THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 7

Destiny of People

H4 Destiny of people.
I1 Traces prior teaching and the alarming result.
J1 The burden of debts must be repaid.


Sutra:

Moreover, Ananda, if while repaying his past debts by undergoing rebirth as an animal, such a living being pays back more than he owed, he will then be reborn as a human to rectify the excess.

Commentary:

He lives out a life as an animal in order to pay back the debts he made in the past. If in the process he pays back more than he needed to, he then gets reborn as a person again to make up the difference.

Sutra:

If he is a person with strength, blessings, and virtue, then once he is in the human realm, he will not have to lose his human rebirth after what is owed him is restored. But if he lacks blessings, then he will return to the animal realm to continue repaying his debts.

Commentary:


If he is a person with strength, blessings, and virtue, then once he is in the human realm, he will not have to lose his human. "Strength" means that he has the power of good karma. If on top of that he accumulates blessings and virtue, then he won't have to lose a human body after what is owed him is restored, after he's been paid back for the overpayment of debts he made while he was in the animal realm. But if he lacks blessings, then he will return to the animal realm to continue repaying his debts. He'll get reborn as an animal again to go on paying what he owes. There is no way to get off easy or cheat anyone out of anything. It must be just. Although there isn't any actual person controlling the whole process, the power of one's own karma is such that it does not allow any injustice. No one takes a loss unfairly.

J2 The burden of life: killing to eat is endless.

Sutra:

Ananda, you should know that once the debt is paid, whether with money, material goods, or manual labor, the process of repayment naturally comes to an end.

Commentary:


Ananda, you should know that, while in the human realm, once the debt is paid, whether with money, material goods, or manual labor, the process of repayment naturally comes to an end. When the repayment is sufficient, the work naturally stops.

Sutra:

But if in the process he took the lives of other beings or ate their flesh, then he continues in the same way, passing through kalpas as many as motes of fine dust, taking turns devouring and being slaughtered in a cycle that sends him up and down endlessly.

Commentary:


But if in the process, when he is tying up conditions with other beings, he took the lives of other beings or ate their flesh, then he continues in the same way, passing through kalpas as many as motes of fine dust, taking turns devouring and being slaughtered in a cycle that sends him up and down endlessly. He gets caught in a cycle that goes on for aeons and aeons, a cycle of eating and being eaten, killing and being killed. It goes on and on like the turning of a whee, you eat me, and I eat you, one doesn't know how long it lasts. He goes up and down, depending on whether he ate more or was eaten more. But it never stops. It is ceaseless. It's extremely dangerous.

Sutra:

There is no way to put a stop to it, except through shamatha or through a Buddha's coming to the world.

Commentary:


"Shamatha" is the Buddha's "still and illumining' samadhi; except through cultivating it and through upholding the durable Shurangama Samadhi, to obtain the great Shurangama Samadhi, there's no respite from this karmic obstacle, unless a Buddha comes into the world to release one from the appearance of these karmic offenses. Then both parties will know that they should not continue creating such karma. Only in that way can the cycle be stopped.

I2 A detailed listing of the ten categories.
J1 The category of corrupt and obstinate people.


Sutra:

You should know that when owls and their kind have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are born as people, but among those who are corrupt and obstinate.

Commentary:


"Their kind" refers to any other birds that are evil like owls are. Once they have undergone their karmic retribution, they return to their original form as human beings. But, although they are born again as people, they are corrupt and obstinate. When these creatures take birth again in the human realm, they become people who are totally perverse and hardheaded. They are stubborn and refuse to yield. They are totally unreasonable and unprincipled. Quite often they become robbers. They don't listen to reason. If you tried to explain some Buddhadharma to them, they would run away. "Among those who are corrupt and obstinate" means that they get together with such people, people like themselves. So it is said:

People join up with those who are like them,
Creatures divide into their various species.
The good get together,
The bad form gangs,
People find people who are of their own kind.

Students spend their time with other students. Workmen join together with other workmen. Gamblers get together with gamblers. Opium smokers mingle with other opium smokers. Hippies form communes with other hippies. It's all a manifestation of this principle, people find their own kind.

J2 The category of abnormal people.

Sutra:

When creatures that are inauspicious have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are born as people, but among those who are abnormal.

Commentary:


After they undergo their karmic retribution, they can be born in the human realm again, but as freaks. You see mention of this type of rebirth in the newspapers all the time. A woman gives birth to a child with two heads or a child that has two bodies but only one head. Or the infant's six sense organs will be out of place. Perhaps the eyes will be where the ears should be and the ears where the eyes belong. The nose may be where the mouth should be. The mouth may be where the nose should be. The sense organs exchange places. For the six sense-organs to be irregular is what is meant by "abnormal." Often such people die as soon as they are born, but even so they are counted as freaks. In general, "abnormal" means that there is something not right about them.

