The Ten Dharma Realms are 
not beyond a single thought

-continued from issue 37

Text:

The Six Desire Heavens, the Brahmas,

Come from the Five Precepts, the Ten Good Acts.

Planting causes which have outflows

The revolving wheel is hard to stop.

Commentary:

The Six Desire Heavens, the Brahmas...There are heavens in the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm. The lowest heavens are the six in the desire realm, and our world is subsumed under the first of these, the Heaven of Four Kings. This heaven, Caturmaharajika, the one we know to be above us, is located half way up Mt. Sumeru, which means that Sumeru is half within the realm of men. The parts of this heaven located on the north, south, east and west sides of Mt. Sumeru are governed by the Four Great Heaven Kings, as are the continents connecting them, Jambudvipa to the south, Purvavideha to the east, Aparagodaniya to the west, and Uttarakura to the north. The gods in the Heaven of the Four Kings have a lifespan of 500 years, with each day and night in that heaven equivalent to 50 years on earth.

The second desire heaven is the Trayastrimsa, a Sanskrit word which means "thirty three." Sakra, referred to as "yin two la yeh" in the Surangama Mantra, resides in the center of these heavens.  He is the "God" revered in Christianity and in China he is known as the Great Jade Emperor. In the Shu Ching, the Book of History, he is referred to as the Supreme Lord, because in ancient China no one knew about the Buddha and this heavenly being was the highest spiritual entity they could conceive of.

In the Shang Dynasty, Emperor T'ang used a black bull as an offering to this "Supreme Lord" and said, "I, Lu, but a small child, presume to use this black bull in venturing to inform the Supremely Exhalted Ruling Lord that if We have offenses, they are not the people's, and if the people have offenses, the offenses rest with Us."

Emperor T'ang's last name was LU, and he refers to himself as a small child out of respect for the Supreme Lord. He told the Lord that if he committed errors, the citizens should not be blamed, and that if the common folk of his country created offenses, the responsibility should rest with the Emperor for not having taught them correctly.

The ancients faulted themselves in this way, unlike people of today who clearly know they are in the wrong but say, "Don't look at me! It's his fault. How can you blame me!" and complain, "God is unjust. Why does He let some people get rich and make me so poor? Why does He bestow honor on some and leave me so wretched?" They damn heaven and curse mankind, whereas the ancients acknowledged their own mistakes.

In the Trayastrimsa Heaven, Sakra, God, resides in the middle, with eight heavens surrounding him to the north, south, east, and west, making, thirty-three in all.

The third desire heaven is the Suyama Heaven which translates from the Sanskrit as "divisions of time" because the gods in this heaven are so happy they sing songs about their bliss throughout the six periods of the day and night. Every division of time is filled with happiness.

The fourth is the Tusita Heaven, which translates as "happy and satisfied," so called because the gods in this heaven never have a worry or care from morning to night.

The fifth is the Nirminarati, Transformation of Bliss Heaven. Gods in this heaven can transform their happiness but they are content whether they exercise this power or not. Even when they are not happy they are content--totally satisfied.

The sixth is the Paranirmitavasavartin, Comfort Derived from the Transformation of Other's Bliss Heaven. The gods of this heaven haven't any bliss but they can take bliss from other gods to provide their own comfort. This heaven houses a retinue of heavenly demons who are so unprincipled they will take from others. Common thieves in the world of men are generally gods fallen from the Transformation of Other's Bliss Heaven who still have the habit of stealing things.

The Brahma Heavens are above the desire realm and consist of the Multitudes of Brahma Heaven, the Ministers of Brahma Heaven and the Great Brahma Heaven.

Come from the Five Precepts, the Ten Good Acts. Because these beings cultivate the Five Precepts and Ten Good Acts, they obtained the blessings and rewards of the heavens. But their cultivation plants good roots with outflows, and so the poem says: Planting causes, which have outflows, the revolving wheel is hard to stop....

Written by the Venerable High Master Hua
Translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Ch'ih

Text:

Furious asuras fight by nature,

Rich with blessings but lacking power.

Viciously hostile and fond of warfare,

The float and drown in karmaís tow.

Commentary:

Furious asuras fight by nature. Asura, a Sanskrit word, translates as "ceaseless fighting" or "ugly." Male asuras are extremely ugly, but female asuras are beautiful. It is the nature of the male asuras to initiate fights.  The female asuras also are naturally fond of fighting, but they wage covert wars, unlike the overt physical battles of the males, and use weapons of the mind such as jealousy, obstruction, ignorance, and affliction. Although asuras are an individual dharma-realm, they appear in all of the Three Good Destinies of gods, men and asuras, and in the Three Evil Destinies of the hells, hungry ghosts, and animals. In general, regardless of what path they are in, they like to pick fights and have big tempers. They enjoy bossing others around and like to be supervisors, but they can't stand supervision.  Among people, asuras can be good or bad. The good asuras include military officials and troops, and the bad asuras thieves, thugs, murders and the like.

Heavenly asuras are in a perpetual siege with Sakra's military division in an attempt to overthrow him and assume the jeweled throne. But no matter what strategy they use, they are always defeated, because they are rich with blessings but lacking power. They have accumulated the blessings, which earn them rebirth in the heavens, but they have no authority there.

Asura animals include vicious predators such as tigers, lions, wolves, snakes, and eagles. Ghosts are basically unprincipled, and asura ghosts are doubly so.

The world is full of asuras who are constantly baffling with one another, and they keep on fighting for eternities. When the Buddhadharma enters the Age Strong in Fighting, it is in the Dharma Ending Age; nonetheless we should vow not to fight. If we did this, everyplace we go would become a place of proper Dharma. If everyone fulfilled this vow, the Dharma Ending Age would become the Proper Dharma Age.

Viciously hostile and fond of warfare, they float and drown in karma's tow. "Floating" refers to the asuras who are born in the Three Good Destinies, and "drowning" to those whose heavy of tenses pull them down to the hells, the realms of hungry ghosts, or animals where they undergo severe retribution. If you donít fight with people, you wonít get dragged into an asura realm. Five of the nine dharma-realms have asuras, and within the realm of animals alone, many different kinds of asuras can be recognized: crocodiles, wild stallions, bulls, and even animals people keep as pets such as dogs. It is dangerous to become too involved with asuras lest in the future you become one yourself.

Text:

      The path of men is harmonious

      Their merits and errors are interspersed.

      By your virtuous deeds you rise; with offenses, fall.

      It has nothing to do with anyone else at all.

Commentary:

      The path of men is harmonious. People are harmonious beings who are capable of relating to anyone.Their merit and errors are interspersed. Beings who become people are not completely good or completely bad. Beings who are totally good are born in the heavens, and those who are thoroughly bad become animals, hungry ghosts, or fall into hell. 

When a personís merit is greater that his offenses, at the very least he will be born into an honorable and wealthy family, but with small merit and heavy offenses he will be born into a life of poverty. Between these extremes are a thousand differences and ten thousand distinctions. People are neither extremely yin or extremely yang beings; those with a preponderance of yin become ghosts, and those long on yang become gods.

      By your virtuous deeds you rise, with offenses, fall. Good people ascend to the heavens, and those who commit offenses descend to hell. It has nothing to do with anyone else at all. Other people canít tell you to go to hell, make you a hungry ghost or teach you to be an animal; it is entirely up to you. What you create you must undergo.

--To be continuedó