THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 7

Destiny of Hells

G2 He specifically describes the various causes and results of falling and rising.
H1 Destiny of hells.
I1 Traces prior instruction and introduces this.


Sutra:

Ananda, it all comes from the karmic responses which living beings themselves invoke. They create ten habitual causes and undergo six interacting retributions.

Commentary:


Ananda, it all comes from the karmic responses which living beings themselves invoke. They give rise to delusion, create karma, and undergo retribution. They create ten habitual causes and undergo six interacting retributions. The retributions are interconnected.

I2 Explains ten causes.
J1 Habits of lust.


Sutra:

What are the ten causes? Ananda, the first consists of habits of lust and reciprocal interactions which give rise to mutual rubbing. When this rubbing continues without cease, it produces a tremendous raging fire within which movement occurs, just as warmth arises between a person's hands when he rubs them together.

Commentary:


What are the ten causes? Ananda, I will now tell you in detail. The first consists of habits of lust and reciprocal interactions. The habits of lust bring men and women together, and their interactions give rise to mutual rubbing. When this rubbing continues without cease, it produces a tremendous raging fire within which movement occurs. The light of fire arises between them and has a movement of its own, just as warmth arises between a person's hands when he rubs them together.

Sutra:

Because these two habits set each other ablaze, there come into being the iron bed, the copper pillar, and other such experiences.

Commentary:


Because these two habits. The "two habits" refer to one's past habits of lust which combine with one's present habits of lust. These two habits set each other ablaze, there come into being the iron bed, the copper pillar, and other such experiences. These are the names of specific hells. They are brought into being because people have sexual desire which is too heavy. They have created too much karma involving lust and so they must undergo this retribution.

Sutra:

Therefore the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon the practice of lust and name it the 'fire of desire.' Bodhisattvas avoid desire as they would a fiery pit.

Commentary:


Therefore the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon the practice of lust and name it the "fire of desire." They tell you that the fire of desire burns up the body. Bodhisattvas avoid desire as they would a fiery pit. They see that staying away from lustful activity is as important as avoiding a fiery pit. You don't want to see the fiery pit and deliberately jump into it. If you do, it's for sure you'll burn to death. So Bodhisattvas stay far away from lust and sexual desire. They do not give rise to thoughts of sexual desire.

J2 Habits of greed.

Sutra:

The second consists of habits of greed and intermingled scheming which give rise to a suction. When this suction becomes dominant and incessant, it produces intense cold and solid ice where freezing occurs, just as a sensation of cold is experienced when a person draws in a blast of wind through his
mouth.

Commentary:


The second consists of habits of greed and intermingled scheming which give rise to a suction. Greed is like a magnet which attracts things to it. When this suction becomes dominant and incessant, people who experience insatiable greed are always trying to figure out how to get things and make them their own. When greed reaches this extreme, it produces intense cold and solid ice where freezing occurs. These habits produce a sensation of freezing cold, just as a sensation of cold is experienced when a person draws in a blast of wind through his mouth.

Sutra:

Because these two habits clash together, there come into being chattering, whimpering and shuddering; blue, red, and white lotuses; cold and ice; and other such experiences. Therefore the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon excessive seeking and name it "the water of greed". Bodhisattvas avoid greed as they would a sea of pestilence.

Commentary:


Because these two habits, one's past greed and one's present greed, clash together, the habits of grabbing and seizing feed on one another until there come into being chattering, whimpering and shuddering. "Chattering, whimpering, and suffering" is "cha cha, bwo bwo, lwo lwo" in Chinese, which indicate the sounds made by beings suffering in these freezing hells when undergoing the tortures of extreme cold. Blue, red, and white lotuses indicate the shapes the ice freezes into in these hells. The beings undergo cold and ice; and other such experiences.

J3 Habits of arrogance.

Sutra:

The third consists of habits of arrogance and resulting friction which give rise to mutual intimidation. When it accelerates without cease, it produces torrents and rapids which create restless waves of water, just as water is produced when a person continuously works his tongue in an effort to taste flavors.