J3 The category of simple people.

Sutra:

When foxes have paid back their debts, they regain their original forms and are born as people, but among those who are simpletons.

Commentary:


The fox is extremely intelligent. But his intelligence is of a ghostly kind. That is, it is false, and so when he gets rebirth as a person again, he has to be a simpleton. He becomes a very dense kind of person. You can say something to him over and over and he still won't understand. If you leave him alone, he gets along all right, but as soon as you try to reason with him or explain something, it becomes obvious that he's completely out of it. He can't understand at all.

J4 The category of hateful people.

Sutra:

When creatures of the venomous category have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are born as people, but among those who are hateful.

Commentary:


When creatures of the venomous category, including things like poisonous snakes and vicious beasts, have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are born as people, but among those who are hateful. When they finish out their retribution, they come back in the world as people, but although they manage to get reborn in the human realm, they still have not changed their bad habits. They are extremely cruel and fierce. They are obstinate and angry. If they say they are going to kill someone, they do just that. That's because they are still like poisonous snakes who take no heed of whether their actions are justifiable or not; if you get in their way, they will bite and kill you and talk about it later. As people, they continue along in that same kind of evil habit of killing people. They are terribly cruel and unreasonable. Their poisonous habits haven't changed since their lives as snakes. The Shurangama Sutra discussion of human nature and the nature of all creatures is an extremely detailed one. If you investigate it carefully, you see that it is all minutely set forth.

J5 The category of lowly people.

Sutra:

When tapeworms and their like have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are born as people, but among those who are lowly.

Commentary:


When tapeworms and their like have paid back their debts, they regain their original form. Do you remember that tapeworms are able to talk? Pretty strange, wouldn't you say? When this kind of creature has paid back its debts from former lives, then it can become a person again. Although it becomes a person, it lives out that human life among those who are lowly. Very worthless people, they are, who must work for others and do menial tasks. They are inferior, unimportant, and insignificant people.

J6 The category of weak people.

Sutra:

When the edible types of creatures have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as people, but among those who are weak.

Commentary:


When the edible types of creatures, who have been reborn as animals that people like to eat, have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as people, but among those who are weak. When their karmic obstacle dissolves, they go back to being people again, but they must be reborn among the weak, because they have not changed their bad habits from the past. They are very manipulable. They cannot manage on their own in the world. In all that they do they have to rely on others for support. They are cowardly and meek to a fault.

J7 The category of laborers.

Sutra:

When creatures that are used for clothing or service have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as people, but among those who do hard labor.

Commentary:


When creatures that are used for clothing or service have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as people. Living beings whose bodies or by-products are used for people's apparel or who must live a life of obedience and service to a human being eventually pay back their debts and can be reborn as people. But when they get born in the human realm it is among those who do hard labor. That's their lot in life.

J8 The category of literate people.

Sutra:

When creatures that migrate have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as people among those who are literate.

Commentary:


When creatures that migrate, wild geese and ducks, migratory birds and beasts, have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as people among those who are literate. But their literary skills are not great. They have a little ability, that's all. They appear to be cultured, but they don't have exceptional talent.

J9 The category of intelligent people.

Sutra:

When auspicious creatures have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as people among those who are intelligent.

Commentary:


Their intelligence is not profound, however; it is a worldly intelligence which is skilled in argument.

J10 The category of well-informed people.

Sutra:

When domestic animals have paid back their debts, they regain their original form and are reborn as people among those who are well-informed.

Commentary:


People like this comprehend what's going on. They understand social graces. But they do not have a genuine and comprehensive understanding that penetrates the past and present. They are not that well-educated. They simply attain a superficial kind of success in dealing with the world.

I3 Concludes with an expression of pity.

Sutra:

Ananda, these are all beings that have finished paying back former debts and are born again in the human realm. They are involved in a beginningless scheme of karma and being upside down in which their lives are spent killing one another and being killed by one another. They do not get to meet the Thus Come One or hear the proper dharma. They just abide in the wearisome dust, passing through a repetitive cycle. Such people can truly be called pitiful.

Commentary:


Ananda, these are all beings that have finished paying back former debts and are born again in the human realm. Eventually they finished repaying the karmic debts they had to pay, and they get to become people. But they are involved in a beginningless scheme of karma and being upside down in which their lives are spent killing one another and being killed by one another. They keep creating the same kind of upside-down evil karma by killing and being killed. They do not get to meet the Thus Come One, they never encounter a Buddha, or hear the proper dharma. They just abide in the wearisome dust, passing through a repetitive cycle. They remain forever in the wearisome mundane world. The "repetitive cycle" means that it's exactly the same over and over again. That's just how it always is for them. Such people can truly be called pitiful. The Buddha says that beings like these are very pathetic.

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