THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 7

J10 The habits of litigation.

Sutra:

The tenth consists of the habits of litigation and the mutual disputations which give rise to covering. From them there are produced a look in the mirror and illumination by the lamp. It is like being in direct sunlight: there is no way one can hide one's shadow.

Commentary:


The tenth consists of the habits of litigation and the mutual disputations which give rise to covering. "Litigation" means taking someone to court. It involves attorneys for the plaintiff and the defense. The offense involved is one of covering. That means that the evidence brought out in court by either side is not the whole truth. Each person claims to be right. In divorce cases, for example, the husband says he is in the right and the wife claims she is in the right. Actually, neither one is in the right, for if even one of them were right, they would not be getting a divorce. The one in the right would simply forgive and forget if the other were being unreasonable, and no problems would arise. It's only when both parties refuse to yield that they have to get lawyers and go to court.

Probably they feel sorry for the lawyers and are afraid they will starve to death if they don't give them some business. And of course the lawyer advises them to go to court because it's his livelihood. His fee can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars; it depends on the kind of case involved. He names his own price. "Disputations" refers to the arguments that ensue. Each side claims to be sane and reasonable. Why do they go to court? Because they are not open and frank with one another. They put on masks and cover up the truth, They are actually wrong, but they cover up their mistakes and bring up the points where they appear to be in accord with principle. They talk about all the things they did that were legal and avoid mentioning the things they did which were not. That's covering.

From them there are produced a look in the mirror and illumination by the lamp. If you liked to get involved in litigations and to commit crimes when you were alive, then when you get to the hells, your crimes will be revealed in a mirror on a stand there. As you look into the mirror, every mistake you ever made in your entire life will appear in it. It's just like a movie: every frame shows up your actions quite vividly. With the "illumination by the lamp" you are left with no place to hide. Everything is clearly revealed. It is like being in direct sunlight: there is no way one can hide one's shadow.

Sutra:

Because these two habits bicker back and forth, there come into being evil companions, the mirror of karma, the fiery pearl, exposure of past karma, inquests, and other such experiences.

Commentary:


Because these two habits bicker back and forth, there come into being evil companions. Not only companions, but relatives are included here. One's whole family may be bad. The mirror of karma is like the crime-revealing mirror mentioned above. The fiery pearl illuminates past offenses. Exposure of past karma reveals all the crimes you ever committed in whatever former life. Inquests happen when you don't admit what you've done. Then the evidence is brought out against you. It's proved for you to see.

Sutra:

Therefore, all the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon covering and name it a 'hidden villain.' Bodhisattvas regard covering as they would having to carry a mountain atop their heads while walking upon the sea.

Commentary:

Therefore, all the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions look upon covering and name it a "hidden villain." Because of what's just been described, Thus Come Ones look upon the practice of covering and call it a "hidden" thief. Bodhisattvas regard covering as they would having to carry a mountain atop their heads while walking upon the sea. How could they ever stay up? It wouldn't be possible. So Bodhisattvas don't go to court.

I3 Explains the six retributions.
J1 A general introduction.


Sutra:

What are the six retributions? Ananda, living beings create karma with their six consciousnesses. The evil retributions they call down upon themselves come from the six sense organs.

Commentary:


What are the six retributions? Ananda, living beings create karma with their six consciousnesses of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. The evil retributions they call down upon themselves when they create the evil karma come from the six sense organs. They arise out of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind.

J2 Detailed explanation.
K1 Retribution of seeing.
L1 At the end of one's life, one sees one's own fall.


Sutra:

What are the evil retributions that arise from the six sense organs? The first is the retribution of seeing, which beckons one and leads one to evil ends. The karma of seeing intermingles, so that at the time of death one first sees a raging conflagration which fills the ten directions. The deceased one's spiritual consciousness takes flight, but then falls. Riding on a wisp of smoke, it enters the Relentless Hell.

Commentary:


Above were discussed the ten habitual causes which lead to six interconnected retributions. They are called "interconnected" because although one of the six may have been the predominant factor in an offense, the others are all involved to some extent. They act as accomplices. For instance, the eyes commit some offense with regard to objects they see. So the eyes are the major offender; however, the ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind also play their parts in the crime. The major offender is the first to commit the offense, while the others help it along in their turn.

