利益存亡品第七
Benefits for Deceased And Existing Beings


爾時地藏菩薩摩訶薩白佛言:「世尊,我觀是閻浮眾生,舉心動念,無非是罪。脫獲善利,多退初心。若遇惡緣,念念增益。是等輩人,如履泥塗,負於重石,漸困漸重,足步深邃。若得遇知識,替與減負,或全與負。是知識有大力故,復相扶助,勸令牢腳。若達平地,須省惡路,無再經歷。

At that time, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, Mahasattva, said to Buddha, “World Honored One, I have observed sins of thought or action from everyone in all the worlds. Even though they do a few good deeds their kind hearts soon regress. If they fall into a bad circumstance, their evil thoughts will continue. It is as if these people are walking in mud carrying a heavy stone on their shoulders. The longer they walk, the harder they step. Their feet sink in mud and they cannot get themselves out. If they meet a knowledgeable person who can carry some or all the stones for them, this knowledgeable person has great power to help and persuade them not to go any further. After they arrive at a smooth plain, the knowledgeable one soon teaches them how to examine themselves and not to go through the mud again.

世尊,習惡眾生,從纖毫間,便至無量。是諸眾生有如此習,臨命終時,父母眷屬,宜為設福,以資前路。或懸旛蓋及燃油燈。或轉讀尊經、或供養佛像及諸聖像,乃至念佛菩薩,及辟支佛名字,一名一號,歷臨終人耳根,或聞在本識。是諸眾生所造惡業,計其感果,必墮惡趣,緣是眷屬為臨終人修此聖因,如是眾罪,悉皆消滅。

World Honored One, the minor offenses accumulate into major ones. Since most of these people have such bad habits, in order to help them to be reborn into a better life, their parents or relatives should make offerings or oblations for them after they pass away. They can hang pennants, light oil lamps or make statues of Buddha or Bodhisattva. They can also recite the sutras or the names of the Buddha and Bodhisattva. They should make sure that they keep every single word deep in their minds. Though these beings have fallen into evil karma, their criminal offenses can be eliminated by oblations and offerings in their name by their family or relatives.

若能更為身死之後,七七日內,廣造眾善。能使是諸眾生永離惡趣,得生人天,受勝妙樂,現在眷屬,利益無量。

If their family or relatives can do many good deeds for the dead during the first seven days, the dead can avoid evil forever and be reborn in heaven or as a human and enjoy wonderful happiness. In addition, the people who promote benefits for the dead can also obtain endless merits.”

是故我今對佛世尊,及天龍八部人非人等,勸於閻浮提眾生臨終之日,慎勿殺害,及造惡緣,拜祭鬼神,求諸魍魎。

Thus, now, in front of the Buddha, World Honored One, gods, dragons and all others, both human and non-human, I urge all beings in all worlds not to offer sacrifices to the spirits of the deceased persons by killing creatures or calling on ghosts or spirits.

何以故?爾所殺害乃至拜祭,無纖毫之力,利益亡人,但結罪緣,轉增深重。假使來世或現在生,得獲聖分,生人天中。緣是臨終被諸眷屬造是惡因,亦令是命終人殃累對辯,晚生善處。何況臨命終人,在生未曾有少善根,各據本業,自受惡趣,何忍眷屬更為增業。

Why? Because offering sacrifices by killing has not the slightest merit for the deceased persons at all. On the contrary, it will increase their burden, because their relatives make more offenses for the deceased. The deceased person’s spirit has to defend itself against the spirits of the sacrificed creatures. This might risk the rebirth of that person in heaven or the human world. Not to mention the deceased who, while he was alive had few merits, and thus according to his karma, has to suffer pains in the evil level. How could his relatives increase his karma?”

譬如有人從遠地來,絕糧三日,所負擔物,強過百斤,忽遇鄰人,更附少物,以是之故,轉復困重。

For example, it’s like a person who has eaten nothing for three days and is carrying baggage which weighs one hundred kilograms. Unexpectedly, his neighbor asks him to bring some extra things for him. Now his burden is heavier than before.

世尊,我觀閻浮眾生,但能於諸佛教中,乃至善事,一毛一渧,一沙一塵,如是利益,悉皆自得。」

World Honored One, I have observed that as long as beings in all the worlds do good deeds for Buddhadharma, no matter as small as a hair, a drop of water, a grain of sand or a speck of dust, they will obtain all merits themselves.”

