62 C.E., Emperor Ming had dreamed that a golden man flew into his palace. The next day he consulted his advisor who told the emperor that must be the sage Buddha. In 64 C.E. a delegation was sent to India to seek the Buddhadharma.
Kashyapa-matanga and Gobharana came with white horses, bearing precious sutras, Buddha statues, and relics. The emperor built them a monastery - the very first Buddhist monastery in all of China, aptly named The White Horse Monastery (白馬寺). There they undertook the great task of translating The Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters - the first Buddhist text translated into the Chinese language.
In the Sutra there are aspects of Theravada and Mahayana; expedient means and ultimate reality; gradual cultivation and sudden enlightenment. Even more importantly, all of the various teachings in the Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters are ultimately one single vehicle pointing to one single goal – enlightenment.
Today one can go on a pilgrimage to the graves of these two great Buddhist masters in the ancient White Horse Monastery in Luoyang, China. Generations of Buddhists are forever indebted to Venerable Kashyapa-matanga and Venerable Gobharana for this monumental scripture.
The SUTRA1 OF FORTY-TWO CHAPTRS
(The Buddha Speaks the Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters)
Translated by the Chung Tai Translation Committee
From the Chinese translation by
Masters Kashyapa-matanga and Gobharana of the Later Han Dynasty2, 1st Century
Sutra annotations: January 2009
Prior English translations of the sutra by the Buddha Text Translation Society,
D. T. Suzuki, John Blofeld, and others were used as references.
Download PDF Version
Having attained Buddhahood, the World Honored One3 reflected: To abandon desire4 and be immersed in stillness5 is the supreme Way. Abiding in profound samadhi6, one subdues all evil7. The Buddha turned the Dharma Wheel8 of the Four Noble Truths9 at Deer Park10, and led Kaundinya11 and four others to attain the fruit of the Way12. There were also bhiksus13 who had various questions and implored the Buddha for guidance. The World Honored One taught and directed each one to enlightenment14. Joining their palms with reverence and promise, they complied with the Buddha's noble instructions.
佛 言：辭親出家，識心達本，解無為法，名曰沙門。常行二百五十戒，進止清淨，為四真道行，成阿羅漢。阿羅漢者，能飛行變 化，曠劫壽命，住動天地。次為阿那含，阿那含者，壽終靈神上十九天，證阿羅漢。次為斯陀含，斯陀含者，一上一還，即得阿羅漢。次為須陀洹，須陀洹者，七死 七生，便證阿羅漢。愛欲斷者，如四肢斷，不復用之。
Chapter 1: Renounce the Secular Life and Attain the Fruit of Arhatship
The Buddha said, “Those who take leave of their families, and renounce the secular life15, who know their mind, penetrate to its origin, and understand the unconditioned16 Dharma17, are called shramanas18. By always observing the 250 precepts19, being pure and unblemished in their conduct, and practicing the Path of the Four Truths, they then become arhats20. Arhats possess the powers of levitation and transformation21. Their lives may span many kalpas22, and they can move heaven and earth. Prior to arhats are the non-returners23. At the end of their lives, conscious spirits of the non-returners will ascend above the nineteenth heaven24, where they will attain arhatship. Prior to non-returners are the once-returners, who ascend to the heavens and return to earth at most once before they become arhats. Prior to once-returners25 are the stream-enterers26, who go through birth and death at most senven times before attaining arhatship. Once desire and lust are eradicated like severed limbs, one will never use them again.”
Chapter 2: No-mind27 Is the Way
The Buddha said, “Those who renounce the secular life to become shramanas eradicate desire and lust, recognize the source of their own mind28, penetrate the profound doctrine of the Buddha, and awaken to the unconditioned Dharma. With nothing to gain from within and nothing to seek from without29, their minds are not attached to the Way, nor do they accumulate karma30. With no thought31, no action32, no cultivation33, and no attainment34, they transcend the successive stages35 and reach the loftiest state of all. This is called the Way.”
Chapter 3: Desire36 Makes People Foolish
The Buddha said, “Those who shave their head37 and beard to become shramanas and cultivate the Dharma of the Way should renounce worldly possessions, be content to beg for alms, and take only what is needed. Eat one meal a day before noon, pass the nights beneath trees, and be vigilant not to desire more, for desire and lust are what make people foolish and deluded.”
