You say, "I've been listening to Sutra lectures for a long time, but I have never heard an explanation like this." Why does it have to be explained in a way you have already heard? Sutras can be explained any way one likes as long as one accords with principle, just as a dragon can fly up to the heavens and hide in the earth. What is the demon-quelling pestle? It is your samadhi power. If you have samadhi power, you have a demon- quelling pestle; if you don't have samadhi power, you don't have a demon-quelling pestle. Now do you understand? Dhyana can give rise to samadhi power. Giving rise to samadhi power, you can beat your false thoughts to death. If you continue sitting in dhyana, you will give rise to wisdom power. The power of wisdom can also kill false thoughts. For that reason, Bodhisattvas always delight in sitting in dhyana. They like to cultivate samadhi power.
"Where should one sit in dhyana? Can it be done at a playhouse while watching a play? Can it be done at the movie theater while watching a movie?" you ask. If you are able to sit in dhyana, then you can do it anywhere at all. If you are not able to sit in dhyana yet, then you certainly could not do it in those places. If you are able to sit in dhyana, then
When moving, it's dhyana, when quiet, it's dhyana;
Speaking, silent, moving, or still,
The substance is at peace.
In the dream, the six paths are clearly seen;
But once awake, all is empty, and even the universe
does not exist!
If you awaken, then even the three-thousand-great-thousand world system does not exist, how much the less anything else. While you are still in the dream, the six paths of rebirth exist. You get born again and again, and die again and again. You can't put this down, and you can't give up that. 'That' is your husband. 'That' is your wife. 'That' is your father and 'that' is your mother, and there's many more—a whole bunch of entanglements! It's really meaningless.
"What should we do, then?" If you have not yet attained samadhi power, then when sitting in dhyana, you should sit in a quiet place. The Chinese character for "quiet" can also mean "idle," and so you say, "I understand. I shouldn't do any work, right? I should be idle all day long. To put it another way, I can be lazy. Well, that's just my style. I don't like to work, so I'll sit in dhyana!" Here, the word doesn't mean "idle," it means a place that is not busy and noisy. It means an aranya, a tranquil and pure place. You don't want to mistake the meaning of the word here and think it means you can be idle. Don't be like a certain disciple who mistakenly thought that men wai han, which means amateur, was the same as luo han, which means Arhat. How funny! This is one of the wonderful things that happens when Americans are learning Chinese. He thought "an amateur" was "an Arhat." Well, maybe in the future he will become one, but he isn't one now.
In a quiet place, Bodhisattvas enjoy cultivating collecting their thoughts. They cultivate collecting their thoughts, just as a magnet collects iron filings. They don't let their minds run away.
"Oh? My mind can run away?" you ask. Oh? Did you think it couldn't? Not only does your mind run away, it runs for 108,000 miles! You don't even know where it's run off to. In the first thought, it runs to Europe. In the second thought, you've gone to Australia. In the next thought, it's in Asia. It's in Vietnam at the front line fighting with the guns going off "bang, bang, bang!" and many people being killed. You don't have to use any money or buy any tickets, and you can traverse the five continents. You think you are getting a bargain, but in fact you are using a tremendous amount of your "gasoline"—the gasoline (energy) of your own nature. You just don't realize it. What is that gasoline good for? It can enable you to emit light. If you use it up, you don't have any light. Without light you will be dark. What I'm saying right now definitely contains genuine principle. If you understand, then it will be very helpful to you. Don't use so much gasoline! If you don't understand, then after you have used up your gasoline you will become dark and run off to the path of hungry ghosts. Mencius said:
When people lose their chickens and dogs,
they know to go looking for them.
But when their minds run away,
they don't even know to search for them.
What a sad state of affairs!
When a chicken or dog runs away, their owners know to look for them. "Oh no," they cry, "My pet is gone!" They immediately put an advertisement in the newspaper saying, "If you see my lost dog, please call 397-3675." But when their minds fly off in all directions, they do nothing about it.
To be continued