Composed by Tripitaka Master Hua 
Translated with commentary by disciple Bhiksu Heng Ching
continued from issue # 34


The standard phrase "in flocks of good and packs of evil/People always seek their own kind," sums up the concept of identical interest groups. Scholars are friendly with Scholars, farmers with farmers, businessmen with businessmen, and officials with other officials. Buddhists are friendly with Buddhists, Taoists with Taoists, Christians with Christians, and Moslems with Moslems. Military personnel consort with military personnel, bandits with bandits, good citizens with other good citizens, and criminals with other  criminals.

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.

Sheep can become people and humans can become sheep, as explained in the Suranaama Sutra. There are nations of sheep, nations of horses, nations of cows, of pigs, of gods and so forth down to the nations of bees, ants, mosquitoes, and other insects. Each of these gathers in groups of its own kind. The strong become kings and the many become the nation. All of this occurs in accord with the retributions for the deeds done in the past, and this retribution is never off by a hair's breadth.


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.

An ascension to Sakra is followed

       By the passage back to Yama's pot. 
From this, one should see the successions of lives and deaths as being unfixed like the bobbing of motes of dust floating in the wind of karma, sinking into the six paths without rest.


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.

--to be continued 

The Chinese text for the preceding article appears below:

Buddhist Calendar

August 22 Nagarjuna Bodhisattva's Birthday

 27 Earth Store Bodhisattva's Birthday
Birthday of the Venerable Master Hsu Yun

 30 Great Master Hui Neng’s Birthday

Sept.  18 Dipankara Buddha'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 Life

Nov.    5  Medicine Master Buddha's Birthday 
       30  Patriarch Bodhidharma's Birthday