Chapter 4: The Ten Evils and Ten Virtues
The Buddha said, “In sentient beings, ten actions are virtuous and ten are evil. What are they? Three pertain to the body, four to the mouth38, and three to the mind. Killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct pertain to the body. Malicious, abusive, false, and frivolous speech pertain to the mouth. Envy, anger, and ignorance pertain to the mind. These ten deeds, known as the ten evils, are not in accord with the Noble Way. To renounce the ten evils is to practice the ten virtues.”
Chapter 5: Reducing the Severity of Offenses39
The Buddha said, “If a person with many faults fails to repent40 and cease immediately the thoughts41 that cause harm, his offenses will consume him, just as waters return to the sea which becomes ever deeper and wider. If a person with faults realizes his errors, corrects his actions and cultivates virtue, his offenses will naturally dissolve, just as sweating enables a sick person to recover gradually.”
Chapter 6: Tolerance without Resentment
The Buddha said, “When a malicious person hears about goodness and intentionally comes to provoke trouble, you should restrain yourself; do not be angry or reprimand him. Evil deeds will fall back upon the evil-doer.”
Chapter 7: Evil Deeds Return to the Doer
The Buddha said, “Someone came to insult me upon hearing that I uphold the Way and practice great benevolence. But I kept silent and did not respond. After he had stopped, I asked him, ‘If you bring someone a gift and he does not accept it, does the gift remain with you?’ ‘It does,’ he replied. The Buddha said, ‘Now you insult me, but I do not accept it; this insult will only bring yourself harm. Just as echo follows sound and shadow trails form, there is no escape. Be vigilant to do no evil.’”
Chapter 8: To Fling Dust into the Wind
The Buddha said, “An evil person who harms a sage is like one who spits toward the sky. The spit does not reach the sky, but falls back on himself. When one flings dust into the wind, the dust does not hit others but is blown back on himself. The sage42 cannot be harmed; evil actions will inevitably destroy the doer.
Chapter 9: Knowledge and Practice
The Buddha said, “For those who accrue extensive knowledge of the Way, becoming enamored43 with it, the Way is difficult to attain. For those with unwavering resolve in following the Way, the Way is great indeed44.
Chapter 10: Joyfully Aid Others in Giving
The Buddha said, “When you see others practicing dana45 and joyfully aid in their efforts, you gain great blessings.” A shramana asked, “Will these blessings ever be exhausted?” The Buddha said, “It is like thousands of people who light their torches from the flame of a single torch, to cook food and dispel darkness46, yet the original flame is undiminished. So it is with these blessings47.
| 第十一章：施飯轉勝 |
佛 言：飯惡人百，不如 飯一善人。飯善人千，不如飯一持五戒者。飯五戒者萬，不如飯一須陀洹。飯百萬須陀洹，不如飯一斯陀含。飯千萬斯陀含，不如飯一阿那含。 飯一億阿那含，不如飯一阿羅漢。飯十億阿羅漢，不如飯一辟支佛。飯百億辟支佛，不如飯一三世諸佛。飯千億三世諸佛，不如飯一無念無住無修無證之者。佛 言：飯惡人百，不如 飯一善人。飯善人千，不如飯一持五戒者。飯五戒者萬，不如飯一須陀洹。飯百萬須陀洹，不如飯一斯陀含。飯千萬斯陀含，不如飯一阿那含。 飯一億阿那含，不如飯一阿羅漢。飯十億阿羅漢，不如飯一辟支佛。飯百億辟支佛，不如飯一三世諸佛。飯千億三世諸佛，不如飯一無念無住無修無證之者。
Chapter 11: Fields of Blessings48
The Buddha said:
“It is better to offer food to a single virtuous person than to one hundred evil people.
“It is better to offer food to one who observes the Five Precepts than to one thousand virtuous people.
“It is better to offer food to one stream-enterer than to ten thousand who observe the Five Precepts49.
“It is better to offer food to one once-returner than to one million stream-enterers.
“It is better to offer food to one non-returner than to ten million once-returners.
“It is better to offer food to one arhat than to one hundred million non-returners.
“It is better to offer food to one pratyekabuddha50 than to one billion arhats.
