THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 8

J2 The demons come en masse to cause disturbance.

Sutra:

All the kings of demons, the ghosts and spirits, and the ordinary gods see their palaces collapse for no apparent reason. The earth quakes, and all the creatures in the water, on the land, and in the air, without exception, are frightened. Yet ordinary people who are sunk in dim confusion remain unaware of these changes.

Commentary:


When one obtains the great Shurangama Samadhi, the true samadhi, the demon kings shudder. All the kings of demons, the ghosts and spirits, and the ordinary gods of the six desire heavens and four dhyana heavens see their palaces collapse for no apparent reason. The situation is really out of control. For no apparent reason, their palaces start falling apart.

Have I ever told you about a young disciple I had in Manchuria? He was about fourteen years old, and although he was young, his spiritual powers certainly weren't insignificant. He could ascend to the heavens and enter the earth. He had opened the five eyes, but had not obtained the six spiritual powers. He had five of the spiritual powers, but lacked the power of freedom from outflows. When a person attains this power, he becomes an Arhat.

One day he ascended to the heavens to amuse himself. When he got there, the demon king took a liking to him and trapped him in his palace. It was an exquisite palace, made of transparent crystallike material, but he was trapped in it. Since he had opened his five eyes, he could see his dharma body being held captive there by the demon king. So he came and told me, "Teacher, I went to the heavens, and now I can't come back."

"So you're stuck in the heavens, huh?" I said, "Well, who told you to go there in the first place?"

"I thought that it would be lots of fun, so I went there to take a look. But now that person up in the heavens won't let me come back."

I said, "If you want to have fun, don't go there to play. Those demons in the six desire heavens are always looking for an opportunity to destroy the samadhi power of cultivators." Then I said, "Don't be scared; I'll get you back."

I tried to get him back, but the demon king refused to let him go. At that point he became really frightened and said, "He won't let me come back! What should I do?"

I said, "Don't worry. I'll bring you back now." Then I used the Shurangama Mantra, the section which I've told you destroys demons, the "Mantra of the Five Great Hearts." Ah! The demon palace immediately shattered, and he came back that time. This is a true story.

Now the palaces of the demon kings have fallen apart and collapsed, and the earth quakes and cracks open in many places, and all the creatures in the water, on the land, and in the air, without exception, are frightened. All the creatures in the water and on the land go flying through the air, scared out of their wits and frightened beyond control. Yet ordinary people who are sunk in dim confusion remain unaware of these changes. Ordinary people do not have such sharp perception, and they do not realize the earth is undergoing all these changes. They are not sensitive enough to perceive the six kinds of quaking occurring in the earth.

Sutra:

All these beings have five kinds of spiritual powers; they lack only freedom from outflows, because they are still attached to worldly passions. How could they allow you to destroy their palaces? That is why the ghosts, spirits, celestial demons, sprites, and goblins come to disturb you when you are in samadhi.

Commentary:


Now do you understand? Why do the demons come? It is just because all these celestial beings, ghosts, and spirits have five kinds of spiritual powers, which are the celestial eye, the celestial ear, the knowledge of others' thoughts, the knowledge of previous lives, and the complete spirit. But they don't have the power of freedom from outflows. If they obtained that power, they wouldn't trouble you anymore. But since they haven't obtained it, they still want to be evil and come to destroy you.

They lack only freedom from outflows. It is not easy to attain the power of freedom from outflows. What does this mean? I will be very frank about it. What we call "outflows" are the daily, random thoughts that men and women have about one another. If you have not put an end to such thoughts, then you have not rid yourself of outflows.

Now I'll discuss this more in depth, and I'll be very frank with you. If I didn't tell you the truth, then you would never know what is really being referred to. Being rid of outflows simply means retaining your essence. If your essence escapes, that's an outflow. Now I have told you the secret of heaven and earth. If you retain your essence, then you won't have outflows. Furthermore, if you cannot only prevent your essence from escaping, but can also be without lustful thoughts, even on the subtlest level, then you have truly rid yourself of outflows. Now do you understand? Why haven't the celestial demons achieved freedom from outflows? Because they still have thoughts of lust, as do ghosts and spirits. Because they are still attached to worldly passions. Worldly passions are simply a form of lust. That's what they indulge in. How could they allow you to destroy their palaces? Since they are attached to lust, they do not want to see you renounce it. They want you to be greedy for it, too. "The two of us are good friends,"they will say. "I haven't put this down, so you can't just run away and renounce it." That's why they come. They cannot bear to see you transcend the world. That is why the ghosts, spirits, celestial demons, sprites, and goblins come to disturb you when you are in samadhi. When I mentioned goblins in the past, you didn't know what they were, so now I will explain. Do you see how the Chinese character for "goblin"
(yao) is written? It is the character for "woman" (nu) beside the character for a short life for death before thirty years of age ( hun). You can figure out the meaning from there; I don't have to say too much. In general, people who die young will become goblins.

