因為他乘急，於是乎他就墮落龍身，有神通。戒緩，雖然有神通，可是也還是畜生，龍是畜生之一。可是龍是一種神物，因為牠盡找神通，於是乎牠就修得能大、能小、能隱、能顯。能大，你看著這條龍不知多少長，牠也能變成很小很小的；能隱，忽然間牠就不見了；能顯，忽然間牠又現出來了。牠為什麼這樣呢？就因為牠修神通，墮落龍身，所以有這個神通。可是這龍很怕太陽，太陽若一曬牠，把牠曬得像火燒地那麼痛，於是乎牠就要下點雨淋一淋，take a shower（淋浴），這是天上的龍。
Sutra text from last issue: Present in the assembly were eight thousand great Bhikshus and thirty-six thousand Bodhisattva Mahasattvas, also kings, ministers, Brahmans, and lay disciples.
There were also gods, dragons, and the rest of the eightfold division. Our temple is protected by the gods, dragons, and the rest of the eightfold division of ghosts and spirits. You may all remember that when we first moved into Gold Wheel Monastery and began renovating it, some people saw a vision of Guanyin Bodhisattva sitting in mid-air with his foot resting on a tortoise. On the eastern corner of the property, there used to be a bar where drug dealers, winos, strippers, and other disreputable people would hang out. Then, just before our opening ceremony, the bar was closed down for good. It used to be a bad neighborhood, but now it's much cleaner. This is a response from the gods, dragons, and the rest of the eightfold division, who protect the monastery.
When this place was a church, some rather messy people came and left food all over the ground, attracting a lot of rats. We are now propagating the Buddhadharma here, so the gods, dragons, and the rest of the eightfold division should protect this temple and quickly chase the rats away. Actually, I wouldn't really mind the rats, except that they give people the impression that our place is very unsanitary. So now we request the Dharma-protecting spirits to do their job and protect this monastery. Chase away the rats and any other beings that should not be here. Don't be polite with them.
The eightfold division is comprised of the gods, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, and mahoragas.
The gods in the heavens made vows in the past to protect the Buddhas' temples.
Dragons are magical beings. When they cultivated in past lives, they were "fast with the Vehicle and slow with the precepts." They practiced Great Vehicle (Mahayana) Buddhism with tremendous vigor. Seeking a shortcut to obtaining spiritual powers, they practiced esoteric dharmas intensely, but neglected to hold the precepts. They weren't careful to abstain from evil and practice good. For their esoteric practices, sometimes they would steal skulls from corpses and recite mantras over them. They would also steal the plaques that people put up to honor their ancestors, and then they would command ghosts and spirits using those ancestors as mediums.
Dragons were cultivators who advanced at a rocket-like speed, but who didn't pay much attention to the precepts. They casually broke the precepts against sexual misconduct, lying, killing, and stealing. They stole human skulls and ancestral plaques, and even the trees growing by people's graves, in order to carry out their practices. They approached the Dharma with a crooked, greedy mind. That's how they were "fast with the Vehicle and slow with the precepts." Because they were fast with the Vehicle, they have spiritual powers when they become dragons. Because they were slow with the precepts, they fall into the animal realm.
Dragons are animals, but they are also spiritual creatures. Through its spiritual powers, a dragon has the ability to change size at will from the very small to the very large and can also suddenly vanish and just as suddenly reappear. However, dragons have a great fear of the sun because when they bake in the sun, it's as painful as being scorched by fire. They have to send down some rain to soak themselves--just like taking a shower. These are dragons that dwell in the heavens.
Yakshas are called "speedy ghosts" because they travel very quickly. There are space-travelling yaksha, ground-travelling yakshas, and water-travelling yakshas. They travel faster than cars, airplanes, and even rockets. They can travel ten thousand miles in a single thought. There are a great variety of yakshas, just as there are great varieties of dragons: golden dragons, fire dragons, green dragons, white dragons, black dragons, and so on. There are also many ethnic groups in the human race, and within each ethnic group or nationality, there are further distinctions of southerners, northerners, easterners, and westerners. All these different groups of people have their own languages and writing systems. In general, countless species of living beings populate the world, and each species contains infinite variations within it. That's the wonder of the world.
People will never completely understand the secrets of the world. Now with people going to the moon, it seems we are about to experience a breakthrough and everything will be understood. However, when everything is understood, the world will come to an end. When everything has been discovered, it will all disappear. The play will be over! Once people on earth can communicate with and travel to other planets, the world's population will be wiped out by nuclear weapons, or by natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. No matter how flourishing the world becomes, when it reaches the height of its glory, it will become dark again, just as day turns into night. We rise in the morning and begin the day; and when the day is over, we go to sleep. As soon as we close our eyes, we become muddled and unclear. All things, great and small, in the world, go through cycles.
Gandharvas are spirits that make delightful music. When they play their music in the heavens, the immortals sit there totally enraptured, oblivious to the passing of time. However, gandharvas won't play their music for just anyone. The Jade Emperor can enjoy their music, because he knows their weakness. He knows that once they get a whiff of incense, they immediately come wanting to sniff it, no matter how many tens of thousands of miles away they might be. The Jade Emperor has a special kind of incense that he uses to attract them. When they arrive at his palace and smell the incense, they start dancing and singing. That is why gandharvas are called "incense-inhaling spirits." There are eight dragon kings, and four gandharva kings.
to be continued