“It is better to offer food to one of the Buddhas of the three periods of time51 than to ten billion pratyekabuddhas.
“It is better to offer food to one of ‘no thought’52, ‘no abidance’53, ‘no cultivation’, and ‘no attainment’ than to a hundred billion Buddhas of the three periods of time
佛 言：人有二十難。貧 窮布施難。豪貴學道難。棄命必死難。得睹佛經難。生值佛世難。忍色忍欲難。見好不求難。被辱不瞋難。有勢不臨難。觸事無心難。廣學博究 難。除滅我慢難。不輕未學難。心行平等難。不說是非難。會善知識難。見性學道難。隨化度人難。睹境不動難。善解方便難。
Chapter 12: Twenty Difficulties in Cultivation
The Buddha said, “People have twenty kinds of difficulties:
“It is difficult for the poor to practice dana.
“It is difficult for the rich and eminent to practice the Way.
“It is difficult to renounce life when facing death.
“It is difficult to encounter the Buddhist sutras54.
“It is difficult to be born in the age of a Buddha.
“It is difficult to subdue desire and lust.
“It is difficult not to covet what one likes.
“It is difficult to face humiliation without anger.
“It is difficult to have power and not abuse it.
“It is difficult to face situations with a detached mind55.
“It is difficult to master vast areas of knowledge.
“It is difficult to extinguish self-conceit.
“It is difficult not to belittle those who are unlearned.
“It is difficult for the mind to act with impartiality56.
“It is difficult not to gossip or be judgmental.
“It is difficult to meet the right, learned teacher.
“It is difficult to see one’s original nature57 and practice the Way.
“It is difficult to guide beings appropriately58 to liberation.
“It is difficult to be unperturbed by circumstances.
“It is difficult to master the expedient means59 of the Way.”
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Chapter 13: Questions about the Way and Past Lives
A shramana asked the Buddha, “What enables one to know past lives and to attain the supreme Way60?” The Buddha said, “By purifying your mind with unwavering resolve, you will attain the supreme Way. It is like polishing a mirror; when you remove the impurities, brightness is revealed. By eradicating desires and seeking nothing, you will gain knowledge of past live.
Chapter 14: Virtue and Greatness
A shramana asked the Buddha, “What is virtue? What is greatness?” The Buddha said, “To practice the Way and abide by the truth is virtue. When your will is one with the Way61, that is greatness.”
Chapter 15: Tolerance and Purification
A shramana asked the Buddha, “What is great power? What is the brightest light62?” The Buddha said, “Tolerance under insult is great power63, because it harbors not hatred but peace and fortitude. Those who are tolerant are free from evil and will be honored by others. When the mind is utterly purged of defilements, it is pure without blemish or filth; that is the brightest light. From before the formation of heaven and earth, and through the present, there is nothing in the ten directions64 that one does not see, hear, or know—this all inclusive wisdom65 is indeed brightness.”
Chapter 16: Renounce Desire to Attain the Way
The Buddha said, “Those who harbor desire and lust cannot see the Way. When our hands disturb clear water, none who gather beside it can see their reflections. Similarly, when people are aroused by desires, their minds are so muddled they cannot see the Way. You shramanas should renounce desire. When desire and lust are purged, the Way will manifest itself.”
Chapter 17: Light Dispels Darkness
The Buddha said, “Seeing the Way is like entering a dark room holding a torch; darkness dissipates and light alone remains. When you follow the Way and see the truth, ignorance vanishes and enlightenment always remains.”
Chapter 18: The No-mind Doctrine66
The Buddha said, “My doctrine is to be mindful of no-mind67, to act with non-action68, to speak the inexpressible69, and to cultivate non-cultivation70. Those who understand this are close to the Way; those who are confused are far from it. The Way is beyond speech and conception, and nothing can constrain it. To miss this point by a hair’s breadth is to lose the Way instantly.”
Chapter 19: Meditate on the Illusive and the Real71
The Buddha said, “Observe heaven and earth and contemplate impermanence. Observe the world and contemplate impermanence. Seeing one’s awareness is bodhi72. With this understanding one swiftly attains the Way.”
Chapter 20: The Self Is Empty
The Buddha said, “One should be mindful of the four great elements73 of the body. Each of them has a name, but an intrinsic self cannot be found74. Since the self is empty, it is illusory.”
