THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
The Seven Destinies
C2 Aiding the path: specific explanation of the important dharma of protecting the samadhi.
Dl Discusses the seven destinies and urges separation from them in order to caution those of the future.
El Ananda requests.
Fl Expresses gratitude for prior teaching and traces benefit gained.
He arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, placed his palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, "The great, awesome and virtuous World Honored One, whose compassionate sound knows no limit, has well instructed living beings as to their extremely subtle submersion in delusion and has caused me on this day to become blissful in body and mind and to obtain enormous benefit."
Then, Ananda arose from his seat. Because he had cut through some of his subtle afflictions upon hearing what the Buddha had to say, he got up at this point, bowed at the Buddha's feet, placed his palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, "The great, awesome and virtuous World Honored One, whose compassionate sound knows no limit, has well instructed living beings." "Great awesomeness" subdues living beings. Many living beings are stubborn and obstinate. They don't believe anything you tell them. They don't believe in cause and effect, they don't believe in the cycle of rebirth, they don't believe in retributions. So the Buddha, devising good and clever expedients, uses awesome virtue. With his awesomeness, which can be overwhelming, he subdues living beings. Virtue, on the other hand, gathers in living beings. So this phrase represents the two aspects of subduing and gathering in. He gathers in living beings who have faith and are receptive. His virtue is like a magnet that attracts iron filings, which represent the living beings he gathers in. The Buddha's compassionate voice has no limits. It is unhindered, reaching everywhere to rescue all. He has well instructed living beings as to their extremely subtle submersion in delusion. Originally living beings didn't even realize they were hindered by subtle delusions, so the Buddha pointed it out to them. And he has caused me, Ananda, on this day to become blissful in body and mind. I am experiencing physical and mental joy. I am unspeakably happy. And he has caused me to obtain enormous benefit. I've never known such tremendous benefit.
F2 He asks about the destinies.
World Honored One, if the wonderful brightness of this truly pure and wonderful mind is basically all-pervading, then everything on the great earth, including the grasses and trees, the wriggling worms and tiny forms of life are originally true suchness and are themselves the Thus Come One, the Buddha's true body.
World Honored One, if the wonderful brightness, of this truly pure and wonderful mind is basically all-pervading, if, in fact, it pervades the dharma-realm, then it is perfect without any excess or deficiency. Then everything on the great earth, including the grasses and trees, the wriggling worms and tiny forms of life are part of that. "Grasses and trees" are considered insentient beings. "Wriggling worms and tiny forms of life" are the smallest of the sentient realm. They don't have much awareness. They can move, but not far, and their perception is quite limited. Nonetheless, they are originally true suchness and are themselves the Thus Come One, the Buddha's true body. They are all replete with the true substance of a Buddha, the capacity to become a Buddha.
Since the Buddha's body is true and real, how can there also be hells, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras, humans, gods, and other paths of rebirth? World Honored One, do these paths exist naturally of themselves, or are they created by living beings' falseness and habits?
Since the Buddha's body is true and real, how can there also be hells, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras, humans, gods, and other paths of rebirth? How do you explain the existence of these paths? World Honored One, do these paths exist naturally of themselves, or are they created by living beings' falseness and habits? Have the six paths of rebirth always been in existence or do living beings create them? I don't understand the principle here.
F3 Specifically asks about the hells.
World Honored One, the bhikshuni Precious Lotus Fragrance, for example, received the Bodhisattva precepts and then indulged in lustful desire, saying that sexual acts did not involve killing or stealing and that they carried no karmic retribution. But after saying this, her female organs caught fire, and then the raging blaze spread throughout all her joints as she fell into the Relentless Hell alive.
"Why do I say I don't understand the principle behind the six paths?" Ananda continues. World Honored One, the bhikshuni Precious Lotus Fragrance, for example, received the Bodhisattva precepts and then indulged in lustful desire, saying that sexual acts did not involve killing or stealing. This bhikshuni received the Bodhisattva precepts, but she did not uphold them. She had sex on the sly. Having done this, what do you suppose she said? She had a pretty speech ready. She lied. She said that sex didn't involve killing or stealing. "It's not murder. It's not theft. You're not stealing anyone's things. It's just an enjoyment between men and women, a bliss that they share. What crime is there in that? Although the Buddha told us to refrain from it, I don't think that restraint is necessary in this case. It doesn't matter. It's no big sin. What could be wrong with men and women experiencing such a blissful encounter?"
