Sutra text from last issue: "The ninth great vow: 'I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I shall liberate sentient beings from the nets of demons and the bonds of external sects. If they have fallen into the dense forests of evil views, I shall lead them to have proper views and to gradually cultivate the practices of Bodhisattvas so they will quickly realize Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal Bodhi.'"
And the bonds of external sects. External sects follow the demons in the heavens. They use various evil methods to control people, even making them say spells and swear that if they disobey their religion, they will be struck by lightning or suffer other calamities. Thus the adherents of external sects are afraid and dare not offer any opposition, even though they know their belief is mistaken. They are as if tied up with rope, so that they have no freedom and cannot escape.
If they have fallen into the dense forests of evil views. There are all sorts of teachings based upon deviant knowledge and deviant views, as thick as forests, that totally control people's minds and allow them no freedom whatsoever. Buddhism, however, does not attempt to control people. I once announced to a group of Buddhists in the presence of the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Taiwan, Paul Yubin, "If you think Buddhism is too old-fashioned and you want to find a new, trendy religion, here is your chance to change your faith. Buddhism is not a prison. People are free to choose whatever religion they like." Then I turned to Cardinal Yubin, "Do you dare to tell your followers the same thing?" He shook his head and said no.
Why couldn't he do it? It's because his religion still wants to control people. Those who desert the religion are considered the greatest offenders. The "dense forests of evil views" refers to views that cannot be brought out into the open and discussed in public.
Medicine Master Buddha says, "When I meet people of deviant views, I shall lead them to have proper views and to gradually cultivate the practices of Bodhisattvas. I shall explain proper views to them and teach them to cultivate the Six Perfections and myriad practices of Bodhisattvas so they will quickly realize Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal Bodhi."
"The tenth great vow: 'I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I shall cause sentient beings who fall into the hands of the law and are bound, interrogated, whipped, fettered, imprisoned, sentenced to execution, or subjected to endless disasters, hardships, abuse, and humiliation so that they are torn by grief and distress and suffering in body and mind, to obtain, upon hearing my name, liberation from all worry and suffering by means of my blessings, virtue, and awesome spiritual power."
This passage of Sutra text describes the tenth great vow among the twelve great vows that Medicine Master Buddha made when he was cultivating on the causal ground. In this vow he resolves to deliver living beings who are in trouble with the law. He says: "I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I shall cause sentient beings who fall into the hands of the law and are bound, interrogated, whipped, fettered, imprisoned, sentenced to execution..." People may be arrested on false charges, or they may break the law by accident and end up in prison. In any case, they are arrested and punished by the law. They are interrogated so that their testimony can be used to incriminate them. They are flogged, beaten, and bound hand and foot, losing their freedom and being cut off from the outside world. Why are prisoners bound with handcuffs, the cangue, and footchains? Because the authorities are afraid they will run away otherwise. So all their freedom is taken away. Perhaps they are sentenced to die, because the government wants to make an example out of them—they may be beheaded, shot, or electrocuted. In any case, they are not allowed to live; they must die.
Or they may be subjected to endless natural or manmade disasters, hardships, abuse, and humiliation so that they are torn by grief and distress and suffering in body and mind... Others may insult them and strip them of their dignity. Under the mental and physical anguish, they feel as if they were being roasted alive. It is very hard to bear, and they cannot be at peace in body or mind.
At that time, they are caused to obtain, upon hearing my name, liberation from all worry and suffering by means of my blessings, virtue, and awesome spiritual power. Medicine Master Buddha vowed, "If such people hear my Buddha-name, then by means of the blessings and virtue that I cultivated in past lives, they will be saved from all disasters and hardships, and will obtain bliss."
To be continued