Here’s the conclusion to Admonitions to Beginners. It’s quite nice on its own, but since this text has been posted over several months, I’ve gone ahead and added a summary of the Venerable Ya-un’s major points. While these were originally intended for monastics, I think there’s a lot here that would benefit all practitioners. What really strikes me about these admonitions is there emphasis on seizing the day, Don’t miss this chance!
The moon rises and sets,
urging old age to come.
The sun comes and goes,
hurrying time along.
Fame and possessions
are like the morning dew,
hardship and prosperity
like wisps of smoke in the evening.
I most sincerely hope that you will practice self-cultivation,
become a Buddha without delay,
and save all beings.
In this life if you ignore these words,
without a doubt, regrets will fill your next life.
My own true self!
Being born as a human being is rare as a blind tortoise rising from the depths of the ocean and putting it’s head through the hole in a wooden yoke that’s floating on the waves. Will you spend your entire life indulging in laziness?! Will you ignore spiritual cultivation?! It’s difficult to be born as a human being and so much harder to meet the Buddha-dharma.
If you lose this opportunity, then even though a thousand kalpas pass, it will be difficult to have a human body and meet the Buddha-dharma. Therefore, you should take these ten admonitions seriously and practice diligently, without stepping back. Realize true enlightenment without delay and save all beings.
My hope is that you will overcome the sea of birth and death so that you will be able to save all beings, not for the sake of your own benefit. From the beginningless past up until your present life, while being reborn and dying as one of the four types of lives, you have always depended upon your parents. Over that immense time, the number of beings that were your parents is beyond imagining. If you reflect upon this, you will realize that among the beings of the six realms, there is not one who was not once your mother or father, your brother or sister, your son or daughter.
These beings have fallen into evil states, and day and night experience unimaginable suffering. If you don’t save them, how much longer will they have to suffer? Thinking about this, I’m filled with sorrow. It’s as if my heart is being ripped out.
My most ardent hope is that you soon develop all-penetrating wisdom and attain great, unlimited spiritual power and every kind of skillful means. I pray that with this you will become a pillar of wisdom that saves all beings lost on the rough seas, that you save all of the confused beings who are lost in the mountains of greed.
Don’t you know that all of the Buddhas and Patriarchs of the past were once ordinary people like us? They were worthy people and so are you. You just don’t practice, it’s not that you don’t have the ability.
There is a saying, The Way doesn’t turn its back on people, people themselves turn their back on the Way. Also, If one determines to achieve the Way, then the Way naturally comes to meet them. This is so true, so true.
As long as you maintain firm belief, how could you not awaken to your inherent nature and become a Buddha? I swear now before the Three Treasures that I have cautioned you on every single point. If you deliberately violate these, while knowing that your actions are wrong, you will fall into hell while still alive. How can you not be careful about these points?!
Summary of Ya-un’s Ten Cautions
1. Refrain from extravagant clothes and food.
2. Don’t be stingy with your possessions, and don’t covet what belongs to others.
3. Refrain from unnecessary speech and travel.
4. Associate with virtuous friends and avoid evil people.
5. Don’t sleep outside the fixed hours for sleeping.
6. Don’t feel that you are superior to other, and don’t look down upon others. (Also, don’t feel that you are equal to others or less than others.)
7. Always maintain a proper attitude towards sex and wealth.
8. Do not associate with worldly people, and so become an object of scorn.
9. Do not criticize others.
10. Always maintain an undiscriminating mind, even among others.