That was her general line of reasoning. She was really emphatic about it, too. She said of such sexual experiences that they carried no karmic retribution. "As to sex," she said, "have it as much as you want. The more the better. It doesn't matter." Thus it was that she actually advocated sexual desire. She was a bhikshuni and yet she was promoting sex. But after saying this, her female organs caught fire, and then the raging blaze spread throughout all her joints. It doesn't matter, huh? In her female organs a fire sprang up. Terrible, wouldn't you say? I believe by then she was being burned so fiercely that she screamed and cried. She was no longer rationalizing that her conduct incurred no offense. Once her female organs were ablaze, the fire spread to all her limbs and joints. That's because during the sexual act men and women feel a sense of pleasure and contentment throughout their entire body. They take this as pleasure, not realizing that such abandonment is just the next thing to death. What's really happening is that they are going to die a little sooner, just die a little sooner. Plunging into such situations, they totally abandon themselves, to the point that they just want to die, both men and women. To die a little sooner is just fine, they feel. But actually they are drilling their way into the hells; they are burrowing into the hells. The bhikshuni's joints caught fire because sexual desire belongs to the element fire. At its peak there is a kind of fire involved. So we speak of the "fire of desire." The blaze was raging so that fire extinguishers and even the entire three-alarm crew would have been useless. Why is that? It's because the fire came from her own heavy sexual desire. No amount of water could quench it.
What happened to her then? There wasn't any other road to take at that point. She fell into the Relentless Hell alive. In the Relentless Hell, there are no lapses in time at all. There are no breaks. Also, its space is uninterrupted, in that one person fills it, and many people fill it. It's not roomy there, whether you're alone or in a crowd. Further, one knows not how many great aeons pass by while one continuously experiences bitter suffering there. There are no interruptions in time or in space. The extreme suffering is unintermittent. Birth and death are uninterrupted.
When this bhikshuni got to that hell, what do you suppose she found? There were iron-beaked birds and iron-mouthed worms that burrowed in and out of her limbs and joints. The place that received special attention was, of course, her female organs. These creatures would drill their way in and then drill their way back out. Each time they did this, their attack would kill her. But then a clever wind would blow, that wind is a special feature of the hells, and revive her. So in a single day and night she would experience tens of thousands of births and deaths. She would die and be revived, die and be revived, again and again, uncountably many times. In addition, the hells are specially equipped for people who are fond of sexual desire. One of the implements is a copper pillar. It is red-hot because a fire blazes within it. However, when one who is fond of sexual desire looks at that hot pillar, one does not see it as such. When a man looks at the pillar, he sees a woman. When a woman looks at the pillar, it is a man. In fact, they see that pillar as their former boyfriend or girlfriend. So they race towards it and, unaware it is a copper pillar, they madly embrace it. The red-hot copper pillar then fries them to a crisp. As if that weren't enough, out of the corner of their eye they see a bed. Actually, it's an iron bed which is also red hot. But what the person sees is a former boyfriend or girlfriend on the bed. They run to the bed and get burned again. Why? Because their sexual karma is so heavy that every way they turn they must undergo this retribution.
This is the kind of retribution the bhikshuni Precious Lotus Fragrance had to undergo. She experienced the hells while still alive. Could she have continued to state that the sexual act did not involve killing or stealing and that it incurred no retribution? Once she began experiencing the retribution, it was too late. She wasn't sorry soon enough. This happened at the time when the Buddha was in the world. There was a bhikshuni who was this lax. It's not just nowadays that bhikshunis are sometimes lax; it happened even during the Buddha's time.
And there were the Mighty King Crystal and the bhikshu Good Stars. Crystal exterminated the Gautama clan and Good Stars lied and said he'd realized that all dharmas are empty. They both sank into the Relentless Hell alive.