When you are in samadhi, they all come en masse to bother you. Their aim, as it's said, is "to devour the flesh of the monk from Tang." The monk from Tang was Great Master Xuan Zang. Many goblins would have liked to eat his flesh; that is, they wanted to disturb his samadhi. If you cultivate to the point that you have samadhi, the goblins, ghosts, and monsters will want to devour your flesh as well. Actually, they do not really eat your flesh. I will be more honest with you. I will bring it all out into the open and not hold anything back. What is really happening? When your essence, energy, and spirit are all full, because you have no thoughts of lust, these demons and ghosts want to steal your treasures. That's why they come to disturb you. If you have a girlfriend or boyfriend, she or he is also stealing your treasures. What else did you think was happening?

"The Buddhadharma teaches us to practice giving, so I'm giving away my treasures to others," you say.

Well then, you're going to end up as a poor ghost who falls into the hells. When that happens, the person who stole your treasures isn't going to say, "Here, I'll give you back some of your treasures so that you can get out of there." No one will help you then. You think it over.

H2 The demons can succeed in their destructiveness through the cultivator's confusion.
I1 Explanation by analogy of how "the guests" cannot bring harm.


Sutra:

Although these demons possess tremendous enmity, they are in the grip of their worldly passions, while you are within wonderful enlightenment. They cannot affect you any more than a blowing wind can affect light or a knife can cut through water. You are like boiling water, while the demons are like solid ice which, in the presence of heat, soon melts away. Since they rely exclusively on spiritual powers, they are like mere guests.

Commentary:


When you achieve some samadhi power in your cultivation, the demon kings will be afraid and so they come to destroy it. They do not want you to have samadhi. Although these demons come to give you trouble, and although they possess tremendous enmity, much wrath, they are in the grip of their worldly passions. They are controlled by their deified sense experiences, while you are within wonderful enlightenment. They cannot affect you any more than a blowing wind can affect light or a knife can cut through water. They cannot do anything to you, just as, blowing wind could not make light move; and just as a knife, however many times it is slashed through water, could not harm the water.

You are like boiling water. In this analogy, the samadhi power from your cultivation is compared to hot water, while the demons are like solid ice. The demon kings can be compared to the solid ice of winter, which, in the presence of heat, soon melts away. As hard as the ice is, the heat of boiling water gradually causes it to melt. Since they rely exclusively on spiritual powers, they are like mere guests. All they have going for themselves is their spiritual powers, so they can never be the "host" or "master." They are merely "guests" [they cannot stay long], and they cannot succeed in their efforts to disturb you.

I2 Conclusion that the confusion is on the part of the cultivator.

Sutra:

They can succeed in their destructiveness through your mind, which is the host of the five skandhas. If the host becomes confused, the guests will be able to do as they please.

Commentary:

They can succeed in their destructiveness through your mind, which is the host of the five skandhas. Basically, they cannot succeed in their destructiveness. However, if the host becomes confused, if your mind, which is the master of the five skandhas, is deluded, the guests will be able to do as they please. The guests will be able to take advantage of you. As long as you, the host, are not confused, they cannot do anything to you. Who is the host? It is your inherent nature. If your inherent nature is confused, then the demons can have their way with you. But if your inherent nature is not confused, then they are powerless to do anything.

I3 Once enlightened, one surely will transcend their disturbance.

Sutra:

When you are in dhyana, awakened, aware, and free of delusion, their demonic deeds can do nothing to you. As the skandhas dissolve, you enter the light. All those deviant hordes depend upon dark energy. Since light can destroy darkness, they would be destroyed if they drew near you. How could they dare linger and try to disrupt your dhyana-samadhi?

Commentary:


When you are in dhyana, when you have stilled your thoughts and attained the proper concentration of samadhi, you are awakened, aware, and free of delusion. Their demonic deeds can do nothing to you. The demons won't be able to trouble you with their tactics. As the skandhas dissolve, you enter the light. Demons belong to the darkness (yin), and the darkness can be dispelled. It is as if the demons were ice and you were hot water. The darkness is dispelled like ice dissolving in hot water. The fire of your wisdom is bright, so you enter the light.

