When the demon king battled with the Buddha, the Buddha used his samadhi power to overcome the demon king’s spiritual penetrations. The demon king then said to the Buddha, “I cannot win now, but in the future when your disciples lack sufficient samadhi power and proper knowledge and views, I will worm my way into your religion, wear your clothing, eat your food, and then relieve myself in your almsbowl. We’ll see what you do then!” Shakyamuni Buddha said sorrowfully, “I won’t be able to do anything then.”
Now a Buddhist monk has actually declared that the Amitabha Sutra is spurious, his reason being that there is no proof that, “Passing from here through hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhalands to the west, there is a world called Ultimate Bliss.” “What surveyor has measured it?” asks this monk. “Maybe the distance is slightly more or less than ‘hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhalands.’ How could it be exactly ‘hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhalands’?” What an ignorant, ridiculous argument!
Recently, another monk proclaimed that the Shurangama Sutra is spurious and should not be believed. He based his statement on a passage of the Sutra which says, “Then King Prasenajit, for the sake of his father, the late king, arranged on the day of mourning a vegetarian feast and invited the Buddha to the side rooms of the palace. He welcomed the Tathagata in person with a vast array of superb delicacies of unsurpassed wonderful flavors.” That monk argued that this passage does not comply with the customs of India at the time, because Indians did not stress filial piety. Thus, he maintains that the Shurangama Sutra is spurious and was not spoken by the Buddha. This is equivalent to destroying the Sutras and slandering the Buddha. Such behavior carries an inconceivable retribution. His ideas are absolutely juvenile. What could his intentions possibly be?
The Sutra of the Complete Extinction of the Dharma says, “The Shurangama Sutra will be the first Sutra to disappear in the future Dharma-ending Age.” That’s because the Shurangama Sutra symbolizes the Proper Dharma Age. If the Shurangama Sutra vanishes, the Proper Dharma will also disappear. Nowadays, there are many mountain spirits and water monsters who maintain that the Shurangama Sutra was not spoken by the Buddha, and that people should not believe in it. If the Shurangama Sutra is not to be believed, then we can also forget about all the other Sutras. Why? Because there is no evidence that the other Sutras were spoken by the Buddha, either. So, you can see how malicious the demon king is!
The Shurangama Sutra reveals the truth all too clearly. The demon king cannot follow the Four Clear Instructions on Purity, nor can he cultivate the Dharma doors of Perfect Penetration of the Twenty-five Sages, or face the states of the Fifty Skandha-demons. He is afraid of being exposed and having people find out what he really is. That’s why he tries to destroy the Shurangama Sutra. His tactic is not to burn the Sutra, but to make people lose faith in it.
The things in this world are just that strange and mysterious. Very few people recognize the truth. Peddlers of fake medicines enjoy booming sales, while those who sell genuine merchandise have no customers at all. No one recognizes the value of their merchandise. That’s why I say that no one recognizes what is true, while everyone is infatuated with and deluded by the false. This principle is very obvious.
We are now in the Dharma-ending Age. Most people slander and disbelieve Dharma Masters who truly cultivate the Buddhadharma. On the other hand, phony Dharma Masters who give boisterous, entertaining speeches attract large audiences. The hall gets so crowded that people can hardly breathe; they are like sardines in a can. There’s even a monk who promotes a nonvegetarian diet. He says to everyone, “Vegetarians are greedy. Nonvegetarians are the only ones without greed.” People are actually blinded and confused by this absurd statement. Confused all their lives, they muddle their way straight to the hells, never to escape.
Therefore, in studying the Buddhadharma, we need to have Dharma-selecting Vision so that we can distinguish right from wrong and good from evil. Otherwise, we’ll be like the blind men examining the elephant. Unable to see the truth for ourselves, we just repeat what others say. When someone says the elephant is like a wall, we say that too. When someone says it’s like a pillar, we say it’s like a pillar. What is the elephant really like? We don’t know. In studying the Buddhadharma, we have to understand the truth ourselves and not just follow others blindly. Everyone should really take heed of this!
A talk given on April 17, 1984