And there were the Mighty King Crystal and the bhikshu Good Stars. Crystal exterminated the Gautama clan. King Crystal and the Buddha were supposedly relatives, though in fact they were not. King Crystal's father, also a king, wanted to marry into the Gautama clan. Since the Gautama clan was a more honorable one than the King's, the Gautama people did not like the idea. No one wanted to give a daughter to the King in marriage, but they didn't dare refuse outright, because the King was powerful. A refusal might have resulted in big trouble. Finally they decided among themselves to send one of their servant girls, a particularly beautiful one, and pretend she was of the Gautama clan. King Crystal was an offspring of that marriage.
Once, while that king was still a child, someone built a temple for the Buddha, complete with an elaborate dharma seat. When the seat was finished, but before the Buddha himself had ascended the platform to sit on it and speak dharma, the child who was to be King Crystal climbed up and sat on it. The Buddha's disciples and the donors who saw him all scolded him, saying, "You're the son of a slave, how dare you sit in the Buddha's seat?" Hearing them call him that, he was outraged, and he said to his attendant, "Wait until I'm the King and then remind me of what was said here today, lest I forget it. People from the Gautama clan say I'm the son of a slave. Remind me of that. I intend to get even."
Later, when he was King, his attendant did remind him, and the King issued an edict that the entire Gautama clan was to be exterminated, including the Buddha himself. When Mahamaudgalyayana got wind of this, he went to the Buddha to report. "We have to think of a way to save them," he said. But the Buddha didn't say anything. So Maudgalyayana loosed his spiritual powers, put five hundred members of the Gautama clan into his precious bowl, and sent them to the heavens. He thought they'd be safe there. When the King had completed the extermination, Maudgalyayana told Shakyamuni Buddha, "I've got five hundred Gautamans in my bowl stashed away in the heavens, so the clan isn't totally gone after all. I'll bring them down now and let them go." But when he'd recalled them and took a look in his bowl, he found nothing there but blood. "Why was I unable to save them?" asked the puzzled Maudgalyayana. He wanted the Buddha to explain the causes and conditions.
"Ah, you don't know," said the Buddha. "On the causal ground, a long time ago, at a place where the weather was hot, there was a pool with schools of fish in it. The two leaders of the schools were named 'Bran' and 'Many Tongues.' The water in the pool evaporated in the intense heat, and since the people in the area didn't have anything else to eat, they ate the fish. In the end there was just a mud-hole, but even then they noticed a movement in the mud. Digging in, they found the two big fish-kings, Bran and Many Tongues.
"At that time, I, Shakyamuni Buddha, was a child among these people, who were later to become the Gautama clan. Seeing that the two fish were about to be devoured alive, I beat them over the head three times with a club to knock them out first. That's why in his life as a Buddha, he had to endure a three-day headache as retribution."
Further, the fish, Bran, was the present King Crystal, and the fish, Many Tongues, was his attendant who reminded him of the words spoken by the Gautama clan to the King as a child. So it was fated that he would exterminate the Gautama clan. Even though Shakyamuni had become a Buddha, he could not rescue his people from the fixed karma they were destined to repay.
The bhikshu Good Stars was forever voicing his deviant knowledge and deviant views. When he spoke dharma, he did not speak in accord with what the Buddha taught. He made up his own. For instance, the Buddha instructed us to refrain from killing, but this bhikshu's instruction was, "It's not necessary. Why should we refrain from killing? Birth and death goes on and on for living beings, and some of them are especially intended for people to eat. If you don't eat them, what use will they be left alive? They don't have any sense." In this way he countered the Buddha's admonishment not to take life.
This bhikshu had originally left home under the Buddha, but later he disagreed with the dharma the Buddha spoke. Whatever the Buddha said he found questionable, and he was able to influence a lot of the less intelligent bhikshus to go along with him. They began believing him. "Right!" they said. "What he says makes sense. What's the crime in killing?" It was much the same situation as with the bhikshuni Precious Lotus Fragrance. "We just take what we need; it's not that we steal. If we have something, then we don't need to take it. But if you don't take what you need, how can you get by in this life?" That's what he said about stealing. He thought of ways to counter the five most basic precepts established by the Buddha. Good Stars lied and said he'd realized that all dharmas are empty. His best line was,
"Everything is empty. Killing is empty, and stealing is empty, since there isn't anything at all to begin with: There's no substance to karma. You talk about creating karma? Then bring out your 'karma' and show it to me. It doesn't exist!"
