萬佛城金剛菩提海 Vajra Bodhi Sea
萬佛城金剛菩提海 Vajra Bodhi Sea

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五十陰魔研討會
Seminar on the Fifty Skandha Demon States

【下】

A Dharma Talk by the Venerable Master Hua


沒有欲念了,什麼魔也不怕。
──────宣公上人開示
Without thoughts of desire, you won fear
any demon whatsoever.

(編按:上人自一九六八年講解《楞嚴經》,數年來又曾在萬佛聖城及金輪聖寺舉行以「楞嚴經五十陰魔」為主題的研討會,由上人與四眾弟子參與此會,會中上人偶爾亦對五十陰魔做部分解釋,同時對修行做了一些開示。下文即上人在此會中,與部分參與者之對話及開示。)

(Editor Note: The Venerable Master lectured on the Shurangama Sutra in 1968. In the years since then, seminars on the Fifty Skandha-demons of the Shurangama Sutra have been held at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and Gold Wheel Monastery. These discussions were attended by the Venerable Master and the fourfold assembly of disciples. The Venerable Master would occasionally explain portions of the Fifty Skandha-demons as well as give instructions on cultivation. The following are extracts from the Venerable Master's dialogues with the other participants and from his instructions.)


孫悟空是從石頭裡頭生出來的。為什麼那石頭會生出這隻猴子?
Sun Wukung (onkey” in the book Journey to the West) was born from a
rock. How did that rock give birth to a monkey?

子:我有一個問題,孫悟空是從石頭裡頭生出來的。為什麼那石頭會生出這隻猴子?是因為這石頭經過幾萬年的日月精華以後,就會有這種現象發生?像孫悟空這種情形,是不是跟經文上講的是一樣?就是日月薄蝕精氣,然後這些什麼金玉芝草,麟鳳龜鶴吸取這些精氣,變成這些魔。像孫悟空這種情形,從書本上看,牠好像還有一點善根,知道生死輪迴是很痛苦,所以牠經過八百年之後,就跑去求道,學各種法術,後來又變成佛教的護法。像孫悟空這還是好的例子,可是這裡說,這些什麼精靈鬼怪,牠們年老的時候就變成魔。那是什麼情形之下,牠們老了會變成魔?因為在這種情形下,魔好像是流氓似的,就做不好的事。我想是不是有的不會變成魔,有的會變成魔?因為有的是好的,有的不是好的。

上人:孫悟空是魔的一份子,類似這個情形是很多的。孫悟空也就是大約在想陰上修行有問題了,所以就變成一隻猴子,鑽天入地。這正是《楞嚴經》說的,魔的一個代表者。那麼至於其餘的魔,當然他做魔做夠了,也就會皈依三寶。在什麼時候他能一念迴光返照,覺悟了,他還不失為一個佛的弟子。他若不覺悟,就是魔。這魔就是他越老,年頭越多,神通越大。他若年輕,就沒有那麼大的力量,沒有那麼大的神通。越老那力量、神通,都不可思議了,所以叫魔。這個魔比鬼更厲害。魔鬼、魔鬼,這鬼是會變魔的。

你們聽沒聽過以前那個如意魔女?那是周朝的一個鬼,她不守規矩,就被雷給劈了。雷劈了她,但是沒有完全把她消滅了,所以她聚精會神地又聚會到一起,就修行成一個魔,各處去要人的命。為什麼魔要人的命呢?就是因為要增加自己的勢力和眷屬的勢力。每逢這個魔呀,魔死一個人,其餘的魔就來恭賀他說:「你真有本事!」就像我們做官的,陞官似的,就那樣子。因為魔多殺一個人,就增加一種勢力,這個鬼的勢力也聽魔招呼的。如意魔女以後遇到我,也皈依三寶了,這也是魔皈依佛的一個例證。

魔生到天上去,因為他修了很多福報。經上說天魔,不要以為那個天魔就是在天上,他可以到天上去,但他不一定常常在天上。那麼人間這一些有神通的魔,都可以做為天魔。天上的魔如果需要他們去,那他們隨時都可以去的。他們生到天上,不單有欲念,而且根本這個脾氣是最大,剛強得不得了,就是因為好勇鬥狠,所以就做魔了。他若不好勇鬥狠,沒有脾氣了,那就是佛的眷屬了。有習氣無明很重的,這都是魔的眷屬。

至於他們將來受什麼果報,那是很遠很遠的一個事情,這不可以考究的。他們有的遇到這個神通大的,如果他們太不聽教化,可以把牠們摧毀,沒有了,化為和虛空一樣。那麼有的沒有經過摧碎,他做的惡多了,他不改過,還是那麼背覺合塵,還是那麼迷,當然將來他也有他的果報,他的果報那也是很辛苦的。或者去做狐貍啊,做黃鼠狼啊,都墮落到畜生道去,這都是魔的精靈,他做這一種的東西。或者變蛇啊,或者變老鼠啊,或者做種種奇奇怪怪的畜生,這都是那種惡魔氣的東西變的。所以你們若看見很惡的眾生,好像老虎啊,這都有一種魔的力量在那兒幫助牠,所以牠才有那麼大本事。

D isciple: I have a question. Sun Wukung (“Monkey” in the book Journey to the West) was born from a rock. How did that rock give birth to a monkey? Can such phenomena occur after a rock has been exposed to the essence of the sun and moon over several tens of thousands of years? Is Monkey’s case the same as that described in the Sutra? That is, there is an essential energy created during an eclipse of the sun and moon, and it is absorbed by such things as gold, jade, a rare fungus, a unicorn, phoenix, tortoise, or crane, transforming them into demons. From reading the book, it seems that Monkey has a few good roots. He knows that transmigration entails a lot of suffering, and so after eight hundred years, he started on a quest for the Way. He mastered various spiritual arts, and later became a Dharma-protector of Buddhism. Monkey is an example of someone who is good, but here it’s talking about spirits, sprites, ghosts, and monsters who turn into demons in their old age. Under what conditions do they turn into demons when they get old? It seems that these demons are like bandits in that they do evil things. Is it the case that some turn into demons while others don’t, because some are good and others aren’t?

