From the last issue: Be careful not to put a high hat on yourself and say, "I am a Bodhisattva."
Bhikshus in the evil age
With deviant knowledge and flattering, crooked minds,
Who claim to have gained what they have not,
Have minds filled with arrogance.
Not only will lay people harbor deviant knowledge and views, but
even shus in the evil age of the five turbidities, will be
with deviant knowledge and flattering, crooked minds. They will think they are better than everyone else. "Deviant knowledge" means that they lack wisdom in wholesome matters. For example, if you ask them to explain the Buddhadharma, they will think and think but not be able to come up with a coherent explanation. On the other hand, if you ask them about gambling and drinking, they are very knowledgeable: "All you have to do is pay one dollar and you can get into the bars and drink all you want." With their deviant knowledge, they teach people to do evil things. "Crooked" means that they are deceitful. They are the ones
who claim to have gained what they have not. They will say they have attained the Way or realized sagehood, when in fact they have not. That's a serious offense, and such people are certain to fall into the Tongue-Pulling Hell. They aren't Buddhas, but claim that they are. They claim to be enlightened when they are not. Such people are simply shameless. Their words are pure nonsense.
If you meet people who say they are enlightened you can say, "What kind of enlightenment? A dog's enlightenment? Dogs are smarter than you! At least they can watch the door! You have no worth at all! You're the worst sort of people." Such individuals are just trying to pass off fish eyes as pearls, and to put out people's eyes so they can't tell the false from the true. Why do they go about claiming to be Buddhas and saying they are enlightened? They want to cheat people into respecting them, believing in them, and making offerings to them. They
have minds which are filled with arrogance. They are totally stuffed with pride.
Unless you were exploiting conditions, why would you want people to believe in you, to think you were enlightened or a Buddha? Why would you say you were a Bodhisattva? It's just because of arrogance that they do such things. Such people don't claim to be emperors, because this is not the age of emperors. They don't say they are the president, because the people would have to vote for them and they couldn't afford the cost of entering an election. So they think, "Since I can't be an emperor or a president, I'll be a Buddha and everyone will bow to me!"
This country is run as a democracy, and so we even have "democratic" false Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arhats, and Patriarchs—pretenders. Everyone wants to assume one of these fine titles. However, what is true is true, even if you don't say it out loud; and the false is false even if you try to assert its truth. You can only cheat people for a short period of time.
Devadatta declared himself the "new Buddha," but eventually fell into the hells. Shakyamuni Buddha never said that he was a new or an old Buddha, and he did become a Buddha. This proves that the true is always true and the false is always false. The false can sometimes turn true, but the true can't become false. How does the false become true? Devadatta fell into the hells, yes, but in the future he will become the Buddha King of Gods. We should be genuine in what we do, not phony. We should strive to be more and more true until we achieve success.
Some may appear to be Aranyakas,
For they wear rags and dwell in the wilds.
But although they claim to be on the True Path,
They scorn those who live among people.
Some may appear to be Aranyakas. "Aranya" is a Sanskrit word which means "no strife," as mentioned in the Vajra Sutra. It also means "a place without distractions." In such a place there are no distracting noises. It is very quiet and still. "Aranya" also means a "still, quiet place" appropriate for meditation. (An "Aranyaka" is a person who lives in such a place, that is, a cultivator.) Cultivators look for such tranquil places to live.
Some people may seem to be cultivators for they wear rags and dwell in the wilds. Cultivators don't like to wear nice clothes; they just keep patching rags together. They will find old rags and stitch them together to make clothes. They use thousands of stitches to make a patched robe. These patched robes are also called "rubbish heap robes," because they look through the garbage to find cloth that people have discarded. Cultivators wish to be thrifty and not waste anything, so if the cloth can still be used, they save it. If it can't be used, then they leave it there. They save up scraps of cloth to make their robes. And they dwell in uninhabited places in the wilds, meaning in an Aranya.
But although they claim to be on the True Path... They may dwell in the mountains and they fast for long periods of time, applying genuine effort in cultivation. That's fine, but they don't have to advertise it all over the place. If they tell everyone, "I am cultivating bitter practices here. I don't eat anything, except some fruit once in a while. And I never lie down to sleep!" then they are the type of people being discussed here. They claim that they are rag-robed, fasting hermits who survive on a diet of nothing but fruit.
I heard that there's a monk in Taiwan who doesn't eat any regular food. I heard Jenny Chang say that he always carries a few peanuts in his pocket. Eating peanuts is no different from eating regular food, but guess what? People have deified this monk—he eats nothing but fruit and peanuts. He could be considered a real cultivator, or he could be considered a phony. Real cultivators don't need to brag to lay people about how they fast and meditate all the time and how great their practice is, hoping that lay people will revere and make offerings to them. But if they don't even eat, why do they need offerings? They wouldn't need money or offerings. Even if you just ask for fruit, that is still an offering. If they don't even eat, they certainly don't need to exploit situations by advertising their practice to lay people.
Real cultivators don't advertise. If they sell themselves, they cannot be considered real cultivators. Cultivators can advertise for other cultivators, but not for themselves. You can praise your fellow cultivators, but you shouldn't praise yourself. You can't say, "Do you know who I am? I live in the mountains. I cultivate bitter practices, too. I don't have anything to eat, either. Most people can't do what I do. I'm a real cultivator. Real cultivators live in the mountains." I have heard mountain-dwelling cultivators talk like this, and that's how I found out about these problems. I thought, "I lived in the mountains for a number of years, but I never bragged about it to anyone, and I never complained about how difficult it was. I don't know which Dharma Master taught them this technique of living in the mountains and then leaving the mountains to advertise for themselves. It's pretty strange. They live in the mountains for two and a half days and then consider themselves exceptional cultivators. They say, "I'm a true cultivator, and everyone else is phony." That's not the way I do things. It always seems to me that everyone else really cultivates and I am the only false cultivator! If you wish to draw near this false one, go ahead. If you don't, then so long! In any case, this particular mountain-dwelling cultivator advertises for himself up in the mountains, and this brings him lots of visitors. Guo Zhan went there to meditate with him, and He Long also drew near to him. They considered this monk who didn't eat to be very unusual.
The monk built a temple and his lay disciples seized control of it. That made him so angry that he left and went somewhere else. In this other place, people took him to be a living immortal or sage; he had many disciples who built him a temple. He was probably more alert this time, so the temple didn't get taken away from him. Think it over. If a cultivator builds a temple and people fight over it, then his claim of living in a "place of no strife" becomes false. This is what the Sutra text is talking about.
They scorn those who live among people. Fancying themselves to be lofty monks—real cultivators—they look down upon those Dharma Masters who lecture on the Dharma Flower Sutra for other people. They say, "They're lecturing on the
Dharma Flower Sutra"? There's no such Sutra. It's something they made up themselves." Since everyone regards these "cultivators" as saints, they believe this slander. "Yes, that Sutra is not authentic," they think. "We should put our faith in this real cultivator." Thus, people look down upon those in the world—the Dharma Masters who lecture on the
Dharma Flower Sutra.
To be continued