Chapter 21: Seeking Fame Consumes the Person
The Buddha said, “People follow their desires to seek fame. By the time fame75 is achieved, the body has fallen apart. Craving for lasting worldly fame instead of learning the Way, we wear out the body with futile efforts. Like a burning incense, its body is turning to ashes as people smell its scent—be aware, the imminent fire will consume you76.”
Chapter 22: Wealth and Lust Bring Suffering
The Buddha said, “People are reluctant to renounce wealth and sex. These are like honey on a knife’s blade, which is not enough to appease one’s hunger, yet a child who licks this honey is in danger of cutting his tongue.
Chapter 23: The Family Is Like Prison
The Buddha said, “Men are bound to their wives77 and homes more than the confinement of a prison. One may be released from prison, but a wife has no desire to let go. How dare one be reckless and indulge in passion and lust! Although they are as dangerous as the tiger’s jaws, people yield willingly, throwing themselves into the mire and drown. That is why they are called ordinary beings. Those who break free from this prison can transcend all defilements to become arhats.”
Chapter 24: Sexual Desire Hinders the Way
The Buddha said, “There is no desire more powerful than sex; sex as a desire has no equal. Fortunately, there is no other like it. If there were, no one in the world would be able to cultivate the Way.”
Chapter 25: The Fire of Lust Consumes the Body
The Buddha said, “People who succumb to lust are like those who walk against the wind holding a torch; they will surely burn their hands.”
Chapter 26: Deva Tempts the Buddha
Wishing to corrupt the Buddha, a deva78 offered him beautiful maidens. The Buddha told them, “Skin-bags79 filled with filth, why are you here? Begone! I have no use for you.” The heavenly demon was filled with respect and asked the Buddha the meaning of the Way. The Buddha instructed him whereupon he attained the fruit of stream-enterer.
Chapter 27: Logs in the Stream
The Buddha said, “Those who cultivate the Way are like logs in a stream, following the current. If they are not grounded on either shore80, gathered by men81, intercepted by demons or spirits82, caught in whirlpools83, and they do not decay84, then I guarantee that these logs will reach the ocean. If those who follow the Way are not blinded by sensual desires, led astray by evil influences, and are diligent yet empty of effort85, then I guarantee that they will attain the Way.”
Chapter 28: Be Wary of the Unbridled Mind86
The Buddha said, “Be wary of trusting your own mind, for it is deceptive. Be wary of situations that may incite lust, for those will lead to disaster. Once you have attained arhatship, you can trust your own mind87.”
Chapter 29: The Right Way to Counter Lust
The Buddha said, “Be wary and refrain from looking at women or speaking with them. If you do, be righteous in thought and contemplate: ‘I am now a shramana living in an impure world. I should be like the lotus flower88, unsullied by mud.’ You should regard elderly women as your mothers, those older than you as your elder sisters, those younger than you as your younger sisters89, and the little ones as your children. Resolve to liberate them all, thereby extinguishing impure thoughts.”
Chapter 30: Avoid the Fire of Desire
The Buddha said, “People who cultivate the Way are like those who carry hay90; they should avoid fire. Cultivators of the Way must keep their distance from desires.”
Chapter 31: A Still Mind Extinguishes Lust
A man plagued with incessant lust wished to castrate himself. The Buddha told him, “Rather than castrate yourself, you should curb your mind91. The mind is like a commander; when the commander halts, so will his subordinates. If you cannot cut off lascivious thoughts, what is the use of castrating yourself?” The Buddha recited the following verse:
Desire arises from thinking,
Thinking arises from conception and discernment.
When both aspects of the mind92 are still,
There is neither form nor action93.
The Buddha said, “This verse was spoken by Kashyapa Buddha94.”
Chapter 32: Desire Leads to Fear
The Buddha said, “Fear95 arises from worry, and worry arises from craving and desire. If you abandon desire, what fear or worry could you have?”
Chapter 33: Perseverance in Spiritual Battle The Buddha said, “One who practices the Way is like a single person battling against ten thousand96. Donning his armor and leaving home97, his will may weaken, he may retreat halfway, he may be killed in combat, or he may return victorious. When shramanas follow the Way, they should be resolute, diligent, and valiant; not fearing what challenges lie ahead, they destroy all demons98 and attain the Way.