They both sank into the Relentless Hell alive. They didn't even wait until they died to fall into the hells. King Crystal, bhikshu Good Stars, and bhikshuni Precious Lotus Fragrance experienced hell in their physical bodies while still alive. So Ananda asks the Buddha about these causes and conditions.
Are these hells fixed places, or do they arise spontaneously? Is it that each individual undergoes whatever kind of karma he or she creates? I only hope the Buddha will be compassionate and instruct those of us who do not understand this. May he cause all beings who uphold the precepts to positively and respectfully receive this determination upon hearing it and be careful and clear, free from any violations.
Are these hells fixed places, or do they arise spontaneously? Since bhikshuni Precious Lotus Fragrance, bhikshu Good Stars, and King Crystal all fell into the hells alive, Ananda brings them up as examples and then asks if the hells are in a fixed and certain place. Is it that each individual undergoes whatever kind of karma he or she creates? Each of these three people had to undergo retribution in accord with the kind of karma they created.
What is the principle involved here? Are the hells prepared in advance for them, or do they make their own? Where do hells come from? How do they relate to the creation of karma and the undergoing of retribution? Are the hells public facilities like prisons, or are they private cells? "I only hope the Buddha will be compassionate and instruct those of us who do not understand this. I'm totally uninformed on this matter," says Ananda. "I'm as innocent as a child when it comes to this. May he cause all beings who uphold the precepts to positively and respectfully receive this determination upon hearing it. I hope they will all listen and obey the decisive instructions offered by the Buddha. I hope they will be careful and clear, free from any violations. May they cultivate with the utmost purity and be very cautious and clean, so that in no way do they transgress the pure precepts. Please, Buddha, explain this for us."
E2 The Thus Come One answers in detail.
Fl Praises him and promises to speak.
The Buddha said to Ananda, "What a good question! You want to keep all living beings from entering into deviant views. You should listen attentively now and I will explain this matter for you."
When the Buddha heard Ananda ask how to help living beings of the future guard the precepts carefully, he was extremely happy. The Buddha said to Ananda, "What a good question! This is a most appropriate question. It's exactly the doctrine you should be asking about. You want to keep all living beings from entering into deviant views. This can keep them from falling into deviant knowledge and views and help them to obtain proper knowledge and views instead. You should listen attentively now and I will explain this matter for you."
F2 Clarifies the destinies.
G1 A general explanation of the basic principle of rising and falling according to emotion and reason.
H1 He enumerates the accumulated habits that divide emotion and thought.
Actually, Ananda, all living beings are fundamentally true and pure, but because of their false views they give rise to the falseness of habits, which are divided into an internal aspect and an external aspect.
Actually, Ananda, all living beings are fundamentally true and pure, but based on the truth they give rise to falseness: they produce ignorance. From ignorance they give rise to false views. Because of their false views they give rise to the falseness of habits. These false habits pertain to their internal physical being and to their external environment. They are divided into an internal aspect and an external aspect. There are false habits that occur outside the physical body and false habits that occur within it also.
H2 He specifically describes the rising or sinking at death.
I1 The internal aspect belongs to emotion and so causes one to fall.
Ananda, the internal aspect refers to what occurs inside living beings. Because of love and defilement, they produce the falseness of emotions. When these emotions accumulate without
cease, they can create the fluids of love.
Ananda, the internal aspect refers to what occurs inside living beings. This means within the physical body. What is within the physical body? Because of love and defilement, they produce the falseness of emotions. There is love and desire and defiled dharmas. From the love and defilement, false emotions come up. These emotions accumulate without cease. The emotions pile up day by day, month after month. They become abundant and do not stop. The emotions of love are ever-present. They can create the fluids of love.
That is why living beings' mouths water when they think about delicious food. When they think about a deceased person, either with fondness or with anger, tears will flow from their eyes. When they are greedy for wealth and jewels, a current of lust will course through their hearts. When confronted with a smooth and supple body, their minds become attached to lustful conduct and from both male and female organs will come spontaneous secretions.
