THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Volumes: 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * previous * next * Exhortation * Contents

Volume 7

Destiny of Animals

H3 Destiny of animals.
I1 Concludes prior discussion and begins this.


Sutra:

Moreover, Ananda, when his karma as a ghost is ended, the problem of emotion as opposed to discursive thought is resolved. At that point he must pay back in kind what he borrowed from others to resolve those grievances. He is born into the body of an animal to repay his debts from past lives.

Commentary:

Moreover, Ananda, let me continue to explain this principle lest you fail to understand it completely. When his karma as a ghost is ended, the problem of emotion as opposed to discursive thought is resolved. He's wiped the slate clean of emotion and thought. At that point he must pay back in kind what he borrowed from others to resolve those grievances. He has to pay back what he owes others. If he ate the flesh of other animals in the past, he will now be eaten by others. If he took others' lives in the past, then in this life he will be killed. He is born into the body of an animal to repay his debts from past lives. He will pay back the debts amassed for limitless kalpas in the past. They have to be paid back in kind. If you killed and harmed others, then the same thing will happen to you as repayment. If you owe someone a pig, then you become his pig to repay him. If you owe someone a dog, then you become his dog to repay him. If you owe someone a cow, you repay by being his cow. If you owe someone a horse, you become his horse to repay him. If you owe someone a chicken, then you go lay eggs for him. You lay a few eggs every day and in that way you gradually repay your debt. So it's not easy to act in this world's play. If you make a mistake, a lot of trouble results. If you do it correctly, then everything is clear and pure.

I2 Specifically lists ten categories.
J1 Owl category.


Sutra:

The retribution of the strange ghost of material objects is finished when the object is destroyed and it is reborn in the world, usually as a species of owl.

Commentary:

Because strange ghosts were greedy for material objects, they took their shape when they encountered material objects. "When the object is destroyed" means that the particular material object they were possessing wears out, and their karmic retribution has come to an end. The majority of the strange ghosts are then reborn as owls. That's what usually happens, but it's not a totally fixed principle. There's a line in the Book of Poetry: "The owl, the owl, the unfilial bird." Some owls can incubate a clod of dirt and hatch it. How do you explain this? Well, it's just the strange way that they are. When the owlets hatch, they eat the parent bird. A child that eats its parents is a manifestation of a weird being. This kind of bird is considered to be inauspicious. Species means that they are born as one kind of owl or another.

J2 Inauspicious category.

Sutra:

The retribution of the drought ghost of the wind is finished when the wind subsides, and it is reborn in the world, usually as a species of weird creature which gives inauspicious prognostications.

Commentary:


Wherever drought ghosts happen to be, there will be no rain. Wherever they go, the land is arid. They were greedy for lustful experiences. Through lust they created karma, and eventually they became drought ghosts when they met with the wind. When they are finished with that retribution, they are reborn in the world, but they cannot become people. Instead they become weird beings that foretell evil. Why do they have to go through this? After creating the karma of lust, enduring the hells, and being reborn as drought ghosts, their residual habits are still not completely severed, and so they become such strange creatures as these. They may be reborn as birds that are extremely colorful, but have the habit of excessive lust, or they may be reborn as beasts that are fond of lust.

J3 Fox category.

Sutra:

The retribution of the mei ghost of an animal is finished when the animal dies, and it is reborn in the world, usually as a species of fox.

Commentary:


For the most part, these mei ghosts are reborn as foxes after they have finished their karma as ghosts.

J4 Poisonous category.

Sutra:

The retribution of the ku ghost in the form of worms is finished when the ku is exhausted, and it is reborn in the world, usually as a species of venomous creature.

Commentary:


A ku poison ghost takes its shape when it encounters worms. When the ku poison finally wears out and the ghost's retribution is ended, it is reborn in the world as a venomous creature, as a scorpion, cobra, or the like.

J5 Tapeworm category.

Sutra:

The retribution of a pestilence ghost found in degeneration is finished when the degeneration is complete, and it is reborn in the world, usually as a species of tapeworm.