Ven. Master: Monkey was a demon, and there are many other cases which are similar. Monkey probably ran into trouble as he was cultivating at the level of the thinking skandha, and so as a result, he turned into a monkey that could ascend to the heavens and burrow into the earth. He is exactly what the Shurangama Sutra calls “a representative of the demons.” As for other demons, when they are tired of being demons, of course they will also take refuge in the Triple Jewel. If they ever have a single thought of reflecting within and they awaken, they can become a disciple of the Buddha. If they do not awaken, then they are still demons. The older demons get, the greater their spiritual powers become. If they are young, they aren’t that strong, and their spiritual powers aren’t that great. The older ones have inconceivable strength and spiritual powers, which is why they are called demons. Demons are even fiercer than ghosts. The Chinese have the term “demonic ghost” because ghosts can turn into demons.

Have you heard about the “as-you-wish demon woman”? She had been a ghost in the Zhou Dynasty, but because she didn’t follow the rules, she was struck by lightning. However, the lightning didn’t destroy her completely, and she pulled herself back together with a concentrated effort. Then she cultivated and became a demon who went around demanding people’s lives. Why did she demand their lives? It was because she wanted to increase her own power and the power of her retinue. Every time this demon caused a person’s death, the other demons would congratulate her: “You’re really powerful!” It’s similar to how other officials act towards an official who has just been promoted. By killing one more person, a demon increases its power, and even ghosts have to follow the demon’s orders. Later, when the “as-you-wish demon woman” encountered me, she took refuge with the Triple Jewel. This is a case of a demon taking refuge in the Buddha.

Demons are born in the heavens because they have cultivated many blessings. The Sutras talk about celestial demons, but you shouldn’t think they are only in the heavens. They can go to the heavens, but they are not necessarily always there. The demons in the human realm endowed with spiritual powers can all be considered celestial demons. If the demons in the heavens need them to go there, they can go at any time. Although they are born in the heavens, not only do they still have desires, they also have huge tempers and are incredibly stubborn. It’s just because of their belligerent character that they become demons. If they weren’t belligerent, if they didn’t have any temper, then they would be in the retinue of the Buddhas. Those with heavy habits and ignorance are in the retinue of demons.

As for what kind of retribution they will receive in the future, that’s a very distant matter which cannot be investigated. If they are rather resistant to being taught and transformed when encountering someone with great spiritual powers, they may be pulverized into nothingness, until they are the same as the void. Even if they aren’t pulverized, if they do a lot of evil and fail to reform, if they still turn away from enlightenment to unite with the worldly dust and continue to be so confused, then of course they will have to undergo retribution, and it will be full of suffering. They may become foxes or weasels, falling into the destiny of animals. It is the spirits of demons that cause them to turn into such creatures. They may become snakes or rats, or various other strange animals. These are all transformations of malicious demonic energy. Ferocious creatures, such as tigers, all have demonic power aiding them. That’s why they are so powerful.


問:經文說師父與弟子俱墮地獄……
Question: The Sutra text says that the teacher
and disciples will both fall into the hells...

人:是啊,就是那個修道的人!

問:修道人是指那個徒弟?

上人:No(不),師父也一樣的,師父也是行人嘛,好像那人民教就是這樣子的。這個有一種分別的地方,什麼地方呢?就是有淫欲,沒有淫欲。你有淫欲,那就是魔;沒有淫欲,那才是正的,那才是佛。分別在這裡,他沒有斷淫,他還不能降伏其心。他不過就坐在那兒可以入定了,可是在三摩地中,他還有所貪、有所求的,「潛行貪欲」,就從這兩點,你就可以知道他。

所以這個世間一切的事情都很微妙不可思議的。在這個經上,只是說一少部分,要是詳細說,每一陰的魔,就有千千萬萬那麼多,有種種的不同。所以舉出這一樣,大家也可以觸類旁通,就不要生那種貪求愛心了。沒有欲念了,什麼魔也不怕。你要是沒有貪欲了,什麼魔也沒有辦法你。魔就是看見你門開了,他就會進來;你總是門不開,他就不會進來。

我們現在是大家提意見共同來研究,並不是說一定對,一定不對。研究這個真理,真理那就是真金。與真理不吻合,這都是不對的。所以《楞嚴經》,為什麼我說它是真的呢?就因為它這個理說得太清楚了,太真了,所以那一些天魔外道,他們原形都畢露了。這些冒充善知識,冒充什麼什麼東西的,都在這裡頭給他現出來一個寫照,好像他現原形了,所以他們沒有辦法了,只可以說《楞嚴經》是假的,那麼就弄一個魚目混珠來,又可以混水,在那兒摸魚了。

