THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 8

CHAPTER 1

The Origin of Demonic States

D2 Identifying the five demons so cultivators can recognize them and avoid failing.
E1 The demonic states of the five skandhas are spoken without request.
F1 Everyone should recognize these demonic states.
G1 Final true and unending compassion.


Sutra:

At that time, the Tathagata was preparing to leave the Dharma seat. From the lion throne, he extended his hand and placed it on a small table wrought of the seven precious things. But then he turned his body, which was the color of purple golden mountains, and leaned back, saying to everyone in the assembly and to Ananda: "Those of you with more to learn, those enlightened by conditions, and those who are soundhearers have now turned your minds to pursue the attainment of supreme Bodhi the unsurpassed, wonderful enlightenment. I have already taught you the true method of cultivation."

Commentary:


At that time, the Tathagata was preparing to leave the Dharma seat, since he had almost finished speaking the Shurangama Sutra. From the lion throne, he reached his hand out and placed it on a small table wrought of the seven precious things. The Buddha was on his Dharma seat, the lion throne. The Buddha's speaking of the Dharma is like a lion's roar. When a lion roars, all the animals are frightened. That's why the Buddha's Dharma seat is called the lion throne. The small table in front of the Buddha was made of and adorned with the seven precious things.

But then he turned his body, which was the color of purple golden mountains, and leaned back. The Buddha's body is like a purple golden mountain; its brightness shines everywhere. He leaned on the small table again to speak the dharma, saying to everyone in the assembly and to Ananda: Those of you with more to learn. Before certifying to the fourth stage of Arhatship, one is in the position of having more to learn. Those enlightened by conditions and those who are sound-hearers, those who become enlightened through cultivating the twelve links of conditioned causation and those sound-hearers who become enlightened through cultivating the dharma of the four noble truths have now turned your minds to pursue the attainment of supreme Bodhi, the unsurpassed, wonderful enlightenment.

You have now turned from the small to go towards the great. You of the two vehicles have brought forth the great vehicle resolve and seek to attain great enlightenment; there is no enlightenment higher than this. I have already taught you the true method of cultivation. I have already explained the real method of cultivation for you.

G2 Specific indication of the subtle demonic events.

Sutra:

You are still not aware of the subtle demonic events that can occur when you cultivate shamatha and vipashyana. If you cannot recognize a demonic state when it appears, it is because the cleansing of your mind has not been proper. You will then be engulfed by deviant views.

Commentary:


You are still not aware. Earlier, Ananda asked the Buddha how to cultivate. He had requested the Dharma on behalf of living beings of the future. But, although he now understands the principle of cultivation, he doesn't have any actual experience. He understands the theory, but since he lacks experience, he doesn't know what can occur in cultivation. So the Buddha said, "You are still not aware of the subtle demonic events that can occur when you cultivate shamatha and vipashyana." In cultivating shamatha, which refers to the great Shurangama Samadhi, and in cultivating vipashyana, a method of subtle contemplation, subtle demonic states can arise. In the process of cultivation, many demonic states can arise which are not very obvious, but, rather, extremely obscure.

If you cannot recognize a demonic state when it appears. When you are cultivating the Way and practicing the skill of "directing the hearing inward to listen to the inherent nature," a demonic state may appear. If you do not recognize the demon and do not know what demons are, it is because the cleansing of your mind has not been proper. You have been cleansing your mind, but what you have done is slightly incorrect not in accord with proper knowledge and views. For that reason, you will then be engulfed by deviant views. If your knowledge and views are the slightest bit improper, you will be caught up in deviant views.

Sutra:

You may be troubled by a demon from your own skandhas or a demon from the heavens. Or you may be possessed by a ghost or spirit, or you may encounter a li ghost or a mei ghost. If your mind is not clear, you will mistake a thief for your own son.

Commentary:


You may be troubled by a demon from your own skandhas; that is, a demon produced from your own mind, or one of the ten kinds of demons produced from the form skandha, which is also of your own making. Or it may be a demon from the heavens. Why should a demon from the heavens come to disturb you? It's because you have cultivated to the point that you have some samadhi. Having samadhi is no problem in itself, but what happens is that the demon king's palace starts to shake. It seems just like an earthquake. Since the demon king has spiritual powers, as soon as the shaking starts, he investigates, "Why is my palace shaking for no apparent reason? Why is it breaking apart? Aha!" He discovers that someone in the world is about to accomplish the Way and that the strength of that person's samadhi is shattering his palace. The demon king thinks, "So you want to destroy me? Well, I'm going to destroy your samadhi first!" Then he comes to wipe out your samadhi power.

