Because of that, beings who do certain things create certain karma, and so in this world they enter collective hells, which arise from false thinking and which originally are not there at all.
Because of that, meaning all the different situations described above, beings who do certain things create certain karma. Whatever things they do individually, they receive that individual karma which they must undergo. And so in this world they enter collective hells. Whatever kind of karmic offenses each person creates, he will enter a collective hell, which means all beings there are of a certain category. This category of beings enters this hell, and that category of beings enters another hell. These hells and these offenses are created by ignorance and arise from false thinking and originally are not there at all. Those are not something that exist on their own. Basically there is purity and no defilement. It's a case of one wrong move losing the entire game of chess. Being off by an inch in the beginning, one misses the mark by a thousand miles in the end.
And then, Ananda, after the beings who have slandered and destroyed rules of moral conduct, violated the Bodhisattva precepts, slandered the Buddha's Nirvana, and created various other kinds of karma, pass through many eons of being burned in the inferno, they finally finish paying for their offenses and are reborn as ghosts.
And then, because the explanation of the ten habitual causes and six interactive retributions is still not finished, Shakyamuni Buddha continues to discuss the principles with Ananda. After the beings who had karmic offenses because they had slandered and destroyed rules of moral conduct...They said things like, "Your Buddhism doesn't need to have these precepts and rules. People should be free, especially in a democratic country like America where everyone stresses freedom. Buddhism should not adhere to precepts and rules either." They try to wipe out the Buddha's precepts with one stroke of their pen. They advocate doing away with the precepts; they advocate that people can be left-home whether they receive precepts or not. They say there is no need to hold precepts or to practice the 3000 modes of deportment and 80,000 subtle aspects of behavior. None of those should be required. Those beings violated the Bodhisattva precepts. They did not guard the Ten Major and Forty-eight Minor Bodhisattva Precepts that they had received. They violated them. They slandered the Buddha's Nirvana. They derided the principle of the Buddha's Nirvana. They said it was also wrong. The offenders said things like that, and created various other kinds of karma—many, many kinds of karmic obstacles. Those who commit offenses such as these pass through many eon of being burned in the inferno. They finally finish paying for their offenses. When those offenses are paid for and gone and they have finished undergoing those bitter retributions in the hells, they are reborn as ghosts. Those offenses are paid for, but then they must take on the form of ghosts.
Those who profess to be Buddhists but who do not believe in the existence of ghosts should note how many different kinds of ghosts are described in the Shurangama Sutra. In fact, I'll tell you one thing: The Shurangama Mantra for the most part consists of references to ghosts. For example, the lines "LA SHE PO YE, JU LA BO YE" are the names of ghosts. When we recite the mantra which mentions the names of the ghost kings, then the lesser ghosts under them dare not do bad things. Thus the mantra contains the names of ghosts and spirits.
What kinds of ghosts are the beings discussed here reborn as? Now ten categories of ghosts are listed. These follow from the karma created by committing the ten habitual causes. When the karmic offenses from those causes are finished, then one becomes a ghost. There is not just one kind of ghosts, there are hundreds of thousands of kinds. But here ten representative categories are mentioned.
If greed for material objects was the original cause that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he takes shape when he encounters material objects, and he is called a strange ghost.
If greed for material objects was the original cause on his causal ground that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he takes shape when he encounters material objects.
What kind of objects was he greedy for? The greatest desire is the desire for sex. If he sought such things when he was on the causal ground, and if he committed crimes while doing so, then he has to fall into the hells. After his term in hell is finished, he takes shape when he encounters material objects. What kind of objects? Any kind; whatever kind it is, he can attach himself to it and take his from it. He's called a strange ghost.
If it was greed for lust that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he takes shape when he encounters the wind, and he is called a drought-ghost.
If it was greed for lust that made the person commit offenses, then, after he has finished paying for his crimes, he takes shape when he encounters the wind. In China, someone who is lustful is said to be greedy for "the wind and the current." People who are like this end up as drought-ghosts. What are drought-ghosts like? Wherever they go, it doesn't rain, and this is due to the "tricks of desert and of drought-ghosts." If you encounter a place where the rain does not fall, where the sprouts in the fields dry up and die, you know now that such a place is inhabited by a drought-ghost. This is true! By listening to the Shurangama Sutra, you can unravel all the mysteries of the world. All the questions of physical science are clarified in this Sutra. If you hadn't heard this Sutra, you wouldn't understand the reason behind droughts and deserts. Basically, these are due to the tricks of the drought-ghost.
This kind of person was greedy for "the wind and the current," and so now when his ghost encounters the wind it takes its shape and is called a drought ghost. He causes drought wherever he goes. Pretty talented, huh?
To be continued
The three poisons of greed, anger, and delusion are more lethal than opium, alcohol, and arsenic, because those substances poison one's body, while greed, anger, and delusion poison our Dharma body and wisdom life. Thus, they are the greatest obstructions to cultivating the Way.
The Venerable Master