你想一想,在這五蘊的階段,他修道若斷了思惑,怎麼會想東、想西、想南、想北,計度上、計度下的?用種種的分別心來研究道理呢?沒有的!什麼事情來了,他都迎刃而解,不需要去分別計度。這些妄想都是一些個識,尤其那個識那分別更細微;細微、細微的地方,它都在那兒分別。不要說他沒有證果,他甚至於也不能升到非非想處天,為什麼呢?他這身體根本就沒有看破,沒有放下呢!還是在這臭皮囊上來用功夫,打轉轉。

他沒有證果,都是虛妄的境界,所有的都不是真實的。就是他色、受、想、行、識都破了,也還沒有證果,這不過只是在修道的路上跑著呢。所以各位要認識清楚這種境界,不要像那無聞比丘似的,以四禪天就認為四果了,破五蘊也就是在這初禪、二禪的境界上。今天我告訴你們,沒有斷見惑、思惑,這怎麼能談到證果呢?談不到的。他若是證果,他就得到不退轉了,怎麼會著魔呢!證了初果也不會著魔的。

破色陰、受陰,一樣還是著魔。這色受想行識都破了,那是很平常的事情,不是真有定力,不著魔了。他不過是很高了,很高了還一樣著魔,為什麼呢?就因為他還有個愛心和貪心,就因為有這個,或者貪知見,或者貪神通,或者貪感應。這一貪就開門了,並不是他一想,就不會著魔了,那個著得更厲害的。

至於這一切的宗教,當然都是在這五蘊裡頭轉的,你看後面的文說:「師父和徒弟俱遭王難。」這如果不是一個宗教,怎麼會有師父徒弟?他們得到一點,就得少為足,就立一個宗教,說他們那個是真的,他們是什麼什麼的……。我們也不必指出來哪一個宗教,就用一種代名詞說某一個宗教,不必把它名字說清楚,這就可以明白了。至於你說一定要知道他們是從哪個蘊來的,在哪個地方。這就在於你自己和我們每個人,要是把這五十種陰魔都研究清楚了,就都會知道他們是在什麼程度上。

士:上人、各位法師、各位善知識,我講一段跟大家修行比較有切實關係的。在受陰盡的時候,往往會產生貪愛善巧方便,要契合天理,要契機,要化眾生的急躁心。這種急躁心產生以後,會有一些現象。好像著天魔以後,有一些沒有看過經書的人,往往會說很多經文。在臺灣有很多修行者,我講修行者比較好聽,他本身所看的經書很有限,本身所受的戒體,可能已經破壞了。但是他因為要得到善巧方便,看人家講經說法有很多的信眾,他很高興,希望自己也能夠快一點發智慧,可以快快講經說法給很多人聽。這種心理產生以後,在禪坐中就會著魔,你看現在很多人很會講經,這其實已經是著魔的現象了。如果他持戒很嚴,持咒或誦經很勤,又很用功的話,這個人或許就不會有這種現象。如果你看他本身平時持戒不很好,又不誦經禮拜,可是他一上臺閉目養神。不只他這個講的人,我們聽的人,到了那個道場以後,跟著起了妄想心,三天兩天以後,聽的人也可以講得很好,根本不用學經。

我認為大家在上人的道場,應該是不會這樣;如果到其他的道場,護法神又不很護法,本身又起妄想貪著,這種現象多半發生在喜歡禪坐的人身上;如果不習禪的人,這種現象不太會產生。像臺灣有的老太婆,她本身一個字也不懂,但三天、五天之後,她毛筆字可以寫得比呂居士漂亮得多,這種情形我看得多了。幾天以後,馬上即身成佛,真的是「即身成佛」了。三天前她不會講經,三天後講經講得很好,這種很奇怪的事情都會產生的。這就是為什麼現在正法大家都不學,要學邪法。這種人你跟他講佛法,他不聽的。我們了解這種現象可能比較切實一點,在這道場的人可能都不會這樣,但是在外面就要小心。

人:這都是有狐狸精在那兒附身了,這都叫飛精附人。好像現在某人在那兒修行修行,但是他又打太極拳,又大喊大叫的,可是他心裡明白,知道這是不對的,這就是這個邪沒能把他的心給迷住。要是不修行的人呢?或者他一迷,就連心也不懂了,什麼也不明白,不知道邪這個東西來了,做了什麼事情,一般不修行的人就這樣。那個邪一來,他就講,講完,邪過去了,你問他方才幹什麼來了?他說:「我不知道呢!」這就是迷住了,把那個心、性靈都給迷住了。那個沒有迷住的,就是他心裡還明白。這種種的意思都要懂得,不是單單一個的。如果單單說是邪附到旁人身上,這也是不圓滿的。這都有可能的,都是不一定的,你把它想得可以往左走,也可以往右走,可以往前走,也可以往後退的,這都不是決定辭。

「候得其便」,就是「貪欲」這兩個字,把門開開了。魔很聰明的,他看這人有什麼貪心,魔就用什麼方法來誘惑你,所以我們修行人,也不用念什麼咒,也不必用什麼法,就老老實實的,不爭、不貪、不求、不自私、不自利,埋頭苦幹,好好修行,什麼魔也沒有辦法你。你一有了貪心,一有了僥倖心,想要佔便宜,找捷徑,就容易著魔的。因為這個魔的智慧很高,他看你這個修行人到什麼程度了,用什麼方法來可以引誘你,他就用什麼方法。至於他選什麼人,這個對象不是什麼問題,這個人只是給他做一個假招牌在那裡,他就利用這個人,用種種的法來誘惑你。我們修道的人,如果沒有自私自利的心,什麼魔也不怕的。