Commentary:


The third consists of habits of arrogance and resulting friction. "Arrogance" refers to self-satisfaction. One is arrogant when one thinks one is better than others. Such thoughts give rise to mutual intimidation. One looks down on others. When it accelerates without cease, it produces torrents and rapids which create restless waves of water. This refers to the hell of boiling oil, the hell of rapids, the hell of scalding soup, and so forth. It is just as water is produced when a person continuously works his tongue in an effort to taste flavors. Someone keeps trying to taste the flavor of his own mouth. The effort will produce saliva.

Sutra:

Because these two habits incite one another, there come into being the river of blood, the river of ashes, the burning sand, the poisonous sea, the molten copper which is poured over one or which must be swallowed, and other such experiences.

Commentary:


Because these two habits incite one another, arrogant attitudes from the past combine with one's self-satisfaction in the present, there come into being many kinds of hells: The hell of the river of blood, the hell of the river of ashes, the hell of the burning sand, the hell of the poisonous sea, the hell of the molten copper which is poured over one, the hell where molten copper must be swallowed, and other such experiences.

Sutra:

Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon self-satisfaction and name it 'drinking the water of stupidity.' Bodhisattvas avoid arrogance as they would a huge deluge.

Commentary:


It's as stinking as a place where a lot of people go to relieve themselves.

J4 Habits of hatred.

Sutra:

The fourth consists of habits of hatred which give rise to mutual defiance. When this defiance binds one without cease, one's heart becomes so hot that it catches fire, and the molten vapor turns into metal.

From it is produced the mountain of knives, the iron cudgel, the tree of swords, the wheel of swords, axes and halberds, and spears and saws. It is like the intent to kill surging forth when a person meets a mortal enemy, so that he is roused to action.

Commentary:


The fourth consists of habits of hatred which give rise to mutual defiance. "Defiance" means that you have wronged me and I have wronged you. When this defiance binds one without cease, one's heart becomes so hot that it catches fire, and the molten vapor turns into metal. Your heart feels hot and you give rise to the fire of ignorance. That kind of energy is so violent that it turns into metal. From it is produced the mountain of knives. Because the molten energy from one's anger forms into metal, the hell of the mountain of knives, the hell of the iron cudgel, the hell of the tree of swords, the hell of the wheel of swords, the hell of axes and halberds, the hell of spears and saws, and the like all come into being. It is like the intent to kill surging forth when a person meets a mortal enemy, someone he bears a heavy grudge against, so that he is roused to action. His obsession to kill takes over.

Sutra:

Because these two habits clash with one another, there come into being castration and hacking, beheading and mutilation, filing and sticking, flogging and beating, and other such experiences.

Commentary:


Because these two habits, past hatred and present hatred, clash with one another, there come into being castration and hacking. This is one kind of hell. Beheading, being killed; mutilation, having one's arms or legs chopped off or one's bones ground to powder: filing and sticking, being filed or being stuck with thorns; flogging and beating; and other such experiences are all further kinds of hells.

Sutra:

Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon hatred and name it 'sharp knives and swords.' Bodhisattvas avoid hatred as they would their own execution.

Commentary:


Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon hatred and name it "sharp knives and swords." Anger is just like a keen knife or a sharp sword. Bodhisattvas avoid hatred as they would their own execution. Bodhisattvas regard anger and hatred as they would being killed by someone.

J5 Habits of deception.

Sutra:

The fifth consists of habits of deception and misleading involvements which give rise to mutual guile. When such maneuvering continues without cease, it produces the ropes and
wood of a gallows for hanging, like the grass and trees that grow when water saturates a field.

Commentary:


The fifth consists of habits of deception and misleading involvements which give rise to mutual guile. "Deception" is a lack of honesty. "Misleading" means people getting involved in cheating and deceiving one another. You cheat me with some scheme and then I think up some trick to cheat you. When such maneuvering continues without cease, it produces the ropes and wood of a gallows for hanging. "Maneuvering" refers to the deceptive devices. The ropes and wood are used to construct a gallows to hang the person. This is a certain hell. It is like the grass and trees that grow when water saturates a field. Deception nourishes the hell of ropes and wood in the same way.