Or you may be possessed by a ghost or spirit. When the ghosts and spirits see that you are about to realize the fruition in your cultivation, they become jealous. They think, "Oh, so you are going to realize the fruition? We're going to destroy your cultivation first!" Then they enter your mind or possess your body, making it impossible for you to perfect your samadhi power. They cause you to "catch on fire" and become possessed. Didn't the preceding passage of text talk about being possessed by a demon? This is very important. Why do you become possessed by a demon? Because "the cleansing of your mind has not been proper," and because your motivation is improper. With even the slightest deviant thought, you get caught by a demon. This is known as "catching on fire and entering a demonic state."

Or you may encounter a li ghost or a mei ghost or a wang liang. Those are types of ghosts and goblins. If your mind is not clear, you will mistake a thief for your own son. If you encounter such a state and fail to recognize or understand it, you will end up "mistaking a thief for your son." Think about it: How can they not rob or steal your possessions? If you invite a thief into your home, then all the priceless treasures in your house will be stolen. What are your priceless treasures? I will tell you frankly, and be sure to remember this! You should believe what I say. Whatever you do, don't fail to believe what I say. Why? Because it is important to your future and to your life. What are your treasures? They are your very own treasury of the Tathagata. Can your treasury of the Tathagata be stolen? Didn't I mention essence, energy and spirit before? If you want to regain your treasury of the Tathagata, you first have to protect your essence, energy, and spirit. If you fail to guard these three, you are allowing your wealth to be robbed from you. So be careful!

[January 1983]

All people like money. They think, "What Heaven has conferred is called money; accordance with nature is called money. Money may not be left for an instant. If it could be left, it would not be money." Ordinary worldly people have this problem. That is, they cannot see through the matter of money, so they can't put it down. It wouldn't be so bad if you were the only one poisoned by money. But you also want to poison your children and grandchildren, so you leave money for your sons and daughters. Your children then leave money for their children, and they in turn leave money for their children. Passing the money back and forth, people are so poisoned by this toxic substance that they can't even catch their breath. This is really frightening. Therefore, here we tell everyone that money has poison on it. You still don't believe it though, and you always want to be very close to money. You've been poisoned by it, and the harmful effects will poison your children and grandchildren as well in all the generations to come. In the past I've said this many times: people think saving up money is a good thing. But people who cultivate the Way should not take money so seriously; they need not save money. We don't need to think "Money may not be left for an instant." We should change the phrase around to say, "What heaven has conferred is called the dharma; accordance with nature is called the dharma. The dharma may not be left for an instant. If it could be left, it would not be the dharma." What is meant by "the dharma"? You say, "I know. It's the dharma of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha." You don't really understand yet. If you really understood, you wouldn't lose your dharma.

Ultimately, what is the dharma? It is just our energy, our vital energy which penetrates heaven and earth to the point that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are of the same substance as us because our energy is connected. This energy is like our breath; it can be detected. That which is within the energy and controls it is the dharma. Therefore, it is essential that we nurture our energy; we should not lose our temper. You should cultivate your energy, as in the saying, "Foster the ground of your mind, and nurture the sky of your nature." This is nurturing your energy. If you want to nurture your energy, then don't lose your dharma. I will tell you a most important and essential dharma-door. If you listen, fine. If you don't listen, that's okay, too, but I'll tell you anyway. What is it? If you want to nurture your energy, then don't talk so much.

Don't talk so much in the kitchen. Today it's a little better. But in the last two days, when I went to the kitchen and dining hall, it sounded like a marketplace. Everyone was shouting. One person was selling carrots, another was selling cabbage, another was selling potatoes, and someone else was selling sweet potatoes. What did they think they were doing, shouting and yelling like that? They'd forgotten completely about the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. There's no need to make such a racket in the kitchen. That is not how cultivators should behave. Later I found out that the dormitory was also like a marketplace. People were quarreling, chattering, and making noise everywhere. No one knows what they were talking about.

A person who cannot limit his speech will not be able to cultivate. If you cannot nurture your energy, then you do not have the dharma. Therefore, "The dharma may not be left for an instant." You can very easily and carelessly squander this dharma by talking all the time. I do not like to interfere in other people's business, but this is really too much! If this continues, these people who argue all day long will be the villains of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. No wonder the Buddhas don't want to stay here anymore, and the Bodhisattvas also stay far away; they don't want to listen to these people who do nothing but gossip and chatter. I don't mean to say that people shouldn't talk to each other at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. People should certainly discuss important matters, but they should not be chatting idly all the time.

You say, "Oh, nothing's happening around here. I'm so lonely, I've gotta find someone to talk to."

That might be all right, but after you've had your chat, you will have lost all dharma whatsoever. If you lose the dharma, how can you cultivate the Way?