說是語時,會中有一長者,名曰大辯,是長者久證無生,化度十方,現長者身,合掌恭敬,問地藏菩薩言:「大士,是南閻浮提眾生,命終之後,小大眷屬,為修功德,乃至設齋,造眾善因,是命終人,得大利益及解脫不?」

While these words were being spoken, there was an elder named Great Eloquence who has advocated Dharma since long ago, cultivates all beings from the Ten Directions, and is always incarnated as an elder. He placed both hands together with reverence, then asked Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, “Mahasattva, after those beings in all the worlds have died and their relatives do good deeds for them, offer vegetarian foods or plant all kinds of good things, can the deceased obtain merits and be released from pain and suffering?”

地藏答言:「長者,我今為未來現在一切眾生,承佛威力,略說是事。長者,未來現在諸眾生等,臨命終日,得聞一佛名、一菩薩名、一辟支佛名,不問有罪無罪,悉得解脫。若有男子女人,在生不修善因多造眾罪。命終之後,眷屬小大,為造福利一切聖事,七分之中而乃獲一,六分功德,生者自利。以是之故,未來現在善男女等,聞健自修,分分己獲。

Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha answered, “Now, by Buddha’s power, I will explain this in general. Elder, if those beings today or in the future hear a name of Buddha or a Bodhisattva on the day they die, no matter whether they are guilty or not, they can be released from suffering. If anyone does many evil deeds while alive and his or her relatives do good deeds for them after their death, the deceased will receive a seventh part of the relative’s merit. The remaining merits belong to his or her relatives. If good people today and in future can promote goodness by themselves, they can obtain every merit.

無常大鬼,不期而到,冥冥遊神,未知罪福。七七日內,如癡如聾,或在諸司辯論業果。審定之後,據業受生。未測之間,千萬愁苦,何況墮於諸惡趣等。是命終人,未得受生,在七七日內,念念之間,望諸骨肉眷屬,與造福力救拔。過是日後,隨業受報。若是罪人,動經千百歲中,無解脫日。若是五無間罪,墮大地獄,千劫萬劫,永受眾苦。」

After death the Great Ghost of Impermanence will take the spirit of the deceased away without warning. At that time, nobody knows whether the spirit’s future is good or bad. During the first forty-nine days after death, the deceased does not hear anything. At that time, he will be judged in a court arguing his karmic retribution. He will not be reborn until the trial. Before the trial in hell, the deceased has already felt distress, not to speak of suffering in the evil level. The deceased longs for help from his children and relatives during these forty-nine days. After forty-nine days, he will follow his own karmic retributions and suffer. These kinds of criminal persons usually cannot be released for hundreds or thousands of years. If the being has ever committed one of Five Endless Offenses, he or she will fall into Endless Hell and suffer all kinds of pain for an indefinite time.”

復次長者:「如是罪業眾生,命終之後,眷屬骨肉,為修營齋,資助業道未齋食竟,及營齋之次,米泔菜葉,不棄於地,乃至諸食未獻佛僧,勿得先食。如有違食,及不精勤,是命終人,了不得力。如精勤護淨奉獻佛僧,是命終人,七分獲一。是故長者,閻浮眾生,若能為其父母乃至眷屬,命終之後,設齋供養,志心勤懇。如是之人,存亡獲利。」

“Moreover, elder, if beings with such karma die, the relatives can make offerings. Their relatives should prepare or eat vegetarian food and not throw rice-water or vegetables leaves on the ground. They should not even eat before offering it to Buddha and the monks. If they waste the food, eat before offering it or are too lazy to learn about Dharma, the deceased will obtain no merits at all. If their relatives are diligent and are reverently devoted to Buddha and the Sangha, the deceased will receive a seventh part of the merit, Therefore, elder, if those beings in all the worlds can honestly and reverently offer vegetarian food to the Three Treasures after their parents or relatives die, both the living and the dead can obtain all the merits.”

說是語時,忉利天宮,有千萬億那由他閻浮鬼神,悉發無量菩提之心,大辯長者作禮而退。

While Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha spoke these words, millions of ghosts and gods in Trayastrimsa Heaven Palace from all the world made endless requests for helping the suffering. And the elder Great Eloquence bowed and withdrew.



May the merits and virtues accrued from this work adorn the Buddha’s Pure Land, repay the Four Kindness above and relieve the sufferings of those in the Three Realms below. May those who see, hear and read this sutra bring forth the Bodhi mind and live the teachings for the rest of this life, then be born together in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

南无地藏王菩萨