Cultivators of the Way must possess "Dharma-selecting vision" in order to distinguish proper dharmas from deviant dharmas. The proper dharmas are: not fighting, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not wanting personal advantages, and not telling lies. These are known as the Six Great Guidelines. When one bases his cultivation on these Six Guidelines, he is equipped with proper knowledge and views. Deviant dharmas are simply fighting, greed, seeking, selfishness, wanting personal advantages, and telling lies. One who has these six thoughts possesses deviant knowledge and views. Proper and deviant swings on the hinge-pin of these points. They are the standard for distinguishing the proper from the deviant. Water that flows forward represents the proper Dharma; water that flows backwards represents deviant Dharma. All of you should recognize this point very clearly.
If you are free of deviant knowledge and views and your samadhi is solid, then no matter how the demon kings come to bother you, your resolve for cultivation will not waver. A saying goes, "If the Buddhas come, slay the Buddhas. If the demons come, slay the demons." What does this mean? It means you should not become attached to states. If the Buddha appears, don't go out to receive him; how much less should you welcome a demon. Although such states are occasionally premonitions, all the same, do not believe in what you experience. What should we believe in, then? Believe in not fighting, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not being self-indulgent, and not telling lies.
These Six Guidelines are six demon-slaying swords, six demon-quelling pestles. After you possess such proper knowledge and views, then even if gods from the heavens were to appear to you, make offerings, and bow in respect, you would not let your thoughts waver. If your thoughts did waver and you felt happy about it, then a demon of happiness could gain control of you, seize the opportunity to upset your cultivation, and drive you insane. If you were to get worried, then a demon of worry could use this opportunity to gain control of you, disturb your mind, and cause you to get afflicted. If you were to become attached or arrogant, you would also come under the disturbing influence of demons. The result in each case is that your thoughts would be rendered impure.
Therefore, no matter what strange and uncanny situations occur to you, don't believe that any of them are real, and don't allow them to disturb your thoughts. Believe only in your own wisdom. Know that your own nature is capable of bringing into being all the myriad things of creation. Know that this inherent nature is basically pure and free of defilement; know that it is fundamentally free of inversion. If you can see things this way, then what is there to seek? Anything you sought would be a defilement. Anything that comes about from fighting, greed, seeking, selfishness, self-indulgence or dishonesty is certainly corrupt. No matter what dharma it is, you may use the Six Guidelines to as a yardstick to measure, judge, and contemplate it. If it accords with the six rules, it can be called a proper dharma. If it goes against them, it is a deviant dharma.
The Six Guidelines can destroy the deviant knowledge and views of the celestial demons and externalists. The deeds of celestial demons and externalists are all characterized by seeking. Their actions always center around contention, greed, seeking, selfishness, self-indulgence and dishonest behavior. They do things only for themselves, never for others. Thinking like this is typical of deviant cults.
People who cultivate the Way should act as if nothing is being done. We want to amass merit and virtue, but not be attached to the process. It is said: "Sweep away all dharmas; go beyond all attachment to views." It's wrong to say, "I have this particular spiritual skill," or "I have some cultivation." It's wrong to say, "I have such and such a state," or "I have such and such a psychic power." Even if you have such attainment, it is still unreal and not to be believed. Do not be taken in. Faith in strange, miraculous abilities and psychic powers will keep you from realizing genuine "proper concentration and proper reception" (samadhi). You should realize that proper concentration and proper reception does not come from outside, but is born instead from within your own nature. How does one bring it into being? Only by instropection and reflection, by seeking within oneself, can it be achieved.
The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is a place where ten thousand sages gather. On all sides, however, demon-kings also gather, waiting for their chance. If the thoughts of a cultivator should be impure, should he or she indulge in idle thinking, the demon king will slip right in and act as the cultivator's advisor. He may, for example, inform you of events that have not yet taken place, giving you foreknowledge. If you should assume that this knowledge amounts to psychic powers, then you will have been seriously tricked, duped by the demon king, and you will become one of his followers.
Don't let it be the case that you hear some sounds and assume that voices are talking with you from thin air. In fact, thin air can't talk with you. You should, "Be free of all attachments to speech, and be free of all attachments to the mind and its conditions." If you should hear a voice in space talking with you, you should know that it is a demonic state, not something that the "All-encompassing, Perfect, Mirror-like Wisdom" would trifle with. What's the point of doting over your petty little talent? It's totally worthless behavior.
The thoughts of a cultivator must be pure. Don't long for foreknowledge of events. To have this kind of foreknowledge is, in fact, nothing but a lot of trouble, because it leads to discriminations in your thinking and prevents you from being able to concentrate. Being unable to concentrate or focus your energy on cultivation, your idle thoughts run wild, then afflictions come in droves. If you don't crave this foreknowledge in the first place, then you also won't have afflictions, and you are free of impediments. Doesn't it say in the Heart Sutra, "Because there is no impediment, he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind; ultimately Nirvana!" This, then, is an appropriate goal for a cultivator of the Way.