Shastra on the Door to Understanding the Hundred Dharmas

The Shastra




Four, the six fundamental afflictions are:

1. greed;

2. anger;

3. foolishness;

4. arrogance;

5. doubt; and,

6. improper views.


Division four is the six fundamental afflictions, which in turn bring about the subsidiary or derivative afflictions. The six fundamental afflictions are actually the Five Dull Servants: greed, anger, foolishness, arrogance and doubt, together with the Five Sharp Servants, or improper views: the view of a body, extreme views, the view of grasping at prohibitions, the view of grasping at views, and deviant views.

The Five Dull Servants

1. Greed.

2. Anger.

3. Foolishness.

4. Arrogance.

5. Doubt.

The Five Sharp Servants

1. View of a body.

2. Extreme views.

3. View of grasping at prohibitions.

4. View of grasping at views.

5. Deviant views.

Greed, anger, foolishness, arrogance and doubt are called the five dull servants, because they entail a lack of understanding, an inability to make sound judgments. Furthermore, their onset is very slow and obtuse : hence the name, “dull servants.” The sharp ones, on the other hand, are very quick, able to assess situations quite rapidly and decisively.

The first one of these afflictions is greed. Greed is impossible to satisfy. There is greed for wealth, for sex, for fame, for food, and for sleep, as well as greed for forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and objects of touch.

Second is anger. Being greedy and then not obtaining the object of one’s greed leads to the arising of anger. When things do not go according to one’s wishes, one becomes angry. Once anger arises, it culminates in foolish behavior. Foolishness is just ignorance, a lack of clarity, a confusion that causes one to do muddled and inappropriate things. In this frame of mind, one might do anything.

Four is arrogance. Being arrogant, proud, and haughty, one looks down on everyone else and has a very contemptuous attitude.

Five is doubt. Being doubtful, when something comes up, one cannot make up one’s mind about it, is never quite sure about it, and never knows quite what to think.

Six is improper views. As mentioned, this single fundamental affliction divides into five parts.

1. The view of a body. One is attached to one’s own body as being “me” or “mine.” One regards the body as belonging to and comprising oneself and regards what belongs to a self as actually being oneself.

2. Extreme views. The view of a body leads to extreme views, and then causing one to be prejudiced to one extreme or another. If one does not lean too far to the left, then one leans too far to the right. If one does not go too far, one does not go far enough. One is not in accord with the Middle Way, hence the term “extreme views”.

3. The view of grasping at views. This kind of grasping is the same grasping found in the Twelve-fold Conditioned Arising. This is the deviant view of mistaking what is not a result for a result. People with this kind of view may claim to have attained an unattainable result.

4. The view of grasping at prohibitions. This is the observance of precepts that should not be observed. For instance, in India there are those who adopt the behavior of cows and dogs as precepts. A person with this kind of view mistakes what was not a legitimate cause for a legitimate cause.

5. Deviant views. People with deviant knowledge and deviant views would not speak proper Dharma. However, they would willingly talk about defiled dharmas. This means particularly discussing the affairs between men and women, saying what men are like and what women are like. That is to be steeped in deviant views, leading them to say things like, “You do not need to hold the precepts; only stupid people hold precepts. People with wisdom do not need to hold them.”

They continue talking about defiled dharmas, until eventually their listeners, who originally did not harbor thoughts of desire or have defiled thinking, are caused to give rise to them. Someone may be very pure and clear of mind and just on the verge of obtaining the state of Chan samadhi, having gotten rid of the “guest-dust.” But, encountering someone who discusses defiled things, that person lets the “guest-dust” back in again, and starts having thoughts of desire.

And so, when you lecture on the Dharma, whether you are a monastic or a layperson, a man or woman, you should not discuss defiled dharmas. You should speak on the Dharmas of purity. You should purify the six sense faculties, and not cause people to have thoughts of desire. If you do speak about defiled dharmas, in the future you are sure to undergo a most terrible retribution.

Thus far we have discussed the eleven wholesome dharmas, followed by the six fundamental afflictions. Next, we will discuss the twenty derivative afflictions, which arise in the wake of the six fundamental afflictions.