But you will remember that earlier the Buddhas of the ten directions spoke directly and simultaneously to Ananda, saying that it is from the six sense organs that Buddhas are accomplished and it is from the six sense organs that one falls into the hells. So now that we have come to the six interconnected retributions, you should remember that originally these six are capable of accomplishing Buddhahood. It's just that people don't know how to use them properly, and so within the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One they give rise to the false from within the true. The falseness that arises goes from the three subtle appearances to the six coarse appearances to limitless boundless appearances. That's why it is said that there are eighty-four thousand kinds of karmic obstacles.

Why do we create so many karmic offenses? It's because we are not able to gain control. We can't keep ourselves from being turned by the experiences of the six sense objects. We are unable to return the hearing and listen to the self nature so that the nature can accomplish the Unsurpassed Way. Just because we don't return the hearing, we race out through the six sense organs to get at the six sense objects.

What are the evil retributions that arise from the six sense organs? The first is the retribution of seeing, which beckons one and leads one to evil ends. Because the perceiving nature of the eye sees a form, one is influenced by that object of form. But in this process there are a lot of involvements and ramifications. From these appearances a lot of karmic offenses are created. A lot of karmic offenses result in a lot of evil retributions. The karma of seeing intermingles, so that at the time of death one first sees a raging conflagration which fills the ten directions. The "karma" referred to here is offense-karma. With what does it "intermingle?" With the other five sense organs. They exchange opinions, and their karma gets mixed up together. Being influenced by the objects of sight in this way, one chases after sounds and pursues forms.

For example, a man sees a beautiful woman and gives rise to greed and desire. Then he listens for her gentle voice. Once the eyes have seen the beautiful form, the ears want to follow and hear a beautiful sound. The nose wants a whiff of her powder and perfumes. If the eyes hadn't seen her, the ears wouldn't have been eager to hear her voice and the nose wouldn't have been enticed to smell the feminine fragrances. After that the tongue starts having ruinous false thoughts, maybe something like, "She's such a fine woman that I bet it wouldn't be bad to kiss her." In his heart this kind of ignorance arises. Then the body wants to come in contact with her and the mind relents. The mind is agreeable and goes along with the rest. At that point he goes ahead and creates the karma of lust. The result in the future will be an evil retribution such as hugging the copper pillar or sleeping on the iron bed. Or the male and female organs are infested with iron-beaked creatures. How did it come about? It all started with the first offender, the seeing. Seeing by itself is just seeing; what he should not have done was to pursue what he saw. Rather:

When the eyes see forms,
inside there is nothing.

Do you have that kind of skill? If so, then it doesn't matter if you look every day. The more you see, the less you will be moved. But if you don't have that skill, then you had better be a little bit more careful. With a little more care, you won t have to hug the copper pillar or fall into some other hell.

The text says, "at the time of death." Everyone will die. There isn't anyone who can say he or she will live forever, unless one cultivates and becomes a sage or an immortal, in which case one can live if one wants and die if one wants. Or, if you are a Bodhisattva or an Arhat, you have freedom over birth and death. If you're not at that level, then you too will have a "time of death." When death comes for this offender, he will first see a "raging conflagration." That's because of his "fire of desire", his sexual desire. And the conflagration is not limited to one place. To the ends of empty space and throughout the dharma-realm, everywhere is ablaze. At that time the deceased one's spiritual consciousness takes flight, but then falls. The "spiritual consciousness" refers to the eighth consciousness. It is also the soul, which has the potential to become a Buddha or a ghost. It is called the "intermediate skandha body," because at this stage the five skandhas have been severed from the former body and have not yet entered a new body. What happens to this offender's intermediate skandha body? It first flies up, but then falls. The spiritual consciousness has the power to fly through space, but in this case its spiritual penetrations are not very great, and so once it gets a little way into space, it falls. Riding on a wisp of smoke, it enters the Relentless Hell, a place which is no playground. I think that even jet-setters would not want to take in those sights. So everybody should avoid planting the causes which lead to the hells. It would be infinitely better to go to the Buddha-fruition than to go to the hells. Don't follow this poor soul.

L2 Two fundamental appearances.

