這第一個魔是什麼呢？就是這個「欲」，英文就叫 desire，你們現在有desire的，知道不知道？這就是個魔！所以說「欲是汝軍一」，這個欲啊，就是你那個魔軍的第一個魔軍。第一個魔軍就是這個欲。第二魔軍是什麼呢？是「憂愁」。你有了利益了，跟著憂愁就來了！為什麼要憂愁呢？就因為不能滿足這個欲。不能滿足這個欲，所以就生了一種憂愁。今天想、明天想，想來想去，頭髮也想白了，眼睛也想花了！舌頭可沒有想掉，牙掉了！那麼這就憂愁，第二個就是憂愁軍第二。第三個是什麼呢？是「飢渴」。憂愁，為什麼憂愁呢？就因為飢渴，對這個 desire 很飢渴的。飢，就好像餓。渴就是沒有水喝了，這很渴的，叫什麼？thirsty 渴了。渴什麼呢，就是欲沒有滿足，所以就好像餓了，又好像渴了似的！飢渴，這是第三個魔軍。
Sutra text from last issue: Living beings, lacking blessings, under the many sufferings...
Great Master Hanshan said, “In a dream I entered a huge bonfire.” While dreaming, he saw himself walking into an enormous blazing fire.“I panicked and was overwhelmed by fear.” At that time, he was terribly afraid, incredibly terrified, hence “overwhelmed by fear. He didn't anticipate walking into a bonfire, and wasn't he going to be burned to death by the fire? He was so petrified he broke out in a sweat. There was no way he could escape from the fire.“Just at that moment of alarm,” right when he was so scared and apprehensive, “A drop of water turned things fresh and cool.” There was a single drop of water the touch of which seemed so fine, so cool and refreshing.“But then the water evaporated.” When that single drop of water evaporated in the fire, the suffering started all over again. It was both agonizing and terrifying. There are far too many such sufferings, and so they are called “the many sufferings.”
Living beings are ever shrouded and confused by weighty coverings and dense obstructions.“Weighty coverings” refers to being covered over by ignorance and afflictions.“Dense obstructions” are thick blockages, specifically the Three Kinds of Obstructions: The Obstruction of Afflictions, the Obstruction of Karma, and the Obstruction of Retribution. Another classification is into the Obstruction of Afflictions and the Obstruction of What is Known. With such various kinds of obstructions forming blockages, you are “ever shrouded and confused.” They keep you in a perpetual state of delusion, so you don't understand anything due to those obstructions. You may be quite intelligent to start with, but day by day you become more muddled. Basically you had a clear purpose in mind, but then your false thoughts multiply as the days pass. Any of you who are ever shrouded and confused by weighty coverings and dense obstructions should wake up at this point and start to understand! Don't continue being so confused. But he leads them all to achieve liberation. Why is that? The Buddha wants all living beings to be released from their sufferings. The Spirit named Pure Light has this understanding. The Wind-Ruling Spirit named Pure Light can comprehend this kind of state, this type of door to liberation.
Within a dream you see yourself inside a huge bonfire and are so afraid. You have no way to get out of the fire. The more seared you are, the more your legs go on strike and won't walk. They don't obey your orders. But when you wake up, from your awakened vantage point you wonder, “Who was so distressed?” Who was it? That was a case of being terrified in a dream of entering a holocaust. We people now in this world who are not yet awake are constantly suffering and getting upset. We are so busy squabbling and quarrelling and being afflicted, and we feel it's not all that bad. But you should realize, when the time comes for you to die, what control will you have? When you fall sick, how will you be in charge of the situation? If you have no control, then you haven't awakened from the dream!
If you do have control, then you can be sick or not as you please. And you can die or not die as you want, whenever you want. If you are in charge like that, then you may have awakened from the dream. Therefore you should pay particular attention to this point.
Disciple: Is instantaneous death as painful as flaying a live cow? For example, if someone is shot and dies fast, is that extremely painful?
