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Venerate and Regard Sutras With Respect
Provisional English Translation of DRBA Vietnamese Translation Group
Since we are investigating the Buddhadharma, we should know of the proper ways to handle and maintain sutra texts.
As with the Tripitaka, the twelve divisions of the Buddhist canon, including all sutra texts, regardless of which division, we should regard the sutra texts as more important than our own life. We should also view the sutra texts as more valuable than any precious jewel.
The Vajra Sutra states, Wherever this Sutra is found, there is a Buddha. Therefore, the Dharma Body of the Buddha is present in the places where the sutra texts reside.
By printing, investigating, reading, and respecting sutras, we can germinate and foster limitless wisdom through these various deeds. However, if we do not venerate and respect sutra texts, this will cause us to fall and descend into undesirable places. When arranging and organizing sutra texts, please pay particular attention to the following:
Buddhist sutras are dharma jewels for they function like a compass to instruct living beings on how to leave suffering. Therefore, sutras should be venerated and regarded with respect. If the sutras have been damaged or ruined, please repair and restore them immediately. Do not discard or burn them. Any place where there are sutra texts, dragons and heavenly beings are there to guard and protect them. If we are careless and damage, ruin, or misplace the sutra texts, we will incur limitless offenses.
Buddhist sutras should be placed on top of all other books and texts. In general, the Sutra, Vinaya, and Shastra should be arranged and organized from top to bottom in this order: Sutra texts, Sutra texts with commentaries, teachings on the Buddhadharma, Shastras by worthy sages, instructional teachings on human nature, and ordinary books and texts.
Do not scribble or write on sutra texts. Do not engage in frivilous speech or eat while reading sutras.
Venerate and regard sutras with respect by placing them in a high and cleanly area. Do not casually throw them onto beds, place on chairs or small and low tables, nor put them in an uncleanly place.
When carrying sutras either with bare hands or in a satchel, do not carry them below the waist. Also, do not clasp them under the armpit.
The table for reading sutras should not disorderly and filled with miscellaneous items. Do not recline or lie down when reading sutras. Furthermore, do not touch sutras with dirty hands.
Do not blow dust off the sutra texts using our mouths, instead use a clean piece of cloth (or paper towel) to wipe away the dust.
For those living in a room which serves both as a bedroom and as a study, Sutra texts should be covered with a clean piece of cloth and placed on the headrest side when resting. (This applies only to celibate singles.) [Please note: sutras should not be placed in a married couple's room.]
Please refrain from any unwholesome conducts or activities in places where there are sutras.
If we stop reading in the middle of the sutra, please use a bookmark to identify the page or place. Do not fold the page or corners of the page. Do not open and place the sutra facing downward.
Our minds should be focused when reading sutras. If false thoughts arise, we should close the sutra text and refocus our thoughts before continuing to read the sutras.
Please give the sutras to others if we are no longer going to read them. This will help in circulating the sutras.
Do not read sutras in restrooms (or bathrooms).
Do not wet fingers with saliva to turn the pages of sutra texts.