Sutra:

Because the two habits perpetuate one another, there come into being handcuffs and fetters, cangues and locks, whips and clubs, sticks and cudgels, and other such experiences.

Commentary:


Because the two habits perpetuate one another, there come into being handcuffs and fetters. The habits of deception from the past combine with the habits of deception in the present to make a protracted pattern of deception. These "handcuffs and fetters" are implements of punishment, as are cangues and locks. When one is bound by this kind of thing, one cannot move about freely, much less escape. Or perhaps one is beaten with whips and clubs, sticks and cudgels, and other such experiences. What is the origin of these experiences? How do they come into being? They come from deception.

Sutra:

Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon deception and name it a 'treacherous crook.' Bodhisattvas fear deception as they would a savage wolf.

Commentary:


Being "treacherous" means that when one speaks, one doesn't tell the truth.

J6 Habits of lying.

Sutra:

The sixth consists of habits of lying and combined fraudulence which give rise to mutual cheating. When false accusations continue without cease, one becomes adept at corruption.

From this there come into being dust and dirt, excrement and urine, filth, stench, and impurities. It is like the obscuring of everyone's vision when the dust is stirred up by the wind.

Commentary:


The sixth consists of habits of lying and combined fraudulence which give rise to mutual cheating. "Lying" means not telling the truth, saying things that are false. "Combined fraudulence' means that people lie in order to cheat one another. "Mutual cheating" means that people are not straight with one another. What they say is not true. When false accusations continue without cease, one becomes adept at corruption. People end up accusing each other in ways which are not justified. If they continue in this vein, they end up being masters of deception. Everything they do is against the law. From this there come into being the hell of dust and dirt, and the hell of excrement and urine. These hells are full of filth, stench, and impurities. It is like the obscuring of everyone's vision when the dust is stirred up by the wind. That's what this particular karmic obstacle is like. The dust is so thick you can't even see it clearly, let alone anything else.

Sutra:

Because these two habits augment one another, there come into being sinking and drowning, tossing and pitching, flying and falling, floating and submerging, and other such experiences.

Commentary:

Because these two habits augment one another, there come into being sinking and drowning. The habits of lying from the past combine with the habits of lying in the present to bring about these various hells. Tossing and pitching means that one is tossed up high and then allowed to plummet down. Flying and falling is also a case of being rocketed off into space and then left to fall back down. Floating and submerging means one is left afloat at sea. These hells and other such experiences must be undergone.

Sutra:

Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon lying and name it 'robbery and murder.' Bodhisattvas regard lying as they would treading on a venomous snake.

Commentary:


Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon lying and name it "robbery and murder." When they see people doing things to cheat others, they call it robbery and murder. Bodhisattvas regard lying as they would treading on a venomous snake. Lying, too, is undesirable.

J7 Habits of animosity.

Sutra:

The seventh consists of habits of animosity and interconnected enmity which give rise to grievances. From this there come into being flying rocks, thrown stones, caskets and closets, cages on wheels, jars and containers, and bags and rods. It is like someone harming others secretly, he harbors, cherishes, and nurtures evil.

Commentary:


The seventh consists of habits of animosity and interconnected enmity which give rise to grievances. "Animosity" refers to resentment and can also mean the making of false accusations. False accusations cause suspicions to arise. In Chinese the word "grievances" (xian) has a character which literally means to hold in the beak as a bird holds food. Here, someone harbors grievances and ill-will in his mouth and refuses to let it go. From this there come into being flying rocks, and the hell of thrown stones, in which one is struck with pieces of rubble. Or one is closed up in a casket or in a closet, or put in a cage on wheels. Or the person is put into a jar and a fire is lit under it, so that the ghost gets cooked, bags and rods: the ghost is put in a big bag and then beaten down. Inside he both suffocates and suffers the pain of beating. This kind of karma is like someone harming others secretly, he harbors, cherishes, and nurtures evil. He's always brewing evil thoughts in his mind.

