So, keep the Five Precepts. Always think good, do good, and help others if you can. Then you will be surely reborn again as a good human, have a decent life or maybe a rich life, it depends on how much you give and how much heart you have while you’re giving it, how pure you are when you give it.
So, the Buddha continued. This is Buddha talking now. So, “both physically and mentally, one must avoid the bodies and the by-products of other living beings, by neither wearing them nor eating them.” He’s so clear. I read word by word; it’s not me. “I say that…” Buddha, Buddha said. “I say that such people have true liberation.” Then finally, they also have liberation if they don’t eat meat.
I guess if they don’t eat meat and wearing animals or using animal products, then they are at least liberated from the three lower incarnations. And then, because they continue to do that, they have no more bad karma, very little karma. Then when any Master comes, they would be able to find Him. The Master will find such a pure and karma-less people to save them. Then of course, finally, they will be completely liberated, sooner or later. So that’s why the Buddha said that such people have true liberation.
The Buddha said, “What I have said here is the Buddha’s teaching.” Meaning the Saint’s teaching, not just His teaching, but He means the lineage of the Saints, Buddha’s lineage, the Saintly lineage. “What I have said here is the Buddha’s teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan.” Means the heretic, or atheist. Not true teaching.
“Further,” now Buddha explains something else, some other precepts. We had purity from lust, no-more-lust precept, and now the killing precept we have just done, and now Buddha continues to expound further about the non-stealing. So, Buddha said, “Further, Ananda, if living beings in the six paths of any mundane world had no thoughts of stealing, they would not have to follow a continuous succession of births and deaths as well.” All these precepts are of paramount importance, so that you can be liberated at least from a lower birth of existence, and then slowly, the Master will take you up higher.
So, the Buddha said, “Your basic purpose,” meaning to Ananda and the monks at that time. “Your basic purpose in cultivating samadhi is to transcend the wearisome defilements. But if you do not renounce your thoughts of stealing, you will not be able to get out of the dust.” Meaning this kind of dusty world, the Earth.
“Even though one may have some wisdom and manifestation of Chan samadhi,” means meditation samadhi, “one is certain to enter a devious path if one does not cease stealing. At best, one will be an apparition; on the average, one will become a phantom; at the lowest level, one will be a devious person who is possessed by a mei ghost.” So, it’s no good. All of them are no good. Even the highest, the middle and the lowest, no good, no good.
“These devious hordes have their groups of disciples as well.” Imagine that. I thought only I had disciples. Now a ghost even has disciples. Fancy that. I was so proud, and now I don’t think I’m proud any more. Even ghosts have disciples. What a big deal about me, having disciples like that. “These devious hordes also have their groups of disciples. Each says of himself that he has accomplished the Unsurpassed Way,” means Buddhahood, enlightenment, complete enlightenment, that’s what they mean. Unsurpassed; nothing can compare to their way of accomplishment. That means they are on top already.
“After my extinction,” the Buddha’s extinction, “in the Dharma-ending Age, these phantoms and apparitions will abound, spreading like wildfire as they surreptitiously cheat others. Calling themselves good knowing advisors, they will each say that they have attained superhuman abilities. Enticing and deceiving the ignorant, or frightening them out of their wits, they disrupt and lay waste to households wherever they go.” Very destructive group of ghosts, of apparitions.
“I teach the bhiksus to beg for their food in an assigned place, in order to help them renounce greed and accomplish the Bodhi Way. The bhiksus do not prepare their own food, so that, at the end of this life of transitory existence in the Triple Realm, they can show themselves to be once-returners who go and do not come back.” In this case, the Buddha means Triple Realm, meaning this world and a little bit higher to the Brahma. So, when you pass all these worlds to pass the Brahma Realm, then you are truly liberated forever. So, in this case, if the bhiksus, the monks, do whatever the Buddha has listed above, then they will surely be liberated, and see that they never come back.
“Once-returners who go and do not come back.” Then why does He say once-returners? It could be that they have returned already into this world one time only, already. They exist already as humans, as monks, but they will never come back again. If they go up to the higher level, they will never come back again; truly liberated. OK, got that.