Commentary:


The retribution of a pestilence ghost found in degeneration is finished when the degeneration is complete. Whoever encounters this kind of ghost will waste away. These ghosts are really terrible; their demonic power is tremendous. When its retribution is ended, and it is reborn in the world, usually as a species of tapeworm. These are the bugs in your intestines. I don't know if this kind of sickness exists in the West, but in China, these tapeworms can communicate; they can talk. They can talk to the person whose stomach they are occupying. There's no way to cure this kind of sickness with medicine, unless the person who has the sickness does not know that he is being given medicine. If the sick person knows it is medicine designed to eliminate the tapeworm, the tapeworm also knows. From this comes the expression, "You're not a tapeworm in my stomach, so how do you know what I'm thinking?"

Not only can tapeworms do this, but other kinds of weird beings can get into one's stomach and then carry on conversations. I've told you about the elder disciple I had in Hong Kong; she's probably more than eighty years old by now. She was about sixty when she took refuge with me. At that time she was deaf. Regardless of the fact that she couldn't hear, she came faithfully every time I gave a sutra lecture. She only understood Cantonese to begin with, and I was lecturing in Mandarin, and though there was a translator, she couldn't hear the translation. But she came anyway. It was more than three hundred steps up to the temple. I lectured from seven to nine at night, and she would come up and go down all those stairs. There was no light on the path. Despite her age, she was not afraid of falling. She was very sincere. One day she heard the recitation of "Homage to the Lotus Pool Assembly of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas," and thereafter her deafness was cured. She could hear again. That made her even more sincere, of course.

Whenever I lectured and whatever sutra it was on, she would come to hear. Wind and rain did not keep her away. But when you cultivate, if you are sincere, there will be demonic obstacles. As I've said before, if you want to cultivate well, your sins will catch up with you. Ties of resentment from your past lives will come to get you. If you want to become a Buddha, you have to endure the demons that come to test you. One night, then, this woman had a dream, or what seemed to be a dream and yet not to be one. In it she saw three plump children between the ages of two and three. After the dream she got sick. What was the nature of her illness? She had to eat all day long. She had to eat a meal every hour. She ate more than ten meals a day. Thinking it was a disease, she went to Western and Chinese doctors, but they told her she was not sick. This went on for two or three years. Finally one evening, on the seventh day of the second lunar month, the day before the celebration of Shakyamuni Buddha's accomplishment of the Way, when I'd come back from Ze Xing monastery on Da Yu mountain, she said to me, "Shih Fu, how is it that there's someone in my stomach talking to me?"

"What did it say?" I asked her.

She said, 'Today I made some cakes with coarse rice. When I ate them, something in my stomach said to me, 'I don't like to eat that stuff.' "

"What did you say?" I asked.

She replied, "I said, 'You get full, that's good enough. If you don't eat that, what are you going to eat?' " She talked back to her stomach like that.

I said, "Don't worry, tonight I'll make you well. Go back home, and light a stick of incense at your altar at midnight and recite the Buddha's name."

She went back and did as I said. As she did it, she saw three children come out of her stomach. They were the three plump ones she had seen in the dream. Then she saw Wei Tuo Bodhisattva set down two bowls of noodles, and the three children fought over the food. When they finished eating, Wei Tuo Bodhisattva pinched the three of them by the ear and dragged them away. After they were gone, she felt that her stomach was totally empty. From then on her sickness of liking to eat was cured.

Tapeworms, too, can talk in a person's stomach. But what the old woman had were not tapeworms. They were three weird goblins; two were frogs, and one was a lizard. They were a kind of hungry ghost. Why did she have to endure this sickness? I looked into her causes and conditions, it became clear later that in a former life she was a Buddhist, and she knew someone who had this very same kind of sickness. He was already over the illness when she met him, but he told her about it. Her reaction was, "I don't believe that. Who ever heard of someone having a hungry ghost in their stomach, a hungry ghost that could talk to them?" Because she said she didn't believe it, she had to go through the personal experience in this life of having that same kind of illness. When she had it, there were a lot of people in Hong Kong who didn't believe it either. They said, "Whoever heard of such a thing? It's ridiculous." These were Chinese people who didn't believe, it's not just Westerners who have a hard time believing it. And I believe that the people in Hong Kong who expressed disbelief will also get this kind of illness in some future life. The cycle of cause and effect is fierce.

J6 Food category.

