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The Thinking Skandha
VOLUME 8, Chapter 4
K4 The cultivator becomes deluded and confused.
The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking that the other is a Bodhisattva. He believes the other's teachings and his mind is swayed. He breaks the Buddha's moral precepts and covertly indulges his greedy desires.
The good person who cultivates samadhi is beguiled and fooled at this point into thinking that the other is a Bodhisattva. When he sees how the person can appear as a bhikshu, as Shakra, as a lay woman, and as a bhikshuni, suddenly changing from one appearance to another, he thinks the person must be a Bodhisattva. He then deeply believes the other's teachings and his mind is swayed. He breaks the Buddha's moral precepts.
What should you examine in a cultivator? See whether or not he keeps the Buddha's precepts. If he doesn't, then he is certainly a demon. If he strictly adheres to the precepts without violating them, then he is a genuine Buddhist. However, someone may claim to be a Buddhist call himself a venerable elder, and assume other tides as well, and yet he covertly indulges his greedy desires. He engages in a clandestine affair and tries to keep people from knowing about it.
K5 The types of things he says.
The other person is fond of speaking about calamities, auspicious events, and unusual changes. He may say that a Tathagata has appeared in the world at a certain place. He may speak of catastrophic fires or wars, thus frightening people into squandering their family wealth without reason.
The other person is fond of speaking about calamities, auspicious events, and unusual changes. What does the person who is possessed by the demon like to speak about? He likes to talk about calamities, which are unlucky events. He may say a calamity is going to occur in a certain place, or that something auspicious is going to happen somewhere, or that an unusual event is going to take place. He may say that a Tathagata has appeared in the world at a certain place. He may say, "You know what? Such-andsuch a Buddha has now appeared in the world at such-and-such a place."
He may speak of catastrophic fires or wars. He may say, "The three disasters, flood, fire, and wind, and the eight difficulties are upon us." Or, "The kalpa is coming to an end!" Or he might warn people, "Be careful, war is about to break out there." Or, "The Soviet Union is about to go to war with a certain country!" He speaks in this way, thus frightening people into squandering their family wealth without reason.
He always says things that capture people's attention and cause them to be alarmed. When people hear what he says, they panic, "Oh no! There's going to be war. Will my life be in danger?" He might say, "The war is starting. If you give me some money immediately, I'll guarantee your safety. If you don't pay me, you will lose your life!" He is always saying such things to cheat people.
If you want to determine whether a person is genuine or phony, whether he is a Bodhisattva or a demon, you can look for the following things: First, see whether he has any desire for sex; and second, see whether he is greedy for money. If he cheats people to satisfy his lust and greed for wealth, then he is not genuine.
How might he be greedy for wealth? For example, he may say, "A great calamity is nearly upon us! The world is coming to an end. An atomic bomb is going to explode at such-and-such a place. A hydrogen bomb will be set off at another place." He says such things to frighten people into giving him their money. If you wake up to his tricks, then even if he emits light, makes the earth quake, or does something else spectacular, you shouldn't believe in him, because he is greedy. A person without greed is true; a greedy person is a phony. My method is a practical and effective truth-detector.
If we had no greed or desires, then we would have no trouble. If you have greed and desire, then all sorts of things will happen. All the myriad things, beings, and species in the world are born from greed and desire. Thus it is said, "When not a single thought is produced, the entire substance manifests." If you don't have thoughts of greed and desire, then the Buddha-nature will appear. "When the six sense faculties suddenly move, one is covered by clouds." Once the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind become attached to a state, it's like the sky clouding over so that the sun cannot shine.
Fundamentally, what causes the six sense faculties to move? Greed and desire. Because you are unable to give up greed and desire, the six sense faculties turn into the six thieves and the six consciousnesses come into being. If you had no greed and desire, then the thieves of the six sense faculties would no longer be thieves, and the six consciousnesses would no longer be consciousnesses.
Everything would return to the source, and all troubles would disappear. Everyone should pay attention to this. It all depends on whether or not you have greed and desire. If you do, then you have not separated yourself from the demons yet. If you do not, then you have joined with the Buddhas.
K6 Giving the name and pointing out the harm.
This is a strange ghost that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person's body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law.
This is a strange, weird ghost that, after a long time, in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person's body. Eventually, it gets bored of playing this game. It has had enough, and so it stops possessing the person. When that happens, then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. The authorities arrest them, accuse them of rabble-rousing, and either execute them or punish them in some other way.
This is the time to study, and we must keep studying the states, one by one, until we finish. Then everyone will have a better understanding.