經文提到「受陰虛妙,不遭邪慮」,這個「虛」才能「妙」,「妙」才能「虛」。這種妙是如果你沒有毛病,就不會遭到這個邪慮。邪慮,這個慮就是有一種憂愁恐懼感。什麼憂愁恐懼感呢?就是杞人憂天,這就是邪慮了。

那麼在這個受陰裡頭已經有功夫了,本來不會遭遇到這種境界,他自己沒有了,怎麼還無緣無故就遭遇到邪慮呢?可是雖然自己沒有了,但他防備的力量不夠,所以外邊的賊,外面的邪魔鬼怪就來了。為什麼有外邊的麻煩來?就因為他裡面有所愛、有所貪、有所求,還是有一種自私心,也有自利的心在裡頭藏著,所以外面就有這種的境界來了;你一被它所轉動了,就遭了。如果他自己沒有這種的念了,沒有這個老毛病,本來是不遭這個邪慮,怎麼又被轉動了呢,這豈不是矛盾嗎?不是,就因為你開開了賊那個門了,生出一種愛欲心!潛行貪欲,這個「潛」就是偷偷的,偷偷摸摸地去做這個不淨行,不守規矩,不守戒律。

所以這個邪慮,不單單是念,也就是你這憂愁恐懼感。好像我們人,這個也怕,那個也怕,這就是邪慮了。被人壓迫得也怕,不敢公開,這就是怕,這就是邪慮,受不了這個壓力。所以不要有一種恐懼心,你若有恐懼心,你就不想叫這魔來,它也會來了;你若沒有恐懼心,它要來也來不了了。這是最要緊的祕訣,就是不怕。你若不怕,無所恐懼,這就是個正。正,什麼都可以降伏的,邪不勝正。所以那個魔,他所怕的就是正大光明這四個字。

你什麼時候也不可以隨隨便便說開悟了,什麼都可以幹了,也可以行淫欲了。這簡直是大魔王。噢!開悟了,不需要守什麼規矩,抽煙、喝酒、玩女人,什麼都幹了,所以最要緊的地方,就是這個淫欲,他有淫欲心,盡行不淨行,這就是魔;他不貪錢,沒有淫欲,那就是真的。他專門公開對大家這麼講,說你前生是我的什麼太太啊,以前做皇帝啊,就這麼睜開眼對大家講,引誘人生一種淫欲心。

在我年輕的時候,專門歡喜和魔來鬥法,鬥得三千大千世界的魔軍都想來對付我。所以有很多次,幾幾乎乎把生命都沒有了。因為這個,我就再有這種和魔鬥法的心,也不敢再用什麼法來和魔鬥了。所以現在很多的魔都來欺負我,我就修忍辱的功夫,不和他們起對待。我只用一種慈悲心來攝受,來感化他們,而不用降伏法來降伏他們。

我記得在東北有過一次,是在道德會上,有個講習班主任叫徐桂蘭。這道德會有五、六十個學生,其中就有一個著魔了,中邪了,所謂著魔就是邪魔來附體了。這講習班主任徐桂蘭自以為講習班的主任是有地位的,有權力的,就來為這女孩子治魔。她用一口涼水,照著中魔這個女孩子就噴一口。這一口噴上了,這魔還沒有走。魔就說:「好!你來治我,我現在就到你那兒去,我要附在你身上,看你怎麼樣?」於是乎,這中魔的女孩子病就好了,這徐桂蘭自己就中魔了,中邪了。剛才張果鴻說他也用過這個方法,念咒來噴這個人,這個人就跑了。這個魔大約法術還不夠,所以就跑了。但附在徐桂蘭身上這個魔不怕涼水噴,牠不跑,於是乎徐桂蘭自己就發魔氣。發了魔氣,在道德會也不能住了,就回到家裡。回到家裡,這個魔天天就來擾亂她,擾得她家裡不平安。這個魔是什麼魔呢?是個馬猴子精,大馬猴子,很大的馬猴子精。這馬猴子精一來了,就和徐桂蘭有性行為。它附到她身上就來折磨她。有時候就把徐桂蘭迷得,又講怎麼樣愛牠,又怎麼樣。就有性交,有性行為。性行為完了,徐桂蘭本人就七孔流血,眼睛也流血,耳朵也流血,鼻孔、嘴巴都流血。就這個樣子,被這馬猴子精,把她的精氣都給吸去了,吸得癱瘓要死了的樣子。

道德會就派人去找我們廟上的方丈和尚,我們方丈和尚是很有名的,在東北叫王孝子。因為聽說三緣寺這廟上方丈和尚有道德,可以降伏這個魔,於是乎就找他去了。但方丈和尚什麼事情都叫我去,好像大南溝高德福這家裡的問題,還有很多很多的,外面人都也知道的。這次方丈又叫我去,叫我去我就去了。去到這兒,他們就說把誰請來了。這馬猴子,你猜它怎樣說?「唉!你請他是白費功夫,沒有用的。你不要說請他呀,你把濟公請來,我也不怕的。」就這麼在那兒講,什麼也不怕。等我到了呢,它真的來了,這馬猴子來了,然後真是又鬥上法啦,鬥、鬥、鬥,鬥了兩天才把牠降伏。降伏住了,那麼病就好了,人也沒有死。像這些個問題,我經過很多很多的。所以現在我也不願意管人家的閒事。我的宗旨是這樣子,和任何人也不鬥爭。

