THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 8

K6 Giving the name and pointing out the harm.

Sutra:

This is a drought 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.

Commentary:


This is a drought ghost that in its old age has become a demon. Wherever a drought ghost goes, there will be no rainfall. The drought will last at least six months, and it may go on for one, two, three, or five years. As long as the ghost is in the area, there will be no rain. While young, it is a ghost. But as it ages, it becomes more crafty and villainous and turns into a demon. A derogatory proverb about old people says: "To be old and not to have died is to be a rascal." That is even more the case with ghosts. If a ghost grows old and doesn't die, it becomes a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, after it has played its tricks for a long time, the demon becomes bored with the whole affair. Having lost interest, it will leave the other person's body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. They are arrested and put in prison. They may be executed or face life imprisonment. It is just as if they were in the hells.

K7 Instructions to be aware and not become confused.

Sutra:

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.

Commentary:


You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the demon king's cycle of transmigration. Don't join the demon's retinue. If you are confused and do not understand, if you don't recognize the workings of the demon king, then you will follow the demon king and fall into the Relentless Hells.

J3 Greed for union.
K1 Samadhi leads to craving and seeking.

Sutra:

Further, 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 spiritual oneness, so he clarifies his concentrated thought as he greedily seeks for union.

Commentary:


Further, 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 spiritual oneness. He wants to join in close connection with all sages. So he clarifies his concentrated thought as he greedily seeks for union. He forcefully uses subtle thoughts that have been settled and made clear. Because of his one secret thought of craving for union, he gives the demon king a chance to come and disturb him.

K2 A demon dispatches a deviant force to possess a person.

Sutra:

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.

Commentary:


The demon sees its chance, so it dispatches a spirit that quickly possesses a person and speaks the dharma through him.

K3 The person who is possessed causes trouble.

Sutra:

This person, unaware that he is actually possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks union, he arranges a seat and speaks the dharma. Neither his own body nor the bodies of those listening to the dharma go through any external transformations. But he makes the minds of the listeners become 'enlightened' before they listen to the dharma, so they experience changes in every thought. They may have the knowledge of past lives or the knowledge of others' thoughts. They may see the hells or know all the good and evil events in the human realm. They may speak verses or spontaneously recite sutras. Each person is elated and feels he has obtained something unprecedented.

Commentary:


This possessed person is unaware that he is actually possessed by a demon. He claims he has reached the wondrous fruition of unsurpassed nirvana. When he comes to see that good person, the cultivator who seeks union, he arranges a dharma seat, ascends it, and speaks the dharma. Neither his own body nor the bodies of those listening to the dharma go through any external transformations. His own appearance does not change, nor do the appearances of his listeners change. Nothing happens on the outside. It is not as in a previous passage, where the listeners saw themselves sitting on precious lotus flowers or saw their own bodies radiating purple-golden light. Nor is it as when they saw the person speaking dharma change into a bhikshu, a bhikshuni, Shakra, a woman, and so forth. There are no such transformations.

But instead he makes the minds of the listeners become "enlightened" before they listen to the dharma. After their "enlightenment," they feel as if they are drunk or having a dream in which they strike it rich. This "enlightenment" is not true enlightenment.

It is an illusory state, like watching a movie or taking an hallucinogenic drug. They see everything in an altered state so that in their minds they experience changes in every thought. They may have the knowledge of past lives, but again the knowledge of past lives they attain is not real. What they see is totally illusory. Or they may have the knowledge of others' thoughts. They may see all of the states in the hells. Or they may know all the good and evil events in the human realm. They may casually be able to speak verses on their own, or they may spontaneously recite sutras. Each person is elated and feels he has obtained something unprecedented. They all say, "He truly is a Bodhisattva! He's really a Buddha! He has made me enlightened! He has given me the power of knowing past lives." However, the experience lasts only while they are listening to the dharma. That is why it is not genuine.

[May 1989]

Layperson: Venerable Master, dharma masters, and good advisors. I'd like to share something which is closely related to everyone's cultivation.

