At that time, the Tathagata was preparing to leave the Dharma-seat. From the lion throne, he extended his hand and placed it on a small table wrought of the seven precious things. But then he turned his body, which was the color of purple-golden mountains, and leaned back, saying to everyone in the assembly and to Ananda: Those of you with More to Learn, those Enlightened by Conditions, and those who are Hearers have now turned your minds to pursue the attainment of supreme Bodhi—the unsurpassed, wonderful enlightenment. I have already taught you the true method of cultivation.
At that time, the Tathagata was preparing to leave the Dharma-seat, since he had almost finished speaking the Shurangama Sutra. From the lion throne, he reached his hand out and placed it on a small table wrought of the seven precious things. The Buddha was on his Dharma-seat, the lion throne. The Buddha's speaking of the Dharma is like a lion's roar. When a lion roars, all the animals are frightened. That's why the Buddha's Dharma-seat is called the lion throne. The small table in front of the Buddha was made of and adorned with the seven precious things.
But then he turned his body, which was the color of purple-golden mountains, and leaned back. The Buddha's body is like a purple-golden mountain; its brightness shines everywhere. He leaned on the small table again to speak the Dharma, saying to everyone in the assembly and to Ananda: Those of you with More to Learn... Before certifying to the fourth stage of Arhatship, one is in the position of having More to Learn. Those Enlightened by Conditions and those who are Hearers—those who become enlightened through cultivating the Twelve Links of Conditioned Co-production and those Hearers who become enlightened through cultivating the Dharma of the Four Noble Truths—have now turned your minds to pursue the attainment of supreme Bodhi—the unsurpassed, wonderful enlightenment. You have now turned from the small to go towards the great. You of the Two Vehicles have brought forth the Great Vehicle resolve and seek to attain great enlightenment; there is no enlightenment higher than this. I have already taught you the true method of cultivation. I have already explained the real method of cultivation for you.
You are still not aware of the subtle demonic events that can occur when you cultivate shamatha and vipashyana. If you cannot recognize a demonic state when it appears, it is because the cleansing of your mind has not been proper. You will then be engulfed by deviant views.
You are still not aware... Earlier, Ananda asked the Buddha how to cultivate. He had requested the Dharma on behalf of living beings of the future. But, although he now understands the principle of cultivation, he doesn't have any actual experience. He understands the theory, but since he lacks experience, he doesn't know what can occur in cultivation. So the Buddha said, "You are still not aware of the subtle demonic events that can occur when you cultivate shamatha and vipashyana." In cultivating shamatha, which refers to the Great Shurangama Samadhi, and in cultivating vipashyana, a method of subtle contemplation, subtle demonic states can arise. In the process of cultivation, many demonic states can arise which are not very obvious, but, rather, extremely obscure.
If you cannot recognize a demonic state when it appears... When you are cultivating the Way and practicing the skill of "directing the hearing inward to listen to the inherent nature," a demonic state may appear. If you do not recognize the demon and do not know what demons are, it is because the cleansing of your mind has not been proper. You have been cleansing your mind, but what you have done is slightly incorrect— not in accord with proper knowledge and views. For that reason, you will then be engulfed by deviant views. If your knowledge and views are the slightest bit improper, you will be caught up in deviant views.
You may be troubled by a demon from your own skandhas or a demon from the heavens. Or you may be possessed by a ghost or spirit, or you may encounter a li-ghost or a mei-ghost. If your mind is not clear, you will mistake a thief for your own son.
You may be troubled by a demon from your own skandhas; that is, a demon produced from your own mind, or one of the ten kinds of demons produced from the form skandha, which is also of your own making. Or it may be a demon from the heavens. Why should a demon from the heavens come to disturb you? It's because you have cultivated to the point that you have some samadhi. Having samadhi is no problem in itself, but what happens is that the the demon king's palace starts to shake. It seems just like an earthquake. Since the demon king has spiritual powers, as soon as the shaking starts, he investigates, "Why is my palace shaking for no apparent reason? Why is it breaking apart? Aha!" He discovers that someone in the world is about to accomplish the Way and that the strength of that person's samadhi is shattering his palace. The demon king thinks, "So you want to destroy me? Well, I'm going to destroy your samadhi first!" Then he comes to wipe out your samadhi-power.