有什麼證明佛在世的時候也有魔呢?你就看佛入涅槃之後,在結集經藏的時候,阿難升法座,坐在法主坐的座位上。因為結集經藏要有一個人在那兒主持這法的法意。在這時候,阿難相貌就現出來一種不可思議的端嚴畢備的樣子。下邊那些阿羅漢也不知道是怎麼回事了,「咦!怎麼阿難成佛啦?」又想:「怎麼這是旁的地方來的佛嗎?」有的阿羅漢又想:「喔!這是不是魔啊?」你們想一想,如果佛住世的時候沒有魔出現,為何佛剛剛入涅槃,那些大阿羅漢怎麼生了這些懷疑?一定在佛住世的時候,也就常常有魔的出現了,所以他們就生這種種懷疑。那麼你們各位想一想,我們用功修行,一時一刻也不可以馬虎的,時時刻刻都要認真,腳踏實地來修行。我們是追求真理的,若稍微一不用功啊,那個業障就現前了。

在註解上,只要你講得有道理,怎麼講都可以的。這不要太執著,這個經文怎麼說,這都是說一個樣子給人聽,不一定是這樣子的,你們也不要拿它當怎麼樣高深、奧妙那麼想。就把它當很平常的人在說話那樣,不是盡鑽牛角尖,不要鑽窟窿,這一定是怎麼回事。 末法是魔強法弱的時候,而《楞嚴經》是佛教的一部照妖鏡,所有天魔外道、魑魅魍魎,一見到《楞嚴經》就現原形了,無所遁形,什麼地方它也逃不了。所以《楞嚴經》存在,佛法就存在;《楞嚴經》如果毀滅了,佛法也就毀滅了。誰毀滅的呢?這一些個天魔外道。這些天魔外道一看到《楞嚴經》,就好像眼中釘、肉中刺一樣,坐也坐不住,站也站不穩,所以它必須要創出一種邪說,說是《楞嚴經》是假的。我們做佛教徒應該認識真理,《楞嚴經》上所講的道理,每一個字都是真經真典,沒有一個字不是講真理的。

D isciple: I have a question. Sun Wukung (“Monkey” in the book Journey to the West) was born from a rock. How did that rock give birth to a monkey? Can such phenomena occur after a rock has been exposed to the essence of the sun and moon over several tens of thousands of years? Is Monkey’s case the same as that described in the Sutra? That is, there is an essential energy created during an eclipse of the sun and moon, and it is absorbed by such things as gold, jade, a rare fungus, a unicorn, phoenix, tortoise, or crane, transforming them into demons. From reading the book, it seems that Monkey has a few good roots. He knows that transmigration entails a lot of suffering, and so after eight hundred years, he started on a quest for the Way. He mastered various spiritual arts, and later became a Dharma-protector of Buddhism. Monkey is an example of someone who is good, but here it’s talking about spirits, sprites, ghosts, and monsters who turn into demons in their old age. Under what conditions do they turn into demons when they get old? It seems that these demons are like bandits in that they do evil things. Is it the case that some turn into demons while others don’t, because some are good and others aren’t?

Ven. Master: Monkey was a demon, and there are many other cases which are similar. Monkey probably ran into trouble as he was cultivating at the level of the thinking skandha, and so as a result, he turned into a monkey that could ascend to the heavens and burrow into the earth. He is exactly what the Shurangama Sutra calls “a representative of the demons.” As for other demons, when they are tired of being demons, of course they will also take refuge in the Triple Jewel. If they ever have a single thought of reflecting within and they awaken, they can become a disciple of the Buddha. If they do not awaken, then they are still demons. The older demons get, the greater their spiritual powers become. If they are young, they aren’t that strong, and their spiritual powers aren’t that great. The older ones have inconceivable strength and spiritual powers, which is why they are called demons. Demons are even fiercer than ghosts. The Chinese have the term “demonic ghost” because ghosts can turn into demons.

Have you heard about the “as-you-wish demon woman”? She had been a ghost in the Zhou Dynasty, but because she didn’t follow the rules, she was struck by lightning. However, the lightning didn’t destroy her completely, and she pulled herself back together with a concentrated effort. Then she cultivated and became a demon who went around demanding people’s lives. Why did she demand their lives? It was because she wanted to increase her own power and the power of her retinue. Every time this demon caused a person’s death, the other demons would congratulate her: “You’re really powerful!” It’s similar to how other officials act towards an official who has just been promoted. By killing one more person, a demon increases its power, and even ghosts have to follow the demon’s orders. Later, when the “as-you-wish demon woman” encountered me, she took refuge with the Triple Jewel. This is a case of a demon taking refuge in the Buddha.

Demons are born in the heavens because they have cultivated many blessings. The Sutras talk about celestial demons, but you shouldn’t think they are only in the heavens. They can go to the heavens, but they are not necessarily always there. The demons in the human realm endowed with spiritual powers can all be considered celestial demons. If the demons in the heavens need them to go there, they can go at any time. Although they are born in the heavens, not only do they still have desires, they also have huge tempers and are incredibly stubborn. It’s just because of their belligerent character that they become demons. If they weren’t belligerent, if they didn’t have any temper, then they would be in the retinue of the Buddhas. Those with heavy habits and ignorance are in the retinue of demons.

