Fo Shuo Man Fa Jing
The Buddha tells Ānanda, “Among those who believe in Buddhism or cultivate the Buddha Dharma, some may become rich and honorable while others may encounter unfavorable incidents such as death and decay.”
Ānanda asks the Buddha, “Why would someone experience deterioration and others favorable conditions when they both believe in Buddhism or cultivate the Buddha Dharma? What are the reasons[causes and condtions] for the different outcomes?
The Buddha answers Ānanda, “Someone who believes in the Buddha or cultivates the Buddha Dharma acts in compliance with the teachings of truly enlightened mentors and can correctly understand the true principles of the Buddha Dharma. To eliminate various illusory thoughts caused by incorrect reflection, the practitioner should be able to thoroughly think about the correct principles of the sutras and the Buddha’s teachings propagated by an enlightened mentor. He should diligently carry out the four deportments (Skr: catur-vidhacāra) of walking, standing, sitting, or lying down to comply with his mentor’s teachings. He should also be able to strictly adhere to the true precepts and maintain self-restraint, without carrying out the slightest wrongful acts. As the practitioner does not adhere to precepts that contradict the true Dharma path, he will be protected by all devas and wholesome dharma protectors. No matter what he wants to do or where he goes, his thoughts will be harmonious, smooth, thorough, and without obstacles. He will also be able to obtain much wealth and will be respected and admired by the public. Such a practitioner will definitely be able to complete the Buddha Path in his future lives, besides obtaining wealth during his current life in the mundane world. To be considered a true disciple of the Buddha, one has to faithfully abide by the pure precepts and must have a truly sincere mind. One should also put into practice the sacred teachings of the Buddha on the Dharma Path.
However, a practitioner who cultivates the Buddha Dharma but is arrogant and does not seek the guidance of a truly enlightened mentor will lack virtues, will have erroneous views, and will not be able to walk on the Buddha path. Such practitioners will not abide by the sutras and will not revere and show respect to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. They will not be able to understand or discover the inner meaning of the Buddha Dharma and will take it upon themselves to interpret the scriptures. They can become teachers conferring precepts to others, but they themselves do not believe in and accept the Buddha’s Dharma teachings with utmost sincerity. Despite promising to uphold the true precepts, this type of practitioner will violate all the true moral precepts. With a confused, suspicious, and unfocused mind, he will not want to read or chant sutras, walk the path of cultivation, or accumulate virtues as a Buddhist disciple. Despite his so-called sincerity in believing in and accepting the Buddha’s teachings, he will entertain doubts time and again. These incidences overlap with each other occasionally. On a vegetarian day, he will not be able to make himself uphold the precept and eat vegetarian meals, or he will not be able to burn incense, conduct lamp lighting, or prostrate himself before the Buddha or make offerings to Him. He will often submit to aversion and malice and will speak in an explosive voice and use inappropriate or abusive language, such as swearing or cursing. He will instantly loathe those whom he does not like or harbor jealousy toward others, and may even instigate others to commit the evil karma of killing.
Such a practitioner will not develop any sense of respect or any inclination to worship when encountering the Buddhist sutras or sacred images. Even if he is able to lay his hands on a Buddha sutra book, he will just put it on the wall as a decoration, put it on his bed, or throw it into a broken bamboo basket together with his old clothes and bedding quilts. Alternatively, he may just arbitrarily allow his family members to handle it with their unclean hands and mess it up. In time, when the sutra book has been blackened by smoke or has become smothered by moisture, he couldn’t care less or wouldn’t be concerned about it, as if it had not existed at all. He would treat the Buddha scripture with disrespect as if it were written by non-Buddhists. Thus, wholesome dharma protectors will gradually move away from him, and evil ghosts will begin to approach him and will refuse to leave his side. This will then start to affect him: he will become uncomfortable physically, and his mind will be gripped with panic. He will say to himself, “I have believed in and have been practicing Buddhism from the beginning. Why is it that the Buddha did not bless me and allowed me to become sick?” As a result, the practitioner will stop believing in the Buddha. He will seek another divination practitioner for ritual treatment, to perform divination to relieve him from his ailment and to forcefully remove from his life the evil ghost controlling him. This, however, will be in vain. The practitioner will pray to the evil gods, such as the ghost from the mountains. This will lead to more infractions and faults on his part, leading the demons to gather at his home and to refuse to leave from there. Consequently, his family’s fortune will rapidly decrease, and a series of untoward events will happen, culminating in his death. His property will be exhausted, and his family members will continue to get sick and become bedridden. No one can escape this omen.
As a result of the evil karma the practitioner has committed, he will descend into hell after his death to receive his retributive punishment. He will suffer various horrendous retributions with utmost pain and anguish for immeasurable eons. This is all because he had trouble being a sincere and devout Buddhist believer and had no respect for the Buddha and His teachings in his heart. His hesitancy led to an unfocused and wandering mind, and to his failure to stand firm in his faith. His words and deeds deviated from the teachings of the Buddha, causing continuous disasters and crimes. The destruction and decay will reach unbearable proportions.
Practitioners without a correct and complete knowledge of and insight into the Buddha Dharma will not know how to truly cultivate the Path to Buddhahood and will wonder how disaster and tragedy could have befallen them when they believed in the Buddha and had learned Buddhism. They will not know that it was they themselves who had caused the disaster and tragedy in their lives. They will not know that the disaster and tragedy that had befallen them was the result of their own evil views, evil acts, or verbal abuses, and of their deviation from the correct path and their violations of the Buddha’s exhortations in the sutras, monastic disciplines, and precepts. As such, they will fail to account for their bad acts, leading to various evil karmas. Their disasters will indeed be self-inflicted rather than inflicted on them by someone else.
After listening to the teachings of the Buddha, Ānanda prostrates himself in front of the Buddha respectfully, filling with joy and faithful acceptance.
This article is an excerpt from the Electronic Journal of True Enlightenment, Issue 95