Sutra:

There, it is aware of two appearances. One is a perception of brightness in which can be seen all sorts of evil things, and it gives rise to boundless fear. The other is a perception of darkness in which there is total stillness and no sight, and it experiences boundless terror.

Commentary:

The person who has committed karmic offenses by pursuing defiling objects of form falls into the Relentless Hell. There, his intermediate skandha body, is aware of two appearances. One is a perception of brightness in which can be seen all sorts of evil things. With this perception of brightness, it can see absolutely everything. What is there to be seen? Evil things; every kind of terrible thing that you can possibly imagine. There are things like wolves and tigers and creatures with human bodies and ox heads or horse faces. The ghost of impermanence in his tall hat is also very much in evidence. There are also cruel and horrifying beasts. All he sees are these evil creatures, and so his skandha body gives rise to boundless fear. One experiences tremendous terror.

The other is a perception of darkness in which there is total stillness and no sight. It can't see anything at all, because there is not the least bit of light from the sun or moon or from stars or lamps. "Total stillness and no sight" means there is not a creature, not a thing, not a sound, and no visual perception. But it is not a quieting experience; rather, it experiences boundless terror. He experiences nothing but fear and terror. If he saw a beautiful woman then, I wonder if he'd be able to muster up any sexual desire. The only way to know for sure would be to ask him. He has to undergo fear and terror in this hell because he created the karma of lust.

L3 A detailed explanation of the intermingled retributions.


Sutra:

When the fire that comes from seeing burns the sense of hearing, it becomes cauldrons of boiling water and molten copper. When it burns the breath, it becomes black smoke and purple fumes. When it burns the sense of taste, it becomes scorching hot pellets and molten iron gruel. When it burns the sense of touch, it becomes white-hot embers and glowing coals. When it burns the mind, it becomes stars of fire that shower everywhere and whip up and inflame the entire realm of space.

Commentary:

Now the six interconnecting aspects are described. When the fire that comes from seeing burns the sense of hearing, it becomes cauldrons of boiling water and molten copper. When the fire reaches the ears and the hearing, it turns into the hell of cauldrons of boiling water and the hell of molten copper. The water is brought to a boil and the ghost is plunged into the pot. The "ghost" is just the spiritual consciousness of the deceased one. Do you remember what he did so that he now ends up in a pot of boiling water? His ears aided and abetted his seeing. When his eyes saw the beautiful form, his ears should have had sense enough to warn him not to listen to her voice. But instead his ears got right in there and enticed him to listen. He was all ears. And what he heard pleased him to no end. So now he's in the cauldron of boiling water and molten copper. When it burns the breath, it becomes black smoke and purple fumes. When the fire reaches the nose, he has to breathe black smoke and purple soot. This happens because he got caught up in smelling nice fragrances. But I believe that the black smoke is not as much fun to inhale. In fact, the stench of it is appalling. But that is the retribution he must undergo.

When it burns the sense of taste, it becomes scorching hot pellets and molten iron gruel. The "pellets" are little iron tablets, but when you put them in your mouth they burn your tongue to a crisp. He liked the "taste of women", he liked to kiss them, and so now he gets hot iron gruel for breakfast every day. When it burns the sense of touch, it becomes white-hot embers and glowing coals. When the fire from seeing burns through to the sense of touch, it becomes ashes, but the ashes aren't dead and cold; they still have fire in them.

When it burns the mind, that is, it becomes stars of fire that shower everywhere and whip up and inflame the entire realm of space. The fire that scatters to burn you is as plentiful as the stars in the sky. It creates a wall of heat that builds up and fills all of empty space.

K2 Retribution of hearing.
L1 At the end of one?s life one sees one?s own fall.


Sutra:

The second is the retribution of hearing, which beckons one and leads one to evil ends. The karma of hearing intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees gigantic waves that drown heaven and earth. The deceased one's spiritual consciousness falls into the water and rides the current into the Relentless Hell.

Commentary:


The second of the six interconnected retributions is the retribution of hearing. Originally, if one had returned the hearing to hear the self-nature, the hearing-nature could have accomplished the Unsurpassed Way. Instead, the person in question turned all his attention outside and listened to defiling sounds. He listened to sounds that gave him enjoyment. Perhaps he liked to listen to women sing. Perhaps he enjoyed listening to women talk. The same applies for men as for women. Women like to listen to men. It's not a one-way street. The sutra is talking about both sexes. You shouldn't think that if the sutra uses the masculine form, it just means that men are bad, while women are not included. The offenses the two sexes commit are the same. They are those which beckons one and leads one to evil ends.