Five, the twenty derivative afflictions are:

1. wrath;

2. hatred;

3. rage;

4. covering;

5. deceit;

6. flattery;

7. conceit;

8. harming;

9. jealousy;

10. stinginess;

11. lack of remorse;

12. lack of shame;

13. lack of faith;

14. laziness;

15. laxness;

16. torpor;

17. restlessness;

18. distraction;

19. improper knowledge; and,

20. scatteredness.


Division five is the twenty derivative afflictions, called “derivative,” because they result from the six fundamental afflictions.

The Three Grades of Derivative Afflictions

1. Major-grade derivative afflictions

2. Intermediate-grade derivative afflictions

3. Minor-grade derivative afflictions

The Three Groups of Derivative Afflictions

1. Typical intermediate-grade afflictions

2. Typical major-grade afflictions

3. Typical minor-grade afflictions

These groupings are illustrated by the saying:

People of the same type gather together.
Things are classed in similar groups.

For instance, people who study the Buddhadharma gather together in one place. People who study demonic dharmas go to places where demonic dharmas are taught. People who want to learn mundane dharmas find a place where mundane dharmas can be studied. Things, too, are divided into separate groups according to their type. Their varieties and distinctions are inexpressibly many.

The Three Factors Involving Derivative Afflictions

1. Reinforcement by types.

2. Pervasive infection by the unwholesome nature.

3. Permeation by two defilements of the mind.

a. Defilement by covering.

b. Indeterminate defilement.

1. Reinforcement by types. This is when intermediate-grade afflictions are produced together with other intermediate-grade afflictions, major-grade afflictions are produced together with other major-grade afflictions, and minor-grade afflictions are produced together with other minor-grade afflictions.

2. Pervasive infection by the unwholesome nature. Pervasive infection means that the afflictions interact and influence each other. For instance, lack of remorse also brings about lack of shame, because if one is not repentant, one will also not feel ashamed. Another example is lack of faith, which gives rise in turn to laziness, laxness, and other derivative afflictions.

3. Permeation by two defilements of the mind.

a. Defilement by covering.

Covering means keeping things hidden and not allowing anyone to know.

  • Indeterminate defilement.

Indeterminate means the defilement cannot be categorized as to its relative goodness or evil. If all three factors are present, the affliction is a major grade one. If two factors are present, the affliction is an intermediate grade one. If none of the three factors is present, then the affliction that has arisen is an isolated one and is thus classified as a minor-grade affliction.

First, we will discuss the ten minor derivative afflictions. Number one is wrath. Wrath occurs when a state arises which is in opposition to one’s wishes. When something is not going one’s way, when something is really bothering one, when one becomes very emotional about something, then wrath can arise. It comes on suddenly and is a combination of anger and hatred, an unexpected and intense emotional reaction.

Two is hatred. This affliction occurs when one is faced with situations similar to the ones described above, but one does not vent one’s wrath. Instead, one represses the emotional feelings deep inside. The hatred which results then becomes like a rope, binding one’s heart in a tight knot.

Three is rage. The Chinese character for rage also occurs in the pair of Chinese characters that means affliction. This emotional reaction is much more severe than hatred. When rage happens, one literally explodes. When things become unbearable, one gets infuriated. Rage is a very fierce emotional reaction.

Four is covering. This is hiding something inside, keeping it bottled up and not allowing it to surface. Basically, one is quite afflicted about something, feeling the kinds of wrath, hatred, and rage described above, but fears the reactions of the other person. And so one keeps the emotions to oneself and is not straightforward about expressing those feelings. One does not say, “I can’t stand you,” “I’m not happy with you,” or anything of the sort. One conceals and represses one’s feelings, storing them up inside and not revealing them to the person directly. Then, when the time comes, one assassinates the person. Openly one might not succeed in harming him, so one stabs him in the back to do him in.

Five is deceit. Deceit is a false kindness and phony intention. One appears to be kindly but in fact is not really that way. For instance, one may say, “I have some dope here which I’ll give you free. Here, take some.” The person takes the drugs and thereupon becomes addicted. Having an addiction, he is then forced to buy dope from the one who “gave” him the stuff “free” to begin with. That is an example of deceit.