沙 門夜誦迦葉佛遺教經，其聲悲緊，思悔欲退。佛問之曰：汝昔在家，曾為何業？對曰：愛彈琴。佛言：弦緩如何？對曰：不鳴矣。弦急如何？對曰：聲絕矣。急緩得 中如何？對曰：諸音普矣。佛言：沙門學道亦然。心若調適，道可得矣。於道若暴，暴即身疲。其身若疲，意即生惱。意若生惱，行即退矣。其行既退，罪必加矣。 但清淨安樂，道不失矣。
Chapter 34: Dharma of the Middle Way99
One night a shramana100 was reciting the Sutra Bequeathed by Kashyapa Buddha. His tone was woeful and tense. Plagued by doubts101, he thought of abandoning the monastic life. The Buddha asked him, “What did you do when you were a householder?” He said, “I was fond of playing the lute.” The Buddha asked, “What happens when the strings are too loose?” He replied, “There is no sound.” “What happens when the strings are too taut?” He replied, “The sound is discordant.” “What happens when the strings are neither too loose nor too taut?” He replied, “All the sounds are in harmony.”
Chapter 35: Expel Defilements and the Mind Becomes Pure
The Buddha said, “When a man forges iron, he removes impurities to make tools of the finest quality. When those who follow the Way expel defilements102 from their minds, their deeds will be pure.”
Chapter 36: Stages to Non-Attainment
The Buddha said:
“It is difficult to ascend from the three wretched destinies103 and be born as a human being.
“Even as a human being104, it is difficult to be born as a man105 rather than a woman.
“Even as a man , it is difficult to have all six senses106 complete.
“Even without physical or mental impairment, it is difficult to be born in the middle country107.
“Even in the middle country, it is difficult to be born at the time of a Buddha.
“Even at the time of a Buddha, it is difficult to encounter the Way.
“Even having encountered the Way, it is difficult for one to generate sufficient faith108.
“Even with faith, it is difficult to bring forth the bodhi mind109.
“Even with the bodhi mind, it is difficult to realize non-cultivation and non-attainment110.”
Chapter 37: Be Mindful of the Precepts
The Buddha said, “If disciples thousands of miles away from me are mindful of my precepts, they will surely attain the fruit of the Way. If those who are by my side and see me constantly do not uphold my precepts, they will never attain the Way.
Chapter 38: The Impermanence of Life
The Buddha asked a shramana, “How long can one be sure of staying alive?” “A few days,” was the reply. The Buddha said, “You do not know about life.” He asked another shramana, “How long can one be sure of staying alive?” “The length of a meal,” was the reply. The Buddha said, “You do not know about life.” He then asked another shramana, “How long can one be sure of staying alive?” The reply was “A single breath.” The Buddha said, “Well said, you know about life!”
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Chapter 39: The Dharma Is Like Honey
The Buddha said, “Students of the Buddha’s Way should have faith in and comply with all that the Buddha says. It is like honey, sweet from the surface to the middle111. So it is with my sutras.”
佛言：沙門行道，無如磨牛，身雖行道，心道不行。心道若行，何用行道。 | |
Chapter 40: Ox Turning a Millstone
The Buddha said, “Shramanas who practice the Way should not be like oxen turning millstones112; although their bodies follow the path, their minds do not. If the mind follows the Way, what need is there to labor on the path?”
Chapter 41: A Steadfast Mind Frees One from Desire
The Buddha said, “One who practices the Way is like an ox that carries a burden through a mire. Although very tired, the ox dares not look to the right or to the left; he cannot rest until he gets out. You shramanas must look upon sensual desires as worse than a filthy mire. Being steadfast and mindful of the Way, one can avert suffering.”
佛 言：吾視王侯之位， 如過隙塵。視金玉之寶，如瓦礫。視紈素之服，如敝帛。視大千界，如一訶子。視阿耨池水，如塗足油。視方便門，如化寶聚。視無上乘，如夢 金帛。視佛道，如眼前華。視禪定，如須彌柱。視涅槃，如晝夕寤。視倒正，如六龍舞。視平等，如一真地。視興化，如四時木。諸大比丘，聞佛所說，歡喜奉行。
Chapter 42: Seeing the Illusions of the World
The Buddha said:
“I look upon positions of nobility as dust drifting through a crevice113.
