There are many different kinds of living beings in the world. Each Buddha has his own retinue, and the members of the retinue are also different in kind. The same principle applies to the Dharma Realms of the Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Shravakas. These are the Four Dharma Realms of Sages.
We will now discuss the Six Common Dharma Realms. The gods, in their Dharma Realm, also have various types of retinues. The Dharma Realms of gods, asuras, and people are the three good paths. The three evil paths are those of animals, hungry ghosts, and hell-beings. They all have their own retinues, which differ from one another in myriads of ways. Within each kind, there are various different kinds.
Where do these ten Dharma Realms come from? They are not beyond the present thought in your mind, my mind, and anyone else's mind. The mind can create the Dharma Realms. The mind can produce the myriad things and creatures. The mind can create all shapes and species. Thus, it is said, “Everything is made from the mind alone.”
“If people want to understand all Buddhas of the three periods of time (and all the Bodhisattvas, great Pratyekabuddhas, great Shravakas, all the gods and great immortals, the various asuras, the various animals, the various hungry ghosts, and the various hell-beings of the three periods of time), they should contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm; everything is made from the mind alone.”
The mind can create the heavens as well as the hells. The mind can achieve Buddhahood, but it can also turn into a hungry ghost or an animal, or fall into the hells. It can be a Bodhisattva, a Pratyekabuddha, or a Shravaka. Since everything is made from the mind, nothing goes beyond the mind. If we want to create Buddhas in our minds, we become part of the retinue of the Dharma Realm of Buddhas. The other Dharma Realms are the same way.
All of you should pay attention! Whether you are walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, always regulate yourself in accord with propriety. Only do that which is honest and true. Don't be false, sloppy, or casual. Don't act so that:
Because of one wrong move,
You lose the whole chess game.
In order to create the Dharma Realm of Buddhas, we must practice kindness, compassion, joy, and renunciation. We must benefit other living beings, without becoming attached to the concept of living beings. Instead of merely applying superficial effort, we must do solid, honest work. Why are we unable to create the Dharma Realm of Buddhas? Because we are not concentrated and determined. We get dragged into situations until we forget what we wanted to do. We forget to create Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or any of the four kinds of sages. Instead, we only know how to create hells, hungry ghosts, and animals. So it is said,
When thoughts arise, a hundred situations
come into being.
When thoughts are stopped, ten thousand
The mind stops and thoughts are cut off:
this is true wealth and honor.
Lust and desire are completely pared away:
this is the true field of blessings.
Question: Why don't demons have their own Dharma Realm?
Answer: They are like bandits or guerrillas, roaming in all directions, without a fixed location or a person in charge of them. Demons are just like the bandits in the human world. Bandits are people, but not every person is a bandit. Therefore, there is no Dharma Realm of bandits. It's the same for demons. There are demons in the heavens, and there are also demons among the asuras. The good individuals belong to whatever Dharma Realm they are in, while the bad individuals belong to the demon realm. Although demons are mostly found in the six Dharma Realms of ordinary beings, they can also transform themselves to invade and cause trouble in the Four Dharma Realms of Sages.
Buddhas and demons are only a single thought apart. Buddhas are kind and compassionate, while demons are competitive. For example, Devadatta was strongly competitive. He competed with the Buddha to be number one, but the Buddha did not compete with him. Basically, he also had the Buddha-nature within his own nature, but he took a wrong turn, went too far, and could not turn around and come back. He was possessed by a demon. In the Mahayana doctrine, the Buddhas may manifest as demons in order to teach and transform the demons.
Since demons are found throughout the Six Common Dharma Realms, they do not have a separate Dharma Realm of their own. Yet, although they exist in the Six Common Dharma Realms, they are false and unreal. They are phonies, just like the bandits in the human realm who stake out a territory in the mountains and declare themselves kings. The bandits claim to be an army, but they go around murdering, setting fires, and harming people as they please. The demons are the same way.
A talk given on October 2, 1982