Sutra:

It is also possible to feel satisfied after a small accomplishment, like the unlearned bhikshu who reached the fourth dhyana and claimed that he had realized sagehood. When his celestial reward ended and the signs of decay appeared, he slandered Arhatship as being subject to birth and death, and thus he fell into the Avichi Hell.

Commentary:


It is also possible to feel satisfied after a small accomplishment. In cultivation, even if you do not become possessed by a demon, you must still have genuine wisdom and dharma-selecting vision. If you recognize the Buddhadharma, you yourself should know what level you have reached. Don't obtain only a little bit and feel satisfied, like the unlearned bhikshu who reached the fourth dhyana and claimed that he had realized sagehood. He was called the unlearned bhikshu because he didn't have much sense. He knew little about the principles of Buddhism. In what way was he unlearned? Basically, the four fruitions of Arhatship are all beyond the four dhyana heavens. The Buddha explained that one who has realized the fourth fruition of Arhatship no longer undergoes birth and death. A sage who has realized the second fruition is called a "once returner". He is born once in the heavens and once in the human realm; he has one more round of birth and death to undergo. A sage of the first fruition has seven more rounds of birth and death to undergo. All of these states surpass the four dhyana heavens. The unlearned bhikshu had only reached the level of the fourth dhyana heaven in his cultivation, but he thought he had already realized the fourth fruition of Arhatship. In fact, at the level of the fourth dhyana heaven, one has not realized any fruition and is still an ordinary person.

But the unlearned bhikshu claimed that he had attained the fourth fruition of Arhatship. Now, however, people think that the level of a fourth stage Arhat is still too low for them, and they brazenly claim that they themselves are Buddhas. But a Buddha has three bodies, four wisdoms, five eyes, and six spiritual powers. You can ask those people who claim to be Buddhas how many spiritual powers they have. Ghosts have five of the six spiritual powers; they lack the spiritual power of freedom from outflows. At the fruition of Buddhahood, one has all six spiritual powers. I believe that anyone who claimed to be a Buddha would not have even one spiritual power, let alone five or six. Only someone lacking spiritual powers would claim to be a Buddha. Anyone with even one spiritual power wouldn't tell such a great lie.

When his celestial reward ended, when his life in the heavens came to an end and the signs of decay appeared. Do you remember the five signs of decay1? When the life of a heavenly being comes to an end and he is about to die, these five signs appear.

He slandered Arhatship as being subject to birth and death, and thus he fell into the Avichi Hell. When his blessings in the heavens ran out, the five signs of decay appeared and his life in the heavens came to an end, the unlearned bhikshu got angry. What was he angry about? He said, "I've been deceived by the Buddha! The Buddha is a charlatan. He said that when you realize the fourth fruition of Arhatship, you don't have to undergo birth and death ever again. Why is my life coming to an end now? Why do I have to be reborn? Why do I have to undergo transmigration again? The five signs of decay are:

i) The flowers on the gods' crowns wilt;
ii) their clothes become dirty;
iii) their armpits sweat;
iv) their bodies become smelly and filthy; and
v) they cannot sit still.

Buddha is a liar!" Guess what happened when he slandered the Buddha like that. He fell into the Avichi Hell.

The Avichi Hell is also called the Relentless Hell. Basically he had not realized the fourth fruition of Arhatship at all, but he claimed that he had. When he used up his celestial blessings and reached the end of his life, he fell into the lower realms. He did not realize his mistake and said that the Buddha had spoken the dharma incorrectly. In fact the Buddha had said, "You have not realized the fourth fruition of Arhatship. If you had, naturally there would be no more birth and death for you. How could the Five Signs of Decay appear?" Upon slandering the Buddha, the unlearned bhikshu immediately fell into the Relentless Hell the Avichi Hell. Where do you suppose those people who claim to be Buddhas go? I don't know where they end up.

G3 Exhortation to pay attention and promise to speak.

Sutra:

You should pay attention. I will now explain this for you in detail.

Commentary:

You should pay attention. Ananda, you should pay special attention. Listen carefully. I will now explain this for you, Ananda, and for everyone else, in great detail, so don't disappoint me.

F2 The members of the assembly bow and listen respectfully.

Sutra:

Ananda stood up and, with the others in the assembly who had more to learn, bowed joyfully. They quieted themselves in order to listen to the compassionate instruction.

Commentary:


Ananda stood up immediately and, with the others in the assembly the great Bodhisattvas, the great Arhats, the great bhikshus, and those who had more to learn, people at the first, second, and third fruitions bowed joyfully. Since the Buddha was about to explain the matter in detail, everyone was happy, and together they joyfully paid homage and bowed to the Buddha. They quieted themselves in order to listen to the compassionate instruction. They subdued their minds and had no more extraneous thoughts, so they could listen with full attention to the dharma the Buddha was about to speak.

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