When the feeling skandha comes to an end, the cultivator tends to be in a state of anxiety in which he craves clever and skillful expedients. He wants to merge with the cosmic principle, unite with potentials, and convert living beings. When he has this kind of anxiety, several things may happen. For example, some people who have never read sutras before will become possessed by demons, and then they will be able to explain many sutras. There are many "cultivators" in Taiwan who have read very little of the sutras and who may have violated the substance of the precepts they received. Yet they want to obtain clever and skillful expedients; when they see other people explaining sutras and gaining a large following, they hope to quickly attain wisdom themselves so that they can also explain sutras to many people. Having such a thought they become possessed by demons as they sit in meditation.

Many people who seem to be very good at explaining sutras are actually possessed by demons. Of course, if a person strictly follows the precepts, diligently recites mantras and sutras, and cultivates very hard, then he may not be possessed. However, there are some people who are very casual about holding precepts and who do not recite sutras or bow to the Buddhas; yet when they go onstage and close their eyes, after two or three days not only they themselves, but also those in the audience who gave rise to false thinking will be able to lecture very well on the sutras without having studied them before.

I don't think this will happen at the Venerable Master's Wayplaces. If you go to other Way-places where the dharma-protecting spirits don't do a good job and you give rise to false thinking and greedy attachments, then you may have these states, especially if you like to meditate. People who don't meditate usually don't have these states. There is an elderly woman in Taiwan who was basically illiterate, but after three or five days, she could write beautiful Chinese calligraphy. I've seen many cases like this, where people suddenly "become Buddhas" in a few days' time. That woman had not been able to explain sutras before, but after three days, she was very good at explaining them. Such strange things really happen.

That is why everyone wants to learn deviant dharmas and no one wants to learn the proper dharma. If you explain the Buddhadharma to them, they won't listen. Those of us here are probably more aware of such phenomena. These states probably won't happen to people at this Way-place, but you have to be careful when you go out.

Venerable Master: These are all cases of people being possessed by fox spirits. This is what is meant by "its spirit possesses a person."

K4 The cultivator becomes deluded and confused.

Sutra:

The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking the other is a Bodhisattva. His thoughts become entangled in love. He breaks the Buddha's moral precepts and covertly indulges his greedy desires.

Commentary:

The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking the other is a Bodhisattva. The cultivator is extremely stupid and thinks the possessed person is a Bodhisattva. His thoughts become entangled in love. He falls in love with the demon. He breaks the Buddha's moral precepts, not abiding by them, and covertly indulges his greedy desires. He has licentious relations on the sly.

K5 The types of things he says.

Sutra:

He is fond of saying that there are greater Buddhas and lesser Buddhas, earlier Buddhas and later Buddhas; that among them are true Buddhas and false Buddhas, male Buddhas and female Buddhas; and that the same is true of Bodhisattvas. When people witness this, their initial resolve is washed away, and they easily get carried away with their wrong understanding.

Commentary:


He is fond of saying that there are greater Buddhas and lesser Buddhas. What does this demon like to say? It says, "You people study the Buddhadharma, but do you know what Buddhas are all about? There are great Buddhas and small Buddhas, old Buddhas and young Buddhas." He further elaborates that there are earlier Buddhas and later Buddhas; that among them are true Buddhas and false Buddhas. The demon king claims that he is a true Buddha, while other Buddhas are false Buddhas. He also says that there are male Buddhas and female Buddhas. He insists, "Intercourse between men and women creates Buddhas. It is the origin of Buddhas; it is the Bodhi mind." Of course this confuses people. They think, "Oh, so that's how one becomes a Buddha!" and then they indulge in wild debauchery. They would rather die than not engage in lust.