Or you may be possessed by a ghost or spirit. When the ghosts and spirits see that you are about to realize the fruition in your cultivation, they become jealous. They think, "Oh, so you are going to realize the fruition? We're going to destroy your cultivation first!" Then they enter your mind or possess your body, making it impossible for you to perfect your samadhi-power. They cause you to "catch on fire" and become possessed. Didn't the preceding passage of text talk about being possessed by a demon? This is very important. Why do you become possessed by a demon? Because "the cleansing of your mind has not been proper," and because your motivation is improper. With even the slightest deviant thought, you get caught by a demon. This is known as "catching on fire and entering a demonic state."
Or you may encounter a li-ghost or a mei-ghost or a wang liang. Those are types of ghosts and goblins. If your mind is not clear, you will mistake a thief for your own son. If you encounter such a state and fail to recognize or understand it, you will end up "mistaking a thief for your son." Think about it: How can they not rob or steal your possessions? If you invite a thief into your home, then all the priceless treasures in your house will be stolen. What are your priceless treasures? I will tell you frankly, and be sure to remember this! You should believe what I say. Whatever you do, don't fail to believe what I say. Why? Because it is important to your future and to your life. What are your treasures? They are your very own Treasury of the Tathagata. Can your Treasury of the Tathagata be stolen? Didn't I mention essence, energy and spirit before? If you want to regain your Treasury of the Tathagata, you first have to protect your essence, energy, and spirit. If you fail to guard these three, you are allowing your wealth to be robbed from you. So be careful!
1. The Venerable Master's explanation in January 1983
Everyone likes money. They think, "What Heaven has conferred is called money; what is in accordance with the nature is called money. They cannot be apart from it for an instant. If they could part with it, it would not be money." Ordinary worldly people have this problem. That is, they cannot see through the matter of money, so they are always preoccupied with it. It wouldn't be so bad if you were the only one poisoned by money. But you also want to poison your children and grandchildren, so you leave money for your sons and daughters. Your children then leave money for their children, and they in turn leave money for their children. Passing the money back and forth, people are so poisoned by this toxic substance that they can't even catch their breath. This is really frightening. Therefore, here we tell everyone that money has poison on it. You still don't believe it though, and you always want to be very close to money. You've been poisoned by it, and the harmful effects will poison your children and grandchildren as well in all the generations to come. In the past I've said this many times: people think saving up money is a good thing. But people who cultivate the Way should not take money so seriously; they need not save money. We don't need to think "Money may not be left for an instant." We should change the phrase around to say, "What Heaven has conferred is called the Dharma; what is in accordance with the nature is called the Dharma. The Dharma may not be left for an instant. If it could be left, it would not be the Dharma." What is meant by "the Dharma"? You say, "I know. It's the Dharma of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha." You don't really understand yet. If you really understood, you wouldn't lose your Dharma.
Ultimately, what is the Dharma? It is just our energy, our vital energy which penetrates heaven and earth to the point that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are of the same substance as us because our energy is connected. This energy is like our breath; it can be detected. That which is within the energy and controls it is the Dharma. Therefore, it is essential that we nurture our energy; we should not lose our temper. You should cultivate your energy, as in the saying, "Foster the ground of your mind, and nurture the sky of your nature." This is nurturing your energy. If you want to nurture your energy, then don't lose your Dharma. I will tell you a most important and essential Dharma-door. If you listen, fine. If you don't listen, that's okay, too, but I'll tell you anyway. What is it? If you want to nurture your energy, then don't talk so much.
Don't talk so much in the kitchen. Today it's a little better. But in the last two days, when I went to the kitchen and dining hall, it sounded like a marketplace. Everyone was shouting. One person was selling carrots, another was selling cabbage, another was selling potatoes, and someone else was selling sweet potatoes. What did they think they were doing, shouting and yelling like that? They'd forgotten completely about the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. There's no need to make such a racket in the kitchen. That is not how cultivators should behave. Later I found out that the dormitory was also like a marketplace. People were quarreling, chattering, and making noise everywhere. No one knows what they were talking about.
A person who cannot curb his speech will not be able to cultivate. If you cannot nurture your energy, then you do not have the Dharma. Therefore, "The Dharma may not be left for an instant." You can very easily and carelessly squander this Dharma by talking all the time. I do not like to interfere in other people's business, but this is really too much!
If this continues, these people who argue all day long will be the villains of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. No wonder the Buddhas don't want to stay here anymore, and the Bodhisattvas also stay far away; they don't want to listen to these people who do nothing but gossip and chatter. I don't mean to say that people shouldn't talk to each other at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. People should certainly discuss important matters, but they should not be chatting idly all the time.
You say, "Oh, nothing's happening around here. I'm so lonely, I've gotta find someone to talk to."
That might be all right, but after you've had your chat, you will have lost all Dharma whatsoever. If you lose the Dharma, how can you cultivate the Way?