THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 7

J2 No ascent and no fall.

Sutra:

When their thought and emotion are of equal proportions, they cannot fly and they do not fall, but are born in the human realm. If their thought is bright, their wits are keen. If their emotion is dark, their wits are dull.

Commentary:


With ninety-percent thought and ten percent emotion, one gains a higher rebirth. With ninety percent emotion and ten percent thought, it is certain that one will fall into the hells. Now when their thought and emotion are of equal proportions, they cannot fly and they do not fall, but are born in the human realm. With fifty percent thought and fifty percent emotion, there is a balance. They can't fly to the heavens to be a god or an immortal, and they can't fall into the hells to become a hungry ghost. Where do they end up? Right where you and I are now. To be born into the human realm does not mean one will remain forever in the human realm. The human realm is nothing more than a transit stop, a place to transfer to the next place. "From the human realm what will one transfer to?" you wonder. Well, in order to get to the human realm you had to have fifty percent thought and fifty percent emotion. All you have to do is take a look and see if you've got more emotion now or more thought. If you've got more emotion, your next transfer will be to the hells. If you've got more thought, your next transfer will be to the heavens. If you are devoid of emotion, you can transfer to the Buddhas' fruition, for then you are pure yang, without any yin. If you have ten percent emotion, you have yin. If you don't have any emotion, you are pure yang and can become a Buddha.

If their thought is bright, their wits are keen. If their emotion is dark, their wits are dull. This is the point of transfer. The more you think, the smarter you get and the more you understand. You attain wisdom if you cultivate and make progress day-by-day. In this way your light grows a little more day-by-day. It keeps increasing until it is the same as the light of the Buddhas. That's what's meant by "if their thoughts are bright, their wits are keen."

Emotion is said to be yin, because it is a private matter. Thought is very open and out front, very public and bright. To cultivate, investigate Chan, sit in meditation, study the Buddhadharma, and listen to the sutras are proper activities. From them you will gain keen intelligence. But love and emotion can't be discussed in a crowd. Rather, a man and woman must go to the park or the seashore or beneath a tree alone to speak in whispers. They must slowly talk things over in secret. This is what is meant by emotion being "dark." Things which others cannot see are dark. The darker they get, the less light there is for them to see by, and "their wits are dull." They go into the forest where they can't see the sky. Or they get into cars or on boats. They go to places where there are few people; is to be "dark." This belongs to yin and causes people be stupid and dull-witted. They chat and chat and become stupider and stupider until eventually they fall into a bottomless pit. That's why emotion makes you fall. You talk together until you both slip and fall into the sea of suffering. Then it won't be easy to get out; you'll have make a tremendous effort. Unless you're lucky enough to have a good and wise advisor who grabs you by the hand and shouts, "Get out!" getting out will be very difficult.

J3 Fall with no ascent.

Sutra:

When they have more emotion than thought, they enter the animal realm. With heavier emotion, they become fur-bearing beasts; with lighter emotion, they become winged creatures.

Commentary:


When they have more emotion than thought, they enter the animal realm. With heavier emotion, they become fur-bearing beasts. People with heavy emotion end up getting born as cows, horses, sheep and the like. Do you see how dangerous it is? You'd better be careful: That's why I say the Shurangama Sutra is so important. This section shows exactly the point at which people and animals cross paths. One wrong step and you end up an animal. If you're off by just a little, then it gets you. With lighter emotion, they become winged creatures. This refers to a slight variation in the degree of emotion on the part of these animals. The creatures that fly still have a bit of thought about them. Did you ever wonder why birds are so colorful? It's because when they were human beings, they liked to wear colorful clothes. They would get all dressed up and then constantly admire themselves. The combination of excessive attention to clothing and a lot of emotion with a little thought caused them to fall into the realm of birds. Some birds are really exquisite. They must have been people who dressed especially well. Because of their emotion, they end up as animals, but the degree of their emotion is slightly less than that of beasts, and so they become birds.