Sutra:

The retribution of the ghost which takes shape in gases is finished when the gases are gone, and it is then reborn in the world, usually as a species of eating animal.

Commentary:


Since in the past it was greedy to be arrogant, it committed offenses. Now these offenses are paid for, and it can enter the world of people, but for the most part it gets reborn as an eating animal. There are two ways to explain "eating" here. First, the animal can't do anything but eat. That's all it's good for, like a pig or a sheep. Second, it is eaten by people. People eat the flesh of the pigs and sheep, and of cattle and chickens. This ghost, then, gets reborn as an animal which people consume. These kinds of animals are often domesticated so that they can be fattened up and then slaughtered and eaten.

J7 Clothing category.

Sutra:

The retribution of the ghost of prolonged darkness is finished when the darkness ends, and it is then reborn in the world, usually as a species of animal used for clothing or service.

Commentary:

This is the paralysis ghost. When it takes rebirth, it is usually as an animal used for clothing or service. Animals used for clothing would include silkworms and animals whose fur or hide is used to make clothes. "Service" refers to dogs and cats which spend their lives in the households of humans, being obedient to them and of same service to them.

J8 Migratory category.

Sutra:

The retribution of the ghost which unites with energy is finished when the union dissolves, and it is then reborn in the world, usually as a species of migratory creature.

Commentary:

The retribution of the ghost which unites with energy is finished when the union dissolves. These are the wang liang ghosts who take shape when they encounter essential energy. The text reads "when the union dissolves," but actually it should say "when the energy is dissolved." It is then reborn in the world, usually as a species of migratory creature. These kinds of creatures have an instinct about time. They include the wild geese that, flying in formation, migrate north in the spring and south in the autumn. In the spring the swallows come and nest in the eaves. After they have reared their young they fly away again. They are another example of creatures that have an instinct for time and know when to migrate.

J9 Auspicious category.

Sutra:

The retribution of the ghost of brightness and intellect is finished when the brightness disappears, and it is then reborn in the world, usually as a species of auspicious creature.

Commentary:

These are the servant ghosts. When they are reborn they become auspicious creatures like the unicorn, the phoenix, and such. They become animals and birds which are considered lucky.

J10 Domestic category.

Sutra:

The retribution of the ghost that relies on a person is finished when the person dies, and it is then reborn in the world, usually as a species of domestic animal.

Commentary:


These kinds of animals are docile and obedient. Dogs, cats, horses, and the like are examples of this kind of rebirth.

I3 Probes the source and shows it to be non-existent.

Sutra:

Ananda, all this is due to the burning out of his karmic fire in payment for his debts from past lives. The rebirth as an animal is also occasioned by his own false and empty karma. If he awakens to Bodhi, then fundamentally none of these false conditions will exist at all.

Commentary:


Ananda, all the various kinds of rebirth just discussed are due to the burning out of his karmic fire in payment for his debts from past lives. The rebirth as an animal is also occasioned by his own false and empty karma. It's due to the karma he created in the past. If he awakens to Bodhi, then fundamentally none of these false conditions will exist at all. If he awakens to the enlightened path, then all these false conditions will disappear. They are all empty.

I4 Repeats answer to prior question.

Sutra:

You mentioned Precious Lotus Fragrance, King Crystal, and bhikshu Good Stars. Evil karma such as theirs was created by them alone. It did not fall down out of the heavens or well up from the earth, nor did some person impose it upon them. Their own falseness brought it into being, and so they themselves have to undergo it. In the Bodhi mind, it is empty and false, a cohesion of false thoughts.

Commentary:


You mentioned Precious Lotus Fragrance. You remember what kind of a bhikshuni she was? Do you remember how she acted? King Crystal, and bhikshu Good Stars were the others that you brought up. Evil karma such as theirs was created by them alone. They fell into the hells alive. But they brought it down on themselves. It did not fall down out of the heavens or well up from the earth, nor did some person impose it upon them. That is not how their evil karma came about. Their own falseness brought it into being, and so they themselves have to undergo it. In the Bodhi mind, it is empty and false. In the Bodhi mind, karma such as this is ephemeral and imaginary. It's not real; it is just a cohesion of false thoughts. The solidification of false thinking is what brings this karma into being.

previous * next * contents

return to top