And he says that the same is true of Bodhisattvas, maintaining that there are great and small Bodhisattvas, and male and female ones, too. Actually, anyone who becomes a Buddha or a Bodhisattva is male. There are no female Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. Guanyin Bodhisattva may manifest in the form of a woman in order to teach and rescue women. When people witness this and hear him saying such things, they think, "He's right. I always see Guanyin Bodhisattva depicted as a female. That's proof right there." Such people do not understand the Buddhadharma. Guanyin Bodhisattva is neither male nor female. The Bodhisattva responds to each living being and appears in an appropriate form to teach and transform that being. It is very difficult to distinguish manifestations of Bodhisattvas from manifestations of demons, because demons also have spiritual powers and the ability to transform themselves. How can you tell if someone is a demon? Observe to see whether he has lust or greed. Their initial resolve is washed away. They change their minds and forsake their original resolve to cultivate, and they easily get carried away with their wrong
understanding.

K6 Giving the name and pointing out the harm.

Sutra:

This is a mei-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.

Commentary:

This is a mei-ghost, a ghost that falls into the category of li mei, and wang liang ghosts, that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person who is cultivating samadhi. But when it tires of doing so eventually, it will leave the other person's body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. They will be arrested and imprisoned.

K7 Instructions to be aware and not become confused.

Sutra:

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.

Commentary:


You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. You should wake up at the very start and avoid entering the demon king's cycle of rebirth. If you lack wisdom and are confused, and you do not understand what is going on, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.

J4 Greed to analyze things.
K1 Samadhi leads to craving and seeking.


Sutra:

Further, 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 know the origins of things, so he exhaustively investigates the nature of physical things and their changes from beginning to end. He intensifies the keenness of his thoughts as he greedily seeks to analyze things.

Commentary:


Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person who is cultivating samadhi is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves to know the origins of things. He decides that he wants to study the principles of the physical world. So he exhaustively investigates the nature of physical things and their changes and transformations from beginning to end, to find out what they are all about. He intensifies the keenness of his thoughts, honing his mental concentration as he greedily seeks to analyze, differentiate, and understand things in the physical world.

K2 A demon dispatches a deviant force to possess a person.

Sutra:

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.

Commentary:

At that time a demon from the heavens sees him and says, "Aha! You've had a greedy thought. Great! Now I can send one of my retinue to snare you." And so it seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Once again, the demon king sends one of its followers and its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the sutras and speak the dharma of the demon king.

[January 1983]

Disciple: I've noticed that every state of the thinking skandha begins with the phrase "in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, [he is] untroubled by any deviant mental state." What does the phrase "untroubled by any deviant mental state" mean? Does it mean the person is without deviant knowledge and views? Or does it mean that he does not have improper thoughts? When the cultivator reaches this level, what is his state like?

Venerable Master: "In the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone." There has to be unhindered clarity for it to be wonderful, and it must be wonderful for there to be unhindered clarity. When he attains this state in the feeling skandha, he feels very much at ease. "[He is] untroubled by any deviant mental state." That means he doesn't encounter any such state. If he has some skill in the feeling skandha, he basically shouldn't encounter any deviant mental state. And yet, for no apparent reason, he does encounter one. This deviant mental state is a thief from outside, a deviant demon, ghost, or freak that comes from outside. Originally, he shouldn't have encountered such beings, but in the end he had thoughts of love, seeking, greed, selfishness, or self-benefit. Having reverted to these old faults, he encountered those beings. If he didn't have these old faults, he would be able to continue making progress.

If you understand all the states that come up without being swayed by them, then you won't be troubled by deviant mental states. As soon as you're turned by a state, however, it will be able to trouble you. Basically, he isn't supposed to be troubled by deviant mental states, and yet he gets turned, is this a contradiction? No, it's becase his thought of desire has opened the door to thieves. He covertly indulges his greedy desires. He sneaks around engaging in immoral conduct and does not abide by the rules and precepts. He says, "What do precepts matter?" and claims to be enlightened. I don't dare to transgress the rules, because I'm not enlightened.

K3 The person who is possessed causes trouble.

Sutra:

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 know the origins of things, he arranges a seat and speaks the dharma. His body has an awesome spiritual quality which subdues the seeker. He makes the minds of those gathered beside his seat spontaneously compliant, even before they have heard the dharma. He says to all those people that the Buddha's nirvana, Bodhi, and dharma body are there before them in the form of his own physical body. He says, "The successive begetting of fathers and sons from generation to generation is itself the dharma body, which is permanent and never-ending. What you see right now are those very Buddhalands. There are no other pure dwellings or golden features."