Sutra:

When they have seventy percent emotion and thirty percent thought, they fall beneath the wheel of water into the regions of fire, where they come into contact with steam which is itself like a terrible blaze. In the bodies of hungry ghosts, they are constantly burned by that fire. Even water harms them, and they have nothing to eat or drink for hundreds of thousands of kalpas.

Commentary:


With sixty percent emotion and forty percent thought, one falls into the animal realm. With sixty percent thought and forty percent emotion, one can gain a higher rebirth. Now, when they have seventy percent emotion and thirty percent thought, they fall beneath the wheel of water into the regions of fire, where they come into contact with steam which is itself like a terrible blaze. Beneath the water cycle is fire. Volcanoes are a common example which proves that fire resides beneath the water level. In the bodies of hungry ghosts, they are constantly burned by that fire. At that time, they take on the bodies of hungry ghosts, and it would be too late for them if they decided they'd rather be birds or beasts. There are a myriad kinds of hungry ghosts. The worst kind there is to be is the one whose throat is as thin as a needle and whose stomach is as big as a drum.

Even water harms them, and they have nothing to eat or drink for hundreds of thousands of kalpas. They don't even have a drop of water to drink. Why not? Because their karma is such that when they see water, it turns to a raging fire. Gods see water as crystal. Fish, shrimp, oysters, and things of the sea look upon water as their palace, their home. They live in it and therefore don't see it, in the same way that people live in air but aren't aware of it. If we people didn't have air, we would die. It's said that people must eat to live, but they also must have air to breathe. But do we see air? No. Fish see water as their home, and people see water as water, but ghosts see water as fire. Why don't we see it as fire? If you want to know the difference, you can try being a ghost and find out. But you protest that you'd like to know without having to be a ghost. All right, I can tell you. It's because of karmic obstacles. It's a result of the karma that they themselves created.

If you make the karma that sends you into the body of a hungry ghost, then you will perceive water as fire. If you still don't believe it, you can try it out. But if you do, and really turn into a hungry ghost, it will be very difficult to get to be a person again. It won't be easy to return. So now I'm telling you, and the best would be to believe me, because I'm really not cheating you. Then you don't have to go try it out for yourself.

As a hungry ghost one is burned to death, but after a while one revives and then has to go through being burned to death again. In that way, one undergoes birth after birth and death after death as a ghost. Because they see water as fire, the ghosts have nothing to drink, and they can't eat, either. How long does this go on? It goes on for hundreds of thousands of kalpas.

Sutra:

When they have ninety percent emotion and ten percent thought, they fall through the wheel of fire until their bodies enter wind and fire, in a region where the two interact. With lighter emotion they are born in the intermittent hell; with heavier emotion they are born in the Relentless Hell.

Commentary:


When they have ninety percent emotion and ten percent thought, they fall through the wheel of fire until their bodies enter wind and fire, in a region where the two interact. In this place there's not only fire but a wind that whips up the fire so that it burns even more fiercely. With lighter emotion they are born in the intermittent hell; with heavier emotion they are born in the Relentless Hell.

Sutra:

When they are possessed entirely of emotion, they sink into the Avichi Hell. If the emotion has gone into their hearts so that they slander the great vehicle, defame the Buddha's pure precepts, speak crazy and false dharma, are greedy for offerings from the faithful, recklessly accept the respect of others, commit the five rebellious acts and the ten major offenses, then they are further reborn in Avichi Hells throughout the ten directions.

Commentary:


When they are possessed entirely of emotion, when they have no thought, only emotion, they sink into the Avichi Hell. If the emotion has gone into their hearts, if their minds are totally governed by emotion, so that they slander the great vehicle. They make judgments about things with their emotions and as a result they take right to be wrong and wrong to be right. They take black to be white and white to be black. They are totally unreasonable. They always oppose what others say. If you say, "Don't do things that are not good," they come back with, "What's there to be afraid of?" Their motto is "Eat meat, drink wine, and pass the time. The Buddha is only a figment of the imagination." They argue that "Your mind is the Buddha and the Buddha is your mind." That's the kind of deviant knowledge and deviant views they have.

