[He], with his mind deliberately [wanting to have] quick realisation, thus attained demonic ghosts’ possession [of his] body.
[Note 1: Although the Great Master is explaining a specific case, what he teaches applies in principle to all similar cases. If not mindful and not ethical, whatever initial ‘spiritual motivation’ for swift enlightenment present might transform to become worldly greed for high status and fame. With such strong (Three Poisons of) greed, (hatred and delusion), one becomes spiritually weaker instead of stronger. One will then be more easily possessed, tricked and sabotaged by malevolent ghostly karmic creditors, creating the illusion that the possessed one is enlightened. This can happen as such ghosts are also with much of the Three Poisons, thus attracting them.]
From this, falsely creating rumours, yet to [have] attained [the path, but] saying [he has] attained [it], yet [to] realise, [but] saying [he has] realised [it].
[Note 2: Even though unenlightened, as ghosts naturally have some basic supernormal powers, such as being able to read minds, they can fool those they possess, into thinking they themselves have such powers, thus making them assume they are already enlightened. While the completely enlightened definitely have full and great supernormal powers, having some minor and limited powers does not mean one is enlightened at all. Spreading rumours of being enlightened is to have great false speech (大妄语), which breaks the Fourth Precept against lying very seriously, and can karmically lead to rebirth in the hells.]
Of those learning [from him], all [are] with him [called] as [a] ‘living Buddha’, thus [does] he have [the] saying of [‘in a] hundred days accomplishing [as a] Buddha’.
[Note 3: The misguided who learn from such false teachers, being uninformed of the right Dharma and severely deluded themselves, mistake these teachers to have been completely enlightened very quickly, even thinking they can also lead them to complete enlightenment quickly. Riding upon such misconceptions, these teachers thrive, thus attracting more of the misguided.]
[Of] all those [who] go [to] see [him, he] sometimes in advance knows their minds, [but he] sometimes face [to face] receive people’s deception.
[Note 4: Knowing what is on others’ minds in advance arises from the ability to read their minds before they speak about what they are thinking about. This knowing of what is truly on another’s mind should not be mistaken as realising of all spiritual truths, as the unenlightened mostly think of thoughts based on the Three Poisons only. Being able to have one’s thoughts spoken by another is actually gathering of useless information, since one already knows what oneself is thinking of, in terms of one’s past and present. However, the foolish are easily impressed by this, and see this as ample ‘reason’ to believe and follow whatever ‘advice’ and future ‘predictions’ given. The possessed are also further deceived by the possessing ghosts, who sometimes depart, to let them be deceived by their ‘devotees’ with their own unfounded over-confidence.]
[With this, it is] enough [to] know [that] of his supernormal [powers, they] thus [are] demonic ghosts’ activities.
[When the] ghosts come, then having [these powers. When the] ghosts go, then without [them].
[Of] all those [who] get close [to] him, [there] are those [who have] attained [their] mind grounds’ purity.
[Note 5: These are the very rare ones, who happened to not heed the wrong teachings, while already heeding some of the right Dharma from elsewhere. With further guidance, observation and reflection, they should realise their false teachers as who they really are.]
[And there] are those yet [to have] attained [the path, but] saying [they have] attained [it], falsely self-calling [themselves as] honoured ones.
[Note 6: These are the much more common ones, who like their false teachers, are ‘inspired’ to heave great false speech too.]
Likewise having those [who] go mad, [who can]not [be] enabled [to be] healed.
[Note 7: These are the ones who are so seriously disturbed, confused and/or terrified by the ghosts, that they become mentally deranged, even possibly being beyond cure in this lifetime.]
Of [the] world, those showing off [the new and] odd, [and those] fond [of the] different [are] many, thus [do] they attain selling [of] their ‘skills’.
[Note 8: Many of the ignorant are those attracted by the ‘special’, even if they misrepresent the Dharma. Knowing this, false teachers and their disciples market their false skills and teachings by appearing to be ‘unique’.]
If all people [are] all able [to] strictly guard [their] personal responsibilities, then [will] their cheating ‘skills’ not attain [opportunity to] then [be] applied.
[Note 9: The personal spiritual responsibilities of all are to learn and practise the Buddha’s teachings well, and ideally, to share them with those who are receptive whenever possible, guiding those who are misguided too.]
[They are] now already going to Běipíng, hearing [that] they [are like the] appearance of ants assembling [and] birds gathering, not less than [those in the] Shànghǎi region.
[Note 10: In past times, when this letter was written, and even more so in present times deeper into this Dharma-Ending Age, external paths are rapidly spreading worldwide.]
[Yìn]guāng, of them likewise [do] not praise, likewise [do] not establish arguments [to] destroy [and] reproach.
[Note 11: The blameworthy are surely not the praiseworthy. Unless oneself is powerful enough in the spiritual and worldly sense, there has to be careful consideration before reproaching the blameworthy, especially openly, lest one gets ‘destroyed’ instead. We should protect the Dharma, but the right Dharma can only be protected when there are those learning, practising and sharing it exist.]
With [Yìn]guāng being [a] monastic without knowing, awakening [and] understanding, [I am] inadequate to be able to inspire people’s faith, and [to] refute people’s doubts.
[Note 12: This is the Great Master being humble, when the opposite is true, that he continues to inspire people’s faith with his teachings today, and to resolve doubts about the right Dharma.]
[I] can only [let] them practise their ‘Dharma’, [with] myself guarding my path.
[Note 13: After doing what we can reasonably do out of compassion to guide the misguided, and to prevent being misguided, we can only let things be… for now, unless conditions change later, when the misguided might be more receptive to guidance.]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Letter [To A] Certain Layperson
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
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