As for what kind of retribution they will receive in the future, that’s a very distant matter which cannot be investigated. If they are rather resistant to being taught and transformed when encountering someone with great spiritual powers, they may be pulverized into nothingness, until they are the same as the void. Even if they aren’t pulverized, if they do a lot of evil and fail to reform, if they still turn away from enlightenment to unite with the worldly dust and continue to be so confused, then of course they will have to undergo retribution, and it will be full of suffering. They may become foxes or weasels, falling into the destiny of animals. It is the spirits of demons that cause them to turn into such creatures. They may become snakes or rats, or various other strange animals. These are all transformations of malicious demonic energy. Ferocious creatures, such as tigers, all have demonic power aiding them. That’s why they are so powerful.

V en. Master: Right, that’s referring to the cultivator!

Question: Is the cultivator the disciple?

Ven. Master: Not necessarily. The teacher is also that way; he’s also a cultivator. An example of this was the People’s Church. There’s a point of distinction, which is whether or not a person has lust. If you have lust, you’re a demon. If you don’t have lust, then you’re proper, and you’re a Buddha. That’s where the difference lies. If he hasn’t cut off lust, then he can’t subdue his mind. He may be able to sit there and enter samadhi, but while in samadhi, he is still greedy and seeking. “He engages in greed and lust on the sly.” That’s how you can recognize him.

Everything in this world is wondrous and inconceivable. This Sutra only describes a small bit. If we were to go into detail, each skandha has thousands of myriads of demons of all different kinds. One kind is mentioned so people can get the general idea and avoid having thoughts of greed and craving. Without thoughts of desire, you won’t fear any demon whatsoever. If you don’t have any greed or desire, no demon can have its way with you. Demons will come in only when they see that you’ve opened yourself up to them. If you always keep the doors closed, they won’t come in.

Right now, we are bring up everyone’s opinion to study together, and we don’t need to say that any opinion is correct or incorrect. We are studying true principles; true principles are true gold. Anything that does not agree with true principle is wrong. Why do I say that the Shurangama Sutra is real? It’s because the explanations it gives of the principles are so clear and so true that the celestial demons and externalists are exposed for what they are. Those who pretend to be Good and Wise Advisors and so forth are all exposed, so they have no recourse but to claim that the Shurangama Sutra is false. They try to pass off fish eyes as pearls; they stir up confusion and then exploit the situation.

Think about it: while cultivating within the realm of the five skandhas, if he had already cut off the delusion of thought, would he be thinking about north, south, east and west, and be speculating upwards and downwards? Would he make all kinds of discriminations as he investigates the principle? No way. He would be able to decisively resolve any matter which comes up without having to discriminate and speculate about it. Those false thoughts all come from his consciousness. His consciousness is constantly discriminating the subtlest details. Not only has he not realized any fruition, he can’t even ascend to the Heaven of Neither Thought nor Non-thought. Why not? Because he hasn’t even seen through and put down his body! He’s still applying effort on that stinking skinbag, spinning around and around.

He hasn’t realized any fruition yet. Those are all false states. It is all unreal. Even if he has broken through form, feeling, thinking, activities and consciousness, he still hasn’t realized any fruition. He is just traveling on the path of cultivation, that’s all. So everyone should recognize this kind of state clearly and not be like the Unlearned Bhikshu, who thought the Fourth Dhyana was the Fourth Stage of Arhatship. After breaking through the five skandhas, one’s state is still that of the First or Second Dhyana. Let me tell you, if he hasn’t severed the delusions of views and the delusions of thought, how can he talk about realizing the fruition? It’s simply not possible. If he had realized any fruition, he would become irreversible; how could a demon possess him? Even a person who has realized the first fruition cannot be possessed by a demon.

Even after a person has broken through the form and feeling skandhas, he can still get possessed by demons all the same. Breaking through all the skandhas of form, feeling, thinking, activities and consciousness is a very ordinary matter. It doesn’t mean he truly has samadhi power and won’t get possessed anymore. He is simply at a very high level, but even at that high level, he can still get possessed. Why? Because he still harbors love and greed in his mind. Maybe he is greedy for knowledge and vision, for spiritual powers, or for responses. Once he becomes greedy, the door is opened. It’s not that he can be free from demonic possession just by thinking about it. In fact, he gets even more possessed.

As for all religions, of course they are all revolving around in the realm of the five skandhas. In the text later on it says that both the teacher and disciples get in trouble with the law. If this isn’t talking about a religion, why would it talk about a teacher and disciples? They obtain a small result and are satisfied with it, so then they set up a religion and say that theirs is the real one...and so forth. We don’t need to mention the names of the religions. We can just use symbolic names and still let everyone understand the idea. If you insist on knowing which skandhas those religions fall under, then we must study the fifty skandha-demons until we understand them thoroughly. Then we’ll know what level they have reached.

Layperson: Venerable Master, Dharma Masters, and Good and Wise Advisors, I’d like to share something which is closely related to everyone’s cultivation. When the feeling skandha comes to an end, the cultivator tends to be in an anxious state in which he craves clever and skillful expedients. He wants to merge with the cosmic principle, unite with potentials, and convert living beings. After he has this kind of anxiety, several things may happen. For example, some people who have never read Sutras before will be able to speak many Sutras after being possessed by a celestial demon.There are many cultivators in Taiwan—I’m calling them “cultivators” to be polite—who have read only a very limited amount of Sutras and who may have violated the substance of the precepts they received. Yet they want to obtain clever and skillful expedients, because when they see other people explaining Sutras and speaking Dharma, and getting a large following, they are very happy and hope they themselves will quickly bring forth wisdom and be able to explain Sutras and speak Dharma to many people. Having this kind of thought, they become possessed by demons as they sit in meditation. You see many people who seem to be very good at explaining Sutras; actually, they are already possessed by demons. If a person upholds the precepts strictly, is diligent in reciting mantras and Sutras, and works very hard, then he may not be possessed. However, if you see that a person is casual about holding precepts and doesn’t recite Sutras or bow to the Buddhas, and yet he goes onto a stage and closes his eyes, then not only he, but even the listeners who go to that Way-place and give rise to false-thinking, after two or three days, will also be able to lecture very well, without having to Study the sutras.