“How can thieves put on my robes and sell the Thus Come One, saying that all manner of karma one creates is just the Buddha Dharma?” The Buddha means that these people, the ones who are not worthy of monkhood, the ones who don’t keep the precepts and just put on the robes, look like Buddha or monks and cheating others, selling the Buddhas even, meaning just repeating what He said, but don’t do anything as the Buddha did, and just cheat people just to gain their fame and richness, comfortable lives, or make people respect them, bow to them, just to gain their own benefits.
So, the Buddha warned the people about this kind of monk, just the same like Jesus had warned His disciples and later generations to “beware of the wolf in lamb’s clothing.” After Jesus died, there may’ve been a lot of wolves like that, proclaiming His teachings for their own benefit. Well, it’s kind of true, because even within religions, the same religion, there used to be some wars and a lot of bloodshed, in the name of God, same God, same religion; not like a different religion even. And still the same, many recently, as well. Up to the recent years. Still in the same name of the same religion, the same God, fighting, bloodshed. What a sad thing.
So, the Buddha continued to say that these so-called monks, so-called fake monks “will slander those who have left the home life and regard bhiksus who have taken complete precepts, as belonging to the path of the Small Vehicle. Because of such doubts and misjudgments, limitless living beings fall into the Relentless Hell.”
Not only did these people sell the Buddha’s teachings for their own benefit, but they also mislead other people to fall into the wrong concepts, the wrong way of life and all go to relentless hell. It is nonstop punishment. Relentless, no respite, that’s what it is. Nonstop, even for one second. In some hells, you have a tea break. I told you that story, but this hell has no respite; continuously. You cannot die, you cannot live, nobody helps you, nobody hears your voice. You don’t hear any of the Saints’ names in that kind of hell. You don’t have even a nanosecond to even think of anything good like Saints or Buddha, Jesus, nothing in such a hell. In such a situation, it makes you like that. Makes you completely forget about everything, just suffer too much, relentlessly, continuously, that you cannot even remember one nanosecond about the Buddha or anything. This is a terrible hell to fall into. And it goes on forever. That’s why they say nonstop and relentless.
I wouldn’t wish anyone to fall into that kind of hell. Please keep the precepts, at least you won’t fall into hell. Even if you don’t believe me, and don’t follow me, keep the Five Precepts, for your own sake. Don’t have to believe me. Just be a good person, meditate if you can; if not, keep the Five Precepts. Anyone who keeps the Five Precepts and never kills anyone, never has harmful thoughts to anyone, at least he can be reborn again as a human.
Even if they eat meat, but because they don’t know, out of ignorance, and they eat meat, but they have never killed, themselves. They never killed the animal themselves, then they still continue to be born as a human, until their merit runs out before they even meet any Master. If they meet the Master, any enlightened Master who has the power to liberate them while they’re still in human form, that’s the lucky people. Because of their merits, they still have to remain as a good human, healthy, and a sane intellect to understand what the Master is talking about and follow a Master. But if their merit runs out or they become handicapped or mentally incapable, then even if they meet the Master, it’s useless. They don’t understand what it is all about. They have to understand what the Master’s teaching, in order to uphold it, to follow it. Then they can be liberated.
So, keep the Five Precepts. Always think good, do good, and help others if you can. Then you will be surely reborn again as a good human, have a decent life or maybe a rich life, it depends on how much you give and how much heart you have while you’re giving it, how pure you are when you give it. Then you will be rich or medium rich or poor accordingly.
A Master is also no exception. Not because you are a Master and then you can just live recklessly, disregarding the law or not helping people, not sympathetic to people and no charitable heart, then it’s also no good. Actually, before you become a Master, you must have been trained in all that already. Otherwise, you couldn’t be a Master. What I mean is, even if you have become a Master already, but your karma in the past life, you have not paid, you still have a little bit, then it will be double, triple, a hundred times more, so that you suffer more than normal people.
“I say that bhiksus who, after my extinction have a decisive resolve to cultivate samadhi, and who before the images of Thus Come Ones,” mean the Buddhas, “can burn a candle on their body, or burn off a finger,” oh, God, “or burn even one incense stick on their bodies, will, in that moment, repay their debt from beginningless time past. They can depart from the world and forever be free of outflows.” Outflows mean faults. “Though they may not have instantly understood the Unsurpassed Enlightenment, they will already have firmly set their mind on it.”
