"O good man! What are the pure actions of a Bodhisattva-mahasattva? O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, abiding in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana, can be perfect in pure actions in seven categories. What are those seven? They are: 1) knowing Dharma, 2) knowing the meaning, 3) knowing the time, 4) being contented, 5) knowing for oneself, 6) knowing the masses, 7) knowing the difference between respectable and mean.
"O good man! How does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva know Dharma? O good man! This Bodhisattva-mahasattva knows the twelve types of scripture, which are: 1) sutra, 2) geya, 3) vyakarana, 4) gatha, 5) udana, 6) nidana, 7) avadana, 8) itivrttaka, 9) jataka, 10) vaipulya, 11) adbhutadharma, and 12) upadesa.
"O good man! What is meant by "sutra?" A sutra begins with: "Thus have I heard" and ends with: "practise with joy". All such are "sutras".
"What is "geya?" It goes like this: "The Buddha said to all bhiksus: In days gone by, I, like you, was ignorant and had no Wisdom, and could not see the Four Truths. For that reason, I had long transmigrated and repeated birth and death and floundered in the great sea of suffering. What are the Four? They are: 1) Suffering, 2) the Cause of Suffering, 3) Extinction, 4) the Way to the Extinction of Suffering.
In days gone by, the Buddha spoke of the sutras. At that time, there was a sharp-witted person who came to the Buddha to be taught Dharma. He asked others: "What did the Tathagata speak about before?" The Tathagata, seeing this, said in a gatha, basing himself on the sutras:
"I, like you, did not see the Four Truths
And as a result floundered long in the sea
Of suffering of birth and death.
By seeing the Four Truths,
One well severs birth and death.
Birth and death done away with,
One no more gains any existence."
This is "geya."
"What is "vyakarana"? There are sutras and vinayas [monastic rules] in which, when the Tathagata speaks, he gives prophecies to all the heavenly ones, such as: "O you, Ajita! In days to come, there will be a king named "Sankha". In his reign, you will practise the Way, attain Buddhahood, and be called Maitreya." This is "vyakarana".
"What is "gatha"? In addition to the sutras and vinaya, there are cases in which a four-line poem appears, such as:
"Do not do any evil;
Do all that is good.
Purify your mind.
This is the teaching of all Buddhas."
This is "gatha"?
"What is "udana"? The Buddha, at about four in the afternoon, enters a dhyana [meditation]. He speaks about Dharma to the devas [gods]. At that time, the bhiksus [monks] think: "What is the Tathagata doing?" The Tathagata awakes next morning from the dhyana and, without being asked by anyone, he, with the power of knowledge that can read the minds of others, speaks unasked: "O Bhiksus! Know that the life of all devas is extremely long. O all of you Bhiksus! It is good that you all act for others and do not seek your own profit. It is good that you seek but little; it is good that you feel contented; it is good that you are quiet [peaceful]!" It goes like that. In all such scriptures, the Buddha speaks unasked. This is "udana".
"What is "nidana"? The gathas of all sutras speak for others about the basic roots of all causes. In Sravasti there was a man who caught a bird in a net. Having caught it, he put it in a cage, gave it water and cereal, and then let it go. The World-Honoured One knows all histories from beginning to end and talks about this in a gatha, such as:
"Do not belittle small evil acts,
And do not say that there is no evil that arises.
Small is a drop of water,
But [by accumulation] it fills a great vessel."
This is "nidana".
"What is "avadana"? It is as in the case of the parables that occur in the vinaya. This is "avadana".
"What is "itivrttaka"? This is as when the Buddha says: "O Bhiksus! Know that what I speak when I am in the world is the sutras. In the days of Buddha Krakucchanda, it is called "amrta-drum" [drum of the Immortal]; what appears in the days of Kanakamuni is called "Dharma-mirror"; what appears in the days of Buddha Kasyapa is called "Void-discriminating". This is "itivrttaka".
"What is "jataka"? This is when the World-Honoured One [tells of how he], in days gone by, became a Bodhisattva and practised the Way, such as: "O Bhisksus! Know that, in days gone by, I gained life as a deer, a brown bear, a reindeer, a hare, the king of a small state, a chakravartin, a naga, and a garuda. Such are all the bodies one receives when one practises the Way of a Bodhisattva." This is "jataka".
"What is "vaipulya sutra"? It is none other than the Mahayana vaipulya [extensive] sutras. What it states is on a large scale. It is like space. This is "vaipulya".
"What is "adbhutadharma"? After the Bodhisattva has just been born, he takes seven steps without any help from others, sending out great lights, which shine in all ten directions; or a monkey holds in its hand a pot of honey and offers it to the Tathagata; or a white-headed dog sits by the Buddha's side and listens to his sermons; Marapapiyans transforms himself into a blue cow and walks between tiles and bowls, touching but not damaging them; or, when the Buddha first enters the devas' temple, the devas come down and pay him homage. Any sutra such as this is called "adbhutadharma".
"What do we mean by "upadesa"? It is one [scripture] that discusses the sutras which contain the Buddha's sermons and analyses and widely explains the characteristics. Any such is an "upadesa".
"If any Bodhisattva is well versed in the twelve types of scripture, this is "knowing Dharma"
"How does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva understand the meaning? A Bodhisattva knows the meaning of all words and languages. This is knowing the meaning.
"How does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva know the [right] time? O good man! The Bodhisattva, at a given time, will practise quietude. At another time, he will make effort. At another time, he will practise equanimity and dhyana. At another time, he will make offerings to his teacher. At another time, he will practise dana [giving], upholding the moral precepts, forbearance, effort, and dhyana, thus perfecting prajnaparamita [transcendent Wisdom]. This is knowing the time.