I don’t think this will happen at the Venerable Master’s Way-place. If you go to other Way-places where the Dharma-protecting spirits don’t do a good job, and you give rise to false thinking and greedy attachments, then you may have these states, especially if you like to meditate. It is not very likely that people who don’t meditate will have these states. There’s an elderly woman in Taiwan who was basically illiterate, but after three or five days, she could write Chinese calligraphy much better than Upasika Lü. I’ve seen so many cases like this. After a few days, people suddenly become Buddhas. They really become “Buddhas.” She couldn’t explain Sutras before, but after three days, she was very good at explaining them. Strange things like this really happen. And this is the reason everyone wants to learn deviant dharmas, and no one wants to learn the proper Dharma. If you explain the Buddhadharma to these people, they won’t listen. We probably are more aware of these phenomena. These states probably won’t happen to people at this Way-place, but you have to be careful when you go out.

Ven. Master: These are all cases of people being possessed by fox spirits. This is what is meant by “its spirit possesses a person.” For example, in the course of a person’s cultivation, he may start doing taijiquan moves and shouting, but in his mind he knows this is wrong. The demon is not able to confuse his mind. What if the person has not cultivated? In that case, as soon as he is confused, even his mind doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand anything and doesn’t realize that a demon has come, or the things it has done. Most people who don’t cultivate are this way. When the demon comes, it makes him say things, and after he finishes talking, the deviant force leaves. Then when you ask him what just happened, he says, “I have no idea!” That’s because he was confused—even his mind was confused. As for the person who was not confused, his mind stayed clear. You should understand all these various interpretations, not just one. If you only interpret the text as saying that the demon possesses another person, your interpretation is not complete. These are all possibilities, and none of it is fixed. You should think of the situation as being able to proceed to the right, left, front and back. It is not fixed.

The demon “seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for.” That is, he seizes the opportunity provided by the cultivator’s greed and opens up the door. Demons are very smart. They see what you’re greedy for and use that to tempt you. Therefore, cultivators don’t need to recite a certain mantra or use a certain dharma. Just be honest and true; don’t contend, don’t be greedy, don’t seek, don’t be selfish, and don’t want self-benefit. Put your shoulder to the grindstone and cultivate diligently; then no demon can bother you. But as soon as you become greedy or you start scheming for advantages and shortcuts, it’s easy for demons to possess you. Demons have great wisdom; they can see what level of cultivation you’ve reached and know what methods should be used to lure you. As for choosing a person to possess, that’s not a problem, because the person is only a false front for them. They use the person, and they use various methods to entice and delude you. If a cultivator is unselfish and doesn’t think about benefiting himself, he won’t fear any demon.

The Sutra text says: “The empty wonder of the feeling skandha": it has to be empty in order to be wonderful, and it has to be wonderful in order to be empty. What is wonderful is that when you have no faults, you won’t be troubled by any deviant mental states. Deviant mental states refer to feelings of worry and fear. What is meant by worry and fear? It’s like the man of Qi, who worried that the sky would fall down. He said he didn’t know when the sky would fall. That’s a deviant mental state.

He already has some skill in the feeling skandha and shouldn’t encounter this kind of state. He is free of these feelings of worry and fear. Why would he for no apparent reason enter a deviant state? Although he is free from these feelings, his defense is not strong enough. So thieves from outside—deviant demons, ghosts, and goblins from outside—come. Why is there trouble from outside? Because he harbors thoughts of love, greed, seeking, and selfishness inside. There is also the thought of self-benefit hidden within him. That is why he encounters this kind of state. As soon as he is turned by states, they will be able to trouble him. If he is free from these thoughts and these old faults, he should not encounter these deviant states. Why does he get turned by these states? Isn’t this a contradition? No, it’s because he opened the door to thieves by entertaining a thought of desire. He covertly indulges his greedy desires. “Covertly” means on the sly; he sneaks around engaging in immoral conduct, not abiding by the rules and precepts.

These deviant mental states are not merely thoughts; they also refer to feelings of worry and fear. For example, when we are afraid of things, then we have a deviant mental state. When others oppress you and you’re afraid to speak out about it, that’s fear, and it’s also a deviant mental state. You can’t bear up under the pressure. None of you should be afraid. If you’re afraid, then even if you don’t want the demons to come, they will come. If you are not afraid, then even if they wanted to come, they wouldn’t be able to. That’s the essential secret: not being afraid. If you’re not afraid of anything, then you are “upright.” Being upright, you can subdue anything whatsoever, because the deviant cannot overcome the upright. The qualities of being upright, open, and proper are exactly what demons fear.

You should never at any time casually say that you are enlightened and can do whatever you want, including indulge in lust. One who does that is nothing but a great demon king. Oh! After they’re enlightened, they don’t have to follow any rules. They smoke, drink, play around with women, and do everything else. So the most important thing is lust: If he has lust and he indulges in impure conduct all the time, then he’s a demon. If he isn’t greedy for money and doesn’t have any lust, then he is real. Here, he publicly announces in front of the audience, “You were my wife in a former life,” or “I was an emperor,” and so forth, in order to induce people to have thoughts of lust.

