The Ten Dharma Realms are not beyond a single thought

--Continued from issue 39

--Composed by the Venerable High Master Hua
--Translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih


Ghosts delight in hate

Deluded about effect and confused about cause

Perversions and ignorance grow each day

Deeper month by month.


Almost everyone has heard of ghosts, but not everyone believes in them. There are even Buddhist disciples who don't believe there are ghosts. Ghosts are masses of yin energy, which have shadow and no form, or form, and no shadow. Perhaps you have seen a dark shadow, but when you looked closer it disappeared. Or perhaps you have seen what seemed like a person, but which vanished in the blink of an eye. This principle is not easy to understand.

There are as many different kinds of ghosts as there are grains of sand in the River Ganges. Some ghosts are affluent and reign as kings over the ghost realm; some ghosts are poverty-stricken and devoid of authority--it is often the poor ghosts who bother people. If you want to investigate ghosts in detail, work hard at cultivation, open the Five Eyes and attain the Six Spiritual Penetrations, and then explore for yourself.

As to people who say there are no ghosts, I tell them that if there are no ghosts, then there are also no Buddhas, people, or animals, because animals transform from ghosts, as do people, asuras, and so forth even to gods, Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas. All realms come from the realm of ghosts, because the Ten Dharma-realms are not apart from a single thought of the mind; one thought creates the Ten Dharma-realms. Conducting yourself like a ghost, you fall into the ghost realm; acting like a person you remain in the way of humans; engaging in the conduct of an asura, you join the ranks of asuras; assuming the practice of an Arhat, you certify to the fruit of Arhatship; behaving like one enlightened to conditions, you verify the understanding of a Pratyekabuddha; doing the deeds of a Bodhisattva you are included in the retinue of Bodhisattvas; if you accomplish the Buddha work, you realize Buddhahood, while a hellish offense causes you to fall into hell.

Ghosts delight in hate. They enjoy exploding in a fiery rage when people are not good to them, and even when treated well they still get angry.  They like nothing better than giving people trouble. There is an old saying,  "Light a stick of incense to call forth a ghost." Before you've paid respects to them, they don't bother you, but once you make their acquaintance the ghosts become a nuisance, make you sick or give you some other trouble. It is wise to make the appropriate offerings to ghosts and spirits and otherwise stay your distance.

Deluded about effect and confused about cause. They are unclear about results and don't understand their causes. Basically if you plant a good cause, you reap a good fruit, and if you plant a bad cause you reap a bad effect. If you plant melons you get melons; plant beans and you'll get beans. Ghosts don't understand this. They plant eggplant and anticipate eating hot peppers, or plant hot peppers and think they'll harvest yellow melons. They simply don't comprehend the principle.

Perversions and ignorance grow each day, deeper month by month. They accumulate a lot of karma every day, and pile up upside down deeds done in ignorance. The more they create, the larger their mass of offenses grows, and the bigger it gets, the more they create.


Hell is gloom and suffering

With no door one bores right in.

When delusion arises, deeds are done

Retribution’s borne in due accord.


    Anyone who would like to take a vacation in hell can do so any time at all. I can guarantee that. But hell is a miserable place. It is said,

    Depressed and melancholy you roam through hell,

    Happy and smiling you enjoy eternal youth.

Again it is said:

    Weeping and woe make a small dark room in hell.

Lamination plants the causes for hell; happiness, the cause for heaven. From ancient times, worthies and sages have had no other method than merely being happy and not being sad.

    Hell is gloom and suffering, with no door one bores right in. Unlike jails, the hells, although man-made by people who create offenses, haven't any doors. However if you are due to go to hell, when you arrive it is just as if a door opened, because you find yourself worming and boring in where there originally was no entrance.

    When delusion arises, deeds are done. Why do you go to hell? It is because through ignorance, affliction, stupidity, and confusion you create bad karma and don't do good deeds.
    Retribution's borne in due accord. Creating bad karma you fall into hell and must undergo retribution. Once this cycle starts, it is unintermittent. You receive exact repayment for whatever karma you create, and the retribution is never off by even a hair's breadth.


    All these ten realms and every mind within,
    Don't go beyond the present thought you're thinking;
    Enlightenment to this single current thought
    Is just the moment you reach the other shore.


    Buddhas, Budhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas are the Four Sagely Dharmarealms; gods, men, asuras, animals, hungry ghosts, and beings in hell are the Six Common Dharmarealms. The other shore is enlightenment. When you become enlightened, you are no longer confused or doubtful. When ignorance is smashed and the Dharma-body appears, you arrive at the other shore. Mahaprajnaparamita!

The End