Sutra:

Because these two habits swallow one another up, there come into being tossing and pitching, seizing and apprehending, striking and shooting, casting away and pinching, and other such experiences.

Commentary:

Because these two habits swallow one another up, there come into being tossing and pitching. The habit of animosity from the past combines with the habit of animosity in the present in such a way that they devour one another. That is, if the karmic power of one's habits from the past is stronger, one will undergo retribution for the past deeds. If the power of the karma in the present life is the stronger, one will undergo retribution for it in this very life. That's what's meant by swallowing each other up. The ghost is tossed about or thrown for a distance, so that when he lands he will undergo pain and suffering. Seizing and apprehending: after he's tossed away, he is seized and brought back. Striking and shooting, casting away and pinching, and other such experiences are all undergone as retribution.

Sutra:

Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon animosity and name it a 'disobedient and harmful ghost.'

Bodhisattvas regard animosity as they would drinking poisonous wine.

Commentary:


Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon animosity and name it a "disobedient and harmful ghost." They regard conduct governed by animosity, resentment, and revenge as a disobedient and harmful ghost. Such conduct goes against the wishes of the person who is the object of the resentment and ends up by killing the person. Bodhisattvas regard animosity as they would drinking poisonous wine. The Chinese language uses an adjective which is the name of a bird, chen, a deadly species of falcon. If a feather from this particular variety of falcon is soaked in wine, the wine will be poisoned so thoroughly that a sip of it would be lethal, for there is no antidote for it.

J8 Habits of views.

Sutra:

The eighth consists of habits of views and the admixture of understandings, such as satkayadrishti, views, moral prohibitions, grasping, and deviant insight into various kinds of karma, which bring about opposition and produce mutual antagonism. From them there come into being court officials, deputies, certifiers, and registrars. They are like people traveling on a road, who meet each other coming and going.

Commentary:


The eighth consists of habits of views and the admixture of understandings, such as satkayadrishti. These are habits which we all have. If you make proper use of views, they are an aid to your mind and nature. But if you use them incorrectly, if you have biases, then you can create bad karma. Satkayadrishti is a Sanskrit word which means "view of having a body." There are five kinds of views:

1. the view of having a body,
2. one-sided views,
3. the view of prohibitive morality,
4. views that grasp at views,
5. deviant views.

These have been explained in detail before. With the first view, people become attached to the view that their bodies are themselves and attached to the things around them as being their own. Onesided views are not in accord with the Middle Way. They fall into either the view of annihilationism or the view of externalism. With the former, one believes that death is like the extinguishment of a lamp, there is nothing that follows it. One doesn't believe in a soul or in rebirth. With the latter, one believes that if one is a person this life, one will be a person in every life. They think it is impossible for a person to undergo rebirth as an animal.

The third is an attachment to extremes of morality, like that found in some sects in India such as those that would follow the behavior of cows or dogs. The fourth, to have the view that grasps views, means being fraught with attachments. People with this view have very decided opinions and an overbearing view of self. There are also deviant views. Satkayadrishti, views, moral prohibitions, grasping, and deviant insight into various kinds of karma refer to these five views. One may have a bit of intelligence, but the principles one grasps at are deviant. Because they are not proper views, one creates karma, which bring about opposition and produce mutual antagonism. With this kind of karma, one is always opposing other people and disagreeing with them. From them there come into being court officials, deputies, certifiers, and registrars. They ask for certification and proof in writing; they insist upon records and the like. These views are like people traveling on a road, who meet each other coming and going.

Sutra:

Because these two habits influence one another, there come into being official inquiries, baited questions, examinations, interrogations, public investigations, exposure, the youths who record good and evil, carrying the record books of the offenders' arguments and rationalizations, and other such experiences.