Their views become so deviant that they defame the Buddha's pure precepts. "Don't take the precepts," they say. "What do you want to do that for? You end up with a bunch of precepts controlling you. If you don't take the precepts, see how free you'll be." In fact, if one does not take the precepts, it is very, very easy to end up in the hells. Do you call that freedom? But if you receive the precepts and then use them as a guide to govern yourself, if you receive the precepts and then govern yourself by the appearance, the dharma, and the substance of the precepts, it's not so likely that you'll fall into the hells. Even if you do fall into the hells, you'll get out much more quickly. But if you advocate not taking the precepts in order to be free, then when you fall into the hells there's no guarantee when you'll get out again. If you take the precepts, then a long term in the hells gets cut to a short term. It's as if you were a president's aide and broke some major law and were caught. Just a note from the president would suffice to effect your release. Without that help, it might be a long time before you were released. If you have the precepts for protection, then the suffering you have to endure for having committed major offenses will be lessened significantly. So don't outsmart yourself by deciding not to take the precepts. It's better to take the precepts. A living being who receives the Buddha's precepts enters into the position of a Buddha.

Don't slander the Buddha's precepts, and don't speak crazy and false dharma. Don't deny cause and effect. Don't say things like "There's no cause and no effect; people are just Buddhas, after all. There's no need to cultivate. Eat meat, drink, and be merry, because no matter what you do, you still can become a Buddha. It's really easy to become a Buddha."

Right, it is easy to become a Buddha, but the way to do it is to get rid of your faults. There aren't any Buddhas who have faults. They are all pure and undefiled. They didn't become Buddhas by being filthy and full of karmic offenses. They didn't become Buddhas by drinking wine and eating meat. If that's the way it was, then the Buddha would not have had to speak the precepts. Don't be greedy for offerings from the faithful. Don't scheme to get people to believe in you, to give you gifts, to make offerings to you. Don't think about how you'd have more money if you took more disciples. I never discuss money with my disciples. Usually when people take disciples it's made clear from the start that they should give at least fifty or sixty dollars just to take refuge. But I don't pay attention to that kind of thing.

These kinds of beings also recklessly accept the respect of others. Or they commit the five rebellious acts, which are killing one's father, killing one's mother, killing an Arhat, shedding the Buddha's blood, and breaking up the harmony of the Sangha. Or they commit the ten major offenses, that is, they violate the ten major Bodhisattva precepts. Having committed these grave offenses, then they are further reborn in Avichi Hells throughout the ten directions. After they have undergone suffering in the Avichi Hell of this world they go to Avichi Hells in every world in the ten directions. Can you imagine how long a time that would take? When this hell is finished, they are transported to another Avichi Hell. When that Avichi Hell is destroyed, they move on to the next Avichi Hell. It's endless. And so Devadatta, the one who tried to compete with the Buddha, fell into the hells alive. He's still suffering in the hells. From the time of Shakyamuni Buddha until now he's been undergoing hellish suffering, but in fact that's just the blink of an eye.

H4 He concludes that there are places where both individual and collective punishment are undergone.


Sutra:

Although one receives one's due according to the evil karma one has created, a group can undergo an identical lot, and there are definite places where it occurs.

Commentary:


Although one receives one?s due according to the evil karma one has created, by slandering the great vehicle dharma masters, by defaming the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, by committing the five rebellious acts and the ten major offenses, a group can undergo an identical lot, and there are definite places where it occurs. Although they fall into the hells because of what they themselves have done, they create the karma and undergo the retribution, still, a group can undergo similar retribution, and it can happen in a fixed and certain place. There are definite places where they create the karma, and there are definite places where they undergo the retribution.

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