Six is flattery. This means playing up to people, being obsequious. It means being a sycophant, puffing people up, giving them high hats to wear. For instance one says, “Oh, Sir, where are you going. I was thinking of going to see you. I have a friend who really thinks highly of you. He is going to want to get together with you and include you in a big business deal he has going,” and so forth.

Flattery means playing up to those who are rich when one is poor. Just because someone is wealthy, one addresses that person with all kinds of deference, using venerable titles and polite phrases. “You’re quite a fellow, a truly great man. You are a distinguished person. You’re really wonderful.” This occurs when ordinary people are before the President. They scramble for words, searching for all the nicest things to say and falling all over themselves to make an impression in expressing them.

Seven is conceit. One caught up in this affliction has a disproportionate sense of one’s own worth. Basically, one does not have much sense, but one thinks more highly of oneself then one does of others. For example, one may be uneducated and yet say things like, “What do people with education know anyway? What good does it do them? I’ve never studied, but look at me. There’s good food on my table and I’ve got plenty of money in my pocket.” That is being conceited. One feels one’s own value surpasses that of other people.

Eight is harming. With this affliction one wants to harm others. One of the eleven wholesome dharmas was non-harming. This affliction is the exact opposite of the good dharma.

Nine is jealousy. This affliction occurs when one becomes envious of those who surpass one in some way or other. For example, someone may be endowed with an excellent memory. Because of this, one becomes jealous of that person thinking, “If only that person weren’t around, then I would be number One. As long as he’s here I don’t get to be First.” That is jealousy. Or one may get jealous of someone with a higher level of education than one possesses, and end up thinking the same kind of thought: “As long as that person is around, I can’t be Number One. Without that person, I would be the most highly educated one here.” Being jealous of anyone who surpasses one in any way is included in the definition of this affliction.

Ten is stinginess. With this affliction, one is tight with one’s benefits, not wishing to share them with others. One is unable to give anything away. For instance, if a stingy person has money and it is suggested he part with some of it, he simply cannot bring himself to do so. He hangs on to that money, squeezing every penny of it so tightly that it turns to liquid and melts away in his palm. Then he wonders where it went. The pigeons were no doubt stingy in past lives in addition to being greedy. They could not give up their possessions so now they must endure the retribution of always having to “sponge” off others. They do not have anything of their own. If you suggested to a pigeon that it give anything away, it would not be able to do it. Those are the ten minor-grade derivative afflictions. Next are the two intermediate-grade derivative afflictions.

Eleven is lack of remorse. One of the eleven wholesome dharmas is remorse, and so this affliction is its opposite. One who lacks remorse always feels self-righteous. One assumes one is entitled to do whatever one wishes. One considers oneself a special person, an exceptional individual. Those who call themselves extraordinary simply have no sense of remorse. They lack a feeling of repentance.

Twelve is lack of shame. One who lacks shame never really examines whether or not one is up to the standards of others. One never feels that what one does might not be on a par with what others do, nor does one fear ridicule or reprisal. One has no concern for public opinion and feels no sense of embarrassment even when the things one does are in fact mean and lowly. Such a person lacks the feeling of shame. Last, we will look at the eight major-grade derivative afflictions.

Thirteen is lack of faith. Among the eleven wholesome dharmas was faith. This affliction is the exact opposite. One does not believe in anyone. One does not trust one’s teacher or anyone else. If the teacher lacks faith, he does not trust his disciples. If the disciples lack faith, they do not trust the teacher. A son who lacks faith will not trust even his father, and a father who lacks faith will not believe his son, much less need we mention siblings. Brothers and sisters who lack faith will not believe in each other. Their attitude will be, “How can you expect me to trust you? You should believe in me.”