Commentary:


This is really a case of "everyone being a Buddha!" That's just the approach this demon uses. This person is unaware that he is possessed by a demon. He doesn't have any idea that he has been caught by a demon, because he gets muddled and loses awareness when he becomes possessed. The demon takes total control and becomes his spokesman. He claims he has reached the unsurpassed wondrous fruition of nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks to know the origins of things, who seeks thorough understanding of the physical world, he arranges a seat and speaks the dharma. His, the demon king's, body has an awesome spiritual quality which subdues the seeker, the good person who seeks the source. He makes the minds of this person and of those gathered beside his seat spontaneously compliant, even before they have heard the dharma. Their minds are already subdued and respectful.

He says to all those people that the Buddha's nirvana, Bodhi, and dharma body are there before them in the form of his own physical body. He says, "What are Bodhi and nirvana? They are right here in my flesh body. The successive begetting of fathers and sons from generation to generation is itself the dharma body, which is permanent and never-ending. Fathers beget sons, and the sons grow up to become fathers who in turn beget sons. This succession of generations is the permanent, indestructible dharma body. What you see right now are those very Buddhalands. These now are the Buddhas' lands. There are no other pure dwellings or golden features. There aren't any other pure lands to dwell in or any other golden appearances. Those are all phony." That's how he talks He has a ghostly quality and a demonic quality. Don't I often use the expression "demonic energy"? This is what demonic energy is. Because he has a demonic energy from the demon possessing him, people are taken in by what he says.

K4 The people become deluded and confused.

Sutra:

Those people believe and accept his words, forgetting their initial resolve. They offer up their lives, feeling they have obtained something unprecedented. They are all beguiled and confused into thinking he is a Bodhisattva. As they pursue his ideas, they break the Buddha's moral precepts and covertly indulge their greedy desires.

Commentary:


Those people believe and accept his words. When they hear him speaking such principles, they say, "That makes sense: Fathers beget sons, and the sons in turn beget their sons, generation after generation. That's the permanent and indestructible dharma body. That's actually the way it is." They all believe it forgetting their initial resolve. They lose their former proper outlook and proper thought. Their faith in the demon king is far stronger than their faith in the proper dharma. When demon kings and heterodox sects tell them what to do, they don't dare disobey. When a true teacher tells them to do something, they waver between doubt and belief The demon king confuses them with its demonic power so that they believe whatever it says.

If you told a demon king to lecture on this sutra, he would not do it. Why not? As soon as he did, his true identity would be exposed. That's why I said that if you asked certain people in America who falsely claim to be experts in the Buddhadharma to explain this sutra, they wouldn't dare do it. They are afraid of being exposed.

They offer up their bodies and lives to the demon king, feeling they have obtained something unprecedented. They are all beguiled and confused into thinking he is a Bodhisattva. They are truly pitiable. They think the demon is a Bodhisattva. As they pursue his ideas, studying with the demon and learning his magic, they no longer maintain, but instead break, the Buddha's moral precepts and covertly indulge their greedy desires. They secretly indulge in lust.

K5 The types of things he says.

Sutra:

He is fond of saying that the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue are the Pure Land, and that the male and female organs are the true place of Bodhi and nirvana. Ignorant people believe these filthy words.

Commentary:


How terrible this demon king is! He is fond of saying that the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue, body, and mind are the Pure Land. "You don't have to look anywhere else for the dharma door of the Pure Land," he tells them. "It's just the six sense faculties." And he also says that the male and female organs are the seeds of Bodhi, the true place of Bodhi and nirvana. Can you imagine speaking like that? Ignorant people believe these filthy words. People without any knowledge or wisdom say, "Oh? I've never seen or heard anything like this before. So that's what Bodhi and nirvana are!" With total disregard for their own lives, they race along the road to death for all they are worth. They believe in such impure talk.

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