When I was young, I particularly liked to have dharma-contests with demons. I fought with them until all the demon armies in the universe wanted to gang up on me. Many times, I almost lost my life. Because of this, later on no matter how much I wished to have dharma-contests with demons again, I didn’t dare to use any dharma to fight against them. Now when a lot of demons come to bully me, I just cultivate the skill of forbearance and don’t give them any opposition. I only use kindness and compassion to gather them in and influence them, rather than using the Dharma of Subduing to subdue them.

I remember that at the Moral Society in Manchuria, the dean of the training school was called Xu Guilan. There were fifty or sixty students in the Moral Society, and one of them came under demonic possession. That is, a demon took possession of her body. Xu Guilan, thinking she herself had some authority as the dean of the training school, tried to get rid of the demon. She spat a mouthful of cold water at the possessed girl, but the demon didn’t leave. It said, “Okay, you want to get rid of me? Now I’ll possess you instead, and see what you do about that!” Thereupon, the possessed girl got better, and Xu Guilan herself was possessed by the demon. Earlier, Chang Guohung said he had used this method of reciting a mantra and then spitting on the possessed person, and the person had run off. Probably the demon who possessed him didn’t have enough magic-power, and that’s why it ran off. But the demon that possessed Xu Guilan wasn’t afraid of being spat on with cold water, and it didn’t go away. Then Xu Guilan started acting demonic. She could no longer live at the Moral Society and had to move back home. The demon came to disturb her every day at her home, until all the harmony was gone from her home. What demon was this? It was a gibbon spirit, a very large one. When it came, it engaged in sexual intercourse with Xu Guilan. It would possess her body and torture her. Sometimes it would confuse her to the point that she would utter how much she loved it, and so on. Then they would have sex, and after it was over, Xu Guilan would be bleeding from her eyes, ears, nostrils, and mouth. This is how the gibbon spirit sucked away all her energy and essence, leaving her paralyzed and near death.

The Moral Society sent someone to see our monastery’s abbot, who was well-known in Manchuria as the Filial Son Wong. They had heard that the Abbot of Three Conditions Monastery was very virtuous and could subdue the demon, so they sought him out. However, when there was any business to take care of, the Abbot would always ask me to take care of it, and when there was any trouble outside, the Abbot didn’t deal with it himself. He always sent me to resolve the problems. For example, this happened when the family of Gao Defu in Danangou Village was in trouble, and in many, many other cases, which people all know about. This time, the Abbot also asked me to go, and so I went. When I got there and they informed the demon that they had me asked to come, guess what the gibbon spirit said? “Ah! You wasted your efforts asking him to come. It won’t work. Even if you asked Jigung (the ‘Living Buddha’) to come, it wouldn’t scare me.” It was there talking, not afraid of anything. When I went there, the gibbon spirit really came, and we really had a dharma-fight! We were fighting, fighting, fighting! After two days of fighting, I finally managed to subdue it. After it was subdued, the person got better and didn’t die. I have been through many experiences similar to this one. I’m not willing to get involved in other people’s business anymore. My creed now is that I won’t contend with anyone.

What proof is there that demons were around when the Buddha was in the world? After the Buddha entered Nir-vana, when the Sutras were being com-piled, Ananda took the seat of the Dharma host, because someone was needed to direct the Dharma assembly. At that time, Ananda's appearance be-came inconceivably adorned and perfect. The Arhats in the assembly didn't know what was going on, and wondered, "Eh? Has Ananda become a Buddha?" Others thought, "Has a Buddha come from another world?" Some Arhats thought, "Oh, can this be a demon?" Think about it. If there were no demons when the Buddha was in the world, how could those great Arhats enter-tain such a doubt right after the Buddha had entered Nirvana? It must be that when the Buddha was in the world, demons also made frequent appearances. That explains why they would have all those doubts. All of you should reflect on this. When we apply ourselves to cultivation, we must not be careless even for an instant. At all times, we must plant our feet on solid ground and seriously culti-vate. We are pursuing the truth, and if we slack off even the slight-est bit, our karmic obstacles will appear.

When you explain the text, you can explain it in any way that makes sense. Do not become too attached to the Sutra text, for it only gives people a general idea, and the actual situation may not be like that. You shouldn't think of it as being that profound and eso-teric. Regard it as if it were spoken by an ordinary person, and don't always be splitting hairs. Don't beat your head against the wall try-ing to figure out just exactly what it means.

The Dharma-ending Age is a time when the Dharma is weak and demons are strong. The Shurangama Sutra is a demon-spotting mirror in Buddhism. All the celestial demons, externalises, and the li, mei, and wang hang ghosts reveal their true appearance when they see the Shurangama Sutra. They have no way to hide and no place to flee to. Therefore, as long as the Shurangama Sutra exists, the Buddhadharma exists. If the Shurangama Sutra is abolished, then the Buddhadharma will also become extinct. Who will abolish it? The celestial demons and externalists will. When the celestial demons and externalists see the Shurangama Sutra, it is like a nail in their eyes and a thorn in their flesh. They can't sit still, and they can't stand steady; they are compelled to invent the deviant theory saying that the Shurangama Sutra is false. As Buddhist disciples, we should recognize true principles. Every word of the doctrines in the Shurangama Sutra is the absolute truth. There isn't one word which does not express the truth.

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