When one gets to the point of thinking that others should believe in one, always convinced that one is quite great, then no matter what others tell one, one will doubt its validity. If one speaks the Dharma for a person who lacks faith, the reaction will be, “That’s just a bunch of phony words; it’s all false. You call that Dharma? What kind of Dharma, anyway? You’re just trying to trick us.” That is the attitude of one who lacks faith. But actually that is not so far off, for when I speak the Dharma, there is not a single bit of truth in it. You should not listen to it. In fact, you should run away really fast. An example is the person outside the door who stated clearly, “I’m an outsider,” and upon being asked to come in, ran away. That is lack of faith.

Fourteen is laziness. This affliction is the exact opposite of vigor. It is being actively non-vigorous. It is another name for indolence.

Fifteen is laxness. Another of the eleven wholesome dharmas was non-laxness. This affliction is its opposite. It means one does not follow the rules but does whatever one pleases. It is akin to the “freedom” or “independence” that Americans advocate. When that concept is carried too far it results in laxness. Laxness means not obeying one’s parents, but proceeding to do exactly what one wants. This particular affliction is a major reason why it is such a headache teaching Americans. You laugh, but it is true.

Sixteen is torpor. This is the affliction of wanting to nod off during the sutra lectures. In fact, it does not matter what one is doing, with this affliction, one wants to fall asleep in the process. Reading a sutra, one wants to fall asleep. Bowing to the Buddhas, one wants to nod off. While translating sutras, one has the urge to sleep. Listening to the sutra lectures, one is even less willing to stay awake. Torpor is another name for sleepiness.

However, torpor is different from foolishness. Foolishness is a general darkness and lack of clarity, an inability to understand what is going on. Torpor is a dream-like, foggy state of mind in which one is oblivious to what is going on around one. One is sitting there, and suddenly everything goes blank. One cannot remember anything that has been happening. Listening to sutras, one suddenly can not remember anything that was just said. It is like being in a dream and yet is not actually dreaming. It is what is described in the verse:

If one who is deluded transmits it to another,
After all is said and done, neither one understands.
The teacher falls into the hells,
And the disciple burrows in after him.

Seventeen is restlessness. With this affliction, one is agitated and cannot keep still, like the demon-king who came here the other day. One is unable to manage the cultivation of calm, pure states. One runs around aimlessly and chaotically. Sitting, one gets restless

and decides to stand. Standing, one gets agitated and decides to sit. Walking, one starts out going north and ends up headed south or starts out east and ends up going west. One is all over the place, unable to settle down. That is what happens to the body.

One’s mouth is just as chaotic. Saying whatever one pleases, one “runs off at the mouth” like that demon-king that day, full of chaotic and confusing talk.

Restlessness also affects the mind. One does a tremendous amount of uncontrolled thinking. One thought replaces the next in an aimless wandering that goes off on tangents and cannot stick to the point. One starts out thinking about one thing, and ends up thinking about something entirely different. One’s thinking enters “Never-never Land” and starts to fantasize wildly. “I ascended to the heavens where a god told me that in three days I’d get reborn in the heavens. Now did that really happen?” One thinks about things one has no business thinking about. “I went to a certain place in meditation and ended up suspended in empty space. Did that really happen? Or will it happen?” The mind becomes tangled in chaos as one contrives all kinds of non-existent experiences. See how pathetic this Restlessness is?

Eighteen is distraction. With this affliction one loses proper mindfulness, and is only mindful of the deviant. It is another way to enter “Fantasy Land.” But in this case one ends up thinking about things that are not wholesome. Whatever goes against the rules, this person thinks about. But what accords with the rules, he does not think about. His thinking does not accord with the rules when he indulges in this affliction.

Nineteen is improper knowledge. With this affliction, one becomes obsessed with defilement. It is all one knows. There is nothing proper at all in one’s knowledge. And twenty is scatteredness. Scatteredness entails totally wild confusion. The mind becomes mixed-up and divided against itself. This affliction is different from restlessness.

If we were to go into the subtle details of each one, a lot could be said. This will suffice to introduce these twenty derivative afflictions to you. Now that you know about them, I hope that you will give rise to more afflictions, to the point that you will eat your fill of afflictions, and not have to eat food. Then, if there were a famine, you would not die of hunger, because you would have lots of afflictions to eat.