Venerable Master: Such pain is even harder to bear. You aren't aware of it right at the moment, but afterwards you know. Every day at the same time you reexperience the pain. Don't try to find a cheap way out, thinking that to die that way isn't very painful. Such a death takes a lot longer than a natural death. As to it being a bargain, first of all, is it really a bargain or not? For example, this teacup is basically worth fire dollars, but now it is selling for only fifty cents. That's a bargain. Basically, when someone dies, it's very painful. If I try to find some way not to die a painful death, then that's really a bargain. However, you get a bargain at the time of death, but after death it's no bargain. It's far more suffering than the other way of dying. You don't realize that when you're still a person, but when you are a ghost you know. When the time you died comes around again, as a ghost you can't stand it, because it's horrible suffering. Each day at that time, the suffering is undergone again. But if you die of illness, even though it is as painful as for a cow being flayed alive, after you have died, you don't have so much suffering.
Question: What is the Buddhist point of view on euthanasia? Is it absolutely banned?
Venerable Master: The things people do are not necessarily totally right or totally wrong. Therefore it's correct for the government not to permit euthanasia. People may see someone going through the agony of dying and think they could help alleviate the person's suffering by making him die. It might seem right to assist his death. However, these are just things people do. It's true that within Buddhism, such actions are not allowed. Everything is karma. The person's pain is also karma which he is supposed to experience. He is due to undergo that retribution. You can't employ some kind of contrived maneuver to prevent him from suffering the consequences of his karma.
A propos of this, Emperor Chongzhen had been a left-home person in his previous life. But even though he had left home, he hadn't received full ordination. He was just a novice monk, a little Shramanera, and he died very young. When he passed away, his Teacher told his fellow monks,“Tie his corpse by the legs and have it dragged around, and keep dragging the corpse until it disintegrates.” But the Shramanera's Dharma brothers said that was too cruel. The novice, who was already dead, had been so good when he was alive. After his death, to drag his corpse on the ground until it was pulverized would be too lacking in compassion. And so they left the corpse intact and buried it instead. Because the boy had been a novice in his previous life, in his next life he became Emperor Chongzhen, an Emperor who had the Way but lacked blessings. Consequently, later on he ended up hanging himself on Coal Mountain. If his Dharma brothers had dragged his corpse until it disintegrated, then in that life as an Emperor he would have had blessings along with virtue in the Way. But because they didn't do that to his corpse, in his life as Emperor he had the Way but was deficient in blessings, and he still ended up hanging himself and dying on Coal Mountain. That's what people say. Whether or not it's true, I don't know. But if his corpse had been gradually ground to bits, as his clear-sighted Teacher knew, then that karma would have been ended. If his corpse had been totally pulverized by being dragged on the ground, then in his next life he would have been a good Emperor. But a monk senior to him in the group didn't want him to be a good Emperor. He wanted him to be an Emperor who only made it half way through his term. Hence in the next life, that very monk wrested the throne away from him, since he became Li Zicheng.
Venerable Master: [to disciples] Your literal explanation of the text was pretty good, but you didn't explain the hordes of demons very clearly, so I'll explain the text again.
The Tathagata’s vast, great powers of spiritual penetrations
Keep all the hordes of demons under control.
His many expedient methods for taming and subduing
Are what Courageous Power can contemplate.
The Tathagata's vast, great powers of spiritual penetrations / Keep all the hordes of demons under control. / His many expedient methods for taming and subduing / Are what Courageous Power can contemplate. To keep under control means to quell, in this case making the heavenly demons and externalists submit. Demons are able to kill and bring other harm to humans. They make people die or go insane and lose their wits, so their faculty of reasoning is gone, and they are upside-down and don't clearly recognize what is true. Demons render people so confused and disoriented that they don't follow the rules. That's the demons’ talent.
The first kind of demon is desire. Do those of you who have desire realize it's a demon? Therefore, desire is the first of the hordes of demons. Of all your demonic armies, desire is the primary one.
Then which one is second? It's worry. Once you have some benefit in mind, a lot of anxieties arrive. Why do you worry? Because you can't fulfill your wishes. When you are unable to satisfy your desire, you start to worry. You think about it today and then the next day. You keep going over it in your mind until your hair turns white and your eyes grow dim. Your tongue won't fall out from your mental effort, but your teeth will! That's why worry is the second of the demonic hordes.
What is the third type of demon? It's craving, literally “hunger and thirst.” Why do you become worried and anxious? It's due to craving. You are parched and ravenous regarding the object of your desire, like someone desperately hungry for food or intensely thirsty with no water to drink. Here it refers to craving due to unfulfilled desires, which is similar to hunger and thirst. Hence, craving is the third of the demonic states.
To be continued