The Dangers Of Learning Buddhism Randomly 随意学佛的危险

Occasionally, there are online ‘Dharma’ videos and articles received for comments. Often, a version of the following will be sent as a reply…

It is dangerous to learn randomly online and offline. Even just one small and undetected drop of poison in much pure water can render it toxic. If preferring to watch videos, it is good to learn from this channel:, which has videos from the first and still existing Pure Land monastery in history. (Yes, even the precious Pure Land teachings are often misrepresented these days.) Life is too short to waste time on uncertain materials. What ‘attractively’ presented might be the most dangerous. Increased ease of net access also means increase of exposure to wrong teachings.

In this Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期), as warned in the Śuraṅgama Sūtra《楞严经》, ‘Evil teachers who speak the [false] “Dharma” will be [innumerable] like the Ganges River’s sands.’ (邪师说法,如恒河沙。) The dangers can be subtle to the unmindful, yet very sure in effect, with corruption and eventual loss of (spiritual or) wisdom life (慧命) being worse than the loss of one physical life (身命), as delusions clung to can harm life after life, trapping one in rebirth indefinitely.

Do not ‘throw away’ everything precious learnt properly, as based on the sūtras and as explained by the relevant tradition’s Patriarchs, just because you encounter materials with different views delivered with misplaced confidence – even by those who might seem ‘charismatic’. The truth is not to be won in a popularity contest. In fact, as most people in history are not proper Buddhists, the Right Dharma (正法) is already by default not as popular as hoped. A quick way to know if caught up in questionable ‘teachings’ is to always question what ‘cannot’ be questioned. If there is always the ‘unquestionable’ taught by the ‘unreachable’, who expect blind and faithful following of instructions, there is no question that what in question is truly questionable.

As it is near impossible to list all questionable ‘teachings’ out there in the world and the ‘wild wild web’, with new ones popping up now and then, it is better to always learn cautiously and question meticulously. Instead of focusing on what might be wrong, may all only focus on what is surely right. Do take note too, to never circulate uncertain materials to anyone. It takes only a few taps of the phone or computer to possibly destroy another person’s Right Understanding (正见) of the Right Dharma. If in doubt, do seek alternative more qualified advice, which should also be healthily questioned. After all, the Buddha himself personally encouraged active enquiry of his own teachings, as a key method to learn well.

All should read and reread these key teachings by the Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng (净土宗十三祖印光大师): – to ensure there is Right Understanding of the fundamentals for reaching Pure Land, so as to not be easily swayed by others. Just having one key teaching misunderstood and thus practised wrongly might lead oneself and/or others away from Pure Land. For the diligent, there is no shortage of Right Dharma teachings to learn from, such as these sutras and treatises: There are new articles put up almost daily on this site too. Again, as life is short, may all focus on learning, practising and sharing the Right Dharma only.

Bonus: Shortly after the above was written, there was an enquiry on a long pseudo-Dharma article written by someone, whose identity and Dharma credentials are unknown. The below (as summarised) was written in reply, after sending clarifications in ten parts on its misconceptions –

‘In future, it is best to ask specific questions, instead of asking for comments on a long article full of mistakes, that will need much time to clarify one by one. About two and a half hours were spent to write what felt like 100 corrections on the article – which we should not even spend time on in the first place. There had to be forgoing of time to do translation of Right Dharma teachings instead, which we should focus on with our limited time in this life. Sincerely hope you will spend some time reading the detailed replies, and all the further Dharma clarification links shared. Let us all spend more time on the Buddha’s words and the Patriarchs’ teachings (佛言祖语). Life is too short to dwell on random teachings endlessly, that keep trying to throw us off course in this dangerous Dharma-Ending Age. Thank you for your understanding.’

Námó Āmítuófó

Related Sūtra:

The Great Buddha Crown’s Śūraṅgama Sūtra’s Sixth Scroll’s Four Kinds Of Clear And Definitive Instructions On Purity

Related Article:

Who Should We Learn The Dharma From?
Verse On Buddha’s Words & Patriarchs’ Teachings

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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