THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 8

CHAPTER 3

The Feeling Skandha

H2 The characteristics of demons of the feeling.
I1 Overview of the beginning and the end.
J1 In the beginning, cultivation has not yet broken out of this region.
K1 Review of the ending of the previous form skandha.


Sutra:

Ananda, when the good person who is cultivating samadhi and shamatha has put an end to the form skandha, he can see the mind of all Buddhas as if seeing an image reflected in a clear mirror.

Commentary:

Ananda, when the good person who is cultivating samadhi, who cultivates the skill of directing the hearing inward to hear his own nature, who cultivates perfect understanding through the faculty of hearing, and shamatha, the quieting of thoughts, the practice of "stopping" so that contemplation is possible, has put an end to the form skandha, he can see the mind of all Buddhas as if Seeing an image reflected in a clear mirror. What happens when he puts an end to the form skandha? He can see the dharmadoor of the mind seal of all Buddhas, just as if he were seeing his own reflection in a mirror.

K2 Introduction to the region of the feeling skandha.

Sutra:

He seems to have obtained something, but he cannot use it. In this he resembles a paralyzed person. His hands and feet are intact, his seeing and hearing are not distorted, and yet his mind has come under a deviant influence, so that he is unable to move. This is the region of the feeling skandha.

Commentary:


He seems to have obtained something, but he cannot use it. In this he resembles a paralyzed person. I talked before about the kumbhanda ghost (paralysis ghost). When a person falls under the influence of such a ghost, his hands and feet are intact, not missing, his seeing and hearing are not distorted or confused, and yet his mind has come under a deviant influence, so that he is unable to move. This is the region of the feeling skandha. This state falls within the realm of the feeling skandha.

J2 Ultimately it breaks up and reveals its false source.

Sutra:

Once the problem of paralysis subsides, his mind can then leave his body and look back upon his face. It can go or stay as it pleases without further hindrance. This is the end of the feeling skandha. This person can then transcend the turbidity of views. Contemplating the cause of the feeling skandha, one sees that false thoughts of illusory clarity are its source.

Commentary:


Once the problem of being immobilized by the paralysis ghost subsides, his mind can then leave his body and look back upon his face. When you are within the feeling skandha, it is like being paralyzed by a kumbhanda ghost, so you cannot get free. If this situation disappears and the feeling skandha is broken through, your mind can leave your body and you can see your own face. It can go or stay as it pleases. You may go or not go as you wish. You are completely unfettered and without further hindrance. This is the end of the feeling skandha. The feeling skandha is gone. This person can then transcend the turbidity of views, which is one of the turbidities of "the evil world of the five turbidities." Contemplating the cause of the feeling skandha, one sees that false thoughts of illusory clarity are its source. Once the feeling skandha is broken through, its source is also done away with.

I2 The ten states within this region.
J1 Suppression of the self leads to sadness.
K1 The characteristics of its beginning.

Sutra:

Ananda, in this situation the good person experiences a brilliant light. As a result of the excessive internal pressure in his mind, he is suddenly overwhelmed with such boundless sadness that he looks upon even mosquitoes and gadflies as newborn children. He is filled with pity and unconsciously bursts into tears.

Commentary:


Ananda, in this situation the good person experiences a dazzling, brilliant light. As a result of the excessive internal pressure in his mind, a kind of feeling arises spontaneously. He has continually been controlling his own thoughts and has overdone it. When the inner suppression becomes excessive, he is suddenly overwhelmed with such boundless sadness and compassion for living beings that he looks upon and cherishes tiny creatures, even mosquitoes and gadflies, as if they were his own newborn children. The Chinese word for newborn means "red," referring to the red color of infant children's skin. He is filled with pity and unconsciously bursts into tears. Without knowing it, he starts to cry.

K2 Giving its name and instructions to awaken.

Sutra:

This is called 'overexertion in suppressing the mind in the course of cultivation.' If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sage-hood. If he realizes that and remains unconfused, then after a time it will disappear.

K3 Showing how confusion will certainly bring a fall.

But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of sadness will enter his mind. Then, as soon as he sees someone, he will feel sad and cry uncontrollably. Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall.

Commentary:


This is called "overexertion in suppressing the mind in the course of cultivation." This situation may arise in the course of cultivation. It happens because you have been suppressing your thoughts too hard. If he understands, then there is no error. If you understand and say to yourself, "why have I started crying for no reason? I should change this state," then there will not be any problem. This experience does not indicate sagehood. It does not mean you have attained the "great compassion of oneness with all." Don't think that caring for mosquitoes and other small creatures as if they were your own children is genuine "great compassion of oneness with all." If he realizes that and remains unconfused, then after a time it will disappear. The state will go away. But if he considers himself a sage, if he says, "Oh! Now I have the 'great compassion of oneness with all! My cultivation has really succeeded!" then a demon of sadness that is an expert at crying will come. It cries no matter whom it meets. This demon will enter his mind and take possession of him. Then as soon as he sees someone, he will feel sad and cry uncontrollably, without knowing why he is so sad.

When I was in Manchuria I knew a woman named Liu Jintong who was like that whenever she met someone, she would start crying and say, "In the past, you were my son, and now you've come back. You've found your mother!" With her tears, she managed to confuse the other person into believing that he had actually met his mother. In fact, he'd encountered a demon. Lacking proper samadhi, proper concentration, he will certainly fall. If you follow a demon, you will fall into the hells.