That is why living beings' mouths water when they think about delicious food. Why is it said that once living beings have love and defilement they develop emotions which eventually, if not stopped, will produce fluids of love? Some examples will substantiate this. Just thinking about eating some delicacy makes people salivate. It happens because of their gluttonous thought. When they think about a deceased person, a friend or close relative, someone with whom they had the most affinities, either with fondness or with anger, tears will flow from their eyes. The person who has died was so close to them that they give rise to anger, resentment or even rage, and think, "He was so fine. Why did he have to die so soon? Things were so good between us. Why him?" Excessively fond regard or tremendous resentment both cause a person to cry. When they are greedy for wealth and jewels, a current of lust will course through their hearts. They dream about getting rich, and in their hearts a flow of lust is stirred.When confronted with a smooth and supple body, their minds become attached to lustful conduct and from both male and female organs will come spontaneous secretions. When they see a particularly attractive person they have thoughts of sexual desire. With that, their essence flows of itself. Strange, isn't it?
Ananda, although the kinds of love differ, their flow and oppression is the same. With this moisture, one cannot ascend, but will naturally fall. This is called the 'internal aspect.'
Ananda, although the kinds of love differ, although there are various kinds of love, their flow and oppression is the same. Their currents and enticements are the same. With this moisture, one cannot ascend, but will naturally fall. Emotion sends one down. This is called the "internal aspect."
I2 The external aspect belongs to thought and so one is able to ascend.
Ananda, the external aspect refers to what happens outside living beings. Because of longing and yearning, they invent the fallacy of discursive thought. When this reasoning accumulates without cease, it can create ascending vapors.
Ananda, the external aspect refers to what happens outside living beings. Because of longing and yearning, they invent the fallacy of discursive thought. The "longing and yearning" also refer to love. The "discursive thought" is in fact false thought, which accumulates. When this reasoning accumulates without cease, it can create ascending vapors. You think of it from all angles. You think about it today and you continue thinking about it tomorrow. You thought about it during your last life; you're thinking about it in this life. You thought about it in former kalpas and you think about it now in this kalpa. No one knows how long you've been thinking. And you never rest. However, from this continual thinking, a special response can occur, which is an "uplifting (ascending) motion of spirit."
That is why when living beings uphold the prohibitive precepts in their minds, their bodies will be buoyant and feel light and clear. When they uphold mantra seals in their minds, they will command a heroic and resolute perspective. When they have the desire in their minds to be born in the heavens, in their dreams they will have thoughts of flying and ascending. When they cherish the Buddhalands in their minds, then the sagely realms will appear in a shimmering vision, and they will serve the good and wise advisors with little thought for their own lives.
That is why when living beings uphold the prohibitive precepts in their minds, their bodies will be buoyant and feel light and clear. This can happen to any living being. "Prohibitive" refers to things which one cannot do. These precepts keep people from doing bad things, from creating evil. Don't do the things you should not do, and then you are upholding the precepts in your mind. If your mind holds the precepts, then your body will experience a sensation of lightness. You feel almost like you're floating when you walk. And your mind will be extremely pure and clean. When they uphold mantra seals in their minds, they will command a heroic and resolute perspective. If you specialize in holding the mantras in your mind, there are many mantras and this refers to any one of them, you will have a response. The "seal" refers to the mind-to-mind seal as it pertains to mantras. When you recite the mantra, a certain response occurs. If you are a specialist in mantras, you will have a heroic air about you when you gaze around. Your glance will be powerful and determined. You will know no fear. When they have the desire in their minds to be born in the heavens, in their dreams they will have thoughts of flying and ascending. In your dreams you'll be able to fly and to soar into empty space. That's all because you want to go to the heavens.
When they cherish the Buddhalands in their minds, then the sagely realms will appear in a shimmering vision, and they will serve the good and wise advisors with little thought for their own lives. If you'd like to get born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, or some other Buddhaland, then the Western Pure Land will secretly appear with its pools of seven jewels and waters of the eight meritorious virtues, with its white cranes, egrets, parrots, and kalavinka birds, and with a myriad other states. It won't be something others can see, but you will see it. Others will be unaware of it, but you will know. You will be able to see the Eastern Crystal World of Medicine Master Buddha as well. You will get to serve these good and wise advisors. You can draw near to them, respect them, and make offerings to them. And you will have total disregard for your former lifestyle. Your very life itself will seem unimportant when faced with this opportunity to serve and draw near those good and wise advisors. Nothing you might do will seem as important to you as serving these sages.