Now, I want to explain to you something. Burning the candle or burning the incense on your body, that was because Buddha’s not there anymore. And some people are so earnest, want liberation, so they do some kind of little sacrifice on themselves. Therefore, if you became a monk or nun in a Mahayana tradition just like I did, they put some incense on your head, to burn it. I still have three holes here. Some burn even more, but three is the minimum, just because of that. Because it is believed, that if you do a little sacrifice like that, you will be free from sin. You set your mind truly, firmly on the path of renunciation, and to help yourself and sacrifice for others. This is the symbol of sacrifice and disregard for your comfort, for other beings in the future. Because to be a monk, your ideal is to liberate others, to help others to understand the holy teachings, not for yourself only.
So, anyway, some burn more afterwards. But at the time of the ceremony for being a monk or nun, they give you three burning incense only. It burns until your skin burns off. The incense is small like that, then it keeps burning, until it burns to your skin, and it did hurt. And if you want to burn more, you do it at home, because at the time of taking the precepts, the full precepts to be a monk and nun, there are too many people, so there is no time to burn more for you, but you can do that more at home. Of course, your head’s all shaved already, so it’s only the skin, the tender skin, and you burn where it’s the most tender, right in front here. That is the symbol of self-forgetting, self-dedication, self-sacrifice, so that you remember that you must do everything you can to help others. Right. So, that is why it’s here. I explain that to you now so you understand more.
So, if you want to become a monk or a nun, for example like that, in this Mahayana tradition, you have to be vegetarian. And you have to burn your body, your head somewhere, the head is easier for them because the head is shaved, shaved clean before that, and then they put incense, burn, burn until it burns your head, your skin. And then after the incense has burnt to your skin and the incense has no more burning, it’s only ash, then they will take the ash away, and they give you some cool watermelon to put on it. And they take care of you very tenderly though, very nice people.
So, that’s the Buddha who said that. The Buddha gave many methods to purify yourselves, because He knows after He left, they might not be able to meet any other Master. Even if you met a Master, you would not understand it, you would not know. So, if you continue to follow Buddhism, and if you do this and that, then the Buddha will also be connected and help you somewhat.
So, it doesn’t matter which tradition you follow, the original Master will also try to help you. It’s just the problem – is that humans, they reject it. Jesus, for example, Jesus always tries to help, invisibly, but humans, they reject Him. Or the Buddha reincarnated, even, or any Master, they reject Him. They’re waiting for Maitreya, they’re waiting for the Second Coming, Third Coming, Fourth Coming; they’re waiting forever.
That’s why I don’t want to make a “Ching Hai-ism.” Because if I registered our group as an “ism,” then we’d have more privileges, more easy access. Doing anything is more easy, because we’d be a religion. Nobody can touch us, but we are just an association. Even then, people still think I am trying to do something. I am trying to do something. I am trying to awaken you and other people, whoever I can.
But it’s very difficult for any Master to come down. After any Master comes down, they make a cult out of it; they make an “ism” out of it, and then the other Master comes later on, or the same reincarnated Master has problems by His own teachings, previous teachings.
I told you before, in my ashram, before Hsihu or other places, I didn’t have any buildings. I used all my money for helping the poor, the worse, the less fortunate than us. I told you, because you still have a home to go to. Homeless people they don’t have. The disaster people they have nowhere to turn. Even if you get wet here, tomorrow you go home, you have dry clothes. Even if you sit in a tent, so what? You even have a tent. The disaster people, they don’t have a tent. Homeless people, they don’t have a tent. Therefore, I used the money for other things. I did not build any ashram at all, and then I told you, “Don’t worry, just wait until I die, you will have a lot of churches, maybe.” Ching Hai churches; it’s possible. You see that the Buddha, when He was alive, He’d go begging for food, and now, beautiful temples everywhere. And if the Buddha reincarnated, He’d have to pay a ticket to go in maybe, or have to buy some incense or fruits to make offering or something, or have to register as a Buddhist or something or the same with any religion.
When I was in the Himalayas, I normally sat outside to meditate on the rock or somewhere outside, outside in the forest or somewhere. But some days were too hot or too cold or something, I went inside one of the temples to sit and the monk kicked me out. “Out! No, you cannot sit here.” I just sat and meditated only, and my legs were cramped or something, I couldn’t get out fast enough, so I crawled out. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m going, going, going,” means I’m crawling, crawling out; it’s like that. Maybe I should have made an offering or something. I was almost penniless when I was in the Himalayas.