The Sutra on Impermanence
prostrate and take refuge in the Unsurpassed One
Who, with endless vows of
Ferries sentient beings across the stream of birth and death,
reach the safe haven of nirvana.
With great charity, morality, tolerance, and
One-mind, expedience, right wisdom, and power,
perfection in benefiting self and others,
He is called the Tamer, Teacher of
Heavenly and Human Beings.
I prostrate and take refuge in the wondrous
The principle of three "Fours" and two "Fives"
are perfect and clear,
The "Seven" and "Eight" can open
the gate to the Four Truths,
By which cultivators reach the shore of the Unconditioned.
Dharma clouds and Dharma rain imbue all beings,
Eliminating searing afflictions
Tempering and converting the obstinate,
appropriately, not by force.
I prostrate and take refuge in the saints,
superior beings of the eight stages,
Who can be freed from defilements.
the vajra scepter of wisdom,
They shatter the mountain of delusions,
severing the beginningless ties and fetters.
In the epoch from Deer Park to
the Twin Trees,
They follow the Buddha in propagating the True Teaching.
to individual vows and karma, they complete
Their missions, realize nonbirth,
and abide in stillness
With body and knowledge extinguished.
and venerate the Three Jewels,
The true source of liberation for all,
those drowning in samsara
From foolish delusion to enlightenment.
who are born will die,
All beauty will fade,
The strong are stricken by
And no one can escape.
Even the great Mt. Sumeru
by the kalpa's end.
The vast and fathomless seas
Will eventually dry up.
earth, sun and moon
Will all perish in due time.
Not one thing in the world
Can escape impermanence.
From the Neither Thought nor Non-Thought Heaven,
to the Wheel-Turning Kings,
Accompanied by the seven treasures,
by a thousand sons,
When their lives have ended,
Without a moment's delay,
They drift again in the sea of death,
And suffer according to their karma.
within the Triple Realm
Is like the turning of a well-bucket's wheel,
also like a silkworm,
Spinning a cocoon to confine itself.
Even the unsurpassed
Pratyekabuddhas and shravakas,
Give up their impermanent bodies,
not ordinary beings!
Parents, spouses, and children,
Siblings and other
Witnessing the separation of life and death,
Don't all lament
Therefore everyone is urged
To heed the true Dharma,
what is impermanent,
And practice the Deathless Path.
Like sweet dew that
cools and purifies,
The Dharma eradicates all afflictions.
So listen with
Thus have I heard.
Once, the Bhagavat was at the Jetavana
in Anathapindada Park in Shravasti.
At that time the Buddha told
In this world there are three things
that are not likable,
not lustrous, not desired, and not agreeable.
What are the three? Aging, illness,
Bhiksus! Aging, illness, and death, of all things in this world,
are truly not likable, not lustrous, not desired, and not agreeable.
there were no aging, illness, and death in the world,
Tathagata, the Worthy
and Fully Enlightened One,
need not appear in this world, to speak to all
on how to cultivate and what can be attained.
you should know that aging, illness, and death,
of all things in this world,
are not likable, not lustrous, not desired, and not agreeable.
of these three things, Tathagata,
the Worthy and Fully Enlightened One,
in the world, to speak to all sentient beings
on how to cultivate and what
can be attained.
Then the World Honored One
reiterated this teaching in
All external splendor will perish,
Likewise the body will
Only the superior Dharma will endure.
The wise should discern clearly.
illness, and death are resented by all;
Their appearance is dreadful and repulsive.
countenance of youth is fleeting,
Soon it will wither and fade;
to a hundred years, still
One must give in to the force of impermanence.
suffering of aging, illness, and death
Constantly afflicts all sentient beings.
When the World Honored One had spoken this sutra,
all the bhiksus,
devas, dragons, yaksas,
ghandaras, asuras and so forth greatly rejoiced;
accepted and followed the teaching faithfully.
Always pursuing worldly
And not performing good deeds,
How can you maintain your body and
And not see the approach of death?
When the breath of life is ending,
and joints separate,
The agonies of death converge,
And you can only lament.
roll up, the blade of death
Strikes down with the force of karma.
fills with fear and confusion,
And no one can save you.
Gasping, the chest
Shortened breaths parch the throat.
The king of death
demands your life,
And relatives can only stand by.
All consciousness becomes
hazy and dim,
As you enter the city of peril.
Friends and relatives
As the rope drags you away
To the place of King Yama,
fate is determined by karma.
Virtuous deeds give rise to good destinies,
bad karma plunges one into hell.
There is no vision clearer than wisdom,
nothing darker than ignorance,
There is no sickness worse than hatred,
no greater fear than death.
All that live must die;
Commit sins and the
Be diligent in examining the three karmas,
merits and wisdom.
All your relatives will desert you,
All possessions will
You have only your virtues
As sustenance on this treacherous path.
those who rest by a roadside tree,
They will not linger long;
carriages, and horses
Will likewise soon be gone.
Like birds that gather
Going their separate ways at dawn;
So death callously parts all
relatives and friends.
Only Buddha's enlightenment is our true refuge.
have spoken in brief according to the sutras
The wise should reflect and take
Devas, asuras, yaksas and so forth who come,
teachings with utmost sincerity!
Uphold the Dharma so it may endure,
of you should practice with diligence.
All sentient beings who come for the
Whether on land or in the air,
Always be kind-hearted in this
Abide in the Dharma day and night.
May all worlds be safe and peaceful;
infinite blessings and wisdom benefit all beings.
May all sinful karma and
suffering be removed;
May all enter perfect stillness.
Anoint the body with
the fragrance of precepts,
And sustain it with the strength of samadhi;
the world with flowers of bodhi wisdom,
Dwell in peace and joy wherever you