Right now we've just started studying, and some will understand, while others won't. When each of you comes to the front, you are not here to interrogate anyone, but just to investigate what you have seen and understood with everyone else. The person who just came up here had a correct understanding. When the form skandha is obliterated, the view of self is emptied, so that one no longer has a sense of self, and all physical objects, all things with form and appearance, are also emptied. If you don't understand this, you can read over the sutra text a few more times, and then you'll naturally understand.
All religions operate in the realm of the five skandhas. Later on the text talks about how both the teacher and the disciples get in trouble with the law. The words "teacher and disciples" indicate that this is talking about religion. Being satisfied with their small achievements, they set up their own religion and claim that it is the real one. Without my having to mention any religions by name, everyone should know what I'm talking about. If you want to know which skandhas those religions fall under, what level they have reached, then you have to gain a thorough understanding of the fifty skandha-demon states.
Instead of just asking questions, you should look into them yourselves. We are all studying together, and it shouldn't be that one person answers everyone else's questions, because our wisdom is equal. In our investigation, if everyone agrees to a principle, then we will consider it correct. We are gathering everyone's opinions, and when we publish the fifty skandha-demon states in the future, each person's opinion should be included. This is a joint investigation, not one person answering others' questions. Anyone can speak out and express an opinion.
Why do we have only two people reading aloud? Because these two people have passable Chinese and English. They are giving a general explanation of the meaning, and if what they say is incomplete, people can speak up. People should not be simply asking questions. This is not like when we lectured on the Brahma Net Sutra. This meeting is investigatory in nature, and everyone is equal. There's no need to request the dharma or do anything. Everyone should just investigate and study together. No one is debating with anyone else, and anyone can express an opinion. Do you all think this is a good method?
[January 1983, another day]
Disciple: The sutra text says that the teacher and disciples will both fall into the hells?
Venerable Master: Right, that's referring to the cultivator! Disciple: Is the cultivator one of the disciples?
Venerable Master: Not necessarily. The teacher is also that way; he's also a cultivator. An example of this was the People's Church. You can tell by whether or not a person has lust. If he has lust, then he is a demon. If he doesn't, then he's proper and he's a Buddha. That's where the difference lies. If he hasn't cut off lust then he can't subdue his mind. He may be able to sit there and enter samadhi, but while in samadhi, he is still greedy and seeking. "He correctly indulges his greedy desires." That's how you can recognize him.
K7 Instructions to be aware and not become confused.
You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.
You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. You should awaken to this early on and not enter the demon king's cycle of birth and death. If you are confused and do not understand, in the future you will fall into the Relentless Hells.
J2 Greedy for adventure.
K1 Samadhi leads to craving and seeking.
Further, Ananda, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves to roam about, so he lets his subtle thoughts fly out as he greedily seeks for adventure.
Further, Ananda, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person who cultivates samadhi is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind has another false thought and craves to roam about, that is, "to go out the top of his head and roam around in his spiritual body." That means his spirit goes out and runs around to various places. So he lets his subtle thoughts fly out as he greedily seeks for adventure. His spirit flies out and wants to go everywhere, to see the sights and have some fun.
K2 A demon dispatches a deviant force to possess a person.
At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the sutras and the dharma.
At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. The demon king in the heavens again becomes jealous and waits for an opening to get in. Its spirit possesses another person. It again sends a member of its retinue to possess another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the sutras and the dharma. It comes to disturb the cultivator. Why does the cultivator get possessed by a demon? Simply because he is greedy for adventure; he longs to travel, to roam far and wide. As soon as he entertains the thought of roaming, that gives the demon king the chance to disturb him. The demon would not come if the cultivator did not have that thought.
K3 The person who is possessed causes trouble.
This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks to roam, he arranges a seat and speaks the dharma. His own body does not change its appearance, but those listening to the dharma suddenly see themselves sitting on jeweled lotuses and their entire bodies transformed into clusters of purple-golden light. Each person in the audience experiences that state and feels he has obtained something unprecedented.
This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached the wondrous fruition of unsurpassed nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks to roam, that is, the cultivator who had a false thought about his spiritual body going out the top of his head and roaming everywhere, he arranges a seat and speaks the dharma. His own body does not change its appearance. In the previous passage, the person's own body took on the appearance of a bhikshu, of Shakra, of a lay woman, of a bhikshuni, and various other forms. But in this case his body does not change. T
here are different kinds of demons, and you should not consider experiencing an unusual state to be something good. If one occurs and you don't recognize it, a demon can possess you. Here, the body of the person who is speaking the dharma doesn't change, but those listening to the dharma suddenly see themselves sitting on jeweled lotuses and their entire bodies transformed into clusters of purple-golden light.
