RECORD OF WATER
Composed by Tripitaka
Translated with commentary by disciple Bhiksu Heng Ching
continued from issue # 34
Each person seeks out his own kind, and thus parties and special interest groups are established in mutual jealousy and enmity. Such groups are as compatible as water and fire, i.e. they will not admit of one another. They start out well but gradually hatred arises and after a time they begin to devour one another. The strong overpower the weak and the many take advantage of the few. Strength comes to outweigh reason and thus we reach the present sorry state of affairs.
The term 'nation' here may be taken in two senses. On one hand it indicates the collectivity of any particular species such as all horses or all sheep. On the other hand it can also refer to rebirth from one into another species. People who are fond of mutton, for example, establish an affinity with the nation of sheep and are then reborn into that nation. Those who eat great deals of beef move into the country of cattle and find themselves in bovine bodies. Many persons find this principle difficult to believe. Regardless of one's belief or disbelief, pragmatic demonstrations of this idea inevitably occur to everyone. Simply keep doing what you are doing, and you will sooner or later reap a reward commensurate with your activity.
When viewed with the Buddha Eye it is all total inversion. Suddenly beings soar to the heavens and then plummet to the earth. Suddenly they are assures, and then, just as suddenly, flittering, flying, crawling, and creeping things. Beings undergo these retributions in accord with their own past deeds yet remain quiet unaware that this is happening. How pitiful this is.
An ancient verse says,
From the womb of a horse to the womb of an ass,
Constantly passing by Yama's door.
ascension to Sakra is followed
Yama, the Lord of the Dead, presides over the tribunals in the hells. His face is as dark as iron and he is totally devoid of human feelings. When people have committed offenses they are sent off to hell. It is not the case, however, that Yama, who is actually a great Bodhisattva, orders people to go to these places intending to harm creatures, and that they follow his instructions. Nor is it the case that some god proclaims the destinies of beings. Gods, even Buddhas themselves, are all made from people. There is not any fixed predetermination of what any being will be. People go to hell not because Yama sends them, but because the power of their own karma drives them there. Other people become Buddhas not because they are inherently any more enlightened than others; it is just that they spend numerous aeons preparing and cultivating the practices conducive to Buddhahood.
The Chinese text for the preceding article appears below:
August 22 Nagarjuna Bodhisattva's Birthday
27 Earth Store Bodhisattva's Birthday
Oct. 10 Great Master Ch'ang Jen Left the Home Life
11 Venerable Master Hsuan Hua Left the Home Life
12 Great Master Ch'ang Chih's Enlightenment
14 Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Left the Home LifeNov. 5 Medicine Master Buddha's Birthday
30 Patriarch Bodhidharma's Birthday