Commentary:

Because these two habits influence one another, there come into being official inquiries. The two habits again refer to the habits involving the five views that one built up in former lives, coupled with the habits involving the five views which one continues to grasp hold of in this life. Official inquiries means one is thoroughly questioned. Baited questions are raised when an examiner uses expedients to get you to admit your wrongdoings. This kind of thing happens in courts and also happens in the hells. Examinations means that after you've stated your case, the officials set about to examine its accuracy, step-by-step. They send people out to verify everything you've said. Interrogations bring everything out in the open, just as if it were to appear in a mirror. Public investigations and exposure do the same. The youths who record good and evil, carrying the record books of the offenders' arguments and rationalizations. These youths are young employees of the hells who keep records on good and evil done in the world. When your turn comes, they read out your record. If you try to argue or rationalize, they just find the page and place and read it out just as it actually happened. They have unquestionable proof, and your protestations are useless. These and other such experiences are the lot of those with deep-seated views.

Sutra:

Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon evil views and name them the 'pit of views.' Bodhisattvas regard having false and one-sided views as they would standing on the edge of a steep ravine full of poison.

Commentary:


Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon evil views and name them the "pit of views." To them, the habits of evil views are like a deep abyss. It's fine if you don't fall in it, but if you do, it's not at all easy to climb back out. Bodhisattvas regard having false and one-sided views as they would standing on the edge of a steep ravine full of poison. They are extremely dangerous, and it is very easy to slip and fall into them, so Bodhisattvas stay far away from them.

J9 Habits of injustice.

Sutra:

The ninth consists of the habits of injustice and their interconnected support of one another; they result in instigating false charges and libeling. From them are produced crushing between mountains, crushing between rocks, stone rollers, stone grinders, plowing, and pulverizing. It is like a slanderous villain who engages in persecuting good people unjustly.

Commentary:

The ninth consists of the habits of injustice and their interconnected support of one another; they result in instigating false charges and libeling. "Injustice" means to accuse someone without cause, to frame him. The person in question is in fact innocent, but the government brings a case against him, or else some private individual sues him. It is biased and unfair. Included here are both the habits of being unjustly accused and of having done injustice to others. If you have unjustly accused others in the past, then those karmic obstacles will bind together with what goes on in this life. If you've never been unjustly accused, then perhaps the karma of it is being newly created in this lifetime. If you know that the person you are accusing did not actually commit the crime, and you are fully aware that you are bearing false witness, then you are being unjust. From them are produced crushing between mountains, crushing between rocks. This is the Hell of Squeezing Mountains, in which mountains on all four sides close in and crush the offender. The same kind of experience is undergone in the hell of crushing rocks. You are squeezed into a meat patty. Stone rollers is another hell, as are stone grinders, plowing, and pulverizing. If a person is a constant liar and bears false witness, if his speech is totally unreliable, then in this hell his tongue is cut out. Or it is grappled with an iron hook and pulled out, and then oxen drag plows back and forth across it. With "pulverizing" the offender is put into a grinder and ground to bits. It is like a slanderous villain who engages in persecuting good people unjustly. "Slanderous" refers to any kind of unreliable speech or accusation.

Sutra:

Because these two habits join ranks, there come into being pressing and pushing, bludgeons and compulsion, squeezing and straining, weighing and measuring, and other such experiences.

Commentary:


The karmic obstacles from former lives combine with the karma from one's conduct in the last life to cause one to be pressed or pushed down or to be beaten with bludgeons or to be forcefully controlled. Sometimes the ghost is put into a bag and then the blood is squeezed out of it, just the way apple sauce is made. Or one's injustices are weighed and measured with precise accuracy. These are the kinds of experiences one has to undergo.

Sutra:

Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon harmful accusations and name them 'a treacherous tiger.' Bodhisattvas regard injustice as they would a bolt of lightning.

Commentary:


Therefore, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon harmful accusations and name them "a treacherous tiger," even more vicious than an ordinary tiger. Bodhisattvas regard injustice as they would a bolt of lightning. Bodhisattvas who cultivate the Way don't want to make any mistakes in cause and effect, and so they see that the habit of acting in unjust ways is as dangerous as encountering a bolt from the blue. It's just as frightening a situation and in the same way can strike people down dead on the spot.

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