All those deviant hordes of demons, externalists, goblins, ghosts, and monsters depend upon dark energy. All their tactics depend on a dark, dismal energy. Since light can destroy darkness, if you have true samadhi and wisdom, your wisdom light will shine forth and dispel the darkness.

They would be destroyed if they drew near you. How could they dare linger and try to disrupt your dhyana-samadhi? If they came near you, they would do themselves in, so they dare not disturb you.

[January 1983]

Skandha-demons are not limited to fifty kinds; there may be five hundred, five thousand, fifty thousand, or even five hundred thousand kinds. Each kind can further be divided into ten kinds. If analyzed in detail, there are thousands upon tens of thousands of kinds. In general, what is a skandha-demon? Basically it's nothing but a mass of yin energy, which comes from our yin thoughts. Yin thoughts include thoughts of greed, anger, and stupidity. They give rise to the skandhas of form, feeling, thought, formations, and consciousness; and in each of these skandhas, all kinds of yin phenomena are produced. These yin phenomena naturally appear when your skill reaches a certain level. If your skill hasn't reached that level, then you won't encounter these skandha-demons, even if you want to. They manifest only when your skill has reached that level. Don't worry when they appear. There's no need to fear being possessed by demons.

When these yin phenomena appear, you should remain calm, as if they didn't exist. See them as if not seeing them; hear them as if not hearing them; and smell them without perceiving their smell. If you don't enter into sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, and dharmas, then the skandha-demons will not be able to do anything to you. If you are without greed, anger, and stupidity, then you will subdue these skandha-demons. If you do not have the faults of being selfish, wanting personal profit, seeking, being greedy, or contending, then no demon will be able to do anything to you.

Now as we are investigating the skandha-demons, we should not be afraid of demons. There's no need for fear. What is this mass of energy like? There's a rough analogy: When water boils and gives off steam, the rising of the steam indicates that the water is boiling.

The demons that you encounter in cultivation are illusory transformations produced from the yin thoughts and yin energy in your own nature. If you can remain unmoved by these illusory transformations, then there's no problem. For example, there's nothing strange about boiling water and letting the steam rise. After the steam has risen, you can drink the water.

When a person manifests demonic energy, it's like gold being smelted. All the dross is smelted away, leaving only pure gold. Cultivation is like smelting gold. It is said, "True gold does not fear the fire of the furnace." You must smelt the pure gold and forge your Vajra-indestructible body. To obtain the Vajra-indestructible body, you must apply effort in cultivation at all times, in thought after thought. No matter what level you reach in your cultivation, do not become happy or afraid. This is a most essential and basic way for cultivators to resolve demonic obstacles.

I4 Confusion will certainly bring a fall.

Sutra:

If you were not clear and aware, but were confused by the skandhas, then you, Ananda, would surely become one of the demons; you would turn into a demonic being.

Commentary:


If you were not clear and aware, if you did not understand and wake up, but were confused by the demons of the five skandhas, then you, Ananda, would surely become one of the demons; you would turn into a demonic being. You would join the retinue of demons.

I5 The prior incident in the house of prostitution brought only slight harm.


Sutra:

Your encounter with Matangi's daughter was a minor incident. She cast a spell on you to make you break the Buddha's moral precepts. Still, among the eighty thousand modes of conduct, you violated only one precept. Because your mind was pure, all was not lost.

Commentary:


Your encounter with Matangi's daughter was a minor incident. It was a relatively insignificant, commonplace demonic event. She cast a spell on you to make you break the Buddha's moral precepts. She used a mantra of the ancient Brahma Heaven to confuse you and tried to make you break the Buddha's rules. Still, among the eighty thousand modes of conduct, you violated only one precept. Because your mind was pure, all was not lost. Because you had already attained the first stage of Arhatship, you were not totally confused by her, and you did not fall.

I6 Joining the ranks of demons would bring great harm.

Sutra:

This would be an attempt to completely destroy your precious enlightenment. Were it to succeed, you would become like the family of a senior government official who is suddenly exiled; his family wanders, bereft and alone, with no one to pity or rescue them.

Commentary:

This would be an attempt to completely destroy your precious enlightenment. That kind of behavior was an attempt to make you fall. Were it to succeed, you would become like the family of a senior government official who is suddenly exiled. A high official is banished, and his family's property is abruptly confiscated by the emperor, so his family wanders, bereft and alone, with no one to pity or rescue them. You would be standing all alone, with no place to seek for help, no one to turn to for sympathy or aid.

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