Ananda, although the thought varies, the lightness and uplifting is the same. With flight and ascension, one will not sink, but will naturally become transcendent. This is called the 'external aspect.'
Ananda, although the thought varies, the lightness and uplifting is the same. Although the things one thinks about are different, the comfort and light ease that one attains, the feeling of floating, is the same. With flight and ascension, one will not sink, but will naturally become transcendent. With this upward movement one will not fall downward. "Transcendent" means rising above everything, surpassing all. This is called the "external aspect."
H3 He specifically describes the rising or sinking at death.
I1 The appearances that manifest at the time of death.
Ananda, all beings in the world are caught up in the continuity of birth and death. Birth happens because of their habitual tendencies; death comes through flow and change. When they are on the verge of dying, but when the final warmth has not left their bodies, all the good and evil they have done in that life suddenly and simultaneously manifests. They experience the intermingling of two habits: an abhorrence of death and an attraction to life.
The Buddha calls again: Ananda, do you know that all beings in the world are caught up in the continuity of birth and death? They get born and die, die and get reborn, again and again in a never-ending cycle. They spin on the wheel of the six paths of rebirth. Birth happens because of their habitual tendencies.
Birth is something living beings want. They tend toward it. Death comes through flow and change. When they die, they follow their karmic retribution to turn again in rebirth. According to the kind of karma they have created, they will revolve on the wheel. When they are on the verge of dying, but when the final warmth has not left their bodies, all the good and evil they have done in that life suddenly and simultaneously manifests. "The final warmth has not left their bodies" means that the six consciousnesses and the seventh consciousness have passed out of the body, but the eighth consciousness still remains. Its passage will be marked by warmth, that is, the place on the body where the eighth consciousness leaves will be warm to the touch. For instance, if the eighth consciousness leaves through the soles of the feet, that spot will be warm. If it leaves from the legs, the legs will be warm. If it departs from the waist, the waist will be warm. If it goes out the top of the head, the top of the head will be warm. That's the "final warmth" that's mentioned here in the text. Before the eighth consciousness goes, it is referred to as the "present skandha body." Once it leaves the body it is the body between the skandhas, or "intermediate skandha body." So the text here refers to the present skandha body, before it has left the physical body. If one cultivates well, the skandha body is a Buddha. If one does not cultivate, it is a ghost. So when people ask, "Are there really ghosts?" they must first ask themselves if there are Buddhas. If they know there are Buddhas, then of course there are ghosts as well. If you are not sure that there are Buddhas or ghosts, ask yourself if there are people. If you acknowledge the fact that there are people, then you will know that there are also Buddhas and ghosts, because they are all different aspects of the same thing.
After one dies then, the eighth consciousness is called the intermediate skandha body. Before one dies it is called the present skandha body. It is also known as the "soul" and as the "Buddha nature." When a person is on the verge of death, the good and evil he or she has done is revealed and a reckoning is at hand. Depending on what one did, one will have to undergo retribution or reward. If one did good, one can get rebirth in the heavens; if one did evil, one falls into the hells. If you did more in the way of good deeds and meritorious acts, then you can leave from your head. If you did more in the way of committing crimes and creating offenses, then you'll leave from your feet. Obviously then, to leave from the upper part of one's body means one will gain a higher rebirth, whereas to leave from the lower part means one is going to fall. One's kind of rebirth is evident at death. They experience the intermingling of two habits: an abhorrence of death and an attraction to life. They are repelled and attracted when confronted with death and birth.
I2 The scale of ascending and falling.
J1 Ascent with no fall.
Endowed solely with thought, they will fly and can certainly be reborn in the heavens above. If they fly from the heart, and if they have blessings and wisdom, as well as pure vows, then their hearts will spontaneously open and they will see the Buddhas of the ten directions and all their pure lands and they will be reborn in whichever one they wish.