[December 2,1993]

In the past Liu Jintong was possessed by the demons described in the fifty skandha-demon states, and now there are two others, one of whom is especially powerful because she knows a dharma for summoning spirits. A woman from San Jose who took refuge with me later went to study under her and contracted cancer upon her return. It was that person's doing. The San Jose woman came back to see me, but I paid no attention to her. Even if I were to do something to help her, I wouldn't let other people know.

J2 He praises himself as being equal to the Buddhas.
K1 The characteristics of its beginning.


Sutra:

Further, Ananda, in this state of samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. At that time he has a sublime vision and is overwhelmed with gratitude. In this situation, he suddenly evinces tremendous courage. His mind is bold and keen. He resolves to equal all Buddhas and says he can transcend three asamkhyeyas of eons in a single thought.

Commentary:


Further, Ananda, in this state of samadhi, the good person, which includes all good people who are cultivating the Way, sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. Among the five skandhas, he knows that the form skandha is gone, and he is quite clear about the feeling skandha. At that time he has a sublime vision and is overwhelmed with gratitude. A very special and rare vision appears in his mind, and he feels excessively grateful for it. However, excess is as bad as insufficiency. There is little difference between going too far and not going far enough. Neither is in accord with the Middle Way. For example, while traveling, if you go beyond your destination, it is the same as if you had not arrived at all.

In this situation, in this state of samadhi, he suddenly evinces tremendous courage. His mind is bold and keen, fearlessly vigorous. He resolves to equal all Buddhas, saying, "The Buddha and I are the same." And he says he can transcend three asamkhyeyas (limitless numbers) of eons in a single thought. He says that he can transcend the first, second, and third asamkhyeyas of eons in the space of a single thought. Therefore, he says he is a Buddha. Not only does he say he is a Buddha, he says everyone is a Buddha. Such a person has fallen prey to wrong knowledge and views. It's true that everyone is potentially a Buddha, but one has to cultivate in order to realize Buddhahood. Even when one cultivates, it is not possible to become a Buddha in a single thought. It takes a long time. Although the time can be shortened if one understands the Buddhadharma and practices according to it, one still cannot attain Buddha-hood in a single thought. This person cultivates, but he lacks wisdom and does not have a good and wise advisor to instruct him. Although he works hard at cultivation, he develops wrong views along the way. Seeing that such a long time has passed without his becoming a Buddha, he simply states that he is a Buddha. This is the experience of "praising oneself as the equal of the Buddhas" that occurs during the breakdown of the feeling skandha. He says he is the same as all Buddhas. Actually, with that one mistaken thought, he is already possessed by a demon.

K2 Giving the name and instructions to awaken.

Sutra:

This is called 'being too anxious to excel in cultivation.' If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood.


K3 Showing how confusion will certainly bring a fall.

If he realizes that and remains unconfused, then after a time it will disappear. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of insanity will enter his mind. As soon as he sees someone, he will boast about himself. He will become extraordinarily haughty, to the point that he recognizes no Buddha above him and no people below him. Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall.

Commentary:


In the lecture on the Shurangama Sutra, we have now reached the very important section on the fifty kinds of deviant states caused by the five skandhas. If people who cultivate do not understand these fifty skandha demons, they will easily go astray in their cultivation. If you can recognize the states of these skandha demons, then you will not get carried away with reckless boasting and assume that you are an extraordinary individual. Therefore, I invite you to encourage your relatives and friends to come listen to this section on the fifty skandha demons, so they will know about the states which occur in cultivation.

This is called "being too anxious to excel in cultivation." This state occurs as a result of your efforts in cultivation. Because of this overexertion resulting from transformations within your own nature, you become courageous. There is nothing wrong with courage and vigor if you use them to advance in your cultivation of the Buddhadharma. But you must not become conceited and say, "Oh! I'm a Buddha myself" So you're a Buddha? The Buddha spoke the three treasuries and the twelve divisions of the canon. How many treasuries and divisions have you spoken? You don't even understand them, yet you say you are a Buddha. Isn't that absurd? The Buddha spoke the entire canon, and you haven't spoken even a single treasury or division of the canon, so how can you claim that you have become a Buddha? Even if you could explain the treasuries and divisions and understand their principles, at best you could call yourself a disciple of the Buddha, not a Buddha. But this person, feeling that everyone in the world reveres the Buddha, wants to be a Buddha, too, so that after he dies, people will make offerings to him. Actually, after death he will be buried in the ground. He will turn to dust and nothing will be left of him. If he understands, then there is no error. It is all right to have such courage, as long as you understand that it is merely a state and does not mean you have become a sage. This experience does not indicate sagehood. If he realizes that and remains unconfused then after a time it will disappear.

But if he considers himself a sage, saying, "Oh, this means I've become a Buddha!" then a demon of insanity will enter his mind. So you see, if you do not even recognize the fifty skandha demons, how can you become a Buddha? This demon is one of arrogance, pride, and conceit. It bores into his mind and takes possession of him, driving out his soul. The demon king takes over and acts as his soul. As soon as he sees someone, no matter who the person is, he will boast about himself and how he is right and everyone else is wrong. He denigrates others to exalt himself. They are all in the wrong, and he alone is honored; he thinks he has become a Buddha!

He will become extraordinarily haughty toward everyone, to the point that he recognizes no Buddha above him. There are no Buddhas above. Why? Because he's a Buddha himself. And he sees no people below him. Then what does he see? He says that everyone is a Buddha, that he himself is a Buddha, and that there is no Buddha above him. He himself is Buddha, and in the future everyone will become a Buddha along with him. That is why he sees no people below. Lacking the proper state of samadhi, he will certainly fall.

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