Suddenly, everyone feels as if he is sitting on a jeweled lotus and his whole body has turned into a cluster of purple-golden light. Each person in the audience experiences that state and feels he has obtained something unprecedented. They think this is rare and unusual something they have never seen before. They believe it to be a good state, but actually it is a demonic state.
K4 The cultivator becomes deluded and confused.
The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking the other is a Bodhisattva. Lust and laxity corrupt his mind. He breaks the Buddha's moral precepts and covertly indulges his greedy desires.
The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking the other is a Bodhisattva. Not only this person, but all those listening to the dharma are very stupid. Their minds are confused, and they think, "He's really a Bodhisattva! He can make me sit on a jeweled lotus and turn the color of purple-golden light." You should ask yourself if you are really seated on a lotus blossom and radiant with purple-golden light.
Actually it is all false. How can you, an ordinary person, have such a state? Isn't this a demon king that has come to fool you? Why would a Bodhisattva make such a state appear? What is the Bodhisattva trying to get from you? Lust and laxity corrupt his mind. The minds of those listening to dharma are moved as well, and they start having thoughts of lust. He breaks the Buddha's moral precepts. They don't keep the Buddha's precepts anymore.
You should all remember: After you take the precepts, never be deceived by such states of confused belief. Even if a dharma-speaker displays mighty spiritual powers, you should look him over carefully and see if he is greedy. If he is out for money or if he has lust, then he's not genuine. He's a phony. If a person does not have any lust, greed, or ulterior motives, then he is genuine. If he violates the Buddha's moral precepts, then he's a fraud. And he covertly indulges his greedy desires. He engages in licentious conduct on the sly.
K5 The types of things he says.
The other person is fond of saying that Buddhas are appearing in the world. He claims that in a certain place a certain person is actually a transformation body of a certain Buddha. Or he says that a certain person is such and such a Bodhisattva who has come to teach humankind. People who witness this are filled with admiration. Their wrong views multiply, and their wisdom of modes is destroyed.
The other person is fond of saying that Buddhas are appearing in the world. The person possessed by the demon likes to roam about, and then based on his adventures, he talks about strange and mysterious things. The things he says are so mysterious that no one can conceive of them. He says, "All the Buddhas have now come into the world to save people." He claims that in a certain place a certain person is actually a transformation body of a certain Buddha. "He's really Buddha so-and-so, whose transformation body has come here to save living beings." Or he says that a certain person is such and such a Bodhisattva who has come to teach humankind.
For example, one of my disciples says that the disciples of a certain teacher say that their teacher is a Bodhisattva. That's ridiculous. What kind of Bodhisattva? A ghost Bodhisattva. They're just cheating people. I'll tell you something: A real Buddha or Bodhisattva would never admit that he was a Buddha or a Bodhisattva.
Nor would he let his disciples advertise for him, saying, "Our teacher is a Bodhisattva." I never told you to talk like that. Why do some of you say that your teacher is a Buddha? You must never speak that way about me. Haven't I told you I'm a ghost? Just tell them your teacher is a ghost. I don't want to be called a Bodhisattva or a Buddha. How pathetic those people are!
Here the person says, "This is a Bodhisattva who has come to teach the world! He has come to save us in this Dharma-ending Age." People who witness this are filled with admiration. Since they have childish views and don't really understand the Buddhadharma, they think, "Wow! He's a Bodhisattva! Fantastic! Let's hurry and go hear him speak the dharma and ask him to be our teacher!"
For example, yesterday someone came to steal the dharma. I asked him who his teacher was, and he said it was so-and-so. That's the kind of situation this is referring to. They are filled with awe and admiration. "We'll take this Bodhisattva as our teacher, and study Bodhisattva dharmas with him. Since he's a Bodhisattva, of course all the people he teaches can become Bodhisattvas, too." As a result, their wrong views multiply, gradually growing thicker and thicker, and their wisdom of modes is destroyed. Their wisdom of all modes and all their various kinds of wisdom are eradicated. The seeds of their wisdom are destroyed. It's that dangerous!
There's not a very great difference between what is true principle and what is not true principle. It's a very subtle difference, and so it's not easy for us to have dharma-selecting vision and to distinguish between proper dharma and deviant dharmas, or good and evil.
If a person is proper, then everything he does will be open and upright. If he is deviant, then he will always be taking risks hoping to gain advantages; he will do disgraceful things. Good people try to help others, while evil people harm others. Once we recognize these points, we will have a clear understanding.