Endowed solely with thought, means that the person has no emotion, no yin, but has only reason, which belongs to yang. "Solely" means it is present to the exclusion of any other mental process. There is only thought, nothing else. It is a kind of true sincerity.
People's thoughts are such that they govern what happens. For instance, eating, drinking, and smoking all come about based on thought. First one thinks about it and then one does it. Conversely, if one decides not to do something, that thing won't be done. "If I want to eat something good, I go buy some good things to eat. If I want something nice to wear, I go buy it." The same is true for drinking. If one is thirsty, one goes out and gets some brandy, whiskey, rum, or beer. Just mentioning it is enough to make some people's mouths water. People who like to smoke are always mulling over the best brands of cigarettes. They've always got their mind on these things. Then they meet a good and wise advisor who tells them to stop smoking, stop eating meat, and stop drinking. Obediently they stop, but since heir minds habitually run to these things, they start having dreams about smoking cigarettes, drinking liquor, and eating meat. They don't actually do these things in their waking hours, but because the thought remains, they dream of indulging in them at night. When they awaken they regret their conduct in the dream. "I've already stopped doing that. Why would I resort to it in a dream?" they admonish themselves. As I've told you before, it's difficult to remain in control of yourself when you're sick and even more difficult to do so in a dream.
Endowed solely with thought, they will fly and can certainly be reborn in the heavens above. If they fly from the heart, and if they have blessings and wisdom, as well as pure vows, then their hearts will spontaneously open. However, if one's thought is of the heart and one does not wish to be reborn in the heavens, but instead keeps blessings and wisdom in mind at all times, then, even better than to be born in the heavens, one may have made pure vows to be reborn in a Buddhaland. The Buddha is known as the Doubly Complete One; that is, he is complete in both blessings and wisdom. Aware of this, one wants to cultivate blessings and wisdom oneself.
But to cultivate blessings and not wisdom
is to be like an elephant wearing a necklace.
And to cultivate wisdom and not blessings
is to be an arhat with an empty begging bowl.
The necklace is handsome and valuable, but it's all the elephant has; it doesn't have any thought-power, any wisdom. If you seek wisdom in your cultivation by studying the sutras and sitting in meditation, but fail to plant any blessings and are unable to practice giving, then you'll end up smart but hungry. To plant blessings means one should do meritorious and virtuous deeds, especially on the Buddhist holidays, the birthdays and anniversaries of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, or on your own birthday, or on the first and the fifteenth of the lunar month. If you practice giving and create merit before the Triple Jewel, then you will amass blessings. If you do not do meritorious and virtuous deeds, then you won't have any blessings. If you concentrate on wisdom and don't develop blessings, then no one will make offerings to you when you become an arhat. That's because on the cause ground you did not make offerings in your turn. So if you want people to make offerings to you when the time comes, you should make offerings to them now. It's as simple as the principle of
Planting melons, you get melons.
Planting beans, you get beans.
"Pure vows" means that before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas you say:
I vow to be born in the Western Pure Land
With the nine grades of lotuses as my parents.
When the flower opens I will see the Buddha
and awaken to non-production.
Non-retreating Bodhisattvas will be my companions. Or you may wish to be reborn in the Eastern Land. Any such vow is a pure one. "Their hearts will spontaneously open" means they will awaken and they will see the Buddhas of the ten directions and all their pure lands and they will be reborn in whichever one they wish. If a person has blessings, wisdom, and vows, then at the end of his or her life he or she will see the Buddhas of the ten directions and be able to be reborn in whichever pure land he or she wants.
The Seven Destinies 109
When they have more thought than emotion, they are not quite as ethereal and so they become flying immortals, great mighty ghost kings, space traveling-yakshas, or earth-traveling rakshasas who roam the form heavens, going where they please without obstruction.
When they have more thought than emotion, they are not quite as ethereal. "Emotion" can be defined as sentience. It is said that,
Those with sentience and those lacking sentience
Have the sane potential for knowledge of all modes.
"Sentience," in turn, is defined as having thought and feeling.
Insentient objects include grasses, trees, and so forth. It is said,
People are not grass and trees,
Who among them doesn't have emotion?