This person's retribution beckons him just as if it were calling to him, "Come here! Come here!" in very persuasive tones. It entices him. The karma of hearing intermingles, and thus at the time of death one first sees gigantic waves that drown heaven and earth. The "intermingling" refers to the way in which the six organs are interconnected in their retribution. The ear gets involved with all the other five sense organs. The ghost, the inter-mediate skandha body, sees the entire universe filled up with billowing waves; but is it really that way? No. It is a manifestation which appears because of his karmic retribution. The same is true when we people see mountains, rivers, the earth, vegetation, buildings, San Francisco, New York, Japan, China, and everything else, it's all a manifestation due to the power of our karma. Without that power of karma, it is all empty space. If your karma is ended and your emotion is empty, then everything throughout the dharmarealm is void. It is all emptiness. There isn't anything at all. But because of attachment to appearances, you see all kinds of colors, shapes, and forms.

This ghost sees the entirety of heaven and earth as submerged in a vast expanse of billowing waves. The deceased one's spiritual consciousness falls into the water and rides the current into the Relentless Hell. He flows along with the stream and ends up at his brother's house. Where's that? The Relentless Hell. Who's his brother? His seeing. The six brothers race right after one another.

L2 Two fundamental appearances.

Sutra:

There, it is aware of two sensations. One is open hearing, in which it hears all sorts of noise and its essential spirit becomes confused. The other is closed hearing, in which there is total stillness and no hearing, and its soul sinks into oblivion.

Commentary:


Such a graphic and sobering explanation, and yet people still willingly go ahead and create offenses. You talk about how fine it is to become a Buddha, but people aren't interested in becoming Buddhas. You tell about the horrors of the hells, and they decide to try them out. Becoming a Buddha is so fine, but they don't even give it a try. "We'll talk about it later," they procrastinate. They've been told that listening to defiling sounds creates karmic offenses, but as soon as they find themselves in such a situation they are compelled to listen. They think, "I hear about that in the sutra, but I'm not convinced it's right." So they try it out.

There, when the intermediate skandha body gets to the Relentless Hell, it is aware of two sensations. One is open hearing, in which it hears all sorts of noise and its essential spirit becomes confused. All pandemonium breaks loose.

"Confused" means that it cannot remember anything any more. The other is closed hearing, in which there is total stillness and no hearing, and its soul sinks into oblivion. It experiences total deafness. Then its soul goes one knows not where. It sinks into oblivion.

L3 A detailed explanation of the intermingled retributions.

Sutra:

When the waves from hearing flow into the hearing, they become scolding and interrogation. When they flow into the seeing, they become thunder and roaring and evil poisonous vapors. When they flow into the breath, they become rain and fog that is permeated with poisonous organisms that entirely fill up the body. When they flow into the sense of taste, they become pus and blood and every kind of filth. When they flow into the sense of touch, they become animals and ghosts, and excrement and urine. When they flow into the mind, they become lightning and hail which ravage the heart and soul.

Commentary:

When the waves from hearing flow into the hearing, the organ of the ear, they become scolding and interrogation. When they flow into the seeing, they become thunder and roaring and evil poisonous vapors. There is a hell of thunder and roaring. One is saturated in poisonous vapors. When they flow into the breath, they become rain and fog that is permeated with poisonous organisms that entirely fill up the body. There's a hell where there's eternal rain and fog. The rain is polluted with poisonous organisms, and when they strike the skin, they bite into every pore and work their way in. Pretty soon one's whole body is covered with poisonous organisms. When they flow into the sense of taste, they become pus and blood and every kind of filth. It is utter muck and scum. When they flow into the sense of touch, they become animals and ghosts, and excrement and urine. He undergoes his punishment in the hell of excrement and urine. When they flow into the mind, they become lightning and hail which ravage the heart and soul. In the Hell of Lightning and Hail, there is an eternal storm, and one is struck by lightning and hailstones. It's a painful retribution. The ghost's very heart and soul are ripped to smithereens.

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