“I look upon treasures of gold and jade as mere rubble.
“I look upon garments of fine silk as worn-out rags.
“I look upon the universe as a small haritaki fruit114.
“I look upon the water of the Anavatapta Lake115 as oil applied to the feet.
“I look upon expedient means as a cluster of imaginary jewels116.
“I look upon the supreme vehicle117 as a dream of gold and silk.
“I look upon the Buddha Way as a flower in the air118.
“I look upon samadhi as the great pillar Mount Sumeru119.
“I look upon nirvana as being awake both day and night120.
“I look upon deviancy and orthodoxy as six dancing dragons121.
“I look upon the doctrine of impartiality as the absolute ground of reality122.
“I look upon the flourishing of the teaching as a tree in four seasons123.”Having heard the Buddha’s discourses, the great bhiksus124 joyfully accepted and followed the teaching.
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DEDICATION OF MERITS
Reach every part of the world;
Sentient beings large and small
All attain enlightenment.
1 sutra(Sanskrit) 佛經 -- A Buddhist scripture containing the dialogues or discourses of the Buddha.
2 Later Han Dynasty (25 - 220 C.E.) 35 years after the demise of the Former Han Dynasty (206 - 8 B.C.E., also known as Western Han), a relative of the imperial family re-established Han with Luoyang as the capital, (east of Chang An, the former capital), which was also known as the Later (Eastern) Han Dynasty. It was during the rein of the second emperor, Han Ming Di (漢明帝), circa 70 C.E., that Buddhism was brought to China by two Indian Buddhist Masters, Kashyapa-matanga and Gobharana, who also translated the Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters into Chinese.
5 stillness -- A state of mind in absolute peace and serenity.
6 samadhi (Sanskrit) -- A highly concentrated state of mind achieved by meditation.
15 renounce the secular life -- Means to leave the secular home life to become a monk or a nun. In addition, it also means 1) to leave the home of the five skandhas(form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness), that is, to identify the five aggregates as the ‘false’ self; 2) to leave the home of klesas (greed, anger, and ignorance) or afflictions; and 3) to leave the home of samsara, that is, the home of the endless cycle of birth and death.
37 shave their heads -- A way Buddhist monastics renounce attachments to appearance and vanity.
47 these blessings -- Refer to what the flame can do when thousands of people share it; it refers to the whole thing, not just the single flame.
53 no abidance -- No clinging, no attachment.
65 all inclusive wisdom --The wisdom of a fully enlightened one, which includes the wisdom of expedient means and emptiness.
84 do not decay -- One observes the precepts correctly and does not become morally corrupted.
85 diligent yet empty of effort -- To attain the Way one must be diligent, but the perfection of diligence is "empty of effort", or "wu-wei" -- i.e. the Way becomes completely natural and effortless.
89 regard women as your mother and sister -- All sentient beings have been our relatives through our countless rebirths, so we should regard them as our family and try to help them achieve liberation instead of viewing them as objects of desire.
90 hay, fire -- Before cultivators get rid of the root of desire, they are vulnerable to temptations and thus should be very cautious.
94 Kashyapa Buddha -- There are buddhas in the past, present, and future. Kashyapa Buddha, one of the Past Seven Buddhas, is the one immediately preceding the historical Shakyamuni Buddha.
95 fear -- Fear arises from worrying about losing what we have and not getting what we desire.
101 doubts -- In Buddhism, three types of doubt can hinder one’s practice of the Way 1) the doubt of the Dharma, i.e. whether the Dharma can free us of our sufferings, 2) the doubt of oneself, i.e. whether one can make the journey, and 3) the doubting of Dharma teachers, i.e. whether or not they can lead us to enlightenment.
112 an ox turning a millstone -- In a granary an ox is yoked to grind grain by turning a millstone. The ox follows a path around the grinding stone because he is forced to, but his mind does not. A shramana should have his mind and body unified in his cultivation path.
120 nirvana as being awake both day and night -- Nirvana is being fully awake (enlightened) at all times, contrary to samsara which is dreaming (deluded) both day and night. Nirvana and samsara are still relative concepts; higher enlightenment means to see that nirvana and samsara are not different.