That's just a way of rationalizing. "Everybody's got emotion." True, everyone does. And when is it evident? In youth. That's why the character "emotion" ( qing) is made up of the word for mind ( xin) and the character for youth ( qing). When we get right down to it, we're talking here about emotional love. Basically, the word for emotion is not limited to that meaning, but that's the use of it here.
Young men and women talk all the time about love and emotion. Why? Because they don't really know about it. They never finish talking about love and emotion. Day in and day out, month after month, year after year that's the entire topic of conversation.
Young people become totally engrossed in emotion. It confuses them. It's said,
Weighed down by karma and confused by emotion
One is a common person.
Confusion is a kind of attachment, the inability to let go. Where does emotion come from? From your mind. Where does he mind come from? From your nature. That's why it's said,
The nature flows out and becomes emotion.
The emotion flows out into desire.
The "out" means "down." As when,
The superior person's aims are lofty.
The petty person's aims are base.
When a person goes down, down, down and reaches the level of desire, then the fire of desire consumes the body. One totally loses control. It happens to both men and women. They lose self-control. "Thought" is persistent thought. This character also contains the character for "mind." It, too, comes from the mind. At first the mind has not moved, but with thought, something appears in the mind. So the character for thought (xiang) is the character for "appearance" (xiang) over the character for "mind" (xin).
Whatever you think about appears. This character is quite descriptive. For instance, you think about drinking, and an image of wine appears in your mind. If you're thinking about eating meat, a piece of meat appears in your mind. It's the same for anything you think about from the affairs of state to your own private matters. The sutras talk about there being no appearance of self, no appearance of others, no appearance of people, and no appearance of a lifespan. But with thought, there are appearances. Is thought right then or wrong? Basically, it, too, is not right. But since people are attached to appearances, they end up with thought.
When the thought is more than the emotion, "they are not quite as ethereal." This can be explained in two ways. It can mean that they don't get far. Their flight is limited. But to hold strictly to that interpretation doesn't exactly fit the context here. A better way to explain it is that their flight is not very much less extensive than the kind of flight described in the previous section. "Not quite as ethereal" then, would mean that they can go quite far. How far? They become flying immortals. They are such that,
In the morning they can roam a hundred thousand miles,
And in the evening go to nine thousand altars.
Or they become great mighty ghost kings, or space traveling yakshas, or earth-traveling rakshasas. These kinds of beings have already been described. They can roam the form heavens, going where they please without obstruction. Nothing hinders their travel. Nothing stops them.
Among them may be some with good vows and good hearts who protect and uphold my dharma. Perhaps they protect the pure precepts by following and supporting those who hold precepts. Perhaps they protect spiritual mantras by following and supporting those who hold mantras. Perhaps they protect Chan samadhi by guarding and comforting those who are patient with dharmas. These beings are close at hand beneath the Thus Come One's seat.
Among them, among the great mighty ghost kings, spacetravelling yakshas, and other such beings, may be some with good vows and good hearts who protect and uphold my dharma. By "my dharma" Shakyamuni Buddha is referring to the Buddhadharma.
Perhaps they protect the pure precepts by following and supporting those who hold precepts. Maybe they make the wholesome vow to guard and uphold the precepts spoken by the Buddhas. Then they will also follow and guard people who hold the precepts. They make sure that everything for these people who uphold the precepts is auspicious and in accord with their wishes. No difficulties or troubles will arise for them. Perhaps they protect spiritual mantras by following and supporting those who hold mantras. Maybe they protect the Shurangama Mantra, the Great Compassion Mantra, or any of the other various mantras. This is the kind of resolve they have. They follow along after the people who uphold mantras and protect them day and night. Perhaps they protect Chan samadhi by guarding and comforting those who are patient with dharmas. Maybe some of these beings make the good vow that in the future they will protect people who investigate Chan and sit in meditation, so that they obtain Chan samadhi. They help them obtain patience with dharmas so that they can endure any dharma whatever. These beings are close at hand beneath the Thus Come One's seat. These beings who have made good vows and are dharma protectors are always able to be beneath the Thus Come One's seat and to hear the dharma spoken.