Six, the four unfixed are:

1. sleep;

2. regret;

3. investigation; and,

4. examination.


The Fifty-one Dharmas Belonging to the Mind are grouped into six divisions, of which we have already discussed five. Now we come to division six, the four unfixed. They are known as unfixed because they are basically indeterminate. Since there is nothing fixed about them, they are called unfixed. If there were anything definite about them, they would not be said to be “unfixed.” They are indeterminate in that they are not necessarily wholesome dharmas, and not necessarily defiled dharmas. A decidedly wholesome dharma would be, for example, bringing forth the Bodhi resolve. A decidedly defiled dharma would be bringing forth thoughts of lust. Another way these dharmas are unfixed is that they do not necessarily pervade all minds and do not necessarily pervade all grounds. How many unfixed dharmas are there? There are four kinds.

The first one is sleep in the text we are using, although most texts have what is here two, regret, listed first. Sleep is a kind of dark obscurity, a blackness and lack of clarity. But the lack of clarity does not mean inability to understand. Rather, it refers to a darkness that pervades all you do. Sleep can result in two problems. Externally, it deprives you of affinities with other people, and internally it blocks contemplation.

Hence sleep can lead to social isolation, and can cause you to lack wisdom. This dark lack of clarity is an unfixed dharma.

The second one, regret, is sometimes called self reproach. What does one regret? When these dharmas are being explained, you should pay close attention. Be very attentive and do not let the explanation of them pass by your ears like a breeze, so that although I explain so many dharmas for you, afterwards you still do not understand. When it is time to lose your temper, you still lose your temper. When it comes time to get angry, you go ahead and get angry just the same, and are not the least bit able to apply what you have learned. As soon as you hear it, it evaporates. If that is the case, then there has been no use at all in listening to this explanation. If you listen to the Sutras with that attitude, then even a hundred great eons of doing so would not be of any great use.

It should be that, having heard a lecture you think, “The Shastra is telling me I shouldn’t have afflictions, so from now on I’m not going to have even one of the twenty derivative afflictions, and will basically not let the six fundamental afflictions arise.” That is the way someone who has brought forth the resolve for Bodhi applies them. It should not be that as the afflictions are being explained, and the more names for them you learn, the more of them you give rise to.

That is what I was talking about when I advised you before that you could now “eat” more afflictions. Previously you did not know, but now when you get angry you can wonder whether you should be using wrath or hatred. Before, you did not understand there were so many afflictions to choose from, and now that you know, it has greatly expanded your repertoire. You think, “Let’s see, now is a good time to use rage; or maybe covering is in order. That way I can destroy you behind your back.” If that is what you are learning, then you are making a big mistake. You have listened to the Shastra in vain.

Regret is also sometimes listed as self-reproach, because it arises with regard to deeds not done right. “Why did I do that, anyway?” Having done something wrong, one regrets it. Or one regrets not having done some bad things to someone, thinking things like, “Why didn’t I do such-and-such a thing to that particular person? That would have put him in his place for sure. It would have totally done him in. Why didn’t I think of it then!” Or, “Why didn’t I hack off his arm with my knife when I had the chance? That way he couldn’t have hit me.” It is that kind of regret that is meant here. Regret arises when one is not satisfied with one’s actions or inactions, or when one feels one has done something the wrong way. That is the first, regret or self-reproach.

Three is investigation, and four is examination. Investigation is a coarser dharma than examination. When you are just about to act in a way that could be good or bad, you do a kind of reckoning with yourself. You hold a meeting with yourself in your mind, and take stock of what you are about to do. You think to yourself, “If I handle this matter in such-and-such a way, will it turn out well?” Then you answer yourself, “No! Don’t do that! How could you?” In this way you have a meeting with yourself. If this meeting in your mind is on a coarse level, then it is called investigation. This is when you obviously are going back and forth with yourself.

But if your thinking is very subtle, then it is called examination. These two unfixed Dharmas Belonging to the Mind have discursive thought as their basis and result in a kind of discrimination. Investigation and examination are like that. We have now completed discussion of the sixth division; namely, the four unfixed Dharmas Belonging to the Mind.

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